Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How Consuming Alcohol Affects You Post-Workout

It doesn't take a genius to realize that alcohol doesn't mix well with exercise, but the actual impact of swigging a drink post-workout as opposed to a protein shake might be more devastating than you may think. It's important to take proper precaution when deciding to slug back a couple beers after exercise.

Alcohol Acts As A Toxin

The average gym-goer has his or her own guilty pleasures. For some, it's tough to kick a regular drinking habit, especially in social settings. The idea of cutting out drinking can be just as difficult as making a dedicated effort to eat a low-carb diet. We are all creatures of habit, which means we sometimes make decisions that might be cognitively recognized as "wrong," but we execute that choice regardless.

In regards to post-workout alcohol consumption, the general consensus is that alcohol acts as a toxin, forcing the body to use added energy. This process negatively impacts recovery and can result in added soreness the next morning. In addition, workout performance also becomes affected. You're less likely to workout at high-intensity levels on the day following a night of drinking.

Post-Workout Dehydration

For men, post-workout alcohol consumption can be especially damaging to muscle recovery, specifically because it decreases the body's naturally-occurring levels of testosterone, which is crucial for building muscle mass. As seen and heard on television beer ads, "please drink responsibly."

Consider the importance of water when working out. Staying hydrated is a crucial aspect of gaining optimal benefits from an intense cardiovascular or weightlifting session. The body needs water to help supply working muscles with the fuel they require to operate efficiently. Alcohol is a diuretic, which essentially means that it sucks water from your body, forcing you to become dehydrated. The resulting effect is fatigue and loss of muscle definition due to a lack of muscular-produced energy.

Added Belly Fat & Heart Disease

The infamous "beer belly" is a product of over-consumption of alcoholic beverages because of the so-called empty calories they contain. Most drinks won't fill you up, but that doesn't mean your body isn't enduring a calorie overload.

If you're genetically prone to quick weight gains, alcohol consumption should be limited to special occasions (e.g. not just because it's the weekend). For some, sporting a belly bulge isn't a deal-breaker when it comes to working out, but it's important to realize that excess fat deposits in the abdominal region can lead to severe health defects, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Men are at higher risk for these consequences than women because males naturally store fat in their bellies. Although a couple post-workout beers with your friends won't cause your gut to bulge overnight, a regular drinking habit can severely alter your body's composition, potentially causing health problems. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The benefit of strong core in your daily life

1. A healthy back

Low back pain can become debilitating in time if you don’t focus on solving the issue. It is usually the result of having weak abdominal muscles and overly strong back muscles, but exercise that help strengthen your core muscles will bring balance to the front and back of your body and get rid of the pain. People that spend a lot of time at a desk usually have low back pain as well, since they arch their back and tilt their pelvis to sit more comfortably. A first step would be to focus on keeping your back straight, followed by a simple core exercise that you can do at work: while sitting in your chair draw in your abdominal muscles, hold for five breathes, release and repeat.

2. Good posture

You will have no trouble carrying yourself with confidence if you have a strong core. Weak core muscles contribute to slouching, to the wear and tear of your spine and they keep you from talking a deep, full breath. Good posture benefits an efficient exercise routine and has the added value of taking pressure off your lower back and trimming your figure.

3. Running

Core exercises are a staple for competitive runners, and there’s no reason why the rest of us shouldn’t take a page out of their book. A strong core will help you take in more oxygen with every breath and help you balance your steps while running on uneven terrain. The stability a strong core offers allows you to move in any direction and prevent you from risking injury from a fall.

4. Lifting

If you want to add those extra 20 kg on your squat bar or keep increasing your deadlift load, you need to have strong core muscles in order to sustain a proper form and protect yourself from injury. Even if you don’t strength train, you still lift objects when you carry luggage or grocery bags or take out the trash. You don’t need to be a power lifter to injure your back when your core muscles and weak.

If you want to feel extra motivated to start a workout routine that targets your core muscles, think of the added perk of having a supple abdomen, and maybe even a six pack (provided you do some work in the kitchen as well). Just make sure you don’t overwork your abdominal muscles and overlook your back muscles. Balance is the key to athletic prowess and a strong core is all about balance.

Friday, October 17, 2014

What Are The Most Important Benefits Of Physical Therapy ?

1. Physical therapy improves mobility and motion

When it comes to quality of life, motion is essential, and while we usually take mobility for granted, we must realize that without it, everyday tasks would be extremely difficult. Imagine emptying a dishwasher with a stiff lower back, or bending to pick up a toy when your knee is in great pain. That’s where physical therapy comes in- with the aid of highly trained specialists you can learn how to perform certain ranges of motions that improve your mobility. The exercises themselves are not too demanding (so they don’t discourage those who are sedentary), and they  can be learned so as to be performed at home.

2. Physical therapy helps manage pain without abusing medication

Although medicine has its purpose in the healing process, especially when the pain of your injury is hindering your lifestyle, it isn’t something we should abuse. In order to make sure that you are not using too many pain killers you can help your body find natural ways of diminishing the discomfort through physical therapy.  If you have ever had a really good massage done to you after a workout, for instance, when all your soreness and stiffness of the muscles went away, you will know what I mean. Apart from this, many injuries that involve stiffness are painful, so when physical therapy helps improve your flexibility, they also diminish the painful symptoms.

Injuries involving muscles, ligaments or joints (which are very common with those who work out constantly or who practice some sort of sport) can cause parts of the body to become stiff, and without proper exercises like those in physical therapy it can take a very long time to heal and regain flexibility in the afflicted area.

3. Physical therapy provides a conservative option to surgery

Realistically speaking, nobody looks forward to surgery, and physical therapy is a very accessible option. Of course, surgery is absolutely necessary sometimes, but for those times when it is not mandatory, you can go to a specialized physical therapist who will guide you through healing exercises. Even if surgery is necessary, physical therapy can be used both before and after to improve recovery time.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What Happens When Your Body Fat Drops Low?

Your body fat percentage is a measurement comparing your fat stores to your overall body weight. People whose percentages are too high — over 24 percent for men and over 31 percent for women — are classified as obese, according to the American Council on Exercise. They are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers. But dangers also exist for people whose body fat percentage drops too low.


It’s a common myth that all body fat is bad; your body needs some fat to function properly. Fat helps insulate your body and serves as an energy source. After roughly 20 minutes of exercise, your body no longer can draw energy from carbohydrates you’ve eaten, so it turns to fat stores to continue contracting your muscles.

Low body fat levels can lead to incomplete recoveries after workouts; depleted glycogen stores; nutritional deficiencies that lead to further problems, such as bone loss; decreased performance; chronic fatigue; increased risk of infection; and injury, according to “The Complete Book of Sports Nutrition: A Practical Guide to Eating for Sport.” If you cycle between a low and high body fat percentage, over time this may result in a decrease in lean body mass and increase of fat. If your low body fat percentage results from eating disorders, you might experience the risks that accompany those conditions as well.

Hormone Imbalances
If you’re female, a low body fat percentage can cause a hormonal imbalance. The hypothalamus in your brain recognizes that your body fat percentage has dropped too low. It decreases production of a hormone that affects the pituitary gland, which in turn reduces the production of hormones that affect ovaries. Then your ovaries decrease production of estrogen and progesterone, so your menstrual cycle might stop. This can lead to infertility. Low body fat percentages also have an effect on men’s hormones. Testosterone levels decrease, which might make it more difficult to create lean muscle. It also results in decreased production of sperm and loss of sexual desire.

Individual factors affect how low your body fat percentage must fall before you begin to experience problems. For females, body fat percentages below 15 to 20 percent are considered dangerous, according to “The Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition.” For men, body fat percentages below 5 percent are risky. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Human Condition

Bodies are different, but people really aren’t. Watch one man’s story of change.

In fitness, adaptation produces strength. When changes are introduced, our bodies adapt, and we grow stronger. In the video above, Equinox member Jed McGiffin shares his story of adaptation. And even though no two bodies are the same, nor meet the same challenges, it’s our ability to respond that is distinctly human—we have this in common.