Boot camp workout regimens have long been associated with military physical fitness, but throughout the past five years they have gained more exposure to mainstream America. They are featured in prime-time weight-loss television shows and are now an alternative to traditional exercise programs. They have become popular due to the amount of calories that can be burned in a short time and can be made as challenging and unique as the instructor and participant cares to make them. These classes can help solve the common complaint of workout boredom.
Performed either indoors or outside, boot camp workouts typically blend military-style and athletic-performance drills. The workout is straightforward and intense. The challenge is to take your body to its limit, moving from one exercise to the next without the benefit of much rest. It can involve the use of calisthenics, free weights, and objects and tasks not normally employed in a typical workout.
As with any athletic workout, injuries may occur. Common injuries associated with boot camp programs include sprains, strains, low back pain, foot pain, stress reactions, fractures, scrapes, cuts, bruises, dehydration, and heat-related illnesses. Warning signs of an injury include joint pain, swelling, loss of motion, dizziness, nausea, and constant fatigue. Any of these conditions should be taken seriously and evaluated by a licensed physician before continuing the program.
Due to the intensity involved, understanding what is involved in a class and how to prevent injury is critical:
• Assess your abilities and know your limitations and restrictions.
• Modify moves to adjust intensity levels.
• Discuss any pre-existing conditions with your doctor prior to participating or beginning any new fitness program; a fitness assessment should be performed to gauge the level of training that is appropriate.
• Choose an instructor that has a national personal training and/or group fitness certification along with CPR and first aid.
• Get instructions about unique pieces of equipment and unfamiliar activities.
• Instructors should be willing to answer all your questions and focus on your workout, while avoiding the promotion of supplements, vitamins, or other moneymaking ventures.
Keeping these tips in mind, boot camp workouts can be a fun, challenging, and effective workout to help you safely achieve your health and fitness goals..
The holidays are meant to be a season where families gather and share special time in reflection on their lives and faith. However, the holidays have also become a source of increased stress for most, if not all Americans. Busy social schedules, the tasks of entertaining, shopping, and the traditions of mailing cards and decorating can leave us feeling worn out by January 2.
However, exercise can be a great antidote for stress during the holidays. Exercise burns off many of the stress hormones generated when we are anxious or feeling pressure. Excessive amounts of stress can lead to high blood pressure, increased blood sugar, weight gain, lack of sleep, and even memory loss. When we work out, we are literally burning off the hormones that cause these effects. With exercise, we feel more relaxed, restful, and even more productive.
As little as a ten minute walk can do wonders to calm the spirit. If you anticipate a particularly stressful day, it may be wise to exercise in the early morning before the action of the day begins. Weightlifting is especially beneficial and has been shown to have the equivalent calming effect as Valium. As an added bonus, holiday exercise will do much to prevent the ever present weight gain most experience after too many office parties, elaborate meals, and extra alcohol consumption.
Remember, just a few minutes of exercise can make a big difference in stress levels and weight gain during the holidays..
Research has shown that a routine fitness program can help decrease the effects of aging. However, while many medical conditions can be minimized, or their effects diminished, an exercise program for mature athletes may also create other health issues. Always consult your physician when beginning a new exercise routine. Sedentary adults who begin intense training may increase their risk or exacerbate heart or cardiovascular conditions. Starting gradually and emphasizing a daily routine of exercise and flexibility will likely yield more long-lasting results.
Older athletes are more prone to overuse injuries. Due to decreased bone density, or osteoporosis, it is important to emphasize a gradual onset of higher impact activities such as running. Additionally, tendons and ligaments become stiffer with age and a muscle, tendons and/or ligament tear or irritation can occur quickly when overdoing an exercise. Focusing a portion of your fitness program on stretching and flexibility is also critical. Chronic and overuse injuries account for approximately 70 percent of injuries in veteran athletes age 60 and older, whereas only 41 percent of younger athletes, ages 21–25, are affected by these same injuries according to an article in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery(October 2005, 407-416).
If you have arthritis, you do not need to stop exercising. A routine with less impact may be warranted to help decrease the wear-and-tear on your joints. Keeping fit, strong, and maintaining weight will help you feel better. Joints benefit from motion. Balance can also be diminished by age. Falls, related to poor balance, account for a large percentage of injuries in the elderly each year. Your exercise routine can also improve balance and may help prevent these injuries. If you choose to participate in more adventurous activities during which the risk of falls or head injury is increased, wear a helmet and other sport — or activity — specific protective gear. Tailor your exercise routine with your physician or another fitness expert to focus on how to reach your goals while staying safe and remember to enjoy yourself..
With the rising obesity rate in the United States, many health care providers advocate exercise for their patients. Often included in this program is a prescription for weight or “strength” training to help strengthen muscles and prevent injury. Concerns are often raised, however, on whether strength training is appropriate and safe for kids. Recent research has shown that the potential benefits of youth strength training extends beyond a simple increase in muscular strength and may include other improvements such as endurance, bone mineral density, coordination and motor performance skills.
Earlier concerns regarding youth weight training focused primarily around the risk for potential injuries and the fear of premature growth plate closure. However, recent data indicates that a supervised weight training program can be safely administered to children as young as six years old without risk of growth plate or musculoskeletal injury. In 2009, the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) made recommendations that included 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity participation for school-aged youth. In addition to aerobic activity, the NSCA stated that, “research increasingly indicates that resistance training can offer unique benefits for children and adolescents when appropriately prescribed and supervised.”
Preventing injury and proper form is critical to maximizing strength training benefits in young children. Many past injury concerns with youth strength training revolved around the use of inappropriate weights, poor form and inadequate rest between exercise bouts.
Current guidelines recommend:
• Using weight machines and not free weights
• Proper stretching and warm-up prior to each training session
• Each strength training session be supervised by an adult
• Use of a circuit machine that works the major body parts should be performed only two to three times per week with at least one day of rest in between
• Ensuring correct form is used during each exercise, with approximately 12–15 repetitions performed
• No quick movements or jerking exercises, but rather smooth repetitions
• Strengthening the chest, shoulders, arms, legs and calves with one to two sets for each muscle group is sufficient for each training session.
Strength training is beneficial for children on many levels and should include high repetitions, low weights, pre-training stretching and be performed no more than three times per week. If these strict guidelines are followed, substantial gains in muscular strength and fitness-related measures can be expected..
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