How Fit Should I Be?

How Fit Should I Be?

Suggested base levels of physical fitness for the average human being

Very few of us grew up in an intensely physically demanding world like that of our ancestors. Our ancestors had to work for their survival using their hands, feet, arms, and all requisite muscles and energy systems to obtain food, shelter, and security. In those days, physical fitness was an absolute necessity for survival. Walking, foraging, crawling, twisting, climbing, squatting, throwing and carrying were the basic movements that helped shape human evolution for millions of years. Being unable to sprint or climb meant going hungry or getting eaten yourself and the end of the line for your genes.

A typical work day for the hunting man was perhaps stalking a wild animal for an hour or two, giving chase through the brush, eventually thrusting with a spear, butchering it, and finally hauling it back home slung over his back. In fitness terms, the hunt and kill expedition translates to: some light jogging, a bit of trail running with some short sprinting, perhaps a few lunge-thrusts, some sledge-hammers, a dead-lift and a fireman’s carry. What a fantastic whole body workout!

The world is a little different today, and we need not be so handy with a spear or quick on our feet, to catch our dinner. So just how fit should you be? In his book, “Endurance”, Earle Liederman (ex-strongman athlete) writes:

“Every man should be able to save his own life. He should be able to swim far enough, run fast and long enough to save his life in case of emergency and necessity. He also should be able to chin himself a reasonable number of times, as well as to dip a number of times, and he should be able to jump a reasonable height and distance.”

In practical terms, this could be:

  • 1 kilometer swim
  • 100m sprint at full speed
  • ability to jump over waist-high objects
  • 10 chin-ups
  • 10 dips

Any reasonably fit person should be able to perform the above tasks. Chin-ups and dips are the more challenging exercises but with a kick of adrenalin (as in a life-threatening event), these will be more manageable. At the very least, you should be fit and flexible enough to perform regular daily activities: carrying groceries up two flights of stairs, run to catch the bus, or lug bags through the airport without hurting your shoulders.

“Move slowly often”

Roughly five hours per week of low-level aerobic activity will be of great benefit to your general health. This might be in the form of walking, gardening, cycling, swimming or hiking, etcetera. These basic activities will allow you to maintain normal weight and metabolic balance. It also makes more strenuous workouts possible by toning all the muscles, including your [core](http://cartwrightphysicaltherapy.com.au/blog/core-strength joints and connective tissue needed for optimal strength training and high intensity anaerobic activity).

Low level aerobic exercise engages your energy systems and incrementally improves their functioning and efficiency. And while it does all that, it also physiologically and hormonally counters the effects of stress.

Moving slowly often, is a great phrase to keep in the back of your mind each day. Thereafter, try to fit in some sort of strenuous activity at least once a week, lift some weights, help a friend move house, run uphill, or play some touch footy. It doesn’t have to be a chore, make it fun for yourself.

This information has been adapted from Mark Sisson’s eBook, “Primal Blueprint Fitness”. You can download a free copy here.

You may also be interested in this article which goes through [exercises that make you stronger]((http://cartwrightphysicaltherapy.com.au/blog/how-do-i-get-stronger-5-exercises-everyone-should-be-doing).

*DISCLAIMER: This discussion does not provide medical advice. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained in this discussion are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this discussion is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.

Food supplements

Food supplements

Best food supplements for general health and sporting performance

Today, there are perhaps enough food supplements on the market to get all of your nutritional needs through pills, powders and capsules. It is of course cheaper, and often tastier to get these nutrients through normal food consumption. The average Joe fills their car with regular unleaded, whilst a minority chooses premium, knowing that the higher octane count will keep their spark plugs carbon-deposit free and grant more mileage. Most people aren’t looking to turn their bodies into performance machines, but there are at least three nutritional supplements you should consider taking to reinforce your general health.

1. Fish Oils

Fish oils contain the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. They are considered essential fatty acids as our bodies cannot synthesise them independently, and are vital for normal metabolism. The benefits were discovered in the 1970s by researchers studying the Greenland Inuit Tribe. The Greenland Inuit people consumed large amounts of fat from fish, but displayed virtually no cardiovascular disease. The high level of omega-3 fatty acids consumed by the Inuit reduced triglycerides, heart rate, blood pressure, and atherosclerosis. Not all Omega 3s will provide you with DHA and EPA. This is because these essential fatty acids are not present in a lot of Omega 3 products. For example, ground flax seed is an excellent oil for certain uses and contains omega 3s, but contains no DHA or EPA.

In short, fish oils support every system in your body, mostly your nervous and cardiovascular system. In particular, fish oils are known to reduce exercise-induced joint tenderness and early morning stiffness associated with arthritis.

2. Multivitamin

A 2002 report published in the journal of the American Medical Association recommended that all adults take one multivitamin daily. This is based on the known and suspected benefits of vitamin supplements in correcting vitamin levels and assisting in the maintenance of general health.

As the name suggests, multivitamins contain multiple nutrients (vitamins and dietary minerals) needed by the body. These are most beneficial when the nutritional needs of the body are not being met by the diet alone or when dietary demands are high. Whilst one might have adequate levels of vitamin C, they may be deficient in vitamin D3 – a common scenario. Taking a multivitamin is an easy way of ensuring you are getting the necessary range of dietary vitamins and minerals into your body.

3. Glucosamine and chondroitin

These two nutrients are found in cartilage. Cartilage acts as a cushion between the bones of a joint. Glucosamine and chondroitin can be thought of as “cartilage food”. Throughout our lives, the joints in our bodies are subjected to large mechanical forces. Joint pain affects most people at some point in their lives, you don’t necessarily have to be an elite sportsman to be a candidate for joint pain. Your work as a labourer or mechanic, or gardening or jogging interests may lead to joint pain in your knees, low back or hips.

Taking “cartilage food” can fatten up your “joint cushions” and slow the effects of osteoarthritis and join pain. Glucosamine and chondroitin are not limited to people over 50 years of age, most people from 20 years upwards can benefit from this supplement.

For those people who take their sport or training a little more seriously, below are some other supplements worth considering.

4. Aminoacids (protein)

Athletes can benefit from the use of protein supplements because intensive physical activity uses up protein resources. Increasing protein intake assists muscle recovery and faster growth. In addition, people attempting to lose weight may want to take protein to help them maintain a good blood sugar level balance. A protein supplement will help maintain good energy levels and accelerate fat loss, whilst simultaneously helping reduce a desire to overeat.

There are numerous forms of protein on the market. Below are some of the more commonly known forms:Whey protein: derived from the process of making cheese from milk, contains high levels of all the essential amino acids (protein building blocks) and branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), has the highest content of the amino acid, cysteine. Egg-white protein: lactose and dairy free proteinRice and Pea protein: both highly digestible and allergen free forms of protein, ideal for vegetarians and vegans.

5. Magnesium

It has been estimated that magnesium intake has declined by more than half during this century, primarily due to food processing. Magnesium is involved in a wide range a biological functions and is thus an essential mineral in human health. If training for an event, an elite athlete, or simply a very active person, can benefit greatly from taking a magnesium supplement. Magnesium is important for muscle function as it regulates muscle tension and is required for muscle relaxation. It is invaluable for relief of muscular cramps and spasms, and also benefits those suffering fatigue as it is involved in the body’s process of energy production.

6. Electrolytes

Electrolytes are solutions of acids, bases or salts. In oral rehydration therapy, electrolyte drinks containing sodium and potassium salts replenish the body’s water and electrolyte levels after dehydration caused by exercise or excessive alcohol consumption, vomiting, intoxication or starvation. Athletes exercising in extreme conditions (for three or more hours continuously eg. marathon or triathlon) who do not consume electrolytes risk dehydration. Electrolytes are commonly found in fruit juices, coconut water, sports drinks, milk, and many fruits and vegetables.

Many of the sports electrolyte drinks on the market have a high sugar content – probably to keep you coming back for more. Endura is a dynamic and advanced electrolyte formula developed for use during strenuous activity or illness. It is a special formula that actually contains electrolyte ratios that parallel those found in muscle cells. Its use by professional athletes has demonstrated the effectiveness in muscle recovery and endurance.

Warning

If you’re going to spend money on supplements, ensure they are high-quality. Many over-the-counter supplements are not readily absorbed by the body. There are a range of ‘practitioner only’ supplements which have been shown to provide better results.

Taking too much of a supplement or abusing the recommended dosage may overload your liver and cause damage. Taking certain supplements in combination with other prescribed medications may have detrimental effects to your health. With all supplements be sure to use them only as directed and consult a practitioner for advice before taking.

*DISCLAIMER: This discussion does not provide medical advice. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained in this discussion are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this discussion is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.