Eve's Health & Fitness

DOB: October 27 CURRENT RESIDENCE: North Eastern Oklahoma OCCUPATION: Certified Group Fitness Instructor HEIGHT:5'1"; WEIGHT:105 lbs.; BF%:14.3% bodyfat FAVORITE BODY PARTS TO TRAIN: Back, abs FAVORITE CHEAT MEAL: Mexican and any dark chocolate CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Featured as a fitness role model in Chad Tackett's Global-Health & Fitness website: http://www.global-fitness.com/ DESCRIBE MYSELF: Competitive, energetic, persistent, focused, consistent, and driven.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Napping: Medicine for the Weary

The Benefits of a Few Extra Zzzzz's


Whether you nap at home or work, as little as a 10- to 15-minute nap can make a positive difference in how you feel and function.

"The most talked about benefits are improved mood and performance,"says William A. Anthony, PhD, author of The Art of Napping and The Art of Napping at Work. Naps, he says, also improve concentration, alertness, creativity and reaction time.

There are long-term benefits, as well.

"[Naps] tend to reduce the chance of heart attacks, strokes, and certainly stress," explains James B. Maas, PhD, a Cornell University sleep researcher and author of Power Sleep. He cites one study that showed a 30% lower incidence of cardiovascular disease in people who napped.

"Changes in metabolism and heart, pulse and breathing rates are all the sorts of things that are modified and reduced in a period of quiescence," says Dr. Maas.

Following Your Body's Lead

How long is the ideal nap? Most experts say it's anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.

"Long enough to reap the benefits and restore some of the sleep debt that we're all carrying, but short enough so you don't go into delta, or deep, sleep," says Dr. Maas.

A full sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes, says Pierce H. Howard, PhD, author of The Owner's Manual for The Brain. Because nappers typically reach only the alpha state or light sleep stage, they tend to feel refreshed instead of sluggish when they wake.

"But if we get into deep sleep, or REM state, and then wake up before the cycle's over, we feel like a truck hit us," says Dr. Howard.

The Measure of a Nap

You're ready for a nap when you start feeling drowsy, and that commonly takes place eight hours after you get up in the morning or 12 hours after the midpoint of the previous night's sleep. For the average person, that time occurs somewhere between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., which is also the lowest biorhythm point. Technically, that means body temperature drops and metabolism begins functioning at a minimum, explains Dr. Howard. As a result, people become tired and less alert. Statistics also show that 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. is the time period in which the most industrial, traffic, and domestic accidents occur.

Making Up for Lost Sleep

"We've cut down on our sleep by 20% over the last 100 years, and the human body can't keep up with that type of change," says Dr. Maas. "The best solution is good nocturnal sleep, but as a stop-gap measure, napping is a tremendous success."

Factors in addition to circadian rhythm cycles and sleep deprivation can influence the need for a nap. Poor health and eating habits, stress, exercise (or lack of it), lack of fresh air, and working under artificial lights can also induce the craving for a nap.

Napping and Sleep Disorders

If you're healthy and do not have a sleep disorder, you should be able to take a judiciously timed nap and sleep at night without any problems, says Dr. Anthony.

For people with sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy, a nap may also prove beneficial.

"I recommend napping for patients with excessive daytime sleepiness caused by disorders," says Karl Doghramji, MD, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. On the other hand, if a person can't sleep at night from insomnia, a nap during the day might add to the problem. It all depends on the person.

Workplace Napping

Because many people are at work during the afternoon when the drowsy feeling sets in, they ignore the need for a nap. Instead, they go to the water cooler, drink caffeine, or stare at their computer screen and don't do anything, says Dr. Anthony.

But it makes sense to take a quick nap at work for two reasons. During that period, workers are not highly productive and are more error prone. And if you work through that period, some negative aspect of fatigue can emerge later. For example, once you're home, you might fall asleep in front of the television, and studies show that evening naps may interfere with regular nighttime sleep.

Tips for Successful Napping

The experts offer the following tips for incorporating naps into your life:

  • Give yourself permission to nap. Don't feel guilty.
  • Remember all the performance, mood and health benefits you gain by taking a nap.
  • Avoid caffeine after your first morning cup of coffee.
  • Surround yourself with items that make you comfortable, like a favorite pillow, blanket, soothing sounds and a couch or chair.
  • Use an alarm clock or timer, so that you won't slip into a deep sleep or worry about when you'll wake up (which makes it hard to relax).
  • Nap consistently at the same time every day, even if it's just a quick rest.
RESOURCES:
National Sleep Foundation
http://www.sleepfoundation.org/

Cheers,

Eve :-)



Sunday, August 20, 2006

Can Athletes Drink Too Much Water?

Hyponatremia

It seems as if we could never drink enough water. After all, aren't we always being told to drink more water?

That's not always the case for ultra-endurance athletes who spend long hours exercising. Sometimes, drinking too much water can actually be a problem. If they flood their bodies with excess water, thus lowering their sodium levels, in rare cases, they may fall victim to a potentially fatal condition called hyponatremia.

Experts define hyponatremia as low sodium concentration in the body, specifically the extra-cellular fluid which is the blood and the fluid around the body's cells. "When someone becomes hyponatremic, their sodium level falls below normal," says Amy Roberts, Ph.D., sports scientist at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine in Boulder, Colorado.

Normal sodium levels run between 135 and 145 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L), says Lawrence E. Armstrong, Ph.D., professor of exercise and environmental physiology at the University of Connecticut. Hyponatremia is clinically diagnosed at 130 mEq/L or below.

What Causes Hyponatremia?

Because the condition cannot be safely duplicated in laboratory studies, little is known about the causes of hyponatremia. Armstrong says experts have three main theories. A fourth exists but it is little more than a combination of the three.

  • Theory #1: The extra-cellular fluid becomes diluted because the sweat volume and the sweat sodium concentration are very high, Armstrong says.
  • Theory #2: An anti-diuretic hormone known as AVP (arginine vasopressin), a hormone that causes the body to retain water in the urine and extracellular fluid, reduces sodium levels. AVP secretion causes water retention so that rather than losing fluid, people retain it, Armstrong explains.
  • Theory #3: Armstrong supports a third theory which proposes that sodium losses are moderate or normal in sweat and urine. "Yet because a large volume of water or diluted fluid is consumed and subsequently retained in the body," he says, "the sodium concentration of the blood is reduced to critical levels."

When sodium concentration in the blood is critically low, symptoms like muscle weakness, disorientation, headache, fatigue, and nausea may occur. The most severe symptoms include seizures, respiratory arrest, coma, and death.

When Does Hyponatremia Happen?

Several conditions have to be present for hyponatremia to occur.

First, the athlete has to be sweating. So it's more likely that this will happen in hot, humid environments rather than hot, dry climates, Roberts says.

By far, though, the most important factor is the duration of the activity. Recreational athletes aren't likely to experience hyponatremia, or what's also known as water intoxication. "Hyponatremia is overdramatized," says Mark Baugh, Pharm.D., author of Sports Nutrition: The Awful Truth (see Resources below). "Unless you're in a sport where you just have to keep running for hours to win the race, you're not going to have this problem."

Who Is Most at Risk for Hyponatremia?

Ultra-endurance athletes who enter such events as 100-mile races and Ironman competitions are most at risk. Baugh says that hyponatremia can occur as early as four hours into an event, but it's more likely to happen after six, eight or 10 hours of exercise. Even then, it's a rare occurrence. In a race of 1,000 runners, there might only be one or two athletes who develop clinical symptoms of hyponatremia, Armstrong says.

One of the few evaluations of hyponatremia in ultra-endurance athletes was conducted on Hawaii Ironman competitors between 1985 and 1989. Experts concluded that 29% of the athletes were hyponatremic, but they were diagnosing hyponatremia as having a blood sodium level greater than 130 mEq/L. As mentioned earlier, clinical diagnosis of hyponatremia is 130 mEq/L and below. In addition, little research had been conducted about fluid intake during long events, so most athletes drank water or defizzed soda, Armstrong says. Today, athletes are smarter about what and how to drink.

Brad Musser, M.D., worked at the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon in 1999 as a volunteer at the medical tent. He knows of only one woman who was diagnosed with hyponatremia during the event. She was brought into the medical tent almost unconscious. Her sodium level had fallen to 124 mEq/L.

How Can Ultra-Endurance Athletes Prevent Hyponatremia?

Ultra-endurance athletes need to take preventive measures to head off hyponatremia.

  • Say yes to salt
  • Baugh suggests that these athletes salt their food more than the average person. "Don't be shy with the salt," he says. "Start with a good supply of sodium in your body." (Recreational athletes, don't fear. Armstrong says the U.S. diet adequately supplies the amount of sodium lost in sweat.)
  • Choose drinks wisely
  • Just like recreational athletes, ultra-endurance athletes are encouraged to drink water before their events, but once they've been exercising for more than an hour, sports drinks or other fluids with sodium are better choices. "The whole goal is to replace water at the exact rate that it's being lost and to add sodium to that ingested fluid," Roberts says. That's hard, though, because most people become thirsty after they're already dehydrated.
  • Weigh in
  • Athletes should weigh themselves before, during, and after ultra-endurance events. "The safest way to consume fluids is not to overdrink and not to underdrink," Armstrong says, adding that in most cases, dehydration is more likely to be a problem than hyponatremia. By weighing themselves, athletes will know if they're drinking too much or too little.

Armstrong recommends checking body weight at the same time every day before and after an ultra-endurance event. Doing this will help athletes gauge how much fluid they need to replace or if they've consumed too much fluid. For every pound lost, they should drink one pint of fluid. As Armstrong says, citing a popular phrase, "A pint's a pound the world around."


Cheers,

Eve :-)





Thursday, August 10, 2006

Exercise That Raises More Than Your Heart Rate

Pathways to Meaningful Movement

People exercise for many reasons: to lose weight, improve cardiovascular fitness or flexibility, maintain overall health, and even for sheer enjoyment. Unfortunately, the majority of Americans do not get enough exercise. In fact, Americans have steadily become more sedentary—and more obese—in recent years. Aside from the commonly reported “lack of time” barrier, many people lack motivation to keep themselves moving. They simply aren’t concerned enough with their own health and fitness level to “go the distance” and begin an exercise routine.

Well, here is a different way to energize your exercise plan, which may help you add miles—and meaning—to your workout: exercise for a cause. The benefit is, you can achieve your personal fitness goals, and raise money and awareness at the very same time. Now, that’s a winning combination. And you won’t be doing the job alone; since group activities hold greater potential to garner resources than solo missions, exercising for a cause usually provides a social outlet as well. So, to get you started, here is a sampling of the countless opportunities that are available:

Walks For Hunger

In cities throughout the United States, thousands of people come together to raise awareness and funds to help alleviate hunger in their area. The Walk for Hunger in Massachusetts, for instance, is the oldest pledge walk in the country; the 2005 Walk is their 37th annual event.

Pledge walks are those in which the walkers collect donations that are then submitted to the sponsoring organization(s). Annual hunger walks in cities throughout the country are also organized by the organization, CROP WALK, which is currently using a portion of their donations towards tsunami relief as well. Like most other national events, the CROP WALK website allows you to search by region to find a walk near you.

Cancer Research and Awareness

Some of the most well recognized national events are intended to support survivors of breast cancer, to honor those who have passed, and to raise awareness and money for research. Popular walks and runs include the Breast Cancer 3-Day, the Komen Race for the Cure, and the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. In addition, a new event came into being six years ago when thirteen women power-walked the New York Marathon wearing decorated bras to raise awareness and support for breast cancer research and patient care. Men and women around the country and abroad now participate in these “Walk the Walk” marathons, wearing decorated bras and raising impressive amounts of money for a very worthy cause. Their motto: “to raise money, raise awareness, get fit, and have fun.”

Breast cancer is not the only cancer cause, however. The “Light the Night” Walk is a nationwide evening event organized by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to raise awareness of blood cancers and fund research for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, and myeloma. During the event, in which both adults and children are welcome, participants carry illuminated balloons to celebrate and honor the lives of those touched by cancer. There are similar national events for prostate cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer and other cancers.

9/11 and the War in Iraq

In more recent years, several events have honored those who died in 9/11, as well as the Iraq War. This year one Boston-area event, the James Joyce Ramble, which donates funds from the annual 10K to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, is additionally honoring the lives and sacrifices of soldiers who have died in Iraq. Each runner will be assigned the name of one deceased soldier, which will appear on the runner’s bib. Runners are then able to read about the soldier they are running in honor of.

You don’t necessarily need to participate in an organized event in order to exercise for a cause, however. If you are passionate about a cause, you can set your own fitness goals to achieve “meaningful movement”. For example, one man was not particularly self-motivated to exercise, but did feel compelled to act in honor of those who died in the 9/11 attacks. So he set a personal fitness goal: to run one mile in honor of every man or woman who was killed. He achieved this goal, in so doing showing respect for both his own health and the lost lives of others.

It's Your Choice

Whatever domestic or international causes you are interested in, there is likely an active event—be it walking, running, cycling, or swimming—that you can find to participate in. An excellent source for identifying events is the website: http://www.active.com. This site offers an expansive list of both individual and team events that occur all around the country throughout the year. Some events have sponsorship and simply require registration fees, while others are pledge events, which require that you collect donations to submit to the cause. In addition to working on personal fitness goals through both training and participation in these events, involving yourself in meaningful movement will enrich your life by allowing you to meet new people, have fun, and contribute to worthy causes. You might also hear about other opportunities that interest you, or even receive some personal coaching and training as part of your participation.

To begin on your pathway to meaningful movement, search for events in your area and initiate a training schedule. You might also consider participating in events in other states or countries, and scheduling them as part of a vacation. Make sure to plan far enough in advance that you are able to raise the necessary pledge money (if required) and to adequately train for the event. Also, consider enlisting friends, colleagues, your spouse, or other family members as training and event partners. That way you’re spreading the good word— which might also help keep you motivated to stay on task.

Sources:

Rebecca A. Seguin, MS, CSCS
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General's call to action to prevent and decrease overweight and obesity. [Rockville, MD]: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General; [2001].

Cheers,

Eve :-)


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