Unconventional Meditation | A Mindful Experience

I am an avid hiker. I don’t travel long distances to hike, the Sandia Mountains are located on the east side of Albuquerque and I can enjoy myriad trails year round.  I know, many places don’t have mountains to hike it, but this isn’t about hiking per se, more about noticing your surroundings while getting a great all over workout.  It’s about learning to focus on your surroundings, breathe deeply and learning to live in the moment, meditating without sitting.

It’s about learning to focus on your surroundings, breathe deeply and learning to live in the moment, meditating without sitting.

Walking out the front door is easy.  Put on a pair of shoes and go!  I will attempt to talk about how to meditate while working out.  As you start to walk notice your surroundings, each yard is different, people are walking their dogs, different cars go by, the ever changing cloud patterns…  Walk at different speeds, find hills, include a jog once in awhile.  Take time to think about what your body is doing.  Focus on your breath.  Try slow deep breaths through the nose, try faster deeper breaths, not too fast, through your mouth.  As you settle into a pattern and focus on your breath your walk becomes meditative.  Breathe in, breathe out…  In time you become aware of every step, every breath, every blade of grass, every tree, every cloud.

Even a cardio workout at the gym can be meditative.  You step onto the elliptical trainer, set your time, resistance and incline, and you start to move.  Right, left, right, left, breathe deep, find a cadence.  If you listen to music you can keep time with the beat.  Try breathing in time with your feet, every right and left is one breath, or slow it down to every two or three revolutions.  Follow the cadence of someone next to you while you look out the window and admire the clouds.  The focus is on the breath.

As I hike I try to stay in the moment.  I listen to each breath, hear each footstep as it lands on the ground and notice each twig I break as I look at the vegetation that has changed from green and lush to sparse and dry in the winter months, and back to green in the spring and summer  I can hike the same trail ten times in three months and see something different each time.  The world is amazing – pay attention to everything!

I teach my students and clients to be mindful and present.  We work on breath, focus and mindfulness.  Of course we work on strength, cardio, nutrition and general fitness too but our lifeline is our breath, we need to focus to be present and enjoy our life, and mindfulness is just plain good karma.  It can take a lifetime to learn to master, but with daily practice we can achieve the things we want and enjoy every moment.  Learning to meditate teaches us patience and calmness.  This patience and calmness can help us in many aspects of our life.

You don’t need mountains to walk.  Head out the front door and breathe in the day.

Author: Mindy Caplan ACSM-EP is a New Mexico-based Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer, Wellness/Lifestyle Coach, and Yoga Instructor.

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Ten Things You Need to Know About Sports Nutrition

Dan Benardot, PhD, DHC, RD, LD, FACSM 

  1. Look Beyond Weight When Determining Health It’s not your weight that matters, it’s what constitutes your weight. Find a way to learn if you have too little muscle or too much fat and find a strategy (exercise and eating well) that increases muscle and lowers fat. The number on the scale might stay the same, but you will look better, perform better and will be healthier.
  2. Building Muscle Takes More Than Just Protein Building muscle requires a combination of:
    • Added resistance to muscles
    • Staying in a good energy balanced state to encourage anabolic hormone production
    • Having a good distribution of nutrients to sustain tissue health
    • Adequate sleep
    • Consuming more protein in the right amounts and at the right times to encourage muscle protein synthesis
  3. Protein: It’s Not Just More, But When and How Much If you are an athlete, you need about double the protein as nonathletes, but just eating more protein isn’t enough. It must be consumed in the right amounts, at the right times and when in a reasonably good energy balanced state. Randomly eating more protein doesn’t accomplish what the body needs.
  4. Infrequent Meals Cause Problems Meal skipping, or eating in a pattern that fails to satisfy energy requirements in real time, creates many problems including higher body fat levels, lower lean mass and greater cardiometabolic risk factors. Interestingly, more frequent eating is associated with lower total caloric intake because of better ghrelin (appetite hormone) control.
  5. Eating Good Foods Helps the Microbiome Keep You Healthy Inadequate intake of fresh fruits and vegetables may alter the microbiome, resulting in higher body fat percentage and reduced athletic performance. Consuming plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables helps to sustain good bacterial colonies that live in the gut. Additional benefit: Fruits and vegetables give you the carbs you may lack for maximal performance.
  6. Good Food, Bad Food, Wrong Choice There is no perfect food, and if you keep eating the same food(s) because you believe it’s good for you, you place yourself at nutritional risk. There is no substitute for eating a wide variety of foods that are well-distributed throughout the day. You don’t get too much of anything potentially bad, and you expose tissues to all the nutrients they need.
  7. Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) can be a Problem The best exercise performance occurs when you have enough energy to support the exercise. If you frequently post-load by consuming the energy (calories) after the workout/competition, be aware of the potential health and performance consequences. You can’t drive your car on an empty tank of gas, and neither can you perform well if your tank is empty.
  8. Poor Hydration, Poor Performance Sustaining the best possible fluid balance is important for many reasons, including sustaining heart stroke volume, sustaining sweat rates, enabling delivery of nutrients to working cells and enhancing removal of metabolic waste products from cells.
  9. Recovery from Exercise is Just as Important as the Exercise Putting stress on muscles through exercise isn’t enough to reap the full health benefits. You must give muscles an opportunity to recover from the stress so that they can benefit from the exercise. Adequate sleep is important by helping to sustain appropriate eating behaviors and muscle recovery.
  10. It Is Important to Learn How to Lower Stress Stress levels impact eating behavior. High stress levels can lead to the consumption of energy-dense foods that are high in fat and sugar. Find a strategy for stress-reduction that can help you sustain optimal nutrition, which will positively influence both performance and health.

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A Season of Football Head Impacts Does Not Affect Balance

Image result for athlete balance exercises

There is considerable public concern about the effects of repetitive football head impacts on a player’s brain health. Many studies suggest a link between head impacts and poorer health. Safe and efficient walking and balance are critical for activities of daily living and can reflect a person’s overall health.

In this study, investigators evaluated 34 collegiate football players who wore head impact sensors and compared their walking and balance to 13 cheerleaders before and after a single season at two different colleges. Surprisingly, there was no worsening of walking or balance performance in the football players over the course of the season compared to their status before a season or compared to the cheerleaders. The helmet sensor data showed that these players, on average, were exposed to 538 impacts over the course of the competitive season. However, neither the number of impacts nor the force of the impacts had much influence on walking or balance performance measures in the athletes.

The conclusion of this study is that repetitive football head impacts did not affect walking or balance performance over a single season. The possible effects of these impacts over multiple seasons or in later life remain unknown.

For more information, view the abstract

American College of Sports Medicine

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Does Female Teen-Aged Development Change Hip and Knee Landing Biomechanics: Are there Implications for Knee Injury?

Knee injuries in adolescent females, including anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture, are increasing in frequency. One of the suspected causes is poor landing technique characterized by ‘knock-knee’ posture. Pubertal development is associated with rapid growth of the long bones and surrounding soft tissue and is thought to be an underlying contributor to poor knee and lower limb biomechanics. Yet, no previous studies have investigated the effects of female pubertal development stages on knee and hip biomechanics during a single-limb landing task.

In this study of 93 healthy and physically active girls, the investigators grouped subjects according to pre-pubertal, early/mid-pubertal and late/post-pubertal development stages. All girls had their hip and knee biomechanics recorded with three-dimensional (3-D) motion analysis and force-plate technology while they completed a single-limb landing task. This experimental task was designed to mimic the mechanism of traumatic sporting knee injuries. Girls at latter stages of puberty were heavier, taller and landed with higher 3-D knee forces in comparison to girls at earlier stages of development.

These findings indicate that pubertal-related growth may contribute to higher rates of female adolescent knee injury.

For more information, view the abstract

American College of Sports Medicine

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