Won-D-Full

Vitamin D has been in the news a lot recently and for good reasons. Despite what the media may suggest, Vitamin D deficiency is definitely not a new sensation.  Here in the UK, vitamin D levels have been declining for many years but as the research improves, so does the awareness.  So this month I will discuss why vitamin D is such an important element of health and fitness.

Bones

Many people automatically assume that calcium is the go-to mineral to improve the health and strength of human bones. Although this is true, as with many health and fitness trends, there is a missing component.  Calcium does not bond very well (if at all) to the bone unless there is a sufficient level of vitamin D in the system.  Simply consuming large amounts of calcium will not guarantee strong bones.

Studies on early humans have shown that despite a lack of calcium from such foods as dairy, they still had strong non-porous bones. This is down to the combination of being outside in the sunshine and performing physical tasks.  In modern times this is substituted with weight training and taking a vitamin D supplement.

Sunlight

Human skin can produce lots of vitamin D when large amounts of skin are exposed to sunlight. Your body is designed to get the vitamin D it needs by producing it when your bare skin is exposed to sunlight. However, the sun needs to be strong enough for this to happen but unfortunately we are so ‘sun scared’ due to incorrect media attention that we cover ourselves in sun cream and clothing before we have had a chance to become exposed to the sun.  Therefore, the very few months of the year where we could actually allow our bodies to produce vitamin D, we block it.

I am definitely not suggesting that we spend hours exposed to the sun in the height of summer. However, we do need to build up our resilience. We can do this by going out in the sun for 5 minutes before applying sun protection. We can then build up the time to an appropriate level in order to allow our bodies to produce vitamin D without burning.

Supplement

I personally have been supplementing with vitamin D for over a decade and have used it to great effect when being caught in the sun and looking that classic ‘Brits Abroad’ shade of red.  Consuming a high dosage of the supplement form of vitamin D prior to bed allowed me to wake the next morning back to my normal skin tone.  I personally have also found that consuming medium to high dosages of vitamin D for a few weeks before going into the sun can allow you to be exposed to the sun for longer without burning.

I must state that you should consult a doctor or other professional medical health practitioner before exposing yourelf to the sun for long periods.

Benefits

Other than simply getting that perfect bronze colour on holiday, vitamin D has a multitude of health benefits.  Boosting your immune system to help fight colds and flu, regulating insulin levels to aid diabetes management and supporting lung and cardiovascular health are just some of the health benefits this long lost vitamin supplies us with.  My advice? Source out a good quality vitamin D supplement and spend time in the sunshine whenever you can… Speedos are optional.

Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather

Before you all start thinking I am writing an old television review, for those that are not aware, this is the first part of an old proverb; ‘Birds of a feather flock together’.  Its origins seem to date back to around the mid-16th century and its meaning implies that those of a similar disposition tend to stay in the same groups.

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Balancing Act – Part One

Balancing Act – Part One

As the summer months are on the horizon, the days are longer and (hopefully) the weather is better, more and more people will start turning to some form of exercise to look and feel better.  Although numerous people will embark on the fat loss mission, too many will forget to actually use their muscles to achieve both a better physique and better health.  In this two part article I will talk about why finding the right balance between the two is important.

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Boost Your Energy

Boost Your Energy

In more ways than one we are in an energy crisis in this country.  I often hear potential clients talk about wanting more energy or reclaiming that vitality they once had.  And this does not just affect people who would be categorised as ‘unhealthy’.  Tiredness can affect everyone, so this month I will talk about a few of the common ways to regain our energy and reduce the habits which cause this national fatigue in the first place.

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Female Weight Training

Female Weight Training

Having been in the Health and Fitness industry for almost a decade, I have both seen many mistakes and heard many myths regarding females lifting weights.  This month I will discuss the positive effects of training and hopefully shed some light on some of the popular incorrect beliefs surrounding this subject.

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Training Vs Exercise

Although this may appear to be somewhat of a pedantic debate on initial sight, I believe that there is actually a big difference between ‘exercising’ and ‘training’.  So this month I will talk about the differences between these terms and why you may be doing the wrong thing to achieve the results you seek.  

Physique

Walk around any major city in Europe and you will see many statues of Greek and Roman gods dotted around various squares, buildings and parks.  You will also notice that most of the statues portray the body image that many of us seek today, both male and female.  This alone would suggest that the concept of either training or exercise have been around for many centuries.

 The first ancient games were held in Olympia around the time of 800BC.  The games were staged for many decades and would have included such events as boxing, wrestling, jumping and discus. The athletes would have had to train for these specific events and therefore ‘general exercise’ would not have been on the agenda.

Exercise

Although massively popular, exercise classes do not often produce the results which people seek and I believe this is due to a lack of muscle contraction.  Exercise classes are fantastic if you want to get hot and sweaty, get the heart pumping and become out of breath.  These are all great outcomes because they all do have a positive benefit and many people see cardiovascular improvements and weight loss from attending these classes.  However, not many see changes in terms of strength and muscle toning or aesthetics.

Because you are simply ‘moving around’ your muscles are not being used to much of their potential and therefore you are missing out on a larger array of positive benefits from your efforts.

Training

Unlike exercise classes, training (in this case weight training) involves a conscious muscle contraction where the trainee is, or should be, asked to squeeze particular muscles to encourage activation.  This contraction of the muscles ultimately produces a cascade of hormonal changes which many exercise classes will not. 

This provides your body with the ability to burn calories while you are training, but unlike aerobic exercise, burn calories for up to 72 hours afterwards, making it a much more effective form of fat loss. 

Losing body fat is only one part of the ‘desired body’ journey.  Simply losing body fat but not building any muscle will leave you lean but shapeless.  You have to start building muscle to achieve that toned or athletic look.  The level of muscle building is then determined by your training frequency and effort, as well as your macro nutrient consumption.

Among other benefits such as improved heart, lung and bone health, increased energy and stress relief, a study published in the International SportMed Journal suggests that morning weight training greatly improves our quality of sleep and lengthens the time of sleep the night after training.  So before you embark on your health and fitness campaign, consider training with a professional to get greater results from your efforts.