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What is Your Zone?

One of the most accurate and effective ways of keeping track of what is happening inside your body during exercise is to use your heart rate as a guide for your training.

A heart rate monitor can tell you exactly how hard or easy that you are training by measuring your pulse via a sensor in the chest strap. Wrist based heart rate monitors are good too but they tend to be less accurate.

 

Your heart rate can be used to ensure you are training at the right intensity based on your own metrics and for your personal goals. Other ways to measure intensity are the talk test i.e how easy you can hold a conversation, and to simply grade your training on how it feels on a scale from 0-10.  While all these tools can be used to define the intensity at which you are training, your heart rate is still the most accurate and easiest way to know how your body is responding to the training.

And this is where the heart rate zones come in.

Heart rate zones are the values that lie between your resting heart rate and your maximum heart rate (HRmax). These zones correspond to different training intensities and have different training benefits. By monitoring your heart rate with a heart rate monitor, you can accurately determine the correct zone to train in and make certain that you get the best results from your training.

 

The special zones can be used for different situations and activities, for example:

  •  to make sure you hit the right intensity levels during a high intensity interval training (HIIT) session
  • to ensure you stay in the recovery phase after a competition
  • to help you plan the effort used during your next run

The heart rate zones are divided into five zones, 1-5, and are based on a percentage of your maximum heart rate.

Zone 1: Very Light Intensity 50-60% of HRmax

This is the very low intensity zone. Use this zone to prepare your body for work in the higher heart rate zones during your warm-up, but also during the cool-down and training at this intensity is also great for recovery.

Zone 2: Light Intensity 60-70% of HRmax

Exercising in this zone feels light and comfortable, and you should be able to go on for a long time at this intensity. If you want to increase your endurance, this is the zone to work in.

Zone 3: Moderate Intensity 70-80% of HRmax

Now it’s getting a little tougher but it stills feels easy to hold a conversation with your training partner. This zone also increases on your endurance but will challenge your body more than zone 2, and because of that it will make your body work more efficient.

Zone 4: High Intensity 80-90% of HRmax

Zone 4 is where the training gets harder. You’ll be breathing hard and while you may be able to speak in short sentences, whole conversations are definitely off the table.

Zone 5: Maximum Intensity 90-100% of HRmax

Heart rate zone 5 is your maximal exertion.  This is hard effort, and your body is working at maximum capacity so you will only be able to continue at this intensity for a couple of minutes before getting fatigued. This is where you want to be for short sprints and maximal effort.

If you are interested in learning more on how to incorporate heart rate zones into your training or want to know what zones are best for your training goals, book an appointment with us today and we will help you every step of the way.

 


Sport & Exercise Scientist Evelina Kortzon holds a Bachelor degree in Sport and Exercise Science and a Master of Philosophy in Skeletal Muscle Physiology from the University of Stirling, UK. Her main interests are muscle physiology, health and wellbeing, and as a former swimmer she is definitely up for giving clients an advice or two that can be used in the pool.

As a sport scientist, she takes a scientific approach when helping clients, using the data from performance tests and current research to give the best advice possible.  No matter if you are an athlete or just starting out your journey to a healthier lifestyle, working with a sport scientist can help you reach your goals.

 

Book an appointment with Evelina to learn more about how you can use heart rate zones to optimize your training and how she can help you reach your goals.

You can also book her and the other members of the XpertHealth team for workshops or talks at your company or sporting organisation.

Contact us today to learn more!

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5 Tips to Run Faster

Running is becoming exceedingly popular in China, with every other weekend playing host to some sort of marathon, triathlon or trail run.

In light of this, XpertHealth wants to share with you a few hints regarding the best ways you can optimize your running efficiency to maximize your effectiveness.

First of all, running technique in the lower extremities comes down to a simple equation:
STRIDE LENGTH x STRIDE FREQUENCY
Research has shown that the optimal stride length and frequency will depend on the individual, however as you become fitter you can make changes to these factors due to improvements in your maximal oxygen uptake, ie: when you’re fitter your body doesn’t require as much oxygen and you don’t fatigue as quickly when running.

The image above highlights that oxygen consumption increases as the freely chosen running stride length (cm) increases. For this particular athlete, the optimal stride length at 14km/hr is around 135cm. As you can see, by taking a larger stride the subject places a greater stress on their lactate and cardiovascular system, hence improving your fitness should counteract some of these effects.

In saying this, if you are trying to improve your ‘cruising speed’ (the speed you can remain at for long periods of time), try to modify your stride length to be longer. Stride variability has been seen to vary with smaller stride lengths, which means a less efficient technique. Also, by increasing the length of your stride you will cover a greater distance at a faster rate, and this means a personal best time might well be on its way!

While there seems to be an optimum stride length and frequency for every runner and every speed, you can alter this to suit your needs by:

1. Improving your cardiovascular fitness. This will help improve the efficiency and rate of your maximal oxygen uptake. One way you can test your current cardiovascular fitness is via a VO2 Max Test.

2. Training via interval or sprint-based running. This will improve body composition and cardiovascular fitness, which will naturally increase both your stride rate and stride frequency. Hence, over time your cruising speed should improve as well.

3. Resistance train. Weights have been shown to improve a plethora of physiological responses to assist in improving your level of running, such as increasing neuromuscular efficiency and lactate threshold. This means you can run for a longer period of time before becoming fatigued.

4. Improve your body composition. Optimize your efficiency by having a better ratio of lean muscle mass to body fat. This can be achieved by working with a sports dietitian to help you manage your food intake and fine-tuning nutrient timing to adequately fuel your training.

5. Work on technique. Ask a friend to film you running and use the footage to assess your technique – is your foot striking under your knee? Are your elbows at 90 degrees or less? Are your hands relaxed? Most importantly, are you running comfortably and injury-free? Making small changes to your arms, torso and stride can all help improve your running effectiveness.

Ultimately, to be your best at running you will need to:

Optimize efficiency to maximize effectiveness!

Good luck with your event and don’t hesitate to contact us at info@xperthealth.comfor further advice or training/nutrition programs.

 

References:

1. Stride variability in human gait: the effect of stride frequency and stride length- F. Danion, E Varraine, M Bonnard, J Pailhous (2003)
2. How do stride length and stride frequency influence the energy-output during running? –Paul Hogberg

You need it – We got it at XpertHealth!

Click HERE to set up a FREE consultation today to take a step closer at becoming an Xpert of your health.


5 Healthy Habits That Will Help You Achieve Your Goals

From the XpertHealth team to you – The healthy habits that we try to live by.

Most of us have goals in many areas of our lives. We work towards big goals at work, using different strategies trying to achieve them; we have yet another set of strategies to achieve the goals we set with our training, and yet some other goals with our personal lives, our health and so on. For many of us it is our habits that make the biggest difference in the endeavour to reach our goals. This is also where some of us tend to struggle.

The way we look at healthy habits are very individual, and differs widely even within our own team. When asked to list five healthy habits that we try to incorporate in our lifestyles the members of our team all listed something different. This doesn’t mean that the five habits my colleague listed are more accurate than mine or the other way around, on the contrary. We base our replies on our own circumstances, goals, personalities, and knowledge.

Instead of using this article to tell you what we believe are the best five healthy habits to focus on, we hope that you will use this as inspiration to find your own five habits that will make sure your lifestyle supports your goals.

So here are some of the healthy habits that we try to incorporate into our lives.

Nutrition:

· Strive to eat as much fruits and vegetables in your diet as possible. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables have been shown to reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers. The World Health Organisation recommends at least 500g of fruits and vegetables each day, which is around 2 pieces of fruit and 2-3 cups of chopped vegetables.

· Always try to have 1 fist-sized amount of vegetables each with your lunch and dinner.

· Remember to enjoy the food that you eat! Use the internet to learn about “Mindful Eating” and stop feeling guilty about your food choices. Choose that chocolate cake and savour it!

· Stay hydrated! Carry a water bottle with you every day and drink at least 1.5L of fluids (preferably water) per day, and even more on hot days or during exercise.

· No foods are forbidden- however you may need to eat less of some foods and more of others depending on your health and goals.

Sleep:

· Make sleep a priority!  Sleep is time for the body to rest, recover and relax and it is very important for our bodies and brains to have some down time.

· Try to go to bed before 11pm each night to make sure you get that much needed rest.

 

Exercise & Physical Activity:

· Make movement part of your daily life! Our bodies were made for movement, so move as much as possible and in different ways.

· Aim to be out of breath from exercise at least 3 times each week. Exercise helps relieve stress, releases endorphins (the body’s feel-good hormones), and reduces the risks of a multitude of chronic diseases and mental illnesses. Exercise is good for both your physical and mental wellbeing.

 

Life Balance:

· Strive towards a balance between all areas of life – work life, personal life, social life and love life.

· Try to minimise the use of electronics in bed before going to sleep – this includes your phone, iPad, laptops and TV. Screens omit blue wavelength that affect sleep. And surely there isn’t an email so important it can’t wait until the next morning?!

· Create a lifestyle where a healthy diet, exercise and your mental wellbeing are equally important.

 

Emotional Health:

· Never go a day without smiling and laughing! Life is better when you smile. If you ever struggle, fake a smile in the mirror and keep smiling like that until that forced smile turns into a real smile.

· Expect the unexpected in life! By removing expectations you will also reduce your overall stress and frustration.

· Keep the positive people in your life, and remove yourself from those who bring you down.

· Be kind to yourself! Take your current circumstances into consideration and don’t be too hard on yourself. Sometimes life gets busy and you need to change your plans.

· Listen to your body! It tends to tell us when to slow down, to speed up, to eat, drink and sleep. Are you listening?

You can choose to adapt to all, or none, of these habits but reflect on what is important for you, and what habits will help you
reach your goals. How does your lifestyle and health today compare to your goals and where you want to be? Are there any changes that you can easily make or are your habits really good already? If you know that you want to make a change but are not sure where to start, then contact us today and let us help you.

It all starts with one question: What is your goal? 

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Successful Weight Loss

What is the best way to lose weight? There is an overabundance of information available on social media platforms about the “best way”. However, very few of us consider asking the people who have lost a lot of weight how they achieved it. These people are the real weight loss experts.

What is their secret? According to the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) – a research group that investigates the characteristics of individuals who have succeeded at long-term weight loss – there is no single best way to lose weight. Not one. There are actually many ways to lose weight. And the best way is that which suits the individual.

Even though the best method is that which suits the individual, the NWCR has found three common factors that are employed by individuals who have succeeded at long-term weight loss. These are:

1.     Regular self-weighing

2.     Eating a smaller variety of food

3.     Intense exercise.
To expand on these points:

1. Regular self-weighing

Regular self-weighing allows an individual to keep track of sneaky weight gain and make immediate lifestyle changes to rectify the situation. During particularly celebratory periods, such as holidays or Christmas, it’s quite easy to put on an extra 300-500g of weight. It doesn’t sound like much, but over the years we all know it can start to add up.

For the sake of an argument though, we shouldn’t purely base our weight loss success on the scale number. There are many other ways to track weight loss. For example, how do your clothes fit; how much energy do you have; are you making healthier food choices; are you sleeping better; are you managing your stress more appropriately? All of these lifestyle changes promote healthy and sustainable weight loss.
A sensible recommendation is to weigh yourself once a week or fortnightly on the same day and at the same time. This will enable you to stay on track without obsessing over it.

2. Eating a smaller variety of food

The NWCR found that individuals who succeeded with weight loss ate a smaller variety of food no matter if it was a weekday, weekend or holiday, ie: they always ate similar foods. This isn’t to say we need to eat the same food everyday (that would be both boring and unhealthy), but try to eat similar portions of food and similar types of food each day. For example, if you eat a sandwich everyday for lunch during the week, eat a sandwich for lunch on the weekend – just mix up the sandwich fillings to keep it interesting.

3. Intense Exercise

The NWCR found that people who have succeeded with longterm weight loss burnt an average of 2,621 calories per week. For an 84kg (185lb) male, this equates to a 1-hour jog four times a week, or two 1-hour games of basketball and two spinning classes per week.

Intensity is one of the most important factors when it comes to exercise and fat loss. One of the simplest and most effective ways to gauge how hard you are working is to measure your heart rate while exercising.

A possible way to do this is via the 180 Method, which subtracts a person’s chronological age from 180 to find their maximum heart rate. This figure is then adjusted to reflect their physiological age as indicated by fitness and health factors.

Once you know your maximum heart rate, check out our “What is Your Zone?” article from May 19 to see which zone you should be training in to reach your goals – be they related to speed, performance, or weight loss.

No matter what sport or physical activity you do, just make sure you are moving everyday! And find an enjoyable routine that suits your lifestyle.

So there they are – the three most common habits of individuals who have succeeded at longterm weight loss. Of most importance is this: find what works for you because you know your body best.

If you need some assistance finding the right approach for your own weight loss goals, contact us today. We’ll be With You Every Step of the Way.

You need it  We got it at XpertHealth! 

Click HERE to set up a FREE consultation today to take a step closer at becoming an Xpert of your health.

Beat the Heat!

With temperatures in Shanghai reaching above 40°C and the humidity on top of that, most of us
are desperately looking for ways to cool down! Here are 10 tips that might help make this heat wave just a little more bearable.

1.  Cool down with Frozen Snacks! 

Cold snacks like ice cream, ice lollies, ice cubes and frozen fruit will be both tasty and thirst quenching for those times when the cravings sets in.

Try putting grapes and pieces of banana and watermelon in the freezer for a few hours, they will turn into delicious cool snacks that will satisfy your sweet tooth and keep you hydrated at the same time.

 

2.    Time for a Cold Shower! 

Cold showers, cool packs and cold compresses will help to reduce your body
temperature. Place a wet towel, a cool pack or a cold compress on your chest, neck or your shoulders, and relax as you cool down.

Or fill a basin with water and ice cubes, pull up a chair, grab a good book or put on your favourite TV-show, and soak your feet – this will cool your whole body!

 

3.    Give Yourself a Break! 

Readjust your schedule to adapt to the heat. Go to the pool, relax in the shade, shop online or go to shopping malls with air conditioning, and have dinner a little later in the evenings.

 

4.    Change your Exercise Routine! 

Exercise indoors to get away from the scorching sun or in the early mornings or late at night when the temperature is lower.

 

 

5.    Remember to Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate! 

Drink plenty of water, sports drinks if you are training, and stock up on ice cubes.  Make sure you have bottles of water or a jug of water in the fridge so that you always have quick access to cold water.

If you want some flavour to your water add a couple of slices of lemon, peach or cucumber, or a few branches of fresh mint, for a refreshing drink. While it might be tempting, try to avoid large amounts of alcoholic drinks, coffee and tea, as these will make you dehydrate faster.

 

6.    Keep your Home Cool by:

  • Eating out instead of using the stove and oven.
  • Getting a fan.
  • Blocking out the sun by closing the blinds and curtains, and keep doors and windows closed.

 

7.    Dress Appropriately! 

Wear loose-fitting clothes in light colours made from materials like linen or cotton. Loose, light materials will help you feel a little cooler by allowing your skin to breath. Invest in a nice hat if you are spending a lot of time outside to keep your head cool.

 

8.    Feast on Fruit! 

Munch on juicy fruits with high water content like watermelon, grapes, peaches, coconuts (and coconut water), cucumbers and oranges to help you stay hydrated.

 

 

9.    Choose Food that will Lower your Body Temperature! 

Spicy foods might feel like a strange choice but by making you sweat it also helps lower your body temperature. Cold foods like salads, cold soups and sushi will also keep your body temperature down, making you feel more comfortable.

 

 

10. Protect Yourself! 

Don’t forget to use sunscreen to protect your skin and use a pair of sunglasses, with good quality glass, to protect your eyes from the sun’s UV-rays.

 

Know the signs!

Early Warning Signs of Heat Stroke:

  • Headache, dizziness, confusion and disorientation.
  • Excessive sweating and/or flushing
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Chills and/or goose bumps
  • Fainting

Signs of Heat Stroke:

  • Core body temperature above 40°C
  • Rapid breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Seizures

If you suspect that you, or someone else, is suffering from a heat stroke then:

  •  Call your hospital or if the situation escalates 120 for ambulance service (in Shanghai).
  • Try to lower the body temperature of the affected person by spraying them with cold water, cold baths, or packing them with cold packs and compresses.
  • If they are able to drink, give them cold water.

You need it  We got it at XpertHealth!

 Click HERE to set up a FREE consultation today to take a step closer at becoming an Xpert of your health.