Move. Tag. Support. Share.

These four simple words comprise the essence of #IMovedToday, a social media movement that aims to support and encourage people in their efforts to integrate more activity in their lives.

Many people are starting the new year with new goals that involve movement and health. In fact, according to a YouGov poll, the most popular New Year’s Resolution for 2019 was to get more exercise…a great goal! Unfortunately, according to U.S. News, approximately 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February. The reasons that happens are numerous and often complex, and are usually accompanied by sinking feelings of guilt and failure, as people slip back into their old, less healthful habits. But what about those 20% of people who stick with their resolutions? What factors are associated with making positive long term changes in their lives?

A study from 2016, led by Drs Kaitlin Woolley (@Kaitlin_Woolley) and Ayelet Fishbach, and published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, suggested that both enjoyment and importance are significant factors in whether people stick to their resolutions. In fact, the researchers found that enjoyment was the factor that mattered the most. In other words, if the participants were getting immediate, positive rewards from their new habits, they would be more likely to make positive long term changes.

This is where #IMovedToday comes in! #IMovedToday is both a hashtag and a supportive, non-judgemental online community that will support your efforts to incorporate more movement in your life. The “rules” for participating are simple and welcoming:

  • 1) MOVE. Anyway you want to. Walk, run, bike, shovel, lift, yardwork. Literally anything you want!
  • 2) Post about your movement on Twitter or Facebook. Use the #IMovedToday hashtag, and tag others you think would want to join.
  • 3) Support other #IMovedToday people. Search #IMovedToday on Twitter, and like, encourage, and engage!
  • 4) Have FUN! Enjoy your bodies abilities and reach your goals to MOVE!

#IMovedToday is the brainchild of Mark Milligan (@markmilligandpt), a practicing physical therapist in Austin, TX, who specializes in orthopaedics and pain science. Mark is also the founder of Anywhere Healthcare (@Anywhere_Health) – “A telehealth platform solving the problem of healthcare access by allowing any provider of any discipline remote access to their patients.”

I recently spoke to Mark, and asked him how he came up with this simple, yet highly motivating, concept. Here’s what he had to say:

“Life is changing in America. In America, people are dying faster and earlier every year and for the first time in century, the life expectancy in the U.S. is getting shorter. Diseases such as heart disease, respiratory disease, cancer, and diabetes are changing the landscapes of our lives as we all know someone who has or who has died from one of these conditions.

Movement is necessary for life. The information and evidence on movement and it’s protective qualities at this point in time are undeniable. Here’s the catch. Most people think that exercise has to be hard, long, exhausting, and unpleasant. That’s a myth. The research supports that just 150 minutes per week (about 21 minutes per day) of intentional movement can provide great health benefits for body and brain! However, if you have not been moving, or have pain with moving, or are having a hard time seeing the benefits of movement, you are not alone!!

Change is hard, especially changes that take daily sacrifices and different choices even when our surroundings don’t change. Most have experienced this in some way throughout their lives. The most common experiences include trying to lose weight, start exercising, stop drinking, to be honest, changing any behavior that is different from the one you already do!!

On the path of change there are several different stages and each stage needs support in different ways. During all stages, information and support are needed. #IMovedToday was born out of a desire to provide information and support people making the choice to change their life, and move when that choice is HARD! So please join us. We will support you in your choice to move and make a difference in your life, and the more people you bring along with you, the better!”

And there you have it! How did you MOVE today?

Thanks for reading,

Cheryl

PA Summer Biathlon Race Report

One of my favorite events to watch in the Winter Olympics is the biathlon, a race that involves the power, speed, and endurance of cross-country skiing with the precision, accuracy, and calm of marksmanship. Depending on the particular competition, any missed shots result in extra distance or time added to the contestant’s total skiing distance or time, and the contestant with shortest total time wins.

I’m not sure about anyone else, but I get pretty pumped up and overconfident about my athletic abilities while watching the Olympics. Ski jump? “I could do that!” Haha! Uh…no. Okay, I might be able to do curling (very poorly), which has a low risk of death and looks easy, but in actuality, also requires a high level of skill and training. But seriously, it’s hard not to get excited about sport in general while watching the Olympics. It’s a truly amazing display of elite athletic ability and competition.

In any case, back in February, while reading more about Olympic biathlon, I happened to discover that Pennsylvania (PA) has a Biathlon Club and holds four summer biathlon events each year. I was immediately interested. Summer biathlon?! What’s that? Well, obviously, there is no snow here in the summer in PA, so instead of cross-country skiing, there is cross-country running. (I later found out that the PA Summer Biathlon series was originally developed as a way to encourage US interest in winter biathlon.)

http://www.pabiathlon.com/

After checking out the PA Summer Biathlon schedule, my spouse, son, a friend, and I signed up for one of their events, which happened to be this past Saturday in Nescopek, PA. As the weekend approached, the weather forecast was not looking good. They were calling for heavy rain the few days before the race and on race day morning. Disappointing, but a little lot rain was not going to stop me. I’ve run in poor weather conditions before, and was ready for the challenge.

This biathlon was set up as follows:

1 mile run

25 m shoot in prone (5 shots)

1 mile run

25 m shoot in standing (5 shots)

1 mile run

The run was an out-and-back course, mostly flat, through a corn field, and there was a 70 m penalty lap for each shot missed before heading back out for the next mile loop.

No experience is necessary, but if you’ve never participated in biathlon, you must attend the beginner’s clinic which is held immediately before the race. We all went to the clinic which was really helpful and informative. We learned about the rules and history of biathlon, how to use a .22 caliber biathlon rifle, and then had a chance to practice 5 shots in prone and 5 shots in standing (with individual supervision/training). I surprised myself, never having handled a rifle before, and made 4/5 in prone and 2/5 in standing (during practice). Just before the event, we had a brief pre-race meeting and then got started. They sent people off in sets of 1 or 2 on the minute. We wore biathlon bib tanks over our race clothes, and it had the number which told you when you started. I had number 7 and so I started in the 7th wave.

To start, we ran a mile on the well marked, out and back course. The course conditions were very poor…uneven footing, flooded, with deep, unavoidable puddles that seemed to get bigger and deeper on each lap. To add to the challenge, I had to stop and tie each of my shoes again during the first mile (despite double knotting them beforehand). But honestly, I LOVED it! Well, I probably would have overall enjoyed myself more if it were sunny and 65°F, but the ridiculousness of the hard rain and mud brought back a lot of fun memories of college cross country. Also, since it was an out and back course that we did three times, we all got to see all the other competitors several times, which added to the enjoyment. There was really no way to run super fast through the course, although the overall winner, a local, very experienced woman biathlon competitor, managed close to a 6:30 pace to win the entire event.

After the first mile, you head to the range. There is a walk zone where you must stop running as you enter the range. The range marshals then direct you to a lane where you set up and shoot. If no lanes are open when you get there (which didn’t happen to me), they will give you a time deduction for the time you spend waiting. Anyway, for my prone shots, I only made 2/5 this time. My rifle jammed on my 3rd shot and I had to raise my hand and ask for help. It took a minute or two, and they couldn’t fix it, so they changed out my rifle. Supposedly, they deducted time for that, but I’m not sure how much or exactly how they figured it out. I suspect it was a loose estimation. Honestly, though, I wasn’t really too concerned about that since it was my first time competing, and it was pouring rain. Anyway, since I missed 3 shots, and I had to do 3 penalty laps and then head back out in the mud for another mile.

After my second mile, I headed back to the range. For my standing shots, I only made 1/5. No problems with the rifle, but it was a lot to remember to how set up in the ideal position, and it’s harder to control your shot when you are still breathing relatively hard. Four more penalty laps…..

I then headed out for the last mile. At this point, each of my “lightweight” Topo Fly-Lite 2 trainers weighed about 5 lbs each. But who cares?!?!? It was such fun! Classic cross-country style running!!! At least I finished my run before the sideways, torrential rain came down. Other competitors were not so lucky.

In any case, we all won awards. I took 1st place Masters Female and my spouse, son, and friend, all won their age group. Oh, and for each shot you miss during the event, you get a ticket to put in a raffle. And we all won raffle prizes too! In fact, everyone won a prize! Yay!

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 2.23.36 PM.png

Aside from the rain, the only real bad part was the bathroom. It was a true outhouse, and not exactly clean. But overall, super fun!!!! We all enjoyed ourselves a lot. There are several more events this summer, and I’m already signed up for another one in July.

Hope you enjoyed this race report!

Cheryl

Disclaimer: I do not own a rifle or any other type of firearm, and I am very much in support of stricter gun control laws. My interest in biathlon was to experience the combined sport aspect of running and marksmanship.

Do you feel the need, the need for fatigue?

If you’ve never seen the classic ’80s movie, ‘Top Gun’, go watch it. For those of you have seen it, you may recognize that the title of this post is based on an oft-quoted line: “I feel the need, the need for speed.” The movie is about a group of advanced fighter pilots in an elite US Navy flying school. These guys are in the prime of their life, physically speaking, and they go hard and fast. All. The. Time.

Okay, now that we have today’s ’80s education out of the way….

I was talking to a friend the other day, and she was telling me about a recent workout she did at a local gym. She had taken a high intensity interval training (HIIT) class, which involves alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods.

“It was great, “she said with a big smile on her face, “My legs were toast. I could barely walk afterwards!”

Let that sink in for a moment. She could “barely walk” at the end of her workout, and she was happy about it!

Now, I’m sure she was exaggerating to some extent, but her sentiment is not uncommon. In fact, I regularly see posts on social media from people who brag about feeling completely spent from spin class, kickboxing, running, or a workout involving scores of burpees, push ups, lunges or whatever. Regardless of the nature of the exercise, these individuals regularly push themselves close to their breaking point. Not only do they believe that exhaustion is the hallmark of a good workout, but they seem to have a need for fatigue. They crave that physical, psychological, and emotional rush that often accompanies a really hard effort. It can feel satisfying in more ways than one, and serves as an immediate confirmation (and sometimes as a lasting reminder) that you “worked out”….an invisible badge of honor, so to speak. And I get it. I used to seek it too. In fact, prior to my long bout with injuries and chronic pain, I often viewed deep fatigue as an integral, even desirable, aspect of exercise. If there was no fatigue, I didn’t work hard enough. But I was wrong.

Complete exhaustion does not equal great workout.

Before I go any further, allow me to explain. There is nothing wrong with hard work that challenges you. And I’m not picking on a specific form of exercise. Crossfit, powerlifting, running, HIIT, just to name a few, all have value and provide exercise benefits. Getting your heart rate up to promote cardiovascular fitness is, indeed, a valuable component of a healthy exercise program. There is also a time and place for pushing your limits and going for PRs. However, these times should be saved for competition and/or lightly sprinkled on top of a large volume of quality training that is designed to help you improve, not stress your body to the point at which you have difficulty moving your body.

Wait…doesn’t exercise reduce stress? Yes! Many studies have demonstrated that regular exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem.

So, why would exercise cause stress? Well, exercise itself is a form of physiological stress. The body actually needs stress to grow stronger, faster, more agile, etc. and, in fact, the stress must be above a minimum threshold intensity in order to produce these adaptations. But here’s the rub: Too much stress, in the form of intensity and/or frequency, can result in chronically elevated stress hormones such as cortisol, which can interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density and has been linked to weight gain, high blood pressure, and heart disease, among other things. Further, pushing your body to the point of excessive fatigue also places a tremendous amount of stress on your nervous system. The reason you may have “trouble walking” after a hard workout is because you’ve taxed your nervous system to the point where the brain starts shutting down your ability to move before you’re able to inflict serious or permanent damage to yourself.

Does this sound like a good path to better health and fitness?

I don’t think so either. The goal of any health and fitness program should be to improve, not take a step backwards. Yet, day after day…especially in January….people flock to the gym and push themselves beyond their limits. Quite frankly, it’s counterproductive and not helping them reach their goals. The hard part for most people, however, is finding that sweet spot. How do you know if you are getting enough exercise, but not too much? How do you know if you are putting in enough effort, but not too much?

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-12-22-18-pmAsk yourself…

Are you making steady progress toward your health and fitness goals? Are you moving well, seeing improvements in body composition and strength? Are you less “out of breath” after you run up a flights of stairs?

Are you practicing quality over quantity? More is not always better. Better is better. Strive for high quality training. If quality starts to fall off and your form or technique starts to fall apart, then you’re done. Better yet, stop before your form begins to break down. (An exception to this rule is hypertrophy training, or bodybuilding, which requires working to failure.)

Can you see yourself exercising this way a few times per week for the next 10-20 years? A good exercise program should be sustainable over the long haul.

How do you feel after your workout? A quality workout should leave you feeling invigorated and ready to tackle your next task of the day.

Do you feel completely recovered before beginning your next workout? If not, you are very likely are overtraining which depletes your body’s resources and inhibits your ability to recover, putting yourself at increased risk for illness or injury.

“Suppress your desire to keep pushing and learn to do the minimum amount in order to progress.” – Neil Meekings, Trainer and Therapist at Kinect Health

One also should keep in mind that, in addition to recovery, proper nutrition and adequate sleep are critical to good health and fitness. You can be on an ideal exercise program, but if you are eating and sleeping poorly, your performance will suffer and progress will stall.

Listen, it would be great if we were forever in our physical prime like Maverick and Goose. (Well, maybe not so much like Goose. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, go back and reread the first sentence of my post!) But the reality is that most of us are not in our twenties, and if you are in your twenties, you won’t be there forever. Going hard all the time is just not sustainable, and it won’t improve your health and fitness in the long run.

Finally, always remember to put health before fitness. If you are having any pain or discomfort, make time to seek help from a physical therapist who can help you address it before it becomes a bigger problem. They can help facilitate your return to a pain-free, active lifestyle.

Happy New Year!

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Cheryl Keller Capone