Archive for category fitness – general

The Top 3 Tabata Articles

This picture is the only proof you will ever need that Tabata workouts are the ultimate solution to an out of shape flabby physique.

Nasty Tabata Workouts

WARNING: Tabata Workouts WILL Cause Fat Loss



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Canada has a Fitness Czar

According to the Globe and Mail, Canada now has a fitness czar.

Merriam-Webster, defines a czar as follows:


Main Entry:
also tsar or tzar \ˈzär, ˈ(t)sär\
New Latin czar, from Russian tsar’, from Old Russian tsĭsarĭ, from Gothic kaisar, from Greek or Latin; Greek, from Latin Caesar — more at caesar
1: emperor; specifically : the ruler of Russia until the 1917 revolution
2: one having great power or authority <a banking czar>

Now, I am making the assumption that we, as a nation haven’t exhumed the ashes of Russia’s last czar, Nicholas 2 and put him on the government payroll.
Oh wait, my mistake.
Canada’s new fitness czar is Kelly Murumets, President and CEO of ParticipAction. That’s her, banging out push-ups under the watchful eye of her trainer, Nicholas.

Formerly the President of Acceris Communications, Ms. Murumets has taken over the reins of a newly revived ParticipAction. On February 19, 2007, the federal government pledged $5 million to renew the fitness-awareness campaign.

So what is the mandate of ParticipAction.


Our Mission
ParticipACTION’s mission is to provide leadership in collaboration and communications to foster the “movement” that inspires and supports Canadians to move more.

Our Vision

ParticipACTION’s vision is to work with its partners to ensure a Canadian society where people are the most physically active on Earth.

Strategic Goals

  • To animate the movement that inspires and supports Canadians to become more active.
  • To have “physically active” be a part of who we are as Canadians and how we want to be seen by the world.
  • To develop a legacy of collaboration and partnerships to realize the movement.
  • To set the stage for long-term sustainability of the movement.

ParticipACTION’s Role

ParticipACTION will not be involved in direct programming or program delivery. Rather, we will act as a catalyst for communications and action in this sector.

ParticipACTION will take leadership and become the national voice of physical activity and sport participation in/for Canada. We will collaborate with our partners/stakeholders and marshal resources to support the cause and make a difference in the lives of Canadians. Through a national communications program, ParticipACTION will create the dynamic that inspires Canadians to increase their physical activity and inspires society to make it easier to become more physically active. We will work with our partners in advocacy and bring about action through government policies that lead to long-term sustainable change. And, we will gather data, inform the issue and transfer knowledge across the sector and to all Canadians.

So, from what I can see; ParticipAction’s mandate is to crank out some new tv commercials; telling me to stop watching tv.

For my Canadian readers, I bet you remember the old commercials. Here’s a trip down memory lane:

Notice: I will not be held liable if these jingles proceed to ‘ear worm‘ their way into your head and stay there for the foreseeable future.

Here’s one ,and another, and another, and check out this spoof. Classic fromage.

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Exercise is Effective for Fibromyalgia Pain Relief

A few years ago, I had the pleasure to work with a very nice lady who was trying desperately to reduce the painful effects of fibromyalgia. She had been suffering for years as a result of this painful and debilitating condition.

Like most chronic pain conditions, the worst thing may not even be the pain itself. It is the effect that the pain has on the rest of your life. In my client’s case, she spent the first year of her daughter’s life in bed. Every day. Unable to care for her newborn child.

When I met her, she was in better shape. Her daughter was older. She participated in her daughter’s life. She had a challenging career. She was happy. But she was still in constant pain.

She came to me after having quite a few bad experiences with different forms of physical and exercise therapy. At the time, I was working at a fitness club. She was initially assigned to work with a young, female trainer. Her choice.

It didn’t go well. The female trainer, who was a good trainer, knew little about fibromyalgia. During their first workout, she treated her client like a normal, PAIN FREE person. Bad move.

A week later, our fibromyalgia lady returned and demanded her money back. She had spent the last week in bed, popping pills and regretting ever coming into our gym.

I don’t know how, but the owner of the club managed to calm her down and have her agree to sit down and talk with me.

At this point, I knew very little about fibromyalgia. I did, however, know how to talk, or rather listen to justifiably angry women. Yes, I am married.

We discussed her condition. I gave her my opinion and told her that I would spend the next few days researching the subject. A few days later, we met and talked again. I discussed my findings and outlined what my plan for her fitness training would include. After about half an hour, we began our workout.

It was very slow at the beginning, but after about 3 months, everything began to change. Her body changed. She was catching up and blowing by some of my pain-free clients. More importantly, her day to day life improved drastically.

For those of you out there who know someone like my former client, please show them the following research paper, along with my story and do what you have to do to get them moving. They will thank you for it. Not right away…right away they might not be too pleased…but eventually..they will thank you.

Group Exercise, Education, and Combination Self-management in Women With Fibromyalgia

A Randomized Trial

Daniel S. Rooks, ScD; Shiva Gautam, PhD; Matthew Romeling, BS; Martha L. Cross, BS; Diana Stratigakis, BA; Brittany Evans, BS; Don L. Goldenberg, MD; Maura D. Iversen, DPT, SD, MPH; Jeffrey N. Katz, MD, MS

Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(20):2192-2200.

Background Self-management has increasingly been recommended as part of standard care for fibromyalgia, a common, poorly understood condition with limited treatment options. Data that assess popular self-management recommendations are scarce. We evaluated and compared the effectiveness of 4 common self-management treatments on function, symptoms, and self-efficacy in women with fibromyalgia.

Methods A total of 207 women with confirmed fibromyalgia were recruited from September 16, 2002, through November 30, 2004, and randomly assigned to 16 weeks of (1) aerobic and flexibility exercise (AE); (2) strength training, aerobic, and flexibility exercise (ST); (3) the Fibromyalgia Self-Help Course (FSHC); or (4) a combination of ST and FSHC (ST-FSHC). The primary outcome was change in physical function from baseline to completion of the intervention. Secondary outcomes included social and emotional function, symptoms, and self-efficacy.

Results Improvements in the mean Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire score in the 4 groups were –12.7 for the ST-FSHC group, –8.2 for the AE group, –6.6 for the ST group, and –0.3 for the FSHC group. The ST-FSHC group demonstrated greater improvement than the FSHC group (mean difference, –12.4; 95% confidence interval [CI], –23.1 to –1.7). The ST-FSHC (mean difference, 13.6; 95% CI, 2.3 to 24.9) and AE (mean difference, 13.1; 95% CI, 1.6 to 25.6) groups had similar improvements in physical function scores on the 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey. Bodily pain scores on the 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey improved in the ST-FSHC (14.8), AE (13.2), and ST (5.7) groups. Social function, mental health, fatigue, depression, and self-efficacy also improved. The beneficial effect on physical function of exercise alone and in combination with education persisted at 6 months.

Conclusions Progressive walking, simple strength training movements, and stretching activities improve functional status, key symptoms, and self-efficacy in women with fibromyalgia actively being treated with medication. The benefits of exercise are enhanced when combined with targeted self-management education. Our findings suggest that appropriate exercise and patient education be included in the treatment of fibromyalgia.

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Disease Prevention with an Exercise Prescription

In the U.K., doctors are writing exercise prescriptions for their patients.

While it is not an entirely new practice over there, it would be revolutionary on this side of the pond.

Imagine this; instead of billions upon billions of dollars being spent on treating disease, we spent a fraction of that money on preventing disease.

In 2000, the total cost of obesity in the United States was estimated to be $117 billion. About $61 billion was for direct medical costs, and $56 billion was for indirect costs.

That number is likely to increase as the Percentage of Adults Who Report Being Obese, increases year after year.

A study by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US has recently estimated that each physically-active person saves the health care system over $300 annually relative to an inactive person.

With the current U.S. population at 303,980,933, that would work out to a potential savings of $91,194,279,900

In Canada:

  • A study done in 1995 for the Ontario Government called The Relationship between Physical Fitness and the Cost of Health Care, estimated that OHIP medical claim costs could be reduced by $31 million a year if all Ontario adults (aged 20-69) had at least an average level of fitness.
  • Based on CDC study mentioned above, the 63% of Canadians who are still inactive cost the health system $5.7B more than if they were active.
  • In the Economic Burden of Illness in Canada, Health Canada reports that the total direct cost (drugs, physicians, hospitals, research) of illness in 1993 was $44 billion out of an overall cost for health care in Canada of $70 billion.Moreover, the indirect costs such as time lost due to long-term and short-term disabilities, and the present value of future productivity lost due to premature mortality and illness in Canada represents an estimated economic value of $129 billion — nearly 21% of the GDP. Reducing the number of inactive Canadians by a further 10% would result in an additional saving of $5 billion.

So what do we do?

In a Cost-Benefit Analysis of Physical Activity Using Bike/Pedestrian Trails, it was found that every $1 investment (construction, maintenance, equipment and travel) in exercise trails led to $2.94 in direct medical benefit.

A 2004 paper, published the in American Journal of Preventive Medicine has a variety of intervention strategies.

But at the end of the day, all government can do is try to coax us, bribe us or threaten us into adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Ultimately, it is up to the individual to make the conscious decision. Is the benefit of living an active and healthy life worth the cost?

Is it?

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The Components of Physical Fitness

Physical fitness made simple has moved!

Hey everyone,

I have recently decided to transfer the content of my fitness site ( and my diet/nutrition site ( to my new blog:

I was getting a lot of questions on topics other than diet and fitness training. With a more general health blog, I can focus on topics not specifically exercise or diet.

I hope everyone enjoys


This particular post is available here

What is physical fitness?

You will receive some very different answers depending upon who you ask.

To a person with a medical condition, physical fitness may be a day without pain or a day where they have the energy to walk down to the corner store. To the weekend warrior, it is being able to compete with his friends and still be able to go to work on Monday.

To an Olympic calibre gymnast, physical fitness is performing an Iron Cross. The flexibility of an accomplished yoga practitioner is a display of physical fitness. As is the endurance of a triathelete. Or the power of an Olympic style weightlifter. Or the speed of a sprinter. Or the agility of a badminton player…

They are all right and they are all wrong.

For their particular needs, there is an appropriate level of adequate fitness. The weekend warrior has no need to perform an Iron Cross. Or a gymnast to run a marathon.

The decathalete / heptahalete is supposed to represent the ultimate of physical fitness. While the other athletes are specialists, these multi-sports athletes train to develop the ultimate combination of the different components that make up physical fitness.

So that is where we will go. By breaking down physical fitness into it’s components, we will arrive at a better understanding of physical fitness.

The 5 Components of Physical Fitness

Muscular Strength

This component of physical fitness deals specifically with the performance of the body’s skeletal muscles.

Your skeletal muscles contract and stretch in order to produce movement. Simple.

How they produce that movement is less simple. Your body’s muscles are highly adaptable. They will react to the stresses that you place upon them. Sit on the couch and they will atrophy. Try and run fast and they adapt to produce faster contractions. Lift heavy objects and they will increase their ability to produce maximum strength.

One way to organize these different types of strength is in relation to time.

Maximum muscular strength is the ability to produce the most amount of force regardless of time. That big guy at your gym that is ALWAYS bench pressing may have a high level of maximum strength. He can produce a large amount of force (to move that heavy barbell) but he does it relatively SLOOOWWWLY.

Maximum muscular endurance is the ability to produce a smaller amount of force, but do it for a long time. A marathon runner has a high level of muscular endurance. His bodyweight requires less force to move than a heavy barbell, but he is able to move that weight for 2+ hours non-stop.

Maximum muscular speed is the ability to produce muscular movement very quickly. A hummingbird’s wings are the epitome of speed.

Muscular power is a combination of maximum strength and speed. An Olympic weightlifter is a great example of power. So are high jumpers and sprinters. Another way of looking at power would be to use our weightlifter friend from the gym.

If he bench presses 300 lbs but takes 3 seconds to perform the lift, his power output is 100 lbs. per second. However, if he drops the weight to 200 lbs and performs the lift in 1 second, his power output shoots up to 200 lbs. per second.

If that wasn’t confusing enough, different types of muscular strength rely on the development of the 4 other components of physical fitness.

Neuro-Muscular Co-ordination

This component of physical fitness deals with the communication between your brain, nervous system and your skeletal muscles.

While an in depth analysis of the nervous system is far beyond the scope of this post, I can break it down for you like this:

Your brain issues a command to your muscles. That command is carried via the nervous system (technically, the brain is part of the nervous system) to the muscles. The muscles perform the action if possible. Your nervous system relays the movement to the brain. The brain receives this feedback and issues another command. And so on and so on.

This is a highly trainable skill. Highly desirable as well.

A baby learns to walk by seeing others walk, processing this information in it’s brain and then issuing a command to the muscles to get up and walk. Initially this command will fail as the muscles do not yet have the ability to perform this action. However, the feedback is delivered from the muscles to the brain via the nervous system. The feedback is analyzed and another command is issued and another attempt by the muscles to walk is attempted.

Eventually, the baby will walk.

This neuro-muscular co-ordination is required when learning a new skill or improving a current skill.

Neuro-muscular co-ordination is usually described as agility or balance or simply co-ordination.

Structural Balance

This aspect of fitness has to do with the alignment and interplay of your skeleton, skeletal muscles, ligaments, tendons & fascia.

Are your hamstrings too tight? Is your pelvis in proper alignment? Is the fascia covering your diaphram too tight? Like that well known spiritual said, the leg bone is connected to the shin bone…

If your body is out of alignment in one place, there will be adaptations elsewhere. Whether those adaptations will result in pain and injury depends on factors that are largely out of your control.

Before beginning a new fitness program, it might be a good idea to visit some form of physical therapist for an analysis of your structural balance. An osteopath may be a good option as well.

Energy Systems

Energy system fitness refers to the ability of the body’s three sources of ATP (the main source of cellular energy) to produce that ATP.

The three sources or energy systems are the ATP-PC System (Phosphogen System), the Anaerobic System (Lactic Acid System) and the Aerobic System.

A common misconception about your energy systems concerns the dreaded “fat burning” zone. Many people are of the belief that if you stay well within your aerobic or fat burning zone, your body will burn fat instead of sugar. If you spped up and move out of the aerobic zone into the anaerobic, you will instantly stop burning fat. Not true.

These systems do NOT turn on and off. They are always on. Depending upon your demand for energy, one system may dominate over the other, but they are all working to provide energy for movement.

The ATP-PC system is most efficient for short bursts of activity. The Aerobic system is designed for longer duration, lower intensity activities. The Anaerobic sits in between these two systems. It is best designed for explosive activities of relatively short duration.

Basketball is an anaerobic sport as it alternates short duration, high intensity sprints with periods of lower intensity movements around the basket. These lower intensity activities allow the anaerobic system to recharge. This sport would improve the functioning of the anaerobic system at the expense of the development of the aerobic system. The same could be said for hockey and football.

An excellent illustration of different sports & how they rely on different energy systems can be seen here.

Overall Health

Overall health refers to your mental health, emotional health, body composition & lifestyle. While outside of the scope of this post, these aspects of physical fitness will affect you on a systemic level.

The most physically fit athlete in the world will not be able to perform if his anxiety prevents him boarding a plane to fly to the Olympics in China. A lifestyle choice like smoking will have an negative effect on a triathlete’s performance. And it’s highly unlikely that you will be able to maximize your physical fitness carrying around 20 extra pounds of body-fat.

In future posts, I will be delving deeper into the 5 components of physical fitness along with suggesting exercises and training programs designed to maximize your potential

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Physical fitness made simple

I am building this site as an HONEST and factual investigation into physical fitness.

Along with my diet & nutrition blog, I will attempt to provide information & support, that will help readers transform their bodies into the very picture of health and vitality.

As a personal trainer for over 15 years and a “husky” guy for my entire life, physical fitness and body composition have always played a fairly large part in my life.

Keeping myself & my clients fit & healthy pays my rent.

I can only hope that my advice can be of help to you


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