TVs, Computers and Mowers, Oh My!

We live in an era of an unprecedented epidemic of obesity. There are currently more obese people in the world than those who are underfed. In the past two years New York City alone has gained 10 million pounds. Children are sat at computers by the age of two. No need to go out and play kick ball or dribble a basket ball. You can simulate it on a computer game. Don’t bother to go outside and pretend to build a fort or a spaceship, just create it on the computer. I think one of the most disturbing advertisements I heard for the Internet went something like this: “I chatted with my friends, toured Paris and played ball all without leaving my room.” Is that supposed to be a GOOD thing?

We prop ourselves in front of the television for endless amount of hours, at all ages. After a hard day at school or work, where many of us sit for long lengths at a time, it seems just too overwhelming to get out and walk, run or play. The TV and a bag of chips seem to be just the right choice to get over the day’s inertia.

We Americans are also getting off pretty easily when it comes to taking care of our property. Many of us fortunate to own our homes hire landscapers to care for our yards. Mowing, raking, mulching and shoveling, very vigorous physical activities are now a thing of the past. And if you do mow your own lawn it’s with a self-propelled, or, worse yet, ride-on mower. The worst example I can give of a ride-on mower? I was driving to work one morning and saw a gentleman in my neighborhood on his ride-on mower. Believe me when I tell you that our lawns do not require this type of mower. This man was about 300 pounds and was smoking a cigarette. I wished I had had my camera with me although I’m sure I could have been sued had I tried to use the picture. In my never-to-be-humble opinion the only people who should use a ride-on mower are employees of a golf course or public park. In addition, many health care providers believe that giving up smoking is the single most important thing you can do for your health. As for the excessive weight, refer back to the first paragraph.

America has overweight children, overweight out of shape adolescents and adults. The scenario can appear never ending and feel overwhelming. So what’s a family to do? I have two words for you: “get active.” Not just the kids, not just the parents – all of you!

Fine Lines Fitness is the place to begin warming up for life! We can help you add years and quality of years to your life. I want you out there riding your bikes, hiking the hills, planting shrubs, mowing your lawn, walking and jogging on the beach and at the park. Yet I want you to start smart, safely and to stay strong and injury free.

Tots need to run and play, jump, crawl, twirl and imagine. It’s necessary to teach coordination, agility, balance and proprioception (regulation of force applied to movement) during early childhood, the appropriate age. This type of activity is provided in Fit Kids. This also allows the young child to learn to enjoy physical activity. Not all children take to being put into a competitive sport, particularly at an early age. Sometimes they do know what’s best for them – they just want to have fun and PLAY!

For the child who is propped in front of the TV and the computer too often, and fed junk food too much, a double whammy is being provided. That child will not develop the appropriate muscle fibers that should be growing in early childhood. That same child will also develop fat cells which will stay with him or her forever.

Adolescents who sit in school all day and at a computer after school are faced with a dilemma similar to the preschoolers. Only they are running out of time. As young children and adolescents we have the ability to add new muscle fiber to the ever growing, developing body. Around the age of 23 to 25 years we stop adding new muscle fiber and can only increase or decrease the size of the muscle fiber we already have. Therefore it is imperative for adolescents to be physically active and take the opportunity to add muscle while they can. On the flip side, inactive, sedentary adolescents will add new fat cells to their developing bodies. These fat cells will stay with them forever. In addition, new fat cells, as opposed to muscle cells, can always be added to the human body, despite our age. Hence the growing concern with childhood obesity. The worry is that not only will children carry all fat cells from childhood years with them, forever into adulthood, it will be increasing difficult to lose or simply maintain body weight if adequate muscle is not created during the formative years. Furthermore, this is the time for bones to become strong and dense. Adding density to the bones during adolescence is like putting money in the bank for the future. Straining to maintain dense bones as we age won’t be impossible if those bones were adequately supplied during childhood and teenage years. At FI we offer AAT (Athletic Advantage Training, for athletes AND for those desiring to become athletes), an older format of Fit Kids and specially priced High School memberships.

Moving on, young adults and Moms and Dads of young children are usually at the age where they need to maintain their weight, add or increase muscle fiber, increase cardiovascular fitness or lose the “baby” fat from pregnancy. Or sometimes it’s just a combination of all of the above in search of increased fitness. At this age, late 20’s, early mid 30’s, the emphasis is on maintaining and/or enhancing what you’ve already worked hard for or trained for. Sometimes weight loss is desired, and to be honest, that goal comes easier at this age then when you are older. Weight loss also comes easier to those who were active in their teenage years. This is due to the fact that whatever muscle fiber you had put on earlier in life is still with you, whether it’s grown in size or shrunk to the size of a dust mite. It is still controversial whether or not individuals add new muscle cells past the age of mid-twenties. Some research points in the direction that certain people may be able to do this. Most research shows, however, that muscle growth at this age is simply due to increasing the size of muscle fiber added during the formative years. This is one of the reasons some people gain or lose weight more rapidly than others. The other main reason is metabolism, which is highly influenced by genetics.

Past the age of 40 all sorts of crazy unfair things start to happen – if we let them! An adult can lose up to 7% of muscle fiber per year if he or she is sedentary. The only way to combat this loss is through exercise. Resistance exercise takes many shapes and forms. Don’t get an image of a stationary machine in your mind and think that’s your only choice. Resistance training is limitless. From pushups to jumping rope to rock climbing. Weight training has been proven to be useful for adults throughout every decade. Exercise physiologists have gone into nursing homes and gotten patients out of wheelchairs and off their walkers. I’m not talking about snake charmers here. I’m talking about fitness professionals working with adults who have become sedentary and stopped using their bodies simply because they were getting older. There’s a saying in soccer “I didn’t stop playing because I got old. I got old because I stopped playing!”

Let our professional staff guide you for the weight training program that’s right for you. Remember that “resistance” also means “the refusal to give in!”

Other benefits from exercise as we age are increased circulation, especially to the peripheral limbs. Hands, legs and feet can tend to lose circulation when cardiovascular exercise is not performed on a regular basis. With aerobic or cardiovascular exercise we keep the peripheral veins and arteries strong and active. We also keep the lungs and heart strong. The only negative I can say about exercise for any age is not to overdo it. And that’s why our excellent PT dept. is on staff to guide you!

Back to bones. Finally, as we age, we can maintain bone density by proper nutrition and a regular exercise program. Past the age of 40 is not the time deposit calcium in the bones, but to maintain it. Referring to aging and exercise, the expression truly is “use it or lose it.” We also tend to lose our back, shoulder and core strength as we age.

Check your summer schedule and make sure you have time for a workout at least 5 days a week. Children need physical activity every day. Adults need moderate physical activity (to experience benefits) 5 days per week for 30 minutes or intense exercise 3 days a week for 30 minutes. Check, also, your summer vocabulary. If it goes something like this:

Beach: Noun: A place to plant my chair, eat chips and drink beer.
Barbeque: Noun: A gathering with friends, eating hamburgers made from inexpensive fatty meat and hot dogs that have 18 grams of fat each, while sipping on Pina Coladas.
Pool: Noun: A pocket of water on which to set a floating device.
Floating Device: Noun: a blow up tube which mimics the “Beach”:
Then you really need to buy a new dictionary.
Come see me and we’ll talk! Bring the family!