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Health and Wellbeing - May 2014

08 May 2014

Fit for the snow!

This week marked the first snowfalls of the 2014 snow season!

As renowned snow forecaster The Grasshopper said in his long range forecast: “Snow in May is as good as snow in March”. And early snow falls are no indicator of a great season ahead.

One thing you can guarantee though is that when the first dump of the white stuff falls and the lifts are turning, thousands of Victorians will pack the car and head north to enjoy a great day in the snow.

The second part of the guarantee is that the vast percentage of those snow-goers will hit the slopes without any specific physical preparation for their sport. The lack of pre-season preparation, combined with poor warming up before a day of skiing, in an environment where temperatures can be -10 with wind chill is a potential recipe at for disaster.

At a minimum, ill-prepared skiers and boarders will experience muscle soreness, which could be avoided with some pre-ski stretching. A worst case scenario might be a serious muscle tear, fall, broken bones or even a ruptured ligament requiring surgery. Skiing is expensive enough without having to cover costs relating to surgery and rehabilitation!

If you are a skier or boarder, whatever your level of experience, now is the time to start your pre-season training. The training should consist of leg, hip and core strengthening.

Mobility and stretching exercises, as well as a good boost of cardio-vascular endurance work. Gaining knowledge about a pre-ski stretch routine is also advisable.

You can then hit the slopes with greater confidence that the day will end with smiles, and not with a stint inside the medical centre. Fingers crossed for some big snow falls this year!

Seasonality - Avoiding winter weight gain

Today (as I write this article) is one of the first uncomfortably cold, wet and wintery days of 2014. And guess what? No one is out running. There are no sports being played on the Docklands Sports Courts. Only the hard core commuters are riding their bikes to work. And traffic in the gym (today) is down by 50 per cent compared to last week. Why? Because winter is indeed upon our doorstep.

As I return from my walk in the rain to get my lunch, I noticed the cafes and restaurants are full of coat-wearing corporate workers, sipping on a hearty soup and eating a delicious lasagne – lovely winter warmers, and about 500 calories in the lasagne, which is probably replacing a light chicken Caesar salad from early autumn when the sun was shining.

So within the space of a week as the cold weather has settled in, so too the habits associated with health, nutrition and exercise begin their seasonal transition for a large percentage of the population.

Maintaining an exercise routine during the cold, dark winter months is indeed a challenge for all of us. But as the saying goes, “failing to plan (your winter fitness program) is like planning to fail”.

We must start first with a recognition that when you reduce your regular exercise energy expenditure by 50 per cent (dropping from four workouts per week to two), and increase your energy intake by 25 per cent (introduction of winter warmer foods) that the likely outcome is that you will gain weight.

Project that impact out over three months to the end of winter and you may well be back to where you started at the beginning of last spring. And from there, you will start all over again …

It is the perfect time to remove the impact of seasonality on your personal health and fitness plan. Next month we will review specific ideas on just how to stay healthy and active over winter!

Lace up your running shoes for the Cup Challenge!

The upcoming Cup Challenge lunchtime fun runs will provide opportunities for Melbourne city workers to add some exercise to their lunch breaks or challenge their colleagues for office bragging rights!

Two runs will be held; with race one at the iconic Tan Track and race two in the heart of the Docklands.

For those who want to continue running beyond these two Cup Challenge events, participants can stay involved by joining the new Corporate Cup lunchtime running competition in the second half of 2014.

For more information and to register visit http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/amcs

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