Category: Exercise

physical therapy for hiking and backpacking

 

When you’re out on the trail, there’s a good chance you’ll be dealing with some unstable or uneven ground. Between sticks, rocks, and roots, there is quite a bit of potential for strained or sore joints. Your knees and hips can run into trouble with instability, but there’s good news. The endurance training plan from my last post will strengthen and stabilize these joints. No need for anything extra – I love an efficient training program! There is another joint, however, that could benefit from a little extra attention.

 

The most likely victims of instability on the trail are your ankles. Since they allow movement in multiple directions, they are usually less stable and can be susceptible to strains and sprains. On my first overnight backpacking trip, this completely snuck up on me. Fortunately I didn’t sprain my ankle, but carrying my pack and hiking on uneven ground for several miles caused my ankles to be sore for months afterward. In fact, I used some of the exercises below to help regain my ankle stability.

 

This routine shouldn’t take you any more than 5 minutes. You can do all of the exercises You’ll need a resistance band for this quick ankle routine.

 

Front-to-Back Stability

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Hook the resistance band around the ball of your foot and hold the ends of the band in your hands. With controlled movements, slowly press the ball of your foot away from you. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat this exercise 15 times on each foot.ankle flexion exercise for backpacking

 



Left-to-Right Stability

2. Anchor your resistance band around the leg of a heavy table or bookshelf. Sit on the floor with your legs perpendicular to your anchor. Loop the resistance band around the inside edge of the ball of your foot. Keeping your leg still, rotate your ankle to point your toes away from the anchor against the resistance of the band. Slowly return to the starting point. Repeat 15 times on each foot.

3. Repeat this exercise with the band looped around the outside edge of your foot. This time you will rotate your ankle the opposite direction to move your toes away from your anchor.

lateral ankle exercise

 



 

360-degree Stability

4. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Hook the resistance band around the ball of your foot and hold the ends of the band in your hands. Slowly turn your ankle in a clockwise circle 15 times. Repeat in the other direction. Repeat both directions on the other foot.

ankle rotation exercise

 

You can complete this 5-minute routine anywhere from 2-3 times weekly to 2-3 times daily. The more often you do it, the more stability you can build in your ankles.

 



 

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How to Train for Hiking and Backpacking: Endurance

Hiking/Backpacking

prevent hiking injuries

 

In the Pacific Northwest, we are finally getting our first glimpses of Spring sunshine (between uncharacteristic snow flurries). The combination of cabin fever and warm, bright sunshine makes me antsy to get outside again. Hiking and backpacking are common and beloved activities in this area (and many others), but the beginning of the hiking season can be difficult and sometimes risky. Both beginning and seasoned hikers, having been cooped up all winter, may experience fatigue and muscle soreness and are at increased risk of injury if their muscles aren’t prepared for the activity.

I decided to spend these last few weeks of cold weather prepping myself to safely and confidently hit the trail. I’m putting together a training guide for you to follow along. There are a handful of areas to train to be in your best shape for hiking/backpacking – even beginners can benefit. In this series, we’ll cover:

 

Endurance

Hiking and backpacking can be major endurance exercises, depending on the elevation and length of the hike as well as the weight you are carrying. We will discuss how to train based on these factors so that you can experience the beauty of nature without fire in your lungs.

 



 

Joint Stability

This is a big one and it can be easy to miss. I know it caught me off-guard on my first overnight backpacking trip! Carrying a pack is an extra challenge on all of your weight-bearing joints, but consider the added challenge of roots, rocks, and unstable trail and you’ve got a recipe for sore or sprained ankles. I’ll address how to best prepare your joints to effectively prevent injuries.

 

Balance

As mentioned above, trails can be uneven, contain rocks/roots, and have steep inclines and loose ground. Particularly if  your center of gravity is altered by a backpack, balance training can help prevent falls or injuries. Training your balance (yes, you can do this!) is not hard – in fact it’s quite simple! I’ll show you how.

Flexibility

It certainly doesn’t take a gymnast or a yoga master to hike. If you can walk, you can hike! That said, loosening up tight muscles can make hiking much easier and prevent strained muscles. On top of that, some more advanced trails contain creeks/rivers, large logs, and other obstacles that are much more easily tackled with a little flexibility.

 



 

I’ll probably toss in some bonus tips for on-the-trail nutrition as well. Check back soon for the nitty-gritty on training for fun, safe hiking and backpacking!

Hiking/Backpacking

exercise programs to meet your goals

 

Sometimes starting a new exercise plan is overwhelming. One nice thing about being more active is that you have a lot of options, but that can also be a struggle. Many people are confused about what types of exercises they “should” do and how they should do them. This post will give you some tips on selecting exercises and making a sustainable (and dare I say, enjoyable?) exercise plan.

Keep in mind that any new exercise plan should be approved by your doctor, particularly if you have any chronic diseases or injuries. Use this form to guide you as you plan to safely increase your physical activity.

What are your goals?

Ultimately the exercises that you choose should be guided by your health goals. While being physically active is beneficial for overall health, choosing the most appropriate and specific exercises will help you achieve your goals most efficiently.

  • Weight Loss – Start out any new weight loss plan by focusing on simply moving more than you move now. Once that becomes a habit, then increase the cardiovascular challenge by spending more time with your heart rate up. Finally, add in strength training to build muscle mass. This extra muscle will use up energy, increasing your metabolism.
  • Endurance – To increase your endurance, start by gradually increasing the amount of time you spend with your heart rate up. In this case, you’re not looking for very intense exercise, but a moderate challenge that you can sustain for longer and longer bouts of time as you train. Then add in strength training, focusing on more repetitions (10+) and lower weights.
  • Strength – Begin by focusing on your form – ask a trainer or friend (or watch in the mirror) to ensure you are performing the exercises safely and effectively. Gradually increase the difficulty, focusing on fewer repetitions (6-8) and higher weights. Focus on muscle balance – if you train one side of your body (for example, your chest), you must also train the other (your upper back, in this case). If you train biceps, be sure to also train triceps. This helps to protect your joints from imbalances that can lead to injury. Make sure to incorporate the recommendations for flexibility into any strength training plan as well.
  • Improved digestion – Yes, physical activity can improve digestion! Moderate cardiovascular exercise can improve circulation to your intestines, helping your body break down and absorb food more efficiently. Another significant factor is stress – stress can wreak havoc on digestion! Consistently performing stress-reducing activities like prayer, yoga, Tai Chi, or meditation can play a huge role in improving digestion.
  • Improved health markers (blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.) – While it varies based on which lab values you’re targeting, most are improved with combinations of cardio and strength training, even without weight loss; however, reducing excess body weight is linked with improvements in blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
  • Flexibility – This is a great goal if you’re wanting to improve or maintain movement in your joints and prevent injuries. Anyone can benefit from maintaining flexibility. The key here is consistency. Stretch your muscles and joints regularly. Whether you use yoga, standing stretches, or wall stretches doesn’t matter as long as you are gentle and consistent.

 



 

Enjoyability

This is so, so important to an exercise program. If you detest doing a certain type of exercise, do not plan on or expect that you will do it consistently. That is a great way to set yourself up to either quit or be miserable. Bear in mind that the first few weeks of any exercise program will be difficult since you are not yet trained for the exercise, but I’m not referring to difficulty here. I’m talking about enjoyability – if you hate to dance, don’t join a Zumba class. If you can’t stand being on a cardio machine, don’t commit to a treadmill. Find methods of exercise that you actually enjoy.

 

Sometimes that looks like building a little more intensity into the movements you do in everyday life. For example, if you love to garden and be outside, use a push mower, shovel by hand, or cut your own firewood. If you like to watch television, ride a stationary bike while you do or – one of my personal faves –  take a drinking game designed for the show you’re binge-watching and exchange the shots for exercises. These tasks will incorporate fitness into aspects of your life that you do enjoy.

 



 

Accessibility

Ask yourself a few questions: Do you have the equipment or space to do this activity? Will you need a gym membership? Is there a realistic time in your day to set aside to do this?

If the basic logistics aren’t there, find something more accessible. If all else fails, there are hundreds of workout videos on Youtube for any type of workout you can think of. No fees, no membership, no travel, and no need for fancy exercise clothes (unless you want them).

 

Taking all three of these factors into account can help make sure that your exercise program gets you where you’re trying to go in the most enjoyable way that is realistic for your life. Fitness isn’t always fun and there aren’t too many people who are super jazzed to do their workout every day always, but a little thought and planning on the front end can make a huge difference in the long run. If you find yourself stuck or confused, find yourself a certified fitness professional to help you out. Finding a way to make it work is worth it!

 



 

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Exercise

Alright, everybody, time to let me know what eating or exercise plan you would like to see reviewed by Dietitian on a Diet next!

Pining to learn about plant-based diets? Itching to try HIIT training? Freaking out about FODMAPs? Or maybe I’ve offended you in some way and you want me to go through 3 weeks of something awful…but hopefully not.

I’ll take your ideas and create a poll where you can vote to decide my next nutrition or exercise plan. Then I’ll read through and summarize the research on the plan and post it for you, then follow it myself for 3 weeks (as long as it’s not dangerous). I’ll share my experiences, comments, suggestions, and opinions throughout so you can decide if a plan (or part of a plan) might work for you.

In the past, I’ve featured the following:

 

So what do you want to see next? It can be any fad diet, trendy new exercise plan, or recommendations for managing a chronic condition.

Let me know how I can help you make informed, evidence-based health choices by commenting below!

Diets Exercise

tips for health

 

Since my husband and I have met our wellness goals, we are not ready to watch our bodies creep back to where they were, but rather to maintain the progress we’ve made and go even further. How do we avoid becoming another statistic for weight regain or resume our couch-potatoing, Christmas cookie-eating ways? The vital keys to long-term success lie before and after the hard work of reaching your goals.

Key #1: Before you change anything

Decide carefully how you will achieve your goals. For many years, scientists have been studying methods for weight loss to find the “best” way to get pounds off. The surprising result of a lot of this research is that so many methods work. A lot of nutritionists have taken to saying, “diets don’t work.” It might be semantics but in general, if the goal is to lose weight – most fad diets do work. Whether it’s low carb, low fat, low calorie, or portion control – weight typically comes off.1-5  If they didn’t work at all for losing weight, word would get around pretty quickly and they would never become popular.

Here’s the kicker (besides that many fad diets aren’t safe): the statistics for maintaining weight loss after a diet are horrendous. Long-term studies show that five years after short-term diets the result is an average regain to anywhere from a net loss of only 6 lbs to a gain of 10-21% of pre-diet weight.2,6 Yikes!

 



 

Many fad diets can be extreme, overly restrictive, or just plain miserable (or option d, all of the above). Most people beginning a diet program are willing to commit to short-term pain for long-term gain. Unfortunately, the reality is that long-term dieting is generally not sustainable, and weight loss from short-term dieting is temporary.

But fear not – all hope is not lost! The National Weight Control Registry is comprised of people who have successfully lost at least 30 lbs and kept it off for at least a year, though most participants have lost an average of 72.6 lbs and kept it off for more than 5 years.7 Their participants report that ongoing, long-term participation in sustainable habit changes has been key to their success, as opposed to radical, short-term dieting. You can read more about their habit changes at the National Weight Control Registry website.

All these studies show that a pivotal ingredient for long-term success with wellness, weight loss, muscle gain, or any habit change is sustainability. One of my favorite quotes sums up the wisdom behind this:

Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began, and let the Lord be all in all to you.”

-Charles H. Spurgeon



Some may wonder what the last phrase has to do with wellness, and personally I believe it is vitally important (and apparently so did Spurgeon since he tacked it on there), so I included it. Regardless of how you feel about God, however, the sentiment is to not even begin a habit change that you can’t commit to long-term. Find changes that work with your lifestyle, not against it.

fighting, clawing, and scratching

Recognize that temporary habit changes create temporary results.  You can tweak them, change them, or adjust to the fluidity of life as needed, but if your habit changes disappear completely, so will the fruits of your labors.

Key #2: After you’ve met your goals

You’ve done it, congratulations! You’ve met your goal! You’ve placed a new brick in the healthy foundation upon which you can continue building the life you want. Guess what? You’re not done! If you want to continue to enjoy the benefits of your progress, you must grab hold of the second key to long-term success:

Always have a goal and a sustainable plan to achieve it.

 



 

Achieving a goal merits celebration, and also the exciting task of deciding what your next goal will be. It doesn’t have to be intense – your goal could be maintenance and your plan might be walking – but you need to have both or you’ll watch all your hard work and health benefits slip away. Living a healthy life is swimming upstream in our culture – you can not coast into good health.

So what’s next for Charlie and me?

My new goal: Maintain cardiovascular endurance and flexibility. Gain strength and muscular endurance (I want to be able to do 10 pull-ups or rock climb for an hour without getting pooped).

My new plan: Mindful, intuitive eating along with 30-40 minutes of cardio twice weekly, strength training 4 times weekly, and 10-20 minutes of yoga 5 days per week.

Charlie’s new goal: Maintain cardiovascular endurance and flexibility. Gain strength (he wants to be able to save people from burning buildings and stuff).

Charlie’s new plan: My Fitness Pal (with his calorie and macronutrient needs adjusted since he’s building muscle now), 30-40 minutes of cardio twice weekly, strength training 4 days per week, and 10-15 minutes of yoga before each workout as well as a longer practice twice weekly.

Have a goal of your own but need help finding a sustainable plan that fits your lifestyle? Contact me or schedule an appointment to start building a healthy foundation for the life you want!

 



 

  1. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article-lookup/doi/10.1210/jc.2002-021480
  2. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2001.134/full
  3. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/412650
  4. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2004.61/full
  5. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/53/5/1124.short
  6. http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/2613427, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/74/5/579.short
  7. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/82/1/222S.short

Exercise Goal Setting

Our three months on the Goal-Getter Package is complete! The Goal-Getter package is a package I provide that is designed to help my clients meet 3-month health and wellness goals. Since my husband and I both had goals for the New Year, we each started our own Goal-Getter package and we’ve been sharing the journey with you. Click here to read about it from the beginning. The common cold ran rampant through our house during the time we were supposed to complete our post-program assessment, so we’re a tad late, but here it is!

Did we achieve our goals? How far did we come? The Goal-Getter package includes pre- and post-measurements of body composition and cardiovascular health, muscular endurance, and flexibility. Read on to see how ours changed in the last 3 months!

Becki

  January 2017 March 2017
Resting pulse Elevated Normal
Resting BP Elevated Normal
Weight +7 lbs from my usual +0-3 from my usual (fluctuates)
Body Mass Index Normal Normal
Waist-to-hip Ratio Low risk Low risk
Body fat % Average Average
Cardiovascular fitness Fair Good
Muscular endurance (push-up) Very Good Very Good
Muscular endurance (curl-up) Excellent Excellent
Flexibility Good Very Good

 



 

Goal #1: Lose 7 lbs to return to my usual body weight
     • Use my daily food group checklist to stay within recommendations and get enough food from each food group each day.

How I did: For the first two months, the food group checklists worked well and I (mostly) stuck to using them. I lost 5 of the 7 lbs in the first month and then stalled out for month 2. To make sure I wasn’t inadvertently missing my nutritional goals with the food group checklists (which, by nature, are not as detailed as complete tracking), I started using My Fitness Pal to track my intakes for the last month. I also conceded that it’s possible my body just wasn’t going to lost the last two pounds – it has been about a year or two since I’ve weighed that much. As it turns out, I lost  somewhere from 4-7 lbs total, as I’m noticing my weight tends to fluctuate about that much. I’m calling it a win!

Goals #2-3: Decrease resting heart rate and blood pressure to normal ranges and increase cardiovascular fitness from “fair” to “good”
     • Complete 40-60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise (heart rate 115-155 bpm) 5 days per week

How I did: I’m most happy about achieving my goals with these numbers since they are important risk factors for cardiovascular disease! Doing the exercise was easier than I expected when I found the types of cardio I most enjoy. On rainy winter days, I have loved following cardio dance videos from Youtube…they are free and perfect for fitting your schedule in the comfort of your home. My standby favorite is The Fitness Marshall, but there are dozens of choices out there to spice it up with variety. As the weather improves, I’ll spend more time outside playing basketball, hiking, swimming, and kayaking. I definitely want to make sure to keep up these improvements!

 



 

Goal #4: Improve posture by stretching chest, hip flexors, and decreasing anterior pelvic tilt, while strengthening back muscles
     • Complete tailored yoga practice 5 days per week and strength training program 2 days per week

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How I did: I was so impressed with the improvements in my posture! Yoga has been rocking my posture world. My chest, back, and hips feel so fluid and you can see the difference throughout the three months in my progress photo. Check out this video for a couple of easy exercises you can do to work on your posture. My flexibility assessment also improved! It is amazing how much movement we lock up when we sit too much and don’t move. I definitely have work to do still in my chest and shoulders, which are stubbornly remaining tight, so that’s next on my list!

 



 

Charlie

  January 2017 March 2017
Resting pulse Normal Normal
Resting BP Normal Normal
Weight +15 lbs from his usual +0 lbs from his usual
Body Mass Index Overweight Overweight (remember how BMI doesn’t account for muscle mass?)
Waist-to-hip Ratio Low risk Low risk
Body fat % Poor Fair
Cardiovascular fitness Excellent Excellent/Superior (right on the line)
Muscular endurance (push-up) Good Very Good
Muscular endurance (curl-up) Excellent Excellent
Flexibility Good Excellent

 

Goal #1: Lose 20 lbs/Button wedding pants without “sucking it in”
     • Track intakes with My Fitness Pal, aiming for goal of 2000 kcal per day.

How he did: He lost 15 lbs, so he didn’t quite hit the 20 lb goal but he did return to his previous normal body weight. His clothes fit, he has more energy, and he didn’t have to buy new pants! My Fitness Pal worked great for him, and he continues to use it to keep himself on track.

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Oh, and check this out…

Image-1 (3)

Helloooooooo, wedding pants! And lookin’ handsome…might be time for a date night!

 



 

Goal #2: Increase cardiovascular fitness from “Excellent” to “Superior”
     • Follow the P90X workout program to do 60 minutes of exercise daily.

How he did: Charlie did great – and he bumped his cardiovascular endurance from “Excellent” to between “Excellent” and “Superior.” He’ll take it! Charlie nearly completed the P90X workout program, but reached a point where he was satisfied with his cardio and his weight, and opted to shift to a plan that involved more weight lifting about halfway through the last month. Charlie loves having more endurance and he feels great!

Goal #3: Improve flexibility from “Good” to “Excellent”
     • Do some yoga each day.

How he did: Charlie ended up compromising on this goal to do yoga only 2-3 times per week since P90X incorporates stretching into every workout. Sometimes he did yoga more often, sometimes less, but he smashed his goal and can reach farther on the sit-and-reach box than I can now!

Overall, we had fun and are so excited about meeting our goals. If you’d like to meet some goals of your own, give me a call at 360.358.3179 or schedule an appointment on my website! I would love to help you build the healthy foundation for the life you want!

 



Exercise Goal Setting

My husband and I are two months in to goal-getting! Here’s an update on how we’re doing:

Becki

Goal #1: Lose 7 lbs to return to my usual body weight

  • Use my daily food group checklist to stay within recommendations and get enough food from each food group each day.

How I’m doing: As you may have read in this post, I put on about 3 lbs throughout this month and I have since lost them again. So overall, this month has been basically a wash as far as weight and I’m still about 1.8 lbs above my previous normal. I’m thinking a couple things: 1) I may switch temporarily to a more detailed form of tracking intakes (like My Fitness Pal), just to make sure I’m not missing my goals without realizing it. 2) My body may be happy at this new weight. I won’t try to force it, and my weight is in a healthy range and not negatively affecting my health. If it doesn’t want to go down any more, that’s okay with me!

 



 

Goals #2-3: Decrease resting heart rate and blood pressure to normal ranges and increase cardiovascular fitness from “fair” to “good”

  • Complete 40-60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise (heart rate 115-155 bpm) 5 days per week

How I’m doing: Pretty well overall. I haven’t been missing days, but I’ve had a couple of days of workouts that have been cut short by a tighter time schedule. I recently had my blood pressure checked and it was normal! Yippee! I can definitely tell that my cardiovascular fitness is improving because I’m having to increase the intensity of my workouts to hit my heart rate goals. Plus, I made it up and down “the stairs” 10 times the other day! I had hoped to do that by the end of the three months, but I hit that over a month early! I’m so happy with the IMG_0990improvements in my cardiovascular fitness.

A few months ago, it snowed here and my family and I went out to have a snowball fight. I had only run around for a few minutes and my chest was tight and I was pooped. Three weeks ago it snowed again, and this time, I snowball fought with the best of them (my family is just a tad competitive) for 20-30 minutes with no trouble at all! That was very rewarding and a sign that I’m heading towards my “end game” of never having my fitness (or lack thereof) hold me back from anything I want to do.

 



 

Goal #4: Improve posture by stretching chest and hip flexors, and decreasing anterior pelvic tilt, while strengthening back muscles

  • Complete tailored yoga practice 5 days per week and strength training program 2 days per week

How I’m doing: I’ve been consistent with my yoga and I’ve been also completing some yoga challenges on Instagram that have been a fun addition to my normal practice.

My before-and-after pictures were really fun this month! I noticed primarily a HUGE difference in the position of my shoulders between February and March. Look how much less rounded they are! I’m so pleased with that. You can also see that each month my back is slightly less arched and my pelvis is slightly less tilted forward. It’s so crazy how you don’t notice the differences in your posture until you line the pictures up side by side.

IMG_1602

 



 

Charlie

Goal #1: Lose 20 lbs/Button wedding pants without “sucking it in”
     • Track intakes with My Fitness Pal, aiming for goal of 2000 kcal per day.

How he’s doing: Charlie continues to track every day. He finds it gets easier as time goes on to stick with using the app to track. It became a habit for him and he never forgets. Occasionally he intentionally decides to eat more than his caloric goal, but it is not very often and he still tracks it for awareness, accountability, and consistency. Tracking is definitely not right for everyone, but it’s working for him. He lost another 4 pounds this month for a grand total of 14 pounds. He hasn’t tried the pants yet – he’s saving those for the end of the goal-getter package!

IMG_1604

Can you tell he had just woken up in the last photo? Haha!

 



 

Goal #2: Increase cardiovascular fitness from “Excellent” to “Superior”
     • Follow the P90X workout program to do 60 minutes of exercise daily.

How he’s doing: He is doing well and staying consistent, but definitely ready for the P90X program to be over. He is finding the P90X videos to be very time-consuming and don’t leave enough extra time for other activities like weight lifting.

Goal #3: Improve flexibility from “Good” to “Excellent”
     • Do some yoga each day.

How he’s doing: Charlie has compromised to doing yoga three times weekly, and says his flexibility is WAY better than it used to be, which makes him feel better all the time and improves his workouts, posture, and the feel of his joints.

We’ve got one more month of our goal-getter package before we run all of the fitness and body composition testing again to see how far we’ve come! Check back to see how we did!

Want help meeting your own goals? Visit www.impowerednf.com for more information about meeting with me to set up your wellness plan!

 



Exercise Goal Setting