Fitness Facts & Figures
This information contained on this page is aimed at giving you some factual information and to also dispell some myths about health, fitness and training.
Body Mass Index
The Body Mass Index (BMI) is the standard, generally accepted way of expressing weight. In deciding if the weight of a person is excessive, insufficient, or normal, it is difficult to just refer to weight alone as the height of the person is equally important.
The BMI is a calculated value achieved by dividing the weight (expressed in kg) by the square of the height (expressed in metres). It has the great advantage of both being a very simple measure to collect, and providing a reasonably strong correlation with the amount of fat in the body in the vast majority of people. This link takes you to the Monash University site which has a calculator to determine your BMI: Body Mass Index Calculator and gives some more information.
If you want to burn fat from a specific area ‘spot reduction’ exercises are the way to go! Wrong! Unfortunately we can’t choose where we want to loose fat. Let’s take the face for example. We are using numerous muscles in the face all day, when we eat, smile, talk and frown. A full on workout wouldn’t you agree? Yet we still have fat on our faces! If we decided to only exercise one of our arms, yes the muscle on that arm would get bigger than the opposite side but we wouldn’t end up with less fat on that arm than on the other one!
Good news! Fat is used by our bodies as a source of fuel, which can only be burn off aerobically, which is performing everyday tasks such as walking, sleeping, talking, writing and just generally living! The problem is when we consume more fat than our body needs and we don’t put the effort in to use it up! Put simply the more we move, lift weights and eat a healthy well proportioned diet, our fitness improves, the more fat we will loose, from all over our body!
Confusion surrounds this fallacy. When we do specific exercises we sometimes feel a burning feeling. Some people think of this as their fat cells burning up! This burning sensation is in the muscle when there is a build up of lactate, which is a substance, produced by our body when we are working anaerobically and not aerobically. When we are using our bodies in the anaerobic state it is using carbohydrate as the main source of fuel. Again, put simply we are not using large amounts of fat when we are only using specific muscles.
Many people have misconceptions about Strength Training. Women in particular tend to be concerned that it will make them look like a body builder or make their body look too masculine. This is simply not the case. Following are eight reasons why strength training is good for you:
- Increase and maintain lean body mass – Strength training places tension on the muscle therefore increasing the size of the muscle fibres (Muscle hypertrophy). After the age of twenty, muscle can decrease in size by approximately 0.5kg each year (Muscle atrophy). Even if you do regular fitness exercise such as swimming, cycling or running, muscle can still waste away over time. Strength training can stop and even reverse this process.
- Decrease’ risk of osteoporosis by increasing bone mineral density – Strength training places tension and stress on the bones through the attachment of the muscles onto them. This stimulates the bone to lay down more minerals which increases the bone density and integrity. Bone mineral density has been shown to increase by up to 10% in as little as six months by lifting weights. When the bones are forced to get stronger this therefore reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
- Increases your metabolic rate for faster fat burning and decreases risk of type 2 diabetes – Once you have more lean muscle tissue your metabolic rate increases and uses fat as one of its fuel sources. For every 0.5kg of muscle you put on you will burn approximately an extra 50 to 100 calories per day. Type 2 diabetes is directly related to being overweight. If we are healthy weight there is very little chance of late onset diabetes.
- Increases functional strength & energy of life – When we make our muscles stronger we are able to perform our everyday activities with less effort and have more energy left over.
- Increases sporting performance and power – As the strength of our muscles increases they are able to exert more power. A stronger and more powerful muscle will use less effort to perform a task or be able to perform that task harder and faster.
- Decreases risk of injury by increasing joint stability & strength – The skeleton is held together by muscles across its joints. Therefore joint strength and stability is dependant on the muscle’s ability to control the adjoining bones in their correct position. When the stability of the joints is increased there is a reduced chance of injury and joint disease such as arthritis.
- Improves posture – When we get stronger the muscles in our body hold and stabilise the joints of our skeleton in an improved posture both during movement and at rest. This means we will be more efficient at everyday tasks with less stress placed on the body.
- Decreases blood pressure to help your heart – Research suggests that strength training will reduce blood pressure therefore reducing the chances of abnormally high blood pressure and the risk of coronary heart disease. When our muscles get stronger it takes less effort to perform everyday tasks which means less effort on the heart thus reduced blood pressure. Also stronger muscles means a faster metabolism, which means less fat, less weight to carry around and therefore lower blood pressure and less effort for our heart.