(Image from Queens Athletics and Recreation Centre)
Most students know that being physically active is important to their health but when we looked at what prevented them from being physically active on a regular basis, the top 3 barriers were lack of…
Knowing that structured workouts or activities often require energy, interest, and time, it’s important to incorporate physical activity into daily life.
Physical activities are often broken down into 3 main categories:
Cardiovascular Endurance - improves the efficiency of your heart and lungs
Examples: climbing, cycling, dance, golf, gymnastics, martial arts, running, walking
Muscular Strength - increases your bone density
Examples: weight lifting, resistance training, body weight exercises
Flexibility - helps your joints maintain good range of motion
Examples: pilates, stretching, yoga
Most activities can fit into more than one category - for example, cycling is often considered a cardiovascular endurance activity but it also builds muscular strength, especially in your lower body. Depending on your interests, Queen's University and the City of Kingston offer lots of opportunities to get involved in your favourite activities.
To meet the physical activity recommendations, you need to be doing moderate- to vigorous-intensity movements. Intensity is usually measured by your heart rate and/or rate of perceived exertion.
To measure your heart rate
Press the tips of your middle & index fingers either a) on the back underside of your jaw bone or b) on the inside of your forearm just below your wrist and slightly off center
a) carotid pulse b) radial pulse
Vigorous-intensity range: (200x0.70) - (200x0.85) = 140-170 beats per minute
- Always warm-up & cool-down
- Prepare your body for the workout by gradually increasing your heart rate & breathing
- Use the 10% rule
- People who try to do too much too soon are often the ones who get hurt so aim to increase your activity by no more than 10% per week
- Examples: lifting 50 pounds – add 5 pounds OR running 5km – add 0.5km
- Work in recovery time
- The more strenuous the demands you put on your body, the more time it needs to recover.
- When weight training allow for 1-2 days of recovery time before targeting the same muscle groups
- Try alternating light and heavy days
- Dress appropriately
- Make sure you have shoes that fit your feet, gait (i.e., neutral vs. overpronator vs. underpronator), and activity (i.e., running vs. court sport vs. field sport)
- Wear breathable material if possible (i.e., dryfit) and avoid wearing cotton
- Mix-it-up with cross-training
- Include a variety of activities into your routine
- Examples: Monday - running, Tuesday - swimming, Wednesday - weight lifiting
- Listen to your body
- If you’re experiencing muscle or joint pain it’s important to stop & get it checked out by a doctor or physiotherapist if it persists
- Fuel your tank before, during, and after
- When placing demands on your muscles you need to make sure they get enough fuel (i.e., food & water)
- Try to eat a good pre-workout snack 1-3 hours before & post-workout snack 30 minutes-1 hour after
Will lifting weights make me look bulky?
This is usually a common fear for women but it’s really important to know that men and women are different in many ways, including how much muscle-building hormone (i.e., testosterone) they can produce. Women simply can’t produce as much testosterone which means they won’t get bulky even lifting heavy weights. Just remember that when you start weight training you increase the number & size of your capillaries (i.e., the blood vessels that bring oxygen to & remove lactic acid from your muscles). This can sometimes give your muscles the appearance of (temporary) bulk.
Will eating more protein give me bigger muscles?
To increase the size of your muscles, you need to lift weights and consume additional calories. However, despite popular belief your body doesn’t store the extra protein you eat as muscle. Instead you should aim to eat more carbohydrate to fuel your muscles during muscle-building exercises. To gain approximately 1 pound a week, try to consume an extra 500 calories per day by having an extra snack after dinner, eating larger-than-normal portions at mealtimes, and eating higher calorie foods.
Will doing only abdominal exercises give me a flat stomach?
Abdominal exercises will help strengthen these muscles but everyone has a layer of fat on top of this muscle group. To burn off this layer of fat, and show off your well-defined abs, you need to do cardio, build more muscle on your entire body, and watch your diet.
Does all of my unused muscle turn into fat?
Muscle & fat are 2 different tissues so it’s physiologically impossible for unused muscle to turn into fat. When you stop exercising, your muscles atrophy (i.e., get smaller) and if your caloric intake stays the same then you’ll start to store excess calories as fat.
Do I need to stretch before I exercise to prevent injury?
Stretching is definitely important but experts now recommend that you stretch your muscles after your workout. If you’re stiff or sore before your workout you should try and stretch those muscles but only after your warm-up. Stretching before your muscles are warm could cause damage.