Fitness Quests
By John Doty
Apr 1, 2003 - 7:43:00 AM

Was there a winter? Looking at the weather channels, winter hit hard across the country. But here, in Los Angeles, where the weather is always "nice", it is technically Spring. That time of year when more people become guilt ridden and cease to believe that their clothes actually shrank in the closet. More nice days to hit the beach and to hike our uniquely California canyons to relish in the flora and fauna.

Photo by Janice Chan
I thought it appropriate to address some issues concerning outdoor exercise in the warming months. One word: Water. Always have it and drink plenty of it. In general, people are unaware of just how important water is to our bodies. Water comprises 55-75% of our body's total weight, depending on age and % of body fat. That's 10-12 gallons of water in an average adult body. Broken down further: 83% of blood, 73% of muscle tissue, 25% of body fat and 22% of bones are made up of water. Muscle holds more water than body fat, so the leaner you are the greater proportion of water there is in your body. It regulates body temperature, transports nutrients and oxygen throughout the body, carries waste away from the cells, cushions the joints, protects body tissues and organs. We came from water. Consequently, lack of water spells trouble, especially for the physically active. It has an adverse effect on muscle strength, endurance and coordination. Risks of cramping, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are also present. Active exercise results in fatigue 25% sooner when enough water is not drunk. In fact, 2% dehydration causes endurance to drop by 6-7%. As you can see, fluid consumption is the necessary base for good health and performance. If you feel thirsty, the damage has already started. If your body lacks water, it will take from wherever it can. The first place, muscles. When the muscles have been drained, then the body takes its precious commodity from the cells. Pure and simple, water lubricates the joints. It cleans out the toxins flushed from your muscles after a vigorous workout. I cannot stress enough, how important water consumption is. I drink a minimum of 72 ounces per day. Believe me that is not an easy charge, when driving all day. But I realize the importance and know my restrooms!


In my first article I talked about the importance of core and balance training. Now, more than ever, with Spring upon us, we all need to focus on our core and increase the ability to perform rotational movements. Remember the core is the base of all strength. It exists in your transverse abdominals, your erectus spinae, as well as your obliques. In lay terms, the center, or "core" of your body.

A perfect exercise to get ready for that spring cleaning or for the rigorous mountain runs is the "medicine ball oblique throw". Medicine balls can be found in various weights. I find that the initial weight of 5-10% of your body weight is appropriate. The balls can be purchased at any sporting retail outlet. This exercise provides a total body workout, utilizing the upper and lower body working together. The exercise utilizes the muscles of the abdominal, shoulder, core and hip areas by mimicking everyday rotational movements. It is not hard to imagine how this exercise helps us in lifting heavy boxes during spring cleaning, or hoisting grocery bags out of the trunk of you car, or looking behind as you sprint the canyon, hoping that rattlesnake is not still after you.

The movement of the exercise is simple. Stand 6-8 feet away from a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes straight ahead of the body, with your side facing the wall. Now, hold the medicine ball in both hands at knee level. Utilizing your abdominals, hips and glutes, rotate your body quickly. As your body turns, pivot the back leg so that you, essentially, extend the hip, knee and foot into a plantar extension (ball of foot on ground with heel lifted). As you turn, utilize the upper body to pull your arms across your torso and release the ball just above chest level. Catch the ball as it returns from the wall, repeating as quickly as possible. Your speed depends on the level of fitness you have achieved. You can turn up the intensity of this exercise by throwing the ball to a trainer or other qualified individual and changing the weight of the ball. But remember to maintain proper form and control. Now turn to the opposite side and repeat for as many repetitions as before.

It won't take long to realize the core strength and added agility you will gain from this exercise. The results will be seen in greater overall movement capability. So there can be no excuse not to spring clean from our long, brutal, cold California winter.

Join me next month for some indoor rock climbing, where a computer tells me which course I must take.


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