Preventing those Cramps

It'll keep your cramps from coming, but they're are other alternatives!

It’ll keep your cramps from coming, but they’re are other alternatives!

Ever had muscle cramps? Of course you have, and they are pretty crappy. Fitness enthusiasts and your everyday person alike can experience them, but how do you prevent them from happening? Of course, studies have shown that fitness people like triathletes and cyclists are very likely to experience the excruciating pain of muscle cramps, due to the nature of their fitness, but can you prevent it from happening frequently or at all?

So apparently, medicine has been unable to pinpoint the EXACT reason that someone can get cramps. The hypotheses vary from having existing diseases such as hyperthyroidism to having low electrolyte and potassium in your body. Assuming you are healthy and have no previous medical issues, it would seem that the electrolyte and potassium loss are the likely cause, in which case we’ll need something to replenish those loses! Of course, stretching always helps reduce these cramps, which is why you want to make it a habit to stretch before and after training.

So how can you modify your diet that both replenishes the low potassium and electrolyte count while keeping you at tip top health? Well the obvious response to getting potassium in your system following an intense workout is having a banana. Your typical banana has enough to replenish all the lost potassium. A substitution for bananas can be a cup of OJ or one potato. However, if you are concerned about the sugar that are in these foods, you can also fix your diet with beans. Beans have  more potassium packed in them than your medium sized banana. However,  you do want to be mindful of the carbs that are in these. It is not that carbs are bad, as mentioned in several other posts, it’s simply that you want to be mindful of your carb intake and make sure that it correlates to your workout routine. We all know that too many carbs and not enough activity doesn’t lead to the most desirable result. If you’re looking into some greens with loaded potassium, Mediterranean chard is the way to go. Not too high on carbs,  this leafy green is perfect to ensure you don’t get those gnarly cramps, as they have twice the amount of potassium than bananas do. I will state from personal experience that chard tends to taste a bit bitter, so try mixing it up with some other foods to give it some nice flavor. Though I’m not a particular fan of squash, I will mention that these foods have some crazy high amounts of potassium. Specifically the acorn squash, this superfood has over 800 milligrams of potassium, double that of bananas.

If you’re having night cramps, or cramps in the middle of sleep, make sure to take in more calcium, as having these cramps may signify a lack of calcium in your diet. Make sure to follow the necessary first aid procedures following a cramp (proper stretching and immediate cessation of physical activity) to prevent potential soreness that results from the cramp.

The Fun with Wii U Fit

When I was younger, videogaming wasn’t really considered a good alternative to exercise. In fact, it was probably the thing you think of when you hear “UNFIT”. The only way I could find anything remotely physically rewarding was a game called Dance Dance Revolution, and even then I had to play the game at such high difficulties to get a nice workout. But with the innovation of mobile devices and videogame consoles, exercising evolved sorta. One of the prime examples of this evolution is the Wii Fit series. Things like the Wii Fit and, let’s say, the “Zombies, Run!” app, are what put the fun of the video gaming experience to exercise.

The Wii U Fit game is  available for the Nintendo Wii U console and comes with a balance board that is integrated for the game’s workout activities. The balance board does more than that though, it also measures your weight and center of balance, which is neat as it allows you to customize your workout routine in the way you wish. The various activities that the Wii U Fit provide ranges from climbing to yoga. The workout activities are meant to focus on both strength training and flexibility. Some of these workouts like the core luge, emphasises on core exercises to tighten and define abs. Even though these things sound just like another workout video, it’s actually the opposite. The interface brings in the whole game aspect, with the cartoonish visuals as well as the fact that you can integrate your Mii character, a video game representation of yourself that you can almost fully customize, into the mix.

The Wii U release of the The Wii Fit also comes with a nice little pedometer called the Fit Meter as well. What makes this pedometer special is that it both tracks your walking distance and the calories that are burned. Not just that, but it has an acceleration and atmospheric sensor to measure how hard and how high your walks and/or runs are. The neatest thing is that you can synch the Fit Meter right into your Wii U console and it will give you a nice and advanced chart mapping your fitness progress. They even manage to make the Fit Meter have  some level of gaming to it, as the Wii U Fit has a nice little feature where it takes the data from the Fit Meter and displays it in the form of the Fit Meter Walking Challenge. Famous locations around the world, such as Mount Everest, are displayed as ares you “conquer” through walking. The more you walk, the higher you elevate until you reach the very top. There’s even a bit of social networking as you can share your Fit Meter data with other Wii U Fit users using Fit Meters.

The best thing is, it’s very cost efficient. With the bundle pack that comes with the balance board, game, and Fit meter, the cost comes to be about 90$. That’s a lot cheaper than some of the high tech fitness tools that the do the same thing the Wii U Fit does. I honestly think this is a pretty neat integration of exercise and gaming, as the two don’t normally mix. Also, I think it’s pretty neat that with the advances in gaming and mobile devices, things like the Wii U Fit can exist. Oh yeah, and the Wii U Fit doesn’t even require a TV. Since the Wii U is a console/handheld hybrid, you can ditch the TV and play straight from the controller/handheld system. I’d say this is something worth trying out, especially since Nintendo is offering a trial period for the Wii Fit U, granted you have the console.

No Gluten, No Problem?

Looks delicious, but it might mess you up.

Looks delicious, but it might mess you up.

Over the recent years, a lot of awareness has been raised about the health risks of gluten. From what I’ve been reading, there have been many mixed messages whether it’s ok to have gluten based foods or not. Some have argued that unless you have or are prone to the Celiac disease, a disease that occurs as a result of a negative reaction to gluten, you’re in no danger of eating it. However, a lot of research has shown that that is not necessarily true. In fact, consuming gluten, whether you’re diagnosed with Celiac disease or perfectly healthy, can cause long-term health issues.

Let’s begin with the simple science: Gluten is a protein composite that you find in a lot of your breads and wheats. Of the two proteins that compose gluten, gliadin is the no-no protein. What results from consuming gluten is your body responding to it as if it was an foreign, invasive object. For the people who have Celiac disease, this results in the immune system of your body attacking the gluten, but also results in messing up the intestines. The result of this leads to a lot of things such as fatigue or issues in digestion. Though this sounds bad, which it is, it only roughly affects 1% of people. However, regardless of the percentage, gluten still affects many others.

A study at Lund University has showed that people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) get some bad effects from gluten. According to this study, after a random pool of 34 people were chosen for this test, the half that ate a diet consisting of gluten experience more abdominal pain than those who consumed a gluten free foods. Though I might only be bringing up two groups of people who have specific diseases, people without IBS still can experience intestinal discomfort as well.  People who typically sustain a diet with gluten based foods may experience digestive problems and fatigue. This stems from the little science bit I presented earlier, which indicated that your body is essentially attacking itself at the presence of gluten.

There are a lot of risks to eating gluten, but it will not kill  you if you have a slice of bread. However, do not listen to what people tell you when they say that gluten will not hurt you at all if you’re perfectly healthy. If you do feel any abdominal discomfort or just you feel fatigued, try to cut back on the gluten and see if you notice any difference. Gluten free diets are extremely beneficial for the fitness junkies not only because you’re preventing fatigue, but you’re also cutting back the carbs that you’d get in all the breads, grains, and other gluten packed stuff. I will admit that it is hard to cut ALL gluten, I love bread to death, but it’s not impossible to take it all away.

 

Some Running Earphones for your Consideration

Consider these headphones, like this AfterShokz Sportz set

Consider these headphones, like this AfterShokz Sportz set

Music makes running infinitely more awesome and bearable, but you can’t really enjoy the music if your earphones constantly fall off! Obviously not any earphones/earbuds can work, but we do know that there are some amazing earphones out there that can make our running experience fantastic. Here are 4 earphones that can compliment your spending caps.

Sony MDR-J10 h.ear Headphones with Non-Slip Design-$19.99: I know, these are some dirt cheap running earphones. That’s what makes these headphones awesome though. When you consider the design of these headphones and consider the cost, these work perfectly for your daily run. You never have to worry about ruining really expensive headphones. There are, of course, several downsides to owning these. From my experience, I have had a lot of problems with it busting after extensive use. Regardless of that, these headphones are great if you want a cheap fix for your running needs. They’re practically available everywhere, which is convenience for all to get. However, if you’re looking for more high tech headphones that give you more for their price, keep on reading.

AfterShokz Sportz M2-69.95: These headphones are neat. They’re not the typical separate earbuds, but instead they are linked around the back of your head, so  you dont have to worry about shifting earbuds. the built-in controller allows you to use all your MP3’s features without needing to twiddle with the object. Aside from that, it is made from waterproof and slip resistant materials, allowing you to run in the rain without worrying about slippage. Of course, if you had experience with built-in remotes, the controllers tend to wiggle and tug, even if they clip on to your shirt. I’ve had some light chafing around the clipped area as a result of the constant rubbing, but it’s otherwise great. The noise reduction on these headphones is great; you’ll forget that you’re running in the environment  you’re in as you’re lost in the music. For its price, these headphones are well worth the price.

Sennheiser Adidas PMX 680i Sports Headset- 70$: These headphones will also appeal to you sound enthusiasts out there too. Though not necessarily “studio quality” headphones, they do have some awesome bass. The remote built in also help out in reducing your need to mess with your phone while you run. Though sweat/water resistant, it does have problems with strong winds. It has a 4 foot chord and its loud, if you like listening to music loudly, which compensates for not having sound reduction features.

BOSE SIE2i- $149.95: I have always enjoyed Bose’ products, even if they were on the pricier side. These headphones keep with the quality that Bose tries to uphold, having one of the nicest sound quality I’ve heard so far, a plus for you audiophiles. The noise reduction the buds have are very good at muffling your surroundings, so you don’t have to worry about being bothered by others during your run so you can fully enjoy your music.  With the built in remote and armband included, you don’t have to worry about touching your device at all, keeping your hands free for the run. The snug fit on the headphones keep them from falling off and with the weather resistant materials its made from, you can definitely take these out on a drizzly day.

The Most Challenging SoCal Hikes? Bring it!

Though beautiful, places like this can prove to be a challenge for the fitness enthusiast

Though beautiful, places like this can prove to be a challenge for the fitness enthusiast

California has several mountainous regions that one can utilize for a nice hike. Some of these regions are also home to some of the most challenging hiking trails as well. This article will cover a few of these trails ranging from moderate difficulty to “Holy crap how the hell did I manage that” difficulty. Try these trails at your own risk, they will test you physically and you will most definitely feel it in the morning.

In the “moderate” difficulty corner, we have the Devil’s Punchbowl/Devil’s Chair trail near Pearblossom, California. This 7.4 mile long trail has an elevation gain of about 1000 feet and features a lot of scenic mountainside and river views. You will have to deal with lots of rocks around the area, so be sure not to trip! The long route can be a challenge for runners willing to test their limits in this near all terrain path. For those of you looking for the pure hike of the trail can try out the 1 mile loop trail, which takes you straight into the punchbowl, leading you into some of the most beautiful rock formations you can see in the area. One of the things that will make this a challenge is the hot temperatures that can occur during your hike. This will be especially challenging if you’re doing intensive training, so be sure to bring lots of water.

The “Hard” hike (Not so much as hard as it is occasionally dangerous) is the Escondido Falls hike trail off the Pacific Coast Highway. It is a four mile trail that pits you against the three tiers of Escondido falls. It is mostly a safe trip up until the third tier, which although full of beautiful scenery, can result in a dangerous fall if you’re not an experienced hiker. If you think this isn’t challenging enough, you can also try out the Bear Canyon Trail in Mount Baldy. The winter trekking is intense and involved skilled hikers. This 12 mile roundtrip hike will get your muscles pumping in any time of the year though. There is alternative option to the Bear Canyon Trail, which is the Devil’s Backbone trail. There are means to cut through the elevation, but honestly that’s cheating. You’ll be rewarded with an amazing view of the San Gabriel mountains and a sore next day.

Now on to the “Holy crap how the hell did I manage that” difficulty. According to backpacker.com, there exists the “Cactus to Clouds Route”, that goes from Palm Springs, CA into Mt. San Jacinto. This insane trail starts you off right at the desert floor and makes you ascend over 10,700 feet up towards Mt. San Jacinto. For the extra challenge, backpacker.com suggests you run through the unmaintained trail for that extra rugged terrain. You’ll be faced with insane weather changes and harsh physical endurance breaking hiking/running, but boy does it sound insanely fun. There is a tram that can take you back to town if you just can’t make the trip on your own, so there is no need to be too worried about your end result of this trek. The vertical climb to the crown of the mountain is painful to note, as it will have rocks and boulders trying to block your way to the top.

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