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Perfect Pairs

Food and fitness partners that go well together

Running and Swimming – For generations, but even more so in the past few decades, running has been a popular exercise choice.

The simplicity and minimal reliance on equipment and facilities are only part of the reason.

For many runners, the stress-reducing meditative aspect of running is its primary appeal. But there’s no getting around the by-product of impact and sheer force on the lower body joints.

The right shoes can help, and so can backing off on mileage and frequency if you’re overdoing it.

But swimming as a cross-training activity is the option many marathoners choose as their race day approaches. Why? Because the biomechanics are very different than running and the stress on the joints is minimal. This allows you to keep pushing your stamina up while giving the lower body connective tissue a break.

Fruit and Cheese – Lots of qualities make this pairing a perfect snack. Fruit is sweet, packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals, and fills your belly. But a single piece of fruit usually has only about 70 to 90 calories.

So cheese, being primarily fat and protein, is a nice complement to the nutritional offerings of the fruit and will keep you satisfied longer. It also balances out the micronutrient combination of the fruit with calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients specific to dairy. And they just taste great together.

Strength Training and Pilates or Yoga – While lifting weights, using machines, bands or bodyweight to strengthen and balance muscle capacity has no equal, it does create a condition that needs to be addressed for optimal wellness.

Bearing load on muscles shortens the muscle-tendon chain and can begin to limit range of motion at the joints if not balanced with flexibility work.

Yoga is unmatched in its therapeutic benefits for preserving elasticity and freedom of movement. Pilates has similar benefits and focuses on core stability and dynamic balance.

The combination of strength work and either of these great disciplines greatly enhances the functional capability of the body and lets you get the most practical value out of your training.

Nuts and Veggies – Like fruit, but to an even greater extent, veggies are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber, but not a lot of calories. So adding nuts to veggies has a similar effect as the fruit and cheese combination mentioned above.

The fat, protein and fiber combination also helps to slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream and when hunger does approach again, it’s much more gradual.

One more benefit is that nuts are a heart-healthy fat. Some of my favorite combos are baby carrots and roasted, unsalted almonds; mixed veggies with a nut assortment and pecans or walnuts on salads.

Want more useful information on how to eat well and get in shape? Contact Dan at http://trivalleywellness.com/

Cameron Sullivan August 24, 2011 at 07:46 PM
Great piece, Dan, and a good approach to think of these tactics in pairs... In my case with an injured shoulder, running has been the substitute for swim training, and I've begun to love it! Now I think I'll have some whole grain crackers with fruit and cheese for lunch! Post shoulder repair and healing, I'll try the strength training and pilates/yoga pair!
Stephanie Harper August 24, 2011 at 10:05 PM
Dan, great article. I have been doing bikram yoga the past few months and it's helped tremendously in my running efforts. Yoga should be an added cross training for anyone involved in athletic sports in general. Such a huge advocate for this now. Love fruits and cheeses. I don't feel so heavy after snacking on these and it also give me energy without craving more food. My fave is bosc pears and cheese. So delish. Also - Fleet Feet is awesome! Still have to go in and get analyzed for my right kind of shoe. When I'm ready will be sure to go there as I've heard lots of good things about them. And Cameron if you try yoga, you must try Dublin's Get Fit Yoga Studio. Greg and his staff are great and the studio is so nice. They have a range of classes to choose from and all their classes are suited from anyone including beginners. If you have current injuries, you should try yoga anyway. It is great for existing injuries and none alike. You can go at your own pace and you will slowly be on your way to recovery. I can't tell you how many people I've overheard at the studio talking about their injuries and expressing how yoga has helped them gain their strength and flexibility back. But of course you know your own body! :)
Dan Taylor August 25, 2011 at 04:56 PM
Thanks very much, Stephanie and Cameron! Cameron, when you've finished rehab PT, there are some basic, low resistance, balanced range-of-motion muscle endurance exercises that can be very helpful in regaining strength and mobility. These exercises can effectively bridge the gap between PT and full functionality. Let me know and I'd be happy to show you and give you some self-application parameters. Stephanie - you're right about yoga's myriad of benefits including helping to rehab minor injuries/nagging imbalance related pain around the spine and joints. It's very helpful to get to class early and provide details to the instructor before he/she commences. I know I appreciate a little lead time to cater the modifications to the individual before class begins when I teach group classes.

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