Benefits of Holidays and Vacations

As a frontline medical practitioner for over 20 years, I have been actively encouraging and motivating my patients, relatives, friends and other people to take holidays and vacations on a regular basis. Except for those people who have serious medical conditions, there are no restrictions to travel and enjoy holidays. Even the elderly, disabled or pregnant women (within 28 weeks of pregnancy) can travel as much as anybody else. The benefits of holidays and vacations are numerous, both short-term and long-term, but most people fail to appreciate the benefits. As a result, only a small percentage of people worldwide travel and harvest the benefits of holidays and vacations. Research has shown that even workers who are offered paid vacations by their organizations do not take advantage of such offers to take some weeks off their work.In this article, I will briefly highlight some benefits of holidays and vacations.Longer and healthier lifeA recent survey conducted by the State University of New York has shown that people who take holidays regularly every year reduce their risk of early death by about 20 percent. The survey also revealed that those who did not take any holiday in 5 years faced the highest death rate risk, along with higher incidence of heart diseases. This can be explained by the fact that during holidays people are happier, relaxed, carefree, spending more time with family and loved ones, and away from the regular stressing environment. A happy relaxed life increases longevity.

Improvement in mental healthOne study conducted by the Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield and published in Wisconsin Medical Journal showed that women who went on frequent vacations had lower susceptibility to depression, tiredness, or tensions and they were more satisfied with their marriages. Women who took rare vacations displayed higher stress levels in their homes, felt more exhausted and tired and slept lesser. It is without doubt that regular holidays will not just unwind people from the stress accumulated during the day to day hectic life in the short-term but also will improve the overall mental and psychological well-being of an individual in the long-term. Many researchers have shown that depression increases the chances of heart disease. Since holidays provide a break from the normal boring routine, they also help in relieving the symptoms of depression.Revamping of relationshipsThe always busy, work-obsessed and chronically duty-minded culture of people of modern life has indeed taken a heavy toll not only on our physical and mental health but also on our relationships. People do not have much time to spend with their partners, children or families. As a result, there is disharmony in the family, children are not looked after well and there is increased tension between partners, which has resulted in increased number of separations, divorce and other marital conflicts. Taking regular breaks from work and enjoying holidays and vacations not only revamps the strained and estranged relationships but also renews, revitalizes and strengthens family relationships and bonds.Improvement in self-confidenceWhen we travel, we encounter various types of situations and meet different kinds of people. Such encounters improve our self-confidence. It also helps improve our social skills and prepare us for unexpected or unknown.Creative inspiration through holidayingWhen we do the same thing again and again, it becomes monotonous and stereotyped. This is what has happened to us in today’s world. We have become victims of monotony that has gradually crept into our system and destroyed our creative abilities, new thinking processes, and inspirational opportunities. When we travel, we come across new situations and different environments. Such situations can induce and help develop the creativity within us.Increase in productivity Many studies have shown that holidays not only motivate people to work better but the relief from the monotony also rejuvenates people, resulting in higher productivity.Seeking adventureHolidaying is a time to pump adrenalin for many adventure lovers. This is a chance to make their dream come true and try many daring sports and adventures, such as, bungee jumping, water rafting, surfing, mountaineering and many others. Such adventures give people a sense of achievement and happiness.

Mental and psychological escapeMany people these days view holidaying as a form of mental or psychological escape. The change in atmosphere, climate, scenery, quiet surroundings, slow pace of life, and clean air is regarded by many travelers as pathway to happiness and spirituality.Improve physical fitness, and lose weight tooObesity has become a global epidemic. Holidays and vacations can at least induce people to do some form of exercise. They have more time and any form of physical activity (and away from TV and video games!) can help lose weight. If they can continue the same sort of exercises once they are back home, it can at least help people change their habit and lose some weight at the same time. Losing weight not only improves the physical fitness and appearance of a person but also reduces the chances of getting depression, some cancers, heart diseases and other conditions.In conclusion, holidays and vacations not only bring joy, excitements, fun and break in the usual monotony of life, but they also have far reaching effects in the long-term including improvement in physical and mental wellbeing, longer and happier life, revamping relationships, improving self confidence and productivity, and instilling creative inspiration within us.

How Effective Is Weight Loss Surgery?

For severely overweight individuals that have failed to see results from diet and exercise alone, weight-loss surgery has become the safest and most effective means of achieving significant weight loss. In fact, studies have shown that with diet and exercise alone, nearly 95% of obese patients will gain all the lost weight back within 5 years. On the other hand, long-term success rates for weight-loss surgery – including the LAP-BAND procedure – are remarkably high, allowing patients to maintain a loss of between 50-70% of their excess body weight. Though there are many factors that can impact an individual patient’s weight-loss success, weight-loss surgery is simply the most effective long-term weight loss and healthy lifestyle solution for severely obese patients.Studies show that most patients that undergo weight-loss surgery will lose between 50-70% of their excess body weight within the first three years following their procedure. Those that undergo gastric bypass surgery will lose excess body weight more rapidly in the first 12 months than those that choose LAP-BAND surgery. However, gastric bypass patients typically experience a greater number of complications and side effects than LAP-BAND patients, as the LAP-BAND procedure allows for more gradual and natural long-term weight loss.From a clinical perspective, a weight-loss surgery is considered successful when the patient loses at least 50% of their excess body weight and keeps the weight off for at least five years. While important lifestyle changes need to be made to ensure that the weight loss is maintained in the long term, studies have shown that most weight loss surgery patients are able to maintain a 50-60% loss of excess body weight 10 years after the surgical procedure. However, it is important to note that a weight loss of just 10% of total body weight can begin to have positive health effects in resolution of obesity-related condition like asthma, gastric reflux (GERD), and diabetes. As weight-loss surgery is usually performed on patients that are at least 75-100 pounds overweight or have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 35 with a health condition, overall weight loss can range anywhere from 40 pounds to over 100 pounds. But the patient is really the leader behind achieving these results.

While patients will certainly look and feel better after weight-loss surgery, there are also numerous health benefits associated with successful weight loss. In most cases, health conditions that develop as a result of excessive body weight or are worsened by obesity can be improved upon or, in some cases, remedied by weight-loss surgery.But there are other ways to measuring success with weight-loss surgery, like the LAP-BAND System. For instance, many weight loss surgery patients take great pride in being able to perform certain activities that may not have been possible for a number of years, like crossing their legs, bending over to tie a show, walking up stairs without being easily winded or sitting comfortably in an airplane seat.While most patients that undergo weight-loss surgery experience incredibly positive results, there are many factors that can impact the overall success of an individual patient’s procedure and follow-up treatment. Here are some important factors to consider as you try to determine whether weight loss surgery is right for you.Pre-surgery WeightGenerally speaking, the higher a patient’s pre-surgery weight or BMI, the more excess weight the patient can lose after surgery. However, recipients of weight-loss surgery with less excess body weight will eventually come closer to their ideal weight when committed to long-term diet and exercise. Also, resolution or improvement in obesity-related diseases can occur with even moderate amounts of weight. Often many diseases can become closer to cured than improved with earlier intervention at a lower weight.Overall HealthWhile pre-existing health conditions can impact the overall success of weight-loss surgery (for instance, patients with type 2 Diabetes typically lose less excess body weight after surgery), studies have shown that many ailments linked to obesity are either improved upon or fall into remission after a successful procedure. For instance, a 2000 study performed on 500 weight loss surgery patients showed that nearly 96% of health conditions associated with obesity – such as high blood pressure, depression, sleep apnea, back pain and diabetes – improved greatly following loss of excess weight and long-term commitment to diet and exercise.Surgical ProcedureAs there are potential risks and complications associated with any surgical procedure, potential patients should always seek to have their weight-loss surgery performed by a trusted medical staff. Prospective patients should inquire about their surgeon’s success rates with weight-loss surgery and listen to the experiences of former patients. Additionally, a patient’s weight-loss success may also be impacted by the quality of post-surgery care and counseling provided by their bariatric outpatient facility.Diet and ExerciseAs diet and exercise are two of the most important factors in any weight loss plan, patients with the physical ability to exercise after weight-loss surgery have increased chances of meeting their goals. To maintain the weight loss achieved by surgery, both exercise and healthy eating habits must become integral parts of a patient’s lifestyle.

CommitmentThe ability to remain committed to suggested dietary guidelines, exercise regimens and any follow-up care recommended by the bariatric outpatient facility is important for both short-term weight loss and long-term weight management.MotivationPatients that are motivated to lose weight and willing to follow through with diet and exercise prior to receiving weight loss surgery may experience greater levels of success immediately following the procedure and in the long term. Most people did not find themselves severely obese overnight. It took years to reach that weight and therefore patients should be patient with the weight-loss process, which will also not occur overnight. Successful patients find small victories along the way to celebrate and stay motivated.SupportAs weight-loss surgery will require some time away from everyday activities, it is important to have the support of family, friends and coworkers before undergoing any surgical procedure. Furthermore, as the ongoing weight-loss process following bariatric surgery may require a certain level of emotional support, prospective patients may want to establish a support network – including friends and family members that can join in on exercise and healthy eating.Considering that significant weight loss can not only remedy many health concerns, but also improve an individual’s quality of life, the potential benefits of weight-loss surgery are plentiful. For severely overweight individuals that are unable to lose weight via diet and exercise alone, weight-loss surgery is the most effective method of losing weight – and keeping the weight off.

Planning Strength and Speed Training For American Football

American Football, like many other sports, has a history of coaches with a poor understanding of the sport’s demands inflicting upon players the necessity to run laps of the pitch, and engage in other forms of training at odds with the sport’s unique demands. With a constant stop start style to the play, with the average play lasting no longer than ten seconds, followed by a much longer rest period, its demands are closer to traditional sprinting and weight training methods, than sports such as Rugby or Boxing, where there is a much greater endurance element required. At the same time, the sport has a big element of lateral mobility and technical considerations to consider, absent from pure speed or strength sports.This article will look at ways to incorporate speed and strength training methods to assist a player looking to improve his speed/strength during the football off-season. Each element will be considered individually. Given the wide range of requirements for the different positions in football, this article will focus on training planning for a typical week for Linebackers, Backs and Strong Safeties, although the advice is applicable to most positions except Kickers and Offensive/Defensive Linemen. Even then, many of the elements would remain broadly similar for these positions.Strength TrainingMost American Football players today will already place a large emphasis on strength training as this has been emphasized for a comparatively longer time in the sport due to the ever increasing demand for larger and stronger athletes. This does not mean that players should automatically follow the training advice handed out in bodybuilding magazines, or follow a generic college training program. Unfortunately, most college programs suffer from being overly simplistic due to the need to try to train 40 or 50 athletes at once in a facility. This type of training leads to the most simple, easy to administer programs being handed out to athletes, rather than the most effective. Similarly, athletes who believe bodybuilding programs can enhance sports performance may potentially gain some muscle size but at the expense often of relative strength and speed going down, as well as a decrease in joint mobility if emphasising single joint exercises. Additionally, bodybuilding programs’ emphasis on training to failure and exhaustive work on individual muscle groups will lead to less energy being available for the high intensity, explosive work which football demands.Split Training vs Whole Body TrainingMost players will often follow a typical bodybuilding protocol where individual muscle groups are trained once per week with very high volume. Unfortunately, while this may work under certain circumstances for bodybuilders, football players cannot afford to adopt this method. Most significantly, this method of training makes it very difficult to integrate training with the demands of improving other elements vital to success in football. For example, many bodybuilders will train back, quadriceps, hamstrings on separate days. This will mean for most of the time players will have insufficient energy to perform their other drills, sprint work etc due to excess muscular fatigue. Furthermore, split training will mean the central nervous system is always under stress from constantly performing high intensity activity leading to impaired recovery and ability to perform other drills outside the gym with the required intensity.

This leaves two options. The first is to adopt a lower/upper body split and the second is to adopt a full body training program. Both options have their advocates. Splitting the body into lower/upper will mean legs get trained twice a week meaning five days are left for rest. By only training legs on those two days, a greater volume of work can be performed on training days compared to a typical whole body approach consisting of hitting the weights on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday basis, where because of the increased frequency and need to train upper body as well, leg training volume would need to be reduced.Depending on the athlete’s needs an upper/lower split is usually more useful for increasing strength and muscle size as many will struggle to maintain the intensity needed for a long, whole body training workout. A sample lower/upper body split would be as follows:Sample Strength Training SplitMondaySquats 4 x 4-6
Romanian Deadlifts 4 x 4-6
Step Ups 2 x 8
Pullthroughs 2 x 8
Ab Rollouts 2 x 8TuesdayIncline Bench Press 4 x 4
Hang Cleans 3 x 3
Shoulder Press 2 x 6
Pullups 2 x 6
Tricep Extensions 2 x 8
Barbell Curls 2 x 8ThursdayPower Cleans 5 x 3
Snatch Grip Deadlifts 3 x 5
One Legged Squats 2 x 6
Glute Ham Raise 2 x 8
Hanging Leg Raises 2 x 10FridayClose Grip Bench Press 3 x 5
Pullups 3 x 5
Incline Dumbell Press 2 x 8
Seated Row Machine 2 x 8
Tricep Extensions 2 x 12
Dumbell Curls 2 x 12Speed TrainingSpeed training for football players needs to consider the fact that football sprints are usually of much shorter duration than sprinting in track and field events. At the same time the body mechanics of football players will be different to those you see in top class sprinters.Having said that, a speed training program for football players will have a large degree of overlap with that of Olympic athletes but with a limited requirement for the type of speed endurance work performed by sprinters during the summer track season. Instead a football program should primarily emphasise acceleration techniques with a smaller component of top speed work so that for the rare occasions that a full sprint is required, the player is able to maintain his top speed for longer.Although there are many differing views on how to train speed, the approach used by Charlie Francis[i] is one which works well for integrating the other aspects of football training.Speed Training Template for Off-SeasonMondayWarmup – 5 min general warmup
Mobility Exercises – 10 min
Running Drills – 10 min
Start Work – 6 x 10m (Practise a 3 point or 2 point stance and perform a maximal 10m sprint)
Acceleration Work – 6 x 20m (2 or 3 point stance and accelerate through to 20m)
Acceleration Work – 2 x 30m (Run from standing start to 30m)Rest times between sprints should be 2-3 mins for 10m work, 3-5 min for 20m work, and 4-6 min for 30m work to ensure full recovery is attained.The astute reader will notice the sprints are combined on a day where the weights pushed will be heavy. Depending on the athletes needs, they could sprint in the AM and do the weights in the evening or vice versa. Both approaches will work. The main factor behind placing sprints on the same day as weight training the legs is to allow for greater CNS and muscular recovery. Trying to sprint on separate days (e.g. on Tue) would mean the legs still being fatigued from the day before and then having less rest before the next weight session for legs. By contrast, combining weight training with leg work on the same day is something sprint coaches usually recommend.TuesdayWarmup – 5 min general warmup
Mobility Exercises – 10 min
Running Drills – 10 min
Tempo Work 8-10 x 100m @60-70% speedTempo training is running the distance at a sub-maximal speed and walking the next 100m. It is very important both for active recovery (recovering from the previous day’s exertions), learning to run in a relaxed manner (many athletes strain too much when sprinting maximally), and for overall conditioning and fat loss (the intervals being approximately similar when running/walking, as the work/rest time in football and in fat loss protocols such as Tabata).WednesdayWith another high intensity day scheduled for Thursday, Wednesday is a time to rest and recuperate. Some mobility and drill work is okay for those who need it though.ThursdayWarm-up – 5 min general warm-up
Mobility Exercises – 10 min
Running Drills – 10 min
Start Work – 6 x 10m (Practice a 3 point or 2 point stance and perform a maximal 10m sprint)
Acceleration – 3 x 20m
Acceleration – 3 x 30m
Top Speed – 3 x 50mThursday’s sprint training session is partnered with a relatively low load, explosive lifting weight training day. The sprint distances complement the weights by being of a greater distance and speed. This is the day when the football player will work his maximum speed but we keep acceleration work in, albeit at a reduced volume, as acceleration is a very important factor for football as well as helping to warmup the body for the top speed work. Rest times can be up to 10min long for the top speed sprints. The work conducted has to be of a high quality with full muscular and CNS recovery between sprints the aim of the athlete.FridayTempo Work – 8-10 x 100m
This day is a repeat of TuesdaySaturdayWarm-up – 5 min general warm-up
Mobility Exercises – 10 min
Running Drills – 10 min
Start Work – 4 x 10m (Practice a 3 point or 2 point stance and perform a maximal 10m sprint)
Acceleration – 3 x 20m
Acceleration – 2 x 30m
Top Speed – 2 x 50m
Top Speed – 2 x 60mSaturday is the day when we should be at our freshest. There is no weight training prior to training and we are furthest removed from the draining effects of the heavy weight training conducted on Monday and Tuesday. There is a greater emphasis on top speed work this time with an increase in the distance up to 60m. This should be the time the athlete is setting his best times.

SundayRestGoing Past a WeekAt this point it should be pointed out that the approach given is for a sample training week in the off-season. Strength and speed training should still be periodized as normal. A favored approach of many programs is to gradually increase training volume and intensity before incorporating a week of reduced volume and intensity to allow for supercompensation and CNS recovery to take place. A 3/1 split of hard training followed by an easier “unloading” week will help promote continued improvements rather than trying to constantly add weight/sets/sprints to the program which will only lead to stagnation.At the same time, other exercises and techniques will usually be incorporated to provide the athlete’s body with new challenges but the overall goal should remain the same which is to increase strength and speed over the long haul. Although it will be easy for a beginner to make rapid improvements in both strength and speed following a structure such as that outlined, at some point it is likely that either the weights or the speed work will have to be reduced in volume (although not intensity) and maintained so that the other quality being work can be emphasized.Most 100m sprinters will usually go from a program where strength increases are emphasized in winter to one where weight training is restricted to maintenance only so that full attention can be devoted to maximal speed work during the summer months.Of course, for American Football players, they may have a differing view on which element needs emphasizing but the fact remains that given that neither strength or speed improvements in-season are realistic, the player should look at his off-season training program and consider which variable he needs to work on the most. Then, he can perform a greater or lesser amount of speed or strength work as deemed appropriate by him and his coaching staff. For a strong athlete with limited speed this would mean reducing the volume of his weight work on his training days and training speed first in the training day, when the CNS and muscular system is freshest. On the other hand, a weak, fast athlete may wish to perform a limited amount of speed work and increase his weight training volume so that he can bring up his strength levels quicker.Other FactorsMany other factors beyond how the athlete structures his training are important including mobility drills, nutritional support, supplementation, recovery and regeneration techniques, and technical work. Although these are beyond the scope of this article, each element should be implemented carefully. Please check the other articles at this site for further reading.[i] The Charlie Francis Training System (1992)