In this new series of articles Mark takes a brief and philosophical look at several aspects of health and fitness, lifestyle and nutrition, rest and recovery, and offers advice on how to implement these key elements into your busy schedules to improve your Stand Up Paddling experience from fun paddles to racing. Mark starts off by telling his own SUP story.
… I came from a bodybuilding, running and skiing background and have gained qualifications and a wealth of practical knowledge in all three. I was a personal trainer and fitness and sports nutrition advisor for several years and gained a reputation for fast, long lasting, pain free results and post injury/operation rehabilitation in people of all ages that had all but thrown in the towel believing it was too late and time consuming for change. In 2005 I was diagnosed with Follicular Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when I was at my peak of fitness. Since then I have had several courses of chemo and radiotherapy which has taken a huge toll on my body and mind and my cancer is still prevalent today. I developed Anorexia Nervosa which developed into Bulimia Nervosa which I am still trying to beat with the help of C.B.T Mindfulness and self help websites. The physical and psychological effects of both problems has pretty much destroyed me, and I have been on a massive journey of self-discovery, research and acceptance which has brought me to where I am now.
Throughout this process two things have pulled me through and given me purpose. My love for the great outdoors and my little buddy, Benny Boo – the dog who goes absolutely everywhere with me.
In short………STAND UP PADDLEBOARDING HAS SAVED MY LIFE, in combination with a healthy diet and carefully chosen lifestyle choices adapted to my specific needs.
So now that’s out of the way let’s get started and see what SUP can do for you!
Without a doubt SUP is the most complete mind, body and soul experience I have ever known.
It’s the unique combination of physical demands and stimulation of the senses which makes the whole package a lot more pleasurable and less of a chore than spending hours on a treadmill staring at a wall whilst listening to your ipod.
Just being outside surrounded by your favourite elements promotes a feeling of wellbeing, but when you mix this with a core workout, an aerobic workout, an all over strength and resistance workout and the desire to improve your technique and balance you suddenly find yourself enjoying exercise on a whole new level. You can do it with your friends and share the stoke or set personal challenges and really test your limits and all the while be safe in the knowledge that you are getting fitter, stronger and ultimately happier. Happy people live longer…FACT!!
This is lifestyle cardio and a total body workout for the truly enlightened. We know that exercise burns calories, improves your mood and can help your heart … but did you know it can actually change your genetic makeup?
Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm put 14 relatively sedentary young men and women on an exercise bike and took a biopsy of muscle cells from their quadriceps before and after twenty minutes of exercise. The results published in the journal ‘Cell Metabolism’ shows that subtle shifts in D-N-A start taking place soon after we begin exercising. After just twenty minutes of exercise it was found that our genes become activated and our D-N-A displays less methylation. Methylation is a process in which chemicals called methyl groups clog the D-N-A and limit the cell’s ability to switch on certain genes. Methylation dictates whether a cell develops into an eye or a lung, for example, but it also primes muscles for more efficient work. The more intense the sweat session, the more methyl action in muscles and the greater the ability to perform at your best which is ultimately what we all want.
It’s also worth noting that caffeine can mimic the same muscle morph except you would have to drink almost 50 cups of coffee a day to get the same effect afforded by exercise. That’s a lot of Starbucks!!
It just goes to show that if you don’t use it, you lose it — but you can certainly get it back by putting in a little sweat equity.
Personally I do the vast majority of my paddling on the sea as I find it’s ever changing conditions more of a challenge than lakes and rivers and when you realise how many benefits this environment offers I think you’ll see why I love it.
Sea air is charged with healthy negative ions that increase our ability to absorb oxygen. These negative ions help balance levels of serotonin, a chemical associated with mood and stress. This is the reason that after going on holiday you feel more alert, relaxed and energized and after a day spent beside the seaside you start feeling calm and able to sleep more soundly.
Sea water has wound healing properties, reducing infection and promoting pain relief and the magnesium content of seawater is high enough to have a nutritional and calming effect on our nerves, which explains why taking a swim in the sea is so relaxing. Sea water also contains all the 89 known elements present in our bodies, including osmium, gold, vanadium, zinc, and iodine, so make the most of the sea and pick up your litter when you leave.
I personally have benefited from the higher amounts of direct sunlight that we get on the coast as chemo has seriously reduced my vitamin D and calcium levels. Direct sunlight amongst other things helps with the production of Vitamin D. It is however paramount to regulate the amount of exposure and make sure that you are adequately protected with sun cream to avoid skin damage or indeed skin cancer. [2,3] If you are ever in doubt about anything on your skin please get immediate professional advice.
That said, the benefits are undeniable especially for bone health. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. It is also produced endogenously when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut and maintains adequate serum calcium and phosphate concentrations. It is also needed for bone growth and bone remodelling. Without sufficient vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen. Vitamin D sufficiency prevents rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis. [2,3]
I do paddle on fresh water and the thing I like most about paddling on rivers and canals is the ever changing scenery and closeness to nature and of course the ability to stop off for a pint and a bite to eat along the way. The more there is to see and keep your mind occupied when paddling, the less you’ll even realise you’re exercising. What a result!!
In the next installment I’ll dig deeper into the health benefits and training techniques on and off the water to help improve your experience and keep you young in body and mind.
Until then, Mahalo for reading and see you on the water – Mark (from Stand Up Fitness and Well Being)
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3. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2010.
Not all the information supplied in this article is to be considered as medical advice unless otherwise stated in provided reference material, and is therefore for educational purposes only.