Here’s Proof That Exercise Changes Everything

Below is a brief article from the Huntington Post reminding us of the importance of consistent exercise to better our lives… just one more reason to put the uniform on and join the class!

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu - Exercise

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu – Exercise

Here’s Proof That Exercise Changes Everything

The Huffington Post – By Sarah Klein

While most of us are probably aware of the powerful benefits of regular exercise, we’re clearly not all convinced: Just about 20 percent of American adults over the age of 18 meet the government’s recommended guidelines when it comes to physical activity, according to a CDC report.

The average adult needs at least two hours and 30 minutes of activity each week, if it’s at a moderate intensity level, like brisk walking. Up the intensity to jogging or running, and you can aim for at least 75 minutes a week. Add in a couple of strengthening sessions a week, and you can expect to build muscle, protect your heart, avoid obesity and even live longer.

That’s not to say that shorter bouts of exercise aren’t worth it. Even just in 10-minute increments, exercise can make a marked difference in health and well-being. But those of us who make exercise part of their regular routine — without overdoing it — are certainly reaping the biggest benefits.

Don’t believe us? Consider a few profound factoids: Regular exercisers have a 40 percent lower risk of developing dementia, and a 60 percent lower risk of any type of cognitive impairment, according to a 2012 study. In young adults, regular exercise can increase bone mineral density by as much as 2 to 8 percent a year, according to the New York Times, helping to prevent dangerous falls and fractures later in life.

Some of the big differences between sedentary and active people are obviously beneficial, like a longer lifespan or a less-taxed heart. Others are a little less clear, like a higher maximal oxygen uptake, or VO2max, which reflects a regular exerciser’s increased capacity for aerobic exercise, or a more efficient sweating response, which helps regular exercisers cool their bodies quickly. Check out these and other differences exercise makes. Then go ahead and lace up those sneaks.

Sedentary Vs. Exercise

Sedentary Vs. Exercise

The Better You Get, The More Your Enjoy It

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu

“Cooking should never be a chore.  The more you cook, the more confident you become.  That way, you actually start to enjoy it and that’s the key to good cooking – having a bit of fun along the way.”  Master Chef Gordon Ramsay, Restaurateur & Owner/Operator of Multiple Three Star Michelin Restaurants

With few exceptions, the better you become at some skill, the more you tend to enjoy it.  One major thing that separates our kung fu school from many other forms of physical activity is that unlike going to the gym to crank out reps, run some laps, or sit on an exercise bike, there is much to enjoy at our school.  There is a purpose behind the repetitions.  The challenge of learning an incredible amount of ancient knowledge with your kung fu brothers and sisters, developing and improving skills, and the joy that comes from finally mastering something that’s taken years of effort is quite compelling.  In fact, it’s for this reason that kung fu should be thought of as a lifestyle – a part of who you are – where training is no different from brushing your teeth, eating lunch, or retrieving mail.  Your training evolves as you evolve as a person and hopefully it’s there for the rest of your life to keep you safe, vibrant, and strong.  This way, you will continue to develop, improve and enjoy the vast benefits the art offers.

As your ability to spar, utilize various levels of power and control, apply technique(s), and maintain energy during class improves – training gradually becomes more and more fun.  Your confidence increases.  Things that were once seemingly impossible become almost effortless.  Your training partners who were once mere acquaintances are now truly kung fu “brothers” and “sisters” as together you’ve endured countless grueling classes as well as taken each other’s lives in your hands during sparring and weapons training.  Your body has adapted to better handle the rigors of class by strengthening and loosening muscles and joints.  Lungs and resolve were tested and the body’s of fighters were built.  A complicated puzzle is finally coming together.  A piece of art that resembled nothing is taking form.  All because you made the school’s training a part of your daily routine.

It’s for this reason that stopping after receiving your black sash should be out of the question.  Some have unfortunately considered the attainment of their black sash as the pinnacle of their training.  It is very much the opposite – it’s the beginning of their “real” training.  The black sash shows they had what it takes to grind through and develop solid core skills.  Continuing on and pushing their training further is when fluidity and real kung fu skills shine thru.  Of course, kung fu is not an escalator with a smooth and consistent ride up to mastery.  It has many tests of the student’s resolve, humility, and patience and possesses no finish line as there is no such thing as perfection.  Interestingly, it’s also at around black sash when the fun and the challenge of mastering this art begins.

Bravery

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu - Bravery

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu – Bravery

It’s not something you can see, but it has many colors and is incredibly important.

Bravery is one of the key requirements of the beginning student and becomes one of the major attributes of the advanced one.  It is also one of the primary reasons our school is ideal for today’s youth.  Many students who begin at our school do not have any martial arts experience, nor any familiarity with the Chinese language and culture.  Being that we are a traditional school, this can be intimidating and difficult for a westerner to adapt to.  Continuing on this course takes bravery.

Hundreds of kicks, holding stances for minutes on end, struggling to learn and remember movements, grueling sparring sessions with students possessing significantly more skill, training through injury, the pressures of preparing and testing for the next rank…. these are just a few of the many elements of kung fu that require bravery at our school.  It’s a personal decision each student must make to press on.

Students will also exhibit bravery out of school.  It might be as simple as stepping in to help someone in trouble to something more major like defending someone in a violent situation.  The bravery gained through the hard training provides a solid basis for the student to determine right from wrong and the strength and skill to act on it properly.

Taking Up Exercise At Retirement Triples Rate Of Healthy Aging

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu - Senior Health

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu – Senior Health

Taking Up Exercise At Retirement Triples Rate Of Healthy Aging

NOVEMBER 26, 2013 • BLOOMBERG NEWS

 It’s never too late to start exercising to improve your health, even if you’re about to retire, according to a study.

People who took up exercise over a four-year period were more than three times as likely to be healthy agers as those who did nothing, according to the study of 3,454 people in England whose average age was 64. Active adults who continued to exercise during that time were seven times as likely to be healthy agers as those who were consistently inactive.

The study, published yesterday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, is one of the first to focus on how exercise affects health in the elderly. Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for premature death — after smoking, excessive drinking and obesity — causing an estimated 3.2 million deaths globally, according to the World Health Organization.

“This study supports public health initiatives designed to engage older adults in physical activity, even those who are of advanced age,” the researchers, led by Mark Hamer at University College London, said in the published paper.

Participants, taken from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, described the frequency and intensity of regular physical activity from 2002 and every subsequent two years until 2011. Any participants with existing chronic disease were excluded.

Healthy aging was measured through absence of major disease and disability, mental health, cognitive abilities and ability to maintain social connections.

The study was funded by the U.S. National Institute on Aging and a consortium of U.K. government departments coordinated by the Office for National Statistics.

Post-Class Warm Down

Sometimes classes can be so demanding that you simply want to sit down in place after the session has ended, lay out on your back, and wonder how your survived.  Sometimes classes aren’t as taxing.  Either way, having a good post-class routine can be very valuable for the student.

If you’re not totally spent after class, a few good things to do are to crank out a three or four sets of push-ups and sit-ups.  Often there will be a group of students circled together to get these done because they are very important to your physical strength and your martial training.  Also, take this time to practice anything you’re working on – be it something you were recently taught or something that needs extra attention.  Ask one of your kung fu brothers or sisters to work with you, if needed, and don’t hesitate to ask the higher rank for assistance.  Last, but certainly not least, spend some time stretching your body if stretching wasn’t included at the end of class.  Hard training places a great demand on your muscles, particularly your leg muscles.  Keeping them loose and limber via stretching (after class) helps to prevent tightness that leads to aching joints and strained muscles.

If you’re totally spent after class, relax yourself with some gentle stretching.  No need to press too hard if you don’t feel it – listen to your body.  Let your heart rate stabilize and even feel free to close your eyes to soak in and reflect on the class.  The higher rank will really grasp this sentiment as they are typically pressed throughout the class.  Again, focus on some stretching and regaining energy before heading to get some water and move on with your day.  If you feel up for it, go ahead and try exercises and/or working on things you want to work on, but don’t press too hard.

Showing Up

“80% Of Success Is Showing Up.” – Woody Allen

Whether you like or dislike Woody Allen and his body of work, his success as a comedian, actor, director, and playwright can not be denied.  His quote above should motivate you both in and outside of the school.  He went on to say, “People used to say to me that they wanted to write a play, they wanted to write a movie, they wanted to write a novel, and the couple of people that did it were 80 percent of the way to having something happen.  All the other people struck out without ever getting that pack.  They couldn’t do it, that’s why they don’t accomplish a thing, they don’t do the thing, so once you do it, if you actually write your film script, or write your novel, you are more than half way towards something good happening.  So that was my biggest life lesson that has worked.  All others have failed me.”

If you want a high level of fighting ability, robust physical fitness, constant self-improvement, self-confidence, and more – then show up to class.  Using this principal of “showing up” will also serve you well in the other important areas of your life.

Sleep After A Late Class

“I can’t seem to fall asleep after training in late classes.  My body just doesn’t want to shut down.”

This is not an uncommon thing to hear between classes and there are a number of reasons one might have that issue.  Unfortunately, the medical community has yet to come to any conclusions as to why it’s difficult for some to fall asleep after exercising at night.  It does agree, however, that to fall asleep, both mind and body must be in the right place – one of relaxation and comfort.

The issue is that kung fu training greatly stimulates both the mind and the body.  Learning new things and giving 100% focus on making them work correctly requires significant mental energy.  Sparring, san shou and chin na also require a great deal of concentration and increases the hormones’ cortisol and adrenaline in the body, which is our way of coping with higher levels of stress.  These hormones can keep the body in the “fight or flight” state long after class and prevent easily falling to sleep.

The strain of hard physical exercise found in training can also keep the body humming long after class is over.  This is typically an issue for those not in peak physical shape – their heart rates simply don’t return to normal rapidly enough.  In fact, beginners or those just getting back into training may find there heart rate still high long after class is over.  This rapid blood flow can impact getting the body in a place of “relaxation and comfort”.  However, this issue will gradually go away as you get in shape and the exercise will provide a better night’s sleep once you finally conk out.  If you’ve maintained a consistent training schedule and have gotten in good shape, training at night and falling to sleep afterward is typically not a physical issue – it’s probably more of a mental one.

Here are a few ideas to help you on your way to easy slumber after evening classes:

  1. Have a small meal before and after exercise.   Be sure each meal has a good balance of proteins, fat, and carbohydrates.  Obviously, don’t eat anything high in sugar or caffeine.
  2. Cool down after class with gentle stretching.
  3. Warm green tea is good to drink post-training as it can calm the body and possesses L-theanine, which induces relaxation.  It can also help sleep quality, but look for low-caffeine teas when looking at options.
  4. Meditation is also something to consider to help get your mind and body in the proper state.

At the end of the day, those people who work out (be it early in the morning or late at night) will have a deeper and more meaningful sleep than those that don’t.  Also, sleep is incredibly important for recovery for those who regularly train.