Now just before you start to clear your throat to belt out the chorus to your favourite song, let me stop you right there! This article ain’t about trying to discover Australia’s new pop idol, rather it’s about a much more serious subject, one of the biggest killers plaguing our modern world – the metabolic syndrome or otherwise known as syndrome X.
What is the Metabolic Syndrome?
There are several names and definition’s for this syndrome but in Australia it’s acronym is actually CHAOS. I like to refer to it as the “perfect storm” but basically it’s a cluster of medical conditions that together increase our risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Some other medical conditions being:
- Insulin resistance
- Abdominal obesity
- Kidney damage – microalbuminuria
- Fatty liver – cirrhosis of the liver
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women
Did you know…
- It is estimated that around 30% of Australian’s currently have the X factor.
- Heart disease remains the biggest killer of Australian’s accounting for a third of all death’s and the most costly disorder in the nation despite improvements in recent years.
- The WHO has listed coronary heart disease (CHD) as the number one killer on its top 10 list (for high income societies).
- 50% of patients with CHD will develop the metabolic syndrome.
What causes it?
In most cases a sedentary lifestyle with a highly processed and high calorie diet that is nutrient deficient seems to be one of the key risk factors, this leading to obesity and a degree of insulin resistance or full blown diabetes.
In our fast-paced modern lives with increased family; social and work demands, we are slowly letting this “life” get the better of us as we have more things competing for our time than ever before. In many cases our health takes the back seat to meeting a deadline or going out for drinks with friends to unwind from our hectic schedules.
The reality is most working professionals don’t even have time to stop for lunch let alone get out of the office during the day for a walk or a workout! The consequence of this “life” is a society that is unhealthy; unfit; tired; stressed and depressed and the list goes on.
Some other risk factors to note are:
- a waist circumference over 102cm for men and 88cm for women
- age (50+)
- endocrine disorders such as poly-cystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women
- Prolonged periods of stress
Stress for prolonged periods is thought to be a major cause as it can disturb our normal hormone balance (via the HPA-axis) and cause havoc in our bodies. This imbalance will elevate the stress hormone cortisol in our bodies which will raise glucose and insulin levels, this ultimately leading to increased visceral fat, hypertension and all the other associated problems.
The “exercise” conundrum!
We now should be well aware that a sedentary lifestyle is a major factor in the prevalence of the X factor. It’s no secret that we are physically moving less than ever before with the help of more stationary jobs, cars, buses, trains, escalators, elevators etc.
We spend our nights sleeping on our backs, our days sitting at a desk and yet there is a growing trend within pockets of the fitness community that will only advocate low intensity exercise such as yoga or pilates and totally negate the use of higher intensity activities such as proper strength training, aerobics classes or conditioning training such as jogging or stair sprints
Did I hear a call for a witch hunt!?
Now before you start to scream for a witch hunt, those modes of exercise do have their place, but just not as such a major chunk of your weekly exercise regime! Use them as a part of your overall regime, but they are most certainly not going to effectively challenge your body enough to attain a higher level of fitness.
Any activity where you cannot continue to progressively overload your body and increase the intensity has major limitations and will at some point fail you on your quest to achieving greater results.
The result of this mentality towards fitness and exercise is that we have many skinny/fat, weak and de-conditioned people walking around the gym thinking they are winning the fight against the bulge by attending multiple yoga or pilates classes a week, but little do they know that what they are not doing is hurting them more!
So what is fitness?
Why is it when we hear the word fitness the first thing we think of is endurance? Or in this case the obsession with suppleness. Fitness is multifaceted like a diamond, when embarking on a fitness journey, all aspects of fitness need to be considered and properly addressed, those being: strength; stamina; speed; suppleness; skill and spirit. Within these there are also many sub-components, so to be fit and healthy, we must cover as many of these components of fitness as possible in our training week.
The good news…
It’s never too late to make some changes and take back what this busy “life” has robbed from you and to attain the quality of life that we all desire and need for a full and happy life.
What can I do to decrease my risk or improve my health?
Make decisions for your life, before life decides for you! In most cases, people often wait until something is broken before they decide to act, crisis management is never a good policy, prevention is always a better policy than cure, bellow are 6 steps to taking back control of your life and getting back on the path to a new and fitter you!
- Get a once over. Get your GP to check you out and clear you for exercise, as in some cases medication(s) may be needed.
- If you have the X factor (or one of the associated conditions), there may potentially be some contraindications with exercise which your doctor can let you know about to make sure your choice of activity is suited to your current health and fitness level.
- Get some professional help and advice from an expert personal trainer to ensure you start on the right path. Get a plan thats tailored for you that takes into consideration your: medical history; training history; current physical state and goals.
- Exercise is not the only part of the plan you will need help with, what you eat is such a huge part of the lifestyle change needed, a dietician or a qualified professional should also be consulted to get you fuelling efficiently to get your REV’s up through life and maximise your progression.
- Gym-therapy. Perhaps your credit card has been going to the gym for years without you, or when you do go your effort level may resemble that of a 100 year old geriatric when they are asleep. It’s time you started to go and put some effort in.
- Begin by aiming for a minimum of 45 minutes of moderate-to-high intensity exercise 3 days per week.
- If your idea of exercise is going to the gym and lying down and spending an hour stretching, start using a variety of other training methods from resistance based strength exercises (i.e. squats) and aerobic activities (i.e. stationary bike) and only use yoga or pilates as a part of your overall plan to give balance to your training week.
- Jog, don’t sprint. Growing up i’m sure we all heard of the famous story of the Hare & the Tortoise and we know how that ends!
- Don’t try and go from zero-to-hero overnight, give your body a chance to adapt to exercise and slowly increase your training intensity each week in small increments.
- Consistency is the key, build upon each session and listen to your body before you bite off any more.
- Something is better than nothing, so if you can’t commit to the whole change, that’s ok, aim for one change a week, that’s still a step in the right direction!
- Incidental exercise. In addition to the 45 minutes of moderate-to-high intensity exercise 3 x weekly, the WHO recommends more activity for good health and weight loss.
- Buy a pedometer and measure the amount of steps you take daily, the current recommendations for good health are 10,000 steps a day as a minimum in addition to this your 3 x weekly bouts of moderate-to-high exercise are still needed.
- To increase your overall calorie expenditure and get you more active, start to walk up stairs when you can instead of taking the lift or perhaps get off the bus or train 1 to 2 stops earlier and walk the rest of the way to the office / home, this is a great way to sneak some extra exercise into your day.
- Eat right. In the attempt to make a change for the better, don’t go and jump on the latest fade diet or some crazy detox.
- A healthy, reduced calorie diet will help you shed any excess kilos but professional help may be needed as you may already have some underlying medical issues, a dietician will help you to plan your meals for sustained energy and to maximise fat loss and shed any stubborn fat from hanging around. (Read our article on the Miyagi Top 5 Dietary Habit Tips in our blog section)
- Enjoy the moment. We have all heard the expression many times that “life is too short”. They say this because it’s true! Before you know it your best years could have flown by without you noticing. In saying this, I don’t mean to go and party your life away, I’m talking about spending time doing things you love doing.
- Think of a hobby that you have always wanted to do (i.e. learn a language or learn to surf), book it in and go. There is no time like the present. Its called the present because it is exactly that… A gift, so enjoy it!
- Block out 15mins a day, go for a walk and catch some sun or sit somewhere quiet to gather your thoughts without someone interrupting you; without your mobile phone ringing or without you having to obsessively check your emails. A little silence may just be what the Dr ordered.
- Learn to enjoy the moment again in this life wherever you are and smell the roses (so to speak).
Now that you know more about Metabolic Syndrome and how you can make simple changes to your life to prevent this, we INVITE you to try us out but APPLYING today by clicking on this link www.miyagi.fitness/apply/
We look forward to meeting you and helping you become THE BEST VERSION of you!