Recorded Events

How To Maintain Strength, Fitness and a Healthy Lifestyle After Competitive Sport – Luke Hart

Date: 2nd November 2021
Location: Online
Time: 7 pm

Watch this video of Luke Hart, Senior Strength & Conditioning Coach and Fitness Lead at SSC Sports Medicine, discussing ‘Fit for Life: How to maintain strength, fitness and a healthy lifestyle after competitive sport’.

This video was recorded as part of SSC public information meeting as part of its ‘Fit for life series’ focusing on ‘How to stay healthy & injury free – From youth sport to the ageing athlete’.

Lorem ipsumLuke Hart is a Senior Strength & Conditioning Coach and Fitness Lead at SSC Sports Medicine

Luke Hart, Senior Strength & Conditioning Coach and Fitness Lead at SSC Sports Medicine.

“How to stay healthy & injury free – From youth sport to the ageing athlete.”

Hello, my name is Luke Hart, and today I am going to present how to maintain strength, fitness and how to keep a healthy lifestyle after competitive sport. My presentation will also cover any injury you may have had, applicable to many different situations you might find yourself in. We are going to talk about being fit for sport is being fit for life. If you’re fit for sport and have the health, the fitness and the strength and we can continue to play sports for as long as possible, that is the same as what we need to be fit for life and health.

So when we look at the difference between an elite athlete and those who have retired, it is very interesting to see that the bit we struggle to maintain after sports is the skill component of the sport. This is the so it’s the agility, the speed may be the throwing or the specific qualities of when you’re playing that sport, that is what we lose. We can see from the studies that the retired athlete and the elite athlete have the same physical test numbers, even though they have been retired from sports for several years. So what we see is that upper body strength, maximal strength in the upper body and running tests are the same in those who have retired to those who are still elite athletes. That is really positive because there are the key areas for us, people who don’t play sports anymore, there the factors we want to know about, the ones that will influence us on our health and our lifestyle. We need to know what to do after sport, whether it’s sports or GAA, soccer, football, or cricket. We need to maintain a healthy lifestyle and maintain as much of our physical fitness as possible and how that relates to our health.

The World Health Organisation about four years ago changed its recommendations. They added a couple of new recommendations that didn’t use to be there. We still have the usual 150 minutes of light activity, but often we would already get this in our sport. When we leave sports, we need to find something that will replace that, 75 minutes of vigorous activity, strength sessions at least twice per week, and minimising our sedentary time. Sedentary time is really the problem at the moment with COVID lockdowns and people working from home. People now have a much higher increased sedentary time than what they had even just a year and a half/ two years ago. This is also a problem after we finish sports if we were playing team-based sports. In Ireland it is very popular such as GAA, we could be out of the house 6 hours a week, 2-hour sessions three times a week. When we stop playing, we start to get a huge increase in our sedentary time if we don’t find something to replace that with. If we put working from home on top of that, we are looking at a bit of an issue, and we will discuss that later.

So what I would like to talk about today is three key areas: Strength & Power, Cardiovascular Fitness, and we will touch on BMI & Body Fat. I am going to start with Strength & Power. I am going to start with this that this fundamentally underpins all the other qualities we will talk about, and I am going to show you why. So when we look into strength, Muscular Strength is a predictor of all-cause mortality. A study was done on two million men, and women found stronger had significantly decreased risk of all-cause mortality, essentially decreased risk of death by any kind of disease. So it was the biggest factor that played a role in reducing people’s risk. We want to know how we can maintain our strength as we age and why it is that important. We can see here on the left is a 60-year-old woman, has muscle mass there, the black part is the muscle mass, and the white part is the fat mass. On the right-hand side, we have an 80-year-old woman again, and we can see the dark muscle mass and the white being the fat mass. What we want to do is, we want to try to maintain as much of that darker mass as possible. If you look at the graph underneath, you can see that the line’s slope is the drop of the number of muscles people have as they age. What we want to do is try to minimise that drop as much as possible. We want to try and get that line as flat as we can. It is okay if it’s ever-increasing. If you haven’t done much strength training before or fitness work before, you might see an increasing line as you age. The flatter we can get that line, the healthier and lower our risk will be as we age. You don’t have to lose that muscle, so what we can see here in a brilliant study by Wroblewski, they found that a 40-year-old tri-athlete had a great muscle mass with small fat mass in comparison to the 74-year-old sedentary man the fat mass has begun to invade the muscle mass, you can see that increased white mass around the muscle. We can see on the image below a 70-year-old triathlete had the same muscle mass as the 40-year-old tri-athlete. The best way for us to do this is through muscle training.

What is the best way of doing this? You can see in this study here the difference between doing maximal isometric leg press and maximal isometric bench press over a 21 week period. The strength and endurance group circled in blue had the best results. This shows while strength is important, it also shows the importance of strength and endurance. The combination of the two is the way to get the best results for yourself or anyone after sports.

I also wanted to touch on why strength and conditioning are important for other conditions as well. Mark will talk about this later on as well. ACL’s are a key kind of risk in field-based sports. We see them a lot in GAA, soccer, rugby and other sports as well. I’m sure many of you have had an operation on the knee or have had muscular issues or ACL issues. What we really want to know is how I prevent any issues down the line and for my knee. What we found is those with osteoarthritis, which is a common complaint after knee surgery or having any knee issues down the line, is that the people who increased their strength had a 22.5% reduction in pain and a 17.5% increase in their function when they’ve already had knee osteoarthritis. This will only be better if we start sooner. We also found those who had improved quadriceps strength, who already had knee OA, they had significantly improved gait and movement afterwards.

That brings me on, how strong is strong enough? What do you need to do? And how can you quickly and efficiently see whether you are strong or not? This test looked at a leg extension vs a sit-to-stand. There is a really good test that you guys can do at home. If you have a seat where your knee aligns with your hip, so a kitchen chair would be perfect. You have to see how many sit-to-stand you can do in 30 seconds. If you can achieve more than 11, that means you are above that low. If you can do less than 11, you need to do a bit more work. 15 would be the hitting average, and 22 would be in a good position. The younger we are, we would want to push that a bit forward if you are getting 27 plus. That is excellent. It is a really good test see to see where you are at. We can test this in more detail in our Fitness lab here.

Although that is a really good test at home, what do we suggest here at the clinic? For those of you that go to the gym, we suggest doing a front squat with 0.5-0.75 times the body weight. Let’s you are an average 80kg male, and you would want to be doing a 40-60kg front squat. This is the same across all genders and their body weight. A leg press of 1.5-2 times the bodyweight would also be a good alternative. For our posterior, the muscles at the back of our body so our lower back, sides and hamstrings, a deadlift of 1-1.5 times the bodyweight would be brilliant, hip trust of 1-1.5 times our body weight is also equally as good. Then lastly, for our upper body, which is important for females for osteoporosis as we age. 8-10 good quality push-ups would be absolutely fantastic. 1-3 pull-ups would be a great aim and target.

We are moving on to aerobics, fitness & physical activity and the role that they play in your health and fitness. Why is it so important? VO2 Max is something we use to test your fitness, so we use it here in all our health and fitness tests. We find it to be one of the most important tests to see how fit and how healthy you are. A Finnish study that followed 2226 males with no history of cancer for 16 years found that if you have a VO2 Max of 33.2 ml resulted in a 27% less chance of getting cancer and a 37% reduction in cancer mortality. Those that did 2 hours of moderate exercise reduced cancer mortality by 26%. An improved VO2 Max decreased the risk of lung, gastrointestinal and prostate cancer. Moving on to dementia risk, which is a big topic at the moment, those who have moderate to high fitness demonstrated significant reductions in dementia risk. So we say for every 3.5 ml. kg of oxygen improves, there is a 14& reduction in the likelihood of dementia mortality. Then for those that already have a moderate and high cardiovascular fitness group had a greater than 50% reduction in dementia Mortality. There is a lot of health benefits and significant reductions by having a higher fitness level.

Lastly, if we have increased fitness, we have significantly reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease. So if we have a moderate to high fitness level, we have a 53% reduction in risk of heart failure if we have a high VO2 max. An increase of just 9% in VO2 Max results in significantly decreased BP and Cholesterol levels.

We want to improve our fitness, so how do we do that? The first rule I have is to take care of the basics. That’s what we do without patients. What I mean by that is to take care of your daily steps. Anything after 6000 steps is a reduction in mortality rate. Every 1000 increase in steps reduces mortality risk by 23%. Rule 2 just start now, and yesterday would have been even better to start. People who do lifelong exercise see significantly improved data. Whether it is hard or easy, you will still see benefits. As we live for longer, we want to do the things we love longer. Continuing exercise throughout your life improves the condition of your life. Rule 3 intensity over the duration, so what previous studies have found is that if you do some high-intensity training, even just 60 seconds work with 75 seconds rest and ten times and three times a week in 5 weeks, you can have almost 10% improvement in your VO2 max. 10% improvement decreases many health risks. Secondly, what was found in the rating of perceived pleasure during HIT running than continuous running. This is really important because if we want to do this for the long term or as a habit, we need to make it official and enjoyable—a short amount of exercise with higher intensity. Continuous training also has lots of benefits, including mindfulness; you should stop this but maybe consider adding high-intensity training.

Lastly, I would like to talk about Body Mass Index and Body Fat % and the role that it plays in your health and fitness. This is the one that is spoken about in the newsletter the most and all over social media. There are some interesting studies; what we do find is that those wither a higher BMI and higher body fat percentage do have a significantly higher risk of all-cause mortality. There are some other factors that we need to account for. I would like to talk about those with Knee Osteoarthritis, which can be higher risk if we have had any operation or anterior cruciate ligament injury. We do find that body mass is important for those people. If you have had an operation on your knee or osteoarthritis, you should be trying to keep a lean body mass. So as social media and the newspaper say that BMI is the be all end, it really isn’t. Recent studies have found powerful older people exhibited an improved life expectancy of 9 years regardless of BMI.

What should we be targeting? The World Health Organisation is spot on. One hundred fifty minutes of low-intensity exercise golf is a great example of doing this. If we can include vigorous exercise every single week, about 1-2 sessions a week if we’re getting our low-intensity exercise if not 2-3 times a week. 2 strength sessions a week is vital as it helps to keep doing what we love for longer and is the key factor. A little bit of balance and mobility. We are maintaining a good diet of 80% /20% and hitting 7000 steps a day.

We offer a fitness lab here that is covered by VHI, Laya and Irish Life. We can give you all the information that we spoke about tonight and a personalised program and suggestions. VO2 Max Testing is a vital test as it gives you a great insight into your fitness. Contact us at 01 526 2050 to book in. Thank you very much for your time.

 

Q&A with Luke Hart.

Fiona Roche, Business Development Manager here at SSC, asked Luke Hart, Senior Strength & Conditioning Coach and Fitness Lead at SSC Sports Medicine questions sent in by the viewers live during the event.

Q. I only have a limited time to train. Should I prioritise strength or some form of cardio?

A. As you saw in the talk there, strength underpins everything we do, so if we can stay strong, it allows us to do all the things we love to do, whether that is football, golf or tennis etc. Some part of the week should be dedicated to strength. The use the rest of the week can be prioritised to cardiovascular as that is also very important so like 60% and 40% in strength. We only really need one session a week to stay strong. We definitely need some strength in there because if we don’t use it, we lose it.

Q. What pace of running is needed over 60 seconds?

A. It depends on the individual. For over 60 seconds, you want to be working quite hard. We use a concept called the rating of the exceed excursion so how hard you work. You can track it by ten, being it being preseason, which is really hard, and one being like you getting out of bed. You should keep it at 6-7. It is individualised.

Q. Should I be using weights at age 50+?

A. Yes, absolutely, it provides great benefits for bone mineral density and tendon health or any who is prone to osteoporosis. An individualised program would be important if you haven’t used weights before.

Q. Do all health insurance cover the fitness lab?

A. It depends on your policy. VHI, Laya and Irish life all cover the fitness lab, but it depends on your policy. Check your policy; usually, the benefits are down the bottom of the policy. You can ring us here at sports medicine, and we can check for you or else you can ring your insurance company to find out.

Q. Would you recommend a 45 minute Pilate class as a strengthening method, or would this be more balancing and conditioning?

A. It depends on the type of class you do. We want to see something that is over and above our body weight to influence bone mineral decadency and other areas improvements. Pilates alone might not be enough to influence the bone mineral and provide all the benefits. You would need to add some exercise for strength. It depends on the Pilates class, whether it is more of a relaxing class or a harder class.

Q. 11 days post-surgery, how can I prevent significant muscle wastage?

A. This can be hard to prevent post-surgery as post-surgery you are going to get some level of muscle wastage. The most important thing is to get that muscle back activated as soon as possible to prevent that waste. There will always be some, but by doing some exercises, especially ones that are specific to the surgery and the injury, then we can maximise the amount of muscle mass we can retain. That is really important. All those early-stage exercises are there to maintain muscle mass. Try to do exercises to encourage that muscle in that area.

 Q. Can you overdue your sessions in a week?

A. If we do too many sessions in a week and don’t allow enough recovery time, that’s when we can experience burnout. We need at least two dedicated rest days per week. When we train, we break down muscle, and when we recover, we build and heal that muscle.

Q. Do you recommend protein shakes for recovery?

A. Protein shakes are good and available quite easy. I see them supplement your nutrition, not replace good nutrition. Immediately After or up to 30 minutes are training would be a good time to take protein. There is high protein chocolate milk or Avon milk that you can buy on the shelf, which is just as good. It doesn’t have to be used, but it is something that can be and supplement.

As you saw in the talk there, strength underpins everything we do, so if we can stay strong, it allows us to do all the things we love to do, whether that is football, golf or tennis etc. Some part of the week should be dedicated to strength. The use the rest of the week can be prioritised to cardiovascular as that is also very important so like 60% and 40% in strength. We only really need one session a week to stay strong. We definitely need some strength in there because if we don’t use it, we lose it.

Yes, absolutely, it provides great benefits for bone mineral density and tendon health or any who is prone to osteoporosis. An individualised program would be important if you haven’t used weights before.

It depends on the individual. For over 60 seconds, you want to be working quite hard. We use a concept called the rating of the exceed excursion so how hard you work. You can track it by ten, being it being preseason, which is really hard, and one being like you getting out of bed. You should keep it at 6-7. It is individualised.

It depends on your policy. VHI, Laya and Irish life all cover the fitness lab, but it depends on your policy. Check your policy; usually, the benefits are down the bottom of the policy. You can ring us here at sports medicine, and we can check for you or else you can ring your insurance company to find out.

It depends on the type of class you do. We want to see something that is over and above our body weight to influence bone mineral decadency and other areas improvements. Pilates alone might not be enough to influence the bone mineral and provide all the benefits. You would need to add some exercise for strength. It depends on the Pilates class, whether it is more of a relaxing class or a harder class.

This can be hard to prevent post-surgery as post-surgery you are going to get some level of muscle wastage. The most important thing is to get that muscle back activated as soon as possible to prevent that waste. There will always be some, but by doing some exercises, especially ones that are specific to the surgery and the injury, then we can maximise the amount of muscle mass we can retain. That is really important. All those early-stage exercises are there to maintain muscle mass. Try to do exercises to encourage that muscle in that area.

If we do too many sessions in a week and don’t allow enough recovery time, that’s when we can experience burnout. We need at least two dedicated rest days per week. When we train, we break down muscle, and when we recover, we build and heal that muscle.

Protein shakes are good and available quite easy. I see them supplement your nutrition, not replace good nutrition. Immediately After or up to 30 minutes are training would be a good time to take protein. There is high protein chocolate milk or Avon milk that you can buy on the shelf, which is just as good. It doesn’t have to be used, but it is something that can be and supplement.