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23-24 March 2010 | BAE Systems Theatre, Australian War Memorial, Canberra
AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE SPACE SEMINAR 2010
Army February 4, 2010
HEALTHGetting going in 2010
WHETHER a seasoned ath-
lete, an occasional fitness
participant, or a beginner
with a New Year's reso-
lution to get fit, many members will
return to work and vigorously engage
in a fitness regime.
One of the key causes of injury
when returning to training and sport,
as well as being a major motivation
buster, is the "bull at a gate" syndrome.
Members feeling refreshed from
leave or under pressure to pass a fit-
ness assessment, decide to take the
plunge and get stuck into their fitness
Training diligently every day for
an hour, many push hard to reach their
Unfortunately, this approach often
leads to failure as the body and mind
tire rapidly. For some, motivation is
lost, while for others who push through
mental warning barriers, overtraining
and injury await.
The key step in avoiding these pit-
falls and ensuring a successful return
to physical training is knowledge, and
with this in mind this article will look
at the impact of leave on the body and
how to begin/start again with physical
Fact 1: Detraining
As physical activity is reduced over
the festive season, physical fitness
declines. Some research has shown
measure of aerobic fitness, is lost each
day following inactivity.
In performance measures, this
equates to an increase in a 2.4km
run time of around one minute or a
decrease in shuttle run ability of seven
levels per week of inactivity.
When it comes to strength, although
the loss is not as drastic, muscle
strength is also lost due to inactivity.
Fact 2: Weight increase
Often over the leave period, the
reduction in physical activity combines
with an increase in food and alcohol
consumption. The outcome of this
equation, of calories out versus calo-
ries in, is an increase in body weight.
This increase in weight reduces the
aerobic fitness of the body, reduces
the body's relative strength, and, most
importantly, increases the weight your
body must now carry.
The two combine to have a notable
impact on fitness and injury potential
as a now less-fit body must carry addi-
For those who were very active
You really pigged out over the break! Now it's
a mad scramble to get fit but, according to Lt
Rob Orr, the best thing you can do is take it
one step at a time and slow down.
before going on leave, this effect on
fitness is an important consideration.
Often members expect to be able to
perform at the same level of fitness on
return to activity.
They expect to be able to run at
the same pace or for the same length
of time, do as many push ups or lift as
Many simply continue with their
training program as if they had never
taken a break.
For those few able to exercise at
the same pace and volume, the cost of
performing at this same level is high-
er than it was pre-leave and soon the
body fatigues or an injury occurs.
Those who fail to start training at
the same level will lose motivation and
in all probability cease training.
Conversely some members will
attack their training with even more
vigour in an attempt to rapidly return
to pre-leave fitness levels.
Again, the outcome of this approach
can often be fatigue and/or injury.
For those beginning with a new
training program, a similar trap exists
where they suddenly begin their exer-
cise program with overenthusiastic
high-volume training every day .
Regrettably, the progressive
increase in body stress begins to over-
whelm the initial enthusiasm.
Waking every morning with muscle
soreness and fatigue leads to a loss of
motivation and soon one day of train-
ing is missed, then two, then a week
and soon training is forgotten.
Too much too soon: Beware of over training.
Photo by AB Paul Berry
For the first four weeks a
steady progressive approach
to training is recommended:
For the first two weeks
train no more than three to
four times a week. Then, if
comfortable with frequen-
cy, increase to no more
than five times a week.
Train at a low intensity -- no
more than 80 per cent of
Train for no more than 40
minutes (excluding warm
up and cool down).
Try as many different activ-
ities as possible. Rotate
through different weight-
training exercises, try
different cardio machines,
run different routes.
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