Click Here if you are unable to see the full content or animation of this eNewsletter  



     The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2013 issue 7



Muscle Cramps

I've said it before and I'll say it again... I sweat more than anyone that I know!  Always have.  So going into the Tough Mudder at the beginning of this month, my biggest concern about compensating for my sweat over a 10 mile obstacle course was realized!  Somewhere around mile 7 or so, I got some pretty bad cramps in my quads and calves.  I made sure to drink plenty of water at the rest stops, but that doesn't replace your electrolytes.  This loss in electrolytes, as well as other factors, can play a big roll in the likelihood of you suffering muscle cramps! 


Muscle Cramps
A muscle cramp is an involuntarily and forcibly contracted muscle that does not relax. When we use the muscles that can be controlled voluntarily, such as those of our arms and legs, they alternately contract and relax as we move our limbs. A muscle (or even a few fibers of a muscle) that involuntarily (without consciously willing it) contracts is in a "spasm." If the spasm is forceful and sustained, it becomes a cramp. Muscle cramps often cause a visible or palpable hardening of the involved muscle


What are the symptoms of common muscle cramps? How muscle cramps diagnosed?

Characteristically, a cramp is painful, often severely so. Usually, the sufferer must stop whatever activity is under way and seek relief from the cramp; the person is unable to use the affected muscle while it is cramping. Severe cramps may be associated with soreness and swelling, which can occasionally persist up to several days after the cramp has subsided. At the time of cramping, the knotted muscle will bulge, feel very firm, and may be tender.


Electrolytes are minerals which have an electrical charge when they are dissolved in the blood or other liquids within the body. Electrolytes are important because many cells, including nerve and muscle cells, use electrical activity as part of their function. These cells can control their electrical charge by modifying the amount of electrolytes inside and outside of the cell. Electrolyte imbalances can disrupt the way that your muscle and nerve cells work because they are the most sensitive to changes in electrolytes.


Electrolytes and Cramping

When your body gets low on electrolytes it can cause your muscles to cramp, explains. Specifically, low blood levels of either calcium or magnesium directly increase the excitability of both the nerve endings and the muscles they stimulate which can lead to cramping.  Low potassium blood levels occasionally cause muscle cramps, although it is more common for low potassium to be associated with muscle weakness. 


Electrolyte depletion is more common when you are doing intense exercise because you lose some electrolytes through your sweat. Electrolyte depletion can also occur if you are taking diuretic medications or are losing fluids due to vomiting or diarrhea.


Sports and other vigorous activities can cause excessive fluid loss from perspiration. This kind of dehydration increases the likelihood of true cramps. These cramps are more likely to occur in warm weather and can be an early sign of heat stroke. Chronic volume depletion of body fluids from diuretics (medicine that promote urination) and poor fluid intake may act similarly to predispose to cramps, especially in older people. Sodium depletion has also been associated with cramps. Loss of sodium, the most abundant chemical constituent of body fluids outside the cell, is usually a function of dehydration.


Vigorous activity:
True cramps are commonly associated with the vigorous use of muscles and muscle fatigue (in sports or with unaccustomed activities). Such cramps may come during the activity or later, sometimes many hours later.


What is the treatment of skeletal muscle cramps?
Most cramps can be stopped if the muscle can be stretched. For many cramps of the feet and legs, this stretching can often be accomplished by standing up and walking around. Gently massaging the muscle will often help it to relax, as will applying warmth from a heating pad or hot soak. If the cramp is associated with fluid loss, as is often the case with vigorous physical activity, fluid and electrolyte (especially sodium and potassium) replacement is essential. Medicines generally are not needed to treat an ordinary cramp that is active since most cramps subside spontaneously before enough medicine would be absorbed to even have an effect.


How can muscle cramps be prevented?

Activity: Authorities recommend stretching before and after exercise or sports, along with an adequate warm-up and cooldown, to prevent cramps that are caused by vigorous physical activity. Good hydration before, during, and after the activity is important, especially if the duration exceeds one hour, and replacement of lost electrolytes (especially sodium and potassium, which are major components of perspiration) can also be helpful. Excessive fatigue, especially in warm weather, should be avoided.


How much should I drink?

Hydration guidelines should be individualized for each person. The goal is to prevent excessive weight loss (>2% of body weight). You should weigh yourself before and after exercise to see how much fluid you lose through sweat. One liter of water weighs 2.25 pounds. Depending on the amount of exercise, temperature and humidity, body weight, and other factors, you can lose anywhere from approximately .4 to 1.8 liters per hour.


Pre-exercise hydration (if needed):

  1. 0.5 liters per hour for a 180-pound person several hours (three to four hours) prior to exercise.

  2. Consuming beverages with sodium and/or small amounts of salted snacks or sodium-containing foods at meals will help to stimulate thirst and retain the consumed fluids.

During exercise:

  1. Suggested starting points for marathon runners are 0.4 to 0.8 liters per hour, but again, this should be individualized based on body weight loss.

  2. There should be no more than 10% carbohydrate in the beverage, and 7% has generally been considered close to optimal. Carbohydrate consumption is generally recommended only after one hour of exertion.

  3. Electrolyte repletion (sodium and potassium) can help sustain electrolyte balance during exercise. Particularly when

    • there is inadequate access to meals or meals are not eaten,

    • physical activity exceeds four hours in duration,

    • during the initial days of hot weather.

Under these conditions, adding modest amounts of salt (0.3 g/L to 0.7 g/L) can offset salt loss in sweat and minimize medical events associated with electrolyte imbalances (muscle cramps, hyponatremia).


  1. Drink approximately 0.5 liters of water for every pound of body weight lost.

  2. Consuming beverages and snacks with sodium will help expedite rapid and complete recovery by stimulating thirst and fluid retention.

So yes, I'm going to use this as a learning experience
J  We're already planning on the Tough Mudder again next year, and you can bet that I'll get a handle on my "in race nutrition" for the run next year... or any other event of sizable distance or duration!  There are plenty of gels, powders, and chews that can be used to replenish your electrolytes when rest stops only have water.  You can bet I'll be packin next time!

ref.  medicine. net



Sandbag Exercise of the Month!

Walking Lunge


Yes... I know... you HATE walking lunges.  Everybody does!  And why shouldn't you?  If you do enough of them, you certainly get a feel for where your quadriceps are!  Walking lunges are always good for a leg burn, which makes them an excellent strengthening exercise for your thighs!


Target:  legs and butt (quadriceps, gluteus maximus)

Keep torso upright during lunge; flexible hip flexors are important. Lead knee should point same direction as foot throughout lunge.  Step forward with first leg. Land on heel then forefoot. Lower body by flexing knee and hip of front leg until knee of rear leg is almost in contact with floor. Stand on forward leg with assistance of rear leg. Lunge forward with opposite leg. Repeat by alternating lunge with opposite legs.

“Organic” Doesn’t Mean “Healthy”


by Sandy Todd Webster

With so much emphasis on organic, non-GMO foods these days, many consumers are under the false impression that foods labeled “organic” are bound to be healthy.

Not so. An ooey-gooey-chewy fudge brownie by any other name is still packed with fat and calories and will bust a diet just as fast as its nonorganic chocolaty cousin.

A recent study by Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab researchers set out to discover what factors an “organic” food label might influence. Results revealed that beyond giving the product a favorable health bias, an “organic” label could significantly alter perceptions of taste, calories and value. Some people appeared to be more susceptible to this “health halo” effect than others.

According to a summary by lead author Wan-chen Jenny Lee, 115 people were recruited from a local shopping mall in Ithaca, New York, to participate in the study. Subjects were asked to evaluate three pairs of products—two yogurts, two cookies and two potato chip portions. One item from each food pair was labeled “organic,” while the other was labeled “regular.” The twist? All product pairs were organic and identical. Participants were asked to rate the taste and caloric content of each item, and how much they would be willing to pay for each. A questionnaire also inquired about each person’s environmental and shopping habits.

“Even though these foods were all the same, the ‘organic’ label greatly influenced people’s perceptions,” reported Lee. “The cookies and yogurt were estimated to have significantly fewer calories when labeled ‘organic,’ and people were willing to pay up to 23.4% more for them. The nutritional aspects of these foods were also greatly biased by the health halo effect. The ‘organic’ cookies and yogurt were said to taste ‘lower in fat’ than the ‘regular’ variety, and the ‘organic’ cookies and chips were thought to be more nutritious!

“The label even tricked people’s taste buds: when perceived as ‘organic,’ chips seemed more appetizing and yogurt was judged to be more flavorful. ‘Regular’ cookies were reported to taste better—possibly because people often believe healthy foods are not tasty. All of these foods were exactly the same, but a simple organic label made all the difference.”

Armed with this knowledge, you can evaluate food package marketing and nutrition labels with a more critical eye.

ref.  Fitness RX,

How Much Weight Am I Lifting in a Push-Up?


It's Go Time!

June wasn't a bad month... ran the 10 mile Philly Tough Mudder... family vacation at the lake... 5K run for childhood cancer...and of course I had to flip the warrior tire 47 times on my birthday J.  The next big weekend on my schedule was at the end of September when I have the MS bike ride and Delaware Mud Run... that's just too far away!  So now I'm contemplating participating in my first sprint triathlon!  Running... no worries, Biking... bring it on, but Swimming... big YIKES!  Don't get me wrong, I can swim... but I never did get the hang of that whole breathing thing... plus I don't really float too much.  Once again, out of my comfort zone, but it's all good.  I wanted to stretch my goals this year and that's just what I'm gonna do!

How about you?  Any stretch goals?  I like to find something that's going to require some work and then register for it... aka. COMMIT!  Commitment is a powerful thing that drives you to do what you need to get it done.  There are plenty of options out there... find something that works for you and register today!

Oh right... and have an outstanding and safe Forth of July Everyone!  Go easy on the BBQ ; )

For prior issues of this eNewsletter, to subscribe, or unsubscribe, please visit the following link -->

Exceed Your Potential!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT

"Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get." ~Ray Kroc  

youtube of the month --> Balancing Work & Working Out
Great advice video from  The same answers to common workout questions that I typically give... although I mostly keep my shirt on J | Personal Training | News | Tips & Tools | Fitness Stuff




Get Toned!   Get Fit!   Lose Weight!   Feel Great!


TODAY! Fitness, LLC. , Bear, Delaware