Fitness gifts for the holiday season

Finding an appropriate gift for someone interested in fitness can be a complex and daunting task. The vast array of offerings may be confusing and an error will result in another dust collector. This week is a good time to make some recommendations and provide some caution.

Michael Sena’s Traveling Trainer. This product provides a perfect combination of fitness equipment, instruction and dietary tips in a convenient travel case. Sena, a nationally known personal trainer, provides instruction on the use of elastic stretch tubes of varying resistances. Although the premise is for this product to be used while traveling to places where a gym isn’t available, it is a great way to begin a home workout that requires minimal cost and space.

Fitness Monitors. These devices include pedometers, heart rate monitors and computerized bands that monitor all physical activity and diets. The range is vast and the usefulness varies. In general, the more comprehensive the apparatus the more technical ability is required. The objective here is to provide feedback regarding the intensity of an individual’s activity. That feedback will hopefully encourage more effort. Much of this can be accomplished by using a simple pedometer and bathroom scale.

P90X2. This is the latest iteration in a wildly successful video workout series. Each consists of intense exercises that last approximately 60 minutes and utilize a variety of muscle groups. They provide an excellent daily fitness experience and, based on many testimonials, accomplish the goal of getting subscribers in shape in 90 days. Although the series is expensive, it requires minimal equipment and space.

The current trend in fitness programs emphasizes equal parts aerobic and resistance exercises utilizing body weight for resistance. Stretching, balance and constant movement are essential elements.

A fitness program combined with dietary moderation will lead to a healthy new year.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are among the most prescribed medications worldwide. In sports medicine, they are often referred to as performance “enabling” drugs.

Common NSAIDs like Motrin, Naproxyn, Toradol, Voltaren and Celebrex can be administered orally, by injection or applied to the skin. As opposed to steroids, the NSAIDs have fewer side effects and do not build muscle like androgenic steroid drugs.

Inflammation is a normal response of the human body to injury. NSAIDs are effective in treating headache, injured nerves, arthritis and painful chronic conditions. In sports, NSAIDs are primarily used to treat acute muscle tears (strains), ligamentous injuries (sprains) and joint trauma (bursitis).

The classic inflammatory response causes signs of swelling, elevated temperature, redness and pain that are readily apparent to an observer. At a microscopic level, there is an intense cellular response where blood flow increases to the affected region allowing chemicals and white blood cells to leave the bloodstream and attack the injury.

While the inflammatory response is essential to good health, it can cause damage if it becomes chronic. NSAIDs are designed to reduce inflammation by blocking the cyclooxygenase enzymes (COX-1 and COX-2) and subsequently halting the production of prostaglandins, essential components of the inflammatory response.

Although NSAIDs have an analgesic effect, they reduce pain by altering the actual process causing the pain, as opposed to opiate drugs that merely block pain receptors.

It is not uncommon in sports to have more than one ongoing injury. NSAIDs do not target a specific injury and work at multiple areas simultaneously.

Although generally safe, potential side effects of NSAIDs include stomach ulcers, kidney damage and elevation of blood pressure.

In sports, where chronic musculoskeletal injuries are common NSAIDs have extended the careers of many athletes. After consultation with a physician, NSAIDs may be able to keep you in the game.