13 March 2009

Fit - and fun

Sandra paddles, Jacques plays action cricket and Elana boxes. More and more people are getting fit by playing outside the gym...


Sandra paddles, Jacques plays action cricket and Elana boxes. More and more people are getting fit by playing outside the gym. But how does a round of golf compare with a gym workout?

Betina Louw of YOU Pulse magazine asked sports scientist Trevor Allen and biokineticist Pea Blaauw.

Sandra Prinsloo (actress and director) and Willem Van Riet (ex-Springbok paddler, lawyer and head of the Peace Parks Foundation).

What: They canoe together at a dam or in the sea. Sandra also walks every day and does yoga and Pilates.

Why?: "Paddling is more than just exercise, it’s an experience that takes you out of the bustle of the city and lets you connect with nature in a matter of minutes. It’s excellent exercise for the upper arms, back and legs and especially targets your back and stomach muscles," says Sandra.

Photo: Johan Wilke

Willem adds: "I’ve been paddling since I was young but for me it’s not just a sport or a way of getting exercise. I’ve explored all of Africa’s rivers in my canoe which awakened my interest in nature conservation."

When? Sandra and Willem try to paddle three times a week for an hour at a time. At weekends or on public holidays they paddle twice a day, mostly at a dam but occasionally in the sea.

The experts say: "Kayaking, like boxing, is a highly skilled activity. A lot of concentration is needed in the posture and core areas. Paddling is a moderate-intensity activity and to get fit you have to paddle for an hour at a time. The main benefit is improvement in core stability and posture."

Food craving: Sandra’s favourite is samoosas and Willem’s is hot chips.

Kilojoules burnt: If Sandra paddles for an hour at a moderate pace she’ll burn about the same as an hour’s brisk walking: 1 200 kJ. If she paddles at full pace, she’ll burn about 1 800 kJ, the equivalent of a tough workout at the gym.

Since Sandra paddles three times a week for an hour each time and also walks every day she can consume up to five samoosas (150g each) a week in addition to her usual meals without putting on weight. A single samoosa contains almost 3 000 kJ.

Because Willem is bigger he can exert himself more and will burn 2 200 kJ in an hour of intense paddling. That’s equivalent to an hour’s hard training at the gym. For every hour he exercises Willem can eat a small packet (150g, about 2 000 kJ) of hot chips without gaining weight, provided he doesn’t treat himself to too many other snacks.

Bright idea: If you paddle at a moderate pace for three hours a week and eat healthily you can lose between 500g and 1kg a month. If you also walk for an hour each day you can lose an additional kilogram. Of course the exercise means you’ll also be able to eat and drink more and enjoy a better life.

Jacques Blignaut (Vince in 7de Laan)

Photo: Francki Burger

What: Action cricket.

Why: "I prefer a fast-paced, energetic sport to keep me fit. It’s a full-body workout because you’re always moving around."

When: Team practice once a week for about an hour and a half and a match once a week.

The experts say: "Action cricket is a high-paced and high-intensity activity. Players are always on their toes and involved in the game. The main benefits of action cricket are improved agility, reaction time, concentration and hand-eye coordination."

Food craving: Chocolate cake.

Kilojoules burnt: If you play action cricket for an hour you’ll burn about 1 600 kJ. That’s the equivalent of an hour’s exercise in the gym or jogging at a moderate pace. For the three hours a week Jacques plays action cricket he can enjoy two slices of chocolate cake without gaining. Of course if you eat two slices of chocolate cake on top of your regular meals and don’t do any exercise you’ll definitely gain weight.

Roxy Louw (model, surfer and daughter of former Springbok Rob Louw)

Photo: Johan Wilke

What: Surfing and working out in the gym.

Why: "Surfing is a spiritual and emotional experience."

When: About three times a week for two hours each time – sometimes six hours a day when she’s on holiday.

The experts say: Surfing is excellent exercise for all muscle groups. Roxy uses her arm, chest and shoulder muscles while paddling out to wait for the right wave. The leg, stomach and back muscles are used to stand up and balance on the surfboard."

Food craving: Packets and packets of jelly beans!

Kilojoules burnt: Roxy burns about 2 000 kJ with every hour’s surfing. That means she burns 12 000 kJ if she exercises for two hours three times a week. She can eat five 150g packets of jelly beans a week and still stay slim. Each 150g packet of jelly beans contains about 2 250 kJ but the fat content is almost zero.

Bright idea: If you surf for six hours a week and follow a healthy diet you can lose up to 4kg a month.

Nico Panagio (actor/TV presenter)

Photo: Aubrey Johnson

What: Cycling and working out in the gym.

Why: "I love spending time outdoors and when I’m cycling I feel one with my surroundings. It’s good exercise and you can take your bike everywhere with you."

When: An hour three times a week, although it’s hard to fit it in sometimes. Up to two hours every day when he’s on holiday.

The experts say: "This intensive sport is excellent exercise for all the leg muscles. If you regularly cycle long distances on uneven road surfaces you’ll build up strength and endurance. Cycling also strengthens the muscles in the shoulders, stomach and back."

Food craving: Chocolate ice cream.

Kilojoules burnt: Every hour cycled at a moderate pace burns about 1 280 kJ. If Nico cycles three hours a week he can have four big scoops of ice cream every week without piling on the pounds. One scoop (100g) of chocolate ice cream contains about 900 kJ. If Nico cycles 15km in an hour he’ll burn 2 016 kJ, which means he could have another three and a half scoops and still maintain his weight.

Bright idea: If you cycle at a moderate pace for an hour three times a week and follow a healthy diet you can lose 1kg a month. You can lose up to 2kg a month if you pick up the pace.

Elana Afrika (TV and radio presenter; 5FM, Kwêla and Jip on KykNET and others)

What: Boxing.

Photo: Aubrey Johnson

Why: "I really enjoy it and it’s great for self-defence. I’ve had to use my skills twice already. I also have an exercise bike and a trampoline at home."

When: Usually an hour twice a week when she’s not too busy.

The experts say: "Boxing is a great way to improve fitness. The short, sharp movements require a lot of coordination and the heart has to work harder. Boxing will build muscle strength, endurance, balance, agility and coordination, all at the same time. The main benefits of boxing are strengthening of the upper body and the core or trunk area and improvement in coordination. Using various combinations of punches and footwork will even improve strength in the legs."

Food craving: Chocolate

Kilojoules burnt: Boxing is by far the most intensive exercise that uses up the most energy in an hour, almost twice as much as a good gym workout or an hour-long jog. Elana burns nearly 3 500 kJ in an hour of boxing. That means she can have two 100g Bar One chocolates for every hour of boxing without gaining weight. If she ditches the chocolate and eats only balanced meals she could lose up to 2kg a month with twice-weekly boxing sessions.

Jannie Engelbrecht (Rugby legend and winemaker)

Photo: Julian Goldswain

What: Golf, paddle-skiing and kayaking.

Why: "I play golf for the enjoyment of the game and for the chance to socialise. It’s not really a workout. Paddle-skiing and kayaking keep me fitter than golf."

When: Every day with gym work on some days. He also enjoys hitting at least 200 golf balls at the driving range for an hour at a time. He plays 18 holes twice a week.

The experts say: "Golf is not an activity that’ll improve your fitness levels as much as cycling or kayaking. It’s played mainly for enjoyment. The main benefit of golf is improvement in flexibility of the upper body and trunk. You can improve flexibility even further through a combination of golf, boxing and kayaking."

Food craving: Kalahari lamb chops.

Kilojoules burnt: A round of golf uses up 1 500 kJ for every hour’s play. Kayaking and working out in the gym help keep Jannie in shape but by playing golf he burns enough kilojoules to indulge in six lamb chops a week. The golf, kayaking and gym workouts keep him looking fit and his body stronger and younger than you’d expect for his age.

(This article was originally published in the Summer 2007/8 edition of YOU Pulse magazine. Buy the latest copy, on newsstands now, for more fascinating stories from the world of health and wellness.)

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