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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

EPOC- Extra Calories Burned After Exercise

For many people burning calories is the main reason for exercising.  Besides the calories burned during the workout itself, you may have heard that the metabolism stays elevated afterwards, continuing to burn more calories than it would have otherwise.

Important to note though is that how the exercise is done and the type of exercise matter quite a lot.  Any exercise will have some effect, but instensity is the key to getting a high EPOC(excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, a measure of calories burned.)

A 30 minute cardio session at 60% of a typical VO2 max(volume of oxygen, a measure of intensity) has a modest "afterburn" of about 16 calories, but at 70% VO2 max an extra 34 calories are burned after the exercise.  The extra intensity more than doubles the calories burned afterward.  However with HIIT(high intensity interval training, aka HIT for short) in approximately the same amount of time the extra calories burned is 73, more than double again.

The max EPOC is from weight lifting though.  That means weights near your capacity, and lifts like squats that engage the entire body(same as functional strength training.)  Twenty bicep curls won't do it, it's got to be as many muscles as possible engaged at once, and loads heavy enough you can't possibly do more than 10 in a row.  Here the equivalent post-workout calories burned can exceed 700!  The duration of the raised metabolism lasts much longer as well.  More moderate weight training will still be superior to traditional cardio, but lift heavy if EPOC is your goal.

Here I'll point to my source for these numbers- Scott Stevenson, who wrote this excellent article on the topic: Discover the Afterburn

The summary:  Steady cardio exercise burns calories while you do it and only a little after, HIT is much better, and hardcore weight training burns the most post-exercise calories.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Weightlifting After Breast Cancer Treatment Reduces Lymphedema

Good news for breast cancer survivors.  This is part of the trend over the past few decades of using exercise for treatment and recovery from illness and injury.  The generic advice of rest and inactivity is being overturned.  Note too that weight lifting is the specific exercise studied.  Of course this should be with your doctor's approval.

Weightlifting Slashes Lymphedema Risk After Breast Cancer Treatment, Study Suggests
ScienceDaily (Dec. 8, 2010) — Weightlifting may play a key role in the prevention of the painful limb-swelling condition lymphedema following breast cancer treatment, according to new research from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Combined with the team's previous findings that the exercise limits a worsening of symptoms among women who already have lymphedema, the new data cements the reversal of long-running advice that breast cancer survivors should avoid lifting anything heavier than five pounds after they finish treatment.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Combining Massage and Personal Training

Two great ways to care for your body are massage and exercise.  The importance of each is familiar,  but less well known is how the two complement each other.  In fact they are often both required to resolve common pain, posture, and movement issues.  NB:  First check with a medical professional to diagnose the problem.

Massage and other forms of soft tissue bodywork have benefits including reducing tension in muscles and fascia, and breaking down undesirable adhesions which can form within the tissues.  This release can help restore mobility and range of motion.  The body and mind relax and feel at ease.

Exercise serves to strengthen and build new efficient muscle and connective tissue by using controlled deliberate stress.  The body is energized, and the capacity to deal with unintentional stress is increased.  Together with the physical changes, good exercise develops new motor patterns- neurological conditioning of how the muscles work together to create movement and stability.

Often muscular pain and dysfunction are caused by a combination of over-active, shortened muscles in one area and weakened, over-stretched opposing muscles.  Resolving the problem in these cases requires treating both sets of muscles with a combination of massage and exercise.

It is also essential that as flexibility in an area increases, the ability to support and protect the body in that area is also developed.  Increasing the range of motion without increasing strength and control in that range can cause susceptibility to injury and joint dysfunction.

A commonly successful strategy is to begin with focused soft tissue work, including massage and facilitated stretching, at the beginning of the treatment program.  This is to alleviate pain and release tissue.  Specific corrective exercises are then added to address muscle imbalances and deficiencies.  As progress is made the program transitions to more general "maintenance" massage and integrated, functional strength training.

By combining the release of massage with structured growth from personal training, soft tissue is remodeled and the body becomes less painful and restricted, stronger and more mobile, and less likely to be injured.