Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Recent Fitness Articles

Here are a few articles on some of my favorite subjects- benefits of exercise, especially exercise outside, fitness in the very young and very old, and pain management.

First, why the benefits of regular sun exposure greatly outweigh the risks. The article is fairly long and technical, but well worth the read:
Benefits of Sunlight: A Bright Spot for Human Health

The main benefits are from vitamin D production, but another is melatonin:
"As diurnal creatures, we humans are programmed to be outdoors while the sun is shining and home in bed at night. This is why melatonin is produced during the dark hours and stops upon optic exposure to daylight. This pineal hormone is a key pacesetter for many of the body’s circadian rhythms. It also plays an important role in countering infection, inflammation, cancer, and auto-immunity, according to a review in the May 2006 issue of Current Opinion in Investigational Drugs. Finally, melatonin suppresses UVR-induced skin damage, according to research in the July 2005 issue of Endocrine."
Training outdoors is of course an excellent way to get some sun, especially here in Palo Alto.

The New York Times has a series on the importance of maintaining mobility and balance in elderly people.
Bracing for the Falls of an Aging Nation

Though I'm not an expert on the topic, and my 87 year old client is far too active to be called elderly, here are some of the exercises we do to keep him that way. Also squats and deadlifts(everybody squats at Steven Rice Fitness.)
Left to right: Cross body foot raises with weight transfer, farmers walk, step-ups with contralateral load, goblet squats

For young people:
How Exercise Can Boost Young Brains
"Encourage young boys and girls to run, jump, squeal, hop and chase after each other or after erratically kicked balls, and you substantially improve their ability to think, according to the most ambitious study ever conducted of physical activity and cognitive performance in children. The results underscore, yet again, the importance of physical activity for children’s brain health and development, especially in terms of the particular thinking skills that most affect academic performance.

The news that children think better if they move is hardly new. Recent studies have shown that children’s scores on math and reading tests rise if they go for a walk beforehand, even if the children are overweight and unfit. Other studies have found correlations between children’s aerobic fitness and their brain structure, with areas of the brain devoted to thinking and learning being generally larger among youngsters who are more fit."
To stay young as you grow old:
Exercise Reduces Dementia Risk
"Everything that helps to prevent heart attacks also helps protect you from losing your mind. Three more studies show that exercising, eating a healthful diet, and avoiding overweight, smoking and alcohol are all associated with lowered risk for dementia. Of these five healthful lifestyle components, exercise had the greatest effect on preserving memory and thinking."

Exercise, movement, and pain are linked in our brain.
How Exercise Helps Us Tolerate Pain
"The study’s implications are considerable, Mr. Jones says. Most obviously, he said, the results remind us that the longer we stick with an exercise program, the less physically discomfiting it will feel, even if we increase our efforts, as did the cyclists here. The brain begins to accept that we are tougher than it had thought, and it allows us to continue longer although the pain itself has not lessened.

The study also could be meaningful for people struggling with chronic pain, Mr. Jones said. Although anyone in this situation should consult a doctor before starting to exercise, he said, the experiment suggests that moderate amounts of exercise can change people’s perception of their pain and help them, he said “to be able to better perform activities of daily living.”"

Cardio training has some distinct advantages, but also some risks:
The 4 Dumbest Forms of Cardio (Fair warning- Articles on this website tend to be a bit rude, but the information is solid)
My quick recommendation is that treadmill walking on an incline and sprints, without hanging on, are the best cardio machine options. The next step, for indoor cardio machines, is to do intervals between machines, with the treadmill getting most of your time.

A workout could be 5 minutes treadmill on incline walking, 2 minutes active stretching, 5 minutes rowing, 2 minutes rest, 5 minutes treadmill fast walk on incline or level sprint, 2 minutes rest, 5 minutes spinning cycle, 2 minutes rest, 5 minutes more on the treadmill.
That's 25 minutes total work, in 33 minutes total time.

A strong butt is critical to overall strength but often ignored in training. It also has an aesthetic appeal which is fashionable now:
Businesses cash in as women chase bigger butts
You can use padded panties or plastic surgery, and the group classes will be fun but the exercises aren't the right kind for building size. To build a real, healthy backside, strength training the glute muscles is what works. Working with a skilled trainer(like yours truly) will help ensure your success, and keep the program good for the rest of you, too.