Category Archives: Exercise

Mark Rippetoe Insists Old Folks Need Strength Training

That's a dumbbell in her right hand. I work-out with those myself.

That’s a dumbbell in her right hand. I work-out with those myself.

I agree. Click the link below for details.

“Strength – as well as a tolerance for childish nonsense – is the thing we all lose as we age. Squatting down, standing back up, putting things overhead, pulling things up the driveway, loading the groceries, wrestling with the grandkids, teaching the dog who’s boss, mowing the yard, putting the broken lawnmower in the truck again: simple physical tasks we took for granted years ago are often problems for older, weaker people, as well as a source of potential injury that can be expensive and debilitating.

For most of us, this happens because of inactivity. If you do not use your muscles to produce enough force to convince them to maintain their ability to do so, it shouldn’t be surprising that they become less capable of doing it. And walking, running, riding a bicycle – physical activities whose performance is not limited by strength for even moderately active people – cannot increase or even maintain strength.”

Source: Strength Training for People My Age | Mark Rippetoe

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Can You Regain Muscle Mass If Over 60?

She'll lose muscle fibers if she gets too sedentary as she ages

She’ll lose muscle fibers if she gets too sedentary as she ages

“Our lab and others have shown repeatedly” that older muscles will grow and strengthen, says Marcas Bamman, a professor of integrative biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In his studies, men and women in their 60s and 70s who began supervised weight training developed muscles that were as large and strong as those of your average 40-year-old.”

Source: Can You Regain Muscle Mass After Age 60? – The New York Times

Dr. Bamman says older folks (over 60?) don’t add new muscle fibers like young’uns do. But an effective exercise program will cause hypertrophy (growth) of the existing muscle fibers. “Effectiveness” probably depend on exhausting muscle groups during weight training.

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Level of Fitness May Be More Important Than Number of Hours You Exercise

She can increase intensity by increasing the weight of those dumbbells

She can increase intensity by increasing the weight of those dumbbells

You’ve heard that “sitting is the new smoking,” right?

Regular physical activity prevents disease and prolongs life. But if you nevertheless still spend to much time sitting around either at work or home, the sitting tends to counteract the benefits of your exercise.

A new study says that your fitness level is more important for long-term health than the number of hours you exercise. Fitness level in this context was cardiorespiratory fitness, probably measured by a maximal-effort treadmill or bicycle test.

Some of your fitness level is inherited, but you can also improve your fitness with the proper intensity or duration of exercise. Rather than exercise longer, I prefer more intensity. Just strolling around the mall at 2 mph for two hours isn’t going to improve fitness in most folks.

From MNT:

The team conducted a cross-sectional study of 495 women and 379 men from Norway aged between 70-77 years. Sedentary time and physical activity were assessed by accelerometers, while cardiorespiratory fitness was determined by peak oxygen uptake (VO2 peak) – the measurement of the volume of oxygen that the body can utilize during physical exertion.

Researchers compared different levels of activity with fitness levels and cardiovascular risk factor clusters. A cardiovascular risk factor cluster was defined as the presence of three to five risk factors for heart disease.

These risk factors included: elevated waist circumference, elevated blood triglycerides or reduced “good” cholesterol levels, high blood pressure or treatment for hypertension, and elevated fasting blood sugar levels – combined symptoms commonly referred to as metabolic syndrome.

High cardiorespiratory fitness reduced risk of heart diseaseFindings – published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings – showed that when compared with women and men who were the least sedentary, women and men from the most sedentary group were 83 percent and 63 percent more likely to have cardiovascular risk factors from extended time sitting, respectively.

However, when the team took participants’ level of fitness into consideration – measured by having high age-specific cardiorespiratory fitness – they found that the fittest 40 percent had a decreased likelihood of cardiovascular risk factors from prolonged sitting.This finding held true even though the fittest participants spent between 12-13 hours per day sedentary and did not meet current moderate to vigorous physical activity guidelines.

Source: Fitness, not physical activity, mitigates negative effects of prolonged sitting – Medical News Today

PS: If you’re new to exercise, I teach you how to get started in my books.

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Book Review: “Fit With Diabetes”

Front cover

Ginger Vieira introduced me recently to Christel Oerum via email. I was pleased to hear about Christel’s brand new e-book, “Fit With Diabetes.”

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Physical fitness is a major determinant of longevity. It’s truly our only fountain of youth, and it’s available to most everybody. The only way to get and stay physically fit is through regular exercise. Some studies document shorter life spans for PWDs (persons with diabetes). So it’s particularly important for them to maintain a good level of fitness.

I like this e-book and highly recommend it to adults taking insulin for diabetes who need a great physical activity program but don’t know how to go about it. Use of insulin, whether in type 1 or 2 diabetes, significantly complicates exercise due to sometimes mysterious effects on blood sugar. Christel de-mystifies the issue in a clear and science-based manner.

The most dangerous interaction between insulin and exercise is hypoglycemia, although the opposite can be a problem, too. Much of the book is about avoiding dramatic swings in blood sugar, particularly hypoglycemia. Christel teaches the reader how to balance insulin, food, and exercise to keep sugars on an even keel. Aerobic exercise tends to cause hypoglycemia, whereas anaerobic exercise tends to cause high sugar spikes. But your own reaction may be a little different, if not a lot. As you might imagine, monitoring and record-keeping are critical, and Christel shares her own downloadable log.

Trust me, most primary care physicians and many endocrinologists are not going to be much help in the exercise advice department. I only remember one thing my first-ever accountant told me 30 years ago: “No one cares about your money as much as you do.” Likewise, no one cares about your health as much as you do. You’ll have to become your own expert.

The author is like a trusted old friend who’s “been there, done that,” and is sharing freely with you.

Christel has had type 1 diabetes for 21 years and is a diabetes coach. She’s been an avid exerciser since 2010. At that time there were very few resources that addressed vigorous exercise in the setting of T1 diabetes. Learn from her clients’ experience and her own N=1 experimentation so you don’t have to make the same trial-and-error mistakes.

The author works out five days a week. That doesn’t mean you have to. I suspect you can achieve 80–90% of the maximal longevity and other health benefits with just three days a week, maybe two. (Note: I am contradicting several authoritative medical panels!) If you’re sedentary now, two or three days a week should definitely improve your fitness. But you have to exercise right.

Early on, the author talks about how to get motivated for exercise. I like her SMART goal setting-checklist: Goals must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

She recommends a combination of aerobic exercise (“cardio”) and weight training. (I wouldn’t be surprised if we find out one day that the right weight-training program alone is good enough.) Christel tells exactly how to get started and maintain both types of exercise. She outlines both home-based and gym-based training programs.

Dietary calories for adults in the U.S. come 16% from protein, 48% from carbohydrates, and 34% from fats. Alternatively, the author recommends dietary calories come 40% from protein, 30% from carbohydrates, and 30% from fats. So 150 carb grams/day if eating 2000 calories, limiting meal carbs to 30 grams. I wonder if most folks will end up closer to 30% protein and 40% fat, especially for those not doing as much exercise as Christel. (Protein is important for muscle building and maintenance.) Many of my patients do well with additional carbohydrate restriction, but most don’t exercise as much as Christel despite my encouragement.

You can easily track your macronutrients and calories at MyFitnessPal.com.

The author shares some recipes and tells you how to get started on the all-important meal-planning and coming up with your own recipes. There’s even a helpful and realistic chapter on loss of excess weight.

As a reviewer, I always feel like I have to pick a few nits, so here it is. Christel says cardio exercise is great for losing weight. That probably true if you’re competing for $250,000 on TV’s Biggest Loser show. But usually exercise contributes at most 10% to a successful weight-loss program. Diet’s is critical. Exercise does help with prevention of weight regain and has many other benefits.

Again, I like this e-book and highly recommend it to adults taking insulin for diabetes who need a great physical activity program but don’t know how to go about it. Get the e-book here.

Of course, get the blessings of your personal healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet, exercise program, or medications.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Disclosure: Christel kindly gave me a copy of the e-book. Otherwise there was not, and will not be, any remuneration for this review.

 

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New to Weight Training? P.D. Mangan Cuts Through the Confusion

Women, don’t worry about getting big and bulky with weight training. You don’t have enough testosterone.

I am a huge advocate of weight training (aka resistance or strength training).

Folks new to weight training, or simply thinking about starting a program, are often intimidated by the jargon and contradictory information available. P.D. Mangan clears up a lot of the confusion in a brief article.

I quote:

Misconceptions and wrong ideas abound in weight training, probably because so many enthusiastic amateurs are involved in it. In this article, I’ll try to clear up some of the misconceptions with a look at at science-based weight training.

In recent articles, we saw that brief workouts, at 15 minutes, done infrequently, at twice a week, can produce significant strength gains. We saw that compound lifts, not isolation lifts, are the most effective strength exercises, and are essential for the serious strength trainer. And we saw that hard weight lifting causes muscle damage, which necessitates recovery time.

Here I’ll focus on what science has to say about additional aspects of weight lifting (resistance training). These come from “Evidence-Based Resistance Training Recommendations” by Fisher et al.

Source: Science-Based Weight Training – Rogue Health and Fitness

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Brain Benefits of Exercise Diminish After Short Rest, According to Gretchen Reynolds

Run, Spot, Run!

Run, Spot, Run!

Admittedly, Gretchen may not have written the headline to her article at Carlos Slim’s blog. The headline is wrong. The gist is that blood flow to the brain diminishes in older competitive runners if they stop exercising for 10 days. Tests of cognitive function showed no deterioration.

Click the link below to read Gretchen’s article, which is brief. A snippet:

Before you skip another workout, you might think about your brain. A provocative new study finds that some of the benefits of exercise for brain health may evaporate if we take to the couch and stop being active, even just for a week or so.

I have frequently written about how physical activity, especially endurance exercise like running, aids our brains and minds. Studies with animals and people show that working out can lead to the creation of new neurons, blood vessels and synapses and greater overall volume in areas of the brain related to memory and higher-level thinking.

Presumably as a result, people and animals that exercise tend to have sturdier memories and cognitive skills than their sedentary counterparts.

Exercise prompts these changes in large part by increasing blood flow to the brain, many exercise scientists believe. Blood carries fuel and oxygen to brain cells, along with other substances that help to jump-start desirable biochemical processes there, so more blood circulating in the brain is generally a good thing.

Source: Brain Benefits of Exercise Diminish After Short Rest – The New York Times

I believe regular physical activity does help preserve brain function over time. But there’s more involved than blood flow.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: I bet your brain blood flow increases, compared to watching Dancing With the Stars on Tell-a-Vision, if you read one of my books.

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Type 2 diabetes: Exercise, diet better than medicine, says university study 

Exercise is more helpful for preventing weight gain than for inducing weight loss

From the Vancouver Sun:

“Taking medication to tightly control and lower blood glucose levels is the advice frequently given by doctors to the 400,000 British Columbia residents with Type 2 diabetes — but it’s a “misguided” approach, according to the University of B.C. Therapeutics Initiative [the TI].

More than $1 billion is spent annually on diabetes drugs in this province, but in its latest bulletin to doctors, the TI says a growing body of research casts doubt on the effectiveness of Type 2 diabetes treatment. Doctors should focus instead on prescribing lifestyle modifications such as weight loss, exercise and healthier diets instead of medications to many patients, it says.

Type 2 diabetes, characterized by resistance to insulin, is largely caused by obesity, lack of exercise, high-carbohydrate diets and aging.”

Source: Type 2 diabetes: Exercise, diet better than medicine, says UBC study | Vancouver Sun

Read the short article for an opposing viewpoint. Namely, some diabetes drugs may help prevent cardiovascular disease (I’m not yet convinced).

h/t The Low Carb Diabetic

Hey, I know a diet that helps!

LCHF Mediterranean diet

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