Category Archives: Exercise

Is Weight Training Better Than Aerobics for Heart Health?

One…..more…..rep!

“Lifting weights is healthier for the heart than going for a run or a walk, new research has found. Scientists looking at the health records of more than 4,000 people have concluded that, while both forms of exercise reduce the risk of developing heart disease, static activities such as weight lifting or press-ups [push-ups] have a greater effect than an equivalent amount of dynamic exercise such as running, walking or cycling.

The research challenges commonly held assumption that so-called “cardiovascular” pursuits like running are of greatest benefit to the heart.”

Source: Weight lifting better for heart health than running, new study finds

I like these findings, but wonder if they can be replicated.

Steve Parker, M.D.

low-carb mediterranean diet

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Are Drugs the Answer to Unhealthy Lifestyles?

paleobetic diet, low-carb diet, diabetic diet

“This is much easier than exercising and losing 30 pounds!”

Fiona Godlee, editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal, has a heretical short article at BMJ. I recommend you read the whole thing. It starts thusly:

More than half of adults aged over 45 will be labelled as hypertensive if new US guidelines are adopted, concludes a study in The BMJ this week (doi:10.1136/bmj.k2357). This equates to 70 million people in the US and 267 million people in China being eligible for antihypertensive drugs, a marked increase on already high rates of drug treatment for high blood pressure. Furthermore, the study calculates that 7.5 million people in the US and 55 million in China would be advised to start drug treatment, while 14 million in the US and 30 million in China would be advised to receive more intensive treatment. The evidence from trials indicates some benefit from drugs in terms of reduced risk of stroke and heart disease, but is mass medication really what we want?

Hypertension is just one of the many heads of the lifestyle disease hydra. Another is type 2 diabetes. Once thought to be irreversible and progressive, it is now known to be potentially reversible through weight loss. This is the cautious conclusion of the review by Nita Forouhi and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.k2234), part of our series on the science and politics of nutrition (bmj.com/food-for-thought). Whether by calorie or carbohydrate restriction, weight loss has been shown to improve glycaemic control, blood pressure, and lipid profile and is the key to treatment and prevention of type 2 diabetes, they say.

She goes on to talk about fatty liver disease (NASH) and offers an alternative, of sorts, to pills. Good luck with that.

Source: Pills are not the answer to unhealthy lifestyles | The BMJ

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ACFT to Replace Army Physical Fitness Test

Look into “body weight training” if weight machines and free weights like dumbbells don’t appeal to you

I have long advocated measuring your fitness level periodically and seeing how you stack up against a benchmark. My favorite benchmark is the U.S. Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT).

The new Army standard testing will be too complicated for most non-military folks.

UPI has the story:

The U.S. Army is introducing an extensive overhaul of its physical fitness test that, with minor changes, has mostly been the same since 1980.The new test, announced this week, changes the name from the Army Physical Fitness Test to the Army Combat Fitness Test and is planned to become gender and age neutral. It will include a series of physical events, while the APFT was a series of pushups, situps and a 2-mile run.

The new standards call for deadlift tests, throwing ten-pound balls for distance backwards, and hand-release pushups that require hands to be taken off the ground for greater muscle tension. It also includes sled drags to simulate casualties, sprints with 40-pound kettle bells, hanging from a pull-up bar with legs up and the standard 2-mile run.

Source: U.S. Army to introduce new physical fitness test – UPI.com

You will also find the comment section interesting.

Steve Parker, M.D.

low-carb mediterranean diet

Click the pic to purchase at Amazon.com

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Certain Blood Pressure Medications May Injure or Impair Athletes

Not that serious…yet

Seriously athletic folks, particularly those in sports with high aerobic demand, should avoid these BP drug classes:

  • Diuretics (they predispose to dehydration)
  • Beta blockers (they may decrease exercise tolerance via slowing of heart rate)

Better choices for athletes are:

  • Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs)
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)
  • long-acting dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers

These latter drugs are not likely to affect athletic performance or cause other complications. If you can’t figure out which class of drug you take, ask your physician, pharmacist, or Dr Google.

Steve Parker, M.D.

low-carb mediterranean diet

Click the pic to purchase at Amazon.com in the U.S.

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Diet to Lose Weight, Exercise to Keep It Off

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

From The New York Times:

It is a question that plagues all who struggle with weight: Why do some of us manage to keep off lost pounds, while others regain them?

Now, a study of 14 participants from the “Biggest Loser” television show provides an answer: physical activity — and much more of it than public health guidelines suggest.

On average, those who managed to maintain a significant weight loss had 80 minutes a day of moderate activity, like walking, or 35 minutes a day of vigorous exercise, like running.

My patients taught me this years ago.

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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.”

*  *  *

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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