Dr. Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, explains how few high-intensity intervals can markedly improve fitness.
By Alex Smith, KCU
Kaiser Health News
On a chilly winter morning, dozens of truck driver trainees file into a classroom at the headquarters of Prime Inc., a trucking company based in Springfield, Mo.
At the front is Siphiwe Baleka, an energetic former swimming champion in his mid-40s. He delivers grim news about trucker health to the new recruits.
“If you haven’t started to think about this, you need to start right now,” Baleka said. “You are about to enter the most unhealthy occupation in America.” [Read more…]
A Washington state investigation has found no increased risk of cancer among soccer players in the state. In fact, investigators found less cancer among the soccer players than expected based on rates of cance among Washington residents of the same ages.
The investigation was launched after the University of Washington Women’s Associate Head Soccer Coach Amy Griffin became concerned that several soccer goalies had developed blood cancers at around the same time. By 2014, the coach had compiled a list of soccer players with cancer.
The initial list included 30 current or former Washington residents who played soccer and developed a variety of cancer types between the mid-1990s and 2015. By 2016, this number had grown to 53 people.
In light of this, Washington State Department of Health and researchers at the University of Washington School of Public Health formed a project team to investigate issues related to soccer playing and cancer.
One concern was that recycled rubber products, which is made from tires and other rubber products, and artificial turf might contain chemicals that affect health, including increasing the risk of cancer.
The investigators report:
Most modern fitness trackers are electronic devices you wear on your wrist to track steps, overall physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep. They typically work with a smartphone app or website that allow you to track your progress over time using graphs and figures. Advanced fitness trackers can also record heart rate and GPS related outcomes, like your route, speed and distance.
People can be active without using fitness trackers, but their self-monitoring features help you set realistic goals and track your progress. Self-monitoring is an effective behaviour change technique.
So let’s have a look at the evidence about these trackers.
1. Fitness trackers work in the short term
Basic pedometers (mechanical step counters) have been around for a long time and when people use them their activity levels increase. Today’s fitness trackers are essentially fancy pedometers. So, there’s little reason to believe their added features and functionality makes them less effective. [Read more…]
Yes, of course we all know we should exercise every day during the holiday season to help counter the onslaught of excess calories that started on Thanksgiving and will mercifully end with a New Year’s toast.
We may even tire of hearing about exercise and weight from family, friends and the media. But an equally important reason to exercise every day is related to blood pressure, not waistline.
As a physiologist who has studied exercise and health for over 20 years, I can tell you that exercise lowers blood pressure – and does so right away.
Whether you go for a daily run or brisk walk, every time you finish exercising your blood pressure goes down, and stays down for many hours, which is good for your overall health. Here’s why. [Read more…]
Millions of people around the world, including nearly 60% of Americans, Australians and Europeans, participate in sports. A 2015 review found the available data on long-term health benefits of specific sport disciplines is limited, but a new study provides strong evidence participation in several common sports is linked with a significantly reduced risk of death.
Insufficient physical activity is estimated to cause more than 5 million premature deaths a year. To reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and a number of other chronic diseases, the World Health Organisation recommends adults and older people engage in physical activity for at least 150 minutes a week.
These estimates and guidelines are predominantly based on studies about outcomes of participation in any moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity. But does it make a difference which physical activities we do?
While, for example, walking and cycling were found to be associated with similar reductions in death risk, physical activity in the domains of leisure time and daily living seem to produce greater benefits than occupational and transport-related physical activities. This shows that, health-wise, it is not necessarily irrelevant which physical activity you do.
Which sports are good for health?
Adults participating in a high overall level of sports and exercise are at 34% lower risk of death than those who never or rarely engage in such activities. This generic evidence, however, does not imply all sports equally affect health. [Read more…]
The number of Australians who run for exercise has doubled since the mid-2000s. Preventing and managing injuries are common concerns, and can present an ongoing health burden and high cost if not addressed appropriately.
But what if listening to the sound of running could help prevent injuries?
We recently conducted the first study to relate running technique with the sound of feet hitting the ground. Listening could prove a simple and effective feedback mechanism for runners, coaches and clinicians to understand how runners land their feet and the potential for certain injuries. [Read more…]
It may come as little surprise that taking exercise is a way to lose weight. However, a debate about the best type of exercise for weight loss is likely to divide opinion.
The most obvious choice is endurance-type exercise which is usually done at a moderate intensity or steady state. The rationale is clear. This type of exercise expends more energy than resistance training.
Others will stress the importance of resistance training and its effects on basal metabolic rate (BMR). A single bout of resistance exercise can lead to a sustained increase in BMR that persists for up to 48 hours after exercise. Furthermore, increases in BMR have been observed after ten weeks of resistance training compared to endurance training and this may assist with weight control in the long term – at the cellular level, muscle tissue is denser than fat tissue and is therefore more “expensive” to run.
An alternative option is high-intensity interval training or HIT. Exercise is carried out at a low or moderate intensity with the caveat that several short bouts of high-intensity, often “all-out”’, exercise are included. It is considered to be more time-efficient and research shows this type of exercise can bring about rapid beneficial changes in metabolic function and even reductions in body fat. However, such exercise is likely intolerable for many people due to its explosive, rather gruelling nature.
Others still might focus on increasing profiles of activity in everyday life – more gardening, say, or walking to work – rather than embarking on structured exercise routines.
Can you keep up?
But the answer to the original question is simple. The best type of exercise for losing weight is the one that you will actually do. [Read more…]
The “dad bod”, it seems, is in vogue. And now a new book claims that gaining weight after fatherhood makes men healthier, more attractive and more likely to live longer than their “skinny” counterparts.
The author, Richard Bribiescas, professor of anthropology and deputy provost at Yale University, claims that this is likely due in part to the decreasing testosterone levels seen in older men. He writes:
[One] effect of lower testosterone levels is loss of muscle mass and increases in fat mass. This change in body composition not only causes men to shop for more comfortable trousers but also facilitates increased survivorship and, hypothetically, a hormonal milieu that would more effectively promote and support paternal investment.
But is there actually any solid science behind the idea that lower levels of testosterone – and a bit of a tummy – can make men healthier? [Read more…]
For example, in the 1970s, marathon runners were discouraged from drinking fluids for fear that it would slow them down.
Now we’re obsessed with staying hydrated when we exercise, not just with water but with specialist drinks that claim to do a better job of preventing dehydration and even improve athletic performance.
Yet the evidence for these drinks’ benefits is actually quite limited. They might even be bad for your health in some instances. So how did sports drinks come to be seen as so important? [Read more…]