Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Accelerate Your Fat-Burning With Rest

Here is an interesting study. Japanese and Danish researchers found that in a group of seven exercisers, fat-burning was accelerated when a 60 minute workout was split in half with a 20 minute rest period between halves.

Well, they may be right, and their explanation seems solid. However, would you say that a study that involved only seven people should be considered conclusive? I think more evidence should be gathered first. Still, it is interesting data for those of us who take our fitness seriously.

For the full story on their study go here.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Of Mice and Men

This is not commentary on the writing of John Steinbeck but, rather, a notation that scientists recently proved the obvious: If you want to stay young for as long as possible, eating less and exercising more is the key.

In short, here's what they did to prove it. With genetic engineering they created mutant mice that mimicked the effects of eating less and exercising. Their report is in the journal Science and concludes that the reasons for the mice staying young has to with insulin, the hormone that regulates glucose.

For the full story on their findings, go here. .

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Should Heart Patients Pump Iron?

There was a time not that long ago when people with heart disease were told to rest, rest, rest. Then along came evidence that aerobic exercise was usually beneficial -- but stay away from weight training.

Now, in a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association we learn that some resistance training can be good for heart patients.

"Just like we once learned that people with heart disease benefited from aerobic exercise, we are now learning that guided, moderate weight training also has significant benefits," according to Mark Williams, professor of medicine at Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska.

Gray Iron wants to underscore two things: 1) Weight training is seen as a complement to aerobic exercise, not a replacement, according to Williams; and 2) any exercise program should be approved by a heart patient's physician.

Go here to learn more.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Exercise: Even a Little Bit Helps

As we age, we are told that getting regular exercise will increase longevity and quality of life. It's a fact that few people in the know bother to debate anymore. But how much exercise is actually necessary to derive some benefit?

Well, not as much as you may think. A recent Journal of the American Medical Association report and suggestions from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) explain that relatively short periods of movement done regularly have great benefit. This is good news for exercise-phobics. The amount of exercise necessary is so small that even confirmed couch potatoes may buy into it.

Ideally, I would suggest making a greater than minimal effort and being sure to include both resistance training and cardiovascular exercise. Still, the fact remains that almost any movement is a big plus, especially in a society such as ours that is more and more sedentary.

For the full report, go here.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Dangerous "Deep Belly" Fat

In a report from Health Day, scientists explain that a protein in blood points to rising amounts of a particularly lethal form of body fat around your organs. This reminds me of one of Jack LaLanne's favorites ("LaLanne-isms"?). He likes to say, "Your waistline is your lifeline." And more and more, we realize how right he has been. It's the blubber around one's waist and beneath that's deadly. What a tape measure tells you (even more so than the scale) may not make you happy, but it could save your life if it prods you into taking action.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

"Fat tax" in England could save 3,200 lives each year

According to a study at Great Britain's Oxford University, a "fat tax" on certain unhealthy foods could save 3,200 lives per year. Interesting. But how far should the government go into people's private lives is a reasonable question asked by many Brits. In fact, England already levies a purchase tax on a small number of products such as potato crisps, ice cream, confectionery and chocolate biscuits, but most food is exempt.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has previously rejected the idea as an example of the "nanny state" that might push people away from healthy food. Read Reuters report here.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

It's the calories, stupid!

Craig Ballantyne writes about fitness and training for Men’s Health magazine. Though MH for the most part aims at younger readers than I do, I find that a lot of their advice is valid across the board, and for both men and women.

Recently, Ballantyne wrote about dietary habits and weight loss. He explained something that is important for any overweight person to understand. He said that to take off weight your workouts can be imperfect, but your dietary practices must be sound. Conversely, your workouts can be executed to perfection, but if you eat too much you will fail.

Does this mean that a well thought out exercise program is unimportant? Of course not. What it means is that if you are training and the fat is not coming off, you are simply eating too much. And all the exercise in the world will not trim you down until you regularly take in fewer calories than you need to sustain your present weight.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

"I don't have time to exercise."

There's a young, disabled man at our gym. He is barely able to walk, even with crutches, and his forward motion is painfully slow. Still, he manages to use the elliptical trainers, always works up a good sweat, and somehow gets around the room to use the weight machines.

He lives just a couple of blocks from the gym and it may take him half-an-hour to go the short distance on crutches. If it is raining, or very hot, sometimes we drive him home. He is always grateful for a ride. The circumstances surrounding his disability never come up, but sometimes he talks about having more surgery.

Last week, Patty and I were turning into the gym parking lot as he was crossing the street on his way home. As we passed him we both had the same thought: How many times have we heard someone say, "I know I should get in shape, but I just don't have the time right now"? And here is this young man who really struggles just to walk, but, by golly, he gets there.

You can bet he would gladly exchange the hindrances he endures daily with someone who is just "too busy" or "too tired" to make the effort.

If you are honest with yourself, you know that there are really no excuses for a lack of effort or commitment. Not legitimate ones, anyway.

Like the Nike slogan says, "Just do it!"