Thursday, September 27, 2007

USMC: Uncle Sam's Mountain Climbers

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The Marines love this little gem of an exercise called Mountain Climbers. I was a jarhead so I speak from experience. But my guess is that the other branches appreciate its conditioning merits, too.

If you are in fairly good shape, MCs are good ones to add to your cache, especially when they are used as part of a circuit or interval workout. Senior beginners, however, or those who are very overweight, should put MCs on hold until they’ve reached post-beginner stage.

That said, here is what to expect:

High repetition MCs will really get you huffing and puffing and fit nicely in a resistance/cardiovascular combo workout. As you watch the short video (Jennifer demonstrates), you will see how maintaining a solid push up position while chugging away engages your entire body: abs, back, chest, arms, shoulders, and of course your legs.

The following is a quick little body weight only workout that will demonstrate what can be accomplished on those days when you can’t get to the gym.

1. Mountain Climbers: Do them fast and with vigor for 20 reps, 10 each leg.
2. Flip over onto your back. Do 10 standard sit-ups.
3. Flip back over to the push up position. Do 10 standard push ups.
4. Stand and do 10 squats.

Catch your breath and repeat. Do as many rounds as your time and fitness level allow.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Do You Think You Have Good Endurance?

Is anyone out there an ultra-marathoner (not something I'd recommend, by the way), or maybe a super triathlete, or veteran English Channel swimmer? Think you're tough? Can you run or swim till you drop?

Well, this little lady named Godwit would laugh at your wimpy efforts. Don't believe me? Check it out here. It is an amazing world we live in. Have fun.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Smart Pills

It probably won't surprise readers of my blog to learn that people who take supplements are generally better nourished than those who don't take them. In fact, a substantial proportion of seniors (people 51 and older) don't get enough vitamins and minerals from diet alone, and fewer than half of them take supplements every day.

The widespread inadequacies should be considered when developing recommendations for supplement use for seniors, according to Rhonda S. Sebastian of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Gray Iron recommends taking a quality vitamin/mineral supplement, but with the approval of your physician. This is important because the USDA also notes that many people get too much of some vitamins and minerals and not enough of others. So be a smart supplement swallower. And remember, too, that no amount of supplementation can make up for a highly inadequate or gluttonous diet.

For the story of the report by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, go here.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Another Fat A-- Nation

It should be small comfort to learn that the U.S. is not the globe's only gluttonous country. In fact, most highly developed nations have the same "Super Size Me" problems.

The Aussies have come up with an idea to trim the blubber -- and also reduce their growing cost of health care, which in the end must be paid for by everyone, the obese and svelte alike.

The Australian General Practice Network (a physicians group) suggests the following: To combat the spiralling problem of type-2 diabetes, heart disease and cancers linked to obesity, they want the government to pay overweight people a 170 dollar ($141, U.S.) subsidy to do something about their expanding butts and waistlines.

"We believe that this (money) will go a long way to helping people get access to accredited weight-loss programmes where the people will be supported," network chairman Tony Hobbs told state radio.

Does this sound crazy? Or are they really on to something down under?

Maybe I'm wrong, but I can think of several reasons why it wouldn't work and would lead to unpleasant, unintended consequences.

What do you think?

Read more about it here.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Politics and Brain Functions

Here at Gray Iron Fitness we have made it policy to keep politics out of our mission. Opinions? Sure, we've got them. But our job here is encouraging senior fitness and healthy lifestyles. Period.

Still, you do have to have some fun now and then. It's healthful. So here's a report from the British journal Nature Neuroscience that says the brain neurons of liberals and conservatives fire differently when confronted with tough choices, suggesting that some political divides may be hard-wired.

Could the study have been weighted to get the outcomes the researchers wanted? It's possible. But let's have some fun. The findings probably confirm many of your beliefs about "the other side," no matter which side you may be on.

Read all about it here.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Do You Want Fries With That?

If you eat "clean" 90 percent of the time, does it hurt to once in a while indulge in, say, a cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake?

Normally, Gray Iron would say go ahead and take a break, as long as it is just that: a break. But in no way is Gray Iron defending saturated fat. No question about it, loading up on saturated fat is not good for you.

(Note that we are talking about saturated fat, not the heart healthy fats found in fish oil, avocados, olive oil, and most nuts and seeds.

Now, according to a study by researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia, just one piece of high-fat carrot cake, for example, and a milkshake diminishes your body's ability to defend itself against heart disease.

Their study included 14 trial participants, all healthy and between the ages of 18 and 40.

The indication is clear: Eating foods high in saturated fat is harmful to your health and especially your heart.

Read what they found here.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Your Health Profile and History

The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests keeping a Health Journal to be shared with your doctor and to help keep track of things that may make you sick. The journal, according to the academy, should include the following:

• Any illness or injury you've sustained.

• Any hospitalizations or surgeries.

• Any symptoms or allergies that you've had.

• OTC medications, prescription medications, supplements and vitamins that you take, including the dosage and how often you take them.

• Any diseases, conditions or illnesses that run in your family.

Gray Iron agrees wholeheartedly with the suggestions, of course, but would add a couple of things for those of us living the fitness lifestyle.

Keep a record of the lab test results from your last physical and of course know your blood pressure readings.

Your journal doesn’t need to be fancy or time consuming. Keep it simple but update it as things occur.

Read more about the recommendations here.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Smoke, Smoke, Smoke that Cigarette . . .

Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette.
Puff, puff, puff until you smoke yourself to death.
Tell St. Peter at the Golden Gate
That you hate to make him wait,
But you just gotta have another cigarette.

—from a song Phil Harris (photo at right) used to sing.

Sometimes after an anti-smoking rant, I ask myself: Does any smoker actually decide to stop because of something they've read here? After all, anyone with at least a toe-hold in reality already knows that smoking is self-destructive?

Yet if you are still a smoker, at some point some piece of information, somewhere, may turn out to be the tipping point. That you will have finally had enough. Could this be it? Read on.

Health Day
reports that current smokers without the gene for Alzheimer’s were 70 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than nonsmokers or former smokers without the gene.

Before you light up the next one, read more about the researchers' findings here.