Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Windshield Wipers

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Forget those little bitty crunches and "going for the burn." Real core exercises like old fashioned bent-legs sit-ups, wood choppers with weighted cables, and windshield wipers (no equipment needed) are the real way to a stronger, firmer gut.

If you're a beginner, enter slowly. Use the bent-knees side to side motion first. Then graduate to straight legs once you get the hang of it. Work up to a few sets of 20 and feel the muscles of your trunk get stronger and a whole lot firmer.

Do them with control, always. And breathe smoothly.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Big Biceps and Small Waist May Determine Lifespan

Once again, Jack LaLanne had it right. He said, "Your waistline is your lifeline." And it's true. But decades ago when LaLanne was coming up with snappy bumper-sticker type slogans about health, many in the medical field labeled him a nut.

Now, we know that he had it right all along. In this report from Rueters we see that United Kingdom researchers recognize the limitations of the BMI as a health indicator. Instead, they say the size of a man's biceps and waistline are better indicators of his longevity. Somewhere Lalanne, now in his 90s and still working out, must be smiling.

Read full story here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Fatherhood: Increase Your Chances of Living to 100

It's probably a little late for most male Gray Iron readers to do anything about it, but recent studies indicate that having four or more children increases the likelihood of living to 100.

Wow! When I read that headline I thought it sounded a little goofy, and if you read my blog regularly you know that I am generally suspicious of many claims that are supposedly backed up by "scientific studies." That's why I like Snopes and, incidentally. It is B.S. not hydrogen that is the most common element in the universe. Still, many studies are of course truly scientific, important, and valid. Either way, valid or not, this one is an interesting read.

Go here: Having Lots of Kids Helps Dads Live to 100.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Workout Benefits May Require Less Frequency Than You Think

The benefits of progressive strength training workouts continue for older men, even after they switch to a less intense workout schedule, according to the results of a new study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine.

So what is the ideal number of workouts per week for people over 50? Gray Iron thinks that nobody knows for sure, and it probably varies somewhat from one person to the next. What is certain, however, is that weight training works wonders as we grow older. And the study in the Journal of Sports Medicine indicates that the benefits continue even with less workout frequency/intensity than previously believed.

To read more about the report, go here.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Disney's Blubber Boats

The "It's A Small World" ride at Disneyland opened in 1964 when people were a lot trimmer. The famous California theme park will shut down the ride in January for ten months to make the water canals deeper and build stronger boats. They need to do this because people are fatter and causing the boats to completely stop in the middle of the ride. When the boats get stuck, a crew member has to ask people to get off the boats and lighten the load.

Disney also said they are having the same problem with "Pirates of the Caribbean," but it's not as bad as Small World.

The average sized man weighed 166 lbs in 1960. In 2002, the average man weighed 191 lbs, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Are 20% of Americans Self-Destructive?

Regardless of overwhelming evidence that smoking is the nation's number one preventable cause of death, 1 in 5 Americans still smoke. The idea that there is an irreducible number of people who will smoke, no matter what, is probably true; but it is much less than one in five people. Utah, for example, has a (smoking) prevalence rate of only 9 percent.

In another state, Oregon, the tobacco industry spends $3.50 per person annually on “marketing,” which is a convenient term for addicting people and keeping them that way.

What should be done? What is government’s role? Or should government have a role at all? For the full story on who smokes and who does not, go here.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Controversial Atkins Diet Takes a Hit

“I think the Atkins diet is potentially detrimental for cardiovascular health, if maintained for a long duration and without attempts to lose weight,” said Dr. Michael Miller, director of preventative cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center. “A stabilized Atkins diet is not the way to go."

Read the full report here
. But also let me summarize the findings in plain talk: Eventually, you’ll pay a price for following a long-term diet that is high in fat, particularly saturated fat.

The Gray Iron opinion has always been that any diet that practically eliminates any one of the macro nutrients (in the Atkins diet it would be carbohydrates), eventually leads to problems or failure. Sugar and processed flour carbs are uglier than sin, but certainly not fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Monday, November 05, 2007

What the Heck is “Metabolic Syndrome”?

Medical terms such as “metabolic syndrome” enter the common vocabulary and many times people really don’t know what they mean. The first few times I heard the term, I didn’t have a clue.

Simply put, metabolic syndrome is a combination of medical conditions that increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It is a very common and dangerous medical problem.

Metabolic syndrome means the presence of three or more of the following health problems:

• Excess weight around one’s waist (a waist measurement of more than 40 inches for men and more than 35 inches for women).

• Triglycerides blood level of 150 mg/dL or more.

• HDL cholesterol levels below 40 mg/dL for men and below 50 mg/dL for women.

• Blood pressure of 130/85 mm HG or higher.

• Pre-diabetes (a fasting blood sugar between 100 and 125) or diabetes (a fasting blood sugar level over 125 mg/dL).

Metabolic syndrome seems to run in families; but being overweight, having a poor diet, getting no regular exercise, and having bad lifestyle habits such as smoking also contribute to it.

Usually there are no symptoms, but your doctor is able to diagnose it with lab tests that are usually a part of a thorough physical examination.

Gray Iron urges people to have periodic exams at intervals their doctor recommends.