Wednesday, July 30, 2008

To Stretch or Not to Stretch . . .

The argument against stretching before training or a competition is that it may "dampen" muscle strength, and in some sports "loose joints" increase the risk of injuries.

A report in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, August 2008, says that a little easy stretching before training does not dampen muscle strength.

The Gray Iron interpretation is that you should save the more serious stretching for post-workout. That's when you should relax and take a little time to stretch out.

But before your training, it's best to warm up with movements that simulate your workout or competition. They should include enough range of motion movement to prepare your body and mind for what's to come.

Read more on the study here, and reach your own conclusions.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Big Bellies and Dementia

When I see fat people – and there are so many these days it’s hard not to see them – I often wonder what it would take to motivate them to lose weight. Does that sound condescending? Well, I’m a fitness advocate. It’s my job to wonder about these things.

I know that fat people really don’t want to be fat. I don’t think anybody does. But if personal pride in their appearance doesn’t motivate them, what does? I’m not a psychologist, but I know that fear can be a powerful motivator. Watch somebody trim down after surviving a life threatening event like a heart attack. They fear another one.

How about fear of dementia? People I talk to dread that condition about as much as any dark thought they can imagine. But the threat is real, and it doesn’t always happen to the “other guy.” Researchers at Kaiser Permanente suggest that big bellies increase the risk of dementia. And you don't have to be terribly overweight. The culprit is an accumulation of belly fat.

Add that to heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, and maybe those super-sized meals aren’t so attractive after all. Okay, I admit I’m in a blunt mood today. If you’re overweight, do something about it. It’s not like we haven’t been warned.

Read about big bellies and dementia risk here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Only For The Bravest of Seniors

If you look only at the first part of this recent Washington Post article, you may want to write the editor and give him or her a piece of your mind, or cancel your subscription, if you are a subscriber. Just kidding.

But what is it that I’m talking about? Well, they get pretty graphic about the ravages of aging in an article titled, “How Our Bodies Age (And What You Can Do About It).”

Take a look. But don’t get discouraged and stop reading until after you have gotten through the “And What You Can Do About It” part. It really is solid information.

Read article here.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Too Much Good Cookin'?

Maybe the most effective weight loss program is to move out of the Southern United States. But the thing is the southern states are the nation’s fastest growing region.

I don't mean to pick on Southerners. Still, the fact is there’s a serious obesity problem down South, where more than 30 percent of adults in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee are considered obese.

This amounts to more than just a problem of esthetics. The South has had high death rates from heart disease, stroke and other diseases that have been linked to obesity.

Experts say at least part of the blame is on Southern eating habits. They say poverty is also a factor, and some demographic groups have higher obesity rates than others.

Colorado, by the way, is the least obese state, with about 19 percent of its citizens fitting that category, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nineteen percent! And that's the lowest? Well, that may be the lowest, but it's still not much to brag about when about one out of every five residents is obese.

Get the full story here.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Act 2 of Life

The people at AARP know when you turn 50 and they send you an invitation to join up. To them, you’ve just crossed that line — you are a senior.

It’s been more than 20 years since I found my invitation in the mail box. At first, it was a punch in the stomach. Then I would joke about it with friends. But the clock stops for no one. Acceptance sets in.

People who don’t think much about retirement suddenly realize the day isn’t all that far off. Depressing? Here’s the good part. When you do finally retire, you really can, if you choose to, rediscover your passion.

Here is how I did it . . .

I knew that art and fitness were my callings by the time I was a teenager, and probably even earlier than that. What I could do better than most of my peers was draw. And I was always looking for ways to build up my body. Other matters, some important and some not, diverted my attention along the way; but, finally, there I was — retired. I could do as I wanted.

The years have passed. Yet I've never really thought of myself as being retired. I am fortunate to be absorbed in the creative process of making art and promoting the fitness lifestyle. Without these strong interests, or something equally engaging, I cannot imagine what life would be like.

We've all seen people who retire and then vegetate in front of a television set.

Probably your interests are very different than mine. But somewhere in each of us the interests are there, only waiting to be rediscovered and released. One good way to uncover them is by looking backward to your childhood and adolescence. Recall the thoughts, activities, and dreams that sent your imagination and spirit soaring. Those are your clues. Develop interests related to them and experience a personal renaissance.

Here is a great story about one retiree who is making the most of his time and living life to the fullest. Read In Act 2 of Life, Doing Work That Matters