12 Minutes of Exercise Improves Health

This summer we got a puppy. And the interesting thing about puppies is that they don’t really have a concept of time.

I could come in at the end of the day and the puppy is excited to see me, wagging her tail and weaving in between my legs for contact and comfort. The same reaction could happen if I’m working in another room for a bit and rejoin the puppy and family wherever they are. The puppy doesn’t distinguish between an 8 hour or a 20 minute absence.

Our kids are a little smarter than the dog, although sometimes I wonder? And they have a slightly better concept of time. But they will still ask to go outside and play with their friends minutes before we’re due to head out the door for a family function. Or after pajamas and brushing their teeth they’ll ask if we can start a movie.

But puppies and kids can be excused if they don’t know time or how long things should take. Adults however know what an hour is, how long things take and how to manage their day.

When it comes to exercise a common challenge is making the time to be active. We might assume that for a health goal to be realized requires a certain amount of daily fitness to achieve it. Intuitively I would guess most people think they need to exercise an hour a day.

Now there’s nothing wrong with training an hour daily. And if you’re already in the habit than definitely keep going. But for those that aren’t that active and haven’t gotten started yet because they haven’t carved out those 60 minutes per day, a new study should give them hope.

The study was part of the Framingham Health Study and included over 400 participants. Most of the test subjects were in their 50s and mostly female. This is a well known study based out of Massachusets and started in the late 1940s. Since then the children, spouses and grandchildren have been included in the study.

What the researchers wanted to know was the effect of exercise on certain metabolites. A metabolite is a entity involved in or a by-product of metabolism.

Participants of the study did brief bursts of exercise to the effect on certain markers of health. The exercise was 12 minutes on a stationary bike and the health markers included insulin resistance, oxidative stress, vascular reactivity, inflammation and longevity. When you consider how relevant diabetes, heart disease and ageing are to most adults we can appreciate the value of knowing how exercise impacts these markers.

So what did they find?

Well they found that metabolites associated with poor health and disease went down after cycling for 12 minutes. For example, glutamate, a marker of insulin resistance dropped by 29%. And DMGV, or dimethylguanidino valeric acid , went down 18%. On the other hand a marker of lipoylsis, or fat burning, 1-methylnicotinamide , increased by 33%.

The researchers noted that variations in results were due to sex, BMI and the amount of exercise performed. After a 3 minute warm-up study participants continued cycling with gradual increments in load of 15 or 25 watts. Those cycling at higher power outputs saw more favourable results.

Life is busy. There are times when school, work, family and other committments make training hard to fit in. Hopefully research such as this will encourage us to do something, even if it’s only 12 minutes per day.

Nayor, M., Shah, R. V., Miller, P. E., Blodgett, J. B., Tanguay, M., Pico, A. R., … & Pierce, K. A. (2020). Metabolic Architecture of Acute Exercise Response in Middle-Aged Adults in the Community. Circulation142(20), 1905-1924.

Ditch the Tunes During Training

I’m a big fan of productivity and efficiency. And that should appeal to all of us. If we can get a similar result with less effort or a better result with the same effort, than we should do this.

In the business world we’ve learned, in some cases the hard way, that multi-tasking doesn’t work. We can’t carry on a conversation with someone while replying to emails. We may miss part of what is being said to us or we make a typo or grammatical error in our reply.

When someone matters we should eliminate distractions and focus on what we’re doing.

For example, I can remember back in school and studying for exams. Some people would listen to music. This approach never worked for me as part of the brain is paying attention to the lyrics and melody. And I didn’t want to give up this fraction of my attention to anything other than preparing for the exam.

When what we’re doing doesn’t really matter we may be able to get away with doing two or more things at once. This might be something like folding laundry and watching a show. You can probably do both at the same time without too much difficulty.

So what about training?

Where do we draw the line in terms of multitasking or including a distraction in the training process?

With moderate intensity exercise listening to music has been known to lessen perceived exertion (1). The music serves as a distraction and helps the exercise feel less hard than it would normally.

Usually the type of exercise done in these studies is steady state aerobic exercise like riding a stationary bike. There’s not much to think about and you can even your close your eyes and go for it.

The same wouldn’t apply to high performance training. Imagine a highly technical sport performed at high speed. Pole vaulting comes to mind. When you think of how precise you need to be able to clear the bar successfully all of your focus needs to be on the task at hand.

Recently Liz Gleadle posted something similar on her IG. Liz is a two-time Olympian from Vancouver who competes in javelin. We connected at a winter camp in Santa Barbara a number of years ago.

Liz’s post was about how listening to music while training can become a distraction. See below for what she has to do say regarding music, focus and multi-tasking.

I’ve noticed something similar with my own training recently. I’m not suggesting my training is high performance but more that listening to music wasn’t helping as much on the hard training sets.

During of our sessions together I asked Canadian Marathon record holder Malindi Elmore if she listens to music when she trains. She didn’t have to think about the answer. She didn’t have to qualify it with ‘it depends’. The answer was a simple and straightforward ‘no’.

Going forward with your own training consider why it is you train? Is it for health? Is it to rehab an injury? Or is it to compete in a sport?

If your goal is sports performance than you should consider setting the music aside for the more intense and technical aspect of training. If you want to warm up with your music, as part of your cool down or on an active recovery day that’s probably alright. But when it comes times to perform, which you practice during training, than you should look to replicate the conditions and have no distractions.

Reference

  1. Potteiger, J. A., Schroeder, J. M., & Goff, K. L. (2000). Influence of music on ratings of perceived exertion during 20 minutes of moderate intensity exercise. Perceptual and motor skills91(3), 848-854.

Exercise and a Shake – Good for the Body and the Brain

It’s no surprise that exercise is good for the body. And more recently we’ve learned of the benefits of exercise on the brain.

New research indicates the effects are further improved when there is a nutritional shake included with the training.

A study out of the University of Illinois looked at the effects of exercise and nutrition on the body and the brain. The study ran 12 weeks and included 148 active Air Force servicemen.

The study participants were divided into two groups. Half of the 148 did the exercise program as well as a twice a day nutritional supplement. The nutritional supplement was a mixture of omega-3 (DHA), lutein, phospholipds, vitamins B and D and HMB. The control group took a caloric controlled placebo beverage lacking the nutrients listed above.

In terms of the exercise this included strength and high intensity intervals made up of aerobic challenges.

So what did they find?

Exercise is good for the body apparently. Serviceman got stronger, fitter, more powerful and more mobile. What was interesting is that mobility and stability improved the most, i.e. 22%, of all physical qualities measured.

The group that took the nutritional supplement saw enhanced improvements in their cognitive function. Compared to the placebo group there was increase in working memory (+ 9.0%), fluid intelligence reaction time (− 7.7%), and processing efficiency (+ 1.8%). The supplement group also lowered their resting rate more (− 2.4%) and and added more muscle i.e. lean muscle mass (+ 1.5%). 

It would have been interesting to see what the improvements would have been had there been a group that only took the supplements and did not do the exercise. We know exercise improves circulation which facilitates digestion, assimilation, transport and uptake of nutrients. But to what degree?

As well, the nutritional shake had quite a few ingredients. Which ones conferred the most benefit? We’re well aware of the benefits of omega-3 on brain function. But what about taking vitamin B and D? And HMB is an interesting supplement that was more popular about 20 years ago. It seemed to work for some and not others.

Lastly, the shake was taken twice per day. What would the results be with one dose and the same daily amount of ingredients? Or three shakes?

Although there a number of questions yet to be answered it is interesting that the physical and the mental can improve so much more when exercise is accompanied by a nutritional intervention.

So the take home message going forward to have a plan for both exercise and nutritional. Your body and your brain will thank you.

Zwilling, C. E., Strang, A., Anderson, E., Jurcsisn, J., Johnson, E., Das, T., … & Barbey, A. K. (2020). Enhanced physical and cognitive performance in active duty Airmen: evidence from a randomized multimodal physical fitness and nutritional intervention. Scientific reports10(1), 1-13.

Positive Effects of Exercise on Cancer

We all know someone that has had cancer. In our family my dad and sister are cancer survivors.

And although this disease is very close to all of us we often don’t know what to do when it comes to exercise and cancer. Should you exercise or not? Does it help or harm?

I’m not an oncologist and so don’t take these ramblings as medical advice. But I still keep an eye on the research and stay informed as more information on this topic becomes available.

A paper out of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden gives some promise for exercise with cancer.

The authors looked at over 100 studies, involving over one million adults and 13 different types of cancer.

What they found was that exercisers had better outcomes, related to their cancer, than those who didn’t exercise. It appeared that exercise helped prevent the onset of cancer. And it helped the body fight back more effectively against the cancer.

So how does this happen?

Well it appears there are particular immune cells, cytotoxic T cells, that are positively influenced by the effects of exercise. These immune cells, aka killer T cells, have enhanced function with individuals that exercise.

Representation of the role of T cells
Source: https://www.thoughtco.com/t-cells-meaning-373354

Researchers have transferred the T cells of mice that exercise, to non-exercising mice, and seen tumour reductions.

More specifically it appears that certain metabolites are produced during exercise that play a role. Lactate, in particular, seems to bolster T cell activity. When mice where given sodium L-lactate there was an increase in T cell activity and greater decrease in tumour growth.

While this all sounds promising there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The papers reviewed and cited included adults with cancer. We might expect similar results with children but the research didn’t include younger people.
  • The results were based on 13 different types of cancer. This is about 10% of all known types of cancer. It is possible that different types of cancer would respond differently to exercise as an intervention.
  • The studies where T cells or lactate were transferred or injected to non-exercisers involved mice. Again, we must take a conservative stance that not every animal will respond in the same way to disease and treatment.
  • When we hear lactate we may assume high intensity exercise when this is produced. Make sure you ease into exercise and build a solid aerobic base before incorporating intense bouts or intervals.

The take home message here is that exercise is beneficial for those with cancer. If you have never exercised before make sure to talk to your doctor first before getting started. Start slowly and build a base. And if you have any questions or need some help make sure to reach out.

Reference

Rundqvist, H., Veliça, P., Barbieri, L., Gameiro, P. A., Bargiela, D., Gojkovic, M., … & Ule, J. (2020). Cytotoxic T-cells mediate exercise-induced reductions in tumor growth. eLife9, e59996.

The Importance of a Training Partner

Do you have a training partner? Is there someone you meet up for exercise? When I was going to university my brother and I used to train together.

This was great as we had similar goals, enjoyed training the same way and we’re both competitive. We pushed each other because we trained together moreso than if we trained on our own. We would even do things to try and throw each other off their game. For example, when spotting for bench press it wasn’t unheard of to lean over the bar when spotting and try and drop a bead of sweat on each other. Gross stuff I know but hey that’s what brothers do.

If you are training or you are about to start, there is nothing like the best testosterone booster which is a safe alternative for muscle builders and people looking to improve their sexual performance.

But what does the research say about having a training partner? Does it help?

Well a study with heart attack survivors says that it does help,

The Dutch study included over 800 participants who were all survivors of a heart attack. And they were split into an intertion or control control group. The goals for both groups were weight reduction, smoking cessation and physical activity. There were lifestyle programs to help the participants achieve these three outcomes.

The intervention group was also allowed to have partners join them in the program at no additional cost. Health professionals also encouraged participants in this group to have their partners join. Those in the control group had access to the same lifestyle programs but completed them alone.

So what did they find?

Study participants with a partner involved were more than twice as likely to achieve one of the three outcome goals. And weight reduction was the most positively affected by having a partner join them. This intervention group was 2.71 times more successful in achieving weight reduction than the control group.

The column on the left is the intervention group that had the option to have a partner join. The column on the right is the control group and participated on their own. The three blue bands represent lifestyle risk factors (LRF) of overweight, smoking or self-reported physical inactivity. All LRFs improved when a partner joined the program with weight reduction being most positively impacted.

So how often did the partners have to join the program?

Over the course of a year a partner only had to attend one session. Can you imagine how powerful that is? Someone supports you once and you are almost three times more likely to achieve a weight loss goal?

So why is this the case?

I remember working with a client years ago with a fat loss goal. And we had a specific program for when they came to the gym. We adjusted their schedule to fit in the training. We gave them the guidelines and habits to follow nutritionally. Everything was set up for success. We planned to end each day at a reasonable and allow for optimal recovery and rest.

And then the family got involved.

But not in a good way.

They (the family) missed their comfort foods no longer in the daily meal plan. They objected to the new schedule which didn’t allow for nightly Netlix binge sessions. And weren’t interested in making sacrifices in their own lives to help another.

So this indivual tried to make dual meals to keep everyone happy. They stayed up late to join in the evening movies. They added time to their schedule to buy groceries for the changes they needed to make as well as the regular groceries the family was in the habit of making.

There was no support at home. It made this person feel guilty for investing in themselves. And they were burned out physically and emotionally. Unfortunately it didn’t result in a positive outcome.

What about you?

Who’s in your corner? Who supports your decision for a better, healthier tomorrow?

If you have a partner or family behind you that’s great! You’re in good company with the intervention group that achieved a great weight reduction.

And if you don’t have that support we’d happy to fill that role. We’ll be your fitness family. From email reminders, newsletters, pump up texts, meet ups for coffee, phone call check-ins, coached training sessions and more we’ll be in your fitness business so much you might wish we were related so you’d have some more space.

To find out more about joining our fitness family, send us an email to athletetraining (at) shaw (dot) ca or stop in to Okanagan Peak Performance Inc.

Reference

Minneboo, M., Lachman, S., Snaterse, M., Jørstad, H. T., Ter Riet, G., Boekholdt, S. M., … & van der Spank, A. (2017). Community-based lifestyle intervention in patients with coronary artery disease: the RESPONSE-2 trial. Journal of the American College of Cardiology70(3), 318-327.

Eccentric-Isometric-Concentric Muscle Contractions

Imagine if you were playing on a football team. And all you ever worked on was offense. Every practice would involve lining up at the 20 yard line and going through plays in an attempt to score a touchdown.

The coaches would design running and passing plays while mixing in the occasional quarterback sneak when the ball was near the goal.

No time would be spent on defense or special teams however. The GM would only select offensive players during the draft. Kick-off coverage and field goals were never practiced.

If you knew nothing about football you’d at least know that this strategy would not lead to success. Anytime the opponent had the ball you’d be on defense and not have practiced any tactics or strategy. For more than half the game you’d be at a loss of where players should be and what they should be doing.

Obviously this won’t lead to succes.

Unfortunately this is how many approach their strength training.

Not even getting in to fact that many workouts may neglect many elements the individual needs, the resistance component is usually the same.

3 sets of 10 reps

And the emphasis is on the concentric portion of the lift. Think of this as the up portion of a bench portion or a squat. This is the part of a contraction when a muscle shortens or contracts. And it’s what most people think of when a muscle works.

But there are two other parts of a muscular contraction which are the eccentric and isometric. During the eccentric portion of a lift the muscle lengthens and helps us reduce force as we lower a weight toward the body. With isometrics the length of the muscle is constant and helps us with our stability. Think of holding a plank for time and you’ll appreciate how isometrics fit into the picture.

With muscular contractions we distinguish these as eccentric, isometric or concentric and this tells us what happens to the length of the muscle in each case.

Do you put emphasis on all phases of a muscular contraction? Or focus only on the concentric?

Another way of thinking about this is the following.

Are you chronically injured?

Do you have a weak core?

Have your lifts plateaued?

Are you feeling burned out with your training?

Do you play a sport that is primarily played with an emphasis on only one of the phases of contraction? For example, swimming and cycling would be examples of (primarily) concentric sports.

Most of us will answer “Yes” to more than one of the following questions above. If that is the case we are leaving potential results on the table.

With finances, it would be like investing in only one industry and not diversifying your funds across industries, sectors, in various markets and cash.

Or it would be like entering a bike race with a single gear bike. You’d use the same gear for the flats, sprints, climbs and decents.

Or nutritionally this would be like getting all your nutrition from meat and not eating any fruits, vegetables, starches, fats or oils.

Approaching your training with a wider perspective of the various aspects of a muscle action will help:

  • reduce injuries
  • enhance sports performance
  • help you move better
  • increase strength and speed
  • add a novel aspect yo your training

Cal Dietz in his book Triphasic Training does a great job of explaining the various phases of training and how to incorporate these in an optimal training program. It is a long, and intensive read though. If you’d like to reap the rewards without having to read this book and educate yourself on the topic simply leave us a comment or email athletetraining (at) shaw (dot) ca and we’ll follow up with you.

The Best Exercise for Abdominal Fat Loss

The number one goal of people that go to the gym is weight loss. Actually we should say fat loss, as the goal should be to keep as much of our lean body (muscle) mass as we age and lose only fat.

And it is interesting to see the various approaches people take to lose fat. Some join running groups. Other hit the weights. A number will sign up for classes. And many will shy away from exercise and will approach this purely from a nutritional perspective.

So why should we be concerned with abdominal fat loss? And does this differ from fat on other parts of our body?

To answer the second part first, yes abdominal fat is different. And we should be concerned because extra fat around our mid-section is:

  • a risk factor for chronic disease
  • correlated with developing metabolic syndrome
  • known to contribute more to free fatty acids

So what should you do to shed inches off your mid-section?

Well a recent study took a look at a number of studies to see what most indicated. This meta-analysis included 43 studies with 3552 participants. More of the participants were women than men. Most were diabetic or obese.

The authors of the paper looked at what was most effective for decreasing subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue; aerobic training, resistance training or a combination of both.

The papers that examined aerobic exercise included studies of 4-52 weeks with training that ranged from one to seven training sessions per week. Three training sessions per week was the most common, followed by five sessions. Sessions ranged from 15-120 minutes in duration with intensities between 40-95% of peak aerobic capacity.

Papers that investigated resistance training ranged from 8 weeks to 104 weeks with training two to four days per week. Three days per week was the most common frequency followed by two days. Sessions ranged from 20 to 90 minutes at intensities ranging from 20-100% of 1 RM (repetition max). Most of the training included 1-2 sets of 8-12 reps to volitional fatigue and one study included 2-3 sets of 7-9 reps.

So what did they find?

Well, aerobic and resistance training were both effective at reducing abdominal fat. The interesting finding was that a combination of both was more effective than either alone. For the studies that followed a combined approach the training plans ranged from 12-52 weeks, training three times per week for 20-75 minutes.

What about the nutrition? Most of the studies were ‘free living’ meaning the study participants did not have a nutritional change. About half of the studies included a prescribed diet and the remaining studies did not specify if there was a nutirtional plan to follow. Of the ones that included a nutritional component, these averaged a 500-1200 kcal/day deficit and a breakdown of 55% carbohydrate, 30% fat and 15% protein was the most common.

So what is the take home message?

A ‘dad bod’ left unchecked can become a concern
if the waistline continues to grow over the years.

As much fun as it was to celebrate the ‘dad bod’ as few years ago we need to recognize the associated health risks with a growing waistline. At minimum you need to train three times a week with a combination of aerobic and resistance exercise. Don’t confuse this a recommendation to seek out a type of hybrid exercise i.e. cardio with weights. Instead do each separately to the intensity and frequency you can handle. For example, it would be better to get on the rowing machine for 30 minutes and then do 30 minutes of intense lifting rather than 60 minutes mixing the two. When combined you don’t increase your fitness as much as you could and you don’t get as strong as you could.

Other takeaways include making this a lifestyle as the studies ran for up to 2 years. Don’t seek out the 21 Day Fix to Blast Belly Fat that can found everywhere online. Instead seek out the types of exercise you enjoy and will stick with. In terms of the nutrition, it is important to note that of the ones that prescribed a diet, the goal was a caloric deficit and included eating all macronutrients.

Lastly, the value of sleep to achieving your fat loss goals cannot be understated. Yes, working out is important. And moving more than we consume is essential. But these can be for naught if you’re not getting close to eight hours of quality sleep every night.

Reference

Yarizadeh, H., Eftekhar, R., Anjom-Shoae, J., Speakman, J. R., & Djafarian, K. (2020). The Effect of Aerobic and Resistance Training and Combined Exercise Modalities on Subcutaneous Abdominal Fat: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Advances in Nutrition.

What Happens When You Age Without Exercise

Have you ever watched kids play? It’s usually unstructured, all out and fun.

For example, watch a 3 or 4 year old at a playground and they run from one play structure to the next. They don’t walk from the slide to the swing, they run. And it’s not to because they are in competition with someone else. There could be no other kids at the park and they’ll still run.

Puppies are the same way. I’ve started taking our puppy, Poppy, on some hikes and walks. And every now and again she’ll open up into a sprint until she gasses herself and has to stop and rest. Once she recovers she’s off again chasing a butterfly, racing me or for any reason at all.

At some point in life exercise changes. Maybe it’s because we think everything has to be by the rules or it doesn’t count. For example, you can’t just do push ups you need to do 3 sets of 10. And runs need to be a certain time or distance.

Maybe we stop exercising because it doesn’t feel like play. We don’t get to do the fun things we did as kids.

Whatever the reasons for not exercising the consequences of not exercising as we age are very real.

A recent article covered this in more detail. Here’s a brief recap of what happens to your body if you don’t exercise as you age.

  1. Sleep Issues – Do you have an elderly parent? Or maybe you work with elderly people. If so, you’d know it’s not uncommon for them to have poor quality sleep. This can be due to waking up during the night for the bathroom, to not being able to relax or difficulty getting in a comfortable position. Regardless of the reason, it is rare to hear of seniors sleeping right through the night. Compare this with young people and it’s rare to hear of them waking up at all during the night.
  2. High Blood Pressure – Exercise keeps our heart and lungs strong. It ensures that we’re able to move blood to all parts of the body. When we lose fitness, our heart has to work harder to accomplish daily tasks. Combine this with the gradual hardening of blood vessels that accompany poor nutritional choices and a sedentary lifestyle and we can see how our blood pressure will rise with age.
  3. Risk of Heart Disease – This ties in with the previous point but as the heart has to work harder and overcome the hardening of vessels we’re increasing the risk of heart disease.
Prevalence of diagnosed ischemic heart disease (IHD) and occurrence of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) among Canadians aged 20 years and older, by age group and sex, Canada, 2000–2001 to 2012–2013
Notes: The 95% confidence interval shows an estimated range of values which is likely to include the true value 19 times out of 20.
Source: Public Health Agency of Canada, using Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System data files contributed by provinces and territories, May 2016.

Looking at the table above we can see the prevalence or occurrence of heart disease by age. There is a very low prevalence or occurrence under 39 years and this gradually increases each decade with the highest risk for those 85+ years of age.

4. Memory Problems – We have some relatives down in Florida. And I remember my dad coming home from having visited them. He was at the Customs and Border desk declaring what he had purchased and acquired abroad. He knew he had brought something but couldn’t remember what. The border agent was being very patient and trying to offer suggestions as to what he may have purchased. In the end he remembered what he bought in Florida. He bought a memory stick for one of his devices.

While we had, and still do have , a good laugh at this memory the truth is that without regular, intense exercise we aren’t bathing the brain in BDNF and risk memory loss with age.

5. Loss of Endurance – You don’t even have to apply this one specifically to seniors. We all notice a loss of capacity as we age.

For example, have you ever seen the Wibit inflatable park in Kelowna during the summer? This is the attraction this has all the floaties you can walk, jump and climb all over. Kids can spend hours playing in there all day. Most adults wouldn’t last an hour. And if they do make it an hour it would be interesting to see how many get injured or are popping Tylenol the next day.

The body wants to maintain homeostasis or balance. When we don’t move, exercise or challenge ourselves physically we lose endurance. Pretty soon shovelling some snow or climbing a flight of stairs can be enough to do us in.

6. Increased Blood Sugar – Exercise is great for keeping the sensitivity of the cells to insulin high. This means it takes less sugar to get the same response compared to if the cells weren’t as sensitive. This has positive effects on reducing diabetes and obesity.

7. Reduced Risk of Some Types of Cancer – Exercise can be effective with reducing the chances of of certain types of cancer including breast, colorectal and uterine. According to the American Cancer Society this is because of the benefits of reduced weight, better hormone balance, lower insulin levels and a stronger immune system.

As we get into our mid to late 50s we see an increase in the prevalence of cancer by age.
Source: Government of Canada
Fact sheet: Cancer in Canada

When we’re young we’re in a state of growth. We are getting stronger and better with age. At a certain point the balance tips and we enter into a stage where decay is greater than growth. Exercise is the best way to stave off the losses that come with age including the seven issues identified above.

What about you?

What physical losses have been most impacting to your quality of life? What have you tried doing recently and noticed it’s not as easy as it once was.

***Quick aside…for me it was running with a couple of our athletes, Kierra and Taylor, this summer. I struggled. Big time. And I hurt for many days after. This shocked me and got my attention. That’s why I’ve vowed to address my running fitness and slow the loss and decay.***

If you’ve tried going for a run lately and were surprised at the outcome…

or

If you jumped in the pool and were gassed much sooner than expected…

or

If you had to watch the grand-kids for an afternoon and now are cancelling everything else physical for the rest of the week…

Than we should talk.

It doesn’t have to be this way. And we can help.

Here’s the link for Government of Canada report on chronic diseases

And here’s the link to the article on what we lose without exercise

Irresponsible Fitness Info in the Media

How do you know if something is true? It used to be that if something was in print it was true. We would read something in the newspaper for example and trusted it be so. There it was in black and white with the reporter’s name attached.

This isn’t the case anymore.

In fact we actually have a term for information, in print or otherwise, that just isn’t so. I’m not sure the term ‘fake news’ existed 5 years prior.

But now we’re skeptical of any information we hear. Especially when the information doesn’t support our politics, religion or belief system.

And I guess questioning the information we’re given rather than accepting it simply at face-value can be a good thing. For some reason fitness and performance is not held the same standard and scrutiny. Or maybe it is and we simply want to believe there is an easier way, a magic pill or exercise that will unlock all of our untapped potential.

If there’s one thing I would ask our clients and anyone visiting this site is to question to the information you’re given. Check out the references on articles sited. Ask questions of the author if you have the opportunity. And take some to consider if what you’re heard is reasonable.

The following 3 fitness articles are examples of information you should question and maybe pass on

1. 8 AMRAP Dumbbell CrossFit Workouts to Improve Strength and Stamina

CrossFit can be like the class clown back in school. They can be entertaining and you’ll look to see the shenanigans they’re up to from time to time. But nobody took them seriously. And when it got to the point of doing something potentially dangerous the teacher would put an end to it and regain the focus of the class.

Now there’s nothing inherently risky about trying the program suggested in the article. The challenge becomes the claims and what exercises are suggested. For example, when training for strength the rep range should be between 3 and 6. And certain exercises are meant to be done powerfully i.e. a dumbbell (DB) snatch.

In the article the protocol is to do 10 DB snatches. This is a power exercise and the best rep range would be 1-4 reps not 10 as recommended. Later in the program another prescription is for 20 push ups. Can you get stronger by doing 20 push ups? Sure, it’s possible. Is this the best way to get stronger at push ups? Probably not.

The table below shows the rep ranges to build strength are emphasized between 3-6 reps and drop off substantially as reps increase. When reps are the in the 10 and 20 range we will working on getting bigger and lasting longer. We just won’t be doing the best job of getting stronger. And with our DB snatch we won’t be be getting as powerful as possible.

Fewer reps (1-4) work best for building power. Next strength is emphasized from
3-6 reps. To get bigger use reps in the 8-12 range. And to develop muscular
endurance use reps in the mid to upper teens.

2. 10,000-swing kettlebell workout will reveal your SIX PACK and make you leaner in only 4 weeks

Last year we did a challenge of one 1,000 KB swings in a month. Some clients pushed passed and did 2,000. And I remember challenging myself to hit 3,000 for the month. My glutes were really tight after this challenge and I had to lay off the swings for a bit.

So a couple of things that come to mind with the headline of this article. One is that 4 weeks is less than a month. It’s about 8% less which isn’t huge but it’s enough to make a difference. Don’t believe me? OK, than consider your mortgage changed from 3.25% to 11.25%. Now 8% matters, doesn’t it?

Secondly, I found 3,000 swings in a month, versus 4 weeks, very challenging. This means averaging 100 swings per day for a month and never missing a day. With this article you need to do almost 360 swings per day for 4 weeks straight.

Do I think this will help get you lean and help reveal a 6-pack? Absolutely! So will running 10 km everyday for 4 weeks. Or swimming 3 km everyday. Or getting on the rower for 2 hours everyday.

What do you think? Are you in?

It’s doubtful anyone would take up this challenge in the first place or see it through to completion in the second. Remember the 2 rules of health and fitness; the first is the activity must be healthy and the second is it must be sustainable. Without optimal KB swing technique 10,000 swings may not be healthy. And when you consider the fatigue and soreness of close to 400 swings per this is not sustainable.

Take a pass on this recommendation as well.

3. If You Want to Lose Weight, Trainers Recommend These 8 No-Equipment Exercises

This is maybe the goofiest and most irresponsible headline to cross my screen this week.

It almost sounds like if you want outcome B, than do action A. Or in other words if you want to lose weight (i.e. A) than do these 8 no-equipment exercises (i.e. B). The headline almost reads like an ‘if-than’ rule.

The problem is that it’s not a rule. Let’s look at it another way.

Could you argue that if you don’t do the 8 exercises recommended by professionals that you won’t lose weight? What about if you do less than 8 of the exercises? Or more? What about if you go crazy and use equipment? Are the rules suspended as a result and no weight loss can be expected?

Worse, it ignores the role that nutrition, sleep, mindset and daily activity will play in weight loss.

So what about the 8 exercises? Well they include crawling, push ups, jumps, squats, burpees, froggers, high knees and lunges. And most of these exercises would be fine for most people. And true they don’t require equipment.

But creating a caloric deficit would probably be more important than some push ups for weight loss.

And getting 8 hours of sleep will tip the scale more in your favour than an extra set of lunges.

Lastly, training intensely and consistently, will be more beneficial for weight loss than the 8 listed exercises.

Summary

Headlines are written to catch eyes and get you to click and read the article. Strength requires training at certain level of intensity and rep range. 10,000 swings in four weeks just isn’t possible for the average person. And your body won’t burn more or less calories based on whether you use equipment or not.

If you’ve come across a fitness or performance article you’re not sure about leave a comment below and we can review if and give our take.

Who Do You Trust?

Have you heard this quote before:

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance” – Derek Bok – President Harvard University

And so my question to you is what areas of your life do you rely on an expert?

For example, I use an accountant and lawyer for a reason. Not only did I not go to school for these disciplines but I also don’t have the time to stay current with changes in these fields. So even if I had studied accounting or law in university, what I learned at the time may not apply anymore. Governments pass new laws and judges write new decisions that effect future legal outcomes.

So it is essential I enlist the best to help me in areas of my life and business where I’m not an expert.

What about you? What are the areas of your life where you’re not an expert? More specific to this blog, what is your knowledge in the areas of anatomy, physiology, nutrition and supplements? What about when you get injured, do you know what do or what to avoid doing?

With the internet and explosion of social media we’re seeing more and more people look online for a health, fitness or performance solution. Compound this with COVID and the web can the first place many people start to do their research towards having a better body, improving their health or sports performance.

But is this wise?

Should we trust online websites and blogs? (other than this one of course!)

A recent study from the University of Alberta looked at this question. Who are the authors of these blogs? What are their credentials? And what information are they putting out there?

The researchers checked out 194 of the top fitness blogs online (fortunately we are well below this ranking and managed to escape the scrutiny). Of these blogs only 16% listed any type of fitness certification or credential. However with more than half of the blogs (57%), the authors referred to themselves as a ‘fitness professional’.

But wait, you may be thinking, trainers charge a fair bit, and are professionals. Surely, even if they don’t list a professional certification or credential at least they’d have a bachelor’s degree.

Unfortunately only a paltry 5% of these ‘professionals’ hold a university degree.

So how can this be the case?

Well, the fitness industry is unregulated. If someone wants to call themselves a personal trainer, fitness trainer, movement coach or whatever, they are free to do so. A strength and conditioning coach is a specific credential and requires a degree so that one is a bit different. But using the term ‘trainer’ can be used by anyone.

The other issue is that there are a number of certifications that can be completed over a weekend or done completely online. With this short of a course or nothing done in person it can be very difficult to assess an individual’s ability to coach.

As a result we end up with a number of ‘fitness professionals’ that may or may not have the training, education and knowledge to advise others as to the safest and most efficient path to their goals. And since six-packs and toned bodies tend to sell better than letters after ones name, most of the information being pushed is geared towards aesthetics. There is very little information on the more popular fitness blogs that encourages exercise for stress management, improved sleep quality or the decreased risk of chronic disease.

Stay tuned for a future article where I look at a few top ranked fitness blogs putting out information that is questionable at best and potentially unsafe or dangerous.

Reference

Ori, E., Myre, M., & Berry, T. (2019). Who do they think they are? A quantitative content analysis of exercise bloggers and their blogs. Journal of Exercise, Movement, and Sport (SCAPPS refereed abstracts repository)51(1), 234-234.