What would be your response if you tuned into the radio – a respectable radio like ABC Radio National – and you heard a leading researcher being interviewed and he was excited about the fact that they are very close to developing a vaccine that would desensitise you to a poison??
Well, this happened to me today, and I was stumped to know what to really think, especially because:
The poison is gluten and the disease is coeliac.
I’m sorry, but I have to get this off my chest. I came across some incredibly irresponsible and short-sighted ‘journalism’ today (Thurs may 20th, 2010) in Adelaide’s The Advertiser. On page 3 of the ‘news’paper the first paragraph of the centre story states that “the secret to old age could have nothing to do with lifestyle and everything to do with genes.” the rest of the story goes on to celebrate a lady who has just had her 101st birthday (a very happy birthday and congratulations to her!), and to report that scientists have identified the “Methuselah genes”, named after the oldest person in the Bible, who lived to be 969.
I guess that perhaps our public is not confused enough about what to believe about their health, so we might as well tell them now that they don’t have to do anything at all! its all out of their control!! after all, these genes are found in only 10% of young people, and in 30% of centenarians – what more evidence do we need for crying out loud!!! and we have all heard of someone who was a fit marathon runner and died of a heart attack! and better still, we all have an uncle Albert who drinks and smokes a pack a day and just turned 92, don’t we?!
Well, I guess this begs the question: how did the other 70% get to be centenarians?? why is it that the highest concentration of centenarians occurs in non-developed Western countries/regions? could it also be that Methuselah’s contemporaries (and she would have had a few!) got to live as long as they did because they weren’t exposed to the stresses of modern western environments, or the processed foods, or the degrees of sedentary behaviour our communities experience? could it be that they experienced a degree of spiritual health not found in our society? could it be that perhaps their lifestyle had something to do with it? Have we wondered why most (if not all) centenarians are thin? maybe its because their overweight counterparts don’t get to live that long?? or wait, maybe its just genetics that keep them thin!! because in the absence of any real genetic shift in humans for thousands of years, our genetic pool has suddenly altered in the last 6 or 7 decades.
My goodness, I hope you excuse my sarcasm, but a pen (or press) can be a very powerful weapon, and we should’t be handing licenses to use them publicly so easily.
So, lets follow on with our journey through the benefits of exercise, and here is one that is going to get you listening! exercise will slow down and even reverse the effects of ageing! and in particular, this is related to resistance training, or the lifting of weights.
We know that when we lift weights we ‘damage and tear’ muscle fibres. this is that feeling of muscle soreness (not to be confused with joint or injury pain) that we get 24-48 hrs post exercise. Our body repairs these muscle fibres in such a way to protect them from being damaged by similar loads again in the future. this is done by building new bigger muscle fibres.
Now, we know that the amount of muscle we carry is imperative to our health. It not only helps us burn more energy on a daily basis but a lack of it is associated with many chronic diseases such as diabetes.
As we age we tend to lose muscle mass, at the age of 60 we tend to lose 1% per year which doubles into our 70s. The great news is that resistance training can help slow this rate of decline and has even been shown to increase muscle mass in 70-80 year olds!
So, not only do we increase the size of our muscle as it rebuilds, but we can actually make it look new again through resistance training.
Lets take a quick detour through micro-biology to better understand this outcome. as we know, all cells in our body are in a constant state of repair and replication, and this happens through the copying of our DNA code. as we age and continue to go through this replication process, the DNA code becomes damaged, so the quality of new tissue is likewise damaged.
There’s a specific structure in muscle fibres called a mitochondria, which is where energy is produced (this is one of the reasons why increasing muscle mass is so important for weight management). as mitochondria replicates, it also degrades in quality through this process, which leads it to produce an increasing amount of ‘damaged’ by-products. Of particular interest are ‘free radicals’, which create a an oxidative (or rust like effect) on cellular tissue, thus further degrading it (this is the reason why we are encouraged to consume ‘anti oxidants!).
So, back to our muscle rebuilding story. when a muscle is damaged, its mitochondria are totally destroyed, so they can’t replicate anymore. So in the new muscle fibres the mitochondria are built using genetically untouched mitochondrial DNA.
It’s effectively like we are using new parts to build our muscle rather than recycling the old ones. Therefore our muscles look younger under a microscope, they function better which makes us feel like we have more energy on a daily basis.
So make sure you include resistance based training into your weekly schedule. The Australian Activity guidelines encourage us to exercise on most days of the week, but the American guidelines also include a recommendation for 2-3 weights sessions a week. make sure you look for registered Exercise Professionals to ensure you get the most out of your exercise sessions!
Before we can make sense of how exercise can help us deal with stress better, it will be useful to understand the physiology of stress and how it affects us.
Needless to say, a great starting point is to highlight that the best way to deal with stress is to reduce your stress drivers and how you deal with them. Let us encourage you to look at those in your daily life and seek the support of qualified therapists in these area.
To support your changes, exercise is a great tool to improve your body’s capacity to absorb the effects of stress.
At a physiological level, stress is a desired response designed for a “fight or flight” situation. The physiological process that is triggered to help us deal with such an event is described below, but its important to keep in mind that it should occur over short durations, and then ‘dealt’ with (by fighting or running!).
The result is the release of adrenaline which is almost instantaneous and increases alertness and cortisol, which peaks at about 15-30 min after the start of the stress trigger. The whole point of these responses is to give us the required energy to deal with the situation at hand, by elevating blood pressure, increasing blood sugar (for energy) and decreasing most other non-essential systems. the problem in our modern western settings is that we don’t face too many ‘acute’ (short lasting) triggers (such as a threatening animal, etc), but rather longer lasting chronic stresses, such as work and financial pressures. In the ‘acute’ settings, increased physical activity was the way we dealt with the threat – i.e. by fighting or escaping – this would then help diffuse the physiological effects of stress mentioned above.
In our chronic western settings we don’t deal with stress in a physical manner. As a matter of fact we all well know that the amount of exercise we do is consistently decreasing, and even more so the busier we are. So we don’t often get to diffuse the heightened physiological responses. The result is chronically elevated levels of cortisol, which lead to Hypertension, Insulin resistance, and OBESITY.
So what is exercise good for? firstly it directly helps to reduce the physiological effects of stress, as we know that it will reduce insulin resistance, lead to hormonal responses that relax blood vessels, and use up excess blood sugar (and fat) for energy! Further more, through exercise the body becomes more physiologically efficient at dealing with the stress hormones in the first place. In addition you get all the emotional feel-good benefits of being active, a sense of achievement, and the opportunity to enjoy time doing something good for yourself!
so, don’t delay, get out there and MOVE!!!
In an earlier post we promised to outline the many benefits that exercise can provide you, and this is our time to deliver! now, before your eyes roll back in boredom, I have to tell you that the more that we look at this the more exciting and brilliant this concept of moving your body becomes!!
To be honest, over the last couple of months I’ve fallen in love all over again with my profession. I get the incredible opportunity to make people’s bodies healthier on a day to day basis by simply making them move at intensities and complexities greater than they are used to!
Another thing that I’d like to clarify is what exercise is NOT good for. My point here is, as is published in an earlier post, that I find it a shame that people become disillusioned with exercise because they expected their 5 visits to the gym to provide them with results that are unrealistic. check out the linked blog article http://informhealth.wordpress.com/2009/05/25/the-balance-between-diet-and-exercise-in-weight-and-fat-loss/ for more on the balance between nutrition and exercise to lose weight. as it indicates, exercise alone results in relatively small weight loss when compared to dietary changes. BUT what is exercise good for then in this case??
now, outlining the many benefits of exercise is a massive undertaking, so we’ll be taking you along on an exploration journey over the next few weeks as we let you in on some fantastic evidence.
Back to our topic for today – the effect of exercise on weight loss: as stated in the linked article, exercise can help reduce as much as half a kilo of fat per week with a gruelling schedule. Very importantly we do know that exercise provides you with the best protection against weight GAIN! therefore being one of the best prevention strategies against the obesity epidemic. There’s a range of physiological reasons that help to explain this:
Exercise, especially resistance training (lifting weights) helps maintain and/or increases your lean body mass (muscle), which means you have a bigger ‘engine’ to burn more energy on a day to day basis.
Exercise, especially at high intensities, results in your cells being more effective fat burners, so not only are you burning fat while you exercise, but also during the rest of the day – try interval based training to maximise this!
Another great mechanism is that exercise makes you more insulin sensitive, meaning that you are better able to metabolise (burn) energy and are less likely to store fat as a result.
Now how is that for a start on getting you excited about getting more active?! next week we’ll tell you about the benefits of exercise on stress management and sleep quality.
till then! in the mean time, if you have any questions on this don’t hesitate to contact our Exercise Physiologists at http://www.informhealth.com
just saw the new Australian anti-smoking campaign on TV “Path2Quit”, check it out at www.path2quit.com.au
Firstly, great campaign. simple and to the point. and needed, as we know that as a smoker you will lose, on average, 8 years of healthy life. At face value, it seems that investing heavily in the reduction of community wide smoking is a valid strategy as this is the lifestyle behaviour with the largest effect.
However, Physical inactivity is also a major player, with those that are generally inactive will lose an average of 6.5 years of healthy life.
There is a very interesting factor that is missing from this comparison however, and that is that more than twice as many Australians over the age of 14 years are inactive (7.3M) compared to the number of smokers in this age bracket (2.9M). If we do the sums, smoking Australians will collectively lose 23million years of healthy life… yes, you read that right! but inactive australians will lose 48million years of healthy life…
I wonder if we are investing twice the resources and legislative power to increasing the physical activity levels in this great country….?
A study recently published in this month’s (Jan 2010) International Journal of Obesity is getting some interesting media attention. Results indicate that adipose (fat) tissue in the bum and thighs have a protective effect against diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as this fat has anti-inflammatory properties.
This is very different to ‘visceral’ fat (that stored internally in the belly) which is pro-inflammatory in nature. the increased inflammation has been associated to decreased insulin sensitivity, which is a pre-cursor to diabetes.
So does this mean that its now OK to be carrying those extra kilos?? well, in reality, those carrying that bum and thigh fat may also be carrying extra weight around the abdominal region. the negative effect of this will cancel the positive effect of the lower fat deposition.
A tip to take from this is that we should be less concerned about what the scales are telling us, and pay more attention to our waist lines. so the tape measure would be a more useful monitoring tool! keep in mind the “how do you measure up” campaign guidelines of 94cm around the waist for men, and 80cm for women. (www.measureup.gov.au)
The good news for the belly storers is that research is pretty clear that it is this fat that will be broken up and released first with exercise. so off that cushy bum and lets do some reps of the stairs!!
After discussing our last post on spring related aches and pains on radio last week (ABC 891 ‘Drive’ with Grant Cameron – wednesdays at 5.45pm) we’ve been told by a lot of people that they felt challenged to get out and get more active, which is fantastic!
However some of the approaches and concepts that people mentioned have needed a bit of guidance, so here are the top 5 typical fitness misconceptions that we often hear. Hopefully this will help you stay on a better, more informed path towards health and fitness!
- Spot fat reduction – we cannot target a specific body region for fat loss. eg. Situps to reduce abdominal fat. The body burns fat as a result of diatary modifications and/or exercise generally, and not from specific targeted areas. While some areas do lose fat quicker than others, this is hormonally and genetically predetermined. For more information on this check out an earlier post on doing sit ups to get a flat stomach
- Situps to strengthen the lower back – while abdominal strength is crucial for low back strength, the muscles that need to develop are those deep muscles of the abdominal region, typically known as the ‘core’. This does not include the rectus abdominis (RA) (or ‘six-pack muscle). The 6-pack is a superficial power muscle with little endurance and capacity for prolonged spine stability. In addition, the tuypical way of working it, crunches and sit ups, is a repetitive bending of the spine under load. Exactly the same movement that tends to hurt the back in the first place! stay tuned for a future post developing this argument further. In the mean time, if your abdominals need greater strength to protect your spine please see a quality exercise professional for guidance, as this is an area that if worked incorrectly, could hurt more than benefit form badly performed exercises.
- Weights bulk you up -of course doing resistance training (weights) correctly will increase muscle size strength and improve shape. However the progress is at best slow and requires significant effort. The most significant factors determining the speed and amount of muscle growth are the type of training you do, your nutrition, and hormonal levels. This last fact disadvantages females significantly due to their lower levels of testosterone and growth hormone. Interestingly we most often hear this concern from women! Body Buiders adhere to training routines similar to those of professional athletes (and many of them are just that), including 10+hrs in the gym weekly, very strict nutritional plans and hundreds of dollars on nutritional supplements and other ‘aids’. Unless you are willing to subject yourself to such a routine, you are in little danger of bulking up out of control!
- Pushing through pain & exercising when sick – have you ever exercised to ‘sweat out’ an illness/cold? firstly, pain beyond that normally experienced muscle soreness 24-36 hrs post exercise, is often a warning signal of a developing injury. training ‘through’ that will only increase the chances of you developing an injury. We recommend that you stop the activity that causes the pain and see a trusted health professional to rehab that weak ‘link’. We start all of our clients with what we call ‘foundation exercises’, which are designed to improve the function of postural and stabilising muscles and thus strengthen those ‘weak links’. In as far as ‘sweating out’ a cold: we know that long term, exercise improves immune function, but exercise has a short and acute supressing effect on the immune system. Exercise places a large energy demand on the body, which during a sickness, should be directed towards fighting that sickness. Exercise, then, while ill, palces a greater load on an already stressed immune system. the best thing would be to keep fluid intake high, eat a natural and colourful diet, and rest!
- All I have to do is exercise to lose weight – check out a previous post that goes into good depth about this argument/belief. To add to that information it is interesting to note how much exercise actually needs to be performed to ‘burn’ some common indulgences:
- 1 SLICE OF MUD CAKE IS 1200 kj & WILL TAKE YOU
55 MINS OF WALKING TO BURN OFF OR 27 MINS OF MODERATE CARDIO (JOGGING)
- 2 GLASSES OF WINE are 850 kj & WILL TAKE YOU
38.3 MINS OF WALKING TO BURN OFF OR 18.8 MINS OF MODERATE CARDIO (JOGGING)
- 1 GLASS OF BEER IS 570 kj & WILL TAKE YOU
25.9 MINS OF WALKING TO BURN OFF OR 12.7 MINS OF MODERATE CARDIO (JOGGING)
- 1x 55gm CHOC BAR IS 1200 kj & WILL TAKE YOU
54.5 MINS OF WALKING TO BURN OFF OR 26.7 MINS OF MODERATE CARDIO (JOGGING)
- 1 50gm PACKET OF CRISPS IS 1100 kj & WILL TAKE YOU
50 MINS OF WALKING TO BURN OFF OR 24.4 MINS OF MODERATE CARDIO (JOGGING)
hmmm, food for thought!
With spring upon us we are already seeing a lot of our clients, and friends and family, starting to increase their physical activity. This is typically a result of the slighter longer and somewhat warmer days, and the impending approach of summer and its scantiness! Add to that ‘spring cleans’ and weeds in the garden, and there’s a lot more movement going on!
While all this is obviously a good thing, we are seeing a lot more aching bodies as a result; and we are hearing this from our health colleagues as well. So what is going on? I think that people often forget that they are coming out of a long and inactive hibernation, and their bodies are not ready for the loads, twisting and bending that’s being imposed on them!
So here are a few fitness tips and solutions to those aches and pains:
- firstly, start slow. Allow your body the time to get used to the new loads you are subjecting it to.
- Plan your activity, especially if it’s work around the house and garden, into manageable chunks. don’t get caught out with a job that’s too big and forces you to spend hours working right off the mark.
- Focus on your posture while moving. You’ve probably spent endless hours in forward stooped positions at your desk and car with very little muscle loads. Aim to reverse this posture by sitting and standing tall, with an open chest. and try to maintain this posture while exercising an working.
- If you are planning to start an exercise routine, perform exercises that will prepare you for the harder exercises that will come later. For example, if about to start running, go for longer walks to begin with, and introduce jogs in smaller chunks. Also, develop some strength in your legs by doing exercises such as squats.
- If you develop joint pain during your activities don’t push through that pain, it could be the begining of a more serious injury. See a trusted health professional for advice.
If you would like more information on this or with preparing for your exercise goals an exercise physiologist at iNform can help with advice and practical tips.
An article in SA’s Wednesday Advertiser reports that despite popularity of TV show Masterchef and its influence on culinary passion, Australians’ favourite is still a meat based dinner with either salad or veges. In my opinion this is one of the healthiest choices we could be making, as it is nutritionally sound while relatively low in carbohydrates. This will lead to decreased insulin levels and hence fat storage.
For a more indepth discussion on this check out our post on diet and fat loss at http://informhealth.wordpress.com/2009/06/03/so-what-to-eat-to-lose-weight-especially-body-fat/
While this eating tradition can be criticised for its blandness, it can be really spiced up and flavoured, with no need to increase its caloric value significantly. My encouragement would be to now follow that trend with lunch, and eventually breakfast!
I’d love to hear your suggestions for low carb and higher protein breakfast options, as this is often one of the stumbling blocks for people, especially if they don’t like eggs, or have cholesterol issues.