Bright colours, crazy names, giant sized cans and marketing links to extreme activities create corporate appeal to these products. They have infiltrated service stations, supermarkets, clubs, bars and offices, with the promise of delivering a fast burst of extreme energy and outstanding performance.
Among the many ingredients found in energy drinks, there are two key elements that I want to focus on. Continue reading
There have been many times where I have, through meeting work deadlines, having a good night out with friends or through the “joys” of parenthood, and I have not given it a second thought.
That is until I discovered what it is doing to my health. Continue reading
I heard a recent statistic that watching two hours of television per day increased risk of death before the age of 65 by 13%, with associated risks of heart disease and diabetes going up by 15% and 20% respectively. Given the average Australian watches the box for around four hours per day, this should be an alarming stat to some of us!
Obviously we’re all smart enough to know there’s more to it than this otherwise, I’d anticipate, we would have seen a massive government legislation against the idiot box!
Surely it’s more about the behaviour that TV watching represents, and the impact that this has on our bodies when carried out over extended periods of time. Continue reading
A recent post by a colleague, Scott Wood, highlighted that if you want to lose weight you need to do more than just walk.
Walking uses four times as much energy as sitting on a couch, however, when we factor a 30 minute walk into our whole day the increase in energy expenditure is no more than what we would get from not eating a banana.
While skipping the banana would be the easier option, I believe there is much more to walking than just the calories burnt. Continue reading
This statement quite often leaves people somewhat confused especially after they’ve been told the impact chronic low-grade inflammation has on insulin resistance, which is a precursor to developing diabetes.
However, while an exercise bout does increase levels of pro- inflammatory messengers called cytokines it only tells part of the story. The above statement also challenges the concept that all inflammation is bad for us. This is certainly not the case. The fact that we are able to fight off viruses and infections is testament to the benefits of an acute inflammatory response mediated by our white blood cells.
You may have noticed that I’ve talked about acute inflammation (which implies a short term, high magnitude response) and chronic low-grade inflammation. It is the latter that we are finding is highly associated with chronic diseases of today which includes cardiovascular disease, arthritis, depression and diabetes.
However exercise appears to have an acute inflammatory response which in turn increases the production of free radicals which then switches on our body’s production of antioxidants that are ultimately responsible for the protective effect on our heart.
Further to this, the inflammatory response to exercise is mainly driven by a cytokine (or technically a myokine since it is produced in the muscle) called interleukin-6 (IL-6) which has been shown to suppress the effects of another pro-inflammatory cytokine called TNF-alpha. This cytokine is produced by sick adipose cells (storage cells for fat) and induces insulin resistance. Exercise also increases the levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1ra and IL-10) so while exercise might acutely create a pro-inflammatory response, the net effect after the bout of exercise is actually anti-inflammatory in nature.
So what are the take home messages here? Firstly a little bit of inflammation through exercise is good for you. A little bit of short-term stress only makes our systems stronger. Our body is an amazing machine that can adapt and respond to these challenges and it has many mechanisms to respond to these natural stresses.
Finally we need to understand that when our body is already under inflammation either acutely through sickness or chronically through diseases such as type II diabetes and arthritis, we need to choose intelligent exercise. By that I mean that the movement itself through poor biomechanics, or through an inappropriate intensity, should not introduce too much inflammation into the system. It is in these situations where we can experience adverse effects including excessive joint pain and musculoskeletal injuries.
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!!
By Max Martin. Director/Exercise Physiologist – iNform Health and Fitness Solutions
I know I’m not alone in my concern for the health of Australians and I’m not the first (by any stretch of the imagination) to report on the seriousness of the issue. However, I believe that right now we are facing a ‘critical’ period that requires our prioritized attention. Let me explain: As an owner of a Personal Training and Exercise Physiology studio in Adelaide I have on one hand experienced the effects of a tough economy over the first half of this calendar year, and unfortunately you probably have too. The combination of a number of factors have led to two thirds of respondents to a recent survey stating that they would re-consider gym memberships due to financial pressures.
On the other hand, at a time of global focus on sporting competition, we have as a nation officially become the heavyweight champion of the world! Unfortunately this is not a title we want to have! Figures from a recent study released by the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, report that 26 per cent of adult Australians are now obese, one million more than the last calculation in 1999! The findings give Australia a Gold Medal as the world’s fattest nation, ahead of the notoriously super-sized Americans, who have a 25 per cent obesity rate.
Based on these shocking new statistics, Access Economics has recalculated the costs of the burden of obesity on our nation. Their report, released at a government forum in Tasmania in August, shows the full cost to be $58 billion, far exceeding the $21 billion bill estimated in 2006. The direct costs are estimated at $8.3 billion, with a further $49.9 billion attributable to the value of lost wellbeing and premature death.
In the face of such news, can we afford to stand with arms crossed while people ‘reconsider’ the importance and value of their health? Should we as a nation re-evaluate what is most important to us? Should we achieve national pride from winning the greatest number of medals per head of population, as we tend to do, or from having a healthy and vibrant population?
Can we make a difference? I strongly believe so! But as the health and economical environment changes, it is critical that the decisions we make change as well. ‘Fitness’ is unfortunately becoming a discretional item. As budgets get tighter, gym memberships and personal training sessions are one of the first things to go. It is imperative that the message we give our community at large is one that extends past ‘just’ fitness and highlights the impact of their daily behaviours, such as their nutrition and physical activity, on health.
Dr Gary Deed, national president of Diabetes Australia, which commissioned the Access Economics report, said that the obesity epidemic was having a “direct and catastrophic influence on increasing the incidence of type-two diabetes. We know that obesity and type-two diabetes can be prevented and we need to make fundamental changes in the way we live to arrest the escalating crisis”. The report estimates that 242,000 Australians have type-two diabetes as a direct result of their obesity, a further 650,000 Australians can blame their cardiovascular disease on their weight, and more than 30,000 have colorectal, breast, uterine or kidney cancer as a result of their physique.
So we now face a critical time to make decisions with far reaching implications. It was not long after our Olympic Athletes had touched Australian soil after their great achievements in Beijing that discussions started about increasing funding to Olympic programs in preparation for the London Games. Now let me clarify that I am a sports loving, proud Australian who lost considerable sleep staying up late to watch our sporting achievements. Furthermore, I am personally involved in the development of athletes, including current medalists at Beijing. However, I think this is an issue of motivations and priorities. We have for a long time justified the millions of dollars spent per Olympic Medal won based on what’s known as ‘the trickle-down effect’. This speculates that success on the world stage will flow on and increase sports and physical activity participation at a grass roots level, a theory that unfortunately has not proved to be correct.
Our challenge then, lies in deciding what to do with our tax dollars already tagged for ‘sports’ and health’. Will we continue to pump them into an international ‘pride’ building contest or strategically allocate them to help reduce our rapidly increasing rates of obesity and related diseases?
For further information please contact our iNform Accredited Practitioners by visiting http://www.informhealth.com/