Training

johnnysfit ohana reports and opinions are for information only, and are not intended to diagnose or prescribe. For your specific diagnosis and treatment, consult your doctor or health care provider

DEC 3

Swollen Feet and Ankles

  

Your leg muscles function like a second heart to pump fluid from your legs to your heart. When your leg muscles relax, the veins near them fill up with blood. When your leg muscles contract, they compress the veins and squeeze blood up toward your heart.

When you stand still, your heart has to work very hard to pump blood against gravity from your feet to your heart. When your feet are above your heart, gravity works with you to help blood and fluid return to the heart. Eight hours of standing or sitting causes your feet to swell up to more than 110% of their size. This can make your shoes feel tight and your feet hurt.

The best way to prevent swelling is to elevate your feet. The next best way is to move your feet and toes frequently while you are sitting or standing. This can reduce swelling by more than 50 percent and will usually prevent the pain that it causes. If your feet still swell, check with your doctor. You may have a more serious cause, or you may need diuretics or compression stockings.

NOV 26

Inactivity Linked to Arthritis

   

The majority of people with arthritis are inactive, overweight, diabetic or pre-diabetic. The CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (November 9, 2018; 67(44);1238–1241) found that 32 percent of adults with arthritis have pre-diabetes or diabetes, 56.5 percent are physically inactive and 50.1 percent are obese.

Osteoarthritis affects more than 30 million North Americans, making it the most common joint disease. Anything that causes inflammation can damage joints (Nature Medicine, published online Nov. 6, 2011), and inflammation is a more common cause of arthritis than wear-and-tear injuries (Bone, 2012;51:249–257). Everything that helps to reduce inflammation also helps to reduce pain and joint damage: lose excess weight, eat an anti-inflammatory diet, exercise, lower high blood sugar levels and so forth (Ther Adv Musculoskelet Dis, 2013 Apr; 5(2): 77–94).

Inflammation Harms Joints
Your immune system attacks and destroys germs that invade your body because it can tell that germs have different surface proteins than you do. However, if your immune system stays on all the time, it will use these same cells and chemicals to attack and destroy your own tissues. This is called inflammation and anything that causes your immune system to stay active all the time can damage the cartilage in your joints. See Osteoarthritis Linked to Inflammation
Osteoarthritis Probably Caused by Inflammation

Diabetes, Pre-Diabetes and Arthritis
A high rise in blood sugar can cause sugar to stick to the outer membranes of cells. Once there, sugar cannot get off and is eventually converted to sorbitol that destroys that cell. Your immune system responds to these damaged cells in exactly the same way it works to attack invading germs, so high blood sugar is a constant source of inflammation that specifically damages joints (Osteoarthritis Cartilage, Jun 2015;23(6):841–850).

Obesity and Arthritis
Obesity turns on your immune system to raise blood levels of cytokines that can damage joints (Clin Chem Lab Med, 2010;48:1141–1145), and high levels of these cytokines predict the onset and progression of osteoarthritis (Clin Immunol, 2012;144:228–236). More than 80 percent of obese people suffer some form of joint disease, most often because having muscles and liver full of fat is associated with inflammation that can damage every cell in your body including the cartilage in joints. Obesity is frequently associated with both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and losing excess weight can reduce joint damage and disability and improve quality of life (PMR, May 1, 2012;4(5 0):S59–S67).

• Obese people are seven times more likely than normal-weight people to suffer osteoarthritis of the knee (Joint Bone Spine, 2011; 78(2):150-5).
• The more overweight you are, the greater your chance of suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee and hip (Joint Bone Spine, 2012; 79(3):291-7).
• Obesity is a potent trigger to develop rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis (RMD Open, June 29, 2015;1(1): e000012).
• In just 16 weeks, weight loss lowered high markers of inflammation in people with osteoarthritis (Osteoarthritis Cartilage, 2014;22(11):1817–25) and losing weight markedly reduced pain and limitation of movement in patients with osteoarthritis (Arthritis Care Res, 2013;65(1):15–22).

Inactivity and Arthritis
You may believe that people with arthritis don’t exercise BECAUSE of the pain, but osteoarthritis always worsens with inactivity. If you have joint pain, keep on moving but be guided by the pain and slow down or stop when your pain worsens. Avoid sports that involve a lot of impact, because the force of your foot hitting the ground can break off cartilage. Good non-impact sports include cycling, swimming and water aerobics.

A study that followed more than 6500 women for 12 years showed that those who exercised regularly had far fewer complaints of joint pain than those who did not exercise or who exercised only a little bit (Arthritis Care & Research, Dec 5, 2017;69(12)). The women who were overweight and did not exercise had the highest incidence of joint pain. See Knee Osteoarthritis: Exercise Therapy More Effective than Surgery

My Recommendations
The treatment for osteoarthritis should include:
• Avoidance of overweight. I recommend Intermittent Fasting
• A regular exercise program that includes continuous movement and avoidance of exercises that increase pain when you do them
• An anti-inflammatory diet

Listen to Your Body

NOV 24

The best way to achieve a high level of fitness without injuring yourself is to listen to your body. Don’t depend on heart rate monitors, fitness trackers or other gadgets. The most sophisticated fitness tracker and injury-avoider is your brain. Training to achieve a high level of fitness and to prevent diseases usually involves intense exercise, and most exercise injuries are caused by continuing to exercise intensely when your body tells you to slow down, stop exercising, or take the day off.

You Don’t Need Electronic Devices to Track Exercise
You can buy clever gadgets to monitor your heart rate, blood lactic acid, carbon dioxide, sugar and oxygen levels, speed or cadence, number of steps or breaths or arm motions that you take, stride length, and so forth. However, these devices cannot tell you whether you are exercising intensely enough to gain your maximum improvement in ability to take in and use oxygen or to damage your muscles enough for maximum strength gain. Only your brain can tell you:
• whether you are at your maximum,
• when you need to slow down because you are exhausted, or
• if you need to stop because you are about to injure yourself.
Fitness gadgets can help to motivate you and can be fun to use, but do not count on them to tell you how intensely you should exercise or when you are at the edge of an injury.

Your Brain Talks to You
Your brain can tell you when you are tired, short of breath and your muscles hurt. All you have to do is to ask yourself, “How do I feel?” Researchers can measure signs of fatigue such as lactate levels, VO2max, heart rate, heart-rate variability, rapid morning heart rate, recovery heart rate, hormone levels, red cell counts, your immune system’s activity (white blood cells, interleukins, inflammation), muscle damage, blood pressure, and much more. But in the real world for athletes and regular exercisers, all you need to do is listen to your body.
For example, the test called VO2max measures the maximum amount of oxygen you can take in and use over time, which is the major limiting factor to how fast you can move. However, you do not need to monitor VO2max with a machine; you can increase VO2max just by exercising intensely enough to become short of breath.

Stress and Recover
Almost all competitive athletes use the training principal of “stress and recover”:
• On one day they take an intense workout to damage their muscles.
• On the next day they feel sore and go less intensely to allow their muscles to heal.
• Then when their muscles feel fresh again, they take their next intense workout.

Running causes tremendous muscle damage, so runners usually run very fast only two or three times a week, run long once a week and have three to five slower recovery days, even if they are working out twice a day. Competitive swimmers are different. The water seems to protect their muscles so they usually try to take one hard and one easy workout every day. Pedaling causes less muscle damage than running, so bicycle racers do some fast riding on most days, and have to learn when to slow down.

How Does This 84-Year-Old Bicycle Rider Train?
I spent my entire competitive running career (from 1954 to 1989) injured because I competed with my training log in the mistaken belief that the runner who does the most miles is the best. Of course, that is ridiculous. It took me 35 years to learn when to take days off. Today, I am no longer a runner. Bicycle riding is done in a smooth rotary motion with no road shock, so cyclists can stress their legs almost every day.

Diana and I ride very fast in a tandem bicycle group of couples in their 40s to 80s. We usually ride about 30 miles on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. After these hard rides, my legs are always sore when I get up the next day. I take a very slow 10-minute warm up. If my legs still feel tired or stiff or I have localized pain after the warm up, I take the day off. If my legs feel fresh after the warm up, I take an easy ride for an hour or so. If I feel really fresh, I do a series of standing 50-pedal-stroke intervals fast enough to make me short of breath each time, followed by a slow recovery for as long it takes to get my breath back and for my muscles to feel fresh again. I do not time recoveries, since starting an interval before full recovery would slow down my next interval. As soon as my legs start to feel heavy, I stop the interval workout and start my short, slow cool down.

I am riding about 125 miles a week (30-mile fast group ride three times a week plus about 12 miles of warm up and intervals three times a week). My 30-mile rides are fast, but not flat out, and depend on how I feel. Of course I go slower on some days. I do 21 to 24 fifty-pedal-stroke intervals on my average interval workout, which takes about 40 minutes. I always stop my interval workout when my legs start to feel heavy. I am usually forced to take off or go very slow at least one or two days a week.

Rules to Prevent Wear-and-Tear Injuries
• When you are training or exercising properly, your muscles are likely to feel sore almost every morning when you get up. If you warm up for a workout and your muscles don’t feel fresh after 10 minutes, take the day off or go very slow, no matter what kind of workout you have planned for that day.
• Wear-and-tear injuries don’t just happen; they give you plenty of warning. If you feel soreness or pain in one area that worsens as you continue to exercise, or doesn’t go away when you slow down, stop your workout immediately. You are headed for an injury.
• Wear-and-tear injuries are usually not symmetrical. One side of your body will feel far more uncomfortable than the other. Stop your workout if you feel localized tenderness in one muscle group and you do not feel the same discomfort in the same muscle group on the other side of your body.
• Stop your intense workouts immediately when your legs start to feel heavy or hurt.
• You recover faster from a workout by eating food and drinking fluids as soon as you finish, and getting off your feet as much as possible. You recover faster by lying down instead of sitting, and sitting instead of standing. Eat lots of food soon after you finish an intense workout and then take a nap.

Caution: People who have narrowed arteries leading to the heart can suffer heart attacks when they exercise intensely. All vigorous exercisers must learn when to back off of training because not allowing enough time to recover from hard exercise can damage your heart muscle as well as your skeletal muscles. Check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program or making a sudden change in the intensity of your existing program.

NOV 3

The Top 15 Reasons Why You Should Train With Kettlebells

1. Kettlebell Training Amplifies Your Power Output.

This may be my favorite reason to train with kettlebells! Since classic kettlebell lifts such as the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk cannot be performed slowly, they develop a special quality known as power-endurance, or your ability to produce movements over an extended period of time. This differs from strength-endurance. Strength- endurance is your ability to produce force over an extended period of time. Power-endurance adds another time component; power-endurance is your ability to sustain fast muscular contractions over an extended period of time. While both strength-endurance and power-endurance are essential qualities to possess, power-endurance is usually what determines who the winner is in sport. Power-endurance training is also an excellent way to training for fat loss and conditioning.

2. Kettlebell Training Teaches Your Body How To Contend With A Constantly Changing Center Of Gravity.

By design, the kettlebell’s center of gravity lays 6- 8 inches outside of your grip; this replicates the forces that you’ll encounter in sport and activities in daily living. This feature of the kettlebell will help improve this aspect of sports performance.

3. Kettlebell Training Builds Powerful Forearms And A Strong Grip.

Kettlebells possess a thicker handle than their barbell and dumbbell counterparts taxing your grip and developing greater forearm strength. As our society continues to move away from manual labor our grip strength continues to decrease as well. Kettlebell training will help reverse this trend. The design of the kettlebell also adds another unique component to your grip training. Since the kettlebell’s center of gravity is usually in motion your grip training becomes a combination of dynamic and static muscular contractions in an attempt to control that fluctuating center of mass.

4. Kettlebell Training Improves Your Cardio – Respiratory Fitness.

Since many kettlebell exercises take place with your arms in an overhead position the muscles responsible for assisting the breathing process are engaged in muscular activity, not allowing them to assist in the respiratory process. This forces the muscles most responsible for breathing to play an even larger role in cardio-vascular fitness.

5. Kettlebell Training Eliminates The Need For A Large Training Facility.

The fitness industry is undergoing a change in thought and design…“Small is thenew big…” Smaller, more focused fitness and sport training facilities increase in number daily and are much more profitable than larger, less personal studios. This makes kettlebell training ideal for small facilities. Kettlebells possess a very small footprint, meaning that they take up very little floor space. Kettlebells don’t require expensive racks; they can be stored in the corner or underneath other equipment.

6. Kettlebell Training Allows You To Reduce Overall Training Time.

This allows you to devote your attention to other issues such as strategy, skill, rest and recovery. We all know how time-crunched everyone is today. A quick yet effective workout is the order of the day and kettlebell training delivers.

7. Kettlebell Training Bridges The Gap Between Strength Training And Cardio.

8. Kettlebell Training Allows You To Never Miss Your Workout.

9. They’ll help you get a celebrity body

Worried these weights will make your body look like one of the Russian bodybuilders who originally started working with them? Svelte and strong fans of kettlebell workouts include Jessica Biel, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Aniston, Penelope Cruz, Kim Cattrall, and Kim Basinger.

10. You’ll have an easier time performing daily activities

Working out with a kettlebell is the definition of what fitness pros call a “functional” workout. That means it works your muscles in the same way as when you do everyday activities, like picking up a toddler, carrying your laptop bag, hoisting a gallon of milk, or lugging a heavy grocery bag. If swinging a weight around instead of holding it in your hand like a dumbbell seems intimidating, think of it like a heavier version of your purse, which carries the weight on the end of its strap, says Kleidman. We bet your purse or work bag will feel a lot lighter after a few kettlebell sessions anyway!

11. You’ll fire up more muscles

One of the biggest mistakes novices make with kettlebell training is not taking a session or two with a certified trainer. The trainer can help you to learn proper form as well as be more creative with the movements, says Kleidman. Sure, you can hold the weight in front of your chest as you do squats or lunges or use it to do arm curls, but if that’s all you do, you’ll be missing out on all the incredible three-dimensional movements it’s made for—and the effects those exercises can have on your body.

One major difference between traditional weights and kettlebells is that while you try to avoid “cheating” by using momentum in everyday dumbbell moves, kettlebells are all about creating—and controlling—momentum. By swinging the bell in different patterns, and then controlling the momentum to change directions, you tap into big powerhouse muscles (like your legs and butt) and smaller stability muscles (like your abs) throughout the workout. If you’re looking for inspiration and instruction, book a couple of sessions with a qualified instructor or buy a kettlebell workout book or DVD. Make sure you start off with a total-body warm-up. Getting the blood flowing to your muscles is essential for any workout, but more than ever when you’re swinging an iron ball around. Kleidman recommends going beyond walking or jogging to get your cardiovascular system and your muscles and joints loosened up. She recommends doing some shoulder rolls, squats, lunges, plank holds or push-ups (on knees, if necessary), and jumping jacks before starting the kettlebell portion of your workout.

12. You’ll lose more weight in less time

Kettlebell workouts can tighten and tone your whole body, but the dynamic all-muscles-on-deck movements also burn a heck of a lot of calories—on par with running a 6-minute mile, according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin‚ La Crosse, who evaluated the energy output of a typical kettlebell session. In their tests, exercisers burned about 20 calories a minute, or 400 in a 20-minute session.

13. You’ll realize you’re stronger than you thought

You might have never reached for a dumbbell heavier than 5 pounds before, but Kleidman suggests women start with a 15-pounder and a 25- to 30-pounder when you switch to kettlebells. You’ll want to use the heavier weight when the power is coming from your legs (like with the swing, once you get the hang of it) and the lighter weight during a move where your arms are emphasized, such as presses or a halo movement around your head. When you’re combining momentum with the strength of multiple muscle groups, you can lift more weight than you think you can. After all, you probably wouldn’t think twice before picking up a 40-pound toddler.

MORE: Why You Should Use Heavier Weights

14. Your posture will improve

Using so many muscle groups in conjunction means your core has to stay engaged 360 degrees to stabilize each and every movement. Good form is essential in kettlebell workouts, so stop and rest if you feel like yours is deteriorating. The number one thing to keep in mind is that the whole structure of your back and abs should unconsciously stay straight, as though you’re wearing a stiff corset. Any forward bending you do should come from your hips or the crease at the top of your leg, rather than from an arched back. Signals that you need to stop your workout include feeling like you can’t hold onto the kettlebell securely (hint: skip the hand lotion pre-workout) or your arm shaking excessively in an over-the-head position.

15. You’ll boost your rear in one move

The kettlebell swing is the foundation for many other kettlebell exercises, and it simultaneously firms your butt and your abs. Here’s how to do it: Standing with your feet hip-width apart, your hips and knees slightly bent, and your back and arms straight, pick up the kettlebell by the handle with both hands, knuckles facing forward. Hinge forward from the hips and swing the bell back between your legs, then exhale, straighten your legs, and pop your hips and pelvis forward to propel the kettlebell upward to about chest height (that’s the butt-toning part). As you lower the kettlebell, your abs will contract—like a built-in crunch. Continue with one fluid movement as you lower back to the start and repeat. (It’s okay to start with smaller swings to build the momentum until you get the hang of the movement and can swing it to chest height.) Once you’re comfortable with the movement, try to swing the kettlebell with one hand, alternating hands with each rep (both hands come to the handle on the upswing, and one releases as you swing down).

OCT 28

Tips for your first endurance obstacle course even

Over the last few years, obstacle course races and events have become incredibly popular all over the globe. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, make the decision to push themselves out of their comfort zones, to sign up for an obstacle endurance event, and to attempt to get into the best shape they can possibly be in. Endurance obstacle courses are fun, they are rewarding, but they are also very tough, some more so than others. In order to get yourself as fully prepared, both physically and mentally, you must ensure you know what you are signing up for, you must ensure you take your training seriously, and you must be prepared to push yourself out of your comfort zone when needed. Up and down the country there will be obstacle course veterans who are in sickeningly good shape who make the events look easy, but the thing you need to remember is that, once upon a time, they too were novices and they too will have been nervous about their first event. To ensure you have fun, perform well, and remain safe, here are some tips for your first endurance obstacle course event.

Treat training as if it was the real thing

Train in soaking wet clothes

Mix up your cardio

Don’t forget to rest

Carb load

Have fun

TREAT TRAINING AS IF IT WAS THE REAL THING

Before you even consider signing up for an endurance obstacle course, you must ensure you are willing to put the hard work in during your training sessions. Endurance obstacle courses require strength, stamina, endurance, flexibility, mental toughness, and much more besides. Because of this, you must make sure you put the hard work in when you are training. Training for the event should begin several months out, and you must ensure you mix things up. Going out for a leisurely jog, and perhaps breaking out a few push ups here and there just won’t cut it. When you train, you should approach each session as if it was the real thing. This means you should give each session your all and work as hard as you possibly can. When running, when you get tired, though it may be tempting to stop and walk until you catch your breath, you should push on and keep going. On the day of the event, you will be in competition with hundreds of other people, so unless you will be stopping and walking during the race, don’t stop and walk when training.

TRAIN IN SOAKING WET CLOTHES

The next time you plan on going for a long run through the countryside to help you get in shape for the race, soak yourself with cold water before setting off. To some people this may sound like hell, but that is exactly what’s going to happen on the day. These events are filled with water traps, mud, dirt, slime, and much more besides. This means that you are going to have to complete the event whilst soaking wet, freezing cold, and covered in dirt and mud. To help get you physically and mentally prepared for this, train in cold wet clothes. This will help give you a feel for what it is going to be like on the day, plus it will help you kick things up a gear because training in heavy wet clothes will be a great deal tougher than thin and dry clothing. It may be extreme, but it will help you no end when race day finally comes around.

MIX UP YOUR CARDIO

When training for endurance obstacle courses, a lot of people will simply go on long runs several times per week, or will perhaps simply hop on a treadmill or exercise bike in the gym. Whilst any form of cardio will be beneficial, to ensure you are fully prepared for the race that awaits you, you should mix up your cardio and try different things. One week you should try slow and steady endurance based cardio, whereas the next you could try HIIT cardio instead, and try things like hill sprints. This is because you will perform different types of cardio on the day. When you make your way around the course, you won’t be sprinting flat out because that would tire you out. At the end however, with the finish line in sight, you may be racing other people, so to help improve your score, you may wish to sprint as quickly as you can. Not only should your training involve different speeds and different intensities, you should also try different methods. You could try HIIT, walking, hiking, cycling, swimming, or anything else for that matter. The more forms of cardio you can incorporate into your training, the better.

DON’T FORGET TO REST

Though you will need to train consistently in the run up to the event, you must also ensure that you are getting plenty of rest as well. Rest will help your muscles to recover and will help ensure that your energy levels don’t plummet before the big day. Ideally you should take at least two full rest days each week in the lead up to the race, plus you must make sure you are getting plenty of sleep each night.

CARB LOAD

Before endurance events, people often perform a practice known as ‘carb loading’. This is where they consume large quantities of carbohydrates, for the purpose of replenishing and stocking up their glycogen stores in the muscles. Basically, carb loading is like filling up a vehicle with fuel before a long journey. The night before your event, you get to enjoy foods such as pasta, rice, noodles, sweet potatoes, whole grains, and so on. Never carb load on the morning of race day because it will weigh you down and leave you feeling too full and bloated. Instead, a moderate carb, high protein, high healthy fat breakfast such as avocado, smoked salmon, and poached egg on wholegrain toast, will work best.

HAVE FUN

Nothing more to say here, other than to have fun and enjoy yourself. It will be tough, but you must enjoy what you are doing and try not to take things too seriously, even if you are competitive.

Irregular Heartbeats in Senior Athletes and Exerciser

Virtually all doctors agree that exercise helps to keep you healthy and to prolong your life. People who exercise into later life live longer than non-exercisers and are at reduced risk for high blood pressure, heart attacks, premature death, diabetes, strokes and even some cancers. Endurance bicycle racers who participated in the Tour de France from 1947 to 2012 live an average of five years longer than their countrymen (European Heart Journal, 2013, 34 (40):3145-3150). Fit people are less likely to suffer a particular form of irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation, and a regular exercise program reduces a person’s chances of developing atrial fibrillation (Circulation, April 22, 2015). More than 36,000 middle-aged women were followed for 10 years, and those who exercised regularly were far less likely to develop atrial fibrillation (Heart, .

However, extreme endurance exercisers such as bicycle racers, cross country skiers and long-distance runners who compete into their 40s and beyond may be at increased risk for atrial fibrillation (American Journal of Cardiology, October 15, 2014;114(8):1229–1233). The incidence of atrial fibrillation appears to be more common in older athletes than in the general population (J Am Coll Cardiol, 2005;46:690–6). Recent articles in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and other popular media have suggested that athletes who continue to do extensive fast mileage or train for extreme endurance events in later life may be doing more harm than good. I feel that these articles have caused a tremendous amount of harm in the exercising community.

What is Atrial Fibrillation?
Each heartbeat starts when a “battery” in the upper heart (atrium) sends an electrical impulse through the upper heart to make it contract to squeeze blood toward the lower heart (ventricle). Then the electrical impulse reaches another “battery” in the lower heart to make the lower heart squeeze blood forward. Atrial fibrillation means that the upper heart quivers and does not push blood forward, while the lower heart beats independently.

Some people with atrial fibrillation have no symptoms and do not know that they have this condition until it is discovered during a routine physical examination. Symptoms may include:
• Palpitations (a feeling that the heartbeat is racing, uncomfortable, or irregular)
• Muscle weakness
• Reduced ability to exercise
• Fatigue
• Lightheadedness
• Dizziness
• Confusion
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain
These symptoms are usually harmless, but on rare occasions an irregular heartbeat can cause sudden death by stopping the heart from pushing blood through your body.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common irregular heartbeat. It occurs in 1.5 to 2 percent of the general population and risk increases with age. It affects 10 percent of 75-year-olds and 20 percent of those over 85, because aging increases the risk factors for atrial fibrillation such as blocked arteries, high blood pressure or diabetes.

How Atrial Fibrillation Can Harm You
When a person has an upper (atrial) heart that is fluttering, a clot can collect there and pass to the brain to cause a stroke, or to the lungs to block blood flow through the lungs. This is so dangerous that most doctors prescribe anti-clotting agents to everyone with atrial fibrillation. I believe that athletes with atrial fibrillation are far less likely to suffer clots that cause strokes than non-athletes with atrial fibrillation, but I have not seen any studies to support my belief. Healthy athletes can have occasional irregular heartbeats that will not harm them, but at this time, doctors treat atrial fibrillation in athletes the same way they treat their other patients.

Extreme Exercise May increase Atrial Fibrillation Risk
Two studies raised the concern about extreme amounts of exercise in older athletes. In the first study, 29 elite athletes were given MRIs to look for heart muscle scarring that increases risk of atrial fibrillation. They were Olympic or national team runners and rowers who had competed throughout their lives, including some who had completed more than 100 marathons. In the older group of 12 athletes ages 50 to 67, half showed some heart muscle scarring (J Appl Physiol, June 2011;110(6):1622-6). Those who had trained the longest and hardest had the most scarring. None of the 17 younger athletes (20-42) or the control group of 20 older non-athletes showed this heart muscle scarring.

In the second study, on rats, a 16-week program of daily one-hour treadmill running caused widening of the upper part of their hearts and scarring in the heart muscle that could increase risk for irregular heartbeats (J Am Coll Cardiol, July 2013;62(1):68-77). The scars in the upper heart remained after the rats stopped exercising.

Risk Factors for Atrial Fibrillation
• High blood pressure is the most significant risk factor for atrial fibrillation (Hypertension, 2012 Feb;59(2):198-204). Blood pressures greater than 140/90 significantly increased risk (J Am Soc Hypertens, 2015 Mar;9(3):191-6).
• Diabetes
• Overweight (J Am Coll Cardiol, Jul 7, 2015). A program getting people to reduce their excess body weight markedly reduced symptoms in patients who already had atrial fibrillation (JAMA, 2013;310(19):2050-206).
• Alcohol
• Smoking
• An over-active thyroid
• A very low heart rate, below 50 beats per minute (Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol, 2013, Aug;6(4):726-31).
• Abnormal coronary artery calcium score, even with no heart symptoms (Am J Cardiol
, 2014 Dec 1;114(11):1707-12). This test can be ordered by any doctor.
• Lack of exercise. Exercise helps to prevent atrial fibrillation; fit men had a 23 percent lower susceptibility for atrial fibrillation (Am J Cardiol, 2012 Aug 1;110(3):425-32).
• Aging. The older you are, the more likely you are to suffer atrial fibrillation. Walking or cycling is associated with a decreased risk in older people (Heart, 2014 Jul;100(13):1037-42).
• Possibly extreme ultra-endurance exercise.

My Recommendations
Exercise reduces the chances of a person developing atrial fibrillation. Nobody has shown that exercise in itself causes atrial fibrillation, and it is only extreme ultra-endurance exercise that some doctors believe may increase risk for atrial fibrillation. I think that nutrition, exposure to pollutants and other lifestyle factors are also important. I do not believe that just exercising will give you adequate protection from heart disease. To protect your heart, you should follow all of the rules that apply to everyone whether you compete in ultra-endurance events, exercise moderately or just sit on a couch.
• eat lots of fruits and vegetables
• severely restrict sugar-added foods and drinks
• restrict red meat and fried foods
• avoid smoking, second-hand smoke and third-hand smoke
• restrict alcohol
• avoid overweight
• exercise

However, some doctors disagree with me. Even if you are healthy and do not have any heart problems, your doctor may recommend that you avoid strenuous workouts. If you have atrial fibrillation or other heart problems, some doctors will even tell you to stop exercising altogether. After all, on rare occasions irregular heartbeats can kill you. If you already suffer from atrial fibrillation, or you already have blocked arteries leading to your heart, you have to depend on your doctor’s advice.

One Senior Athlete’s Exercise Program
I am 83 years old and do not have atrial fibrillation or known heart disease. I race with others 20 to 30 miles on my bike three times a week and know that I have to back off when my leg muscles start to feel stiff and heavy. I race for the sheer pleasure of riding fast. There are no trophies or financial rewards. On my other four days, I try to do controlled 50-pedal-stroke intervals until my legs feel heavy or hurt.

For most of my life, first as a marathon runner and then as a cyclist, I had exercise-induced injuries all the time. It took me more than 70 years to learn when to go slow and when to take a day off. Most mornings, my leg muscles feel heavy and ache from my previous day’s work out. If my legs do not feel better after riding my bike for 10 minutes, I take the day off or ride very slowly. I do not ever plan to do slow junk miles and I do not care how few miles I put down in my diary. I usually have to take off one day a week and go slowly one day a week. I also follow all of the rules I have listed for a healthful lifestyle.

OCT 22

Irregular Heartbeats in Senior Athletes and Exercisers

  August 9, 2015  144  

Virtually all doctors agree that exercise helps to keep you healthy and to prolong your life. People who exercise into later life live longer than non-exercisers and are at reduced risk for high blood pressure, heart attacks, premature death, diabetes, strokes and even some cancers. Endurance bicycle racers who participated in the Tour de France from 1947 to 2012 live an average of five years longer than their countrymen (European Heart Journal, 2013, 34 (40):3145-3150). Fit people are less likely to suffer a particular form of irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation, and a regular exercise program reduces a person’s chances of developing atrial fibrillation (Circulation, April 22, 2015). More than 36,000 middle-aged women were followed for 10 years, and those who exercised regularly were far less likely to develop atrial fibrillation (Heart,

However, extreme endurance exercisers such as bicycle racers, cross country skiers and long-distance runners who compete into their 40s and beyond may be at increased risk for atrial fibrillation (American Journal of Cardiology, October 15, 2014;114(8):1229–1233). The incidence of atrial fibrillation appears to be more common in older athletes than in the general population (J Am Coll Cardiol, 2005;46:690–6). Recent articles in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and other popular media have suggested that athletes who continue to do extensive fast mileage or train for extreme endurance events in later life may be doing more harm than good. I feel that these articles have caused a tremendous amount of harm in the exercising community.

What is Atrial Fibrillation?
Each heartbeat starts when a “battery” in the upper heart (atrium) sends an electrical impulse through the upper heart to make it contract to squeeze blood toward the lower heart (ventricle). Then the electrical impulse reaches another “battery” in the lower heart to make the lower heart squeeze blood forward. Atrial fibrillation means that the upper heart quivers and does not push blood forward, while the lower heart beats independently.

Some people with atrial fibrillation have no symptoms and do not know that they have this condition until it is discovered during a routine physical examination. Symptoms may include:
• Palpitations (a feeling that the heartbeat is racing, uncomfortable, or irregular)
• Muscle weakness
• Reduced ability to exercise
• Fatigue
• Lightheadedness
• Dizziness
• Confusion
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain
These symptoms are usually harmless, but on rare occasions an irregular heartbeat can cause sudden death by stopping the heart from pushing blood through your body.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common irregular heartbeat. It occurs in 1.5 to 2 percent of the general population and risk increases with age. It affects 10 percent of 75-year-olds and 20 percent of those over 85, because aging increases the risk factors for atrial fibrillation such as blocked arteries, high blood pressure or diabetes.

How Atrial Fibrillation Can Harm You
When a person has an upper (atrial) heart that is fluttering, a clot can collect there and pass to the brain to cause a stroke, or to the lungs to block blood flow through the lungs. This is so dangerous that most doctors prescribe anti-clotting agents to everyone with atrial fibrillation. I believe that athletes with atrial fibrillation are far less likely to suffer clots that cause strokes than non-athletes with atrial fibrillation, but I have not seen any studies to support my belief. Healthy athletes can have occasional irregular heartbeats that will not harm them, but at this time, doctors treat atrial fibrillation in athletes the same way they treat their other patients.

Extreme Exercise May increase Atrial Fibrillation Risk
Two studies raised the concern about extreme amounts of exercise in older athletes. In the first study, 29 elite athletes were given MRIs to look for heart muscle scarring that increases risk of atrial fibrillation. They were Olympic or national team runners and rowers who had competed throughout their lives, including some who had completed more than 100 marathons. In the older group of 12 athletes ages 50 to 67, half showed some heart muscle scarring (J Appl Physiol, June 2011;110(6):1622-6). Those who had trained the longest and hardest had the most scarring. None of the 17 younger athletes (20-42) or the control group of 20 older non-athletes showed this heart muscle scarring.

In the second study, on rats, a 16-week program of daily one-hour treadmill running caused widening of the upper part of their hearts and scarring in the heart muscle that could increase risk for irregular heartbeats (J Am Coll Cardiol, July 2013;62(1):68-77). The scars in the upper heart remained after the rats stopped exercising.

Risk Factors for Atrial Fibrillation
• High blood pressure is the most significant risk factor for atrial fibrillation (Hypertension, 2012 Feb;59(2):198-204). Blood pressures greater than 140/90 significantly increased risk (J Am Soc Hypertens, 2015 Mar;9(3):191-6).
• Diabetes
• Overweight (J Am Coll Cardiol, Jul 7, 2015). A program getting people to reduce their excess body weight markedly reduced symptoms in patients who already had atrial fibrillation (JAMA, 2013;310(19):2050-206).
• Alcohol
• Smoking
• An over-active thyroid
• A very low heart rate, below 50 beats per minute (Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol, 2013, Aug;6(4):726-31).
• Abnormal coronary artery calcium score, even with no heart symptoms (Am J Cardiol
, 2014 Dec 1;114(11):1707-12). This test can be ordered by any doctor.
• Lack of exercise. Exercise helps to prevent atrial fibrillation; fit men had a 23 percent lower susceptibility for atrial fibrillation (Am J Cardiol, 2012 Aug 1;110(3):425-32).
• Aging. The older you are, the more likely you are to suffer atrial fibrillation. Walking or cycling is associated with a decreased risk in older people (Heart, 2014 Jul;100(13):1037-42).
• Possibly extreme ultra-endurance exercise.

My Recommendations
Exercise reduces the chances of a person developing atrial fibrillation. Nobody has shown that exercise in itself causes atrial fibrillation, and it is only extreme ultra-endurance exercise that some doctors believe may increase risk for atrial fibrillation. I think that nutrition, exposure to pollutants and other lifestyle factors are also important. I do not believe that just exercising will give you adequate protection from heart disease. To protect your heart, you should follow all of the rules that apply to everyone whether you compete in ultra-endurance events, exercise moderately or just sit on a couch.
• eat lots of fruits and vegetables
• severely restrict sugar-added foods and drinks
• restrict red meat and fried foods
• avoid smoking, second-hand smoke and third-hand smoke
• restrict alcohol
• avoid overweight
• exercise

However, some doctors disagree with me. Even if you are healthy and do not have any heart problems, your doctor may recommend that you avoid strenuous workouts. If you have atrial fibrillation or other heart problems, some doctors will even tell you to stop exercising altogether. After all, on rare occasions irregular heartbeats can kill you. If you already suffer from atrial fibrillation, or you already have blocked arteries leading to your heart, you have to depend on your doctor’s advice.

One Senior Athlete’s Exercise Program
I am 83 years old and do not have atrial fibrillation or known heart disease. I race with others 20 to 30 miles on my bike three times a week and know that I have to back off when my leg muscles start to feel stiff and heavy. I race for the sheer pleasure of riding fast. There are no trophies or financial rewards. On my other four days, I try to do controlled 50-pedal-stroke intervals until my legs feel heavy or hurt.

For most of my life, first as a marathon runner and then as a cyclist, I had exercise-induced injuries all the time. It took me more than 70 years to learn when to go slow and when to take a day off. Most mornings, my leg muscles feel heavy and ache from my previous day’s work out. If my legs do not feel better after riding my bike for 10 minutes, I take the day off or ride very slowly. I do not ever plan to do slow junk miles and I do not care how few miles I put down in my diary. I usually have to take off one day a week and go slowly one day a week. I also follow all of the rules I have listed for a healthful lifestyle.

OCT 18

Listen to Your Body

  

The best way to achieve a high level of fitness without injuring yourself is to listen to your body. Don’t depend on heart rate monitors, fitness trackers or other gadgets. The most sophisticated fitness tracker and injury-avoider is your brain. Training to achieve a high level of fitness and to prevent diseases usually involves intense exercise, and most exercise injuries are caused by continuing to exercise intensely when your body tells you to slow down, stop exercising, or take the day off.

You Don’t Need Electronic Devices to Track Exercise
You can buy clever gadgets to monitor your heart rate, blood lactic acid, carbon dioxide, sugar and oxygen levels, speed or cadence, number of steps or breaths or arm motions that you take, stride length, and so forth. However, these devices cannot tell you whether you are exercising intensely enough to gain your maximum improvement in ability to take in and use oxygen or to damage your muscles enough for maximum strength gain. Only your brain can tell you:
• whether you are at your maximum,
• when you need to slow down because you are exhausted, or
• if you need to stop because you are about to injure yourself.
Fitness gadgets can help to motivate you and can be fun to use, but do not count on them to tell you how intensely you should exercise or when you are at the edge of an injury.

Your Brain Talks to You
Your brain can tell you when you are tired, short of breath and your muscles hurt. All you have to do is to ask yourself, “How do I feel?” Researchers can measure signs of fatigue such as lactate levels, VO2max, heart rate, heart-rate variability, rapid morning heart rate, recovery heart rate, hormone levels, red cell counts, your immune system’s activity (white blood cells, interleukins, inflammation), muscle damage, blood pressure, and much more. But in the real world for athletes and regular exercisers, all you need to do is listen to your body.
For example, the test called VO2max measures the maximum amount of oxygen you can take in and use over time, which is the major limiting factor to how fast you can move. However, you do not need to monitor VO2max with a machine; you can increase VO2max just by exercising intensely enough to become short of breath.

Stress and Recover
Almost all competitive athletes use the training principal of “stress and recover”:
• On one day they take an intense workout to damage their muscles.
• On the next day they feel sore and go less intensely to allow their muscles to heal.
• Then when their muscles feel fresh again, they take their next intense workout.

Running causes tremendous muscle damage, so runners usually run very fast only two or three times a week, run long once a week and have three to five slower recovery days, even if they are working out twice a day. Competitive swimmers are different. The water seems to protect their muscles so they usually try to take one hard and one easy workout every day. Pedaling causes less muscle damage than running, so bicycle racers do some fast riding on most days, and have to learn when to slow down.

How Does This 84-Year-Old Bicycle Rider Train?
I spent my entire competitive running career (from 1954 to 1989) injured because I competed with my training log in the mistaken belief that the runner who does the most miles is the best. Of course, that is ridiculous. It took me 35 years to learn when to take days off. Today, I am no longer a runner. Bicycle riding is done in a smooth rotary motion with no road shock, so cyclists can stress their legs almost every day.

Diana and I ride very fast in a tandem bicycle group of couples in their 40s to 80s. We usually ride about 30 miles on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. After these hard rides, my legs are always sore when I get up the next day. I take a very slow 10-minute warm up. If my legs still feel tired or stiff or I have localized pain after the warm up, I take the day off. If my legs feel fresh after the warm up, I take an easy ride for an hour or so. If I feel really fresh, I do a series of standing 50-pedal-stroke intervals fast enough to make me short of breath each time, followed by a slow recovery for as long it takes to get my breath back and for my muscles to feel fresh again. I do not time recoveries, since starting an interval before full recovery would slow down my next interval. As soon as my legs start to feel heavy, I stop the interval workout and start my short, slow cool down.

I am riding about 125 miles a week (30-mile fast group ride three times a week plus about 12 miles of warm up and intervals three times a week). My 30-mile rides are fast, but not flat out, and depend on how I feel. Of course I go slower on some days. I do 21 to 24 fifty-pedal-stroke intervals on my average interval workout, which takes about 40 minutes. I always stop my interval workout when my legs start to feel heavy. I am usually forced to take off or go very slow at least one or two days a week.

Rules to Prevent Wear-and-Tear Injuries
• When you are training or exercising properly, your muscles are likely to feel sore almost every morning when you get up. If you warm up for a workout and your muscles don’t feel fresh after 10 minutes, take the day off or go very slow, no matter what kind of workout you have planned for that day.
• Wear-and-tear injuries don’t just happen; they give you plenty of warning. If you feel soreness or pain in one area that worsens as you continue to exercise, or doesn’t go away when you slow down, stop your workout immediately. You are headed for an injury.
• Wear-and-tear injuries are usually not symmetrical. One side of your body will feel far more uncomfortable than the other. Stop your workout if you feel localized tenderness in one muscle group and you do not feel the same discomfort in the same muscle group on the other side of your body.
• Stop your intense workouts immediately when your legs start to feel heavy or hurt.
• You recover faster from a workout by eating food and drinking fluids as soon as you finish, and getting off your feet as much as possible. You recover faster by lying down instead of sitting, and sitting instead of standing. Eat lots of food soon after you finish an intense workout and then take a nap.

Caution: People who have narrowed arteries leading to the heart can suffer heart attacks when they exercise intensely. All vigorous exercisers must learn when to back off of training because not allowing enough time to recover from hard exercise can damage your heart muscle as well as your skeletal muscles. Check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program or making a sudden change in the intensity of your existing program.

OCT 15

Cooling Down After Intense Exercise

  October 15

“Cooling down” means that after you exercise intensely, you slow down and exercise at low intensity for a while before you stop exercising for that session. The scientific literature is controversial on whether cooling down helps to reduce next-day muscle soreness to help muscles to recover faster. I believe that cooling down may help you to heal faster from muscle soreness after intense exercise, which allows you to recover faster from intense workouts. There is some evidence that cooling down augments your immune system response to help muscles fibers heal faster from the Z-line damage caused by hard exercise (Sports Med, July 2018;48(7):1575-1595; Nat Rev Immunol, 2011;11:607-615).

You can tell you are damaging muscles when you exercise vigorously enough to feel burning during exercise and when you get soreness in those muscles that develops 8-24 hours later (Strength & Conditioning Journal, October 2013;35(5):16-21). This is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). The old explanation that cooling down helps muscles recover faster by ridding them of lactic acid does not adequately explain any improvement in recovery time after intense exercise. Lactic acid build-up from intense exercise lasts, at most, for only a few minutes even if you do not cool down. Muscle soreness that starts more than four hours after stopping exercise is not caused by lactic acid accumulating in muscles; it is caused by damage in the muscle fibers.

Cooling Down May Help You Recover Faster
Many coaches and athletes believe that cooling down helps muscles heal so the athlete can resume intense workouts sooner and thus become a stronger athlete. However, there is conflicting scientific evidence whether cooling down helps to prevent DOMS. There is some evidence that cooling down does help to relieve DOMS three days after intense exercise (J Strength Cond Res, Oct, 2012;26(10):2777-82), but smaller studies on non-competing athletes fail to show that cooling down reduces next-day muscle soreness (J Hum Kinet, Dec 2012;35:59-68; Aust J Physiother, 2007;53(2):91-5), or helps athletes to recover faster (J Hum Kinet, Mar 2012;31:121-9). There is data to show that cooling down reduced pain when pressure was applied to muscles with DOMS 48 hours after intense exercise, more so than on the muscles of those who did not cool down (J of Human kinetics, Jan 26, 2013;35(1):59-68). A recent review of the scientific literature concluded that cooling down does not enhance same-day or next-day sports performance, even though it may help to clear lactic acid in blood faster, but cooling down may partially prevent immune system depression and promote faster recovery of the heart and lungs (Sports Med, Jul 2018;48(7):1575-1595).

Known Benefits of Cooling Down
• Cooling down can help to keep you from feeling dizzy or passing out after very vigorous exercise (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Sept 1994;26(9):1095-1101). Most people who pass out in races do so after they stop running suddenly at the finish line. In one study, all of the runners who collapsed had an excessive drop in blood pressure when they went from lying to standing, and the few cases of collapse away from the finish line were far more serious and were often caused by diseases such as asthma, heart damage or heat stroke (Physician and Sportsmedicine, 2003;31(3):23-29).
• Cooling down can help to clear lactic acid and relieve oxygen debt after intense running (J of Applied Physiol, Nov 6, 1966;21(6):1767-1772).
Cooling down has NOT been shown to improve fitness level, make you stronger (J Strength Cond Res, Nov 2012;26(11):3081-8), or to prevent injuries.

My Recommendations for Recovery After an Intense Workout
• Before every intense workout, warm up by going slowly until your muscles feel fresh.
• After every intense workout, do a prolonged cool-down of at least 10 minutes at an easy pace (Sports Science Exchange, 87:15, 2002; J Sports Sci Med, 2004 Sep; 3(3):131-138).
• Drink fluids for a faster recovery (Journal of Sports Sciences, January 2004).
• Add salt on hot days, if your muscles feel excessively fatigued or if you develop cramps (Can J Appl Physiol, 2001;26 Suppl:S236-45).
• Eat as soon as you finish your intense workout (J Sports Sci Med, 2004 Sep; 3(3): 131–138). It doesn’t matter what you eat in your post-intense-workout meal, as long as it contains lots of protein and carbohydrates (Am J Clin Nutr, Jan 2017; Med Sci Sports Exerc, Oct 2008;40(10):1789-94). In one study, fast foods such as French fries, hash browns and hamburgers helped athletes recover just as quickly from hard workouts as sports nutrition products such as Gatorade, PowerBars and Clif Bars (International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, March 26, 2015).
• After each intense workout, get off your feet and do as little walking as possible.
• Try to sleep within a few hours after your intense workout as you may recover faster by sleeping than remaining awake (South African J Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation, Jan 2012;34(1):167 – 184). Loss of sleep can impair exercise performance (European Journal of Applied Physiology, April 2017;117(4):699-712).
• Do not take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve muscle soreness. NSAIDs can block gains in strength and endurance (PNAS, June 27, 2017;114(26):6675-6684; Med & Sci in Sports & Ex, April 2017;49(4):633-640).

Avoiding Overtraining Exercising too much can affect your brain as well as your muscles. Athletes and dedicated exercisers often suffer from an overtraining syndrome in which their performance drops, their muscles feel sore and they are tired all the time. In a new study, elite athletes were instructed to overtrain for three out of nine weeks, and were then compared to a group who did a normal nine-week training program (Current Biology, September 26, 2019). Not only did the overtrained athletes perform worse on endurance tests, their brains were affected as well as their muscles and other body functions. The overworked athletes suffered from mental symptoms including depression, irritability, restlessness, insomnia, and loss of appetite. They also made poor decisions in special tests such as choosing meager immediate personal rewards over more substantial delayed rewards (i.e., taking $10 now rather than $50 in six months). MRIs of their brains showed markedly reduced activity of the lateral prefrontal cortex, a key region in which a person makes important personal decisions. This study agrees with a previous study that used MRIs and tests to show that overworked office workers made poorer decisions and had reduced activity of the lateral frontal cortex of their brains (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2016; 113: 6967-6972).

Signs of Overtraining
A regular exercise program is supposed to make you feel good, increase your energy level and help to control your weight. You may be exercising too much if you feel:
• tired all the time
• irritable
• unable to sleep
• loss of appetite
• no improvement in your performance over an extended time
• no enjoyment of exercising
You may also have:
• frequent colds
• increased resting heart rate
• reduced maximum heart rate
• persistent muscle soreness
In particular, muscle soreness on one side of your body or localized discomfort in one part of your body are major signs of an impending injury.

My Personal History of Overtraining
Athletes train by stressing and recovering. You make a muscle stronger by stressing that muscle, feeling sore on the next day, and taking easy workouts or days off until the soreness goes away. Then you are supposed to take a hard workout again. If you do not feel muscle soreness on the day after a hard workout, you have not injured your muscles and they will not become stronger. Sometimes your muscles still feel a little sore several days after a hard workout, but you think that you have recovered and are ready to stress your muscles again, so you go ahead and try to run very fast. You start to feel sore all the time, your joints, muscles and tendons ache, and you feel tired. You can still run with the soreness in your muscles and tendons, but the soreness prevents you from running fast. Each succeeding day, the soreness increases and you think that you are sick.

This happened to me when I was training for a marathon, so I ordered tests including a complete blood count, liver tests, BUN, creatinine, urinalysis, and a throat culture, but all the results were normal. I couldn’t run my intervals as fast as usual. I had been able to run 10 quarters in 65 seconds and now I couldn’t get through more than three of them without my muscles feeling very sore. I knew something was wrong, so I asked a friend who was a researcher at a nearby university to test me. He told me that I had impaired anaerobic lactic acid clearance and a reduced time-to-exhaustion in standardized high-intensity endurance exercise tests. My maximum heart rate was 10 beats lower than normal, my lactate levels were lowered during sub-maximal performance, and I had a reduced respiratory exchange ratio during exercise. By now I was quite depressed, so I got further tests and decided I might have a hidden lymphoma, but my complete diagnostic workup was normal. I was stuck with a diagnosis of training too much.

Recovery from Overtraining
When you are suffering from overtraining, you need to go back to background work. These principles apply to any sport. For a runner, jog on the days that you can. Take days off when you feel sore. After several weeks, you are able to start regular jogging and your muscles feel fresh again. When this happens, you are ready to start training, but first you must promise yourself that you will never try to run fast when you feel soreness in your muscles and tendons. Set up a schedule in which you take a hard-fast workout, feel sore on the next day, and then go at an easy pace in your workouts until the soreness has completely disappeared. You may set up a schedule to try to take a hard workout every third or fourth day, but you will skip a hard workout on any day that you feel sore.

Most runners plan to run very fast once a week and long once a week. You recover faster from a hard workout by doing nothing, but jogging slowly on recovery days causes more fibrous tissue to form in your muscles so that they are more resistant to injury. Don’t calculate total miles per week in your diary; that will encourage you to pile up junk miles and prevent you from learning how to run fast. You can run in races only as fast as your fastest workout intervals. Set up a program in which you run very fast on Wednesdays and long and brisk on Sundays, and make all your other workouts easy recovery ones.

Competitive runners usually use interval workouts to increase their speed. When you have recovered from overuse syndrome, you should start with short intervals before you try longer ones. For example, you could start with 110 yard intervals. Mark the track in quarters, using the fifty yard lines and the middle of the goal posts. Alternate running 110 yards fast and comfortably, and jogging 110 yards until your legs start to feel heavy and stiff. When you can run at last 20 repetitions of 110 yards fairly fast, try do repeat 220s, and as the weeks progress, work up to repeat half miles. Don’t try to run through the stiffness or you will take weeks to recover. If your legs are exceptionally sore, take the next day off. If they are not sore, jog easily on the next two or three days.

Use your Sunday workouts to try to gain endurance. Your endurance day should not be as fast as your interval day. Each Sunday, try to work up to where you can run fairly fast for up to two hours. You may have to start out with a long run of only 30 minutes, but be patient. Lack of patience can lead to overtraining syndrome. You should eventually be able to learn how to train without injuring yourself and avoid making the same overtraining mistakes again. 

SEPT 27

ABS TRAINING

SEATED TWIST  .        https://youtu.be/VDvlA5opvuk

DAGON FLAG.            https://youtu.be/kICxJien7xM

HANG LEG RAISES.  https://youtu.be/JB2oyawG9KI

KICK OUTS.                 https://youtu.be/A6Z8p6xZwYg

SIDE BENDS                https://youtu.be/YH_2t6Hh7GQ

CHEST MUSCLES TARGETED WITH PUSH UPS

SEPT 17

Orthotics

People with high arches are at increased risk for foot pain and stress fractures of their bones of their feet because their feet are usually very poor shock absorbers. A report in Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (October 2007) shows that custom orthotics can help. When you run rapidly, your foot hits the ground with a force equal to about three times body weight. This force can break bones and damage muscles, nerves, and tendons. So most people land on the outside bottom of their feet and roll inward. This is called pronation which helps absorb some of the shock of the foot striking the ground. However, pronation can cause pain from stretched ligaments (plantar fasciitis), pulled tendons (tendinitis), or pinched nerves (neuromas). Some people are at high risk for injury because they have very stiff ankles that prevent their feet from rolling in normally. These people usually have normally- formed arches and only appear to have high arches.

Orthotics are special custom arch supports that help to absorb shock and prevent foot pain. To see if orthotics are likely to help you, ask your podiatrist to strap your foot with a special taping procedure called a low-dye strap. If this reduces the pain, you probably will benefit from custom orthotics. If orthotics do not cure your problem, pick another sport with limited foot impact such as cycling, swimming or rowing.

Another study from Northwest Health Science University in Minnesota shows that orthotics can help relieve fatigue and increase endurance in golfers. After six weeks using custom orthotics, the golfers felt that the inserts gave them greater energy and less fatigue when they played golf. The authors attributed the increased endurance to the orthotics, and showed that wearing orthotics increased pelvic rotation by 29 and 36 percent. Pelvic rotation means how far the pelvis rotates to the opposite side when you place one foot forward. Rotating your pelvis allows you to increase your stride length by several inches. Longer strides allow you to take fewer steps, so you do less work and have more energy. You can get custom orthotics from a podiatrist in your area.  

SEPT 13

How Exercise Affects Your Immunity

Most serious exercisers and competitive athletes follow a stress and recover training program and so should you, even if you don’t compete in sports. To make muscles stronger, you need to exercise intensely enough to damage them, and to increase your ability to take in and use oxygen, you need to exercise hard enough to become short of breath. However, several studies show that if you don’t follow your hard workouts with easy ones, you may suppress your immunity to increase risk for developing infections such as colds and increase your chances of injuring yourself.

One study shows that taking intense workouts reduces the immunities of elite soccer players by lowering salivary levels of Immunoglobulin A (IgA), an antibody in your body secretions that prevents germs from entering your tissues and bloodstream (Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, September 2016;30(9):2460–2469). The same reduction in salivary IgA occurred in football players after games (Journal of Sports Sciences, August 2015). It has also been shown in ordinary exercisers (who are not competitive athletes) when they take intense workouts on consecutive days without allowing time for recovery (Frontiers in Physiology, June 28, 2016). IgA is found in tears, saliva, and secretions in your stomach, intestine, colon, bronchial tubes, and skin as a first line of defense to prevent germs from entering your bloodstream. Having prolonged low levels of IgA can predict infections in the future.

The researchers also found that consecutive intense workouts reduce levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines, which are proteins produced by white blood cells that act to dampen inflammation (“turn down your immune response”). These are the chemicals that control the strength of your immune response to invading germs. Having low levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines increases the chances of your immunity attacking your body in the same way that it tries to kill germs, which can lead to the various “auto-immune” diseases.

Other studies show that consecutive days of intense exercise also reduce the number of white blood cells that defend you against invading germs. All these changes increase your chances of developing an overtraining syndrome in which your muscles hurt and you feel exhausted all the time. Overtraining suppresses your immunity to increase risk for infections, excessive muscle damage and delayed recovery from workouts.

Your immunity is lowered by taking too many consecutive intense or very long-duration workouts, not taking enough rest periods, and not stopping a workout when your muscles burn and hurt or you feel excessively tired.

How Muscles Heal after Intense Exercise
Muscles are made up of hundreds of thousands of individual fibers. To make muscles stronger, you have to damage them. Then when they heal, they become larger and stronger. You can tell that you are damaging a muscle during exercise by the burning you feel in the muscles, and the soreness you feel in that muscle on the next day. If you take an easy workout when your muscles feel sore, your muscle will become stronger. If you take an intense workout on sore muscles, you can tear them and become injured.

The healing of muscles damaged by intense exercise is governed by your immune system:
• The exact same cells and cytokines that kill germs initiate the healing process.
• When you feel sore after intense exercise, your immune system goes into high gear to heal the damaged muscle tissue.
• If you do another intense workout when you feel sore and are trying to heal, your body senses that you are causing further damage, so it reduces the amount of white blood cells and proteins that initiate muscle healing.
• Your body reduces your immune reactions because if your immunity stays active all the time, it can attack your healthy tissues in the same way that it attacks germs. This is called inflammation and can lead to the many “auto-immune” diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammation can also lead to a heart attack because your overactive immunity can punch holes in arteries, which starts the formation of plaques. Cancer can be caused by your immunity attacking your own cells to damage the DNA genetic material that controls cell growth. Damaged DNA can cause uncontrolled growth which is cancer.

How Exercise Strengthens your Immunity
When you are exercising properly by taking hard workouts to strengthen your muscles followed by easy workouts to allow your muscles to heal, you are also strengthening your immunity. When you damage muscles with hard exercise, your immunity uses the same white blood cells and proteins that attack and kill germs to start the healing process, so vigorous exercise turns on your immunity in the same way that an infection does. Then to keep your immunity from being too active and using the same chemicals to damage you, you produce anti-inflammatory chemicals to dampen down your immunity. A proper training program of vigorous exercise followed by an easy workout strengthens your immunity by turning it up and down.

Listen to Your Body
After intense exercise, you should expect to feel sore because of the muscle damage, which is good for you. If you do another intense workout when you are trying to heal, your body senses that you are causing further damage. Your body reduces the same white blood cells and proteins that you use to kill germs and heal damaged muscles.
• Try to alternate harder workouts with easy recovery ones on consecutive days.
• If you are training properly, expect to feel sore every morning when you wake up. If your muscles feel better after a 5-10 minute warm up, take your planned workout.
• If you don’t feel better during your warm up, go home because continuing to exercise will only increase your chances of injuring yourself. 

SEPT 4

Exercisers Should Follow a Heart-Healthy Diet

A study of 798 asymptomatic and apparently healthy master athletes (runners, cyclists, triathletes, rowers and hockey players), 35+ years old, who exercised fairly vigorously 3-7 days a week, found that 10 percent had greater than 70 percent blockage of the arteries leading to their hearts (BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 2018;4 (1):e000370). This does not mean that exercise increases risk for a heart attack. Exercise helps to prevent heart attacks, but exercise does not prevent plaques from forming in arteries. This study reminds us that even master athletes should follow a heart healthy diet.

Heart attacks are not caused by narrowed arteries. They are caused by plaques suddenly breaking off from a heart artery, followed by bleeding, and then a clot forms that suddenly and completely blocks all blood flow to a part of the heart muscle. The part of the heart muscle suddenly deprived of oxygen then dies, which is a heart attack. Exercise helps to prevent heart attacks by making plaques more stable so they do not break off as easily. However, a healthful diet, not exercise, prevents plaques from forming. Everyone should follow a heart-healthy diet, especially if you have risk factors for a heart attack such as:
• a family history of heart attacks
• chest pain
• irregular heartbeats
• a big belly (particularly if you also have small buttocks)
• high blood pressure
• high cholesterol
• high blood sugar

Amount of Exercise Does Not Determine Amount of Plaques
A group of men over 60 who had run marathons for 26-34 years and completed 27-171 marathons had plaques in their arteries in amounts that were related to their own risk factors for heart attacks and not to the number of miles or marathons they had run (Med & Sci in Sports & Ex, July 17, 2017). This suggests that plaques in arteries are not related to the amount of endurance training, but are caused by other factors such as a pro-inflammatory diet, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or tobacco use.

A Diet to Prevent Plaques
Master athletes burn a lot of calories, so they can be expected to eat more food than sedentary people do. If they eat a lot of sugar or a lot of meat, they can expect to have plaques in their arteries. A diet that is high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts is associated with reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, while less healthful diets that are high in sweets, refined grains, juices, red meats and processed meats are associated with increased risk (Journal of the American College of Cardiology, July 2017; 70(4)).

How Doctors Measure Plaque Stability
A CT scan can show how stable plaques are (American Journal of Roentgenology, March 2015;204(3):W249-W260). X rays and sonograms can also show the difference between stable plaques that are safe and those that are unstable and more likely to break off to cause heart attacks. Stable plaques contain more calcium and are smoother and more homogeneous than unstable plaques. The radiologist estimates plaque stability by looking for an extensive calcification cap on the outside of the plaque, less lipid-rich areas inside the plaque, increased fibrous areas and less structural change. See Exercisers Have More Stable Plaques

My Recommendations
• To help prevent or reduce plaque formation, follow a heart-attack-preventing diet that is high in anti-inflammatory foods and low in pro-inflammatory foods. This means that you should eat plenty of plants and restrict red meat, processed meats, sugar-added foods, all sugared drinks and fried foods.
• Avoid overweight
• Do not smoke
• Limit or avoid alcohol
• To stabilize existing plaques and widen your coronary arteries, try to exercise every day for at least a half hour a day. Exercising more than that may be even more protective.

AUG 30

Exercise Really Does Help You
Researchers reviewed eight studies that used accelerometers to follow 36,383 adults, 40 years of age and older, for six years (Brit Med J, August 21, 2019). They found that exercising regularly, regardless of intensity, was associated with reduced risk for death during the study period, while sitting for more than nine hours a day was associated with increased risk of death.

The death rate dropped progressively as light physical activity increased up to five hours per day and moderate activity increased up to 24 minutes per day. Examples of light intensity included walking slowly, cooking and washing dishes. Moderate activity included brisk walking, vacuuming or mowing the lawn, while vigorous activity included jogging or carrying a heavy load. In another study, lack of physical activity doubled a person’s chances of suffering a heart attack, while a regular exercise program helped prevent it (Eur Heart J, 15 January 2019).

Not exercising regularly worsens diabetes (Cardiopulmonary Phys Ther J, 2013 Jun;24(2):27–34). Most cases of diabetes are caused primarily by excess fat in the liver and muscles, the only two places humans can store significant amounts of sugar. Excess fat in muscles and liver prevent these tissues from clearing excess sugar from the bloodstream. Most cases of diabetes can be cured by getting excess fat out of the liver, and the longer you exercise, the more fat you remove from muscles and liver and the less likely your blood sugar is to rise too high after you eat (Curr Cardiol Rep, Dec 2016;18(12):117).

Intense Exercise is Beneficial
Richard A. Winett of Virginia Tech has reviewed 106 journal articles to show that intense exercise can benefit health, prevent disease and prolong lives (Innovation in Aging, July 26, 2019;3(4):1–15). If you are trying to lose weight, intense interval exercise may help you to lose more weight than slower continuous exercise (Brit Med J, Feb 14, 2019). If you exercise intensely, you don’t have to spend as much time exercising to gain the same health benefits (J Am Coll Card, June 21, 2016;67(24):2910-2911).

A review of 41 studies involving 1115 people showed that people who have limited time to exercise will gain more health benefits from short bursts of intense exercise with short rests between each interval compared to continuous training (Brit J Sports Med, Feb 14, 2019;53(10)). Ideal sports for interval training include running, fast walking, cycling, swimming and weight lifting, but intense exercise can increase risk of injuries. Everyday opportunities for interval exercise include carrying heavy shopping bags up a few flights of stairs, running to catch a bus, walking fast from one place to another, pushing a lawn mower, or vacuuming your house with vigor.

My Recommendations
A key to prolonging your life and preventing disease is to keep on moving. Lying in bed for many hours each day is a certain way eventually to kill yourself. Your skeletal muscles circulate blood to your heart, and when you contract a muscle, it squeezes blood vessels near it to pump increased amounts of blood back to your heart. Your heart responds to the extra blood by contracting with greater force that makes it stronger. Each day that you spend not moving your muscles weakens your heart until you eventually die of heart failure.

Exercise will prolong your life. You do not have to have a specific exercise program, but you should keep on moving for a large part of each day. It is healthful to mow your lawn, wash your dishes, make your bed, vacuum your house, go out for walks and participate with your friends in activities in which you are moving your arms and legs. I recommend participating in groups for dancing, cycling, swimming, running, nature walks and so forth.

AUG 24

How Exercise Prolongs Your Life

Several recent studies show that exercise helps to prolong your life by:
• strengthening heart muscle,
• increasing the ability of the heart to pump increased amounts of oxygen through the body,
• reducing belly fat, and
• increasing the diversity of bacteria in your colon.

We have abundant data to show that people who exercise live longer than those who do not exercise. Now we have the Copenhagen City Heart Study which begins to examine which sports are associated with living the longest (Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Sept 2018;93(12)). People who played tennis lived an average 9.7 years longer than people who do not exercise, compared to badminton (6.2 years), soccer (4.7 years), cycling (3.7 years), swimming (3.4 years), jogging (3.2 years), calisthenics (3.1 years), and health club activities (1.5 years). This study followed 8,577 people for up to 25 years. Twelve percent were primarily sedentary while 66 percent reported exercising regularly. Those who exercised only occasionally were not included in the data.

Interestingly, longevity did not correlate with the amount of time spent exercising. Those who worked out in health clubs (treadmill, elliptical, stair-climber, stationary bikes, and weightlifting) averaged 2.5 hours per week, while the longest-living group, tennis players, played only 1.7 hours per week. Cyclists who averaged the most time exercising per week (6.4 hours) lived six years less than the tennis players.

The authors report that the sports that were associated with living the longest are the ones that require interval training of some sort: short bursts of exercise using large muscle groups and full body movement. Another factor associated with increased longevity appeared to be the amount of social interaction of group sports (tennis, badminton, and soccer) compared to more solitary exercise (jogging, swimming, and cycling).

Exercise Strengthens the Heart
Another study showed that older men who exercise have stronger and larger hearts that supply more oxygen to their bodies (Sports Medicine, February 2019;49(2):199-219). The authors reviewed 32 studies of men over 45 years of age, comparing 644 athletes to 582 non-exercising controls. Echocardiograms showed that the athletes’ hearts had far more muscle. The stronger and bigger hearts pumped more blood and oxygen with each beat and had more beneficial heart rhythms. The older athletes maintained these heart benefits as they aged. Having the ability to supply more oxygen to your heart muscle is a major factor that helps to prevent heart attacks.

Sedentary People Have More Belly Fat
Compared to people who exercise, those who do not exercise regularly have much higher levels of fat in their liver and that fat markedly increases risk for heart attacks, diabetes, certain cancers and premature death (Obesity, Dec 20, 2017). The authors used MRI scans on 124 participants to show that the more time a person spends sitting down, the more belly and liver fat he has. They used history and mechanical accelerometers to measure how much time a person spends sitting down. See my report on liver fat below.

Exercise Increases Bacterial Diversity in your Colon
Of 37 breast cancer survivors, those with the highest level of fitness (endurance and maximal ability to take in and use oxygen) had the most different types of bacteria in their colons (bacterial diversity), regardless of how much fat they had in their bodies (Exp Physiol, Feb 14, 2019). The authors suggest that exercising regularly and more intensely can increase the efficiency with which your heart transports oxygen to your tissues, which, in turn, encourages a greater diversity of bacteria to grow in your colon. Having more and different types of bacteria in your colon is associated with increased lifespan and freedom from diseases such as heart attacks and certain cancers (Int J Mol Sci, Apr 2015;16(4):7493-7519). Healthful bacteria turn soluble fiber into short chain fatty acids that lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure and reduce inflammation that can cause diabetes, heart attacks and certain cancers. The more different types of bacteria you have in your colon, the longer you can expect to live. The authors tested 37 non-metastatic breast cancer survivors who were at least one year post-treatment. Those who had the highest heart and lung fitness levels (most intense exercise capacity) had significantly greater numbers of different types of gut bacteria compared to less fit participants. This shows that the people who exercise at the most intense levels have more varied colon bacteria.

My Recommendations
Every week, studies are published that show that exercise prolongs lives, and now we are seeing studies that show the advantages of intense exercise over less-intense exercise. However, people with blocked arteries can suffer heart attacks with more intense exercise, so it is a good idea to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program or increasing the intensity of your present exercise program.

AUG 22

How Exercise Prolongs Your Life

Several recent studies show that exercise helps to prolong your life by:
• strengthening heart muscle,
• increasing the ability of the heart to pump increased amounts of oxygen through the body,
• reducing belly fat, and
• increasing the diversity of bacteria in your colon.

We have abundant data to show that people who exercise live longer than those who do not exercise. Now we have the Copenhagen City Heart Study which begins to examine which sports are associated with living the longest (Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Sept 2018;93(12)). People who played tennis lived an average 9.7 years longer than people who do not exercise, compared to badminton (6.2 years), soccer (4.7 years), cycling (3.7 years), swimming (3.4 years), jogging (3.2 years), calisthenics (3.1 years), and health club activities (1.5 years). This study followed 8,577 people for up to 25 years. Twelve percent were primarily sedentary while 66 percent reported exercising regularly. Those who exercised only occasionally were not included in the data.

Interestingly, longevity did not correlate with the amount of time spent exercising. Those who worked out in health clubs (treadmill, elliptical, stair-climber, stationary bikes, and weightlifting) averaged 2.5 hours per week, while the longest-living group, tennis players, played only 1.7 hours per week. Cyclists who averaged the most time exercising per week (6.4 hours) lived six years less than the tennis players.

The authors report that the sports that were associated with living the longest are the ones that require interval training of some sort: short bursts of exercise using large muscle groups and full body movement. Another factor associated with increased longevity appeared to be the amount of social interaction of group sports (tennis, badminton, and soccer) compared to more solitary exercise (jogging, swimming, and cycling).

Exercise Strengthens the Heart
Another study showed that older men who exercise have stronger and larger hearts that supply more oxygen to their bodies (Sports Medicine, February 2019;49(2):199-219). The authors reviewed 32 studies of men over 45 years of age, comparing 644 athletes to 582 non-exercising controls. Echocardiograms showed that the athletes’ hearts had far more muscle. The stronger and bigger hearts pumped more blood and oxygen with each beat and had more beneficial heart rhythms. The older athletes maintained these heart benefits as they aged. Having the ability to supply more oxygen to your heart muscle is a major factor that helps to prevent heart attacks.

Sedentary People Have More Belly Fat
Compared to people who exercise, those who do not exercise regularly have much higher levels of fat in their liver and that fat markedly increases risk for heart attacks, diabetes, certain cancers and premature death (Obesity, Dec 20, 2017). The authors used MRI scans on 124 participants to show that the more time a person spends sitting down, the more belly and liver fat he has. They used history and mechanical accelerometers to measure how much time a person spends sitting down. See my report on liver fat below.

Exercise Increases Bacterial Diversity in your Colon
Of 37 breast cancer survivors, those with the highest level of fitness (endurance and maximal ability to take in and use oxygen) had the most different types of bacteria in their colons (bacterial diversity), regardless of how much fat they had in their bodies (Exp Physiol, Feb 14, 2019). The authors suggest that exercising regularly and more intensely can increase the efficiency with which your heart transports oxygen to your tissues, which, in turn, encourages a greater diversity of bacteria to grow in your colon. Having more and different types of bacteria in your colon is associated with increased lifespan and freedom from diseases such as heart attacks and certain cancers (Int J Mol Sci, Apr 2015;16(4):7493-7519). Healthful bacteria turn soluble fiber into short chain fatty acids that lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure and reduce inflammation that can cause diabetes, heart attacks and certain cancers. The more different types of bacteria you have in your colon, the longer you can expect to live. The authors tested 37 non-metastatic breast cancer survivors who were at least one year post-treatment. Those who had the highest heart and lung fitness levels (most intense exercise capacity) had significantly greater numbers of different types of gut bacteria compared to less fit participants. This shows that the people who exercise at the most intense levels have more varied colon bacteria.

My Recommendations
Every week, studies are published that show that exercise prolongs lives, and now we are seeing studies that show the advantages of intense exercise over less-intense exercise. However, people with blocked arteries can suffer heart attacks with more intense exercise, so it is a good idea to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program or increasing the intensity of your present exercise program.

AUG 14

AUG 6

Do You Need a Heart Rate Monitor?

All maximum heart rate formulae are based on averages. They can be used to help you plan and monitor your exercise program, but they should not be interpreted as absolute limits or goals. Your maximum heart rate may differ from these averages. Whether you are a competitive athlete or an ordinary exerciser, you really do not need a heart rate monitor.

Extensive research shows that compared to casual exercise, intense exercise:
• makes you a better athlete by helping you to be stronger, faster and have greater endurance and
• helps you to live longer by reducing your chances of developing cancers, diabetes, heart attacks, and other diseases.

However, if you exercise too intensely, too long, or too often, you increase your chances of injuring yourself. If you have irregular heartbeats or blocked arteries leading to your heart, you can suffer a heart attack from exercising too intensely. So how can you tell how intensely you should exercise?

The Breathing Guide
After warming up, you can do a series of surges in which you exercise up to the point where you start to breathe very hard. Then slow down and when you have recovered your breath and your muscles feel fresh, pick up the pace again. Alternate faster and slower periods until your muscles start to feel heavy, and then stop the workout.

The Burning Muscle Guide
Two or three times a week, you can start out slowly and then pick up the pace until your muscles start to burn or feel heavy, slow down immediately, wait for complete recovery of your muscles, and then pick up the pace again. Repeat until your muscles feel heavy and then stop the workout.

Your Heart Rate as a Guide
Many exercisers like to use a heart rate monitor to guide intensity of exercise because it gives them actual numbers that they can follow. Many exercise programs and tests to measure heart function are based on the formula MAXIMUM HEART RATE = 220 – age. This is supposed to predict the fastest your heart can beat and still pump blood through your body. Although this formula is the standard used today, it is not dependable for everyone and it does not apply to very fit people.

Why the Standard Maximum Heart Rate Formula is Wrong
As you age, your maximum heart rate slows down. The standard maximum heart rate formula is supposed to help you predict what your heart rate should be based on your age, but it should not be used by athletes and is not even accurate for people who are not fit.

The formula was first proposed by Dr. Sam Fox, one of the most respected heart specialists in the world. In the 1960s, he was very helpful to me when I was competing in, planning and setting up running programs. In 1970 he was the director of the United States Public Health Service Program to Prevent Heart Disease. He and a young researcher named William Haskell were flying to a meeting. They put together several studies comparing maximum heart rate and age. Fox took out a pencil and plotted a graph of age versus maximum heart rate and noticed that maximum heart rate appeared to be equal to 220 minus a person’s age. They reported this observation, and ever since then, the formula has been taught in physical education courses and is used to test heart function and athletic fitness and to plan workouts.

The formula is wrong because your legs drive your heart rate; your heart does not drive your legs. Maximum heart rate depends on the strength of your legs, and to a lesser extent, on the strength of your heart. When you contract your leg muscles, they squeeze against the blood vessels near them to pump blood from your leg veins toward your heart. When your leg muscles relax, your leg veins fill with blood, so your leg muscles pump increased amounts of blood toward your heart. This increased blood fills the heart and causes your heart to beat faster and with more force. This is called the Bainbridge reflex. The stronger your legs, the more blood they can pump. An athlete’s heart is stronger than that of a non-athlete, and a stronger heart can pump more blood with each beat, so the maximum heart rate is likely to be lower in an athlete than in a non-athlete.

The Search for a Better Formula
A study of 43 different formulae for maximum heart rate concluded that “No acceptable formula currently existed” (Journal of Exercise Physiology, 2002;5 (2): 1-10). The formula that fit age better than others is: HRmax = 205.8 – (0.685 x age). It has a standard deviation that is 6.4 beats per minute, which is very large.

Another study from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan showed that the standard maximum heart rate formula overestimated the maximum heart rate for younger exercisers and underestimated the maximum rate for older ones (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, May 2007).

Maximum Heart Rate is Lower in Athletes
A study from Liverpool, England showed that the maximum heart rate for athletes is usually lower than for aged-matched sedentary people. The maximum heart rate of male athletes was calculated to be 202 – (0.55 x age), and for female athletes, 216 – (1.09 x age). At first glance, this makes no sense because you would think that the faster your heart can beat, the more blood your heart could pump and the better an athlete you would be. However, a stronger heart pumps more blood with each beat, so stronger hearts don’t have to beat as often. Both weight lifters and runners had similar maximum heart rates, which were significantly lower than those of the age-matched sedentary people. The athletes have hearts that can pump more blood with each beat than the hearts of sedentary people, so they do not have to beat as often (International Journal of Sports Medicine, January 2008).

This means that as you become more fit, your maximum heart rate may go lower, not higher. Virtually everyone agrees that heart rate depends primarily on the amount of blood pumped toward it by exercising muscles (Bainbridge reflex). We know this is true because we are able to transplant hearts. If nerves to the heart primarily regulated heart rate, the heart would not be able to control its rate of beating since the nerves are cut during the transplant.

Use Your Recovery Heart Rate to Measure Fitness
If you want to use numbers to chart your progress in your exercise program, use your recovery heart rate instead of your maximum heart rate. Maximum heart rate is never used to measure fitness. A person with a failing fluttering heart can have a heart rate of 300 beats a minute. Researchers measure fitness by how fast your heart rate recovers one minute after maximum exercise. A healthy person’s heart rate drops about 20 beats in one minute after all-out exercise, while fit athletes’ heart rates can drop more than 50 beats in one minute. People whose one-minute recovery heart rate dropped less than 12 beats were four times as likely to die in the next six years, compared with those whose heart rates dropped by 13 or more beats (Circulation, 1996; 93: 1520-1526).

What Does This Mean For You?
If you are an athlete who trains for competition, you don’t need a heart rate monitor unless you are obsessed with numbers. All you have to do is a program of interval workouts: two or three times a week, do a series of hard intervals in which you get short of breath, rest to recover, and repeat these intervals until your muscles start to feel heavy. For the rest of your week, try to do a lot of mileage at less than maximum effort.

If you are a non-competitive exerciser, you don’t need a heart rate monitor either. First make sure that you have a healthy heart. Then try to do intervals two or three times week. Start out slowly and then pick up the pace until you feel burning in your muscles or you are breathing harder than usual. Then slow down until you have recovered completely. Alternate faster bursts and recoveries until your muscles start to feel heavy and then stop for the day. On the other days, go at a casual and easy pace.

Caution: Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program or increasing the intensity of your existing program.

AUG 2

Lactic Acid is Good for You: Why Everyone with a Healthy Heart Should Do Interval Exercise

Athletes use interval training to make themselves faster and stronger, and everyone with a healthy heart can benefit from this technique. A typical interval workout for non-competitive exercisers would be a session of jogging, walking or cycling in which they:
• Warm up by moving slowly for about 10 minutes,
• Pick up the pace until they feel a slight burning in their muscles (this usually takes 10-20 seconds),
• Slow down as soon as they feel this muscle burning, and go slowly until the burning is gone and breathing is back to normal.
• Alternate picking up the pace for 10-20 seconds and slowing down until they have recovered, then cool down and stop the workout whenever their muscles start to feel tight or tired.

A fit person should be able to do between 10 and 20 repetitions of these 10-20 second bursts in a single workout. For non-athletes, these intervals do not have to be done at 100 percent effort; 60 to 80 percent effort is sufficient. People in good shape can often work up to 50 or more of these short intervals before their legs tire.

The burning can come from acidity caused by a buildup of lactic acid in muscles, and accumulating lactic acid in your muscles makes you more fit, can help to prevent diseases and may even prolong your life.

Intervals to Increase Endurance
When you exercise, your muscles burn sugar, fat or protein in the presence of oxygen to produce energy. If you exercise so intensely that you become very short of breath and your muscles can’t get enough oxygen, lactic acid accumulates in your muscle fibers. An older disproved theory was that lactic acid interferes with a muscle’s ability to contract, so you feel tired. However, more recent research shows that muscles contract more efficiently when lactic acid accumulates in them (Science, August 26, 2004).

Electric currents cause muscles to contract. This electricity is generated by cell membranes causing potassium to move inside cells and chloride ions to stay outside. With vigorous exercise, potassium ions accumulate outside cells. When large amounts of potassium ions accumulate outside cells, electricity is not generated and the cells cannot contract. Another ion called chloride accumulates outside cells and prevents potassium from getting back inside cells. Lactic acid removes the chloride, so it is easier for potassium to get back inside cells. Lactic acid increases the ratio of potassium inside cells to the amount outside, and this helps the muscle contract with more efficiency.

Interval training teaches your muscles and liver to use lactate for energy much faster than just doing continuous training (Am J Physiol, 1983;244:E83-E92). The faster you can use up lactic acid,
• the more quickly you relieve the acid burning in muscles that slows you down, and
• the faster you can go because lactate requires less oxygen than even sugar does.

Interval training has been used in all endurance sports since the 1920s. George Brooks of the University of California at Berkeley showed why interval training can increase endurance (Am J Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, June 2006). A major fuel for your muscles during exercise is glucose (a sugar). In a series of chemical reactions, glucose is broken down step by step, with each step releasing energy. When enough oxygen is available, the glucose releases all of its energy until only carbon dioxide and water remain; these are blown off through your lungs. However, if you exercise so intensely that you can’t get all the oxygen you need, the chemical reactions stop at lactic acid which accumulates in the muscles and spills over into the bloodstream. Lactic acid makes muscles acidic and causes a burning feeling that forces you to slow down. Thus lactic acid helps to prevent severe muscle damage by slowing you down when you run low on oxygen.

When you slow down after each intense interval, you catch up on your oxygen debt, and your body uses lactic acid as its most efficient source of energy for muscles. Muscles require less oxygen to turn lactic acid into energy. When your muscles produce lots of lactic acid, they can use this chemical for energy. This allows you to move faster and stronger for longer periods of time (Sports Medicine, 2006;36(4):279-91). Anything that helps muscles to break down lactic acid faster will increase your endurance and allow you to move faster when you are tired (Fed Proc, 1986;45:2924-2929). Lactic acid can also be used by your liver to make even more sugar to feed your muscles during exercise.

Intervals to Make You Stronger
You cannot enlarge a muscle and make it stronger unless you damage muscle fibers at their Z-lineswith vigorous exercise. When the muscles heal, they become larger and stronger. Interval training allows you to exercise more intensely than continuous training and therefore gives you a stronger training effect by causing more muscle fiber Z-line damage that results in increased strength and greater oxygen debts that give you greater endurance. You can tell that you are damaging muscle fibers because the muscle feels sore the next day (delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS).

How Intervals Help to Prevent Disease and Prolong Your Life
A regular exercise program helps to prevent diabetes, heart attacks, and cancers. Interval training can make your exercise program even more effective because it helps to lower high blood sugar better than continuous training by making cells far more sensitive to insulin (Int J Sports Med, 2015;36:209-14).

Vigorous exercise also increases the number, size and efficiency of mitochondria in your muscle cells (Sci Rep, Jun 23, 2017;7(1):4191). All of the cells in your body (except mature red blood cells) have anywhere from a few to thousands of organelles, called mitochondria, that turn the food that you eat into energy. Muscle cells need a lot of energy so they have lots of mitochondria. Nerves don’t need a lot of energy to transmit messages so they need only a few mitochondria. When you exercise so intensely that you can’t get all the oxygen you need and you become short of breath, you increase the number, size and efficiency of mitochondria in cells everywhere in your body (J Physiol, 2010 Mar 15; 588(Pt 6): 1011-1022). Accumulating evidence shows that this helps to prevent obesity, diabetes, heart attacks and certain cancers. It helps to explain why exercise may increase memory and nerve function. Exercise also helps to reduce the loss of mitochondria in cells that occurs naturally with aging (J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 2006;61(6)534-540; Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, April 2007). See More Mitochondria for Better Athletes

Start Gradually
If you have not been exercising regularly, spend several weeks exercising at a casual pace. Try to exercise every day and exercise until your legs start to feel heavy or hurt and then stop for the day. You may go for five minutes on one day, and have to take the next day off because your muscles feel sore. You may have a progression of five minutes on one day, then zero on the next day, then 10 minutes, then three minutes. Gradually you should be able to work up to being able to exercise casually for 30 minutes every day and not feel sore. Then you should be able to start your interval workouts. Start out with just a few of the 10-20 second pick-ups and gradually work up to ten or more repetitions.

JULY 30

Join me for 4 weeks 

10,000 Swing Challenge

If you never test yourself, you’ll never truly know what you’re capable of. 

There is a time and a place for comfort zones, but the real achievements,

progress and magic happens when you push your boundaries

This kettlebell challenge will:

Teach you how to pace yourself

Help you find your weaknesses

Improve your kettlebell swing

Increase your cardiovascular endurance

Increase your lean muscle mass

Increase your mental toughness

Increase your fat loss

Increase your motivation

Increase your pressing, pushing, squatting and core strength

The challenge this:

Equipment: a ?? lb kettlebell.

Workout:  4 weeks 

500 each day 

5 rounds 

10 kettlebell swings

5 Reps  of strength exercise  [SAMPLE push ups ]

15 swings

5 Reps  of strength exercise  [ SAMPLE Goblet squats ]

25 swings

5 Reps of strength exercise [  SAMPLE KB Press ]

50 swings

A short rest

Total swings per workout:100

EACH DAY CHANGE strength exerciseJoin me for 4 weeks 

A short rest

Total swings per workout:100

EACH DAY CHANGE strength exercise

July 23

Principles of Training

You will not become more fit by doing the same training regimen every day. Athletes train by taking hard workouts on one day, feeling sore on the next, and not taking another hard workout until the muscles stop feeling sore. You cannot make a muscle larger or stronger unless you put enough resistance against it to damage it. An intense workout damages your muscles to cause burning during your workout and the muscle soreness you feel on the next day. Then you should go very easy or you may cause so much additional muscle damage that you can injure yourself and not be able to recover for weeks or months. If you wait until the soreness disappears, your muscles will be stronger than they were before your workout. As you continue to take stressful workouts only after the soreness disappears, you will become progressively stronger and faster and have greater endurance. For a detailed explanation see Recovery: The Key to Improvement in Your Sport

Interval Training to Build Endurance, Speed and Strength
Interval training means that you alternate fast and slow paces in your sport (running, cycling or other continuous motion activity). The increased intensity of interval training makes it the most effective way to strengthen your heart and lungs to increase your ability to take in and use oxygen (VO2max). I do short intervals that take less than 30 seconds each. You do not need to go at your maximum speed; I recommend that non-competing athletes should not do 100-percent-effort intervals.

Both continuous and interval training can increase endurance, but adding interval training to an endurance training program specifically makes muscles stronger than continuous endurance training (Med & Sci in Sprts & Exe, June 2017;49(6):1126–1136).

Before you start a program of interval training to improve your endurance, you should have exercised regularly for many months, be in good shape and not have any health conditions that can harm you. Caution:Intense exercise can cause a heart attack in a person who has blocked arteries or heart damage. Check with your doctor before you start a new exercise program or make a sudden increase in the intensity of your existing program.

Your Interval Workout Day: Warm up your muscles for 5 to 10 minutes. Pick up the pace until you feel short of breath and a tightness in your muscles, then slow down until you recover. If you are just starting to do interval training, you can do intervals that take only 10 seconds. If your muscles feel fresh, you can try to keep your fast pace for about 30 seconds. Alternate a 10-to-30-second intense pace that will start you breathing hard and then slow down for as long as it takes for you to regain your breath and for your muscles to feel fresh again. You do not need to time your recoveries because starting your next interval before you have recovered from your previous interval just shortens how fast you can run the next interval. The faster you run your intervals, the greater the improvement in your ability to run fast and long.

Stop the workout as soon as your leg muscles do not recover in a few seconds after you slow down after each interval. Continuing to do intervals when your leg muscles take longer to recover after each interval can cause enough damage to prevent you from being able to do intervals again for several days. After you have finished your interval workout, cool down for several minutes by moving at a slow pace. Note: When you are training properly, your muscles will probably feel sore every morning when you get up. However, after you exercise for 5 to 10 minutes, the soreness usually goes away and you will feel better. If the soreness remains, you should not take an intense workout that day. Either take the day off or exercise at a very slow pace.

The Day After an Interval Workout Day: If you have done a proper interval workout, your leg muscles will feel sore on the next day. You should never do interval training when your leg muscles are sore. Go at a slow pace as long and far as you like, or take the day off. When your muscles feel fresh again, you can take your next interval workout day.

Weight Training
You can do upper body and core strength training in two ways:
• You can try to lift heavy weights in two or three sets of 10, feel very sore on the next day and then do not lift weights with that same muscle group until those muscles feel fresh again, or
• You can lift lighter comfortable weights until your muscles start to fatigue and then stop immediately for that day. You can do up to 100 repetitions in a single set for each muscle group in your workout. This type of training can be done almost every day. For older people who have the time, I recommend a program of single set repetitions until your muscles just start to fatigue.
Strength Training Guidelines

How fit are you? See how you measure up

Ready to start a fitness program? Measure your fitness level with a few simple tests. Then use the results to set fitness goals and track your progress.By Mayo Clinic Staff

You probably have some idea of how fit you are. But knowing the specifics can help you set realistic fitness goals, monitor your progress and maintain your motivation. Once you know your starting point, you can plan where you want to go. Get started with the simple assessment below.

Gather your tools

Generally, fitness is assessed in four key areas: aerobic fitness, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and body composition. To do your assessment, you’ll need:

  • A watch that can measure seconds or a stopwatch
  • A cloth measuring tape
  • A yardstick
  • Heavy-duty tape
  • A scale
  • Someone to help you record your scores and count repetitions

You’ll also need a pencil or pen and paper to record your scores as you complete each part of the assessment. You can record your scores in a notebook or journal, or save them in a spreadsheet or another electronic format.

Aerobic fitness: Heart rate at rest

Checking pulse

Your heart rate at rest is a measure of heart health and fitness. For most adults, a healthy heart rate is 60 to 100 beats a minute.

To check your pulse over your carotid artery, place your index and middle fingers on your neck to the side of your windpipe. To check your pulse at your wrist, place two fingers between the bone and the tendon over your radial artery, located on the palm side of your wrist below the thumb.

When you feel your pulse, look at your watch and count the number of beats in 10 seconds. Multiply this number by 6 to get your heart rate per minute. Let’s say you count 15 beats in 10 seconds. Multiply 15 by 6 for a total of 90 beats a minute.

Aerobic fitness: Target heart rate zone

The target heart rate zone is an increase in your heart rate — 50 to 75 percent of the maximum heart rate for your age — great enough to give your heart and lungs a good workout.

You can use the target heart rate zone as a guide for making sure your exercise is intense enough. If you are not reaching your target zone, you may need to increase the intensity. If you are achieving a target rate in the lower end of the target rate zone, you can set goals for gradually increasing your target.

If you already exercise regularly, you can stop to check your heart rate periodically during an aerobic workout. If you do not exercise regularly, you can do a simple test by checking your heart rate after a brisk 10-minute walk.

AgeTarget heart rate zone: Beats a minuteMaximum heart rate: Beats a minute
2598-146195
3593-138185
4588-131175
5583-123165
6578-116155

Aerobic fitness: Running or jogging test

Another strategy to assess your aerobic fitness is to time yourself on a 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer) run or jog. The following times are generally considered indicators of a good fitness level based on age and sex. A lower time generally indicates better aerobic fitness, and a higher time suggests a need for improvement.

AgeWomen: Time in minutesMen: Time in minutes
251311
3513.511.5
451412
551613
6517.514

Muscular strength and endurance: Pushup test

Classic pushup

Pushups can help you measure muscular strength and endurance. If you’re just starting a fitness program, do modified pushups on your knees. If you’re generally fit, do classic pushups. For both types:

  • Lie facedown on the floor with your elbows bent and your palms next to your shoulders.
  • Keeping your back straight, push up with your arms until your arms are extended.
  • Lower your body until your chin touches the floor.
  • Do as many pushups as you can until you need to stop for rest.

The following counts are generally considered indicators of a good fitness level based on age and sex. If your pushup count is below the target number, the target can serve as a goal to work toward. Counts above the targets indicate better fitness.

AgeWomen: Number of pushupsMen: Number of pushups
252028
351921
451416
551012
651011

Muscular strength and endurance: Situp test

SitupAbdominal crunch

The situp test measures the strength and endurance of your abdominal muscles. Here’s how to do the test:

  • Lie on the floor with knees bent at a 90-degree angle and feet flat on the floor. A partner holds your feet firmly to the floor. Another option is to place your feet on the wall so your knees and hips are bent at a 90-degree angle. Cross your arms across your chest. This is the down position.
  • To move into the up position, raise your head and shoulders off the floor. Don’t lift your buttocks off the floor.
  • Return to the down position.
  • Each time you move to the up position is counted as one situp.
  • Do as many situps as you can in one minute.

The following counts can generally be considered indicators of a good fitness level based on age and sex. If your situp count is below the target number, the target can serve as a goal to work toward. Counts above the targets can indicate better fitness.

AgeWomen: Number of situpsMen: Number of situps
253944
353040
452535
552130
651224

Flexibility: Sit-and-reach test

Sit-and-reach test

The sit-and-reach test is a simple way to measure the flexibility of the back of your legs, hips and lower back. Here’s how:

  • Place a yardstick on the floor. Secure it by placing a piece of tape across the yardstick at the 15-inch (38-centimeter) mark.
  • Place the soles of your feet even with the 15-inch (38-centimeter) mark on the yardstick.
  • Slowly reach forward as far as you can, exhaling as you reach and holding the position for at least 1 second.
  • Note the distance you reached.
  • Repeat the test two more times.
  • Record the best of the three reaches.

The following measurements can generally be considered indicators of good flexibility based on age and sex. If your outcome is below the target number, the target can indicate a goal to work toward. Measurements above the targets can indicate better flexibility.

AgeWomen: Furthest reachMen: Furthest reach
2521.5 in. (55 cm)19.5 in. (50 cm)
3520.5 in. (52 cm)18.5 in. (47 cm)
4520 in. (51 cm)17.5 in. (44 cm)
5519 in. (48 cm)16.5 in. (42 cm)
6517.5 in. (44 cm)15.5 in. (39 cm)

Body composition: Waist circumference

If the circumference of your waist is greater than your hips — you carry more weight above the hips — you have an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The risk is even greater for women if waist circumference is 35 inches (89 centimeters) or more and for men if waist circumference is 40 inches (102 centimeters) or more.

With a cloth measuring tape, measure your waist circumference just above the hipbones.

Body composition: Body mass index

BMI calculator

Your body mass index (BMI) is a calculation that indicates whether you have a healthy amount of body fat. You can determine your BMI with a BMI table or online calculator.

If you’d rather do the math yourself, divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared and multiply by 703. Or divide your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared. (To determine your height in meters, divide your height in centimeters by 100).

The following BMI results demonstrate whether you are at a healthy weight.

BMIWeight status
Below 18.5Underweight
18.5-24.9Normal weight
25.0-29.9Overweight
30 and aboveObesity

Stay active

The results of your fitness assessment can help you set goals for staying active and improving fitness outcomes. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends one of the following activity levels for adult fitness and health benefits:

  • 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity weekly plus muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week
  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly plus muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week
  • An equivalent mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity plus muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week

Moderate aerobic activity includes:

  • Walking fast
  • Water aerobics
  • Bicycling on mostly level ground
  • Pushing a lawn mower

Vigorous aerobic activity includes:

  • Running
  • Swimming laps
  • Fast bicycling or biking hills
  • Playing basketball or soccer
  • Playing singles tennis

Muscle-strengthening exercises include:

  • Lifting weights or using resistance bands
  • Calisthenics that use body weight for resistance
  • Heavy gardening or yardwork

Monitor your progress

Keep track of your progress in improving your fitness. Take the same measurements about six weeks after you begin an exercise program and periodically afterward.

Each time you repeat your assessment, celebrate your progress and adjust your fitness goals accordingly. Share your results with your doctor or personal trainer for additional guidance.

July 15

Muscle Loss from Inactivity: 34 Percent in Just Two Weeks

A study from the University of Copenhagen shows that wearing an immobilizing knee brace for just two weeks caused men in their 20s to lose 22 to 34 percent of their leg muscle strength, while men in their 60s lost 20 to 26 percent (Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, June 26, 2015).

It took them six weeks of exercising on a bicycle 3-4 times a week to restore the leg muscle size and ability to exercise, but even that did not fully restore the leg muscle strength. This study shows that:
• When muscles of young men are immobilized for two weeks, they lose strength equivalent to aging 40 or 50 years.
• As soon as you stop moving, your muscles start to weaken.
• The larger your muscles, the more muscle you have to lose.
• Younger and stronger people lose strength even faster than older people.
Other studies show that it takes three times the amount of time you were inactive to regain the muscle size that you have lost, probably because you were immobilized 24 hours a day and you exercise for only a short time each day.

Aging Weakens Muscles Even if You Exercise
Inactivity at any age causes muscles to weaken, and you are likely to lose muscle strength with aging no matter how much you exercise. Every muscle in your body is made up of thousands of muscle fibers just as a rope is made up of many strands. Every muscle fiber is innervated by a single nerve fiber. With aging you lose nerves, and when you lose a nerve attached to a muscle fiber, that muscle fiber is lost also. A 20-year-old person may have 800,000 muscle fibers in the vastus lateralis muscle in the front of his upper leg, but by age 60, that muscle would have only about 250,000 fibers. For a 60-year-old to have the same strength as a 20-year-old, the average muscle fiber needs to be three times as strong as the 20-year-old’s muscle fibers. You cannot stop this loss of the number of muscle fibers with aging, but you certainly can enlarge each muscle fiber and slow down the loss of strength by exercising muscles against progressive resistance using strength-training machines or by lifting weights (Experimental Gerontology, August 13, 2013).

How to Strengthen Muscles
To enlarge and strengthen muscles, you need to exercise them against resistance forceful enough to damage the muscle fibers. You will know that you have done this because you will feel a burning in the stressed muscle during the later lifts and on the next day, your muscles will feel sore. Then you lift lighter weights, or engage in other sports, for as many days as it takes for your muscles to heal. You can tell this has happened when the soreness goes away.

My Recommendations
We are all likely to have some enforced periods of inactivity, but if you realize how quickly you lose muscle strength and how much longer it takes to gain it back, you will avoid voluntary inactivity as much as possible. For example, when you plan a vacation, make sure it involves physical activity that is at least equal to your regular exercise program.

As you age, expect to become weaker and more likely to fall and break your bones. To enlarge muscles and slow the natural loss of strength with aging, you should lift weights a few times in a row or lighter weight many times in a row. You can become quite strong by using 10 to 15 strength-training machines (for different muscle groups) three times a week. Do two or three sets of 10 repetitions on each machine. Always stop immediately if you feel any pain, tearing or excessive burning.

JULY 7

Taking Testosterone May be Bad for Your Heart
Men should not take the male hormone, testosterone, unless their testicles are not producing adequate amounts. A study of 172,000 men found that those who have the genes for high blood levels of testosterone are at a 37 percent increased risk for suffering a heart attack, eight times the risk for heart failure and double the risk for blood clots in the brain and lungs (British Medical Journal, March 6, 2019). Many other studies show that weight lifters and other men who take large doses of testosterone (when their own testosterone levels are normal) are at increased risk for suffering heart attacks. Recreational weight lifters who take anabolic steroids and other hormones that mimic testosterone can suffer from significant heart damage (left ventricles) even many years after they stop taking these drugs (Circulation, May 23, 2017). Testosterone can increase risk for forming the blood clots that cause a heart attack. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires testosterone labels to list the increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and the Endocrine Society recommends that testosterone be given only to men who:
• have proven low levels of testosterone,
• have not had a heart attack or stroke in the last six months, and
• are at very low risk for prostate cancer (The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, March 2017).
In spite of these very real concerns, global sales of testosterone have increased 12-fold in the last 20 years.

Testosterone Gel Did Not Improve Memory
In the Testosterone Trials from the University of Pennsylvania(TTrials), 788 men over 65 years of age who had low levels of testosterone (<275 ng/dl) were given either testosterone gel or placebo for one year. In 493 of these men who had age-associated memory impairment, the treatment with testosterone was not associated with improved memory or other cognitive functions such as verbal memory, visual memory, executive function, or spatial ability (JAMA, 2017;317(7):717-727).

Mixed Results on Heart Attack Risk
The TTrial cardiovascular study results showed that taking testosterone significantly increased plaque in the arteries leading to the heart, to increase risk for heart attacks (JAMA, 2017;317(7):708-716). On the other hand, another study of more than 44,000 men with low testosterone showed that three years of testosterone gel reduced heart attack rate 25 percent compared to those given placebos (JAMA Internal Medicine, Feb 21, 2017).

My Recommendations
• Men with normal blood levels of testosterone (>300 ng/dl) should not take testosterone as it can increase risk for heart attacks, clots, and liver and lung damage. It can also shut down their own natural production of testosterone to make them sterile.
• Older men should not take testosterone unless their testosterone is very low (at least below 150 ng/dl), meaning that their brain hormones or testicles are damaged so they cannot make adequate amounts of testosterone.
• Most older men who suffer from poor sexual function have conditions that cause the damage, such as excess weight, diabetes, arteriosclerosis or other life-shortening conditions. Testosterone is not a solution for these conditions. These men can often correct their sexual dysfunction and prolong their lives by changing the lifestyle habits that caused their problems.
• Almost never should men take testosterone pills because they can damage the liver. If they do choose to take testosterone, the form of choice is a gel that is rubbed on and absorbed through the skin, so it is not absorbed from the intestines and passed immediately to the liver. 

JUNE 24

Five Major Benefits of HIIT

High intensity interval training (HIIT) has become a hit in gyms throughout the country for its focus on giving maximum effort to achieve maximum results. HIIT can burn calories and fat in a shorter period of time and continue to burn calories and fat well after your workout is finished! Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of HIIT:

1) Burn more calories and fat in less time.

Research has shown HIIT increases the heart rate and burns more calories in less time than standard aerobic workouts. Studies found that 20 minutes of high intensity interval training can produce the same aerobic and anaerobic benefits as exercising for twice as long with steady, continuous effort.

Some research has even found that 15 minutes of HIIT training can burn more calories than jogging for an hour on a treadmill! Fortunately, it’s easy to use the Assault AirRunner for an HIIT workout.

2) Burn calories and fat for hours after your workout.

When you exercise at an intensity level that you’re unable to sustain for a long period of time, your muscles will start to burn and you’ll begin to feel out of breath.

But don’t worry, while that sensation will only last for a short period of time, your body will now spend the next 16 to 24 hours clearing the lactic acid from your muscles and rejuvenating your body’s oxygen stores – all while burning calories and fat in the process.

3) Boosts your metabolism.

HIIT helps you consume more oxygen than standard aerobic and steady state exercise, which will help speed up your metabolism and burn calories at a higher rate.

By putting your body into a prolonged recovery state after a HIIT session, your metabolic rate will continue to be boosted for up to 48 hours after the workout!

4) Increases endurance.

HIIT increases your body’s ability to use oxygen for energy, which can lead to increased endurance while performing any type of exercise. Studies have found that participants in an 8-week HIIT program doubled the length of time they were able to ride a bike at a constant pace.

5) Burn fat, not muscle.

Standard steady-state cardio is linked to a loss of muscle because while calories are being burned, the muscles aren’t being pushed to exhaustion, which limits their ability to grow.

HIIT causes a burn in your muscles that leads to micro-tears in the muscle fibers. The body then repairs these tears, forcing muscles to grow larger. Ultimately, the combination of muscle growth and reduced fat leads to that sought-after lean muscle physique.

Both the Assault AirBike and AirRunner can provide fantastic HIIT workouts. We’ve teamed up with our resident trainer to put together over 150 workouts designed to torch calories, including plenty of options for HIIT training. Sign up today and receive weekly workout ideas so you can take advantage of the many benefits of HIIT!

JUNE 20

Or you’re just getting started?

Regardless of which, I’m not here to judge. I’m just here helping you get to where you want to be. That’s all.

And if you were to ask me one of the key components of achieving your dream body it’s this:

CONSISTENCY.

How?

By being consistent.

I’m consistent with all my workout plans. 

I’m consistent with what I eat during the week and even during the weekend.

I never do anything that compromises with any of my training plans. 

I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years now.

Just like every other legendary fitness athlete out there, I never stop.

Because the moment you stop, you stop progressing and you’ll lose the hard work to put in! 

And trust me, that is the last thing that you want happening to you. 

So if you are training hard today, keep going!

And if you are just getting started, keep going too! 

Whatever stage you are in, just don’t stop. 

Many years from now, or perhaps months, you will definitely be glad that you kept going anyway and finally achieved the dream body that you desire.

JUNE 8

Intervals Lower Blood Sugar

How does Interval Training Prevent Disease?
When you do intervals, you usually exercise so intensely that you become very short of breath from lack of oxygen. It is the lack of oxygen, called oxygen debt, that protects you against a high rise in blood sugar that damages cells. When you exercise intensely continuously for an extended period of time, you cannot create as severe an oxygen debt as when you exercise intensely for a short time.

How Oxygen Debt Helps Your Body Control Blood Sugar Levels
Your body converts food to energy by two major sources:
1) Anaerobic Glycolysis – Does Not Need Oxygen: Inside every cell but outside the mitochondria, your cells can convert sugar to energy without oxygen.
2) Krebs Cycle – Needs Oxygen: You have many tiny compartments called mitochondria in your cells that convert carbohydrates, fats and protein to energy, breaking down foods in a series of chemical reactions called the Krebs Cycle, to carbon dioxide and water. If you don’t get enough oxygen, the chemical reactions slow down so much that lactic acid accumulates in your muscles and spills over into your bloodstream.

When you exercise so intensely that your blood levels of oxygen drop, the mitochondria suffer most from lack of oxygen, lactic acid accumulates and your body responds by enlarging and increasing the number of mitochondria and increasing the enzymes that are necessary to drive the many chemical reactions in the mitochondria that convert food to energy. This helps cells utilize carbohydrates, fats and proteins more effectively, which reduces the amount of sugar in cells and helps insulin drive sugar from the bloodstream into cells more rapidly and efficiently. Since high-intensity interval training causes a higher oxygen debt, it also increases the cells’ ability to respond to insulin to drive sugar from the bloodstream into cells to lower high blood sugar levels more efficiently.

JUNE 3

The Myth Of TONING!

People think to get toned all they need to do is very high reps and a little resistance with moderate to long rests. Learn why this is wrong!

June 28, 2018 • 4 min read

When many people talk about being “toned” what they are referring to is a firm body with muscular definition and shape. This is generally a fitness goal that many women have (but also men) with the majority of their emphasis usually on their arms or more specifically their triceps.

Mistakenly, due to the media many people (mostly women) think in order to “get toned” all they need to do is very high repetitions and very little resistance with moderate to long rests. They also don’t take into account cardiovascular activity or diet in order to get “toned”.

The Myth Of Toning

Lets dissolve the misnomer of “tone” right now. The firming-up or toning is due to an increase in muscle tissue as well as a low enough bodyfat percentage to see the definition and shape of the muscles and get rid of the “jiggle”.

Muscles do not go from soft to hard or hard to soft—they either shrink or grow in size. Muscles themselves do not “firm-up” or “tone”.

Strength Training And Fat Loss For Tone

There are no two ways about it—in order to achieve the look of muscle tone or a toned body you need to engage in strength training as well as shed the layer of fat covering your muscles.

Traditional resistance training alone doesn’t produce the toned look desired, especially when an individual resistance trains in the fashion previously mentioned with unnecessarily high repetitions, little resistance, and little if any stress on the muscle.

the-myth-of-toning-header-v2-1-700xh.jpg

Resistance training alone doesn’t produce the toned look desired.

A calorie deficit also needs to be created in order to shed some of the subcutaneous bodyfat (fat under the skin).

The Myth Of High Repetitions To Tone

Just because you are not looking to get “bulky” or add muscle mass doesn’t mean that you should shy away from stressing your muscles with relatively heavy weight (women and men).

Effort needs to be given and your muscles need to be stressed in order for them to change and grow. And simply going through the motions will produce little if any results because the muscle is not being stressed enough and therefore has no reason to adapt and change its current condition.

Generally, training with a resistance that produces fatigue between 8-12 repetitions works well for most individuals. That doesn’t mean that you can give up after the 8th or 12th repetition—it means that there is no way that you can get the 13th.

If you can get 13, then the resistance is not enough. Don’t forget to include cardio conditioning into your fitness program in addition to your strength training.

Fat Loss Benefits From Strength Training

Strength training and cardio don’t necessarily need to be exclusive from each other—you can get a cardiovascular and fat burning benefit from strength training both directly and indirectly.

Indirectly, the more muscle tissue that you add through strength training the greater your basal metabolic rate (resting metabolism) will be and therefore you will be burning more total calories and fat at rest. This is more of a permanent solution to weight loss.

Directly, if you use large body movements and keep rest periods short you will elevate your heart rate and therefore be getting the same immediate calorie and fat burning benefits as traditional cardiovascular exercise.

This is the more temporary solution to weight loss. These two reasons are why every weight loss program should include weight training.

You can kill two birds with one stone this way—you can get the resistance training benefits as well as the cardio benefits in one short and sweet workout if designed correctly. Generally you should use repetitions as low as 10 and no higher than 15 for most exercises and muscle groups.

You generally should be taking short rest periods in-between sets—ideally no longer than 30 seconds for most exercises and muscle groups (in order to keep heart rate elevated as well as give the muscles a brief rest and recovery period before the next set).

Again you should come to failure at the end of every set and not just be going through the motions. Don’t be afraid if you can’t complete as many repetitions as you did the previous set—that is to be expected because the rest periods are so short that the metabolic byproducts haven’t had a chance to be completely removed yet.

Eventually your body will adapt to the metabolic stress and become more efficient at recovery and you will be able to lift more weight in a shorter period of time.

If you dip below 8 to 10 repetitions you should decrease the weight though. Having a simple stopwatch or keeping your eye on the second hand of the clock in order to time your rests may be a good idea in order to stay on task when beginning this type of training.

After you become accustomed to this kind of training you will know when to do another set without watching time because it will be ingrained.

Circuit Training

In order to have a shorter and more efficient workout as well as ensuring your heart rate is elevated and remains elevated, you may want to consider circuit training.

Circuit training is where you go directly from one set of an exercise to another exercise that works a different muscle and so on.

So you have a series of exercises where you go straight from one to another with absolutely no rest—hence the name “circuit training”.

You may take a brief rest if need be only after each circuit. This type of training requires being focused (so headphones or avoiding distractions is a must for an effective workout) but it is extremely effective at burning fat and building strength, endurance, and muscle and creating that toned look.

Making It Work For You

When designing your program keep in mind that larger muscle group movements such as those that involve legs and back and others that incorporate numerous muscle groups at once such as the bench press burn more calories than isolated exercises like dumbbell biceps curls.

Examples of excellent exercises to achieve an elevated heart rate include but are not limited to: any variety of squats, deadlifts, straight-leg deadlifts, any variety of lunges, bench step-ups, etc.

Don’t be afraid to get creative and combine movements either. An example might be doing a repetition of the dumbbell shoulder press and then going fluidly into a repetition of the dumbbell biceps curls and then back and forth for a complete set of 20-30 total reps (10-15 each).

This is where a reputable personal trainer may come in handy to develop “non-traditional” exercises for you with your goals in mind as well as to show you how to perform them properly.

As long as the resistance is sufficient enough to create fatigue by no more than 15 repetitions, your rest periods are very short, if at all, and you have a solid nutritional program, you’ll see your muscles tighten-up, firm, and become more pronounced giving you that tone that you desire.

MAY 26

Benefits Of Blood Flow Restriction Training

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A couple of months ago I talked about the Benefits Of Blood Flow Restriction Training. where I tried to clear some misconception about its safety. But, I still got questions regarding BFR Training technique and *How heavy should I lift while performing BFR Training Technique*.

Since I’m also using BFR in my training sessions so I thought it will be a good idea to share my personal experience and techniques to help you get much better results.

ABOUT BFR TRAINING :

The main focus and primary advantage of BFR Training is —  You can gain more muscle size at a low-intensity workout. What this training method does is – It increases metabolic stress on the muscle and sends a very effective muscle building signal with very light-weight. The key to getting more effective results is using light weight-loads while performing higher reps.

The reason why I personally like this training is – you can use this training method as a therapy. let’s say you have elbow injury or a wrist injury, which can prevent you from lifting heavy. So, that’s when BFR Training really helps because while performing this method you don’t have to lift a lot of weights to get a good pump. Also, it’s a very good technique for guys who are bit older and have joint problems So they don’t want to train as heavy to get the hypertrophy response. It’s already becoming popular among guys who are dealing with joint issues because it’s not about the weight-load but the repetitions you perform.

HOW HEAVY YOU SHOULD LIFT DURING BFR TRAINING SESSIONS.

Weight should be anywhere between (10 pounds) to (20 pounds). But again weight-load isn’t the main focus here but the repetitions. In BFR Training guide the repetitions protocol is x5 Sets…

First Set = 30 Repetitions

(30 Seconds Rest)

Second Set = 15 Repetitions

(20 Seconds Rest)

Third Set = 15 Repetitions

(20 Seconds Rest)

Fourth Set = 15 Repetitions

(20 Seconds Rest)

Fifth Set = 15 Repetitions

This whole thing should take you a very short period of time. Approximately about 10-15 minutes. If you do it right – You’ll be struggling while performing last x2 Sets even with 10-pound dumbbells.

This technique is scientifically proven to be effective in terms of building muscle fast. As you can tell it will only work on extremities (Limbs). So, I recommend you to do this training twice a week on your biceps and legs. Obviously, it’s a technique that you shouldn’t be doing every single time you train.

SUMMARY:

Improper wrapping technique can be harmful. If you tie off too much it can cause damage if you go too loose, you don’t really get the effects. You have to make sure that you’re getting blood flow into the muscle but restricting the blood flow from leaving the muscle. If you feel any numbness or tingling you must’ve been tightening it too much. You should go for 70% percent of perceiving tightness, Or you can go for 80% if you’re not getting a greater pump. Figure it out by tighten or lighten up until you feel like you’re getting effects without having any numbness or tingling In your muscles.

Athletes Now Undergoing Occlusion Training to Quickly Recover from Injury

August 29, 2015 By Admin

The main goal of blood restriction training is to occlude venous blood flow without necessarily affecting arterial circulation. This means that blood is made to enter the muscles and restricted from going out. In the several studies performed on occlusion training, it appears that muscle strength gain isn’t the only benefit of such training method. It turns out that BFR also has a pain relieving effect. This method of weight training for lean muscle is now being used by strength coaches and rehabilitation professionals on elite athletes, especially those with injuries. Through BFR training, even athletes with ACL injuries can get back on the playing field with greater strength.

What mechanisms are behind Blood Flow Restriction training?

The effects of occlusion training is believed to be caused by the combination of metabolic stress and mechanical tension that leads to hypertrophy. Studies also showed that the weight lifting muscles being targeted by occlusion had an increase in fast twitch fiber type, hormone production, muscle damage, cell swelling, and heat shock proteins. All of these are important variables required for growing and repairing muscles.

Who may benefit from Blood Flow Restriction training?

Since occlusion training requires low resistance workouts, it is an excellent training method for inducing muscle mass and strength in the elderly people. Blood flow restriction training is not only very effective in the elderly, it is very safe as well. Researchers found that the use of elastic restriction bands, like BFR Bands for occlusion training, helps improve muscle cross sectional areas along with maximum muscle strength. What makes this training method even more applicable to the elderly is the fact that it doesn’t negatively affect arterial stiffness in older people. In short, it is very effective and comes with very low risk for negative reactions.

Blood flow restriction training is excellent also for improving the functional performance of athletes with injuries. Even ordinary individuals who engage in weight lifting bodybuilding and other competitive sports can take advantage of occlusion training.

The success of occlusion training has given so many people a great opportunity to develop muscle mass and strength without necessarily enrolling in weight lifting bodybuilding programs, or buying expensive equipment. To perform blood flow restriction training, all you need is an elastic restriction band or even a blood pressure cuff. Take note, however, that you need to perform this training under the supervision of an experienced trainer.

If you are nursing an injury and you want to use occlusion training to gain back your muscle strength, you would need an occlusion training expert to guide you. Also, invest in a good restriction band, like the ones by BFR Bands as they are designed to occlude venous blood flow and not arterial blood flow.