Posts tagged with "Exercise"

Trimming the fat: Controlling cholesterol

June 16, 2022

Cholesterol is a waxy type of fat, called a lipid, that is present in the blood. It’s a substance that everyone needs—as a building block of healthy cells—but too much of it can lead to fatty deposits in our blood vessels, increasing our risk of heart disease, reports Science Focus.

Indeed, sometimes, those deposits can break suddenly and form a clot that causes a heart attack or stroke

There are two different types of cholesterol—one of them, beneficial; the other, possibly harmful:

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL).LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, transports cholesterol particles throughout our bodies. This is the cholesterol that can build up in the walls of our arteries, making them hard and narrow.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL).HDL, the “good” cholesterol, picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back to our livers.

Diet is a key contributor to high cholesterol. The key is to cut down on foods with saturated fat, like cheese, biscuits, cakes, butter, pies, sausages, coconut oil, and fatty meats.

Eating more foods with “unsaturated fats”—such as such as avocados, vegetable oils, nuts, and oily fish—can help us to reduce our levels of LDL.

Exercise also can help lower cholesterol. Even just as using the stairs instead of the elevator, taking a brisk walk, or doing two-minute bursts of activity at home (such as star jumps) can make a difference. Stopping smoking and reducing alcohol consumption also can lower cholesterol.

If lifestyle changes, alone, don’t work, then sometimes medications (called statins) are needed. These are usually taken once a day for life. According to Science Focus, statins can be very effective at lowering cholesterol and, despite sometimes getting a bad press, often they only have few side effects. One widely reported side effect is muscle pain, but most people don’t experience any at all. Statins have been around for over 30 years and have been prescribed to millions of people. In Britain they are estimated to save 7,000 lives annually.

Research contact: @ScienceFocus

‘We want to be the Nike of brain health’

September 30, 2021

A new mission-driven startup founded by Maria Shriver and one of her sons with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Patrick Schwarzenegger, casts a spotlight on cognitive wellness, Food Business News reports.

 Los Angeles-based MOSH (which stands for Maria Owings Shriver Health) is debuting a line of protein bars formulated with adaptogens and nutrients linked to brain health. A percentage of sales supports Alzheimer’s research. 

Shriver—an award-winning journalist, author, and former First Lady of California—is a force in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, which a decade ago claimed the life of her father, American diplomat, politician and activist Sargent Shriver. Following his diagnosis, she penned the children’s book “What’s Happening to Grandpa?” and produced the documentary series “The Alzheimer’s Project.”

 She published the groundbreaking Shriver Report—revealing that Alzheimer’s disease disproportionately affects women—and subsequently launched the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, a nonprofit organization advancing gender-based brain health research.

 “We’ve learned so much in my two decades of advocacy about what actually impacts our brain health,” Shriver told Food Business News. “When I got involved with Alzheimer’s, people were only looking in one space; they were looking at plaques and tangles, and they were researching men.

 “Now,” says Shriver, “we know so much of what we do on a day-to-day basis starting in our 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, particularly with women who are perimenopausal and menopausal. How you sleep, how you exercise, and what you eat have a big impact on your brain functioning at its best.”

 Shriver and Schwarzenegger partnered with brain health experts and nutritionists to develop the protein bars, which are available in peanut butter, chocolate and peanut butter chocolate flavors. Ashwagandha, lion’s mane mushroom, collagen, medium-chain triglyceride oil, vitamins B12 and D3 and omega-3 fatty acids are among the brain-boosting ingredients included in the recipes.

 Nutrition plays a role in delaying or preventing cognitive decline. Recent research suggests the ketogenic diet may help reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, Shriver noted. She also cited research examining the effects of sugar on brain health.

“That’s why this bar is formulated with zero added sugar,” she said.

 Shriver, who often relies on protein bars to fuel her busy lifestyle, said the company plans to launch “a whole slew of products” in the future.

 “We want to be the Nike of brain health,” Schwarzenegger added. “We want to get consumers shopping in different categories that are good for brain and body—whether that is protein bars, whether that is hydration, whether that is different protein powders or supplements.”

 He said the protein bars had been in development for a year and a half. The team tested various iterations with scores of consumers. Supply chain disruptions and pandemic restrictions further delayed the launch.

 The bars, featuring packaging design inspired by a brain scan, are sold at Proceeds from each purchase are donated to Women’s Alzheimer Movement.

 Research contact: @FoodBizNews

For runs in the snow, Finns say, ‘Sock it to me’

February 18, 2021

Finns who are keen to avoid gyms and other indoor sports venues this winter because of the coronavirus pandemic have found a new way to keep fit: They are running in the snow wearing absolutely no training shoes—just as many as three pairs of thick woolen socks at a time, Reuters reports.

Finland has seen particularly heavy snowfall this winter and running outside in just socks provides great exercise as well as a sense of freedom, said Pekka Parviainen, a helicopter pilot and an avid barefoot runner.

“This is traditional Finnish crazy stuff, I think we all agree,” said Parviainen while out running with a group in Nuuksio National Park, 35 kilometers (20 miles) from the capital Helsinki.

“And it’s really the happiness side. I mean it’s very good sport, strong exercise and everything, but it really is the happiness,” he added.

In Finland, where taking a sauna in winter and then running through snow to jump into an ice-cold lake is a traditional pastime, barefoot running has become popular in the past few years during the warmer months, Reuters notes.

Running in socks through heavy snow, now about half a metre (1.6 feet) deep in many places, takes this to the next level.

 “You can do it quite light or you can do it really heavy in the deep snow as we did now. But the feeling afterwards is just great. You have had a good foot massage,” Parviainen told Reuters, because your feet are not tightly “packaged” in trainers.

There is no shortage of warm woollen socks as many Finns have taken to knitting during long winter lockdowns.

Parviainen recommends wearing at least two, preferably three, pairs of woolen socks to get the most out of the run.

Research contact: @Reuters

Cold workouts are cool now

April 29, 2019

Looking for a way to beat the heat this summer—and get in shape at the same time? Sure, you could dive into a pool or run up the stairs at your air-conditioned office. But those are so yesterday. Instead, you might want to think about patronizing a place that claims to be “the world’s first cool-temperature fitness studio.”

Opened in May 2018 in Manhattan’s Flatiron Chelsea neighborhood, Brrrn offers core and cardio workouts to a “chill” crowd of enthusiasts. Sessions are held for 50 minutes in a 50 ̊ (F) studio. Thus the “brrr.”

The new, nippy workout is based on the theory of “mild cold stress,” which posits that, when the temperature is low, your body relies on its own metabolism—by “brrrning” calories and fat—to get back up to 98.6 ̊ F.

To test it out, Founders Jimmy Martin and Johnny Adamic  pulled rowing machines into fridges at Sixpoint Brewery in Brooklyn and set up sessions at an ice factory in Martin’s Pennsylvania hometown. They eventually won investor backing to finance their first location in New York City.

Jason Kelly, a Bloomberg reporter, decided to test the theory out last summer. “I was intrigued by studies saying cold-temperature workouts are less fatiguing,” he commented, adding, “And on a steamy … day, the thought of walking into a chilly room sounded refreshing.”

Still, he commented, “When I arrive, 55 ̊ feels colder than I expect. The door to the actual studio resembles a walk-in freezer.”

The company’s website describes its ethos as its “Coldture” and promises to “give heat the cold shoulder.” The workouts, too, come in three “degrees”: First degree is a low-impact, yoga-inspired class that’s held at 60 ̊. Second degree classes are held at 55 ̊. Third degree, the most intense, drops the temperature to 45 ̊  and uses battle ropes and dumbbells as well as sandbells.

Kelly chose the middle option, which offers “total body conditioning” and still felt himself sweating buckets in the cool air by the end of the session.

Still, he asked himself when it was over, Is a cold studio enough, in a city with more boutique fitness concepts than cupcake stores, to build the kind of loyal mega-success achieved by those brands? Surprisingly, the answer was “yes.”

“One area where Brrrn has an edge,” Kelly said, “is enthusiasm, from both its instructors and founders. And the workout, even without the cold, is different in a good way. My inner quads and lower glutes were sore for days afterward, and the attention to largely unused muscles evoked the best barre workouts.”

And the science? “I want to believe it,” he says, “ If dropping the temperature a few degrees can make a workout more effective and addictive, all the better. But check back with me in winter.”

Each class costs $34.

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Don’t sit still for ‘dead butt syndrome’

November 1, 2018

Use it or lose it: Those of us with desk jobs have been warned that sitting too long can raise our chances of developing some dread diseases, from heart disease to cancer to diabetes—and can even take years off our lives. But there’s one side effect that you may not have realized is linked to parking your tush in a desk chair all day long, according to an October 29 report by the Huffington Post.

Compressing those gluteals for too long can literally lead to a butt that doesn’t want to “get up and go.” And there’s even a name for it: “Dead butt syndrome,” or “gluteal amnesia” is a condition that occurs when your gluteus medius gets inflamed and forgets to function normally.

“Sitting too long can restrict the blood flow, causing gluteal amnesia, which can lead to hip pain, lower backache and problems with your ankles. The glutes will fail to fire properly even when performing exercises targeting the glutes,” celebrity fitness trainer Donovan Green told the news outlet.

 What’s more, Kelly Starrett, a physical therapist and founder of Stand Up Kids, told the HuffPost that our glutes are not built to bear weight for long periods. “If you imagine making a panini sandwich where you take high pressure and high temperature and make a grilled cheese, sitting on your glutes all day is a little like this,” he said.

“The sustained flexed position of the hip and the compression of the tissues sets us up for the perfect storm of shut[ting] down glute function, or in the vernacular of the people, ‘dead butt,’” he added.

People experiencing dead butt syndrome may feel the familiar sensation of a body part “falling asleep.” The sensation can range from mild to severe—and can be brief or long-lasting.

“Sitting for extended periods of time has been shown in multiple studies to have a major impact on how well we can contract and use our glutes effectively,” Green said.

He noted that when your glutes shut down due to lack of activity and stimulus, it causes strain on other muscles and joints and produces an effect where weaker muscles have to do the job of the stronger gluteus maximus.

Left untreated, this can lead to something called “synergistic dominance,” where the smaller helper muscles of the hip and leg are now taking over movement and controlling the forces loaded on the hips, spine, and low back. Muscle tightness in the hips is also a major culprit of dead butt syndrome

So what’s to be done? Jeff Bell, co-founder and master trainer at Belleon Body NYC, told the Huffington Post, “The gluteus maximus was built for power and speed and needs to be fed a regular diet of climbing, squatting, running, lunging, and walking, if it is to be kept in peak condition, or at least appear in top shape.”

“A good rule to remember is, for every hour of sitting, you need to take ten minutes of standing and moving around to reactivate and keep those butt muscles from falling asleep,” he said. Also, clenching your butt muscles occasionally throughout the day might help. “This will fire up those glutes and get them back to moving again,” he said.

Research contact: @NicolePajer

Put down the coffee: Workers are using caffeine and sugar to combat stress

March 23, 2018

There is an epidemic of stress nationwide today, with the vast majority of U.S. workers—80%, according to the American Institute of Stress—experiencing on-the-job tension and anxiety.

What they are doing about it, U.S. News reports—chugging coffees (34%) and handfuls of candy, downing alcoholic drinks, resorting to prescription and recreational drugs, and acting out—may exacerbate the problem rather than help to solve it.

In a poll of 751 adult American workers sponsored by The Marlin Company, conducted by The Harris Poll, and cited by the institute, fully 25% of respondents admitted that job-related stress makes them feel like screaming, and 14% said that their stress levels have made them feel like hitting a coworker.

Thus, it is no surprise that 10% of respondents expressed fear that someone they know at work actually could turn violent, with another 18% reporting that they had experienced a threat or verbal intimidation within the past year.

Now, a survey sponsored by Salt Lake City-based Bridge has found that the pressures are growing worse, instead of being ameliorated. The study has found that the 24/7 culture of many companies may be adding to the stress.

Only 33% of the 1,000 U.S. office workers who participated in the study said they are encouraged by their employer to take paid time off, and only 11% are encouraged to take mental health days as part of their sick leave. Most (78% of workers) were convinced that working more hours would be crucial to getting ahead and about 50% reported feeling like they have to engage in workplace politics.

However, U.S. News cautions, be careful what you wish for—and what methods you use to relieve the stress that is generated along the path to achievement. Even coffee, which has some proven health benefits, can cause unpleasant symptoms like headaches and irritability if you drink too much of it, according to the Mayo Clinic.

And Harvard Medical School has warned that, if you eat too much added sugar—in the form of those M&Ms or candy bars—it boosts your risk of dying from heart disease. Plus it goes without saying that alcohol and drugs do not mix well with work.

Instead, experts advise, take paid time off, even if it is not encouraged by your company; unplug and de-stress for a few minutes every hour, exercise for anxiety relief—and plan ahead. Starting the day worried and disorganized can only set you up for more stress; while planning your calendar will enhance feelings of control and competence.

Research contact:

Moderate drinkers may have better chance of reaching age 90 than exercisers

February 23, 2018

People who drink moderate amounts of alcohol live longer than those who abstain—and also live longer than their peers who exercise—based on results of a long-running study by The UC Irvine Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders (UCI MIND) released this week.

Specifically, Dr. Claudia Kawas, a professor of Neurobiology and Behavior at UCI’s School of Biological Sciences, told a scientific conference in Austin, Texas, “modest drinking improves longevity.”

Indeed, The 90+ Study—which looks at the habits, diet, activities and medical history of the “oldest-old” among us—has established that elderly people who drink two glasses of wine or beer a day are 18% less likely to die early.

And surprisingly enough, that makes them healthier than their peers who exercise—who only reduce their risk of premature death by 11%, the UCI MIND researchers found.

What’s more, the researchers found, people who were overweight in their 70s lived longer than average or underweight people did.

The 90+ Study was initiated in 2003 to study the oldest-old—the fastest growing age group in the United States.  Today, it is among the largest studies of the oldest-old in the world. More than 1,600 people have enrolled

Initial participants in the UCI study were once members of The Leisure World Cohort Study (LWCS), which was started in 1981.  The LWCS mailed surveys to every resident of Leisure World, a large retirement community in Orange County, California (now incorporated as the city of Laguna Woods). Using the 14,000 subjects from the LWCS, researchers from The 90+ Study were able to ask, What allows people to live to age 90 and beyond?

 Among the findings of the study over the past 30-plus years is that more than 40% of people age 90 and older suffer from dementia while almost 80% are disabled. Both are more common in women than men.

 The 90+ Study is seeking new participants. If you are at least 90 years old and are willing to participate in twice annual visits and donate your brain to research after death, you may be eligible to enroll in The 90+ Study.

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