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“I believe people can do far more than they think they can.”

2 Jan

The New York Times ran this awe inspiring story about 85 year old marathon champion Ed Whitlock.

“He’s about as close as you can get to minimal aging in a human individual,” said Dr. Michael Joyner, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic who has studied performance and aging.

How our ancestors exercised (evidence against too much sitting)

30 Nov

From this weekend’s New York Times:

Are we fighting thousands of years of evolutionary history and the best interests of our bodies when we sit all day?That question is at the core of a fascinating new study of the daily lives and cardiovascular health of a modern tribe of hunter-gatherers. The findings strongly suggest that we are born to be in motion, with health consequences when we are not

You can read the abstract of the original research here.

I do yoga and the 10,000 steps a day program.

Dr. Mirkin: “Sitting Will Not Harm Vigorous Exercisers”

11 Nov

From Dr. Mirkin’s eZine:

Asking people to stand at work, rather than sit, is not good advice because standing-without-moving is no better than sitting, and will make you too tired to exercise vigorously when you are finished working. If you are a vigorous exerciser, standing all day will slow your recovery from your exercise program.

The highly-publicized studies that showed sitting is harmful for exercisers were flawed because they failed to separate casual exercisers from vigorous exercisers. No one has shown that standing up instead of sitting confers any special health benefits, and standing without moving around can cause additional problems such as varicose veins and swollen feet. Contracting muscles circulate extra blood to strengthen your heart and draw sugar from the bloodstream to lower high blood sugar levels. This does not happen when you just stand in one position without moving your muscles

I am not completely convinced, but I think he raises a good point about the failure of the study to consider individual differences in fitness as a confounding variable.

 

 

Passive exercise may have benefits

12 Oct

When I was a kid, there were a number of popular books touting the benefits of isometric exercise. It seemed like a great idea, exercise without equipment, sweat, or repetition. As I remember them, the books would feature highly muscled individuals performing the exercises. Now, I realize that these people must have gained their muscular physiques from workouts with weights, but at the time I was quite convinced.

Naturally, I have become suspicious of claims that you can exercise without exertion. But this article by Dr. Mirkin suggests that passive exercise may have benefits for otherwise inactive people:

The exciting new concept is that passive exercise — sitting on a motor-driven stationary bicycle and letting the pedals move the person’s legs for 30 minutes — burns extra calories and lowers blood sugar and insulin levels in inactive people (Med Sci Sprts Ex, Sept, 2016;48(9):1821-1828). Having their legs moved by motor-driven pedals increases insulin sensitivity by lowering blood sugar rises after eating.

Why exercise helps memory

29 Jun

A paper in the journal Cell Metabolism offers another explanation for the postive effect of exercise on memory:

“Here, we show that a muscle secretory factor, cathepsin B (CTSB) protein, is important for the cognitive and neurogenic benefits of running.”

Here is a journalistic summary:

“Working out is good for the brain. Now, a team of scientists from the U.S. and Germany has a clearer idea why. A protein called cathepsin B, produced and secreted by muscle during exercise, is required for exercise-induced memory improvement and brain cell production in mice, the scientists reported in Cell Metabolism today (June 23). They also showed that levels of cathepsin B are positively correlated with fitness and memory in humans”

 

Cleveland State’s Human Performance Lab

17 Jun

Here’s a video, narrated by my friend and colleague Dr. Ken Sparks, describing his work at Cleveland State’s Human Performance Lab:

 

Pocket Hercules and the Mighty Atom

15 Jun

I am fascinated by all things Indian. A few days ago The New York Times published an obituary for Indian bodybuilder Manohar Aich, who died at the age of 103.

Manohar Aich, was only 4 feet 11 inches tall. A fact that earned him the nickname of “Pocket Hercules.”

 

I was struck by the similarities between the story of Manohar Aich and the life of Joseph L. Greenstein, a strong man know as the Mighty Atom. Years ago, my brother had given me a biography of Greenstein, which I highly recommend. Greenstein was only 5 feet 4 inches tall and he was the inspiration for the golden age comic book superhero “the Atom.”

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