Category Archives: Exercise

Even short bursts of exercise can reduce risk of disease and death

Steve Parker MD

Bouts of 5 minutes may be enough

From ABC News:

The old benchmark of 150 minutes per week of moderate activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity) originated in 1995. The “rules”: Each time you exercise, it should be for at least 10 minutes.

“For about 30 years, guidelines have suggested that moderate-to-vigorous activity could provide health benefits, but only if you sustained the activity for 10 minutes or more,” an author of the research, William E. Kraus, M.D., of the Duke University School of Medicine, said in a press release. “That flies in the face of public health recommendations, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and parking farther from your destination. Those don’t take 10 minutes, so why were they recommended?

“The new study finds that the length of each bout or episode of exercise is unrelated to the benefit seen in living longer. Five minutes of jogging, researchers said, “counts” toward better health.

Source: Even short bursts of exercise can reduce Americans’ risk of disease and death, study says – ABC News

Book Review: “Fit With Diabetes” by Christel Oerum

Front cover

Ginger Vieira introduced me recently to Christel Oerum via email. I was pleased to hear about Christel’s brand new e-book, “Fit With Diabetes.”

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Physical fitness is a major determinant of longevity. It’s truly our only fountain of youth, and it’s available to most everybody. The only way to get and stay physically fit is through regular exercise. Some studies document shorter life spans for PWDs (persons with diabetes). So it’s particularly important for them to maintain a good level of fitness.

I like this e-book and highly recommend it to adults taking insulin for diabetes who need a great physical activity program but don’t know how to go about it. Use of insulin, whether in type 1 or 2 diabetes, significantly complicates exercise due to sometimes mysterious effects on blood sugar. Christel de-mystifies the issue in a clear and science-based manner.

The most dangerous interaction between insulin and exercise is hypoglycemia, although the opposite can be a problem, too. Much of the book is about avoiding dramatic swings in blood sugar, particularly hypoglycemia. Christel teaches the reader how to balance insulin, food, and exercise to keep sugars on an even keel. Aerobic exercise tends to cause hypoglycemia, whereas anaerobic exercise tends to cause high sugar spikes. But your own reaction may be a little different, if not a lot. As you might imagine, monitoring and record-keeping are critical, and Christel shares her own downloadable log.

Trust me, most primary care physicians and many endocrinologists are not going to be much help in the exercise advice department. I only remember one thing my first-ever accountant told me 30 years ago: “No one cares about your money as much as you do.” Likewise, no one cares about your health as much as you do. You’ll have to become your own expert.

The author is like a trusted old friend who’s “been there, done that,” and is sharing freely with you.

Christel has had type 1 diabetes for 21 years and is a diabetes coach. She’s been an avid exerciser since 2010. At that time there were very few resources that addressed vigorous exercise in the setting of T1 diabetes. Learn from her clients’ experience and her own N=1 experimentation so you don’t have to make the same trial-and-error mistakes.

The author works out five days a week. That doesn’t mean you have to. I suspect you can achieve 80–90% of the maximal longevity and other health benefits with just three days a week, maybe two. (Note: I am contradicting several authoritative medical panels!) If you’re sedentary now, two or three days a week should definitely improve your fitness. But you have to exercise right.

Early on, the author talks about how to get motivated for exercise. I like her SMART goal setting-checklist: Goals must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

She recommends a combination of aerobic exercise (“cardio”) and weight training. (I wouldn’t be surprised if we find out one day that the right weight-training program alone is good enough.) Christel tells exactly how to get started and maintain both types of exercise. She outlines both home-based and gym-based training programs.

Dietary calories for adults in the U.S. come 16% from protein, 48% from carbohydrates, and 34% from fats. Alternatively, the author recommends dietary calories come 40% from protein, 30% from carbohydrates, and 30% from fats. So 150 carb grams/day if eating 2000 calories, limiting meal carbs to 30 grams. I wonder if most folks will end up closer to 30% protein and 40% fat, especially for those not doing as much exercise as Christel. (Protein is important for muscle building and maintenance.) Many of my patients do well with additional carbohydrate restriction, but most don’t exercise as much as Christel despite my encouragement.

You can easily track your macronutrients and calories at MyFitnessPal.com.

The author shares some recipes and tells you how to get started on the all-important meal-planning and coming up with your own recipes. There’s even a helpful and realistic chapter on loss of excess weight.

As a reviewer, I always feel like I have to pick a few nits, so here it is. Christel says cardio exercise is great for losing weight. That probably true if you’re competing for $250,000 on TV’s Biggest Loser show. But usually exercise contributes at most 10% to a successful weight-loss program. Diet’s is critical. Exercise does help with prevention of weight regain and has many other benefits.

Again, I like this e-book and highly recommend it to adults taking insulin for diabetes who need a great physical activity program but don’t know how to go about it. Get the e-book here.

Of course, get the blessings of your personal healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet, exercise program, or medications.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Disclosure: Christel kindly gave me a copy of the e-book. Otherwise there was not, and will not be, any remuneration for this review.

 

For Overweight Type 2 Diabetics on a Paleo Diet, What’s the Effect of Adding an Exercise Program?

You better have good cardiovascular fitness if battling this big guy

Swedish researchers wondered if adding an exercise program to the Paleo diet in overweight type 2 diabetics would improve blood sugars or insulin sensitivity. Surprisingly, it did not. Exercise did, however, improve cardiovascular fitness.

How Was the Research Done?

Study participants in northern Sweden had been diagnosed with diabetes within the last 8 years and were either taking metformin (about 2/3 of them) or were using lifestyle modification (primarily diet, I presume) to treat diabetes. Folks on additional diabetes drugs were excluded. Baseline BMI was between 25 and 40, with and average of 31.5. (For example, a 5-ft, 9-inch person weighing 206 lb has a BMI of 30.4.) Men were 30–70 years old; women were post-menopausal or up to age 70 (no explanation given for excluding younger women). A third of participants were women. All were sedentary at the time of enrollment. Baseline hemoglobin A1c’s were between 6.5 and 10.8% (average of 7.2%).

Participants were divided into two groups (14 or 15 in each):

  1. Paleolithic diet (PD)
  2. Paleolithic diet plus thrice weekly supervised exercise (PD-EX)

The exercise regimen was included both aerobic and resistance training. Click the reference link below for details. It looks like a vigorous and reasonable program to me.

The study lasted for 12 weeks.

Here’s their Paleo diet: “…lean meat, fish, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, berries, and nuts. Cereals, dairy products, legumes, refined fats, refined sugars, and salt were excluded with the exception of canned fish and cold cuts like ham. The diet was consumed ad libitum [i.e., they could eat as much as they wanted], with restrictions of the following: eggs (1–2/day but a maximum of 5/week, potatoes (1 medium sized/day), dried fruit (130 g/day), and nuts (60 g/day). Rapeseed or olive oil (maximum 15 g/day) and small amounts of honey and vinegar were allowed as flavoring in cooking. Participants were instructed to drink mainly still water. Coffee and tea were restricted to a maximum of 300 g/day, and red wine to a maximum of one glass/week.

Who could stand to eat this junk for 12 weeks?

What Did They Find?

  • Both groups had and average individual weight loss of 7.1 kg (15.4 lb).
  • Both groups lost fat mass (measured by DEXA). The males in the PD-EX group retained more lean mass (e.g., muscle) than the other males.
  • Insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control improved in both groups to a comparable degree.
  • Hemoglobin A1c dropped about 1% in both groups.
  • VO2max (a measure of cardiovascular fitness) increased only in the PD-EX group, from 22.5 to 25.8 mL/kg/min.
  • Both groups dropped both systolic and diastolic blood pressures by 10%.
  • Both groups cut their leptin levels by about half. Leptin causes inflammation and is linked to cardiovascular events (heart attacks, strokes).

So What?

This study adds to the relatively few previous ones proving that the Paleo diet is effective in diabetes (overweight and obese type 2 diabetes in this case).

Fifteen-pound weight loss over 12 weeks while eating as much as you want is amazing.

The 1% absolute drop in Hemoglobin A1c is also quite welcome, comparable to or better than the reductions we see with many of our diabetes drugs. The authors remind us that “The UK prospective diabetes study (UKPDS) stated that a 1% unit improvement of HbA1c reduces microvascular complications by 37% and reduces diabetes-related death by 21%.”

The exercise program didn’t add to the weight loss. No surprise there. Unless you’re a contestant on The Biggest Loser show, 90% of weight loss depends on diet.

Unlike other studies, the exercisers didn’t see extra improvement in insulin resistance or blood sugar control. I can’t explain it.

The 10% blood pressure reduction by this Paleo diet could be quite beneficial for an individual with high blood pressure, allowing drug avoidance or dose reduction. Systolic pressure of 150 mmHg is often treated with drugs; a 10% reduction gets you down to 135, which doesn’t require drug therapy.

Note the 3.3 mL/kg/min increase in VO2max from this exercise program, which could be an 18% in all-cause mortality if sustained over time. The investigators cite a cohort study that found a VO2max increase of 1.44 mL/kg/min reduced overall mortality by 7.9%.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: Otten, et al. (including Ryberg and Olsson). Effects of a Paleolithic diet with and without supervised exercise on fat mass, insulin sensitivity, and glycemic control: a randomized controlled trial in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews, 2017; 33(1): doi: 10.1002/dmrr.2828   Published online in 2016.

Certain Blood Pressure Meds Interfere With Exercise

If you have to choose between aerobic and resistance training, I favor the latter. The combination is better.

Seriously athletic folks, particularly those in sports with high aerobic demand, should avoid these BP drug classes:

  • Diuretics (they predispose to dehydration)
  • Beta blockers (they may decrease exercise tolerance via slowing of heart rate)

Better choices for athletes are:

  • Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs)
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)
  • long-acting dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers

These latter drugs are not likely to affect athletic performance or cause other complications. If you can’t figure out which class of drug you take, ask your physician or pharmacist.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Even If You’re Old, You Can Preserve Muscle Mass During Weight Loss. Here’s How.

dementia, memory loss, Mediterranean diet, low-carb diet, glycemic index, dementia memory loss

“Honey, please come to the gym with me.”

We’ve known for a while that resistance training helps preserve muscle mass in younger folks during weight-loss programs. I’ve always figured the principle applied to older folks, too. Now we have proof. Average age of these study participants was 67.

From UPI.com:

Seniors who want to lose weight should hit the weight room while they cut calories, a new study suggests.

Older folks who performed resistance training while dieting were able to lose fat but still preserve most of their lean muscle mass, compared with those who walked for exercise, researchers report.

“The thought is if you lose too much lean mass, that this will exacerbate risk of disability in older adults,” said lead researcher Kristen Beavers, an assistant professor of health and exercise science at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. “Our findings show if your treatment goal is to maximize fat loss and minimize lean mass loss, then the resistance training is probably the way to go.”

 

 

Lose Weight With Diet; Maintain Weight Loss With Exercise

Exercise was natural when we were kids

It’s a lesson most of us working in the field learned years ago.

From The New York Times:

It is a question that plagues all who struggle with weight: Why do some of us manage to keep off lost pounds, while others regain them?

Now, a study of 14 participants from the “Biggest Loser” television show provides an answer: physical activity — and much more of it than public health guidelines suggest.

On average, those who managed to maintain a significant weight loss had 80 minutes a day of moderate activity, like walking, or 35 minutes a day of vigorous exercise, like running.

Steve Parker, M.D.

For T2 Diabetes: Diet, Exercise Better Than Drugs According to Canadian University Study

Exercise is more helpful for preventing weight gain than for inducing weight loss

From the Vancouver Sun:

“Taking medication to tightly control and lower blood glucose levels is the advice frequently given by doctors to the 400,000 British Columbia residents with Type 2 diabetes — but it’s a “misguided” approach, according to the University of B.C. Therapeutics Initiative [the TI].

More than $1 billion is spent annually on diabetes drugs in this province, but in its latest bulletin to doctors, the TI says a growing body of research casts doubt on the effectiveness of Type 2 diabetes treatment. Doctors should focus instead on prescribing lifestyle modifications such as weight loss, exercise and healthier diets instead of medications to many patients, it says.

Type 2 diabetes, characterized by resistance to insulin, is largely caused by obesity, lack of exercise, high-carbohydrate diets and aging.”

Source: Type 2 diabetes: Exercise, diet better than medicine, says UBC study | Vancouver Sun

Read the short article for an opposing viewpoint. Namely, some diabetes drugs may help prevent cardiovascular disease (I’m not yet convinced).

h/t The Low Carb Diabetic

Hey, I know a diet that helps!

No degludec up in here!

Regain Muscle Mass Even If Over 60

She'll lose muscle fibers if she gets too sedentary as she ages

She’ll lose muscle if she gets too sedentary as she ages

“Our lab and others have shown repeatedly” that older muscles will grow and strengthen, says Marcas Bamman, a professor of integrative biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In his studies, men and women in their 60s and 70s who began supervised weight training developed muscles that were as large and strong as those of your average 40-year-old.”

Source: Can You Regain Muscle Mass After Age 60? – The New York Times

Dr. Bamman says older folks (over 60?) don’t add new muscle fibers like young’uns do. But an effective exercise program will cause hypertrophy (growth) of the existing muscle fibers. “Effectiveness” probably depend on exhausting muscle groups during weight training.

What’s More Important For Longevity: Level of Fitness Or Minutes of Exercise Per Week?

She can increase intensity by increasing the weight of those dumbbells

She can increase intensity by increasing the weight of those dumbbells

You’ve heard that “sitting is the new smoking,” right?

Regular physical activity prevents disease and prolongs life. But if you nevertheless still spend to much time sitting around either at work or home, the sitting tends to counteract the benefits of your exercise.

A new study says that your fitness level is more important for long-term health than the number of hours you exercise. Fitness level in this context was cardiorespiratory fitness, probably measured by a maximal-effort treadmill or bicycle test.

Some of your fitness level is inherited, but you can also improve your fitness with the proper intensity or duration of exercise. Rather than exercise longer, I prefer more intensity. Just strolling around the mall at 2 mph for two hours isn’t going to improve fitness in most folks.

From MNT:

“The team conducted a cross-sectional study of 495 women and 379 men from Norway aged between 70-77 years. Sedentary time and physical activity were assessed by accelerometers, while cardiorespiratory fitness was determined by peak oxygen uptake (VO2 peak) – the measurement of the volume of oxygen that the body can utilize during physical exertion.

Researchers compared different levels of activity with fitness levels and cardiovascular risk factor clusters. A cardiovascular risk factor cluster was defined as the presence of three to five risk factors for heart disease.

These risk factors included: elevated waist circumference, elevated blood triglycerides or reduced “good” cholesterol levels, high blood pressure or treatment for hypertension, and elevated fasting blood sugar levels – combined symptoms commonly referred to as metabolic syndrome.

High cardiorespiratory fitness reduced risk of heart diseaseFindings – published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings – showed that when compared with women and men who were the least sedentary, women and men from the most sedentary group were 83 percent and 63 percent more likely to have cardiovascular risk factors from extended time sitting, respectively.

However, when the team took participants’ level of fitness into consideration – measured by having high age-specific cardiorespiratory fitness – they found that the fittest 40 percent had a decreased likelihood of cardiovascular risk factors from prolonged sitting.This finding held true even though the fittest participants spent between 12-13 hours per day sedentary and did not meet current moderate to vigorous physical activity guidelines.”

Source: Fitness, not physical activity, mitigates negative effects of prolonged sitting – Medical News Today

PS: If you’re new to exercise, I teach you how to get started in my books.

Considering Weight Training? P.D. Mangan Lists the Essentials for Effectiveness

No evidence of anabolic steroids here. Primarily estrogen.

She won’t be at your home gym

I am a huge advocate of weight training (aka resistance or strength training).

Folks new to weight training, or simply thinking about starting a program, are often intimidated by the jargon and contradictory information available. P.D. Mangan clears up a lot of the confusion in a brief article.

I quote:

“Misconceptions and wrong ideas abound in weight training, probably because so many enthusiastic amateurs are involved in it. In this article, I’ll try to clear up some of the misconceptions with a look at at science-based weight training.

In recent articles, we saw that brief workouts, at 15 minutes, done infrequently, at twice a week, can produce significant strength gains. We saw that compound lifts, not isolation lifts, are the most effective strength exercises, and are essential for the serious strength trainer. And we saw that hard weight lifting causes muscle damage, which necessitates recovery time.

Here I’ll focus on what science has to say about additional aspects of weight lifting (resistance training). These come from “Evidence-Based Resistance Training Recommendations” by Fisher et al.”

Source: Science-Based Weight Training – Rogue Health and Fitness