Category Archives: Exercise

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

Bodybuilders Sell Steroids to Maintain Social Status and Maintain Their Own Usage

Exercise helps postpone death

I doubt she’s juicing (i.e., taking anabolic steroids)

This study was based in Europe, so may not apply to the U.S.

Anyway…

“Many bodybuilders illegally sell steroids to help fund their own use of performance and image enhancing drugs and maintain their social status in the weightlifting community, a new academic study has found. Researchers at Birmingham City University analysed more than 60 criminal cases and interviewed dozens of people involved in the purchase and sale of performance enhancers in the Netherlands and Belgium, to identify the different types of people drawn to selling the drugs.

The report found that sellers often broke the law to help fund their own use of steroids and that most viewed the substances no differently to high street supplements such as protein powders, energy bars or sports drinks.”

Source: Bodybuilders illegally sell steroids to fund own use and maintain social status, finds report

Women Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes With Strength Training

That's a dumbbell in her right hand. I work-out with those myself.

That’s a dumbbell in her right hand. I work-out with those myself.

I don’t have access to the full scientific report, but I’ve posted part of the abstract below.

The biggest problem with the study at hand is that physical activity apparently was surveyed only at the start of this 14-year study. Results would be much more robust if activity was surveyed every year or two. My overall activity level seems to change every two or three years. How about you?

Moving on.

“Compared to women who reported no strength training, women engaging in any strength training experienced a reduced rate of type 2 diabetes of 30% when controlling for time spent in other activities and other confounders. A risk reduction of 17% was observed for cardiovascular disease among women engaging in strength training. Participation in both strength training and aerobic activity was associated with additional risk reductions for both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease compared to participation in aerobic activity only.

CONCLUSIONS: These data support the inclusion of muscle-strengthening exercises in physical activity regimens for reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, independent of aerobic exercise. Further research is needed to determine the optimum dose and intensity of muscle-strengthening exercises.”

PMID 27580152

Source: Strength Training and the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease. – PubMed – NCBI

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Cardiovascular disease includes heart attack, cardiac death, stroke, coronary angioplasty, and coronary artery bypass grafting.

Joe Friel on Age-Related Weight Gain

Steve Parker MD

Not Joe Friel

Joe is an endurance athlete and a trainer of the same. His specialty is cycling. Last I heard, he lives in southern Arizona, probably close to me.

Anyway, he wrote a blog post in 2013 about how he tended to gain 10 lb every winter once he hit his 60s, heavier than he wanted to be. Counting calories to lose the weight didn’t work very well for him because of hunger. So he put together a low-carb paleo-style diet that did the trick. And without a loss of athletic performance.

Joe sez:

“The primary change I made was greatly reducing sugar and cutting back on fruit. I used to eat 5 to 7 servings of fruit a day. That’s roughly 600 calories of carbs from fruit, about 20 to 25% of my calories for the day. I now eat less than one serving per day on average. Foods high in fat I now eat a lot more of are olive oil, coconut milk, nuts, nut butter, eggs, avocado, and bacon along with the normal Paleo foods I’ve eaten since 1994 — animal products, especially fish and poultry, and vegetables. Foods high in fat I eat only a little of are dairy products. I avoid as best I can trans fats (“hydrogenated” on the label) and omega 6 oils (for example, soy, peanut, cottonseed, corn, safflower). Both categories are found in almost all processed and packaged foods in the grocery, especially junk foods. I seldom eat grains — probably less than one serving per month. I once used these as recovery foods on an almost daily basis.”

Click to RTWT: Joe Friel – Aging: My Race Weight

In Diabetics, Paleo Diet Plus Supervised Exercise Sessions Preserves Muscle Mass While Losing Fat Weight

Here’s the study abstract:

BACKGROUND: Means to reduce future risk for cardiovascular disease in subjects with type 2 diabetes are urgently needed.

METHODS:Thirty-two patients with type 2 diabetes (age 59 ± 8 years) followed a Paleolithic diet for 12 weeks. Participants were randomized to either standard care exercise recommendations (PD) or 1-h supervised exercise sessions (aerobic exercise and resistance training) three times per week (PD-EX).

RESULTS:For the within group analyses, fat mass decreased by 5.7 kg (IQR: -6.6, -4.1; p < 0.001) in the PD group and by 6.7 kg (-8.2, -5.3; p < 0.001) in the PD-EX group. Insulin sensitivity (HOMA-IR) improved by 45% in the PD (p < 0.001) and PD-EX (p < 0.001) groups. HbA1c decreased by 0.9% (-1.2, -0.6; p < 0.001) in the PD group and 1.1% (-1.7, -0.7; p < 0.01) in the PD-EX group. Leptin decreased by 62% (p < 0.001) in the PD group and 42% (p < 0.001) in the PD-EX group. Maximum oxygen uptake increased by 0.2 L/min (0.0, 0.3) in the PD-EX group, and remained unchanged in the PD group (p < 0.01 for the difference between intervention groups). Male participants decreased lean mass by 2.6 kg (-3.6, -1.3) in the PD group and by 1.2 kg (-1.3, 1.0) in the PD-EX group (p < 0.05 for the difference between intervention groups).

CONCLUSIONS:A Paleolithic diet improves fat mass and metabolic balance including insulin sensitivity, glycemic control, and leptin in subjects with type 2 diabetes. Supervised exercise training may not enhance the effects on these outcomes, but preserves lean mass in men and increases cardiovascular fitness. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Study authors include J. Otten and M. Ryberg.

Source: Benefits of a Paleolithic diet with and without supervised exercise on fat mass, insulin sensitivity, and glycemic control: a randomized controlled… – PubMed – NCBI

Don’t Do It: Exercise Promotes Cancer

Needs a bit more hormetic stress

“Would you spot me, bro?”

I’ve always assumed that exercise reduces the risk of cancer, contributing to the well-established fact that folks who exercise live longer than others.

But a recent study found a positive association between exercise and two cancers: melanoma and prostate.

The good news is that exercise was linked to lower risk of 13 other cancers.

Here’s a quote for the New York Times Well blog:

The researchers found a reduced risk of breast, lung and colon cancers, which had been reported in earlier research. But they also found a lower risk of tumors in the liver, esophagus, kidney, stomach, endometrium, blood, bone marrow, head and neck, rectum and bladder.

And the reductions in risk for any of these 13 cancers rose steeply as people exercised more. When the researchers compared the top 10 percent of exercisers, meaning those who spent the most time each week engaging in moderate or vigorous workouts, to the 10 percent who were the least active, the exercisers were as much as 20 percent less likely to develop most of the cancers in the study.

I’m surprised the protective effect of exercise against cancer wasn’t stronger.

Action Plan

So how much physical activity does it take to prevent cancer? And what type of exercise? We await further studies for specific answers.

I’m hedging my bets with a combination of aerobic and strength training two or three times a week.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: If you think cancer’s bad, read one of my books. Wait, that didn’t come out right.

PPS: Men with diabetes seem to be less likely than average to get prostate cancer.

Turkish Get-Ups: What, Why, How

I’m going to start doing Turkish get-ups again. I fell out of the habit a couple years ago. Turkish get-ups promote flexibility, balance, joint range of motion, and strength. If you’re just doing the Big Five exercises, TGUs will strengthen some of the smaller muscles (and portions of major muscles) you may be neglecting.

Below are a couple YouTube examples. They are not complete tutorials. You can use a dumbbell or kettlebell. Start with either no weight in your hand, or just a small one. Then work up to higher weights as you get stronger.

These videos may only show how to work one side of the body; you work both sides, of course, and call it a pair. I used to do only five pairs with a 25-lb dumbbell. In weightlifting lingo, you’d call that 1 set of five reps (repetitions). It was exhausting.

Do enough reps and it will be both strength and aerobic training.

Steve Parker, M.D.


QOTD: Too Busy to Exercise?

What fits your busy schedule better, exercising 30 minutes a day or being dead 24 hours a day?

Randy Glasbergen in a 2008 cartoon

For Seniors On Weight-Loss Diet, Strength Training Beats Aerobics For Preserving Bone Mineral Density

according to an article at MedPageToday.

"One more rep then I'm outa here!"

“One more rep then I’m outa here!”

The two experimental groups had about 60 participants each, so it was a relatively small study. (In general, the larger the study, the more reliable the findings.) Most participants were white women; mean age was 69. The experimental intervention ran for five months. An excerpt:

In one trial, the participants were randomized to a structured resistance training program in which three sets of 10 repetitions of eight upper and lower body exercises were done 3 days each week at 70% of one repetition maximum for 5 weeks, with or without calorie restriction of 600 calories per day.
In the second study, participants were randomized to an aerobic program which was conducted for 30 minutes at 65% to 70% heart rate reserve 4 days per week, with or without calorie restriction of 600 calories per day.

The beneficial bone effect was seen at the hip but not the lumbar spine.

Thin old bones—i.e., osteoporotic ones—are prone to fractures. Maintaining or improving bone mineral density probably prevents age-related fractures. In a five-month small study like this, I wouldn’t expect the researchers to find any fracture rate reduction; that would take years. 

Most elders starting a weight-training program should work with a personal trainer. I don’t quite qualify as elderly, but click if interested in my personal fitness program.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Strength training is also known as weight training and resistance exercise.