Posts tagged health benefits
Research Documents Strong Children Are More Likely To Become Fit Adults

In America we face a energy crisis where the CDC reports 1 in 3 adults and shockingly 1 in 5 kids are obese. The imbalance between caloric intake and caloric expenditure has literally tipped the scales and created an growing obesity problem. In Colorado we have seen our blue state (low levels of obesity) turn pink due to an increase in obesity especially among children. Aerobic and resistance training has been found to be both both safe and effective in children and teenagers leading to improvements in mental, emotional, and physical health. A recent review of the medical literature documents the impact of childhood and adolescent fitness on their transition to adulthood.

In the journal Sports Medicine Garcia-Hermoso and colleagues analyzed the available research to determine the association between muscular fitness in childhood and future health (2019). Authors included 30 studies on a total of 21,686 participants between 3 and 18 years old. As expected they reported a significant, moderate to large effect between baseline muscular fitness and future body mass index, fat mass, metabolic blood levels, and cardiovascular status as adults. In short, fit children and adolescents became fit adults. Embracing the American College of Sports Medicine’s Exercise is Medicine campaign, especially in children, may help our country regain the energy balance they need to live their best life.

If I Am Active At Work Do I Still Need to Exercise?

Studies reported the United States lost 1/3 of all manufacturing positions between 1999 and 2010. Many of these individuals have not returned to their prior manufacturing jobs and may have started more sedentary occupations. While prior U.S. generations relied upon their work to provide daily activity, more recent generations must actively pursue aerobic and strength training exercise to receive the incredible health benefits associated with consistent exercise. Individuals who continue to work in active jobs such as construction, shipping, or manufacturing often believe their jobs provide all the activity they need, but new research questions the ability for these occupational activity to meet each individual’s exercise requirements.

A review article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine discussed the available research on occupational activity and health benefits, as well as, made arguments as to why workers with more active occupations should exercise (Holtermann et al. 2018). Previous research in this area has shown occupational activity does not improve an individual’s health. Further, many studies have shown these individuals have poor health and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and early death.

Individuals in jobs with higher occupational activity often perform repetitive, low load movements with periods of heavy lifting and/or abnormal postures. This is in contrast to the shorter duration, higher intensity body movements associated with physical activity and exercise. Specifically, authors report aerobic capacity utlization of 30-35% and 60-80% between occupational activity and exercise, respectively, These lower aerobic intensities do not meet the minimal aerobic levels required for cardiovascular health benefits.

Aerobically trained individuals demonstrate decreased resting heart rate and blood pressure measurements compared to their sedentary peers. Conversely, research shows individuals involved in occupational active jobs demonstrate increased inflammation, heart rate, and blood pressure in the 24 hours following their shifts. If sustained, elevations in heart rate and blood pressure have been shown to be independent risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease. These increases may be explained in part due to the lack of adequate recovery following occupational activities. Resistance training participants take 1-2 days off between sessions while this category of workers often perform job duties longer hours over consecutive days within the work week. Based on these aforementioned factors, workers in these jobs are encouraged to meet the same weekly exercise goals as the general population.

Successful Aging Linked To Exercise Consistency

The average adult loses approximately 10% of their aerobic capacity, VO2 Max, each decade after age 30. Aerobic capacity is the ability of our bodies to utilize oxygen for work and exercise. The loss of aerobic capacity with aging is associated with the development of chronic diseases, as well as, a loss of function and independence in aging adults. As we have noted in previous blogs these health risks can be reduced by daily exercise. Despite the noted physical, mental, and emotional benefits close to 80% of Americans to not reach federal guidelines for weekly exercise. A recent research study reports a history of lifelong exercise may have a preventative effect on the loss of aerobic capacity and cardiovascular health with aging.

Gries and colleagues in the Journal of Applied Physiology examined the effects of lifelong aerobic exercise on aerobic capacity and aging (2018). Authors compared lifelong exercisers to their untrained peers, as well as, young exercisers. They reported lifelong exercisers reported on average 7 hours of weekly exercise (5 days/week) over a 50 year period. Each of the three groups underwent VO2 max testing of aerobic capacity and a muscle biopsy from their thigh. Authors reported lifelong exercisers had cardiovascular systems which tested similar to those of individuals 30 years younger. Further, biopsy results appeared similar between the older lifelong exercisers and the younger, active participants.

This study adds to the overwhelming benefits of exercise on your health and the aging process.

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How can weight training improve my health?

If you only have limited time today choose a brisk walk, but if you have additional time consider lifting something heavy.  Untrained adults lose on average 3-8% of their muscle mass each decade with an accumulation of body fat.  This muscle loss contributes to a lower metabolic rate and continued body composition changes and weight gain through the lifespan.  Conversely, even a 10 week resistance training program has been shown to increase lean muscle mass, reduce body fat, and improve your resting metabolism.  The resting metabolic benefits seen with weight training are above those noted with other forms of exercise including aerobic exercise. 

Performing weight training of large muscle groups, 2-3 non consecutive days per week, has also been shown to benefit other areas of our body.  Our previous blog posts document the improvements in sports performance and injury rates with trained individuals experiencing half to two thirds less injuries across all sports.  Additional benefits include improved walking speed, functional independence, cognitive abilities and self esteem.  Metabolic benefits include improved bone density, insulin sensitivity, blood sugar levels, cholesterol and visceral fat reduction.  Cardiovascular benefits include lower blood pressure and improved good (HDL) cholesterol levels.  

Despite these vast benefits many individuals do not meet national guidelines for strength training each week.  To learn how to initiate or improve your current strength training routine contact the experts at MEND. 

The Health Benefits of Sprinting versus Long Distance Running

Running is one of the most popular sports in Boulder, Colorado with many individuals taking advantage of our many trail options.  In general, run workouts can focus on short duration, higher intensity sprints performed as intervals or longer duration, sustained low to moderate intensity distance runs.  Each training option promotes beneficial changes in the body but new research highlights the benefits of sprint training in aging runners.

Previous research has focused on the benefits of long and slow distance running, but less attention has been paid to sprint training.  In a recent review article Krzysztof and colleagues discuss the beneficial adaptions of sprint training especially among aging runners (Exercise and Sport Science Reviews 2015).  In comparison to endurance athletes, sprint athletes have a slower rate of decline in maximum heart rate, one of the main factors in calculating VO2 max or the maximal amount of oxygen the body can utilize each minute.  Thus sprint athletes show a smaller decline in VO2 max over time compared to their endurance training peers.

Sprint athletes train at higher intensities requiring faster, more explosive muscle contractions.  These contractions promote muscle hypertrophy in sprinters compared to their endurance training peers.  Thus it is not surprising sprint athletes have a slower decline in lean muscle mass due to aging compared to endurance athletes.  In addition, sprint athletes demonstrate better performance on power, agility, and jumping tasks compared to their endurance trained peers.  One final benefit of sprint training is exercise adherence.  Sprint athletes have better adherence to their exercise programs likely secondary to their workouts being less time consuming and more efficient than longer, slower endurance programs.  

Runners are encouraged to consider implementing sprint or interval workouts into their existing endurance programs to further improve their health and performance.