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Working out the muscles on one side of our bodies can keep the muscles on the other side fit, even if we do not move them at all.
By Gretchen Reynolds
May 16, 2018
If you sprain an ankle or break a wrist this summer and cannot use one of your limbs, the muscles there will weaken and shrink — unless you exercise those same muscles in your other limb.
According to a fascinating new study, working out the muscles on one side of our bodies can keep the muscles on the other side strong and fit, even if we do not move them at all. The finding has implications for injury recovery and also underscores how capable and confounding our bodies can be.
Many of us — or a family member — will at some point break a bone, tear a ligament or experience a neurological problem such as a stroke that makes it impossible to move an arm or leg normally.
When that limb is immobilized, its muscles will atrophy, losing size and strength, a process that begins within days or even hours of an injury.
There have been hints, though, that exercising one limb can affect the other. In past studies, when someone pedals a bike with one leg or lifts weights with one arm, muscles in the other limb often contract, a development known as mirroring.
But in most of those experiments, the unused limb was not completely immobilized with a cast and scientists did not focus on specific muscles, making it difficult to know whether exercising certain muscles in one limb affects all muscles in the other or only some.
Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/16/well/move/exercise-sports-injury-arm-leg-broken-strain-sprain.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fhealth&action=click&contentCollection=health&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront
Exercise changes the brains and sperm of male animals in ways that later affect the brains and thinking skills of their offspring, according to a fascinating new study involving mice.
The findings indicate that some of the brain benefits of physical activity may be passed along to children, even if a father does not begin to exercise until adulthood.
We already have plenty of scientific evidence showing that exercise is good for our brains, whether we are mice or people. Among other effects, physical activity can strengthen the connections between neurons in the hippocampus, a crucial part of the brain involved in memory and learning. Stronger neuronal connections there generally mean sharper thinking.
Studies also indicate that exercise, like other aspects of lifestyle, can alter how genes work — whether and when they get turned on or off, for instance — and those changes can get passed on to children. This process is known as epigenetics.
Meanwhile the average American has also grown....
You are what you eat.
A new study adds evidence to the argument that exercise can help preserve brain health, particularly in the aging brain.
What makes this study different than most is a wrinkle in its methodology. Unlike many studies that look for a connection between exercise and brain health, this one used a specific way of measuring physical fitness, by testing the participants’ maximum oxygen consumption during aerobic exercise (known as the V02 max test, it’s a method recognized by the American Heart Association as an objective way of analyzing cardiovascular fitness--more reliable than people just self-reporting on how fit they think they are).
Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2018/02/20/study-finds-link-between-physical-fitness-and-brain-health/#6cb0e19172c9
If you’re tired of feeling bloated and puffy, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Over half of our total body weight is water and the amount we retain on a given day is directly correlated to what we eat. The key to flushing the water-weight quickly is to take a break from foods that are high in sodium like canned goods, chips, pizza, pasta, and even sugary foods as well. Author and personal trainer Jen Widerstrom has come up with a few easy ways to wave goodbye to the bloat in just three days. Here is what you need to know to get started.
Start With a Potassium Water Flush and Caffeine Chaser
As strange as it sounds, the key to getting the water weight down is to actually drink more water. To spice up your water, add lemons, cucumbers, and kiwis to hydrate your body and give it to a dose of potassium. Potassium counterbalances the effect of sodium in the body so it’s an important part of your diet when you’re trying to shed the weight. Pair this drink with a caffeine chaser such as tea or an espresso shot, which acts as a natural diuretic. Make sure to avoid sugar and dairy since these ingredients can actually make you bloat.
Pair White Bean Hummus With Water Veggies at Lunch
Studies show that white kidney beans have a compound that acts as a starch blocker. For every gram of carbs you eat, you retain three grams of water, but white beans inhibit digestion of these carbs so you don’t have to accumulate any water weight. Aside from that benefit, this vegetable is also full of fiber which can help clean you out. The most powerful way to enjoy this snack is with cucumbers and celery which have the highest water content of any vegetable and are extremely low in calories.
Make a Water-Shedding Veggie Bowl
Leafy greens are a crucial part of water weight loss because they draw water out of your body. So start with a base of spinach and add asparagus (a natural diuretic) and broccoli (which is high in potassium) on top. Top with dried apricots which can add a nice texture and all-natural sweetness to the dish. Feel free to swap out the greens, choosing from kale or Swiss chard or any other dark leafy vegetable you enjoy.
Make Banana Tea for Dessert
To make banana tea, put a whole banana – peel included – in a pot of water and bring it to a boil for around 10 minutes. The peel actually has more potassium than the banana itself and is full of magnesium which can help you sleep better. A good night’s rest is also important for losing weight because your body goes into fat-burning mode while you snooze. You can also add a pinch of cinnamon to give the drink more flavor, just avoid adding any sweeteners to avoid an insulin spike.
Add Exercise to Your Daily Routine
Aside from your diet, light exercise is very helpful in shedding the water weight. Either before breakfast or after dinner, make time to go for a 20 minute walk at the park or just around your neighborhood. You don’t have to do an intense workout to enjoy the benefits, the key is to get your blood flowing, improve your circulation, and help you digest your food.
Being mistreated at work can make people take out their frustrations on loved ones at home. But a new study suggests that getting more exercise and sleep may help people better cope with those negative emotions by leaving them at work, where they belong.
People who burned more calories on a daily basis—by doing the equivalent of a long walk or swim—were less likely to take out their anger about work issues on people they lived with, the researchers found in the new study, which was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.
The researchers used activity trackers to record sleep patterns and physical activity of 118 graduate students with full-time jobs. Each participant, and one person he or she lived with, also completed surveys about sleep, exercise and feelings of mistreatment at home or work.
Previous research shows that employees who are belittled or insulted by colleagues are likely to vent their frustrations and behave angrily toward people outside of work, says study co-author Shannon Taylor, a management professor at the University of Central Florida's College of Business.
The new study backs up this idea, but offers a bit of good news, as well: Employees who averaged more than 10,500 steps a day or burned at least 2,100 calories were less likely to mistreat their cohabitants than those who averaged fewer steps or burned fewer calories.
The researchers even calculated the exact energy expenditure needed to protect against work-to-home emotional spillover. Burning an additional 587 calories, the equivalent of a 90-minute brisk walk or an hour-long swim for a 195-pound male, can “substantially reduce the harmful effects of workplace undermining,” they wrote.
The findings also revealed that when employees felt they had a bad night’s sleep because of work issues, they were more likely to be grouchy at home. “When you’re tired, you’re either less able or less motivated to regulate yourself,” says co-author Larissa Barber, professor of psychology at Northern Illinois University.
Physical activity seems to counterbalance poor sleep, Barber says, because it promotes healthy brain functions needed to properly regulate emotions and behavior. “This study suggests that high amounts of exercise can be at least one way to compensate for sleep troubles that lead to negative behaviors at home,” she says.
Barber acknowledges that finding time to work out and get a full night’s sleep can be difficult when work pressures are mounting—and that often, job stress can directly relate to sleep quality. (Her previous research suggests that not only can a bad day at the office keep us up at night, but that poor sleep can also affect how we interpret events at work.)
But, she says, making the effort to burn some extra calories—and blow off some steam—can be worth it. It’s not only good for you, says Taylor, but it can benefit the people you live with as well.
“I would advise people to think of sleep and exercise from an investment perspective rather than another task on the to-do list,” Barber says. “It may seem like more work upfront, but the boost in motivation and energy can help you avoid sinking deeper into workplace stress and productivity problems.”
Why would a sports medicine physician teach fitness classes? It's a common question I hear all the time.
My belief is that being a doctor is as much about preventing illness and injury as it is about treating these problems after they happen. Across the spectrum of the human body, no drug is as effective as the medicine of exercise. For that reason, I have focused my attention on preventive health using the medicine of fitness.
In addition to my busy sports medicine practice, I have developed the world's biggest, free-standing, physician-led exercise clinic. My goal is to prescribe the medicine of exercise to my IronStrength community, thousands of people who show up and work out with me every year, and to teach doctors around the world how they can do the same.
Over the years, it's become abundantly clear to me that intensity matters—so does consistency! That's why it's essential for all of us not to let bumps in the road—like holiday travel, too many holiday commitments, or too much time with family—get in the way of our motivation or our routine!
HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is all about efficiency and intensity. It's about how hard you work and how much work you do in any given time period. It's the perfect workout for someone who has no time. These workouts are designed to hit as many muscles as possible in the simplest way possible. Many of the exercises involve multiple muscle groups and are based on functional movement—they'll train you for natural movements you do every day.
I define fitness as a combination of cardiopulmonary fitness and strength. The beauty of these HIIT workouts is that they address both components of fitness at the same time and can be done anytime, anywhere.
A 10-minute-or-less workout isn't ideal, but if you HIIT it hard (pun intended!), it can make a huge difference. Even if it's been the busiest day ever and you have no time and you have no motivation, just start exercising. Maybe you'll have to cut it short. But maybe after a couple of minutes you'll start to feel better. Maybe you'll get into it more and more as you go. Maybe your mood will brighten. And maybe, just maybe, you'll squeeze in more time than you thought, or work harder and fit more into the time you have.
Here's another tip: Choose the workout wisely! Workouts do more than just make you sweat; they can help eliminate the excuses, too. Here's a short workout that doesn't need any equipment or even very much space! It's perfect for your bedroom, a hotel room, or anywhere you have just a bit of floor space. So simple! All you have to do is tie your shoes and get it done. Heck, you don't even need shoes. Try it barefoot.
For a full-body HIIT workout in just 10 minutes, start with a three-minute warm-up of jumping jacks, pogo hops, and forward jacks. Rest for one minute. Perform these three exercises for one minute, cycling through the set two times.
Then, give these exercises a try:
Stand with your hands on the back of your head and your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor, then jump as high as you can. When you land, immediately squat and jump again.
Reverse lunge with toe touch
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step back with your right leg and lower your body until your knee almost touches the floor. Stand up, swing your right leg as high as you can, and touch your toes with your left hand. Alternate sides for the allotted time.
Burpee with push-up
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat as deeply as you can and place your hands on the floor. Kick back into a push-up position. Do one push-up. Bring your legs back to a squat and jump up, throwing your hands above your head. Land and repeat.
If you find yourself getting really into things, add on another 10 minutes by resting for one minute and then performing the next three exercises for one minute each, cycling through the set three times.
Assume a push-up position. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles. Without allowing your lower-back posture to change, lift your left foot off the floor and move your left knee toward your chest. Return to the starting position and repeat with your right leg. Alternate legs, moving quickly.
Single-leg toe touches.
Stand on your right leg with your left leg out in front of you, raised off the floor. Place your arms straight out to your sides at shoulder height. Bend your right leg at the knee and squat down to touch your left hand to the toe of your right foot, then come back up. Repeat with your left leg and continue, alternating for the allotted time.
Lie faceup with your hips and knees bent 90 degrees so that your lower legs are parallel to the floor. Place your fingers on the sides of your forehead. Lift your shoulders off the floor and hold them there. Twist your upper body to the right as you pull your right knee in as fast as you can until it touches your left elbow. Simultaneously straighten your left leg. Return to the starting position and repeat to the other side.
By Dr. Jordan Metz/MBG
Diet sodas may undermine weight loss efforts, a new study suggests.
Researchers put 81 overweight women with Type 2 diabetes on the same weight-control diet, except that half drank diet beverages five times a week after their main meal at lunch, while the other half substituted plain water. The study is in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism.
After 24 weeks, the water group had lost an average of 14 pounds, while the diet soda group lost 11.5 pounds. Average body mass index declined by 2.49 in the water group compared with 2.06 in the diet-drink group. Compared with the diet soda group, the water group also had greater improvements in fasting insulin, postprandial glucose level and other measures of diabetes severity.
Waist circumference declined in those who drank water or diet beverages, with no significant difference between the two groups.
According to the senior author, Dr. Hamid R. Farshchi, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Nottingham, the mechanism remains unclear.
But, he said, “The best drink for your health not only for weight loss but also for carbohydrate metabolism is water. Still, obese people are used to a sweet taste, and it’s very difficult for them to just say goodbye to sugary food.”
Exercise may aid in weight control and help to fend off diabetes by improving the ability of fat cells to burn calories, a new study reports. It may do this in part by boosting levels of a hormone called irisin, which is produced during exercise and which may help to turn ordinary white fat into much more metabolically active brown fat, the findings suggest.
Irisin (named for the Greek goddess Iris) entered the scientific literature in 2012 after researchers from Harvard and other universities published a study in Nature that showed the previously unknown hormone was created in working muscles in mice. From there, it would enter the bloodstream and migrate to other tissues, particularly to fat, where it would jump-start a series of biochemical processes that caused some of the fat cells, normally white, to turn brown.
Brown fat, which is actually brown in color, burns calories. It also is known to contribute to improved insulin and blood sugar control, lessening the risk for Type 2 diabetes. Most babies, including human infants, are plump with brown fat, but we humans lose most of our brown fat as we grow up. By the time we are adults, we usually retain very little brown fat.
In the 2012 study, the researchers reported that if they injected irisin into living mice, it not only turned some white fat into brown fat, it apparently also prevented the rodents from becoming obese, even on a high-fat, high-calorie diet.
But in the years since, some scientists have questioned whether irisin affects fat cells in people to the same extent as it seems to in mice — and even whether the hormone exists in people at all.
A study published last year in Cell Metabolism by the same group of researchers who had conducted the first irisin study, however, does seem to have established that irisin is produced in humans. They found some irisin in sedentary people, but the levels were much higher in those who exercise often.
But whether irisin acted beneficially in human fat cells the same way as it did in the bodies and cells of mice was still an open and disputed question.
So for the new study, which was published in August in the American Journal of Physiology — Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers at the University of Florida turned to white fat tissue from women who had undergone breast reduction surgery at the university hospital (with permission) and also to a very small amount of brown fat from people who had had surgery to treat kidney cancer. Most of our meager stores of brown fat cluster around our kidneys.
The researchers, who had previously studied irisin’s effects in mice, had a form of the human hormone available and now set out to marinate the fat cells with it, using three different dosages.
Some of the white fat cells that they treated were mature, while others were baby cells, essentially stem cells that could grow into fat or other types of tissue. They also bathed the brown fat with irisin.
All of the cells were soaked with the hormone for four days.
Throughout, the scientists checked the levels of a protein called UCP1 that is known to contribute to the browning of white fat, as well as for other biochemical markers that would indicate that the white cells were browning.
They found such markers, particularly in the cells that were exposed to moderate or high doses of irisin. Those cells soon began to produce significantly more UCP1 than other cells and also were more metabolically active, meaning that, in the body, they would burn calories.
At the same time, many of the stem cells in the fat tissue exposed to irisin ceased being fat cells and instead became a type of cell that matures into bone. The tissue treated with irisin, in fact, wound up with about 40 percent fewer mature fat cells than tissue untouched by the hormone.
Irisin had no effects on brown fat.
The results strongly indicate that irisin nudges human white fat to become brown and also suppresses the formation of new white fat, says Li-Jun Yang, a professor of hematopathology at the University of Florida and senior author of the study (which was funded by the scientists themselves). It also seems to promote the formation of bone.
“I think this study helps us to understand how, at a cellular level, exercise makes us healthier,” Dr. Yang says.
But these were living cells, not living bodies, and the effects of irisin in actual people still need to be established, she says, especially since many studies have shown that exercise rarely results in significant weight loss. Scientists also do not know what types of exercise lead to the greatest production of irisin or what amount of irisin might be ideal for health purposes.
Dr. Yang hopes to conduct studies of the hormone in people.
But even now, the science related to irisin is compelling enough, she says, that “my advice is, exercise as much as you can. We know it’s healthy and now we’re beginning to understand better why.”
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