Category Archives: exercise

Assorted Health and Fitness Tips from a Veteran Trainer

After years as a trainer, Mike O’Donnell compiles and shares an extensive list of health and fitness tips.

As Jason said, there’s “a lot of good (and questionable) stuff in this list”. Here are my favourites:

  • Diet is 85% of where results come from… for muscle and fat loss. Many don’t focus here enough.
  • If you eat whole foods that have been around for 1000s of years, you probably don’t have to worry about counting calories.
  • The eat low-fat advice was the biggest health disaster in the last 30 years.
  • The smartest trainer I know does not have a website or best selling ebook… as he is too busy training real clients. (Related.)
  • If you want to get better at running… you run… at biking… you bike… at a sport… you play that sport.
  • There is no one right way for anything… as 20 different ways can get you results.
  • Results are just the simple yet important things done on a consistent basis.
  • All diets fail over the long run….but lifestyle changes last.
  • The best thing anyone can do for their health/results is to just try new things… see how their body adapts and responds… and learn how to take total control no matter life may throw at them in the future.

via Kottke

Routine, Sleep and Premature Death

Sleeping for less that six hours a night is correlated strongly with an increased risk of premature death over a 25-year period (a 12% increase in the likelihood of your premature death, to be exact).

That’s the conclusion from an extensive report (studying 1.5 million people) convincingly showing the link between quality sleep and one’s health/well-being.

The study looked at the relationship between sleep and mortality by reviewing earlier studies from the UK, US and European and East Asian countries.

Premature death from all causes was linked to getting either too little or too much sleep outside of the “ideal” six to eight hours per night.

But while a lack of sleep may be a direct cause of ill health, ultimately leading to an earlier death, too much sleep may merely be a marker of ill health already.

That last bit’s important (correlation not causation), with one researcher calling sleep the “litmus paper to physical and mental health”.

Another report in the same journal (Sleep) demonstrated the importance of a stable daily routine in getting a good night’s sleep (although thus far it has only been shown in the elderly):

Increased stability in daily routine […] predicted shorter sleep latency, higher sleep efficiency and improved sleep quality. […] Maintenance of daily routines is associated with a reduced rate of insomnia in the elderly.

So… stop your happy-go-lucky, spur-of-the-moment, devil-may-care lifestyle; live to a timetable; live longer?

Health and Alcohol Intake (Men, Women, Wine)

A longitudinal study of almost 20,000 U.S. women is showing signs that moderate alcohol consumption (“one or two alcohol beverages a day”) can lower the risk for obesity and inhibit weight gain:

Over the course of the study, 41 percent of the women became overweight or obese. Although alcohol is packed with calories (about 150 in a six-ounce glass of wine), the nondrinkers in the study actually gained more weight over time: nine pounds, on average, compared with an average gain of about three pounds among regular moderate drinkers. The risk of becoming overweight was almost 30 percent lower for women who consumed one or two alcohol beverages a day, compared with nondrinkers. […]

The link between consumption of red wine and less weight gain was particularly pronounced. […] Some studies have suggested that resveratrol, a compound present in grapes and red wine, appears to inhibit the development of fat cells and to have other antiobesity properties.

The article also notes that while moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with “better heart health”, it has also been associated with an increase in breast cancer risk.

None of this is good news for men:

Studies suggest that drinking alcohol has different effects on eating habits among men and women. Men typically add alcohol to their daily caloric intake, whereas women are more likely to substitute alcohol for food. […]

In addition, there may be differences in how men and women metabolize alcohol. Metabolic studies show that after men drink alcohol, they experience little if any metabolic change. But alcohol appears to slightly speed up a woman’s metabolism.

As before: this is still correlatory, but interesting nonetheless.

Sleep and Weight Loss

While asleep our metabolic rate increases such that we lose more than three times the amount of weight than if we are awake (awake but lying dormant, of course): 1.9g/min compared to 0.6g/min.

This increase in ‘caloric expenditure’ is not yet fully understood, but there are a number of reasons why we may lose more weight while asleep than awake:

We know that in rapid eye sleep (REM), in which we spend roughly 25% of our total sleep time, the brain’s metabolic rate (the rate at which it consumes energy) is very high, even more than while awake. And while one’s body temperature drops while sleeping, during REM it increases, and this too may cause increased caloric expenditure.

This is in addition to “changes in the hormones which govern hunger and satiety, leptin and ghrelin”.

Sports Drinks and Dehydration

More for the parents of athletic children, this article from The New York TimesWell blog still contains some useful all-round advice on hydration during exercise. In the comments the author also links to this urine colour test for dehydration.

When [exercising children] were offered grape-flavored water, they voluntarily drank 44.5 percent more than when the water was unflavored. And when the drink included 6 percent carbohydrates and electrolytes — when, in other words, it was a sports drink — they eagerly downed 91 percent more than when offered water alone. Does this mean that parents […] should be stocking their refrigerators with [sports drinks]? The answer is a qualified ‘yes.’ […]

But that ‘yes’ has clear and definable limits. “Sports drinks are only appropriate in the context of sports, and I mean serious sports,” emphasizes Nancy Clark, a registered dietician and sports nutritionist in Boston, who often works with young athletes. If, however, your 12-year-old or older athlete has begun competing at a more intense level, especially if he or she participates in multiple practices or competitions in a single day during the summer, “sports drinks are appropriate,” Clark says.

So not you or I after our daily workout, basically. The article also contains this recipe for making your own sports drink:

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 1/2 cups cold water

(Dissolve the sugar and salt in the hot water then add the remaining ingredients. Approx. 50 calories and 110 mg of sodium per 8 ounces.)

via Lifehacker