Gym bunnies are wasting their time, study suggests

Hitting the gym in the hope of burning up calories to lose weight can backfire as the body adapts to higher activity levels, according to new research.

Hitting the gym in the hope of burning up calories to lose weight can backfire as the body adapts to higher activity levels, according to new research

Gym bunnies who spend hours working out in an attempt to shed unwanted flab are wasting their time, research suggests.

The body adapts to higher activity levels – changing metabolism so that fewer calories are burned, the US study indicates.

Researchers measured the daily energy expenditure and activity levels of more than 300 men and women.

Those with moderately active levels ñ such as a daily walk to work, and a trip to the gym twice a week ñ were found to burn about 200 calories more per day than those living couch potato lifestyles.

But after a certain threshold ñ described by scientists as a ìsweet spotî ñ the extra time working up a sweat made no difference to the amount of calories burned.

Experts said it might explain by those who embark on gym routines in a bid to weight loss often see weight loss hit a plateau after a few months.

Lead scientist Dr Herman Pontzer, from the City University of New York, said the findings showed that exercise alone was not enough to prevent or reverse weight gain.

He said he decided to explore the link between activity and energy expenditure after working among a community of traditional hunter-gatherers in northern Tanzania.

He said: “The Hadza are incredibly active, walking long distances each day and doing a lot of hard physical work as part of their everyday life.

“Despite these high activity levels, we found that they had similar daily energy expenditures to people living more sedentary, modernised lifestyles in the United States and Europe. That was a real surprise.”

The study measured the activity and food consumption of more than 300 men and women over a week.

Those with moderate activity levels were found to expend the most calories.

Dr Pontzer said such lifestyles might involve walking or cycling to work, taking the stairs rather than the lift, and a couple of bursts of exercise, such as gym trips, during a week.

But doing more than that made no difference.

“The most physically active people expended the same amount of calories each day as people who were only moderately active,” said Dr Pontzer.

The findings, published in the journal Current Biology, reinforce the message that you cannot duck the importance of diet when trying to lose weight, scientists said.

However, they stressed that exercise had a host of benefits for maintaining health.

Dr Pontzer said: “There is tons of evidence that exercise is important for keeping our bodies and minds healthy, and this work does nothing to change that message.

“What our work adds is that we also need to focus on diet, particularly when it comes to managing our weight and preventing or reversing unhealthy weight gain.”

Cycling to work without a helmet? Please think again

What are the risks of cycling to work on the UK’s roads?

What are the risks of cycling to work on the UK's roads?

I had an interview recently with a lawyer in London who began by apologising for being out of breath. ‘My wife banned me from riding my bike after three accidents in central London in the space of 12 months, ‘he explained. ‘I’ve gotten out of shape.’

I mentioned that I had just walked from Hackney in east London to the City and was surprised at the number of cyclists in the latest reflective and polypropylene cycling gear who were nonetheless weaving in and out of traffic without a helmet. My lawyer friend laughed knowingly. ‘I keep a photo on my phone of my cracked helmet to show people what their head might look like when they cycle without one,’ he said.

With more people cycling to work in cities such as London, New York, and San Francisco, the conversation often turns to the dangers of riding in heavy city traffic. Are taxis stopping without warning the greatest menace or perhaps delivery vans turning suddenly?

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, has often sung the praises of cycling to work, and the rental bicycles scattered through the city are even nicknamed ‘Boris bikes’ because of his support for them. But even though Mr Johnson has had a few close calls while cycling, he has refrained from making bicycle helmets mandatory.

I understand that riding in hot weather with a helmet can be uncomfortable, but I think the case for helmets, mandatory or not, is hard to dispute. Australia, New Zealand and parts of Canada have adopted compulsory helmet laws and it is clear that cycling deaths declined in the years after those laws were adopted.

Some have pointed out that the number of heart attacks rose in Australia because some cyclists gave up riding to work rather than wear a helmet, but is that really relevant?

The grim fact is that London had already reached eight cycling deaths this year and New York recorded a doubling of fatalities from nine to 18 in 2014. It is true that the number of cyclists is increasing in both cities, which is a good thing, but that does not diminish the avoidable dangers. The victims included a prominent Manhattan surgeon and a neuroscientist, who were not wearing helmets.

Michael Carter, a paediatric neurosurgeon in Bristol, told me recently that he often sees cases of head injuries from bicycle accidents in his hospitalís emergency room that could have been avoided if the cyclists had worn helmets. ‘It makes no sense whatsoever to ride without a helmet,’ said Dr Carter, who has stopped cycling in the city because of the recent deaths of two friends.

The Cochrane Library, widely accepted as the gold standard for medical research worldwide, looked at bicycle accidents and did a statistical comparison of different studies to see if there were patterns in helmet use.

The review said that three quarters of all fatalities on bicycles result from head injuries.

It found that ‘wearing a helmet reduced the risk of head or brain injury by approximately two-thirds or more, regardless of whether the crash involved a motor vehicle.’

One solution to the problem of bicycle safety is the creation of dedicated bike lanes, which has happened in Berlin, New York and other cities and should be tried elsewhere. But they do not eliminate the danger entirely and the reasonable response is to wear a helmet, even for short rides.

From:

https://www.fithealthylives.com/2016/04/cycling-to-work-without-a-helmet-please-think-again/

How to create healthy habits and actually keep them going

So how do you break old routines and create healthy habits?

So how do you break old routines and create healthy habits?

If you do the research, you’ll find that, unfortunately, change doesn’t happen overnight. There are several different studies on the time it actually takes for new habits to become automatic – many show that it takes at least 21 days to start a new habit, several say 66 days, and some studies even claim that it can take as many as 254 days.

The one thing these studies all have in common is that it takes time.

So that lofty goal to run four miles every morning, hit up the gym five times a week, and have a beach body in a month when you’ve spent years living a sedentary lifestyle might not be so practical.

Fortunately, there are a few simple tips to help you set and actually keep your new goals.

Keep Your Goals Small

Often times we take on more than we can handle when it comes to setting new goals. We want to complete a full marathon, because bigger goals sound good, right? And we do really great at hitting up the gym everyday that first week, or meditating for a half hour before bed for the first couple of days. But schedules can be unpredictable and hectic – one missed day at the gym can lead to two, which suddenly feels like failure. Our motivation starts to slide, and all too soon we find our goals on a slippery slope, falling back into old patterns.

By starting off small, you are less likely to feel overwhelmed because you are not expecting high-level performance from yourself. Rather, you are trying to become the type of person who can stick to this easy, new habit. Once the behavior becomes consistent, then you can build up the performance level.

Maybe you do have a goal to get in shape. Great! But instead of attempting to go from couch to kickin’ it right off the bat, start off simple. Shoot for running only a quarter mile a day (instead of four) the first week. As time progresses, slowly bump up the distance. Or if your goal is to read a book for an hour every evening, begin by reading only five minutes for the first week. Five minutes is totally doable and you’ll find it much easier to commit.

From there you can continue to increase your exercise time or increase your reading time (or whatever your goal may be) little by little as you adjust to your new habit.

This can be true of all new goals. Want to get out of debt? Start by saving an extra $15 a week. Ready to quit drinking those five cans of Dr. Pepper every day? Replace one can of soda with a bottle of water each day. Trying to stop snacking on junk food throughout the day? Carry along a baggie of carrots and raisins to munch on for your typical afternoon snack.

As your new, smaller habits begin to form, you’ll find them becoming a permanent part of your routine and a permanent part of your life.

Fit legs equals fit brain, study suggests

Older women who have strong legs are likely to fare better when it comes to ageing of the brain, a decade-long study of more than 300 twins suggests.

Older women who have strong legs are likely to fare better when it comes to ageing of the brain, a decade-long study of more than 300 twins suggests.

The King’s College London team says leg power is a useful marker of whether someone is getting enough exercise to help keep their mind in good shape.

Exercise releases chemicals in the body that may boost elderly brains, say the scientists, in the journal Gerontology.

But they say more research is needed to prove their hunch.

It is difficult to untangle leg strength from other lifestyle factors that may have an impact on brain health and the study did not look specifically at dementia, experts say.

The researchers tracked the health of more than 150 pairs of twin sisters aged between 43 and 73 at the start of the study.

Leg power was measured (at the start of the study) using a modified piece of gym equipment that measured both speed and power of leg extension, while brain power was measured (at both the start and the end of the study) using computerised tasks that tested memory and mental processing skills.

Generally, the twin who had more leg power at the start of the study sustained their cognition better and had fewer brain changes associated with ageing measured after 10 years. And the finding remained when other known lifestyle and health risk factors for dementia were included.

Lead researcher Dr Claire Steves said: “When it came to cognitive ageing, leg strength was the strongest factor that had an impact in our study.

“Other factors such as heart health were also important, but the link with leg strength remained even after we accounted for these. We think leg strength is a marker of the kind of physical activity that is good for your brain.”

Alzheimer’s Society director of research Dr Doug Brown said the findings added to the growing evidence that physical activity could help look after the brain as well as the body.

“However, we still don’t fully understand how this relationship works and how we can maximise the benefit,” he said.

“And we have yet to see if the improvements in memory tests actually translate into a reduced risk of dementia.”

Alzheimer’s Research UK director of research Dr Simon Ridley said: “We know that keeping active generally can help reduce dementia risk, and it’s important to take into account strength training as well as aerobic exercise.”

Beginner’s Guide to Gym Equipment

A new year, comes new resolutions and, as I’m sure you’re aware, many people have their sights set on exercise and fitness.

A new year, comes new resolutions and, as Iím sure youíre aware, many people have their sights set on exercise and fitness.

Ever heard of atychiphobia? It’s new to me too, and though it’s not something I’m diagnosed with, I may have a minor case of it. Atychiphobia is the fear of failure. The kind of fear that keeps me and so many people from trying something outside our comfort zone.

Gyms experience a spike in memberships and attendance in January (12% of members join this month), with many people showing up for their first time. It can be an empowering, albeit intimidating, experience for newcomers. You walk in and immediately start to judge everyone elseís physique as well as your own.

The last thing I want to see happen is for you to give up before you really get started because it all just seems too hard or unfamiliar, so I put together this blog post to get you up to snuff on some gym basics, particularly with gym equipment.

Free weights like dumbbells, plates, bars, and kettlebells only make up a small portion of gym equipment available to you. There is a never-ending variety of machines to choose from, which is usually a good place to start for beginners. Most simply put, machines refer to equipment that utilize cables, pulleys, pins, or weight stacks to provide resistance (see example on the left). Weight can be adjusted quickly and it’s easier to have good form since the machine directs your movements. Plus they usually provide detailed instructions on the machine itself, showing you the proper exercises to use it for.

Anytime I try out an unfamiliar exercise, I like to see how it should be done. YouTube is a great resource because you can see the exercise performed in real time (way better than trying to imagine it while reading a mile-long description). So if you’re not sure of the exact way to perform a curl or what a deadlift looks like, watch a video!

 

In addition to bringing the right equipment, you should also be conscious of some basic gym etiquette. Consider these general rules:

Don’t play around on your phone between sets. People take too long when they have to take breaks to browse their phone for the next song or reply to texts. Move out of the way if you need to use your phone.
Donít monopolize all the gym equipment you want to use. Really, you only need one machine at a time.
Maintain good hygiene and clean your clothes please! Heat, sweat, and fabric. Iíll let you do the math.
‘Rack your weights.’ A common gym phrase. In other words, put your stuff back when youíre done. This isn’t preschool.
Wipe off your equipment when youíre finished using it.

Gym Shopping

In addition to knowing what to bring, many people are concerned about cost, but your monthly membership costs can be just about as high or as low as you want.

As you would expect with anything, the more you pay the more benefits you can expect. Gyms and health clubs can vary greatly in their membership plans, amenities and equipment, so itís smart to do some comparison shopping.

I am by no means the know-it-all here, so I want to hear from the rest of you no matter if youíre a novice or experienced professional. What’s your preference on gym equipment? Do you prefer free weights or machines? Please comment below.

Fasting and cardio workouts combine to shed weight quicker

Recent research has found a quick, effective way to lose weight.

Recent research has found a quick, effective way to lose weight.This question is particularly relevant when we tend to abandon good dietary habits on holidays and overindulge.

Much has been written about the effectiveness of the so-called 5:2 diet, which was popularised by a BBC television programme and involves restricting calories by 75 per cent on two non consecutive days and then eating normally for the rest of the week.

Another way of implementing this kind of diet, which is known as intermittent fasting, or IF, is to cut back to 500 calories or eliminate food entirely on alternate days.

Intermittent dieting has been well studied and offers all the benefits of eating less, while reducing the problem of sticking with a reduced-calorie intake on a daily basis. After all, you get to eat normally most days. But there is a way to boost the health benefits of this kind of diet and supercharge your weight loss by adding cardio exercise to the mix.

A team of researchers at the University of Illinois divided obese volunteers into four groups: one group practised alternate day fasting; a second group practised endurance exercise three days a week; a third group did both IF and exercise for 12 weeks; and the fourth control group did none.

The results were pretty striking: the combined exercise and IF group lost an average of 6kg, compared with 3kg weight loss for the IF-only group and just 1kg for the exercise group.

Interestingly, not only did the diet and exercise combination produce more weight loss, but it also helped the subjects’ blood lipid profiles, which are an indicator of heart attack risk. In the group that did both endurance exercise and restricted calories, so-called “bad” LDL cholesterol decreased 12 per cent from the baseline, while the “good” HDL cholesterol increased by an impressive 18 per cent. The other interventions produced no HDL benefit.

What is interesting about this and similar studies is that there has been a growing consensus that diet is much more important than exercise in maintaining good weight. But it is now clear that the two in combination are much more effective than either approach alone.

In addition, the endurance training in this study, which was performed on exercise bikes and elliptical machines in a gym, lasted 25 minutes and was at just 60 per cent of maximum heart rate, growing incrementally to 75 per cent of the maximum at the end of the study.

Surabhi Bhutani, the postdoctoral researcher who led the study, says this is because the subjects were obese and the researchers wanted to avoid the risk of cardiac problems.

But there is quite a lot of evidence that high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, involving short bursts of exercise at close to the maximum heart rate, followed by recovery periods, or slightly longer bursts of cardio exercise at 90 per cent of maximum heart rate, is more effective than slow endurance training. And it has the added benefit of taking less time.

I adopted an IF plan with 500 calories alternating with days of normal eating, plus an HIIT programme at 90 per cent of maximum heart rate after my recent Italian sojourn and the added weight came off in about six weeks.

From: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/652a7eb2-1bec-11e5-8201-cbdb03d71480.html

Is playing sport more dangerous than ever?

A spate of deaths during sporting activities – at grassroots and elite level, in recent months has left some wondering if the dangers of playing in sport have increased.

A spate of deaths during sporting activities - at grassroots and elite level, in recent months has left some wondering if the dangers of playing in sport have increased.Cricket was shocked by the death of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes last year after he was struck behind the ear by a ball.

And there have been a number of other tragic losses, in rugby league, rugby union and football.

So is playing sport getting more dangerous?

Statistics tell us very little. Up until now, there has been no detailed data on the number or nature of sport injuries treated by GPs or in hospitals.

Statistically sports injuries accounted for roughly 2% of cases seen in emergency departments last year, according to figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

But not everyone is asked how they were injured and the answer is not always noted down, so the total is likely to be much higher.

Rugby union is one sport in which injuries, and particularly concussion, have been well monitored. Last season, in a study of nearly 600 rugby players in England, 13% experienced concussion – the most common rugby injury for the past three years.

As a result, concussion in rugby is now being taken seriously, but the risks are still there because of how the game is played.

Professional rugby players are now much bigger and heavier than they were, and they play a more aggressive form of rugby.

To reduce the risk of serious injury in schools, advocates suggest taking contact out of collision sports such as rugby and football.

To some this might seem extreme, but all games have evolved over time and we just need to make it safer for children and prevent injuries from happening.

Some sports are inherently more dangerous than others.

Snow sports, American football, equestrian sport and sky diving are all more risky than tennis, badminton and athletics, but that doesn’t stop people from doing them.

In fact, more people are taking part in extreme sports such as base jumping and parachuting than ever before.

Dr Mike Loosemore, lead sports physician for the English Institute of Sport, says there is a definite trend towards trying out new and ever more dangerous activities, even though people are not always trained or equipped for them.

In an over protective society, he suggests, it’s one way of getting the adrenaline rush we all crave. And adding lots of protective equipment isn’t a solution to the increased danger.

“Padding just means you get braver. American footballers have massive, well-designed helmets but they don’t stop concussion. Instead they use them as a weapon.”

He says professional rugby players who wear shoulder pads just end up tackling harder.

In general, most sporting bodies are aware of the risks faced by those who take part and try hard to protect them by amending the rules and introducing new policies on injuries.

At an elite level, pushing the body harder and harder does make injuries more likely, but there will always be the risk of a freak accident or an undetected heart condition.

Thanks to round the clock media coverage we are all more aware of fatal injuries in sport when they occur too, which makes them feel more frequent.

At a basic level, sport is attractive because there is some danger involved. Taking that away altogether would change it completely.

Dr Loosemore says removing the risk is dangerous in itself.

“Sport is a way of putting danger into lives in a controlled way. If you get in a certain position it hurts. You don’t want children to get hurt of course, but there is less chance of it happening if they play sport in the real world.”

Fit legs equals fit brain new study suggests

New research suggests that fitter legs may lead to fitter brains.

New research suggests that fitter legs may lead to fitter brains.
Older women who have strong legs are likely to fare better when it comes to ageing of the brain, a decade long study of more than 300 twins suggests.

The King’s College London team says leg power is a useful marker of whether someone is getting enough exercise to help keep their mind in good shape.

Exercise releases chemicals in the body that may boost elderly brains, say the scientists, in the journal Gerontology. But they say more research is needed to prove their hunch.

It is difficult to separate leg strength from other lifestyle factors that may have an impact on brain health and the study did not look specifically at dementia, experts say.

The researchers tracked the health of more than 150 pairs of twin sisters aged between 43 and 73 at the start of the study.

Leg power was measured at the start of the study using a modified piece of gym equipment that measured both speed and power of leg extension, while brain power was measured at both the start and the end of the study using computerised tasks that tested memory and mental processing skills.

Generally, the twin who had more leg power at the start of the study sustained their cognition better and had fewer brain changes associated with ageing measured after 10 years. And the findings remained when other known lifestyle and health risk factors for dementia were included.

Lead researcher Dr Claire Steves said: “When it came to cognitive ageing, leg strength was the strongest factor that had an impact in our study.

“Other factors such as heart health were also important, but the link with leg strength remained even after we accounted for these.

“We think leg strength is a marker of the kind of physical activity that is good for your brain.”

Alzheimer’s Society director of research Dr Doug Brown said the findings added to the growing evidence that physical activity could help look after the brain as well as the body.

“However, we still don’t fully understand how this relationship works and how we can maximise the benefit,” he said. “And we have yet to see if the improvements in memory tests actually translate into a reduced risk of dementia.”

Alzheimer’s Research UK director of research Dr Simon Ridley said: “We know that keeping active generally can help reduce dementia risk, and it’s important to take into account strength training as well as aerobic exercise.”

5 simple tips for getting fit

Getting fit shouldn’t be a chore.

In fact, there are many easy ways to incorporate exercise into your everyday activities or focus on things you already love to do.

If you’re busy, don’t let it stop you.

1.Try and fit more activity into the things you already do every day – whether at home or at work:

Choose the stairs. You’ll get a workout and avoid the awkward elevator rides. For a more strenuous workout, go up and down the stairs for 15 minutes.

Park farther away. Running errands, at work or dropping off kids, park as far away as you can to add a few more steps into your day.

Take walking breaks. Leave your desk occasionally to take a break to walk outside when the weather’s nice or stay inside and explore different areas of the building. This will give you a little stress break and let your eyes rest after staring at a computer screen. Also, it will add in a few more steps and you’ll feel more rejuvenated when you get back to your desk.

2. Do what you love

Maybe you enjoy rollerblading, perfecting your garden or snow skiing with your kids. When you enjoy exercise, you’re more likely to keep it up. You might want to try:Do What You Love

Walking with friends
Trying a new yoga class
Picking up snowshoeing or cross-country skiing
Joining a local recreation basketball or racquetball league
Going swimming at a nearby pool
Shooting hoops
Participating in a dance class
Biking around a local park with your kids

3. Set small, realistic and specific goals

If you decide to pick up jogging, start with running for 30 seconds and walking for two and a half minutes. The next week, run for 45 seconds and walk for one minute. Before you know it, you will be running for two-three minutes before you need to take a short walking break.

And if you have some setbacks, that’s OK. In the end, you’ll see success if you stay consistent.

4. Plan for the long haul

Doctors recommend exercising for 30 minutes at least five times a week at a moderate level of activity (like gardening or walking). If that sounds overwhelming, build on small goals month-by-month.

What else is going to help you reach your goals? Stay patient and positive until you get there – and you will get there.

5. Recruit help from friends

Life changes are much easier to manage with a group of close friends and family supporting you. If you know someone who’s already active, ask them for tips or be brave and join them! In the end, it doesn’t really matter how you exercise, what‘s most important is finding a way to exercise doing what you love and making it a part of your daily routine.

How to train in hot weather

With the recent heatwave we’re passing on some top tips on how to train in hot weather:

top tips on how to train in hot weatherHere are the Cheltenham Personal Trainer’s top tips to follow for working out safely and effectively in the hot weather:

1.  Avoid the 10 am-3 pm peak heat

We’re all familiar with that advice on holiday of staying out of the midday sun between approximately 10 am – 3 pm.

In hot weather at home, it’s best to try to avoid working out then too-  especially if you’re going to be training outside in direct sun.

Our top advice would be to try and get in those early morning workouts that can be such a struggle in the winter months. Now that it is light from as early as 5 am and still cool, it’s a great time to exercise.

Plus, it’s a great feeling to get your workout done first thing. It means you can enjoy the rest of the day and not have to worry about feeling motivated in the evening after a long hot day.

Although the thought of getting up early to exercise– whether that be going for a run, working out on your exercise bike or grabbing the dumbbells – may sound tough, exercise releases endorphins so it’s great for helping boost your mood and kick starting your day.

2. Too hot outdoors? Exercise indoors

As those summer temperatures really are going to soar, so we strongly suggest taking to the great indoors.

Not only will you be away from the potentially harmful heat, but you’ll probably enjoy a more effective workout and can then go and enjoy the sun afterwards. (After a nice cold shower, of course!)

Point a fan towards you- your cardio machines, such as treadmills, elliptical cross trainers and exercise bikes are just brilliant in hot weather.

You can also get some great inexpensive fitness accessories for a top indoor workout, such as resistance bands, medicine balls, kettlebells and dumbbells..

3. Water- a life saver

The great weather offers a great opportunity to take your workout outdoors, but it’s absolutely paramount that you stay well hydrated.

When you sweat, your body doesn’t just lose water – it also loses important electrolytes and salt. Together with water, these are crucial for keeping your body functioning properly. Mess up the balance and you’ll get dehydrated and your performance and health will suffer.

Make sure you’re hydrated before you even start exercising. Have a glass or two of water before you start and keep that water bottle with you throughout your workout. Aim to drink six to eight ounces of water every 15-20 minutes during your workout. And keep drinking after too – it’s critical for maximising your performance and keeping you motivated.

4. Change your exercise routine

To stay motivated, mix up your exercise with activities such as cycling, swimming or jogging. This not only changes up your routine but also allows for greater training volume with less fatigue.

If you can break up your workout into a few shorter sessions in the day, that will help you cope better. Or you could go for a shorter run outside, followed up by some indoor training. This could be on an indoor exercise bike perhaps, or some weights training.

5. Protect yourself from heat and sun

Make sure you wear clothes that are not only lighter in weight and breathable, but also lighter in colour, as this will help to reflect the heat.

And don’t forget to protect exposed skin with sunscreen. Sunscreen is not just for holidays! In the hot weather here, you’re at high risk of sunburn and sunstroke, which can not only be painful, but can also make you very unwell so you won’t be able to train effectively next time.

6. Acclimate yourself to the heat

If you’re exercising outside, it’s important that you let your body get used to it. Exercise for shorter periods outside before taking it indoors and gradually increase the amount of time you can tolerate outdoors. A great tip would be to hunt out those shaded areas away from the direct sunlight.

7. Don’t overdo the exercise

Although some research does indicate that exercising in heat can boost performance, this is really reserved for the elite athlete and much research still needs to be done to get the science backing to support this theory.

Our advice is to listen to your body and know when to stop, or slow down. Working out in average British temperatures is very different to 30 degree plus heat and it’s important to take it seriously. Why not use a heart rate monitor to assess things? If your intensity level rises above your target range, slow down or stop to avoid overworking.