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For September 25, 2016

  • Snack Your Way to Better Health
    Snack Your Way to Better Health

    Snacking Well May Slow Aging

    (Prevention, September 1999) � Do you love to snack? That could pay off as you grow older. According to a recent study done at Tufts University in Boston, when healthy older women (average age 72) ate meals of 250, 500, and 1,000 calories, only after the 250-calorie "snack" did their blood sugar and insulin do what they're supposed to do -- rise, and then return rapidly to normal. But after even moderate 500- and 1,000-calorie meals, blood sugar and insulin stayed high for up to 5 hours. (In young women, those levels quickly returned to normal.)

    Does it matter? Yes. Experts think high blood sugar may set the stage for damage to collagen and DNA, which could accelerate signs of aging, such as wrinkles, age spots, and cataracts. High insulin is a known risk factor for heart disease.

    What you can do: Instead of eating three regular meals, or a light breakfast and lunch and a big dinner, enjoy five to seven minimeals of about 250 calories throughout your day. Though we need more studies, this could give women a new weapon against aging. And men? So far, they're untested (Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences, July 1998).

    Here are some good, healthy examples of minimeals (On a 1,500-calorie diet, you can enjoy six minimeals such as these):

    7:30 am
    1 c raisin bran
    1 c skim milk
    hot tea
    250 cal

    9:30 am
    1 c orange juice with calcium
    1/2 whole wheat bagel
    2 tsp light cream cheese
    250 cal

    12:30 PM
    veggie burger
    whole wheat hamburger roll
    1 Tbsp. mustard
    10 sweet red pepper strips
    sliced tomatoes, lettuce
    250 cal

    3:30 PM
    1 c instant lentil soup
    220 cal

    6:30 PM
    dinner salad:
    1 c bulgur
    2 c mixed veggies
    2 Tbsp. vinaigrette dressing
    270 cal

    9:30 PM
    1.5 oz reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
    1 sheet rye crispbread
    255 cal
  • Fen-Phen Loses Major Case in Court
    Fen-Phen Loses Major Case in Court

    (MSNBC News, Aug. 6 1999) � A Texas woman who suffered heart-valve damage won a $23 million jury award Friday in the first verdict involving the diet-drug combination fen-phen.

    MEDICAL RESEARCHERS have warned for a long time that the diet drug fen-phen could cause heart problems but it was not until Friday that a jury put a price tag on the injuries a person has suffered from taking the drug. In Texas, a jury awarded more than $23 million to Deborah Lovett, 36, who claimed her heart valves were injured after she took the diet drug combination called fen-phen. The drug�s maker, American Home Products, said it would appeal, but the verdict is a damaging blow and there may be many more to come.

    �We have made a statement that they can�t do this to people like me and you,� said Lovett, following the announcement of the verdict. The verdict is a big legal defeat for American Home Products, whose drug division made one of the pills in the fen-phen pair. Texas jurors agreed with Deborah Lovett�s lawyers, who claimed the company failed to warn doctors that fen-phen could cause heart damage. �If the doctors would have had any idea, I wouldn�t have been on the medicine in the first place,� said Lovett.

    The company, vowing to appeal, said Lovett had heart trouble long before she ever started on fen-phen. �She had a pre-existing heart valve problem that had been going on for almost seven years before she first took any diet drug medication,� said Bob Schick, a company lawyer. But Lovett claimed taking fen-phen made her heart trouble much worse.


    The fen-phen drugs, taken by millions of dieting Americans, were pulled off the market two years ago after medical researchers discovered that the combination could weaken heart valves. Since then, nearly 3,000 fen-phen users have sued the American Home Products, whose drug division made the pills.

    Several of those cases have been settled. But legal experts say the company�s big loss Friday, against a woman who already had heart trouble, means future settlement will cost much more. �They will pay more money to settle the meritorious cases that have been filed. It increases the size of the plaintiff�s likely demands,� said Ellen Pryor, a professor at SMU Law School.

    The company still hopes it can settle most of the remaining cases � possibly by working out a deal with fen-phen users that could even include paying for regular medical checkups for those who took the diet drug and haven�t yet developed any heart trouble. But recent federal court decisions have made it harder to work out big nationwide settlements. And Friday�s verdict makes the company even more vulnerable to lawsuits.


    Fenfluramine, the �fen� part of fen-phen, had been sold since the 1970s but became widely used in the 1990s when doctors prescribed it in combination with phentermine. When taken alone, phentermine was never associated with health problems. It remains on the market. Lawyers for Madison, N.J.-based American Home Products argued that Lovett was seeking compensation for a health condition she had before taking the drug and said her obesity was a bigger threat than the drug.

    �Obesity is a serious health risk,� attorney Joe Piorkowski said in closing arguments. �This is not a dangerous product. The fact that it is not on the market (now) doesn�t mean it was a dangerous product at the time. The benefits outweighed the risk.� But Lovett�s lawyers told jurors that American Home Products was motivated by profit and hid evidence that its diet drugs caused valvular heart disease.

    Attorney Kip Petroff said the company knew of dozens of reports of heart damage in patients taking the drugs, but did not warn the FDA or doctors. �They did wrong and they hurt her,� he said.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

  • Heart Monitors Improve Workout Results
    Heart Monitors Improve Workout Results
    By Camille Mojica Rey

    (WebMD) -- Indoor cycling instructor Lisa Lewis knows when a student is overdoing it. The exhaustion on his or her face says it all: The rest of the evening will include a big plate of pasta and an early bedtime. Such punishing workouts don't always improve a client's overall fitness, and can often be avoided with the use of a heart monitor.

    Lewis and her colleagues at Gorilla Sports in San Francisco were seeing the "big plate of pasta look" all too often, so they decided to hold a workshop for indoor cycling students, to teach them about heart rate training and the use of cardio monitors, the latest high-tech gizmo allowing everyone from the fitness novice to the weekend triathelete to get a better, more efficient aerobic workout.

    "I think it was really enlightening," says Lewis. "People realized that maybe they didn't need to work so hard." Instead of being worn out, many indoor cyclists reported feeling energized and refreshed after the class.

    Tailoring your workout

    Fitness experts say that to maximize the benefit of a cardiovascular workout, a person should raise his or her heart rate to between 50 and 70 percent of its maximum rate. The maximum number of beats per minute is estimated to be 220 minus the person's age. If you work below that level, your heart isn't getting the challenge it needs to get stronger. But if the heart is worked too hard, the body begins burning stored calories in a way that burns less fat and more muscle tissue.

    Heart rate training, then, involves keeping track of your heart rate while you exercise. Taking a pulse while huffing and puffing away is hard, but cardio monitors can change that.

    Lewis hopes one day to offer indoor cycling classes especially for people equipped with monitors. That may be possible if monitors continue dropping in price. The most popular models -- which range in price from about $60 to $260 -- include a strap you wear around the rib cage while exercising. The strap transmits a radio signal to a wristwatch-like device that displays your heart rate.

    As the price range suggests, cardio monitors can come with a lot of bells and whistles. The simplest model offers a continuous display of the number of beats per minute. Mid-range models calculate the time spent in the target heart rate zone, double as a stopwatch and remind their owners after three dormant days that it's time to get moving again. High-end models can be synchronized with a personal computer, calculate maximum heart rate and display the average heart rate for each lap.

    Professional fine-tuning

    Heart rate training is an old idea, says Mike Gostigian, an Olympic pentathlete and personal trainer in New York City. "It's the way elite athletes have always trained." Gostigian uses the monitors in his own training and with his clients. "With heart rate training, you're more in touch with what's going on in your body," he says. If cardiovascular fitness is your goal, then working without a heart rate monitor "is like driving a car without a speedometer."

    Gostigian feels people need cardio monitors to keep from overdoing it. To recovery properly from exercise, he says, 90 percent of your workout should be at between 50 and 70 percent of your maximum heart. "Over-training is a chronic problem," Gostigian says. "Your body has to take time to heal."

    But using the monitors properly takes discipline. One of Gostigian's clients, marathoner Anne Katzenbach, had a hard time at first. "It frustrated us," Katzenbach says. "It forced us to run slower than we wanted to run, to keep our heart rate down."

    But the patience paid off. After about five weeks, she was running faster but at the same heart rate. And, Katzenbach adds, "it made the training more interesting."

  • Dan Wirth - Lower Back Pain and the Standing Military Press
    Dan Wirth - Lower Back Pain and the Standing Military Press

    Dan wrote this advice in response to a Fitrex member's question. It has been edited for use as an article.

    The problem of having lower back pain or stress while lifting weights, particularly with exercises such as the standing military press, can be fairly common. This is generally caused by hyperextending or "over-arching" your back when you are pressing the weight overhead. Actually, this particular lift (standing military press) was used in Olympic weight lifting competitions in the 1950's. The competitors would arch or lean back so far that their torso's were almost parallel to the ground!!! You can imagine the back stress those poor guys felt.

    Ideally, you would want to perform this free weight exercise in a standing position. Why do I say ideally you may ask? This is because the standing position allows your body to benefit by enhancing balance, coordination, and stabalization as well as the synergistic involvement of the smaller muscle groups surrounding the shoulder joint. However, you should not do this lift if it hurts! Here are four things to do:

    • First Thing: Perform the exercise seated or switch to dumbbell military presses. The dumbbells can help keep the weight in a better plane of movement (positioned above your center of mass). With a barbell you have to move the weight around your head and if you don't have the proper flexibility in your shoulders you will compensate with movement in your back. Or, use a machine shoulder press instead, and start implementing these next three things!
    • Second Thing: Use perfect technique. Look at the videos and read the extensive explanations on the exercises in your program. Watch yourself in the mirror when you perform these exercises. This will help keep you in the right "groove"
    • Third Thing: Lower the weight. More weight is not always better. It might be more fun, but it magnifies any smaller problems! :-) I have found that for many people simply lowering the weight is all it takes to be able to perform the exercises correctly and without pain. And, the best thing about it is many of the free weight exercises are very positive to do even with no weight, just an empty bar or a broomstick, etc. Then it's simple, as your body gets stronger, you can slowly increase the weights and still keep perfect technique so that injury and pain are a thing of the past.
    • Fourth Thing: Continue to work on your abdominal and lower back strength. If you are relatively new to free weight training, you are probably lacking in the areas of balance, coordination and stabilization that I mentioned earlier. You may also have some flexibility problems in your shoulders. All of my programs have exercises for your abs and for your back muscles. And you can check out a ton of flexibility exercises and videos.

    It just takes a little time and consistent training but your body will develop and you will be able to perform more of the advanced exercises without pain.

    Always Stay Positive!

    Dan Wirth M.A., C.S.C.S.
    Fitness Director (Fitrex.com)
    Director of Strength and Conditioning
    The University of Arizona
  • Caffeine Comes Out Smelling Sweet
    Caffeine Comes Out Smelling Sweet

    From John Hopkins Health

    It's OK to wake up and drink the coffee.

    Caffeine isn't as harmful as many people believe, according to experts at the American Dietetic Association's 82nd Annual Meeting and Exhibition in Atlanta. In fact, it's even OK for children to have caffeine.

    "If you enjoy caffeine-containing products in moderation, there isn't a need to discontinue them because of long-term health consequences," said Herbert Muncie, M.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Maryland. "There is no evidence that caffeine harms children or leads to hyperactivity."

    Researchers defined moderate caffeine intake as two or three cups of coffee a day or the equivalent of 300 milligrams of caffeine. A cup of brewed coffee has between 80 to 135 milligrams of caffeine while a 12-ounce can of soda has between 35 and 55 milligrams.

    The possible health effects of caffeine have been a hot topic of late, and one reason is coffee�s increasing popularity. In 1991, there were specialty coffee shops in 500 locations throughout the United States. By 1999, that number had skyrocketed to 7,000, according to the dietetic association.

    Johns Hopkins dietitian Cheryl Koch, M.S., R.D., C.N.S.D., who attended the Atlanta conference, said many people believe that the caffeine in coffee, tea and some sodas can be harmful to their health.

    Even some nutrition experts at the conference had the wrong ideas. Koch said Dr. Muncie asked the gathered dietitians four questions about caffeine, noting that other health care providers he had polled had gotten them wrong. Koch said she correctly answered three of the four, missing a question about the amount of caffeine in espresso. The other questions asked how much caffeine is in brewed coffee, whether caffeine contributes to heart disease and whether it contributes to some types of cancer.

    Here's what caffeine doesn't do, according to the experts who talked about the issue at the conference. There is no evidence that caffeine is linked to cancers of the stomach, liver, colon, breast, mouth, bladder or rectum. Studies show caffeine does not increase the risk of heart disease and has no effect on cardiac arrhythmias. Caffeine causes a very slight rise in blood pressure, but the effect appears to be insignificant and temporary.

    Caffeine doesn't cause fibrocystic breast disease, and reducing caffeine intake doesn't reduce the severity or frequency of symptoms in someone who already has the disease.

    Studies show caffeine doesn't cause peptic ulcers or contribute to inflammatory bowel disease. However, one of caffeine's negative effects is to increase the symptoms of gastric reflux in people who experience the problem. Koch said patients with reflux often mention that caffeine and spicy foods in particular cause them distress.

    Perhaps the most surprising information presented at the conference is that caffeine appears to have little effect on pregnancy. Studies found that drinking caffeine during pregnancy reduces a baby's birth weight by 3 to 6 grams. That amount was statistically significant, but researchers are still unsure whether caffeine has an adverse effect on the baby.

    Studies also showed that caffeine intake during pregnancy may slow a baby's growth after birth, but the connection is not yet clear.

    Koch said researchers at the conference concluded that moderate caffeine drinking during pregnancy may be OK. But Koch said the jury's still out on questions of caffeine drinking during pregnancy, and she still believes it's a good idea for pregnant women to limit caffeine intake.

    "It's not something I'm sure I'm going to tell people to go out and do, but it's interesting to know that there appears to be a limited effect," Koch said. Dietitians at the conference were surprised by the findings, she said, because they, too, believed caffeine could slow the fetus' growth and lead to other problems with the pregnancy. "We always tell pregnant women to avoid caffeine."

    As to whether caffeine is addictive, it depends on the definition of addiction. Quitting caffeine produces withdrawal symptoms, such as headache, lethargy and reduced concentration. But caffeine withdrawal doesn't have other effects that are commonly linked with drug addiction. For instance, it doesn't alter brain chemistry or lead to antisocial behavior.

  • Advanced Article on Slow vs. Fast Barbbell Squat Training
    Advanced Article on Slow vs. Fast Barbbell Squat Training

    By Morrissey MC, Harman EA, Frykman PN, Han KH (1998), Early phase differential effects of slow and fast barbell squat training.

    To examine the importance of resistance training movement speed, two groups of women (24 years old, +/- 4 years, 5 ft. 4 in. tall +/- 2 in., 130 lbs. weight +/- 15 lbs.) squatted repeatedly at 1) 2 seconds up, 2 seconds down (slow); or 2) 1 second up, 1 second down (fast), doing three warm-up sets and three eight-repetition maximum sets, three times per week for 7 weeks. Tests included force platform and video analysis of the vertical jump, long jump, and maximum squat, and isometric and isokinetic knee extensor testing at speeds from 25 to 125 deg/sec.

    The groups improved similarly in many variables with training but also showed some differences. In the long jump, the fast group was superior in numerous variables including knee peak velocity and total-body vertical and absolute power. In the vertical jump, fast training affected the ankle and hip more (e.g., average power), and slow training mostly affected the knee (average torque). In isokinetic testing, the fast group improved strength most at the faster velocities, while the slow group strength changes were consistent across the velocities tested. Although both slow and fast training improved performance, faster training showed some advantages in quantity and magnitude of training effects.


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