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For July 22, 2018

  • Difference Between Aerobic , Strength and Flexibility Exercise
    Difference Between Aerobic , Strength and Flexibility Exercise

    The sweat experts divide exercise into three general categories: aerobic, strength, and flexibility and strongly recommend a balanced program that includes all three. (Speed training is also a major category, but is generally practiced only by competitive athletes.)

    Aerobic (Endurance) Training

    Aerobic exercises build endurance and keep the heart pumping at a steady but elevated rate for an extended period. Practicing them regularly can enhance cardiac function, boost HDL (the "good") cholesterol levels, strengthen the bones in the spine, and lower the risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. Aerobic exercise also trims body fat and can improve one's sense of well-being. Jogging, swimming, cycling, stair-climbing, and aerobic dancing are all examples. As little as one hour a week is helpful, but three to four hours per week are optimal. People who are out of shape or elderly should start aerobic training gradually with five to ten minutes of low-impact aerobic activity (e.g., gardening, yard work, or walking) every other day and build toward a goal of 30 minutes per day three to seven times a week. Because it is so natural and convenient, brisk walking is an excellent and easy way to accomplish aerobic exercise.

    Some research indicates that walking at a swift pace burns at least as many calories as running or jogging for the same distance and poses less risk for injury to muscle and bone. Swimming is an ideal exercise for many people with certain physical limitations, including pregnant women, individuals with musculoskeletal problems, and those who suffer from exercise-induced asthma. Swimming, however, will not raise the heart rate quite as much as other sports because of the so-called diving reflex," which causes the heart to slow down automatically when the body is immersed in water. For swimming, use a heart rate target of 75% of the maximum and then subtract 12 beats per minute.

    Shoes and Clothing. Although Americans spend nearly $2 billion on home exercise equipment, all that's really necessary for a workout is a good pair of shoes -- well-made, well-fitting, and broken in but not worn down. They should support the ankle and provide cushioning for impact sports such as running or aerobic dancing. Airing out the shoes and feet after exercising reduces chances for skin conditions such as athlete's foot. Comfort and safety are the key words for workout clothing. For outdoor nighttime exercise, a reflective vest and light-colored clothing must be worn. Bikers, rollerbladers, and equestrians should always wear safety devices such as helmets, wrist guards, and knee and elbow pads. Goggles are mandatory for indoor racquet sports. For vigorous athletic activities, such as football, ankle braces may be more effective in preventing ankle injuries than tape.

    Aerobic-Exercise Equipment. A lot of money spent on equipment does not always translate into a better workout or better results. A simple jump rope improves aerobic endurance for people who are able to perform high impact exercise. Jumping rope should be done on surfaces that have some give to avoid joint injury. (A good floor mat is important to provide cushioning for all home exercises.) Home exercise machines can be adapted to any fitness level and can be used day or night. For burning calories, the treadmill has been ranked best, followed by stair climbers, the rowing machine, cross country ski machine, and stationary bicycle.

    Recently, elliptical trainers have been gaining popularity and, according to one study, are even better than treadmills for elevating heart rate and increasing calorie and oxygen consumption. Stationary bikes and stair climbers condition leg muscles. Stationary bikes are fairly economical and easy to use safely. The pedals should turn smoothly, the seat height should adjust easily, and the bike's computer should be able to adjust intensity. Stair machines offer very intense, low-impact workouts, which a recent study showed to be as effective as running with less chance of injury. Rowing and cross-country ski machines exercise both the upper and lower body.

    Cheaper models of exercise machines tend to be flimsy and hard to adjust, but many sturdy, moderately priced machines are available. The higher-end models may utilize computers to record calories burned, speed, and mileage. While their readouts may provide motivation and gauge the intensity of a workout, they are not always accurate. Before investing in and bringing home an exercise machine, it is wise to test it out first at a gym. In addition, initial supervised training when using these machines can reduce the risk of injury that might occur with self-instruction.

    Isometric (Strength or Resistance) Training

    Where aerobic exercise emphasizes endurance, isometric exercise focuses on strength. Adding 10 to 20 minutes of modest strength training two to three times a week is important for a balanced exercise program. People who only exercise aerobically eventually lose upper body strength. Isometric training builds muscle strength while burning fat, helps maintain bone density, and improves digestion. It appears to lower LDL (the so-called "bad") cholesterol levels.

    Isometric exercise is beneficial for everyone, even people in their 90s. In fact, strength training assumes even more importance as one ages, because after age 30 everyone undergoes a slow process of muscular erosion, which can be reduced or even reversed by adding resistance training to an exercise program. (Please note, people at risk for cardiovascular disease should not perform isometric exercises without checking with a physician.) Individuals should first select a weight or rubber band tension that allows a maximum of eight repetitions. When 12 repetitions can be completed, a higher weight or tension that limits the individual again to eight repetitions should be used. Once 12 repetitions can be completed at maximum tension, resistance can be lowered and the number of repetitions increased to 15 to 20. While doing these exercises, it is important to breathe slowly and rhythmically. Exhale as the movement begins; inhale when returning to the starting point. The first half of each repetition should last two seconds, and the return to the original position should last four seconds. Joints should be moved rhythmically through their full range of motion during a repetition and not locked up. For maximum benefit, one should allow 48 hours between workouts for full muscle recovery.

    Strength-Training Equipment. Any heavy object that can be held in the hand, such as a plastic bottle filled with sand or water, can serve as a weight. Heavy rubber bands or tubing are excellent devices for resistance training; they are inexpensive, come in various tensions, and are safer and more convenient than free weights for exercising all parts of the body. Latex bands are easier on the hands than tubing. Many inexpensive hand weights are available to help strengthen and tone the upper body. Ankle weights strengthen and tone muscles in the lower body but are not recommended for impact aerobics or jumping. Hand grips strengthen arms and are good for relieving tension. A pull-up bar can be mounted in a doorway for chin-ups and pull-ups.

    Flexibility Training (Stretching)

    Flexibility training uses stretching exercises to prevent cramps, stiffness, and injuries. It also ensures a wider range of motion (i.e., the amount of movement a joint has). Yoga and T'ai Chi, which focus on flexibility, balance, and proper breathing, may even lower stress and help to reduce blood pressure. Authorities now recommend performing stretching exercises for 10 to 12 minutes at least three times a week. When stretching, extend the muscles to the point of tension -- not pain -- and hold for 20 to 60 seconds (beginners may need to start with a 5 to 10 second stretch).

    Certain stretching exercises are particularly beneficial for the back. It is important when doing stretches that involve the back to relax the spine, to keep the lower back flush with the mat, and to work only the muscles required for changing position, usually the abdomen. It is also important to breathe evenly while stretching. Holding one's breath defeats the purpose; it causes muscle contraction and raises blood pressure.

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  • Working Out After Surgery
    Working Out After Surgery

    How Long Should You Wait?

    (Prevention, September 1999)

    QUESTION: I usually do a combination weight training and cardio workout every other day. But I just had surgery to remove my appendix. How soon can I go back to working out, and what should I do to get back up to speed?

    ANSWER: Your doctor is the best person to advise you on when it is safe to resume exercising. Every body and every surgery is different so there isn't one simple answer. But once you get your doctor's OK to start working out, ease back into it to avoid soreness or injury.

    As a general rule, the amount of time you missed exercising should equal the amount of time you give yourself to return to your previous level. For example, say you were cycling 15 miles in an hour before you were laid up with an injury for four weeks. Your first week back do only 10 or 15 minutes at a slower than normal pace. The next week increase your time to 30 minutes, and then 45 minutes the following week. By the fourth week, you should be able to put in an hour, but don't push your pace. The following week you should be back up to speed.

    Most importantly, listen to your body. If you're feeling tired, back off a bit. If you experience any pain or problems, see your doctor. Don't worry. Your desire to get back on track is a good sign that you'll be back to your usual routine before you know it.

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  • Tips for Good Sleep
    Tips for Good Sleep

    (AP) - Having trouble getting to sleep at night, or awakening too early in the morning? Experts have these tips, based, in part, on a new study:

    • Maintain a regular sleep-wake cycle, even on weekends. Staying up late, with the lights burning, tends to reset the brain's sleep clock, making the body cry out for more sleep when the alarm sounds Monday morning.
    • If awakened during the night, try to remain in bed, with the lights out and your eyes closed. This will help sleep return and will not affect your normal sleep-wake cycle.
    • If you must get up, keep the lights as dim as possible. Bright lights tend to reset the brain's sleep clock. One hour of bright light exposure at night shifts the clock forward by about 10 minutes.
    • Avoid alcohol, tobacco and caffeine before bedtime.
    • If sleeplessness is caused by a disorder, treat that disorder specifically instead of trying to force sleep with pills.
    • Afternoon or early evening naps may make it harder to fall asleep at the regular time.
    • American travelers who fly overnight to Europe should try to nap immediately upon arrival. After a few hours of sleep, get up and walk in the sunlight. This will help reset the body clock to European time.

    Copyright 1999 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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  • Fish Oil May Help Unclog Diseased Heart Arteries
    Fish Oil May Help Unclog Diseased Heart Arteries
    By AMY NORTON

    In a fat-fearing world, fish oil is emerging as one fat even a cardiologist can love. Adding to evidence that the omega-3 fatty acid promotes heart health, German researchers have found that a daily dose of fish oil may help slow or even reverse the hardening and narrowing of arteries in patients with heart disease.

    In the current issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers from the University of Munich report that a fish- oil capsule a day may ``modestly'' improve blood flow to the heart and bolster traditional therapy in patients with atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

    In a study of 223 men and women, those who took a dose of fish oil per day for two years had fewer atherosclerosis complications such as heart attack and stroke. Two fish-oil patients had complications, compared with seven patients on a placebo pill that contained other fatty acids similar to those of the ``average European diet.'' Most patients were also on cholesterol- lowering drugs, and many had previously had surgery to unclog their arteries.

    One of the ``good,'' polyunsaturated fats, fish oil has widely been thought to have important heart benefits. Found in fish such as salmon, it is a key component of the low-saturated-fat Mediterranean diet that has been linked to the lower incidence of heart disease in that area of the world.

    Just how fish oil bestows its benefits has been unclear, but researchers have suspected that it somehow helps clear clogged heart arteries. The German team, led by Dr. Clemens von Schacky, used X-rays to peer into the patients' heart arteries at the beginning and end of the study. They found that after two years, the arteries of the fish-oil patients, on average, offered more room for blood flow.

    The improvements were not dramatic, however; the fish-oil capsules failed to reverse the disease course in most patients. In the fish-oil group, 14 patients did show a mild reversal of artery clogging, compared with seven in the placebo group. Two fish- oil patients showed moderate reversal, while no placebo patients did. For 35 in the fish-oil group, atherosclerosis progressed slightly, and for four, artery narrowing progressed moderately _ results that were almost identical to those of the placebo group, in which 36 worsened slightly and five showed moderate disease progression.

    Still, von Schacky's team concluded that the benefits found in this study are significant enough to warrant including fish oil as part of traditional heart-disease treatment. Taking a daily capsule or dining on fish twice weekly would fulfill the prescription, according to the researchers.

    Dr. Robert Vogel, a cardiologist at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, agreed that the omega-3 fatty acid, in the form of food or pill, is a wise addition to heart-disease therapy. But he pointed out that fish oil has been shown to have greater effects on factors other than atherosclerosis in treating heart-disease patients. Other research, said Vogel, has revealed that fish oil may help correct heart-rhythm disturbances and that it has a blood-thinning effect. It also appears to spur chemical changes in blood vessels that help them dilate.

    ``As a supplement, fish oil has fairly dramatic benefits,'' Vogel said. ``This is an area of research that has been consistent.''

    Annals of Internal Medicine (1999;130:554-62)

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  • Weight training benefits children
    Weight training benefits children

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health)--Weightlifting programs can improve the muscle tone and endurance in children - and help them to feel good about their athletic performance, researchers conclude.

    They recommend that resistance training programs for children include a high number of repetitions lifting moderate weights rather than few lifts of heavy weights, noting that high-repetition, moderate-weight training "resulted in more favorable changes in upper body strength."

    In their study, Dr. Avery Faigenbaum and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts, in Boston the Boston researchers assigned 11 girls and 32 boys between five and 12 years of age to eight weeks of weight training. Half of the children engaged in workouts consisting of six to eight repetitions of each exercise, using relatively heavy weights. The other half of participants completed an average 13 to 15 "reps," but with lighter loads.

    In their report, published this month in the electronic version of the journal Pediatrics (www.pediatrics.org), the authors conclude that weight-training programs "can enhance the muscular strength and muscular endurance of children."

    They also note that there were differences in outcome depending on the training regimen used. While leg muscle endurance improved in both exercise groups, children using high-rep, moderate weights experienced "significantly greater" gains in muscle endurance compared with children in the low-rep, high-weight group.

    And while leg muscle strength increased by 31 percent in children engaged in low-rep, high-weight workouts, the benefit was even greater-- nearly 41 percent - in children involved in high-rep, moderate-weight workouts.

    Most of the children appeared to show the greatest improvements in strength during the first four weeks of the program, with lower body muscles tending to be more responsive to weight training than muscles in the upper body.

    The Boston team conclude that children should begin weight-training using moderate weights and a single set of 13 to 15 repetitions per exercise. This type of program "not only allows for positive changes in muscular performance," they explain, "but provides an opportunity for each child to experience success and feel good about his/her performance."

    The researchers note that three major organizations - the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the National Strength and Conditioning Association - support children's participation in "appropriately designed and competently supervised" weight training programs.

    Source: Pediatrics 1999;104/1/e5.

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  • Exercise guards against physical effects of stress article
    Exercise guards against physical effects of stress article

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) -- Long known to help stave off heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer, regular exercise can also help protect against the physical effects of daily stress, according to a report in the November issue of the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

    In the study of 135 college students, those who exercised on a regular basis were more likely to take life's daily stresses in stride, compared with their less physically active counterparts.

    Previous studies have shown that mental stress takes a toll on physical health, causing such problems as increases in blood sugar levels among diabetics, worsening of joint pain in people with arthritis, and symptoms of psychological distress such as anxiety and depression.

    Study participants filled out questionnaires assessing the daily hassles they encountered during the past week -- such as car trouble, running late for appointments, or arguments with co-workers -- as well as questionnaires on major life events, mood, physical activity, and overall health.

    "Minor, everyday stress contributes to the development and exacerbation of physical and mental health problems, However, people experiencing minor stress develop different degrees of symptoms, depending on their level of physical activity," explained lead researcher Dr. Cindy L. Carmack of the University of Texas M.D Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, in a written press release.

    During periods of high stress, those who reported exercising less frequently had 37% more physical symptoms than their counterparts who exercised more often. In addition, highly stressed students who engage in less exercise report 21% more anxiety than students who exercise more frequently, the investigators add.

    Exercise helps people get their mind off of stressors -- "providing a time-out period." This "allows for a temporary escape from the pressure of stressors and thus acts as a kind of 'rejuvenation' process," Carmack and colleagues conclude.

    Source: Annals of Behavioral Medicine November 1999.

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