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For February 24, 2018

  • How Your Body Responds To Exercise
    How Your Body Responds To Exercise
    When you lace up your exercise shoes and head out the door for your morning walk � or push off from the wall of your favorite swimming pool � you're responding to the orders of your conscious brain to move your muscles in a more vigorous way. As soon as those movements begin, however, a number of rapid, automatic changes also occur throughout your body.

    Your working muscles immediately start to burn more energy to fuel their contractions. They do this by stepping up the conversion of oxygen and nutrients into ATP (the fuel that all cells run on) inside each individual muscle cell.

    During sustained, aerobic activity, like a brisk walk or steady running, your working muscles might use 15 to 25 times more energy than they do at rest � burning carbohydrates and stored fat in about a 50-50 mix. During an intense, short anaerobic effort, such as running a 100-yard dash or sprinting the length of the swimming pool, your muscles may require up to 120 times more energy than at rest!

    Your heart immediately begins to beat faster in order to pump more blood to your muscles and other body tissues. During vigorous exercise, your heartbeat may rise to 150 beats per minute or more (compared with 70 or 80 heartbeats per minute at rest, for the average person).

    Why this happens: As soon you start a physical activity, nerve receptors in your blood vessels, muscles and joints signal your sympathetic nervous system to release epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) into your bloodstream. These quickly act to speed up your heartbeat. The brain's cortex also contributes to this speeding up � in fact, scientists have found that people's heartbeats begin to beat faster even before they start to exercise, as the brain anticipates what's about to happen.

    Whereas the average heart pumps about five liters of blood per minute at rest, the amount may increase to 20 liters per minute during vigorous exercise. (The hearts of trained endurance athletes have been measured to pump as much as 40 liters in a minute!)

    Your blood vessels also go through rapid changes when you start exercising. Stimulated by nerve and chemical signals, the walls of the arteries leading to your working muscles relax, causing the arteries to widen. At the same time, peripheral veins constrict, forcing more blood into your central circulation. The smaller arterioles leading to your muscle fibers also widen, and millions of dormant capillaries (which feed blood directly to the fibers) open up. (At rest, only about one in every 30 capillaries is open.)

    The result of all these changes is a vastly increased flow of blood (along with the all-important oxygen and nutrients it carries) to your exercising muscles � including your heart muscle, which receives several times more blood flow than it does at rest. This blood flow is maximized when each muscle relaxes, and then stops as it contracts, creating a "milking" action that helps pump blood throughout your body as you move.

    Increased blood flow to the skin during light and moderate exercise provides an enhanced cooling effect (you'll start sweating more heavily, as well). Meanwhile, blood flow is temporarily shunted away from the kidneys, liver, digestive system and other organs not directly involved in exercise.

    Your lungs also begin breathing faster and more deeply, supplying your body with more oxygen. This response results from a wide array of stimuli, including a rise in blood carbon dioxide (the by-product of utilizing more oxygen), increased body temperature and messages sent from chemoreceptors in your body's periphery.

    At rest, about 12 pints of air pass in and out of the average person's lungs every minute. During vigorous exercise, this rate may increase to as much as 200 pints per minute.

    Your metabolic rate,which depends on how many calories you're burning, goes up anywhere from four to 20 times your resting metabolic rate, depending on how hard you exercise.
  • When Fitness Buffs Turn Fanatic
    When Fitness Buffs Turn Fanatic

    (MSNBC News, Aug. 10 1999) � Is there no limit to human endurance, speed and physical strength? Every year, new records are set in track and field, professional sports and other competitions. The powers and potential of the human body, it seems, are like the stock market. They just keep soaring to new heights.

    THE RECENT NEW record set in the mile run is just the latest in a string of seemingly superhuman achievements. In the past five years, the world record in the men�s 10,000 meters has been broken eight times by six different runners. The world record during this period improved by almost 3 percent, more than the improvement of the previous 30 years. And this year Sammy Sosa will probably crush enough fastballs to surpass Mark McGwire in the annual home-run record-smashing sweepstakes. The only thing standing between him and the pinnacle is a problem that sneaks up on even the most dedicated athletes: overtraining syndrome. As the summer continues to heat up and vacationers shed more clothes, revealing newly buff bodies in muscle tees and bikinis, it�s a good time to look at one of the downsides of the fitness revolution.


    Sports physiologists have long known that the man who spends too much time in the gym may be suffering from an anorexia-like syndrome or is indulging in some form of escapist behavior. Now they�ve added overtraining to their diagnostic manuals. As the fitness boom has matured and professional records have improved, so has the intensity of training. Many sport scientists estimate that training loads have increased by 20 percent over the past decade.

    The allure of major-league salaries motivates many young athletes to achieve levels of speed, strength and endurance that were once considered impossible. A college basketball player with NBA potential knows that talent alone can not guarantee he�ll be drafted. He needs bulk, and the only way to acquire it is to work out, hard, every day.


    But you don�t have to be an elite athlete to fall prey to overtraining syndrome, which also goes by the mundane term �staleness.� The concept of �personal best,� together with the �extreme sports� phenomenon, has pushed many of us into the gym every day, setting up the perfect psychological conditions for burnout. Training specialists estimate that 10 to 20 percent of athletes who train hard eventually suffer from staleness. The most obvious symptom is an unexplainable drop in performance in either practice or competition that is unrelated to illness or injury. This decline may be preceded by a period in which you can still train and compete at the same level but only by expending greater effort.

    Mood disturbances, including depression, anger and anxiety, also frequently accompany training burnout. You may also feel a sense of general fatigue and lethargy, as well as a loss of appetite and change in sleep patterns.


    The primary cause of overtraining syndrome is a poorly designed training program. A combination of an accelerated schedule and inadequate recovery and rest can produce symptoms within 10 days. Some athletes, of course, thrive on such demanding schedules, while others wilt quickly.

    A host of other factors can create conditions that lead to the syndrome. Frequent high-level competition can lead to burnout. (The New York Yankees pitcher, Andy Pettite, who has won 75 games in less than five years but is struggling this season, appears to be a classic example.) Monotonous, unvarying training programs, medical conditions like cold or allergies, inadequate consumption of carbohydrates, high altitude and unfavorable weather conditions have also been implicated.

    For the everyday gym nut, cross-training is an excellent way to prevent overtraining. Elite athletes who have specific goals in mind � like the acquisition of 20 pounds of muscle � must vary their routines to maintain their interest. During the heaviest training periods, adequate rest and recovery is crucial. Many athletes are loathe to cut back their schedule for fear of becoming detrained. But falling prey to overtraining syndrome is a worse alternative. Research has found that 80 percent of athletes who develop overtraining syndrome have symptoms of depression that require professional intervention. And it�s difficult to set records, or preen on the beach, when you�re depressed.


    NOTE FROM FITREX.COM: Check out our Fitrex programs to avoid staleness and overtraining. All of our programs follow the concept of periodization. This varies your workouts from week to week based on 6 different phases of training and 10 levels of difficulty over the course of your 12 week program. We also vary which exercises you perform from day to day and from week to week so there is something new all the time!

    Dan Wirth M.A., C.S.C.S.
    Fitness Director (Fitrex.com)
    Director of Strength and Conditioning
    The University of Arizona
  • Cutting Fat Wisely
    Cutting Fat Wisely

    From: Living Better Features

    Quality may matter just as much as quantity when it comes to consuming fats. In fact, diets with a higher percentage of fats -- if they are the right kind -- can actually be better for you than their lower-fat counterparts, according to a recent report issued by the American Heart Association (AHA) and published in the September 14, 1999, issue of the journal Circulation.

    Make sure you include healthful fats in your diet by stocking your kitchen with olive, canola and peanut oils -- examples of monounsaturated fats. The AHA's recommendation is that no more than 30 percent of your calories come from fat. But a diet rich in these monounsaturated fats, according to the September report, can help lower the risk of heart disease -- even if your fat intake somewhat exceeds 30 percent.

    Take a good look, too, at how much of your diet includes saturated fats -- fats that come from animal and dairy sources and some plant oils, such as coconut and palm oils. These can increase your cholesterol level and should be avoided.

    One of the study's authors is Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D. -- a distinguished professor of nutrition at Penn State University and a member of the AHA nutrition committee. Her study suggests that a fat intake as high as 35 percent can still be healthy -- but she stresses that this is only true if the fats are monounsaturated.

    The AHA also recommends that saturated and polyunsaturated fats should make up less than 10 percent of your calorie intake, and that monounsaturated fats should make up no more than 15 percent.

    All Fats Are Not Created Equal

    Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) help lower LDL cholesterol, the kind that can build up on arterial walls and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, says Kris-Etherton, even if they make up as much as 35 percent of your calorie intake. But a diet high in saturated and polyunsaturated fats, even if kept within the 30-percent limit, can lower HDL cholesterol -- the kind that helps protect against heart attacks -- and can raise the level of triglycerides, the chemical form of most fat in the body.

    Still, a diet high in MUFA can have drawbacks. "When people start adding olive oil and other rich sources of monounsaturated fats, maybe they'll run the risk of adding too many calories to their diet," Kris-Etherton says. But she adds that a high-MUFA diet may be a good alternative to a diet that severely restricts fat, for people who can maintain a healthy weight while on it.

    "We have to figure out which diet is going to work best for different people," Kris-Etherton says. "It doesn't have to be a low-fat diet for everybody. What is nice about all of this is now we have another option in the prevention and treatment of heart disease."

    Healthy Choices

    No matter how healthy you are, make sure you don't consume too many saturated fats, which can raise cholesterol levels, says Alice Lichtenstein, a professor of nutrition at Tufts University and member of the AHA nutrition committee. To decrease saturated fats, buy lean cuts of meat and take advantage of low-fat and nonfat dairy products.

    "It may not be exactly what you want, but you can make the substitution and not feel deprived," Lichtenstein says.

    It's in the Calories

    While Americans have somewhat decreased their saturated fat intake, they have more than made up for the calories in carbohydrate consumption, says Lichtenstein. As a result, the nation is getting heavier, opening the door for health problems such as heart disease and diabetes, which are associated with increased weight.

    Lichtenstein explains that avoiding weight gain means taking every calorie into account, remembering that "fat-free" or "low-fat" does not mean "calorie-free." And keeping track of how many of those calories you expend, rather than just how many you consume, is also important in maintaining a healthy weight.

    "Some people get so focused on fat that they forget total energy intake," Lichtenstein says. She adds that regular exercise, which allows you to eat more without gaining weight, has been shown to reduce a person's risk of heart attack.

    However, these heart-healthy changes shouldn't be viewed as a quick fix. "This type of lifestyle modification isn't like a course of antibiotics," she says. "You don't do it for 10 days and forget about it. It's OK to occasionally skip your morning exercise routine or have prime rib, but this approach has to be for the long term."

    1999 WebMD. All rights reserved.

  • Calories Burned During Physical Activities
    Calories Burned During Physical Activities

    When you perform a physical activity, your basal metabolic rate will increase, burning more calories. The good news is that your BMR will stay high even after you stop the activity, continuing to burn calories. In addition, the ideal exercise or activity for losing weight is not one where you are "out of breath". It is better to perform an aerobic exercise, where you can continue to hold a conversation while performing the activity. This helps your body to actually burn fat, instead of sugar. The chart below shows the calories burned for one hour of activity for various exercises for both 140 lb and 195 lb people:

    Activity (1 hour)140 lbs195 lbs
    Aerobics, general381 531
    Aerobics, high impact 445 620
    Backpacking 445 620
    Basketball, game 508 708
    Basketball, shooting baskets 286 398
    Bicycling, <10 mph, leisure 254 354
    Bicycling, 10-11.9 mph, light effort 381 531
    Bicycling, 12-13.9 mph, moderate effort 508 708
    Bicycling, 14-15.9 mph, vigorous effort 636 885
    Bicycling, 16-19 mph, very fast, racing 763 1062
    Bicycling, Mountain or BMX 540 753
    Boxing, punching bag 381 531
    Boxing, sparring 572 797
    Canoeing, rowing, moderate effort 445 620
    Dancing, aerobic, swing, ballet or modern, twist 381 531
    Football, touch, flag 508 708
    Golf, carrying clubs 350 487
    Golf, pulling clubs 318 443
    Golf, using power cart 222 310
    Hiking, cross country 381 531
    Hockey, ice 508 708
    Jogging 445 620
    Judo, karate, kick boxing, tae kwon do 636 885
    Mowing lawn 350 487
    Racquetball, casual 445 620
    Rock climbing, ascending rock 699 974
    Rope jumping, moderate 636 885
    Rowing, stationary, moderate effort 604 841
    Running, 5 mph (12 minute mile) 508 708
    Running, 5.2 mph (11.5 minute mile) 572 797
    Running, 6 mph (10 minute mile) 636 885
    Running, 6.7 mph (9 minute mile) 699 974
    Running, 7 mph (8.5 minute mile) 731 1018
    Running, 7.5 mph (8 minute mile) 795 1107
    Running, 8 mph (7.5 minute mile) 858 1195
    Running, 8.6 mph (7 minute mile) 890 1239
    Running, 9 mph (6.5 minute mile) 953 1328
    Running, 10 mph (6 minute mile) 1017 1416
    Running, 10.9 mph (5.5 minute mile) 1144 1594
    Running, stairs, up 953 1328
    Shoveling snow 381 531
    Skateboarding 318 443
    Skating, ice 445 620
    Skating, roller 445 620
    Skiing, cross-country, moderate effort 508 708
    Skiing, snow, downhill, moderate effort 381 531
    Skiing, water 381 531
    Snowmobiling 222 310
    Soccer, casual 445 620
    Softball or baseball 318 443
    Swimming laps, freestyle, light/moderate effort 508 708
    Tennis, singles 508 708
    Tennis, doubles 381 531
    Volleyball, competitive 254 354
    Walking, 3.0 mph, moderate pace 222 310
    Weight lifting, light or moderate effort 191 266
    Weight lifting or bodybuilding, vigorous effort 381 531

    Numbers are from the "Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine."

  • Hate Exercise? Positive Thinking Can Help
    Hate Exercise? Positive Thinking Can Help

    How to Make Exercise Feel Easier

    (Prevention, August 1999) � Exercise feels good, right? Not for everyone -- especially if you're overweight or just starting out. You're hot and sweaty, your heart is racing, and you're breathing like a freight train.

    And if you perceive this experience as negative, chances are you're not going to stick with it, says Joanne Kraenzle Schneider, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and a registered nurse. But she suspects that if you shift your thoughts to more positive ones, you'll be more likely to continue exercising.

    Makes sense, and a small pilot study she did supports this. More research is needed. In the meantime, when you're out for a walk or in an aerobics class and find yourself saying or thinking negative things, counter them with positives. Below are some common reactions to exercise and ways to look at them positively.

    What You Think During Exercise How To Respond
    "I'm bored." Visualize a positive experience such as a favorite vacation, a get-together with friends or a childhood memory. Or focus on the details of your surroundings.
    "I hate to sweat." "Sweating's a good thing. It's cooling my body because I'm working hard, which will make me healthier."
    "I'm sore."* "I'm challenging my body to use different muscles I'm not used to using. I'm making progress and building muscles."
    "This is tiring." "I need to push through it. I'll feel energized later."
    "I don't like when my heart pounds so hard." "My heart is getting stronger. It's pumping blood and oxygen to all my muscles so they can work harder."
    "I don't like feeling hot." "I'm working my muscles and burning calories."
    "I don't like feeling short of breath." "This indicates I'm doing what I should be doing. My muscles need oxygen to move so I need to take in more oxygen."
    *Note: This refers to muscle soreness or achiness, not sharp pain or pain in your joints. If you're experiencing the latter type of pain, stop exercising, and see a doctor if it continues.
  • Making healthy lifestyle changes.
    Making healthy lifestyle changes.

    If you've resolved to leave bad habits behind, you know how difficult it can be to maintain that resolve, but there are some ways you can successfully negotiate the path to new behaviors.

    Set goals and objectives. They add aim to energy, focus effort and structure time. Surveys show that people who plan ahead are much more successful over the long term than those who plunge in without knowing where they're going or how they'll get there. Remember: Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable and realistic.

    Put your goals in writing. Written goals are a tangible sign of a promise that you intend to keep. They will also help you track you progress, make your accomplishments more obvious, and help you identify problem areas that need more attention.

    Identify supporters and saboteurs. The support of others will make it easier for you to pass through the sometimes difficult transition from old to new behaviors. Identify the people who will nurture you and help you maintain your well-being, as well as those who don't see your point of view.

    Plan for the unexpected. Lack of time is the most frequently mentioned reason for discontinuing a fitness program. Life is filled with surprises, so include strategies that assure you will make time for keeping your commitment.

    Reward your success. Set up a reward system so you can receive a treat for changed behaviors. Some examples include extra time for yourself with a favorite book, a manicure or pedicure, a trip with a special friend or a lecture or play that stimulates your mind. Avoid rewards related to food and drink that may be sabotaging in the long run.

    Negotiating the path to new behaviors can be fulfilling and rewarding if you can hang in there for the weeks to months necessary to make new behaviors lifestyle habits.


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