Rating iPhone Fitness Apps

July 31, 2015 8:00 am 0 comments

iPhone1-min-enAt the University of Florida, yes, the place where Gatorade was first concocted four decades ago, researchers took a close look at 30 free fitness apps made for iPhones, paying particular attention to their adherence to guidelines for physical activity from the American College of Sports Medicine, including parameters for safety, warm-ups, cool-downs, stretching, intensity, frequency and progression. Ready? The envelope please…..A U of Florida news release reports that when compared to the guidelines for aerobic exercise, strength or resistance, and flexibility, the top-scoring app was the Sworkit Lite Personal Workout Trainer App with 9.01 out of a possible 14 points. The researchers found that while more than half the apps included some of the recommendations for aerobic exercise and 90 percent met at least one criterion for strength and resistance, two-thirds of the apps did not meet any of the flexibility criteria. Ultimately, only Sworkit Lite Personal Workout Trainer met more than half of the criteria. Three apps met more than half the criteria in the aerobic category: Sworkit Lite Personal Workout Trainer, C25K® – 5K Trainer Free and Running for Weight Loss. Four apps earned half the possible points in the strength or resistance category: Sworkit Lite Personal Workout Trainer, Ultimate Fitness Free, JEFIT Workout and StrongLifts 5X5. Ultimate Fitness Free was no longer available on the App Store at the time. No app scored above 50 percent in the flexibility category.

Bugs You Can Swallow, Bugs You Can’t

July 30, 2015 8:56 am 0 comments

Swallowed a bug? No worries. Probably. Unless it’s a bee, wasp, or fire ant, in which case you could be in for some mild pain and swelling. The Wall Street Journal gives us the lowdown on bugs that we may want to keep outside imgresour bodies. Those include fleas, which can transmit double-pored dog tapeworm, and beetles, which can transmit dwarf  tapeworm. The Journal points out that yes, many people around the world eat all kinds of bugs, and they can be a major source of protein, but no, most people don’t eat them raw, and in any case there is “negligible nutritional benefit” to be gained. The good news? In the vast majority of cases, your body will digest arthropods, which include arachnids like spiders, mites and ticks, and insects such as gnats, flies, mosquitoes, fleas and bedbugs, “just like any other food,” says Bobbi Pritt, a microbiologist, pathologist and director of the Clinical Parasitology Laboratory at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “Eating a bug now and then probably won’t be a problem for most.”

10-20-30 Training. How To Do It.

July 29, 2015 8:45 am 0 comments

images10-20-30 training? What the hell is that? For one persuasive thing, it’s the favorite interval training program of New York Times health columnist Gretchen Reynolds. For another, it was invented by Jens Bangsbo, a professor of physiology at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, who was disappointed by the failure of interval training to improve the fitness of many out-of-shape people. That failure, it turned out, stemmed from the study group’s failure to stick with the program, so Bangsbo decided to devise a program that would be more like fun and less like work. As Reynolds writes in the New York Times, “The essentials of 10-20-30 training are simple. Run, ride or perhaps row on a rowing machine gently for 30 seconds, accelerate to a moderate pace for 20 seconds, then sprint as hard as you can for 10 seconds. (It should be called 30-20-10 training, obviously, but that is not as catchy.) Repeat.” Reynolds like the program because it doesn’t require any high-tech monitoring, or even a gym membership. Or a stopwatch. Anyone can count to 30. She also likes the brevity–only 10 seconds– of the most grueling leg of the workout. Finally, Reynolds reports that the program works–proven, you guessed it, by research conducted in Bangsbo’s lab. See more in the video below.

 

Exercise Keeps Aging Brains Humming

July 28, 2015 8:23 am 0 comments

imagesIt’s not exactly news, but three more research projects recently demonstrated the brain-related benefits of exercise. HealthDay reports that in one project, 65 people between the ages 55 to 89 were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The first group did stretching exercises while the second group did at least 45 minutes of high-intensity aerobics four times a week. Six months in, MRI brain scans of the aerobics group showed that blood flow had significantly increased to the memory and processing centers of participants’ brains, and those in the group had improved ability to plan, organize and pay attention. Wait, there’s more: cerebrospinal fluid samples drawn from the same group showed a significant reduction in tau protein tangles that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. In another research project, 200 people between ages 50 and 90 with Alzheimer’s were randomly assigned to either an aerobic exercise program or a control group that did no extra exercise. The researchers found that those who exercised suffered from fewer mood problems such as anxiety, irritability and depression, and had significant improvements in mental speed and attention. Finally, HealthDay reports, a third project involved 71 people between ages 56 and 96 who had suffered ministrokes, diminishing their ability to think and remember. Half were assigned to regular aerobics classes. The researchers found that participants who took aerobics significantly improved their memory and selective attention, compared with those not asked to exercise regularly.

Successful Aging Linked To Drinking A Bit

July 27, 2015 8:12 am 3 comments

Let’s say you areimages over 50, healthy, active and financially well 0ff. Congrats, those are all good things. The bad thing, according to research recently published in the British Medical Journal Open, is that those good things come with a higher risk of harmful drinking. That finding is based on more than 9,000 responses to two surveys of people over 50, who live independently in England. What exactly is harmful drinking?  The researchers used national guidance to define increasing risk of harmful drinking at 22-50 weekly units for men and 15 to 35 weekly units for women; and higher risk, at more than 50 and more than 35 weekly units, respectively, for men and women. They found that the risk of harmful drinking peaked for men in their early 60s and then gradually tailed off, whereas for women risky drinking fell in tandem with age. Wait, there’s more: Income was associated with a higher risk, but only among women, while smoking, higher educational attainment, and good health were all linked to heightened risk in both sexes. Higher risk of harmful drinking was more common among men of white ethnicity. Caring responsibilities lowered the probability of being at higher risk among women, but religious belief did not—for either sex. Employment status did not seem to be a significant factor, but women who had retired were more likely to be at higher risk.

Beet Juice For Longer Workouts, If We Want Longer Workouts

July 23, 2015 7:56 am 0 comments

imgresMore on the ongoing beet juice conundrum. A new study published in the  American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology finds that men who drank beet juice for 15 days had lower blood pressure and more dilated blood vessels at rest and during exercise. Science Daily reports that beet juice appeared to help blood vessels dilate more easily and allow the heart to consume less oxygen during exercise. The bottom line: The researchers are convinced that beet juice can enhance oxygen delivery to the muscles and reduce the work the heart does during exercise, allowing us to, yes, exercise longer. If we want to.

How Mosquitoes Find You: Smell, Sight and Temperature

July 22, 2015 2:48 pm 1 comment

imagesHow do mosquitoes find us before they bite us? Let me count the ways. One, they smell us, or more specifically, they smell the carbon dioxide that is exhaled every time we breathe out. Two, they also see us, or at least they use their eyes to detect dark objects, which are particularly attractive to mosquitoes who have already detected carbon dioxide. And three, they sense our body heat and move in our direction. How do we know this? Because researchers at Caltech conducted several experiments, exposing mosquitoes to carbon dioxide plumes, dark objects, and objects that were heated to roughly our body temperature. The interesting part? All mosquitoes were attracted by carbon dioxide, and mosquitoes under the influence of carbon dioxide showed a stronger preference for dark objects than mosquitoes that had not been exposed to carbon dioxide. The temperature attraction? That worked with or without carbon dioxide, but it only worked when the mosquitoes were very close to their dinner. A Caltech news release reports that the researchers hypothesize that the hunt works like this: From 10 to 50 meters away, a mosquito smells a host’s CO2 plume. As it flies closer—to within 5 to 15 meters—it begins to see the host. Then, guided by visual cues that draw it even closer, the mosquito can sense the host’s body heat. This occurs at a distance of less than a meter.

How To Remove A Tick

July 21, 2015 9:23 am 1 comment

imgresYes, ticks are creepy, especially when their pointy barbed heads are burrowed into your flesh. What to do? The Wall Street Journal has some advice, along with descriptions of several special tick removal devices that are, according to experts, no more effective at removing ticks than a good pair of fine-tipped tweezers. First, the journal warns, “although most tick-borne pathogens, including the one that causes Lyme disease, generally aren’t transmitted before the tick has been attached for at least 24 hours, a few may transmit more quickly.” In other words, get the tick off your body as soon as possible. Do not try the old trick of holding a lit match near the tick, hoping that it will back out. It won’t. Do grab the tick with the tweezers as close to your body as possible, and pull slowly. If some of the vile creature’s mouth parts remain embedded, don’t freak out. That may cause some redness and itching, but it won’t increase the likelihood of disease transmission. Once the tick is out, wash the area with soap and water, and keep an eye on it, looking for expanding redness for about two weeks. If the red mark left behind does expand, talk to your doctor.

Immediate Rewards Keep People Exercising

July 20, 2015 8:22 am 0 comments

ExercisingNoSweat-237x300 to lose weight? Nice idea, unlikely reality. Exercising because it makes you feel good? Nicer idea, and one with a pretty good chance that you’ll actually follow through with it. That’s the thesis put forth by New York Times health columnist Jane Brody, who backs it up with personal experience and the wisdom of Michelle Segar, director of the Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center at the University of Michigan. Segar, who is also the author of “No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness,” suggests that we focus on the idea that “everything counts” — taking the stairs instead of the elevator, weeding the garden, dancing, even walking to the water cooler,” writes Brody.  Brody cites Segar’s advice that “the more energy you give to caring for yourself, the more energy you have for everything else.” Wait, there’s more: Segar wants us to know that it’s OK to make self-care through physical activity a priority. “When we do not prioritize our own self-care because we are busy serving others, our energy is not replenished,” Segar writes. “Instead, we are exhausted, and our ability to be there for anyone or anything else is compromised.”

 

 

To Reverse Bone Loss; Squats With Weights

July 17, 2015 7:36 am 0 comments

No, it doesn’t sound pleasant, imagesbut doing squats with weights has been shown to reverse bone loss in middle-aged men. Ditto for deadlifts, lunges and the overhead press, none of which is anywhere near as much fun as and good tennis game. A news release from the University of Missouri reports that researchers at the school studied 38 active, middle-aged men who completed either a weight-lifting program or a jumping program for a year. Both programs required 60-120 minutes of targeted exercises each week, and the researchers measured the men’s bone mass at the beginning of the study and again at six and 12 months using specialized X-ray scans of the whole body, hip and lumbar spine. The envelope please…The researchers found that bone mass of the whole body and lumbar spine significantly increased after six months of completing the weight-lifting or jumping programs, and the increase was maintained at 12 months. Hip-bone density only increased for those who completed the weight-lifting program. Wait, there’s more: The researchers found that only the bone experiencing the mechanical load got stronger, and to build strength the intensity of the loading needs to increase over time. Because bones need to rest to maximize the response, the researchers gave their study subjects “rest weeks.”

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