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Author: Robert (page 1 of 24)

The fat-burning heart-rate zone is a myth

Your primary goal should be to get active and stay motivated to keep moving.

Scott Douglas writing for the Washington Post:

If you’re the kind of exerciser who constantly checks your heart rate to ensure you’re in the fat-burning zone, you should stop. You’ll probably never meet your weight-loss goals that way. That’s because there’s no special fat-burning zone that’s key to getting lean.

And

Your body primarily fuels itself by burning a mix of stored fat and carbohydrates. The less active you are at a given moment, the greater the percentage of that fuel mix comes from fat. As your intensity of activity increases, the percentage of carbohydrates in that fuel mix also increases. At rest, fat constitutes as much as 85 percent of calories burned. That figure shifts to about 70 percent at an easy walking pace. If you transition to a moderate-effort run, the mix becomes about 50 percent fat and 50 percent carbohydrates, and it moves increasingly toward carbohydrates the faster you go.

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Doctors are saying gut health is as important as heart heath

Increasingly researchers are finding that your intestines not only digest food, but may also regulate mood, emotion, and play a central role in your body’s response to disease.

What you eat feeds every single cell in your body.

Sushrut Jangi, The Boston Globe:

Avoid processed deli meats and red meat while feeding the dense jungle of bacteria in the colon with fibers, fruits, and vegetables. Siegel says unhealthy and sedentary lifestyles rife with fast foods and processed meats are contributing to the rise in colon cancer among young people. A lot of people go to the deli and buy very expensive turkey breast and think they are eating healthy, Siegel says. Shifting away from the standard Western diet to the Mediterranean diet — composed primarily of plant-based foods, olive oil, fish, and mixed nuts — supports both gut health and a healthy heart. Sprinkling food with curcumin — the activated ingredient in turmeric — may dampen inflammation. Routine exercise staves off obesity, which does wonders for the gastrointestinal tract and reduces cancer risk. While particular diets are effective in treating specific gut conditions, consult with a gastroenterologist or nutritionist before pursuing anything radical.

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Tennis tops list of sports for increasing life expectancy

Social connections look to be a major component of any sport’s longevity benefits.

James Bullen at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:

What the researchers think the sports associated with the biggest increases in life expectancy — tennis (9.7 years), badminton (6.2 years) and soccer (4.7 years) have in common is that it takes two or more people to play them.

“The tennis players, they maybe take a beer or something else to drink after the game. They are two at least,” Dr Schnohr said.

Sports near the bottom of the list were more typically done alone, like jogging (3.2 years) and going to the gym (1.5 years).

“I go to a gym twice a week and I don’t talk to anybody. It’s very lonely in Denmark, I don’t know how it is in Australia. But it’s very lonely. You just do this and then you go home. And then you don’t get the social aspect. We think the social aspect is very important.”

There is good evidence that strong social bonds have a protective effect on a person’s health.

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The myth of those very expensive running shoes

“Runners should be instructed to choose a certain type of running shoe over another shoe no more so than a blue shoe over a red shoe,” writes Chris Napier in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

From The Globe and Mail:

A decade ago, an Australian sports-medicine physician named Craig Richards launched a ferocious broadside at the running-shoe industry. Writing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, he and two colleagues argued that there was no evidence whatsoever that modern running shoes prevented injuries – and that, as a result, such shoes should be considered “unproven technology with the potential to cause harm.”

That critique went mostly unnoticed at first. But a year later, in 2009, the bestselling book Born to Run ignited a surge of interest in barefoot and “minimalist” running, and a corresponding wave of scorn for conventional running shoes. Richards and his colleagues suddenly looked prescient – the progenitors of a new, evidence-based approach to footwear.

As the years have passed, though, demonstrating the superiority of other types of running shoes has proven to be more difficult than expected. As a new editorial in the same journal now argues, we’re still waiting for evidence about the injury-preventing powers of running shoes – except that the critique now extends to newer approaches such as minimalist shoes, supercushioned maximalist shoes and even the suggestion that you should simply choose a shoe based on comfort.

The editorial, from physical therapists Chris Napier of the University of British Columbia and Richard Willy of the University of Montana, identifies a series of logical fallacies that permeate current debates about running shoes.

The best running shoe, it could be argued, is the one that is most comfortable for you, will get you out the door, and is on sale.

 

Life expectancy for Americans falls even further

According to 2017 data, the life expectancy for Americans fell again. It’s now 78.6 years, down three-tenths of a year since 2014.

Economists consider life expectancy to be an important measure of a nation’s prosperity, but last year’s data paints a darker picture of health in the U.S.

One of the reasons for the drop is the sharpest annual increase in suicides in nearly a decade and a continued rise in deaths from opioid drugs.

Life expectancy for Americans fell again last year, despite growing recognition of the problems driving the decline and federal and local funds invested in stemming them.

Data the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Thursday show life expectancy fell by one-tenth of a year, to 78.6 years, pushed down by the sharpest annual increase in suicides in nearly a decade and a continued rise in deaths from powerful opioid drugs like fentanyl. Influenza, pneumonia and diabetes also factored into last year’s increase.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal (paywall)

Canadian doctors warn about the dangers of Dsuvia, an even more potent opioid

Canadian doctors specializing in pain management warn that Dsuvia, the pill form of sufentanil — an opioid five to 10 times more potent than fentanyl that was recently approved in the United States — could do more harm than good.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has drawn fire since it gave the go-ahead to Dsuvia — a pill containing sufentanil that is placed under a patient’s tongue — as an alternative to administering the powerful narcotic intravenously during or after surgery.

Critics say having sufentanil available as a pill will open it up for abuse, worsening an already devastating opioid crisis in the U.S.

And

A big driver in the FDA’s decision to approve the drug was the U.S. Department of Defence, Gottlieb said, which wants sufentanil in a pill format to treat wounded soldiers on battlefields where setting up an IV might not be easy.

Read more at the CBC

Related: The making of an opioid epidemic – The Guardian

The problem with trying to be perfect

There is no such thing as being perfect. To be human is to be flawed. To be a well-adjusted individual we must learn to accept our limitations and our failings.

Instead of concentrating on the end goal, this article argues, we should be focused on our personal values and the work we do.

Aim high, but get comfortable with good enough.

In well-adjusted perfectionism, someone who doesn’t get the gold is able to forget the setback and move on. In maladaptive perfectionism, meanwhile, people make an archive of all their failures. They revisit these archives constantly, thinking, as Pryor puts it, “I need to make myself feel terrible so I don’t do this again.”

Then they double down, “raising the expectation bar even higher, which increases the likelihood of defeat, which makes you self-critical, so you raise the bar higher, work even harder,” she says.

Next comes failure, shame, and pushing yourself even harder toward even higher and more impossible goals. Meeting them becomes an “all or nothing” premise. Pryor offered this example: “Even if I’m an incredible attorney, if I don’t make partner in the same pacing as one of my colleagues, clearly that means I’m a failure.”

Brustein says his perfectionist clients tend to devalue their accomplishments, so that every time a goal is achieved, the high lasts only a short time, like “a gas tank with a hole in it.”

Read more at The Atlantic

The lost art of concentration, and how to get some of that back, even in this digital world

We have known for a long time that repeated interruptions affect concentration. In 2005, research carried out by Dr Glenn Wilson at London’s Institute of Psychiatry found that persistent interruptions and distractions at work had a profound effect. Those distracted by emails and phone calls saw a 10-point fall in their IQ, twice that found in studies on the impact of smoking marijuana. More than half of the 1,100 participants said they always responded to an email immediately or as soon as possible, while 21% admitted they would interrupt a meeting to do so. Constant interruptions can have the same effect as the loss of a night’s sleep.

Nicholas Carr picked up on this again in an article in the Atlantic in 2008, before going on to publish his book The Shallows two years later. “Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy,” he wrote. “My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case any more. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.”

The impact of interruptions on individual productivity can also be catastrophic. In 2002, it was reported that, on average, we experience an interruption every eight minutes or about seven or eight per hour. In an eight-hour day, that is about 60 interruptions. The average interruption takes about five minutes, so that is about five hours out of eight. And if it takes around 15 minutes to resume the interrupted activity at a good level of concentration, this means that we are never concentrating very well.

More at The Guardian

Superfoods are a marketing ploy

Regardless of who issues them, guidelines for health promotion and disease prevention universally recommend diets that are largely plant-based, meaning those that include plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, and nuts. The U.S. dietary guidelines also recommend foods in the “protein” category. Grains, beans, and nuts are good sources of protein, but the guidelines use “protein” to mean low-fat dairy, lean meats, and fish. Recommended eating patterns include all these foods, relatively unprocessed, but with minimal addition of salt and sugars. Such patterns provide nutrients and energy in proportions that meet physiological needs but also minimize the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases. One more definition: “Patterns” refer to diets as a whole, not to single foods. No one food makes a diet healthful. The healthiest diets include a wide variety of foods in each of the recommended categories in amounts that balance calories.

In their largely unprocessed forms, foods from the earth, trees, or animals are healthful by definition. So why, you might ask, would the producers of foods such as cranberries, pears, avocados, or walnuts fund research aimed at proving that these particular foods—rather than fruits, vegetables, or nuts in general—have special health benefits? Marketing, of course. Every food producer wants to expand sales. Health claims sell.

More at The Atlantic

Scottish doctors are issuing prescriptions for hiking and birdwatching

Doctors in the Shetland Islands have started issuing prescriptions for beach walks, hiking, and birdwatching to help treat chronic and debilitating illnesses. Doctors on the island have been authorized by the health authority to issue “nature prescriptions” to patients to help treat mental illness, diabetes, heart disease, stress, and other conditions.

The health authority, NHS Shetland, is not suggesting that nature prescriptions will replace conventional medicines, but to supplemented usual treatments.

More at The Guardian

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