Stories from the Road

Category: Fitness

Sit-ups and abdominal crunches often lead to lower back pain later in life

Amanda Mull, The Atlantic »

As researchers studied more subjects who were upright and, importantly, alive, their understanding of human strength began to change. “If you really want to understand anatomy and how muscles function, you need to understand what they do while the human body is on two feet moving through gravity,” McCall said. When I asked if he could pinpoint the beginning of the end of the sit-up, he directed me to the work of Stuart McGill, a Canadian biomechanics researcher and arguably, he said, the person most responsible for the sit-up’s demise.

McGill, a professor emeritus at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, and the author of the book Back Mechanic, didn’t begin his academic career with a particular interest in the sit-up; his work focused on the spine. But throughout the 1990s and 2000s, he led research that changed the way fitness experts thought about exercise. His findings showed that sit-ups and crunches weren’t just mediocre strength-building moves; they were actually hurting lots of people. “If you bend the spine forward over and over again when not under load, not much happens to the spine,” McGill told me. He gave the example of belly dancers, whose movements he has studied: They flex their spines repetitively without high incidence of injury. “The problem occurs when you flex over and over again with load from higher muscle activation or external objects held in the hands.”

If you’ve ever been told to lift with your legs, this is why. When a person’s spine curves and strains in order to move weight through space—like when a bunch of third graders flail through a set of sit-ups—the movement stresses their spinal disks. The more often you ask your spine to flex in those circumstances, the riskier it is. This is how people who spend their working lives moving inventory around a warehouse or stacking bushels of produce onto trucks end up with back pain later in life, even if they can’t point to any acute back injuries suffered along the way. McGill found that the most reliable way to avoid this kind of chronic problem is to brace your core when you pick up something heavy. That means tensing key muscles in order to protect your spine’s structural integrity, and to help shift the effort to your hips and legs. Not coincidentally, weight lifters follow this advice when they safely execute a dead lift. Perfect form is not always possible for workers dealing with irregular loads and crowded spaces, but intentional exercise is all about form. Getting it right and activating the intended muscles is the whole point. »

57-year old vegan Joe DeMarco set world records for the most pushups in eight and 12 hours, donates funds raised to animal shelter

The Massachusetts chiropractor began doing push-ups at MAC Fitness Gloucester at 8:00 a.m. May 25 and didn’t stop until 8:00 p.m. that evening.

In addition to trying to break the world records, 57-year old DeMarco—who enjoys challenging himself—said he was raising money for Cape Ann Animal Shelter (you can still make a donation here) and promoting a healthy lifestyle for older individuals.

The record breaking event was live streamed on YouTube.

Jemima Webber, Plant-Based News »

The Guinness World Records for most pushups in eight and 12 hours have been broken, thanks to chiropractor, former bodybuilder, and vegan Dr. Joe DeMarco.

On Wednesday (May 25), DeMarco completed an eye-watering 21,008 pushups in 12 hours, surpassing the previous record of 20,085.

During the same event, he also smashed through the previous eight-hour record, performing 15,261 pushups, compared to the former record-holder’s 14,444.

Elsewhere » Gloucester Times / Boston Globe 🔒

71-year-old Flying Dutchman and world-record holder Jo Schoonbroodt offers sensible training advice

On May 8th, Jo Schoonbroodt, a 71-year-old from Maastricht, Netherlands, ran a marathon in a breathtaking 2hr 54min 19sec to become the fastest septuagenarian in recorded marathon history. Jo set the new over 70 world record at the Maasmarathon de Visé, on a beautiful cross-border route through the Belgian and Dutch countryside.

The Guardian »

“I only started jogging at 36 because my doctor told me I had high cholesterol,” he says, chuckling. “But last year I ran 7,242 kilometres [4,450 miles], which is more than double what I did in my car.”

Incredibly it was Schoonbroodt’s 75th sub-three-hour marathon, and it came only four weeks after his 74th at the Rotterdam marathon. For good measure, the flying Dutchman also holds a number of ultra running records. He is clearly no ordinary Jo. But the secrets of his success might surprise you.

“Most runners train too hard. I do a lot of my training with groups who run very slowly. And then I build on these basics with some faster interval training. But I don’t do the same stupid distance 10 or 20 times – I prefer to have a lot of fun with my running.”

“A lot of people follow a training plan or coach and push on even when their body is saying: ‘No, this is not a good day to do it.’ But if you go out the door and just do what you feel, it’s easier to keep running and stay injury-free.” »

A ‘marathon’ is a long-distance foot race with a distance of 42.195 kilometres (or 26.2 miles).

A boom in fitness trackers isn’t leading to a boom in physical activity

Scott A. Conger, David Bassett, Lindsay Toth, The Conversation »

Worldwide sales of fitness trackers increased from US$14 billion in 2017 to over $36 billion in 2020. The skyrocketing success of these gadgets suggests that more people than ever see some value in keeping tabs on the number of steps they take, flights of stairs they climb, time they spend sitting and calories they burn.

The manufacturers of these devices certainly want consumers to believe that tracking fitness or health-related behaviors will spur them on to increase their activity levels and make them healthier.

Our analysis of research published over the past 25 years suggests otherwise.

We are professors of kinesiology – the science of human body movement – at Boise State, the University of Tennessee and the University of North Florida. To learn whether and how physical activity has changed in the years since fitness trackers became popular, we analyzed more than two decades of research from several industrialized nations – all conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic.

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5 Places Around the World Where People Live the Longest

via Travel and Leisure »

» Sardinia, Italy

The community eats a largely healthy diet consisting of whole-grain bread, beans, garden vegetables, fruits, and mastic oil, all of which are important for heart health. Also important, “They laugh and drink wine together.”

» Okinawa, Japan

“Their purpose-imbued lives give them clear roles of responsibility and feelings of being needed well into their 100s.” The people here also favor a mostly plant-based diet.

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How Long Does it Take to Hike X Miles?

It depends on the terrain, grade, weather, your fitness level, physical and mental stamina and determination, etc.

Backpacker »

There are some ways to get a general estimate of how long a hike should take. Most hikers average 2 to 3 miles per hour, so a 5-mile hike could take around 2 hours. Some speed hikers push the throttle at 4 to 5 miles per hour. Tough inclines might reduce your pace to 1 mile per hour, and off-trail hiking might cut that in half. There’s no good or bad hiking pace. Just go however fast or slow you want, and try not to compare yourself to any “local legends” who are crushing the trail on Fastest Known Time. »

Side note » A typical thru-hiker takes 5 to 7 months to completing the entire 3,525 km / 2,190 mile Appalachian Trail (A.T.), from Maine to Georgia. The average is a week or two shy of six months.

Also » Female Hiker / Trail and Summit / Love Life Be Fit / Section Hiker

Good Fitness Habits have many Mental and Physical Health Benefits

Getting people off the couch isn’t always easy. But once a fitness habit is formed, it can result in a better quality of life. Something as simple as a daily brisk walk has many mental and physical health benefits.

Jill Barker »

Getting started can be hard, but according to a team of exercise scientists from the University of Ferrara in Italy, once a habit is formed it’s hard to break — even for those who were exercise-averse. The researchers followed up with 110 formerly sedentary individuals seven years after they participated in a year-long instructor-led walking group sponsored by public health. The goal was not only to see how many of the group were still active, but also to confirm any health benefits they had accrued since starting to exercise.

The original 12-month program included 650 participants, 326 of whom were still walking at the end of the year-long study. Four months after that, 258 were exercising regularly despite the lack of scheduled instructor-led sessions. Seven years post intervention, the researchers were able to connect with 63 women and 47 men of the original walking group, all of whom agreed to undergo the same physiological tests they took seven years before, including measuring their weight, body mass index, blood pressure and walking speed.

The average age of the walkers in the follow-up study was 61. Fifty-nine per cent of them still met the recommended 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week (the group averaged 286 minutes of exercise per week). Eleven individuals were sedentary and the rest performed fewer than 150 minutes of exercise per week. Yet despite the difference in weekly exercise volume, the average weight of the active and less-active groups was less than it was before starting the walking program. The sedentary/low activity group had higher BMI than the more active group. Ten of the walkers who had been obese lost enough weight they were classified as being overweight. »

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