Stories from the Road

Category: Physical Health (Page 1 of 2)

The paradox of aging »The older we get, the happier we are

LA Times (2016) »

In a recent survey of more than 1,500 San Diego residents aged 21 to 99, researchers report that people in their 20s were the most stressed out and depressed, while those in their 90s were the most content.

There were no dips in well-being in midlife, and no tapering off of well-being at the end of life.

Instead scientists found a clear, linear relationship between age and mental health: The older people were, the happier they felt.

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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. »

A new study suggests regular consumption of cranberries could improve memory, ward off dementia, and reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol in humans

A new study by a research team at the University of East Anglia (UK) highlights the neuroprotective potential of cranberries.

The research team studied the benefits of consuming the equivalent of a cup of cranberries a day among 50 to 80-year-olds.

They hope that their findings could have implications for the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia.

Lead researcher Dr David Vauzour, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School said, “Past studies have shown that higher dietary flavonoid intake is associated with slower rates of cognitive decline and dementia. And foods rich in anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins, which give berries their red, blue, or purple colour, have been found to improve cognition.

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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).

Is it time to trade in your sunscreen for a shirt and a broad-brimmed hat?

Rowan Jacobsen, Outside Magazine (2019) »

For three years, his team tracked the blood pressure of 340,000 people in 2,000 spots around the U.S., adjusting for variables such as age and skin type. The results clearly showed that the reason people in sunnier climes have lower blood pressure is as simple as light hitting skin.

“Homo sapiens have been around for 200,000 years. Until the industrial revolution, we lived outside. How did we get through the Neolithic Era without sunscreen? Actually, perfectly well. What’s counterintuitive is that dermatologists run around saying, ‘Don’t go outside, you might die.’”

Vitamin D now looks like the tip of the solar iceberg. Sunlight triggers the release of a number of other important compounds in the body, not only nitric oxide but also serotonin and endorphins. It reduces the risk of prostate, breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers. It improves circadian rhythms. It reduces inflammation and dampens autoimmune responses. It improves virtually every mental condition you can think of. And it’s free.

This does not mean breaking out the baby oil or cultivating a burnished tan. All the experts agree that sunburns—especially those suffered during childhood and adolescence—are particularly bad. »

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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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