We hope you all enjoyed that uniquely American holiday - Thanksgiving - with good
friends, family & an abundance of food. The aftermath, however, is usually vows to "exercise more". Here's some things to keep in mind before you ramp up the intensity.
Can you Exercise Too Much? Researchers have been trying to find the sweet spot between too much and
too little activity. Obvious adverse effects of too much exercise – either in
duration or intensity - are an increased risk of injury due to overuse &
possible adverse effects on the immune system due to increased inflammation.
Athletic trainers have always recommended one to two days a week of rest for
the body to recover from hard training sessions. Some studies have even found coronary changes in
endurance athletes which could predispose to risk of arrhythmias and sudden
Other signs of too much exercise - overtraining - are a lack of progress, chronic muscle soreness & fatigue, an increased resting heart rate, an increased susceptibility to infection, and injury. These can lead to depression, burnout, and even mental breakdown.
Recent Research Some of the latest research involves observational studies
comparing a million healthy British women.
Those who were active at least once a week were found to have fewer
heart attacks, strokes or blood clots in legs or lungs. In this study, any kind of activity had the
same effects as strenuous activity, but the headline grabber was that those who
exercised everyday didn’t see more benefits. In fact, those who exercised twice a week
had about the same benefits as those who exercised six times a week.
A Danish study compared the death rates for joggers versus
sedentary folks. Light to moderate
runners were less likely to die than non-exercisers. However, strenuous joggers (fast pace, more
than 2.5 hours a week) had a mortality rate similar to those who were
sedentary. The conclusion – higher doses
of running may be unnecessary and may counteract the benefits found in lower
rates of running.
A German study & a Mayo Clinic study found that those
who were sedentary & those who exercised at a higher rate were more likely
to die over a 10 year period. However, the couch potatoes had a higher risk.
These studies caused headlines such as “Fast Running is as
Deadly as Sitting on Couch” or “One Running Shoe in the Grave”, but raised many
questions also. One the one hand, the research was observational
& showed correlation, not causation.
They were also meta studies where data from many studies were combined. The studies included may have differed in the way information was gathered, and how the exercisers were categorized. It was not examined if there was something different about those who exercised vigorously, as compared to those who did so moderately.
More Exercise - Good or Bad? The jury is still out since aerobic exercise is also known
to improve other cardiovascular risk factors such as lowering blood pressure,
cholesterol & body weight. Perhaps,
high intensity exercise can benefit some aspects while negatively affecting
other heart health factors.
In the US our problem is that of too much sedentary behavior,
so such sensational headlines that imply exercise is bad for heart health
should not be taken “to heart”. Other
studies have found that 400,000 Taiwanese exercisers lowered their mortality
rate the more time that was put in. One hundred minutes a day seemed to be the peak level for benefits. For intense exercise, the plateau was 45
minutes, with no decrease in benefits with increased time.
It could also be that what's too much or too little varies from
person to person. Genetic differences
could make some of us more susceptible to physical or cardiovascular
problems. Training differences could
also be a factor.
Bottom line: listen
to your body, plan your recovery time, and follow the latest recovery protocols for exercise
nutrition and time off.
said: "If we could give
every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little
and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health." Reference
Cranberries - A Year Round Friend Although these colorful berries are having their heyday right now, its good to remember why they can be beneficial all year round.
For urinary tract infections (UTIs), 10-15 ounces of cranberry juice may prevent bacteria from overtaking the urinary tract. Studies are actually equivocal but if your doctor's not available, a few glasses of cranberry juice may help. Its thought that proanthocyanidins found in the berries may prevent bacteria from attaching to the lining of the bladder.
For oral health, the mechanism is thought to be similar. However, sweetened cranberry cocktails are not likely to be effective.
Heart health may benefit from the antioxidants in cranberry juice. These might prevent the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol. A small study showed effectiveness in type 2 diabetics.
Cranberry juice may prevent h. pylori, the most common bacterium found in ulcers from sticking to the stomach lining.
And cranberry extracts have been shown to inhibit cancer cells in esophageal, colon & oral cancers. However, it doesn't follow that cranberry juice will prevent these cancers.
- Low in calories - 50 calories per cup of berries; 120 cal per cup of undiluted, unsweetened juice.
- Fiber - about 5 gm per cup
- Contain vitamin C
- Most cranberry beverages are heavily sweetened.
- Can be frozen for year round use
- Cranberry sauces are high in calories - 200cal/cup.
- Craisins are sweetened and are 370 calories per cup.
We're working on an index of
2015 articles and hope it will be in time for next month. But for now, here
is a recipe that uses cranberries to sweeten the possible bitterness found in
Brussels Sprouts. Since this recipe comes from the
American Institute For Cancer Research you know its high in antioxidants and
other healthy phytochemicals.
Sprout Slaw with Cranberries and Walnuts
1 Fuji or Gala apple, peeled, cored and finely
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (see Notes)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Trim bottom from sprouts and remove any loose or
bruised leaves. Place shredding disk or fine slicing disk in food processor,
and using feeder tube, gradually shred Brussels sprouts; there will be about 4
1/2 cups (see Notes). Transfer shredded sprouts to mixing bowl.
Add apple, cranberries, walnuts, salt, pepper and
lemon juice and stir with a fork for 1 minute to combine well. Add oil and stir
well. Cover and refrigerate slaw for 3 hours to overnight. Re-stir before
serving. This slaw is best served within 24 hours.
- If Meyer lemons are not available, use 1/4 cup regular fresh lemon
- If your food processor does not have a shredding dish, quarter
Brussels sprouts vertically and place in food processor fitted with a
chopping blade. Pulse until sprouts are finely chopped, stopping several
times to scrape down bowl. Take care not to leave big chunks or to turn
sprouts into mush.
8 servings. Per serving: 1/2 cup
serving: 120 calories, 7 g fat (1 g sat fat), 16 g
carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 3 g fiber, 130 mg sodium.
© December, 2015, Fitness Spark Personal Training