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Want to sleep longer? Adding mini-bursts of exercise to your evening routine can help

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jennifer-gale-1548741">Jennifer Gale</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-otago-1304">University of Otago</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/meredith-peddie-1548807">Meredith Peddie</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-otago-1304">University of Otago</a></em></p> <p>Exercising before bed has <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352721815000157">long been discouraged</a> as the body doesn’t have time to wind down before the lights go out.</p> <p>But <a href="https://bmjopensem.bmj.com/content/10/3/e001774">new research</a> has found breaking up a quiet, sedentary evening of watching television with short bursts of resistance exercise can lead to longer periods of sleep.</p> <p>Adults spend almost one third of the 24-hour day sleeping. But the quality and length of sleep can affect long-term health. Sleeping too little or waking often in the night is associated with an <a href="https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article-lookup/doi/10.5665/sleep.1382">increased risk of heart disease</a> and <a href="https://diabetesjournals.org/care/article/33/2/414/27149/Quantity-and-Quality-of-Sleep-and-Incidence-of">diabetes</a>.</p> <p>Physical activity during the day can help improve sleep. However, <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352721815000157">current recommendations</a> discourage intense exercise before going to bed as it can increase a person’s heart rate and core temperature, which can ultimately disrupt sleep.</p> <h2>Nighttime habits</h2> <p>For many, the longest period of uninterrupted sitting happens at home in the evening. People also usually consume their largest meal during this time (or snack throughout the evening).</p> <p>Insulin (the hormone that helps to remove sugar from the blood stream) tends to be at a lower level in the evening than in the morning.</p> <p>Together these factors promote elevated blood sugar levels, which over the long term can be bad for a person’s health.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/fulltext/2023/08000/breaking_up_evening_sitting_with_resistance.14.aspx">previous research</a> found interrupting evening sitting every 30 minutes with three minutes of resistance exercise reduces the amount of sugar in the bloodstream after eating a meal.</p> <p>But because sleep guidelines currently discourage exercising in the hours before going to sleep, we wanted to know if frequently performing these short bursts of light activity in the evening would affect sleep.</p> <h2>Activity breaks for better sleep</h2> <p>In our latest research, we asked 30 adults to complete two sessions based in a laboratory.</p> <p>During one session the adults sat continuously for a four-hour period while watching streaming services. During the other session, they interrupted sitting by performing three minutes of body-weight resistance exercises (squats, calf raises and hip extensions) every 30 minutes.</p> <p>After these sessions, participants went home to their normal life routines. Their sleep that evening was measured using a wrist monitor.</p> <p>Our research found the quality of sleep (measured by how many times they woke in the night and the length of these awakenings) was the same after the two sessions. But the night after the participants did the exercise “activity breaks” they slept for almost 30 minutes longer.</p> <p>Identifying the biological reasons for the extended sleep in our study requires further research.</p> <p>But regardless of the reason, if activity breaks can extend sleep duration, then getting up and moving at regular intervals in the evening is likely to have clear health benefits.</p> <h2>Time to revisit guidelines</h2> <p>These results add to <a href="https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1087079221001209">earlier work</a> suggesting current sleep guidelines, which discourage evening exercise before bed, may need to be reviewed.</p> <p>As the activity breaks were performed in a highly controlled laboratory environment, future research should explore how activity breaks performed in real life affect peoples sleep.</p> <p>We selected simple, body-weight exercises to use in this study as they don’t require people to interrupt the show they may be watching, and don’t require a large space or equipment.</p> <p>If people wanted to incorporate activity breaks in their own evening routines, they could probably get the same benefit from other types of exercise. For example, marching on the spot, walking up and down stairs, or even dancing in the living room.</p> <p>The key is to frequently interrupt evening sitting time, with a little bit of whole-body movement at regular intervals.</p> <p>In the long run, performing activity breaks may improve health by improving sleep and post-meal blood sugar levels. The most important thing is to get up frequently and move the body, in a way the works best for a person’s individual household.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/234896/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jennifer-gale-1548741">Jennifer Gale</a>, PhD candidate, Department of Human Nutrition, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-otago-1304">University of Otago</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/meredith-peddie-1548807">Meredith Peddie</a>, Senior Lecturer, Department of Human Nutrition, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-otago-1304">University of Otago</a></em></p> <p><em>Image </em><em>credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/want-to-sleep-longer-adding-mini-bursts-of-exercise-to-your-evening-routine-can-help-new-study-234896">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Want the health benefits of strength training but not keen on the gym? Try ‘exercise snacking’

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/justin-keogh-129041">Justin Keogh</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jackson-fyfe-134774">Jackson Fyfe</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p>The science is clear: <a href="https://cdnsciencepub.com/doi/full/10.1139/apnm-2020-0245">resistance training</a> is crucial to ageing well. Lifting weights (or doing bodyweight exercises like lunges, squats or push-ups) can help you live independently for longer, make your bones stronger, reduce your risk of diseases such as diabetes, and may even improve your <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28919335/">sleep and mental health</a>.</p> <p>But not everyone loves the gym. Perhaps you feel you’re not a “gym person” and never will be, or you’re too old to start. Being a gym-goer can be expensive and time-consuming, and some people report feeling <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/StartingStrength/comments/j3hq32/unwelcome_feeling_at_the_gym/">unwelcome</a> or <a href="https://www.quora.com/I-feel-awkward-and-I-want-to-start-a-gym-but-could-not-What-should-I-do">awkward</a> at the gym.</p> <p>The good news is you don’t need the gym, or lots of free time, to get the health benefits resistance training can offer.</p> <p>You can try “exercise snacking” instead.</p> <h2>What is exercise snacking?</h2> <p>Exercise snacking involves doing multiple shorter bouts (as little as 20 seconds) of exercise throughout the day – often with minimal or no equipment. It’s OK to have <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-021-01605-8">several hours of rest</a> between.</p> <p>You could do simple bodyweight exercises such as:</p> <ul> <li> <p>chair sit-to-stand (squats)</p> </li> <li> <p>lunges</p> </li> <li> <p>box step-ups</p> </li> <li> <p>calf raises</p> </li> <li> <p>push-ups.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Exercise snacking like this can help improve muscle mass, strength and physical function.</p> <p>It’s OK to hold onto a nearby object for balance, if you need. And doing these exercises regularly will also improve your balance. That, in turn, reduces your risk of falls and fractures.</p> <h2>OK I have done all those, now what?</h2> <p>Great! You can also try using resistance bands or dumbbells to do the previously mentioned five exercises as well as some of the following exercises:</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href="https://youtu.be/IP4wM2JpDdQ?si=1B1GyV_FY5rcArW8&amp;t=6">seated rows</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://youtu.be/G6GIffCaJCQ?si=RxXZtzMqQ0DGxF3k&amp;t=48">chest</a> and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUnnz5i4Mnw&amp;t=5s">shoulder presses</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://youtu.be/z0omicIkYu4?si=8WffT3ij12SNTqEs">bicep curls</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wXVnxBgLHo">knee extensions</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtTcXXgeRYo">leg curls</a>.</p> </li> </ul> <p>When using resistance bands, make sure you hold them tightly and that they’re securely attached to an immovable object.</p> <p>Exercise snacking works well when you pair it with an activity you do often throughout the day. Perhaps you could:</p> <ul> <li> <p>do a few extra squats every time you get up from a bed or chair</p> </li> <li> <p>do some lunges during a TV ad break</p> </li> <li> <p>chuck in a few half squats while you’re waiting for your kettle to boil</p> </li> <li> <p>do a couple of elevated push-ups (where you support your body with your hands on a chair or a bench while doing the push-up) before tucking into lunch</p> </li> <li> <p>sneak in a couple of calf raises while you’re brushing your teeth.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>What does the evidence say about exercise snacking?</h2> <p>One <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31687210/">study</a> had older adults without a history of resistance training do exercise snacks at home twice per day for four weeks.</p> <p>Each session involved five simple bodyweight exercises (chair sit-to-stand, seated knee extension, standing knee bends, marching on the spot, and standing calf raises). The participants did each exercise continuously for one minute, with a one-minute break between exercises.</p> <p>These short and simple exercise sessions, which lasted just nine minutes, were enough to improve a person’s ability to stand up from a chair by 31% after four weeks (compared to a control group who didn’t exercise). Leg power and thigh muscle size improved, too.</p> <p>Research involving one of us (Jackson Fyfe) has also <a href="https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-022-03207-z">shown</a> older adults found “exercise snacking” feasible and enjoyable when done at home either once, twice, or three times per day for four weeks.</p> <p>Exercise snacking may be a more sustainable approach to improve muscle health in those who don’t want to – or can’t – lift heavier weights in a gym.</p> <h2>A little can yield a lot</h2> <p>We know from other research that the more you exercise, the more likely it is you will <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167268119302586">keep exercising in future</a>.</p> <p>Very brief resistance training, albeit with heavier weights, may be more <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29975122/">enjoyable</a> than traditional approaches where people aim to do many, many sets.</p> <p>We also know brief-and-frequent exercise sessions can break up <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26378942/">periods</a> of sedentary behaviour (which usually means sitting too much). Too much sitting increases your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, whereas exercise snacking can help keep your <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36921112/">blood sugar levels steady</a>.</p> <p>Of course, longer-term studies are needed. But the evidence we do have suggests exercise snacking really helps.</p> <h2>Why does any of this matter?</h2> <p>As you age, you lose strength and mass in the muscles you use to walk, or stand up. Everyday tasks can become a struggle.</p> <p>All this <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36907247/">contributes</a> to disability, hospitalisation, chronic disease, and reliance on community and residential aged care support.</p> <p>By preserving your muscle mass and strength, you can:</p> <ul> <li> <p>reduce joint pain</p> </li> <li> <p>get on with activities you enjoy</p> </li> <li> <p>live independently in your own home</p> </li> <li> <p>delay or even eliminate the need for expensive health care or residential aged care.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>What if I walk a lot – is that enough?</h2> <p>Walking may maintain some level of lower body muscle mass, but it won’t preserve your <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38190393/">upper body muscles</a>.</p> <p>If you find it difficult to get out of a chair, or can only walk short distances without getting out of breath, resistance training is the best way to regain some of the independence and function you’ve lost.</p> <p>It’s even more important for women, as muscle mass and strength are typically lower in older women than men. And if you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, which is more common in older women than men, resistance exercise snacking at home can improve your balance, strength, and bone mineral density. All of this reduces the risk of falls and fractures.</p> <p>You don’t need <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37171517/">heavy weights</a> or fancy equipment to benefit from resistance training.</p> <p>So, will you start exercise snacking today?<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/232374/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/justin-keogh-129041">Justin Keogh</a>, Associate Dean of Research, Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jackson-fyfe-134774">Jackson Fyfe</a>, Senior Lecturer, Strength and Conditioning Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/want-the-health-benefits-of-strength-training-but-not-keen-on-the-gym-try-exercise-snacking-232374">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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What are compound exercises and why are they good for you?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mandy-hagstrom-1180806">Mandy Hagstrom</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anurag-pandit-1534963">Anurag Pandit</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>So you’ve got yourself a gym membership or bought a set of home weights. Now what? With the sheer amount of confusing exercise advice out there, it can be hard to decide what to include in a weights routine.</p> <p>It can help to know there are broadly two types of movements in resistance training (lifting weights): compound exercises and isolation exercises.</p> <p>So what’s the difference? And what’s all this got to do with strength, speed and healthy ageing?</p> <h2>What’s the difference?</h2> <p>Compound exercises involve multiple joints and muscle groups working together.</p> <p>In a push up, for example, your shoulder and elbow joints are moving together. This targets the muscles in the chest, shoulder and triceps.</p> <p>When you do a squat, you’re using your thigh and butt muscles, your back, and even the muscles in your core.</p> <p>It can help to think about compound movements by grouping them by primary movement patterns.</p> <p>For example, some lower body compound exercises follow a “squat pattern”. Examples include bodyweight squats, weighted squats, lunges and split squats.</p> <p>We also have “hinge patterns”, where you hinge from a point on your body (such as the hips). Examples include deadlifts, hip thrusts and kettle bell swings.</p> <p>Upper body compounded exercises can be grouped into “push patterns” (such as vertical barbell lifts) or “pull patterns” (such as weighted rows, chin ups or lat pull downs, which is where you use a pulley system machine to lift weights by pulling a bar downwards).</p> <p>In contrast, isolation exercises are movements that occur at a single joint.</p> <p>For instance, bicep curls only require movement at the elbow joint and work your bicep muscles. Tricep extensions and lateral raises are other examples of isolation exercises.</p> <h2>Compound exercises can make daily life easier</h2> <p>Many compound exercises mimic movements we do every day.</p> <p>Hinge patterns mimic picking something off the floor. A vertical press mimics putting a heavy box on a high shelf. A squat mimics standing up from the couch or getting on and off the toilet.</p> <p>That might sound ridiculous to a young, fit person (“why would I need to practise getting on and off a toilet?”).</p> <p>Unfortunately, we lose strength and muscle mass as we age. Men lose about <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/physiology/articles/10.3389/fphys.2012.00260/full">5%</a> of their muscle mass per decade, while for women the figure is about <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/physiology/articles/10.3389/fphys.2012.00260/full">4%</a> per decade.</p> <p>When this decline begins can vary widely. However, approximately 30% of an adult’s peak muscle mass is lost by the time they are 80.</p> <p>The good news is resistance training can counteract these <a href="https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/fulltext/2019/08000/resistance_training_for_older_adults__position.1.aspx">age-related changes</a> in muscle size and strength.</p> <p>So building strength through compound exercise movements may help make daily life feel a bit easier. In fact, our ability to perform compound movements are a good indicator how well we can function <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1442-2018.2007.00317.x">as we age</a>.</p> <h2>What about strength and athletic ability?</h2> <p>Compound exercises use multiple joints, so you can generally lift heavier weights than you could with isolation exercises. Lifting a heavier weight means you can build muscle strength more efficiently.</p> <p>One <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/physiology/articles/10.3389/fphys.2017.01105/full">study</a> divided a group of 36 people into two. Three times a week, one group performed isolation exercises, while the other group did compound exercises.</p> <p>After eight weeks, both groups had lost fat. But the compound exercises group saw much better results on measures of cardiovascular fitness, bench press strength, knee extension strength, and squat strength.</p> <p>If you play a sport, compound movements can also help boost athletic ability.</p> <p>Squat patterns require your hip, knee, and ankle to extend at the same time (also known as triple extension).</p> <p>Our bodies use this triple extension trick when we run, sprint, jump or change direction quickly. In fact, research has found squat strength is strongly linked to being able to <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/38/3/285.short?casa_token=hQDvLoU1GWYAAAAA:bx5DqM5HevN8AJpVLOWN5KlNKgqYubTysTvl5dqYr8855acTxNgf4QEmPELWU1hzL6HG9ZezysFQ">sprint faster and jump higher</a>.</p> <h2>Isolation exercises are still good</h2> <p>What if you’re unable to do compound movements, or you just don’t want to?</p> <p>Don’t worry, you’ll still build strength and muscle with isolation exercises.</p> <p>Isolation exercises are also typically <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0079612303430033">easier to learn</a> as there is no skill required. They are an easy and low risk way to add extra exercise at the end of the workout, where you might otherwise be too tired to do more compound exercises safely and with correct form.</p> <p>In fact, both isolation and compound exercises seem to be equally effective in helping us <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/physiology/articles/10.3389/fphys.2017.01105/full">lose body fat and increase fat-free muscle mass</a> when total intensity and volume of exercises are otherwise equal.</p> <p>Some people also do isolation exercises when they want to build up a particular muscle group for a certain sport or for a bodybuilding competition, for example.</p> <h2>I just want a time efficient workout</h2> <p>Considering the above factors, you could consider prioritising compound exercises if you’re:</p> <ul> <li> <p>time poor</p> </li> <li> <p>keen to lift heavier weights</p> </li> <li> <p>looking for an efficient way to train many muscles in the one workout</p> </li> <li> <p>interested in healthy ageing.</p> </li> </ul> <p>That said, most well designed workout programs will include both compound and isolation movements.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228385/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mandy-hagstrom-1180806">Mandy Hagstrom</a>, Senior Lecturer, Exercise Physiology. School of Health Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anurag-pandit-1534963">Anurag Pandit</a>, PhD Candidate in Exercise Physiology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-are-compound-exercises-and-why-are-they-good-for-you-228385">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Step up: take the stairs to help your heart

<p>Climbing stairs is associated with a longer life, according to research presented this week at an annual meeting of Europe’s leading cardiologists.</p> <div class="copy"> <p>The systematic review of 9 previous studies covering nearly 500,000 participants investigated whether climbing stairs as a form of physical activity could play a role in reducing the risks of <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/science/biology/how-organ-on-a-chip-technology-is-revolutionising-the-way-we-study-cardiovascular-disease/">cardiovascular diseases</a> and premature death.</p> <p>Study author Dr Sophie Paddock, of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Foundation Trust, UK, says: “if you have the choice of taking the stairs or the lift, go for the stairs as it will help your heart”.</p> <p>“Even brief bursts of physical activity have beneficial health impacts, and short bouts of stair climbing should be an achievable target to integrate into daily routines.”</p> <p>Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are a group of disorders of the hearth and blood vessels. They are the leading cause of non-communicable disease death globally, with 17.9m people estimated to have died of one in 2019 alone. Physical inactivity is one of the most important behavioural risk factors for developing CVDs. More than 1 in 4 adults do not meet the global <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">recommended levels</a> of physical activity.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3049418/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">meta-analysis</a> on the best available science  covered 480,479 individuals aged 35-84 years old. 53% of participants were women.</p> <p>Stair climbing was significantly associated with a 24% reduced risk of dying from any cause and a 39% lower likelihood of dying from cardiovascular disease, compared to not climbing stairs.</p> <p>It was also linked to a reduced <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/covid-19-impacts-on-cardiac-health/">risk of CVDs</a> including heart attack, heart failure and stroke.</p> <p>“Based on these results, we would encourage people to incorporate stair climbing into their day-to-day lives,” says Paddock.</p> <p>“Our study suggested that the more stairs climbed, the greater the benefits – but this needs to be confirmed. So, whether at work, home, or elsewhere, take the stairs.”</p> <p>The research was presented to <a href="https://www.escardio.org/Congresses-Events/Preventive-Cardiology" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">ESC Preventive Cardiology 2024</a>, an annual congress of the European Association of Preventive Cardiology in Greece this week.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <div> <p align="center"><noscript data-spai="1"><em><img decoding="async" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-198773" src="https://cdn.shortpixel.ai/spai/q_lossy+ret_img+to_auto/cosmosmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/MICROSCOPIC-TO-TELESCOPIC__Embed-graphic-720x360-1.jpg" data-spai-egr="1" width="600" alt="Buy cosmos print magazine" title="step up: take the stairs to help your heart 2"></em></noscript></p> </div> <p><em><!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=302751&amp;title=Step+up%3A+take+the+stairs+to+help+your+heart" width="1" height="1" loading="lazy" aria-label="Syndication Tracker" data-spai-target="src" data-spai-orig="" data-spai-exclude="nocdn" /> <!-- End of tracking content syndication --></em></div> <div id="contributors"> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/body-and-mind/step-up-take-the-stairs-to-help-your-heart/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/imma-perfetto/">Imma Perfetto</a>. </em></p> </div>

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New study reveals people who do this daily make more money over their lifetimes

<p>You’ve heard that regular exercise can help you live richly. Frequent movement, even in short bursts throughout the day, has been linked to lower all-cause mortality rates and reduced risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes and other age-related conditions, helping you age healthfully and stay independent.</p> <p>Now, new research suggests frequent exercise might help you live well in another meaningful way; in terms of income. In a recent study published in the journal Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, doctors from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), which is part of the National Institute of Health (NIH), investigated whether individuals who stayed active would earn more money as a result of their active lifestyle.</p> <p>The researchers’ findings revealed that staying active not only resulted in higher present earnings, but also predicted increased future income throughout one’s life. In essence, the science was clear: Getting more exercise could make you wealthier.</p> <h2>How exercise predicted future earnings</h2> <p>The researchers set out to explore three key correlations: How mobility affected income, how mobility influenced income over time, and whether exercise could help people maintain their mobility as they aged.</p> <p>The team analysed data from the US-federally-supported Health and Retirement Study (HRS), the largest study tracking changes over time in Americans aged 50 and above. This comprehensive study takes into account various life aspects, including work, socio-economic status, health, psychology and family matters, as individuals age.</p> <p>To assess the impact of current mobility on income, the researchers examined data from over 19,000 respondents to determine how well they could perform simple tasks, such as walking several blocks, climbing multiple flights of stairs, or moving around a room. Each person received a numerical score, with 5 indicating full mobility and 0 indicating difficulties with these tasks.</p> <h2>What earnings over time revealed</h2> <p>The researchers found that for each decrease in the mobility category, individuals lost out on an average of US$3000 in annual income compared to their peers. Those who were active were also significantly more likely to remain working for longer than the other group. It appeared that engaging in exercise enabled individuals to maintain mobility and engage in professional life for a longer period of time than those who were less active.</p> <p>Looking at earnings over time revealed even more substantial benefits for those who remained active throughout their lives. Active individuals showed an overall income level that was US$6500 higher, along with higher rates of employment.</p> <p>For the third part of the study, it’s not surprising that those who engaged in exercise continued to maintain their mobility after the age of 55 and had higher employment rates. Even exercising just one day a week showed improvements in mobility outcomes.</p> <h2>Moving more benefits more than just health</h2> <p>While this study doesn’t definitively prove that leading a healthy lifestyle directly leads to higher earnings, it strongly suggests that staying healthy and mobile brings benefits beyond just lower levels of disease (which is a type of wealth in and of itself). NIAMS Director Lindsey A. Criswell, M.D., M.P.H., underscores this point: “We have long understood that greater mobility is an important indicator of good health … The notion that mobility can have economic rewards further extends the evidence for the benefits of exercise and maintaining an active lifestyle.”</p> <p>If this science inspires you to make a healthy lifestyle change, speak with a licensed healthcare provider to determine the right exercise programme for you.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/money/new-study-reveals-people-who-do-this-daily-make-more-money-over-their-lifetimes" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>.</em> </p>

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Exercise, therapy and diet can all improve life during cancer treatment and boost survival. Here’s how

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rob-newton-12124">Rob Newton</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p>With so many high-profile people <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2024/mar/23/cancer-charities-princess-of-wales-speaking-about-diagnosis">diagnosed with cancer</a> we are confronted with the stark reality the disease can strike any of us at any time. There are also reports certain cancers are <a href="https://www.cancer.org/research/acs-research-news/facts-and-figures-2024.html">increasing among younger people</a> in their 30s and 40s.</p> <p>On the positive side, medical treatments for cancer are advancing very rapidly. Survival rates are <a href="https://acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3322/caac.21763">improving greatly</a> and some cancers are now being managed more as <a href="https://www.cancer.org/cancer/survivorship/long-term-health-concerns/cancer-as-a-chronic-illness.html">long-term chronic diseases</a> rather than illnesses that will rapidly claim a patient’s life.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.cancer.org/cancer/managing-cancer/treatment-types.html">mainstays of cancer treatment</a> remain surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy and hormone therapy. But there are other treatments and strategies – “adjunct” or supportive cancer care – that can have a powerful impact on a patient’s quality of life, survival and experience during cancer treatment.</p> <h2>Keep moving if you can</h2> <p>Physical exercise is now recognised as a <a href="https://www.exerciseismedicine.org/">medicine</a>. It can be tailored to the patient and their health issues to stimulate the body and build an internal environment where <a href="https://wchh.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/tre.884">cancer is less likely to flourish</a>. It does this in a number of ways.</p> <p>Exercise provides a strong stimulus to our immune system, increasing the number of cancer-fighting immune cells in our blood circulation and infusing these into the tumour tissue <a href="https://jitc.bmj.com/content/9/7/e001872">to identify and kill cancer cells</a>.</p> <p>Our skeletal muscles (those attached to bone for movement) release signalling molecules called <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7288608/">myokines</a>. The larger the muscle mass, the more myokines are released – even when a person is at rest. However, during and immediately after bouts of exercise, a further surge of myokines is secreted into the bloodstream. Myokines attach to immune cells, stimulating them to be better “hunter-killers”. Myokines also signal directly to cancer cells <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095254623001175">slowing their growth and causing cell death</a>.</p> <p>Exercise can also greatly <a href="https://wchh.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/tre.884">reduce the side effects of cancer treatment</a> such as fatigue, muscle and bone loss, and fat gain. And it reduces the risk of <a href="https://doi.org/10.2337/diacare.27.7.1812">developing other chronic diseases</a> such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Exercise can maintain or improve quality of life and mental health <a href="https://www.hindawi.com/journals/tbj/2022/9921575/">for patients with cancer</a>.</p> <p>Emerging research evidence indicates exercise might increase the effectiveness of mainstream treatments such as <a href="https://aacrjournals.org/cancerres/article/81/19/4889/670308/Effects-of-Exercise-on-Cancer-Treatment-Efficacy-A">chemotherapy</a> and <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41391-020-0245-z">radiation therapy</a>. Exercise is certainly essential for preparing the patient for any surgery to increase cardio-respiratory fitness, reduce systemic inflammation, and increase muscle mass, strength and physical function, and then <a href="https://www.jsams.org/article/S1440-2440(18)31270-2/fulltext">rehabilitating them after surgery</a>.</p> <p>These mechanisms explain why cancer patients who are physically active have much <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/fulltext/2019/06000/physical_activity_in_cancer_prevention_and.20.aspx">better survival outcomes</a> with the relative risk of death from cancer <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/fulltext/2019/06000/physical_activity_in_cancer_prevention_and.20.aspx">reduced by as much as 40–50%</a>.</p> <h2>Mental health helps</h2> <p>The second “tool” which has a major role in cancer management is <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6016045/">psycho-oncology</a>. It involves the psychological, social, behavioural and emotional aspects of cancer for not only the patient but also their carers and family. The aim is to maintain or improve quality of life and mental health aspects such as emotional distress, anxiety, depression, sexual health, coping strategies, personal identity and relationships.</p> <p>Supporting quality of life and happiness is important on their own, but these barometers <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/psychology/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2024.1349880/full">can also impact</a> a patient’s physical health, response to exercise medicine, resilience to disease and to treatments.</p> <p>If a patient is highly distressed or anxious, their body can enter a flight or fight response. This creates an internal environment that is actually supportive of cancer progression <a href="https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/coping/feelings/stress-fact-sheet">through hormonal and inflammatory mechanisms</a>. So it’s essential their mental health is supported.</p> <h2>Putting the good things in: diet</h2> <p>A third therapy in the supportive cancer care toolbox is diet. A healthy diet <a href="https://www.cancer.org/cancer/survivorship/coping/nutrition/benefits.html">can support the body</a> to fight cancer and help it tolerate and recover from medical or surgical treatments.</p> <p>Inflammation provides a more fertile environment <a href="https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2022/reducing-inflammation-to-treat-cancer">for cancer cells</a>. If a patient is overweight with excessive fat tissue then a diet to reduce fat which is also anti-inflammatory can be very helpful. This <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2021.709435/full">generally means</a> avoiding processed foods and eating predominantly fresh food, locally sourced and mostly plant based.</p> <p>Muscle loss is <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/rco2.56">a side effect of all cancer treatments</a>. Resistance training exercise can help but people may need protein supplements or diet changes to make sure they get enough protein to build muscle. Older age and cancer treatments may reduce both the intake of protein and compromise absorption so <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261561421005422">supplementation may be indicated</a>.</p> <p>Depending on the cancer and treatment, some patients may require highly specialised diet therapy. Some cancers such as pancreatic, stomach, esophageal, and lung cancer can cause rapid and uncontrolled drops in body weight. This is called <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8233663/">cachexia and needs careful management</a>.</p> <p>Other cancers and treatments such as hormone therapy can cause rapid weight gain. This also needs careful monitoring and guidance so that, when a patient is clear of cancer, they are not left with higher risks of other health problems such as cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions that boost your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes).</p> <h2>Working as a team</h2> <p>These are three of the most powerful tools in the supportive care toolbox for people with cancer. None of them are “cures” for cancer, alone or together. But they can work in tandem with medical treatments to greatly improve outcomes for patients.</p> <p>If you or someone you care about has cancer, national and state cancer councils and cancer-specific organisations can provide support.</p> <p>For exercise medicine support it is best to consult with an <a href="https://www.essa.org.au/Public/Public/Consumer_Information/What_is_an_Accredited_Exercise_Physiologist_.aspx">accredited exercise physiologist</a>, for diet therapy an <a href="https://dietitiansaustralia.org.au/working-dietetics/standards-and-scope/role-accredited-practising-dietitian">accredited practising dietitian</a> and mental health support with a <a href="https://psychology.org.au/psychology/about-psychology/what-is-psychology">registered psychologist</a>. Some of these services are supported through Medicare on referral from a general practitioner.</p> <hr /> <p><em>For free and confidential cancer support call the <a href="https://www.cancer.org.au/support-and-services/cancer-council-13-11-20">Cancer Council</a> on 13 11 20.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/226720/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rob-newton-12124">Rob Newton</a>, Professor of Exercise Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/exercise-therapy-and-diet-can-all-improve-life-during-cancer-treatment-and-boost-survival-heres-how-226720">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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What are heart rate zones, and how can you incorporate them into your exercise routine?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hunter-bennett-1053061">Hunter Bennett</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p>If you spend a lot of time exploring fitness content online, you might have come across the concept of heart rate zones. Heart rate zone training has become more popular in recent years partly because of the boom in wearable technology which, among other functions, allows people to easily track their heart rates.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6537749/">Heart rate zones</a> reflect different levels of intensity during aerobic exercise. They’re most often based on a percentage of your maximum heart rate, which is the highest number of beats your heart can achieve per minute.</p> <p>But what are the different heart rate zones, and how can you use these zones to optimise your workout?</p> <h2>The three-zone model</h2> <p>While there are several models used to describe heart rate zones, the most common model in the scientific literature is the <a href="https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ijspp/9/1/article-p100.xml">three-zone model</a>, where the zones may be categorised as follows:</p> <ul> <li> <p>zone 1: 55%–82% of maximum heart rate</p> </li> <li> <p>zone 2: 82%–87% of maximum heart rate</p> </li> <li> <p>zone 3: 87%–97% of maximum heart rate.</p> </li> </ul> <p>If you’re not sure what your maximum heart rate is, it can be calculated using <a href="https://www.jacc.org/doi/full/10.1016/S0735-1097%2800%2901054-8">this equation</a>: 208 – (0.7 × age in years). For example, I’m 32 years old. 208 – (0.7 x 32) = 185.6, so my predicted maximum heart rate is around 186 beats per minute.</p> <p>There are also other models used to describe heart rate zones, such as the <a href="https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ijspp/14/8/article-p1151.xml">five-zone model</a> (as its name implies, this one has five distinct zones). These <a href="https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ijspp/9/1/article-p100.xml">models</a> largely describe the same thing and can mostly be used interchangeably.</p> <h2>What do the different zones involve?</h2> <p>The three zones are based around a person’s <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00007256-200939060-00003">lactate threshold</a>, which describes the point at which exercise intensity moves from being predominantly aerobic, to predominantly anaerobic.</p> <p>Aerobic exercise <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/difference-between-aerobic-and-anaerobic">uses oxygen</a> to help our muscles keep going, ensuring we can continue for a long time without fatiguing. Anaerobic exercise, however, uses stored energy to fuel exercise. Anaerobic exercise also accrues metabolic byproducts (such as lactate) that increase fatigue, meaning we can only produce energy anaerobically for a short time.</p> <p>On average your lactate threshold tends to sit around <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.2147/OAJSM.S141657">85% of your maximum heart rate</a>, although this varies from person to person, and can be <a href="https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/japplphysiol.00043.2013">higher in athletes</a>.</p> <p>In the three-zone model, each zone loosely describes <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/physiology/articles/10.3389/fphys.2015.00295/full">one of three types of training</a>.</p> <p><strong>Zone 1</strong> represents high-volume, low-intensity exercise, usually performed for long periods and at an easy pace, well below lactate threshold. Examples include jogging or cycling at a gentle pace.</p> <p><strong>Zone 2</strong> is threshold training, also known as tempo training, a moderate intensity training method performed for moderate durations, at (or around) lactate threshold. This could be running, rowing or cycling at a speed where it’s difficult to speak full sentences.</p> <p><strong>Zone 3</strong> mostly describes methods of high-intensity interval training, which are performed for shorter durations and at intensities above lactate threshold. For example, any circuit style workout that has you exercising hard for 30 seconds then resting for 30 seconds would be zone 3.</p> <h2>Striking a balance</h2> <p>To maximise endurance performance, you need to strike a balance between doing enough training to elicit positive changes, while avoiding over-training, injury and burnout.</p> <p>While zone 3 is thought to produce the largest improvements in <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1440244018309198">maximal oxygen uptake</a> – one of the best predictors of endurance performance and overall health – it’s also the most tiring. This means you can only perform so much of it before it becomes too much.</p> <p>Training in different heart rate zones improves <a href="https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/document?repid=rep1&amp;type=pdf&amp;doi=38c07018c0636422d9d5a77316216efb3c10164f">slightly different physiological qualities</a>, and so by spending time in each zone, you ensure a <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/bf00426304">variety of benefits</a> for performance and health.</p> <h2>So how much time should you spend in each zone?</h2> <p>Most <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fspor.2023.1258585/full">elite endurance athletes</a>, including runners, rowers, and even cross-country skiers, tend to spend most of their training (around 80%) in zone 1, with the rest split between zones 2 and 3.</p> <p>Because elite endurance athletes train a lot, most of it needs to be in zone 1, otherwise they risk injury and burnout. For example, some runners accumulate <a href="https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ijsnem/22/5/article-p392.xml?content=pdf">more than 250 kilometres per week</a>, which would be impossible to recover from if it was all performed in zone 2 or 3.</p> <p>Of course, most people are not professional athletes. The <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity">World Health Organization</a> recommends adults aim for 150–300 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, or 75–150 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.</p> <p>If you look at this in the context of heart rate zones, you could consider zone 1 training as moderate intensity, and zones 2 and 3 as vigorous. Then, you can use heart rate zones to make sure you’re exercising to meet these guidelines.</p> <h2>What if I don’t have a heart rate monitor?</h2> <p>If you don’t have access to a heart rate tracker, that doesn’t mean you can’t use heart rate zones to guide your training.</p> <p>The three heart rate zones discussed in this article can also be prescribed based on feel using a simple <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1600-0838.2004.00418.x">10-point scale</a>, where 0 indicates no effort, and 10 indicates the maximum amount of effort you can produce.</p> <p>With this system, zone 1 aligns with a 4 or less out of 10, zone 2 with 4.5 to 6.5 out of 10, and zone 3 as a 7 or higher out of 10.</p> <p>Heart rate zones are not a perfect measure of exercise intensity, but can be a useful tool. And if you don’t want to worry about heart rate zones at all, that’s also fine. The most important thing is to simply get moving.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228520/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hunter-bennett-1053061">Hunter Bennett</a>, Lecturer in Exercise Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-are-heart-rate-zones-and-how-can-you-incorporate-them-into-your-exercise-routine-228520">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Days are getting shorter and colder. 6 tips for sticking to your fitness goal

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/juliana-s-oliveira-709434">Juliana S. Oliveira</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anne-tiedemann-409380">Anne Tiedemann</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/cathie-sherrington-561141">Cathie Sherrington</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/leanne-hassett-1497197">Leanne Hassett</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Daylight saving ends this weekend. The days are shorter and getting colder. It’s less appealing to cycle to work, walk after dinner, or wake up early to hit the gym. But we all know daily physical activity is essential for our health and wellbeing.</p> <p>Physical activity releases feel-good neurotransmitters in our brains, which help to alleviate <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/57/18/1203">stress, anxiety, and depression</a>. It also helps <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/physical-activity.htm#:%7E:text=Regular%20physical%20activity%20helps%20improve,depression%20and%20anxiety%2C%20and%20dementia.">prevent diseases</a> such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Regular physical activity can prolong life and improve overall quality of life.</p> <p>However, many of us find it difficult to achieve the <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/54/24/1451">recommended 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity</a> each week. In fact, three out of ten Australians and half of Australians aged 65 and over are <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/physical-activity/physical-activity">inactive</a>.</p> <p>So, what can you do to stay motivated and keep moving regularly through the darker months? Here are some tips.</p> <h2>1. Nail those goals</h2> <p>Goals can provide us with a sense of purpose, meaning and direction. But just aiming to “get fit” is less likely to cut it than goals that are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.</p> <p><strong>Specific</strong> goals are based on an observable behaviour or activity, such as step count, yoga, or competing in an event.</p> <p><strong>Measurable</strong> goals can be tracked, so you can easily tell whether you have ticked them off.</p> <p><strong>Achievable</strong> goals are realistic and based on your current fitness and abilities. But they can and should still be challenging. If you’ve only ever run 5 kilometres, it won’t be realistic to aim for a half marathon in the next month. But you could aim for 10 kilometres.</p> <p><strong>Relevant</strong> goals hold personal meaning for you. Articulating why it’s important will help motivate you to do it.</p> <p><strong>Time-bound</strong> goals include a target date for achieving them. You can always revisit your deadline if you’re ahead of schedule or if it’s too unrealistic.</p> <p>An example of a SMART goal could be: “I will walk 10,000 steps every weekday within a month.” Then you can break it down into short-term goals to make it more achievable. If you currently walk 6,000 steps each day, you can increase steps by 1,000 every week to reach 10,000 by the end of the month.</p> <h2>2. Keep track</h2> <p>More than <a href="https://www.deloitte.com/au/en/Industries/tmt/blogs/digital-consumer-trends-who-is-purchasing-what-now.html">90% of Australians own a smartphone</a> and more than <a href="https://www.deloitte.com/au/en/Industries/telecom-media-entertainment/blogs/digital-consumer-trends-touch-less-healthier-wiser.html">two in ten own a fitness tracker or a smartwatch</a>. These devices can help you track your goals and activity, keep you accountable and increase your motivation.</p> <p>A 2021 systematic review suggests fitness trackers and smartphone apps <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/55/8/422">can assist people</a> to increase their step count by up to 2,000 steps per day. <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/54/20/1188">Our research</a> demonstrated fitness trackers can also be helpful in increasing physical activity among older people. If you don’t have a fitness tracker, you can buy low-cost pedometers or track your activity times using paper and pen.</p> <h2>3. Plan for success but prepare for barriers</h2> <p>Take some time to think about the potential barriers that could prevent you from being active and plan solutions to overcome them.</p> <p>For example, if the cost of physical activity is too high for you, try to find options that are free, such as walking or running. You can also consider free online programs or streaming videos.</p> <p>If you find it difficult to fit exercise into your busy schedule, try exercising early in the morning before you start your day and laying out your workout clothes the night before. You could consider joining a gym with flexible timetables. A good strategy is to try to fit physical activity into your daily routine, such as walking or cycling to work.</p> <p>If you are living with a chronic health condition or disability, consider seeking guidance from a health professional such as an <a href="https://www.essa.org.au/Public/SearchAEP.aspx?WebsiteKey=44cfee74-3fc3-444e-bb5f-77729c390872">exercise physiologist</a> or <a href="https://choose.physio/find-a-physio">physiotherapist</a>. Start slow and gradually increase your activity and find something you enjoy so you are more likely to keep doing it.</p> <h2>4. Team up with a workout friend</h2> <p>Physical activity can be more fun when you do it with someone else. Studies show <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0167494322002953?via%253Dihub&amp;sa=D&amp;source=docs&amp;ust=1712015093947627&amp;usg=AOvVaw1XGQBMDMFspL5YrQtKo3h">working out with friends can be more motivating and enjoyable</a>. It can also help with accountability, as some people are more likely to show up when they have a workout partner. So, <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)60407-9/fulltext">find a friend</a> who supports your goal of being more active or maintaining your current activity levels.</p> <h2>5. Plan yourself a little treat</h2> <p>Make an appointment with yourself in your diary to exercise. Approach it as just as important as meeting a friend or colleague. One idea is to delay something you’d rather do and make it a reward for sticking to your activity appointment. If you really want to go out for coffee, do a hobby, or watch something, go for a walk first.</p> <p>Research shows <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41746-019-0164-3">incentives can dramatically increase physical activity levels</a>.</p> <h2>6. Find a coach</h2> <p>If you want more support, <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/51/19/1425">health coaching</a> might be an option.</p> <p>Trained professionals work one-on-one with people, sometimes via telehealth, to find out what’s reducing their motivation to make healthier choices, such as exercise. Then they employ behaviour change techniques to help them meet their health goals.</p> <p>Our recent research suggests health coaching can improve physical activity in <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/58/7/382">older people</a> and those with <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S183695532400002X">chronic pain</a>. In <a href="https://www.gethealthynsw.com.au/#:%7E:text=About%20the%20Get%20Healthy%20Service&amp;text=Delivered%20by%20NSW%20Health%2C%20the,and%20achieve%20your%20health%20goals">New South Wales</a>, <a href="https://lifeprogram.org.au/">Victoria</a> and <a href="https://www.myhealthforlife.com.au/">Queensland</a>, these sessions are government-subsidised or free.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/226619/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/juliana-s-oliveira-709434">Juliana S. Oliveira</a>, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Physical Activity, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anne-tiedemann-409380">Anne Tiedemann</a>, Professor of Physical Activity and Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/cathie-sherrington-561141">Cathie Sherrington</a>, Professor, Institute for Musculoskeletal Health, School of Public Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/leanne-hassett-1497197">Leanne Hassett</a>, Associate Professor in Physiotherapy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/days-are-getting-shorter-and-colder-6-tips-for-sticking-to-your-fitness-goals-226619">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Only walking for exercise? Here’s how to get the most out of it

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ken-nosaka-169021">Ken Nosaka</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p>We’re living longer than in previous generations, with <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/older-people/older-australians/contents/demographic-profile">one in eight</a> elderly Australians now aged over 85. But the current <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26561272/">gap</a> between life expectancy (“lifespan”) and health-adjusted life expectancy (“healthspan”) is about ten years. This means many of us live with significant health problems in our later years.</p> <p>To increase our healthspan, we need planned, structured and regular physical activity (or exercise). The <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity">World Health Organization recommends</a> 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise – such as brisk walking, cycling and swimming – per week and muscle strengthening twice a week.</p> <p>Yet few of us meet these recommendations. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/s12966-019-0797-2">Only 10%</a> meet the strength-training recommendations. <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32488898/">Lack of time</a> is one of the most common reasons.</p> <p>Walking is cost-effective, doesn’t require any special equipment or training, and can be done with small pockets of time. <a href="https://link.springer.com/epdf/10.1007/s00421-024-05453-y?sharing_token=1vDsDJTN5WzPxi5YmSEkOfe4RwlQNchNByi7wbcMAY5hnPeFvF3FY4v2z1P9M2M0oiR78kXv1Yzj0ODMgckqhKOGHUABEd9UOPOfV5kPAj1jf1IYMIYkdIBv-DUEcKCOiDdNyj6MFypeDhSyeYQrWu_bvlAYtPUmOSaldFpmycA%3D">Our preliminary research</a>, published this week, shows there are ways to incorporate strength-training components into walking to improve your muscle strength and balance.</p> <h2>Why walking isn’t usually enough</h2> <p>Regular walking <a href="http://theconversation.com/health-check-in-terms-of-exercise-is-walking-enough-78604">does not appear</a> to work as muscle-strengthening exercise.</p> <p>In contrast, exercises consisting of “eccentric” or muscle-lengthening contractions <a href="http://theconversation.com/its-ok-to-aim%20lower-with-your-new-years-exercise-resolutions-a-few-minutes-a-day-can-improve-your-muscle-strength-193713">improve</a> muscle strength, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31130877/">prevent muscle wasting</a> and improve other functions such as balance and flexibility.</p> <p>Typical eccentric contractions are seen, for example, when we sit on a chair slowly. The front thigh muscles lengthen with force generation.</p> <h2>Our research</h2> <p>Our <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31055678/">previous research</a> found body-weight-based eccentric exercise training, such as sitting down on a chair slowly, improved lower limb muscle strength and balance in healthy older adults.</p> <p>We also <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28291022/">showed</a> walking down stairs, with the front thigh muscles undergoing eccentric contractions, increased leg muscle strength and balance in older women more than walking up stairs. When climbing stairs, the front thigh muscles undergo “concentric” contractions, with the muscles shortening.</p> <p>It can be difficult to find stairs or slopes suitable for eccentric exercises. But if they could be incorporated into daily walking, lower limb muscle strength and balance function could be improved.</p> <p>This is where the idea of “eccentric walking” comes into play. This means inserting lunges in conventional walking, in addition to downstairs and downhill walking.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wAI7z3XdY9o?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Eccentric walking means incorporating deep lunges into your movement.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>In our <a href="https://link.springer.com/epdf/10.1007/s00421-024-05453-y?sharing_token=1vDsDJTN5WzPxi5YmSEkOfe4RwlQNchNByi7wbcMAY5hnPeFvF3FY4v2z1P9M2M0oiR78kXv1Yzj0ODMgckqhKOGHUABEd9UOPOfV5kPAj1jf1IYMIYkdIBv-DUEcKCOiDdNyj6MFypeDhSyeYQrWu_bvlAYtPUmOSaldFpmycA%3D">new research</a>, published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, we investigated the effects of eccentric walking on lower limb muscle strength and balance in 11 regular walkers aged 54 to 88 years.</p> <p>The intervention period was 12 weeks. It consisted of four weeks of normal walking followed by eight weeks of eccentric walking.</p> <p>The number of eccentric steps in the eccentric walking period gradually increased over eight weeks from 100 to 1,000 steps (including lunges, downhill and downstairs steps). Participants took a total of 3,900 eccentric steps over the eight-week eccentric walking period while the total number of steps was the same as the previous four weeks.</p> <p>We measured the thickness of the participants’ front thigh muscles, muscle strength in their knee, their balance and endurance, including how many times they could go from a sitting position to standing in 30 seconds without using their arms. We took these measurements before the study started, at four weeks, after the conventional walking period, and at four and eight weeks into the eccentric walking period.</p> <p>We also tested their cognitive function using a digit symbol-substitution test at the same time points of other tests. And we asked participants to complete a questionnaire relating to their activities of daily living, such as dressing and moving around at home.</p> <p>Finally, we tested participants’ blood sugar, cholesterol levels and complement component 1q (C1q) concentrations, a potential <a href="https://faseb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1096/fj.14-262154">marker of sarcopenia</a> (muscle wasting with ageing).</p> <h2>What did we find?</h2> <p>We found no significant changes in any of the outcomes in the first four weeks when participants walked conventionally.</p> <p>From week four to 12, we found significant improvements in muscle strength (19%), chair-stand ability (24%), balance (45%) and a cognitive function test (21%).</p> <p>Serum C1q concentration decreased by 10% after the eccentric walking intervention, indicating participants’ muscles were effectively stimulated.</p> <p>The sample size of the study was small, so we need larger and more comprehensive studies to verify our findings and investigate whether eccentric walking is effective for sedentary people, older people, how the different types of eccentric exercise compare and the potential cognitive and mental health benefits.</p> <p>But, in the meantime, “eccentric walking” appears to be a beneficial exercise that will extend your healthspan. It may look a bit eccentric if we insert lunges while walking on the street, but the more people do it and benefit from it, the less eccentric it will become. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/224159/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ken-nosaka-169021">Ken Nosaka</a>, Professor of Exercise and Sports Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/only-walking-for-exercise-heres-how-to-get-the-most-out-of-it-224159">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Running or yoga can help beat depression, research shows – even if exercise is the last thing you feel like

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-noetel-147460">Michael Noetel</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p>At least <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/psychiatry/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.665019/full">one in ten people</a> have depression at some point in their lives, with some estimates <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749379720301793">closer to one in four</a>. It’s one of the worst things for someone’s wellbeing – worse than <a href="https://www.happinessresearchinstitute.com/_files/ugd/928487_4a99b6e23f014f85b38495b7ab1ac24b.pdf">debt, divorce or diabetes</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/why-are-so-many-australians-taking-antidepressants-221857">One in seven</a> Australians take antidepressants. Psychologists are in <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-cant-solve-australias-mental-health-emergency-if-we-dont-train-enough-psychologists-here-are-5-fixes-190135">high demand</a>. Still, only <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003901">half</a> of people with depression in high-income countries get treatment.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/384/bmj-2023-075847">new research</a> shows that exercise should be considered alongside therapy and antidepressants. It can be just as impactful in treating depression as therapy, but it matters what type of exercise you do and how you do it.</p> <h2>Walk, run, lift, or dance away depression</h2> <p>We found 218 randomised trials on exercise for depression, with 14,170 participants. We analysed them using a method called a network meta-analysis. This allowed us to see how different types of exercise compared, instead of lumping all types together.</p> <p>We found walking, running, strength training, yoga and mixed aerobic exercise were about as effective as <a href="https://theconversation.com/explainer-what-is-cognitive-behaviour-therapy-37351">cognitive behaviour therapy</a> – one of the <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/psychiatry/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00004/full">gold-standard treatments</a> for depression. The effects of dancing were also powerful. However, this came from analysing just five studies, mostly involving young women. Other exercise types had more evidence to back them.</p> <p>Walking, running, strength training, yoga and mixed aerobic exercise seemed more effective than antidepressant medication alone, and were about as effective as exercise alongside antidepressants.</p> <p>But of these exercises, people were most likely to stick with strength training and yoga.</p> <p><iframe id="cZaWb" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/cZaWb/2/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>Antidepressants certainly help <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/article/S0140-6736(17)32802-7/fulltext">some people</a>. And of course, anyone getting treatment for depression should talk to their doctor <a href="https://australia.cochrane.org/news/new-cochrane-review-explores-latest-evidence-approaches-stopping-long-term-antidepressants">before changing</a> what they are doing.</p> <p>Still, our evidence shows that if you have depression, you should get a psychologist <em>and</em> an exercise plan, whether or not you’re taking antidepressants.</p> <h2>Join a program and go hard (with support)</h2> <p>Before we analysed the data, we thought people with depression might need to “ease into it” with generic advice, <a href="https://www.who.int/initiatives/behealthy/physical-activity">such as</a> “some physical activity is better than doing none.”</p> <p>But we found it was far better to have a clear program that aimed to push you, at least a little. Programs with clear structure worked better, compared with those that gave people lots of freedom. Exercising by yourself might also make it hard to set the bar at the right level, given low self-esteem is a symptom of depression.</p> <p>We also found it didn’t matter how much people exercised, in terms of sessions or minutes a week. It also didn’t really matter how long the exercise program lasted. What mattered was the intensity of the exercise: the higher the intensity, the better the results.</p> <h2>Yes, it’s hard to keep motivated</h2> <p>We should exercise caution in interpreting the findings. Unlike drug trials, participants in exercise trials know which “treatment” they’ve been randomised to receive, so this may skew the results.</p> <p>Many people with depression have physical, psychological or social barriers to participating in formal exercise programs. And getting support to exercise isn’t free.</p> <p>We also still don’t know the best way to stay motivated to exercise, which can be even harder if you have depression.</p> <p>Our study tried to find out whether things like setting exercise goals helped, but we couldn’t get a clear result.</p> <p>Other reviews found it’s important to have a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31923898/">clear action plan</a> (for example, putting exercise in your calendar) and to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19916637/">track your progress</a> (for example, using an app or smartwatch). But predicting which of these interventions work is notoriously difficult.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-04128-4">2021 mega-study</a> of more than 60,000 gym-goers <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-04128-4/figures/1">found</a> experts struggled to predict which strategies might get people into the gym more often. Even making workouts fun didn’t seem to motivate people. However, listening to audiobooks while exercising helped a lot, which no experts predicted.</p> <p>Still, we can be confident that people benefit from personalised support and accountability. The support helps overcome the hurdles they’re sure to hit. The accountability keeps people going even when their brains are telling them to avoid it.</p> <p>So, when starting out, it seems wise to avoid going it alone. Instead:</p> <ul> <li> <p>join a fitness group or yoga studio</p> </li> <li> <p>get a trainer or an exercise physiologist</p> </li> <li> <p>ask a friend or family member to go for a walk with you.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Taking a few steps towards getting that support makes it more likely you’ll keep exercising.</p> <h2>Let’s make this official</h2> <p>Some countries see exercise as a backup plan for treating depression. For example, the American Psychological Association only <a href="https://www.apa.org/depression-guideline/">conditionally recommends</a> exercise as a “complementary and alternative treatment” when “psychotherapy or pharmacotherapy is either ineffective or unacceptable”.</p> <p>Based on our research, this recommendation is withholding a potent treatment from many people who need it.</p> <p>In contrast, The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists <a href="https://www.ranzcp.org/getmedia/a4678cf4-91f5-4746-99d4-03dc7379ae51/mood-disorders-clinical-practice-guideline-2020.pdf">recommends</a> vigorous aerobic activity at least two to three times a week for all people with depression.</p> <p>Given how common depression is, and the number failing to receive care, other countries should follow suit and recommend exercise alongside front-line treatments for depression.</p> <p><em>I would like to acknowledge my colleagues Taren Sanders, Chris Lonsdale and the rest of the coauthors of the paper on which this article is based.</em></p> <p><em>If this article has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/223441/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-noetel-147460">Michael Noetel</a>, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/running-or-yoga-can-help-beat-depression-research-shows-even-if-exercise-is-the-last-thing-you-feel-like-223441">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Thinking of using an activity tracker to achieve your exercise goals? Here’s where it can help – and where it probably won’t

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/corneel-vandelanotte-209636">Corneel Vandelanotte</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p>It’s that time of year when many people are getting started on their resolutions for the year ahead. Doing more physical activity is a popular and <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13668-016-0175-5">worthwhile</a> goal.</p> <p>If you’re hoping to be more active in 2024, perhaps you’ve invested in an activity tracker, or you’re considering buying one.</p> <p>But what are the benefits of activity trackers? And will a basic tracker do the trick, or do you need a fancy one with lots of features? Let’s take a look.</p> <h2>Why use an activity tracker?</h2> <p>One of the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/s12966-020-01001-x">most powerful predictors</a> for being active is whether or not <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0140673621026301">you are monitoring</a> how active you are.</p> <p>Most people have a vague idea of how active they are, but this is inaccurate a lot of the time. Once people consciously start to keep track of how much activity they do, they often realise it’s less than what they thought, and this motivates them to be more active.</p> <p>You can self-monitor without an activity tracker (just by writing down what you do), but this method is hard to keep up in the long run and it’s also a lot less accurate compared to devices that track your every move 24/7.</p> <p>By tracking steps or “activity minutes” you can ascertain whether or not you are meeting the <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/topics/physical-activity-and-exercise/physical-activity-and-exercise-guidelines-for-all-australians/for-adults-18-to-64-years">physical activity guidelines</a> (150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week).</p> <p>It also allows you to track how you’re progressing with any personal activity goals, and view your progress over time. All this would be difficult without an activity tracker.</p> <p>Research has shown the most popular brands of activity trackers are generally reliable when it comes to tracking basic measures such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.2196/18694">steps</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1123/jmpb.2019-0072">activity minutes</a>.</p> <h2>But wait, there’s more</h2> <p>Many activity trackers on the market nowadays track a range of other measures which their manufacturers promote as important in monitoring health and fitness. But is this really the case? Let’s look at some of these.</p> <p><strong>Resting heart rate</strong></p> <p>This is your heart rate at rest, which is normally somewhere <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/resting-heart-rate">between 60 and 100 beats per minute</a>. Your resting heart rate will gradually go down as you become fitter, especially if you’re doing a lot of high-intensity exercise. Your risk of dying of any cause (all-cause mortality) is much lower when you have a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28552551/">low resting heart rate</a>.</p> <p>So, it is useful to keep an eye on your resting heart rate. Activity trackers are pretty good at tracking it, but you can also easily measure your heart rate by monitoring your pulse and using a stopwatch.</p> <p><strong>Heart rate during exercise</strong></p> <p>Activity trackers will also measure your heart rate when you’re active. To improve fitness efficiently, professional athletes focus on having their heart rate in certain “<a href="https://chhs.source.colostate.edu/how-to-target-heart-rate-training-zones-effectively/">zones</a>” when they’re exercising – so knowing their heart rate during exercise is important.</p> <p>But if you just want to be more active and healthier, without a specific training goal in mind, you can exercise at a level that feels good to you and not worry about your heart rate during activity. The <a href="https://doi.org/10.1097/HCO.0000000000000437">most important thing</a> is that you’re being active.</p> <p>Also, a dedicated heart rate monitor with a strap around your chest will do a much better job at measuring your actual heart rate <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41746-020-0226-6">compared</a> to an activity tracker worn around your wrist.</p> <p><strong>Maximal heart rate</strong></p> <p>This is the hardest your heart could beat when you’re active, not something you could sustain very long. Your maximal heart rate is not influenced by how much exercise you do, or your fitness level.</p> <p>Most activity trackers <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamacardiology/article-abstract/2566167">don’t measure it accurately</a> anyway, so you might as well forget about this one.</p> <p><strong>VO₂max</strong></p> <p>Your muscles need oxygen to work. The more oxygen your body can process, the harder you can work, and therefore the fitter you are.</p> <p>VO₂max is the volume (V) of oxygen (O₂) we could breathe maximally (max) over a one minute interval, expressed as millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min). Inactive women and men would have a VO₂max lower than 30 and 40 ml/kg/min, respectively. A reasonably good VO₂max would be mid thirties and higher for women and mid forties and higher for men.</p> <p>VO₂max is another measure of fitness that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.3605">correlates well</a> with all-cause mortality: the higher it is, the lower your risk of dying.</p> <p>For athletes, VO₂max is usually measured in a lab on a treadmill while wearing a mask that measures oxygen consumption. Activity trackers instead look at your running speed (using a GPS chip) and your heart rate and compare these measures to values from other people.</p> <p>If you can run fast with a low heart rate your tracker will assume you are relatively fit, resulting in a higher VO₂max. These estimates are <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-021-01639-y">not very accurate</a> as they are based on lots of assumptions. However, the error of the measurement is reasonably consistent. This means if your VO₂max is gradually increasing, you are likely to be getting fitter.</p> <p>So what’s the take-home message? Focus on how many steps you take every day or the number of activity minutes you achieve. Even a basic activity tracker will measure these factors relatively accurately. There is no real need to track other measures and pay more for an activity tracker that records them, unless you are getting really serious about exercise.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/219235/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/corneel-vandelanotte-209636">Corneel Vandelanotte</a>, Professorial Research Fellow: Physical Activity and Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/thinking-of-using-an-activity-tracker-to-achieve-your-exercise-goals-heres-where-it-can-help-and-where-it-probably-wont-219235">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Why you shouldn’t let guilt motivate you to exercise

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/martin-j-turner-489218">Martin J Turner</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/manchester-metropolitan-university-860">Manchester Metropolitan University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anthony-miller-679114">Anthony Miller</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/staffordshire-university-1381">Staffordshire University</a></em></p> <p>The hardest part of consistently exercising is finding the motivation to do it. But using the wrong type of motivation for your workouts could militate against you – and could even have consequences for your mental health.</p> <p>Our research, which <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02640414.2022.2042124">investigated the motivations</a> of 650 frequent exercisers, found that people who believed things like “I am a loser if I do not succeed in things that matter to me” and “I have to be viewed favourably by people that matter to me” were more likely to use self-pressure and wanting to avoid guilt as motivation to exercise.</p> <p>Not only was this group more likely to not want to exercise at all, we also found that those who used guilt and self-pressure as motivation were at greater risk of experiencing poor mental health.</p> <p>The tendency to hold dogmatic beliefs like “I must” or “I have to”, and harmful beliefs about yourself creates a negative and <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10413200.2018.1446472?casa_token=ObBghnn3ab4AAAAA%3ATpiEvunYBqKbIqI2_kuC5fM2zMvhhYLP72TVplW3Noc4PYhQUaMBkq1pEabaXXid0hwnE3R5kNYvnA">unhealthy approach to exercise</a>.</p> <p>But the darker side of this mindset is that people who held these beliefs reported higher symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress compared with exercisers who didn’t use self-pressure and guilt as motivation.</p> <p>While it’s possible that people already experiencing poor mental health would be more likely to have negative beliefs about themselves, there’s a deeply reciprocal relationship between mental health and how we think and act.</p> <p>Research shows that extreme, rigid, negative ways of thinking are <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26609889/">risk factors for mental health problems</a>. Repeating negative thoughts many times, over many years, can lead to deep self-loathing which can corrode your <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2019-59628-001">mental health</a> and leave you in a continuous state of <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/02640414.2022.2042124">stress and depression</a>. It can also make you even less likely to positively change your thinking and <a href="https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/tsp/8/3/article-p248.xml">exercise habits</a>.</p> <p>On the other hand, our study found that people who reported lower symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress had significantly less extreme, rigid and negative ways of thinking. These participants were less likely to endorse ways of thinking that involved self-demands (“I must”), magnification (“things are awful”), and self-condemnation (“I am a failure”).</p> <p>These exercisers reported using more useful forms of motivation to workout, such as exercising because they loved the activity and recognised the value and importance of exercise as a part of their identity.</p> <p>These findings show us just how important the thoughts you use to motivate your workouts can be, especially when it comes to your mental health.</p> <p>One solution to these ways of thinking is a psychological approach called <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01423/full">rational emotive behaviour therapy</a> (REBT). REBT aims to understand and challenge deeply held beliefs and develop helpful alternatives. This approach may help an exerciser go from “I have to exercise” and “I’d be worthless if I didn’t exercise” to thinking “I really want to exercise, but if I didn’t exercise, I would be disappointed, but I would not be worthless.”</p> <p>Improving a person’s beliefs about exercise can change their motivation from being centred on self-pressure and guilt to seeing the value and potential enjoyment in working out.</p> <p>There are many <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rational-Practitioner-Performance-Psychologists-Practicing/dp/1032060409">ideas and tools</a> we can apply from REBT even without having to step foot inside a psychologist’s office. So if you find yourself falling into this cycle of self-loathing and losing motivation to exercise, here’s what you can do.</p> <h2>Think critically about your thinking</h2> <p>When you think about exercising, are your thoughts negative, unhelpful and self-pressuring? Be more critical of your thoughts about exercise, and ask yourself whether they make sense – and if they’re helping you.</p> <p>If the answer is no, try to work on adopting thoughts that do make sense and help you achieve your exercise goals, such as seeing exercise as something to enjoy, instead of something you have to do out of guilt. Being able to challenge your own unhelpful beliefs, and learning to harness more helpful ones, can help you <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/sms.12926?casa_token=fbVymZ3SxrAAAAAA:SiNRAlz0Xh11xbeWDUtxjwlP40gDfurptgas5SSHYLtLD9v06uLm8ztlTvi1AnwTSvTReT_u-fdgiJ0h">achieve your goals</a>.</p> <h2>Realise you’re not what you do</h2> <p>As human beings, we’re imperfect. We mess up – but we also do great things. When things don’t go to plan, it’s important to try and accept this. And remember that failing doesn’t mean you’re a failure.</p> <p>Realise that you aren’t <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1469029222001662">defined by your shortcomings</a>. Recognising that failing does not make you a failure may help you better bounce back from times when you fall short of your goals and expectations and keep on track with reaching your goals and finding solutions.</p> <h2>Harness the power of want</h2> <p>You’re far more likely to stick to your exercise goals if you <a href="https://selfdeterminationtheory.org/SDT/documents/1997_RyanFrederickLepesRubioSheldon.pdf">want to do them</a>. Find an activity that offers you something more than just exercise. Perhaps join an exercise group where you can make new friends or rekindle your passion for something you used to do.</p> <p>If you’re only exercising because you believe you have to or to avoid guilt, then you probably won’t stick with it. Nobody likes to be pressured into doing difficult things. Finding an activity you don’t have to force yourself to do may help you move from seeing exercise as something you have to do to something you love to do.</p> <p>Exercise is, of course, important, but guilting yourself into doing it will probably do more harm than good. The best way is by finding things you enjoy, accepting yourself unconditionally if your motivation does wane, and removing “have to” from your thoughts about exercise.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/220342/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/martin-j-turner-489218">Martin J Turner</a>, Reader in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/manchester-metropolitan-university-860">Manchester Metropolitan University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anthony-miller-679114">Anthony Miller</a>, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/staffordshire-university-1381">Staffordshire University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-you-shouldnt-let-guilt-motivate-you-to-exercise-220342">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Resistance (exercise) is far from futile: The unheralded benefits of weight training

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/stuart-phillips-428766">Stuart Phillips</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/mcmaster-university-930">McMaster University</a> </em></p> <p>Everyone can agree that exercise is healthy. Among its many benefits, exercise improves heart and brain function, aids in controlling weight, slows the effects of aging and helps lower the risks of several chronic <a href="https://doi.org/10.1101%2Fcshperspect.a029694">diseases</a>.</p> <p>For too long, though, one way of keeping fit, aerobic exercise, has been perceived as superior to the other, resistance training, for promoting health when, in fact, they are equally valuable, and both can get us to the same goal of overall physical fitness.</p> <p>Aerobic exercise such as running, swimming and cycling is popular because it provides great benefits and with ample <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001335">scientific evidence</a> to back that up.</p> <p>What has been far less influential to date is that resistance training — whether that’s with dumbbells, weightlifting machines or good old push-ups, lunges and dips — works about as well as aerobic exercise in all the critical areas, including cardiovascular health.</p> <p>Resistance training provides another benefit: building strength and developing power, which become increasingly important as a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s12603-021-1665-8">person ages</a>.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/843867756" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Video about different forms of resistance training explores how all are effective at building strength.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>Building and maintaining muscle strength keeps us springing out of our chairs, maintaining our balance and posture and firing our metabolism, as my colleagues and I explain in a paper recently <a href="https://doi.org/10.1249/FIT.0000000000000916">published</a> by the American College of Sports Medicine.</p> <p>So, if aerobic exercise and resistance training offer roughly equal benefits, how did we end up with so many runners and cyclists compared to weightlifters?</p> <p>It was a combination of timing, marketing and stereotyping.</p> <h2>The rise of aerobics</h2> <p>The preference for aerobic exercise dates back to landmark research from the <a href="https://www.cooperinstitute.org/research/ccls">Cooper Centre Longitudinal Study</a>, which played a pivotal role in establishing the effectiveness of aerobics — Dr. Ken Cooper invented or at least popularized the word with his book <a href="https://www.cooperaerobics.com/About/Aerobics.aspx"><em>Aerobics</em></a>, spurring desk-bound Baby Boomers to take up exercise for its own sake.</p> <p>Meanwhile, resistance training languished, <a href="https://www.cnet.com/health/fitness/does-lifting-weights-make-women-bulky/">especially among women</a>, due to the misguided notion that weightlifting was only for men who aspired to be hyper-muscular. <a href="https://www.britannica.com/biography/Charles-Atlas">Charles Atlas</a>, anyone?</p> <p>Cultural influences solidified the dominance of aerobic exercise in the fitness landscape. In 1977, Jim Fixx made running and jogging popular with <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Complete_Book_of_Running"><em>The Complete Book of Running</em></a>. In the 1980s, Jane Fonda’s <a href="https://www.janefonda.com/shop/fitness-videos/jane-fondas-complete-workout/"><em>Complete Workout</em></a> and exercise shows such as <em><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0268895/">Aerobicize</a></em> and the <em><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0299431/">20 Minute Workout</a></em> helped solidify the idea that exercise was about raising one’s heart rate.</p> <p>The very word “aerobic,” previously confined to the lexicon of science and medicine, entered popular culture about the same time as leg warmers, tracksuits and sweatbands. It made sense to many that breathing hard and sweating from prolonged, vigorous movement was the best way to benefit from exercising.</p> <p>All the while, resistance training was waiting for its turn in the spotlight.</p> <h2>Recognizing the value of resistance</h2> <p>If aerobics has been the hare, resistance training has been the tortoise. Weight training is now coming up alongside and preparing to overtake its speedy rival, as athletes and everyday people alike recognize the value that was always there.</p> <p>Even in high-level sports training, weightlifting did not become common until the last 20 years. Today, it strengthens the bodies and lengthens the careers of soccer stars, tennis players, golfers <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-016-0486-0">and many more</a>.</p> <p>Rising popular interest in resistance training owes a debt to <a href="https://www.livestrong.com/article/545200-the-fall-of-fitness/">CrossFit</a>, which, despite its controversies, has helped break down stereotypes and introduced more people, particularly women, to the practice of lifting weights.</p> <p>It’s important to recognize that resistance training does not invariably lead to bulking up, nor does it demand lifting heavy weights. As our team’s research has shown, lifting lighter weights to the point of failure in multiple sets provides <a href="https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/japplphysiol.00154.2016">equal benefits</a>.</p> <h2>Strength and ageing</h2> <p>The merits of resistance training extend beyond improving muscle strength. It addresses a critical aspect often overlooked in traditional aerobic training: the ability to exert force quickly, or what’s called power. As people age, activities of daily living such as standing up, sitting down and climbing stairs demand <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/s11556-022-00297-x">strength and power</a> more than cardiovascular endurance.</p> <p>In this way, resistance training can be vital to maintaining overall functionality and independence.</p> <h2>Redefining the fitness narrative</h2> <p>The main idea is not to pit resistance training against aerobic exercise but to recognize that they complement each other. Engaging in both forms of exercise is better than relying on one alone. The <a href="https://doi.org/10.1161/CIR.0000000000001189">American Heart Association</a> recently stated that “…resistance training is a safe and effective approach for improving cardiovascular health in adults with and without cardiovascular disease.”</p> <p>Adopting a nuanced perspective is essential, especially when we guide <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arr.2021.101368">older individuals</a> who may associate exercise primarily with walking and not realize the limitations imposed by neglecting strength and power training.</p> <p>Resistance training is not a one-size-fits-all endeavour. It encompasses a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jshs.2023.06.005">spectrum of activities</a> tailored to individual capabilities.</p> <p>It’s time to redefine the narrative around fitness to make more room for resistance training. It’s not necessary to treat it as a replacement for aerobic exercise but to see it as a vital component of a holistic approach to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1249/ESM.0000000000000001">health and longevity</a>.</p> <p>By shedding stereotypes, demystifying the process and promoting inclusivity, resistance training can become more accessible and appealing to a broader audience, ultimately leading to a new way to perceive and prioritize the benefits of this form of training for <a href="https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2021-105061">health and fitness</a>.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/220269/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/stuart-phillips-428766"><em>Stuart Phillips</em></a><em>, Professor, Kinesiology, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Skeletal Muscle Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/mcmaster-university-930">McMaster University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/resistance-exercise-is-far-from-futile-the-unheralded-benefits-of-weight-training-220269">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Why are my muscles sore after exercise? Hint: it’s nothing to do with lactic acid

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/robert-andrew-robergs-435390">Robert Andrew Robergs</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/samuel-l-torrens-1476404">Samuel L. Torrens</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>As many of us hit the gym or go for a run to recover from the silly season, you might notice a bit of extra muscle soreness.</p> <p>This is especially true if it has been a while between workouts.</p> <p>A common misunderstanding is that such soreness is due to lactic acid build-up in the muscles.</p> <p>Research, however, shows lactic acid has <a href="https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/physiol.00033.2017">nothing to do with it</a>. The truth is far more interesting, but also a bit more complex.</p> <h2>It’s not lactic acid</h2> <p>We’ve known for decades that lactic acid has <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27409551/">nothing to do with</a> muscle soreness after exercise.</p> <p>In fact, as one of us (Robert Andrew Robergs) has long <a href="https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajpregu.00114.2004">argued</a>, cells produce lactate, not lactic acid. This process actually <a href="https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/physiol.00033.2017">opposes</a> not causes the build-up of acid in the muscles and bloodstream.</p> <p>Unfortunately, historical inertia means people still use the term “lactic acid” in relation to exercise.</p> <p>Lactate <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.1101141">doesn’t cause major problems</a> for the muscles you use when you exercise. You’d probably be <a href="https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajpregu.00114.2004?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&amp;rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&amp;rfr_dat=cr_pub++0pubmed&amp;">worse off</a> without it due to other benefits to your working muscles.</p> <p>Lactate isn’t the reason you’re sore a few days after upping your weights or exercising after a long break.</p> <p>So, if it’s not lactic acid and it’s not lactate, what is causing all that muscle soreness?</p> <h2>Muscle pain during and after exercise</h2> <p>When you exercise, a lot of chemical reactions occur in your muscle cells. All these chemical reactions accumulate products and by-products which cause water to enter into the cells.</p> <p>That causes the pressure inside and between muscle cells to increase.</p> <p>This pressure, combined with the movement of molecules from the muscle cells can stimulate nerve endings and cause <a href="https://www.sportsmed.theclinics.com/article/S0278-5919(11)00099-8/fulltext">discomfort</a> during exercise.</p> <p>The pain and discomfort you sometimes feel hours to days after an unfamiliar type or amount of exercise has a different list of causes.</p> <p>If you exercise beyond your usual level or routine, you can cause microscopic damage to your muscles and their connections to tendons.</p> <p>Such damage causes the release of ions and other molecules from the muscles, causing localised swelling and stimulation of nerve endings.</p> <p>This is sometimes known as “<a href="https://www.sportsmed.theclinics.com/article/S0278-5919(11)00099-8/fulltext">delayed onset muscle soreness</a>” or DOMS.</p> <p>While the damage occurs during the exercise, the resulting response to the injury builds over the next one to two days (longer if the damage is severe). This can sometimes cause pain and difficulty with normal movement.</p> <h2>The upshot</h2> <p>Research is clear; the discomfort from delayed onset muscle soreness has nothing to do with <a href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=UVjRNSUAAAAJ&amp;view_op=view_citation&amp;citation_for_view=UVjRNSUAAAAJ:J_g5lzvAfSwC">lactate</a> or <a href="https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/physiol.00033.2017">lactic acid</a>.</p> <p>The good news, though, is that your muscles adapt rapidly to the activity that would initially cause delayed onset muscle soreness.</p> <p>So, assuming you don’t wait too long (more than roughly two weeks) before being active again, the next time you do the same activity there will be much less damage and discomfort.</p> <p>If you have an exercise goal (such as doing a particular hike or completing a half-marathon), ensure it is realistic and that you can work up to it by training over several months.</p> <p>Such training will gradually build the muscle adaptations necessary to prevent delayed onset muscle soreness. And being less wrecked by exercise makes it more enjoyable and more easy to stick to a routine or habit.</p> <p>Finally, remove “lactic acid” from your exercise vocabulary. Its supposed role in muscle soreness is a myth that’s hung around far too long already.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/214638/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/robert-andrew-robergs-435390"><em>Robert Andrew Robergs</em></a><em>, Associate Professor - Exercise Physiology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/samuel-l-torrens-1476404">Samuel L. Torrens</a>, PhD Candidate, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-are-my-muscles-sore-after-exercise-hint-its-nothing-to-do-with-lactic-acid-214638">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Top 80s songs to get you moving

<p class="Default">While the fashion from the 1980s might only come out of the closet for dress up parties these days, the music is still considered some of the best of our time. Especially for music to get you moving.</p> <p class="Default">From dance and pop hits to a little rap and rock, it’s got to be one of the most diverse, eclectic and extravagant decades in recent cultural history.</p> <p class="Default">Here, we have been busy rifling through the tracks to whittle down a decade of music into 40 of the best tracks to move to. From dancing to exercise, if you want to get up off that couch, these are the songs to hit play on.</p> <p>1. “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cindy Lauper (1983)<br />2. “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar (1980)<br />3. “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor (1982)<br />4. “Love Shack” by The B-52's (1989)<br />5. “Beat It” by Michael Jackson (1982)<br />6. “Manic Monday” by The Bangles (1986)<br />7. “Let's Dance” by David Bowie (1983)<br />8. “Livin' on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi (1986)<br />9. “I Love Rock N' Roll” by Joan Jett &amp; The Blackhearts (1982)<br />10. “Thriller” by Michael Jackson (1982)<br />11. “Faith” by George Michael (1987)<br />12. “Jump” by Van Halen (1984)<br />13. “Don't Stop Believin’" by Journey (1982)<br />14. “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina &amp; The Waves (1983)<br />15. “Kiss” by Prince (1986)<br />16. “Holiday” by Madonna (1983)<br />17. “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang (1980)<br />18. “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson (1982)<br />19. “Love is a Battlefield” by Pat Benatar (1983)<br />20. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by Eurythmics (1983)<br />21. “White Wedding” by Billy Idol (1982)<br />22. “Take on Me” by a-ha (1985)<br />23. “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles (1981)<br />24. “Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club (1983)<br />25. “The Tide is High” by Blondie (1980)<br />26. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham (1984)<br />27. “Let's Hear It for the Boy” by Deniece Williams (1984)<br />28. “A Little Respect” by Erasure (1988)<br />29. “Sweet Child O' Mine” by Guns N' Roses (1987)<br />30. “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins (1984)<br />31. “Wild Thing” by Tone-Loc (1989)<br />32. “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell (1981)<br />33. “Borderline” by Madonna (1983)<br />34. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston (1987)<br />35. “Just Can't Get Enough” by Depeche Mode (1981)<br />36. “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley (1987)<br />37. “Always Something There to Remind Me” by Naked Eyes (1983)<br />38. “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” by New Kids on the Block (1988)<br />39. “It Takes Two” by Rob Base (1988)<br />40. “Down Under” by Men at Work (1981)</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

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Squats and lunges might help you avoid knee surgery

<p>Whether it’s another round of squats and lunges, or a longer wall sit, researchers say working those quads could help lower your risk of a knee replacement.</p> <div> <p>In Australia, <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/musculoskeletal-conditions/contents/arthritis" target="_blank" rel="noopener">about 9% of the population</a> has osteoarthritis, a condition known to lead to hip and knee surgery in severe cases. About 14 million Americans suffer from knee osteoarthritis, about half are expected to face knee replacement surgery. </p> <p>But new research offers hope, finding stronger quadricep muscles could play a role in avoiding knee replacement surgery.</p> <p>A study presented to <a href="https://press.rsna.org/timssnet/media/rsna/newsroom2023.cfm" target="_blank" rel="noopener">annual meeting</a> of the Radiological Society of North America, offers hope to people with arthritis, finding stronger quadriceps could help in avoiding a knee replacement.</p> <p>The two most important muscles in the knee are the extensors or quadriceps, and the hamstrings. Quads are the strong muscles located at the front of the thigh, which play a key role in gait. Hammies at the back of the thigh, are essential for hip and knee flexibility.</p> <p>The two muscles act as opposing forces, allowing physical activity while also protecting the knee. An imbalance can change the body’s biomechanics, and may progress to osteoarthritis.</p> <p>Using MRI scans – from the time of surgery as well as 2 and 4 years prior – researchers analysed thigh muscle volume in 134 participants from a national study called the Osteoarthritis Initiative. </p> <p>Using artificial intelligence to compute muscle volume from the MRI scans, the researchers compared 67 of the cohort who had a total, single knee replacement with 67 control participants who had not undergone knee replacement surgery.</p> <p>They found patients who had a higher ratio of quadricep to hamstring volume had significantly lower odds of a total knee replacement. Higher volume hamstrings were also associated with lower odds of surgery.</p> <p>The results suggest strength training – focusing on the quadriceps – may be beneficial, both in people with arthritis as well as the general population.</p> <p><!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <em><img id="cosmos-post-tracker" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=289325&amp;title=Squats+and+lunges+might+help+you+avoid+knee+surgery" width="1" height="1" loading="lazy" aria-label="Syndication Tracker" data-spai-target="src" data-spai-orig="" data-spai-exclude="nocdn" />Image credits: Getty Images</em></div> <div> </div> <div><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/body-and-mind/squats-and-lunges-might-help-you-avoid-knee-surgery/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/petra-stock/">Petra Stock</a>. </em></div>

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How 22 minutes of exercise a day could reduce the health risks from sitting too long

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/matthew-ahmadi-1241767">Matthew Ahmadi</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emmanuel-stamatakis-161783">Emmanuel Stamatakis</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>People in developed countries spend an average of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2022-106568">nine to ten hours</a> a day sitting. Whether it’s spending time in front of a computer, stuck in traffic, or unwinding in front of the TV, our lives have become increasingly sedentary.</p> <p>This is concerning because prolonged time spent sitting is <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/54/24/1451?s=09&amp;int_source=trendmd&amp;int_medium=cpc&amp;int_campaign=usage-042019">linked to a number of health issues</a> including obesity, heart disease, and certain types of cancers. These health issues can contribute to earlier death.</p> <p>But a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2022-106568">new study</a> suggests that for people over 50, getting just 22 minutes of exercise a day can lower the increased risk of premature death from a highly sedentary lifestyle.</p> <h2>What the researchers did</h2> <p>The team combined data from two studies from Norway, one from Sweden and one from the United States. The studies included about 12,000 people aged 50 or older who wore wearable devices to track how active and sedentary they were during their daily routines.</p> <p>Participants were followed up for at least two years (the median was 5.2 years) during the study period, which spanned 2003-2020.</p> <p>Analyses took several lifestyle and health factors into account, such as education, alcohol intake, smoking status, and previous history of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. All this data was linked to national death registries.</p> <h2>A 22 minute threshold</h2> <p>A total of 805 participants died during follow up. The researchers found people who were sedentary for more than 12 hours a day had the highest risk of death (a 38% higher risk than people who were sedentary for eight hours).</p> <p>However, this was only observed in those who did less than 22 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. So for people who did more than 22 minutes of exercise, there was no longer a significantly heightened risk – that is, the risk became generally similar to those who were sedentary for eight hours.</p> <p>Higher daily duration of physical activity was consistently associated with lower risk of death, regardless of total sedentary time. For example, the team reported an additional ten minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day could lower mortality risk by up to 15% for people who were sedentary less than 10.5 hours a day. For those considered highly sedentary (10.5 hours a day or more), an additional ten minutes lowered mortality risk by up to 35%.</p> <h2>The study had some limitations</h2> <p>The team couldn’t assess how changes in physical activity or sedentary time over several months or years may affect risk of death. And the study included only participants aged 50 and above, making results less applicable to younger age groups.</p> <p>Further, cultural and lifestyle differences between countries may have influenced how data between studies was measured and analysed.</p> <p>Ultimately, because this study was observational, we can’t draw conclusions on cause and effect with certainty. But the results of this research align with a growing body of evidence exploring the relationship between physical activity, sedentary time, and death.</p> <h2>It’s positive news</h2> <p>Research has previously suggested <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/54/24/1499">physical activity may offset</a> health risks associated with <a href="https://www.jacc.org/doi/abs/10.1016/j.jacc.2019.02.031">high sedentary time</a>.</p> <p>The good news is, even short bouts of exercise can have these positive effects. In this study, the 22 minutes wasn’t necessarily done all at once. It was a total of the physical activity someone did in a day, and would have included incidental exercise (activity that’s part of a daily routine, such as climbing the stairs).</p> <p>Several studies using wearable devices have found short bursts of high-intensity everyday activities such as stair climbing or energetic outdoor home maintenance activities such as mowing the lawn or cleaning the windows can lower <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-022-02100-x">mortality</a>, <a href="https://academic.oup.com/eurheartj/article/43/46/4801/6771381">heart disease</a> and <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaoncology/fullarticle/2807734">cancer</a> risk.</p> <p>A recent study using wearable devices found moderate to vigorous bouts of activity <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-2667(23)00183-4/fulltext">lasting three to five minutes</a> provide similar benefits to bouts longer than ten minutes when it comes to stroke and heart attack risk.</p> <p>Several other studies have found <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2596007">being active just on the weekend</a> provides similar health benefits as <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2794038">being active throughout the week</a>.</p> <p>Research has also shown the benefits of <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/2795819">physical activity</a> and <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2809418">reducing sedentary time</a> extend to cognitive health.</p> <p>Routines such as desk jobs can foster a sedentary lifestyle that may be difficult to shift. But mixing short bursts of activity into our day can make a significant difference towards improving our health and longevity.</p> <p>Whether it’s a brisk walk during lunch, taking the stairs, or even a short at-home workout, this study is yet another to suggest that every minute counts.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/216259/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/matthew-ahmadi-1241767">Matthew Ahmadi</a>, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Faculty of Medicine and Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emmanuel-stamatakis-161783">Emmanuel Stamatakis</a>, Professor of Physical Activity, Lifestyle, and Population Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-22-minutes-of-exercise-a-day-could-reduce-the-health-risks-from-sitting-too-long-216259">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Treadmill, exercise bike, rowing machine: what’s the best option for cardio at home?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lewis-ingram-1427671">Lewis Ingram</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hunter-bennett-1053061">Hunter Bennett</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/saravana-kumar-181105">Saravana Kumar</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p>Cardio, short for cardiovascular exercise, refers to any form of rhythmic physical activity that increases your heart rate and breathing so the heart and lungs can deliver oxygen to the working muscles. Essentially, it’s the type of exercise that gets you huffing and puffing – and fills many people with dread.</p> <p>People often do cardio to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30003901/">lose weight</a>, but it’s associated with a variety of health benefits including reducing the risk of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6481017/">heart disease</a>, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30191075/">stroke</a> and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27707740/">falls</a>. Research shows cardio also improves <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29334638/">cognitive function</a> and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26978184/">mental health</a>.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity">World Health Organization</a> recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio per week.</p> <p>There are many ways to do cardio, from playing a team sport, to riding your bike to work, to going for a jog. If you’re willing and able to invest in a piece of equipment, you can also do cardio at home.</p> <p>The treadmill, stationary bike and rowing machine are the most popular pieces of cardio equipment you’ll find in a typical gym, and you can buy any of these for your home too. Here’s how to know which one is best for you.</p> <h2>The treadmill</h2> <p>In terms of effectiveness of exercise, it’s hard to look past the treadmill. Running uses most of your major muscle groups and therefore leads to greater increases in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1334197/">heart rate</a> and energy expenditure compared to other activities, such as cycling.</p> <p>As a bonus, since running on a treadmill requires you to support your own body weight, it also helps to build and maintain <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26562001/">your bones</a>, keeping them strong. This becomes even more important <a href="https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/exercise-your-bone-health">as you get older</a> as the risk of developing medical conditions such as osteopenia and osteoporosis – where the density of your bones is reduced – increases.</p> <p>But the treadmill may not be for everyone. The weight-bearing nature of running may exacerbate pain and cause swelling in people with common joint conditions such as osteoarthritis.</p> <p>Also, a treadmill is likely to require greater maintenance (since most treadmills are motorised), and can take up a lot of space.</p> <h2>Stationary bike</h2> <p>The stationary bike provides another convenient means to hit your cardio goals. Setting the bike up correctly is crucial to ensure you are comfortable and to reduce the risk of injury. A general rule of thumb is that you want a slight bend in your knee, as in the picture below, when your leg is at the bottom of the pedal stroke.</p> <p>While cycling has significant benefits for <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21496106/">cardiovascular</a> and metabolic health, since it’s non-weight-bearing it doesn’t benefit your <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0026049507003253">bones</a> to the same extent as walking and running. On the flipside, it offers a great cardio workout without stressing your joints.</p> <h2>Rowing machine</h2> <p>If you’re looking to the get the best cardio workout in the least amount of time, the rowing machine might be for you. Because rowing requires you to use all of your major muscle groups including the upper body, your heart and lungs have to work even harder than they do when <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32627051/">running and cycling</a> to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8325720/">deliver oxygen</a> to those working muscles. This means the energy expended while rowing is comparable to running and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3193864/">greater than cycling</a>.</p> <p>But before you rush off to buy a new rower, there are two issues to consider. First, the technical challenge of rowing is arguably greater than that of running or cycling, as the skill of rowing is often less familiar to the average person. While a coach or trainer can help with this, just remember a good rowing technique should be felt primarily in your legs, not your arms and back.</p> <p>Second, the non-weight-bearing nature of rowing means it misses out on the same bone health benefits offered by the treadmill – although there is some evidence it still can increase bone density <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7551766/">to a smaller degree</a>. Nevertheless, like cycling, this drawback of rowing may be negated by offering a more joint-friendly option, providing a great alternative for those with joint pain who still want to keep their heart and lungs healthy.</p> <h2>So, what’s the best option?</h2> <p>It depends on your goals, what your current health status is, and, most importantly, what you enjoy the most. The best exercise is the one that gets done. So, choose whichever piece of equipment you find the most enjoyable, as this will increase the likelihood you’ll stick to it in the long term.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/213352/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lewis-ingram-1427671"><em>Lewis Ingram</em></a><em>, Lecturer in Physiotherapy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hunter-bennett-1053061">Hunter Bennett</a>, Lecturer in Exercise Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/saravana-kumar-181105">Saravana Kumar</a>, Professor in Allied Health and Health Services Research, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/treadmill-exercise-bike-rowing-machine-whats-the-best-option-for-cardio-at-home-213352">original article</a>.</em></p>

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5 bizarre – but true – things regular exercise does to your body

<p><strong>You feel like someone is stabbing a knife into your ribs </strong></p> <p>Experts don’t know exactly what causes those sharp, fleeting pains called side stitches, but many believe they’re due to diaphragm spasms triggered by rapid breathing, says Tom Holland, exercise physiologist and author of <em>Beat the Gym</em>. Eating too close to your workout may play a role. And side stitches occur more frequently in novice exercisers.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to try</em></span>: To stop a stitch, slow your pace and take deep breaths while contracting your abdominal muscles. Stretch your arms overhead or to the side. To prevent a stitch: Eat light pre-exercise meals, and wait at least 30 minutes after eating before you work out. Always warm up for five to ten minutes; gradually increase workout intensity.</p> <p><strong>Your nose is suddenly a dripping tap </strong></p> <p>Exercise, especially in cold, dry air, can trigger a runny, congested nose, a condition known as exercise-induced rhinitis. “Increased nasal breathing during exercise dries out the nose’s mucous membranes, which makes the nose secrete more mucus to protect the nasal airway,” says Dr William Silvers, an asthma, allergy and immunology specialist .</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to try</em></span>: If your nose is really interfering with your workout, ask your doctor to prescribe a nasal spray, and use it at least 30 minutes before you exercise. Pack plenty of tissues in your pockets.</p> <p><strong>You have to go to the bathroom</strong></p> <p>Badly. It’s called runner’s trots, but don’t be fooled by the name: Even walkers can experience loose bowels, especially when logging long distances. During exercise, your body directs blood flow away from your gut to working muscles, which can trigger diarrhoea, Holland says. Dehydration and pre-race anxiety may exacerbate the problem.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to try</em></span>: Don’t eat anything for two hours before exercising. Skip high-fibre and high-fat foods, caffeine and artificial sweeteners, all of which can make things worse. Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after exercise. Begin your workouts after bowel movements, and make sure you have access to a restroom.</p> <p><strong>Your face turns as red as a stop sign </strong></p> <p>Blame your capillaries, small blood vessels near the skin’s surface that dilate during exercise to help you stay cool. People with sensitive skin may flush more and stay red longer.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to try</em></span>: Spritz cold water on your skin frequently or switch to activities in air-conditioned locations. The flush usually disappears about 30 minutes after you stop exercising, but if you have persistent redness, you may have rosacea, a skin disease that causes flushing, redness, bumps and pimples. It can be treated with oral and topical medications.</p> <p><strong>You break out in hives</strong></p> <p>Yes, you really could be allergic to exercise. Urticaria is often triggered by sweating and an elevated body temperature.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to try</em></span>: See a specialist to rule out other conditions. If it is urticaria, your doctor may recommend taking an antihistamine treatment before exercise. Working out in cooler conditions may help.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/5-bizarre-things-exercise-does-to-your-body" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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The 10 step process to get moving and keep moving for a healthier you

<p>Looking at the <a href="https://mind.uci.edu/research-studies/90plus-study/">research</a>, especially around longevity, the answer to a healthier you lies in the way we live. It’s really about the choices we make every day and the little things we do that accumulate to form the larger picture.</p> <p>If we look around, our lifestyles are full and quite sedentary. We run busy schedules, we work long hours and have many commitments that leave us with little to no time to be active. We spend all day at a desk to then go home and relax, sitting some more, this time on the couch. </p> <p>We need to move more. It is really that simple. Life quality goes hand in hand with being (and keeping) active. When I work with my clients to help them uncover their inner athlete, I follow a 10 step process that helps them shift perspective and move from a short term fix to a framework that lasts the test of time. At the heart of this process is the belief that everyone can learn these steps and create their very own formula, embracing what works for them and them alone. Let’s take a look:</p> <p><strong>1) Rediscover</strong></p> <p>Think back to a time when being active was second nature to you, something you would just do. Follow the clues that lit you up to understand where your passions lie. Your past is the teacher that can help you rekindle your love of movement.</p> <p><strong>2) Driving Forces</strong></p> <p>Your beliefs, your values as well as those little things that warm your heart and make you smile carry great power and meaning. They can ignite a spark in you so use them to drive change.</p> <p><strong>3) Athletic Mindset</strong></p> <p>What goes on between your ears is the difference between being active and letting gravity pull you back down to the couch. Look at your mindset, the way you talk to yourself and the questions you ask. The aim is to remove internal hurdles to help you stay on track.</p> <p><strong>4) Your Why</strong></p> <p>Think of who you want to become and why. Your why will give you strong roots to weather the storms and a reason to keep moving.</p> <p><strong>5) Realistic Goals</strong></p> <p>When you work towards a realistic goal you automatically bring order into your life. Structure fosters change and tightens our priorities.</p> <p><strong>6) Energy Boost</strong></p> <p>To bring about change you require energy. There are 5 elements you can tweak (one at a time and gradually) to boost your energy: food, sleep, breath work, timing and movement.</p> <p><strong>7) Maximum performance</strong></p> <p>It takes time to develop the skills that go hand in hand with an active lifestyle. The secret is to make your movement incremental, follow your pace (slow burn it) and be deliberate in what you do.</p> <p><strong>8) Rituals and routines</strong></p> <p>How you greet the morning determines the flavour of every day. Slowly build habits that keep you hungry for more and align with the person you want to become.</p> <p><strong>9) Recognise Progress</strong></p> <p>Recognising your progress helps you shift perspective and understand that every journey has its setbacks. In life’s transitions you are still moving forward and your focus is now the long game.</p> <p><strong>10) Celebrate the Wins</strong></p> <p>Take time to pat yourself on the back, celebrate you and how far you’ve come. Lightness and laughter are key ingredients in building momentum.</p> <p>There will be bumps along the way. Nothing is a straight line. Moving challenges every aspect of your being: the physical, the emotional and the cognitive. But to make the change you have all you need inside of you. Enjoy the ripple effects that moment brings into your life. Be playful, creative and make it your own.</p> <p><strong><em>Dr Brett Lillie, author of Rediscover Your Athlete Within, is a sought-after speaker, coach and rehab professional who helps people rekindle their love for movement and find their mojo so they can live their best life. To find out more about Dr Brett’s programs, go to his website www.brettlillie.com </em></strong></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p style="margin: 0px; font-stretch: normal; font-size: 11px; line-height: normal; font-family: 'Helvetica Neue'; -webkit-text-stroke-width: initial; -webkit-text-stroke-color: #000000; min-height: 12px;"> </p>

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