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Flexibility is technically defined as the ability of a joint to move through a full range of motion (ROM) around its axis. However, a lack of flexibility at a given joint can negatively impact all the surrounding tissues. Mechanics are based on moving parts and stabilizing segments, and when dysfunction occurs it affects the kinetic chain. Flexibility plays a major role in posture, joint function, muscle recovery, reducing the risk for injury, and optimal performance during physical activity. Static, dynamic, ballistic, active-assisted and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretches as well as various myofascial release techniques can be used to enhance ROM. Fitness professionals unfamiliar with the science behind flexibility will not understand how each technique functions as a potential tool for improvement, and may find themselves making poor decisions based on a client’s needs.
Numerous public health initiatives have been implemented throughout the US in recent years aimed at potentially reducing the prevalence of obesity. Most have focused on either promoting increased physical activity levels or educating the general population on how to make better nutritional choices. A well-known example implemented at the state level was the recent attempt to ban the selling of oversized sugary beverages by restaurants and businesses in New York City - aptly recognized as the “soda-ban”. According to new updates, New Yorkers can now sip their super-sized sodas without concern if they choose. Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to limit the sale of large sugary drinks was recently rejected by the state's highest court, which ruled the local health board overstepped its authority in approving the regulation.
It may be argued that almost any positive behavior can be taken to an extreme that actually ends up impacting physical and psychological health in a negative manner. Exercise is one of those behaviors, as regular engagement is beneficial and can contribute to health, disease prevention, and mental well-being; but it can also become an addiction. “Exercise addiction is a process addiction in which a person engages in compulsive, mood-altering behaviors with the intention of avoiding painful feelings,” said Kim Dennis, MD, CEO and medical director of Timberland Knolls Residential Treatment Center. “Those addicted to exercise chase the ‘high,’ and this behavior ultimately becomes unmanageable and destructive.”
In a culture that seeks instant gratification, personal trainers must often cater to clients who desire to lose weight and lose it now. Clients requesting assistance in rapid weight loss must be educated on how the body functions as well as its adaptation responses. Clients must also be made aware of the processes behind physiological changes and the increasing potential for negative physical and psychological side-effects once the safe threshold of 1-2 lbs lost per week is surpassed. Remember, losing just one pound in a week requires a negative caloric balance of at least 500 kcals per day. Let’s consider the request of losing 10 lbs in a month – what is the client really asking to accomplish? In theory, he or she can only attain this goal if a 35,000 kcal deficit is expedited over the course of that month. This equates to ~1,166 kcals per day; even if split evenly between exercise and nutritional modification, daily demands would stand at limiting food consumption by ~580 kcals while also burning ~580 kcals via structured exercise. One less meal per day could be consumed while performing additional voluntary work equal to about a 6-mile run.
Since Wikipedia’s launch in 2001, it has become the most popular general reference site on the Internet. It is a widely used resource for health care information among not only the general public but also physicians and medical students; 47-70% of whom admit to using it as a reference. Wikipedia’s fundamental design as a “collaborative database” allows users the ability to add, delete and edit information. This characteristic has raised concern in the medical community regarding the reliability and accuracy of the information on the website. A recent study published in the in Journal of the American Osteopathic Association has substantiated these concerns, finding numerous factual errors in 9 out of 10 Wikipedia articles when compared to recognized peer-review journals.
Consider this: your best friend tells you that she is going to audition for American Idol and performs her try-out song for you… and it’ s terrible. She can’t carry a tune. What do you do? Do you risk hurting her feelings and tell her the truth; that she is a terrible singer and has no chance of winning? Or, do you play it safe and tell her she sounded great and wish her luck? Unfortunately, most people opt for the latter.
Safe driving makes the road better for everyone; buying homes, having children and going to school are activities that encourage economic growth. These behaviors provide relatively clear benefits, from both monetary and ethical standpoints, to society as whole. In return, safe drivers receive discounts and cash bonuses from their auto insurance companies and Americans are able to deduct expenses related to the above activities from their annual taxes. Essentially, when people participate in activities or behaviors that save money, they are being financially rewarded. These rewards provide motivation and appear to strongly encourage the continuance of such behaviors. This begs the question then, why is this same principle not applied more heavily to preventative health measures?
In February, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a 43% drop in the obesity rate among 2- to 5-year old children over the past decade, suggesting that young Americans are making strides in the fight against obesity. According to this report, about 8% of this population was obese in 2011-2012, down from 14% in 2003-2004. Headlines in The New York Times touting this new information read, “Obesity Rate for Young Children Plummets 43% in a Decade”. Cynthia Ogden, a researcher for the CDC and lead author for the report, cautioned that while this research was “exciting”, these young children make up a very small fraction of the American population and that the figures for the broader society had remained flat or had even increased; perhaps suggesting that this headline may be sending an inaccurate message about obesity in America. Nonetheless, many theories arose to explain this decline in childhood obesity.
The supplement industry has always been a buyer-beware market due to a lack of manufacturer oversight and regulation before products reach the marketplace. The weight-loss supplement, OxyElite Pro, manufactured by USPLabs, illustrates a recent example of this risk. The product claims to be a thermogenic fat-burner to aid in weight loss, but it seems to have the potential to negatively impact organ cells outside of adipose tissue. It has been directly linked to 97 cases of hepatitis; nearly half of which required hospitalization, three created the need for liver transplantations and one resulted in death. These findings were presented in a paper authored by Dr. Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a general internist at Cambridge Health Alliance in the New England Journal of Medicine (April 2014). Hepatitis is a serious medical condition defined by inflammation of the liver caused by a range of viruses; or less commonly, bacteria, funguses or parasites. Non-pathogenic causes include tainted drug/supplement intake, excessive alcohol consumption, fatty liver disease as well as autoimmune or metabolic disorders.
Clients who regularly compete in events from 5Ks to marathons and beyond will agree that steps must be taken to reduce the risk for gastrointestinal (GI) tract problems during both races and training sessions. It is well-known that long-duration endurance training can directly damage the GI tract and cause debilitating symptoms, especially when combined with inappropriate nutritional intake. Research indicates the 30-50% of endurance athletes experience some sort of GI issues related to their training.