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Stability balls can be used to increase balance, coordination and proprioceptive demands during numerous exercises. Standard exercises such as crunches or push-ups can gain completely new training stimuli when done on the ball due to the changes in neuromuscular requirements.
Human caffeine consumption is by no means novel, dating back almost 5,000 years - but todays’ on-the-go society certainly thrives on the stimulant. From waking up to making it through the 2 pm work drag to pre-exercise readiness and late-night study alertness, caffeine does indeed provide a number of health and performance benefits. Caffeine can deliver consumers a cognitive and physical edge during the rigors of a long and demanding day. It originates naturally in over 60 species of plants including coffee beans, tea leaves, cocoa beans and kola nuts. When consumed with carbohydrates it can improve concentration, response speed and the performance of complex cognitive tasks - making it a desirable compound for most busy individuals from business leaders to world-class athletes alike.
A2 milk is currently marketed as a heathier choice over “regular milk”. It is purported to provide explicit benefits including easier digestion for those who are lactose intolerant and reduced risk for several disorders. But what is the difference between these products and are the claims actually true? It all comes down to the breed of the cow from which the milk came from, and consequently the type of casein protein(s) found in the product. Casein is the predominant form of protein in milk (constitutes about 80%), and there are several types. One type is beta-casein which exists in at least 13 different forms; the most common include:
The immune system plays a major role in training adaptations, but is poorly understood by most exercise professionals. Part of the reason is medical science has yet to unravel all of the functions, reactions and interactions of this system. For example, various autoimmune disorders and diseases remain untreatable such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease and type I diabetes. The immune system is remarkably complex and regulates homeostasis in a synergistic fashion with other intricate components such as the endocrine system; leaving many unknowns even among the scientific elite. As it relates to health professionals, the immune system is involved in tissue recovery and repair following strenuous exercise as well as protecting against potentially-damaging pathogens such as bacteria or viruses (e.g., the flu). The system is designed to quickly recognize and systematically attack foreign materials in the body; in the case of autoimmune disorders, it mistakenly recognizes healthy bodily organs or tissues as internal invaders. Immunological processes are facilitated via two subsystems with specific functions:
The Olympics often draw attention to some unique story lines; in the case of Brazil there is green water, look-at-me hair styles, and giant spots have made headlines. While the quest for gold by the most recognized faces inclusive of Simone Biles, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt dominate front-page real estate, high profile athletes also draw additional attention around their actions. This year, the bruise marks all over Michael Phelps became a key search on google. The marks were caused by cupping, an ancient Chinese technique that uses suction to promote blood flow to the targeted area, but questions persist about the efficacy of the latest recovery trend.
Purpose: The single-leg stability ball leg curl is an excellent exercise for improving gluteal activation and endurance, hamstring strength balance, lumbo-pelvic coordination as well as trunk stability.
Surprisingly, some consumers still have difficulties properly deciphering the information on food labels when making optimal choices related to their nutritional needs. In some cases, such as in restaurants, limited or no information is provided which makes choosing healthy meal options a true guessing game. A new study published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing showed once again that if consumers have clear and accurate data, they tend to make healthier choices when compared to being left in the dark. Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania added color-coded “traffic-light” and/or numeric calorie-count labels to online food ordering systems and found consumers ordered meals with about 10% less total calories when compared to a menu featuring no labeling.
Function: The single-leg RDL to hip flexion with rotation exercise can be used to improve high hamstring/gluteal activation and flexibility, pelvic stability, multi-planar mobility, kinetic chain connectivity, and lower body proprioception.
Purpose: The DB Bench Swing to Stand is a functional abdominal exercise that also serves to improve force transfer through the full kinetic chain.
According to new research presented at ENDO 2016, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Boston, anabolic androgenic steroid (AAS) abuse is associated with severe increases in blood pressure. “The results provide scientific evidence that anabolic steroids cause systolic blood pressure increase and hypertension that may be associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” states the lead study author Jon Bjarke Rasmussen, MD, doctoral fellow in the Department of Internal Medicine of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark. The researchers found day and night blood pressure values to be considerably higher among the ongoing AAS abusers when compared with both former abusers and non-users. “Anabolic steroids are increasingly used in the broader population, and some studies suggest that approximately 20% of men who do recreational strength training have experience with anabolic steroids,” Rasmussen added.
The FDA recently released a public warning concerning imported dietary supplements and nonprescription drug products. According to Cariny Nunez, M.P.H., a public health advisor in the Office of Minority Health at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), dietary supplements scammers often target advertising to people who prefer to shop at “nontraditional places” such as ethnic or international stores. The aforementioned consumers often are purchase motivated by magazines, infomercials, flea markets or online marketing; especially those who have limited English proficiency and access to health care information. “These scammers know that ethnic groups who may not speak or read English well, or who hold certain cultural beliefs, can be easy targets,” Nunez says. For example, some Native Americans, Latinos, Asians and Africans may have a long tradition of relying on herbal or so-called “natural” remedies for ailments. Many advertisers put the word “natural” somewhere on the package, knowing it inspires trust in certain groups.
Knowledgeable personal trainers are able to modify almost any exercise to provide challenges for clients with differing aptitudes and training needs. There are many ways an exercise can be modified such as changing the position of the load, movement plane(s) involved, stability or coordination requirements, and total muscle groups/body segment involved. Often exercise modifications are applied within the exercise prescription just for the sake of novelty to reduce boredom - but in most instances a trainer will want to provide alterations to mastered movements that match the client’s intended goal(s). In the following we will examine two potential exercise modifications, and how these movement modifications create new challenges and potential improved adaptations.
There are many fad diets that become popularized through health and fitness magazines. The gluten-free diet has gained a lot of attention recently even by those who are not truly gluten intolerant or suffer from celiac disease. This trending nutrient focus has been amped by celebrity testimonials and hyped by news coverage. The gluten-free diet surrounds an effort to limit gluten protein intake found in grains such as wheat, rye, oats, and barely. Some physicians warn that going gluten-free is definitely not for everyone; it is not necessarily healthy nor does it inherently promote weight-loss. In fact, many physicians advise that only people with diagnosed gluten sensitivities adopt this special diet. What is interesting about many who end up following a gluten-free diet is not the gluten affect but rather that they end up cutting out a lot of processed grains, starches and poorer food choices - which may in itself help reduce gastrointestinal issues and inflammation over time.
The popularity and effectiveness of employee fitness and wellness programs has greatly increased in recent years. 70% of US employers now offer some form of employee wellness program, up from 58% in 2008 according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Despite this trend and the benefits wellness programs can provide to productivity and workplace moral, many companies will face new challenges in 2016 related to such programs. In the following we will summarily address some of the prominent trends related to fitness and wellness program development anticipated to take the lead in improving employee health in 2016.
Concentric, eccentric and isometric muscular contractions are often taught and thought about as parts of a whole – in reference to an exercise from start to finish. However, exercises can be modified to include only concentric, eccentric or isometric muscle action based on the client’s goals and needs. Concentric-only actions are often used for improving power and acceleration; isometric actions are frequently used for improving stability or endurance; while eccentric actions can serve a number of specific needs related to performance, muscular health and tissue recovery. An eccentric contraction occurs as a muscle is forcibly elongated to decelerate a load under control. They often occur as a byproduct during standard training programs, as part of dynamic muscular actions, but exercise professionals should recognize the uses and benefits of eccentric-specific training. This way they can exploit it properly when it fits the needs of program design.
Keeping clients engaged, imparting quality improvements and saving time are all tenets of personal training. Using exercise combinations that intelligently apply force couples is an effective way to accomplish all three. Try this example – push-up to pike – to improve central peripheral stability by combining to staples of human movement. The exercise is at an intermediate to advanced level and should be performed in a single fluid, connected motion. Those with less flexibility or strength may use flexed knees and push up from a raised surface such as a bench.
Increased sprinting speed is often at the top of the list of training goals among recreational and competitive athletes. There are a number of training methods available which can be used to increase maximum speed as well as acceleration, including but not limited to; technique drills for increasing stride rate and length, unloaded repeat sprinting, overspeed training, reactive strength drills, complex training and drag training.
It may not be the most pleasant thought to consider but it is well-documented that the average, healthy person maintains about 2-3 pounds of bacteria in their intestinal tract. You read that correctly… the total population of microorganisms in just one section of your body can be weighed in pounds.
It has been estimated that this family of bacteria has nearly 100 trillion members, which is about 10x the quantity of total cells found in the human body. Based on their significant numbers it should come as no surprise that these bacteria, known as gut flora, can influence our health in many ways.
Some of these microorganisms are considered “good” bacteria which help digest nutrients and even produce different vitamins (e.g., Vitamin K); while others are considered “bad or infectious”, and can cause issues when their population begins to dominate the “good” bacteria working to our advantage.
Starting a business is an exciting time and comes with a host of responsibilities. Start-up checklists are extensive and often require significant research to determine the best methods to address each situation. Who’s the competition, what’s the market saturation, where is the best (affordable) location? Entrepreneurs often fret over logos, images and presentation along with a host of other details as they get started, but in many cases they leave one of the most relevant decisions as an afterthought – the business name.
One of the many challenges facing any professional is finding an enjoyable job while getting paid the money they want or perceive to deserve. Many people go to work every day, enjoy what they do, but would like to be paid more often feeling they deserve more money for the time they spend performing daily tasks and responsibilities. But if a person goes to the same job, performs the same or similar tasks, which end up generating the same money for the business or company there exists an economic conundrum; there is no additional increase in revenues to justify an increase in pay. Regardless of how well the tasks or responsibilities are completed, if a position does not increase the money coming in to the company, then an increase in money going out towards the position is not justified. This brings up the point that some positions function as an asset with negative implications or financial liability, whereas other roles can be viewed as positive assets due to their income generating potential.
The recreational fitness enthusiast would do well to regulate macronutrient intake to quantities that support their activity levels. They should consume lower quantities of processed carbohydrates and create meals in a mixture and manner that best serves recovery needs while supporting daily energy demands. Small mixed meals (carbohydrate-protein-fat) throughout the day generally provide nutritional adequacy for this group. For those who engage in high-intensity exercise or compete in athletic events, particularly where the training is continuous in nature, there exists a different challenge as it relates to macronutrient management.
Many people are surprised to hear that resistance training can be safe and effective for youth participants due to pre-dated misconceptions. Children or pre-adolescents (approximately up to age 11 among girls and 13 among boys) and adolescents (approximately ages 12-18 among girls and 14-18 among boys) can all adapt positively from strength training. The term pre-adolescent refers to boys and girls who have not yet developed secondary sex characteristics. The myth that resistance activities cause epiphyseal plate damage among any population has been long removed from modern knowledge. Research has repeatedly shown that appropriate training will not have a negative impact on bone health or growth, nor increase the risk for connective tissue injuries any more than actions of common play such as jumping, sprinting, climbing trees and throwing/kicking balls. Ironically the concerns in some regards have been shifted to the elderly; which is also off base - as both the young and old can benefit from training with resistance exercises for functional strength and power.
Patellar tendinitis (tendinopathy), also known as jumper’s knee, is a common overuse injury of the patellar tendon. It is usually due to repetitive microtrauma of the connective tissue due to high-volume jumping, running and changing directions. It is most common among those who participate in jumping sports such as basketball, volleyball and gymnastics but has been seen among exercise enthusiasts due to poor lower limb biomechanics. Often, the site of disruption is at the inferior pole of the patella. Sufferers commonly experience a gradual onset of anterior knee pain during any jumping or acceleration-deceleration activities performed while training. This pain can be localized to the bottom portion of the patella or diffuse throughout the majority of the kneecap. In more severe cases, sufferers may complain of progressive discomfort during other activities that stretch the tendon such as sitting in a chair or stair climbing. This level of discomfort more often occurs when the tendon slightly thickens or is partially torn.
Memorial Day is often designated as the unofficial first day of summer in the United States. Across America, youth baseball and soccer tournaments are occurring alongside family get-togethers and mini-vacations. While Memorial Day provides for a wonderful long weekend to enjoy outdoor activities, it is important to not forget the origins of the holiday.
Cardiovascular training is essential for reducing the risk of a variety of western diseases, losing weight and generally improving one’s quality of life. The direct benefits of cardiovascular training on the heart include improvements in stroke volume and a lowered resting heart rate. While significant improvements can be made in 3 months of training, a high volume of aerobic conditioning is required for optimized results. According to the literature, aerobic training should be performed most days of the week and total of 14-20 calories per kilogram of body weight burned. Due to the high frequency of training needed for cardiovascular improvements, it is easy for training to become stale, leading towards incomplete adherence or even cessation of the training program. Therefore, it is imperative that trainers find ways to not only make aerobic training efficient, but also enjoyable for the client.
Walk into any fitness facility in the early morning hours and interview exercising individuals about their pre-workout eating habits and you will most likely receive a large variety of responses. It is a common belief that if one works out early in the morning, it is imperative to consume a small meal prior to commencing exercise. The belief stems from the notion that the working muscles will be devoid of energy if one has not eaten since the night before. While there is a benefit of a pre-workout meal as discussed in this article, the prior concept of “muscle energy” is completely false.
Anaerobic endurance training focuses on the physiological improvements in the muscles’ ability to endure force output through both neural and metabolic mechanisms. System efficiency is best demonstrated during prolonged stress upon the anaerobic system. Interestingly, repeatable actions lasting 30-60 seconds are highly dependent on the interaction of the anaerobic and aerobic systems. For individuals looking to maintain force output and lean mass, while attaining better endurance, the focus should be placed on the anaerobic system. A common error among many athletes and fitness enthusiasts is to do cardiovascular exercise in attempts to get in better shape. However, for both anaerobic and aerobic improvements without the consequences of aerobic training, higher intensity exercise should be used. To successfully implement the anaerobic endurance phase, an understanding of work:recovery ratios needs to be established.
If any number of athletes were asked about vitamin and mineral supplementation, they would most likely read off a laundry list of various pills and powders that they consume. In general, most athletes and health conscious exercisers are apprehensive about not reaching adequate vitamin and mineral intake. However, no current research supports consuming vitamins and minerals above RDA (recommended daily allowance) will lead to improved performance.
Circuits are a useful training system for anaerobic exercises as they allow for higher volumes of training in a shorter period of time. An added benefit of this style of training is its ability to help maximize caloric expenditure while performing exercises that promote lean mass maintenance. The work-to-rest ratios commonly used can also improve muscular endurance as well as add to cardiovascular efficiency. Circuits are a popular choice among personal trainers because of the time-tension relationship which helps with the two-three day workout schedules common of the clientele. Additionally it allows for diversity in a manner that addresses multiple goals simultaneously. The system can be employed in numerous ways, but in most cases anywhere from 6-12 exercises are performed in a sequential fashion for a predefined period of time or specific repetition range; with only transitional or short (15 sec) rest periods between actions.
During the flu season, those who exercise vigorously on a regular basis should take extra steps to ensure their immune system remains strong. Many do not realize that an intense training regimen can suppress immune function; especially when combined with inadequate recovery and nutritional support.
The benefits of exercise can be greatly improved by consuming appropriate nutrients with optimal timing before and/or after the event. While macronutrients such as protein and carbohydrates are commonly associated with optimized post-workout recovery, recommendations related to specific food choices vary across the board and are subject to opinion.