Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Movement Improves Brain Function at Any Age

By Cynthia Horner

We have a brain because we move. A sea squirt attaches itself to a rock so it no longer needs to move, then it does an extraordinary thing; it eats its brain, all other body functions continue without its brain. If we have a brain because we move, could movement enhance and improve the function of our brain? You betch ya.

Many animals survived by becoming faster, bigger or meaner but humans have survived by becoming smarter. When the food supply diminished, humans were forced to walk to find food. Before we learned to ride animals and long before the invention of automobiles people walked on average 12 miles a day. The human brain developed, not by sitting around but through movement. Humans grew up moving or they did not grow up at all.

Today with our high tech scanning devises we now understand why. What all this movement did for us was to increase out heart rate and changed our brains to function at its best for the entire time we were alive. Movement that increases heart rate, triggers the brain to make BDNF (brain derived neurotropic factor), which acts like a brain cell fertilizer and helps brain cells stay healthy. A healthy brain cell has a good cell membrane surrounding it. A good cell membrane allows charged particles in and out at just the right time, in turn causing the brain cell to fire on cue, not too early, not to late but right on cue. When a brain cell fires it wires or connects to other brain cells. The more firing and wiring in the brain the healthier and better functioning it is. We all want to think well and remember well even after we have been on earth six, seven or eight decades. Decreased brain function or neurodegeneration does not have to happen as we age.

Just how exercise changes brain function was what they found out at Central High School in Naperville Illinois, where they decided to teach kids how to monitor and maintain their health and fitness and as a direct result improved each participant’s academic performance. Each student was required to run a mile, three times a week, keeping at their target heart rate. What they saw in the first year was those who participated were more alert, their senses heightened, their focus and mood improved and they were less fidgety. The most impressive result was an increase in working memory and processing speed and an increase in their GPA. They then extended the fitness program to the middle school students. Naperville’s eighth graders were among 230,000 students from around the world to take the T.I.M.S.S. (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) a test that evaluates knowledge in math and science. In the past China, Japan and Singapore have outdone Americans in these subjects, but in 1999 one year after the new fitness program began; Naperville’s students finished sixth in math and first in science.

Can anyone, at any age improve brain function through movement? The answer is an astounding yes. Any kind of movement is good; dancing, walking, running, martial arts, swimming, rowing, biking or anyn other movement you may enjoy. How soon can you expect results? Some improvement happens immediately. A truly sharp brain can be described as improving cognitive flexibility and creativity; this is coming up with new ideas and thinking out of the box, not simply remembering past facts. To accomplish this several areas of the brain need to change; to best do this it is recommended to increase heart rate into your target zone for 20 to 30 minutes, 2 to 3 times a week, for 12 weeks. Mixing coordination exercises with aerobic activity will bring about improvement in many more areas of the brain including those involved with speech and balance which are complementary to thinking, creativity, memory and problem solving.  Decreased brain function does not have to happen simply because you are getting older. Movement is life, so make it a part of your life; all your life.

References:   Spark, the revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain; by John J. Ratey, MD
                        Brain Rules; by John Medina

Cynthia Horner is a chiropractor in Greenville SC with advanced study in the field of movement and brain function. She uses various forms of movement to improve brain and spinal function in her practice. She has been involved in a fitness program with Jamie Blair at Fitness with a View for the past 11 years. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

10 Amazing Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training

Improved Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin sensitivity, or how well your cells respond to insulin, has a big impact on how well you tolerate carbohydrates, and whether those carbohydrates will affect your ability to mobilize fatty acids. Reduced insulin sensitivity means you need more and more insulin to do the same job. And since insulin is a storage hormone, when it’s high, it’s more difficult to lose fat.
Following just 2 weeks of HIIT, in which there was a total of only 15 minutes of exercise, insulin sensitivity was improved by 23% 

Produces the Afterburn Effect
Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), is the increased oxygen your body uses after an intense workout to erase its oxygen debt. It uses this oxygen to return the body to homeostasis.
That means it uses additional calories to perform tasks such as muscle repair and replenishment of fuel stores. EPOC is better known as the afterburn effect, which is the process of burning extra calories long after your workout is over.
When comparing HIIT to low-intensity exercise, your exercise intensity positively affects both the magnitude and duration of EPOC. In other words, the greater your intensity, the greater the afterburn effect.

Specifically Targets Stomach Fat
Yes, we all know that you can’t target fat loss per se. However, that’s not what we’re talking about here. Doing sit-ups isn’t going to target belly fat.
However, there are things you can do that will change the way you store and mobilize fat. The way you store fat is determined by many factors – genetics and hormones being two big ones. And the type of exercise you do affects your hormone profile.
Doing HIIT can create a metabolic environment that stimulates a higher proportional release of abdominal fat. You still lose fat all over, but a higher proportion comes off in the midsection.
High-intensity interval exercise three times per week for 15 weeks was compared to the same frequency of steady-state exercise, and only HIIT produced significant reductions in total body fat, subcutaneous leg and trunk fat, and insulin resistance.

Improved Vo2 Max
VO2 max is your body’s max capacity to transport and use oxygen during exercise. It is a great measure of physical fitness. Generally speaking, the higher your VO2 max, the better your fitness level. A higher VO2 max also means that you can exercise at greater intensities for longer periods of time.
The good news is that doing HIIT will result in significant improvements in VO2 max. This improvement can be achieved whether you are a beginner exerciser or an advanced athlete.

Creation of New Mitochondria
Mitochondria are little cell powerhouses that produce energy (ATP). In simple terms, they take the fat and carbohydrates you either eat or store and convert them to usable energy. The more mitochondria you have, the more efficiently your body utilizes the calories you consume.
The number of mitochondria you have can be increased by creating a demand for more energy production. In fact, HIIT is a potent stimulus for the creation of new mitochondria.

Boost Favorable Hormones
High-intensity interval training does more than just burn calories. It primes your body for fat loss by creating a favorable metabolic environment.
Internally, your body undergoes many hormonal changes in response to intense training. Specifically, HIIT boosts growth hormone and testosterone levels after just 10 minutes, and the amount secreted is correlated to your exercise intensity.
Growth hormone and testosterone are a potent combo for both fat loss and muscle growth. Engaging in HIIT will provide you with this amazing benefit.

Burns More Total Fat Compared to Endurance Training
Did you know you can burn more fat doing HIIT than your typical steady-state endurance training, even when burning a fraction of the calories? It’s true.
A study comparing a 15 week HIIT program to a 20 week endurance-training (ET) program showed that despite its lower energy cost, the HIIT program induced a more pronounced reduction in subcutaneous fat compared with the ET program.
When the scientists adjusted the numbers so the calorie burn was equal, the decrease in the sum of six subcutaneous skinfolds induced by the HIIT program was ninefold greater than by the ET program.

Builds Muscle While Losing Fat
Many people say you can’t build muscle and burn fat at the same time. While it can be difficult to put on a large amount of muscle mass while in a calorie deficit, you can certainly accomplish both goals concurrently.
In fact, a 12 week HIIT program has been shown to increase lean body mass, while at the same time reducing total body fat, abdominal and trunk fat, and visceral fat.
The additional muscle will pay dividends by increasing your resting metabolic rate so that you’re burning extra calories at all times of the day. Build muscle and lose fat, all while exercising for less time. Seems too good to be true, but it is.

Increased Capacity for Fat Oxidation
During exercise our bodies undergo all kinds of chemical reactions and stress adaptations. Our bodies literally change from the inside out. During HIIT specifically, we make changes to our physiology that enable us to burn more fat.
Just seven sessions of HIIT over 2 weeks induced marked increases in whole body and skeletal muscle capacity for fatty acid oxidation during exercise in moderately active women. HIIT causes changes to your body that increases its ability to burn fat.

The Intangibles 
We've listed out the science behind the benefits of HIIT, but that’s really just scratching the surface. High-intensity interval training also:
Adds variety – there really is an endless combination of fitness activities that can be incorporated into a HIIT workout.
Creates time efficiencies – you no longer have to slave away on the treadmill for an hour or more. The same benefits or more can be accomplished in under 20 minutes.
No equipment necessary – no gym membership? No problem. All you need is your body to get a great workout.

Monday, May 8, 2017

How To Care For Your Workout Clothes

First things first
Try to avoid leaving sweaty clothes in your gym bag, crumpled up in your laundry basket or on the bathroom floor. Leaving sweaty items stashed somewhere can become a breeding ground for bacteria (and even mold) if they are left too long. Bacteria build-up is one of the main causes of smelly workout gear!

To soak or not to soak
Soaking in a solution of vinegar and water can help kill bacteria and sweaty odors on your clothing. It can also help break down any build-up from detergents, deodorant and skin cells (ewww!). Be careful when you pre-soak clothes though — especially if soaking clothes with bright colors and prints. It’s probably best not to leave your clothes to soak for longer than 30 minutes to an hour, to avoid causing any damage. Once they’ve had a soak, pop them in the wash as normal.

Setting your washing machine
Check the labels for specific washing information before you start! Lots of workout fabrics are best washed in cold water, as it helps to maintain their shape. Hot water might seem like the right idea to kill off bacteria, but it may be damaging to the fibers.
Detergents and softeners
There are specialty laundry products for sportswear, but you can use any standard laundry powder or detergent. Use the recommended amount of laundry powder for your load (or even a little less) so it rinses out properly.

Don’t use fabric softener on your activewear. At all. Softeners can actually lock in odors in the fabric. Most softeners work by coating fibers, which might stop those fancy moisture wicking fabrics from doing their job properly.

After the wash
Fresh air and sunny weather is a best friend to your activewear. Sunshine makes it hard for bacteria to grow, so your clothes shouldn’t take on any strange odors. Hanging everything inside out helps against fading. —  You'd hate having to throw away your favorite shorts because they are all faded!

Top tips for washing activewear:
•  Turn your workout clothes inside out before stuffing them into the machine (the gross stuff can collect on the inside!).
•  Wash really sweaty clothes as soon as you can to stop the smell getting trapped in the fibers.
•  Hand wash sports bras or use a lingerie bag for washing them in the machine (you can buy the bags at most bra shops). 
•  Don’t wash your activewear with clothing that has zips, velcro or any other item that might catch on the fabric and damage it. 
•  Don’t use the clothes dryer (even if you’re in a hurry) and skip the iron as well. It’s not good for workout clothes, and can even burn them! (Trust me, I know this first hand - hello holes in tops!)

Okay, so it might take a little effort to keep your activewear smelling fresh. But no one wants to worry about strange smells when trying to focus on your workout! Take care of your workout clothes and you should get more wear out of them as well. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Everything You Need To Know About Sodium

No. Salt is a compound called Sodium Chloride while Sodium is a chemical element (Na) found in the Earth’s crust.

Sodium is an essential nutrient for human beings because it regulates blood volume, blood pressure, osmotic equilibrium and pH levels in our bodies. Sodium is also needed for your muscles and nerves to work properly. In fact, each of us needs a minimum of 500 milligrams of sodium a day. This is where salt, or Sodium Chloride, enters the picture. It’s the principal source of sodium in the human diet and one of our most ancient and ubiquitous food seasonings – in fact, for thousands of years, salting has been an important method of food preservation.

Sodium occurs naturally in most foods such as celery, beets, milk and even our drinking water (although the amount varies depending on the source). These days, unfortunately, most of our sodium intake comes from processed foods: Monosodium glutamate, sodium nitrite, sodium saccharin, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and sodium benzoate can be found in items such as Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, onion salt, garlic salt, potato chips and bouillon cubes. Processed meats like ham, sausage and bacon and canned soups and vegetables are all examples of foods that contain a lot of sodium. And of course, a drive-thru at McDonalds, or any other fast food restaurant, will leave you filled with food that’s extremely high in sodium.

Every person is unique and recommended sodium intakes will vary based on age, metabolism, amount of exercise/sweat, medications, etc. However, Health Canada sets the adequate intake of sodium for women at 1500 mg daily, and a tolerable upper intake level of 2300 mg/day. How much exactly is that? Well, 2300 mg is the amount of sodium that’s found in one teaspoon of salt. And recent research shows we’re consuming a lot more than that. The average North American man consumes about 3500 mg of sodium every day and women consume 2500 mg. There large amounts promote hypertension, an ailment that causes 7.6 million premature deaths worldwide. If you’re chronically eating a diet that’s high in salt you are at risk of high blood pressure, which in turn increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. There are also some studies that suggest too much salt consumption can increase the risk of osteoporosis and kidney problems.

When you perspire, your body loses sodium, potassium and other essential minerals and nutrients. If you’re hiking, jogging, kayaking or doing any athletic activity over long distances, and you don’t rehydrate properly, you could be contributing to a decreased blood/sodium concentration. And the result might be ringing in your ears or mild heart palpitations. (In extreme instances you could succumb to hyponatremia, a condition similar to dehydration in which nausea, muscle cramps, disorientation, slurred speech, and confusion may occur.) Does that mean you should drink Gatorade every time you exercise? Absolutely not! Gatorade is full of sugar and it’s not an effective electrolyte replenishment tool.

There are five easy ways to lower your daily salt consumption.
1. Avoid processed foods as one small meal could have twice the recommended daily intake of sodium. Stick to whole foods, vegetables and fruit.
2. Cook with less salt
3. Drink lots of water to flush excess salt
4. Sauna or steam to sweat out excess salts
5. If you’re experiencing a craving for salty foods, try these seasoning alternatives:
Garlic powder (not garlic salt)
Roasted garlic
Granulated sea kelp or sesame seeds
Onion powder (not onion salt)
Lime or lemon juice
Veggie Salt

Nutritional Yeast