Source: June, 2007 Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Monday, May 28, 2007
The American Heart Association recently updated its “Guidelines for Preventing Cardiovascular Disease in Women.” Published in the February 20th edition of the journal Circulation, 2007 updates include the following:
- 60-90 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (i.e. brisk walking) on most, and preferably all, days of the week to lose or sustain weight loss.
- Lifestyle changes to help manage blood pressure include increased physical activity, alcohol moderation, sodium restriction, and an emphasis on eating fruits, veggies, and low-fat dairy products.
- Reduce saturated fat intake to less than 7% of total calories.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is not recommended to prevent heart disease in women.
- Folic acid is no longer recommended to prevent cardiovascular disease as it was in 2004.
- The upper dosage of aspirin has increased from 162 mg/day to 325 mg/day.
- In addition to advising women to quit smoking, the 2007 guidelines recommend counseling, nicotine replacement, or other forms of cessation therapy.
For more information, check out the American Heart Association’s web site (http://www.americanheart.org/).
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Water with fresh lemon slice (lemon can make a world of difference- try it!)
Red wine (1-2 glasses)
Salads are the healthiest options here; their fiber content will help prevent you from overeating when your meal comes.
The salad should have as much color as possible with various veggies incorporated
Top choices for dressings include oil and vinegar and balsamic vinaigrette
Seek the leanest sources of protein available (fish, chicken turkey); vegetarian sources of protein include beans, nuts, and soy products. Quinoa (pronounced “KEEN-WAH”) is a 2nd complete protein, beyond soy products, that is plant-based.
If red meat is what you desire, look for the term “loin” as it suggests a leaner cut.
If you must order it, consider fresh fruit if available. If it’s not, dessert typically isn’t worth getting at all. Worst case scenario I’d look for sugar free Jell-o or sorbet. Ideally, I’d recommend saving your money, digest your sensibly-portioned meal and as a small snack to satisfy that sweet tooth craving, top a sliced banana with a scoop of raspberry sorbet and drizzle with a small amount of crushed nuts as your protein source. It’s low in calories and doesn’t come with a side of guilt, unlike cheesecake and ice cream!
Going out to a restaurant can stir some emotions (anxiety, nervousness, etc…) that can cause you to make some poor nutritional choices. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to have a “plan of attack” going in. Specifically, recall what choices “nutritionally outweigh” others (see above). Allow me to specify with the following:
Online Menu Review- Admittedly this is my favorite one and is the one I do 99% of the time…most establishments have their menus uploaded online. Take the time in the comfort of your home to scan the menu and settle on a choice or two you know are nutritionally sound. That way, you don’t feel rushed when you are about to order. Believe me, it’ll be comforting knowing you’ve made a healthy decision.
Look for words like “Grilled, baked, and broiled.”
Avoid words like “Fried and creamed.”
Online Resources (valuable info. can be found at the following sites):
*Educate yourself beforehand, go in with a plan of attack, and enjoy your meal*
Sunday, May 20, 2007
When your life seems almost too hard to handle, remember the story about the jar- and the beers.
A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, rocks about 2" in diameter.
He then asked the students if the jar was full? They agreed that it was.
So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks.
He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
He then asked once more if the jar was full. This time the students were sure and they responded with a unanimous "YES!"
The professor then produced two cans of beer from under the table and proceeded to pour their entire contents into the jar -- effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
"Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things - your family, your partner, your health, your children, things that, if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car".
The sand is everything else. The small stuff. "If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued "there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you".
Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out dancing. Do something for the community. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal.
"Take care of the rocks first - the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented. The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of beers."
Saturday, May 19, 2007
So what exactly is personal training anyway?
Serious athletes have long used personal trainers to increase their performance in competition. People of all ages, body types, and level of fitness can benefit from the services of a personal fitness trainer. The body is a complex machine that requires exercise and fuel to obtain optimum results. A personal fitness trainer helps you achieve these results by addressing your individual needs and requirements to immediately formulate a plan of action personally suited just for you. Working with a personal fitness trainer, anyone can achieve their fitness goals - goals as modest as touching your toes again or as ambitious as preparing to run a marathon. Whether you want to lose weight, regain flexibility, develop speed or simply feel good again, personal training is an activity that will continue to reap benefits for years to come.
What are some additional benefits of personal training?
An individualized fitness program specifically designed for you includes the following benefits:
1. Maximize your workout time
2. Get professional assistance to increase performance in the areas of strength, flexibility, endurance, posture, balance, coordination, agility, and cardiovascular health and fitness
3. Reach or maintain a healthy body weight
4. Learn correct form and technique for cardiovascular and strength training
5. Prepare for a sport or event
6. Relieve boredom from the same workout routine. Learn new ways to improve your health by breaking fitness plateaus
7. Body shaping and toning
8. Increased energy and stamina
9. Reduction of stress and anxiety
10. Improve bone mineral density (BMD) in an effort to ward off osteoporosis
11. Reduce risk of injury
Friday, May 18, 2007
Jump ropes: Rope jumping can help to shape and tone muscles in the upper and lower body. It can also tone and shape legs and calves. While intermediate in difficulty, rope jumping provides an excellent warm-up as opposed to a treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical/cross-trainer machine for it increases one’s heart rate and core temperature.
Sizing information for jump ropes:
5’5” and under
Medicine Balls: Extremely versatile and fun to train with, medicine balls are excellent for throwing and improving dynamic flexibility and power. Portable and easy to use, medicine balls can improve performance in sports such as basketball and volleyball. While increasing strength, medicine balls also facilitate activities of daily living.
Sizing information for medicine balls:
Ball sizes (weight in lbs.)
Beginner athletes, fitness classes, one-handed exercises
Intermediate athletes, advanced fitness classes, passing exercises
Advanced athletes, two-handed throws
Stability/Swiss/Physio Balls: Having many names, stability ball training has its roots in rehabilitation. Physical therapists and orthopedic specialists world-wide have used this concept of training on an unstable surface since the early 1900s. Balls were used with patients who had neurological or orthopedic disorders. Today, medical doctors, osteopathic specialists, chiropractors, physical therapists and many other fitness professionals use the ball not only to treat and rehab physical injuries, but now mainstream practitioners and the public alike are getting on the ball and using it to prevent more serious physical problems before they occur. Stability balls are recognized for improving “core” strength and ability. A term habitually used in fitness, one’s “core” refers to his/her musculature primarily involving the abdominal muscles, low back, and obliques (muscles running along the sides of one’s abdomen).
Sizing information for Stability Balls:
6’7” and up
All it all, it remains clear that jump ropes, medicine balls, and stability balls remain great exercise tools. There are myriad reasons to use each piece of fitness equipment. Always keep in mind that variety is an integral component to any fitness regimen. Failure to provide creativity to one’s workout regimen is often the reason one quits working out. Change things up in your routine. For example, instead of warming up on the treadmill before every strength training workout, consider jumping rope for a few minutes, gradually building up to 5-10 minutes per session. Rather than doing crunches on the mats or the floor, make use of a stability ball, as this method of crunches recruits more stabilizer muscles around the mid-section. Don’t forget this will also decrease risk of a low-back injury and improve balance while additionally assisting in improved posture.
Please do not hesitate to schedule a consultation simply to ensure your exercise is technique is flawless. It may also prove a great way to add variety to your workout routine. Remember the benefits a trainer can add: personalizing a program just for you, guidance for proper form to prevent injury, confidence of knowing your progression is monitored and advanced properly, support for questions, a scheduled appointment for motivation, and most importantly- personal attention for your needs.
Good luck and keep working hard!
To your health,
Paul Connolly, NSCA-CPT
Thursday, May 17, 2007
There are innumerable options when it comes to complementary and alternative medicines (CAM). Modalities of these include the following: chiropractic care, acupuncture, herbal remedies, homeopathy, and naturopathy. One of the aforementioned methods of treatment which ring positive for many are herbal remedies. Many claim to provide positive results without harmful side effects. Due to the virtually unregulated state of the supplement industry, many consumers are unaware that the majority of products distributed are sold without any backing/approval whatsoever from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Acupuncture, a prevalent form of Chinese medicine practiced among Americans, involves the insertion of long, thin needles to affect the energy flow within the body. Although some of the mechanisms of acupuncture as it applies to pain relief have been studied, little is known of the positive and/or negative effects of this procedure on the physical performance parameters of healthy people, particularly highly trained athletes. Persons practicing acupuncture are state-licensed, so it would be wise to check the credentials should one pursue acupuncture treatment.
Having been practiced for over one hundred years, chiropractic medicine is now utilized by over twenty million Americans. Chiropractic medicine is based on the idea that a life-giving energy flows through the spine via the nervous system. If a portion of one’s spine/neck is subluxated, the chiropractor manipulates the disc(s) in order to put the body back into “working order.” The goal is to retain proper energy flow in an effort to maintain wellness, ward off disease, etc… Chiropractors are seen for treatment of many problems including general back pain, multiple sclerosis, and migraine headaches. The data reviewed in a recent research article present a rather strong case for the pathophysiology of headaches of cervical origin and shows that such a cervical component may be present in tension-type and migraine headaches as well as the currently accepted category of CH.
It seems that while complementary and alternative medicine forms of medicine provide many positive effects, there are also many risks. As stated earlier, the lack of government regulation and the absence of FDA approval on the majority of substances make it a game of chance when it comes to supplements. From a consumer standpoint, one needs to carefully check reputable sources and engage the assistance of a health professional (i.e. an R.D.) when investigating supplements and alternative medicine.
Donatelle, Rebecca J. Health the Basics, 5th edition, Pearson Education, Inc., (San Francisco), 2003.
Pelham, Thomas, Holt, Laurence, and Stalker, Robert. Acupuncture in Human Performance. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 15(2): 266-271.
Vernon, Howard. Spinal manipulation in the management of tension-type migraine and cervicogenic headaches: the state of the evidence. Topics in Clinical Chiropractic. March 2002 v9 i1 p14(7).
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Three major components of a sound exercise program are the following: cardiovascular conditioning (aerobic activity such as walking, cycling and jogging), flexibility (stretching all major muscle groups), and resistance training. Often referred to as strength training, resistance training is a type of activity in which the muscles are trained by applying resistance to a movement. Beneficial in both every day life and sport, resistance training has a direct impact on muscular strength and endurance. The following essay will discuss the basics of resistance training for healthy adults, in accordance with the current guidelines set forth by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). For the purposes of this article, “healthy” adults will refer to those who have received complete medical clearance from their physician to exercise.
Mode of Exercise
Mode simply refers to the type of resistance applied to the working muscle(s). Common selections include free weights (dumbbells, barbells), rubber bands/tubing (sometimes used in physical therapy settings), or selectorized machines (weight stack machines where a pin is inserted to select a specific amount of weight to be used with brand names such as Nautilus, Cybex, and Life Fitness). Whether using one mode of exercise or a combination of free weights, machines, and bands, each exercise chosen should be performed through a pain-free, full range of motion (ROM) unless otherwise indicated.
Sets/Reps/Number of Exercises
While the scientific literature has indicated what set and repetition ranges are ideal for both short and long-term success, it is the opinion of this author that fitness enthusiasts often excessively focus on the volume (the product of the number of sets, repetitions, and resistance selected when multiplied together) of their training. I have found great success with my clients in the very early stages of their respective training routines by simply getting them comfortable performing specific exercises with a moderate weight to a point of momentary muscular fatigue. Subsequently, we then work towards selecting a particular repetition range that is best suited for their physical condition and correlates with their respective training goals.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggests performing a minimum of 8-10 exercises that train all major muscle groups of the hips, thighs, back, chest, shoulders, arms, and abdomen. One set of 8-12 repetitions performed at a moderate repetition duration (~3 seconds up and ~ 3 seconds down) remains an appropriate recommendation, although other repetition ranges and velocities may be desired based on one’s fitness goals (i.e. a collegiate athlete training for a particular sporting event could have different repetition ranges than a senior who desires an improvement in his/her bone density).
Exercises for each muscle group should be performed on 2-3 nonconsecutive days per week. Furthermore, a different exercise should be performed for the muscle group each session. For example, when engaging the muscles of the back, an initial program of two days/week of resistance training can include a pull-up variation on day one and horizontal rowing (standing if possible) on day two. Exercise sessions lasting longer than one hour correlate with higher dropout rates and are therefore, not recommended- at least initially.
Ø Allow enough time between exercises to perform the next exercise with proper form
Ø Precede each strength training workout with a warm-up that engages the larger muscle groups (i.e. 5-10 minutes of cycling, walking, rowing, or elliptical machine). Non-machine based calisthenics (i.e. jumping jacks or jumping rope) will also work, so long as the participant is adequately conditioned.
Ø Perform every phase of an exercise in a controlled manner
Ø Maintain normal breathing throughout each repetition; holding one’s breath while performing resistance training can generate increases in blood pressure and should therefore be avoided
Ø While machines and free weights are the most common forms of resistance used when strength training, do not hesitate to use household objects if 10 minutes at home is all you have to spare. Objects such as cans of soup or vegetables work well, as do suitcases, books, and laundry detergent containers.
Ø If possible, exercise with an experienced partner who maintains perfect exercise technique and is both positive and motivating. Better yet, seek out the services of a personal trainer who is certified by a nationally accredited organization such as the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) or the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
In a perfect world, all information regarding resistance/strength training could be squeezed into one article. In future columns, I will review specific progressions in resistance training. Areas of focus will include, but not be limited to the following: making exercises more challenging, how to effectively set up a structured strength training program over specific time periods, movement and muscle symmetry, and comparing and contrasting the various modes of resistance training (i.e. machines versus free weights). As always, please consult with your physician prior to beginning an exercise program.
To your health,
Ø American College of Sports Medicine, (2002). American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand on Progression Models in Resistance Training for Healthy Adults. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise; 34(2): 364-380
Ø ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription 7th ed. 2006. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Starting in late January, I began a Strength & Conditioning Internship @ Boston University. My day to day duties included teaching exercises (i.e. Olympic lifts, plyometric movements, and agility drills), timing conditioning drills (i.e. shuttle runs and slideboard drills), and assisting the strength coaches with various duties (i.e. helping injured athletes modify their workout regimens). Overall, it was a great experience. One aspect I enjoyed most was having the luxury of working out in a Division 1 strength & conditioning center. I learned a lot of new exercises that I've applied to my daily training to help decrease risk of injury and improve my strength, power, and endurance. The Internship concluded with a 3-day series of athletic events we called the "Intern Olympics." Two other interns and I competed in a series of ~10 events including front squats, pull-ups, hang cleans, and a 7-mile Air Dyne bike test. I was happy to set new PR's in a few of the events. Check out a few pictures of the events...
(Me warming up for the Hang Clean test)
(Matt performing bench presses as Associate Strength Coach Vic Brown spots him through the lift)
(Grad Assistant Lauren "Chico" Ciccone & Matt taking a break from the festivities. Chico's jealous she didn't get to participate in the Intern Olympics!)
(Chico warming up with me and giving me some last minutes words of advice shortly before the 7-mile Air Dyne bike test began).
(Matt & Chris posing before the start of the Sandbag Relay event).
(Associate Strength Coach Vic Brown watching me start the sandbag relay event. Notice the evil grin on Vic's face).
(From left: Head Strength & Conditioning Coach Glenn Harris, Graduate Assistant Lauren Ciccone, Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach Darcy Kellam, and Associate Strength & Conditioning Coach Victor Brown, III)
All in all, the events were a big success. We all worked hard and had fun. Here's a pic of the great staff I got to work with this semester:
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Last weekend I had the privilege of attending a nutrition seminar with ~100 athletic trainers, strength coaches, personal trainers, etc... featuring well-known nutritionist Dr. John Berardi (see above pic). JB (as his colleagues call him) is the owner of Precision Nutrition (http://www.precisionnutrition.com/) and an adjunct professor at the University of Texas. Dr. Berardi’s (http://www.johnberardi.com/) research has focused on the interaction between nutrition, sports supplementation, and exercise performance. This research has led to the publication of 8 scientific abstracts, 12 scientific papers and textbook chapters, and numerous presentations at scientific meetings.
JB's seminar covered a lot of practical information that I can apply to my daily nutrition habits, as well as to the dietary patterns of my training clients. While I learned a great deal of new information, it was also nice that Dr. Berardi reviewed a lot of what I knew going into the seminar. A few noteworthy pieces of information covered at the seminar were the following:
- With regards to supplements, ask yourself the following 3 questions when considering taking a specific one:
- What are the chances my diet is deficient in the essential nutrients I want to supplement with?
- What physiological system do I hope to target?
- Is there objective research demonstrating the benefits and safety of the supplement?
In a nutshell, the supplement industry thrives on people not asking questions or citing research. I see too many people (a lot of young athletes in particular) being brainwashed by their local GNC salesperson into thinking they need to take supplements X and Y when in fact a few sound changes to their daily nutrition habits, an increase in the intensity and quality of their workouts, and improved rest and recovery are the real keys toward positive changes in injury prevention and improved performance.
- More and more research continues to pile up towards the benefits of fish oil supplementation.
Personally, I supplement with fish oil only on days when I don't eat fish. Simple as that.
- Canada has much stricter guidelines when it comes to supplements. Every product has to be thoroughly tested before being put on the shelves for sale, unlike in the U.S.
I was so happy to hear this and wish this was true in the U.S.
- The "Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)" is lower in obese individuals.
TEF is the increment in energy expenditure above resting metabolic rate due to the cost of processing food for storage and use. It is one of the components of metabolism along with the resting metabolic rate, and the exercise component.
- Nutrition somatotyping- Alter macronutrient intake based on one's body type (ecto-, endo-, or mesomorph).
Ectomorphs like myself typically have hyperactive Sympathetic Nervous Systems (SNS) and thyroid hormone output. We typically do best on higher calorie and carbohydrate intakes (25%P; 55%C; 20%F). For a nice breakdown on body types, check out the following site: http://www.time-to-run.com/physiology/bodytype.htm.
- JB showed several studies showing the relationship between the intensity of one's workout and their overrall feelings of well-being. Specifically, the more intense workouts are, people feel much happier in terms of their mood.
I think we've all felt this as far as the feeling of "accomplishment" goes. Thanks to our bodies' natural opiates (endorphins) being released during exercise, exercise enthusiasts often report exepriencing a "runner's high." While there is no concise single definition for the phenomenon because it is immeasurable, the concept is soley based on reports of personal experiences.
- Goal setting- When setting goals, Dr. Berardi suggested listing each in 2 columns- "outcome" goals and "behavior" goals. The outcome goals are what you want to accomplish, whereas the behavior goals are what you need to do to accomplish a given goal.
A goal most clients have when they begin training with me is weight loss. I'll break down their goal and explain to them that weight loss is their "outcome" goal and things like increasing overall activity levels and modifying their macronutrient intake would be examples of their ""behavior" goals.
As you can tell, there was a lot of solid information presented at the seminar. I merely highlighted a few key points, so I'd highly recommend seeing JB in person if given the opportunity. Proper nutrition is often the weak link in a person's health & fitness routine, so check out JB's site (http://www.precisionnutrition.com/) for more information.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Seth Mnookin, author of "Feeding the Monster," a book about recent Red Sox history, authored an article from the May 7th edition of The Boston Globe magazine titled "When to Hang It Up." Seth tells the story of various athletes (most notably former Harvard football player and ex-WWE pro wrestler Chris Nowinksi, as well as former New England Patriot Ted Johnson dealing with their respective repetitive head trauma injuries. The article centers a lot around the "...compelling cliche: the modern day athlete as a proud and fearless warrior, always willing to sacrifice his body for a win." The cliche "resonates partly because it's true and partly because we want it to be true."
While I encourage you to read the article, a few of my favorite sections I took from the article were the following:
-As sports fans, we're ..."conditioned to think that the winners are the ones who leave it all on the field, consequences be damned." Look at players like Kevin McHale playing on what turned out to be a broken leg in the '87 finals, and of course my favorite Patriot of them all Tedy Bruschi suiting up for the Pats less than 9 months after suffering a stroke. Admittedly, it gave me chills seeing him step out on the field when he played his first game back, but not entirely because he was playing for my team again. A part of me thought, "what are the long-term ramifications of this guy coming back SO SOON?" Sure he was cleared by doctors, but as you'll read from the article (and if you understand how "sports medicine" works), medical personnel for pro teams are often forced to give the OK for athletes to play after injuries. Scary/sad, but true. There's often too much money to lose for owners, agents, players, etc... for guys to sit out.
-The article also talks about former NFL safety Andre Waters and how a doctor who studied tissue samples of his brain said it resembled "that of an 85-year-old with Alzheimer's." Waters, like many other athletes, continued to play after multiple concussions, and CLEARLY should not have. Waters committed suicide, shooting himself in the head in late 2006.
-..."Only recently has the sports world begun to collect data on major professional athletes after their playing days are over."
-Players are typically the ones who give the final thumbs up as to whether or not they are "ready to play" after sustaining an injury. Seth writes about how they should be the LAST ones to make the decision due to the adrenaline (which can act as a natural painkiller in the body) altering the quality of their decision-making. Of course they have contracts at stake (particularly in the NFL as contracts are not guaranteed like in other sports)and this is often why they force themselves back in to action when they are clearly not ready.
-Arguably my favorite quote from the article: "The benefits of being associated with professional teams are so numerous that over the past dozen years hospitals have been known to actually pay teams for the right to provide medical care." Ironically, Beth Israel won a bidding war 4 years ago to be know as the "official hospital" of the Red Sox, yet Dr. Thomas Gill and his "medical team" who treat the Sox are based at Mass. General. In other words, this confirms my belief that medicine is sadly/officially a business.
So you're probably thinking why read the article after Paul listed almost everything in it. I still recommend checking it out. Very interesting stuff from a great writer. Also, check out Mnookin's "Feeding the Monster" if you haven't already. The link for the Globe Magazine article is as follows:
Friday, May 04, 2007
According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Mokdad, Ali H., Marks, James S. and Stroup Donna F. et. al. Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000. JAMA. 2004;291:1238-1245), obesity/physical inactivity remains the 2nd leading cause of preventable death in this country, narrowly trailing smoking. "Preventable death" is a term that has always bugged me as a health professional. It's maddening that millions of Americans are aware that certain types of activity/behaviors (smoking, not exercising, excess alcohol consumption, etc...) ruin both the quality and quantity of their lives, yet they continue to engage in such horrific activities. I'm admittedly ranting, but I can't help it. Even those who admit to exercising, often aren't doing enough, or even the right kind to benefit themselves. Gotta love the lazy folks who take the escalator at the gym...wow.