Tag Archives: weight

5 Reasons Stair Climbing is Good For You – Part One

I wanted to rerun this item on stair-climbing as a superb alternative to trying to exercise in the sub-zero weather which we have been experiencing in much of the country.

Regular readers know that I have been an avid bicycle rider for years. I logged over 7000 miles in the year just ended. And, I have not stopped riding. I have, however, begun a new exercise, for me – climbing stairs.

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Although this person is walking down the stairs, I don’t recommend it. You can develop knee problems among others.

How come? Well, the only drawback to cycling I know of is that it is not weight-bearing. So, while the aerobic activity benefits my cardiovascular system greatly, I get no benefits for my skeletal system. I need both and I just can’t get into weight workouts.

An additional benefit of  stair climbing over bike riding is that you can do it indoors so the weather conditions do not present a problem. Having just suffered through historic cold weather with much of the country, this is particularly relevant now. While current temps here in Chicago range in the mid 30’s, there is still a lot of snow, ice and slush around that makes for dangerous biking conditions.

So, what about climbing stairs? It burns more calories than running and doesn’t beat up your legs as much as running does. RunSociety says, “When you stair climb for exercise, you burn twice the fat in half the time than if you run and three times more than walking. An intense stair-climbing exercise session will produce more aerobic benefits in a shorter amount of time than running or walking. One hour of stair climbing will burn approximately 1000 calories.”

Nonetheless, you can climb at your own pace and still get a good workout.

A New York Times article by Dr. Harvey Simon on the heath sciences technology faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founding editor of the Harvard Men’s Health Watch, wrote, “What’s so special about climbing stairs? Researchers in Canada answered the question by monitoring 17 healthy male volunteers with an average age of 64 while they walked on the level, lifted weights or climbed stairs. Stair climbing was the most demanding. It was twice as taxing as brisk walking on the level and 50 percent harder than walking up a steep incline or lifting weights. And peak exertion was attained much faster climbing stairs than walking, which is why nearly everyone huffs and puffs going up stairs, at least until their “second wind” kicks in after a few flights.”
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Finding the solution to obesity

In the 20 years since Barbara Corkey, PhD, was named Editor in Chief of the journal Obesity, obesity among adults has risen significantly. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics show that one third of U.S. adults 20 years of age and older have obesity. Obesity continues to be a common, serious and costly disease.

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In an editorial in Obesity, Corkey discusses the many different theories explaining why obesity continues to increase despite best efforts at controlling weight gain in this environment, including increased availability and marketing of high-calorie and high-glycemic-index foods and drinks, larger food portions, leisure time physical activities being replaced with sedentary activities such as watching television and use of electronic devices, inadequate sleep, and the use of medications that increase weight.

According to Corkey, all of these purported explanations assume an environmental cause that is detrimental to the organism involved, (humans). “However, if we use the principle of symbiosis and Darwin’s theory of evolution, perhaps we can understand obesity prevalence as an interim stage in the evolution of man reacting to his environment in order to gain long-term survival and ultimate longevity,” says corresponding author Corkey, professor emeritus of medicine and biochemistry at Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine.

Humans have developed a method to feed the billions of people on the planet, by developing processed foods with preservatives and other chemicals that can make food last longer and can be made cheaply to increase calorie density in small packages. Corkey points out that those who develop obesity store body fat in response to excess calories. “Therefore the cause of obesity has as much to do as the human reaction to overfeeding as it does the production of foods that are being overfed,” she states.

Corkey notes that key developments in the obesity/diabetes field include bariatric surgery as well as multiple agents (drugs) with different mechanisms of action to treat obesity and prevent weight regain. “Novel drug combinations are beginning to close the gap with bariatric surgery and appear to be very powerful new tools to treat obesity as a disease.”

Corkey believes recognition of obesity as a disease and earlier diagnosis of diabetes and other consequences of obesity will support early and more effective treatment and prevention. “Importantly, disease recognition will help to support insurance coverage of effective obesity treatments,” she adds.

Lastly, Corkey examines culinary medicine as an emerging evidence-based field that brings together nutrition and culinary knowledge and skills to assist patients in maintaining health and preventing and treating food-related disease by choosing high-quality, healthy food in conjunction with appropriate medical care. “Culinary medicine has the advantage of being an intervention that can be implemented at the earliest time point in the development of obesity with no negative side effects,” says Corkey.

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Eating late increases hunger, decreases calories burned, and changes fat tissue

Eating late increases hunger, decreases calories burned, and changes fat tissue

Obesity afflicts approximately 42 percent of the U.S. adult population and contributes to the onset of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cancer, and other conditions. While popular healthy diet mantras advise against midnight snacking, few studies have comprehensively investigated the simultaneous effects of late eating on the three main players in body weight regulation and thus obesity risk: regulation of calorie intake, the number of calories you burn, and molecular changes in fat tissue. A new study by investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a founding member of the Mass General Brigham healthcare system, found that when we eat significantly impacts our energy expenditure, appetite, and molecular pathways in adipose tissue. Their results are published in Cell Metabolism.

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“We wanted to test the mechanisms that may explain why late eating increases obesity risk,” explained senior author Frank A. J. L. Scheer, PhD, Director of the Medical Chronobiology Program in the Brigham’s Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders. “Previous research by us and others had shown that late eating is associated with increased obesity risk, increased body fat, and impaired weight loss success. We wanted to understand why.”

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What are Two Good Yoga Stretches for Cyclists?

I am rerunning this post from 2015 because I know that a lot of bike riders are just now beginning to ride again and I consider these two stretches to be superb for cyclists. I hope you agree.

I ride my bicycle virtually every day here in Chicago. Last year I averaged just over 17 miles per day for all 365 days for a total of 6350 miles for the year.

As you can imagine in a four season city like Chicago, I am not always able to ride at all, so I end up with some longer rides to compensate.

As a senior citizen riding the bike every day can sometimes stiffen up my leg muscles. I have found two wonderful stretches that do a super job of rejuvenating my legs on long rides. I usually do them after about ten miles so the muscles are warmed up. Every time I do them, I can always feel the energy flow back into my legs when I finish.

I have pictures of each stretch, but I want to explain how I do them as that makes the difference. I did yoga for years and when I stretch, I always do diaphragmatic breathing which sends lots of oxygen-rich cells down to the aching muscles.
For the first bent-knee, extended leg stretch, please do it as follows. The picture in this case isn’t perfect. Try to create a straight line from the bottom of your stretched out leg to the top of your head. Don’t bend your body and lay your head down as the cyclist in the photo is doing. With your bent leg, make sure that the knee is perpendicular to the ground. That way you have all straight lines and right angles. Once you are in the stretch breathe in through the nose for a count to five, hold it, then release it through your mouth for a count of five. Do this four or five times and then release the position gently. Assume the same position only with the legs reversed. If the right leg was stretched, now it will be the bent one. Repeat the breathing. Continue reading

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The Sweet Truth About Chocolate

In view of Valentine’s Day tomorrow and tons of chocolate being consumed in honor of it, I thought it might be useful to get a taste of chocolate’s impact on our health.

Medical News Today says, “Throughout the years, chocolate has been on the end of a lot of bad press because of its fat content, and its consumption has been associated with acne, obesity, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and diabetes.

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“However, ‘the recent discovery of biologically active phenolic compounds in cocoa has changed this perception and stimulated research on its effects in aging, oxidative stress, blood pressure regulation, and atherosclerosis. Today, chocolate is lauded for its tremendous antioxidant potential.’
The potential benefits of eating chocolate may include:
▪ lowering cholesterol levels
▪ preventing cognitive decline
▪ reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems. Continue reading

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Yoda on Losing Weight

I am resending this on the blog as my Christmas present to you. My girlfriend gave me a Yoda hoodie for Christmas with the quote – “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”

Those were Yoda’s words to Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back when Luke was stuck, unsuccessful and becoming frustrated with his failure. Luke precipitated that fabulous quote when he said, “Okay, I’ll give it a try.”

I always liked Yoda’s words. There seemed to be a deep meaning to them. How can you do something without trying? I never quite got what it was, but I always sensed there was a profound meaning in there some place. I don’t know how many years ago I heard that quote. It was in a movie theater when that particular installment of the Star Wars Trilogy was showing. Surely more than 10 years have gone by, maybe 20. Anyway, I finally got it.


I was riding my bicycle yesterday afternoon and just kind of playing with the idea of trying. What does it mean to try? That happens a lot when I am riding. I have told people that riding is my meditation. It just happens to burn calories. I don’t ride the bike for that, though. I do it because I love riding. Everything else is just gravy.

That’s how I finally got Yoda’s message.
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Cold Weather Cycling Tips

Regular readers know that I ride year ’round here in Chicago. Through November, we barely cracked 40 degrees F which didn’t call for much extra prep beyond gloves and ear covering. Come December, however, with the advent of the 30s and below a whole new dimension of cycling wear opens up. Whether you ride a bike or not, I think you will find some useful info here.

From the Toronto Star

A recent Wall Street Journal had a cleverly written item on Your Outdoor Sports Survival Guide, by Jason Gay. He aptly describes “the maniacal joy of Survival Season,” and observes “Nobody looks suave playing sports in the freezing cold. If you are doing it correctly, you look a little unhinged and suspicious. Are you going to play golf…or rob the Bank of Alaska?”
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Managing children’s weight, blood pressure & cholesterol protects brain function mid-life

Highlights:

  • Having high blood pressure, high cholesterol and/or obesity from childhood through middle age were linked to poorer brain function by middle age.
  • These cardiovascular risk factors were linked with low memory, learning, visual processing, attention span, and reaction and movement time.
  • Strategies to prevent heart disease and stroke should begin in childhood to promote better brain health by middle age.

Managing weight, blood pressure and cholesterol in children may help protect brain function in later life, according to new research published today in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation. This is the first study to highlight that cardiovascular risk factors accumulated from childhood through mid-life may influence poor cognitive performance at midlife.

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Previous research has indicated that nearly 1 in 5 people older than 60 have at least mild loss of brain function. Cognitive deficits are known to be linked with cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes, smoking, physical inactivity and poor diet, as well as depression and low education level.

Many diseases that cause neurological deficits, such as Alzheimer’s, have a long preclinical phase before noticeable symptoms begin, so finding links between childhood obesity and other cardiovascular risk factors is important for cognitive health. The researchers noted that there are currently no cures for major causes of dementia, so it is important to learn how early in life cardiovascular risk factors may affect the brain.

“We can use these results to turn the focus of brain health from old age and midlife to people in younger age groups,” said the study’s first author Juuso O. Hakala, M.D., a Ph.D. student at the Research Centre of Applied and Prevention Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Turku, in Turku, Finland. ”Our results show active monitoring and prevention of heart disease and stroke risk factors, beginning from early childhood, can also matter greatly when it comes to brain health. Children who have adverse cardiovascular risk factors might benefit from early intervention and lifestyle modifications.”

The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study is a national, longitudinal study on cardiovascular risk from childhood to adulthood in Finland. Researchers followed the participants’ cardiovascular risk factor profiles for 31 years from childhood to adulthood. Baseline clinical examinations were conducted in 1980 on approximately 3,600 randomly selected boys and girls, ranging in ages from 3 to 18, all of whom were white. More than 2,000 of the participants, ranging in ages from 34 to 49, underwent a computerized cognitive function test in 2011. The test measured four different cognitive domains: episodic memory and associative learning; short-term working memory; reaction and movement time; and visual processing and sustained attention.

Researchers found:

  • Systolic blood pressure, total blood cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, as well as body mass index, from childhood to midlife are associated with brain function in middle age.
  • Consistently high systolic blood pressure or high blood total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol were linked to worse memory and learning by midlife when compared with lower measures.
  • Obesity from childhood to adulthood was associated with lower visual information processing speed and maintaining attention.
  • Having all three cardiovascular risk factors was linked to poorer memory and associative learning, worse visual processing, decreased attention span, and slower reaction and movement time.

These results are from observational findings, so more studies are needed to learn whether there are specific ages in childhood and/or adolescence when cardiovascular risk factors are particularly important to brain health in adulthood. Study limitations include that a definite cause-and-effect link between cardiovascular risk factors and cognitive performance cannot be determined in this type of population-based study; cognition was measured at a single point in time; and because all study participants are white, the results may not be generalizable to people from other racial or ethnic groups.

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Boosting body heat production: A new approach for treating obesity

A receptor that helps conserve energy when food is scarce may be the key to a safer approach to treating diet-induced obesity, research led by the Garvan Institute of Medical Research has revealed.

In a study using experimental models and fat tissue biopsies from obese individuals, the team revealed that blocking a specific receptor of the molecule neuropeptide Y (NPY), which helps our body regulate its heat production, could increase fat metabolism and prevent weight gain.

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“The Y1 receptor acts as a ‘brake’ for heat generation in the body. In our study, we found that blocking this receptor in fat tissues transformed the ‘energy-storing’ fat into ‘energy-burning’ fat, which switched on heat production and reduced weight gain,” says Dr Yan-Chuan Shi, Leader of the Neuroendocrinology Group at Garvan and co-senior author of the paper published in Nature Communications.

“Most of the current medications used to treat obesity target the brain to suppress appetite and can have severe side effects that limit their use. Our study reveals an alternative approach that targets the fat tissues directly, which may potentially be a safer way to prevent and treat obesity.”

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Walnuts May Lower Cholesterol

A review and analysis published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that eating walnuts could improve blood lipid levels (cholesterol and triglycerides) without causing weight gain or increasing blood pressure.

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How about some good luck foods for Friday the 13th?

Feeling blue on Friday the 13th? Perhaps you are triscadecaphobic, which is to say, fearful of Friday the 13th.

The publication Environmental Nutrition offers the following 5 foods that are super nutritious and might bring you good luck at least in terms of your general health.

Amazing avocados, is their first offering. “Ounce for ounce, they contain more blood-pressure lowering potassium than bananas. Avocados are rich in good-for-you monounsaturated fats, and cholesterole-lowering beta-sitosterol and cancer-protective glutathione, along with Vitamin E, folate, vitamin B6 and fiber.”

Brain-boosting blueberries come in second. “These little blue marvels are the antioxidant leaders, plump and nearly 4 grams of fiber per cup and a good dose of vitamin C. They also have cancer-protective ellagic acid, and may boost your brain health and vision.”

Anti-cancer Brazil nuts come in third. “This hearty tree nut is a ‘trigger food’ that may cause cancer cells to self-destruct. It’s a super source of selenium, a promising anti-cancer trace mineral that also promotes DNA repair and boosts immunity. Just two medium nuts contain enough selenium to perhaps reduce the incidence of prostate, colon and lung cancers.”

Good old Broccoli is number four. “Here’s an easy way to get two cancer-blockers that modify natural estrogens into less damaging forms and increase the activity of enzymes that fight carcinogens. Aim for three servings a week of broccoli or its cruciferous cousins.”

Number five is Butternut Squash. “This tasty fruit (yes, fruit) is an exceptional source of beta-carotene, the antiooxidant tyour body converts to vitamin A. But it’s also an overlooked source of bone-building calcium.”

So, look on the bright side and focus on the great nutritional benefits you can derive from these five super foods and forget about the fact that today is Friday the 13th. Just don’t walk under any ladders.

Tony

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Intermittent fasting yields broad range of health benefits – Study

As a guy who likes to eat and snack, I had a weight problem for most of my life, so the idea of fasting – prolonged and intermittently – isn’t so appealing. Nonetheless, this study from Texas State University shows positive effects.

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Intermittent fasting may provide significant health benefits, including improved cardiometabolic health, improved blood chemistry and reduced risk for diabetes, new research conducted in part at Texas State University indicates. Continue reading

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Use of diet pills, laxatives for weight control linked with later eating disorder diagnosis

Among young women without an eating disorder diagnosis, those who use diet pills and laxatives for weight control had higher odds of receiving a subsequent first eating disorder diagnosis within one to three years than those who did not report using these products, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Boston Children’s Hospital.

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“We’ve known that diet pills and laxatives when used for weight control can be very harmful substances. We wanted to find out if these products could be a gateway behavior that could lead to an eating order diagnosis,” said senior author S. Bryn Austin, professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard Chan School and director of STRIPED (Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders). “Our findings parallel what we’ve known to be true with tobacco and alcohol: starting harmful substances can set young people on a path to worsening problems, including serious substance use disorder.” Continue reading

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Some tips for biking (or any exercise) in cold weather …

“The hawk is back.” That’s what we Chicagoans say when temperatures turn cold here. I woke up to 25F degrees the other morning with a big wind. But if you want to ride your bike, you deal with it. By the way, when temps fall to sub zero, the expression here is, “The hawk is back … and he brought his whole damn family.”

So, winter seems to have come early to Chicago.

Whether you ride a bike or not, I think you will find some useful info here.

From the Toronto Star

The Wall Street Journal a while back had a cleverly written item on Your Outdoor Sports Survival Guide, by Jason Gay. He aptly describes “the maniacal joy of Survival Season,” and observes “Nobody looks suave playing sports in the freezing cold. If you are doing it correctly, you look a little unhinged and suspicious. Are you going to play golf…or rob the Bank of Alaska?”
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5 Weight loss tips from Tufts

Try these tips to avoid some common weight loss myths, according to Tufts Health & Nurtrition Letter.

plate of rice and cooked meat

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-Avoid refined starch and sugar, not all carbs. Cut back on or eliminate white bread, white rice, refined breakfast cereals and crackers, potato and corn chips, fries, bakery desserts, sweets, and soda.-Fill up with minimally processed, high fiber, phytochemical-rich foods. Seek out fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and less processed whole grains (steel-cut oats, cracked wheat, barley, millet). These healthy choices help stave off hunger.

-Enjoy healthy fats. Nuts, seeds, avocados, and plant oils (olive, avocado, soybean, canola, etc.), as well as fish and unsweetened yogurt, are all great choices for weight and your overall health. Moderate consumption of cheese, eggs, and poultry is also better than choosing starchy and sugary foods.

-Maintain or build muscle. Keep active and eat adequate protein to preserve or even increase muscle mass. This will help to achieve healthy, long-term weight loss and maintenance.

-Combine diet and exercise. Physical activity is important for weight maintenance, but on its own isn’t likely to have as much impact as when you also change your diet.

-Time MEALS right. The ideal meal frequency is the one that fits your lifestyle and makes you feel and perform your best.

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Why you should avoid marathon running …

I have stated previously in these pages that I while I respect and admire the exercise of running, I have even considered taking it up to get more weight-bearing exercise, I think that on-balance marathons damage the body and should be avoided. Since October is the beginning of marathon season, I wanted to put this out.

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Dr. Mercola
says, “Several recent studies have indicated that conventional cardio, especially endurance exercises such as marathon running can pose significant risks to your heart. It can result in acute volume overload, inflammation, thickening and stiffening of the heart muscle and arteries, arterial calcification, arrhythmias, and potentially sudden cardiac arrest and stroke—the very things you’re trying to avoid by exercising. 
”

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