A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland reveals exactly what it is about resistance training that allows us to bulk up, whilst endurance training does not. As the study explains, the PGC-1a gene is activated within the body during both forms of exercise, but it is the adaptation processes stimulated as a result of this activation that causes a difference. Endurance exercise activates genes that stimulate the growth of new blood vessels and increased endurance, whilst resistance exercise also activates a gene promoting blood vessel growth, along with a gene that encourages muscle growth. These adaptation processes are known as PGC-1a isoforms, and become essential when shaping your body as a result of exercise. It’s the science behind sculpting, and we’re fascinated.
As if we didn’t need more reason to get exercising, now it seems our brain can benefit too.
Researchers at The Jackson Laboratory in Maine, USA, studied the brains of middle-aged mice (12 months old) and the impacts had by regular exercise on the deterioration of their brains as they aged. Once the mice reached old age (18 months old) the researchers found that running about two miles per night had helped to improve their motivation to engage in typical spontaneous behaviours that typically decline as a result of aging. They also found that running regularly had helped to mitigate structural changes within the brain that make the blood-brain barrier leaky, resulting in vascular dysfunction and the inflammation of brain tissues. Exercise could therefore hold the potential for the prevention of conditions such as Alzheimers, caused in part by such inflammation. Who knew brain training required running shoes?
Carnivores and meat lovers beware, that tasty breakfast bap could be a little more risky for your health than you think.
Processed meats have now been put in the same category as tobacco and asbestos, as the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer finds them to be a cancer-causer. Their findings – concluded by a team of 22 international scientists scrutinising 800 previous studies – suggest that eating as little as 50 grams of processed meat a day can increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. The study also suggests that red meat is ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ for colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancers. Bad news for anyone relying on their bacon sarnie in the morning, or steak dinner after a long day at work. Nonetheless, the WHO has admitted that they don’t believe these findings will do much to change our eating habits. Meatless Mondays seemed hard enough.
We used to think sleep was only needed to stay wide eyed behind the wheel and sociable at work.
Now it seems that a good night’s rest is much more important, especially for the health of our kidneys. Researchers led by Ciaran Joseph McMullan from Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that shorter sleep duration was a significant factor in the rapid decline of kidney function, after analysing information taken from 4,238 participants with kidney function measurements on at least two occasions over an 11-year period. As many of the body’s processes follow a natural daily rhythm based on regular sleep-wake cycles, when this cycle is disrupted, kidney function may be compromised. This suggests that those who sleep for five hours per night are 65% more likely to experience a rapid decline in kidney function compared with those of us sleeping seven to eight hours per night. So if you ever need an excuse to have nap, just think of your kidneys.
Are your workouts starting to get a little hard to handle?
If you need a helping hand, look no further than the supplement aisle. A recent study conducted by Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh found that adults who took 50 micrograms of vitamin D per day for two weeks were able to increase their distance biked by 30%. Participants also professed that the workout felt easier, and that their blood pressure had dropped significantly. According to researchers, this is due to vitamin D being able to block the action of enzyme 11-HSD1 – the precursor to the “stress hormone” cortisol. Cortisol is known to raise blood pressure by restricting arteries, narrowing blood vessels and stimulating the kidneys to retain water. By reducing cortisol, vitamin D therefore helps to improve exercise performance. Sounds like the closest thing to a cheat sheet we’ll find.
It looks like there’s a new fitness trend on the horizon, and this time it’s starting in China.
Not content with the results had from power walking, Chinese residents have decided to start ‘power crawling’ instead. Walking like an animal on four legs is now a morning ritual practiced by some 30 to 40 people daily through a park within Zhejiang, Henan. The exercise is said to originate from traditional Chinese culture, specifically the Han Dynasty that spoke of the “Five-Animal Exercise” that allows people to improve their health by copying animal behaviours. This has been backed by several Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners, including Deputy Director of the Chinese Traditional Medicine Preventative Treatment Center, Lu Peiwan, who suggests that the exercise uses muscles that are often underutilised, and can help to improve ligaments and bones throughout the body. We’re interested to see whether this becomes the new trend to sweep the UK.
Good news for those not so keen on ‘go hard or go home’ workouts, it seems less may be more when it comes to keeping slim.
Researchers at the London School of Economics found that men and women who regularly walked briskly for more than 30 minutes had smaller waists and lower BMIs than those who did regular sports or exercise, after collecting health survey results from 1999-2012, and analysing data collected on body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference measurements. However, the study also found that results differed for men, as some cases suggested men to be slimmer when doing more vigorous exercise routines. Overall, it seems the majority of us are more likely to keep our weight down if we go for a high impact walk, than if we went to the gym. The outdoors always did seem a little more appealing to us anyway.
Are you someone that needs a little group motivation during your workouts? If so, there’s a new fitness craze on the market that might just take your fancy.
Establishments such as CityRow and RowHouse have started to introduce a new way to workout with others by way of indoor rowing classes. Using 85% of your muscles with every stroke, rowing is a low-impact yet highly effective way to burn off those calories. At places such as CityRow, interval-based rowing routines are performed alongside other routines, such as weight training, restorative stretching and yoga. Indoor rowing fanatics suggest it to be a much better workout than spinning; instead of just working the lower body, rowing works nearly every muscle with every stroke, from the legs propelling the body backwards, the arms and back working to pull the handlebar toward the chest, with the core engaged to keep the body stable. So it’s time to shake the dust off those lonely rowing machines sitting in the corner of the gym, we think.
If you’re a little squashed for workout space at home, or just tired of having to workout in front of the family, why not try using the bathroom?
More of us are choosing this as the room to do our routine in, especially when it comes to yoga. One woman, Niki Wibrow, is leading the bath time yoga movement, having released two videos online showing how to complete yoga routines in the bath. Advocates for these workouts suggest that the warmth of the water helps the body to limber up and release tension. The workout itself involves classic yoga poses such as lions pose, cat pose and Ustrasana, whilst also adding in basic standing stretches and breathing focus. The second video released focuses more towards relaxation, using the warmth of the water to allow for deeper stretching. If anything, it sounds like a great time saver; who wouldn’t want to clean up as they work out?