What a difference exercise makes!

Holy smokes! Athlete muscles – old man muscles – old athlete muscles. “The incredible unaging triathlete.”

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Nutrition news for endurance sports

Long-distance swimmers, cyclists, and runners need special nutrition to keep from running out of fuel or becoming dehydrated. The traditional “carbo-loading” involves a big supper of pasta the night before, to enable the body to build quick-energy glycogen stores. During the race, athletes ingest low-fibre, high-carbohydrate foods and slightly salted and sugared water such as Gatorade. This research suggests how athletes can meet their needs without loading up the night before: “Nutrition for endurance sports” by A. E. Jeukendrup.

Endurance sports are increasing in popularity and athletes at all levels are looking for ways to optimize their performance by training and nutrition. For endurance exercise lasting 30 min or more, the most likely contributors to fatigue are dehydration and carbohydrate depletion, whereas gastrointestinal problems, hyperthermia, and hyponatraemia can reduce endurance exercise performance and are potentially health threatening, especially in longer events (>4 h). Although high muscle glycogen concentrations at the start may be beneficial for endurance exercise, this does not necessarily have to be achieved by the traditional supercompensation protocol. An individualized nutritional strategy can be developed that aims to deliver carbohydrate to the working muscle at a rate that is dependent on the absolute exercise intensity as well as the duration of the event. Endurance athletes should attempt to minimize dehydration and limit body mass losses through sweating to 2-3% of body mass. Gastrointestinal problems occur frequently, especially in long-distance races. Problems seem to be highly individual and perhaps genetically determined but may also be related to the intake of highly concentrated carbohydrate solutions, hyperosmotic drinks, as well as the intake of fibre, fat, and protein. Hyponatraemia has occasionally been reported, especially among slower competitors with very high intakes of water or other low sodium drinks. Here I provide a comprehensive overview of recent research findings and suggest several new guidelines for the endurance athlete on the basis of this. These guidelines are more detailed and allow a more individualized approach.

PMID: 21916794 [PubMed – in process]

How to get schoolchildren moving

One of the simplest and best ways to encourage physical activity by pupils is to give a little structure for their imagination by painting some lines and images on the playground; easiest physical activity intervention ever.

Exercising ADHD away?

Bicycling has an article about a young man who controls attention deficit and hyperactivity through exercise.

Adam was a rambunctious kid, but his behavior didn’t strike them as unusual. Adam’s ADHD wasn’t extreme or debilitating, the assistant principal told the Leibovitzes. But that wasn’t necessarily a good thing. The boy’s condition was acute enough to cause learning problems but mild enough that he’d likely slip through the system’s safety net for special-needs students….

His parents worried that he wouldn’t keep up. “As he grew older, every year he’d be expected to concentrate a little harder and sit a little longer in his seat,” his mother says. “When it came time to do his homework, he’d be rolling around under the table or running into the next room. He’d shout out the answers to us. He always knew the answers. He just couldn’t sit still to write them down.”…

For the past 30 years, athletes, coaches, sports psychologists and medical researchers have probed and debated one of the most complex mysteries of the human body: How does exercise affect the brain? Common sense and our own experience tell us it does something. Every parent knows the best way to settle down a hopped-up kid is to take him out to the playground and run the bug juice out of him. A generation ago, teachers and coaches frequently used this approach as well.

This seemed a homespun, intuitive remedy, but in fact there was a scientific basis for it. In 1978, two years before the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) recognized ADHD as a condition, W. Mark Shipman, MD, conducted a simple test. Shipman was medical director of the San Diego Center for Children, an institute for psychologically troubled children. Back then, kids at the center were among the few in the United States taking psychostimulants such as Ritalin to calm what was then called hyperactivity. Kids can be naturally impulsive, inattentive and overactive, but those with ADHD are more so, all the time. (ADHD is an umbrella term that also includes ADD, attention deficit disorder.)

Shipman sent a group of hyperactive kids running for as much as 45 minutes a day, four days a week. An amazing thing happened: The running kids started acting as if they were getting extra doses of medication. After a while, the doctors who monitored the behavior of each child began lowering drug doses for most of the runners. Very few nonrunning participants had their doses reduced. The doctors who were administering the doses didn’t know which students were running; the changes in behavior were that clear.

Shipman’s study might have led to a boom in physical fitness programs for ADHD-identified kids. It didn’t. Instead, just the opposite occurred: Doctors began writing more prescriptions.

Read more.

Tony Lyons’ marathon swim

marathon-swim_tony-lyons-rmar25
I’m not sure if Tony set a record, but it was certainly a personal best. On Friday he swam a marathon distance, 42.2 km, in just over 17 hours, in a pool in New Westminster, BC. In doing so, he raised at least $7,600 for the KCLN Orphans’ Fund.

This was not a record. Someone pool-swam 43 km in 1998.

Training effect

For just over a year now, I’ve been taking swimming lessons and practising under the direction of a coach.
I’m still enjoying the training effect, which hasn’t yet levelled off: the more I practice, the better I get. I’m not racing, but just improving my endurance and aerobic fitness. It’s odd: when I get into the pool next time, I swim better than when I got out the previous time

The chart shows distances swum on successive dates. Some of them are estimates. The times aren’t always the same; most of the sessions are 1 hour long, but some are longer and some are only half an hour. Some are in pools, either with lane swimming or maneuvering among swimmers, with or without a wetsuit, in smooth or rough water. Still, there’s a trend: on the average, I can swim farther and faster as time goes on.

How swimming improved in one year
How swimming improved in one year

I suppose to do this properly I should drop the obstructed swims, add a slowing factor to the wetsuit sessions, and use the per-hour rate for all dates. I don’t have a record of all the short lessons, but here’s an attempt:

Swimming improvement in one year, adjusted

Swimming improvement in one year, adjusted

The training effect was discovered by Dr. Cooper.


“None of this is speculation. The anatomic and biochemical characteristic of the training effect have been documented in the laboratory many times.”, Kenneth H. Cooper, M.D., M.P.H. President and Founder, The Cooper Aerobics Center.

Exercise to prevent aging

Via Tangled Bank, “Exercise Mimetics” tells us how to prevent aging: Avoid tobacco, eat a reasonable diet, and get plenty of exercise.

But now, an exercise pill might be in the works!

Enter the era of PPARβ/δ and AMPK agonists. From Narkar et al.:

AMPK and PPARδ Agonists Are Exercise Mimetics

The benefits of endurance exercise on general health make it desirable to identify orally active agents that would mimic or potentiate the effects of exercise to treat metabolic diseases. Although certain natural compounds, such as reseveratrol, have endurance-enhancing activities, their exact metabolic targets remain elusive. We therefore tested the effect of pathway-specific drugs on endurance capacities of mice in a treadmill running test. We found that PPARβ/δ agonist and exercise training synergistically increase oxidative myofibers and running endurance in adult mice. Because training activates AMPK and PGC1α, we then tested whether the orally active AMPK agonist AICAR might be sufficient to overcome the exercise requirement. Unexpectedly, even in sedentary mice, 4 weeks of AICAR treatment alone induced metabolic genes and enhanced running endurance by 44%. These results demonstrate that AMPK-PPARδ pathway can be targeted by orally active drugs to enhance training adaptation or even to increase endurance without exercise.

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