Monday, May 30, 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Herb Curcumin

Not long ago, researchers at the world-renowned University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center published a groundbreaking scientific review of their favorite anti-cancer nutrient -- curcumin. Curcumin, along with several other nutrients, is remarkable in that it can actually tell the difference between a healthy cell and a cancer cell.

According to Wellness Resources, here is how the researchers explained their interest in curcumin:

“’ ... Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) ... is one of the most powerful and promising chemopreventive and anticancer agents ... How curcumin exerts its powerful anticancer activities has been thoroughly investigated, and several mechanisms of action have been discovered ... curcumin exerts its biological
activities through epigenetic modulation.’”

In other words, curcumin changes the regulation of DNA to help kill cancer. In fact, curcumin not only influences epigenetic settings, it also manages the downstream consequences, helping to guide multiple steps in the way gene orders are implemented.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Over 25 percent of the performers from Wrestlemania VII have died

By Chris Chase
Over one-quarter of the performers who took part in 1991's Wrestlemania VII have died, a wrestling website noted in the wake of the death of "Macho Man" Randy Savage.

The Wrestling Observer newsletter discovered that 14 of the 51 performers at the event have died in the past 20 years, with many of the deaths attributed to drug use (link is subscription only).

The list of wrestlers who have died since 1991 include some of the biggest stars in the sport like Savage, Andre the Giant, Miss Elizabeth and The British Bulldog. Causes of death include suicides, murder and heart attacks, some the result of years of anabolic steroid use. Savage died last week after suffering an apparent heart attack behind the wheel of his truck. His ex-wife, Miss Elizabeth, passed away after overdosing on a variety of drugs in 2003.

Looking at the list is a sobering reminder of the realities of a make-believe sport like professional wrestling. Not all of the men and women listed played a part in their own demise; referee Joey Marella was the victim of a car crash that occurred when he was driving home from a match.

As points out, none of the 44 starters from the Super Bowl played in 1991 have passed away and only two of 44 boxers who held a championship belt that year are gone.

At 58, Savage made it nearly a decade longer than some of his deceased colleagues.

Follow Yahoo! Sports

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

7 Tips for Cleaning Fruits, Vegetables

Posted By Dr. Mercola

Nearly 48 million people are sickened by contaminated food each year in the U.S. Many people don’t realize even that produce can sometimes be the culprit in outbreaks of foodborne illness.

The FDA offers the following tips for protecting yourself:

* Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce
* Cut away any damaged or bruised areas
* Gently rub produce while holding it under plain running water
* Wash produce before you peel it
* Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub firm produce
* Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel
* Throw away the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage

Monday, May 23, 2011

Children growing weaker as computers replace outdoor activity?


Children playing on Nintendo wii
A shift away from outdoor activities has made children weaker compared to previous generations, research reveals. Photograph: Andrew Payne /Alamy

Children are becoming weaker, less muscular and unable to do physical tasks that previous generations found simple, research has revealed.

As a generation dedicated to online pursuits grows up, 10-year-olds can do fewer sit-ups and are less able to hang from wall bars in a gym. Arm strength has declined in that age group, as has their ability to grip an object firmly.

The findings, published in the child health journal Acta Paediatrica, have led to fresh concern about the impact on children's health caused by the shift away from outdoor activities.

Academics led by Dr Gavin Sandercock, a children's fitness expert at Essex University, studied how strong a group of 315 Essex 10-year-olds in 2008 were compared with 309 children the same age in 1998. They found that:

■ The number of sit-ups 10-year-olds can do declined by 27.1% between 1998 and 2008

■ Arm strength fell by 26% and grip strength by 7%

■ While one in 20 children in 1998 could not hold their own weight when hanging from wall bars, one in 10 could not do so in 2008.

"This is probably due to changes in activity patterns among English 10-year-olds, such as taking part in fewer activities like rope-climbing in PE and tree-climbing for fun," Sandercock said. "Typically, these activities boosted children's strength, making them able to lift and hold their own bodyweight."

The fact that 10% could not do the wall bars test and another 10% refused to try was "really shocking", he added. "That probably shows that climbing and holding their own weight was something they hadn't done before."

Previous research has already shown that children are becoming more unfit, less active and more sedentary and, in many cases, heavier than before.

But the new study also found that children in 2008 had the same body mass index (BMI) as those a decade earlier. Lead author Daniel Cohen, of London Metropolitan University, said this meant that, given their declining strength, the bodies of the recent test group are likely to contain more fat and less muscle then their predecessors. "That's really worrying from a health point of view. It's good news that their BMI hasn't risen, but worrying that pound for pound they're weaker and probably carrying more fat," said Sandercock.

The authors want ministers to reduce their reliance on the National Child Measurement Programme, which surveys primary schoolchildren's BMI, and introduce fitness testing in all schools – a call made last year by the then-chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson.

"Climbing trees and ropes used to be standard practice for children, but school authorities and 'health and safety' have contrived to knock the sap out of our children," said Tam Fry of the Child Growth Foundation.

"Falling off a branch used to be a good lesson in picking yourself up and learning to climb better. Now fear of litigation stops the child climbing in the first place."

He added: "Fitness tests may or may not be appropriate, but Sandercock should not be discouraging the use of BMI measurements."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said the government had introduced several programmes promoting active lifestyles among the young, and the health survey for England reported back on physical activity levels. She added: "The Department of Health has no current plans to introduce fitness testing for children."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Have you ever surprised yourself with a breakout running performance?

From Strength Running

Running a PR will elicit a feeling of true empowerment. You did the training. You put in the work and sacrificed your time, sweat, and maybe even some blood and tears. You deserve to run fast.

Running PR’s is fun. It’s one of the major reasons why we all head out the door every day in the heat, rain, snow, and cold. Hours of training are worth it when you test yourself and succeed.

Look at your training journal. When was the last time YOU ran a personal best?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Allergy Season Hits U.S. with a Vengeance

By Dr. Mercola

This allergy season could be worse than those of past years in the U.S. Heavy snow and rain in many places, followed by a sudden shift to warm weather, have led to a profusion of tree pollen and mold.

In general, allergy seasons have been getting longer and more challenging, although pollen counts and allergy attacks vary widely from region to region.

Yahoo News reports:

“... [E]verything is ripe this year for a historic season. It's been an exceptionally rainy spring in much of the country, with several states east of the Mississippi River setting records for the wettest April since 1895 ... In Los Angeles, rain, a heat wave and the Santa Ana winds combined for a brutal stretch in February.”

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The priming effect: how a hard warm-up can help performance

from Sweatscience

Most people who do hard interval sessions will have noticed this mystery: why does the second or third interval usually feel easier than the first one? I always figured it had to do with “getting into the rhythm” or something along those lines. Whatever the reason, Pete Sherry — my main training partner for 2002-2004 — and I eventually decided that we’d run 2x400m in ~72 sec a few minutes before every workout, in the hopes of making the first interval feel easier. Our impression was that it worked, and we started doing it before races too.

It turns out there’s plenty of physiology behind this. If you suddenly start running at a hard pace, with no warm-up, it takes a while before your body can adjust to start delivering oxygen to your muscles at its maximum possible rate. That’s one of the reasons VO2max tests take 10-12 minutes, rather than simply involving a short, all-out sprint. It takes time for the blood flow to your muscles to increase, and for the enzymes that extract oxygen from the blood and oxidize fuel to ramp up their activity levels. A good warm-up gets this ramp-up process over with, allowing your body up to deliver more oxygen to muscles right from the start of the workout or race, and reducing the temporary oxygen debt.

Still, most people warm up with gentle jogging, flexibility drills, and some short sprints. But how about including a six-minute “hard” effort (above lactate threshold but below VO2max pace), about ten minutes before the start of your race or workout? Would that “prime” your oxygen kinetics even more? The challenge is as follows: a sustained burst of hard exercise (above threshold) definitely improves how quickly your body can process oxygen once the actual race starts; this effect can last for a half-hour or more. If you exercise too hard, on the other hand, you deplete your anaerobic energy stores (phosphocreatine), and metabolites build up in your muscles that may slow you down. Numerous experiments over the past decade have found conflicting results: depending on the precise details of the duration, intensity and recovery time following the “priming” burst, performance either increases, decreases, or stays the same.

A new cycling study just posted online at Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, from Mark Burnley’s group at Aberystwyth, adds some more data on finding the right balance. They used a six-minute priming bout, 10 minutes before the “race” — a formula that other studies have found to be effective. For intensity, they compared “heavy” (about 25% of the way between threshold and VO2max power) and “severe” (about 63%) priming bouts. The findings: “heavy” priming boosted oxygen kinetics and significantly increased time-to-exhaustion in tests ranging from ~2-10 minutes. “Severe” priming also boosted oxygen kinetics, but didn’t increase time-to-exhaustion, suggesting that the downside of depleted anaerobic reserves outweighed the benefits of more aerobic energy available early in the test.

So what does this mean in practical terms? It’s hard to know how generalizable this protocol is, but I’d say it’s worth experimenting with some sort of extended surge ~10 minutes before the end of your warm-up. If you’re doing a six-minute effort, it looks like you should aim just above your threshold. I know quite a few runners who have incorporated similar but shorter surges of ~1-2 minutes into their warm-up routine. There may be a good argument for runners to stick to shorter surges, since the impact of leg-pounding is a bigger factor than it is in cycling. In that case, you may be able to get away with a higher intensity. But so far I don’t think the research has answered that question — for now, it’s trial and error.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ground Contact Time and Running Performance

By Matt Fitzgerald

There are literally dozens of different variables that are relevant to running performance. Among the more familiar ones are VO2max, lactate threshold speed and running economy (or the rate of oxygen consumption at a given speed—the lower the better). One of the most under-appreciated performance-related running variables is ground contact time, or the amount of time your foot is in contact with the ground on each stride.

Ground contact time always decreases as running pace increases. If you accelerate from 6 miles/hour to 8 miles/per hour in the middle of a run, your ground contact time will decrease as your stride length increases and you spend more time airborne. But not all runners have the same ground contact times at the same speeds, and not all runners are able to reduce their ground contact time to the same level when trying to run fast. The fastest runners tend to have the shortest ground contact times. Training specifically to reduce your ground contact time is an effective way to improve your running.

Some interesting studies have demonstrated the importance of minimal ground contact to running performance. For example, a study by Finnish researchers investigated the relationships between running mechanics, top running speed and economy in young runners. Twenty-five runners performed two separate tests on an indoor track. The first test was 8 x 30m at increasing speeds, up to maximal sprint speed. The second test was 5-6 x 1,000m at increasing speeds. In the first test, ground reaction forces and stride characteristics were measured at each running speed. In the second test, running economy at the speed of 3.89 meters per second and maximal oxygen uptake were determined. The researchers found that, of all the stride characteristics measured in the short sprints, only ground contact correlated significantly with both running economy and maximal running speed. The authors of the study wrote, “It is concluded that the short contact times required in economical and high-speed running suggest that fast force production is important for both economical running and high top running speed in distance runners.”

running-feet32More recently, researchers from Ryukoku University in Japan placed a high-tech video camera at the 15 km point of an elite half-marathon race and videotaped 415 runners as they passed it. The researchers then studied the tape to gather measurements of ground contact time for each runner. They observed a strong negative correlation between ground contact time and speed—that is, the feet of the fastest runners spent the least time in contact with the ground.

Why is short ground contact so beneficial to running performance? When your foot is in contact with the ground during running, you are not moving forward. You are only moving forward when airborne. So the more time you spend airborne and the less time you spend on the ground, the faster you run.

Ground contact time is determined by three main factors:

* the ability to apply force to the ground very quickly (that is, power),
* the stiffness of the leg at the moment of footstrike (a stiffer leg is able to capture more “free” energy from the ground and then reuse it),
* biomechanical characteristics such as the position of the foot in relation to the center of gravity at footstrike (a foot that lands in front of the body’s center of gravity acts as a brake and thus increases ground contact time).

So how do you train to reduce your ground contact time? Simple: You train to increase your stride power and leg stiffness and improve your biomechanics. The most basic way to add power to your stride is to regularly include some very fast running in your training. Once a week, after completing an easy run, do a set of short sprints—say, 6 x 60m at full speed. To minimize the risk of pulling a hamstring, do these sprints on a steep hill, if possible. Also include regular submaximal running in the 5K-1500m race pace range. At least once every 10 days, complete an interval run with at least 2 total miles of running in this pace range (e.g. 6 x 600m @ 3K race pace with 400m jogging recoveries).

plyometrics_without_injuryStudies have shown that plyometrics (jumping drills) and heavy weightlifting are effective ways to increase leg stiffness and, consequently, running economy. A little goes a long way. For example, in one study a regimen of 4 sets of 4 heavy half-squats performed 4 times per week produced big gains in running economy and time trial performance. A very efficient way to include some plyometrics in your training is to insert them within runs. For example, in the middle of a run, break stride and hop forward on one leg for 20 strides, then hop on the other leg. Gradually build up to 2 sets of 30 hops on each leg. (If you don’t like being laughed at, be sure no one’s around when you do this drill.)

Perhaps the simplest way to improve your running biomechanics to reduce ground contact time is to switch from a heel strike to a midfoot strike. In the Japanese half-marathon study mentioned above, researchers found a significant correlation between foot strike position and ground contact time: The average ground contact time for heel strikers was 199 milliseconds versus 183 milliseconds for midfoot and forefoot strikers. There was also a significant correlation between foot strike patterns and performance, with runners placing among the top 50 being almost twice as likely to be midfoot or forefoot strikers (36 percent versus 19 percent) as runners placing between 151st and 200th).

Start paying attention to where impact force is concentrated on the bottom of your foot when you run. Fiddle around with your stride to make that “ground zero” zone move slightly forward. Also try tilting your whole body very slightly forward from the ankles (not the waist!) as though you’re running downhill. This will force your foot to land underneath your hips, where it’s supposed to land, rather than out front, where it must hit heel first.

You probably have never put much thought into your ground contact time. After all, you can’t exactly measure it on your own. But you can improve it even without measuring it, and reducing the amount of time your feet are touching the earth as you run is one of the best things you can do to improve your running.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


In F.lux

If you, like 40% of Americans, sometimes have trouble falling asleep, consider blaming your computer.

Turns out, melatonin (the sleep hormone) is largely regulated by blue light. That makes evolutionary sense, as the sun gives off blue light during the day, while the moon, and fire, both give off much redder light at night. So your body monitors blue light levels, emitting hormones accordingly, to create a circadian rhythm: tired at night and alert during the day.

Problem is, we screw with those signals on both ends: we spend too many of our waking hours inside, getting less blue light than we should; and then we spend much of our post-sunset evening in front of boxes like computer screens, getting too much blue light.

To fix the day side of things, you’d need to spend more time outdoors, with more of your skin exposed to the sun. Which, during the winter, probably entails moving to Hawaii.

But fixing the evening side of the equation is much easier: just download F.lux, a great little piece of freeware for Macs, PCs, and Linux.

In short, after sunset, f.lux changes the color temperature of your display, from its default 6500k (even bluer than the 5000k of daylight) to something between 2700k and 4200k (depending on whether the rest of your room’s lighting is tungsten, halogen, or fluorescent).

Give f.lux a whirl for a week. Though it may take a few days of adjustment – your screen will look awfully pink/orange to you at first – by week’s end, I’m betting you’ll have a tough time using your computer without it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Focus on Strength!

1.) Until you can properly squat and deadlift at least your body weight for females and two times your body weight for males, and bench press at least half your body weight for females and one time your body weight for males, you have no business doing body part splits. Getting stronger opens up so many doors to so many other types of training, and makes that training infinitely more effective. Think about it, how effective will your metabolic circuit be if you can barely do five push-ups? How many rounds will you make it through before your upper body gives out on you? And think about doing curls on your “arm day.” How will your results improve if you are doing hammer curls with 30 pound dumbbells instead of 10 pounds? What kind of effect will that have on your hypertrophy training? Astronomical, right? Training for strength will also help improve the strength of joints and ligaments and help prevent injury when you are training explosively, like doing sprints or plyometrics. So the bottom line is: training for strength is the way to go! Once you have built up a decent strength base, you can try other types of training and reap major results.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Monday, May 2, 2011

Determining your lactate threshold heart rate

by Joel Friel

I am asked yet again how to find one's lactate threshold heart rate (LTHR) by doing a 30-minute time trial. I really don't understand what seems to be so difficult about this. All that's required is running (or riding) as hard as you can possibly go for 30 minutes ALL BY YOURSELF. It must be solo. Doing this as a part of a race or with training partners will change the outcome. Your number will be too high. If you want to do it with others or as a part of a race then you need to make it 60 minutes duration instead of 30.

Once you've captured the data in your device download it to your software and find your average heart rate for the last 20 minutes. That's an approximation of your LTHR (also often referred to as anaerobic threshold or functional threshold heart rate). If you don't have software all you have to do is push the lap button 10 minutes into the test. That will then capture the last 20 minutes as a standalone "interval." Your average heart rate for that portion is close to your LTHR. Note that this DOES NOT mean that you go easy for 10 minutes and then turn it on with 20 minutes remaining. It's 30 minutes all out.

Do not watch your heart rate during the test. You're not trying to produce a given number. Do not be concerned with anything other than are you going as hard as you can go right now. If the answer is "yes" then you are doing the test right.