Sceptically Fit

25/07/2012

Lots of Links

Filed under: Exercise, Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 22:32

Can running help with skin conditions? And more evidence of the less is more approach to running.

The mainstream media is picking up on the increasing evidence that its the increase of sugar in our diet that has caused the obesity crisis. Its been posted everywhere, so I won’t comment much – low-carb diet came out best for longterm weight loss. But before you get too concerned, being skinny is more of a health risk than being moderately overweight.

Keep exercising! The evidence is mounting up that regular intensive exercise can keep your body performing like a much younger person (maybe not the fittest younger person, but still!). And if you’re afraid of the chronic cardio argument (or using it as an excuse) Jason Fitzgerald takes on the arguments against running. If you can – run outside. Running outside offers mental health benefits that running in a gym doesn’t. Don’t forget to strengthen as well as stretch to prevent ITB.

A comprehensive look at the dangers of phytoestrogens and why you should limit your soy intake.

Eating lowfat salad dressing decreases your ability to absorb nutrients from your salad.

It seems getting people to reduce their meat consumptions isn’t the ecological saviour to the planet that some people have (ardently) proposed. On the subject of unverified claims – it seems the danger of drinking while pregnant has been overstated. Fetal alcohol syndrome is real, but there’s no evidence that light or moderate drinking is implicated.

And the biggest news for all those interested in scientifically verified health news – British scientific research is to be made publically available within five years!

22/01/2012

A very prolific week of links…

Filed under: Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 22:39

Another reason to exercise – it helps your body get rid of damaged or degraded cells.  And while exercise preserves muscle – it only preserves the muscle you use so don’t stop the full body routines… and sorry to disappoint – stretching doesn’t stop the doms.

How to ensure good gut health.

A new study suggests the marathon won’t kill you (if you’ve trained for it). Mark Sisson gives some advice on combining weight training with running, and here are some more tips to run faster.

A study postulating that most of humanity evolved with carbohydrate scarcity causing a greater insulin resistance to be selected for which is now what presupposes many ethnic groups for type2 diabetes.

Looking into the wider animal kingdom – researchers have discovered predators will hunt to ensure a nutritionally balanced diet.

Morning People – that’s as good as you’re going to be. Me, my brain’s just warming up!

Conditioning Research takes a look at the importance of sleep and its effect on obesity.

Evolvify takes a look at the (lack of) evidence behind the women like alpha males theory in pickup culture.

Despite being the ready energy source of many – another study suggests avoiding carbohydrates will help you stay awake.

Lifehacker looks at the science behind a bad mood.

From Not Just a Man’s World – a look at a study on the effects of resistance training on flexibility for young women.

Loren Cordain answers a few questions on the paleo diet – its going to take me a while to get through his paper on Cereal Grains.

A good reminder of the power of the placebo.

05/07/2011

My New Favourite Stretch: Frogger

Filed under: Exercise — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 22:51

Some times the only way to really stretch out your inner thigh requires a little privacy:  Stretch It: Frogger. I’m quoting liberally because the stretch is that good. Go watch the video.

  • Begin on your hands and knees on a carpeted surface. If you don’t have carpet, fold up a blanket so it’s at least four feet long. You’ll need some cushion for your knees.
  • Now slowly slide your knees out to the side, away from each other, and move your feet as well so that your ankles remain in line with your knees. Flex your feet so your toes are pointing out. This stretch becomes intense quickly, so only widen your knees and lower your hips until you feel a nice stretch. You shouldn’t feel any discomfort or pain.
  • Once your legs are in a good position, if you’re low enough you can walk your hands out and release your elbows to the ground. Use your hands to help press your hips back toward your feet to intensify the feeling in your legs. Keep your head lifted and your shoulders relaxed so your pelvis continues to press toward the ground.

Muscle Cramps – Why?

Filed under: Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 22:45

The big causes of muscle cramps are dehydration, electrolyte deficiency and muscle overuse/tension. Electrolyte deficiency in potassium, magnesium and/or sodium can be caused by unbalanced diets or natural digestive inhibitions – in my case it seems to run in the family regardless of our very varied diets. The imbalances can be caused by weight loss, especially on a low-carbohydrate diet which comes with significant loss of water weight initially.

While I attempt to keep to a paleo/low-carb-ish diet, my adherence is poor and regularly interrupted over a ‘cheat’ weekend. What this usually means is that about  Tuesday or Wednesday I go through a mini-reset period where my body loses its weekend bloat (I can drop 2kg between Monday’s weigh in and Wednesday). While supplementing with magnesium and potassium normally prevents cramps (and for magnesium specifically – restless leg syndrome), I regularly forget to up my sodium intake when I drop my carbohydrates.  What a surprise – my attempt at swimming was interrupted by increasingly debilitating cramps in my feet.

Advice on starting a low-carb diet include supplementing with chelated magnesium and potassium; liberally using sodium – preferably non-treated sea salt that retains all its minerals; drinking bone broth to replace minerals (recipe on the link – I have never tried this); drinking a lot of water and avoiding caffeine. Now, obviously he’s insane if he thinks caffeine isn’t proof of some kindly god’s existence* so that last point isn’t going to happen.

With my problems cramping up while swimming, I decided to look into this a little more. Hydration tops the list, but as I drink constantly I don’t think its going to be an issue. So lets look into the fatigue side of things. Now, I know I’m not in great conditioning for swimming, but its not as though I’m not in decent shape when it comes to weight-lifting, cycling and running. But is it also the way that I swim:

The problemwith pointing your toes as a deliberate (or even unconscious) action, however, is that it remains the primary reason behind the cramp that many triathletes experience at swim practice. The fact of this matter is that if we simply allow our feet to flick around as we kick, the ankles will actually pull back into this correct position automatically. And even more importantly, when relaxed the toes will pull the foot back into the correct position without tension, ie correct kicking action, less energy.

Stand on one leg on dry land trying to perform small kicking flicks with the foot. Aim to let the ankle simply flick around like a leaf in the wind as you shake the leg quickly up and down (just a small movement – 1ft). If you can honestly see that your ankle IS relaxed and does flick around as you move the rest of the leg, then this is a good sign. For most of us however, you will realise that you are in fact tensing the shin to pull up and then pointing down in order to move the foot. In this case, you have some major relaxing to learn in the water. This confirms the reason why cramp will be occurring – you are not relaxed through the ankles when kicking.

Involuntary muscle tension is an issue for me despite (or because of) my hyperflexibility. It is actually difficult to stretch out muscles effectively because my limits are much greater than a lot of the normal stretches – in some cases to the point that you can’t bend any further without the rest of the body getting in the way So for the itb its pretty much massage and foam rollers for me. So another suggestion to prevent over-use cramping is a foot massage – so where is my tennis ball?

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