If you’re like most of us, you were taught the importance of warm-up exercises back in grade school, and you’ve likely continued with pretty much the same routine ever since. Science, however, has moved on. Researchers now believe that some of the more entrenched elements of many athletes’ warm-up regimens are not only a waste of time but actually bad for you. The old presumption that holding a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds – known as static stretching – primes muscles for a workout is dead wrong. It actually weakens them.

In a recent study conducted at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, athletes generated less force from their leg muscles after static stretching than they did after not stretching at all. Other studies have found that this stretching decreases muscle strength by as much as 30 percent. Also, stretching one leg’s muscles can reduce strength in the other leg as well, probably because the central nervous system rebels against the movements.

Controversy remains about the extent to which dynamic warm-ups prevent injury. But studies have been increasingly clear that static stretching alone before exercise does little or nothing to help. The largest study has been done on military recruits; results showed that an almost equal number of subjects developed lower-limb injuries (shin splints, stress fractures, etc.), regardless of whether they had performed static stretches before training sessions.

A major study published earlier this year by the Centers for Disease Control, on the other hand, found that knee injuries were cut nearly in half among female collegiate soccer players who followed a warm-up program that included both dynamic warm-up exercises and static stretching. (For a sample routine, visit www.aclprevent.com/pepprogram.htm.) And in golf, new research by Andrea Fradkin, an assistant professor of exercise science at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, suggests that those who warm up are nine times less likely to be injured.

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS


read more

Simple gestures, like opening a door for someone or allowing a fellow motorist in front of your vehicle, can reap great internal rewards, according to research. In two separate studies involving nearly 300 people, Japanese researchers correlated acts of kindness by study participants with feelings of happiness.  The more frequently the kindness to others, the more the participants reported their a significant increase in their own feelings of emotional well-being.
– from The Doctors’ 5-Minute Health Fixes: The Prescription for a Lifetime of Great Health, (Rodale Books)


read more

Drinking…

Alcohol, that is.  Here’s an exercise to start tonight: Write down how much beer, wine, and other drinks you consume in a week.  (Use that cocktail napkin.)  You may surprise yourself.  Calculate the calories and expect another surprise.

A reasonable-sounding two beers a night can mean more than 2,000 calories a week—almost an extra day’s worth.

read more

Pigging Out on the Weekends

Binging on the weekends is a problem seen with many people trying to lose weight.  They are eating and drinking healthy during the week, but when the weekend comes it is time to feast.  The weekend is also used as an excuse to take a break from exercising.  Weekend feasts with too many calories and the lack of exercise during the weekend can cause trouble beyond Sunday.


If you need to reward yourself for a healthy week, which is completely fine, have only one cheat meal, not an entire weekend of them.   After all, having an all-you-can-eat weekend is like eating poorly for nearly 30 percent of your week. That means you’d be eating well just 70 percent of the time, which will not get you great results.


read more

Sugar Addiction

Did you know that sugar meets the criteria for an addictive substance?

 

  • It stimulates the release of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine and serotonin, in a manner similar to alcohol, cocaine, and other drugs of abuse.
  • People eat is compulsively, despite negative consequences and the intention to stop.
  • With continued use, people develop a tolerance to its effects.
  • Heavy sugar consumers have trouble functioning without it.
  • When consumption ceases, withdrawal symptoms occur

Ways to break a sugar addiction:

  • Take a multivitamin and mineral supplement.  This will help reduce cravings for some.
  • Learn to identify and manage cravings that are not a result of hunger, but instead are rooted in stress or anxiety.
  • Develop alternative ways of managing stress: Take a walk, meditate, listen to music, or take a hot bath.  Relaxation helps to balance your blood sugar and reduce cravings.

read more