Biomechanical Adaptations and Performance Indicators in Short Trail Running

Running season is approaching in the northern hemisphere and I happened to notice an interesting research article in regards to trail running. It has been written by Glen Björklund as  first author with whom  have performed one study in Finland at our Turku PET Centre research institute. The study has been published in Frontiers of Physiology, so it is freely available to everyone. It’s major conclusions are that maximal oxygen consumption, vertical running speed and fat percent are important predictors for trail running performance. Performance between runners also varied the most on downhills throughout the course, while pacing resembled a reversed J pattern. But they are discussing also many other things and this paper also has nice introduction to the topic, so it is worth reading if trail running interests you!

Obsession to win is overwhelming

World Championships are going on and doping still appears to be used in cross-country skiing. The reason why some athletes do that is that in addition to cardiac stroke volume, which is the most important factor in cross-country skiing, also red blood cell volume contribute to systemic oxygen delivery, which is the most important factor determining maximal oxygen consumption and thus endurance exercise performance. By using EPO or your stored blood, some athletes try to increase their blood oxygen carrying capacity, and by so doing their performance.

People were commented to be very stupid to dope on their home ground, which makes me smile when reflecting back to Lahti 2001. There numerous Finnish skiers were investigated to have used blood doping and were banned to take part in further competitions. Also after that we have had Finnish and other skiers that have used EPO and other drugs, no matter what has happened.

It is striking that these doping habits still continue. Obsession to win is overwhelming.

Double standard actions

I recently commended by tweeting that who are these world leaders in Davos who claim to be solving climate change and physical inactivity and all other major global problems, but who dare to use car instead of walking short distances. I was happy to see that our President also paid attention to these actions, where actions do not match with their talking. I am not sure if our President was there in Davos this year, but if he was, I am sure he walked there.

Seriously speaking I am so sick and tired of so many politicians who are so worried about climate change in their talking, but once their talking stops, they take a flight to have a holiday abroad. So very few of those have ever commuted being physically active themselves, which is sad. However, these double-faced actions appear to be very common also in the physical activity research field, as I know so many, especially professors, who are so physically inactive that it is even hard to understand. Still they are famous of being exercise scientists, but I can tell you, if you just knew how lazy they actually are, you could not believe. Luckily we have some really good examples also, coming often outside physical activity research field, and those are the ones everyone should follow! Please, practise what you preach!

Writing grants and visiting China

Things were so busy especially with grant applications and some experiments during September and three conference and university visit trips during October that I have not been writing here for a while. One of these conference and university visits was a trip to Beijing, China. Beijing Sport University invited me and other researchers and professors to give presentations and set up collaborations in terms of winter sports in particular. Trip was a success and looks like we will strengthen European-Chinese actions even further in the future. More later, maybe.

Global physical activity levels

Major study was published in Lancet yesterday reporting that 25% of the people worldwide do not exercise enough in terms of their health. According to its conclusions, policies to increase population levels of physical activity need to be prioritised and scaled up urgently. I could not agree more, but on the other hand 75% of the world population are exercising quite nicely.

Particularly Finns exercise quite a lot as Finns lead the statistics amongst the western countries. Obesity and many chronic diseases are still quite common also in Finland, which makes me to ask whether even that amount of exercise that Finns do is enough to maintain or improve health? Or are these surveys, which are not relying on objective measures to determine physical activity, even misleading? How much should we actually exercise? Maybe 2-3 hours per day, as also suggested for kids?

Further, one could think based on these data that many persons are quite well-informed and health concsious as they are exercising. However, according to this study this might not be the case, but we need to continue to inform people in regards to health hazards of lack of exercise.

Recent important articles dealing with nutrition and health

I tweeted recently few posts in regards to nutrition and human health. According to one leading expert in the field, The field needs radical reform: “Some nutrition scientists and much of the public often consider epidemiologic associations of nutritional factors to represent causal effects that can inform public health policy and guidelines. However, the emerging picture of nutritional epidemiology is difficult to reconcile with good scientific principles.”

Another article discusses Food based dietary patterns and chronic disease prevention. Can specific foods provide health benefits? Will adopting a specific food pattern prevent major chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer? You can find answers from their text.

Both articles are worth reading to guide eating decisions.

Back to basics – Orienteering is good fun!

Orienteering is one of the best exercises one can imagine. Running in a forest with a map trying to find your way according to pre-defined locations puts both your legs and brain working. No step is similar than previous one and terrain is often quite demanding. Uphills and downhills and reading map and sometimes just running fast is best natural interval training that one can figure. Good thing also is that you do not need to be running with maximal effort but you can also enjoy nature, which is good and healthy for your body also according to science. These were some of the things I figured out also today when I was orienteering. Early summer was full of rowing on a same days as our weekly orienteering events happen, but now I am back to running in the forests with a map, and how great is that 🙂

Tahko MTB – 20 years and going even stronger

An epic Tahko mountain bike race was raced today for the 20th time in a row. My first race there was in 2002 and this has been a must race since then. It did not dissapoint this year either. Simple thing is that it is tough (60K, few minutes over 3 hours max effort), and that is the reason I have done that several times, basically always when I have been in Finland. And I am not the only one as many other exercisers have also found it and this year over 2300 cyclists were doing the race. Conditions were wet and tough, but this is why we do it.

Another reason to go and do Tahko  MTB is Kuopio/Nilsiä region. If you are interested, check out more information from Tahko webpages.

How hot is your brain?

There has been some previous studies suggesting that particularly high-intensity exercise can blunt appetite and reduce food intake. New  study might have shed light in this respect. According to a new study exercise-induced elevation in brain temperature namely reduces food intake, and may thus contribute to body weight regulation.

On the other hand, we have also previously shown that food high in sugar and/or fat changes gene expression in the brain in those genes that regulate appetite. Thus, both exercise and food matter in the regulation of food intake and body weight regulation.

Earth day

Earth day was some days ago, check out the video:

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The views expressed on this website do not neccasarily reflect the views of University of Turku or other institutions or organisations Dr. Heinonen represents.