Tag: exercise (Page 1 of 2)

Holiday weight gain tends to make us fat for life, but no worries, exercise helps

Nobody gains weight overnight. It happens gradually over the years or decades. Average adult tends to gain 0.5-1.0 kg per year, which is quite a lot actually. But no worries if there has been some weight gain, exercise helps.

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New research confirms the superior health benefits of cross-country skiing

I have been writing lately about cross-country skiing and also previously about its great effects on fitness and health. There has also been large epidemiological studies showing its benefits.

New research from Finland also confirms this as it shows that cross-country skiing is actually superior to other sport and physical activity habits in terms of health (all-cause mortality). This is because researchers in this recent study took also into consideration other and total physical activity habits (as well as numerous other confounding factors that could have affected the results), and showed that cross-country skiing showed independent effects on mortality, thus skiers lived longer.

Like I have previously written, cross-country skiing activates basically all of our muscles stimulating cardiovascular function and metabolism substantially. It is also great “natural” interval training, even when practised at slow pace, particularly when you are skiing in mountaneous terrain. Therefore, if you have a chance, cross-country skiing is really something that could be practised to be physically active and fit!

Snowsports – another good way to be more active!

Finnish attempt “snowsports make you more active” won FIS SnowKidz Award and was recognised as the best programme worldwide last year to bring children to the snow. This year the program expands even more and other countries are also becoming more and more active advancing snowsport activities.

Cross-country skiing is really good activity also for kids. Also Southern and West part of Finland got quite a bit of snow (some 15 cm) yesterday, and we also needed to go and try if we could ski for the first time for the season. We have been in skitunnel skiing with artificial snow, but good real snow in a natural environment is still different. Although real tracks were not prepared yet, skiing was indeed possible, which was good fun and hopefully we will have lots of good winter days and snow ahead of us!


Family Activities for Fun and Good Health

Another link that I happened to click recently was NIH’s National Institute on Aging provided article discussing family activities that could be tried to improve the health of whole family. That was good read but they have also lots of other good information that could be checked, such as general guides for endurance, strenght, balance and flexibility training that everyone should do, preferably daily. But coming back to physical activities that whole family could do, one of the most common things that we use to do is to take our boys to ride their bicycles while we are running as parents. I have actually done that ever since my oldest child was 2,5 years old when he learnt to cycle, without balance wheels. He had used a balance bike for quite long before that so actual cycling was quite easy after that. We were living in The Netherlands at that time and luckily roads were very flat and regions very safe, which made things much easier. I was also giving him a little “push” every now and then and was helping him when going uphills (those few that we faced during our normal running and cycling trips).Younger brother also learnt to cycle at quite young age and now they need to wait dad when I am running and they are with their bikes ūüôā We also cycle to pre-school and daycare and use bike every time when distances are not too long.

Cycling, walking and playing various (ball) games together is also good fun. One of the things we do once per week is parent-child floorball, which has been so great as that is not so “structured” club exercise aiming at competitions or so but just easy playing with kids. Regional club football is also good as boys can meet and interact with their mates at the same time, as well as during cross-country skiing practises where general motor and other skills will improve substantially. So there are plenty of good ways to be physically active also as a whole family and we just need to pick up the best ways that work each one of us.

Wow, watch this video how Finnish school kids exercise during their math class!

Unfortunately this video is in Finnish, but hopefully that does not disturb you as that video is really worth of watching! This is their typical (math) class and teacher has built facilities that kids can freely try and exercise when they feel so. According to the story one of the girls can now do 34 pull-ups as a result of these activities, which is at least some 10-15 repetitions more than even I can currently do! Nice job, that is also so good for their fitness in addition to their academic performance.

These kind of actions have become really popular in Finnish Schools lately. They are in practise a rule rather than an exception. This is because teachers have found kids can concentrate and learn better when they can do some exercise activities during their studies. We have already known that leisure time physical activity and good fitness is good for your academic performance at school, but teachers in Finland have now advanced this to “normal” classes as well.

These are really some activities and not just standing up from the chair!

It is known that leisure time exercise such as swimming is very good habit to improve academic performance of young kids, but many exercise activities can be easily performed during “normal” school classes as well.

Gravitational waves, Einstein and physical activity

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics made me wonder the role of Einstein’s physical activity when he calculated the existence of gravitational waves some 100 years ago. We might not remember him best as the ambassador of exercise and physical activity, but based on biographies written about him it is evident that in addition to spending lots of time thinking and discussing with his friends, he also liked to walk around and spend time¬†up on the¬†mountains. Maybe he had realized that there really is something there with the muscle and mind connection, as shown recently by the Swedish researchers. Maybe Einstein would have made his calculations and other ideas even without being physically active, but as we currently know that physical activity can boost your memory, creativity and productivity, it is quite likely that Einstein’s walking trips also contributed to his amazing intelligence.


Circadian clock and sleep and their relation to physical activity

It has been in my mind to write few words regarding sleep as it is clearly one of the most important though many times neglected factors affecting human health. As Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded this week for the researchers who had made significant contributions in the area of circadian clock, I thought that this is good moment to emphasize the importance of sleep for our wellbeing.

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High Intensity Interval Training Releases Endorphins in the Brain

This is just a brief posting to direct everybody to read this press release dealing with a recent study showing that in constrast to traditional one-hour continuous aerobic exercise, high-intensity interval training releases endorphins in the brain.

The aforomentioned study comes from the Turku PET Centre, where researchers have also recently elucidated that also eating causes the same effect. In this study it was shown that eating a delicious pizza does not have the same effects as nutritional drink and by reading that study report you can understand why.

Politicians as exercisers – President of Finland leads the way

President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, was recently invited by President Donald Trump to visit White house. Meeting took place couple of days ago and was widely in the news worldwide. Funny things happened during the press conference as reported for instance by the New York Times, but also very nice and informative stories were published discussing the meeting and other things.

Presidents maybe did not have time to discuss their exercise habits, so I must let you know that Niinistö is known to be very active exerciser during his leisure time. He likes particularly roller skating and being 69 years old, he shows good example for all of us that even quite demanding sports are doable no matter what is your age. Niinistö is a lawyer (graduated from the University of Turku where I am currently working) and former treasurer of Finland who during the late 1990s was an important person to fix the economical situations in Finland for the better. Many Finns love him because in contrast to some other politicians, he is very down-to-earth and modest person with facts always checked. Exercising in public on roads and not in luxurious private gyms must be part of his down-to-earth attitude, which has made him very popular national figure.

However, Niinistö is not the only Finnish politician who shows good example keeping up with fitness goals despite their demanding jobs and busy schedules. One good example is also our former finance, foreign, and prime minister Alexander Stubb, who does physically very demanding things such as triathlons. Stubb was also recently elected as a chairman of Crisis Management Initiative established in 2010 by Nobel Peace Laureate and former President of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari. Despite of new duties and responsibilities, I am sure that exercise continues to be an important part of his daily life. Good stuff, that is what all our leaders should be doing!

Nordic walking – great exercise!

I recently wrote about the benefits and enjoyment that roller skiing can provide, but if you are hesitating to roll along on wheels, trying nordic walking could also be an option. Skiers use nordic walking (or running with poles) a lot and that is part of the reason why they are so fit. They have done that already for several decades, but Nordic walking started to become more and more popular also among the general people in Finland and other Nordic countries some 20-30 years ago. Today and tomorrow there is therefore a seminar in Finland celebrating 20 years of Nordic walking in Finland as a part of Finland’s 100 years of independence celebrations. Nordic walking is also perfect way to get fit as it is truly whole body exercise, which is the reason why it is also very good for your health. Therefore, it is a good idea to take ski poles with you next time you are having a walk!

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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.