Tag: exercise (Page 1 of 3)

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.

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.

Sports is for all

“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.”

Martin Luther King Jr., Christmas speech 1967

April 4th 2018, thus today, marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, TN, USA.

In remembrance of Dr. King, I also thought to write few words on the topic, in light of sports. On 28th of August 1963, thus almost 55 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his influential speech – ‘I have a dream’. At the age of 34 and standing on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, US, in the front of about 250 000 people that came to listen, pastor King essentially called for equal rights for black and white people. In this regard much still remains to be done, but much progress has fortunately also occurred from those times.

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Altitude training – Benefits for “normal” people

Many elite athletes go high up in the mountains to do some altitude training as hypoxia (reduced oxygen pressure in the air) may give some physiological gains on top of normal training at the sea level. They still do that even if science does not really support these ideas. Some say believing is everything, but it is likely that good training camp in a good terrain where you can devote all your efforts just to training and recovering explains most of the fitness gains due to high altitude training period.

However, hypoxia or altitude training may atually be more beneficial for us “normal”people, who are not training like elite athletes. Recent evidence to support these ideas comes from a study by Camacho-Cardenosa et al. who recently showed that high-intensity interval training under normobaric intermittent hypoxia for 12 weeks in overweight/obese women seems to be promising for reducing body fat content with a concomitant increase in muscle mass.

We have also already some two years ago reviewed the acute responses of exercise and hypoxia in a human body, and health benefits of living and being and training in altitude. Acute responses are summarized in the figure below, but check out also this table for studies showing health benefits in health and disease.

Source: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fendo.2016.00116/full

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 🙂 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.

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Copyright © 2018 Ilkka Heinonen / ileximius. All rights reserved.

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