Using Wearable Trackers to Re-examine Health Implications of Physical Activity Patterns Among Weekend Warriors

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The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity per week, yet little guidance is given as to how best achieve this amount of weekly activity. Do those who participate in activity most days of the week have similar mortality benefits to those who only exercise on a few days?

In this population-based study of 3,438 adults over age 40, investigators used physical activity trackers, worn for a week, to classify individuals who did their weekly activity only one-two days per week (Weekend Warriors). The compared mortality rates for those Weekend Warriors over a period of about six years against rates for similar individuals who did their activity more frequently each week.

Both the Weekend Warriors and the more frequently active participants had similarly lower mortality rates than individuals in this large study group who were more sedentary – even after results were adjusted for overall activity per week. Physical activity was related to decreased mortality rate, even among those who were active only one or two days per week.

For more information, view the abstract

American College of Sports Medicine

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Are Minimalist Shoes Effective for Strengthening Foot Muscles in Runners?

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As the main point of contact with the ground, the foot plays a vital role in how humans move. The complex structure of the foot includes 26 bones, more than 20 muscles, many ligaments and various types of soft tissue. These features allow the foot to provide rigid support or flexibility, depending on the situation. Weakness of the basic foot muscles (those small muscles located solely within the foot that do not cross the ankle joint) has been associated with a variety of foot injuries. Strengthening these muscles may help prevent injuries.

In this research, the investigators measured the effects of walking in minimalist footwear or performing specific foot strengthening exercises on the size and strength of some of these basic foot muscles. A total of 57 runners participated over a period of eight weeks in one of these randomly assigned conditions: minimalist shoe walking, foot muscle strengthening or a control situation. Serial measurements of foot muscle strength and size were made during the study.

The research showed that walking in minimalist shoes results in strength gains and muscle size increases; the same was found in the group that performed the foot exercises. While minimalist shoes have mostly been associated with running, the general public and/or people who suffer from a variety of painful foot conditions may benefit from walking in minimalist shoes.

For more information, view the abstract

American College of Sports Medicine

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Ten Things You Need to Know About Sports Nutrition

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  1. Look Beyond Weight When Determining Health It’s not your weight that matters, it’s what constitutes your weight. Find a way to learn if you have too little muscle or too much fat and find a strategy (exercise and eating well) that increases muscle and lowers fat. The number on the scale might stay the same, but you will look better, perform better and will be healthier.
  2. Building Muscle Takes More Than Just Protein Building muscle requires a combination of:
    • Added resistance to muscles
    • Staying in a good energy balanced state to encourage anabolic hormone production
    • Having a good distribution of nutrients to sustain tissue health
    • Adequate sleep
    • Consuming more protein in the right amounts and at the right times to encourage muscle protein synthesis
  3. Protein: It’s Not Just More, But When and How Much If you are an athlete, you need about double the protein as non-athletes, but just eating more protein isn’t enough. It must be consumed in the right amounts, at the right times and when in a reasonably good energy balanced state. Randomly eating more protein doesn’t accomplish what the body needs.
  4. Infrequent Meals Cause Problems Meal skipping, or eating in a pattern that fails to satisfy energy requirements in real time, creates many problems including higher body fat levels, lower lean mass and greater cardiometabolic risk factors. Interestingly, more frequent eating is associated with lower total caloric intake because of better ghrelin (appetite hormone) control.
  5. Eating Good Foods Helps the Microbiome Keep You Healthy Inadequate intake of fresh fruits and vegetables may alter the microbiome, resulting in higher body fat percentage and reduced athletic performance. Consuming plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables helps to sustain good bacterial colonies that live in the gut. Additional benefit: Fruits and vegetables give you the carbs you may lack for maximal performance.
  6. Good Food, Bad Food, Wrong Choice There is no perfect food, and if you keep eating the same food(s) because you believe it’s good for you, you place yourself at nutritional risk. There is no substitute for eating a wide variety of foods that are well-distributed throughout the day. You don’t get too much of anything potentially bad, and you expose tissues to all the nutrients they need.
  7. Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) can be a Problem The best exercise performance occurs when you have enough energy to support the exercise. If you frequently post-load by consuming the energy (calories) after the workout/competition, be aware of the potential health and performance consequences. You can’t drive your car on an empty tank of gas, and neither can you perform well if your tank is empty.
  8. Poor Hydration, Poor Performance Sustaining the best possible fluid balance is important for many reasons, including sustaining heart stroke volume, sustaining sweat rates, enabling delivery of nutrients to working cells and enhancing removal of metabolic waste products from cells.
  9. Recovery from Exercise is Just as Important as the Exercise Putting stress on muscles through exercise isn’t enough to reap the full health benefits. You must give muscles an opportunity to recover from the stress so that they can benefit from the exercise. Adequate sleep is important by helping to sustain appropriate eating behaviors and muscle recovery.
  10. It Is Important to Learn How to Lower Stress Stress levels impact eating behavior. High stress levels can lead to the consumption of energy-dense foods that are high in fat and sugar. Find a strategy for stress-reduction that can help you sustain optimal nutrition, which will positively influence both performance and health.

By Dan Benardot, PhD, DHC, RD, LD, FACSM, Professor Emeritus at Georgia State University, and Visiting Professor in the Center for the Study of Human Health at Emory University. He is the author of the new title ACSM’s Nutrition for Exercise Science. For more information about the book and to download an excerpt, visit https://www.acsm.org/read-research/books/acsms-nutrition-exercise-science.

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Wearable Tech is New Top Fitness Trend for 2019

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Annual industry survey predicts what you’ll see in fitness next year

Won’t leave home without your smart watch, fitness tracker or GPS tracking device? If so, you’re not alone. More consumers and health and fitness professionals are using technology to monitor heart rate and collect other daily health metrics. Not surprisingly, wearable technology is forecast as next year’s most popular trend in fitness according to more than 2,000 health and fitness pros surveyed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

“Technology is a must-have in our daily lives, and wearable tech can be an invaluable tool for those looking to get and stay physically active,” said Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, the lead author of the survey and associate dean in the College of Education & Human Development at Georgia State University in Atlanta. “We can easily monitor heart rate, count steps, track calories and create plans. The data collected by wearable technology can be used to inform the user and their health care team about important daily health metrics like physical activity, and it encourages healthier lifestyle choices.”

Besides its expanding popularity, wearable technology’s rise to the top trend for 2019 may have been fueled by manufacturers correcting monitoring inaccuracies in the past. Thompson is enthusiastic about the broad impact wearable tech can have across the population. “From teenagers to seniors, the growing number of people using wearable technology has never been higher,” said Thompson. “That means more and more people have fingertip access to tools and resources that can help them stay active and healthy.”

Now in its 13th year, the annual survey helps the health and fitness industry make critical programming and business decisions. The survey provided 39 potential trends to choose from, including possible new trends such as virtual reality, community interventionist, and Access Pass. None of the possible new trends made the top 20 list. The top 20 trends were ranked and published by ACSM. Notable trends include group training, which maintained the number two spot; the continued popularity of high-intensity interval training (HIIT); a growing emphasis on employing certified fitness professionals and increased interest in workplace health and wellness programs.

The top 10 fitness trends for 2019 are:

  1. Wearable Technology: Includes fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors and GPS tracking devices.
  2. Group Training: Group exercise instructors teach, lead and motivate individuals through intentionally designed, larger, in-person group movement classes (more than five participants). Group programs are designed to be motivational and effective for people at different fitness levels, with instructors using leadership techniques that help individuals achieve fitness goals.
  3. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT involves short bursts of activity followed by a short period of rest or recovery. Despite concerns expressed by some fitness professionals, these 30-minute or less sessions continue to be a popular form of exercise around the world.
  4. Fitness Programs for Older Adults: As Baby Boomers age into retirement, many health and fitness professionals are taking the time to create age-appropriate fitness programs to keep older adults healthy and active.
  5. Bodyweight Training: Bodyweight training uses minimal equipment, making it more affordable. Not limited to just push-ups and pull-ups, this trend allows people to get “back to the basics” with fitness.
  6. Employ Certified Fitness Professionals: Hiring health/fitness professionals certified through programs accredited by the NCCA is more important than ever. ACSM is one of the largest and most prestigious fitness-certification organizations in the world.
  7. Yoga: Based on ancient tradition, yoga utilizes a series of specific bodily postures practiced for health and relaxation. This includes Power Yoga, Yogalates, Bikram, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Kripalu, Anurara, Kundalini, Sivananda and others.
  8. Personal Training: With the growing emphasis on increased physical activity, more people are preparing for careers in allied health fields like personal training. Education, training and proper credentialing for personal trainers remain important to the health and fitness facilities that employ them.
  9. Functional Fitness Training: This trend focuses on strength training to improve balance and ease of daily living. Functional fitness and special fitness programs for older adults are closely related.
  10. Exercise is Medicine: This global health initiative by ACSM encourages health care providers to include physical activity assessment and associated referrals to certified fitness professionals in the community as part of every patient visit.

The full list of top 20 trends is available in the article “Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2019” published in the current issue of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal®.

American College of Sports Medicine

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