Resilient Female Hormone Function after Record-Breaking Antarctic Crossing!

Women are thought to be biologically sensitive to effects of extreme physical activity when accompanied by weight loss–possible negative consequences cited include bone fractures and fertility difficulties. Scientists from the University of Edinburgh and the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, United Kingdom, examined the effects of an extreme challenge in six women who skied over 1,000 miles in 61 days, while pulling sleds weighing about 176 pounds. All in an environment of very low temperatures and high winds. The investigators monitored several health markers before and after the expedition, including stress, reproductive and metabolic function and fat and muscle levels.

Findings indicated that muscle levels and hormone markers of stress, fertility and bone strength were preserved, despite enduring such extreme exercise and losing on average 22 pounds in body fat. Some tests even showed evidence of exercise-related benefits by two weeks after the expedition had ended. These findings contain some potentially myth-busting data on the impact of extreme physical activity on women.

These investigators have shown that, with appropriate training and preparation, many of the previously reported negative health effects of such challenges can be avoided. The low number of highly-selected women means the findings may not be applicable to all. More research is needed to compare these measures in women with men, and to explore whether factors like dietary content, adequate sleep or psychological preparation might have protected women against the negative effects of extreme exercise with weight loss.

View the abstract

Share this:

Is Weightlifting Good for Your Heart? If Yes, How Much Is Enough?

Aerobic exercise, such as running, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease events like heart attack or stroke; thus, it is commonly called “cardio” exercise. Weightlifting has been traditionally considered to improve sports performance in athletes. Yet, limited evidence exists to clarify whether weightlifting reduces heart attack or stroke risk, which represents major causes of death in the general population. In this study, the researchers investigated the possible relationship between resistance exercise with the risks of developing cardiovascular disease and premature death.

Preventive health exam records of 12,591 adults (average age 47) provided the data for this study. The study found even doing weightlifting exercises one time per week (or less than one hour/week) reduced the risk for a heart attack or stroke by 40-70 percent. This was true regardless of whether or not the subjects reported participating in aerobic exercise! This study fills an important knowledge gap about the benefits of weightlifting–supporting that it may reduce risk of heart attack or stroke, beyond the well-documented benefits of aerobic exercise

View the abstract

Share this:

Selection of Athletic Performance Training Shoe and Training NBA Players

In this segment Dr. Brian Cole of Midwest Orthopedics at Rush & Steve Kashul talk with Dalton Walker, Team Leader at Road Runner Sports of Chicago, about the science of determining the proper  athletic-performance shoe. Dalton explains how several factors including sport, gait and previous injury information will help determine the best fit and best outcome for the perfect shoe.

Also in this segment, Alex Perris, General Manager of RiverNorthCrossfit discusses his techniques as personal trainer and personal experiences training NBA players. Born and raised in New York City, Alex moved to Chicago in 2008 to become full time personal trainer to former Chicago Bulls star Joakim Noah.

He still works with NBA players and other Pro Basketball players. Alex served active duty in the United States Air Force and specializes in general strength and conditioning training and holds CrossFit Level 1 and Level 2 certification. He is available for 1 on 1 training.

Sports Medicine Weekly on 670 The Score

Share this:

Strengthen Your Immune System with MCTs

There’s no way around it—germs surround us all the time.  Singular medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil contains medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) that act as natural antibiotics, which means they boost your immune system and fight off harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa. While completely harmless to our bodies, MCFAs are lethal to some of the most notorious disease-inducing microorganisms in existence. 

They Don’t Stand a Chance

MCFAs may help protect you against:
  • Viruses: influenza, measles, mononucleosis
  • Bacteria: throat infections, pneumonia, earaches, rheumatic fever
  • Fungi, Yeast, and Parasites: ringworm, candida, thrush, giardiasis

Silent Assassins

Due to its chemical structure, MCFAs are drawn to and easily absorbed into most bacteria and viruses. MCFAs enter the lipid membrane and weaken it to the point that it eventually breaks open, expelling the microorganism’s insides and causing imminent death. White blood cells then quickly dispose of the terminated invader’s remains.

Super Fatty Acids

With 8 grams of caprylic acid and 6 grams of capric acid per serving, MCT Oil harbors antimicrobial capabilities, while also being free from any undesirable or unsafe side effects.

  • Capric Acid: one of the two most active antimicrobial fatty acids
  • Caprylic Acid: a potent natural yeast-fighting substance

Research continues to prove MCFAs as one of the best internal antimicrobial substances available without a doctor’s prescription.

MCT Lean MCT Oil 

Add MCT Lean MCT Oil to your daily health regimen to help fight off illness during any time of the year! One of my favorite sources of MCFAs is MCT Lean MCT Oil.  It is rapidly absorbed, easy to digest, and quickly converted to energy to maximize athletic performance. You can add MCT Lean MCT Oil to any drink, smoothie, or shake and use it in place of highly processed and easily oxidized conventional vegetable oils in salad dressings and sauces.
Share this:

What Your Heart Rate Means to Your Health

By Andrew Grahovec with Contributions by: Abbey Corcoran, PT, DPT for ATI Physical Therapy

With every movement and minute of exercise your body goes through during the day, your heart doesn’t always beat with regularity. If healthy, your heart will adjust to the speed of your daily activities to accommodate the need for oxygen, but this may not be the case for everyone. Each individual’s body has its own way of adjusting to their activities, but an unusually high- or low-resting heart rate could be cause for concern. Knowing your pulse, at rest and during exercise, can help identify potential risks for heart attacks or diseases. One way you can do your heart a favor and help decrease these risks is by having good cardiorespiratory fitness.

Cardiorespiratory fitness refers to the ability of the heart and lungs to supply the exercising muscles and tissue with oxygen-rich blood during physical activity. Having good cardiorespiratory fitness can help decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), a person dies every 38 seconds from cardiovascular disease. Living a healthy and active lifestyle can lead to a healthy heart, decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and help your overall health and well-being.

Assessing your heart rate

One way to assess how well your heart is functioning is by monitoring your heart rate. A normal resting heart rate ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute (BPM). To determine your resting heart rate, place your middle and index fingers on the thumb side of your wrist. There, you will find a pulse and you can count the beats. You can count the number of beats within a 10 second timeframe and multiple that number by six to find your resting heartrate. In a healthy individual, your heart rate can reveal how efficient your heart is working.

Your heart rate is determined by how efficiently your heart pumps blood throughout your body per beat. There are four chambers in your heart that help with this process, however, the most important chamber for determining your heart rate is the left ventricle. The left ventricle is responsible for pumping oxygen-rich blood to the entire body. If your left ventricle can pump a larger volume of blood throughout your body per heartbeat, then it will take fewerbeats per minute to distribute the same amount of blood.

Endurance athletes, such as marathon runners and cross country skiers, who have very high cardiorespiratory fitness, have a stronger and larger left ventricle. This makes it possible to pump out higher volumes of blood with each beat resulting in a lower resting heart rate due to the fewer beats per minute to pump out the same amount of blood through the body. This allows endurance athletes to have resting heart rates as low as 40 bpm. The lower your resting heart rate is, the more efficient your heart is working.

Is your resting heart rate high?

If your resting heart rate seems irregular, it may not be time to run to a doctor just yet. Resting heart rates can be affected by many factors including air temperature, emotions and medication. Higher air temperatures and humidity levels increase your heart rate to help keep your body cooler. According to the Cleveland Clinic, heart rates increase by 10 bpm for every degree your body temperature elevates. Emotions such as excitement, surprise and anxiety can also elevate the heart rate due to the activation of your sympathetic nervous system (SNS). Your SNS is responsible for the “flight or fight” response and increases body responses, like your heart rate. If your heart rate seems too low or too high, check your medication to see common side effects that may influence heart rate and consult your doctor.

Lowering your resting heart rate

Regular exercise can help decrease your resting heart rate. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week for adults or a combination of the two. “Moderate” exercise is categorized as exercising at 65 to 75 percent of your max heart rate and “vigorous” exercise is 76 to 95 percent of your max heart rate. To determine your maximum heart rate, take 220 and subtract your age. Then, multiply that number by 0.65 and 0.75. This will give you two numbers, the range you need to be considered exercising at a moderate intensity level. For example, if an individual was 50 years old, their predicted heart rate max would 170 beats per minute (220-50) and their heart rate zone for moderate intensity exercise would be 111-128 beats per minute. If you are just beginning to exercise, start in the lower ranges such as 65 percent to improve your tolerance to the exercise program then slowly work your way up.

Beginning a new exercise program can be intimidating, especially if you have various health conditions. If you are unsure where to begin, you can see your local physical therapist. Our trained staff are experts in prescribing exercise programs to a variety of health conditions.

Are aches and pains getting in the way of your daily activities or starting an exercise program?

If simple home interventions are not helping to lessen aches, pains and discomfort, it’s time to see a physical therapist. Stop by your nearest ATI Physical Therapy clinic for a complimentary screening and get back to your regular exercise routine.

Share this:

Heart Health & Brain Health Go Hand-in-Hand

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease accounts for one of every four deaths in the United States. Many of the causes of heart disease are well-known, including hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes and obesity. Fortunately, there are also well-known lifestyle and behavior changes that can drastically reduce the risk of heart disease and include: smoking cessation, eating a healthy diet and exercising.

Despite the multitude of data showing that lifestyle behaviors can reduce the risk of heart disease and improve cardiovascular health, the Framingham Offspring Study recently reported that the percentage of people with ideal cardiovascular health (using the American Heart Association’s definition of Ideal Cardiovascular Health) has declined over the past 20 years.

Even in the absence of heart disease, the increasing percentage of Americans with less than ideal cardiovascular health translates to greater risk of heart disease and increased all-cause mortality. Because the heart and cardiovascular system are vital factors in overall health, other organ systems will be affected by less-than-ideal cardiovascular health. Importantly, adults having an ideal cardiovascular health score during the middle-aged years had a lower risk of cognitive decline and dementia. In addition, large-scale epidemiological studies have continued to show a strong correlation between cardiovascular health and brain health.

What is the link between cardiovascular health and brain health?

It is possible that heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease or dementia have common risk factors and that is why there are correlations between these conditions. However, the brain requires a large amount of blood flow, which needs to be precisely controlled to maintain optimal neuronal function. If a patient has a problem with the function of the heart or blood vessels, this could prevent adequate blood flow supply to the brain and eventually affect brain function and cognition. We know that patients with congestive heart failure have higher incidence of dementia. In heart failure patients, a reduced capacity of the left ventricle to pump blood (i.e. ejection fraction) is associated with poor cognitive test scores.

The function of the large vessels supplying blood flow to the brain are also important to overall brain health. A paper published almost 70 years ago first reported that patients with carotid occlusion (due to atherosclerosis) eventually progressed to dementia. This early case study was the first to suggest that mild hypoperfusion of the brain, due to large vessel stenosis, could lead to dementia.

Dysfunction in the heart (or pump) or the large blood vessels (or conduits) is associated with reduced cognitive function, but the small blood vessels in the brain that control the blood supply to neurons may also contribute to the link between cardiovascular health and brain health. This hypothesis was first proposed decades ago, based on evidence of disrupted microvessel structure in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients. Disruption in the microvessels can lead to hypoperfusion, disrupt the blood-brain-barrier or reduce the ability of the brain to utilize glucose. Collectively, an interruption at any segment of the blood delivery system (heart, large and small blood vessels) could impair the ability of the brain to function optimally.

physical activity recommendationsNow, for the good news: Because of the link between heart health and brain health, we know that lifestyle behaviors (like exercise!) can reduce the risk of developing heart disease AND developing cognitive decline. Older adults who are more physically active have better brain health compared with sedentary counterparts, suggesting a protective effect of exercise. And although more research is necessary to determine how exercise may promote healthy brain aging and what might be the optimal training program, using what we know about what works for heart health and following ACSM’s guidelines for physical activity is a great place to start. Remember to take care of our heart so that our heart can take care of our brain.

By: Jill Barnes, Ph.D., FACSM, is an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Department of Kinesiology and has an affiliate faculty appointment in the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology in the School of Medicine and Public Health.

Related Article: Heart disease and brain health: Looking at the links

Share this: