Category Archives: Science

If your knee hurts, keep exercising, says expert


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Ewa M Roos, University of Southern Denmark

If you take up exercise later in life, as a treatment for joint or hip pain, you should expect a small, temporary increase in pain. But if you proceed sensibly, you will be rewarded with pain relief similar to that of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen, and twice that of a non-prescription painkiller, such as paracetamol. In fact, the pain relief from taking up exercise is large enough that many people put their knee or hip surgery on hold.

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PSA: Don’t listen to Gwyneth Paltrow’s health advice

I’ve mentioned before that taking advice from unqualified celebrities when it comes to health is a bad idea. While they might be well intentioned, good intentions are not the same a good advice. On that note – please stay away from – the health, wellness and lifestyle business operated by Gwyneth Paltrow. There’s too much in it that is either misinformed of frankly dangerous to take a chance that something in it might be useful.

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What if exercise doesn’t work for you?

Although exercise is often considered a panacea for many conditions, we don’t all respond it equally. While some can hit the gym for a few weeks and see results, others might labour for years and see no results.

Research supports what many of us know empirically; we all respond to exercise in different ways. And, we respond to different exercise regimes.

The key is to be consistent and give exercise a chance. If a particular activity isn’t fun, try another. The trick is to find something you enjoy doing so that healthy activity is fun and not a chore.

Running is NOT bad for your knees

A recent article at Women’s Running looked at longitudinal study of runners’ knees.

The study by Professor James Fries of California’s Stanford University found runners from the study (now in their 70s) found those who run consistently can expect to have less arthritis than non-runners as they age and a lower risk of osteoarthritis and hip replacements.

The full article can be found at Women’s Running.


High expectations and anxiety impact weight loss

According to research by behavioural scientists from Australia’s CSIRO, most Australians tend to over-think, have too high expectations and are anxious about failure – all of which can derail the best intentions when it comes to shedding unwanted kilograms (or pounds if you prefer).

They found there are five behavioural “Diet Types” with the over-thinking, anxious perfectionist the predominant type.

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Correlation, causation, flaky science and trust

Debunking Food MythsA recent article on the weight loss benefits of eating breakfast says

That doesn’t mean particular breakfasts can’t help some people control their appetites, or bring other benefits like energy. Schlundt’s study was tiny. But it shows how easy it is to simplify the complexities and limitations of nutrition science and cherry-pick the findings.

The point of the article is that choosing a single study to prove a point is easy. When you’re looking at a “fact” a single data point is not enough. The reason peer review is so important in science is that being able to repeat a study is critical.

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New skin patch analyses sweat for workout data

Photo provided by J. Rogers, Northwestern University

Researchers have long known that our perspiration can be used to tell us what is happening within our bodies. Now, a new skin patch under development by the Northwestern University’s Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics can measure acidity level and concentrations of chloride, glucose and lactate.

Those readings can be used to provide indications of hydration and other factors that can effect exercise performance. At the moment, the patch shows what’s going on through coloured indicators on the patch but the plan is for the data to be transmitted to smartphones where an app can show the feedback and potentially integrate into systems that assist with optimising exercise programs. Continue reading

Running lowers knee joint inflammation

A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, a group of researchers measured inflammation markers in the knee joint fluid of several healthy men and women aged 18–35, both before and after running.

They found the GM-CSF and IL-15 markers, which indicate kneee joint inflammation in synovial fluid decreased in concentration in the research subjects after 30 minutes of running.

When the same fluids were extracted before and after a non-running condition, the inflammation markers stayed at similar levels.

The study’s lead author Robert Hyldahl said “What we now know is that for young, healthy individuals, exercise creates an anti-inflammatory environment that may be beneficial in terms of long-term joint health”.

You can read an abstract and access the full article here.

BMI and GI – can we trust the numbers?

Body mass Index, or BMI, has been used by doctors and other health professionals as aindicator of healthiness. And Glycemic Index (GI) has been a popular tool for nutritioists to advise on the rate at which foods will release sugars into your bloodstream.

The trouble is, niether tool is perfect nor do they take into accout the differences in our indivdual body compostion or metabolism.

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Competition is a key to fitness success

img_0220Anyone who has run alongside or just behind someone on a track or sporting field knows that competition can drive you top perform better. Ands we’ve written before about how gamification can help drive performance but a new study, published in Preventive Medicine Reports, looked at  nearly 800 graduates and professional students to see how competition impacted performance.

The researchers collected data from the participants via a website. Unbeknownst to the students,  the researchers had split them into four groups  – competition, team support, team competition and a control group – to test how different kinds of social networks affected their exercise levels.

The results showed that competition was the strongest motivator, with attendance rates 90% higher in the competitive groups than in the control group.

You can read the full report here.