Monday, May 21, 2012

Exercise is Medicine mashup - interval training, weight loss and getting paid to eat junk

Last week I co-hosted an Exercise is Medicine conference at my institution. 160 like-minded exercise enthusasists and researchers in one room left me feeling energized and reinvigorated about my own fitness goals, as well as my research interests in exercise and disease.

Given the new numbers published today that 1 in 4 American teenagers may be diabetic or prediabetic (23%, up dramatically from 9% in 2000) some good news is definitely in order. I'll post the big take home messages from the exercise conference later this week. But first, I wanted to share my favorite abbreviated workout and some thoughts on obesity and weight loss.




Interval training - easier than you think. Have you ever tried interval training? It is a great way to enhance your every day exercise routine whether you walk, run, bike or row. Interval training allows you to work at a level of intensity you couldn't sustain for a longer period of time. These short bursts of high intensity exercise can result in big fitness gains if done regularly and are a staple for elite athletes for this reason. More recently, interval training has been shown to have significant improvements on overall health. All the same benefits with a lot less time? I'm in.

For a start, try 1 minute intervals. Run hard for 1 minute, run easy for 1 minute - repeat 9 times for a great 20 minute workout. On days when I have another 10 minutes, I bookend this with a 5 minute warm up and cool down at a comfortable pace. I try to do this once a week for a quick but high impact workout. If you want to know more, this short video provides a good introduction to interval training.

The math of obesity. I read this NY Times article the other day on a mathematician studying obesity and I've been giving it a lot of thought. In discussing what contributes to the obesity epidemic today, he points out that the availability of cheap food in considerable excess is a huge problem - I couldn't agree more. Although he discounts a decrease in physical activity over the last 30 years as a contributing factor in the obesity epidemic, and I have to disagree - the article makes some very good points about what is now known about weight loss and weight maintenace. We now know that 100 calories is processed very differently in someone of a healthy weight versus someone that is overweight or has recently lost weight. It takes three years for a new eating pattern or weight loss to be fully established! More and more, we have to think about healthy lifestyle changes and get away from the idea of the short-term diet fix. Interesting food for thought!

Speaking of excess food, if you sign up to be a subject in this research study at Washington University in St.Louis, they will pay you $3500 to consume all the fast food you can eat for three months! The sad truth is, they will probably have no shortage of volunteers for this study.

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It's already late May, more than half-way through this month devoted to exercise and all things healthy. Are you hitting your exercise goals this month? I exercised in the morning three times last week and picked the kids up from school in the jogging stroller one afternoon. And I've been very active cleaning the house for showings and walking behind Charlie as he learns to ride his new strider bike. I hit the minimum recommended 150 minutes of exercise this past week, but I'd like to do even better than that. I started my Monday morning with a short run, so I'm hoping I'll suprass 150 minutes this week.

Find more exercise posts here.

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