Ask anyone of your friends for their advice for methods to relieve back pain and you will get a variety of answers. Sleep with a pillow under your knees, go swimming twice a week, hang upside down from a door jam, use more fish oil and antioxidants, etc. Of course, many of these remedies while interesting, are not based on any corroborating scientific research. One of the biggest trends amongst people today is to use a large exercise ball, aka Swiss ball or physio ball, at work instead of an office chair. Continue reading “Medicine Ball and how to Use it”
Ankle sprains are the most common sports-relates injuries, accounting for more than 12 million injuries per year. These injuries can result in significant time away from games and practices. For this very reason, the practice of taping ankles before there was an injury was introduced more than 60 years ago. Continue reading “Avoiding Ankle Sprains: Does Taping Or Braces Really Help?”
With cooler weather ahead, you may be moving your workouts indoors. While treadmills and ellipticals offer many of the same exercise benefits, your goals and physical condition should guide you. A recent article by The Cleveland Clinic explores several considerations that will help you decide which machine is best for you. Continue reading “Treadmill or Elliptical: Which Is the Better Choice?”
If you have ever lived in a big city or near areas of massive manufacturing, you have experienced pollution. Is it counterproductive or even dangerous to exercise in areas with poor air quality? The deleterious consequences of air pollution on cardiovascular and respiratory health have been well documented, and if you already have any heart or lung conditions, then you may be particularly susceptible.
Outdoor air pollutants may include sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and particulate matter. Although aerobic physical activity is essential for cardiovascular health, during intense activity the increase in respiration amplifies the dose of inhaled pollutants. You are breathing faster and even deeper into your lungs. With increased activity you may even switch from nasal to mouth breathing, bypassing any nasal filtration.
A recent study conducted in Hong Kong compared cardiorespiratory fitness levels of Chinese school children exposed to different levels of outdoor air pollution. The results showed that children living in areas with higher levels of pollution performed significantly slower at fitness testing and had lower levels for maximum oxygen uptake. The same appears to be true for elite endurance athletes. A 2010 study comparing marathon finishing times observed that as ambient air pollutant concentrations increased, marathon performances decreased.
Beyond just hindering performance, the American Heart Association scientific statement “Air Pollution and Cardiovascular Disease” concluded that exposure to air pollution contributes to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. The adverse health outcomes from pollution include:
- Damage to the airways of the lungs
- Decreased pulmonary function
- Increased reliance on medications
- Exacerbated asthma symptoms
- Increased risk of developing asthma
- Increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular disease
- Increased risk of lung cancer
Although pollution can affect anyone, groups that are particularly susceptible to fluctuations in air quality include:
- Individuals with respiratory diseases (asthma, COPD, and fibrosis)
- Individuals with circulatory conditions (arrhythmias, hypertension, and ischemic heart disease)
- Individuals with chronic diseases (diabetes and collagen diseases)
It is unclear how much exposure to pollution poses health risks. However, staying active is incredibly important for health and wellness. Since it is virtually impossible to avoid all outdoor pollution, steps can be taking to reduce your exposure to it.
- Take your workout indoors.
- Avoid running or biking along major roads where there are high-traffic emissions.
- Choose to exercise in parks and athletic venues surrounded by trees and preferably away from high-traffic roadways.
- Exercise in the morning when pollutants are generally lower.
- Check daily pollution levels. A very popular app is CN air quality, easily available on itunes store too.
- Susceptible individuals may avoid exercising when air quality is poor. Consult with your doctor.
As you travel around China we all have seen motor scooters loaded with an entire family and no one wearing a helmet. We shake our head knowingly and think they ought to know better. But what about our own children – are they wearing helmets when they are biking around the neighborhood? And should they? Continue reading “Kids on Bicycle – Keep them Safe and Let them have Fun”
The secret to amazing abs? Stop doing crunches and start doing these 3 flat-belly moves! Continue reading “Abs Workout: The Fastest Way to Lose Belly Fat”