Is All Exercise Equal? How to Balance Workouts to Create the Ideal Fitness Plan

Genaro C. Armas wrote . . . . . . . . .

Spring can be an ideal time to try a new exercise routine. Warmer temperatures make it enticing to head outdoors and, this year, more people might be considering a return to the gym after getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

While any regular physical activity can benefit your health, the ideal fitness plan requires the right balance.

The American Heart Association recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, or a combination of both; plus muscle-strengthening activity, such as resistance training, at least two days per week.

“Aerobic exercise should be the foundation of any exercise program,” said Barry Franklin, director of preventive cardiology and cardiac rehabilitation at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan.

Aerobic exercise includes activities like walking or jogging. Also known as cardio or endurance workouts, aerobic activities increase cardiorespiratory fitness and delay or prevent illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.

Moderate-intensity physical activity makes the heart beat faster and can make breathing harder than normal, but still allows for one to carry on a conversation.

It’s best to increase intensity gradually when starting a new exercise regimen, Franklin said. For instance, someone interested in running will need to start with a walking program and gradually build up speed over two to three months.

Consult a clinician if unsure how to proceed, he said. They may suggest a medically supervised treadmill test to evaluate how a person’s heart rate, blood pressure and heart rhythm respond to progressive levels of exercise, as well as their level of heart-lung fitness expressed as metabolic equivalents, or METs.

Franklin, a professor of physiology at the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, calls METs the “currency of exercise.” They are used to quantify one’s aerobic fitness in order to recommend the appropriate level of activity. For example, walking at a leisurely pace uses about 2 to 3 METs, while jogging or running requires 8 to 10 METs, depending on speed. The physical activity someone chooses should be at least two METs below the peak MET level reached during treadmill testing, Franklin said.

Studies have shown each 1 MET increase in exercise capacity is associated with a 10% to 25% improvement in survival. However, there is a plateau at about 10 to 12 METs, Franklin said. Someone who measures at 15 METs enjoys the same longevity benefits from being physically fit as someone at 10 to 12 METs.

“More is not always better,” he said.

Strength training includes activities like lifting weights, doing pushups and stretching with resistance bands. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these activities should work all major muscle groups in the body and can be performed on the same or different days as aerobic exercise.

There’s no such thing as a perfect workout or routine for everyone, said Damon Swift, associate professor of kinesiology at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.

“While the health implications of a particular exercise program are important, trying to pick activities that you enjoy and can be incorporated into a routine is also a very important factor,” he said. For instance, some people may find more motivation by taking a walk with friends, while others may prefer to work out by themselves and lift weights.

Swift’s latest research project, published this month in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found exercise coupled with coaching sessions that boosted participants’ non-exercise physical activity by 3,000 steps per day resulted in “greater improvement in fitness compared to aerobic training alone.” Participants who had higher step counts also tended to lose more weight and body fat.

The bottom line: Whatever you choose to do, just keep moving.

“The biggest risk of death is being both inactive and having a high level of sedentary time,” Swift said. “If we can get the people who are inactive to do some kind of activity, that’s when you get the most bang for the buck.”

Source: American Heart Association

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Warns Against Using Peloton Treadmill After Child’s Death

Users with small children and pets should stop using Peloton Tread+ exercise machines immediately, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The warning comes after one child died and dozens of others have been sucked underneath the home treadmill. One family pet also was injured, CPSC said.

Less than a month ago, Peloton reported a child’s death by a Peloton Tread+, triggering the ongoing CPSC probe.

So far, CPSC is aware of 39 incidents, including one death, and considers the Peloton Tread+ a serious risk to children for abrasions, fractures and death, it said in a commission news release.

To underscore the danger, the commission released a video of one child being trapped briefly under a Tread+ machine.

Last month, Peloton CEO John Foley urged people to keep kids and pets away from its exercise equipment, according to CBS News.

He also recommended keeping the safety key out of easy reach when the equipment is not in use, CBS reported.

On Sunday, Foley said in an online blog that the company is cooperating with the CPSC. Peloton has no plans to stop selling or recall the Tread+, according to CBS.

Reports of children becoming entrapped, pinned and pulled under the rear roller of the exercise prompted the CPSC to urge users with kids to immediately stop using the treadmill.

One accident happened while a parent was using the treadmill, so the risk can’t be avoided by locking the device when not in use, CPSC said. Reports also suggest that users may be harmed if they lose balance as a result.

CPSC said if people must continue to use the US$4,295 treadmill, it should be used only in a locked room, to keep kids and pets away.

Source: HealthDay

Physically Active at Work? It’s Not as Healthy as Leisure Exercise

Denise Mann wrote . . . . . . . . .

Going for a brisk walk after a long day at work may be better for your heart than getting all of your exercise on the job.

New research suggests that while current health guidelines indicate that leisure-time activity and physical activity at work are created equally when it comes to heart health benefits, this may not be the case after all.

Leisure-time exercise — whether it be taking a walk, jogging or hopping on your Peloton bike after a hard day’s work — can improve heart health, but only getting your exercise on the job seems to increase heart risks.

This is what’s known as the “physical activity paradox,” said study author Andreas Holtermann, a professor at the National Research Centre for the Working Environment in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“Leisure physical activity leads to fitness, improved health and well-being, but work physical activity leads to fatigue, no fitness gain, and elevated heart rate and blood pressure over the day without sufficient rest,” Holtermann said.

For the study, researchers asked close to 104,000 people (aged 20 to 100 years) from the Copenhagen General Population Study to rate their leisure-time and employment physical activity as low, moderate, high or very high.

There were more than 7,900 major cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes, and about 9,850 deaths overall during an average of 10 years of follow-up. The more leisure-time physical activity a person reported, the lower their risk of dying or experiencing a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event.

By contrast, folks who said they got most of their physical activity on the job were more likely to die or sustain a cardiovascular event than those people who reported less manual labor. The findings held even after the researchers controlled for other factors that affect heart and stroke risks, such as weight, alcohol intake, smoking status, cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

Something has to change, Holtermann said.

“Work ought to be organized, so the worker not become too fatigued or exhausted, with sufficient time/ability for recovery, so they have energy to do the health-promoting activities at leisure,” he said. “The worker ought to take responsibility for…improving physical activity during leisure, as well as getting sufficient recovery to recuperate from work.”

In an editorial accompanying the new study, Martin Halle and Melanie Heitkamp, of the Technical University of Munich in Germany, also called for change. “Companies should offer breaks and recovery time during work, sufficient recreational breaks and complementary exercise training for their employees, especially for workers in heavy manual jobs,” they wrote.

The research was published in the European Heart Journal.

Two American cardiologists agreed that leisure-time physical activity is important for promoting heart health and that occupational activity can be deleterious.

“In general, leisure-time physical activity, which is often of the endurance type, promotes cardiovascular health and reduces the risk of suffering a fatal heart attack,” said Dr. Evan Appelbaum, director of Men’s Health Boston. He was not involved in the new study.

“Occupational physical activity, typically more resistance-type, lacks adequate rest and recovery and may not reduce risk, and may increase risk of heart attack,” Appelbaum said.

Repeat bouts of high-intensity burst exercises such as those that may be part of manual labor can cause a very rapid rise in heart rate. Spikes in heart rate could help trigger cardiovascular crises “or promote higher levels of inflammation/injury that could promote heart disease over time,” Appelbaum added.

If the only exercise you get is at work, it’s not enough to boost heart health, said Dr. Guy Mintz. He directs cardiovascular health at Northwell Health’s Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y.

“Patients engage in physical activity during time away from work, and any physical activity at work is a bonus, not a replacement, for good aerobic activity,” Mintz said. “The findings serve as a wake-up call to companies to promote regular cardiovascular activities in the workday. This can range from yoga, to floor exercise like Tai Chi, to step competitions, etc., to gyms on site.”

More people are working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that could be a good thing, Mintz noted.

“There is a great opportunity to build in effective leisure-time activities into the workday to promote cardiovascular health and a happier and healthier workforce,” he said. “I recommend that all my patients engage in 40 minutes of continuous aerobic activity, like walking, at least four times a week, and there is no excuse not to achieve this goal while working from home.”

Source: HealthDay

One Good Way to Help Beat COVID: Exercise

Robert Preidt wrote . . . . . . . . .

Exercise guards against a host of chronic diseases that can plague people as they age, but can it also protect against severe cases of COVID-19?

New research suggests that’s so: Being physically active reduced COVID-19 patients’ risk of hospitalization, intensive care unit (ICU) admission and death, and even being just somewhat active provided some protection.

“This is a wake-up call for the importance of healthy lifestyles and especially physical activity,” said study author Dr. Robert Sallis. He’s a family and sports medicine physician at the Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center.

The “study truly shows how important that is during this pandemic and beyond,” Sallis said in a Kaiser Permanente news release. “People who regularly exercise had the best chance of beating COVID-19, while people who were inactive did much worse.”

For the study, Sallis and his colleagues analyzed data from more than 48,000 Kaiser Permanente Southern California adult patients, median age 47, who were diagnosed with COVID-19 between January and October 2020. The patients also had their physical activity levels assessed at least twice between March 2018 and March 2020.

Of those patients, just over 6% were consistently active, about 14% were consistently inactive and the remainder were inconsistently active.

The researchers found that nearly 9% of the patients were hospitalized, just over 2% were admitted to the ICU and 1.6% died.

Those who were consistently inactive were twice as likely to be hospitalized, 1.7 times more likely to be admitted to the ICU, and nearly 2.5 times more likely to die than those who were consistently active, the findings showed.

Other than being older than 60 or having a history of organ transplant, consistent inactivity was associated with the highest risk for death from COVID-19, according to the study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Even patients who were inconsistently active had a lower risk of severe COVID-19 than those who were consistently inactive, suggesting any amount of physical activity can be beneficial.

“What surprised me the most from this study was the strength of the association between inactivity and poor outcomes from COVID-19,” said study co-author Deborah Rohm Young, from the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation.

“Even after we included variables such as obesity and smoking in the analysis, we still saw inactivity was strongly associated with much higher odds of hospitalization, ICU admission and death, compared with moderate physical activity or any activity at all,” she added.

Sallis recommended that walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week at a moderate pace will give you a tremendous protective effect against COVID-19.

Walking at a moderate pace means you’re too winded to sing, but can still talk.

“I continue to believe that exercise is medicine that everyone should take, especially in this era of COVID-19,” Sallis concluded.

Source: HealthDay

Activity Is Good. Varied Activity Is Better

The recommendations are clear: physical activity is good for mental health. But it also depends on how varied it is. That’s what a new study by researchers at the University of Basel shows, pointing to one of the reasons why well-being suffers during the pandemic.

A walk in the morning, a jog in the evening or even just going out to buy groceries: activity helps the psyche. Many are trying to stay active during the pandemic despite mandatory home office and limited leisure activities. Others find that they are moving significantly less than before the pandemic because previous everyday activities are off-limits due to measures taken against the spread of Covid-19.

Against this backdrop, a study led by Professor Andrew Gloster of the University of Basel provides an indication of what impact restricted movement patterns might have. The results have been published in the journal BMC Psychiatry.

That exercise promotes not only physical but also mental health is known from various studies. However, these mostly focused on the influence of deliberate exercise programs. “In contrast, little was known about whether everyday, naturally chosen movement patterns also influence mental health,” Gloster explains.

Everyday activity also helps

To investigate this, he and researchers at the University Psychiatric Clinics in Basel collected GPS data from 106 patients with mental disorders who agreed to participate. For this purpose, the study participants were given extra smartphones that they carried with them for a week. This allowed the researchers to track their movements without interfering with the patients’ daily routine. The research team then compared the movement data with surveys of the participants’ well-being and symptoms of their mental illness.

The results showed that the more people moved and the more varied their movements, the greater their sense of well-being. However, no influence on the symptoms could be determined. “Our results suggest that activity alone is not enough to reduce symptoms of mental disorders, but can at least improve subjective well-being,” Gloster elaborates.

“Although the data were collected before the pandemic, the results are also relevant in light of the limitations during the coronavirus crisis,” he adds. Because many social and recreational activities were discontinued during that time, many people’s physical activity patterns also likely became more monotonous. Various studies by research groups at the University of Basel have been able to show that the pandemic took a toll on the psyche of the population. The results of the team led by Gloster suggest that the restricted movement patterns could also play a role in this.

Source: University of Basel