Saturday, 31 May 2008

Exercise Cuts Cancer Death In Men

ScienceDaily (May 30, 2008) — Men who exercise often are less likely to die from cancer than those who don't exercise, according to a new study from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet. More…

Friday, 30 May 2008

A Preventable Mass Killer (Part-1)

By: Mujuthaba

According to WHO 5% of all deaths caused globally is due to diabetes, and of all the diabetic cases, 90% is type-2 diabetes. I’m sorry to start on a negative note on the issue, but the worst thing is that type-2 diabetes is a prevailing killer while it can be easily prevented. Let me try to explain the disease in plain terms.

Diabetes, or ‘hakuru-macchah dhiun’ in local terms, is a collective term for three different conditions. They are type-1 diabetes, type-2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. After you take a meal, your blood extracts sugar (glucose) from the meal. This sugar in the blood would need to go into the skeletal muscles and other vital organs.

To make this blood sugar to get into those tissues (or lower the blood sugar), a hormone named ‘insulin’ is released into the blood. Insulin ‘tells’ the tissues to accept the sugar, only then the sugar is accepted by the tissues. Diabetes is caused when either the hormone insulin isn’t produced or the tissues doesn’t or cannot ‘listen’ to insulin.

Type-1 diabetes is caused when insulin is not produced by the body, which is why the patient needs to rely on insulin injections. This disease is commonly due to genetic factors and patients are diagnosed as a child. Type-2 diabetes is caused commonly due to the muscle not ‘listening’ to the released hormone insulin, which is mostly prevalent in obese and elderly individuals.

Type-2 diabetes is controlled and prevented through life-style changes such as taking up exercise and modifying one’s diet. The sugar from the blood is extremely important for the skeletal muscles and other organs for their function. The sugar from blood is the major fuel for their functioning.

After the tissues starve of their sugars, the tissues become frail, impairing their function. This is why diabetic patients loose a lot of muscle mass during the course of the condition. Following the disease; kidney failure, impaired functioning of the limbs, heart diseases, blood vessel conditions and loss of vision is very common. In short, this is not a bull-crap disease.

Excess fat in the body (especially surrounding the muscles/organs and in the muscles), prevents the hormone insulin to activate the tissues to take in sugar in the blood. This is why controlling the weight is extremely important to prevent from type-2 diabetes.

I have explained that the hormone insulin is the reason why the sugar flowing in the blood gets accepted by the tissues. Well, there is another important factor that makes the tissues to accept sugars, EXERCISE. Exercise creates the tissues to work so hard, that the tissues would accept the sugar in the blood without any hormone or any other factor. This is why exercise is the therapeutic treatment for diabetic patients prescribed by doctors or other medical practitioners.

In part-2 of this article I will explain how exercise itself ensures that type-2 diabetic patients can live a normal life. I will present the type of exercise prescription for type-2 diabetic patients, diet recommendations and the limitations of training in the next article. Since this disease is really close to me, it is extremely important that the knowledge on the issue is passed on accurately.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Oral Hormone Replacement Therapy Pills 'blood clot risk link'

BBC Health (22 May 2008) --Menopausal women who use oral hormone replacement therapy (HRT) more than double their risk of blood clots, French scientists say. But using skin patches to deliver oestrogen does not increase risk, they report in the British Medical Journal. More...

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Menstrual Cycling

By: Mujuthaba

Cramps, pain, mood swings, depression, anxiety and the list continue. These are all symptoms a post-pubertal and pre-menopausal female has to go through during a menstruation period or cycle. All of the above listed (and much more) affects are the results of hormonal changes that ensure the proper functioning of the crucial cycle.

Menstruation does have an influence on the female body physiology, especially due to the hormonal fluctuations. The major hormones of the cycle, estrogen and progesterone are known to:

  1. Increase endurance performance
  2. Increase fat-loss (excluding the hips and breasts)
  3. Increase in muscle glycogen storage (main fuel for training)
  4. Increase cognitive awareness to training
  5. Increase bone density

These reactions indicate that positive physiological changes do occur during menstruation.

The unpleasant consequence of the menstrual cycle (dysmenorrhea) is known to be reduced in women exercising during menstruation. The pain and cramps are caused by a natural chemical (prostaglandins) which stimulate the contraction of the uterine wall during the periods. Exercise relieves the pain by over-riding the affects of prostaglandins with the release of the ‘feel-good’ exercise hormones known as endorphins.

Bloating, which is also a negative outcome of menstruation, in some women, are also reduced through exercising. Bloating is caused by an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen region, which leads to unpleasantness and pain. Exercise aids to alleviate bloating by reducing bodily fluid through sweating.

As outlined above, the combination of exercising and the increased amount of ‘female hormones’ (ie. estrogen and progesterone) will continue to benefit the female body during menstruation. It is recommended that women with normal menstrual cycles continue exercising normally as before, through the cycle.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Relieve the Tension of Hypertension

By: Mujuthaba

Hypertension or ‘ley macchah dhiun’ is a very common disease, which affects almost a billion people worldwide. A blood pressure (BP) reading of 140/90mmHg is the marking point of hypertension. Hypertension is blamed for leaving life-threatening conditions and/or diseases in its path, such as heart attacks (myocardial infarction), strokes, kidney failure, vascular complications (peripheral vascular diseases) and vision impairment (retinopathy).

Hypertension maybe caused by single or multiple factors. Fifty percent prevalence of the disease is in sedentary individuals. Other factors that contribute are excessive smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol (HDL) and excessive salt intake.

Hypertension can be controlled and reduced by altering current lifestyle. Follow these guidelines to achieve it:

- If obese, try to maintain a normal body weight. Losing 10kg results in 5-20mmHg reduction in hypertensive BP.

- Restrict Sodium (ie. salt, soya sauce…etc) intake. This increases blood volume, putting extra pressure on the blood vessels. Low sodium diet reduces hypertensive BP by 2-8mmHg.

- Manage the diet. Consume fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy products with reduced contents of saturated fat (or animal fat). This decreases hypertensive BP by 8-14mmHg.

- Engage in moderate physical activity (such as walking), most days during the week for 30 minutes. This reduces the hypertensive BP by 4-9mmHg.

Exercise should not be undertaken if the resting BP is greater than 200/110. An exercise/exercise testing should be terminated if BP reading is greater than 220/105. Aerobic type exercises are preferred over resistance training, as lifting weights may cause Valsalva maneuver (forced holding of breath), which would increase the BP by folds. Recommendation for exercise is 3-7 days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 60 minutes. The exercise intensity should remain between 40-70% of maximum exercise capability (VO2max) of the person.

Hypertension is avoidable and it takes determination. I hope this article helps to relieve the hypertensive lifestyle.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Trainer's Worst Nightmare

By: Mujuthaba

Over-training is one of the mistakes made by consistent exercisers. It can be prominent in inexperienced novice athletes too. Over-training is when training turns out to be a nightmare. Instead of benefiting, the exerciser ends up with injuries. There are psychological and physiological implications of over-training.

Over-training is when the exerciser doesn’t take adequate rest, while either increasing intensity of training or duration of the training session. Over reaching to achieve a goal can be one of the reason for increasing the overall workload. Some athletes reach over the six month mark to recover from over-training while some athletes never recover.

Symptoms of over-training include acute fatigue, decrease in performance (due to decrease in strength and endurance), mood state changes, increased resting heart rate, more prone to injuries and continuous mild aches and pain all over the body. To prevent over-training, reduce or stop training immediately and do a follow-up on your training program. Cross-training or doing other modes of exercises could be helpful during the recovery.

There is a simple test to determine or track recovery to avoid over-training. All you need is a stop-watch and knowledge of taking pulse rate. First step is to lie down on your back for fifteen minutes. Take your pulse rate (for a minute) lying down after fifteen minutes. After that slowly stand up, wait for fifteen seconds and take another reading of your pulse rate for a minute. Record the difference between the two pulse rates. If the difference is less than fifteen, you have recovered from you last training. If the pulse rate is over fifteen, you need time to recover before your next training session.

It is necessary that adequate rest is given to your body, still, keep training carefully.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

My Nine Rules for the Healthy Diet

By: Mujuthaba

I have had a lot of people asking me, ‘why don’t I get any changes to my body even though I work-out?’ The answer to it is a follow-up on the diet. Joining a gym is not a way of getting into a healthy lifestyle. You have to have discipline at the dining table too. Avoiding the diet is one of the major mistakes exercisers do. Follow these simple nine rules and get back on the right track, see how things change after that.

  1. Do not skip meals: Do not take two or one big meal daily. If you starve yourself a bunch of negative things happen. Firstly, if you starve, the body is ready to store more energy (fat) to cope with starvation. So the next time you start eating, the body tends to store more weight. Most people also tend to eat a huge meal after starving, which also helps gain weight. Secondly, you will be starved of a lot of basic vitamins and minerals that is needed by the body for normal daily functioning. Thirdly, less daily meals lowers the metabolic rate further.
  2. Take six small meals daily: How about this, eat more meals. Six meals are supposed to be small meals. Avoid large meals. This amount of meals increases the metabolic rate rapidly. You need to be careful at the type of food you eat. Small six meals won’t make you hungry. You can start a meal as early as you like, but none late into the night. If you want to eat something at night, eat a fruit.
  3. Low energy and low fat food: From now on, look closer at the food you eat. When you start buying food, look at the labels. Buy replacements for your normal food supply with the low fat products. When you choose low fat, take a look at the total energy/calorie on the label too. Buy the replacement with lowest energy/calorie count on the label. One thing you have to remember is that people make the mistake of avoiding fat, but not the total energy in foods. How much you avoid fat, and refuse to be careful about the total energy, there would be no weight-loss.
  4. More Fruit and Vegetables: Awesome source of nutrients. Eat a colourful fruit or make a fruit mix with low fat natural yoghurt. Whenever you feel like eating something, make sure you have a fruit on hand instead of a piece of cake. Well, vegetables. Now comes the salads. You could make salads, with olive oil and replace the dressings with those new ‘lite’ dressings in the market.
  5. Cut Down on Fast food: Avoid the deep fried fish and chips, burgers, fried short eats...etc. You can have fast food at least once a week. Make this a rule in your first dieting step. Excess fast food can be detrimental to your training results.
  6. Careful on MSG: Have you heard of this before? MSG (Mono-Sodium-Glutamate) is used as a flavour in foods. This is actually used in laboratory tests to make normal lab rats obese or over-weight. If it makes lab rats obese in a short time, it’s going to have the same effect on humans too.
  7. Hydrate yourself: By the time you feel thirst, your body would have already lost a litre of crucial fluid for body functioning. So, thirst is not a good indication of dehydration. It’s an indication of a body in desperation for fluid. A number of functions in the body would have been impaired by the time you feel thirst.
  8. Take a Multi-vitamin: It is always very easy to get deprived of nutrients when you are on a weight-loss program. So professionals in this area recommends a multi-vitamin to be taken daily as the only supplement. So it is wise, and I would also recommed to use a multi-vitamin daily.
  9. Swap Sugary drinks: Replace the soft-drinks with coffee, tea and fresh juice. Caffeine in coffee helps to mobilise the fat stores. Tea is really healthy and contains a number of anti-oxidants. One cup of tea has more anti-oxidants than a serving of broccoli or carrots. So why have a soft drink in a cafe’ or restaurant?

Let’s hope these simple guidelines keep you on the right track for weight-management.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Avoiding the Avoidables

By: Mujuthaba

It’s about time I sat my butt down and wrote about exercise in a way how it should be. For most of the population, exercise is all about image by keeping in shape. But come on guys, there’s way more to it than that. Yep…I’m talking about all the health benefits shrouded under the toned up body.

Let’s start with those diseases that are caused by inactivity. Coronary artery disease, hypertension, type-2 diabetes and hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol). How many people do you know who has got these diseases? I can be a straight forward 100% sure that you would know more than one person. These diseases maybe caused by genetic or aging factors, but each one of them can be controlled, fixed and prevented through physical activity.

All of these diseases are caused from increased visceral fat, which are not helpful if individuals seek a sedentary lifestyle. Now, these diseases aren’t acute diseases, they are the most common chronic diseases facing the world. You will see people, well, mostly aged people on cocktails of medication from preventable diseases like this. These diseases could have been prevented by gifting a couple of minutes on physical activity from the days while they were young. I guess we are just too preoccupied with other things in life that we have little time to look after our own body.

There are a number of diseases that benefit from exercise. There has been successful resistance training done on chronic kidney failure patients treated on dialysis. This training prevented muscle wasting in these patients increasing their strength, aerobic capacity and improving their activities of daily living. Other such diseases and disorders are respiratory diseases (COPDs), ischemia, anginas, cancers, chronic fatigue syndrome, AIDS and congenital diseases which are all controlled through exercising.

Obviously, sedentary lifestyle has been associated with increased morbidity and mortality in all the populations. So why are we blowing up the balloon and just waiting for it to pop, when we can just avoid this? Have you forgotten the effect of those endorphins, the feel good hormones released after exercising? Have you forgotten how much stamina you can add to your life from exercising? Have you forgotten how less stressful your life would be from exercising? Have you forgotten the strength that you could experience from exercising? How about the overall psychological and physiological improvements from exercising?

Make a new resolution to avoid the diseases that you can prevent. Give a minimum thirty minutes of your day on a physical activity of your interest. Doesn’t matter how old or young you are. You have just one life and you were born with the resources to enjoy a longer one, let’s make use of it.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Running After Digestion

By: Mujuthaba

If you are part of a physically demanding job or profession, such as professional sports or even in the military, running seems to be the number one physical activity. Running is a very good way to increase your functional capacity of the lungs, heart and blood vessels. Recent studies also show that running is the best mode of exercise for losing fat. Running, not jogging, at its intense, do have some detrimental results sometimes. In this article I will be referring to its effect on the digestive system or the gastro-intestinal tract.

The digestive system is a long tract which starts from the mouth and ends at the rectum. This tract is an average 30 foot (9 meters) long in length. They are made up of muscle tissues (smooth muscles; not skeletal muscles), and obviously functions on nutrient and oxygen availability to these tissues. The digestive system moves the food in the body by contracting these intestinal muscles. So what happens if the digestive system doesn’t get enough nutrients and oxygen?

Running uses much of the largest muscles of the body. This creates excessive flow of blood into muscles of the lower body. This increased blood flow to the legs will be so much in demand, that the blood flow to the other systems of the body is reduced. One such system that loses its blood supply to the lower body is the digestive system. This decreases the nutrient and oxygen flow to the intestines and other secondary digestive organs.

Once the food is ingested, there will be an increased blood flow into the digestive tract. At a demanding time for the digestive system, if one starts to run before digestion of the food is complete, complications start to occur. Such complications as abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea may occur from running. The recommended time to exercise after a meal is between 1-2 hours. Longer time should be given depending on the meal. In short, time should be given for the food to be digested before going for a run. It is important to note that if you are getting ready for an event, avoid taking high fibre meals, which would take longer to digest. It is best to intake a high GI meal before an event. Even in these cases, appropriate time should be given for the food to digest to avoid complications.

I hope this brief article gives an idea of avoiding a run immediately after a meal. Running maybe the mode that creates the majority of complications in this issue, but this goes for all types of physical activities.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Weight Loss Possible When Self-belief High

ScienceDaily (May 2, 2008) — If you are what you eat, what you eat has a lot to do with how you think about yourself, says a QUT PhD researcher whose study is part of an international research project on the healthy ageing of women. More...

BMI: Divides All, Except What it’s Supposed To Divide

By: Mujuthaba

How do I lose my weight? This is a question that is bombarded constantly towards people working in the fitness field. Don’t get me wrong, but this article is not on methods to lose weight. I just want to shed some light on the way of measuring one’s own ‘weight’. The most common of them all is Body Mass Index, or BMI.

What are we really talking about when we talk about gaining ‘weight’ and losing ‘weight’? In layman terms, ‘weight’ is the numerical value which you would see when you stand on a scale. If your ‘weight’ has increased, it’s a bad sign. Well, for some at least. If you turn out to be a body builder, gaining ‘weight’ would bring a smile to the face. In the fitness arena, ‘weight’ loss is the term used for fat loss. ‘Weight’ gain is the term referred to increase in lean body mass or bone and muscle mass.

So, what does BMI measure? This is a very popular measurement used to categorize people into being under-weight, normal, over-weight or classes of obesity. This is used by schools and various commercial businesses and even in the fitness industry. BMI is used to assess weight in relation to height of a person. It is calculated by dividing a persons’ weight in kilograms by height in meters squared (Weight-kg/height-m2). A BMI value less than 18.5 puts a person as underweight, a value between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered to be normal. An over-weight person would have a BMI between 25 and 29.9. Individuals with a BMI beyond 30 are classed under the three classes of obesity.

BMI is a method of measuring body composition, or the measurement of fat and fat-free mass of a body. Although, BMI neither measure a person’s body fat nor does it measure a person’s fat-free mass. I will give you an example. A body builder weighing 80kg with a height of 5’9” (1.75m) would be classified as being over-weight with a BMI of 26.1kg.m-1. This is similar in cases where the person is of a large body stature. BMI itself doesn’t differentiate between fat and fat-free mass. How would you feel, when you train day and night, pick on the most careful diet for months, still end up being categorized as being over-weight or obese? That’s what BMI does in a number of cases.

BMI may not differentiate between fat or lean mass, but a higher or lower BMI than the normal value, is in fact associated with hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, coronary diseases and mortality rate. Although, these diseases are not associated with increased muscle mass, but rather associated with body fat increase. Trainers should be careful when measuring BMI to assess risk factors, as it may not apply to the population as a whole.

A number of fitness and medical practitioners are wary of what BMI interprets. The prevalence of this measurement has divided a number of practitioners, especially as it is used to classify pupils in schools, which affect some children psychologically. For me personally, a measurement should give valid results, in the case of BMI, an idea of fat mass of a body would be considered valid.


ACSM (2006) ACSM’s Guidelines for exercise testing and prescription (7th Ed.) Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, New York

ACSM (2005) ACSM’s Health-related physical fitness assessment manual. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, New York