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If you are a dog person you'll know this.
Scientists have "discovered" that dogs do indeed have an instinct for human kindness. One sign is wagging their tails more to the right. Right-sided wagging is thought to be linked to the left side of the brain, where positive emotions are processed. Dogs sensed if the same action - feeding them - was performed with more or less of an inherent kindness.
A large new study confirms a big drop in the risk of mortality for people exercising 150+ minutes a week - see item #2.
It seems that we often see more women on the cardio machines and more men in the weight room. Yet strength training is probably more important for women than men - see item #1.
Here are the topics I have chosen for you to help you live longer better:
⭑ Rebuilding bone strength is a beautiful outcome of strength exercises
⭑ It's hard to deny the connection between regular exercise and longer life ✔
⭑ Having a daytime is sometimes recommended, but there are big risks
⭑ Power up your lunges with this one simple variation - you'll love it ✔
As women age, they are at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis i.e. bones becoming brittle and weak, which can lead to fractures. There are many things that you can do to help reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis, including resistance and strength training.
There is increasing evidence that resistance and strength training is especially beneficial for post-menopausal women. Strength exercises, via our tendons, squeeze and relax our bones thus micro-pumping blood and nutrients through. The mechanical squeezing combined with the increased flow of nutrients results in increased bone density, meaning stronger bones that are less likely to fracture.
In addition, strength training helps improve our balance and coordination, which can also help reduce the risk of falls – another major cause of fractures in older adults.
Here's a twist. Doing more strength training and less cardio probably means that you'll have to spend less time in total exercising. You only need to allow 30 minutes 3 times a week for strength training instead of pounding the treadmill an hour at a time.
What it means for us: If you’re short on time but want to make sure you’re doing everything possible to prevent post-menopausal osteoporosis, consider incorporating barbell lifts into your routine.
Here's an option: three times a week, lift a barbell loaded with two 5kg plates (or whatever you can manage) for 30-45 minutes (and then, optionally, down a protein shake, or have a glass of milk). Do the same thing every week, and add 2.5kg to each side until you can do three sets of each exercise with 2.5kg added at each set e.g. starting with the barbell plus 2.5kg each side, then plus 5kg, then plus 7.5kg.
Preferably get instruction to learn how to lift and what exercises to do.
I suggest the classic three comprising the barbell deadlift, the barbell front squat, and the barbell clean and press. I also suggest 3 sets each comprising 6 reps of each exercise with 20 seconds reps between reps and 2 minutes between sets. If you are adding weight as described in the previous paragraph add it in the 2 minutes between sets.
If you add up those times you will see that it adds up to about 10 minutes. So if you do 3 exercises - deadlifts, front squats, and clean presses - it will take about 30 minutes. My "3 sets X 6 reps" technique does not give you the maximum gain, but it does give you the best bang for the buck in 30 minutes.
Lifting slightly heavier weights each week will help increase bone density as well as muscle mass – both of which are important for reducing the risk of fractures down the road. Your joints will thank you for this added protection as you get older, not to mention your children and even your 80-year-old self!
This article, citing research just published by the American Heart Association, reaffirms the relationship between regular exercise and living longer better.
The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. However, research has shown that individuals who perform two to four times the amount of recommended physical activity (150-600 minutes/week) have even greater reductions in mortality from all causes.
Analysis of physical activity and medical records for more than 100,000 people over 30 years found that individuals who performed moderate exercise (150-300 minutes/week), or vigorous physical activity (75-150 minutes/week), respectively, had an observed 20-21% and 19% lower risk of mortality from all causes.
Exercising was also found to help reduce your risk of heart disease. The reduction was 21-23% for people who engaged in two to four times the recommended amount of vigorous physical activity, and 26-31% for people who engaged in two to four times the recommended amount of moderate physical activity each week.
This study provides strong evidence that meeting the current physical activity recommendations can help reduce our risk of death from any cause.
You may have noticed a little quirk in the reported results above in that the reduction in the risk of heart disease is greater for those doing moderate exercise than for those doing vigorous exercise. That's a win for the brisk walkers! I'll have to check this out further and get back to you.
What this means for us: There are many different ways to get your recommended 150-300 minutes/week of physical activity. You could go for walks or runs every day, join a gym or fitness class, or take up swimming or cycling. Brisk walking is a great way to push up your heart rate without straining it.
It doesn’t have to be hard – just 30 minutes per day of moderate exercise is enough to get started. You can break that up into three 10-minute sessions if you like, or even do some vigorous exercise for a few minutes here and there throughout the day. Buy an inexpensive spin bike and hop on a few times a day.
Whatever type of exercise you choose, make sure you enjoy it so that you’ll stick with it!
And don’t forget – even small amounts of physical activity add up over time, so any amount is better than nothing at all. But, that said, consistency is the real secret.
@Medium - Follow my publication there↗, covering ⭑food, ⭑brain, ⭑body, ⭑life
This study caught my attention because it is not uncommon to see the recommendation to take a short nap during the day to make you more alert and productive.
There is no denying that daytime napping is a popular habit, especially as we get older.
However, what many people don’t know is that frequent or usual daytime napping can be harmful to your health. A recent study found that adults who nap frequently or usually during the day are at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure and having a stroke.
The study looked at data from over 16,000 participants and found that those who nap frequently or usually have a 12% higher risk of developing high blood pressure and a 24% high risk of having a stroke. This is compared to those who never nap during the day.
It’s important to note that these risks increase with age – so it’s especially important for older adults to avoid taking frequent naps during the day.
It's also important to note that this study found that increasing the "category" of daytime napping by just "one level" e.g. from never to sometimes or sometimes to usually, increased high blood pressure risk by 40%. That's a whopping increase for going from being, say, a non-napper to a sometimes napper!
What this means for us: While more research needs to be done on this topic, it’s clear that daytime napping can be dangerous for your health – especially if you do it often. If you currently nap during the day, try cutting back on how often you do it and see if your health improves as a result.
How do you do that? A very good question. In this particular study, a higher percentage of usual-nappers were men, had lower education and income levels, and reported cigarette smoking, daily drinking, insomnia, snoring and being an evening person.
Some clues lie in the habits of the above cohort e.g. (1) cut out smoking, (2) reduce alcohol consumption - especially in the evening, (3) go to bed a little earlier week-by-week, month-by-month, and get up earlier and at the same time. Doing these things should relieve your body of the desire for daytime napping.
04 How to Do a Reverse Lunge with Knee Drive
Our exercise of the week is ... a reverse lunge with knee drive. This is a bit of a brain twister at first glance so check out the 10-second video below if you're unsure.
This lunge variation increases the intensity of the exercise via the knee drive.
The knee drive activates many more stabiliser muscles as well as requiring greater effort from the primary muscles than a straight lunge. This is a great way to improve your balance, coordination, and strength. It also helps to improve your flexibility and mobility in the hips and groin.
This variation also challenges the muscles in the front of your thigh (quadriceps) and the muscles in the back of your thigh (hamstrings), plus your glutes (which are responsible for hip extension), hamstrings, quads, and calves.
And, you are challenging your hip flexor muscles and other hip and lower back muscles. The knee drive strengthens these muscles, which can help improve your performance in other exercises and activities that involve these muscle groups e.g. running, jumping, and hiking.
If you’re looking for an effective way to add some lower-body strength and power to your workout, the reverse lunge with knee drive is a fabulous option with a high carryover to other exercises and activities.
What this means for us: To do a reverse lunge with knee drive:
1. Start by standing with your feet together, then step back with one foot and lower into a reverse lunge. Make sure that you keep your front knee behind your toes as you descend and your front heel flat on the floor as you descend.
2. As you reach the bottom of the lunge, use a kind of reverse momentum to drive up through your front heel and simultaneously lift your back leg off the ground and bring it through and drive the knee up towards your chest.
3. Reverse the motion, slowly lowering yourself back into the starting position before repeating it on the other side
Pro Tip 1: don't let your back leg pop out too far behind you, and don't let your rear knee bang on the floor. It's not built for banging onto a hard surface.
Pro Tip 2: play with the position of your back foot as you are stepping it back. You need it relatively straight back. But initially, this might feel unstable, and you then will lose some of the power to drive up. In this case, take your foot out a little wider than your hips as you step back in the reverse movement.
This 10-second video displays exactly what to do.
Pro Tip 3: add the crossover knee drive to make this more challenging. As you drive forward up and with your knee bring it across to touch the elbow of the opposite arm. This takes practice but is very rewarding as you can really feel your body working hard and benefiting from the movement.
In case you missed it...
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