1. What “Experiments of Nature” Teach Us About Exercise:
To optimize your health or supercharge your training, you sometimes need to look beyond the lab.
In this column, we believe in randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trials. Others may start popping a new supplement because their friend said it made them feel good, strap on the latest wearable device because logic suggests the information it provides should be useful, or start doing Norwegian double-threshold workouts because Jakob Ingebrigtsen is really fast. But we wait for solid scientific evidence, preferably from multi-year studies with large sample sizes synthesized in meta-analyses.
In truth, though, this approach inevitably leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Good luck running a trial in which half the participants are randomized to run 100 miles a week for the next 20 years, while the other half do no exercise whatsoever. As a result, many of our key insights about how to optimize health and improve performance come from other types of sources, including what a new article in Comprehensive Physiology calls “experiments of nature.” Mayo Clinic physiologist Michael Joyner and his colleagues surveyed some of the most important natural experiments in the history of exercise science, offering an important corrective to the cult of the randomized trial.
More...from Sweat Science on Outside Online.
2. Our Favorite Workouts So Far This Year:
Halfway through 2023, find the exercise that will help you finish the year strong — no matter your fitness level.
It’s mid-July, which means that summer, as well as 2023, is about halfway over. Now is a good time to get outside and get active, whether running, biking or just splashing in the water with friends and family. It’s also a great time to build good exercise habits that can carry you through the rest of the year.
So we on the Well desk thought it would be a prime opportunity to highlight some of the best workouts and activities we’ve covered so far in 2023.
Over the last six months, Well has looked at the whole spectrum of physical fitness, from intense boxing and HIIT workouts to exercises aimed to keep you feeling energetic as you age. We’ve spotlighted exercises that not only focus on maintaining fitness, but also on sustaining mobility in the long term.
Here are a few of our favorite workouts of 2023.
More...from the New Yorkk Times.
3. Which training zone model will actually improve your performance?
When I was at school, the whole concept of defining exercise intensity fell into one of two perceived training zones; either “not trying hard enough slacker” or my teacher’s seemingly preferred “do not resuscitate”.
Back then, training just seemed to be a case of doing as much as you could and letting the chips (or bodies) fall wherever they landed. As my interest in sport progressed from merely surviving PE lessons to trying to perform in a range of sports, organising my training became increasingly important.
What are training zones?
When you ask your sporty friends what they’re doing and they then tell you “zone 2”, “level 5” or “VO2 max intervals”, it all gets rather confusing and you feel you need an enigma codebreaker to help you understand what the hell is going on.
Welcome to the murky waters of training zones. In essence, this is how we define our training session intensities into a series of bands or zones. The sheer diversity of training zone systems can seem quite confusing.
Prior to tools such as heart rate monitors or power meters becoming available, sport was pretty much regulated by our ‘perceived exertion’ (i.e. how hard do we feel we are working), measured distances or the humble stopwatch.
More...from Belive in the Run.
5. How the norwegian method is revolutionizing the world of training:
If you are aware of the trends in the world of training, surely you have heard of the Norwegian model or “double threshold” training. This methodology, now on everyone’s lips and with Jakob Ingebrigtsen as its main supporter, is rapidly expanding throughout the world, becoming a benchmark for high-performance athletes and coaches who enthusiastically welcome it.
Let’s see what and who is behind this trend and how it is changing the way many athletes prepare (and perform) in competitions.
The Story of Marius Bakken and the Origin of the Double Threshold
From his homeland in Sandefjord, south of Oslo, to his experience on an exchange program in the US in 1997, leading Norwegian runner Marius Bakken immersed himself in various influences and training under the tutelage of big names in athletics.
Before his university debut he had been trained by one of Norway’s best runners, Per Halle. Then with Joe Newton, in Illinois. A year later, in London, he placed himself under the orders of Peter Coe, father and coach of the legendary runner and world athletics boss, Sebastian Coe.
More...from Nation World.
6. Chronic Pain Deterrence: The Surprising Power of Physical Activity:
A large study in Norway indicates the potential effectiveness of increasing physical activity as a treatment approach for chronic pain.
A new analysis of data gathered from over 10,000 adults reveals a correlation between physical activity and increased pain tolerance. Those who led an active lifestyle demonstrated a higher tolerance to pain compared to sedentary individuals, with those engaging in a higher intensity of physical activity showcasing even more resilience. Anders Årnes of the University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, and colleagues recently published their findings in the journal PLOS ONE.
Although previous research has hinted at the potential benefits of regular physical activity, including possibly mitigating or preventing chronic pain by enhancing one’s ability to tolerate pain, most studies until now have either been limited in scope or focused on specific demographics.
To help clarify the relationship between physical activity and pain tolerance, Årnes and colleagues analyzed data from 10,732 Norwegian adults who participated in a large population survey study—the Tromsø Study—that is conducted periodically in Norway. The researchers used data from two rounds of the Tromsø Study, one conducted from 2007 to 2008 and the other from 2015 to 2016. The data included participants’ self-reported levels of physical activity and their levels of pain tolerance, as evaluated in a test involving submerging their hands in cold water.
More...from New York Times.
8. How to Overload Your Run Training Without Overreaching :
You can boost performance by tackling heavy blocks of training—if you avoid excess fatigue. Here’s how to walk the line.
Getting fit and fast requires the stress of training. That stress, or “overload,” is supplied by running faster or running longer, or both. In the simplest of terms, stress produces adaptation. A steady progression of training is usually enough to improve performance. Until it’s not.
The more trained the runner, the greater the stress required to eke out even small gains. To walk the tightrope between under and overtraining, training has to be a mixture of push and pull. Some days or weeks can be pushed, others pulled back for recovery.
When the usual steady slope of a training program isn’t getting results, or an athlete is ready for an added challenge, some coaches turn to a short-term, high-volume overload period. The training block, usually three days to three weeks in duration, can increase volume and/or intensity by 20 to 30 percent. Ideally, the tradeoff for that hard, long training and subsequent fatigue—when followed by a recovery or taper period—is supercompensation, a bounce back of fitness that boosts performance over and above what’s expected after normal training.
More...from Outside Online.
9. How to maintain your performance in extreme heat:
During exercise, offloading metabolic heat to the environment is one of the biggest challenges the body has to overcome. Despite being well adapted, cooling in extreme environmental conditions can put an unbelievable and dangerous strain on thermoregulation.
So, understanding and defining your own limits is incredibly important for any athlete wanting to perform well, and safely, in the heat.
What is extreme heat?
There are two definitions of extreme heat: :
A number of unusually hot days occurring in succession
Weather that’s much hotter (or humid) than the average for a particular time and place
When it comes to determining whether heat is 'extreme', much will also depend on the individual. Some people have a lower ‘threshold’ than others and may interpret conditions as extreme on occasions when others deem it OK. A person's degree of acclimation and their training level play a big role in this thermal perception.
More...from Precision Hydration.
10. How to Work Out Safely in the Heat:
As record-breaking temperatures continue, can you still exercise outside? Possibly, but you have to be careful.
As unprecedented heat waves become more common, exercisers increasingly have to weigh the joys versus the risks of an outdoor workout.
There’s no simple answer to the question of how hot is too hot. A person’s ability to stay safe while exercising in the heat depends on many factors, like age, usual exercise routine, workout environment and intensity and whether that person is used to being active in the heat, said Stavros Kavouras, director of the Hydration Science Lab at Arizona State University.
Exercising in humid heat poses unique challenges, he said, but being active in dry heat can be just as risky. (If you’re exercising in humid heat, here’s a guide.)
More...from the New York Times.
11. Running throughout Middle-Age Keeps Old Adult-Born Neurons Wired:
Exercise may prevent or delay aging-related memory loss and neurodegeneration. In rodents, running increases the number of adult-born neurons in the dentate gyrus (DG) of the hippocampus, in association with improved synaptic plasticity and memory function. However, it is unclear whether adult-born neurons remain fully integrated into the hippocampal network during aging and whether long-term running affects their connectivity. To address this issue, we labeled proliferating DG neural progenitor cells with retrovirus expressing the avian TVA receptor in two-month-old sedentary and running male C57Bl/6 mice. More than six months later, we injected EnvA-pseudotyped rabies virus into the DG as a monosynaptic retrograde tracer, to selectively infect TVA expressing “old” new neurons. We identified and quantified the direct afferent inputs to these adult-born neurons within the hippocampus and (sub)cortical areas. Here, we show that long-term running substantially modifies the network of the neurons generated in young adult mice, upon middle-age. Exercise increases input from hippocampal interneurons onto “old” adult-born neurons, which may play a role in reducing aging-related hippocampal hyperexcitability. In addition, running prevents the loss of adult-born neuron innervation from perirhinal cortex, and increases input from subiculum and entorhinal cortex, brain areas that are essential for contextual and spatial memory. Thus, long-term running maintains the wiring of “old” new neurons, born during early adulthood, within a network that is important for memory function during aging.
12. A Giant Study Reveals What Happens if You Cram Exercise Into The Weekend:
Exercise is good for your overall health and your heart in particular. Guidelines recommend that we should be doing 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity a week.
But does it matter when you do this exercise? Should you spread it out in the week or does it lose some of the benefit if you cram it in at the weekend?
A new study analysing data from the UK Biobank has attempted to answer this very question.
Around 90,000 healthy, middle-aged people wore wrist bands (accelerometers) that tracked their activity. It recorded their activity levels for a week with particular attention to moderate-to-vigorous activity (more on that later).
The researchers found that in the six years after the accelerometer assessment, people who did regular moderate-to-vigorous activity had less stroke, heart attack, heart failure and atrial fibrillation (an irregular heart rhythm) compared with sedentary people.
13. Cutting-Edge Research Reveals Isometric Exercises as a Powerful Tool for Lowering Blood Pressure:
In a remarkable breakthrough, scientists have discovered that isometric exercises, such as planks and wall sits, hold the key to effectively reducing blood pressure, surpassing even the government’s recommended exercise guidelines.
Conducted by experts from Canterbury Christ Church and Leicester Universities, this study compared the efficacy of various exercise forms in combating high blood pressure. Astonishingly, “isometric exercises,” which engage muscles without movement, emerged as nearly twice as effective as the standard exercise recommendations.
While the NHS advises adults to engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, alongside lifestyle changes, it overlooks newer exercise approaches like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and isometric exercises.
The research encompassed an impressive scale, analyzing 270 randomized controlled clinical trials with 15,827 participants, to delve into the effects of different exercise forms on resting blood pressure. These categories included aerobic exercises, dynamic resistance training, and a combination of HIIT and isometric exercises. The researchers meticulously examined the impact on both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
More...from Runner's Tribe.
14. Cycle Syncing Is Trendy. Does It Actually Help Your Running?
Athletes and fitness influencers are touting the benefits of syncing training with their menstrual cycles, but experts are wary
There’s a new fad for runners who menstruate: synching your workouts with your menstrual cycle. The idea is that your changing body hormones make certain types of workouts better suited to different times of the month. However, there is not much evidence that suggests this is useful for the majority of athletes, and many experts are not sure about the effectiveness of this approach. Instead, they say it makes more sense to train through hormonal fluctuations.
“We’ve had an explosion of menstrual-cycle-based research looking at how athletes might be impacted, but on a population level, we’ve seen that the menstrual cycle typically doesn’t have a significant impact on most performance metrics,” says Dr. Megan Roche with the Stanford Female Athlete Science and Translational Research Program. “We see that in practice too, where we’ve had athletes performing at extremely high levels throughout every phase of the menstrual cycle.”
So while “cycle synching” may be on trend–the term has millions of views on TikTok and is often a top trending search term–running coaches and experts say it likely just won’t work to adapt your training to your cycle. They advocate instead that runners be aware of their cycles and the impacts it has on their bodies and be ready to adjust if necessary, but not change their training in advance.
More...from Women's Running.
15. An Athlete’s Guide to Aging Gracefully:
Getting old doesn't have to hurt so much.
One of the most wonderful parts of being an athlete is when your sport becomes not just something you do but something you are. You go from running to being a runner, from climbing to being a climber, from cycling to being a cyclist. This kind of intimate relationship with a sport (or any pursuit, really) can be an energizing and fulfilling force. But it can also present immense challenges.
That’s because at some point or another, you’re bound to get injured and find yourself no longer able to do what you love. Even if you’re fortunate enough to avoid injury, no one can avoid aging and the unavoidable slowdown that comes with it. These transitions—from being on the field to being on the sidelines, from constantly improving your performance to a gradual decline—affect everyone. And they are as hard as they are inevitable.
The Seattle Times recently shared the story of Rebecca Twigg, an American cyclist who won six world championships and medaled in two Olympics in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, Twigg is homeless. “I took to the road [cycling] like I was born to do it,” Twigg told the Times. “Except for the part about stopping. I’m not a very good planner.” When the time came for Twigg to move on from cycling, she says, she was confused about what to do and who she was.
More...from OUtside ONline.