Why Running May Be Good for Your Back

People who regularly run or walk briskly appear to have healthier discs in their spines than people who do not exercise, according to one of the first studies to closely examine links between movement and disc health.

The findings refute a widely held belief that activities like running might overtax the spine and indicate that, instead, they make it sturdier.

The human spine is a complicated mechanism, composed of vertebral bones cushioned between intervertebral discs. These discs, shaped like tiny whoopee cushions, contain a viscous fluid that compresses and absorbs pressure during movement, keeping the back in good working form.

With age, disease or injury, spinal discs can degenerate and bulge, resulting in back pain, which can be debilitating.

There were tantalizing hints in animal studies, however, that this idea could be out of date. When scientists in Sweden scanned the spines of mice before and after they ran for several weeks on treadmills, the researchers noticed significant increases in the size of their spinal discs, indicating that those structures had been responding and adapting to the demands of running.

But mice, of course, run on four legs and are in all other respects not people, and it remained unclear whether running and similar activities would be good or not for the human spine.

So for the new study, which was published in April in Scientific Reports, researchers at Deakin University in Australia and other institutions decided to examine the backs of people who run and others who do not.

Eventually they recruited 79 adult men and women, two-thirds of whom said that they were runners. Some of these told the researchers that they covered more than 30 miles (about 50 kilometers) a week in training. The researchers designated these as the “long-distance” group. The others said that they ran between 12 and 25 miles a week. All had been training for at least five years.

The final group rarely exercised at all.

To ensure that people’s reported activity levels were accurate, the researchers asked their volunteers to wear accelerometers for a week.

Then they scanned everyone’s spines, using a sophisticated type of M.R.I. that precisely measures the size and liquidity of each disc.

And they found differences. In general, the runners’ discs were larger and contained more fluid than the discs of the men and women who did not exercise.

Since both greater size and increased levels of internal fluid indicate better disc health, the runners harbored fundamentally healthier spines than the people who were sedentary, says Daniel Belavy, the study leader and a professor of exercise at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Deakin University.

Interestingly, mileage barely mattered. The discs of the people who ran less than 30 miles per week were almost identical to those in the long-distance group, suggesting that, compared to moderate mileage, heavy training does not augment disc health but also

Read more Why Running May Be Good for Your Back

Running miles to lose weight? You’re wasting your time

Running miles to lose weight? You’re wasting your time

From USA Today

There are lots of benefits to treadmills, but new research shows that runners are likely to get more out of their workouts if they take it outside. Video provided by Newsy Newslook

In the United States, a nation fatter than any other, running remains the most popular workout activity. That’s according to a Fitbit analysis of fitness tracker user data.

And if tied-up treadmills across the country are any indication, much of that running is long distance.

Here’s the cruel catch, though: Running miles at a time doesn’t shed fat as efficiently as other forms of exercise. In some ways it doesn’t help much at all.

As fitness author Lou Schuler explains in his book, The New Rules of Lifting For Women, relying on long-distance running to lose weight poses a key problem. The human body, ever-resourceful, eventually adapts to the repetitive nature of running. And that added efficiency means the body burns fewer calories for the same amount of work.

“If your goal is to be leaner, then greater endurance isn’t really to your benefit,” Schuler concludes.

Dr. William Roberts, a University of Minnesota physician and former president of the American College of Sports Medicine, likes running. He’s blogged for Runner’s World and served as medical director for the Twin Cities Marathon in St. Paul.

That means adding strength training to any pure running routine, Roberts said, the latter of which neglects upper body muscles. Losing weight requires about 40 to 60 minutes of activity most days of the week, he said, and at least half that time should be spent bulking up.

“If you can build strength and build muscle mass, you’re going to burn more calories,” Roberts said. “Even if you’re idling.”

That’s because strength training causes tiny tears in the muscles. Those require calories as they repair, meaning your body keeps working long after you leave the gym. That’s less so with steady, moderate jogging.

Fitness coach Adam Bornstein put it this way in Shape: “With cardio, you can slog away for 30 minutes at a lower intensity and burn 200 calories — or you can just eat 200 fewer calories per day. It’s the same thing.”

If you love running, fear not: Sprinting may work as well. A study from the University of Western Ontario asked one group of people to run at a slow, steady pace for 30 to 60 minutes, three times per week. Another group ran 30-second sprints, between four and six of them, three times each week — a way less time-intensive routine.

The sprinters shed more than twice the body fat of the joggers after six weeks, while gaining some muscle mass. Those who jogged gained none

What are you going to do

More than 10 percent of the world’s population is now obese, a marked rise over the last 30 years that is leading to widespread health problems and millions of premature deaths, according to a new study, the most comprehensive research done on the subject.

Published Monday in The New England Journal of Medicine, the study showed that the problem had swept the globe, including regions that have historically had food shortages, like Africa.

The study, compiled

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Cindy + Box Jumps

Why calorie counting is almost useless and often misleading

Petros Giannakouris / AP
“A new study says taking a hot bath burns as many calories as a 30-minute walk.”

That popped up in a tweet from Time on Tuesday night. It referred to a small investigation into the physiologic effects of heat exposure.

The responses on social media were an inevitable, exultant mix of self-identification and self-deprecation. Things like, This is so meeeeee, and Guess I’m right for not going to the gym, suckers, and Fill ’er up (the tub) I’m taking a bath forever and going to eat the whole time [gluttonous emoji].

And, of course, This is a distraction from the Russia scandal.

We are all constantly projecting meaning onto the world to suit the templates we’ve committed to, so I saw the study’s finding as an indictment of calories. My own reply was that the study serves to prove that calories are “an almost useless and often misleading metric.”

My tweet was popular and beloved by almost everyone. Read more Cindy + Box Jumps

I Still Hate Burpees

From Runner’s World

I Did 30 Burpees For 15 Days and Here’s What Happened

They’ve been called the most efficient exercise known to humankind, and doing them every single day was more rewarding than I could have imagined.

MONDAY, MARCH 20, 2017, 10:29 AM
doing a burpee
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF DANIELLE ZICKL
When I wanted to try CrossFit, I dragged one of my best friends to a beginner’s class with me. And although she was a good sport about it, she mentioned on our drive home how the deadlifts-crunches-burpees circuit would have been so much better had it been just deadlifts and crunches.
I was shocked. To me, the burpees were the best part. It was then that I realized not everyone is as crazy as I am—not everyone enjoys burpees. This got me thinking: What if I incorporated burpees into my daily routine?

I did some digging into the origin of the exercise, and I found out they were created in 1939 by a man named Royal H. Burpee to determine a person’s physical fitness. Back then, the move didn’t include a pushup in the middle or the jump at the end, but it was still dreaded.

First, I wanted to make sure my form was on point. I decided to do the modern burpee, not the old-school version from the 1930s.

I read some how-tos. To do a burpee, start from a standing position, then squat down and place your hands on the floor in front of you. Quickly kick both feet out behind you so you are in a pushup position, and then do one pushup. Next, bring your legs forward to go into a squatting position again, and jump up.

Yes, it’s an awkward, frog-like movement. But I knew it would be worth it to challenge myself.

I’ll admit I’m not great at sticking to things. I always have the best intentions, but when life starts to get busy, I’ve been known to make excuses here and there (I’m working on it, I swear). I was glad I had this story to hold me accountable as I set out to become a burpees beast.

So with my trusted 50 Cent Pandora station by my side, I got to work.

Here’s what I did:
I completed three sets of 10 burpees for 15 days straight. I started out with a one-minute rest in between my sets and decreased that time by 15 seconds every three days until I was doing all 30 burpees at once with no rest for the last three days.

I wanted to stick to the same time every day—when I woke up at 7:30 a.m.—but that didn’t always work out. When I slept in, I’d do a circuit when I got home at around 4 p.m.

Here’s what happened: 

1. My running improved.
My typical easy pace is about nine minutes per mile, but towards the end of the 15 days, I started running faster without consciously ramping up my speed. My lungs felt clear and I coasted through miles.

I was also going longer. I’ll Read more I Still Hate Burpees