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For February 17, 2019

  • Choosing your athletic footwear.
    Choosing your athletic footwear.

    Good athletic footwear may be the most important piece of equipment an exerciser can buy. Poorly fitting or inappropriate shoes lead to discomfort, potential injury and inevitably, the discontinuation of participation in an exercise program. It�s important to have shoes designed to protect the foot and maximize performance during sports activities.

    The differences between various types of athletic footwear lie in design and materials which affect cushioning, fit, weight and durability. Some shoes offer more cushioning than others, some offer more stability, and others are designed to be fashionable.

    In general, there are two classes of athletic footwear. One type is designed for activities emphasizing forward motion such as running and walking. The second is designed for activities which require more lateral and stop-and-go movement such as tennis, basketball and aerobic dance.

    Because there are so many companies who manufacture athletic shoes (and compete for your fitness dollar) choosing which shoes to buy can be overwhelming. The companies will tell you it�s important to buy a separate pair of shoes for each activity you enjoy. That�s not necessarily true. The only exception to this is running. Because running is a high impact sport--usually done on pavement--it�s worth investing in a good pair of running shoes. Beyond that, a good pair of cross training shoes will be suitable for most other activities.

    To be sure you buy athletic shoes best suited to your needs, purchase them at a store that can provide a wide range of styles and brands. Ask the clerk for recommendations. Then try on several brands to find the best fit. Don�t be shy about wearing them around the store or going through a variety of the movements in which you�ll wear the shoe. Twenty minutes is the minimum in-store time you should spend on a good pair of shoes. It's worth the greater enjoyability and better adherence to exercise that will follow the purchase.

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  • Values of the VersaClimber vs. a Stair Machine
    Values of the VersaClimber vs. a Stair Machine

    How Does a VersaClimber Compare to a Stair Machine?

    (MSNBC Health, September 14 1999) � Both a VersaClimber and a stair machine provide an excellent cardiovascular workout and will tone muscles and increase endurance. However, the VersaClimber � a machine with two pedal platforms and two handgrips that coordinate as you step up and down, like climbing a ladder � works the upper body in addition to the legs. It also requires more strength and coordination because it uses the upper body and legs at the same time.

    The VersaClimber is a challenging machine to use, even for the very fit. By comparison, a stair climber has no arm attachments and is easier to use. It won�t tire you out as easily.

    If you have the coordination and strength, the VersaClimber could burn more calories for you in the same amount of time that you spend on a stair machine � but you�ll need to use either one consistently to reap the benefits.

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  • Treating Overuse Injuries
    Treating Overuse Injuries

    Johns Hopkins Health

    You will usually feel the discomfort of an overuse injury within 24 hours. The main symptoms are a dull ache, a twinge when the joint is moved a certain way, or a burning or shooting pain when the injured area is touched or weight is put on it. Swelling may occur and you will find that exercise causes discomfort or pain.

    Because overuse injuries are caused by repeated stressing of the same tissue over and over, the most important treatment is to immediately stop whatever activity caused the irritation in the first place. You should then see your doctor about further treatment. Often, 2 or 3 weeks of rest will allow the inflammation to subside, but your doctor might also want to prescribe anti-inflammatory medication, like NSAIDS (which include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen), cortisone or other drugs.

    During the first 48 hours after the injury, an ice pack (applied every few hours) is particularly helpful in reducing swelling. Sports medicine specialists now think ice application is the best treatment for an inflamed joint or area. It should be applied daily for 30 minutes and after workouts. Ice should be applied everyday at least once and preferably twice, for as many days as needed for the pain to resolve. Heat is now recommended only for stretching, especially muscle strains.

    It's also important to identify exactly what caused the inflammation and learn how to avoid it in the future. Sometimes this may mean cutting back on a certain activity, or switching to one that is less stressful on your joints (for example, substituting swimming or cycling for running or walking). Equipment should be checked carefully as well: A tennis racket that is too heavy or tightly strung can contribute to elbow inflammation (tennis elbow), while shoes that are too stiff can strain the tendons in the bottom of the foot (plantar fasciitis). Changing techniques with a coach or trainer can also be helpful.

    Improving the strength and mobility of an affected joint, along with related muscles, can also help prevent a recurrence. A physical therapist or other trained professional can work with you to identify your weaknesses, and also teach you exercises that will increase your range of motion.

    Strains and sprains are often used as interchangeable terms, but they are not synonymous. When you strain or "pull" a muscle, you have over-stretched or torn the muscle itself. You've strained yourself when you push yourself harder than usual--for example, you decide to sprint down the street to the mailbox when you are not used to running. A sprain is a torn or over-stretched ligament (the tough, flexible cord that links bone to bone). You can sprain a joint--like your ankle--but you can't sprain a muscle. Two of the most commonly strained muscles, the hamstrings (rear thigh muscles) and inner thigh (groin) muscles, pull because they are stretched when placed under high demand such as sprinting. Strained muscles should be treated with ice for at least 72 hours. Heat can be used to allow stretching, but they should still be treated with ice after exercise. Before working out, you should take 5 minutes to warm up, and loosen these muscles. If you strain yourself, you should stop doing that particular exercise for several days, until the muscle repairs itself. To speed the healing process, you can apply ice to the injured area. The RICE treatment may also be used for sprains, most likely for a sprained ankle.

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  • Lung Disease Hikes Men's Risk Of Osteoporosis
    Lung Disease Hikes Men's Risk Of Osteoporosis

    December 15, 1999

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) � The brittle-bone disease osteoporosis is often thought of as a woman's disease, but the results of a new study indicate that men with chronic lung disease, like asthma, are at high risk of developing osteoporosis, especially if they take a common asthma medication.

    It has been known that men with chronic lung disease are at risk for developing osteoporosis, but most of the studies on osteoporosis have focused on women, Dr. Mark S. Nanes and colleagues at the Veterans' Administration Medical Center in Atlanta, Georgia, note in a report in the December issue of the journal Chest. To better understand the risk of osteoporosis, Nanes and his associates studied 130 men with lung disease and compared them to 41 men without lung disease.

    ``What we found was a surprising prevalence of osteoporosis,'' Nanes told Reuters Health. ``If you have lung disease and you're a man, you have a five-fold increased risk of osteoporosis.''

    For men who used asthma drugs called glucocorticoids, the risk was nine times higher than for men without lung disease, the researchers report. And even though inhaled glucocorticoids cause fewer side effects than oral versions of the drugs, both forms had similar effects on the risk of osteoporosis, Nanes said in the interview.

    Exactly how glucocorticoids increase the risk of bone disease is uncertain, but they may suppress the formation of bone, according to Nanes. In addition, they tend to reduce levels of hormones that help maintain bone strength, he noted.

    There are medications available to treat osteoporosis, Nanes said. In addition, calcium and vitamin D supplements are recommended for people with lung disease and others at risk for osteoporosis, he noted.

    In another report in the same issue of the journal, Dr. Marc F. Goldstein, of the Asthma Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and colleagues review a number of studies on glucocorticoids. As many as 62% of people with asthma may be using these medications, the authors report.

    While the medications are useful for treating asthma, they can cause harmful side effects, according to Goldstein and his colleagues. To minimize these problems, the authors make several recommendations, including using other asthma drugs before resorting to glucocorticoids, monitoring people with lung disease for bone loss, and using other medications to treat bone loss if it does occur. SOURCE: Chest 1999;116:1616-1624, 1733-1749.

    Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

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  • Hormone Induces Weight Loss
    Hormone Induces Weight Loss

    Injections of Leptin Shown to Curb Appetite in Young Girl

    (MSNBC Health, September 15 1999) � For the first time, injections of the hormone leptin have been shown to curb appetite and induce weight loss in a human, a new study says. Scientists caused a stir four years ago when they announced that leptin could evoke weight loss in mice, but until now, a direct role in human obesity had not been confirmed.

    THE FINDINGS by doctors at Addenbrooke�s Hospital in Cambridge, England, provide important clues as researchers try to decipher the genetic and environmental factors in obesity. The work could lead to medical treatments for some forms of the condition. Leptin is a protein produced by fat cells. It is supposed to signal the brain to stop eating, but the signal does not get through properly in some overweight people.

    The study published in Thursday�s edition of The New England Journal of Medicine involved a severely overweight 9-year-old girl who suffered from a rare genetic defect in which her body produced virtually no leptin. While the girl�s condition is uncommon, the researchers, led by Dr. I Sadaf Farooqi, believe the findings have implications for the general population.

    Obesity is a major source of illness and death, and is the most common nutritional ailment in the United States, according to the Minnesota Obesity Center. The new work involved a girl from a Pakistani family who was born with a leptin deficiency. She was so overweight, she got liposuction at age six to remove fat from her legs and allow her to move around. She was constantly hungry and became disruptive when denied food.

    In 1997, when the girl was 9 and weighed 208 pounds, doctors began administering daily injections of leptin. With the shots, her weight gain stopped abruptly. Her mother and doctor found that the girl began eating far less food than before, and stopped craving between-meal snacks. She began losing 2 to 4 pounds per month. After a year of treatment, she had lost 36 pounds, virtually none of it muscle and all of it fat.

    In addition, her level of physical activity increased 19 percent during the first 12 months of therapy. �Treatment of this 9-year-old patient with congenital leptin deficiency with recombinant leptin led to a sustained reduction in weight, predominantly as a result of a loss of fat,� said Farooqi.

    WON'T BE EASY

    In an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Michael Rosenbaum and Dr. Rudolph Leibel of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons said further research on leptin �may help to move us closer to an effective pharmacologic treatment of obesity.� But many factors besides leptin affect weight, and people should not conclude that leptin injections would make losing weight easy, they added.

    If anything, leptin might help some people stick to a diet by curbing their hunger and aid in keeping the weight off, Rosenbaum said. �The only thing that we know is that it decreases appetite in this child and in a mouse,� Rosenbaum said. �It�s not the be-all and the end-all to promote effortless weight loss.�

    Leptin is being tested in ordinary fat people as an appetite suppressant. Preliminary findings from one study indicate that it isn�t a miracle cure, but shows some promise when combined with diet and exercise. Dr. Richard A. Dickey, President of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, called the study �a great start,� adding that although doctors generally believe many factors are involved in human obesity, leptin is clearly important.

    �It�s very possible that this child is a clue to appetite control and weight gain across a large portion of the population,� he said. �I think that everybody�s excited about the role of leptin.�

    The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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  • Resistance Exercise Improves Cholesterol Levels
    Resistance Exercise Improves Cholesterol Levels

    By I.S.S.A.

    High-intensity strength training using weight machines and free-weights improves cholesterol levels as much as aerobic exercise in previously sedentary young women, researchers report in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

    The same strength training exercise program also reduced body fat, they add.Dr. Bharathi Prabhakaran and colleagues from the Old Dominion University, Darden College of Education, Norfolk, Virginia, assigned 12 healthy young women to a high-intensity, progressive strength training program and 12 others to a non-exercising 'control' group. Women in the exercise group performed a variety of resistance training exercises, including repeated leg curls, leg extensions, presses, press-up and biceps curls. Each training session lasted 45 to 50 minutes and women exercised 3 days a week for 14 weeks.

    The control group did not participate in any structured exercise program.

    'At the end of training... total cholesterol was significantly lower... in the resistance exercise training group than in the control group,' the investigators report. Resistance training reduced levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the so-called 'bad' cholesterol -- by 14%, and did not affect levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or 'good' cholesterol.

    Body fat also decreased slightly in the group who engaged in resistance training, while measures of muscle strength improved.

    In contrast, there were no such changes in the group of women who had not exercised, the investigators note. Studies link lower levels of both total and 'bad' cholesterol, as well as higher levels of 'good' cholesterol to a lower risk of heart disease.

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