Popeye Was Right: Spinach Boosts Muscle

(Copyright DPC)

Maybe Popeye had it right: Spinach makes you stronger. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found the high nitrate content in the leafy greens like spinach, as well as beets, improves muscle performance.

In a new study, published in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure, investigators found drinking concentrated vegetable juice – in this case made from beets – increased muscle power in nine patients with heart failure.

“It’s a small study, but we see robust changes in muscle power about two hours after patients drink the beet juice,” said Linda R. Peterson, M.D., associate professor of medicine. “A lot of the activities of daily living are power-based – getting out of a chair, lifting groceries, climbing stairs. And they have a major impact on quality of life.

“We want to help make people more powerful because power is such an important predictor of how well people do, whether they have heart failure, cancer or other conditions. In general, physically more powerful people live longer.”

Nitrates in beet juice, spinach, and other leafy green vegetables such as arugula and celery are processed by the body into nitric oxide, which is known to relax blood vessels and have other beneficial effects on metabolism.

The results of the study found that two hours after the treatment, patients demonstrated a 13 percent increase in power in muscles that extend the knee. The researchers also pointed out that participants experienced no major side effects from the beet juice, including no increase in heart rates or drops in blood pressure, which is important in patients with heart failure.

“The heart can’t pump enough in these patients, but that’s just where the problems start,” said Peterson, a cardiologist and director of Cardiac Rehabilitation at Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. “Heart failure becomes a whole-body problem because of the metabolic changes that happen, increasing the risk of conditions such as insulin resistance and diabetes and generally leading to weaker muscles overall.”

By Nick Tate
Thursday, 17 Sep 2015 12:36 PM

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Vitamin C Helps Those Who Hate Exercise: Study

(Copyright AP)

Taking a daily vitamin C supplement provides some of the same heart benefits as exercise, a new study finds.

People who are overweight or obese are often advised to exercise more, but studies show that less than half of them do, putting them at risk for heart attacks and other serious health issues.

Those who are overweight or obese often have high levels of a health-damaging protein called endothelin (ET)-1. The protein causes blood vessels to constrict, raising the risk for heart attack and other problems.

Daily exercise reduces the activity level of (ET)-1, but most people who are too heavy either can’t or won’t increase their exercise in a meaningful way.

However, University of Colorado researchers discovered that taking vitamin C reduces (ET)-1.

Taking a daily vitamin C time-release supplement of 500 mg provided the same cardiovascular benefits to overweight and obese individuals as walking for exercise did, the researchers said at a scientific conference in Savannah, Ga.

The scientists recommended the supplements for people who are overweight and get little exercise, noting that vitamin C is inexpensive and has few, if any, side effects when taken at the levels in the study.

By Charlotte Libov
Friday, 04 Sep 2015 14:10 PM


Young at Heart? Study Shows Most Americans’ Hearts Are Older Than Age

Three out of four Americans’ hearts are older than their chronological age, raising the risk of heart disease, stroke and premature death, officials said Tuesday.

An online tool at www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/heartage.htm can help people determine how old their heart is, based on factors like weight, smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure, said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For most adults aged 30-74, their predicted heart age is “significantly higher than their chronological age,” said the CDC in its Vital Signs report, released Tuesday.

Researchers found that nearly 69 million adults between the ages of 30 and 74 have a heart age older than their actual age.

“That’s about the number of people living in the 130 largest US cities combined,” the CDC report said.

The average predicted heart age for adult men was nearly eight years older than their chronological age, and 5.4 years older for women, it said.

When researchers divided people according to race, they found the highest heart ages among African-American men and women, who had an average heart age of 11 years older than their chronological age.

Risk factor data was collected from every US state and information from the Framingham Heart Study, which began in Massachusetts in 1948 and has followed thousands of people over time in an effort to identify the causes of cardiovascular disease.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death and serious illness in the United States.

CDC officials said they were releasing the report and the online tool in the hopes that they would encourage people to be aware of their heart health and take measures to prevent heart disease before it is too late.

“The heart age concept was created to more effectively communicate a person’s risk of dying from heart attack or stroke — and to show what can be done to lower that risk,” the report said.

Maintaining a healthy weight, keeping blood pressure under control, not smoking, getting enough exercise and eating right are the top ways to avoid heart disease, experts say.

“Because so many US adults don’t understand their cardiovascular disease risk, they are missing out on early opportunities to prevent future heart attacks or strokes,” said Barbara Bowman, director of CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.

“About three in four heart attacks and strokes are due to risk factors that increase heart age, so it’s important to continue focusing on efforts to improve heart health and increase access to early and affordable detection and treatment resources nationwide.”

(Eti Swinford/Dreamstime)

Tuesday, 01 Sep 2015 13:57 PM


1 in 3 Americans Never Exercise: Study

(Copyright DPC)

Two in three Americans are clinically obese or overweight. Now a new study has identified a key reason one: About 36 percent of U.S. adults do not engage in any type of exercise or leisure-time activity.

That’s the conclusion of a new analysis released by Healthy People 2020, a federal program designed to improve the nation’s public health.

The study, published online in the American Journal of Medicine, also found even patients who have had a heart attack and who undergo cardiac rehabilitation aren’t motivated to up their activity levels. The researchers estimated that fewer than 15 percent or heart patients actually participate in cardiac rehabilitation following discharge.

The researchers noted many studies have found that regular physical activity reduces the risks of heart attacks and strokes, developing diabetes, hypertension, and certain types of cancer. Exercise also enhances mental health and promotes healthy muscles, bones, and joints.

Current federal health guidelines recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderately vigorous exercise each week — a minimum of 20-25 minutes every day or 30 minutes most days of the week.

“Lack of physical activity accounts for 22 percent of coronary heart disease, 22 percent of colon cancer, 18 percent of osteoporotic fractures, 12 percent of diabetes and hypertension, and 5 percent of breast cancer,” said Charles H. Hennekens, M.D., a professor at Florida Atlantic University’s College of Medicine who co-authored the new report.
“Furthermore, physical inactivity accounts for about 2.4 percent of U.S. healthcare expenditures or approximately $24 billion a year.”

The researchers noted simply taking a brisk walk every day for only 20 minutes can cut the risk of a heart attack by up to 40 percent.

“There’s a lot more that we can do to address this national epidemic among people of all ages,” said Steven Lewis, a visiting FAU professor. “For example, clinicians should screen and refer obese patients to programs that offer intensive counseling for weight control and physical activity. This simple, straightforward and easily achievable objective may be the first necessary step to lower rates of obesity and physical inactivity in the U.S. today.”

Too often, Americans reach for pills to treat their ills, rather than turning to lifestyle changes that can boost their health, Hennekens said.

“In general, any pharmacologic intervention should be an adjunct, not alternative, to therapeutic lifestyle changes such as increasing levels of physical activity,” he added. “Based on the current totality of evidence, when compared with most pharmacologic therapies, exercise is more readily available at a low cost and relatively free of adverse effect.”

By Nick Tate
Wednesday, 26 Aug 2015 16:32 PM


Here’s How Music Influences Your Workout, According To Science

Listening to music during exercise could lead to a better workout, scientists say.

<span class='image-component__caption' itemprop="caption">You'll have a better workout if you listen to music while exercising, scientists say.</span>


Why does it tend to feel like you get a better workout in when you put music to your exercise? It turns out that your favorite gym-time jams may act as natural pain relievers and help you to move faster without you even realizing it.

Listening to music while exercising can release feel-good chemicals in the brain — such as dopamine and opioids — that may boost your mood, dull pain and make you less tired, scientists say.

“There are two possible mechanisms, and we haven’t sorted them out yet,” Dr. Daniel Levitin, a neuroscientist and author of This Is Your Brain On Music, told The Huffington Post in an email. “Either music acts as a distractor (and distractors are known to modulate pain levels — this is why combat soldiers don’t always realize they’ve been shot until after a busy maneuver is over) or music acts as a mood enhancer (because the release of endogenous mu-opioids and other mood-enhancing chemicals raises the pain threshold).”

That’s not all. The brain’s neurons can even synchronize with the tempo of music, said Levitin, who has conducted numerous studies on how music affects the brain. Depending on the tempo, this synchronization can help you to perform repetitive motions, such as running, more quickly.

A recent study — that Levitin was not involved in — showed that listening to music while working out can help regulate and maintain an exercise pace and regimen. The study was published in the journal Sports Medicine-Open in May.

For the study, 34 cardiac rehab patients completed an exercise program. One-third of the patients didn’t have any music during their exercises, another third had audio devices with music and another third had audio devices with a music playlist curated specifically to enhance tempo-pace synchronization.

The researchers found that the patients who used the music playlists with tempo-pace synchronization showed the greatest increase in their total physical activity of the three groups — pushing themselves to work out for an average of 261.1 more minutes than the other patients each week.

“If this average increase of exercise was sustained for an average 65-year-old male patient, it would correlate with a projected life-expectancy increase of two and a half years,” Dr. David Alter, senior scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and lead author of the study, said in a written statement.

Countless other studies have shown this link between music tempo and exercise performance exists — including a 2010 study in which scientists noticed that cyclists tended to work harder while listening to faster-paced music. SoulCycle, anyone?


Jacqueline Howard Associate Science Editor, The Huffington Post

Posted: 08/21/2015 02:44 PM EDT | Edited: 08/21/2015 03:23 PM EDT


When Muscle Soreness Helps Muscle Growth (And When It Doesn’t)

When Muscle Soreness Helps Muscle Growth (And When It Doesn't)

Most people tend to be in a love-hate relationship with muscle soreness. It sucks when you can barely sit down on the toilet, but it feels awesome knowing that you worked out hard. That’s fine and all, but just because you’re sore may not be the best indicator for muscle growth. Here’s what we mean.

Image by tktodd.

The dreaded DOMS (or delayed onset muscle soreness) is that wicked stiffness and localised pain you feel a few days after a fairly new workout. (For the record, we’re talking about the soreness incurred from lifting weights.) When it comes, it hits hard like Superman on speed, but most people relish in it thinking that serious muscle growth and progress have been made.

Not necessarily so, according to Body Recomposition:

Four things to think about:

1. DOMS is usually the worst at the beginning of the training cycle, especially with new movements but visible and increased growth usually occurs at the end of the cycle when DOMS no longer happens.

2. Some muscles, the deltoids are one example, very rarely get sore for some reason, but they grow just fine. DOMS is not required.

3. People who train very infrequently such as a bodypart once/week often report amazing DOMS. But many of them don’t grow well.

4. People who train somewhat more frequently (i.e. 2-3 times/week per muscle group) always report LESS DOMS but MORE growth.

Basically, the above seems to indicate that not only is DOMS not associated with growth, but in most cases you get better growth with less

Additionally, a recent study, titled Leukocytes, cytokines and satellite cells: what role do they play in muscle damage and regeneration following eccentric exercise? and published by the University Hospital and Medical Faculty of Tübingen, discusses how the activation of satellite cells in muscles “does not seem to be directly related to muscle damage markers.” However, the researchers also note that initial muscle damage creates the stimulus needed for satellite cells to — in the most reductive terms — regenerate and build bigger muscle.

It’s helpful to note here that DOMS also isn’t the best indicator of muscle damage, anyway.

Remember that biology, however, is not so black and white. The above can look differently just based on whether you’re looking at short-term or long-term training adaptations.

So, what does this mean for you? Strength coach Greg Nuckols suggests that in the short run, avoiding too much muscle damage in order for you to train with higher frequency pays off; your muscles will grow just fine without constant, significant damage in the short-term.

For the most part, high degrees of muscle damage from time-to-time is indeed very helpful, but don’t spendevery workout pushing ’til you’re limping out of the gym. That could compromise your ability to adequately do the following workouts, and not to mention, have a negative impact on your joints in the long-term.

DOMS and Muscle Growth [Body Recomposition]

Lifehacker Australia’s

Supercharge Your Workout With Beet Juice

by Margie King, greenmedinfo.com

How would you like to be able to work out longer and use less effort to get the same benefits? Oh, and without resorting to Lance Armstrong’s strategies? It’s possible, according to research finding that juicing beets can enhance the performance of elite athletes.

But even for those not planning to race in the Tour de France, researchers suggest that beet juice could also help the elderly or people with heart or lung-conditions enjoy more active lives.

In 2009 researchers at the University of Exeter found that beetroot juice enables people to exercise for up to 16% longer, leading athletes to experiment with its effects. A follow-up study suggested that drinking beetroot juice could help a much wider range of people.

The small study, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, followed nine healthy young men doing low intensity exercise and found that they used less oxygen while walking, effectively reducing the effort it took to walk by 12%. The authors believe that for older people with cardiovascular issues who take in less oxygen, beetroot juice could help them do things that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.

The beetroot juice both widens blood vessels, reducing blood pressure and allowing more blood flow, and at the same time, it reduces the amount of oxygen needed by muscles during activity. The two effects combined have a significant impact on performing both low-intensity and high intensity physical tasks.

The study concluded that the high levels of nitrate in the beetroot juice are responsible for the effects. Nitrate in beet juice is converted by bacteria on the tongue into the chemical nitrite which eventually enters the blood stream, and lowers blood pressure. Consuming nitrate-rich vegetables, such as beets, spinach, lettuce and other leafy greens may contribute to a healthy cardiovascular system.

How can you get the benefits of beet juice in your own workout or just your everyday activities? You can always buy beets and juice them yourself. However, if you are not up for that, you can find beet kvass at your local health food store.

Kvass is a lacto-fermented beverage from Russia made traditionally from stale sourdough rye bread. It is considered a tonic for digestion, and has been known as an antidote to a hangover. In addition to bread, various kinds of kvass are made with beets, currants, raspberries, lemons, apples, pears, cherries, bilberries and lingonberries. When buying beet kvass, look for a raw, probiotic, organic version.

Eat Watermelon to Beat Belly Fat

Belly fat isn’t attractive, but its worst quality is that it increases your risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, and other deadly diseases. In most of us, belly fat tends to be stubborn, but some foods can give you an advantage in your battle to banish the bulge. Watermelon, for instance, is an ideal food to melt belly fat, according to the American Dietetic Association.

A study conducted at the University of Kentucky found that drinking two glasses of watermelon juice every day for eight weeks helped people lose weight — especially belly fat — and didn’t reduce muscle mass.

The magic component may be the amino acid arginine. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that adding arginine to the diets of obese mice decreased body fat by 64 percent in only three months.

Five additional foods that will help you beat belly fat are:

Green tea. Green tea contains polyphenols called catechins. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that green tea increased the body’s ability to burn fat. Taking 690 milligrams of catechins for 12 weeks reduced the subjects’ total fat, including a significant reduction in waist circumference. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that volunteers who took green tea extract increased fat oxidation, which aids in weight loss, by 25 percent when compared to a placebo group. A further study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that the EGCG (which contains the highest concentration of catechins) and caffeine found in green tea significantly increased resting metabolic rates. Drink at least four cups of green tea each day.

Tomatoes. Tomatoes may be a secret weapon in the war against belly fat. A study in the journal Nutrition found that women who drank eight ounces of tomato juice daily for eight weeks dropped almost an inch from their waists without dieting or making other lifestyle changes such as exercising. Tomatoes contain 9-oxo-ODA (9-oxo-10,12-octadecadienoic acid), a compound that lowers lipids in the blood, which helps control belly fat.

Eggs. High-quality protein, such as in eggs, can help you lose belly fat. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that people who followed a diet moderately high in protein lost 38 percent more fat than people who followed a diet moderately high in carbohydrates. It takes more calories to break down protein, and protein also helps control hunger so you don’t want to eat as much.

Walnuts. In a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, more than 1,200 adults were divided into three groups. One group followed a Mediterranean diet and ate an ounce of nuts — mostly walnuts — every day. The second group also followed a Mediterranean diet, but it was supplemented with olive oil, and the third group served as a control. Only the group eating nuts lost belly fat. Walnuts, almonds, and other nuts contain healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats which keep you feeling satisfied.

Blueberries. Blueberries are rich in anthocyanins, which are phytonutrients that help burn belly fat. A study at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor found that rats who got 2 percent of their daily calories from blueberry powder lost all of their belly fat in only three months. Researchers say anthocyanins regulate fat metabolism, and people might get similar results by eating a cup of blueberries each day.


By Sylvia Booth Hubbard
Sunday, 02 Aug 2015 23:05 PM

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Most Americans Clueless About Fitness: Survey

Despite an explosion of fitness advice from TV shows, blogs, books and online experts, a basic knowledge of health and exercise still eludes most Americans, according to a poll.

It showed that almost three-quarters of more than 1,000 people questioned did not know that they had to burn 3,500 calories to lose a pound of fat, according to the poll by fitness equipment maker Nautilus Inc.

The results were posted online, along with an interactive quiz.

Only 39 percent grasped that an egg is a healthy source of protein and a mere 13 percent understood that women who weight train will not bulk up like a man.

The average score was 42 percent out of 100.

“There are just so many myths and misconceptions out there,” said fitness adviser and author Tom Holland, including the mistaken belief, shared by 45 percent, that weight training can turn fat to muscle.

But his big concern was the belief that women who lift weights will bulk up.

“When you think how important strength training is for women, this is doing a disservice,” Holland added.

Almost three-quarters recognized that running a mile burns more calories than walking a mile, and 67 percent understood that resting heart rate is a good indicator of aerobic fitness.

Regular aerobic exercise makes the heart stronger and more efficient.

Forty-five percent selected morning as the most effective time of day to exercise, although afternoon or evening is equally as good.

But Jessica Matthews, senior adviser for health and fitness education at the American Council on Exercise, said the truth is sometimes complicated.

“Research shows body temperature is warmer later in the day, so afternoon exercise can be good, but we also know that people who exercise early in the morning tend to exercise more consistently,” she said.

While men and women were equally misinformed, young adults 18 to 24 scored highest and seniors, 65 years and older, had the lowest marks.

“Older people may have learned things in high school physical education class that are now outdated because the science evolved,” Matthews explained.

Friday, 07 Aug 2015 08:26 AM

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Want to build lean muscle? Eat these foods

All muscle is inherently lean. So if you’re building muscle, it’s going to be fat-free and lean.

Eat pumpkin seeds after you work out.


Eat pumpkin seeds after you work out.

Lean muscle: It’s what we all want, right? Long, toned muscles that look elegant — not “bulky.” We talked to Jenn Randazzo, a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition and dietetics, for the best foods to eat for muscles, as well as some general background on building the body you want.

First, let’s start with a little lesson on lean muscles. What does that even mean?

“Something I hear time and time again is, ‘I don’t want to build muscle; I just want to become more toned,’ but guess what? Building muscle and toning muscle are the exact same thing.” Randazzo said.

“Our total body composition is composed of four things: fats, fluids, mineral mass and lean body mass. This lean body mass includes all of our muscles, which are fat-free cells in the body, and lean muscle is just a popular expression. Lesson here: Muscle is muscle.”

In other words? All muscle is inherently lean. So if you’re building muscle, it’s going to be fat-free and lean.

“When you hear people say they want to be more toned and lean, what they really want is to build strength in their body while reducing their total amount of body fat. This concept is typically referred to as the “strength-to-weight ratio,” she said.

So how does one “build” muscle with diet? Muscle is built when it gets broken down by the body.

“Especially during exercise, the protein-packed structures within the muscle become depleted of their glycogen stores, resulting in muscle fatigue,” Randazzo said. “Ever ‘bonked’ mid-workout because your muscles have ached so badly? This is exactly what you’re feeling. Because the body perceives this work as an ‘injury,’ the immune system is triggered, sending in special proteins to help begin repairing the damaged muscle tissues — so the body can focus on repairing and muscle to rebuild from. To effectively rebuild muscles, diet becomes especially important,” she said.

Berries, oranges, dates

Randazzo said these fresh whole-food fruits contain valuable phytonutrients and antioxidants “while providing that much-needed easily digestible carbohydrate immediately after a workout. These fruits are considered lower-glycemic fruits, so they’ll give those muscles what they need without spiking your blood sugar.” She suggests 1/2 cup berries, one medium orange, or mashed dates on a piece of sprouted whole grain toast, 20 minutes after a workout.

Roasted pumpkin seeds, cashews, almonds

These nutrient-packed seeds and nuts are perfect on-the-go proteins that help keep you full yet energized and provide post-workout protein to rebuild muscle. For optimal portion and timing, Randazzo recommends 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds or 1/3 cup almonds or cashews, 45 minutes after a workout.


“These heart-healthy fruits are the bomb!” Randazzo said about avocados. “Perfect additions to a smoothie, salad, tacos, or just eaten by themselves (maybe with a little salt and pepper), avocados help refuel the body while managing the inflammation.”


By: Alina Gonzalez Byrdie.com, Published on Tue Aug 04 2015


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