Medical

Mild Dehydration Does Not Impair Exercise

Many years ago the Gatorade Sports Science Institute published a study showing that 46 percent of recreational exercisers are dehydrated (Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, June 2006). However, the study did not say that the exercisers were harmed by their dehydration, with good reason. There is no data anywhere to show that mild dehydration affects health or athletic performance. Fit humans can tolerate significant fluid loss before their performance suffers, and most cases of muscle cramps are not caused by dehydration or salt loss. 

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Statins, Low Vitamin D Levels and Muscle Pain

Many people who take statin drugs complain of muscle pain and muscle damage. A new study associates this statin-induced muscle pain with low blood levels of vitamin D (Atherosclerosis, 11/22/2016). An eight–week randomized, double–blind crossover trial of a statin drug (simvastatin, 20 mg/day) on 120 patients who had previously complained of muscle pain from statins showed that 43 (35.8 percent) had pain while taking statins, but not on a placebo, and that people who developed muscle damage from taking statins had lower levels of vitamin D.

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Recovery: the Key to Improvement in Cycling

Muscles are made up of thousands of fibers just as a rope is made of threads. Each fiber is made up of blocks called sarcomeres joined end to end at the Z-lines like a line of bricks. Muscles contract only at each Z-line, not along the entire length of a fiber. Intense workouts cause muscle damage... . Significant increases in muscle strength and size come only with workouts intense enough to break down muscle Z-lines. When muscles heal they become stronger and larger.

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Retaining Strength with Aging Improves Quality of Life

If you don't exercise regularly and vigorously, expect to lose a significant amount of muscle strength as you age, and expect that loss of strength to reduce the quality of your life. A 15-year follow-up study showed that older people who lift weights at least twice a week had a 46 percent lower death rate within the study period, a 41 percent lower death rate from heart attacks, and a 19 percent lower death rate from cancer, compared to the control group that did not lift weights (Preventive Medicine, June 2016;87:121-127).

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Genes and Belly Fat

If you store the extra fat in your buttocks and thighs, you are at low risk for being harmed by that extra fat. However, if you store the extra fat primarily in your belly, you are at high risk for becoming diabetic and dying prematurely. People with tiny buttocks and a huge belly probably already have high blood sugar levels that are caused by inability to store their extra fat in their buttocks and thighs. Having a lot of fat stored in your belly almost always means that you have too much fat stored in your liver.

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Fit for Life IV: Act Now

“Act Now.” No, this isn’t a sales pitch on late night television! Even if you’re a young 50-something (or even younger), now is the time to start taking care of all aspects of your physical condition, not just ride your bike! A recent study at Duke University determined that the physical decline in healthy adults typically begins earlier than detected by health professionals. In other words you may be starting down the slippery slope of aging before you even realize it! total body fitness is one component that supports a long, healthy and active life. Get started now!

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Lack of Fitness, Not Too Much Sitting, Shortens Lives

A new study suggests that it is the level of fitness, not time spent sitting, that predicts susceptibility to disease and longevity (Mayo Clinic Proceedings, published online October 18, 2016). Heart-lung fitness is the ability of the heart and lungs to provide oxygenated blood to contracting muscles for prolonged periods. In this study from Norway, the authors followed 495 women and 379 men, aged 70 to 77 years. They measured sitting time with accelerometers and heart-lung fitness by peak oxygen uptake (VO2 peak). They found that:

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Fit for Life III: Improving Your Athletic Maturity

Mature is a much better word than old, senior, etc., don’t you think? Although my chronological age is 67, I’m on Medicare and I’m eligible for Social Security, I think of myself as having acquired 43 years of athletic maturity since I started riding in 1975. I’m not old! I'm athletically mature! In my second column in this series I suggested that you take the Athletic Maturity quiz. You can use your results to answer this week’s Question of the Week and compare yourself to other roadies. And read on to see how five RBR contributors scored on the quiz.

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Fit for Life II: How Athletically Mature Are You?

I had lunch on Friday with my friend John, who turns 80 next year. He said he’d recently realized that he hadn’t touched his toes in a few years so he’d bent over and tried to touch his toes. He couldn’t. "It's inevitable," he said of his decline. But as I discussed in last week’s column, Squaring the Geriatric Curve, rapid, steady decline of your physical self is not inevitable — you have a great degree of control over the rate of your overall health and fitness decline. How athletically mature you are helps determine that rate of decline.

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Fit For Life I: Squaring the Geriatric Curve

What do you want to do with the rest of your life? And how should you manage your life to accomplish those goals? These are questions I've been asking myself lately – and researching to find the answers to what I can and should be doing to flatten the geriatric curve. In this new series of columns I'll use my own situation as a guidepost to provide information you can use yourself to help flatten the geriatric curve and achieve your own life goals. 

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Bilateral Total Knee Replacement: One Cyclist's Story

At first take, getting two total knee replacements at once sounds insane. But I decided it would be best for me. I found no relevant first-hand experience from any brave souls who actually went through bilateral total knee replacement (B-TKR), especially as it pertains to serious road cyclists. The goal of this article, then, is to share the highlights of my experience and to include advice that will make your recovery faster should you elect to have B-TKR.

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Everyone Should Exercise After Meals

A study from New Zealand shows that walking 10 minutes after meals lowers high blood sugar by more than 22 percent in diabetics, which is more effective than 30 minutes of exercise done once a day (Diabetologia, October 17, 2016). This agrees with other studies that show that exercising after meals helps to treat and prevent diabetes (Am Med Dir Assoc, July 2009;10(6):394-397). Another study shows that walking up and down stairs for just three minutes after a meal dramatically lowers blood sugar in diabetics (BMJ Open Diab Res Care, July 25, 2016;4(1):e000232).

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