COMMIT & CROSS TRAIN FOR YOUR BRAIN
THOSE WHO LIKE TO TUNE OUT WHILE PERFORMING A FAMILIAR CONTINUOUS, AEROBIC ACTIVITY AND MENTALLY RELAX MIGHT WISH TO RETHINK THAT STRATEGY. A post from Harvard Health Publishing references Dr. John N. Morris, director of social and health policy research at the Harvard-affiliated Institute for Aging Research. He says challenging your cognitive skills while performing a new physical activity “that also forces you to think and learn and requires ongoing practice can be one of the best ways to keep the brain healthy.”
Dr. Morris explains that research has proven regular exercise to be one way to improve brain function in areas like “memory recall, problem solving, concentration, and attention to detail.” Taking up a new sport like swimming is an example, he offers; another is improving your golf game by trying to lower your handicap.
Wow! But before reading this piece I thought only non-exercise-related mind-bending activities, like learning a new language or to play a musical instrument, would improve brain power. Perhaps these language and musical lessons could be learned while walking, but my mental image of “brain exercise” had not included gym work or sports, until now.
Activities don’t need to be physical exercise, he says. Creative outlets like painting and other art forms remain strong contenders for cognitive exercise, however, so there’s no need to give up aspirations in these areas.
The factors that make an activity good for brain training are: challenge, complexity, and practice, indicates Dr. Morris. Attempting something new is more challenging than doing that which is learned and familiar. Complex tasks force brains to work harder than simple ones. Regular practice is required to master any new skill.
What this means for runners, walkers, bicyclists, and gym lovers, is that we stand to benefit both physically and cognitively from mixing up workouts or trialing new activities. In other words, cross-training, which involves performing various forms of exercise that require us to concentrate, react, and adjust movement rather than to move from mere habit. To commit to slightly more difficult challenges rather than coast along with familiar routines.
If we believe the expert, Dr. Morris, and the research he discusses, instead of putting on shoes or getting on the stationary or actual bike and walking/running or cycling without a specific workout in mind, defining a goal and developing a plan to meet that challenge would be better for brain health. There are a variety of training programs available for purchase, and many that are offered free, online for those interested in taking on new and challenging physical activities. Not just for running (see below two links that may help walkers and cyclists). Locating a plan, creating a calendar, customizing it for your personal needs, and adjusting it to your daily schedule are complex mental tasks that qualify as brain training.
Earned Runs has offered a variety of summer challenges, and encourages fall and winter beginner training for 5K's. There's a getting started checklist for beginner runners that could walkers could adapt.
If the activity in which you’re interested requires equipment, consider going to a local brick-and-mortar specialty store before buying on the internet. The owner/proprietor may have suggestions with regard to getting started. Even if you only need apparel, seeking out specialty apparel stores may help you find someone with expertise who can provide advice to newbies.
The thoughtful effort you’ll need to make to take on a challenge or a totally new sport is actual brain training. The more that’s required, the more you’re likely to be improving cognitive function! And be on the way to becoming more fit as well.
RUN& MOVE HAPPY!
WEEK 10 ACROSS AMERICA 2018
WEEK 10 RUN-WALK-BIKE ACROSS AMERICA 2018 STARTS TOMORROW
Segment 24: West Union IA to Boscobel WI
Segment 25: Boscobel WI to Madison WI
Segment 26: Madison WI to Milwaukee WI
WOW! ON THE FIRST DAY OF THIS WEEK’S SEGMENT WE CROSS THE MIGHTY MISSISSIPPI RIVER. Even though it is a virtual crossing of this geographic wonder it is still a really big deal. Notice, when leaving Iowa, that both of the state’s western and eastern borders are formed by rivers, the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, respectively. Iowa is the only state with this distinction (and the only state in which all boundaries are defined by rivers). The two rivers eventually meet up and merge downstream near St Louis MO. Did you know the Missouri River plays a role in the Mississippi’s standing as the world’s fourth longest river?
A Wikipedia entry identifies the Mississippi as the “chief river of the second –largest drainage system on the North American continent, second only to the Hudson Bay drainage system” in Canada. The river arises in the north of Minnesota; its source is Lake Itasca. It flows 2320 miles south, passing through or bordering 10 states, and empties into the Gulf of Mexico at its mouth in the state of Louisiana. “When measured from its longest stream source (most distant source from the sea), Brower’s Spring in Montana, the source of the Missouri River, it has a length of 3,710 miles”. So the Missouri River adds almost 400 miles to its official length!
A map of the Mississippi Basin System shows it somewhat approximates the outline of the Louisiana Purchase. The western boundary of this land was contested at the 1803 signing of the agreement with France, according to another Wikipedia entry. The Lewis and Clark expedition was one of three that were organized by President Thomas Jefferson, with the directive to explore and map the new US territory. All three started at the Mississippi River. This information, if the Wikipedia piece is accurate, were not known by me until I started my own exploration of this part of the country! Who knew?
The National Geographic Society website has a student activity for grades 6-8, in which students examine the role of rivers in the settlement of the Americas; if your kids are walking, running, or bicycling the miles in this challenge, it might be worth exploring as a learning activity.
Moving from Iowa into Wisconsin, the route follows along another waterway, the Wisconsin River, a tributary of the Mississippi and the longest in that state. Apparently, there are bald eagles to be seen along the northern Mississippi River valley, between Minnesota and southern Illinois, but mostly in the months of January and February. So, we may not expect to ‘see’ them on the way.
The rest of the week challengers will travel across Wisconsin to its two largest cities. The first stop is at the state capital, Madison, which was named after President James Madison. It is the home of the University of Wisconsin and is second in size only to Milwaukee, the largest city.
According to the TrekTravel.com online itinerary for its bike tour (week 4, day 28), the route to Madison from Boscobel WI takes you through a beautiful ‘unglaciated region” of Wisconsin’s Driftless Area, where you experience steep and rolling forested hills, green valleys, and crystal clear trout streams that have dramatically carved limestone bluffs. It says that nearby farms, which use sustainable growing practices, produce organic foods and other treasures like heirloom vegetables and artisanal cheeses likely to be found in Madison restaurants and its farmers market. Part of the company’s admitted enthusiasm for this city is due to the fact that Madison is TrekTravel’s hometown, which explains the wonderful insight into the area's charms.
Milwaukee is at the eastern edge of the route through this state and offers up scenes of the Lake Michigan western shoreline and the Brewers’ baseball team stadium, Miller Park. It is the home of iconic Harley-Davidson motorcycles and its landmark-building-housed Museum. There is much to see and enjoy here. Get ready to cross the Big Lake (Michigan) next week!
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
Check out the images on the ACROSS AMERICA IN PHOTOS page.
BIBRAVE HELPS RUNNERS LEARN ABOUT RACES through reviews of races by those who have run them. Visitors to the website can check out events they hope or plan to run or can provide reviews of those in which they have participated. It follows that the company would want to receive input from in-the-know runners in order to establish list of the best. The nomination period is now open for The BibRave 100.
Visitors to the BibRave website are invited to nominate their favorite races through August 5. Races with the most nominations will be identified as finalists. Then the running–voting public will have the opportunity to vote.
Top 20 Marathons
Top 20 Half marathons
Top 15 10Ks
Top 15 5Ks
In each category, the top 5 will be ranked and a winner “crowned”. The outcome of all voting will be revealed Wednesday November 28.
BibRave suggests runners check out the results of the 2017 voting through a link.
To avoid surprises before registering and paying fees, consider using BibRave. Or, share the goodness of a great race you love by writing a review that others will see. Help first time participants have the best experience possible, especially if your insight might prepare them to smooth over a few rough areas in an otherwise wonderful event.
And nominate & vote.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
SUMMER SCIENCE FRIDAY: urine COLOR
THE COLOR OF HYDRATION. WHEN IT COMES TO PROPER HYDRATION, MOST ENDURANCE ATHLETES will recall being told at least once in their careers, by a trainer, coach, or friend, to check urine color. Light yellow is best; shades that begin to appear dark gold or brown are in the danger zone. A chart from the USADA (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) provides images to help make this assessment, which show 3 levels of urine color: hydrated; dehydrated, extremely dehydrated.
Other recommended assessment methods involve checking bodyweight before and after a session/event to assess re-hydration requirements. [The USADA recommends that for every pound lost during exercise, 3 cups of fluid should be taken for re-hydration.] Weighing is not always practical, or possible, especially away from home. What most of us do is check the toilet water color before flushing. However, there can be a problem with this ‘diagnostic’ method.
First a little bit of physiology. MedLinePlus indicates normal range of urine output for an adult during a 24-hour period is 800-2,000 milliliters/day with a normal intake of 2,000 milliliters (2 liters)/day. Translated this means an output of roughly 1/8 to 1/3 cup of urine per hour over a 24 hour period.
[Textbook calculation for a patient post-surgery, to assess minimally adequate kidney function is 0.5 ml/kg bodyweight/hour. For a 60kg (132 lb.) person, that’s 30 ml/hour (or 1/8 cup/hour); for an 80 kg (176 lb.) person it’s 40 ml/hour (or 1/6 cup/hour). ]
If a well-hydrated runner/walker/cyclist at these bodyweights empties her/his bladder before an endurance event, that translates to a minimum of approximately ¼ cup to ½ cup of urine MADE by the body after a few to several hours has elapsed. Which is a reasonable time estimate, when time spent waiting to start, then actually completing a training session or event, and finally finding a rest room is added up.
To get back to the method of urine evaluation which involves checking the color of the water in the toilet bowl after making a pit stop. The problem hinted at earlier is that the formal color chart demonstrates ‘pure’ urine (as if we had peed in a cup at a testing lab); the urine color we assess in the toilet bowl is that of our pee diluted with toilet bowl water. Because it is diluted, it will appear lighter than the urine itself, a risk that an overestimation of hydration level will result.
There are other issues. Most permanent private and public facilities have white porcelain fixtures, making color assessment possible. However, gray-ish stainless steel toilet bowls can be found in some recreational park buildings, in which case color assessment will be more difficult. A visual assessment is impossible, of course, in portable potties!
The level of water (thus amount of water) in the toilet bowl must be considered in making an assessment of color. In public or event facilities it can be fairly similar to that present in home bathrooms, which also facilitates urine color evaluation, but low water usage models can have significantly less water. The amount of urine delivered into the toilet bowl water makes a difference too. The less the pee and the more the water, the lighter the color.
Thus, to be helpful, the mental and visual assessment of personal hydration must account for the amount of hydration taken in, and the amount of urine and the volume of water into which it is delivered.
This seems complicated but it’s an informal calculation most athletes have been performing all along. The purpose of the post is to raise awareness that the shade of yellow water which is seen in the toilet may be deceptive. And a bit more thought might be needed on hot days or with more difficult endurance efforts to stay in the safe zone of hydration.
A wise move might be to perform a urine color and volume check just before and just after a session/event, regardless of whether a need is experienced. Usually we can squeeze a little bit out, on demand.
Indications you may not be adequately hydrated:
Perhaps this is more discussion about urine color and volume than seems necessary. However, if situations arise in which doubt exists about hydration level, it can be helpful to possess more knowledge than less about on-the-road assessment methods.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
NOTE: Dimity McDowell authored an item in 2013 for runnersworld.com that dispels eight hydration myths. https://www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-weight-loss/a20831302/8-hydration-myths-busted/
THE “4 FOODS THAT HELP FIGHT POST-RUN INFLAMMATION”, listed in the article by Texas Boesch for running.competitor.com are found on most other listicles that provide similar information. You possibly are aware of each, and have been meaning to try at least one. If not, this is a reminder to all athletes.
Fresh fruit is available in abundance in most locales in the summertime, and visits to farm markets may help locate some less common items and spices. Predictably the article features an image of fresh cherries to entice readers to click and read further. Ginger, turmeric, and watermelon finish off the list of recommended foods.
But a distinction should be made. Not all cherries are created equal when it comes to anti-inflammatory qualities. It’s the RED TART cherries that fight the good fight best although all cherries have anthocyanins, an inflammation-beating substance. The sour tart red cherries have the higher levels.
The article’s image is of sweet black cherries, which are easier to find in grocery and produce stores, and to munch on as a delicious fresh fruit snack, so it makes sense to picture them. If you are keen to experience the arthritis easing effects of the tarts, try tart red cherry juice. I buy it in a box that similar to what ‘box-wines’ come in, with a little spigot for pouring small doses throughout the day. I mix it with sparlking water or with grapefruit juice.
In evaluating my nutrition habits with regard to these 4 anti-inflammatory items, I realized I’m a big fan of watermelon and prefer the seeded type, because it is more visually appealing. A plate of small triangular slices graces our dinner table every night. Watermelon is a refreshing finish to any dinner to me. But I’ve not ever purchased ginger and although I bought turmeric spice I’ve not ever sampled it! They are both now on my ‘trial’ list; to use in recipes and find unique ways of incorporation into a daily diet. Once that goal is accomplished there are longer anti-inflammatory food lists to check.
That’s what appealing about the Boesch listicle; its short and mostly sweet!
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
SWISS BALL CORE STRENGTHENING EXERCISES. “Are Planks Just A Fad?” ask Bob Schrupp and Brad Heineck, the self-proclaimed “Most Famous Physical Therapists on the Internet”. They answer, “We Have a Better Option for Core Strengthening” in a YouTube video. As usual for this pair of PTs, the highlighted routine appears to be unstructured and off-the cuff. It’s the type of presentation that has been successful for Schrupp and Heineck who “ham-and egg” the videos, playing off each other’s self-effacing, mildly comical comments.
The video demonstration shows Brad performing the moves rapidly. Most experienced fitness buffs know that slow moves, rather than fast, are better for maintaining proper form and working targeted muscles, as well as preventing injury. Brad is attempting to show a number of moves in a short period of time to keep viewers’ attention. Don’t rush through the exercises like he is doing.
When watching one of their videos I must replay it several times to get the specifics, so I have provided my written descriptions (not theirs).
NOTE” Although these two physical therapists don’t seem to respect planks, they are an awesome exercise that also works the arm, chest, leg, and gluteal muscles too. If you have performed them you will know that it’s not just your core that is being tested as the position is held. I intend to continue to include planks and plank variations in my daily workouts.
Once introduced to the stability/Swiss ball, you may find you love working on one - I do. Try performing a traditional plank with forearms resting on the ball. The difficulty will be greatly increased; you’ll get twice the workout says the Men’s Health ‘Big Book of Exercises,’ according to Canadian researchers. For an even tougher exercise move the ball with your forearms from side to side, forward and backward, and in a clockwise/counter-clockwise motion while ‘planking. Oh wow!
Checkout the YouTube Video; the descriptions (below) might help you recall the exercises without watching it every time you exercise.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
Brad’s Swiss Ball Exercises to Replace the Plank
Exercise 1: Lay on back in ‘dead bug’-like position with legs up and knees bent at 90-degree angle, arms extended and resting on the floor at sides. Grip ball with bent knees, raise and lower it. Start with 10; progress to greater number as you are able.
Exercise 2: Same starting position as exercise 1 but with arms folded across chest, elbows pointing toward legs. Raise and lower ball AND raise and lower trunk (just shoulders come up off floor; don’t bend neck) in an effort to bring elbows closer to the ball.
Exercise 3: Same starting position as exercise 2 with arms folded across chest, elbows pointing toward legs. With shoulders lifted off floor, twist trunk such that one elbow is brought to the opposite knee that is gripping the ball (just shoulders come up off floor; don’t bend neck). Like a ‘bicycle’ move but with the ball between the knees.
Exercise 4: Lay prone, with abdomen resting on top of the ball, with center of body supported by the ball, legs straight back, toes touching floor. Arms can rest on the ball. Alternately lift one leg, then the other, keeping legs mostly straight.
Exercise 5: Lay prone, in a similar position as exercise 4, but with body more forward on the ball and forearms resting on the floor (as if performing a plank). Legs and feet will be off the floor straight back, with thighs partly supported by the ball. Lift both legs at the same time, as high as possible, keeping them mostly straight. Be aware that in the video Brad can lift his legs quite high because he is bracing his body while gripping the edge of the table. He admits that doing this for demonstration purposes he can lift them higher, but on the floor, not so high.
Exercise 6: Lay prone, in a similar position as exercise 4, legs straight back, toes touching floor. Arms can rest on the ball. Lift trunk and shoulders up off the ball as if trying to look at something on a nearby table top.
Variation a: Twist trunk from side to side while supporting lifted trunk on ball
Variation b: Arms crossed on chest; no support from arms holding onto ball (good for golfers)
Variation c: Hold onto a weight with crossed arms
Variation d: Superman position; lift trunk, with arms extended straight forward, next to ears, palms in
Sit on ball facing wall, knees bent; feet on floor with toes up against wall to hold position; scoot down so that back is supported by the ball. Cross arms across chest. Bring shoulders and upper back up, and then lower them, like doing a crunch but with back supported on ball.
Variation a: Twist trunk to bring left shoulder to right and back then right shoulder to left to exercise abdominal external oblique muscles.
Variation b. Hold weight against chest for either move to increase difficulty
WEEK 9: ACROSS AMERICA 2018
WEEK 9 RUN-WALK-BIKE ACROSS AMERICA 2018 STARTS TOMORROW
Segment 21: Sioux Falls SD to Okoboji IA
Segment 22: Okoboji IA to Clear Lake IA
Segment 23: Clear Lake IA to West Union IA
The travel route on the first day this week takes Across America challengers through the corners of three states: southeastern South Dakota, southwestern Minnesota, and northwestern Iowa. The following two days will be spent crossing, west to east, the gently rolling hills and cornfields of Iowa.
Vacation spot Okoboji is the first stop on this leg of the trip that will end at the west coast of Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes. Interestingly Okoboji sits between two lakes, West Okoboji Lake and East Okoboji Lake, which are part of a chain of five ‘glacier carved lakes’ known locally as the “Iowa Great Lakes”. The chain of lakes, which also include Spirit Lake, the largest, and Upper Gar, Lower Gar, and Minnewashta extend southward from the Minnesota border. According to the VacationOkoboji.com website, “spring-fed West Lake Okoboji is a beautiful shade of blue” and is the “centerpiece” of the lakes and the communities that surround them.
The mid-week destination, Clear Lake IA, is another vacation-tourism stop in Iowa because of its location on the shores of the large lake for which it is named. The Surf Ballroom near this town is famous as the last gig that Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper played before boarding the small private plane that crashed and made sad rock and roll history on February 3, 1958. The Ballroom still has concerts and has a Holly tribute show every February.
The route to West Union IA from Clear Lake takes runners, walkers, and cyclists through more rolling hills and cornfields, as might be expected in one of the states considered to form “America’s Heartland”. Did you know its wind farms perform enough work to lead the nation in wind power generation? The charts in a Wikipedia item on the subject show power production is at lowest levels in the summer months, so a real trip through this area in mid-July might not be made difficult by persistent winds.
There is much more than agriculture in Iowa, however on this trip you will see mostly beautiful farmland, quaint towns, and of course, the lakes. I searched the internet for information on Iowa as part of the Great Plains, and learned that the definition of this region varies by source and that the “Midwest”, “Plains States”, and “Great Plains” are not synonymous designations of the same geographic areas.
As proclaimed every week, our online ‘exploration’ of the virtual route segments traveled on this trip merely scratches the surface of what there is to discover, I am eager to travel through these areas in real time.
America is SO BEAUTIFUL. I’m convinced that nearly every local humble 5K race along the route could be a memorable experience.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
Wind Power in Rural Iowa By Voice of American [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. June 4, 2017
SATURDAY IS RACE DAY: TOUR DE YOU
CURRENTLY CYCLING FANS ARE BEING TREATED TO THE SPECTACLE AND EXCITEMENT of the 2018 Le Tour de France. The 105thevent will be made of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,329 kilometers, indicates a page from the Velo Peleton Tours company website velopeloton.com, covering the Tour. The UK’s Telegraph also extensively covers this race.
The competition began Saturday, July 7 and will finish Sunday, July 29. The geography varies; there are 8 flat stages (days of riding), 5 hilly stages, 6 mountain stages, and 3 ‘altitude’ finishes. Not all days are spent with cyclists moving en masse on the route from a start to a finish town. Two days are spent in rest, and two will be spent in time trials (1 individual, 1 team).
The course is not continuous and moves from region to region (see the map). The scenery of the mountain stages is breathtaking for riders and spectators, literally. Eleven stages are in the Alps, 4 in the Massiff central, and 10 in the Pyrenees. All but a very small section (in Spain) of the route lies entirely within France. The race begins on the Atlantic coast but in ends in Paris.
Unlike many other long-standing formal or informal competitions, the course changes from year to year. Sometimes it’s longer; this year it is shorter. Towns through which the cyclists pass and in which they stay the night change.
When I began researching to report on this race I quickly realized I would not be able to do so with expertise. There is so much complexity to the route/course, terrain, sponsor, rules, teams/individual participants, challenges, and strategy, just to name some of the aspects of the race, that I gave up.
Even the history is complicated. Although there are doubtless many lessons and insights that Earned Runs can learn and take from this famous event, I felt inadequate for the task. In this way, it is similar to the America’s Cup sailing competition. Too huge of a project to take on for a single post.
But as I talked daily to my daughter about each day’s happenings (she and her husband are avid cyclists), I realized that a staged competition might be something Earned Runs could present as a potential custom-designed challenge.
For runners, walkers, or cyclists who don’t find a streak of daily performance, or turning in a personal best in a fastest race, enough of a challenge, perhaps a staged event might generate more excitement.
It’s possible that in one summer, a route with a number of ‘stages’ might be identified to conquer by some. Perhaps there are scenic route segments, not necessarily connected, that are beloved or the object of inspiration that could be traversed in sequence if not in continuity. In states that I have lived, like Michigan, California, and Texas for example, I can imagine doing this to enjoy the natural beauty of some areas. The stages would approximate a ‘highlights’ tour. Others might focus on building an event in which skill was a factor rather than scenery, and plan what cyclists might call “technical’ stages. If the term is not appropriate, the idea behind it is that more or less experience and ability would be required to complete specific stages.
Famous competitions have achieved fame/infamy for a number of reasons. The Tour de France represents a geographic and athletic spectacle that tests skill and endurance. There have been scandals. Women do not participate in it, nor is there an equivalent French race. There are other races that may be more beloved by the cycling world.
Earned Runs isn’t qualified to comment on its greatness or compare it with other tests of human sport performance. But we can suggest that athletes might look to it as an example of a type of challenge that can be scaled and adapted for personal use.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
DO YOU ENJOY BOOKS AND MOVIES ABOUT GLOBAL PANDEMICS? ENJOY BEING SCARED by scenes of a “World War Z”-like, zombie-producing infection that threatens the extinction of all on humans on earth? I do, if in the end the microbe is conquered through the efforts of brilliant, daring, and desperate people.
Last week I finished reading a book that had quite an unexpected setting, the eastern Lake Michigan shoreline of the northern lower peninsula. In “Station Eleven”, by Canadian author Emily St. John Mandel, the infection that decimates civilization is called the Georgian flu, and comes out of Russia. It is 99% fatal. The heroine, Kirsten, is a child actor in a Toronto stage play of King Lear at the time of the worldwide outbreak.
Twenty years later, she is touring this area of the Great Lakes with a troupe of musicians and actors dedicated to preserving what remains of art and “humanity” on earth. Life becomes increasingly dangerous for the Shakespearean band when the group is threatened by a zealous, violent prophet. Kirsten must fight for their survival with skills she’s honed as a wanderer in a changed world.
Although fictional bad, bad, microbial diseases like the Georgian Flu can be entertaining, real-life deadly pathogens are not. Newsweek.com warns readers in an article, “What is Disease X? Deadly Bird Flu Virus could be Next Pandemic “, by Scottie Andrew.
In February 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its 2nd annual review of the Blueprint list of priority diseases. The list seems to form the basis of the Newsweek piece; the last item on the priority list is “Disease X.”* Andrew quotes a British expert who wonders if the H7N9 Avian Flu could be the cause of a deadly pandemic. However, technically, according to the WHO explanation, the “X” designation would go to a pathogen that has not yet been discovered, one that’s “currently unknown to cause human disease.”
So, although the pneumonia-causing, H7N9 influenza virus is definitely scary, it cannot be “X”.
That horror still awaits discovery and likely keeps dedicated infectious disease experts, who surveil the world’s populations for the earliest evidence of a novel microbial threat, awake at night.
Why did Earned Runs feature this article? Because enjoying movies and books about fictional pandemics can be a guilty summertime pleasure as long as we pay attention to the warnings of health experts and follow advice about prevention, including vaccination. It may not be “X” that sickens and kills large numbers of people. It could be a known strain of influenza, or measles. And we're already thinking about Turkey Trots and all the fun of fall running, walking, and cycling events to come. There's never a good time for preventable illness.
As falls nears, think about receiving recommended vaccinations early, before the warnings are issued, when they become available. Help prevent the spread of illness by strengthening “herd immunity”. Then read the books and see the movies that give pleasant chills and goosebumps.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
*Below are the other deadly diseases:
HANGING ONTO SHOULDER Health
PULL-UPS AND PASSIVE HANGING “How to Do the Perfect Pull-up” by Joe Vennare for Greatist.com in 2014 has 4 parts. First, Vennare provides instruction about the pull-up and how it differs from a ‘lat’ pull down even though each exercise uses the same muscles. He explains how the pull-down is performed with a machine, with weights being moved away from the body, and the pull-up is performed on a bar with full bodyweight moved up toward and then lowered away from the bar. The pull-down, Vennare says, isolates one joint and a single muscle group whereas the pull-up is a complicated action that involves the coordination of more than one joint and muscle group.
Next, Vennare gets down to business describing the technique for performing the exercise as promised by the title of his article.
In the third part, for those of us who have recently attempted pulling our bodyweight up and could not manage even a fraction of an inch, he provides advice on how to work up to performing a pull-up. Exercises with weights can help build the necessary back, should, and arm strength, he says. Assistance can also be obtained with the help of a buddy, a special resistance band, or an assisted pull-up machine.
Part 4 explains four pull-up variations, 3 of which increase the difficulty of the already difficult move.
Vennare’s tutorial is not basic. Although he describes the pull-up as one of the most difficult to master, he doesn’t address problems that the beginner will experience or offer a progression that avoids injury. Just hanging and swinging from a bar, supporting my full bodyweight, can be very difficult for more than a minute, I’ve noticed.
After searching the internet for additional help with a safe pull-up progression exercise series, the information coming from trainers seems to indicate that PASSIVELY HANGING from a bar is the best way to begin. Some physical therapists indicatethis move could benefit shoulder health generally!
ZHealth Performance’s, Dr. Cobb explains how to hang while supporting yourself on relaxed knees in a YouTube video. Matt Shu from UpRightHeath has a YouTube tutorial that trains beginners to passively hang. Shu provides stepwise instruction on how to perform a very simple passive hanging move with proper form, and a plan for progression from a few seconds to minutes.
The always entertaining self-proclaimed, “Most Famous Physical Therapists on the Internet”, Bob Schrupp and Brad Heineck also have a helpful video, “Shoulder Pain: Fix by Hanging from a Bar-Impingement, Cuff Tear, Etc.” which highlights the work and book of an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. John M. Hirsch.
My search of medical literature and scholarly articles on the internet didn’t locate additional recommendations by orthopedic surgery or physical therapy professional organizations/departments regarding hanging exercise for shoulder health, the alleviation of shoulder pain, or rehabilitation from injury. Thus, anyone experiencing shoulder pain or with a history of injury should be cautious when performing these exercises, and consider checking with a physical therapist before proceeding.
The idea of re-gaining youthful playground greatness by swinging and climbing on monkey bars and other playground equipment with ease is so very appealing. I wish I had known earlier in life that this kind of physical capability was important to preserve. There’s still time to carefully start work on the basic moves and strengthening exercises. Hopefully, with persistence, I’ll be able to accomplish the huge victory that mastering pull-ups represents.
Or at least keep my shoulders healthy with the effort.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
ZHealth Performance, Dr. Cobb
“Shoulder pain relief: Hanging for Healthy shoulders”
Matt Shu from UpRightHealth
“Passive hang for shoulder pain: How to do it safely”
Bob Schrupp and Brad Heineck
“Shoulder Pain: Fix by Hanging From a Bar-Impingement, Cuff Tear, Etc.”
EARLY BEDTIME HABIT OF THE FITTEST EXAMINED Jackie Veling makes a good point in her piece for on ACTIVE.com, “Nighttime Habits of the Fittest People”. She says articles tend to focus on their morning routine, how they get going early, fit in a workout, get a nutritious breakfast, and possibly meditate. All fine and dandy, she indicates. But what about people for whom mornings tend to be unpredictable and frequently hectic, like people with substantial commutes, or children?
She contends that a well thought out evening routine is the “most important predictor for the following day”. I love that she is highlighting this issue. The disappointing workout mornings I’ve experienced in terms of my fitness life have occurred because high hopes for a killer start were not realized due to poor adherence to a sensible pre-sleep night time routine.
The most common scenario which is a set-up for a non-productive morning involves my going to bed later than intended. Specifically, I have woken too late in the morning to exercise because the time at which I started readying for sleep pushed actual bedtime back an hour or more. Worse than that situation, would be my simply falling into bed, totally skipping any night-time preparation, because it is too late and I am way too tired.
Veling explains each of 10 nighttime behaviors she says are exhibited by model fitness buffs in her article. Earned Runs is focusing on the first: “They go to bed earlier than they think they should.”
This habit is probably similar to the one observed in highly prompt individuals: they depart for an intended destination before they think they should, and end up arriving on time.
Pick a time and go to bed earlier simple, right? But how early? Mathematically, if 7-9 hours is ideal, back time your desired wake up time by 7-9 hours, and then another 15-30 minutes. The “Bedtime” app on my iPhone clock does this for me so I easily know the exact ‘bedtime’ and ‘wake’ alarm hours. I have it set for 7 hours 30 minutes of sleep, between 9:30pm and 5am.
I try to follow the directions of the brief but sweet 9pm chime reminder that I have the option of setting. Not always, but most times.
So, getting to bed on time is not a matter of knowing when to do it, or of alerting alarms. It’s a sequence of preparatory actions that occur a bit earlier in the evening (one is in the morning). Here’s my suggested list:
1. Shortly after waking (for me that’s 5am): make or at least tidy the bed and surrounding space, such that it is an appealing place to sleep that night.
2. Before dinner: shop as needed for pre-sleep protein snack food to carry to work or school, and ‘wake-up’ beverage items.
3. After dinner: clean-up the coffee ‘center’ and nearby counter space (or tea/alternate beverage center), including the cup or travel-container to be used in-house or out-the-door. Set out materials. Do the same for the materials/area you use for fixing food carried out for breakfast or lunch, but set cold food in easy to see refrigerator space. Include vitamins, protein bars, juice, yogurt cups, nut packs, etc., that you will take.
4. Determine the latest show/ screen event you most likely will settle into watching/working on, note the end time, and set the app clock reminder for that time.
For example, if your show ends at 10pm, set the reminder for 10pm with bedtime at 10:30pm; If you plan to stop working on the computer at 10:30pm, set the reminder at 10:30pm for a bedtime at 11pm.) Be sure the reminder alarm gives you enough time to prepare for bed.
5. After the show: wash-up and dress for bed as is your custom, make sure wake alarm is set, devices are charging etc.
6. Get into bed at the designated time.
And that’s it, right? All good. No!
The habit Veling has written about says the fittest people go to bed BEFORE they think they should. They likely start pre-bedtime preparation in step 4 earlier that the chime reminder time. For me, with a 30-minute pre-bedtime chime, it would move pre-bedtime preparation to about an hour before the time I wanted to sleep, and would have me getting INTO BED at the time of the chime.
Realistically, this means I cannot watch the program I am planning to view or work as late on the computer as planned. It means a very boring evening, leaving my husband watching TV alone, not making a phone call, and sometimes not going to a mid-week movie. In the height of summer, it almost means getting into bed before sunset.
This is the tough choice that the “fittest people” make about bedtime. To set an early time is not an easy decision. It means giving up other pleasurable activities. It means having the luxury of being able to do this because no others rely on you for their bedtime prep. It requires that individuals living with you agree not to interfere with or disrupt with your quiet restful time.
I am not the fittest person, but I SOMETIMES AM ABLE to set an early sleep time. I make the effort because sleep is being discovered by scientific studies as the period during which many body processes undergo repair or renewal. But usually only I manage it once in a week. And the night coincides with one my husband thinks is perfect for turning in early. It has become less difficult to do, still seems indulgent, but feels less weird.
This habit of the fittest people of going to bed early makes good sense health-wise. If the entire household’s schedules can be arranged, and priorities regarding entertainment and work adjusted, it can be achieved. But since establishing and maintaining close relationships with others also contributes to longevity, this habit will require balancing with the need for social connectedness.
Veling cites 9 other habits that may not be as difficult to adopt. Check out her article and start with the second and third habits (concerning night time and breakfast eating), if the first is too tough to manage at this point in life.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
WEEK 8: ACROSS AMERICA 2018
WEEK 8 RUN-WALK-BIKE ACROSS AMERICA 2018 STARTS TOMORROW
Segment 18: Kadoka SD to Oacoma SD
Segment 19: Oacoma SD to Mitchell SD
Segment 20: Mitchell SD to Sioux Falls SD
This is the second week spent crossing South Dakota. According to a Wikipedia entry the state can roughly be divided into three regions: Black Hills, western, and eastern. Geographically the eastern and western regions are defined by the Missouri River, which acts as a boundary dividing them. The Black Hills, traversed last week, is sufficiently distinct from the rest of western South Dakota that it can be considered separately from it.
Take a look at the ACROSS AMERICA IN PHOTOSpage for pictures that demonstrate these areas in the state.
The route takes you west to east from Kadoka, through vast grasslands in the middle of the state to Oacoma, on to Mitchell after crossing the Mighty Missouri River, then to Sioux Falls. The route crosses from the Mountain Time Zone over to Central Time Zone about 20 miles east of Kadoka. South Dakota is one of 12 other states that must deal with having two different time zones*.
According to the USDA Forest Service website, the topography of the federal grassland just south of the Missouri River and north of our route, the Fort Pierre National Grassland, includes flat to gently rolling hills with intermittent medium- to large-sized ponds. These ponds provide water for wildlife and livestock and serve as important habitats for waterfowl and popular fisheries.
The grasslands vegetation shelters many wildlife species and native and migrating birds. Nature lovers will have a field day (pun intended) or two as the road takes them to the largest city in SD. The Nature Conservancyhas a wonderful page about the grasslands, which are considered an endangered habitat, and on it links to other stories about efforts that are being made to preserve plant and animal life.
The city of Sioux Falls, is located on the very eastern edge of the state of South Dakota, less than 20 miles from the Minnesota state border. It’s made famous by the cascading of the Big Sioux River over rock formations created by conditions resulting from the ice ages, according to a Wikipedia entry. The area has been sacred ground to many native peoples for centuries and is the site of burial grounds.
As you reflect on the importance of the lands you have traveled through to past inhabitants as well as modern wildlife, less solemnly you can acknowledge the very physical importance to you of having passed the west-east midway point of the trip at midweek… YAY!
If you are using the Earned Runs Across America virtual journey as a teaching/learning tool, this week’s segment provide a perfect setting to discuss the “prairie biome”. There are online learning modules that you can check out yourself; just search these words. The U.S. Forest Service web page “The National Grasslands Story” provides a history of their settlement, disruption, and restoration.
Online images of the grasslands are often stunningly beautiful; the scenery would be so much more enjoyable on a real run or walk as the route is relatively flat. I hope I eventually can experience the prairie in person.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
Check out the ACROSS AMERICA IN PHOTOS page for images.
*Trivia buffs will want to know: Idaho, Oregon (Pacific/Mountain); Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, and Texas (Mountain/Central); Florida, Tennessee, Indiana, Michigan, and Kentucky (Central/Eastern); and Alaska (Alaska/Hawaiian-Aleutian).
SATURDAY IS RACE DAY: BASTILLE DAY
ON JULY 14 THE FRENCH NATION CELEBRATES BASTILLE DAY. It’s their national holiday, and the French language name for the day translates to the “14th of July”, indicates a Wikipedia entry.
In 1789 on that day, the notorious Paris prison was stormed and detainees were liberated, which marked a turning point in the French Revolution. A History.com entry says that although many political dissidents had been held in the Bastille since it was built in the 1300’s, by 1789 it was slated for demolition and only 7 remained ‘in-house’, “four accused of forgery, 2 considered ‘lunatics’ and one kept in custody at the request of his family.”
Regardless, the violent takeover of this symbol of the French monarchy’s tyranny by an angry mob helped spark the revolutionary movement. Although the number of freed French was small, valuable munitions were commandeered form the Bastille in the course of the takeover.
What does this have to do with race day? There are a few competitions that celebrate this holiday in the US. Actually, there seem to be very, very, few that could be identified through searches of the USATF and the Running in the USA websites. Only 2 legitimate fitness events, in Michigan and our Nation’s capital. How unusual, I thought. Americans celebrate and borrow from many cultures, especially for the purpose of having a good time.
The DC Road Runners Club of Washington DC will host a 4-Miler in the evening, on a certified course, described as an “out-and-back on C&O Canal Towpath, flat”. Cost is $10 for non-members and is free for members.
The only other race is the 17th annual running of the Bastille Day Race, 15k run & 5k run and walk, to be held in downtown Fenton Michigan. Appropriately, French bread will be served at the finish, as well as fruit, water, and keg root beer, informs the race announcement..
Fenton is a city of about 11,000+ people, roughly 26 miles south and west of Flint MI, and 40 miles north of Ann Arbor MI. I know of it because, over the long summer of 1981, I traveled there once a week from downtown Detroit, to watch my boyfriend, now husband, play league softball. We were between our 3rdand 4thyears of medical school, each separately surviving different clinical clerkships in Detroit metropolitan area medical centers. Meeting up at softball games that summer was the best we seemed to be able to arrange relationship-wise. The team always lost, sometimes spectacularly.
Thus, I wondered why this typical, almost rural small Michigan town would be celebrating Bastille Day for so many years. The answer has alluded me, but it seems it may be related to the city’s namesake’s heritage and the earliest settlement of the Genesee County area, and Michigan generally, by French and Canadians. The Fenton family coat of arms prominently features fleur-de-lis, which are also a subtle part of the background piece of the modern city’s homepage. However, there is no reference to a French heritage in the city information.
A local well known and highly regarded restaurant was opened in 1997 as the French Laundry but now is listed as The Laundry. The eatery is a sponsor of the race, and mostly likely it’s spin-off bakery, The Crust supplies the French bread served post-race.
The under-lying reason for Fenton’s annual celebration may be nothing more than it was a convenient day/time of the year in which to muster volunteers and sponsors to support the community fundraising effort of behalf of Habitat for Humanity.
Again, the question, “Why talk about Bastille Day”? In my opinion, this holiday is perfect date on which to hold fun fitness events; personal or organized. Reasons:
* Weather: In July, it is generally good across the Northern Hemisphere, although hot. An early or late start can help lessen the heat impact.
* Food: there are many French foods that are easy favorites to serve pre- or post -race. Frites (French fries), French toast, crepes, croissants and other pastries, macarons, and cheeses could make wonderful event menu items.
* Drink: many delicious coffees, great wines, and even sparkling water, can make for morning-before or evening-after beverages that will delight participants.
*Culture: the French ritual of mealtime as an important opportunity to gather can be used to create an attitude of togetherness in small organized or personal-custom competitive events. Big doesn’t always translate to better.
It seems the small city of Fenton, Michigan has found that Bastille Day makes a great date to come together for charity and celebrate as a community, and serving delicious crusty French bread on July 14 for 16 years.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
“READ THIS BEFORE WALKING WITH WEIGHTS” suggests Ashley Lauretta in an article for Under Armor’s MyFitnessPal.com blog. In it, several experts ‘weigh-in’ on the subject. Most do NOT recommend using hand, wrist, or ankle weights to build strength while exercising. The physics involved in adding weight to the peripheral limbs translates to added “torque” on the proximal joints; which increases the stress placed on ankle and wrists.
The referenced trainers and coaches DO recommend walking faster and using hill repeats to boost the physical effort performed during walk workouts. High Intensity Interval Training walking has been discussed on previous Earned Runs posts, and is the basis for the 2018 SUMMER CHALLENGE IV: SERIES SWEEP. Adding resistance training is also recommended.
Scientific research suggests there may be some performance benefits to running, walking, or exercising while wearing a weighted vest, and although some might be helped, there are reasons to be cautious before putting on this piece of equipment. A livestrong.com piece, “Is Wearing a Weighted Vest Bad for Your Back”, by Patrick Dale, discusses one downside, spinal compression. He suggests that high impact activities like running and jumping moves should be avoided. Similar advice could apply to those who wish to lessen the effect of the extra load on knees and ankles.
All persons wearing a weighted vest should be aware, says Dale, that doing so alters the body’s center of gravity, and that uneven loads (all on front or all on back for example) will unevenly stress muscles of the body’s back or front respectively. Thus, his suggestion is to equally distribute the added weight, front to back and laterally (right to left). The weight also should be closely secured such that it doesn’t shift or fall away from the body with movement.
With all the information pointing to the increased risk of injury associated with weighted vest wearing, what might be the advantages? The Dale article points out that persons involved in occupations requiring heavy load lifting must train for these activities, like the military, law enforcement officers, and firefighters, who routinely exercise with weighted vests. Surprisingly, scientific work suggest those who may perhaps be the weakest and most out-of-shape might also benefit from “wearable resistance training.”
One study showed that a 5-year program with 18 older women participants (9 in the training group and 9 in the control group), which involved the wearing of a weighted vest plus jumping exercises, helped maintain hip bone mass in the training group women, and that it promoted “long term adherence and compliance” with training that might ultimately prevent fracture.
Another 22-week study demonstrated that older obese adults who wore weighted vests for a goal of 10 hours of each day (during their most active hours, with total weight worn not more than 15% of their baseline body weight) as part of a weight loss program experienced slightly less bone mineral density (BMD) loss than dieters who did not.
A small, 6-week pilot study of 15 postmenopausal women with sarcopenia (low lean muscle mass), involved the wearing of weighted vests during two exercise sessions per week. Seven participants in the training group (there were 8 controls who did not train) performed 8 sets, 3 repetitions each, of 5 exercises, while wearing the vests (front and side lunges, squats, calf and toe raises). There was a 15 second rest between each set. The training group showed improvement in pelvis BMD and knee extensor strength.
On the other hand, no benefit to BMD, quad strength, balance, or walking stability (among other measures) was seen when women with osteopenia and a previous wrist fracture, who were considered to be at risk of future fracture, wore weighted vests and completed a 6-month strength exercise program.
As is true with medical research results in which study design and methods vary, it is difficult to say with certainty exactly which groups would benefit from training with weighted vests, exactly which exercise protocol would provide the most benefit, and exactly the degree of benefit that would be experienced.
However, these few small studies suggest that, safely worn, weighted vests might assist people who cannot vigorously train (walk fast or perform hill repeats for example) to boost their exercise efforts above what could be attained minus the vests. And the increase in an evenly distributed load may help maintain or possibly build bone and muscle strength.
Pilot studies that are successful in detecting a small but significant trend toward improvement are likely to lead to larger more definitive studies that explore an issue more completely. Hopefully this will be true in the case of wearable resistance training. If buckling/strapping on a weighted vest is shown to help counteract the negative effects of sitting or can take the place of conventional lifting exercises, what a time-saving health boost it would be for many!
In the meantime, care should be taken to avoid injury if weighted vests are worn.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
GEAR LOVE: WEIGHTED VESTS
THE UPCOMING JULY 13, 2018 SUMMER SCIENCE FRIDAY POST will discuss the wearing of weighted vests. If you’re interested in this equipment, below are a few vests that seem to have received good reviews from those who purchased them online through Amazon.com. Five of the vests were featured in a very helpful bestreviews.com article.
I have worn the Tone Fitness Weighted Vest for many years, although mine is a 10-pound vest. I only use it walking and no longer wear it while performing strength training exercises like push-ups, step-ups, and lunges, to protect my joints from the extra load. I haven’t experienced any problems with this vest. However, after checking out other vests and reading the customer reviews, I’m interested in trialing other brands.
Online there were many brands and weight levels from which to select; some brands offered models in a range of adjustable weights. Lower weight vests tended to use sand for fill; higher weight vests used iron inserts.
Check out tomorrows post; maybe you'll come back to this one!
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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