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Strong muscles are important for the health of not only one’s body and minds but also the quality of life.  One way to keep muscles in shape is with strength training. When performing muscle-strengthening exercises, it is very important for have the right postures because wrong form can do more harm than good.  Below are some guidelines to help you to avoid injury and keep your program on track.

  • Always warm up and cool down properly.
  • Use proper form to avoid injuries and maximize gains.
  • Breathe out when you are lifting or pushing; breathe in as you slowly release the load or weight. Never hold your breath while straining.
  • Don’t lock your joints; always leave a slight bend in your knees and elbows when straightening out your legs and arms.
  • Don’t be so eager to see results that you risk hurting yourself by exercising too long or choosing too much weight. Remember to rest muscles for at least 48 hours between strength training sessions.
  • If you’ve been sick, give yourself one or two days off after recovering. If you were ill for a while and try to get back to your routine, start with lighter weights or less resistance when you first resume exercising.
  • Strength training exercises should not cause pain while you are doing them. If an exercise or movement causes significant pain, stop doing it! When performing an exercise, stick with a range of motion that feels comfortable. Over time, try to gradually extend that range.
  • Listen to your body and cut back if you aren’t able to finish a series of exercises or an exercise session, can’t talk while exercising, feel faint after a session, feel tired during the day, or suffer joint aches and pains after a session.

 

Push-ups and sit ups could add years to your life according to a study of over a large population led by the University of Sydney.  The research, published in the American Journal of Epidemiologytoday, is based on a pooled population sample of over 80,306 adults with data drawn from the Health Survey for England and Scottish Health Survey, linked with the NHS Central Mortality Register.

This largest study to compare the mortality outcomes of different types of exercise found that exercise promoting muscular strength may be just as important for health as aerobic activities like jogging or cycling.  The data shows that people who did strength-based exercise had a 23 percent reduction in risk of premature death by any means, and a 31 percent reduction in cancer-related death.

The World Health Organization’s Physical Activity Guidelines for adults recommend 150 minutes of aerobic activity, plus two days of muscle strengthening activities each week.  However, the popular message on exercise has been focusing on “get moving.”  This study prompts expanding the kinds of exercise to beyond traditional aerobic activities for long-term health and wellbeing.

The analysis also showed that exercises performed using one’s own body weight — such as triceps dips, sit-ups, push-ups or lunges — without specific equipment were just as effective as gym-based training.   The take home message is that everyone can do classic exercises in their own home or local park and potentially reap the same health benefits as working out in a gym.

The key findings from the study are:

  • participation in any strength-promoting exercise was associated with a 23 percent reduction in all-cause mortality and a 31 percent reduction in cancer mortality.
  • own bodyweight exercises that can be performed in any setting without equipment yielded comparable results to gym-based activities.
  • adherence to WHO’s strength-promoting exercise guideline alone was associated with reduced risk of cancer-related death, but adherence to the WHO’s aerobic physical activity guideline alone was not.
  • adherence to WHO’s strength-promoting exercise and aerobic guidelines combined was associated with a greater risk reduction in mortality than aerobic physical activity alone.

Thanks for reading.

Dr. Connie Wan

Journal Reference: Emmanuel Stamatakis, I-Min Lee, Jason Bennie, Jonathan Freeston, Mark Hamer, Gary O’Donovan, Ding Ding, Adrian Bauman, Yorgi Mavros. Does strength promoting exercise confer unique health benefits? A pooled analysis of eleven population cohorts with all-cause, cancer, and cardiovascular mortality endpointsAmerican Journal of Epidemiology, 2017; DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwx345

We’ve all experienced stress manifesting in physical symptoms. For example, you may notice that your allergies or asthma get worse when you are stressed. You may wonder whether the stress from work is making the allergy or asthma attack worse. Wonder no more: a massive study spanning 30 years of data and examining over one million people has found a strong connection between stress and an increased risk of developing autoimmune diseases such as, allergy, asthma, arthritis and Crohn’s disease.
This extraordinarily large-scale observational study followed over one million people in Sweden for a period of 30 years. Over 100,000 people were ultimately diagnosed with a stress-related disorder, from PTSD to acute stress reaction and adjustment disorder. This population is compared with another one million subjects who over the 30-year period were not diagnosed with any stress-based disorder. The study found that those suffering from a diagnosed stress-related disorder were 30 to 40 percent more likely to be diagnosed later with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease and celiac disease.
Previous research has shown that too much stress can affect the immune system. This study clarified the link between stress and autoimmune diseases. The study conclusively draws a strong link between psychological stress and physical inflammatory conditions.
Work related stress may be unavoidable. However, learning to manage stress using stress-relieve practices such as meditation or yoga may be benefiting you more than just simple stress relieve. Those practices may be relieving your allergy or asthma symptoms too.
Journal Reference: Huan Song, MD, PhD1,2; Fang Fang, MD, PhD2; Gunnar Tomasson, MD, PhD3,4,5; et al Association of Stress-Related Disorders With Subsequent Autoimmune Disease JAMA. 2018;319(23):2388-2400. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.7028

Skeletal muscles such as biceps, pectorals, and quadriceps are the muscles attached to the skeleton; they are responsible for pulling the skeleton and generating movement—they are literally how we move. These muscles are composed of very long, thin cells that include the full sets of cellular components needed for general functions. However, more than 90 percent of the total volume of a skeletal muscle cell is composed of muscle proteins, including the contractile proteins—actin and myosin. When a muscle cell is activated by its nerve cell, the interaction of actin and myosin generates force through power strokes. The total force a muscle generated depends on the sum of all the power strokes occurring simultaneously within all the cells of the muscle.

Research has shown that two processes appear to account for the mechanism by which exercise enhances strength: hypertrophy and neutral adaptions.

Hypertrophy refers to the enlargement of muscle cells. Enlarged muscles cells lead to that sought-after “bulging muscular” look. Research has shown that muscle cells subjected to regular bouts of exercise followed by periods of rest, with sufficient dietary protein, undergo hypertrophy as a response to the stress of training. Dietary protein provides amino acids, the building blocks for muscle protein. Enhanced muscle protein synthesis and incorporation of these newly synthesized muscle proteins into cells cause hypertrophy: i.e. enlarged muscle cells. Because there are more potential power strokes associated with increased actin and myosin concentrations, the muscle can exhibit greater strength.

Neural adaptations refer to enhanced nerve-muscle interaction.  In untrained muscle, the cells take turns firing in an asynchronous manner. Training enhances a process called synchronous activation, meaning training increases the body’s ability to recruit more muscle cells — and thus more power strokes — in a simultaneous manner.  In addition, training decreases inhibitory neural feedback, a natural response of the central nervous system to feedback signals arising from the muscle. Such inhibition keeps the muscle from overworking and possibly ripping itself apart as it creates a level of force to which it is not accustomed. This neural adaptation mechanism can generate significant strength gains with minimal hypertrophy (i.e. muscle cell enlargement) and is responsible for much of the strength gains seen in women and adolescents who exercise.  In addition, because neural adaptation utilizes nerve and muscle cells already present, this mechanism also accounts for the strength increases recorded in the initial stages of training.

Because hypertrophy depends upon the creation of new muscle proteins, it is a much slower process. Thus, it is important to adhere to an exercise regime involving both the vigorous exercise and strength building session as well as resting intervals to achieve muscle building effect and producing stronger and bigger muscles.

Thanks for reading.

Dr. Connie Wan

The core is the mid section of your body including the torso muscles and their corresponding ligaments and tendons.  It is in this section that all sport and functional movements originate.  Core muscles allow you to control your center of gravity, which has a direct impact on balance and posture.  Strong core muscles make it easier to do many physical activities and therefore are important for a healthy living.

Core exercises are sets of exercises designed to strengthen your core muscles, with the focus on building abdominal muscles, back muscles and the muscles around the pelvis.   Core exercise should be an important part of any well-rounded fitness program. Aside from occasional sit-ups and push-ups, however, core exercises are often neglected. It pays to get your core muscles in better shape. Here is why.

Core exercises improve your balance and stability

Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony. This leads to better balance and stability, whether on the playing field or in daily activities.  Most sports and daily physical activities depend on stable core muscles.  Whether you want to perfect your baseball swing or power up your tennis backhand, you need a strong core.

Strong core muscles make it easier to do most physical activities

Strong core muscles make it easier to do many activities, such as swing a golf club, get a glass from the top shelf and bend down to tie your shoes. Strong core muscles are also important for athletes, such as runners, as weak core muscles can lead to more fatigue, less endurance and injuries.

Weak core muscles can leave you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries. Strengthening core muscles may also help improve back pain.

It’s well worth including core work in your exercise plan. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend the following well-rounded plan:

  • At least two-and-a-half hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, or one-and-a-quarter hours (75 minutes) of vigorous activity per week, or an equivalent combination of the two. (During moderate activity, such as a brisk walk, you can talk, but not sing; during vigorous activity, such as running, you can’t say more than a few words without needing to catch your breath.)
  • Strength-training sessions twice a week for all major muscle groups, including your core.
  • Balance exercises.

Core exercise falls under the second and third categories: strength training and enhancing balance. Incorporate yoga practice is a great way to build the core strength.  Effective core building yoga poses include high plank, low plank, side plank, boat, bridge, locust, and superman.  Effective balance poses include dancer, tree, warrior III, half moon, and warrior.  Here are the graphic illustrations, enjoy!

High Plank

Low Plank

Side Plank

Boat

Bridge

Locust

Superman

Dancer

Tree

Warrior III

Half Moon

Warrior

 

SEATTLE, Washington – Chinese Triathlon Team has selected Mocca Shots and Energon Qube (EQ) products as its official energy products during the Fifth Austria eXtreme Triathlon competition.  Breaking from its traditional energy gel based products, Chinese Triathlon Team made the final decision to switch to Seattle Gummy Company (SGC)’s products after trial use of the SGC products before the competition.

The Triathlon team started intensive training for the competition in May following the regime of using: EQ Power Up as a pre-workout product, Mocca Shots during the training, and EQ Recover after the training.  The athletes noted significant differences in endurance and delayed feeling of tiredness. Several athletes commented that Mocca Shots provided quick shots of energy especially in the later phase of the course and really kept them going.  All athletes noted that, unlike energy gel products, Mocca Shots and EQ products did not cause gastric distress.  The team made the final decision of selecting both Mocca Shots and EQ as the team’s official energy products after months-long trial use and seeing the improved team performance.

Thefifth Austria eXtreme Triathlon took place on June 22, 2019.  The race keeps its namesake promise: athletes had to face the extreme challenges of 3.8km of river swimming, 187km of cycling and 44km of running, with a total of 5,800meters in altitude difference.  The challenging track took its toll — only 45 out of 125 registered athletes from 28 nations finished the entire course.   Armed with Mocca Shots and EQ products, most of the Chinese athletes finished race with the team captain commenting that the team was living on Mocca Shots during the competition.

Mocca Shots is acclaimed to be highest caffeine loading product on the market. The caffeine in Mocca Shots™ works 5x faster because ingredients are absorbed through mouth mucosa, by-passing the normal digestive process.  “As a result,” says Dr. Connie Wan, CEO, “next to an IV, Mocca Shots are the fastest way to deliver caffeine directly into the blood stream.” SGC’s Functional Gummy® Delivery System is key to masking caffeine’s unpleasant taste and anxious side-effects while improving absorption and bioavailability. This allows you to feel the caffeine kick within minutes of taking the product.

Energon Qube™ performance gummies take sports nutrition to the next level. Combining advanced carbohydrate formulations with functional compounds, Energon Qub products are designed to fuel the body and the mind for optimum performance.

Both products are available online: https://seattlegummy.com/

About SGC:SGC is an R&D focused developer of nutraceutical and pharmaceutical gummy products. The company specializes in formulating Functional Gummy® products combining the wealth of the in-house knowledge in pharmaceutics, chemistry, western medicine and herbal medicine. The company provides performance gummies® inspired by Traditional Chinese Medicine including MOCCA SHOTS™, ENERGON QUBE™, FUNTIONAL FRUIT®, and SEATTLE BEAUTY®.

To learn more, visit https://seattlegummy.com, [email protected],call 206-257-0464, or join at https://seattlegummy.com/be-an-informed-member/

You’ve probably heard ad nauseum how important it is to keep moving throughout the day and that our sedentary lifestyles are linked to myriad health issues. So here are some tips to help you stay mobile:

1. Incorporate walking in your commute:

Try parking your car further away from the office, or if you take public transportation, walk an extra 3-5 blocks to/from the next stop. This is a great way to add more movement into your day and can help you clear your head before and after work!

2. Have a day full of meetings?

If you are scheduling meetings, be sure to incorporate breaks in your day. Try limiting some of your meetings to 45 minutes so that you have 15 minutes on either side to get up, walk around and take a break. Also, if you are taking a meeting with 1 or 2 others, organize a walking meeting. The change of pace, scenery and movement can also encourage more creativity and productive conversation.

3. Stand whenever possible:

Standing desks are great- but not everyone has access to them. Try finding spaces in your office where you can stand up and do some of your work, and if you have tasks that require standing, spread them out throughout the day.

4. Schedule time to move:

It may seem overly simplistic, but dedicating time every day to move can be helpful for both your physical and mental health. Sometimes we get absorbed in our work and forget to take breaks, so put a half hour aside on your calendar to go for a walk. It’s a great way to get the blood pumping as well as provide a nice mental break from the day-to-day.

5. High Tech Solutions:

While technology is constantly fighting for our attention at work, there are tools that can help nudge us in the right direction.

Fitbit: It turns out you don’t actually need the activity tracker on your wrist to track your movement. The Fitbit app also uses the motion tracking hardware in your phone to track your activity.

Hotseat: This is a great app for the workplace to help get employees away from their desks more often. It gamifies activity in the workplace so that employees can organize challenges with their colleagues, and it reminds users to take periodic activity breaks.

BodySpace: In addition to traditional fitness apps that have training programs and trackers, this app is a great way to stay motivated as it leverages what they call “social fitness,” a community of users to help cheer you on.

 

 

We all have the experience of seeing our grandparents, over time, literally shrink in front of our eyes. The shrinking is caused by the loss of muscle mass and bone loss as people age. Most adults achieve their peak muscle mass during their late 30s to early 40s, after which time a gradual loss of muscle mass begins and can continue a steady, downhill course into old age. People who are physically inactive can lose as much as 3 percent to 5 percent of their muscle mass per decade after age 30.

As with loss of muscle mass, bone strength also decline as we age – on average, we could lose 1% of bone density per year after age 40. About 10.2 million Americans have osteoporosis, which is defined by weak and porous bones, and another 43 million are at risk for it.

Numerous studies have shown that weight-bearing exercise can help to slow bone loss, and several show it can even build bone. Activities that put stress on bones stimulate extra deposits of calcium and nudge bone-forming cells into action. The tugging and pushing on bone that occur during strength and power training provide the stress. The result is stronger, denser bones.

Studies support that strength training, as well as aerobic exercise, can help you manage and sometimes prevent conditions as varied as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and osteoporosis. It can also protect vitality, make everyday tasks more manageable, and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Even weight-bearing aerobic exercise, like walking or running, can help your bones, but there are a couple of caveats. Generally, higher-impact activities have a more pronounced effect on bone than lower impact aerobics. Velocity is also a factor; jogging or fast-paced aerobics will do more to strengthen bone than more leisurely movement. And keep in mind that only those bones that bear the load of the exercise will benefit. For example, walking or running protects only the bones in your lower body, including your hips.

Therefore, to benefit all of your bones, you need a well-rounded strength-training program that works on your overall skeletal structure. A quick Internet search will show that are many programs around. The one that you pick should not only provide workout for all the major muscle groups but also targets bones of the hips, spine, and wrists, which, along with the ribs, are the sites most likely to fracture.

Thanks for reading.

Dr. Connie Wan

Recent research on yoga has yielded promising evidence that yoga could potentially help treating depression. The scientific study of yoga has grown rapidly in the past decade. Between 1975 and 2014, a total of 312 randomized controlled trials on yoga from 23 countries were published. Between 2005 and 2015, 24 randomized controlled trials have investigated yoga as a way to help treat depression — nearly five times the number that existed before 2005. Most of these studies are still limited due to small sample sizes or have focused on specific groups, such as pregnant women or older adults, so results cannot be generalized. However, these studies suggest that yoga can be a useful tool to consider alongside traditional forms of treatment for depression, such as medication or psychotherapy.

Recent small studies presented at the American Psychological Association’s 125th annual convention continue to support the role of yoga in the treatment for depression. One study of 23 veteran men found that doing yoga twice weekly for 8 weeks significantly reduced levels of depression. The study also found that these men highly enjoyed yoga, rating their experience on average 9.4 on a scale of 1-10. Two studies of Bikram yoga, a specific series of 26 poses done in heated rooms, found that over eight weeks yoga reduced depression symptoms.

The studies seem to suggest that regularity and consistency are important in depression management rather than any specific yoga styles. A 2016 review of general yoga research finds that several styles of yoga yielded positive results. The most commonly studied styles of yoga are hatha yoga, which is a general umbrella term for yoga that includes movement and poses; an integrated approach, which combines yoga breathing, movement and poses, and meditative states; and Iyengar yoga, a form of hatha yoga that emphasizes precise body alignment and breathing.

Research is ongoing regarding whether yoga on its own can help treat less severe forms of depression. One pilot study based in San Francisco is the first US-based randomized controlled trial to examine whether yoga alone could reduce symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Researchers recruited 38 adults who had mild to moderate depression and were not already involved in traditional forms of treatment, including medication or talk therapy. One group did a yoga class twice weekly that included breathing, mindful poses, and a deep relaxation pose. The other group learned about yoga history and philosophy. The study found that the group that did yoga had significantly less depression at the end of eight weeks.

Larger and more long-term yoga studies on depression are needed, but the evidence is promising. In the meantime, people with depression may want to consider yoga as an additional potential resource to complement existing traditional forms of treatment.

Thanks for reading.

Dr. Connie Wan

Journal References:

1. Cramer H, Lauche R, Dobos G, Characteristics of randomized controlled trials of yoga: a bibliometric analysis, BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014 Sep 2;14:328. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-14-328.

2. Effects of a Hatha Yoga Intervention on Depressive Symptoms in Male Military Veterans (presentation) http://apps.apa.org/convsearch/article.aspx?id=5098&type=abstract&_ga=2.251676617.1343381952.1500906241-25438525.1490299103

3. Heated Yoga for the Treatment of Anxious Depression (Presentation) http://apps.apa.org/convsearch/article.aspx?id=5095&type=abstract&_ga=2.208276690.1343381952.1500906241-25438525.1490299103

4. Hyperthermic Yoga for the Treatment of Depressive Symptoms (presentation) http://apps.apa.org/convsearch/article.aspx?id=5094&type=abstract&_ga=2.208276690.1343381952.1500906241-25438525.1490299103

5. Cramer H, Lauche R, Langhorst J, Dobos G, Is one yoga style better than another? A systematic review of associations of yoga style and conclusions in randomized yoga trials. Complement Ther Med.2016 Apr;25:178-87. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2016.02.015. Epub 2016 Mar 3.

Two new studies led by researchers at the University of Illinois have delivered the first clear evidence that the composition of gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone. Designed to isolate the effects of exercise from other factors that could influence gut bacteria, these dual studies build on an increasing body of evidence affirming the role of exercise in determining the makeup of a person’s gut microbiome.

The first study, focusing on a mouse model, took fecal samples from sedentary mice and exercised mice then transplanted that material into germ-free sedentary mice to analyze the effects of the different gut flora.

The results were significant, with the mice that received the exercised gut bacteria displaying an enhanced microbial diversity and a higher volume of butyrate-producing microbes. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid (STFA) known to be vital to colon health, energy production and thought to protect against colon cancer.

The researchers found that the animals that received the exercised microbiota had an attenuated response to a colitis-inducing chemical: there was a reduction in inflammation and an increase in the regenerative molecules that promote a faster recovery.

The second study looked at humans and involved 18 lean and 14 sedentary obese subjects. All the subjects maintained their normal diets but were put on an exercise program consisting of up to an hour of cardiovascular activities, three times a week for six weeks. Each participant’s microbiome was sampled before and after the program.

The results of this study were fascinating with notable increases in fecal concentrations for STFAs seen in the lean subjects, but only modest increases seen in the obese subjects. Six weeks after the program was completed, these positive increases had declined following the participants return to a sedentary lifestyle.

These two studies build on earlier work suggesting a strong correlation between exercise and diversity of healthy gut bacteria. This compelling new discovery, revealing that the effects of exercise could be dependent on obesity status, offers affirms the benefits of regular exercise.

Thanks for reading.

Dr. Connie Wan

Journal References:

  1. J. M. Allen, L. J. Mailing, J. Cohrs, C. Salmonson, J. D. Fryer, V. Nehra, V. L. Hale, P. Kashyap, B. A. White & J. A. WoodsExercise training-induced modification of the gut microbiota persists after microbiota colonization and attenuates the response to chemically-induced colitis in gnotobiotic mice, Gut MicrobesVol. 0, Iss. 0, 2017
  2. Allen JM, Mailing LJ, Niemiro GM, Moore R, Cook MD, White BA, Holscher HD, Woods JA, Exercise Alters Gut Microbiota Composition and Function in Lean and Obese Humans, Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2017 Nov 20. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001495.