IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  April 1, 2005

Safe Running

Runners will soon be back out in the streets. Many will run before or after work when they are in darkness or twilight. If you will run on the street or shoulder, take steps to make yourself visible.

Safety has become important for clothing and shoe manufacturers, according to the National Sporting Goods Association. Jackets, vests, shoes, and many accessories come with reflective fabrics or trim.

Reflective safety vests are increasingly popular with morning and evening runners. And there are new styles of reflective bracelets and bright flashing lights that can be clipped on. Examples of safety gear :

Nike's hand-held Nike Safety Light ($8) has a reflective red case that holds lights that can be set on flash or steady light.

The Xinglet Amphipod ($21) safety vest is a reflective belt with an extension that goes over the shoulders and can be seen from all sides.


What Fake Sugar Can and Cannot Do

Nutritionists at the Food and Drug Administration say this song describes how Americans feel about sweets: "Sugar in the morning, sugar in the evening, sugar at suppertime ... ." That means sweet cereal, mid-morning donuts, sweet soda at lunch, ice cream after supper, and snacks of cookies, pie, candy, and pastry.

Studies in Edinburgh, Scotland show no extra weight loss for dieters who substituted faux sugar for the real thing.

Doctors have become increasingly critical of carbohydrates, especially those from no-fiber starches and sugary snacks. Carb counters also benefit from artificial sweeteners.

All artificial sweeteners are low-carb. Sucralose is the most recent addition. Sold as Splenda, it can be found in many products, and it retains its sweetness in baking.

Sweeteners are generally safe when used in reasonable amounts. Those containing aspartame should be avoided by those who have migraines.

Nutritionists at New York University Medical Center say it's best to moderate intake of both artificial and real sweeteners. Focus on eating a more balanced diet.

A low-carb treat is not a free pass to binge or an excuse to order a big dessert. If you are vigilant with these foods, you can have your cake and eat it too.


Thyroid Disease

In every breath you take and every surge of energy you feel, the thyroid plays a role. It controls the rate at which every cell and organ in your body functions from muscles, bones, and skin to your digestive tract, brain, heart, and more. It does this by secreting hormones that control how efficiently cells convert nutrients into energy, a chemical activity known as metabolism.

The risk of thyroid disease increases with age. An underactive thyroid leads to symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, and dry skin. An overactive thyroid can make you constantly nervous and hungry and cause sleep problems.

Doctors at Harvard Medical School say thyroid disease can easily be misdiagnosed as heart disease or depression. Misleading symptoms are the reason why many people with thyroid disease have never been diagnosed.

A simple blood test can tell whether your thyroid is working properly. Be sure to ask for it next time you see your doctor.


Snacking Can Be Healthy

When it's midway between meals and you feel hungry, what should you do?

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic say self-denial is no virtue when you are actually hungry. Snacking can be good for you, but that depends on what you eat and how much. This is particularly true for people who are burning fewer calories than they did in their younger days.

Many people find it easier to digest smaller, more frequent meals than two or three large ones. What's more, regular intervals of nutrition help to maintain consistent blood sugar levels. And snacks help to prevent overeating at mealtimes.

When deciding on what to eat, the Mayo Clinic recommends:

  • Whole grain crackers and breads.
  • Fruits and vegetables.
  • Nuts and seeds in moderation.
  • Low-fat dairy products.


    Protect Your Heart

    Now is the time to take stock of how you're treating the most important organ in your body. Check this information and see how you are applying it to your daily life.

  • Your heart is a muscle. The stronger it is, the better it will work for you. It needs to be exercised, which means regular activity like walking, running, or lifting weights.
  • Like any organ of your body, the heart won't serve you well if it's surrounded by fat. Working toward a satisfactory body weight will help your heart do its job.
  • Fill your refrigerator with fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and poultry. Keep whole grain products on hand as well as heart-friendly oils such canola and olive oil.
  • Your heart won't work at all if it gets plugged up. A lump of cholesterol will do it, which means you'll be wise to skip the fatty foods. And a blood clot will do it. Check with your doctors to see if an aspirin a day can keep your blood flowing freely.
  • Hearts object to being excited all the time. Anger, stress, and the burden of carrying a grudge make it work harder. Do yourself a favor. Mend your fences, and channel your anger into productive action. Plan your work, then work on your plan so you're not stressed.
  • Don't use tobacco. Talk to your doctor about the best ways to quit smoking.
  • High blood pressure can be a heart breaker. Limiting salt and drinking a glass of orange juice each day can keep blood pressure at normal levels.
  • If your doctor has prescribed medication for your hypertension, be sure to take it every day.


    Sign up for Softball

    If your team was one of those saying "wait until next year," here are a few tips that could make you more effective against the competition. From experts quoted in Men's Fitness:

    Hitting: Because of the shorter distance from pitcher to plate, your front foot is a pivot foot, not a plant foot as it is in fast pitch. Swing inside-out and drive it to the opposite field.

    The extra momentum you get from standing in the back of the batter's box makes the difference between a base hit and foul pop-up for an out.

    Pitching: Unlike a baseball, the softball never stays on one plane. It arcs down by the plate. Keep your shoulders close to your body as long as possible on delivery, allowing for a crisp wrist snap and more control.

    Fielding: The best way to improve fielding is to go for balls hit away from you. Side-to-side movements are the essence of fielding. Practice by taking 20 fly balls and grounders to your left and right sidees. Then have a teammate hit 20 balls randomly to either side to keep you off balance.


  • Therapy Best for Insomnia

    A new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that cognitive behavior therapy works better than prescription drugs for insomnia.

    Drugs can only be used for a limited time, after which insomnia returns.

    Therapy takes 2.5 hours over a six-week period and often cures insomnia. It includes well-known instructions about going to bed and getting up at the same time plus relaxation techniques.

    In his book, Say Goodnight to Insomnia (Henry Holt), sleep expert Gregg Jacobs of the Sleep Disorders Center at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center gives the entire course.


    Fast-growing Specialty

    A growing number of hospitals are hiring hospitalists to support primary-care doctors in hospital care. Hospitalists coordinate care by all staffers from nurses to specialists. They may order tests and make treatment decisions in consultation with primary care doctors. They are trained to recognize and respond quickly to changes in a patient's condition.

    Unlike doctors who train residents and often have their own medical practices, hospitalists spend all their time on hospital care or administrative duties. They don't see outside patients or see patients after they leave the hospital.


    Vitamin C Deficiency

    A deficiency in vitamin C is more common than previously thought. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey shows that 5 percent to 17 percent of those surveyed were deficient in the vitamin. In spite of the fact that average intakes were normal, 13 percent to 23 percent were depleted of vitamin C. Smokers, people not taking supplements, and non-Hispanic black men were at highest risk for deficiency.

    The recommended daily allowance for vitamin C is 75 mg daily for women and 90 mg daily for men.


    More High Blood Pressure

    Cases of high blood pressure in the U.S. increased 30 percent in the past decade, new research shows. Doctors at the University of Mississippi Medical center say that if the trend continues, cardiovascular diseases will be a huge burden on the population in coming years.

    The report, published in Hypertension, didn't address the cause for the increase. The Department of Health and Human Services, which participated in the study, says the cause is due to the population aging and being overweight.

    Overall, 28.7 percent of women and 28.3 percent of men had high blood pressure. On average, 38 percent of African-Americans had high blood pressure.


    Automated External Defibs

    Proponents of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) say the units should be viewed like smoke detectors and air bags. Most people won't need them, but they can be lifesavers if they do.

    Of people who die from sudden cardiac arrest, half of men and 64 percent of women had no symptoms of heart disease. About 80 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home.

    People who live in rural communities where emergency-response times are slow should think about a home AED. One idea may be for neighborhood groups to purchase a few devices and notify residents how to get them and use them.

    The devices are simple to use even by children. The Philips HeartStart AED is about the size of a hardcover book. Pull a handle to activate the machine and a calm voice gives step-by-step instructions. The cost is $2,000, but some Websites offer it for as little as $1,600.

    Experts say anyone over 50 who can afford it should buy an AED. A less expensive Samaritan model is shown above and can be purchased at http://www.aedsafety.com


    ABCs of Heart Attack Symptoms

    Women's heart attack symptoms are sometimes more subtle than men's. Watch for these signs:

    A: Angina, chest pain, back pain, or deep aching and throbbing in the left or right bicep or forearm.

    B: Breathlessness, or waking up having difficulty catching one’s breath.

    C: Clammy perspiration.

    D: Dizziness, light-headedness, fainting.

    E: Edema, swelling, particularly of the ankles and/or lower legs.

    F: Fluttering or rapid heartbeats.

    G: Gastric upset or nausea.

    H: Heavy fullness or pressure-like chest pain between breasts and radiating to the left arm or shoulder.


    Fruit May Lower Risk of AMD

    New studies reported in the Johns Hopkins Medical Letter show that eating three or more servings of fruit, mainly oranges and bananas, each day can lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration. It was especially true for people over age 50.

    The reasons for the conclusion are unclear, however. It may be that the fruit has nutrients that lower AMD risk. Or it may be that those who eat more fruit have healthier lifestyles and tend to see their doctors more often.

    Whatever the case, there are many reasons to eat fruit. This is just one more.


    Lose Weight to Protect Hands

    There's something you can do now to keep from developing large, knobby knuckles caused by osteoarthritis.

    French researchers found leptin, a hormone released by fat cells, in the joint fluid and cartilage cells of people with joint-deforming osteoarthritis. As body weight went up, so did leptin levels and the degree of joint distortion. (Cells from arthritis-free tissues nearby contained almost no leptin.)

    This means that achieving and maintaining a healthy weight now could help you avoid osteoarthritis in your hands. In later life, your hands will look better and you will still be able to type e-mails.


    Low BP Can Cause Fatigue

    If you are essentially healthy, yet you feel tired and listless too often, low blood pressure could be the cause.

    American doctors have thought that low blood pressure is a healthy alternative to high blood pressure. In Germany and Austria, where low blood pressure is considered an illness, an estimated 17 to 22 percent of the population is affected.

    At Johns Hopkins University, they say a healthy range for systolic blood pressure (the top number) is 90 to 120. Research shows that in people whose average was less than 100 were five times more likely to say they were easily fatigued.



    A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.
    - Mark Twain

    A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.
    - John Steinbeck

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend: and inside a dog, it's too dark to read.
    - Groucho Marx

    Time wounds all heels.
    - Groucho Marx

    A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary.
    - Albert Einstein

    As the poet said, 'Only God can make a tree,' probably because it's so hard to figure out how to get the bark on.
    - Woody Allen

    Zen: Never miss a good chance to shut up.

    Q: I have hip pain that hurts when I walk or run for longer than 10 minutes.

    A: It could be that your stride is too long. Shorten your stride and see if that helps. Otherwise, have a doctor check it out.

    Q: I was told by a friend to try doing French Curls for my triceps. Just what is a French Curl?

    A: This link will show you how they are done. French Curls

    Q: The problem is that I am already training 3 times a week, I do about 1 hour of weight training followed by only 15 minutes of cardio. If I don't do the cardio, I'm fine, as soon as I do even only 5 minutes of cardio, then I can't sleep.

    A: Interesting. Doing cardio too late in the day can also affect sleep patterns (8PM or so). I'm not sure about the eas stuff. You probably should read the ingredients and see if there are any stimulants in it. They may not really kick in until you raise the metabolism requirement like doing cardio.

    We don't recommend any kind of supplements since there are no long term studies and on some, no studies at all. Get off the supplements and see if your sleep patterns are restored when doing cardio.

    Q: I've been training for about 2 years now, and I've made some really good gains. However, I've added some cardio to my weight lifting program and now I can't sleep more than 5 to 6 hour nights. I wake up hungry and very irritable. I'm eating 4 small meals a day with 2 protein shakes on top of that. And I've been sicker in the last 8 months than I've been in my entire life. I've always thought that training is supposed to improve your overall health, not destroy it. If I don't find some answers soon I'm seriously considering giving up training altogether. I would really appreciate any light that you can shed on this.

    A: You are probably over training, too much of a good thing. Try to reduce your workout to three days a week. Do about a half hour of cardio and then weight train for another half hour to an hour.

    Q: I'am currently studying a sports science degree. I need to analyse the anthropomentric measurements for a bicep curl and describe the anatomy of the joints used in this movement? If you could help in any way I would be very greatful.

    A: This is one of the best site for that: http://www.exrx.net

    Q: I coach Travel soccer for a U12/U13 girls soccer team. I am looking for a book that contains dynamic stretches specifically for soccer. Are there any books and/or videos available?

    A: I am not aware of any. However, this website may be of some help.


    Q: I am having severe pain between my spine, shoulder blade and ribs. Is it possible that I have torn a ligament that connects the trapezius muscle to the spine? My doctor says my shoulder blade is not attaching properly and he is sending me to therapy. If I have a torn ligament, will therapy help?

    A: If it is torn, you will probably need surgery to reattach the tendon to the bone. If this is the case. Sounds like the doctor is knowledgeable.

    Q: The difference between the Karvonen calculation and the general calculation of heart rate zones varies enormously depending on original fitness. This seems extremely dangerous to me.

    For example, for my condition (45 year old male, MRHR of 78), at '60% intensity', the Karvonen formula recommends a heart rate which is 31bpm higher. The higher the level of intensity desired, the lower the difference is according to Karvonen.

    This makes no sense to me. I am supposed to reach a heart rate of 136 before I have any chance of losing any weight via cardio exercise, yet I am sweating at 105 and am lucky to get to 118 during a 30 minute aerobic circuit workout on my Bowflex.

    Karvonen's 60% (136bpm) is higher than 60% of estimated MaxHR (105bpm), and the Karvonen number is even higher the less fit you are.

    According to Karvonen, it would seem to me, if you're very unfit you can't lose weight by exerc! ising!

    Given that Karvonen's formula was intended for use in sports medicine, could it be that there's a signifcant factor missing from its description as widely found on the Internet (including your site)? Could it be that there must be an adjustment for MaxHR according to your existing level of fitness, adjusting it downwards?

    I have to believe that my MaxHR is signficantly different than that of my Wife's, who happens to be extremely fit.

    Is there a factor I'm missing here?

    A: The Karvonen Method is a better method to use to find your MHR because it takes into effect your fitness level also known as your RHR. The Standard Method only takes into account your age so it is not as accurate. An example would be take two men at an age of 30 but one man has a RHR of 50 and the other has a RHR of 70. The Karvonen Method would accurately generate both men's MHR where as the Standard Method, the zones would both be the same.

    I noticed you said you are checking your heart rate on a circuit workout on the Bowflex, if I am correct isn't that a weight lifting machine?

    The maximum heart rate calculations are for an aerobic excercise training zone. Using resistance during your workout would cause an anerobic componet and decrease your heart rate.

    Since the Target Zone that the Karvonen method gives you seems too high, you might want to refer to the Perceived exertion scale for your exercises and just use the Standard method as an approximation for your workout.

    Rating Of Perceived Exertion (RPE)

    Generally, if you can't talk during exercise, you're training to hard. However, a more accurate method of measuring exercise intensity is the Rating of Perceived Exertion. To put it simply, imagine a scale of 6 to 20 and try to determine where your intensity level is on that scale. That number will be very close to your heart rate. To simplify further, you can narrow the scale down when exercising to a scale of 10 to 18. This would correspond to a heart rate of 100 to 180. It is beneficial to become familiar with this method so that you are always aware of your heart rate when exercising. This allows you to constantly monitor your heart rate and adjust the intensity of your exercise to remain within the target zone. This method should not replace direct heart rate measurement due to inherent inaccuracy but serve as an adjunct to it.

    I cannot explain the difference of MHR as you increase the intensity but I do know that the more fit you are, the MHR will change.

    I hope that this will help you with what you are looking for.

    Q: What is the recommended time to workout on abs for success? Does it vary from person to person?

    A: Abs should be worked every day. However, the layer of fat on the abs will provide cover for your work. So that is a priority. Aerobic activity an hour every other day will take care of that. Also, watch the caloric intake.