Last week I attended the ACSM annual meeting in beautiful Baltimore. I kid you not; it is a beautiful convention center/inner harbor/down town area with good restaurants – my cousin took me to an Afghani restaurant (owned, incidentally, by pres. Karzai’s brother) – and clubs and things to do and see (like the first George Washington monument in the center of a square near the George Peabody conservatory.) The convention, well organized and attended – I heard the biggest yet, with over 90 countries represented – had much to offer the geeks and practicing geeks, like me. I really enjoy hearing the researchers’ research and others’ opinions/suggestions that so make science a wonderfully energetic endeavor. Whilst I would not consider myself one, the value is invaluable. I love taking the info, processing it into terms I can employ in my capacity as trainer and educator, and implementing it into programs for my clientele. Much of what I learn is self-affirming but there’s some that I learn in greater detail such that now I can understand what i’ve read elsewhere. For example…
Obesity. We all learn and think that obesity increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and early mortality. Yes, the BMI data does show this, but that’s like saying “all….. look alike”: to the untrained eye, to the biased viewer, they really might…but really aren’t. In other words, as Steven Blair (Cooper Center, Dallas) and Glenn Gaesser noted in their symposium on the topic, the reality is that obese folks have as good a cardio risk profile as lean people…if the former are fit. thus, lean unfit people were worse off than obese fit people. Furthermore, while reducing weight is good – we assume – one must ask at what expense? Gaesser pointed out that chronic weight loss – cycling – actually increases your morbidity each time you regain the weight. It’s not just large amounts of flux that create this effect; it may be more related to how many times one has tried to lose it. Cycling may actually BE the problem with the obese trying to lose weight, usually to no avail and often to negative effect. Perhaps, and the evidence is clear and strong here, all we need to do is focus on helping the obese get fitter – not marathon fit, just fitter. For you trainers out there, resistance training is sufficiently effective even compared to aerobic conditioning. Why? Read on….
It is suggested that cycling causes loss of lean tissue – muscle. We’ve known that elderly folks have worse outcomes if they lose too much muscle mass. It makes sense then that losing weight, esp fast weight loss as most diets offer, also takes a toll on the lean tissue. Hence, repetitive weight loss in the obese has been shown to increase risk of disease.
Furthermore, studies have shown that short term fitness training – as short as 3 weeks – which is too short to have demonstrated substantial weight loss, has reduced blood pressure, blood lipid values, and get this – risk of type 2 diabetes. Some folks have even been able to get off their metformin (a treatment drug for type 2).
Oh, there’s more, but my fingers are tired. ok, try this on: stretching – most studies show excessively long – over 2 mins – static stretching reduces power/strength. However, as I brought up in the q&a, most athletes don’t stretch immediately prior to performing a power lift/bout. Hence, no need to worry, but static stretching is also shown not to be effective in producing reduction of injury nor improvement of performance….except in events that need it, like dance, diving, etc. and even there, dynamic stretching may be better than static stretching at all levels. Why stretch, then? If an injury or posture has the ability to alter your mechanics, stretch; if you had surgery or any injury that minimizes mobility, stretching is necessary to restore proper muscle balance and function, and static, early on, is safest. the other reason: it feels good, and relaxes you.
Stop reading, Go stretch, and feel good.