Exercise Boosts Immunity, What to Know About Working Out Right Now, According to Experts.

You know how to protect yourself against the novel coronavirus by now—frequent handwashingsocial distancing, and maintaining a balanced diet to keep your body as healthy as possible. But another important aspect of supporting your overall health can also come in handy right now to boost your immune system: regular exercise. The simple act of moving your body more can provide a powerful tool for fighting infection.

So, how can exercise boost your immune system?

The CDC and WHO still encourage regular exercise—and for good reason. In addition to improving your mental health, a 2019 scientific review in the Journal of Sport and Health Science found that exercise can improve your immune response, lower illness risk, and reduce inflammation.

The study looked at “acute exercise,” meaning that of moderate to vigorous intensity lasting just under an hour. Study author David Nieman, DrPH, a professor in the department of biology at Appalachian State University and director of the university’s Human Performance Laboratory says that typically, people only have a small number of immune cells circulating around the body. Those cells prefer to hang out in lymphoid tissues and organs like the spleen, where your body kills viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms that cause disease.

Because exercise increases blood and lymph flow as your muscles contract, it also increases the circulation of immune cells, making them roam the body at a higher rate and at higher numbers, says Nieman. Specifically, exercise helps to recruit highly specialized immune cells—such as natural killer cells and T cells—find pathogens (like viruses) and wipe them out. In Nieman’s 2019 review, participants who took a 45-minute brisk walk experienced this uptick of immune cells floating around the body for up to three hours after the walk, Nieman explains.

While you do get an immediate response from your immune system when you exercise, that will eventually go away—unless, that is, you keep working out consistently. “If you go out for 45 minutes of exercise the next day, this all happens again,” Nieman says. “It all adds up as time goes on.” In fact, another study from Nieman and his team—this one published in 2011 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine—found that those who exercised five or more days of the week lowered the number of upper respiratory tract infections (like the common cold) over a 12-week period by more than 40%.

Think of the lasting immune effect of exercise like this, Nieman explains: Say you have a housekeeper come over to clean your home for 45 minutes most days of the week. The house will look a lot better on that first day than if someone never came. But the more frequently the housekeeper comes back, the better and cleaner the house will look. “Exercise really is a housekeeping activity, where it helps the immune system patrol the body and detect and evade bacteria and viruses,” Nieman says. So, you can’t necessarily exercise one day here and there and expect to have an illness-clearing immune system. Come back for more movement on the regular, though, and your immune system is better prepared to wipe out sickness-causing germs. This holds up, even as you get older, according to another 2018 review article published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology.

Another benefit of exercise is that it decreases inflammation in the body—which, in turn, can also improve immunity. In fact, some research, like the 2004 study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, links decreased levels of inflammatory markers to those that exercise more often and have higher fitness levels. And Nieman says that goes hand-in-hand with immunity. “When immune cells try to function with inflammation, it puts the immune system in a chronically inflamed state too,” he says, which makes it harder to fight infection. To cut down on inflammation, kick up your activity level.

Strength training helps your immune system. Adam Jajtner, PhD, CSCS, assistant professor of exercise science and physiology at Kent State University, who has also studied exercise and the immune response, touts resistance training as a smart strategy for improving immunity. However, he does caution against over-training.

Like all good things in life, science says you can overdo exercise. Pushing yourself too hard for too long can actually put you at higher risk of infection—but you have to go pretty far past that “acute” level of training to experience negative side effects.

For example, most studies that found that extreme exercise can increase risk of illness examined marathon runners, like Nieman’s 1990 study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. But Nieman says this negative effect can come into play if you’re running at a high intensity for at least a half-marathon distance or cycling or swimming at a tough pace for about 90 minutes. Any of these longer, more intense activities can cause stress on the body that could lead to lowered immune function. “You put yourself in a stressful state, so your immune system reflects that and leads to dysfunction that can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days,” Nieman says. Basically, high-intensity activity for more than an hour might not be the best idea right now if you’re really focusing on keeping your immune system in top shape.

Exactly how long and how hard you can push yourself before you reach that excessive and intense level of exercise ultimately comes down to how well you’re trained, but you might want to focus on maintenance rather than intensity in these pandemic times. “Moderate intensity is the best route right now, but maintaining that activity, in some form or fashion, is going to be key,” Jajtner adds.

Nieman views this pandemic as a golden opportunity to start a regular walking program—a time to nail down the habit of frequent physical activity. While other lifestyle habits like eating fruit, managing stress, and getting quality sleep can also help reduce risk of illness, Nieman says exercise is potentially “the most powerful habit that people can adopt right now as we’re coping with this new and novel virus.”

If you’re super new to exercise (and have your doc’s approval to start a fitness program), Jajtner suggests going out for even just 10 minutes, two to four times a day. Then work on gradually increasing that time. If you’re in a crowded city and have fewer opportunities to get outdoors.

Even if you are exercising, don’t forget that your best defense against getting COVID-19 is limiting your risk of catching it by practicing social-distancing and frequently washing your hands. “Reducing your exposure to the virus is number-one, it rises above everything,” Nieman says. “Social-distancing and good hygiene must always be paramount…but I can’t emphasize enough the importance of everyone being healthy and focusing on good immunity too.”

The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it’s possible that some data have changed since publication. While we are trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDCWHO, and their local public health department as resources.

Sources :Use fitness to your immune system’s advantage—here’s how.By Mallory Creveling, ACE-CPT April 16, 2020

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/20888836_Infectious_episodes_in_runners_before_and_after_the_LA_Marathon

3 Reasons Why Bench Press and Baseball Don’t Mix

Bench Press and Baseball are like Oil and Water; they do not mix.

Working with mainly male, High School and College age, Baseball players, I get a lot of grief about not including Bench Press in programs. Especially, when they see the Football and Hockey players doing it.

When I ask them why they want to bench press so badly I get answers such as; “it’s fun”, “I like lifting heavy” and my personal favourite, “it looks cool”.

It is widely accepted in the baseball world that the reward of getting strong on Bench Press is outweighed by the risk the exercise poses to the shoulders and elbows. My exclusion of Bench Press is not because I want to keep you from ‘looking cool’ at the gym. There are specific and scientifically proven and accepted reasons as to why overhead athletes should avoid this exercise.

Hopefully, this blog will also reach some of the NCAA college programs down south. It BOGGLES my mind when Baseball players in Division 1 Baseball programs come back with Bench Press in their strength programs! No, I am not kidding. It happens…all the time…

Here are 3 reasons Baseball athletes should avoid Bench Press:

  1. It Exacerbates Negative Adaptations Acquired from Throwing

When you throw thousands of baseballs every year there are a few things that typically happen to the body:

  • Increased glenohumeral (shoulder) external rotation
  • Decreased glenohumeral (shoulder) internal rotation
  • Decreased elbow extension
  • Decreased scapular (shoulder blade) upward rotation
  • Decline in the quality of the tissues surrounding the shoulder girdle
  • Abnormal spinal curvature (usually in the thoracic and lumbar areas)
  • Decreased hip mobility

In laymen’s terms:

  • Your shoulder gets loose in the front
  • Tight in the back
  • Elbow doesn’t straighten all the way
  • Your shoulder blade doesn’t move well
  • The tissue around your shoulder is gritty
  • Your spine it hyperextended
  • And your hips don’t move

Not a pretty picture. And how does Bench Press help this situation…

IT DOESN’T!

Bench Press actually causes stresses to the body that are extremely similar to those found during a throwing motion:

  • Spinal extension
  • Scap retraction and depression
  • Humeral (upper arm) movement without scaps
  • Heavy loads placed on the shoulder girdle

In any sport we use the off-season to re-establish proper movement patterns and mobility, give our arm/shoulder time to rest and correct instabilities and dysfunctions. So why would we want to perform an exercise that does not allow this to occur and can actually exacerbate these dysfunctions?!

Much of exercise selection for athletes comes down to a risk vs. reward. Is the reward (strength gains) worth the risk the exercise places on my athletes? When it comes to Baseball players and Bench Press the risk FAR outweighs the benefits.

  1. There is Little Direct Transfer to Playing Baseball

Another factor in exercise selection is specificity to the sport. Does this exercise mimic anything the athlete is doing while they are playing? To decide this we need to look two things:

  1. The plane of movement of the exercise
  2. Where the movement falls on the force-velocity curve.

Research shows us that power development is highly plane-specific. Meaning that many traditional sagittal plane power movements (vertical movements such as; jumps, sprints, cleans, snatches) have little transfer into throwing. Frontal and transverse plane movements (lateral and rotational) have much more correlation (skaters, medball throws and banded rotations). So, while Bench Press may be a great exercises for an athlete in shot put or kayaking it has little use for a Baseball athlete.

Thanks to our hunting ancestors, humans have mastered the throwing motion. And it has been widely recognized that pitching is the fastest articulated motion a human can produce! This puts throwing a ball at the velocity end of the force-velocity curve. It is a very light load moved incredibly fast. Whereas the Bench Press movement is at the other end; a heavy load moved slowly. The movement is too removed from any movement that occurs in Baseball and therefore, will have little impact on performance.

 

  1. The “Meat Head” Factor

Let’s go back to the reason’s my Baseball athletes give for wanting to Bench Press:

  • It’s fun
  • I like to lift heavy
  • It looks cool

People (especially young, hormone driven males) have a tendency to overestimate their strength capabilities while Bench Pressing. I have done it myself and I have seen countless others do it as well.

 

If my number one goal as a Strength Coach is to keep my athletes healthy and second goal is to improve their performance then I need to choose exercises that are going to keep their inner meat head at bay!

Bench Press done with heavy loads and poor technique can put their most prized possession, their shoulder, in a very vulnerable position. Yes, people will argue that any exercise done with high load carries risk. However, a failed rep in a Push-up has less risk than Bench Press. Risk vs. reward!

“So, watch your athletes and make sure they use proper technique”.

Okay, valid point. However, have you ever tried to coach multiple athletes at one time? Even on my best day it is impossible to see EVERYTHING on the gym floor. And any coach that tells you different is lying.

As a coach I have to pick exercises that are self-limiting, safe and effective, whether I am watching them every second or not. This can mean different things for different sports, positions and individuals. Hence, why I may program Bench Press for a Football athlete versus a Baseball athlete. Have I mentioned risk vs. reward yet?!

The exclusion of the bench press in our baseball programs goes beyond “it’s dangerous for your shoulders.” Even if coached and performed perfectly, our athletes won’t get as much transfer from it as they would from other pressing exercises.

Check back for Part 2 of this Blog where we discuss pressing exercises that are much better suited to baseball players and other overhead athletes!

Email Bskinner@sstcanada.com to book your personal training sessions and shake off quarantine!

12 Reasons You Always Feel Hungry; Part 3

We hope this has been a help in your day to day life if not, there are the few more reasons we can explore!

Reason 9. You are not Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep is a vital for everyone to live a healthy life but did you know that a lack of sleep can actually make you feel hungrier than normal? The two reasons behind this are; cortisol and insulin!

When we do not get enough sleep our cortisol levels increase. Cortisol is the hormone associated with the flight-or-fight response, preparing the body to either fight or run. Unfortunately, the body isn’t always smart and it responds to any sort of stress this way; and lack of sleep is a BIG form of stress. To help combat increased cortisol levels the body attempts to self-medicate by craving carbohydrates (sugar). This increases insulin in the blood, which in turn decreases cortisol levels. However, this can become a vicious cycle because insulin is also affected by lack of sleep!

If you are not getting enough sleep each night your body becomes less sensitive to insulin.  Which means that your body becomes less effective in transporting the carbs you eat to your cells so your body has to pump out more insulin to help. However, insulin also regulates our feeling of satiety (feeling full), when levels are high we continue to feel hungry which can cause us to overeat.

How to Change This Habit:

The easiest way to help combat this is to get yourself on a sleep schedule and stick to it! Figure out what time you need to go to bed in order to get a full 8 hours of sleep and make yourself go to bed. This does not mean climb into bed and turn the TV on or pull out your favorite book. When your ‘bedtime’ hits, turn out the lights and put the remote or book away and get to snoozing!

Reason 10. You are Skipping the Veggies

The majority of people do not get the recommended amount of vegetables every day. Vegetables contain important vitamins and minerals required for overall health. Dark leafy greens in particular are rich in vitamin K, which helps to regulates insulin levels. Vitamin K can also increase insulin sensitivity, which makes it easier for your body to utilize sugar from your bloodstream. If you are utilizing the sugar you are eating more efficiently than you will not require more through extra food and this will help you STOP those cravings!

Veggies are some of the rich in fiber and fiber helps slow the digestion of the foods we eat. This in turn helps us feel fuller longer and slows the digestion of sugars so we process it properly, rather than turning it into fat.

How to Change This Habit:

Include more dark green leafy greens in your diet; spinach, kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli. As well as other delicious fiber-rich veggies like carrots, celery, and sweet potato.

11. You’re Not Eating Enough Protein

Lean proteins – chicken, turkey, fish, eggs – Can help combat hunger pangs. Protein takes longer to digest, which means you feel fuller longer and are less likely to reach for that next snack. Protein has also been found in recent studies to have appetitive suppressing effects by prompting the release of hormones that encourage the feeling of being full. Along with helping keep hunger away protein also requires more energy to breakdown than carbohydrates or fat, meaning it burns more calories to digest. Protein also has a positive effect on your metabolism by promoting the growth and regeneration of muscle after working out, muscles burn more calories at rest than adipose tissues (fat).

How to Change This Habit:

Aim to consume about 0.8-1.0 gram of protein per pound of body weight. This means that a 150 person should aim to eat between 100-150g of protein per day (this equates to about 400-600 calories from protein sources each day).

Ideally, protein should be of the lean variety; chicken, eggs, turkey, fish. However, it is really easy to sneak more protein into your diet through vegetarian options – chia seeds and greek yogurt in your smoothie, quinoa in your salad, nut butter in your oatmeal, make hummus from chickpeas and dip veggies. Aim to have a source of protein in every meal and snack.

Reason 12. You’re Bored

Feeling hungry can be as simple as being bored. Studies have shown that boredom actually diminishes our ability to make good and healthy food choices, and we consume more fattening foods than we would normally. Boredom is also the most common reason people give when asked about their emotions prior to consuming food. In other words, boredom turns us into emotional eaters.

How to Change This Habit:

When you are about to eat or snack be conscious of why you are doing so. Ask yourself ‘why am I reaching for this snack’ and be truthful with your answer. If it is because you have nothing else to do then find yourself a task to distract yourself – go for a walk, fold the laundry that has been sitting in the hamper for 2 days, go sit outside and enjoy the day – these distractions should help the feelings of hunger subside. Another tip, first drink a glass of water and wait a few minutes. If you are still feeling hungry in 10-15 minutes then allow yourself to eat.

Thanks for reading!

Click here is you messed part one and here if you missed part two!

Come see our new facility! Email Bskinner@sstcanada.com to book and appointment today!

12 Reasons You Always Feel Hungry; Part 2

Just in case you missed part 1 of the blog, click here to get the first 6 reasons!

Reason 7. You are Drinking Your Diet

Soda, fruit juice, sugar added to coffee or tea are some of the most sugar laden foods you can consume! And you can easily consume hundreds of calories and an incredible amount of sugar in just 1-2 cups. Refer to reason #1 for why consuming high amounts of sugar is making you fatter.

And don’t think that choosing the ‘diet’ option is any better for you. Artificial sweeteners – such as sucralose, aspartame, or saccharin – can actually increase your appetite for real sugar. When you consume sugar there is a decrease in the amount of ghrelin (hunger hormone) and insulin (hormone that removes sugar from the blood) which causes a feeling of satiety. The problem with sweeteners is that they taste sweet but do not cause decreases in ghrelin or insulin, therefore, we crave more sugar to actually help reduce these hormone levels in our blood stream.

How to Change This Habit:

This one is simple, cut them out of your diet! There is no way around this one, sugar laden or artificially sweetened drinks are one of the worst things you can consume if you are trying to lose weight. Substitute for water and if you want more flavour to your drinks infuse them with lemon, limes, cucumber, or fresh mint for all the flavour and none of the sugar! Drinking extra water will also help stave off those hunger feelings.

Reason 8. You Eat Low-Fat Options

Starting in the 1980’s the ‘no-fat’/’low-fat’ diet craze swept across the food landscape. Manufacturers from Heinz to Kellogg’s began producing and marketing low-fat and no-fat everything. And consumers began chowing down! The thought: ‘It’s healthy, right?’

Wrong. Dead wrong.

The low-/no-fat craze is actually making us fatter & hungrier! Fat is not only an essential nutrient that we need to survive but it also provides food with palatable flavour and texture. When fat is removed food tastes like cardboard! So how did manufacturing companies combat this…SUGAR! Loads and loads of sugar!

A typical 126mL low-fat yogurt can contain up to 44g of sugar! That is 101% of your daily-recommended intake! If you refer back to Reason #1 you will remember that refined sugar not only spikes and crashes our blood sugar levels, causing us the feel hungry and crave more sugar but excess sugar that cannot be procced properly will turn to fat.

How to Change This Habit:

Eating healthy fat will NOT make you fat, it will actually help aid in weight loss. No, I am not lying to you. Fats takes longer to break down in your stomach and helps control blood-sugar levels, leaving you more satisfied and reducing your cravings.

And while it may sound counterintuitive, your body needs fat in order to burn fat! Dietary fat helps break down existing fat by activating PPAR-alpha and fat-burning pathways through the liver. But don’t run out and grab that big greasy pizza just yet; not all fat is created equal! Your fat sources should come from unsaturated sources; avocados, fatty fish, olives, nuts and seeds, omega-3 fish oil supplements and oils such as olive, flaxseed and canola in your diet.

Click here for part 3 of 3!

12 Reasons You Always Feel Hungry; Part 1

Hunger is a complicated function that is influenced by not just biological factors but psychological ones as well. Because of the complicated relationship between nature and environment, controlling your feelings of hunger can be a frustrating task that makes sticking to a healthy diet more difficult than it needs to be.

Stick around for this 3 part series about the surprising day-to-day things you are doing that are making you feel hungrier than you really are and that are in turn sabotaging your waist line. And of course, tips to combat these habits!

Reason 1. You Eat Too Many Refined Carbohydrates

Does this daily menu sound familiar to you?

Cereal with milk for breakfast, a sandwich or wrap made with white bread or tortilla for lunch, chips or crackers for your mid-day snack, a dinner of pasta or pizza and a cookie or small bowl of ice cream for dessert.

If you daily menu reads something similar to this than your problem is that you are trying to fuel your body with nutrient deficient refined carbohydrates. Refined carbs such as pasta, white bread, white rice, cookies; lack any sort of fiber that helps satiate you. Another problem with the lack of fiber is the rate at which your body has to process these foods.

When we eat refined carbs our blood sugar levels spike through the roof and our bodies have to quickly work to reduce the glucose levels in our bloodstream. Removing all the sugar from our bloodstream so quickly then results in a crash, which in turn leaves the glucose levels in our bloodstream too low, thus triggering our hunger hormones to tell you to eat more carbs to raise your blood sugar levels to a safe point. It is a VICIOUS cycle!!

How to Change This Habit:

To combat this vicious cycle choose slow digestible foods that are nutrient dense and have a low glycemic (sugar) content. Carbohydrates such as brown or wild rice, quinoa, whole grains, beans, and fruit and veggies will not spike your blood sugar levels.

Reason 2. You’re Actually Just Thirsty

Research has shown that over 60% of the time that people are thirsty they incorrectly respond by eating! The reason behind this is that the same glad (the hypothalamus) regulates signals for both hunger and thirst and we often confuse these signals.

How to Change This Habit:

The next time you are feeling the urge to snack, drink a cup of water first and wait 20 minutes. If you are still feeling hungry after this than eat something. Another great waist saving tip is to drink 1-2 cups of water prior to a larger meal. Studies have shown that those who do this tend to eat 75-90 less calories per meal!

Reason 3. You Are Trying to Multi-Task.

The feeling of hunger is not the only factor that influences the amount we eat throughout a day, attention and memory play a big part. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to recognize that you are full. Because of this, if you are not paying attention and are multi-tasking while you eat – watching TV, driving, checking your phone, working at your desk – you can easily take in more calories than you need in less than 20 minutes.

Multi-tasking also does not allow us to be mindful of what we are putting into our mouths, if we do not process that fact that we are eating we do not store this action into our memory. If our brain does not register a memory of eating than we are more likely to eat again sooner than is really required.

How to Change This Habit:

Be mindful when you eat. turn off the TV, put down the cell phone, take a break from your work. Take time and enjoy your food – the flavours, colours, smells, and textures- by doing so you will find your meals more satisfying and you are less likely to overeat or snack again soon afterwards.

Reason 4. You’re Too Stressed Out!

Have you ever heard someone or seen a meme encouraging you to eat sweets when stressed because ‘stressed’ is just ‘desserts’ spelled backwards? Well there is some real truth behind behind this saying.

Many people will say that when they are stressed they actually eat less, well this is true in the short term. With acute stress – like an exam – your body produces a hormone called epinephrine (aka adrenaline) that triggers your fight-or-flight response; temporarily shutting of hunger signals. However, chronic stress – from work, kids, finances, etc.- causes the release of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol causes the body to crave carbohydrates (ie. sugar) because this increases insulin levels in the bloodstream which helps reduce cortisol levels.

How to Change This Habit:

While you may not be able to control all the stressors in your everyday life you can do things to help alleviate the effects of stress; take a bath, spend time with friends or family and control what you are putting into your mouth. Resist the temptation to binge on something sugary when feeling stressed to help break the cycle!

Reason 5. You Are Eating Too Quickly

As mentioned in Part 1, it can take up to 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full. So, if you wolf down your entire meal in less than 5 minutes you are more than likely going to overeat.

How to Change This Habit:

When eating your meal take time to chew your food completely; put your fork down between bites; chat with your friends or family around the table; drink water between each mouthful. In short, slow down! All of these tips will allow your brain to catch up to your stomach and help keep you from overeating.

Reason 6. Your Social Media is FULL of Food Pics

Scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram can be just as bad for you waistline as actually eating sugary, deep fried, fatty treats! Seeing pictures or videos of food actually enhances our desire to eat those foods. Even if you are not initially hungry or are not in need of food these visual triggers cause our bodies to send signals to the brain prompting it to release ghrelin, a hormone associated with triggering hunger.

How to Change This Habit:

Try unfollowing some of the Instagram accounts and Facebook pages that highlight sugar laden, fatty, deep fried treats and instead follow feeds that feature healthier options.

Click here for park two!

Need to get you diet back in good order? Email Bskinner@sstcanada.com to get our SST lean body program.

Does Vitamin D Affect Strength?

This week, I want to share an interesting finding involving Vitamin D deficiency in elite Danish swimmers.

Most people with a basic understanding of nutrition know that Vitamin D is very important for bone health and metabolism. However, the discovery of Vitamin D receptors in muscle cells may indicate that it may also play a role in muscle contraction and athletic performance.

Recently, a study conducted on elite Danish swimmers reported an association between Vitamin D status and muscular strength. The main finding was that muscular strength as assessed by hand grip, was significantly higher in swimmers with sufficient Vitamin D status.

Now the most common way to get Vitamin D is through direct exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, the rest having to come through diet and supplementation. Now I find this interesting, because it’s not uncommon for the sun to take a vacation for a while during Canadian winters. In addition, with swimmers training indoors for hours a day, they might find it especially difficult to meet their daily requirements during the winter months.

Want to know more about what SST teaches athletes about nutrition? Click here to visit out website or book an online nutrition consultation today!

 

Better pre-workout… Coffee or Beetroot juice? – Part 2 (of 2)

Over the past couple weeks, coffee has been smack in the middle of my blog spotlight. Deservedly so, I mean it stands alone as the only non-supplement capable of providing an ergogenic aid…right?

NOT SO FAST! The emergence of beetroot juice (that’s right, beetroot juice) may offer a viable competitor for coffee as the best dietary pre-workout!

Beetroot juice enhances exercise performance!

By now, most of you are probably thinking what the heck is beetroot juice and how can I use it as a pre-workout? Beets, carrots, rhubarb, spinach, bok choy (basically any dark green leafy veggie) contain a nutrient called inorganic nitrate. When we begin exercising, muscle contraction stimulates the production and release of nitric oxide (NO), which serves to dilate our blood vessels, thus allowing for increased blood flow to the working muscles.  However, during times of low oxygen availability or acidic environments (both occur during exercise), the production of NO becomes impaired. Cue in beetroot juice. During times of need (hypoxia, low pH), dietary nitrate is converted into nitrite and then finally into NO.

Ok, lets move on to the important stuff… does it actually improve performance?

The main benefit discovered thus far is reduced oxygen cost during submaximal exercise. This means that for any submaximal effort, your body does not need to consume as much oxygen. Your body becomes more efficient and you can work harder with less. This can improve your overall exercise capacity by allowing you to train longer.

In addition, exercise performance has also been enhanced by drinking beetroot juice prior to training. Participants that consumed 0.5L beetroot juice before completing 4 & 16km cycling time trials experienced an increase in power output compared to placebo controls for the same VO2. Also, their time to completion was significantly faster! Improvements in high intensity intermittent activities resembling sports have also been noted.

Unlike coffee which targets the CNS, the effects of beetroot juice seem to be targeted in the periphery. Enhanced blood flow and oxygen availability have several important functions that help improve exercise performance. The strongest evidence resides in the sparing of intramuscular phosphocreatine (provide energy for immediate, short duration bursts) stores and blunting the increases in ADP and Pi, which are metabolic bi-products of exercise that result in fatigue.

So coffee or beetroot juice? Well it eventually come down to personal preference. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine and others can’t handle the taste of beetroot juice.  At the end of the day (or beginning of your workout) The choice that will give you the best advantage is the one you can do consistently.  

Click here to get your free copy of your at home Quaran lean e-book for 14 days of workouts you can do to get ready to head back to the gym!

Better pre-workout… Coffee or Beetroot juice? – Part 1 (of 2)

Coffee Improves Endurance Performance.

Wake up, rush through your daily morning routine, and hurry out the door to make it to work on time. While waiting in the Timmy’s drive-thru line you can’t help but get an eerie feeling you forgot something. You continue on with full determination, knowing your morning “boost” is just a couple cars away. Does this sound like you?

Coffee is one of the most regularly consumed beverages, because it provides the energy and focus needed to get through our hectic days. Coffee’s main ingredient, caffeine, acts as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulator making us feel more alert and focused. In addition, coffee contains anti-oxidants, polyphenols, and tannins… all good for the body. For this reason, coffee has become a popular pre- workout choice of many athletes. But does it actually work?

Part 1 of this 2 part series will focus on coffee and its effects on endurance performance. Runners, cyclists, rowers, I have good news. COFFEE CAN IMPROVE PERFORMANCE!

In A 2016 review (1), coffee was reported to improve time to exhaustion trials by an average of 24% and time to completion trials by 3%… in a 2 hour race that’s over 3.5mins faster… can you say, new PR?!

These positive effects are largely due to caffeine blunting the inhibitory effects of adenosine. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that “inhibits” the CNS. What you are left with are feelings of reduced perceived exertion, pain, and improved vigour during training. At the muscular level, caffeine aids in the excitation-contraction process by increasing Calcium flux. So far so good, right? Well it gets better… there does not seem to be a diuretic response or any other fluid level concerns that could hinder your performance… amazing!

However, what about those of us who aren’t triathletes, marathon runners, or Olympic rowers??

The truth is, the majority of the more common everyday  sports like hockey, basketball, football, baseball, etc, rely on more anaerobic energy systems, and are characterized by short, high intensity intermittent bouts of effort. Therefore, these sports may not receive the same ergogenic benefits from coffee.

Coffee Improves speed-endurance and high intensity intermittent exercise.

Unfortunately, the research on coffee as an ergogenic aid for anaerobic and power activities is not as clear cut. What we do know is that caffeine can aid individuals performing intermittent bouts of high intensity exercise lasting 4-6s long (most of our SST athletes fall under this category!!). In addition, sports requiring speed endurance (1-3min bursts) also seem to be aided by caffeine consumption.

What about resistance training? Can coffee improve my 1RM?

Sorry guys, not this time. Maximal strength seems to be unaffected by caffeine intake.

However… recent studies involving lower body repetitions to failure offer introductory evidence that caffeine improves endurance in the weight room. More reps = more growth = bigger, stronger, and more powerful legs.

  1. Coffee consumption enhances endurance performance.
  2. Coffee consumption can enhance some aspects of anaerobic and power performance.

What if I told you there may be another natural dietary food product that may be superior to coffee as a pre-workout?

That’s right, the emergence of beetroot juice as an ergogenic aid is receiving lots of attention in today’s sports science nutrition research!

Next week, we will find out exactly what all the “buzz” is about…

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Take a coffee nap?

We all know when we are feeling sluggish or tired we like to reach for our favorite Java or take a nap.  What if I told you that research shows if you do both the results are much better than one or the other?

Here is the catch – YOU DRINK the coffee first and then take a 15-20 minute nap right away!

How does this work?

Adenosine is a byproduct of brain activity, and when it accumulates at high enough levels, it plugs into these receptors and makes you feel tired. But with the caffeine blocking the receptors Adenosine is blocked.  How and why…Adenosine and caffeine compete for similar receptor sites.

Whenever you sleep- adenosine is cleared from the brain. Short naps of up to 20 minutes does not put you into deep sleep and allows the caffeine around 20 minutes to get through your gastrointestinal tract and bloodstream anyway.

What to do- drink a coffee as quick as possible – and one with more caffeine and immediately go to sleep- even if it takes you long time- try- the catch make sure to set your alarm for 20 minutes!

Give it a try!

Come in for a FREE demo with our MaxFit class!

To book please email us at sst@sstcanada.com and we’ll get you scheduled for your demo.

Safe Strength & Conditioning Training For Young Athletes!

Parents often have many questions about strength and conditioning for their children, which mainly stem around their concerns about whether it is safe for their child to undergo this type of training. Some common questions are:

  1. Is it safe for my child to resistance / strength train?
  2. My child won’t be lifting heavy weights, will they?
  3. I’ve heard resistance training can stunt my child’s growth, is this true?

Here at SST Burlington we like to educate our parents on the misconceptions surrounding strength training for youth and point them in the direction of resources that address their concerns. The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) has recently released a position statement on resistance training for youth. This position states 7 Key elements regarding resistance training for youth:

1. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program is relatively safe for youth.

2. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can enhance the muscular strength and power of youth.

3. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can improve the cardiovascular risk profile of youth.

4. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can improve motor skill performance and may contribute to enhanced sports performance of youth.

5. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can increase a young athlete’s resistance to sports related injuries.

6. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can help improve the psychosocial well-being of youth.

7. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can help promote and develop exercise habits during childhood and adolescence.

While the key element in all of the benefits that youth can gain in resistance training are accompanied with a properly designed and supervised resistance training program by a trained professional, the NSCA largely dispels a lot of our parents concerns around resistance training for youth and states a lot of the associated benefits that can come from resistance training.

Programming for youth athletes should be done by a qualified professional, who understands pediatric exercise physiology, and the program needs to be tailored to the individual youth athletes needs, based on an assessment of their movement competencies. Focus should also be on movement and proper lifting technique, where proper and age appropriate progressions are followed.  

If you are still wondering after the NSCA’s position statements (along with 7 other worldwide associations who have published position statements advocating for the benefits and safety of resistance training for youth) if it will stunt your child’s growth, the answer is no, as long as the above criteria are met.

A properly designed and appropriate program will help to build bone density and structure, along with building the neuromuscular system. In development, youth is actually a great time to build bone density and structure, and the fears that resistance training would injure growth plates of youth is not supported by any scientific papers or clinical observations. Furthermore, when discussing injuries, resistance training is a lot safer (in terms of injury rates) than the sports are youth participate in and is a great way to help prevent injuries that occur in sport, by learning movement and gaining strength.

Let’s go over some of our common questions and concerns again:

  1. Is it safe for my child to resistance / strength train?

YES! Provided they are following a supervised, age-appropriate program, designed by a professional with experience training youth.

  • My child won’t be lifting heavy weights, will they?

POSSIBLY! If it is age appropriate for the youth, and they have followed proper progressions and have technically sound form… remember bodyweight is a key form of resistance that all our youth athlete learn how to handle before we add any external resistance. Resistance does also not always mean heavy barbells and weights. Resistance can be medicine balls, pulling sleds, appropriately sized machine weights etc.


  • I’ve heard resistance training can stunt my child’s growth, is this true?
    NO! There is no evidence to support this claim, provided again the program is designed by a professional with understanding of pediatric exercise physiology. This is actually a great time to help our youth build strong bones and get other benefits of resistance training including preventing injuries and improving sport performance.

If you still have concerns regarding resistance training for youth I urge you to checkout and educate yourself by reading the NSCA’s position statement on resistance training for youth or likewise come into our SST Burlington location to talk to one of our qualified coaches you can ease your concerns and talk to you more about the benefits of resistance training for youth.

Click Here to request a complimentary demo session and see how we prepare our young athletes for peak sports performance.

References:

  1. Faigenbaum, A. D., Kraemer, W. J., Blimkie, C. J., Jeffreys, I., Micheli, L. J., Nitka, M., & Rowland, T. W. (2009). Youth resistance training: updated position statement paper from the national strength and conditioning association. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 23, S60-S79.