We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Thursday, July 2. 2020
Friday, June 26. 2020
Thursday, June 25. 2020
Thursday, June 11. 2020
Wednesday, June 10. 2020
We've written about this topic in the past, but it's worth reviewing the misconceptions about cardio fitness and cardio exercise. (Remember, in our view, "cardio" should be only 1/3 of your exercise program beacuse it does little for muscle and bone strength, and little for athleticism.)
Any exercise, from walking to weight-lifting, makes more demand on heart function than sitting or lying down. So cardio exercise has a spectrum from very light to maximum intensity. Simply put, the core purpose of "cardio" exercise is to maintain or upgrade heart function (cardiac condition is measured by things like a Cardiac Stress Test with Echo, Stroke Volume, Cardiac Output, cardiac vasculature, and left ventricle size to some extent). Like weight-lifting for skeletal muscle, it requires stress, relative to your conditioning and medical condition.
With lighter stresses (eg non-sprint, endurance-oriented swimming laps, jogging, rowing, stair machine, elliptical, etc) we are putting our hearts to some use, but we are working more on general time endurance than cardio. (Lots of people do those things thinking that they involve fat-burning, but don't count on that to work if you do 1 hour/day.) For people who are not training for specific goals, building endurance is great for life. Nobody wants to slow down or feel tired during ordinary recreational activities like sports or hiking. These non-sprint exercises aim for around 70% of one's max heart rate to make it worth your precious time.
The higher the physical demand - the intensity of an exertion for your level of fitness - the more you are training your heart rather than just using it. The highest levels of exertion (say, with sets of deadlifts near 80% of your max, or with 30-second sprints) are anaerobic and can push your heart rate to 90% of your max. That heart-pounding rest time or slow time is to catch up on oxygen.
For endurance, an hour of lap swimming, cycling, jogging, elliptical, stair machine, ski machine, rower, etc at around 70% of your max heart rate is where you ought to be, if in decent health. Over time, you will need to raise the speed to get to those heart rates. These exercises do nothing much to build muscle or bone strength.
For maximum cardiac fitness (with bonus endurance benefits as well), mixing in sprints which get your HR to 80-90% of your max should be included. Bursts of intensity. In the Maggie's Fitness for Life program, the other good sources of intense cardiac stress are the powerlifts and calisthenics. Ideally, some of all of those because there is more to fitness than cardiac fitness. Fitness is a package deal.
An interesting detail is that to up your game in any area of exertion, it's always a good idea to do what you do not usually do. Explosive linebackers get better with distance running, distance runners get better with weights and sprints, heavy lifters get better with calisthenics. Balance.
Tuesday, June 9. 2020
Wednesday, June 3. 2020
It's coming to a DSM near you one of these days: Orthorexia nervosa. You may find many victims of this disorder in the socially-distanced lines at Whole Foods. It's a harmless preoccupation other than the risk of annoying or boring your friends.
Another one is Binge Eating, aka Binge Eating Disorder. These are people who will ask for seconds, or eat ravenously until the food is gone. Historically it was just called the sin of gluttony, but now it's a diagnosis. It is interesting to me how various behaviors, maybe once attributed to demons, later to sins, are now DSM diagnoses.
Tuesday, June 2. 2020
Wednesday, May 27. 2020
And what about recreational sports? Happily for me, our tennis league reopened this weekend.
Thursday, May 21. 2020
Was the COVID-19 event the biggest medical blunder of modern times? Maybe it was.
What if Dr. Fauci was correct in the beginning, when he declared a nasty flu?
Wednesday, May 20. 2020
I spoke with one of my local pharmacists today. He was harried. I asked him what was up. He told me all four of his assistants had taken a leave from work, then got copies of their unemployment papers from the government.
They are all getting $1600/week from COVID unemployment, and he only pays them about $1000/week.
He is an immigrant from Russia. He was not happy with the situation. Stereotypically cranky Russian. Asked me "Where is the work ethic?" How did he even know about that old fashioned phrase?
Wednesday, May 13. 2020
If you have a Quest Direct center anywhere nearby, all you need to do is to schedule a 10-min appointment online to get a SARS-COVID19 antibody test. Bring a Dr's note and credit card.
Results in 2 or 3 days. Obviously you hope to test positive, because that is the Get Out of Jail Free card. That sinus cold you had in February might have been The Bug.
I suspect they slow the curve, but have no overall benefit over time. Latest European study says no overall benefit (h/t reader): Full lockdown policies in Western Europe have no evident impact on the COVID19 epidemic
Tuesday, May 12. 2020
My personal approach to virus phobia was doubles tennis last weekend in the sun and breezes, then cocktail hour on the porch. Call it defiance if you wish, but life is short and we have to live it while we can. My medical advice is to stay young, fit and trim, workout daily, and hope you get the mild or insignificant case as most people do, and get on with life as best you can.
There is no safe option because you cannot get rid of a virus. From Dr. Bhattacharya at Stanford Medical School:
Sunday, May 3. 2020
Tuesday, April 28. 2020
New to Exercise? Here’s Why It’s Never Too Late to Add Strength Training
Monday, April 27. 2020
In the Nature–Nurture War, Nature Wins. Environmental influences are important, too, but they are largely unsystematic, unstable and idiosyncratic.
Friday, April 24. 2020
Thursday, April 23. 2020
It is not exactly a disease of the immune system, but some supposedly strong immune systems over-react, as I posted yesterday. Cytokine Storm.
It continues to be apparent that the elderly, overweight, or pre-diabetic/diabetic seem to be most likely to face death with this virus. Those people ought to be protected as best we can, but that's difficult. Most people weather it just fine, if miserable for a while. The luckiest ones (most people) get the sniffles and a headache for a few days and then feel fine.
Wednesday, April 22. 2020
We generally recommend resistance (weights) for strength-building, but some people are just afraid of weights or associate them with body-builders. Wrong, but whatever.
However, there are some exertions which can be useful upper body fitness-builders without weights. Four calisthenics in particular: Pushups, pullups, planks, and Burpees.
These are far from comprehensive, but they cover lots of the basic muscle groups, and proper pushups stress core too. There is a reason these are basics of military basic training.
Another good thing about them is that they can be modified until you can do the real thing. For examples, you can do "girl" pushups (on knees) until you can do real ones. You can do assisted pullups (with bands) until you can do real ones. Everybody can do straight-arm or elbow planks, but duration is the challenge. Aim for several minutes. Shoulder-touch planks are a cool variation. Burpees (with the pushups and jumps) are a great upper-body and whole body calisthenic.
How many? That depends on you. Generally speaking, for a middle-aged (45-75) guy or gal who avoids weights, I'd aim for 25-50 pullups assisted or not, 100 pushups (modified or unmodified), 3 or 4 30-45-second planks, and 50 Burpees. Not all in a row, but on the same day.
(For general fitness without weights, this can (should) be coupled with a day of lower-body body-weight workout (eg lunges, squats, step-ups, box jumps, etc) plus a couple of days of cardio. That all is good enough for casual or club tennis fitness, or for a long day hill hike.)
When life gets back to normal, then we can return to our usual routines. Or maybe just stick with these sorts of things.
Some people seem to be more prone to it than others. In the case of COVID-19, children with their less-developed immune systems are unlikely to react in this way.
A brief piece on cytokine storms here.
Not related, The Swedish experiment looks like it’s paying off
Wednesday, April 15. 2020
As we have oft repeated, endurance exercise is worth doing once weekly if you do two other days of calisthenics (which also have endurance components). Although many refer to running as "cardio," it does little or nothing for heart functioning unless it includes HIIT, such as sprints.
Some good advice: How to take up running
Related, 10,000 steps: Not quite magical when it comes to weight. Walking is great to maintain mobility especially in the elderly, but it does nothing for the heart and certainly nothing for losing fat. Quite enjoyable, though. Walks are great, with friends, spouse, whatever.
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