Sunday, August 17, 2014

Big Benefits From Minimal Running

Picture by J White - Fishery Bay, South Australia from Flickr
I wrote briefly last week that moderate exercise boosts immunity and makes you less likely to fall sick. So just how much (or should I say how little) do you need to run before you reap the benefits of running?

Well, you'll be pleasantly surprised to know that running just 5-10 minutes a day at really slow speeds is sufficient to reduce your risk of dying from all causes and cardiovascular disease.

That means you'll just have to run 4-5 miles (or 6-8 km) a week  at 11:00 to 12:00 minutes per mile (or 2:45 to 3:00 min of one round around your local 400m track) to reap significant benefits. In fact, runners who run less than an hour a week gain the same benefits as those who run more than 3 hours a week.

Runners were found to have reduced risks of up to 30 % for all-cause mortality and 45 % for cardiovascular mortality. A group of "persistent runners" who kept running for 6 years enjoyed greater than the above mentioned benefits. Women  appear to get substantially more benefit than men.

The above mentioned results were based on a study of 55, 000 adults (average age 44). They were followed up for an average of 15 years. Key comparisons were runners versus non runners, different speeds of running, weekly mileage and running frequencies.

This study is receiving wide coverage and being hailed as a landmark study on the benefits of running.

This study should motivate all healthy but sedentary individuals to start and continue running.


Lee D, Pate RR et al (2014). Leisure-time Running Reduces All-cause And Cardiovascular Mortality Risk.
J Am Colleage Cardiol. 64(5): 472-481. doi:10.10106/j.jacc.2014.04.058.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ginger Helps You Recover From Hard Training

Picture by Robin from Flickr
You've trained really hard leading up to your goal race. All the intervals your coach made you run (bike or swim), you've managed to go under the target times. You're ready to kick ass in the race. Alas, you catch a cold just before your race. You may not even make it to the starting line let alone clock a personal record. Sounds familiar?

Well, join the club, I've fallen sick more than once just prior to a key race after training real well before the race. All because I'd trained too hard and not recovered sufficiently.

It's been well established that moderate exercise helps your immune system get stronger, making it you less likely to fall sick. Hard exercise (like an interval session or a really long run) compromises your immune system temporarily until you recover. Hence, it's common to come down with a cold or a sore throat when you're training hard.

Now, new published research suggests that ginger helped with lowering inflammation markers in runners. The researchers studied a group of well trained runners for 12 weeks. They were young (average age 23), lean (average 1.72 m and 143 lbs), fit (average Vo2 max 67) and used to training hard.

All the runners did the same hard training in the whole 12 weeks they were studied. After 6 weeks, they did a treadmill run to exhaustion starting at 10 % gradient. Pace and gradient increased every three minutes to they could run no more. Straight after the run, the researchers measured 3 types of cytokines (markers of inflammation).

As expected all the runners had elevated levels since they'd been running hard. Half the group of runners were given 500 mg of powered ginger three times a day (in a pill that didn't taste or smell like ginger) while the other runners were given a placebo.

After another 6 weeks of hard training, the runners did another similar treadmill test to exhaustion. The difference this time between the runners' cytokine levels was striking.

Runners in the placebo group had cytokine levels 32 % higher than their first treadmill test, suggesting that this group of runners' immune system were shot to pieces by the bouts of hard running. This would increase their chances of an upper respiratory tract infection - just as they would be ready for their races (after 3 months of hard training).

The runners who had been ingesting ginger had cytokine levels 18 % lower than their first test, suggesting that their immune systems had actually gotten stronger, lessening their chances of falling ill prior to racing.

The researchers concluded that ginger's anti inflammatory properties had helped the runners. Ginger's effects mirror those of anti inflammatory medications, minus the side effects of course.

If only I had known earlier .....

For those of you still training and racing, a cup of stronger ginger tea contains about 250 mg of ginger, or it is widely available in capsule or powder form.

* The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger has been known, valued and used for centuries. Ginger contains active phenolic compounds (gingerol, paradol, shogoal) that have anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, anti-imflammatory, anti-angiogenesis and anti-atherosclerotic properties.


Zehsaz F et al (2014). The Effect of Zingiber Officinale R. Rhizomes (Ginger) On Plasma Pro-inflammatory Cytokine In Well-trained Male Endurance Runners. Cent Eur J Immunol. 39(2): 174=180. DOI : 10.5114/ceji.2014.43719.

Halia O (or ginger tea without milk)
*Picture by mizie0o0 from Flickr

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Best Way To Use Your Imitation Kinesio Tapes

3 on my R knee
I've got 7 abrasions after falling on Tuesday, yes you read correctly, seven. 3 wounds on my right knee, 2 on my right foot, 1 on my left foot and a tiny one near my right elbow.

Lots of pain when I cleaned the abrasions first time, scrubbed them down and then put both Jelonet (a paraffin gauze dressing) and Melolin (a low adherent absorbent dressing) on the wounds to prevent the gauze from sticking to the wound -  more pain if the wound sticks to the gauze when you try to remove the dressings.

One of the wounds would not stop bleeding as I made my way to work at Physio Solutions (I see patients at PS on Tuesdays and Fridays) so I covered the dressings with Kinesio Tex Tapes. The bleeding leaked through the tapes still (that's how much it was bleeding).

Blood seeping thru the Kinesio tapes
Had to go for dinner after I came home from Physio Solutions so I took off the bloodied Kinesio Tex tapes and just wrapped underwrap over my dressings as I was in a hurry as I had to see a patient (who was gonna fly off later) at Sports Solutions. I realized my right knee felt a lot worse after I removed the Kinesio Tex tapes, especially after seeing the patient. My right shoulder also started hurting soon after my patient left.
Underwrap on my knee to hold the dressings 
After showering and doing the dressings again I put on some more Kinesio Tex Tapes on my knees, and my right shoulder as well (as it was now hurting a bit more). Again, both felt better with the Kinesio Tex Tapes.

Taped my R shoulder too
Not much pain when  got up the next day too. After a fall like that usually everything hurts the next day so I was pleasantly surprised.

I was now reluctant to take off the Kinesio Tex Tapes when I had to shower when  I had a brilliant idea. I should test the many rolls of imitation / copy cat Kinesio tapes I've been asked to try. I used some of the imitation/ copy cat Kinesio tapes which I put over the original Kinesio Tex Tapes.  They seem to keep the water off much better (so I needn't have to redress it).

The imitation Kinesio tapes kept everything dry
So falling wasn't great (because of my 7 abrasions). But in the process I learnt how to use Kinesio Tex Tapes on top of my dressings - who says you cannot use original Kinesio Tex Tapes on an open wound. And in the process found out that you can put your imitation/ copy cat Kinesio tapes to good use as well.

My knee actually feels really good now, a lot less swelling compared to 2 days ago. Hmmmm, think I can try running tomorrow? Perhaps cycling would be gentler on my knee......

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Too Much Sitting Negates The Benefits Of Your Exercise

Picture by Carsten Knoch from Flickr
Since my earlier post on Runners Run A Lot, Also Sit A Lot, I've received quite a few questions on how much does sitting affect us. So here's a follow up post on that article.

Well, to answer your queries, according to research, each hour of sitting negates 8 % of your gain from an hour's worth of running. So if you ran an hour this morning and then sit for 10 hours after that during the day, you lose about 80% of the health benefit you gained from your morning run.

That's rather upsetting isn't it? I've never thought I had to subtract (any health benefit) from my exercise before. Fortunately for me, I don't sit much during the day when I'm treating my patients. I sit most when I'm reading doing research and writing articles for this blog.

Now for the not so good news. If you do an hour's worth of moderate intensity exercise (running is considered vigorous exercise), you lose about 16 % of your workout gains from each hour of sitting.

The above mentioned data were the same for both men and women.

Researchers obtained the results through analysis of objective fitness and exercise data obtained through the National Education and Nutrition Survey (NHANES). This is an annual survey conducted to assess the country's exercise and nutrition habits.

So for office workers and those who work from home and are mostly sitting, you should be walking up stairs rather than using the lifts, stand while talking on your phone, sitting on a gym ball, using a standing desk, walking out during your lunch and use a pedometer to log your dally step count.

As Little Eva (and later Kylie Minogue) sang, "So come on come on, do the loco-motion with me." 


Kulinski JP, Khera A, Ayers CR et al (2014). Association Between Cardiorespiratory Fitness And Acclerometer-derived Physical Activity And Sedentary Time in General Population. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. DOI: 

Surely I can sit now after all that walking ....
Picture by Julio Velasco from Flickr.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Organic Food Has Higher Antioxidants

Picture by Basak Ekinci from Flickr
My wife is a firm believer in eating well. Even before my accident she's been buying organic food for the family. After my accident, eating organic in our household went up a few notches. I've been having green juices, organic cocoa and lots more. If you've been reading some of my older posts, you'd know I basically ate anything and everything, especially junk food and drinking lots of Coke too. I figured that since I exercise (and trained pretty hard before) I could eat anything I wanted.

Guess what, turns out my wife was right all along. According to a paper published in the British Journal of Nutrition (which reviewed 343 studies), you get 20-40 % more antioxidants if you switch from normal conventionally grown (read plenty of pesticides) to organic food. Antioxidants are thought to prevent or delay some types of cell damage and can therefore improve your health and slow the aging process.

Conventionally grown food were 3 to 4 times more likely to have pesticide residues and twice as likely to contain cadmium (a toxic heavy metal contaminant). This study differs differs from previous studies which concluded there were no significant differences in antioxidant content between conventional and organic produce.

This study's authors wrote that their finding is more reliable since more studies were analysed using more sophisticated means of analysis.

One suggested reason by the authors that organic food is higher in antioxidants is that plants produce chemicals that form antioxidants in response to environmental stress like pests, diseases and lack of soil nutrients. Since conventionally grown produce are mostly shielded from these stresses, conventionally grown produce do not produce antioxidants.

The second reason is that conventionally farming uses nitrogen with a much higher nitrogen content leading plants to produce fewer antioxidants.

Well, maybe it's time to look at what you eat.

Baranski M et al (2014). Higher Antioxidant And Lower Cadmium Concentrations And Lower Incidence Of Pesticide Residues In Organically Grown Crops: A Systematic Literature Review And Meta-Analyses. Brit J of Nutrition. FirstView Article pp 1-18. DOI: 10.1017/S000711454001366.

Some of the organic snacks my wife bought for my son

Friday, July 11, 2014

Oakley 30 Years Heritage Radarlock, Frogskins And Oakley Chainlink

What I got today
I received 3 pairs of Oakley sunglasses today. The 30 years Heritage Radarlock and Frogskins and the Oakley Chainlink. A big thank you to Joey.

Here'a a closer look at the Radarlock Path.

"30" etched on the lens
Many thanks to Joey from Oakley.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Runners Run A Lot, Also Sit A Lot

Potatoes picture from Flickr
You're very active. You may average between 30-40 miles (48-68 km) a week while training for your half or full marathon, running an average of an hour almost daily. You also sit a lot while not exercising or running, close to 8 hours hours or more a day at times. Does this sound like you? You may be what researchers term an "active couch potato."

A group of researchers studied runners (average age of the 218 runners was 35, slightly more than two-thirds were women) who competed in the Austin half and full marathon. These runners ran almost an hour a day (making them among America's most active adults). The runners sat a lot too, ranging from 8 to 11 hours daily.

While looking at the demographics of the runners, a large number of then tend to be professionals with office type desk bound jobs. Is that you?

There were big differences between workday and non workday activities for these runners. The runners slept seven hours a night in the work days and sat about 11.4 hours. While not working, they slept eight hours and sat about 8.5 hours.

There was no connection between training time and sitting time, meaning runners who ran more did not sit more or less than those who ran less. Their results suggest that the runners' sedentary behaviours did not displace their moderate to vigorous activities (running or other exercises). The two coexist at high levels in this study.

This study did not say that the runners' sitting time was unusually high or that it led to any health outcomes although other studies have shown that sitting time is an independent predictor for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases and most other lifestyle diseases (Katzmaryzk et al 2009). In other words, excessive sitting may cancel out some of the benefits of your exercise.

These runners' are " simultaneously highly sedentary and highly active." The authors suggested that these runners' may be a good group for future studies. This may give us more information on how much we have to exercise to negate the harmful effects of sitting.

After spending all that time sitting, researching, reading and then typing this article, I'd better get up and stop sitting.


Whitefield G et al (2014). Sedentary And Active: Self-reported Sitting Time Among Marathon And Half-marathon Participants. J Phys Act Health. Jan 11(1): 165-172. doi: 10.1123/jpah.2011-0410.

While I was still actively training, once I came home after a hard swim, bike or run, I'll be sitting, eating or sleeping.....