Thursday, December 31, 2015

Fitness Research For 2015

Picture by Elliot Brown from Flickr
As the year draws to a close, I looked back at all the articles I've read and I realise that there were many articles written by research scientists on exercise and brain health this year. 

One of the more persistent themes seems to be that in order to live long, age well and maintain both a nimble and sharp mind we need to be physically active. Many of the new studies demonstrated previously unexplored ways in which exercise helps our brains and minds.

Exercise, usually running seems to increase the number of neurons in our brains and helps sharpen thinking skills and mood as we age.

Fortunately the exercise periods needed seems to be much shorter than we expect

One article I read on brain imaging was really interesting. A group of Japanese researchers found that the brains of fit older men were almost as efficient as the brains of young people. 

The researchers found that the aerobically fit older men's brains used fewer resources during thinking compared to the out of shape men of the same age. This is similar to someone fitter using less energy to perform a physical task compared to someone less fit. 

So at least for me personally, a good reason to keep running regularly to make sure my brain stays sharp.

Another study looked at whether and how weight training and muscles affect the brain. Healthy, older women who completed the year long, twice weekly weight training sessions of light weight training showed fewer and smaller brain lesions in their brain's white matter compared to women of the same age who only completed a stretching/ balance training session or going to the gym once a week.

White matter connects and passes messages to different parts of the brain, which is crucial for memory and thinking.

While I was still training and competing, I used to go to the gym thrice weekly. Since 2009, I haven't at all. Looks like I may have to introduce some weight training/ resistance exercise in the coming new year. 

I do have some heavy tiles/ drain covers in my back garden which I've hauled around before so I don't have to weed the garden so often. Believe me, they're heavy too. I may have my own "nature gym"in my back garden after all ......



So here's wishing all our readers, patients and friends a great year ahead in 2016.

References

Bolandzadeh N, Tam R et al (2015). Resistance Training And White Matter Lesion Progression In Older Women: Exploratory Analysis Of A 12-Month Randomized Controlled Trial. J Am Geriatr Soc, 63(10): pp 2052-2060. DOI: 10.1111/jgs.13644.

Hyodo K, Dan I et al (2015). The Association Between Aerobic Fitness And Cognitive Function In Older Men Mediated By Frontal Lateralization.NeurolImage. 125: pp 289-230. DOI:10.1016/j.neurolimage.2015.09.062.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Muscle Wasting Occurs Quickly

Check out the difference in size.
Have a look at my patient's legs in the picture above. See the difference in size? Can you guess how quickly it happened?

My patient fell while skiing in Japan and the doctor there said she tore her medial collateral ligament (MCL). She was prescribed crutches, a huge brace and came back in a wheelchair.

There was definite swelling around her knee and I taped it to reduce the swelling of course and promptly taught her how to walk without the crutches and wheelchair.

2 days. that's how quickly the muscle atrophy took place.

Later an MRI confirmed she tore her MCL as well as her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) as well.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Your GPS Watch May Be Overestimating Your Mileage

Picture by link_alicante from Flickr
Recently one of my patients mentioned that a particular race he finished seemed to be longer based on the reading on his GPS (global positioning system) watch. He said that he did not run the corners in the race at the widest bend nor did he weave in and out while overtaking other runners. Neither did he take a wrong turn during the race. He was upset that a certified course was "inaccurate" according to his GPS watch.

Well, recently I happened to chance upon an article on how distances are measured via GPS watch/ phones etc and I told him what I read.

A GPS device can measure distance as orbiting satellites communicate with your watch/ smartphone that you run or walk with.  The communication is not continuous but a frequent "check in". While running or walking, your GPS device collects a GPS track. A GPS track consists of a sequence of consecutive GPS positions.

The GPS device does not monitor your movement continuously, it monitors your location at specific times and then measures distances between each location. Potentially, this leads to two types of errors.

The first error is the interpolation error. If the GPS watch/ phone you run with does not show your position frequently enough, it will underestimate the distance you ran.

The second error is a measurement error. Each time the satellite tries to pick your location, it can be slightly off. When your watch/ phone tries to measure your position between your last two positions, the distance will be inaccurate.These tiny errors add up the longer you run.

Hence, if your GPS watch collects too many locations as you run, your distance tracked will be longer. If not enough positions are collected your run distance measured will be shorter,

For this study, the researchers had their subject walk on a pre measured track using a a GPS device that tracked positions every second. A very low quality GPS device was used deliberately as they wanted the error to be visible. The researchers noted that with a better quality device the error will be less but will still be present.

As technology improves, these errors will be minimised though.

I've never owned a GPS watch and have never ran with one so far. Looks like I probably don't have too.

Reference

Ranacher P, Brunauer R et al (2015). Why GPS Makes Distances Bigger Than They Are. Int J Georg Info Sci. DOI: 10.1080/13658816.2015.1086924.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Oakley Jawbreaker


My Christmas present from Oakley came early this year. They were sent to me by courier earlier this afternoon. Many thanks to Joey from Oakley.

I was supposed to get a pair of the Jawbreaker in June during the Sea Games, but since I'm no longer competing and Oakley needed to give our Team Singapore athletes priority, I just got it.

Well, better late than never.

Noticed that the Jawbreaker has adjustable earpieces. This is great since the ear pieces of some other models of Oakley sometimes get in the way of the helmet fastening/ adjustment straps. Lens clarity looks superb

Adjustable length for the ear pieces
Lens clarity looks superb while trying it so far, I'll find out while riding tomorrow.