Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Using The Internet To Improve Nutrition


Click on that link above to take you the Dietitians of Canada website diet analyzing tool.

The EATracker is a web based food analyzer that allows you find out if eating too much or too little of anything.. calories, vitamins, minerals. check it out, it's a great tool, and it's free!

Other favorite sites of mine

Worlds Healthiest Foods

Can Sport Science Fitness Testing Help You?

Chris Reid, who has hosted the Weekend Wakeup Show on CJOB am radio for the past one and a half years was subjected to some sport science fitness testing: blood lactate testing while exercising on a stationary bike.

I amended the test by deleting the maximal exertion portion of the test.  How do you test someones fitness if they don't go as hard as they can?

Fitness testing has come a long way.  We now test according to what information we need, instead of using generalized tests or formulas.  If we're looking for suitable intensity levels for base conditioning we no longer have to push a person to their limit then extrapolate their appropriate levels of intensity for quality exercise.

By sampling Chris's blood lactate we we're able to monitor how his muscle metabolism was responding to exercise, then accurately determine what heart rate he should exercise at.  For more details on lactate testing go here.

So how fit is Chris?  He's more fit than the average sedentary Canadian (insert sound of crickets).  OK so that's not exactly fit. Those cyclists we see riding their bikes in Winnipeg snow storms?  Not that fit. Chris achieved the correct level of intensity for an easy steady pace that would make his muscles, heart, and lungs function better (that's what fitness is), but without the intensity feeling like you're going cough up a lung, and won't leave you feeling sore the next day.

The heart rate Chris should exercise at is 120 -125 beats per minute, where Chris's legs produce enough power to run a 100W light bulb.  By comparison the average avid bicycle commuter will reach this level of exertion at about 160W, the average weekend warrior skier, runner, cyclist, will reach this level around 170-200W, amateur athletes 200-220W, and pro athletes about 280W (these numbers are greatly influenced by the size of the person; smaller more svelte people put out lower numbers, and larger more muscular people put out higher numbers).

Incase you were wondering, the worlds top cyclists when going all out for an hour will hold around 500 watts.  Try 500W on a stationary bike at your local gym to get sense of how much power a pro can hold for an hour.  Top sprinters will peak out at 1700-2200 Watts for about 5 seconds.

Keep in mind Chris's levels aren't peak levels, 100W is the intensity Chris would exercise at for 30 to 60 minutes and have it feel easy.  Once he adapts to the easy exercise Chris will start doing more intensive interval training, but starting off with an intensity that won't feel too terribly demanding.  Once Chris get's through the base conditioning phase, his body will be more tolerant to hard exercise.  Exercise too hard too soon and adaptation is not very effective, and risk of excess soreness and injury is greater.  When Chris is ready, which won't be long from now, he'll go hard and turn his body into lean, mean fighting machine!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Light At Night May Be Linked To Depression

A new study on hamsters shows that a small amount of light while sleeping increased depressive symptoms. The light, equivalent to a what might be emitted by a small TV, affected the hippocampus region of the brain, which were thought to be the cause of the observed increased depressive symptoms.

Light entering closed eyelids at night alters melatonin production, which is an important hormone that regulates our sleep cycle, and now believed to effect the hippocampus as well.

Other sleep studies have shown that light exposure at night, such as from a night light, outside street lamps, or other sources, can negatively effect the quality of our sleep.

It's best to use black out curtains and ensure your room is dark enough that you can't clearly see your own hand held at arms length in front of your face.  If you can see your hand, you room is too light for quality sleep.

Light at night causes changes in brain linked to depression

Compassionate Coaching Better Than Negative Coaching

One of these phrases will activate regions of brain associated with positive imagery and being open to possibilities.  The other will shut down brain circuits that allow you to perceive a positive future.

"You're doing that all wrong.  Don't do it wrong, do it right.  Do it like this."

"If you do it this way it will make you stronger."

A news release from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland Ohio highlights a study where compassionate coaching and a typical traditional method of coaching where compared.

The researchers used functional MRI to see which parts of the brain would be "lit up" when study subjects were exposed to different coaching methods.

The results showed how coaching that focused on future benefits affected the brain differently than coaching that focussed mainly mistakes.

Read here for more details.

From sports coaching to managing and training employees, "compassionate coaching" has a much higher potential of netting a better result.  Researchers maintained that "everyone has to look at their weaknesses and take them on", but that focusing on doing that which creates a positive outcome is more important overall.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Some Creams To Treat Eczema May Make It Worse

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS).  I'm familiar with avoiding this additive found in many soaps and skin products as it irritates my girlfriends skin.  Because of this we only buy soaps/ shampoo's without this compound.

A study has shown that if creams used to treat the skin condition eczema contain SLS, it could make the eczema worse.

There is a thin layer of lipids on our skin that protects it, retains moisture, and helps to reduce the absorption of chemicals into the skin.

SLS reduces the thickness of this protective layer.  People with eczema already have compromised skin, and SLS could irritate their skin further.

Effect of Aqueous Cream BP on human stratum corneum in vivo - Tsang - 2010 - British Journal of Dermatology - Wiley Online Library

How Chocolate May Reduce Blood Pressure

I love chocolate.  Of course if I show it a little too much love the extra calories will cause weight gain, and with significant weight gain comes all the health problems that extra body fat brings, including high blood pressure.

Studies have shown though, that in small amounts, dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) appears to have positive health effects.

A new chocolate study from Sweden (where else) has discovered a specific mechanism of dark chocolate that over the long term may result in reducing blood pressure.

The study looked at the effects of 75 grams of dark chocolate (72% cocoa) on ACE activity. 

ACE inhibitor drugs are a common treatment for high blood pressure.  The dark chocolate caused an 18% reduction in ACE activity, comparable to the effect of ACE inhibitor drugs.

Reduced ACE activity over time will reduce blood pressure.  The duration of this study was not long enough to observe reduced blood pressure, that will need another study.

Effects of Cocoa Extract and Dark Chocolate on Angiotensin-C... : Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology

Sunday, November 7, 2010

An Electric Jolt To The Brain Improves Math Abilities/ Fit Kids Are Smarter

Read this interesting story on how researchers found that applying a small electric current to the brain had lasting effects on increasing math skills. NewsDaily: Electric brain stimulation can improve maths: study

Although I find that fascinating, I'm more interested in how exercise and being fit increases learning ability and cognition.  Students' physical fitness associated with academic achievement; organized physical activity

Students in 5th through 7th grades were followed, measuring academic performance as the students progressed through the grades.  Fit students scored higher than less fit students.

Students who were less fit in grade 5 but then more fit by grade 7 improved academically.  Those who were more fit in grade five but lost fitness by grade 7 showed a decrease in academic scores.  Students who maintained their fitness also maintained their higher academic prowess.

Stay fit and we can be as smart as a 5th grader.

More Exercise/ Fitness = Fewer Colds

You can cut the number of colds you get per year, as well as reduce the severity of symptoms and duration of a cold by nearly 50%.

A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has shown that being fit and exercising 5 days per week can significantly reduce the duration of colds and the severity of cold symptoms by between 32 and 43%, compared to those who exercise one or fewer days per week.

Caution is headed though, as previous studies have shown an increase risk of colds if one exercises too hard too often, referred to as overtraining, as well as increasing risk of repetitive strain injury and injuries in general.

Damed if you do, damed if you don't?

Hardly :-)

Exercise frequently and within your means.. don't overdo it and you'll be healthier and more fit.