Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Exercise Builds Bone Density In Older Men

A study comparing the effects of vitamin D and calcium fortified milk with or without exercise, and exercise alone, showed that exercise provided a bone mineral density increase, but the fortified milk alone did not increase bone mineral density.

The study was done on men aged 50-79

Osteoporosis Canada recommends that adults over age 50 should have 1200mg/ day calcium, and 800 to 2000 IU/ day of vitamin D.

Meeting the daily vitamin and mineral requirement is essential, but exercise, specifically weight bearing exercise like jogging or weight training, is also critical.

It's important to note that the study protocol used a progressive resistance training model, meaning that the subjects gradually increased the loads they lifted as they became stronger.  Staying with light weights doesn't cut it.  Impact exercise like jogging and jumping are also potent bone builders, but like all exercise, more intensive activities should be added only as overall strength and physical ability increases.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Obesity: Socially Acceptable to Discriminate

Use of the N word or saying that women are only good for bed and kitchen, and a person reveals their ignorance, overt prejudice, and will be rightfully chastised for such gross discrimination.

Call someone fat and lazy though, and for many this will be viewed as just calling it like it is, instead of what it really is, a judgmental, derogatory, discriminatory insult.

I think we need to deal as a society with obesity on several levels, one is preventing weight gain and losing weight, and the other, which I don't talk about much but perhaps should, is about how being overweight opens a person up to being discriminated against.

From overweight kids being bullied to obese coworkers being denied promotions or being the target of office gossip, I think we generally know this is wrong, but it isn't seen as being as wrong as racial slurs.

Discrimination against overweight people is as prevalent as racial discrimination

No more fat jokes -

Bias, discrimination, and obesity. [Obes Res. 2001] - PubMed result

Obesity: attitudes of undergraduate student nurses... [J Clin Nurs. 2009] - PubMed result

Being overweight can prevent people from access to healthcare either from the individual dreading being weighed by the physician and any accompanying comments, or because some physicians are less inclined to do complete physical exams on obese patients.

Stigma and Discrimination in Weight Management and Obesity

Most of the population is overweight.  Although overeating is being "normalized" by this trend there is still the irony of social stigmas being attached to being overweight.

When thinking about our health and fitness where being overweight is concerned, let's also be mindful of not being judgmental or discriminatory, as that has never helped anyone.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Jack LaLanne Dies at Age 96

"Anything in life is possible, if YOU make it happen!" - Jack LaLanne

That quote was posted in memorandum on Jack LaLannes blog today.

He died of respiratory failure due to pneumonia.

LaLanne opened his own health club in Oakland, CA in 1936, and had a successful fitness show that ran in the 1950's.

Check out this guy's list of achievements.. Fantastic!

Jack LaLanne was relentless in his positive attitude and message of how living healthy makes you feel good and live longer, and showed us all how it's done.

LaLanne will be missed, but he created a legacy message.

For me, Jacks message is summarized best in his one liner "LaLannisms"

I've copied these from his website

  • Anything in life is possible if you make it happen.
  • Anything in life is possible and you can make it happen.
  • Your waistline is your lifeline.
  • Exercise is King, nutrition is Queen, put them together and you’ve got a kingdom.
  • Don’t exceed the feed limit.
  • The food you eat today is walking and talking tomorrow.
  • Ten seconds on the lips and a lifetime on the hips.
  • Better to wear out than rust out
  • Do – don’t stew.
  • People don’t die of old age, they die of inactivity.
  • First we inspire them, then we perspire them.
  • You eat everyday, you sleep everyday, and your body was made to exercise everyday.
  • Work at living and you don’t have to die tomorrow.
  • I can’t die, it would ruin my image.
  • If man makes it, don’t eat it.
  • If it tastes good, spit it out.
  • What’s it doing for me?
  • Your health account is like your bank account: The more you put in, the more you can take out.
  • If one apple is good, you wouldn’t eat 100.
  • It’s not what you do some of the time that counts, it’s what you do all of the time that counts.
  • Make haste slowly.
  • Eat right and you can’t go wrong.

New Guidelines for Exercise

Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines Adults 18 - 64 years

Guidelines for youth, adults, and seniors

I blogged last week about these new guidelines being released.

Here they are, and the presentation is a little better than I anticipated.  I would still like to see more emphasis on how good being fit makes you feel today, instead of always focusing on future health benefits.

Yes, yes.. of course I completely support the promotion of exercise as a disease preventer.  Over a lifetime that is perhaps the greatest benefit.

But as factual as that may be, not many people in their teens through their 40's are making a big connection with how todays actions will affect their life 50 or 60 years from now.

I think benefits like feeling good right now, better cognition, feeling strong, flexible, alert, and energized (no I'm not plugging the latest super supplement, just exercise) are more immediately tangible.

Students can achieve higher test scores if they exercise before an exam.  That's an immediate benefit to exercise.

Stressed?  Who isn't?

Regular exercisers are less stressed.  A small amount of physical activity can immediately reduce stress levels, take the edge off, and invigorate you.  And at the same time you get a bunch of health benefits.

Knowing that future risk of illness is reduced has some appeal to it, but typically most people don't immediately associate value and benefit with exercise, so talking about a future benefit, which is abstract, does't have much punch to it.

Unless a person perceives benefit from exercise, they are unlikely to want to do it.

Just a thought..

Let's say there's a person handing out $100.00 bills for free, no strings.  It's a street corner lottery.  You have an option for prizes though:

$100.00 cash or, the feeling and the benefits of having done six months of regular exercise.

How many people will take the cash?

There's a good reason the cash is chosen.  We immediately understand the value and utility of money, nobody needs to explain the immediate or future benefits.. we get it.

Before I get emails saying that someone who has no food will have more immediate need for the $100.00, I'll agree that is undeniable.  However notwithstanding the obvious exceptions, most will still see no value in the free exercise benefits prize.

And that's my point.  The fitness gains one can make in six months is worth more than $100.00, but most will not perceive it that way.  Just the opposite is true, most will think that exercise is kooky, arduous, and interferes with more important things that have to get done.

If we had the ability to instantaneously make you as strong, flexible, alert and energized, compared to how week, out of energy, and stressed many people are, it would feel like you just popped a magic drug.  It would be a feeling that would be hard to give up, and that most would want back if taken away just as quickly.

The new guidelines for exercise let us know that Canadians are so out of shape that we'll benefit from very little exercise.  It doesn't take much to get going, and for the most part, adding more exercise and more vigorous exercise as you adapt, means more benefits.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mindfulness meditation training changes brain structure in eight weeks

ScienceDaily (2011-01-21) -- Participating in an 8-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. A new study is the first to document meditation-produced changes over time in the brain's grey matter.

More breaks from sitting are good for waistlines and hearts

ScienceDaily (2011-01-13) -- It is becoming well accepted that, as well as too little exercise, too much sitting is bad for people's health. Now a new study has found that it is not just the length of time people spend sitting that can make a difference, but also the number of breaks that they take. Plenty of breaks, even if they are as little as one minute, seem to be good for people's hearts and their waistlines.

Ride The Bus, Catch a Cold

A new study from the University of Nottingham shows that if you've used pubic transport recently, there is a 6X increase in developing an acute respiratory infection.

Study subjects who had recently developed acute respiratory infection symptoms were asked to fill out questionnaires detailing bus or tram use in the 5 days preceding the onset of their symptoms.

Those who used public transport within 5 days prior to becoming symptomatic were 6 times more likely to develop acute respiratory infections.

What to do?

Not a lot.  Wash your hands after getting off the bus, try not to touch too many surfaces, and don't lick the hand rails.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Eat Healthy At Home

Justine Routhier of the Weekend Wakeup Show on CJOB gave me a call about this article she read in the Huffington Post "How Eating at Home Can Save Your Life".

Link on link below for audio of the CJOB interview with Justine

The main points I liked from the article were:

  • Throw out junk food
  • Learn how to cook and shop
  • Plant a garden
  • Invest in food

Whenever we see lists like this it doesn't mean we have to embark on all of the initiatives immediately to benefit.  Choosing just one of these will lead to positive health changes that make you feel good.

While the family meal may seem like something from the 1950's, or indeed earlier as the article points out, there are many positive health benefits to making our own meals at home.

Make preparing meals a reward process that provides nutritious food that makes us healthy and feel good.  Sounds like mere words, a bunch of self appeasing rhetoric, but it's true.

We're so detached from eating for our health the mere mention of it puts many on the defensive as it's seen as a suggestion that trespasses on ones personal choices and rewards.

But those heavy calorie foods are killing us.. literally.  And we smile, and we make jokes, and we laugh it off. Every year though it catches up with more and more Canadians becoming overweight, inactive, and presenting with the health problems that accompany being overweight.

But why dwell on that..

It really is satisfying and rewarding to sit down with the family and enjoy a healthy meal.

Take turns making meals, explore the uncountable number of healthy recipes from around the world that can be found on the net.

One of my fave's is Worlds Healthiest Foods

If you haven't done it for a while, make a point of having some regular healthy family meals.

Canadians to be told to exercise less

Chris Reid, host of Cityscape on UMFM wanted to talk to me about the latest buzz in health and fitness.  This week one of the top stories was about Canadians being told to exercise less.

We're not really going to be told to exercise less; CSEP (Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology), will, according to news releases this past week, be presenting their new recommendations for the minimum amount of exercise Canadians need to get a health benefit. Which isn't much.

Children 5 to 17 years old will be pared back from the current 90 minutes per day to 60 minutes of daily physical activity.

Adults 18 to 64 can feel good about only needing 150 minutes over an entire week compared to the current  60 minutes daily of light activity, or 30 minutes daily of moderate intensity activity.

The over age 64 changes are about the same for the 18 to 64 crowd.

The past Handbook for Canada's Physical Activity Guide suggests we don't need much activity to start realizing health benefits, and that starting with a mere 10 minutes walking is all it takes.  Which is right of course.

These official guidelines are already quite conservative, and achievable.

The problem is very few people like exercise or see any point to it, so it doesn't really matter how much we minimize the time recommendations for exercise, few will buy into a product that has a poor reputation.

The genius is supposed to be that we align Canadian recommendations with that of the World Health Organizations physical activity recommendations.  This should work really well because countries like the US, Australia, and UK, have adopted these lower guidelines, and we can see how well it's working as those countries clearly have the healthiest and fittest populations.

Oh wait, I lost my mind for a moment.  Actually those countries each are experiencing the same obesity and reduced physical activity trends we are, if not worse.

So maybe the genius is about putting into reach physical activity recommendations that can be achieved.  We've set the bar too high.  People are so far away from being physically active for 60 minutes a day that doing so seems like you might as be asked to swim the Channel.

We're better off lowering the bar to only 150 minutes over seven days.

Let me clear something up here.  These minutes of "activity" that are being referred to here.. we're not talking about slugging out a high intensity workout in the gym or running 10k up hill with a packsack full of bricks.  We're talking about walking.  Just walking.

On one hand that shows how dismal we're doing.. Canadians are so physically inactive that from the time we wake to the time we go to bed, most of us don't move our bodies for more than 60 minutes total.


The good news is that being so out of shape it doesn't take much physical activity to produce measurable health benefits.

The recommendations also include flexibility exercises and strengthening exercises.  Click on the link to the guide for more info.

I don't think this new deal will work. There should be emphasis on how good it feels to gain the benefits of strength, flexibility, and endurance.  Up front and centre we should talk about building excitement towards the rewards of getting more fit and little by little by gradually adding more exercise.

How about something simple like;

"Start easy, add more, feel great".

One phrase imparts the idea of not needing much to get going, but implies there's more to be done, and that it's rewarding to do so.

Already CSEP is fielding questions about the bar being lowered (read this CTV Calgary article in which Silken Laumann, former Olympic rower doesn't show much love for the new standards), which is certainly how this will be perceived by many.

I usually like what CSEP does.  I'm not in favour of this latest move though.  It's a retreat.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"No safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke" US Surgeon General report

I used to smoke.

I used to scoff at non-smokers.

"What.. are you too weak to handle it?"  If one of those do-gooder non-smokers told me about the risks of smoking I would reply, "hasn't done anything to me yet!"  Or the infamous, "So and so smoked until they were 90 years old.. didn't bother them."

Of course these reactionary words from me were simply an expression of denial and my inability to come to grips with the reality of my own ignorance and addiction.

I remember feeling cool and tough looking when I smoked.  Or perhaps even sophisticated if I took a drag in just the right way;

The "French inhale"- letting smoke come out of your mouth and be drawn up your nose in two silky streams..

The long hold- holding the smoke in your lungs, then speaking without releasing smoke until you finished your sentence, which concluded with a sigh where you let the smoke out.  If you were really good at this you could hold enough smoke in your lungs to allow smoke to percolate out of your mouth on the start of your next sentence. Apparently this advanced smoking technique shows how in control you are.

And who could forget blowing circles?  While I never quite mastered this pinnacle of smoking prowess, I was able to blow off a few good "o's" now and then.  Impressive.

What a wicked irony wherein the smoker is actually displaying the various ways they can introduce toxic chemicals into their bodies under the guise of modelling self control, intellectual superiority, entertaining party tricks, or perhaps even freedom to choose.

After a while those superficial ego based attachments to smoking wained and I had simply become a habitual smoker.  It was part of life (sic).  Cigarettes were on the grocery list; milk, eggs, bread, veggies, oh yes, and the other necessity; a pack of smokes.

I would receive as gifts fancy ashtrays or high end lighters with the mechanical action of a finely engineered Porsche manual transmission. My favorite lighter was one from Japan; it looked like a cigarette and held the same dimensions; taking off the filter revealed the flint action.  Unwittingly these were all ways of celebrating a deadly habit.


Despite the front, inside I always knew that smoking was not a smart decision. Eventually this other me, the non-smoking me, made an increasing presence in my conscious thought.  You know the heart beat sound at the beginning of "Dark Side of The Moon", by Pink Floyd?  That's how my desire to quit started. Faint, but grew steadily, and finally a huge relief to defeat the beast.

Before success though, I failed many times.  I tried cutting down, switching to "light" cigarettes (what a joke those are), and went cold turkey.  Then there was the throat infection.  It was pretty bad.  A doctor told me if I didn't quit right then, the throat infection could take a turn for the worse and become very, very serious.

Go here for the conclusion on how I finally quit smoking.

It's been known for decades that smoking, if you do it long enough, will eventually cause serious health problems.  This might give the impression that one has some time to consider their smoking habit.

It's now understood that there is no safe level of cigarette smoke exposure either first or second hand.  The chemical constituents of cigarette smoke instantaneously cause cellular damage.

Quitting smoking has immediate benefits.

I can confess that quitting feels really good.  Instantly sleep quality improves, cognition improves, energy levels increase, and best of all you don't have that beast of burden dragging you down.  Maybe that isn't the real "best of all"; that might best be reserved for the fact that quitting smoking saves your life both physically and emotionally.

If you're a smoker; quit.  You'll like it :-)