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Is Jogging worth it?

Now that cooler weather has arrived in the mid-atlantic region, I see more and more neighbors out jogging around the neighborhood. Presumably most are doing this to improve their fitness levels. Unfortunately for them, that is not the case. Let's look at what really happens when you jog at a steady pace for 45 minutes to an hour:

First, you will burn several hundred calories. However, remember when you are looking at the tread mill computer or the fitness tracker on your wrist, they take into account your basal metabolic rate in addition to the activity. So, if the computer says you have burned 300 calories, you have really only burned 220 to 240 calories above your baseline rate. If your lucky you have not just stimulated your appetite; however, most people do. If you then go home and eat some fruit or a protein bar to counter your hunger, you have completely negated any calories burned during your run!

Second, contrary to popular belief, steady state activity like jogging does nothing for the lungs and very little for the heart. The stimulus is simply not intense enough to improve lung capacity or enhance cardiovascular efficiency. In fact, most "improvements" people make over time are attributed to skill improvement (ex. more efficient stride length, sole strike, arm movement, etc.) The leg muscles can see some initial strengthening but over time this can halt and even reverse (see below).

Third, jogging frequently (meaning about 4 days or more per week) will cause loss of muscle mass. Steady state activity like jogging only uses a small percentage of your muscle fibers. Jogging does not put a high demand on muscles - that is precisely why you can jog for a long time. When you do an activity like jogging excessively, it sends signals to your body to get rid of that excess muscle mass you are not using. Over time, frequent joggers will lose much of their lean muscle mass. For instance, take a look at top marathon runners. Do you see any muscle mass on them? They actually look emaciated. In the long run, this is not good for your health.

Fourth, jogging has a very high injury rate. The high force of the foot hitting the pavement repeatedly over time can cause damage to your feet, ankles, shins, knees, hips, and back! We have had many clients at Total Results over the years who were runners for years until injuries forced them to stop. In fact, several had to have corrective surgeries and even joint replacement.

I understand the allure of jogging. It is very simple - throw on a pair of shoes and head out the front door. Breathe a little harder. Work up a little sweat. Feel better about yourself. You think you are "getting in shape". However, as mentioned, jogging burns relatively few calories, does not improve cardiovscular health or fitness, can tear down muscle mass and therefore lower your metabolism, and has a high rate of injury over time. All this begs the question, is jogging worth it? Unless you are training for a particular athletic competition, the answer is NO!

So what should you do instead of jogging? First, walking is a great activity to do every day. It burns the same calories per mile as jogging, is great for mental health, and is much safer than jogging due to the lower forces involved. Second, you must lift heavy things once in awhile in order to stimulate the skeletal muscles and the cardiovascular system to adapt in improve. This is our specialty at Total Results. Lastly, you must eat modestly and mostly natural foods in order to have a caloric balance and get adequate nutrition. By following these simple steps, you will improve health and fitness levels more than by running but without the risks associated with running.

Posted October 14, 2017 by Tim Rankin

The Dangers of Too Much Sitting

Over the past century, the American economy and work force have shifted dramatically. What was once a largely agrarian economy gave way to a manufacturing economy, and now we are truly in the middle of the information age. With an internet connection, it is possible for Americans to do business with and work for companies scattered all across the globe. The negative result is that we Americans are spending more time sitting than ever before. We spend much of our sitting time watching television, using other electronic devices, driving to and from work, and sitting at a desk. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, this adds up to between 91 and 105 hours per week, or between thirteen and fifteen hours per day. Teenagers and older adults appear to be the biggest culprits.

The health risks from too much sitting are numerous: increased risk of heart disease, increased risk of Type II diabetes, a sluggish central nervous system (which can lead to greater levels of fatigue), and a gradual weakening of postural muscles. Doesn't sound very appealing, does it? Most people probably realize they spend too much time sitting, but they may not know what they can do about it. So what are some proactive strategies you can use to lessen these health risks?

1. Set an alarm to get up and move every 30 to 60 minutes. No one knows for sure what the optimal frequency is, but the thinking is that if you've been sitting for an hour, that's probably too long. Take a walk down the hallway, step outside for some fresh air (weather permitting), or get up to fill your water bottle.

2. Utilize a standing desk. If it worked for Thomas Jefferson and Ernest Hemingway, it can work for you (both men were early proponents of a standing desk). You've probably seen adjustable desks with seated and standing options that are available on the market. I think it's a good investment.

3. Hold walking meetings. Instead of discussing a work topic via phone or email, hold a walking meeting.

4. Strength train regularly. This is the most important thing you can do. One or two Total Results workouts per week will build strength (especially in the postural muscles), improve your cardiovascular conditioning, maintain a safe and functional level of flexibility, and help you to maintain insulin sensitivity (which will lower your risk for Type II diabetes).

It's important to have the mindset of staying active and having purpose. A few simple strategies like the ones mentioned above can make a huge difference in how you look and feel. We can't stop the aging process, but we can definitely slow it down.

Posted October 10, 2017 by Matthew Romans

What can we learn from the Italians?

I just returned from a wonderful vacation to Italy. We spent time in Rome and throughout Tuscany. One thing that struck me as we spent time in Rome, Florence, Siena, Cortona and many smaller cities and towns was that there were very few overweight people. I did some research to check my observation and, in fact, the obesity rate in Italy is one of the lowest in the developed world, and less than one quarter the rate of the United States: Obesity Rates. How can this be? Bread is served at every meal. Pasta is a daily diet staple. The wine in Italy is not just for export; rather, it is consumed daily by many (at the central market in Florence, we sat next to two painters who were drinking a glass of red wine with lunch!). Many meals start with crusty bread, pecorino cheese, and various meats like salami and cappicola. In my entire time in Italy, I did not see one gym. I am sure gyms exist, but it is certainly not as prevalent as the mega-gym culture of the U.S. How is it that Italians are not bursting at the seams? Additionally, longevity rates in Italy are among the highest in the world: Longevity Rates.

While I do not have scientific evidence as to the exact causes of this low rate of obesity in Italy, I did observe several factors which I believe correlate strongly.

First, Italians walk a lot and sit less than most Americans. Many Italians walk to work, walk to lunch and dinner. Even those who drive or take public transportation (we rode the Train to Florence and used the public bus service in Rome), end up having to walk significant distances to get to their destinations. In many of the hilltop towns we visited, I witnessed many Italians walking up steep hills to get home or to a shop. They think nothing of it. In every shop, plaza, and town square, people were standing around, chatting, shopping, etc. Some people were sitting on steps to take breaks, but those were typically the only "seats" on offer anywhere we went, except a few park benches.

Second, the food portions and quality are different than the U.S. For example, while pasta is a staple of the Italian diet, it is mostly locally made, with only a few ingredients: water, salt, and unadulterated flour, (meaning no round up, no refining, no enriching with excess B Vitamins, no preservatives). In addition, portion size is typically the size of a fist. Even though there are typically two or three courses, the overall caloric intake of meals is very reasonable. Almost every meal we had, outside of the big cities, were made from locally raised or grown ingredients, very fresh and in season. When the season changes, so do the food choices.

A final observation was that Italy is very much a "Cafe culture". By that I mean, people sit together, often outside, to eat, drink espresso, have a glass of wine, etc. This is similar to the eating/socializing culture in France as well as other countries. I believe this benefits Italians in several ways. Spending time outside year round exposes Italians to regular, modest doses of Vitamin D from the sun. Healthy levels of Vitamin D promote significant benefits, including regulating Insulin levels and supporting a healthy immune system. The cafe also encourages socialization, but without the gluttony we see in the United States (Italians meet and eat or drink in groups either for a quick coffee or a longer, but reasonable sized meal savored over the course of an hour or two).

The observations I made of they Italian lifestyle seem to fit closely with what I recommend to clients and friends looking for improved health and vitality: move about more, sit less, eat natural food whenever possible, socialize often, and get outside every day. I would add lifting heavy things once in awhile (we accomplish that through our exercise protocol at Total Results, but many Italians I saw were accruing similar benefits by hiking up hundreds of feet of elevation each day, doing heavy farm work, etc). We can all benefit from incorporating some Italian lifestyle into our daily routines!


Posted September 28, 2017 by Tim Rankin

Tips for a long and healthy life

I have mentioned The Blue Zones many times in past articles. The Blue Zones is a book about the most long lived (and mostly healthy) population centers on earth. Researchers have tried to discover what lifestyle practices these elderly people have followed to enable them to live for 100 years or more. Blue Zone locations include the Japanese Island of Okinawa, Sardinia off the coast of Italy, and others.

So, what are the common traits and practices of these "successful" centenarians? Some of these are explicitly mentioned in the book and some are my observations:

-They eat whole foods in moderate portions. Some eat meat and some don't. Some drink alcohol and some don't. Some eat grains (whole grains, locally made) but none eat highly processed, boxed, refined and enriched food stuffs you find in your grocery store. None of them drink many calories - it is mostly water, coffee, tea, and wine for some. None of them eat out much. None of them stop at Starbucks for a mocha frappucino. None of them have ever done low carb, or low fat, or any other diet fad.

-They move around a lot. The don't sit too much, and if they do, it is often on the floor. They are constantly bending, squatting, gardening, hiking, walking, and lifting things (firewood, animals, etc.). However, few if any ever jogged a day in their lives. None of them have ever been to an exercise boot camp.

-Yes, they strength train! (albeit mostly within the course of their day). Body weight squats dozens of times per day to get up from the floor or while gardening, hauling items to and from their homes. They lift light things often and heavy things once in awhile.

-They have social networks. I doubt any of them know about Facebook or Twitter, but they have intimate groups of live friends to share their days with.

-They get outside a lot. These centenarians get plenty of fresh air, sunshine (with critical Vitamin D), and often get their hands dirty ( with critical beneficial bacteria) with gardening, or other outside work.

-They have purpose. As the book mentions, all those centenarians interviewed have a reason for living. It could be tending their land, seeing their offspring, helping friends, etc.

So, there you have it. This is the best, and only, blueprint we have for living well to a very old age: Eat less (and less junk), move more, lift heavy things once in awhile, don't sit too much, get outside and get your hands dirty, have good friends, and have a purpose in life!

Make some small changes today and you can maximize the quality of your remaining years, however long that may be.

Posted August 02, 2017 by Tim Rankin

A new way to look at Cancer? A Book Review by Matthew Romans

Almost all of us have been affected by cancer in one way or another. You probably have a friend or family member that has battled the disease, or maybe you have personally been afflicted with the illness. Statistics now show that one in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetimes. Despite all the money that has been poured into cancer research over the last half century, the death rates from cancer are about the same as they were in the 1950s. It seems like we are now no closer to a cure then we were when President Richard Nixon declared war on cancer in 1971.

Conventional thinking has taught us that cancer is a genetic disease, but closer examination of an old theory shows us that we may have been wrong all along. I recently finished reading a book (which was recommended by Ken Hutchins, the founder of our exercise protocol) called "Tripping over the Truth - How the Metabolic Theory of Cancer is Overturning One of Medicine's Most Entrenched Paradigms." The book was written by Travis Christofferson, who holds a Master's Degree in material engineering and science from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. He is a full-time science writer and founder of Single Cause, Single Cure, a foundation that promotes the advancement of metabolic cancer treatment.

Conventional cancer treatment is a lucrative industry. According to the author "the cost for cancer drugs went from an average per treatment cost of about $5,000 before 2000 to $40,000 by 2005, and in 2012 almost every new drug was priced at more than $100,000 in the United States." This exponential increase in cost corresponds with a minimal improvement in the survival rate. Clearly, conventional therapies aren't working very well, so maybe it's time to think outside the box.

This book discusses such topics as how cancer became known as a genetic disease, the origins of chemotherapy (which goes back to World War II), breakthroughs and disappointments in research and drug therapy, and where we could be headed in the future. The commonly-accepted theory that cancer is genetically-driven is really much more recent than we probably realize. In 1924, a German scientist named Otto Warburg claimed that cancer was a metabolic, rather than a genetic disease. He observed that cancer cells generated energy through fermentation (the process where energy is extracted from glucose without oxygen), rather than using oxygen. While this was a significant finding, Warburg's theory was largely ignored, then mocked, and later discarded by the mainstream medical community. After the discovery of DNA in the 1950s by James Watson and Francis Crick, the focus of cancer research shifted to genetic causes of cancer, namely mutations to DNA.

After Warburg died in 1970, much of his work was largely forgotten. However, several researchers studied Warburg's findings and picked up where he left off, namely Thomas Seyfried, PhD, of Boston College, and Peter Pedersen, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University. Seyfried and Pedersen have theorized that "mutations to DNA, thought to precipitate and drive the disease, are really only a side effect&" Seyfried and Pedersen also believe that "damage to mitochondria (the power generators of the cell) happens first, the genomic instability, and then mutations to DNA." This is a major departure from the accepted viewpoint of the medical research establishment.

In regards to treatment, strong evidence suggests that a restrictive ketogenic diet (involving high fat, adequate protein and minimal carbohydrates) has been very effective in treating many forms of cancer. By minimizing sugars, the cancer cells are essentially starved of the fuel they need to survive and multiply. This can help to preserve and restore damaged mitochondria. Ketogenic diets have also been shown to be very effective in treating epilepsy, migraines, and other brain disorders. In conjunction with a ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting has been shown to be effective at reducing systemic inflammation, particularly when undergoing chemotherapy and radiation.

This book discusses strategies that are effective not only during cancer treatment, but also as preventative measures. With the current health care/insurance climate being what it is, anything that you can do to prevent being in the belly of that beast will pay huge dividends. The material discussed in this book is incredibly important and informative, and I urge everyone to give it a read.

Posted July 26, 2017 by Tim Rankin