Running Strengthens the Spine

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For the first time, research has shown that a particular exercise is good for the discs in the spine.

In the first human study of its kind, researchers have shown evidence that a specific physical exercise is beneficial for the discs in our spines. The study named “Running exercise strengthens the intervertebral disc” has been published in the journal Scientific Reports, and according to lead author Professor Daniel Belavy, it is considered a milestone in the spinal research field.

Conventional thinking among scientists was that spinal discs were not able to respond to any kind of exercises due to the slow metabolism of intervertebral disks. The new study is giving hope that physical activity can be prescribed as a remedy to strengthen spinal disks. This is especially true for younger people as exercise can be used as a preventative measure or treatment of back problems throughout one’s life.

Over the last decade, research has shown that the components of spinal disks are repaired very slowly which led researchers to expect that either drugs or exercise would have no real impact over a person’s lifetime. This study has shown that regular exercise including walking, running, or jogging does strengthen discs in the spine and improve overall back health.

According to Professor Belavy, their study did not find any greater benefit from more rigorous exercise like long distance running, and that regular walking may be just as beneficial to the spine. Furthermore, he suggests people should avoid long static postures while sitting or standing, and taking every opportunity to exercise during work time breaks such as choosing the stairs instead of the elevator.

The new study has challenged the notion that spinal disks take too long to respond to exercise. This has provided a starting point to develop effective physical activity protocols for strengthening intervertebral discs thus promoting a healthy back throughout our lives.

Article Source: http://www.worldhealth.net/news/exercise-strengthens-spine-disc/

 

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Runners’ brains show greater connections

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A new study has found that runners’ brains, compared to non-runners, show greater connections. What does this mean exactly? The researchers found that runners had greater functional connectivity compared to those who lived more sedentary lives.

The researchers compared brain scans of cross country runners to scans of young adults who did not partake in regular physical activity. The runners showed overall greater functional connectivity in several different areas of the brain which could boost problem-solving, decision making, and switching attention between tasks.

The researchers suggest that these findings create groundwork for future studies to test whether or not frequent running or physical activity could improve cognitive function.

University of Arizona running expert David Raichlen explained, “One of the things that drove this collaboration was that there has been a recent proliferation of studies, over the last 15 years, that have shown that physical activity and exercise can have a beneficial impact on the brain, but most of that work has been in older adults. This question of what’s occurring in the brain at younger ages hasn’t really been explored in much depth, and it’s important. Not only are we interested in what’s going on in the brains of young adults, but we know that there are things that you do across your lifespan that can impact what happens as you age, so it’s important to understand what’s happening in the brain at these younger ages.”

Although there have been numerous studies on how certain activities can improve certain functions there is lack of evidence to show if repetitive physical activity that doesn’t require fine motor skills can improve brain function. “These activities that people consider repetitive actually involve many complex cognitive functions — like planning and decision-making — that may have effects on the brain,” added Raichlen.

It’s important to uncover what impacts the brains of young adults as this could help prevent cognitive diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in the future. If future studies reveal that running, and other exercise, can improve and prevent dementia then it could be a more widely recommended approach to prevent it.

Co-researcher Gene Alexander concluded, “One of the key questions that these results raise is whether what we’re seeing in young adults — in terms of the connectivity differences — imparts some benefit later in life. The areas of the brain where we saw more connectivity in runners are also the areas that are impacted as we age, so it really raises the question of whether being active as a young adult could be potentially beneficial and perhaps afford some resilience against the effects of aging and disease.”

Written By:Emily Lunardo  Article Source: http://www.belmarrahealth.com/runners-brains-show-greater-connections/

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The effects of running on testosterone levels

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 American marathoner Ryan Hall recently said that in the past year he has been dealing with bouts of low testosterone that affect his running – a malady he has concluded is a risk for men who train and run marathons. Hall noticed a sudden onset of fatigue that obviously affected his training and race preparation, and blood tests confirmed low testosterone levels.

Symptoms for men with low testosterone include fatigue, depression, irritability, and loss of sex drive. Commons causes include diabetes, liver disease, injury to the testicles, and obesity. Another risk associated with low testosterone is decreased bone density, which for runners could mean an increased risk of stress fractures.

So where does running fit into this?

Overtraining is the most likely the culprit. Mileage, intensity, and frequency of running also play a role – when you do too much, your body may react by not producing enough testosterone.

According to a study from the University of North Carolina, “Endurance training may have significant effects on the male reproductive system. The evidence suggests endurance training significantly affects the major male reproductive hormone, testosterone. At rest, testosterone appears to be lower in the endurance-trained male than in the untrained male.”

How do you treat low testosterone?

Vigorous resistance training, like weight lifting, eating enough fat, and getting enough sleep can help elevate testosterone levels – as will decreasing the amount of running.

While you could also take synthetic testosterone or steroids prescribed by a doctor, this could cause two problems: (1) It may be considered an illegal performance enhancing drug depending on your sport; and (2) Taking synthetic testosterone interferes with your body’s natural production of testosterone. In addition, steroids or synthetic testosterone could cause an unwanted increase in muscle mass, which could be detrimental for runners.

If you suspect you may have low testosterone, go see your doctor, get a blood test, and – if needed – see an endocrinologist who has worked with athletes.

Written by Rob Haneisen.

Article Source: http://blog.walkjogrun.net/2015/11/18/the-effects-of-running-on-testosterone-levels/

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