Category Archives: general fitness

How Sleep Affects Athletic Performance

By Laird Harrison

During a week of canoeing in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota, something odd happened. I had only a thin inflatable pad between me and the rocks and roots. My mosquito bites itched. And some of my companions snored.

But getting away from the hum and glow of civilization relaxed me so much that I slept better than in my comfortable bed at home. In the mornings, I was ready to paddle a canoe and haul it on long portages.

It turns out I’m not alone. One new study out in the past week shows that access to nature improves sleep (at least for men.)  Another shows that people who sleep more get fewer colds.

And yes,  sleep improves athletic performance, but not in the way you might think. Continue reading How Sleep Affects Athletic Performance

Can You Exercise Yourself to Death?

It’s pretty hard to exercise too much. That’s the conclusion from a new analysis of physical activity published in June in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

The authors combined results from six studies with a total of 661,137 people.  In each of these studies, the researchers asked participants how much of their leisure time they spent exercising. Then the researchers kept track of who lived and who died.
Continue reading Can You Exercise Yourself to Death?

A Low-Carb Diets for Athletes?

By Laird Harrison

Just about everyone I know has at least flirted with a low-carbohydrate diet — Atkins, Zone, Paleo, Southbeach — and lots swear by the weight-loss effects.

But a low-carb diet for athletes goes against the standard recommendations of sports nutritionists. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) personal training text book recommends pancakes as a healthy alternative when traveling.

So I was fascinated to talk to some researchers at the ACSM Annual Meeting in May who have examined the effects of a low-carb diet for athletes. Continue reading A Low-Carb Diets for Athletes?

High-Intensity Interval Training May Not Save Time

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has captured a lot of attention lately because of its simple message: If you exercise hard enough, you can get just as fit in less time.

Even the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services buys this concept to some degree. It recommends at least 2.5 hours per week of moderate exercise, but it also says a minute of vigorous exercise equals two minutes of moderate exercise.  Continue reading High-Intensity Interval Training May Not Save Time