Running May Be Good for Your Knees

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Many people worry that running ruins knees. But a new study finds that the activity may in fact benefit the joint, changing the biochemical environment inside the knee in ways that could help keep it working smoothly.

In my many decades as a runner, I have frequently been told by fellow runners and nonrunners alike that I am putting my knees at risk. The widespread argument generally follows the lines that running will slowly wear away the cartilage that cushions the bones in the joint and cause arthritis.

But there is little evidence to support the idea, and a growing body of research that suggests the reverse. Epidemiological studies of long-term runners show that they generally are less likely to develop osteoarthritis in the knees than people of the same age who do not run.

Some scientists have speculated that running may protect knees because it also often is associated with relatively low body mass. Carrying less weight is known to reduce the risk for knee arthritis.

But other researchers have wondered whether running might have a more direct impact on knee joints, perhaps by altering the working of various cells inside the knee.

To find out, researchers at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, recruited 15 male and female runners under the age of 30 with no history of knee injury or arthritis. The scientists wished to study people with healthy knees in order to better isolate running’s effects on otherwise normal joints.

These volunteers visited a clinic where they had blood drawn from an arm. The researchers also siphoned off a small amount of synovial fluid, a lubricating fluid that reduces friction inside joints, from their right knee. Healthy knees contain only a soupçon of the stuff; arthritic and otherwise unhealthy knees tend to contain much more.

The volunteers next were delivered, in wheelchairs, to the university’s nearby biomechanics lab. There, they either sat quietly for 30 minutes or ran on a treadmill for the same 30 minutes at their preferred running pace.

After either running or sitting, they again were wheeled to the clinic and the blood and synovial fluid draws were repeated.

Each volunteer completed both a sitting and running session on separate days.

Then the researchers looked for a variety of substances in the young people’s blood and synovial fluid.

In particular, they focused on molecules that are associated with inflammation. Low-grade inflammation in the knee has been shown to contribute to the development and progression of arthritis.

So the researchers looked for changes in the levels of several types of cells that are known to either increase or blunt the amount of inflammation occurring in the knee.

They also looked at changes in the levels of another substance unpoetically known as cartilage oligomeric matrix protein, or COMP. This substance tends to accumulate in diseased knees and is often used as a marker of incipient or worsening arthritis. People with arthritis can have about five times as much COMP in their synovial fluid as do people with healthy knees.

Unfortunately, because it had turned out to be technically difficult to safely extract much synovial fluid from these healthy knees, the scientists wound up with complete numbers from only six of the runners.

But the data were interesting and consistent. In almost every case, the runners’ knees showed substantially lower levels of two types of cells that can contribute to inflammation within the synovial fluid, compared to their baseline levels.

The runners also showed a shift in their COMP levels. After the run, they displayed more of the substance in their blood and less in their synovial fluid. In effect, running seemed to have squeezed the molecules out of the knee and into the blood.

Meanwhile, sitting had slightly increased levels of COMP inside people’s knees, and also raised the concentration of one of the inflammatory molecules.

These findings suggest that a single half-hour session of running changes the interior of the knee, reducing inflammation and lessening levels of a marker of arthritis, says Robert Hyldahl, a professor of exercise science at B.Y.U. and lead author of the study, published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology.

But sitting for 30 minutes also changed the knee, he points out, which he and his colleagues had not expected. Sitting seemed to make the knee biochemically more vulnerable to later disease.

Dr. Hyldahl noted that this was a very small and short-term study. He and his colleagues would like to repeat it with much larger numbers, “once we figure out how to get more synovial fluid” safely from healthy knees, he says.

They also hope to study longer running distances and different paces, to see how those variables affect changes within the knee, and to recruit older and injured runners, whose knees might have begun to respond fundamentally differently to the activity than the joints of healthy people in their 20s.

But even with these limitations, the findings suggest that moderate amounts of running are “not likely to harm healthy knees and probably offer protection” against joint damage, Dr. Hyldahl says.

5 Pro Tips on Moving Up to Ultras

Ultrarunner/ski mountaineer Meredith Edwards knows a thing or two about going long distances in the mountains. The 32-year-old from Wilson, Wyo., finished second at the 2016 TDS, a 119-kilometer trail race through the heart of the Alps in parts of Italy, Switzerland and France. In 2015, she finished eighth in the 101K CCC race held on similar trails. This year she has her sights set on the 170K Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc on Sept. 1-2. Here are Edwards’ tips on how to successfully jump into ultrarunning.

RELATED: Overcoming the Myths of Ultrarunning

1. Start slow.

“Run 50Ks,” says Edwards, who laments that too many people pick a 50-miler, 100K or even a 100-miler for their first foray into ultrarunning. Take time to build a base over 6 to 8 months, focusing on gradually increasing your weekly long runs runs to 3 to 6 hours in length and on trails, if possible. “I think it’s smart to start slow,” she says, “to build a solid foundation.”

2. Learn to recover.

“If you can’t recover just as hard as you put the effort in, you’re screwed,” says Edwards, who explains the importance of running fast on the days you need to run fast, and on the days that you’re just out putting in mileage, to run a relaxed effort. Edwards says she often runs with heart rate as her gauge, and warns that runners who think they need to be running fast all the time might see success for a month, but often burn out.

3. Get Stronger.

Edwards, who’s proud to say she can deadlift twice her bodyweight and do five conventional weighted pull-ups (with 15 pounds in tow), is a huge proponent of strength training—and full-body movements in particular. The most important thing is building functional strength—by strengthening the muscle groups related to your running motion. “My strength coach always says, ‘Strength equals speed over time.’ You need to be strong to run fast over distance.” Edwards credits her strength training for helping her stay injury-free.

4. Eat. A lot.

Edward’s regular diet is what she calls “as clean as possible,” in other words, free of processed foods. The trend is to reduce carbs and focus more on protein and fat, but she recommends doing what works for you. “When I want bread, I’ll buy a baguette. I don’t limit what I eat.” During ultras, she relies on gels, chews, waffles and soup. And she explains how she and ultrarunner friend Jim Walmsley joke that “ultrarunning is an eating contest. I eat every 30 minutes during a race.” As an added tip, train with whatever fuel you’re going to race with, and if your system doesn’t agree with it, change things up and try again.

5. Break up the week.

Edwards believes in a structured week . She typically fits a track workout, two weight training workouts, two high-mileage days and some recovery runs all into a typical week of training during ultrarunning season. On Mondays, when she does up to 12 miles of speed work on the track, she hits the gym afterward (so the running workout was the emphasis of her week). She returns to the gym on Wednesdays, sometimes before a running effort, like hill repeats on trail. Tuesdays and Thursdays are recovery runs. Fridays and Saturdays are long runs (back-to-back high mileage). Sundays are days off. The formula has worked for her. “I’m at a point where I’m making gains, and not lifting to repair injuries,” she says. “I’m the strongest I’ve ever been, and the fastest I’ve ever been. It’s all kind of come together.”

Read more at http://running.competitor.com/2017/01/trail-running/5-pro-tips-moving-ultras_161120#MLgEIwexiKs7Ih3R.99

 

By Lisa Jhung, Published Jan. 19, 2017,

Big Sugar’s Secret Ally? Nutritionists

The first time the sugar industry felt compelled to “knock down reports that sugar is fattening,” as this newspaper put it, it was 1956. Papers had run a photograph of President Dwight D. Eisenhower sweetening his coffee with saccharin, with the news that his doctor had advised him to avoid sugar if he wanted to remain thin.

The industry responded with a national advertising campaign based on what it believed to be solid science. The ads explained that there was no such thing as a “fattening food”: “All foods supply calories and there is no difference between the calories that come from sugar or steak or grapefruit or ice cream.”

More than 60 years later, the sugar industry is still making the same argument, or at least paying researchers to do it for them. The stakes have changed, however, with a near tripling of the prevalence of obesity in the intervening decades and what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures reveal to be an almost unimaginable 655 percent increase in the percentage of Americans with diabetes diagnoses. When it comes to weight gain, the sugar industry and purveyors of sugary beverages still insist, a calorie is a calorie, regardless of its source, so guidelines that single out sugar as a dietary evil are not evidence-based.

Surprisingly, the scientific consensus is technically in agreement. It holds that obesity is caused “by a lack of energy balance,” as the National Institutes of Health website explains — in other words, by our taking in more calories than we expend. Hence, the primary, if not the only, way that foods can influence our body weight is through their caloric content

Another way to say this is that what we eat doesn’t matter; it’s only how much — just as the sugar industry would have us believe. A 2014 article in an American Diabetes Association journal phrased the situation this way: “There is no clear or convincing evidence that any dietary or added sugar has a unique or detrimental impact relative to any other source of calories on the development of obesity or diabetes.”

The absence of evidence, though, as the saying goes, is not necessarily evidence of absence. If the research community had been doing its job and not assuming since the 1920s that a calorie is a calorie, perhaps we would have found such evidence long ago.

The assumption ignores decades of medical science, including much of what has become textbook endocrinology (the science of hormones and hormone-related diseases) and biochemistry. By the 1960s, researchers in these fields had clearly demonstrated that different carbohydrates, like glucose and fructose, are metabolized differently, leading to different hormonal and physiological responses, and that fat accumulation and metabolism were influenced profoundly by these hormones. The unique composition of sugar — half glucose, half fructose — made it a suspect of particular interest even then.

The takeaway is that we should expect the consumption of different macronutrients to have differential effects on the hormonal milieu of our cells and so, among myriad other things, on how much fat we accumulate. These effects may be very subtle, but subtle effects can accumulate over a few years or decades into the anything-but-subtle phenomena of obesity and diabetes. In light of this research, arguing today that your body fat responds to everything you eat the exact same way is almost inconceivably naïve.

But don’t blame the sugar industry for perpetuating this view. Blame the researchers and the nutrition authorities.

The industry is in a perverse position: defending the core beliefs of nutrition and obesity research while simultaneously being accused by some of the prominent experts in these disciplines of following the tobacco-industry playbook and so acting as “merchants of doubt.” If this sounds like cognitive dissonance — well, it is.

I am a fierce critic of sugar and believe that it, in fact, may have prematurely killed more people than tobacco. The disorders for which it is the prime suspect — obesity and Type 2 diabetes — in turn elevate our risk of virtually every major chronic disease, from heart disease to cancer and Alzheimer’s. And yet on this issue, I think the sugar industry has a fair point in rejecting the comparison.

Cigarette companies are notorious for having worked to undermine the scientific consensus on tobacco, which was backed by compelling evidence. Tobacco executives knew as well as public health officials that nicotine was addictive and that smoking caused lung cancer. But the evidence implicating sugar as a unique cause of chronic disease has never been nearly so convincing. More to the point, the consensus among nutrition and obesity authorities has been completely aligned with sugar industry interests: Sugar advertisers have had to remind people only that what nutrition authorities believe to be true of all foods is therefore true of sugar as well.

So can we really blame sugar companies for seeking to rebut the contention of some nutrition researchers — that sugar might be a unique cause of diabetes and heart disease — by commissioning other mainstream nutritionists to make the opposite case? In the 1970s, when the industry paid Fred Stare, founder of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, to exonerate sugar in a lengthy journal supplement, “Sugar in the Diet of Man, all Mr. Stare had to do was enlist as authors some of the very influential researchers who were convinced that dietary fat was the real enemy (the conventional wisdom of the time that has now been largely overturned). No confusion needed to be sown. Their task was simply to reinforce the consensus.

“The method of science,” as the philosopher of science Karl Popper once put it, “is the method of bold conjectures and ingenious and severe attempts to refute them.” In nutrition, the conjectures (their boldness is debatable) are that obesity is caused by lack of energy balance, and so a calorie is a calorie. But they have been accepted with such faith that attempts to refute them have been anything but ingenious and severe. That the attempts have failed may speak more to the quality of the science than the validity of the conjectures. To fully understand the dangers of consuming sugar, we need experiments, in humans, that can unambiguously test these 100-year-old conjectures. No matter how time consuming or expensive these studies are.

To the sugar industry, the nutritionists’ dogmatic belief that obesity is a calorie overconsumption problem and a calorie is a calorie has been the gift that keeps on giving. So long as nutrition and obesity authorities insist that this is true, then the sugar industry can rightfully defend its product on the basis that the calories from sugar are no better nor worse than those from steak or grapefruit or ice cream — perhaps even kale or quinoa. We can’t have it both ways.

Gary Taubes is a co-founder of the Nutrition Science Initiative and the author of “The Case Against Sugar.”

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A version of this op-ed appears in print on January 15, 2017, on Page SR3 of the New York edition with the headline: Big Sugar’s Secret Ally? Nutritionists. Today’s Paper|Subscribe

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Cancer research: exercise may improve ability to cope with treatment side effects

May 8, 2015 – 9:48PM|By Julia Medew

Doctors are starting to prescribe exercise to people with cancer just like they would a drug, amid growing research it improves tolerance of treatments such as chemotherapy, and therefore improves the chance of survival.

While exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are already thought to prevent certain cancers, particularly breast and bowel, there is a growing feeling among doctors that regular vigorous activity also protects people during cancer treatment and might even prevent more cancer for them in future.

For many years, cancer patients have been advised to avoid exercise in favour of rest, particularly during treatments such as chemotherapy, but emerging studies suggest exercise improves people’s ability to cope with the side effects of treatments, which in turn boosts their capacity to take a full dose.

An anesthetist at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Hilmy Ismail, said a study at his hospital showed that a six-week exercise program for people between chemo-radiation therapy and surgery boosted their cardio-respiratory fitness and recovery from surgery.

He said over 18 months, his team performed tests on patient’s heart and lung function after chemo-radiation therapy and found that it caused a 10 to 20 per cent deterioration in their fitness.

When these patients were given a six-week exercise program tailored to their abilities, there was an average 18 per cent improvement over that time. This meant they not only recovered fitness lost during their previous cancer treatment, but many went into surgery even fitter than before their treatment began. This reduced their risk of complications from surgery, such as pneumonia, heart attack and deep vein thrombosis.

While some patients do not respond well to fitness training, Dr Ismail said most people were motivated to try it and experienced the benefits of it.

While the exact impacts of exercise on cancer is unknown, mainly because there is no industry that will fund large high quality studies, Dr Ismail said exercise delivered more oxygen to tissues in the body and may improve the function of mitochondria – energy centres in cells that seem to be damaged by cancer treatments.

“I would highly recommend that anyone with a diagnosis of cancer is proactive in seeking advice on exercise,” he said.

Professor of Exercise Science at Edith Cowan University Health and Wellness Institute in Perth, Daniel Galvao, said although it might seem difficult to exercise during cancer treatment, research showed that the more sedentary someone is, the more fatigued they become.

“The general recommendation is 150 minutes of aerobic exercise with resistance training twice a week … but even very little activity can be extremely beneficial for people and they can build it up,” he said at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ annual scientific congress this week.

“Ideally people should get an individualised program from an exercise physiologist … We don’t want people to go to the gym down the road and see a guy who has done a week-long fitness course.”

Professor Galvao said several observational studies suggested that women with breast cancer who did three to five hours of moderate intensity exercise per week, such as brisk walking, have a reduced chance of dying from their cancer.

He said exercise could also improve people’s ability to manage the side effects of hormone therapies for breast and prostate cancer that can result in an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.

“There are also psychological benefits,” he said. “People tend to say ‘I’m ready for the next bout of chemotherapy’, ‘I’m changing my body image’, ‘I’m feeling better'”.

“It’s extremely powerful.”

Julia Medew travelled to the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ annual scientific congress courtesy of the college.

The latest tech gadgets for fitness junkies

Sep 3 2015

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Athos Smart Fitness Shirt – More than mere compression apparel, each piece in the Athos range of smart workout clothing incorporates a variety of sensors that measure muscle activity,… Athos Smart Fitness Shirt – More than mere compression apparel, each piece in the Athos range of smart workout clothing incorporates a variety of sensors that measure muscle activity, heart rate and respiration. Data is accessed via a smartphone app, to help improve your form and avoid injury. Price: from US$398 from liveathos.com Read more
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POC Receptor BUG Communication – Swedish ski and snowboard equipment manufacturer POC has partnered with audio giant Beats by Dr. Dre to offer an urban sporting communication system w… POC Receptor BUG Communication – Swedish ski and snowboard equipment manufacturer POC has partnered with audio giant Beats by Dr. Dre to offer an urban sporting communication system with unparalleled audio quality. Simply connect your smartphone for complete music and phone call control. Price: $399 from pocsports.com Read more
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Zepp 3D Golf Swing Analyser – Capture a 3D model of your golf swing with this clip-on smart accessory, then analyse your form to develop training goals or just compare yourself to the… Zepp 3D Golf Swing Analyser – Capture a 3D model of your golf swing with this clip-on smart accessory, then analyse your form to develop training goals or just compare yourself to the world’s greatest athletes. The Zepp is also suitable for tennis, baseball and softball. Price: $229 from zepp.com/golf Read moreimage4
Li-Ning Smart Shoes – While they may not be the most suave pair of running shoes in your collection, these smart shoes uses a built-in Bluetooth tracker to monitor steps taken, distan… Li-Ning Smart Shoes – While they may not be the most suave pair of running shoes in your collection, these smart shoes uses a built-in Bluetooth tracker to monitor steps taken, distance travelled and calories burned. Price: from $109 from shop-lining.com Read moreimage5
hidrate Smart Water Bottle – Looking every part a science-fiction movie prop, this smart water bottle tracks your movement and activities, fitness stats and water intake, and alerts y… hidrate Smart Water Bottle – Looking every part a science-fiction movie prop, this smart water bottle tracks your movement and activities, fitness stats and water intake, and alerts you when it’s time to drink up. Drinking H2O has never been so high-tech. Price: US$46.95 from hidrateme-shop.myshopify.com  Read more
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Recon Jet HUD display – The ultimate smart glasses for fitness junkies: this gadget projects a variety of stats onto a live display, including location, pace and duration, as well as … Recon Jet HUD display – The ultimate smart glasses for fitness junkies: this gadget projects a variety of stats onto a live display, including location, pace and duration, as well as fitness data from your smartphone. Text message alerts and social media updates are also piped through, so you never again have to break your run. Price: $899 from reconinstruments.com/products/jet Read more
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Ghost Drone – As the name implies, this quadcopter drone with auto-follow capabilities and GoPro mount is perfect for those who need a set-and-forget solution to record their action. … Ghost Drone – As the name implies, this quadcopter drone with auto-follow capabilities and GoPro mount is perfect for those who need a set-and-forget solution to record their action. Simply adjust the required height and orientation through the smartphone app and let the drone follow your every move. Price: $899 from ghost-drone.com Read more
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Tag Heuer Carrera Wearable 01 – Bringing style and sophistication to digital fitness with the luxury Android smartwatch, Wearable 01. Boasting long battery life and an upgradable oper… Tag Heuer Carrera Wearable 01 – Bringing style and sophistication to digital fitness with the luxury Android smartwatch, Wearable 01. Boasting long battery life and an upgradable operating system, this smartwatch syncs with your Android phone to give you complete control of workout and training apps. Price: US$1400 from wareable.com Read more
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Connected Cycle – This is a smart bicycle pedal that records your speed, route and inclination data, which is then piped to your smartphone to give you a complete portrait of your lif… Connected Cycle – This is a smart bicycle pedal that records your speed, route and inclination data, which is then piped to your smartphone to give you a complete portrait of your life on two wheels. Self-charging and internet-ready, it also doubles as a theft alarm. Price: USD$189 from connectedcycle.com Read more
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Sensoria Smart Socks – Pressure sensors in these smart socks provide live feedback on your foot-landing technique to a smartphone in-app ‘running coach,’ helping not only prevent comm… Sensoria Smart Socks – Pressure sensors in these smart socks provide live feedback on your foot-landing technique to a smartphone in-app ‘running coach,’ helping not only prevent common running injuries, but also improve your form. Price: $349 sensoriafitness.com Read more
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Garmin Vivofit 2 Style Collection – The Style Collection for Garmin’s vívofit 2 fitness tracker is an eye-catching way to deliver fitness data and issue alerts direct to your wrist. A… Garmin Vivofit 2 Style Collection – The Style Collection for Garmin’s vívofit 2 fitness tracker is an eye-catching way to deliver fitness data and issue alerts direct to your wrist. Available in three metallic styles, this smooth device syncs all your stats to Garmin’s online portal to paint a thorough health portrait. Price: From $139 from sporteluxe.com Read more
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Montblanc TimeWalker Urban Speed e-Strap – This smart e-Strap brings a fitness edge to the world of Montblanc, pairing fine watchmaking with digital functionality. Add activity tracki… Montblanc TimeWalker Urban Speed e-Strap – This smart e-Strap brings a fitness edge to the world of Montblanc, pairing fine watchmaking with digital functionality. Add activity tracking and smart features to your TimeWalker wristwatch, like app control for Android and iOS, and location services. It’s a superb alternative to wearing a second device. Price: from $4800 (inc. watch) from montblanc.com Read more
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Beats Powerbeats2 Wireless – If you like a workout where the bass of your music pounds as loudly as your heart, these wireless in-ear headphones are for you. Designed to stay on your … Beats Powerbeats2 Wireless – If you like a workout where the bass of your music pounds as loudly as your heart, these wireless in-ear headphones are for you. Designed to stay on your ears, the Powerbeats2 are lightweight, durable, and sweat and water resistant. Price: $260 from au.beatsbydre.com Read more
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Oakley Airwave Goggle – With a built-in display presenting movement data, communications and smartphone app control, Oakley’s Airwave goggles are the cutting edge of ski technology. T… Oakley Airwave Goggle – With a built-in display presenting movement data, communications and smartphone app control, Oakley’s Airwave goggles are the cutting edge of ski technology. Track your highest jumps and fastest runs like nerve before. Price: $799 from au.oakley.com Read more
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Misfit Shine – An elegant solution for fitness tracking, the Misfit Shine scores top marks for water resistance, battery life and versatility. Worn on a watchband, necklace or clip-on… Misfit Shine – An elegant solution for fitness tracking, the Misfit Shine scores top marks for water resistance, battery life and versatility. Worn on a watchband, necklace or clip-on pendant, it performs equally well whether swimming or running outdoors. Price: $89 from misfit.com Read more