The Exercise Miracle: ‘Move It To Improve It’; Running Builds Midlife Bones; How Ketones Fuel The Brain

RLRH Newsletter: February 2, 2024

The Exercise Miracle: 'Move It To Improve It'; Running Builds Midlife Bones; How Ketones Fuel The Brain 1

Here’s the free but abridged version of the Run Long, Run Healthy newsletter. See the links below to subscribe to the full-text edition with more articles and deeper, more specific running advice. – Amby

The Exercise Miracle: 'Move It To Improve It'; Running Builds Midlife Bones; How Ketones Fuel The Brain 2

Today’s newsletter is presented by The New Hyperion Elite 4 by Brooks. Push limits, break tape, and make noise.

“Move It To Improve It”: How Exercise Makes Almost Everything Better

How long has it been since I reminded you that “Motivation is job one.” Too long, I think.

Happily, a recent New York Times article gives me good reason to return to a favorite topic.

The Times asked a group of experts why we make so many exercise “excuses” and/or erect “mental blocks” that interfere with our fitness plans. And how can we overcome these blocks to increase our workout consistency?

For beginners, says How To Change book author, Katy Milkman: Stop calling them “excuses.” That self-critical term leans too close to shame, an unhelpful burden. Instead, plan, plan, plan. Devise a complete strategy or series of action steps.

That is, always know what you’re going to do next. Forget about the excuse that’s pushing you toward not doing. Forge on to Plan B.

Also, don’t obsess about the cold, the expense, the time-crunch you’re feeling, or various aches and pains that might accompany your exercise program. With all the fitness alternatives surrounding us these days, there’s always a way to deal. Again: Be prepared.

The best advice of all came from Edward Phillips, a Harvard professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation. “If you remain sedentary, your risk of deleterious health effects is 100 percent,” Phillips said.

Now, that’s telling it like it is. Anything you do, even 5 minutes, is better than nothing at all. More at NYTimes.

Related: Last week I wrote that we needed a variation on the venerable “Use it, or lose it” phrase that’s popular among regular exercisers. “Lose it” is a negative thought that might not prove helpful to some.

With an assist from RLRH reader M Hanlon, I’ve now got a good variant. Here it is: “Move it to improve it.” It’s a maxim that would be supported by a wide range of health-fitness professionals from orthopedic surgeons to physical therapists to cardiologists to strength and marathon coaches. Last and perhaps most important–mental health counselors.

Tell your friends: “Move it to improve it.”

The Exercise Miracle: 'Move It To Improve It'; Running Builds Midlife Bones; How Ketones Fuel The Brain 3
Today’s newsletter is presented by The New Hyperion Elite 4 by Brooks. Push limits, break tape, and make noise.

🦴 Running Builds Strong Bones In Mid-Life Athletes

Running generally builds stronger bones, particularly of the lower body … except when it doesn’t. Bone fracture risk is high in teen runners, especially among females who don’t fuel sufficiently. Under-eating male adolescent runners also face higher risks.

But what about in midlife when one wants to build strong bones as a hedge against any future osteoporosis? How are those runners doing in the bone-health arena? A recent paper looked at bone mineral content and density in 212 runners (average age in the early 40s) vs 110 age-matched non runners who did not meet global recommendations for physical activity.

The reviewers analyzed the two groups in terms of “cumulative loading rate” on the bones. This cumulative load was almost twice as high in runners vs non runners. We often call this “pounding.” It can lead to some injuries, but it can also promote greater bone strength and health.

Result of the current comparison: Bone mineral content and bone mineral density of the runners was significantly higher than the non runners. That’s important because “the objective of the middle aged population is to maintain or slow the reduction in bone mineral density.” The enhanced bone health was true only in the lower body, not in the lumbar spine.

Conclusion: “We recommend running as a suitable physical activity, supplemented with other activities, such as building muscles, including the back muscles, to promote bone strength in the spine.” More at J of Sports Medicine & Physical Fitness with free full text.

⚗️ Maybe Ketones Are A Functional Brain Food – Not A Body Fuel

The Keto or ketogenic diet gained much of its early notoriety for its potential to enhance weight loss and endurance performance. The first of these has produced modest supporting evidence, but the second not so much–at least not for endurance athletes. Now the field seems to be shifting from the body to the mind.

This shouldn’t be a big surprise, as the strongest support for a keto diet comes from studies of epilepsy, a brain disease.

Researchers are currently digging into other possible links between a keto diet and our mental states. In his newsletter, Physiologically Speaking, Brady Holmer explains that ketone esters could limit brain fatigue, thus improving ultra-endurance performance in events where your mental focus is just as important as carbs-glycogen to keep you going.

A deep new report at National Public Radio quotes a number of experts in the field of psychiatric medicine. They are intrigued by the possibility that ketogenic manipulations could reduce symptoms of bipolar and depressive disease. This is a long way from hard science, but there are a number of serious trials under way.

Proponents of “functional nutrition” believe we might someday come closer to understanding how specialized diets could improve the health of individuals with specific conditions. This is a long step from carbohydrate-loading for marathon runners, but it’s an area receiving increased attention. More at NPR. 

SHORT STUFF You Don’t Want To Miss

>>> Risk-benefit ratios: Although the benefits of midlife running “always outweigh the risks,” it’s only smart to know your limits

HERE’S WHAT ELSE YOU WOULD HAVE RECEIVED this week if you were a subscriber to the complete, full-text edition of “Run Long, Run Healthy.”

# Better Breathing PROVEN To Boost Your Performance

# Should you let ChatGPT Coach You?

# Don’t Get Stuck In A Rut: Yes, You CAN Improve Your Marathon Time

# The Latest On Marijuana & Running: You Might Get “High” And Feel Groovy, But You’ll Run Slower

# Can Elliptical Training Simulate A Treadmill Workout?

# How To Run Smart In The Heat

# Sorry, Ladies: Dark Chocolate Won’t Help You Run Faster

# Double Check Your Therapy: There’s Little Evidence For Graston Technique Or Prolotherapy

# An Inspiring Hal Higdon Quote About The Joy Of Marathon Running

AND REMEMBER. I Spend HOURS Searching The Internet For The Best, Most Authoritative New Running Articles, So YOU Can Review Them In MINUTES

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading. See you again next week.

Photo of author
Amby Burfoot stands as a titan in the running world. Crowned the Boston Marathon champion in 1968, he became the first collegian to win this prestigious event and the first American to claim the title since John Kelley in 1957. As well as a stellar racing career, Amby channeled his passion for running into journalism. He joined Runner’s World magazine in 1978, rising to the position of Editor-in-Chief and then serving as its Editor-at-Large. As well as being the author of several books on running, he regularly contributes articles to the major publications, and curates his weekly Run Long, Run Healthy Newsletter.

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