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Aerobic versus Intervals – The Best kind of Exercise Revisited

For the past decade I have intermittently written about the effects of exercise on health and body composition (primarily weight loss). My own descent and resurrection from Obesity is well detailed in graphic fashion. At that time I also obtained my CPT (Personal Trainer) certificate and began what would amount to a biannual sojourn to Boca Raton and the Institute of Human Performance to visit then Guru now Guru and dear friend Juan Carlos Santana.

I have learned an awful lot from Carlos and it has spurred my continued study of Exercise Physiology, something I obtained a Masters Degree in many years ago.

Along with over a decade of medical practice and another decade in supplement design all interspersed with tons of public speaking teaching normal people and doctors, I distilled one of the most common questions I get asked about exercise into the title of this blog.

“Doc what is the best kind of exercise?!”

I must get asked that 100 times a year from all kinds of people in all kinds of places.  I often give them JC’s answer: The best exercise is the one YOU do!

While this may sound like I am running from the issue it is not. JC has captured the central conundrum of exercise- We can’t get people to do enough of it regularly! Now that is a whole ‘nother lecture so I’ll save that and give my next most common answer:

It depends.

It depends very much on what you want. So then I have to go down that garden pathway with the person and find out what level of motivation, starting fitness and health and realistically what they are likely to stick with.

No mean feat.

The answer I most commonly get is…

“Doc I want to lose this excess body fat!  But I also want to have a great body be healthy and still feel attractive. I want fat loss strength and flexibility. I want to be sexy and have a high level of endurance. I want a six pack (guys) and a nice butt (girls). I don’t want to be muscle bound but I want to have muscles. I want to get rid of this belly (guys) and the muffin top (girls).  Oh yeah and I don’t want to be tired all the time. I don’t want to spend much money or invest much time either because I am super busy with all the other stuff that I have somehow decided is far more important than my health. I still need to watch my favorite TV shows and eat out 5 times a week at least. By the way will I have to diet to get to where I want? I hope not. Can’t I just exercise 20 minutes 3x a week like it says on www.MiracleBodyInFiveMinutesADay.com ?” (Not a real link!)

In other words they want everything.

Not once has anyone ever said, “I want to do the exercise that helps me age most gracefully!” And rarely does anyone say “I want to learn to move better.”

There was this guy named Hans Seyle back in the 1930’s who coined the term adaptation as it applies to the body’s response to exercise. If you keep his principle of adaptation in mind you will understand the body becomes a mirror of the stimulus you give it. Power lifters get powerful and strong. They don’t always look that aesthetically pleasing.  Body builders get less strong significantly bigger (steroids aside) and much more aesthetically pleasing as long as they don’t go overboard. Runners tend to get scrawny in weak looking but they can go forever. And so on and so forth. Ultimately and this is just my opinion Gymnasts for men and skaters for women have the best overall aesthetically pleasing looks.

The point is you become a mirror of the kind of stimulus you give your body so chose wisely and don’t expect running to make you big by itself or power lifting to make you ultra lean by itself.

When I wrote my portion of our book “The Immortality Edge” I had had a lot of exposure to people who advocated Sprint or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).Two of the biggest pioneers were Matt Furey and Phil Campbell in that order and were among the first to fuel the fires of what would become the modern HIIT craze.

In our book we wrote that HIIT was the most efficient way to get in shape, maintain health and body weight. We also wrote about its effects on telomere length which is actually shared by Long Slow Distance (LSD).

I chose HIIT type training for the following reasons:

  1. It required only 30 min or so to get a great workout
  2. It can be done as almost zero impact in the pool
  3. It seems to be the fastest way to increase your cardiovascular fitness rapidly at least to a point.
  4. There is less of a tendency to stimulate the monstrous appetite that seems to follow really Long LSD exercise
  5. Bottom line this is a very efficient way to get in shape
  6. The contribution of EPOC Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption was supposed to be enough to add hundreds of calories to the overall calorie burn well beyond the time spent exercising. I had read some early studies that noted up to 600 calories more above and beyond whatever was burned during the exercise bout itself.

So EPOC became the buzz word for fat loss, sexy body composition and spiritual transformation and EPOC became the ‘secret’ to all good things that was defended by its faithful legion.But during my observations of how this type training affected my body I found I did not agree with the last point..  As per my usual approach of, “Gee this is pretty important since the whole premise is built on it. If I can I need to be sure that it is true or not true”, I found a simple way to do some research.

I found a device that accurately measures RMR and MR under other circumstances several years ago called Body Gem.  I initially used this device to evaluate 2 things:  The effects of exercise on me and a few willing “guinea pigs”, and the effects of what was then new, Energy X Maxx to the mix.

What I found was I did not lose weight on interval training alone.

In addition I did not have the “getting ripped effect” where body composition changed and body fat melted off me*. This was important because advocates of HIIT defended and marketed both of things like crazy.  Moreover I did not find the Effect of EPOC to be all that earth shattering.  Even with Tabata type intervals I only burned around 220 calories above resting and in me at least the level of increased metabolism lasted far less than the 24 to 36 hours that were originally touted. If you think about it in terms of weight loss and body composition you would want more calories burned than you take in and you would somehow like to shunt those calories away from muscle and into fat. Both were purported benefits of HIIT.

When I added the Energy X Maxx I was able to document on myself and several others around about 600 calories total excess burned (including the 200 from exercise) and see the effect lasting almost a full 24 hours although the level of burn fell off progressively from the time of exercise.

What I ultimately concluded was:

  1. In a well trained middle aged man trying to lose weight HIIT alone when adjusted for the progressive loss of effect over several hours probably was good for 100 calories of extra energy burned. My volunteers (all 4 of them!) had similar results.
  2. By adding a thermogenic supplement and adjusting for progressive loss of effect over time (although a 2 or 3X a day dose routine mitigated this somewhat) I could account for about 400 calories more. Again this is above and beyond the calorie burn of the HIIT session which was usually a 30 minute session with 90 to 92% heart rate for 30 second intervals repeated 8 times. That accounted for another 250 calories or so.
  3. HIIT alone was not going to help with weight loss although it was effective for weight maintenance. Adding a thermogenic definitely made weight loss easier and rather dramatic because 600 calories extra everyday for 6 weeks adds up to serious weight loss!
  4. EPOC was at least in me way overestimated even when different lengths and times of intervals were used. I started with traditional Tabata type intervals on a treadmill or stationary bike at first.
  5. To get the kind of fitness level and body I wanted I had to use more or less standard resistance training and some LSD as well. If the LSD could integrate some intervals (brutally hard to do!) it had even more benefit!
  6. Contrary to what the Gurus had written, LSD also had some EPOC, in some cases more than HIIT!

It turns out that several years after my little personal study several bona fide scientific studies were done and they showed the following.

The maximum EPOC from HIIT training was only 10% of the actual total calorie burn, was long gone after less than 6 hours, maxed out at 220 Cal which again was a spot measurement and fell of the further you went out from the actual exercise. It was long gone the same day and lasted nowhere near the purported 24 hours.

Stated another way HIIT calories come mainly from the actual bout of exercise not the EPOC- something I found to be true years earlier in my own case.

Now here is the thing. I still stand by our recommendations in the Immortality Edge because HIIT may actually work better for out of shape people to get them in shape than any other type of exercise.  It certainly works faster!  Depending on what type of HIIT you do you will get some different results. When I was doing my personal study I eventually settled on 4 minute intervals at 85% heart rate max ( and this was controlled by using a HR monitor) with anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes recovery depending on where my fitness level was.  Repeats were 6 to 8 and I did these on a Schwinn Airdyne cycle which remains my favorite low impact device.  I did my Tabata’s (30 seconds on full and 30 to 60 seconds off) with a flotation vest in deep water at the pool.

When you do the longer lower intensity intervals

It has been shown to improve your heart rate and “cardio” conditioning more than the really short super high intensity ones which develop explosive strength more.  As you go longer the contribution of aerobic (burning oxygen) metabolism goes up so this makes sense.

All HIIT had very positive benefits on metabolic parameters like insulin; blood lipids etc so from a health perspective it seems you can get the same benefits as LSD in less time.

What did I learn?

HIIT is very efficient and very useful. It is a great way to “get” in shape or get to the next level of fitness.  It has great metabolic effects. It is not, at least for me and my co-crazies, a way of losing weight or changing body composition by itself. It requires support from other forms of exercise including LSD.

So HIIT is slowly coming down off its high horse and LSD is resuming its rightful place among exercise.  This upsets a lot of people.  I can recall a Gynecologist publically ridiculing me and humiliating himself by angrily telling me I was FOS when I said we are always in the fat burning zone except when we are doing HIIT! He insisted incorrectly that you only burn fat when you hit 90% of your Heart Rate and that this was the “Fat Burning Zone”. This is what happens when people get their information from the internet and believe people who “look” credible but are themselves FOS.

HIIT burns more fat after in its EPOC phase but as we see that was way over estimated. During your HIIT session you are actually using the glycolytic (sugar burning lactate producing) pathways. The angry Gynecologist had done something I see all to commonly these days. He let an internet site or Guru make him forget his education in favor of popular public opinion. Destroying a myth is not a great way to win friends and influence people!

And what happened to all the HIIT gurus?

They are still out there quoting the old studies done with old inaccurate methodology and study design.  The courses and books touting “Get Ripped”  “Afterburn” and “Destroying the Fat Loss Dogma” are still referenced as gospel truth. The information is still quoted as factual, and their devoted legions are still angrily lashing out at me.  I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if I get some comments on this blog that way even though I have had very positive things to say about HIIT.

In the meantime I still stand by my original answer to the question, “Doc what is the best form of exercise?”

It depends.

 

All the Best,

Dr Dave

 

*There are several well known videos and highly respected trainers who have shown wonderful transformations in their athletes by adding HIIT training and decreasing other forms of training during this time. Tabata the Japanese speed skating coach had great results with his speed skaters in competition and noted remarkable increases in their aerobic capacity. Here’s the thing. These people were all Olympic level athletes. They were already at a super human level of fitness and probably needed one tweak to their training to change their outcomes. That tweak was the metabolic boost given by HIIT but it was contingent on a couple of things: They were quite YOUNG like under 30. They were already in tremendous shape and could tolerate maximal or even “supra” maximal stimulus without whining or getting injured. Their training environment and nutrition were strictly controlled and they did not do other things like try to earn a living. And I guarantee you they did a ton of other stuff besides just HIIT, including some LSD and weight training.

When these principles were applied to even the average active young person the results were less stellar. In the middle aged about to get sick group, you know the 50 something fat  metabolic early diabetic men, the calorie burns were flat out disappointing even though they were at 85% max heart rate. They stayed kinda fat middle aged and frumpy!  But, they got healthier in a big way quick. In other words it not only depends on what YOU want but WHERE you are starting from and how far you can actually go!

 

References:

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What Kind of Exercise is Best for Telomere Health?

telomeres photoThere has been a lot of focus on “Long slow distance” (LSD) exercise and telomere health.  I have oft quoted the “German Runners Study” which was actually a paper presentation and not a fully published work at the time that it got so much press.  That study showed that men who ran at high levels (50 miles a week) had telomere length comparable to 25-year-olds.  It did not, however, address what other exercises they were doing, their supplementation habits, their family genetics and their overall lifestyles. More importantly it did not look at what their actual favorite distance was. If you run everyday, 50 miles a week boils down to about 6.7 miles a day.  Five days a week and you are at 10 miles a run.  These are not marathons, nor are they marathon training distances in most cases. Yet every marathon blog on the planet was saying “SEE! Marathons can make you live longer!” In point of fact, serious long term high level marathon training doesn’t even start until you hit about 70 miles a week and there is an association with cardiac dilatation, valvular dysfunction and potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias, probably causing some of the famous “runners deaths” we read about from time to time. By the way, this is also seen in endurance cycling. I remind you, I have run ultra-marathons, which are often 3x marathon distance, but I have not done that my whole life and currently limit myself to 6 miles a run, maximum.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, telomere length and weight training have not been adequately evaluated with a large well controlled study. There is, however, data on grip strength, leg strength and overall power generation and longevity, all of which suggests you need some muscle and especially power (max force x min time = max power) to live long.

ta-65-and-bonus_256

Additionally, there is a published study showing the benefits of “interval style” training for telomerase activation and telomere health.

For most people I still like this for getting in shape. In my practice, the LSD preselects out “people who can take it” because the only ones left standing are those with the genetics (and joints!) to tolerate the LSD. In addition, two other things to consider: 1) People will want to generalize this to “fit” their sport. I guarantee you this will wind up on marathon blogs as proof of the “healthiness” of running marathons or some other thing. It will also wind up on gym blogs as proof that “exercise is good for longevity and come buy a membership to our gym!” This study was about cross country skiing and while it was endurance, it is a very different exercise than long distance running. Remember as you get out your Dr Dave Voodoo dolls that I am an ultra-runner and am telling you I do not think it is healthy for most! This is one reason I take high dose TA-65! 2) The study does not address causality and we have no way of knowing that the long distance skiers do not do a lot of other healthy things that essentially preselect for longer telomeres and a better healthspan.  Finally, the fastest way to improve your cardiac fitness and VO2 max is interval-style training. This will help any LSD work you do if you do that because, contrary to popular belief, LSD does not raise VO2 max much at all! I run ultras because I like what it does for my brain and I enjoy the solitude of moving through miles of territory most people avoid – not because it is good for my telomeres!  Take your fish oil, Take TA-65 if you can and have a rigorous regular exercise routine that includes mobility, strength and endurance. And keep your eyes open for my two books that should come out towards the end of this year.

Thanks to Andy Newman for asking this question!

I’ve also written extensively on lengthening your telomeres with your food choices as well as natural telomerase activators outside of just exercise. Remember good health takes a broad spectrum of attention, don’t just focus on lengthing your telomeres with exercise, get the complete picture.

Doc

http://www.worldhealth.net/news/longer-telomeres-long-term-endurance-exercise/

P.S. – I have addressed this question before to Mr. S Kumar who was kind enough to read it and change his evaluation of my book on Amazon based on this reply.

Hi, thanks for your comment and concerns. Let me say up front that I highly doubt you are going to change your recommendation no matter what I say but there is justification and a citation below for interval training. I can find none for marathon running and telomere length but welcome the citation if you have it.

I think we have to be careful about too much interpretation of the data on some of these studies. For instance, if you read the most quoted “German Runners Study” you will find most of the elderly (51 is elderly!?) runners were not marathon runners specifically. This has been reported differently on web sites and blogs to include marathoners, half-marathoners, triathletes and even used to justify weight training. They were in fact a mixed group of athletes who ran an average of 50 miles a week for the bulk of their adult lives but many were not marathoners. As a matter of fact, the word “marathon” is not mentioned in the study at all. In addition, there is a difference between WBC telomere length and skeletal muscle telomere length and the results are often opposite. (See Below)
I have included some references and posts below that may point you to a different conclusion or to at least be open to other options.
If you are looking for a randomized, double-blinded, double dummy, placebo, gold standard, you will not find it for any exercise or diet or meditation in humans.
Also, one needs to be careful about studies that use only TRAP assays for telomerase as a surrogate for lengthening telomeres, as this is not always the case.
Thus, when one writes a book on cutting edge topics, sometimes one has to interpret based on their own experiences and findings. Or we could simply have waited another 25 years to write the book, but even then much of this will remain unproven in the randomized, double-blinded, double dummy, placebo, gold standard sense, since those studies are extremely expensive and unaffordable for anyone but drug companies who do not stand to gain from the answers to the above questions.
The logic behind choosing interval training for much of the programs in the book is based on the following AND the information included below.
1) VO2 max can be trained up fast with interval training and this (V02 max) correlates with mean telomere length. You may be familiar with the study where experienced interval-trained individuals who were non-runners trained for 12 weeks for a 10K distance and outperformed people who had been running 10K’s for a long time. Exclusively training distance, as so many runners do, is not the best way to achieve total cardiovascular fitness. Also, if done properly, interval training can be done at high intensity with low trauma (deep water pool sprints) allowing even injured people to do it.
2) This was a book for ‘everyman and everywoman’, not specifically athletes or runners. This means the program had to be doable for the average person in terms of time commitment and results. Giving the average non-runner a running program did not fit the goals of the book. Nor would it achieve the results people are looking for, including us.
3) Go to any running club and you will find a large volume of chronically injured runners there. I am a sometime marathoner and ultra-marathoner as well, and my experiences have taught me this is not the healthiest thing to do from a musculoskeletal standpoint.

Again, see #1 with regards to injury.
4) There is a study below on interval training but I could not find any on marathon runners except with regards to shorter telomere lengths and overtraining syndromes.
5) I am an Internist/anti-aging doc and, while I am not a basic science researcher, I have checked telomere lengths in my athletic clients in the past and I have found the MTL to be longer in general in the cross trained individuals than people who just run. Again, this is not a RDBC study by any means but a clinical impression which should be worth something to a reader.
6) Now that the Life Length assay is available, we have a much better tool to assess these findings but don’t hold your breath for any of the above studies to be repeated any time soon. Again, funding is everything in science.
I think in terms of bang for buck, time wise and damage wise, interval training is a great place to start for most people since the oxidative stress is far less even though the intensity is far higher.
It is important to actually read studies and not just abstracts, blogs, online/newspaper articles because they often get the facts wrong. Since the “german runners study” I have seen that very article used to justify all different forms of exercise from yoga to Pilates to dancercise, etc. That is clearly not what it says. In addition, that article did not control for the most important confounding variables such as what else do people who run 50 miles a week do for their health/telomeres that sedentary people do not do – sleep, other training, supplements, maintaining body weight, etc. As such it is an observational study and does not establish causality. Then again, very few studies do on this or any other topic – so again, clinical acumen/experience is the surrogate.
I would love to see more research done here and if you have 5 million dollars to donate I will see it gets put to good use and answers these questions definitively!

Finally, let me say that for a good deal of the last 10 years I have run long and ultra-long distances. No one would be happier if long distance running were the ultimate telomere life preserver. But at this moment we can’t say that unless you know of studies I do not. I remain open to be educated.

Best,

Dr Dave

References:

May 28, 2010
Bursts of Vigorous Activity Appear to Be a ‘Stress-Buffer’
FRIDAY, May 28 (HealthDay News) — Short bouts of vigorous exercise (interval training) can go a long way to reduce the impact stress has on cell aging, new research reveals.
Vigorous physical activity amounting to as little as 14 minutes daily, three day per week would suffice for the protective effect to kick in, according to findings published online in the May 26 issue of PLoS ONE.
The apparent benefit reflects exercise’s effect on the length of tiny pieces of DNA known as telomeres. These telomeres operate, in effect, like molecular shoelace tips that hold everything together to keep genes and chromosomes stable.
Researchers believe that telomeres tend to shorten over time in reaction to stress, leading to a rising risk for heart disease, diabetes and even death. However, exercise, it seems, might slow down or even halt this shortening process.
“Telomere length is increasingly considered a biological marker of the accumulated wear-and-tear of living, integrating genetic influences, lifestyle behaviors and stress,” study co-author Elissa Epel, an associate professor in the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) department of psychiatry, said in a news release. “Even a moderate amount of vigorous exercise appears to provide a critical amount of protection for the telomeres.”
Appreciation for how telomeres function and how stress might affect their length stems from previous Nobel-prize winning work conducted by UCSF researchers. Prior studies have also suggested that exercise is in some way associated with longer telomere length.
The current effort, however, is the first to identify exercise as a potential “stress-buffer” that can actually stop telomeres from shortening in the first place.
The team found that those women who were experiencing high levels of stress but were deemed “active” did not have shorter telomeres, whereas similarly stressed participants deemed “inactive” did.
Going forward, the study authors said that more research incorporating larger patient samples need to be conducted to confirm the findings and arrive at definitive recommendations for how much exercise might be needed to derive such cellular protection.
Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010 May;109(2):323-30. Epub 2010 Jan 26.
Skeletal muscle telomere length in healthy, experienced, endurance runners.
Rae DE, Vignaud A, Butler-Browne GS, Thornell LE, Sinclair-Smith C, Derman EW, Lambert MI, Collins M.
Source
UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa. [email protected]
Abstract
Measuring the DNA telomere length of skeletal muscle in experienced endurance runners may contribute to our understanding of the effects of chronic exposure to endurance exercise on skeletal muscle. This study compared the minimum terminal restriction fragment (TRF) length in the vastus lateralis muscle of 18 experienced endurance runners (mean age: 42 +/- 7 years) to those of 19 sedentary individuals (mean age: 39 +/- 10 years). The runners had covered almost 50,000 km in training and racing over 15 years. Minimum TRF lengths measured in the muscle of both groups were similar (P = 0.805) and within the normal range. Minimum TRF length in the runners, however, was inversely related to their years spent running(r = -0.63, P = 0.007) and hours spent training (r = -0.52, P = 0.035). Therefore, since exposure to endurance running may influence minimum TRFlength, and by implication, the proliferative potential of the satellite cells, chronic endurance running may be seen as a stressor to skeletal muscle.

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003 Sep;35(9):1524-8.
Athletes with exercise-associated fatigue have abnormally short muscle DNA telomeres.
Collins M, Renault V, Grobler LA, St Clair Gibson A, Lambert MI, Wayne Derman E, Butler-Browne GS, Noakes TD, Mouly V.
Source
Department of Human Biology, University of Cape Town, South Africa. [email protected]
Abstract
INTRODUCTION/PURPOSE:
Although the beneficial health effects of regular moderate exercise are well established, there is substantial evidence that the heavy training and racing carried out by endurance athletes can cause skeletal muscle damage. This damage is repaired by satellite cells that can undergo a finite number of cell divisions. In this study, we have compared a marker of skeletal muscle regeneration of athletes with exercise-associated chronic fatigue, a condition labeled the “fatigued athlete myopathic syndrome” (FAMS), with healthy asymptomatic age- and mileage-matched control endurance athletes.
METHODS:
Muscle biopsies of the vastus lateralis were obtained from 13 patients diagnosed with FAMS and from 13 healthy control subjects. DNA was extracted from the muscle samples and their telomeric restriction fragment (TRF) or telomere lengths were measured by Southern blot analysis.
RESULTS:
All 13 symptomatic athletes reported a progressive decline in athletic performance, decreased ability to tolerate high mileage training, and excessive muscular fatigue during exercise. The minimum value of TRF lengths (4.0 +/- 1.8 kb) measured on the DNA from vastus lateralis biopsies from these athletes were significantly shorter than those from 13 age- and mileage-matched control athletes (5.4 +/- 0.6 kb, P < 0.05). Three of the FAMS patients had extremely short telomeres (1.0 +/- 0.3 kb). The minimum TRF lengths of the remaining 10 symptomatic athletes (4.9 +/- 0.5 kb, P < 0.05) were also significantly shorter that those of the control athletes.
ANOTHER REPORT
“These findings suggest that skeletal muscle from symptomatic athletes show extensive regeneration which most probably results from more frequent bouts of satellite cell proliferation in response to recurrent training- and racing-induced muscle injury.
The vast majority of research on exercise and telomeres points towards cardiovascular exercise as the key component needed to protect telomeres. It is clear moderate intensity aerobic exercise should be a component of training for telomere health. However, other studies have shown that chronic stress coming from excessive exercise or excessive stress may be the major cause of telomere dysfunction. This may be an issue when you consider chronic exercise such as marathon training, which raises cortisol without the benefit of growth promoting hormones. A brand new study in the journal Hormones (volume 8 #1) has shown that a relative excess of cortisol and insulin compared to the anabolic hormones HGH and testosterone plays a key role in telomere damage.
Shorter more intense exercise does a better job at balancing this hormonal equation, and therefore it may have a central role to play. Researchers studying this issue have also noted shortened telomere length in exercisers and athletes suffering from exercise related fatigue and in long-term competitive endurance runners. The May 2010 issue of the European Journal of Applied physiology showed endurance runners compared to healthy sedentary individuals have telomere lengths inversely proportional to the amount of running they did. In other words, the more mileage they accumulated over the years, the shorter their telomeres. It is interesting to note, even with all the exercise they did, their telomeres were not significantly longer than the sedentary non-exercisers.
This same issue was looked at in a group of competitive power lifters. In the January 2008 issue of Sports and Medicine in Science and Exercise long-term weight lifters were compared to a group of healthy active individual who were not weight lifters. There was no detriment seen in the weight lifting group in terms of telomere length, but they too had no significant advantage over the healthy active controls. However, the vast majority of other studies show exercise does provide an advantage. So what do we make of these results and studies? Exercise is protective to telomeres but excessive exercise may actually be a detriment.”

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Does being a fitness fanatic make you live longer?

Spin Cycle ClassI will use the standard marketing style — “Yes, but it’s not what you think!” In order to effectively answer your question, I think we’d need to define fanatic and that of course is subject to interpretation.  The obituaries are peppered with athletic superstars dying before their age.  Grete Waitz died at 57 of cancer. Jim Fixx died young of heart disease. Micah True, the legendary trail ultra-runner and one of my personal heroes, died in his 50’s with ‘idiopathic left ventricular dilatation’ (a pathologically enlarged heart).  But, it is not just long distance runners.  Vasily Alexeev, the Russian super star weight lifter, died of heart disease at 69.  What people seem not to want to talk about is that, especially endurance athletes, develop dilated cardiomyopathy that predisposes to potentially deadly irregular heartbeats. While I was always loathe to believe that these were nothing more than coincidence, I no longer feel that way, now that I have spoken to several sports medicine docs. I think that very high level endurance athletes in particular, are at risk for this compensatory dilatation that predisposes them to potentially deadly arrhythmias. No one knows for sure though, if they had genetic predispositions, as well to irregular heartbeats or heart disease.  In the case of Jim Fixx, who died of garden variety blocked arteries in his late 50’s, we do know his father died at age 43 of pretty much the same thing. So, you could make the argument that running added 15 years to his life, if you wanted.

So, bottom line: “fanatic exercise” is probably not conducive to any survival advantage and probably the opposite.

But, there is stronger evidence that moderate to intense exercise, short of fanaticism, is actually good for you. If one uses telomere measurement as a biomarker for life span, which is getting to be more and more obvious, even to the most hard core nay sayers, there are some interesting studies.

The first is the “German runner’s study” where middle aged (the study, in a throwback to days gone by, said “elderly”, but the average age was 51!) chronic runners who did about 50 miles a week for most of their adult lives, had similar telomere lengths to young sedentary (25 year olds), non-athletes and young athletes training at a similar level. This has been used by just about everyone with an exercise agenda, to justify that agenda.  In particular, marathon people love to call them marathon runners, but the study does not even use the word marathon and most marathoners would agree 50 miles/week is pretty low level for a serious marathoner. Triathletes call the German runners triathletes, yoga aficionados say it proves yoga is good for you, and on and on. But that is not what the study said. It says that long term, vigorous activity, in this case 50 miles a week of running, is a telomere preserver. What is not clear is what else these runners did in terms of training. Supplements, hormones, eating, sleeping, etc., etc.  It’s common enough to see fit people doing a lot of other things conducive to fitness that are not measured. So basically, when you find a group of people who’ve dedicated themselves to fitness, for that length of time, there is a ton of other stuff they are doing to stay healthy that you are not measuring, making it harder to say “hey, it’s the running that did it”.

On the interval training side of the fence, Elissa Epel released a study that suggested interval type training was really beneficial and associated with longer telomeres. A few problems with that study: the participants averaged 63 years of age, were osteoporotic and self-evaluated their exercise intensity. Nevertheless, there was a clear cut non-chance association with longer telomeres.

Finally, the best ones, in my book, is the “Danish Twin Studies”  Mech Ageing Dev. 2011 Nov-Dec;132(11-12):568-72. Leukocyte telomere length and physical ability among Danish twins age 70+.

Bendix L, Gade MM, Staun PW, Kimura M, Jeune B, Hjelmborg JV, Aviv A, Christensen K.

And

Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Apr 1;167(7):799-806. Epub 2008 Feb 12.

Telomere length and mortality: a study of leukocytes in elderly Danish twins.

Kimura M, Hjelmborg JV, Gardner JP, Bathum L, Brimacombe M, Lu X, Christiansen L, Vaupel JW, Aviv A, Christensen K.

Source

Center of Human Development and Aging, New Jersey Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, NJ 07103, USA.

The first study looked at both fraternal twins, who are not genetically identical and monozygotic (identical) twins, where genetic variation is not a factor and at least early age environmental issues (basically epigenetics), were the same. They found the fitter member of the pairs had significantly longer telomeres.  The next study correlated telomere length with mortality, in a similar population. They found the twin with the longer telomeres was longer lived and the more the difference between the two, the more predictive telomere length and life/death were.

I wish the same group would have done both studies and in all of the above studies there are measurement issues. I wish they would redo everything with the Life Length assay, which would be far more accurate and instructive.

So, there is data.  It is just not as strong as we’d like it to be. In our book The Immortality Edge, we recommend interval training in a non-joint damaging way, as the best for people who are just beginning to exercise. For the rest of us, moderation in training load that does not overload the body’s oxidative defenses and does not damage the joints, appears best. Note this does not exclude high intensity exercise. It just puts it in the context of overall training load. We did not discuss the signs and symptoms of overtraining in the book, but you can find them anywhere on the internet. If you want to go hard, find the level where you start to become over trained and back off. As your training tolerance builds, you can push again, looking for the same parameters. If you hit a plateau and can get no more fit than you are at that point, reassess your training methods and programs. It’s rare that an uncoached athlete comes close to their genetic potential, which would be the other reason you plateau.

Personally, I do my highest intensity work in the deep water with a vest – I no longer sprint at the track. I also use an Airdyne and a Versa Climber, both of which are very low or no impact.  As far as strength, I favor body weight stuff and my good friend Eddie Baran is the guy you want to see for that:   http://gymnasticabs.com/

Best,

Dr Dave

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Spring training

Since I train year round, I cannot help but notice the huge increase in people on “my” trails and “my” equipment, at the gym.  I have been spoiled by having them all to myself. While it’s been 5 years since I wrote “Six Weeks to Super Fitness” and 2 years since our last fitness boot camp, the questions never cease to come in.

Lots of people want to know what the best way to get in shape fast is. The danger in answering that lies in the question: what do you mean by getting in shape?

I am going to assume you want some combination of improved leanness and muscle mass, with more energy and more ability to move through life, doing what you want to do.  I am also going to assume you want to improve your health in the process.  In truth, “in shape” for most people, means losing weight, particularly, in the form of body fat.

So what is “best”?

In terms of aesthetics, I think the gymnast’s body says it all and that body is gotten primarily by moving body weight through land, sea and air in just about every angle possible.  Body weight exercises are also easy to do on the road and unless you are on the rings or bars, they tend to be safer than trying to move weights at odd angles, in weird directions.  A great modern variation on the theme, that integrates weights as well, is Cross Fit. A 6 to 8 week course, coupled with improved diet, will do wonders.

This is great circuit training, but there are a lot of people who would not hold up to that kind of stress. Not doing an exercise is the best way to not get in shape!

So, here is a milder alternative.  Walking. Walking, particularly up hills and really, particularly with a weighted pack, or vest, or belt, up hills, is a great low impact way to get cardio and burn calories. Couple that with deep water sprints and water bell resistance exercises and you’ve got something most people can do without harm.

So, climb, my friend! Up a tree, a bar, or a rope if you are up to it.  If not, a hill will do!  And into a pool, for the stuff that would be too high impact on the land.

Doc

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Another Take: Can exercise really help you live longer?

Just a few short weeks ago our host Greta Blackburn held one of her fabulous FITCAMP events in Cancun, Mexico.  If you missed it, you missed a great one!

At that event several presenters, including top Scientist Bill Andrews — co-discoverer of the HTERT gene and leading scientist at Sierra Sciences LLC — and top trainer Phil Campbell (whose book  “Ready Set Go Synergy Fitness” revolutionized the field of high intensity interval training over a decade ago) both gave phenomenal presentations on the how’s and why’s of everything from sprint training to ultra-running.

A recurring theme emerged: exercise is not only good for you in terms of how you look and how you feel but it also is good for longevity, especially for telomere length.

Remember the telomeres are those biological time clocks AND health clocks that live at the end of your chromosomes.  Every time your cells divide to make a new set of cells the time clock ticks and your absolute life span gets shorter.

But a study in well-conditioned German middle distance runners whose average age was about 45 showed you can indeed slow down those time clocks with exercise.

Researchers found that at age 25 most everyone had a free pass which equated to long telomeres although there were some outliers who had already started to age faster probably from too much partying!

But in the folks who did not exercise at all the telomere length shortened dramatically over the next 2 decades.  In the runners, however, there was almost no distinguishable difference between telomere length at 25 and at 45.

Now a couple of things are important here.  These runners were high level former collegiate athletes in most cases.  They had been running steadily for 2 decades and were putting in over 40 miles a week.  That is lot of miles for most people.

Also most high level runners don’t just run they strength train and do interval training programs similar to Phil Campbell’s Sprint 8 as their speed work.

So what is it about this kind of training that helps keep telomeres long?

Well most like it has to do with the body’s ability to handle oxidative stress.  Runners tend to develop the mechanisms needed to handle the increased oxidative load of exercise to a high degree.

Even ultra-runners whose oxidative stress levels go through the roof in the first 24 hours after a long race return to baseline soon after.

We Telonauts are convinced that the best exercise is one that develops the ability to handle free radical oxidative stress without actually putting all that much long term oxidative stress on the body.  That is why we favor Phil Campbell’s Sprint 8 programs as detailed in his book  “Ready Set Go Synergy Fitness” as well as our book “The Immortality Edge” which is coming out in January 2011.

Using these programs you can really crank up you oxidative capacity (as measured by VO2 max and lactate threshold for you exercise buffs) without having a lot of damaging stuff hanging around for days on end.

Another study done in Canada showed you could reverse years of exercise neglect with just a year of high intensity training for a total of 9 hours a week and reverse the age related decline in your functional lung capacity by up to twelve years.

Here’s a quick note on weight lifting. We think strength training is absolutely essential for balanced physical being.  There is only one tiny study in weight lifters specifically power lifters.  In this group the average telomere length and the shortest telomere lengths both were longer than in non-weight trained individuals suggesting at the very least that weight lifting may be good for your telomeres as well.

So what should you do?

Train hard and fast at least some of the time and take those anti-oxidants, specifically fish oil, co Q 10, Carnosine, Vitamin D and a good multivite to keep those free radicals at bay.

Odds are you’ll live a longer and healthier life because of it. And make sure you get a copy of Phil Campbell’s great book “Ready Set Go Synergy Fitness” and watch for our book “The Immortality Edge” coming soon.

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Thiago Silva destroys Brandon Vera

MMA Fighters at IHP

MMA Fighters at IHP

Dr Dave routinely trains at IHP in Boca Raton. Doc is a healer and not a fighter but he loves J.C. Santana’s unbeatable fitness programs. If it’s good enough to keep the MMA fighters winning, it’s got to be functional and sure to keep us going well into our old age. Dr Dave wishes to congratulate JC Santana and all the fighters he trains, especially Thiago Silva for his recent victory over tough Brandon Vera. Note the “Snowman” Jeff Monson in the background. Winners train at IHP! Don’t let “combat training” scare you. IHP trains everyone to be their best from ages 9 to 90!

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Growth Hormone – To Be or Not To Be

Every now and then I get a question about Growth Hormone (HGH).

Health conscious people want to know if it makes them sick or healthy, does it cause cancer, does it burn fat, is it worth the price, etc, etc. And recently, does it make you live longer.

I have a lot of clinical experience with HGH being an anti-aging doc, but I do not prescribe it any longer because of the FDA and the government regulations. You can no longer give it legally without extensive testing, which is not covered by insurance and is dangerous to the patient.

Instead I designed a safe and relatively inexpensive (compared to HGH) secretagogue to help your body naturally make its own HGH and give you the benefits.

So what is the deal with HGH?

First, let me tell you there are thousands of people still using it that would not fit into the “legal” category. This includes athletes and Hollywood types. Money talks and they get around it.

It IS a fat burning compound. It IS an energizer. It does help with lean body mass and athletic recovery. It IS NOT a steroid but the government still classifies it as one.

It does have side effects if it is used improperly such as swelling, carpal tunnel syndrome and high blood sugars.

These are managed by using the right dose and maintaining a low glycemic index diet which you should be doing anyway. The Paleo diet handles all this sugar stuff nicely!

A lot of people do not realize that head trauma often leads to a long term decrease in growth hormone so many sports people and accident victims alike are running around with low HGH levels as a result of taking a rap on the head at some point in the past.

Aging of course decreases it too, as does lack of sleep and lack of exercise. High intensity interval training is a great way to boost it if you are under 50.

Again, if you are in your 40’s or 50’s, the exercise response starts to go way down and this is one reason why you don’t get the results you want in the gym. Here again, my safe and effective secretagogue, Hercules Factor. can be a great help.

Finally, does HGH make you live longer and does it cause cancer?

Certain cancers cause the over expression of a thing called IGF-1 which is the end chemical in the HGH pathway; basically how HGH works. This has led people to say HGH causes cancer. I think they are missing the point that IGF-1 is actually expressed by the cancer not because the brain is making too much HGH. As a matter of fact, cancer is a disease primarily of older age (and short telomeres!) when most people are making less.

Any cancer study related to HGH use comes from the days of cadaver HGH not recombinant like we have had for over a decade. In addition there is no way to ferret out if the people (dwarfs) who got cancer got it because of the HGH use.

In institutions where HGH use is frequent there is not evidence of increased cancer either.

But the controversy is still out there and will remain for decades.

Does it make you live longer? Well maintaining hormonal balance does seem to improve function and make people “behave” like they are younger but like anything else today there is no study on longevity. We do know that people who have naturally higher HGH levels live longer (probably because they have longer telomeres, the biologic time clocks in the body) but we don’t know what happens to people who inject.

If you want to avoid all the controversies there is a simple solution: help your body make it naturally without expensive, painful, illegal and dangerous shots.

That is the sole reason I made Hercules Factor when I stopped prescribing HGH. I needed something to give to my friends, family and patients who wanted to keep their HGH levels up!

Do it naturally.

To ask questions or find out more about Dr. Dave’s physician-developed,
pharmaceutical-grade health and anti-aging solutions,
just contact Dr. Dave at:

GENERAL INQUIRY E-MAIL: [email protected]

FREQUENCY PLAN INQUIRY E-MAIL: [email protected]

MAILING ADDRESS:
DR. DAVE’S BEST
C/O CENTERFORCE IND., INC.
1050D MAIDENCREEK ROAD
FLEETWOOD, PA 19522

PHONE: TOLL FREE(USA & CANADA) 866-654-7670
(610) 880-0075 (CALLS FROM OUTSIDE THE US OR CANADA)

FAX: (610) 916-3931

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Andre’s routine – level 1

I get a lot of requests for “free workout advice”. Since I write so much in my newsletters I wasn’t sure what people meant. They apparently meant “a routine”. Well I have lots of those so I hope you enjoy this one. You asked, you get!

My current weight loss project is a young man named Andre who has been doing what I tell him now for about 2 months. He takes fish oil and protein powder and we are slowly getting him to be more “Paleo” on his diet. So far he has lost about 22 pounds.

Here is one of his Level 1 routines. He is a young man with only a few orthopedic issues so we can do a lot of fun stuff.

If you are out of shape, older or have joint issues use a little creativity and modify these routines.

Always do this workout on a soft surface.

Start with The Matrix from JC Santana (bend and reach one leg forward at a time in 8 directions as if you were picking up something from off the ground, 8 reps in each direction with each leg – ultimately can be done with light weights). As you get better, start adding speed.

Note: our product, Fabulous Fat Loss for Everyone, contains one of JC’s master work DVD’s as well as one of his Superbands to help you do the right kinds of exercises the right way!

Eight one quarter mile “laps” at a track or even around your place of work. I measure out the distance using an inexpensive roller with a “how many feet meter” on it. A GPS will work fine as well.

Do speed running (don’t try sprinting until you’ve done at least 6 of these workouts) for one quarter of your lap distance and then backwards, side to side and carioca for 20 to 30 steps each until you have covered the same distance in reverse. Then walk back to where you started your backwards running and either jog or walk as briskly as you can.

If you are not in running shape, then just walk at the best speed you can. As author and friend Phil Campbell says, “The goal is to get breathless for about 30 seconds and then recover.”

On the 3rd lap, add in 20 step bear crawls. – next lap alligator crawls – next lap high knees (all 20 steps up the short part of the hill).

Bear crawls are done like this: Get on your hands and knees. Next, bring your butt up in the air, unbending your knees about half way. Now start moving. The closer you can keep your knees to the ground the faster you can move but the harder it is.

Alligator walks are done as follows: Lay flat on your belly. Now raise up on your forearms and shins for support. Move the opposite hand and leg and slither along for 20 to 30 yards, more if you are in great shape. Again, speed increases the difficulty.

Always do these exercises on a soft surface and if you can’t get down into position, substitute a plank (think of a well centered pushup that stays in the up position) for 30 to 120 seconds.

On the 6th lap, pause at the top and stretch the hips, groin, hamstrings and quads.

After 8 laps completed, do metabolic chest with the JC Predator or the Superband, included in Fabulous Fat Loss for Everyone. Start with pink bands (2 inserted, one removed) attached to a railing.

20 regular pushups.

20 band punches, each side.

10 to 20 flies, full range of motion, at 10th (or 5th) rep switch leg forward.

Then 10 to 20 explosive pushups.

Again, if you have to modify your pushups, do so by inclining them, not by doing them from the knees. If you are really weak in the chest you can simply lean against the wall for starters and do your pushups that way.

That is it for today and if you like this, let me know and I will post some more of Andre’s workouts as free info. But only if I hear from YOU!!!

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Saturday Special Event 18% Off Sale

Dr. Dave’s Best 36 Hour 18% Off Sale
Offer expires Sunday, August 1, 2010 at 12:00 Noon EST
By the time you read this there is a very good chance that I will be somewhere in the midst of an almost 80 mile run through the Canadian Rockies called aptly “The Canadian Death Race”
 
Billed as North America’s toughest race this run has humbled more than a few people in the past including me although I did mange to finish it in 2008.
 
In the past we created a complicated donation structure rewarding people according to how much they donated.
 
This got very cumbersome and left some people who did not want to donate out in the cold.
 
So this year I am doing it differently and much simpler
 
I am simply having a 36 hours 18% off everything we make sale event. ( Note this does not include products made by other people or companies and sold on our site!)
 
When it’s done I will donate as much as I can from the proceeds to our charity http://www.theraceagainstdeath.org/ and then from there onto the IM ABLE foundation.
 
So it’s up to you to help me.
 
I am out there putting this body heart and soul on the lien to raise awareness of a couple of things:
1)  Anyone can help and make a difference
 
2) Keeping people moving even disabled kids and others is very worthwhile and impacts their life in a hugely positive way
 
3) At over 50 years of age I do not consider myself old.  As a matter of fact because of what I make and do for myself and you, we are both growing younger.  I am out to prove it and help people in the process. In other words I am putting my money where my mouth is in a big way! Lets see the other docs on the internet try this!!!
 
When you buy something on sale in the next 36 hours (Sale ends Sunday August 1 at 12 noon EST) a portion of the proceeds will go to the above charity.
 
I am willing to stand up for what I believe and help people.  Please help me do that and help yourself to some huge savings in the process.  I will make sure I get a pic of me giving a check to the IM ABLE folks so you know your donation got where it’s supposed to.
 
I am not trying to save the world just make it younger and healthier.  Please help and stock up on what you need!
 
Doc
 
PS some things will be out of stock before the sale ends so its first come first served and if we get too low on stock I reserve the right to end the sale early although its going to be pretty hard from a mountain top in Western Canada!

Click here for Dr. Dave’s Best 36 Hour 18% Off Sale
Offer expires Sunday, August 1, 2010 at 12:00 Noon EST
Note this does not include products made by other people or companies and sold on our site

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How To Increase Your Calorie Burn By Twenty Percent

A few months ago I took a little run through the Canadian Rockies. I ran 78 miles to be exact and when I crossed the finish line of this race known as the Canadian Death Race (because if you finish you probably cheated death) I had achieved something that only 35% of the people who started as solo runners did.

I finished the race!

Now there were many factors in this. As a matter of fact, I am in the process of writing a book about the experience but I can distill it down to a few biggies.

And it’s one of those biggies I want to tell you about now.

Trekking poles.

After attempting to come down one of the mountain sides in practice I realized there is no way my quads and my legs are going to survive such a race. Enter “Dr. Death” also known as Dale, the originator of the Death Race. After a 5 minute session on trekking pole use, I was set and I found them to be one of the major keys to completing such a long, hard race over such difficult terrain.

They especially helped me literally fly down the mountain sides without breaking my neck. This helped make up for my less than stellar speed on the climbing side of things.

So when I got back from the Death Race I decided that just about any run on any trail I would take would see my trusty trekking poles by my side.

Thus when I showed up at some shorter races in my local area I got a bunch of funny looks and a few comments about “the dude with the ski poles”.

Most had never even seen them let alone seen anyone using them.

What my running friends didn’t know is that trekking polls stand poised to be “the next big thing” along with band training in the fitness industry.

And with good reason, they help you burn more fat.

I could go on and on about why I use trekking poles for my trail runs, but the main reason I want to bring them to your attention is that recent studies in the Journal of Strength Conditioning Research have shown that they increase the calorie burn without increasing the perceived exertion of the exercise.

So whether you walk or run, you burn more calories and you don’t feel more tired.

It has been estimated that you actually burn about 20% more calories using the poles because they engage your upper body and core.

So if you are looking for a way to improve your walking/running efficiency in terms of calorie burning this is a great way to do it.

And if like me you live in areas of ice and snow in the winter, the poles behave like extra legs so now you have 4 legs instead of 2!

Get out, move and enjoy!

Check our website for more information about anti aging supplements, benefits of fish oil, best fish oil, dr dave, dr dave fish oil, dr daves best, dr. dave Woynarowski, dr. dave’s best, drdavesbest, drdavesbest.com, energy supplements, fish oil benefits, fish oil capsules, fish oil pharmaceutical, fish oil supplements, immune supplements, longevity specialist, pharmaceutical grade fish oil , sleep wizard, ta-65 supplement, weight loss supplements.

About Dr. Dave’s Best
To ask questions or find out more about Dr. Dave’s physician-developed, pharmaceutical-grade health and anti-aging solutions, just contact Dr. Dave at:

GENERAL INQUIRY E-MAIL: [email protected]
FREQUENCY PLAN INQUIRY E-MAIL: [email protected]

MAILING ADDRESS:
DR. DAVE’S BEST
C/O CENTERFORCE IND., INC.
1050D MAIDENCREEK ROAD
FLEETWOOD, PA 19522

PHONE: TOLL FREE (USA & CANADA) 866-654-7670
(610) 880-0075 (CALLS FROM OUTSIDE THE US OR CANADA)
FAX: (610) 916-3931
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