APR 1, 2022
Minute 1: What is coronary artery calcium, and how can you prevent it?
As coach Taylor often says before a Friday Night Lights game: “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!” That is, unless your heart is full of calcium; then you have a major issue on your hands. Research has uncovered that coronary artery calcium deposits are one of the most reliable predictors of heart conditions, and luckily, we’re getting much better at screening for it. Take a look at “The Heart Test You May Need—but Likely Haven’t Heard of.” The test is performed with a CT scan, taking about 10 minutes. The benefit? Rather than looking at a variety of factors, like age, blood pressure, and family history to estimate your risk, the coronary calcium scan gives definitive guidance on whether you’ve got cause for concern. What’s the downside? Since the scan is so new, it isn’t covered by all insurance plans, though that is likely to change as doctors prove its efficacy. Now, we know what you’re thinking: I’m pretty fit, why do I have to worry about heart health? That’s what Dave McGillivray thought, too. He is the race director of the Boston Marathon and is about to run his 50th consecutive Boston Marathon on April 18. After McGillivray underwent triple bypass surgery in 2018 he said: “My mission now in life is to create an awareness that just because you’re fit, doesn’t mean you’re healthy, and that if you feel something, do something about it. There were times in my life when I thought I was invincible, and I never thought they were warning pains. I just thought they were challenging pains.” We don’t want to be Debbie Downer, so we thought we’d also share some heart health news that may cheer you up: “The Surprising Effect of Eating Chocolate, New Study Suggests.” Participants of one study demonstrated that a diet containing cocoa extract could lower your risk of cardiovascular disease death by up to 27%. You should also consider these “Foods That Naturally Lower Calcium Heart Score.” Avocados, olive oil, and other sources of healthy fats are huge for calcium artery prevention. Healthline also weighs in with this list: “15 Foods That May Help Prevent Clogged Arteries.”
Minute 2: Fight back on fitness myths with these tests
Did you know eating an apple a day is proven to raise life expectancy by 10 years on average? Don’t believe us? Good, because we were lying. It’s always a good idea to examine your assumptions and figure out whether your health info came from a medical professional or “this guy I know.” You may want to challenge your common knowledge with the 2 short quizzes linked in this article: “Have You Fallen for These Exercise Myths? Test Your Fitness IQ.” The more nuanced and detailed one is the “Fitness IQ Test” from Psychology Today. Other than quizzing ourselves, how can we fight against fitness misinformation? It all starts with learning who you can trust. For that, take a look at “Instagram + Fitness: Who Can You Trust?” It’s important to look for accounts run by accredited professionals. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), The National Strength and Conditioning Association, and The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) all offer a certificate that will typically be listed in someone’s bio if they’ve earned it. Also, pay attention to the nature of a post. Does it highlight appearances and offer nonspecific advice? Or is it focused on facts, with detailed instructions on how to improve your health. The former is most likely an influencer who lacks expertise, so be wary. Since we love these online quizzes so much, we’ve got a bonus exam for you that we’ve posted in the past. It predicts how long you are likely to live: “See how your lifestyle impacts life expectancy.” #BadInfluence
Minute 3: Treadmills, hiking, and running are a cardio triple threat
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get outdoors and onto your favorite hiking trail whenever you pleased? Realistically, hiking can be hard to plan for, with weather, location and other factors getting in the way. We often have to go weeks or months between real outings, but to stay prepared, consider this option from Trail Runner magazine: “How To Use A Treadmill To Improve Power Hiking.” Thanks to some hiking enthusiasts with a love of math, we’ve got a calculator to determine energy use on a treadmill. Just put the time, speed, and gradient and you’ll see how many calories you’d burn. Then, compare that to hiking estimates and you’ll know how to set things up to mimic a hike. A good place to start is 6% incline with 4.5 miles an hour: that’s similar intensity to an average trail. While treadmills can help prepare you for the trails, hiking can actually benefit your running. Details are here: “How Hiking Helps Your Marathon Training Regime.” Hiking is a nice change in the kind of movement you’re performing, relative to running. It often requires a larger range of motion to climb over objects, and in turn, promotes slower and more strenuous movement. That’s perfect for building strength and avoiding the overuse associated with high cadence activites like running.
Minute 4: The best mattresses and toppers for regenerative sleep
Anyone who’s ever tried to sleep in a tent knows that a good night’s rest is strongly correlated to a comfortable sleeping surface. Clearly, you’ll want your home mattress to suit your preference in terms of firmness, but there are other considerations as well. Temperature regulation, size, and longevity play a huge role as well, and to find the perfect option, you should read: “The 6 Best Mattress Toppers, According to Sleep Experts.” Mattress toppers are a good way to upgrade your sleeping conditions without having to break the bank. Something as simple as a layer of memory foam can reduce the pain caused by typical metal springs and other dated technology in your old mattress. If you’ve got the budget and feel like it’s time for a whole new mattress, runners should take note of the “Best Mattress for Athletes.” It can’t be overstated just how important rest is for your recovery and hormone regulation. We just learned this week of a surprising benefit of sound sleep: “How Sleep Impacts Testosterone and Why It’s Important.” One study revealed that after 8 days of 5.5 hours or less of sleep in a row, participants’ testosterone production dropped by 10-15%. Lower testosterone levels impede muscle growth, brain health, and libido in both males and females, so it’s important for everyone to manage, not just bodybuilders.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Another benefit of a proper sleeping surface is that it could help alleviate back pain. For a more immediate solution to anyone experiencing aches, break out a yoga mat or other soft surface, get a device that can play videos, and follow along with this 5-minute stretching and yoga routine to ease the tension away. The creator is Jessica Valant, who is a physical therapist with more than 20 years of experience. Check out “Suffer from back pain? Try this five-minute stretching routine.”
As powerful as modern medicine is, it’s hard to beat the emotional healing power of a home-cooked soup. Whether or not it cures your physical ailments, warm broth will certainly make you feel a little better when you’re under the weather. Chicken soup is the obvious choice, but there are lots of other great options worth trying out in “‘It hugs your soul!’ 10 dishes to get you fighting fit after an illness, from ramen noodles to spicy tom yum soup.”
Speaking of food, we hope everyone is getting enough of it. For athletes, that’s not always the case, and female athletes are especially susceptible to a condition called RED-S: relative energy deficiency in sport. Excessive calorie deficits cause fatigue and feeble bones, among other complications. Women are more often affected, but as a result, men often overlook these symptoms and fail to realize the root of their problem. Details are here: “Men, Are You Eating Enough to Fuel Your Exercise?”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
He’s been called the Brad Pitt of track and field for his movie star looks, and now that moniker is even more fitting, given how much screen time Nick Symmonds is getting. His YouTube channel continues to grow, and it’s because he puts out high quality content, like the video below. Enter Austen Alexander, a U.S Navy vet who goes toe to toe with Symmonds, the former Olympian, in a variety of fitness challenges. Watch the 2 battle it out as they test their strength, speed, and agility. Unlike most of Nick’s videos, there’s no cash prize, so it’s all for the glory of victory.