JUN 8, 2022
Minute 1: New cancer therapies represent unprecedented breakthroughs
We hate to say it, but most news outlets seem to have “glass half empty” types steering the ship. They tend to fixate on the negative – of which there is plenty in the world – so if you see a headline about disease or cancer, you’ll likely want to brace yourself for the worst. The stream of downer developments was interrupted, however, by 2 headlines in the NYT this week. The first, “A Cancer Trial’s Unexpected Result: Remission in Every Patient,” describes a new study that has demonstrated the efficacy of a drug that’s nothing short of a medical miracle. The researchers gave 18 participants a checkpoint inhibitor, and in every case, the drug eliminated rectal cancer tumors without the need for surgery or chemotherapy. Of course, the study will need to be scaled up for more conclusive evidence, but all signs point to it being an unprecedented way to treat cancer. Only 2 days later, the NYT followed up with this story: “Breast Cancer Drug Trial Results in ‘Unheard-Of’ Survival.” The experimental drug, trastuzumab deruxtecan, known commercially as Enhertu, showed remarkable success in extending patients’ life expectancy. According to the NYT: “The results were so impressive that the researchers received a standing ovation when they presented their data at the oncology conference in Chicago on Sunday.” It’s important to note that exercise has been shown to be effective at lowering cancer risk as well. Find out “How Exercise Can Lower Cancer Risk” according to the American Cancer Society. It’s believed that exercise helps regulate certain hormones that can contribute to the development of various cancers, including breast, prostate, colon, endometrium, and possibly pancreatic cancer. Additionally, exercise also helps you maintain a healthy weight, which keeps immune system function strong.
Minute 2: Should you add more volume or intensity?
Some plateaus are gorgeous – the stuff of Ansel Adams photos and stunning Grand Canyon vistas. Plateaus that show up in our training logs, however, make us want to look away in denial. If you want to move beyond a flattening of your progress curve, you’ve basically got 2 choices: increase your training volume or your training intensity. Conventional wisdom tells us that if you want immediate results, go for speedwork. If you’re in this for the long haul, add volume to grow your aerobic system over time. According to new research, however, it may not be so black and white: “A New Study Asks: Higher Volume Or Higher Intensity?” Runners were split into 2 groups and underwent a preparation training period. Then, the first group completed an additional 2 weeks of high intensity training, while the second group increased their volume of easy runs. At the end of the trial, each group demonstrated almost equal improvement in a 3,000 meter time trial. However, the increased intensity group showed greater levels of fatigue and stress, while the volume group showed a higher readiness to train further, and a slight increase in heart rate variability. Does this mean volume is the way to go every time? Not necessarily, as the study may be showing how increasing intensity can be a delicate balance. Too much, and you’ll experience burnout. But if you increase intensity over a limited volume, you should feel the “Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training.” HIIT, performed correctly, can stimulate fast growth at the cellular level. Increased prevalence of mitochondria will reverse the negative effects of aging on your strength and energy levels. #PlateauPlaybook
Minute 3: Can’t sleep? These aids might help
About 70% of Americans report having at least 1 night of bad sleep a month, and 1 in 3 are downright sleep-deprived. If those stats are giving you nightmares, we’re sorry for contributing to the problem, but to make up for it, we’ve got a list that might contain what you need. Dive in to find out: “Do Melatonin and 7 Other Natural Sleep Aids Really Work?” The most common sleep supplement is melatonin, and for good reason. It’s well researched, and shown to be particularly effective among older adults, since melatonin levels often decrease with age. Magnesium deficiency is another common ailment seen in Amercians which can raise anxiety and interrupt sleep. You need about 400 milligrams a day, which can be taken as a supplement, or through these “Eight magnesium rich foods.” Nuts, seeds, legumes, and dark chocolate are all great choices. Vitamin C deficiency could play a role in sleep issues too, for 2 reasons. First, it’s an antioxidant, and without those, you’re at risk for increased oxidative stress, which has been linked with various sleep disorders. Vitamin C also helps with norepinephrine production: a neurotransmitter that regulates serotonin production. Abnormal serotonin levels can contribute to depression, which has a negative effect on sleep as well. For more on this, read “The Surprising Way Vitamin C Supplements May Affect Your Sleep.”
Minute 4: Speed up strength gains by slowing down your gym session
Runners, swimmers, and cyclists are prone to thinking that no matter the exercise, elevating your heart rate is a basic necessity for getting fitter. Faster is better. We are racers, after all. If you’re a fan of weight training, you may enjoy the gratification of blasting through your workout until you can’t move a muscle. It feels like you’ve put in a lot of work, so you can expect optimal results, right? Well, it may seem counterintuitive, but you just might get a better workout after all by making one change: Slow down. Find out “Why Tempo Is the Missing Ingredient in Your Strength Training Workout.” You’d think that moving weight faster would be more difficult, but you’ve got to consider your time under tension. That’s the amount of time your muscles have to work hard, and the longer it is, the more they’ll have to grow to adapt to resistance. Should you be slowing down every lift you perform? Not necessarily, says strength coach Thea Hughes. You should include a balance so that you can develop your explosivity and power alongside your strength. In fact, you could even try cardio and weightlifting on the same day according to this piece from Polar: “Should You Combine Cardio And Strength Training?” If your main goal is building muscle mass, you’ll want to keep the cardio separate so you don’t interfere with your body’s adaptation mechanisms. However, endurance athletes can benefit from combining the 2, and sprinting coach Charlie Francis is a proponent of lifting and running hard in the same day. Then, you can take the following days to recover with easy running or skill drills.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
We talk a lot about slowing the aging process with a healthy diet and exercise, but others have greater ambitions in mind. It may sound like science fiction, but a team of biologists has managed to reverse the aging process in mice. Better yet, this technology could be applicable to humans, removing the risk of age-related conditions like cancer, heart disease, Altzheimers, and more. See the details in “The 'Benjamin Button' effect: Scientists can reverse aging in mice. The goal is to do the same for humans.”
Whoever came up with the idea for meal subscription services, kudos to you. You can save time on shopping and cooking while guaranteeing a healthy meal with real ingredients. The only problem is, some of us will subscribe and salivate, waiting for the meal to come, only to find out it’s not what you’d hoped for – and you can’t send it back to the kitchen. If you want to dive into a meal plan without the financial commitment, check out the story from CNET: “You Can Now Buy Blue Apron Meal Kits Without a Subscription. Here's How.”
Has the idea of a calorie tracking device ever sounded a little too good to be true? Well, your suspicion is valid. Apparently, most fitness trackers were either over or underestimating calorie burn about 60% of the time. Still, they provide a ballpark estimate if you find that info useful, but to see what goes wrong, which brands are the best, and other ways to track your calorie needs, read “Why You Can't Trust Your Fitness Tracker on Calorie Burn.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
If we’ve learned one thing this week, it’s that Chris Froome is as tough as nails. For those who don't know his work, Chris is a pro cyclist, and a 4-time winner of the Tour de France. You don’t reach that level of achievement without a superhuman level of determination, and when he tragically experienced a bad crash in 2019, he faced one of his hardest challenges yet. The injuries he sustained were severe, and his rehab process involved learning to walk again. At times, it was unclear if he’d ever get on a bike again. Froome’s recovery process has been remarkable, and to understand his inspiring journey back to cycling, check out the short video below produced by Outside.