Archive for September, 2009

Antioxidant vitamins, exercise and muscle damage: another nail in the coffin?

September 7th, 2009

Back in May, there was a flurry of excitement about a study suggesting that antioxidants might block some of the beneficial effects of exercise (heightened insulin sensitivity, to be specific). A new study in this month’s issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise now offers additional evidence for another proposed downside of antioxidant supplementation. According to a University of Porto study of 20 kayakers on the Portugese national team, popping anti-oxidant pills may delay muscle recovery.

Here are the details of the study. Read more…


Painkillers during a race or on a regular basis: a bad idea

September 2nd, 2009
Comments Off on Painkillers during a race or on a regular basis: a bad idea

Gretchen Reynolds of the New York Times has a really excellent article on the “prophylactic” use of “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen — popping them before or during a competition, or on a regular basis before workouts, in the hopes of dulling pain or preventing subsequent soreness and swelling. It’s a must-read for everyone who does this.

In a number of studies conducted both in the field and in human performance laboratories in recent years, NSAIDs did not lessen people’s perception of pain during activity or decrease muscle soreness later… Moreover, [Indiana University researcher Stuart] Warden and other researchers have found that, in laboratory experiments on animal tissues, NSAIDs actually slowed the healing of injured muscles, tendons, ligament, and bones.

I can’t count the number of athletes I know, ranging from recreational to elite, who pop ibuprofen or equivalents on a regular “just in case” basis, hoping to avoid pain and soreness down the road. I really hope they read this article, and its conclusion:

When, then, are ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory painkillers justified? “When you have inflammation and pain from an acute injury,” Warden says. “In that situation, NSAIDs are very effective.” But to take them “before every workout or match is a mistake.”


Jockology: Will active video games like Wii tennis get me fit?

September 1st, 2009

The most recent Jockology column came out last Thursday, while I was hiking in the desert. It appeared as part of a back-to-school package aimed at the health concerns of school-age children, so I decided to tackle active video games, or “exergaming,” as it’s sometimes referred to.

The question

Will “active” video games keep my kid fit during the school year?

The answer

This is a question that has launched dozens of studies since the release of Nintendo’s Wii gaming system in late 2006, and the results of those studies are finally beginning to appear in peer-reviewed journals.

Researchers around the world now agree that “exer-gaming” does burn significantly more calories than traditional video games – but that’s not saying a lot. The real question is whether they burn enough to improve health and fitness outcomes, and the answer here is still up for debate. [read on…]