Monday, 28 November

Excercise Vs. Medicine: Risks and Benefits

Exercise and medicine have been a subject of great debate as of late since people
are seeking more economically favorable health decisions. Medication prices have
spiked over the last few years while gym rates have dropped to some pretty tempting
prices over the last year. You as a consumer need to decide which one will provide
the most benefit for the buck. The medical industry’s boom of the 90’s gave
way to some great medications that can be great death prevention drugs. Unfortunately
there was lots of expensive research done during those days which drove up
the price of prescription medications. Exercise is one of the most underused preventative
health tools that are used today.

*May cause Headaches, Nausea, Diarrhea, and Constipation…
Medications have what is called a dose response. What this means is that a certain
dose will cause the medications intended response, for example, a diabetes medication
has a dose response of X milligrams to drop blood sugar levels to acceptable
ranges. As we reach these dose responses we also notice side effects. For example
many diabetes medications can cause intestinal distress including cramping and diarrhea.
The side effects are sometimes listed on the side of the medicine bottles, or
the Pharmacist will send you home with a list of possible side effects of the medication.
Side effects are secondary actions other than the intended use of the medication.
Exercise can also have side effects, which can include healthy blood pressure,
healthy weight, natural endorphins (the feel great neurotransmitters), less pain, more
energy. Under the proper supervision of a fitness professional you can discover all
the positive side effects of exercise.

High cholesterol medications are one of the most prescribed medicines today. Many
of the medications used to treat high cholesterol have muscular side effects. The
largest of these is the class of medications called; “the statins.” These medications
include Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor as well as a handful of others. They inhibit activity
in the liver of different coenzymes that increase the body’s ability to make cholesterol.
They mostly work on the LDL or “bad” cholesterol. Before these medications
are prescribed when the doctor starts to see your cholesterol numbers begin to rise
(which can be a natural part of aging) his FIRST prescription to you is not for any
pills… it is written for changes in diet and exercise. Sorry folks your pharmacist does
not have that on the shelf and the copay on diet and exercise is much cheaper! The
New England Journal of Medicine confirmed that exercise will significantly drop cholesterol
levels almost 20 years ago back in 1991.
Medication Class: Statin
Common Names: Lipitor, Zocor, Mevacor, Crestor
Side Effects: headache, difficulty sleeping, flushing of the skin, muscle aches, tenderness,
weakness, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea

Cardiovascular or aerobic exercise will be the best for this condition; it will increase
blood flow and promote fat loss as strengthen your heart. By exercising you will be
utilizing more calories and burning more energy some of this energy burned will be
fats. The fats in your blood will be shuttled into the muscle cells and then used for
energy. Exercising will lower the total amount of fat in your body be it the stomach
fat or the fat in your bloodstream called cholesterol. Always check with your doctor
before implementing any kind of exercise program and ask him if exercise is advisable
for your conditions. If so remember to monitor your heart rate while exercising
and start out with light to moderate exercise for 30 minutes 5 times a week. Remember
over time the exercise will be making small improvements to your cholesterol
numbers. Be patient, this is not a condition you developed over night, give it at least
3 months and then have the doctor recheck the cholesterol numbers and see how
you have improved.

High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure or Hypertension has killed almost 60,000 people back in 2005
according to the American Heart Association. One in three adults has hypertension.
Hypertension is a serious concern for us in this country. One of the most used medications
for high blood pressure are diuretics. These medications make you urinate
more. Think of your veins as a garden hose, and the pressure is how much water you
have going through the hose at a certain time or how high you turned on the spigot.
If you take a diuretic, the body is ridding itself of the excess water and turning down
the water pressure. Some of the popular diuretics include Hydrochlorothiazide and
Furosemide. Remember even when using these medications it is imperative to stay
hydrated and also make sure the doctor monitors the potassium levels in the blood
since these can drop when taking diuretics. Another popular class of medication
is ACE or Renin inhibitors. Some include Enalapril, Lisinopril, and Ramparil. These
drugs decrease arteriole pressure (pressure as blood leaves the heart) and increase
venous capacity (blood returning to the heart). These medications turn off the
body’s response to low blood pressure. The body’s normal response to low blood
pressure is to send a message to the kidneys to retain water, ACE inhibitors impair
this message and thus urine output can be increased again. Side effects of these
medications can include development of a dry cough!
One of the most popular blood pressure medications are Betas blockers. These can
include Atenolol and Metoprolol. These inhibit the message from your adrenal glands
to your heart to beat faster. Remember the goal of the medication is to lower the
overall pressure in your veins and if your heart is working too hard or beating too
fast these medications can help lower that blood pressure. Beta Blockers are notorious
for making it difficult for its users to exercise using zone or heart rate training,
because of them making it difficult to increase the heart rate. If you are on these
medications consult a fitness expert to decide which method of cardio training would
be best for you. The side effect of these medications can be fatigue and a slow heart
beat called bradycardia. Exercise is a great way to lower your blood pressure without
side effects. The goal of exercise is to raise your maximal heart rate and lower
your resting heart rate. Exercising regularly will increase the strength of your heart;
this will increase the efficiency of every beat. Studies show that you can decrease
the systolic (top number) of your blood pressure by 5-10 mmHg by implementing
exercise into your daily life! Remember the body takes a while to respond to changes
in our daily life, give an exercise program about 3 months to see any changes in the
blood pressure.
Medication Class: Diuretic
Common Names: Lasix, Hydrochlorothiazide, Furosemide
Possible Side Effects: low blood pressure, weakness, diarrhea, and increased blood sugar.
Medication Class: ACE inhibitor
Common Names: Lisinopril, Enalapril, Ramparil
Possible Side Effects: cough, elevated blood potassium levels, low blood pressure,
dizziness, headache, drowsiness, weakness, abnormal taste (metallic or salty taste),
and rash.
Medication Class: Beta Blocker
Common Names: Atenolol and Metoprolol
Possible Side Effects: diarrhea, rash, slow heartbeat, and impotence or loss of sexual drive.

Aerobic exercise will have great benefits to blood pressure numbers as well as the
cholesterol numbers. Remember exercise increases the strength of your heart and
with that stronger heart it can increase the efficiency of the vascular system as well.
Your heart will work less hard to pump and thus lower the blood pressure as well.
Remember to improve your blood pressure numbers you don’t need to spend long
hours hard at work in the gym just try 5 days a week of walking on a treadmill for
30 minutes as a mild moderate intensity. Couple this with a well rounded program
including resistance training, and flexibility training and you should see a drop in your
blood pressure numbers over the term of a few months. Remember to monitor your
blood pressure in a relaxed state and not right after the workout. Remain seated for
at least 10 minutes relaxing before taking your blood pressure yourself.

One of the biggest growing epidemics in this country is diabetes, affecting over 25
million people. It is also starting to become increasingly prevalent in our children
with an average of 35 children per day being diagnosed. Diabetes medications are
very important to the health of the individual and should not be skipped, however
exercise can help lower the need. It can also help lower the risk of those at a genetic
risk. Many people with diabetes of both types 1 and 2 have learned to lead physically
active lifestyles. One of these brought to mind is the story of the NBA player Adam
Morrison who had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 13. He has learned how to
eat correctly for his diabetes and has learned how to control his insulin levels during
the high paced action of an NBA game. The benefits of exercise on diabetes are numerous.
Regular exercise can reduce the need for medication use by 20%. Remember
physical activity burns glucose and will lower the body’s glucose levels. This is
also why it is important for diabetics to measure their blood sugars before and after
exercising. Physical activity also can reduce insulin resistance which is the major contributor
to type 2 diabetes. Another risk factor for type 2 diabetes is obesity, regularly
exercising will reduce weight and decrease risk of being overweight and becoming
Medication Class: Anti Diabetic
Common Names: Glucophage and Metformin
Possible Side Effects: nausea, vomiting, gas, bloating, diarrhea and loss of appetite.

Exercise is one of the safest and most effective tools a type 2 diabetic can have to
lower their blood sugar levels. After exercising blood sugar levels will remain lower
for the next 24 to 48 hours! As you exercise the muscles in your body become more
sensitive to insulin released from your pancreas. By doing this it makes it easier for
the muscle cells to grab more energy from the sugars in the bloodstream. This is true
most of the time however some type 2 diabetics can have exercise raise their blood
sugars. Why? When the body is starved for energy it will breakdown tissue (either
fats or proteins) into glucose to get its energy. This is why it is important to have a
healthy light snack before exercising to give your body the glucose it needs for the
exercise bout. As a diabetic it will be important to test your blood sugars before and
after any exercise program.

Exercise as Preventative Medicine
Not only can exercise be an effective tool when we discover we have these diseases
but it can be a phenomenal tool to prevent us from contracting them as well. Many
people who implement exercise in their daily lives can lower their risks for the major
diseases discussed above. Remember there is no one kind of exercise that can prevent
a disease you need a combination of cardiovascular, resistance, and flexibility
training. Leading a sedentary lifestyle can be an important factor in predicting a premature
death. A fitness program can lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, lower
overall blood sugar levels, as well as decrease the waistband. According to the CDC
70% of all chronic disease can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle. A big part
of leading a healthy lifestyle is exercising regularly. The American Heart Association
recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise 5 days a week. By
implementing a well rounded exercise program into your lifestyle you can prevent
some of most life threatening diseases in society today.

Exercise Benefits
Ever had a stressful day at work and needed to blow off some steam? Exercise is
one of the best ways to reduce blood pressure and can lower anxiety levels. Have
you ever wanted to lose a few pounds for a class reunion or look good for the bikini
season? Exercise can help you lose those extra pounds as well as tone those muscles
for the beach. Have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep? Exercise can help
you not only fall asleep faster but help you fall into a deeper sleep (Exercise earlier
in the day to experience this benefit, it is not advisable to exercise just before bed).
Want an extra energy boost to get you through the day? Exercise can help give you
more energy for daily activities like grocery shopping or playing with the kids. Need
more focus at work? Recent research shows that exercise will slow brain aging and
help keep the brain sharp. Exercise can also decrease on sick days and improve your
immune function. By implementing exercise into your life you will increase circulation
to tissues and deliver more nutrients throughout your entire body. Increasing physical
activity will teach your heart and lungs to work more efficiently thus preparing
them to spring into action if needed. Exercise will increase your energy, shed those
unwanted pounds, help you sleep better, improve your mood, and decrease stress

Exercise is the RX
There is no one pill that treats almost all the diseases threatening our lives today
however exercise and physical activity can have life preserving benefits to all the
major diseases we face today. Exercise is always one of the first recommendations
in the prevention of many diseases. It also can help when you have them. Remember
that exercise has the additional side effects of healthy blood pressure, healthy
weight, natural endorphins (the feel great neurotransmitters), less pain, and more

Always consult with your doctor before starting an exercise program and make sure
you are under proper supervision when starting a program. Also consult with professional
exercise advice when beginning any type of physical activity. Employing advice
of exercise professionals will help you exercise at maximum efficiency and help
you adhere to exercise consistency. Exercise will not only help you prevent debilitat-
ing diseases but will have all of the beneficial “side effects” you have been looking

Jarrod Mikulecky BSK, CN, CPT
(PD Wood, The effects on plasma lipoproteins of a prudent weight-reducing diet, with or without exercise, in overweight
men and women, 1991)
(, 2008)
(Physicians Desk Reference, 2009)

Friday, 7 October

Importance of Fitness

Fitness is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. The human body is designed to burn off calories through daily activities. A sedentary lifestyle works against the body’s natural order. Health and fitness means more than looking your best. Most people realize that exercise will help you fit into your jeans, but the payoffs are far greater than just looking good.

Tips for Healthy Living

Data shows that all causes of mortality are lowered by exercise. Any health and fitness program incorporating sustained movement, like walking, bicycling, swimming, or cross-country skiing, will reduce the risk of several life-threatening diseases, such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and possibly cancer. Fitness programs incorporating strength training can vastly improve arthritis as well as provide extra protection against osteoporosis.

Natural Fitness

People who partake in natural fitness like exercise report feeling happier. The mind body connection is important when it comes to good health and fitness. It is believed that a combination of feeling stronger and more confident, along with a biochemical reaction in the brain, creates a sunnier disposition.  In turn, people who are happy tend to report less illnesses or mental issues.

Friday, 7 October

Alcohol: Effects on Training

Alcohol can be classified as a food or nutrient because it provides seven kcal/g, but it can also be classified as an anti-nutrient because it can interfere with the metabolism of other nutrients. In studies to test alcohol’s effects on psychomotor skills, studies suggest that simple reaction time, choice reaction time, movement time, speed, information processing, and sensorimotor coordination are impaired. Its depressant effects on the CNS (central nervous system) dull pain sensation, but pain indicates injury, and physical activity while injured always carries a great risk of increasing the extent of an injury. It also suppresses the release of  ADH (antidiuretic hormone), causing your body to excrete more water in the urine which can in turn temporarily decrease your blood pressure and cause dehydration.  It also causes peripheral vasodilation – (dilation of blood vessels in the skin).

Wednesday, 5 October

Are You Exercising Yourself to Death? – Ronald Grisanti D.C., D.A.B.C.O., M.S.

Contrary to what most people believe to be true about the best way to exercise for heart health, the medical facts simply don’t support it.

Do you believe that your leisurely walk is the best weapon against sudden heart failure?

How about riding a stationary bike or walking on a treadmill for 45 minutes?

Or better yet. How about doing one of those Tae-Bo classes or spinning classes?

Bad News!

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you are doing any of the above in hopes of strengthening your heart and losing fat, then your efforts may be in vain.

A comprehensive study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that the recovery of your heart rate immediately after exercise is a risk factor for sudden death.

A delayed fall in the heart rate one minute after exercise may be one of the most important markers for heart health.

The Study

For six years 5713 adults between the ages of 42 and 53 years without a history of heart disease were put through exercise testing.

The participants were tested to see how quick their heart rates recovered.

The recovery of heart rate was defined as the decrease in the heart rate from peak exercise to one minute after the cessation of exercise.

An abnormal value for the recovery of heart rate was defined as a reduction of 12 beats per minute or less from the heart rate at peak exercise.

The results from the study concluded that a delayed decrease in the heart rate during the first minute after maximal exercise was strongly predictive of sudden death.

Another study discovered that the rate at which your heart increases from a resting level to the peak exercise level was also linked to a risk of sudden death.


The risk of sudden death was increased in:

  • Subjects with a resting heart rate that was more than 75 beats per minute.
  • Subjects with an increase in heart rate during exercise that was less than 89 beats per minute.
  • Subjects with a decrease in heart rate of less than 12 beats per minute after the termination of exercise.


Jouven X, Empana JP, Schwartz PJ, Desnos M, Courbon D, Ducimetiere P. Heart-rate profile during exercise as a predictor of sudden death. N Engl J Med. 2005 May 12;352(19):1951-8.

Jouven X, Zureik M, Desnos M, Guerot C, Ducimetiere P. Resting heart rate as a predictive risk factor for sudden death in middle-aged men. Cardiovasc Res. 2001 May;50(2):373-8.

Cole CR, Blackstone EH, Pashkow FJ, Snader CE, Lauer MS.Heart-rate recovery immediately after exercise as a predictor of mortality. N Engl J Med. 1999 Oct 28;341(18):1351-7.