The Art and Science of Fitness Does the magic exercise hack work? | Catch My Job


Last week, a study was published that claimed that our elixir has become the best specimen to physically walk the planet. Usually, when I read something that sounds too good to be true, I want to dig deeper into it.

I’m a big fan of heel raise exercises. While doing these you first place your feet firmly on the ground. Then you only raise your heel, and then lower it again. This exercise works the calves — the muscles that get the least attention by most, but play a very important role in how we move, whether it’s walking, running or even jumping. I love heel raises because they can be done anywhere, anytime, and by almost anyone. You don’t need to spend time on them or need special equipment. You can do them standing, sitting, both legs or one leg together, depending on whether your knees are bent. I believe everyone should raise heels.

For this reason, the research published in the journal last month iScience, which talks about “magical” results, got me all excited. Mark Hamilton, a professor of health and human performance at the University of Houston, discovered that if you do a specific variation of heel raises while sitting — which he calls “soleus push-ups” — it improves your muscle metabolism for hours. It is then supposedly more effective at controlling blood glucose than any exercise, weight loss program, or intermittent fasting. Long claim.

The soleus muscle is one of two muscles that make up the calf. The soleus is covered by another calf muscle called the gastrocnemius, which starts just above the knee, while the soleus starts below the knee. After joining to form the calf, both of these muscles form the Achilles tendon, which further attaches to the heel bone, right where the back of our shoe touches our foot.

As we sit for long periods of time, more than 10 hours a day on average, our metabolic rate decreases, leading to metabolic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, obesity and poor quality of life.

Professor Hamilton has devised a way to work the soleus muscle while sitting, which does not tire the muscle. “What we’ve shown is that people can lower their blood glucose by about 50% in a single session of soleus muscle contraction. And that rivals what you’d see a few hours after exercise or any other type of therapy. What we’ve developed is a way that People could sustain muscle contractions for hours, not minutes. And in doing so, they were able to use a special mix of fuel, instead of using intramuscular glycogen, which is stored carbohydrates, they used blood-derived fuels such as blood glucose and blood lipoproteins. was able to.”

An interesting fact in the study above was that only the small soleus muscle, which is only 1% of body weight and one of over 600 muscles in the body, is able to double and sometimes even triple the metabolic rate. , when doing soleus pushups.

What I love though is that Professor Hamilton admits that this is a simple new fitness trick, not a hack. He added that this is not a simple movement either. He adds, “It’s not as simple as lifting your heels or raising your legs when you’re sitting or shaking your legs or fidgeting. It’s a very specific movement that’s designed where we use technology that’s not necessarily available to the public unless you’re a scientist and you know how to use it.” will guide the movement that will lead to the desired result.

Dr Darren James Player, a lecturer in Musculoskeletal Bioengineering at University College London (UCL) and a qualified personal trainer, with whom I co-authored the books Movement Medicine And La Ultra – up to 5, 11 and 22 km in 100 daysConsider that this study has a role but is not applicable to everyone.

“If you have a clinical population that has been unable to go out and walk or run or power train because of a specific clinical condition, then this type of prescription is probably really good. Or if you have a corporate population, and they’re just sitting at a desk all day, and they only have half an hour, an hour a day to do some formal exercise, encourage them to do that kind of thing. I totally understand that. And, frankly, the author admits it’s not a hack. It’s not going to be this kind of fitness fad that’s going to solve everything. But from what they’ve shown, it’s probably a pretty strong stimulus, but it’s a stimulus that’s isolated rather than having global benefits.”

Professor Hamilton got research subjects to do ‘soleus pushups’ every 4 minutes throughout the day. He figured out a way so that they don’t get tired and can exercise for a long time. But is it sustainable from month to month, go from year to year? In 2013, I started mentoring a group of women of all ages, from all walks of life for a “Couch to 5km” program. After returning from organizing the fourth edition of La Ultra – The High, a 333 km run in 72 hours in Ladakh, crossing 3 mountains above 17,400 feet, I found that motivating people was much more difficult. Compared to someone starting from scratch who did 222 km to attempt 333 km earlier. Now, nine years down the line, I’ve reached out to some of them to help them start over. The point is, it’s much harder to have the discipline to do basic things consistently over years than it is to do complex things over weeks or months.

As Darren points out, as good as soleus pushups can be, that regime won’t last long because it’s not exciting enough and doesn’t meet all the reasons why people like to be active. There are several reasons why we all exercise and play sports. It may start for the physical benefits, but we tend to continue because we love doing those activities for them, the company we get while doing them, the bragging rights we get, selfies, travel and others.

While reading Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, Alex Hutchinson’s excellent research and writing, I was reminded of the Kung Fu Panda movie and Paulo Coelho’s best-selling book, The Alchemist.

After all the hardships, travels and deep research of the latest technology and scientific knowledge – such as the movie and book heroes Poe, the panda and Santiago, the shepherd boy – Alex discovered that the secret recipe – the treasure – lies within us. That journey is necessary and scientific progress plays a role. But at the end of the day, it’s about getting up, going out and doing it.

Keep mixing and keep smiling.

Dr Rajat Chauhan is the author of Movement Medicine: Your Journey to Peak Health and La Ultra: Up to 5, 11 and 22 km in 100 Days

He writes a weekly column, exclusively for HT Premium readers, that breaks down the science of movement and exercise.

Opinions expressed are personal


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