Swimming on the web
Explaining Quebec’s love of the backyard plunge
Finding evidence of the Quebecker’s love of the backyard plunge is as obvious as glancing at a satellite photo, crunching some numbers or looking out the window as your flight lands in any city in the province. Uncovering why the attraction is so strong is an entirely different matter.
Does prolonged exercise damage the heart?
"Now, there’s no doubt that the benefits of exercise, like any drug or intervention, must ultimately follow a U-shaped curve; there’s a point where more is no longer better, and another point where more is actually worse. The challenge is figuring out where these two points are – and keeping in mind the difference between them."
To put things into perspective:
"In the key study, the average subject had been training seriously for 43 years, and completed 178 marathons, 65 ultramarathons and four Ironman triathlons."
Alex also addresses how much is enough to get most of the health benefit:
"In other words, if you already do 60 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise every day, adding another 10 minutes isn’t going make you significantly healthier."
But that doesn't mean there aren't other benefits, including social and performance benefits.
See the article for more details.
Can weight training help endurance athletes?
In his August 15th column in the Globe and Mail, Alex Hutcheson asks Can weight training help endurance athletes last longer? and finds some evidence that for older athletes weight training can help restore muscle mass typically lost as we age, which can in turn improve efficiency and performance.
Endocannabinoids rather than Endorphins cause exercise "high"
Research outlined in the New York Times seems to suggest that endocannabinoids may explain "runner's high", and presumably "swimmers high" as well. Unlike endorphins, cannabinoids are small enough to pass through the blood-brain barrier.
It turns out that when you exercise your body produces its own cannabinoids (endocannabinoids), the psychoactive agent in cannabis (aka marijuana).
The endocannabinoid system refers to a group of neuromodulatory lipids and their receptors that are involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory; it mediates the psychoactive effects of cannabis...
Could this be the reason so many swimmers get the munchies after workout?
Mice, Rats, and the Benefits of Exercising in a Group
Exercising in groups may be more beneficial than exercising alone:
What activities can help people with joint pain? Swimming!
From the Life section of the Globe and Mail:
I've heard that certain sports or physical activities can benefit individuals suffering joint pain from arthritis or other autoimmune diseases. What sort of activities can help?
The answer is provided by Dr. Eleanor Fish, director of the Arthritis & Autoimmunity Research Centre at the University Health Network in Toronto. Swimming is definitely on the list, see the article for the full answer:
True Sport: Physical and Mental Health
The True Sport organization put together background information on the role of sport in improving health and well being:
How hard should I exercise if I want to lose weight?
The famous “fat-burning zone” is a seductive concept. Keep your workout nice and easy to maximize fat-burning, it argues – no need to waste time and effort by pushing hard.
Unfortunately, this concept suffers from flaws of logic and physiology. But the question of how hard you should exercise in order to lose the most weight remains a complicated one, and there are good reasons to include both very easy and very hard physical activity in your routine.The full article
How do antioxidants affect my workout?
In a recent updated "Jockology" article on the Globe & Mail web site, Alex Hutchinson reviews the effect of antioxidants on exercise and health.
Recent studies suggest that antioxidants may reduce post-workout muscle soreness but may also slow down muscle repair and recovery. Furthermore, supplementation may suppress the body's own antioxidant mechanisms.
One study showed that Vitamin C supplementation reduces the insulin regulation benefits of exercise. It's possible that fruits and vegetables are healthy despite their antioxidants not because of it, so substituting supplements for fresh fruits and vegetables may be doubly counterproductive.
While previous studies have shown that antioxidants can boost immune function after extreme exertion, such as an ultra-marathon, a study last year of people cycling for two hours at moderate pace showed at most a weak effect.
Read the article for more details!
Circadian rhythms and peak athletic performance
This article discusses a study that looked at the effect of time of day on athletic performance, specifically time to swim 200m. The performance gap between worst time of day (2am-8am) and best time of day (11pm) was a whopping 5.84s! Although not studied the article hypothesizes that it may be possible to shift the circadian rhythm to match competition schedule.
Why You Should Step Up Your Workout
The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article looking at the possible benefit of exercising at levels beyond the minimum levels often recommended by government health guidelines, guidelines often set to encourage people who don't exercise at all to do something rather than to encourage people who are already active to get maximum benefit.
Fingers together or slightly separated?
Two scientific studies have addressed the question of whether it is better to keep one's fingers together while pulling, or allow slight separation. One study used computational fluid dynamics:
The other study tested with a mechanical model which was dragged through the water:
Both studies found that optimum separation is around 10-12 degrees, or about 8mm apart, about the amount the fingers separate naturally when relaxed.
A slight complication is that the CFD approach shows a non-linear relationship with minimum propulsive force being generated with the fingers separated by 4.4mm. This sensitivity, 3mm is good, 4.4mm is bad, 8mm is best, raises the question of how precisely swimmers can control their finger separation. The tests also appear to have tested just the hand area, the 8.8% improvement found by the CFD study would likely be lower if the forearm had been included.
Winning never gets old
The Brockville Recorder and Times covered the recent "Almost Serious" swim meet put on by the 1000 Islands Masters where two Canadian relay records in the 320+ age group were set!