Time Spent Sitting at a Screen Matters Less If You Are Fit and Strong

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How Screen Time Impacts Health

Sitting long periods of time has been found to have an impact on health. A study conducted at Glasgow University in the United Kingdom wanted to discover the full extent of possible risks of too much screen time. What they found in relation to cardiovascular disease, cancer risk, and general mortality was that people with the lowest amount of physical fitness were worst effected. They also examined grip strength, however that may not be as precise a measure of overall physical fitness. Electronic entertainment and television has been a part of many people’s lives. Video games, computers, TV, and mobile device have made us more sedentary. However screens and electronics are not  solely to blame. Few jobs require physical activity in a post-industrial technological society. Machine power has mostly replaced manual labor with a few physically demanding occupations such as the military, firefighting, law enforcement, Construction requires some physical activity, but that is even requires technology to erect buildings. The majority of jobs have a person either sitting at a screen or register in the modern world. The open access journal BMC Medicine published these findings in 2018. Lifestyle is important to maintaining good health. Proper diet and  exercise should be a focus in general health maintenance. There are sociological barriers that may prevent a person from having good health. Access to quality healthcare and affordability becomes an issue for a person of a certain socioeconomic status.   Discrimination based on race, sex, religion, or sexual orientation puts an abnormal amount of stress on certain groups which effects health outcomes. The environment itself can do so as well. Nations that are effected by warfare, climate change, or constant instability  drastically reduce life expectancy.

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Exercise has been proven to have multiple health benefits.
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While sitting for a small amount of time may not be harmful doing it for long periods may create long term health risks.
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Lifestyle  choices can have an effect  on health outcomes.

There would be a divide between nations in terms of health. Developed nations have higher life expectancy compared to undeveloped nations.  When nations reach a certain level of  technological development, new health issues emerge with the increase in life expectancy. The diseases such as  heart disease or cancer could be prevented. Sitting and limited physical activity does not effect everyone the same way.

            The study claims that increasing strength and overall fitness could stop the negative effects of  sitting in front of a screen. Dr . Carlos Celis stated ” our study shows that the risks associated with sedentary behaviour are not the same for everyone; individuals with low physical activity experience the greatest adverse effects.” He explains further : ” this has potential implications for public health guidance as it suggests that specifically targeting people with low fitness and strength for interventions to reduce the time they spend sitting down may be an effective approach.” While it is known that exercise or at least some physical activity should be a part a daily routine the question remains about amount. Then there is the question about how much screen time can induce a higher risk for mortality. Before a public health guideline is made, these questions must be answered.  If exercise and physical activity  is going to be prescribed like a drug, then their needs to be a specific dosage. It is possible that even a small amount of exercise is beneficial, but it needs to be enough to allow for prevention of chronic disease.

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If she sits down at a screen it may not effect her as much seeing as she has a high level of fitness.
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A person who is not even overweight could still see negative health consequences. Muscle and bone mass can be reduced from inactivity.
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One does not have to train to a high degree to see at least some benefits. Training for sports performance or health maintenance are two different objectives.

Having a precise method rather than just an accurate one can help create correct recommendation. There has to be a more specific means of measuring musculoskeletal health. Their must be also considerations in regards to a person’s somatotype and sex. Such differences among people could alter the data.

         The sample size was large enough to make a general assessment. The study collected data from 391, 089 people. The data was studied in the Biobank  within the UK. This was only done for people living in the UK, which makes one wonder how would other countries compare. If it was done in other countries and produced similar results, then it can be said the investigation’s methods are correct. The problem with using grip strength to predict mortality may produce inaccuracy. There is no way thus so far, to predict a person’s death. Grip strength can produce results that do not mirror reality. Males on average would have higher grip strength, which should mean  they should live longer. However, women have higher life expectancy and life span even under favorable conditions. This means hand grip measures would have to be adjusted in relation to sex. Also, a thinner person who is not in poor health condition, but does not have a high level of fitness could have a weak grip strength. The study did not mention the sex or just how low the fitness level was of participants.

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Men have higher grip strength on average.  Tests may be distorted due to the difference in hand size. The man could probably generate more grip strength than the physically fit woman, but may not be stronger than her.
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A  thinner woman could have a low grip strength , but that may not mean she is in poor health. She just has not a attained a certain level of fitness.
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Grip strength may just be a basic indication of  musculoskeletal strength. A more precise measure would be the amount of weight a person can lift.

This also bring up another curious consideration. There are people who have reached advanced age. The centenarians are of major interest to gerontologists and professionals of biomedical science.  Living to the age 100 is an incredible feat.  While there is no way to predict who will live to 100 , it would be fascinating to know what their grip strength was in their younger years. If it is high, then grip strength can be used as proper indicator for health through a life time. The grip strength test could be adjusted in relation to age. The younger adults would have higher grip strength compared to the elders. The 80 to 100 age range would have to have a determined average grip strength. If the older people within that age range have higher grip strength, then it can be considered a credible measure. Jeanne Calment was the world’s longest living human being documented reaching the age of 122. There is no record  of her grip strength, but it can be verified she had an immense amount of durational strength.

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Jeanne Calment’s  (1875- 1997)  genetics could have played a role in her longevity.
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Grip strength comparisons would have to be done with some one in the same age range. A younger person would have more strength, which would alter the data.
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Men will have higher grip strength than women, but this does not predict that men will live longer. The opposite is true with women living longer on average.  Grip strength comparison should be divided by sex.

A good amount of skepticism should be given to any scientific study.  Dr. Celis  articulated ” while fitness testing can be difficult in healthcare and community settings, grip strength is a quick, simple and cheap measure, therefore it would be easy to implement as a screening tool in a variety of settings.” There needs to be a reliable fitness test not just a general indicator of the possibility of a negative health outcome. Even the conclusion of the study hold doubts.

       A good scientific study continues to ask questions and criticizes its own results. The major issue with the study was that the amount of screen time was self reported. Physical activity amount also was brought into question. As stated in a summery ” the researchers caution that the use of self-reported screen time and physical activity data may have impacted on the strength of the associations drawn in this study. ” Making correlations should be done cautiously when deciphering the information. Generally what  the researchers realized was this major flaw : “the observational nature of the study does not allow for conclusions about cause and effect.” Screen time, fitness, and health outcome may not have a cause and effect relationship. There has to be relationships between these factors. Screen time would not be an issue unless there is enough physical activity in a daily routine to avoid negative health effects. 

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If their is a balance between the two screen time would not effect the majority of individuals. TV, cell phones, or video games themselves are not the culprit. Nor is long use or screen time. The issue may  be related to a general lack of physical activity. The reason the  physical fitter people are not as effected is because they are active, which means the time spent in front of a screen matters less. Screen time is not the issue, rather the rise of a sedentary lifestyle.

              A sedentary lifestyle has negative health consequences. Metabolic differences could effect how much it could alter health. Basal metabolic rate differs among men and women. This means a woman has a lower metabolism while sitting.  Women due to a difference in endocrine function have a harder time losing weight. Combined with more time sitting it could be a potential risk to maintaining a healthy weight. Health related to the neck, back, and eyes may also be effected by extended periods of screen time. The spine is important to human posture. Sitting too long and cause back pain. The neck pain can occur from keeping it in one position for an extended period of time. Eyesight can worsen from too much screen time. These health issues were not mentioned in the report, but can be avoided. It just involves moving around during extended periods using a computer, TV, or mobile device. Stretching could also be useful. Their is a sex difference related to what extended periods of sitting can do. Women who have less musculoskeletal mass would probably  be effected worse by physical inactivity. However, regardless of sex somatotype may protect some people. Thinner and people with more fat tissue are at greater risk compared to a person who is more physically fit. This become a greater concern when examining diseases such as osteoporosis, sacropenia, or heart disease. One should not relinquish their technology, rather get enough exercise to prevent chronic illness.

Time Spent Sitting at a Screen Matters Less If You Are Fit and Strong

Livestrong : How To Tone Muscles Without Bulk

 

Tone and Bulk

The terms tone and bulk are used constantly in fitness publications.  It should be realized that these have no basis in exercise physiology and rarely appear in sports science texts. Tone and bulk are more colloquial words rather than an anatomical description.  They describe a person’s idea of muscular aesthetics. There are multiple opinions and when discussing women’s bodies there is a level of controversy. The image of the muscular woman generates many responses, but disgust should not be one of them. Women should not fear gaining muscle or looking strong. Often fitness professionals assure women bulking up is not biologically possible for a woman to do. Women bodies are capable of building strength and muscle despite differences in sexual dimorphism. Women compete in bodybuilding,crossfit, and weightlifting. Each has varying degrees of muscularity. The bulk up fear is related to “looking like a man.” What many fail to realize is that even the large women are not as big as they seem. Strong women do not look like men, they just have significant musculature. Knowing this, one can conclude bulking and toning are nothing more than terms giving an idea of a particular appearance. The notion you can tone without bulk  seems ludicrous if you have a basic understanding of  muscular hypertrophy. Erin Zeggert gives a general training program for building muscle. A correct revision of the text would be how to induce muscular hypertrophy to a certain level. To understand why this proclamation is flawed it must be approached from a perspective of exercise science.

          Tone and bulk must be defined to give a correct answer to the question. Zeggert states ”    there is no real definition of toned in the fitness world, but it is commonly accepted that getting toned involves adding muscle to have some muscle definition and losing fat. ” If there is no real definition then how can it be a fitness goal ? This seems more dependent on perspective. To some the toned look could be bulky. A toned woman would be bulky in comparison to a thin woman or man.  The size of the muscles can be misleading. Some women may look bigger than they actually are in person. Then there is a problem of quantifying . There is no specific range in which a woman goes from a toned to bulky classification. How muscular a person get depends on their genetics, training, diet, and natural strength prior to exercise. A woman with more muscle prior to training is going to have more muscle mass gain compared to a woman does not.  This means a woman who has an ectomorphic body type will have a harder time adding mass.

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A woman with limited amount of muscle mass just starting a training program.
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A woman that is considered toned. Compared to the image above she would be bulky in comparison.
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When the term bulky is used it normally is in reference to female bodybuilders.

There are women who might fall in between bulky and toned. No such term exists for women with that body type. The terms bulky and toned can only be used to classify certain types of bodies that have undergone some form of exercise or fitness training.  Physique aesthetics are more so about presentation, rather than functional fitness. When fitness publications use the term bulk, they normally mean size. There is a word that already exists for that and it is called muscle mass and weight. Female bodybuilders have the largest amount of muscle,but it is not just amount building yourself as much as possible. Symmetry,definition, conditioning, and muscle shape are important elements. Size is not the only element a truly aesthetic physique has. The denotations of bulk and tone can vary . The terms do not have a use scientifically, rather it a general description of the amount of muscle carried on the body. Creating a certain look requires both weight training and attention to diet.

         It must be understood why from a perspective of histology why “bulk muscle” and “toned muscle” does not exist in a biological sense. Histology is the study of the microscopic structure of tissues. Examining muscle cells between a bulky or toned body would not show cells or tissues being radically different. If a biopsy were to be done between what is considered a bulky and toned woman there would be little cellular differences.  There are three types of muscular tissue. This includes cardiac muscle, smooth muscle, and skeletal muscle.

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Looking at muscle under a microscope from a “toned” or a “bulky” woman one can confirm that it is not radically different. It should be noted there is a difference in the attributes of muscle fiber types. Type II muscle fiber is designed more for explosive physical power compared to more endurance based type I muscle fiber. The body consists of connective tissues, nervous system tissue, epithelial tissue, and muscle tissue. Cells are the building blocks of living organisms. Cell theory has three major tenets. The first is all things considered living are composed of cells. The second tenet states that the cell is the basic structure of organisms. Cells can only come into existence from pre-existing cells. The process of cellular differentiation happens when a stem cells changes for a particular tissue. Neurons and muscle cells are not the same,but they have a common origin from stem cells. Cell theory was pioneered by Matthias Schleiden and Theodore Schwann in the 19th century. It was Schwann who began to classify cells, which would later give rise to modern histology. Schleiden  was a botanist who through observation of plants that cells were forming from other cells. This indicated that nuclei played a major role in cell division. Myogenesis describes the cellular development of muscle tissue. This occurs in both women who either appear toned or bulky. Being bulky or tone is a matter of perspective rather than biological or physiological reality.

        Building what is called a toned body is just adding some muscle. However, there are exercises and certain methods that are required to attain a certain look. Adding size or definition requires the reduction of body fat. General weight loss will  not produce a toned appearance rather if done to a certain degree it will produce an ectomorphic body type. This goal can be achieved through exercise and a change in diet. There are some possible risks to dramatic weight loss. Bone mass and muscle mass may suffer,if excessive dieting is done. Some women could even develop an unhealthy relationship with food and their own bodies. Being too thin is not healthy, even though mass media representations present it as such. It should be noted also when you train, looking like another person or an ideal can be an unrealistic goal. How you look is dictated by your phenotype and genetics. The images that are seen on fitness magazines may not realistic goals that the majority of the population can attain. However, if there is enough consistency in diet and training progress can be made. The appropriate mind set and approach is critical to reaching particular fitness goals.

          The question of cardiovascular exercise normally comes up in the discussion of women and fitness. There is a major error Erin Zeggert makes when suggestion that cardio can help in producing a toned  body. Cardio exercise is not enough to build muscle and it is thought that adding too much may effect the total amount of muscular gains. There is the benefit of such exercise burning more calories in comparison to just lifting weights. Any amount of exercise is good for health, but it is important to get the most benefits. Some women think that the best way to lose weight is to just get on a treadmill can eat less. This is incorrect,because it is not only ineffective it wastes time.

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If you are doing only cardio exercise, strength and muscle will not increase. This can increase aerobic capacity, but have little effect on the health of the muscular system. Livestrong goes off the guidelines of the American College of Sports Medicine.  The recommendation 150 minutes of cardio at moderate activity level. Livestrong advises “Any activity that gets your heart rate into the target zone can be used so choose something you will enjoy and will stick with.” Zeggart also writes “target heart rate is calculated as 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate.” The 150 recommendation seems like too much cardio if the intent is to create a particular physique aesthetic. This may not be even useful for weight loss. The calculation is 220 minus a person’s age. A woman who is 32 years of age would have a maximum heart rate 188. One with a general understanding of anatomy can see why this equation is a problem. Women have smaller hearts than men and lower aerobic capacity. However, using this same measure would give the same heart rate for both sexes. There needs to be a new equation to accurately calculate women’s maximum heart rate. This demonstrates that exercise science has a limited understanding of how sex differences influence women’s physical fitness. Cardio cannot be completely condemned. Cardiovascular exercise can enhance stamina and aerobic capacity.

        If a woman is attempting to build a physique or strength weight training is the best method. Strength and muscle can be built even without access to weights. Push ups, lunges, and sit-ups can build a certain degree of strength. Lifting weights can build muscle and strength more efficiently. Livestrong reveals “the American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least two resistance training workouts per week on non-consecutive days using free weights, machines, resistance bands or body weight.” There are many methods to build a body,but it has not been determined which is the best. So far using all of these could be helpful depending on the fitness goal objective. Challenging the body and specifically the muscle will induce changes due to exercise stimuli.

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Livestrong makes the recommendation that “each workout should have eight to 10 exercises working each muscle group.” This means that both the lower and upper body should be worked. Fitness literature tends to put emphasis on women’s lower body development. The intent should be to strengthen bones and muscles. Attaining the toned arms that women desire is simply adding muscle to the biceps brachii, deltoids, and triceps barchii. There is also the suggestion to work in a 12 repetition range to see substantial change in muscular development. Toning as some people refer to it still requires a certain degree of progressive overload. While a training schedule is essential rest is also equally important. Rest days should be periods in which no exercise is done so that muscle tissue can recover. When it recovers muscular hypertrophy will occur. Lifting heavy at lower repetition can increase strength and lifting lighter weights at higher repetitions can enhance muscular endurance. The training regimen should focus on lifting rather than cardio to reach a certain physique aesthetic.

         Diet and food consumption is a major part of fitness. Women should keep in mind some differences. Metabolic function for women is lower even at basal rate. Women also metabolize more of their food in to fat storage. Due to endocrinology, women also have a harder time losing weight. What this means is that food consumption should be adjusted in relation to activity level.Eating less will ultimately cause failure,because it will disturb metabolic function. Diet should be balanced in proteins, carbohydrates, along with some fat. High sugar or food that contains limited nutritional value should be avoided. Sugar however should not be abandoned completely. An occasional dessert or cheat meal will not harm health or sabotage a fitness goal. If fats and sugars are consumed in excess, this is when it can have negative effects on the human body. Traditionally, it was the food pyramid that was used to give a basic guideline to healthy eating. The updated version is referred to my plate guidelines. The charts and guidelines are either not specific enough or just simply are not grounded in nutrition based science. They may come in useful as a basic introduction to health science.

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Such charts may have to be adjusted in relation to a person’s age,sex, and health condition. For a highly active person, they may require more food compared to a person who is mostly sedentary. For a person who is attempting to manage weight a gradual readjustment of eating habits has to be done. The major error people make is to reduce calories to the point of starvation. Doing this only crates disordered eating and interrupts normal biological function. Seeing as humans are heterotrophs food is fuel for our bodies. The citric acid cycle explains how food is broken down and used for cellular metabolic function. This process is an intersection of both biochemistry and physiology. Energy is released in increments from respiration is a series of biochemical reactions. Glucose will divide into small units known as acetyl groups. Following this acetyl groups then merge with oxaloacetate and  six-carbon compound   will be produced known as citrate. Citrate needs enzymes to break it down and it will transform into a four-carbon  oxaloaceate. Energy is produced in the form of adenosine triphosphate. This then enables various metabolic processes in cells of the body. Acetyl groups are derived from the food that we consume.

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There are multiple factors involved in healthy eating and nutrition. A good place to begin a change is to examine the nutrition facts on food labeling. Approaches become more complicated when taking into account somatotype . Endomorphs have to be careful about nutrition and diet. Ectomorphs would struggle in comparison to gain any weight. Diet and exercise are both essential to obtaining a certain look .

         Now that is has been established that toning and bulking are nothing more then general descriptions of physiques, there are some myths that must be addressed. Women fear that they will drastically increase in size from weight training and lose femininity. That claim is unfounded. Women can build muscle and still be attractive. The real problem is the bias against women who do not follow body image conformity. The large women seen on stage are not as big as one would assume. If we compare male and female bodybuilders in terms of weight the notion of women being “too big” is laughable. Stan Mcquay weighs about 202 lbs. Margie Martin weighs 154 lbs. Looking at the pictures of both of them, one would assume Margie is too big. Her weight is not that massive at all,but by certain standards she would be called “bulky.” Andrea Shaw would weigh less than Shawn Ray during his competitive career. Shawn’s biggest weight was 215 lbs. The average male bodybuilder easily exceeds past the 200 lbs range. Even if some women have the ability to gain significant mass, maintaining  it takes considerable effort.

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Stan Mcquay  and Margie Martin
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The image of Mina Mituskoa when she competed and her retirement from the sport. The only thing that happens to muscles is they atrophy when exercise is not done.

When a person builds it does not remain permanent. The opposite of muscular hypertrophy is atrophy. Muscular atrophy occurs when muscles are not in use or exercised. Muscles do not turn into fat when training stops. The only way weight can be changed is if diet is drastically altered. The image of Mina Mitsukoa demonstrates that muscles do not shift into fat. The image on the left show her when she competed as a bodybuilder and  the left shows her in her current career as an ophthalmologist. The difference is that her muscles are smaller due to the fact she is not training for competition. Knowing this about muscles has wider applications. Astronauts spending long periods of time in space must exercise regularly to maintain  bone  and  muscle mass. Another myth related to women’s fitness is that women are too weak for weight training.  As Crossfit athletes, Olympic lifters, and bodybuilders women’s bodies are  capable of  gaining  physical strength. Muscular hypertrophy operates in a similarly in both sexes. The difference is  related to degree in muscular gains which is related to  size, endocrine function , and genetics. What can be extrapolated from this information is that tone and bulk are just general terms for an appearance of a physique. Toning muscle without bulk is more of a paradox,because both involve lifting weights and eating a certain way.

Livestrong : How To Tone Muscles Without Bulk

Hot Pics # 10

This is the tenth set in an on going series of photographs. I thought I would celebrate with even more pictures. These include a mixture of new and past athletes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Pics # 10