Spring 2019 Research Roundup: Exercise’s Effects on Longevity & Blood Pressure; Workout Frequency on Strength & Size Gains; HIIT vs. SIT For Fat Loss
Workout Harder and Smarter!
Rounding up the most important health and fitness studies of Q1 2019 that you can put to use right now!
1. Effectiveness of Exercise vs. Medication For Reducing Blood Pressure
A third of adults ages 40 to 59 have high blood pressure, or hypertension. So do nearly two-thirds of the population age 60 and older. That makes high blood pressure among the most common medical conditions in the United States.
The medications used to treat hypertension are also one of the leading contributors to adverse drug side effects, so finding ways to lower blood pressure naturally is a huge priority for healthcare providers.
The British Journal of Sports Medicine recently published a meta-analysis examining the benefits of exercise vs. medication for lowering blood pressure. The results? In healthy people, medication lowered blood pressure more effectively than exercise. However, as the starting baseline blood pressure increased, exercise was equally or even more effective as medication. Daily endurance or combination endurance/strength training had the greatest effects, and time/intensity didn’t make a significant difference.
If you’re prone to hypertension, getting any sort of endurance or endurance/strength training just once a day makes a huge difference.
2. Muscular Strength and Mortality
A new meta-analysis of 33 different studies from the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation examined the relationship between muscular strength and mortality risk (likelihood of death). They found that a stronger handgrip strength (being in the top 1/3 of healthy adults) was correlated to a 31% reduction in mortality while a greater leg extension strength (again, top 1/3 of adults) dropped mortality risk by 14%.
The takeaway: being stronger helps you live longer!
3. Training Frequency on Size & Strength Gains
Training frequency is a trending topic of research, with a ton of new studies examining how to best program a workout schedule for strength and size gains. The traditional thinking is that training more frequently allows for higher volumes and provides more opportunities to improve the ‘brain-body connection’ aspect of strength training, while fewer sets per workout allow for better intensity and effort.
A new study from Frontiers in Physiology put 20 volunteers through 11 weeks of quadricep exercises, with one group doing one session per week of 6 sets x 12 reps and the other group performing three sets per week of 2 sets x 12 reps. They found that while there was no difference in hypertrophy (muscle growth), the higher-frequency group improved their 1-rep max and maximum voluntary contraction torque.
A separate meta-study from the journal Sports Medicine found that this improved strength response to higher frequency training was most pronounced in young adults and women, and especially for upper body and multi-joint exercises (squat, bench press, overhead press, etc).
Higher-frequency training (3x per week per muscle group) is potentially better than low-frequency training (1x per week) for increasing strength but not necessarily hypertrophy. Other recent studies have shown that hypertrophy is almost entirely dependent on volume (total number of sets per week, whether done all at once or split into multiple days). But because of the strength gain advantages, upping frequency is the preferable method of increasing volume.
4. High Intensity Interval Training vs. Sprint Interval Training for Fat Loss
Finally, the last study we’ll look at evaluated the effects of high intensity interval training (HIIT) and sprint interval training (SIT) on body composition and heart health.
The HIIT cycling workouts comprised of four 4-minute efforts at 90–95% of maximum heart rate with 3 minutes of active rest between at 50–60% of maximum HR (a total of 33 minutes). The sprint interval training cycling workouts involved four 30-second all-out efforts with 4 minutes of light cycling in between (a total of 23 minutes). Workouts were done 3 times a week for 8 weeks.
The researchers tracked waist circumference, body fat and VO2 peak (a measure of endurance and heart health). While both groups had similar reductions in waist circumference and improvements in VO2, the SIT group had a 22.2% reduction in body fat compared to the HIIT group’s reduction of 15.8% over 8 weeks.
The bottom line: Sprint interval training achieves significantly greater fat loss compared to high intensity interval training, even with shorter workouts. The fact that SIT avoids the need for a device to keep track of your heart rate is an added benefit.
The Ascent Chiropractic Difference
At Ascent Chiropractic we’re all about helping you reach your full potential. Whether you’re a pro athlete, weekend warrior or just looking to tone up, study after study shows that regular chiropractic care is an essential part of reaching your full potential. Ready to get stronger and looking for a Brookfield chiropractor? To make an appointment at Ascent Chiropractic, call 262-345-4166 or schedule an appointment with our online scheduling app.
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