Health & Fitness Digest - 7 May

In this digest:

  • Oral contraceptives dangerously increase inflammation levels in athletes
  • Interview with the fittest 96-year old on the planet!
  • Increase your rest between sets to boost testosterone
  • Oxford study: mindfulness meditation as powerful as anti-depressants


Oral contraceptives dangerously increase inflammation levels in athletes

A new study from Italy sought to test the link between oral contraceptives (the "pill") and inflammation in female athletes.

The discovered that oral contraceptives significantly increases levels of hsCRP and low-grade inflammation, exposing those athletes to higher risk of cardiovascular disease risk. 

Furthermore, the study found higher levels of triglycerides in athletes using oral contraceptives.

Back in 2013, I wrote a piece on how your menstrual cycle impacts your training & racing performance. You can read it here.


Interview with the fittest 96-year old on the planet!

I came across this interview with Charles Eugster, a 96-year old ex-dentist who holds the world record (for his age group) in 

200m (indoor) and 400m (outdoor) sprints, as well as British records in the 60m (indoor), 100m (outdoor), and 200m (outdoor).

He's also a "body-builder, a public speaker, a writer, a rower, a wakeboarder, an entrepreneur, and a budding fashion designer, planning his own line in elderly couture."

In this interview, he talks about "what makes him tick", his eating habits and which he credits for his health and strength, and drops numerous nuggets of wisdom. 

A MUST read.


Increase your rest between sets to boost testosterone

Recently I wrote a piece about the wide-spread testosterone deficiency facing men and women across all circles of life.

The problem is much more pronounced among men who regularly participate in hard training for endurance events or crossfit.

While heavy strength training along with sound nutrition (for example the body cannot produce testosterone without fat) can help alleviate (and maybe reverse) the problem, this new study provides some more help: increasing the rest duration between sets of hard exercise leads to longer-lasting elevation in testosterone. The duration which yielded the best results was 3 minutes (which is incidentally what I normally recommend during hard strength training sessions).

By contrast, the shorter the rest period, the quick testosterone levels drop back down. This may be one of the reasons why endurance training (with virtually no rest periods) and crossfit-like training (again with minimal rest) are linked to significant drops in testosterone.


Oxford study: mindfulness meditation as powerful as anti-depressants

I don't know what my life would be like if I hadn't been introduced to mindfulness techniques a while back.

I'm juggling so many things at once that I often feel that I'm about to "snap".

What keeps my wheels on the rails is (among other things) my daily mindfulness routine. It allows me to "reset" my brain, refocus on the positive things in my life, be grateful for what I have, and re-energise myself to accomplish my goals for the day.

Now, a new study coming out of Oxford University has demonstrated that "mindfulness-based cognitive behavior therapy" is as effective as anti-depressants, resulting in 30% lower risk of relapse in the 60 days following treatment.

What's also interesting is that the mindfulness techniques used were not specifically developed for treatment: they used techniques taught in general mindfulness programs.

I personally use Headspace for guided mindfulness.