Health & Fitness Digest - 3 September

If you want your kids to do better at school, make sure they're active in sports!

A new study from Denmark on children aged 9 demonstrated a clear positive impact between motor skills + exercise capacity on academic performance in mathematics and comprehension.

I won't bore you with the details. What you need to know is this: the better your child is at a variety of sports, the better he/she will perform in academics. It is really that simple.

Large-scale study reveals association between phthalates and risk of autism

This new metastudy (study of studies) from the Tehran University of Medical Sciences revealed a clear association between exposure to phthalates and increased risk of Autism.

In fact, other studies have frequently linked phthalates to a range of disorders, including breast cancer, endocrine (hormone) disruption, birth defects, and more.

What are phthalates? They are an artificially created chemical compound commonly found in a range of plastic products, including: food and drink plastic containers, a wide range of cosmetics, perfume, hair spray, floor coatings, shower curtains, and even our water supply (because of where the water comes from).

This is an interesting article summarizing the latest concerns surrounding phthalates and how to avoid them.

Significant calorie restriction transforms the type of fat cells we have

As you know, I'm a big fan of intermittent fasting (fasting for 18-24 hours once or twice a week).

I'm a fan not only because of fitness and body composition, but also because studies have demonstrated how intermittent fasting boosts your body's natural fat-burning ability, can help kill-off cancerous cells, and provides your body with the opportunity to detox itself.

In fact, studies have shown that cultures which incorporate intermittent fasting on a regular basis tend to "live longer" than average humans.

This new study published in Nature demonstrated how severe calorie restriction (such as intermittent fasting) "can turn white, energy-storing fat into beige, energy-burning fat". Of course this study was done on mice but the principles are valid for humans as well.

I would suggest that you start with 1 18-hour fast once a week (not on days when you're training hard), then build up to 2 days per week, then build up to 24 hours instead of 18.

Another study demonstrates that high intensity training is superior to moderate intensity when protecting against heart disease

If you are a frequent reader of my blog or watch my videos you'll know that I'm a big fan of high intensity training (HIT) and NOT a fan of moderate intensity cardio (based on all the research I've done over the years).

This new study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology compared HIT to moderate intensity cardio in relation to a variety of factors affecting cardiovascular disease risk. The winner (not surprisingly) was HIT, which not only demonstrated a stronger improvement in cardiometabolic factors, but required 27.5% less exercise duration (for those whose excuse is "not enough time to train".

The more hours you exercise the lower the chance of "pelvic girdle pain" during / after pregnancy

Pelvis girdle pain (pain in the pelvis / lower spine) is commonly associated with women during and following pregnancy. This new study from Denmark revealed a clear inverse relationship between frequency of exercise and pelvic girdle pain: the more hours of exercise / week, the lower the pain.