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Running to music combats mental fatigue – study

Listening to music while running might be the key to improving people’s performance when they feel mentally fatigued, a study suggests.

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Listening to music while running might be the key to improving people’s performance when they feel mentally fatigued, a study suggests.

The performance of runners who listened to a self-selected playlist after completing a demanding thinking task was at the same level as when they were not mentally fatigued, the research found.

The study is the first to investigate the effect of listening to music playlists on endurance running capacity and performance when mentally fatigued.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh used two tests to study how listening to music affected the running performance of eighteen fitness enthusiasts.

One test looked at the effects on interval running capacity – alternating between high intensity running and lower intensity jogging – with a group of nine physically active exercisers, and the other on a 5km time-trial with a group of nine trained runners.

The groups completed a 30 minute computer based cognitive test which put them in a mentally fatigued state before completing high intensity exercise. The runners were tested with and without self-selected motivational music.

Researchers assisted participants in choosing motivational songs with a pre-test questionnaire asking them to rate the rhythm, style, melody, tempo, sound and beat of the music.

Examples of songs participants listened to were: Everyday by A$ap Rocky; Addicted To You by Avicii; Run This Town by Jay-Z; Power by Kanye West; No One Knows by Queens of the Stone Age; and Eye of the Tiger by Survivor.

During the exercise, heart rate and rating of perceived exertion were measured at multiple points.

The team took into account the results of a baseline test taken by participants which was without a mentally demanding test beforehand – and without the use of music.

The researchers found the interval running capacity among the mentally fatigued fitness enthusiasts was moderately greater with music compared to without music, and was the same as when the participants were not mentally fatigued.

The 5km time-trial performances also showed small improvements with self-selected music versus no music.

Researchers say the positive effects of music could potentially be due to altered perception of effort when listening to tunes.

Dr Shaun Phillips, of the University of Edinburgh’s Moray House School of Education and Sport, said: “Mental fatigue is a common occurrence for many of us, and can negatively impact many of our day-to-day activities, including exercise. Finding safe and effective ways to reduce this negative impact is therefore useful.

“The findings indicate that listening to self-selected motivational music may be a useful strategy to help active people improve their endurance running capacity and performance when mentally fatigued. This positive impact of self-selected music could help people to better maintain the quality and beneficial impact of their exercise sessions.”

Researchers say there are opportunities for further study into how listening to music while running affects larger and different groups of people, in different settings, and using different exercise challenges. Work in these areas is ongoing at the University of Edinburgh.

The study is published in the Journal of Human Sport and Exercise.

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Fitness

How exercise interventions could help people with asthma

Research has shown that people living with asthma engage in less physical activity and are more sedentary than people without asthma.

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Interventions aimed at promoting physical activity in people with asthma could improve their symptoms and quality of life – according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

Researchers looked at whether interventions such as aerobic and strength or resistance training, had helped participants with asthma.

Although they found that these interventions worked, patients with asthma may have had difficulty undertaking them because of their difficulty travelling to fitness groups or because the interventions were not suitable for people with additional health conditions.

But the team say that digital interventions – such as video appointments, smartwatches and mobile apps – could remove some of these barriers and enable patients to carry out home-based programmes in future.

Prof Andrew Wilson, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “Being physically active is widely recommended for people with asthma. Doing more than 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous physical activity has extensive benefits including improved lung function and asthma control.

“But research has shown that people living with asthma engage in less physical activity and are more sedentary than people without asthma.

“We wanted to find out whether interventions – such as being asked to perform aerobic exercise a few times a week in group sessions, together with ‘goal setting’ – are effective in helping people with asthma be more active.”

The team studied interventions that were designed to promote physical activity in adults with asthma. They looked at 25 separate studies from around the world involving 1,849 participants with asthma, to see whether their symptoms and quality of life were changed thanks to the interventions.

Postgraduate researcher Leanne Tyson, also from UEA’s Norwich Medical School said: “We found that interventions that promote physical activity had significant benefits in terms of increasing physical activity, decreasing time spent sedentary, improving quality of life, and decreasing asthma symptoms.

“This is really important because helping patients make significant behaviour changes could really improve their outcomes in the long term.

“Our review also highlights the potential use of digital interventions, which were notably absent.

“This is important now more than ever as patients have not been able to attend face-to-face support during the Covid-19 pandemic, and services will likely become overwhelmed. Therefore, alternative interventions and methods of delivery need to be considered.”

This study was funded by the Asthma UK Centre For Applied Research.

‘A Systematic Review of the Characteristics of Interventions that Promote Physical Activity in Adults with Asthma’ is published in the Journal of Health Psychology.

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Fitness

Study: Exercising at the start of fast can help people reach ketosis 3.5 hours faster

Exercise made a big difference: when participants exercised, they reached ketosis on average three and a half hours earlier in the fast and produced 43% more BHB. The theory is that the initial exercise burns through a substantial amount of the body’s glucose, prompting a quicker transition to ketosis. Without exercise, the participants hit ketosis about 20 to 24 hours into the fast.

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A new Brigham Young University study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise finds that exercising intensely at the start of a fast may help maximize health benefits of temporarily foregoing food.

“We really wanted to see if we could change the metabolism during the fast through exercise, especially how quickly the body enters ketosis and makes ketones,” said BYU Ph.D. student Landon Deru, who helped design the study for his thesis.

Ketosis occurs when the body runs out of glucose — its first, preferred fuel — and begins breaking down stored fat for energy, producing chemicals called ketones as a byproduct. In addition to being a healthy energy source for the brain and heart, ketones combat diseases like diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

For the study, the researchers asked 20 healthy adults to complete two 36-hour fasts while staying hydrated. Each fast began after a standardized meal, the first fast starting without exercise and the other with a challenging treadmill workout. Every two hours while awake, the subjects completed hunger and mood assessments and recorded their levels of B-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), a ketone-like chemical.

Exercise made a big difference: when participants exercised, they reached ketosis on average three and a half hours earlier in the fast and produced 43% more BHB. The theory is that the initial exercise burns through a substantial amount of the body’s glucose, prompting a quicker transition to ketosis. Without exercise, the participants hit ketosis about 20 to 24 hours into the fast.

“For me, the toughest time for fasting is that period between 20 and 24 hours, so if I can do something to stop fasting before 24 hours and get the same health outcomes, that’s beneficial,” said study coauthor Bruce Bailey, a BYU exercise science professor. “Or if I do fast for my usual 24 hours but start with exercise, I’ll get even more benefits.”

There are a few caveats to the proposed strategy, however.

“If you carb load or eat a huge meal before you fast, you may not reach ketosis for days, even if you do exercise, so you should eat moderately before fasting,” Bailey said. “We also don’t know the ideal frequency for fasting. There are definitely certain people who shouldn’t fast, such as those with Type 1 diabetes, and obviously it’s detrimental to fast 24/7. But for most people it’s perfectly safe and healthy to fast once or even twice a week for 24 or more hours.”

The study, which required participants to run on a treadmill for an average of 45 to 50 minutes, also didn’t establish an ideal amount or type of exercise for every person. Overall, though, the researchers believe the more energy a person can burn, the better.

“You can get a pretty good estimation of how many calories you’re burning in most exercises, and the more carbohydrates you burn off (without overdoing it or injuring yourself), the better you set the stage for starting ketosis early in your fast,” Deru said.

Also important to note is that, according to the participants’ reports, exercise didn’t seem to aggravate hunger or affect moods during the fast.

“Everyone’s going to be a little grumpier when they fast, but we found that you aren’t going to feel worse with the intervention of exercise — with exercise, you can get these extra benefits and be the exact same amount of grumpy as you would be if you didn’t exercise,” said Deru.

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Wellness

Top 5 heat tips for those with medical-based heat intolerance

Prolonged exposure to routine summer weather is a persistent issue for those with chronic diseases. But the recent record-breaking temperatures are causing ripple effects, sparking symptom flareups, inflammation, and debilitating fatigue.

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The current and seemingly relentless heat waves are dangerous to a growing, but often overlooked community, people with medically-caused heat intolerance, often associated with neurological and autoimmune diseases.

Prolonged exposure to routine summer weather is a persistent issue for those with chronic diseases. But the recent record-breaking temperatures are causing ripple effects, sparking symptom flareups, inflammation, and debilitating fatigue.

“The general public doesn’t really understand what fatigue means,” said Kim Klein, 63. “It causes overwhelming brain fog and I can’t think straight — it gets the best of me. Trying to stay ahead of my multiple sclerosis-related fatigue is the best thing I can do.”

“Extreme heat unfortunately impacts Kim Klein and many of our clients disproportionately,” says Kurtis Kracke, ThermApparel CEO. “But people without chronic disease need to be vigilant as well since many common medications for blood pressure, allergies, and depression, are compounding these issues for all of us. This is a recipe for disaster.”

ThermApparel’s Top Five Tips to Battle Unprecedented Heat Waves:

  1. Limit your exposure: reduce activity, stay indoors, find air conditioning, drink fluids, avoid caffeine, and liquor.
  2. Using a cooling vest can reduce symptom flareups, shorten fatigue, and increase recovery times.
  3. Inflammation and fatigue are your worst enemies: If you must be active, know that heat can aggravate inflammation, and increase corresponding fatigue.
  4. Understand your medications and which can increase your risk to heat-related illness: antidepressants, blood pressure meds, antihistamines, etc.
  5. Know that when it is over 85 degrees, your heart is working double or triple than normal to cool your body down.
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