Category Archives: Exercise and Health

Why Exercise Is Best Done Outside

outside-exercciseIt’s not secret that one of the essential components of a healthy lifestyle is exercise: from lowering the risk of physical disease or the need for joint replacement to improving your emotional and mental wellbeing, exercise is critical for longevity and a higher quality of life. However, dragging yourself to the gym isn’t always appealing, and exercise that isn’t enjoyable can become exercise that isn’t done.  A new study by the University of Innsbruck in Austria has found that the best way to exercise is by heading outdoors, whether for a vigorous walk in the woods or a casual stroll near your house.

In the past, experts believed that a successful exercise regimen boiled down to two factors: intensity and duration. They figured that the secret to getting people to exercise was short, high-intensity workouts: this ensured that busy professionals weren’t strapped for time, though the intensity and effort could become off-putting. 

The new study, published in PLOS One,  believes that a workout’s emphasis should instead be on duration and enjoyment. To test this, they recruited 40 volunteers from Innsbruck to complete several prolonged workouts, completing mood and anxiety tests before and after. 

First, a guide took them around the surrounding mountains for a brisk, but not strenuous, three-hour walk.  Next, they were required to complete a similar workout on a treadmill within a gym, working out next to other participants and encouraged to converse. Finally, they spent three hours in a room at the university where they could spend time on the computer, read magazines, or chat with each other.

Analyzing the results, the scientists found that the mountain hike was the most taxing of all the activities and heart rates had risen more, although participants noted it felt less strenuous than the treadmill exercise. Happiness scores were significantly higher after the outdoor hike, although those after the treadmill walk were more elevated than just sitting and talking. 

Long walks outside may be a healthy alternative to intensive gym workouts, and the study is a reminder that even for those who can’t compete interval training, there are plenty of options to exercise and optimize your health. Consulting with an orthopedic surgeon can help you determine the best regimen.

Is joint pain impacting your ability to lead a healthy, active lifestyle? Interested in learning more about walking and exercising after joint replacement surgery? Dr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, can help advise you of the best 

Like Exercising? Avoid Painkillers

painkillersOver-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen and aspirin may seem a great way to alleviate soreness and pain after a particularly vigorous run or strength training session. These nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS, suppress inflammation, but recent studies published in the Emergency Medical Journal and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences have found this may not be without consequence. When combined with exercise, they may overwork the kidneys and impede the muscles’ recovery. 

Unfortunately, ibuprofen and similar drugs have a long relationship with athletes, especially those engaging in more strenuous activities like marathon running. Some studies have found that more than 75% of long-distance runners rely on NSAIDS to blunt the strain of training and competitions. 

A team from Stanford University began investigating the true impact of NSAIDS after it was found that those that take them may still experience muscle soreness.

Essentially, NSAIDS block the production of prostaglandins, a biochemical that heads to the site of an injury and begins the process that creates pain and inflammation. To increase blood flow to the area, prostaglandins also stimulate blood vessels to dilate. NSAIDS limits the amount of prostaglandins, lessening inflammation. 

The Stanford researchers studied 89 participants in multiday marathons around the globe, having them swallow either an ibuprofen pill or placebo pill every four hours during a 50-mile leg. They then studied the amount of creatinine in the racers’ blood. Creatinine, a byproduct of the kidneys filtering the blood, can help show kidney injury — the higher the levels of creatinine in an otherwise healthy person, the more likely a person is to have an injury. 

Runners who took ibuprofen were 18% more likely than their counterparts to have developed an acute kidney injury. Though 44% of all runners had high levels of creatinine, those who ingested ibuprofen had more severe injury. 

The Stanford team followed this with a study looking at how NSAIDS impact a body’s response to exertion within the muscles. They found that, in mice, NSAIDS block muscles’ ability to rebuild after strenuous exercise, and the healed muscle tissue isn’t as strong as that which hasn’t been exposed to a painkiller. 

It’s important to remember that inflammation, while uncomfortable, is part of the body’s natural healing process and an essential component to regeneration and regrowth. If pain is an issue, ice baths can be an effective, safe remedy to sore muscles, keeping your body strong, healthy, and primed for competition.

Is joint pain impacting your ability to live an active life? Questions about exercising after joint replacement surgery? Dr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon,  is an expert in knee surgery and hip replacement surgery and can help combat pain and return you to an active lifestyle.