Causes of gray hair, HDL cholesterol and interval training, ice therapy, obesity tax

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A column by Mike Furci that brings you research, trends and other info to help you with your fitness, health and nutritional needs.

...wisdom has nothing to do with your hair turning gray? According to European scientists, gray is caused by a massive buildup of hydrogen peroxide due to wear and tear of our hair follicles. The peroxide blocks the normal synthesis of melanin, the hair's natural pigment. All of our hair cells make small amounts of hydrogen peroxide, but as we get older, this process speeds up. We actually bleach our hair from within. ("Science Daily," Feb. 24, 2009)

Pete Docter...high intensity interval training can have a positive effect on high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels? Three dozen untrained men, ages 21 to 36, participated in a study to determine whether an 8-week program of high intensity interval training would significantly raise HDL cholesterol and reduce total cholesterol. Participants were randomly assigned to an interval training group or a control group. The interval training group ran four sets of 800 meter intervals with a 1:1 work-to-rest ratio, at 90 percent of their age-predicted maximum heart rate. The interval sessions were performed three times per week. The control group was instructed not to participate in any vigorous activity during the training period. The results indicate that high intensity interval training with a 1:1 work-to-rest ratio is capable of elevating HDL in young men with normal total cholesterol, but seems to have no effect on total cholesterol. ("Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research," 2009; 23(2): 587-592)

More research should be done to see if men with high total cholesterol would benefit from this type of training. This would only interest somebody who believes in the lipid hypothesis, which implicates cholesterol as the cause of heart disease. Those of you familiar with my writings know I disagree with that notion.

...even though ice therapy is a crucial therapy for reducing edema, inflammation, and pain, timing is very important? Researchers from Old Dominion University measured the immediate and short term effects of three and 10-minute ice bag applications to the hamstrings on functional performance. A total of 42 injury-free recreational athletes participated in the study. Power and functional performance was impaired immediately following and 20 minutes after the 10-minute ice bag application. The three-minute ice bag application had no effect. ("Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research," 2009; 23(1): 40-50)

Cryotherapy prior to an activity will have an adverse effect because of the depressing effects on motor activity. The muscle being cooled becomes less able to generate force. This inability to generate maximum force is caused by decreased nerve conduction. Cooling a muscle prior to an activity also increases your risk of injury.

Pete Docter...the state of New York is considering imposing an "obesity tax" on its citizens or anyone who visits? The obesity tax would place an 18 percent sales tax on non-diet soda and other sweetened beverages with less than 70 percent fruit juice. Of course, Gov. Patterson is for it because it will generate an estimated $400 million. State Health Commissioner Richard Daines made a You Tube video explaining why he thinks it's a good idea. He points out obesity rates and shows a comparison of milk and soda consumption.

I personally think this is BS. It's another example of big brother coming down on Joe Citizen and imposing its will. The state of New York is trying to take away freedom of choice under the disguise they are concerned about our health. What's next, the type of car you drive, the type of meat you eat, what kind of clothes you can buy? Government has no business making decisions for us by taxation. They are legal products and this is a free nation. Don't Tread on Me!

...athletes receive massage post-exercise in order to hasten recovery? In a study, 60 healthy subjects underwent two exercise protocols two weeks apart. After the subjects recovered from the workout they were randomly assigned to a massage group or a placebo group. Saliva samples were taken before and after the training, as well as after the recovery. In both groups, exercise induced an increase in cortisol; a decrease in salivary IgA; and an increase in total saliva protein. Massage had a significant effect on IgA and total protein levels, but no effect on cortisol. Because massage had a significant effect on IgA, one could infer massage would help recovery by improving the immunosuppressive effects of exercise. This is a stretch. ("Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research," 2009; 23(1): 638-644)

Unfortunately, this study showed no effect on lowering post-exercise cortisol levels, and higher cortisol levels are not what an athlete wants in terms of achieving recovery.

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