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Adventure : Fitness

How the Seasons Affect Fitness Motivation

The Emotional Calendar Dr. John R. Sharp, who teaches at Harvard and UCLA, has been practicing psychiatry for two decades. He brings his wisdom to the masses with The Emotional Calendar, a book of case studies and advice on recognizing and understanding the annual cycle of your emotions in relation to the four seasons. Here’s a re-cap of the Doc’s main pointers and how to tailor them for a healthy, active lifestyle throughout the year.

Motivation: It’s hard to get yourself out the door to train in the dead of winter or the dog days of summer. When you feel a lack of motivation, acknowledge it, identify how the weather outside affects you, then figure out how to make yourself accountable for getting a move on. A simple way to do this is to set up regular training dates with a buddy. 

Thought patterns: When you start thinking you can’t, nip that thought in the bud. Defeatist thinking naturally happens when we’re tried physically, mentally, or emotionally. It’s important to notice when these thoughts pop into your head so you can counteract them with self-motivating, positive thoughts. Simply put, tell yourself: "Yes, I can." And believe it.

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Is Gary Taubes America’s Most Controversial Nutrition Writer?

On Tuesday, Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories, and, most recently, Why We Get Fat, appeared on the Dr. Oz show where the two spared over the best approach to weight loss. Taubes insists it’s carbohydrates that make us plump (not to mention sick); Oz says it’s too many overall calories and lack of exercise. Afterwards, on his website, Taubes tried to explain himself further, grousing that the show’s producers “played him like the second coming of Atkins—a persona that my wife likes to refer to as ‘meat boy’.” He went on to point out how “Oz got to play the role of Harvest King, extolling the virtues of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains."

As Dr. Oz’s outspoken adversary, Gary Taubes’ theories go against Dr. Oz’s most fervent beliefs. In this web exclusive segment, Gary explains...

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Excessive Exercise Linked to Heart Damage

Marathon
Mumbai Marathon by through my eyes only on flickr

A study published recently by British researchers suggests that engaging in years of strenuous physical activity—such as marathons or ultramarathons—is associated with a greater likelihood of heart damage, The New York Times reports.

Researchers observed a group of men aged 50 and above who had been part of the British national or Olympic distance running and rowing teams, as well as members of the 100 Marathon Club (runners that have completed 100 marathons). Magnetic resonance images of these men's hearts were compared to those from two other groups—similarly aged non-endurance athletes and younger athletes—to determine any difference in fibrosis, or scarring of the heart's muscle tissue. The men who had engaged in years of endurance activity were associated with a greater likelihood of heart damage.

For most recreational athletes, however, the news should not be daunting.

“How many people are going to join the 100 Marathon club?” asked Dr. Paul Thompson, the chief of cardiology at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut and an expert on sports cardiology, in the New York Times article. “Not many. Too much exercise has not been a big problem in America. Most people just run to stay in shape, and for them, the evidence is quite strong that endurance exercise is good” for the heart, he said.

While it remains impossible to say at what point endurance exercise could begin to cause heart damage, absent the presence of heart arrhythmias or other signs of heart trouble, “I think it’s safe to say that you should keep it up,” Dr. Thompson said.

--Michael Webster

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Field Tested: Women's Early Spring Running Gear

It’s still winter, but spring is only a couple weeks away. Here’s what to wear on your runs to manage the transition in comfort and style.

Pearl Izumi Fly Jacket Pearl Izumi Fly Jacket: An extremely lightweight softshell with a lean silhouette. This wind jacket feels tissue-thin and very smooth. Wear 2-3 layers underneath on cold winter days; less for spring weather. There are small holes under the armpits for ventilation. A caveat for warm days: If you work up a serious sweat and there’s no wind to cool you down, the jacket can really cling to skin with which it’s directly in contact. There’s one pocket--on the left sleeve, with a headphone-cord hole--only big enough to stash your keys, so this jacket is best for runners who don’t need much pocket space. $110; pearlizumi.com

Nike Be Strong Pants Nike Dri-FIT Be Strong Training Pants: I like the cotton version. It’s very comfortable. These pants fit snugly around the lower waist, hips, and thighs, and the legs are slightly flared for a stylish look. The wide waistband flatters the stomach. If you know you’re going to sweat a lot during your workout, these pants might not be the best option. I found they’re not quick to wick moisture. But if it’s going to be an easy day, or it’s cold outside, or there’s a good spring breeze, these pants would work well. $40; nike.com

Pearl Izumi Infinity Pant Pearl Izumi Infinity Softshell Pant: Great for winter runs and cold spring days. The fabric strikes a good balance between insulation and breathability, which helps you stay warm and dry. The material is very soft and comfortable. There’s an internal drawstring in the elastic waistband and two handy, large side pockets at the hips. $100; pearlizumi.com

ASICS GT-2160 ASICS GT-2160: A solid road-running shoe. The 9.6-oz. GT-2160 has substantial cushioning for comfort and shock absorption, and it’s got a sock liner with antimicrobial properties. With a nod to the new season ahead, the insole has a nice floral pattern design—a pleasantly surprising burst of flair to get you in the mood for spring. $100; asicsamerica.com

Pearl Izumi Streak II Pearl Izumi Streak II: A great shoe. It’s so lightweight and well-fitting that I get excited to run in it every time I put it on. It can make your movement feel effortless and akin to running barefoot. The cushioning in the sole is just right--enough to support the foot, without being noticeable in weight or strike. I don’t even feel like I’m wearing shoes with these on. The Streak II blends into the background, so you can focus on running. $110; pearlizumi.com

--Aileen Torres

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Endurance Mice Live Longer

Endurance mice
Courtesy of Flickr

Want to live longer? Feel youthful? Look younger? Become an endurance athlete.

Premature aging in most organs was completely prevented in mice that ran on a treadmill three times a week for five months, according to a study by McMaster University researchers in Canada. The mice were genetically engineered to age quickly; those that had endurance exercise training appeared younger and healthier than their sedentary siblings that were balding, graying, unsocial and less fertile.

"We have clearly shown that there is no substitute for the 'real thing' of exercise when it comes to protection from aging," says Mark Tarnopolsky, principal investigator of the study. "Others have tried to treat these animals with 'exercise pill' drugs and have even tried to reduce their caloric intake, a strategy felt to be the most effective for slowing aging, and these were met with limited success."

Tarnopolsky's co-author, Jacqueline Bourgeois, says simply: "The recipe for healthy aging is very simple, and that's exercise." Their findings were published today in the science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

For more on exercise pills in mice, read "Faster. Higher. Squeakier." in the February 2011 issue of Outside.

--Whitney Dreier

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