Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A New Approach to Interval Training & The MIND Diet

A New Approach to Interval Training
It has long been known that highly motivated athletes benefit from interval training, but that most people don’t stick to programs that call for all-out effort for 4 minutes, or even 30 seconds.  It’s hard!  Researchers in Denmark looked for easier ways to improve athletic endurance that would keep people motivated, even non-athletes.  They devised a method called 30-20-10 (some prefer to call it 10-20-30) that keeps the all-out effort down to 10 seconds, and yet is effective in improving overall speed, endurance, and also may bring down blood pressure and LDL cholesterol in some adherents.  Here’s how it works.  Warm up at an easy pace by jogging, riding a bike, rowing, or walking before you begin the intervals.  Then start by spending the first 30 seconds at a easy, gentle pace, the second 20 seconds going moderately hard, and the final 10 seconds in all out effort.  Do five of these 30-20-10 intervals in a row, and then rest for two minutes by standing or walking slowly.  Do one more set of the five intervals and then stop for the day.  The Danish researchers recommend that you take a day off between this method of training.  

If you are already a jogger, rower or cyclist, this type of interval training my help you improve your speed in less time and with less pain.  If you are not in shape, be sure to have a checkup with your healthcare provider, and start with a gentle walking program.  Don’t take chances with your heart!  If all goes well, you can bring interval training into your walking program as time goes on.

The Mind Diet
Researchers at Rush University in Chicago have published a study in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia in which they describe the benefits of what they call the MIND Diet .  This diet, a combination of the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (the DASH diet) was shown to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 53% in participants who adhered to the plan rigorously, and by about 35 % in those who followed it moderately well.  The diet advises people to eat the following foods:  green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and a glass of wine.  Salad is advised daily, along with another vegetable.  Three servings of whole grains are advised.  The diet also involves snacking on nuts most days, eating beans every day or so, poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week.  Blueberries and strawberries are considered especially helpful for the brain.  

Foods to avoid include: red meat, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, fried foods and fast foods.  Butter should be less than a tablespoon daily, the other foods should b eaten less than once a week.

Subjects for the Rush University study were volunteers already participating in the Rush Memory and Aging Project.  They were enlisted among residents of Chicago-area retirement communities and senior public housing.  The study began in 1997; an optional food frequency questionnaire was added from 2004 to 20013.  There were 923 volunteers, and 144 cases of Alzheimer’s developed in this cohort.  In this study, the diet plan was shown to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 53% in participants who adhered to the plan rigorously, and by about 35 % in those who followed it moderately well.  

It is important to know that there are lifestyle interventions that can help reduce the risk of dementia.  Exercise is one of them, and the dietary approaches outlined here (familiar to all my readers!) can be added to the list.   Give a virtual hug to our local farmers and the workers at the People’s Store, who make adherence to a healthy diet so easy and pleasant.

Sadja Greenwood, MD, MPH   

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