ATP: You’re never too old to regain that lost muscle.

Starting sometime in our 30s (the data aren’t precise), we lose up to 8 percent of our muscle mass per decade, a decline called sarcopenia, along with up to 30 percent of our strength and power. This leaves us weaker, less mobile and — especially after we cross age 50 — more vulnerable to injury from falls and similar accidents.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Men and women can regain some of that lost muscle mass and, importantly, stay strong enough to enjoy youthful activities well into their winter years, experts say.

You’re never too old to regain that lost muscle. And you can do it at home. “Building and maintaining strength is one of the most important things you can do at any stage of life, and it’s extremely important after age 50,” a sports medicine physician said.


Source: Washington Post Wellness

Could a Keto Diet Be Bad for Athletes’ Bones?

Race walkers on a low-carbohydrate, high-fat ketogenic diet showed early signs indicative of bone loss.

A low-carbohydrate, high-fat ketogenic diet could alter bone health in athletes, according to a thought-provoking new study of elite race walkers and their skeletons. The study, one of the first to track athletes during several weeks of intense training, finds that those following a ketogenic diet developed early signs indicative of bone loss.

The study adds to the considerable existing evidence that how we eat can affect how exercise affects us. It also raises concerns about possible, long-term health impacts from popular diet plans, including a high-fat, ketogenic diet.

Anyone interested in health, wellness, weight loss, exercise, food or best seller lists is familiar, by now, with ketogenic diets. Known more familiarly as keto diets, they are extremely low-carbohydrate, high-fat regimens, with as much as 90 percent of daily calories coming from fats.

Ketogenic diets, if followed scrupulously, reshape how our bodies fuel themselves. Because carbohydrates can be rapidly metabolized, our bodies typically turn to them first for energy, whether the carbohydrates come from our diets or stored sources in our muscles and livers.

But if people follow a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet, they soon burn through their stored carbohydrates and their bodies start relying on fat for energy. The fat must be broken down first, however, and, as part of that process, the liver creates substances known as ketone bodies that can be converted into energy.

Ketogenic diets are popular now — as they have been off and on in the past — among people hoping to lose weight, control blood sugar or otherwise regulate their health. Some athletes also follow the diet, hoping that it will improve performance, since fat, as fuel, is ample, slow-burning and long-lasting.

By Gretchen Reynolds NYTimes

The Crazy Thing That Can Happen to Your Feet (plantar fasciitis)

Recent studies show that foot fitness—and these 5 exercises—can help prevent bunions and plantar fasciitis, ward off shin splints, and, quite possibly, save your life.

If you’re like most people, you probably do not spend a ton of time, if any, thinking about the muscles in your feet. In fact, you likely can’t even name them. Think about it: You know your biceps and triceps are in your upper arms. You’re certainly aware that the front side of your thighs is your quads, and the back sides are your hamstrings. But the muscles that lets you lift your big toe and press it against the ground, that’s called…uh….the, um…

Abductor hallucis is the phrase you’re looking for. You were just about to say that, right? You can group it in with a larger formation of muscles known as the plantar intrinsics, a not-particularly-well-understood group that both begin and end within the confines of the foot.

Only recently, researchers have been able to take a detailed look at what, exactly, these muscles do. Among those leading the charge is Luke A. Kelly, PhD, a biomechanics research fellow at the University of Queensland in Australia. His work over the past five years has shown that the plantar intrinsics play a crucial role in maintaining balance, especially when you are standing on one leg.

Why is this important? One of the biggest risks you’ll face during your life is falling. In fact, falls are the number one cause of injuries and death among older Americans. Whether you’re a senior or a millennial (or somewhere in between), those tiny-but-crucial muscles in your foot that keep you upright are getting weaker by the moment. A recent study released in March 2017 examined toe flexor (part of the plantar intrinsics) strength in more than 1,400 men and found it was a good indicator of one’s body composition and metabolic health. It also showed that an age-related decline in strength developed earlier in the toe flexors than it did the grip (another effective predictor of a long, healthy life), and that strength dropped more sharply.

All of which is to say that the little muscles in your feet are a bigger deal than you think, and not just because weak plantar intrinsics have been linked to bunionsplantar fasciitis, and shin splints (although all of this is true). The strength of your feet and toes is reflective of your strength overall.

Here are five foot-strengthening exercises that help counteract the dysfunctional loading of our feet, restore them to their proper alignment, and strengthen the muscles helping to keep you upright.



The Quiet Brain of the Athlete

The brains of fit, young athletes dial down extraneous noise and attend to important sounds better than those of other young people.


Top athletes’ brains are not as noisy as yours and mine, according to a fascinating new study of elite competitors and how they process sound. The study finds that the brains of fit, young athletes dial down extraneous noise and attend to important sounds better than those of other young people, suggesting that playing sports may change brains in ways that alter how well people sense and respond to the world around them.

For most of us with normal hearing, of course, listening to and processing sounds are such automatic mental activities that we take them for granted.

But “making sense of sound is actually one of the most complex jobs we ask of our brains,” says Nina Kraus, a professor and director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., who oversaw the new study.

Sound processing also can be a reflection of broader brain health, she says, since it involves so many interconnected areas of the brain that must coordinate to decide whether any given sound is familiar, what it means, if the body should respond and how a particular sound fits into the broader orchestration of other noises that constantly bombard us.

And they have found interesting variations in proficiency. The brains of trained musicians, for instance, tend to show greater spikes in processing activity when they hear the “da” than do the brains of other people, indicating that learning and practicing musicianship also hones and refines the portions of the brain that process sound.

Some of the athletes’ acoustic agility most likely developed during years of attending to crucial sounds despite clatter, Dr. Kraus says. “You have to be able to hear the coach yelling something or what a teammate is saying,” she says. “Brains change in response to that kind of repeated experience,” and the sound-processing components within the brain strengthen.

But many of the athletes played sports that, typically, are not noisy, she points out. Cross-country running and golf, for instance, most likely demand less sound filtering during most practices and competitions than a sport like football or basketball. But the university’s runners and golfers had brains just as quiet as those of linemen.

For them, “fitness and regular movement of the body also change the brain,” Dr. Kraus says. And sports that seem quiet can still demand a focus on subtle sounds and signals, like the whoosh of a breeze through branches alerting golfers and runners to wind speed or a creak in a joint that could warn of early injury.

Over all, the results suggest that being active, whether as part of a team or on your own, may alter how well brains respond to and understand sounds.

This kind of study cannot tell us definitively, though, whether being an athlete changed the young people’s brains or whether they succeeded as athletes because they were better at sound processing from the start. Dr. Kraus hopes that her continuing research with the university’s sports teams will help to answer that question, as well as whether older people can reshape their sound processing by becoming active.

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Playing tennis can increase life expectancy by 10 years

Playing tennis could increase life expectancy by a decade, according to an ongoing cardiovascular study.

The Copenhagen City Heart Study has examined people over a 25-year period and evaluated improvements in life expectancy through participation in various sports and leisure-time activities.

In total, 8577 participants were examined for all-cause mortality between 10 October 1991 and 16 September 1994 until 22 March 2017, with various sports found to improve and increase life expectancy.

Of the sports included in the observational study, tennis topped the charts for potential life expectancy gains by some considerable distance, with results suggesting as many as 9.7 years could be added to an individual’s existence.

This is 3.5 years more than its nearest competitor badminton, the playing of which has been found to increase life expectancy by 6.2 years, with football having the potential to add 4.7 years and cycling 3.7 years.

Swimming was found to boost life expectancy rates by 3.4 years, jogging by 3.2 years, calisthenics by 3.1 years and health club activities by 1.5 years.

A further conclusion of the study suggests that leisure-time sports which involve greater levels of social interaction are associated with the higher levels of longevity. The study intends to investigate this finding further.


Should You Have Knee Replacement Surgery?

Some experts question whether the surgery is being done too often or too soon on patients who have not adequately explored less invasive approaches.

For the vast majority of patients with debilitating knee pain, joint replacement surgery is considered an “elective” procedure.

While it’s true that one’s life doesn’t depend on it, what about quality of life? Many people hobbling about on painful knees would hardly regard the surgery as optional. Consider, for example, two people I know: a 56-year-old man passionate about tennis who can no longer run for a bus, let alone on the court, and a 67-year-old otherwise healthy woman with bone-on-bone arthritis who can’t walk without a cane or stand for more than a few minutes.

They have reason to think it may be time to replace their worn-out knees with artificial ones, an operation that is now among the most frequently performed costly medical procedures in the United States. But some leading medical economists are asking whether this surgery is being done too often or too soon on patients who have not adequately explored less invasive approaches to relieve their pain and improve their mobility.

I certainly had done due diligence before opting to have both knees replaced 14 years ago at age 63. I had wanted to wait longer, given that the life expectancy of artificial knees was then 10 to 15 years, and I would have liked Medicare to help foot the bill. I had no weight to lose and had done months of physical therapy that made me stronger but not better. I tried gel injections to no effect, and was living on anti-inflammatory drugs just to get through the day.

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Preventing Muscle Loss as We Age

Sarcopenia, a decline in skeletal muscle in older people, contributes to loss of independence.

“Use it or lose it.” I’m sure you’re familiar with this advice. And I hope you’ve been following it. I certainly thought I was. I usually do two physical activities a day, alternating among walking, cycling and swimming. I do floor exercises for my back daily, walk up and down many stairs and tackle myriad physical tasks in and around my home.

My young friends at the Y say I’m in great shape, and I suppose I am compared to most 77-year-old women in America today. But I’ve noticed in recent years that I’m not as strong as I used to be. Loads I once carried rather easily are now difficult, and some are impossible.

Thanks to an admonition from a savvy physical therapist, Marilyn Moffat, a professor at New York University, I now know why. I, like many people past 50, have a condition called sarcopenia — a decline in skeletal muscle with age. It begins as early as age 40 and, without intervention, gets increasingly worse, with as much as half of muscle mass lost by age 70. (If you’re wondering, it’s replaced by fat and fibrous tissue, making muscles resemble a well-marbled steak.)

“Sarcopenia can be considered for muscle what osteoporosis is to bone,” Dr. John E. Morley, geriatrician at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, wrote in the journal Family Practice. He pointed out that up to 13 percent of people in their 60s and as many as half of those in their 80s have sarcopenia.

As Dr. Jeremy D. Walston, geriatrician at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, put it, “Sarcopenia is one of the most important causes of functional decline and loss of independence in older adults.”


Stop Chronic Injuries

Tennis can be tough on your body!  Just ask Federer, Nadal and the typical club member at Manly Lawn.  It’s been cold, wet and windy in Sydney for Badge — the perfect recipe for injury!

At some point, particularly as we age, our injuries become chronic — and our recovery time between play becomes longer. The result: we play less and, even more, are less inclined to play!

For chronic injuries, the Guys from Trident may be able to help you like they did for me — and my bum shoulder. Their methodology — small, targeted interventions to keep you moving,  is similar to the Carrolls, the tennis trainers, who used to keep me on the courts in California.  US Nationals are typically five day events on brutal hard courts, so you needed all the help you could get to make it through to finals day — if you were good enough.

For the rest of us, here’s a link to a series of warm-up and cool-down exercises that were created specifically for tennis players to stop injury or discomfort before it begins.  I have used a variation of Pete’s exercises for many years to continue to play competitively — here’s an example.

I can attest that these exercise, when done regularly, will help you feel more agile, relieve any joint or muscle tightness, and ensure that you are ready for most shots that comes your way — so you can play tennis for life!

Wishing you good health and tennis for life,

This is what exercise/tennis does for your brain

I’m not shy in my advocacy for exercise as a therapy for mental health. It’s something I talk about often, something I’ve experienced first-hand, a topic I’m passionate about, and over the past few years, something I’ve continued to research and strived to understand better.

This is what I’ve learnt – the human brain is fascinating and we’re continuing to discover more about its capabilities every day. We certainly don’t know all there is to understand about the connection between physical exercise and mental health, but I hope you’ll agree, moving our body is something our brain wants and something our mind can hugely benefit from.

Here’s just some of the reasons why.

It releases feel good chemicals in your brain

Most of us will have heard of endorphins – the ultimate “feel good” chemicals that our body releases when we exercise. Endorphins are what we can thank for that blissful ‘post-exercise high’ that often follows a good sweat session. These chemicals interact with the receptors in our brain that reduce our perception of pain and trigger a positive feeling in the body. Endorphins help to reduce stress and anxiety, but when we exercise, there are other mood boosting chemicals at play as well.

Exercise also increases the production of serotonin in the brain, which works as a natural antidepressant. Lastly but certainly not least important, exercise increases the production of dopamine – the “motivation” and “reward” brain chemical.

With a knock-on production of endorphins, serotonin and dopamine, it’s no surprise regular exercise is linked with enhanced mental health and emotional wellbeing!   

It can improve your concentration

Research supports the idea that exercise improves focus, attention, and the ability to concentrate. But how?

When we exercise, especially at a high-intensity where our heart rate is elevated, our adrenal glands and our brain ramp up production of a chemical called norepinephrine. As more norepinephrine flows into our bloodstream, it increases our alertness and focus. An important reason to prioritise exercise during busy working periods, to improve productivity!

It can boost your memory

A number of studies show that aerobic exercise (aka cardio) promotes brain growth, especially in the hippocampus area, the part of our brain that is associated with memory1,2,3.

And if that‘s not enough to convince you – a new study from McMaster University in Canada found that young adults who participated in 6 weeks of high intensity interval training (HIIT) experienced significant improvements in their memory and recall4.  

It can slow cognitive decline

Keeping physically fit can also help to keep our brain healthy as we age. Exercise stimulates the release of growth factors, chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the survival of new brain cells. These growth factors help to protect our brain against injury and preserve our cognitive function5,6.



Wellness Director, Collective Wellness Group – Dan Conn


Fixing Lucy’s Backhand