16 Action Items for Healthy Sport, Fitness and Life

The world’s leaders in exercise science and sports medicine met in Minneapolis at the 65th annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine. The result: BIG news and reliable, evidence-based recommendations for physical activity, health and the reduction of injury. Here are my top 16 headlines with news you can use.

Knee Injury Prevention

  1. ACL injury prevention programs work! Reviews of hundreds of studies where qualified professionals performed neuromuscular training program with young athletes demonstrate significant reductions in ACL injuries. 50% in females overall and 67% reduction in non-contact ACLs! (Photo)
  2. ACL injuries are still epidemic in sport, even though #1. Why? Training programs are not being used, used infrequently and/or not at the right intensity. They need to be applied during pre-season training where they can have best effect and practiced regularly for benefit to be retained throughout the season.
  3. Athletes returning to play after ACL reconstruction tend to use compensatory movement strategies which may increase their risk of re-tear or second injury.
  4. Childhood is a critical time to develop motor skills! We need to start with younger children to train healthy movement patterns. Children who learn fundamental motor skills stay more fit, active and weight-healthy through their lifespan.

Sport and Training for Physical Activity and Health

  1. Bio-banding shows great promise in soccer. Early-maturing children feel challenged to use their skills not just strength. Late-maturing children now have time on the ball to be creative with their skills (Next sport to try bio-banding: ice hockey)
  2. High intensity interval training (HIIT) — short bursts of challenging activity with brief periods of alternating rest — is more effective than longer, continuous exercise in improving your aerobic capacity and a time efficient way to get in your workout. (eg. 3x20s sprint in 10 min at near max exertion or running 3-4 flights stairs)
  3. Wearable technology is big, but only 30% are still using their tech after 6-12 months. Tech may increase our steps, but questionable whether it helps with weight loss or cardio-fitness. Wearable garments are the next big thing.
  4. Inactivity is a chronic condition, not a disease. We will not cure it with disease models. We need strategies to motivate people to be and stay active.

Exercise and the Brain

  1. HIIT Exercise is a potent stimulator of the brain growth factor, BDNF. Add a mental challenge to improve memory and cognitive performance.
  2. Physical inactivity is the greatest modifiable risk factor for brain neurodegeneration and dementia. Inactivity even works against healthy brain genetics!
  3. Disordered eating stimulates the “reward center” in the brain to release brain neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin in ways similar to addictive substances. Replace unhealthy eating behavior with healthy behaviors that also reward like social interaction, music, sport, or strengthening exercise.
  4. Yoga (hatha or restorative) is tremendously effective for cancer patients and seniors. It significantly improves sleep quality, quality of life measures, mood, anxiety, muscular symptoms, memory difficulties and reduces the need for medication.

Aging and Physical Activity

  1. “Aging is ~ 25% genetic and ~75% life choices.” While heart, muscle, brain, and joint performance along with recovery time are all impacted by increasing age, regular exercise significantly slows this decline.
  2. “Get off the scale and get moving!” Cross training and activities of daily living are essential for fitness. Strength, balance, posture, gait — essential to reduce injury risk.
  3. 68 is the new 43! Senior Olympians with a chronological age of 68 have a fitness age of 43.
  4. We need more walkable living spaces! They have a positive impact on physical activity regardless of age, gender, race or socio-economic status.

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