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COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Updated information and resources from IDEA

Len Kravitz, PhD

Jake Theis

Len Kravitz, PhD, is a program coordinator and professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico where he received the Presidential Award of Distinction and Outstanding Teacher of the Year award. In addition to being a 2016 inductee into the National Fitness Hall of Fame, Len has received the prestigious Specialty Presenter of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award from CanFitPro.

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Article Archive

Resistance training older adults

Resistance Training for Older Adults: New NSCA Position Stand

December 18, 2019

Fitness professionals know that resistance exercises are pivotal for maintaining and increasing muscle strength and mass as well as thwarting the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle, particularly as we age. The National Strength and Conditioning Association recently addressed these issues in the organization’s first position stand on resistance training for older adults (ages 65 and older).

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Ouch! What Causes Muscle Cramps?

September 11, 2019

Muscle cramps can stop athletes in their tracks. Although they usually self-extinguish within seconds or minutes, the abrupt, harsh, involuntary muscle contractions can cause mild-to-severe agony and immobility, often accompanied by knotting of the affected muscle (Minetto et al. 2013). And cramps are common; 50%–60% of healthy people suffer muscle cramps during exercise, sleep or pregnancy or after vigorous physical exertion (Giuriato et al. 2018).

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The Weight Debate: Obesity and Health Risks

August 16, 2019

Think of it as the point-counterpoint discussion on obesity: Is the healthcare profession overemphasizing the negative consequences of extra weight? What are the risks? Is the focus on obesity helping or hurting our clients?

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Break Up a Sedentary Day With Active Standing

June 24, 2019

It is an inspiring time to be a fitness professional. Now, more than at any other time, we have scientific evidence that physical activity and exercise are tremendously beneficial for managing and reducing chronic diseases, improving brain health, lowering blood pressure, reducing depression and anxiety, controlling obesity, and more. How do we help people gain these benefits? Three scientific reports begin to define a road map of where we are headed to effectively combat sedentary lifestyles.

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Inside the Latest Physical Activity Guidelines

April 17, 2019

The more we move, the better we live. Even a few minutes of exercise is better than sitting still.

These are just two of the conclusions in the recent report from the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee, whose recommendations form a sound foundation for integrating exercise into our daily lives.

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Neuromuscular Power Circuits

April 1, 2019

The dynamic motions of sport require peak power—that is, the most strength a muscular contraction can muster in one of these quick bursts. Sporting athletes depend on peak power for jumping, running, throwing, striking, swinging and kicking. Scientists prefer the term “neuromuscular power” (to just “power” itself) because neural factors—including motor unit recruitment, muscle fiber firing frequency and synchronization of a muscle’s contractile forces—are involved.

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Carbohydrate Controversy: “Good” Sugars vs. “Bad” Sugars?

March 13, 2019

Physiologists regularly extol the importance of carbohydrates as a vital fuel that drives exercise and sport performance. Before the Industrial Revolution, carbohydrates were the major source of nutrients and energy for people throughout the world. Carbohydrates that come primarily from plants in the form of vegetables, fruits and grains are a direct link to the earth’s food chain. However, evidence is mounting that carbs from added sugars in cookies and soft drinks present several health risks.

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Peak Neuromuscular Power for Your Athlete Clients

February 13, 2019

STUDIES REVIEWED: Cormie, P., McGuigan, M.R., & Newton, R.U. 2011a. Developing maximal neuromuscular power: Part 1—Biological basis of maximal power production. Sports Medicine, 41 (1), 17–38.

Cormie, P., McGuigan, M.R., & Newton, R.U. 2011b. Developing maximal neuromuscular power: Part 2—Training considerations for improving maximal power production. Sports Medicine, 41 (2), 125–46.

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Exercise Is Good for Mental Health

December 6, 2018

STUDY REVIEWED: Chekroud, S.R., et al. 2018. Association between physical exercise and mental health in 1.2 million individuals in the USA between 2011 and 2015: A cross-sectional study. Lancet Psychiatry, 5 (9), 739–46.

Exercise has proven benefits for improving physical health. But what about mental health? For starters, active people are nearly 45% less likely to have depressive symptoms than inactive people (Booth, Roberts & Laye 2012). But a deeper look at the connections between exercise and mental health raises complicated questions:

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Training Guidance for Sedentary Young Women

October 12, 2018

Study reviewed: Kyröläinen, H., et al. 2017. Effects of combined strength and endurance training on physical performance and biomarkers of healthy young women. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 32 (6), 1554–61.

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Getting to the Heart of Pre-Exercise Screening

September 21, 2018

A preparticipation health screening helps trainers and prospective clients safely launch into an exercise program. When the American College of Sports Medicine updated its pre-exercise screening guidelines 3 years ago, it made one major shift: It stopped recommending the use of a tool to assess cardiovascular disease risk.

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Wearable Heart Rate Trackers: Which Works Best?

August 21, 2018

How accurate are the latest wearable heart rate trackers?
That’s an important question amid the flourishing demand for wearable fitness devices and wrist-worn heart rate monitors. Approximately 1 in 6 consumers in the U.S. uses some type of wearable technology, such as a fitness band or a smartwatch (Piwek et al. 2016). Industry research from 5 years ago predicted sales of 110 million wearable devices by 2018, but shipments of 115.4 million in 2017 have already outpaced that projection (Piwek et al. 2016; IDC 2018).

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HIIT Training for Fast, Efficient Fat Loss

May 11, 2018

Obesity is a growing global health risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and all-cause mortality. Indeed, central adiposity (visceral fat), the fat tissue around the major organs in the torso, generally elevates the risk of chronic diseases. Ample research shows that high-volume, moderate-intensity exercise is an effective way to reduce central obesity (Zhang et al. 2017). However, until recently, little has been known about the influence of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on weight and fat loss in young adults with obesity.

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Walking Speed: A Powerful Predictor of Functional Health

April 17, 2018

Thanks to a spike in pace-related research over the past decade, we now know that walking speed is a significant vital sign for older clients. Study findings have associated slow walking speed with a heightened risk of mortality in older adults, while brisk walking has been linked to better health (Franklin et al. 2015).
These are important insights because, until recently, researchers had no idea that walking speed was such a strong vital-sign predictor. Connections between walking speed and health improvements make a persuasive case for helping older clients pick up the pace.

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