There is a well-known relationship between good physical fitness at a young age and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease later in life. However, when researchers adjusted for familial factors by means of sibling analysis, they found a weaker association, although the link between high body mass index (BMI) and cardiovascular disease remained strong. The study, which was conducted by researchers from Karolinska Institutet and other universities, is published in JAMA Network Open.
“This does not mean that fitness is irrelevant,” says the study’s last author Viktor Ahlqvist, doctoral student at the Department of Global Public Health, Karolinska Institutet. “We could still see an association, although it was weaker after taking into account factors shared by full siblings. We also think that adolescence is an important time in life for establishing good habits such as exercising and having a healthy diet.”
Challenging to prove causal associations
Many observational studies have previously demonstrated links between various risk factors at a young age and cardiovascular disease in adulthood. However, whether the associations are causal is challenging to prove because of the potential influence of unaccounted genetic and environmental factors. A collaborative team including researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has therefore tried to examine if a large proportion of cardiovascular diseases in adulthood could indeed be prevented with a lower BMI, lower blood pressure, improved physical fitness or improved muscle strength in adolescence.
Sourcing data from the Swedish Military Conscription Register and other Swedish registries, the researchers identified over a million 18-year-old males and followed them for 60 years. Almost half of them were full brothers.
“The strength of our study, which makes it more reliable than many other conventional observational studies, is that we have used sibling analyses,” says the study’s first author Marcel Ballin, researcher at Uppsala University and analyst at Region Stockholm’s Centre for Epidemiology and Community Medicine. “By doing so we could examine how the relationship changes when controlling for all shared sibling factors. This includes environmental factors such as childhood environment and half of the genetics.”
High BMI is a strong risk factor
The results show that a high BMI in late adolescence was strongly associated with future cardiovascular disease, even after the researchers had controlled for shared familial factors. However, the association between physical fitness and cardiovascular disease was considerably weaker in the sibling analysis, suggesting that many previous observational studies might have overestimated the relevance of adolescent fitness to cardiovascular health later in life.
“Our conclusion is that of the risk factors studied, high BMI is the strongest individual risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and that efforts to tackle the obesity epidemic should continue to be given high priority,” says co-author Daniel Berglind, docent at the Department of Global Public Health, Karolinska Institutet. “A good level of fitness and muscle strength in adolescence doesn’t seem as crucial, but physical activity still remains important for public health, as it can bring other health benefits.”
The study examined the association between risk factors at a young age and future cardiovascular disease; other disease outcomes were not investigated. The researchers had no data on whether the participants’ risk factors varied later in life, and they only studied men, which makes it difficult to extend their findings to women. The Military Conscription Register also lacks details on certain risk factors for future cardiovascular disease, such as diet, alcohol consumption, smoking, blood lipids and blood glucose.
The researchers received no specific grant for this study. Co-author Martin Neovius is on the advisory panels for Ethicon, Johnson & Johnson and Itrim and has been a consultant for the Swedish armed forces outside the scope of this study. No other conflicts of interest have been reported.
Exercise Can Protect Your Vision As You Age. Here’s What to Know
Just a little exercise can go a long way. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that regular physical activity can reduce the risk of disease and help with everything from diabetes to heart disease. But it can also improve your eye health.
About 12 million Americans 40 and older have some sort of vision impairment. As we grow older, our eyes weaken and our eyesight becomes affected. However, regular exercise can help protect your eyes. These are the two ways exercise can help safeguard your eyesight so you can make your next visit to the eye doctor a pleasant one.
Exercise prevents eye diseases
As we get older, our eyes become more susceptible to disease, which is why eye disease is more prevalent among older adults. Common causes of vision loss include eye conditions like age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma — all of which can have lasting and even permanent effects on your eyes.
Exercise has been found to help ward off some of these conditions, meaning that regular fitness appears to also strengthen your eyes and keep them healthy, per the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Even those currently suffering from eye disease have found marked improvements with a lower risk of complications after adopting a regular exercise plan.
Exercise improves eye comfort
We all know the discomfort of dry eyes, but it turns out that regular exercise can help improve that too.
A 2022 study in Experimental Eye Research shows that exercise can promote stronger tear film production. Tear film keeps the eye moist and protects your cornea; it can even help your eye heal faster from injury. However, when you do not have enough tear production, it can be downright excruciating. It can lead to eye inflammation and corneal disease, in addition to just blurred vision and dryness.
In the 2022 study, those who exercised at least five times a week benefited from better tear production and quality over those who exercised only once per week or not at all.
How to exercise for eye health
Even if you don’t exercise much now, it isn’t too late to start. You don’t need a ton of exercise to experience eye health benefits, either.
Adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week to meet the Department of Health’s guidelines. To achieve this, consider things like speed walking, cycling, water aerobics, doubles tennis or chores like gardening or moving the lawn.
If you choose vigorous-intensity workouts, the guidelines only call for 75 minutes of exercise each week. Go running, swim some laps or play basketball to really get your heart rate pumping.
Here are other tips to help you exercise for eye health:
Create a schedule. Although it can seem overwhelming, a regular schedule can help. You can easily break this up into 30-minute workouts each weekday and still give yourself weekends off.
Find a partner. Having a workout partner can help with motivation on those days when the gym isn’t so appealing. Playing a sport or going for a long walk are social ways to exercise while enjoying the company of a good friend.
Protect your eyes. Always wear sunglasses outside to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. You should also use protective eyewear when doing potentially hazardous activities, like playing sports or mowing the lawn.
Don’t smoke. Smoking can do more than just give you lung cancer. It can also lead to severe eye damage and even blindness.
Check your family history. Ask family members about any family history of eye disease. This way, you know what you look out for and can work with your doctor on preventive treatment.
Visit your doctor. Be sure to schedule an eye exam at age 40 even if you haven’t previously had vision issues, with exams every one to two years for adults 65 and older.
With regular exercise, you are sure to see improvements within your body. In addition to improved eye health, you may also enjoy better mental health and even better sleep. It can even help you live longer.
It’s more than worth it to get outside and get moving. Your body — including your eyes — will thank you for it.
Do the Benefits of Ice Baths Outweigh the Risks?
An ice bath, or cold water immersion (CWI), is a type of cold water therapy that involves immersing your body in ice water for about 5-15 minutes. It’s a type of cryotherapy, which is exposing your body to very cold temperatures for a short period of time.
People have used ice baths for centuries because of their possible therapeutic health benefits. Ice baths may help reduce muscle soreness, reduce pain, and improve mood. but current research is limited. Here’s what to know before you take the icy plunge.
When you take an ice bath, the cold water reduces your body and skin temperature. This change in temperature narrows your skin’s blood vessels (vasoconstriction) and moves blood to your core as your body tries to stay warm. When you get out of an ice bath, your blood vessels expand (vasodilation) and pump the oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood back to your body’s tissues, including your muscles. This process may help reduce inflammation that can cause pain and muscle soreness—for example, delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after exercise.
Immersing yourself in water also puts pressure on your body, a process called hydrostatic pressure. Hydrostatic pressure moves blood flow to your heart, brain, and lungs—providing even more oxygen and nutrients to these major organs.
An ice bath is one type of cold water therapy, which is a subtype of cryotherapy (cold therapy).
Ice baths and cold water plunges are both forms of cold-water immersion. This technique typically involves submerging your body from the neck down in water that’s 50-59 degrees for 5-15 minutes.
People often use cold-water immersion to help reduce muscular pain and improve mood.
Cold showers involve standing under the coldest water setting for 5-15 minutes (aiming for 50-59 degree water temperature). Taking a cold shower is technically another form of cold-water immersion.
If you’re new to cold water therapy, a 30-second cold shower can be a good starting point. Cold showers are often used to increase alertness and reduce inflammation.
Contrast Water Therapy (Contrast Baths)
Contrast water therapy involves alternating between cold-water and hot-water immersion. Studies on contrast water therapy have varying protocols. For example, people might start by soaking in hot water for 10 minutes. Then, for 30 minutes, they alternate between soaking in cold water for one minute and hot water for four minutes. Other studies recommend alternating between hot and cold water every minute for 15 minutes.
Contrast water therapy is usually used for sports or other injuries like muscle strain. It often involves immersing the injured area.
Wim Hof Method
The Wim Hof Method (WMH) was created by a Dutch athlete named Wim Hof. It includes three elements:
- Breathing exercises: A specific breathing pattern of hyperventilation followed by breath holds
- Cold exposure: Includes cold showers, ice baths, and cold-water immersion
- Meditation: Mind-body techniques like visualization to increase self-awareness and willpower
Possible benefits include a decreased stress response and improved cardiovascular function, but there isn’t much evidence as to whether or not WMH is effective.
Cold water therapy may offer several health benefits by reducing your body temperature and increasing circulation.
1. Relieves Pain
Ice application is known to narrow blood vessels, which helps reduce swelling, pain, and inflammation after an injury. Research also shows that when cold water hits cold receptors on your skin, it sends electrical impulses to the brain that have a pain-reducing effect.
Like ice application, ice baths also narrow blood vessels. As a result, they likely have a similar effect on pain. When you get out of an ice bath, the increased blood circulation to your tissues and muscles may help reduce pain and inflammation.
2. Reduces Muscle Soreness
A review of 32 randomized controlled trials found that cold-water immersion one hour after exercise helped reduce muscle pain and improve muscle recovery for up to 24 hours. However, heat therapy had similar results.
Another review found that cold water therapy may help reduce muscle soreness after working out. However, the studies included different cold water therapy methods, temperatures, and times. Some conflicting research also shows that cold-water immersion after exercise can reduce muscle mass and strength.
3. Boosts Mood and Alertness
Limited research shows that cold-water immersion may improve your mood. One 2022 study found that people who took a 20-minute soak in 55-degree seawater had significantly improved self-esteem and decreased tension and anger. People who soaked for 18 minutes had similar results.
Another study found that five minutes of cold water immersion in 68-degree water helped improve alertness, decrease nervousness, and reduce stress. However, both studies were small and included less than 50 healthy adults.
Immersing your body in an ice bath does come with some risks. How your body reacts to an ice bath depends on factors like your health, time spent in the water, and temperature. Potential side effects of taking an ice bath include:
- Cold panniculitis (cold-induced rash): An itchy and painful skin rash can develop if extreme cold injures the skin’s fatty tissue layer. Cold panniculitis can look like scaly patches, hard bumps, or deep lumps.
- Cold shock response: Sudden immersion in water under 60 degrees can shock your body and lead to symptoms like rapidly increased breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. This can increase your risk of drowning if you’re in deep water. The effect can also strain the heart.
- Low body temperature (hypothermia): Ice baths can make you too cold and cause your body temperature to drop dangerously low. This can eventually lead to organ failure.
- Ice burn: Direct contact with ice can burn your skin, causing painful blisters and discolored red, white, or gray skin. You can also develop frostbite—skin damage and tissue death caused by freezing skin and underlying tissues.
- Nerve damage: Prolonged cold exposure can reduce blood flow enough to kill tissue and cause permanent neuropathy (nerve damage). Nerve damage can lead to pain, numbness, and loss of muscle strength.
Talk to your healthcare provider before taking an ice bath, especially if you have a health condition. Ice baths can increase your risk of complications if you have conditions such as:
- Cold uterica (hives): This skin condition causes itchy welts when your skin touches something cold, like ice water. Cold uterica can also make you feel faint and cause your throat or lips to swell. Ice baths can cause particularly severe reactions because your entire body is submerged.
- Heart or lung conditions: Cold-water immersion narrows your blood vessels, which can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. This can strain the heart if you have heart disease or high blood pressure. Cold-water immersion can also cause arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats) if you have any heart issues or pulmonary edema—a condition caused by fluid build-up in the lungs.
- Raynaud’s syndrome: With this condition, cold and stress narrow the blood vessels enough to cause little to no blood flow. This lack of blood flow can cause certain body parts, like the fingers and toes, to turn white or blue. In more severe cases, cold water could cause sores or tissue death.
You can take ice baths at home or in a chilly lake. Some fitness centers and physical therapy clinics also offer cold-water immersion therapy.
If you want to take an ice bath at home, the easiest way is to use your bathtub. You can also purchase portable and high-tech water therapy tubs. To take an ice bath:
- Place a large towel right by the tub for easy access.
- Wear light athletic clothing like shorts, sports bras, or shirts. This helps protect sensitive areas of skin. You can also wear a swimsuit, gloves, and socks.
- Fill your tub with cold water and add ice to reach your desired temperature.
- Use a thermometer to test the water temperature (aim between 50-59 degrees)
- Set a timer for 10-15 minutes.
- Slowly lower yourself into the tub, submerging the waist down. If that seems doable, lower until the water reaches your neck.
- Try to relax, taking deep breaths, as you soak. If something feels wrong, you can get out earlier, especially if you’re new to ice baths.
- When your timer goes off, get out of the tub and remove your wet clothes. Dry off thoroughly with your towel and warm up your body.
If you’re new to ice baths, have a friend or partner nearby to make sure everything goes smoothly—especially if you’re outdoors.
If you’re new to ice baths, getting used to the cold water and staying in the tub can be difficult. Expect to feel slightly shocked by the cold and very alert. It will likely be uncomfortable when you first start, but your body will likely adjust if you can relax. That said, don’t expect it to feel like a luxurious spa treatment.
Here are some tips to help you successfully take ice baths:
- Acclimate with cold showers: Start with a cold shower slightly above 50-59 degrees. Repeat this until you’re using the coldest setting.
- Continue acclimating with cold baths: Once you’re comfortable with cold showers, start sitting in a bath filled with the coldest tap water setting. Slowly add ice to get closer to 50-59 degrees.
- Don’t jump into the full 15 minutes: Start with 2-5 minutes and slowly increase your time in an ice bath. Over several weeks, move up to 10 minutes and eventually 15 minutes.
- Only immerse part of your body: Start by taking ice baths that only immerse your legs. Over time, increase the body area submerged—e.g., up to your waist, chest, and below your neck.
There’s no hard science or official recommendation on the optimum time to stay in an ice bath. Studies on muscle recovery suggest that staying in cold water for 5-15 minutes offers results.
People often take an ice bath a few times a week after exercise. You may want to take one daily if you’re an athlete or a very active person. Some research also recommends taking an ice bath within an hour of working out.
Prolonged cold exposure can increase your risk of hypothermia and frostbite. Warning signs you’re getting too cold and need to get out of an ice bath include:
- Excessive shivering
- Skin numbness
- Unusually firm or waxy skin
- White or grayish-yellow skin
- Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
- A feeling of exhaustion or low energy
- Lethargy (drowsiness)
- Slurred speech
- Memory loss
- Fumbling hands
Ice baths are a type of cold water therapy known as cold-water immersion (CWI). Taking an ice bath lowers your body temperature and triggers more blood flow to your core. After an ice bath, your body temperature rises, and blood flow returns to your tissues.
Ice baths may help improve alertness, reduce pain, and decrease inflammation. As a result, they may offer health benefits like reduced muscle soreness, pain relief, and improved mood. However, the research is very limited. There are also many potential risks. Talk to your healthcare provider if you’re considering trying ice baths, especially if you have a medical condition.
Sailors Who Serve Together Spin Together — A Look Into the World’s Largest Aircraft Carrier’s Spin Community
Inside the bulkheads of deployed aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is a city of Sailors, creating communities out of the 4,179 people who work and live aboard the ship. A growing community in this floating city at sea are the spin class fitness fanatics who bonded over a shared love for exercise and cycling.
Lt. Shamus McNamara, assistant operations officer and command fitness leader for Gerald R. Ford, from Patuxent River, Md., shared what started the spin class trend aboard the world’s largest aircraft carrier.
McNamara said spin class was one of Morale, Welfare, and Recreation’s (MWR) most popular classes during the ship’s two-month underway to the Atlantic in 2022. Prior to Gerald R. Ford’s current deployment, the command’s only cycling instructor transferred.
“The fitness coordinator and I were talking, and he asked if I would consider teaching cycle,” said McNamara. “Cycling is something I enjoyed doing for a couple of years now. I decided I’d give it a shot. The first person to start teaching [during this deployment] was our ship’s physical therapist, so she and I and a few other folks started teaching spin class once a week, and it kind of grew from there. Now we’re at 12 classes a week, six days a week.”
All fitness instructors aboard Gerald R. Ford are volunteers with a passion for fitness. Spin class instructors range from first-time deployers to seasoned Sailors.
Ensign Omar DeJesus, aviation weapons support equipment division officer aboard Gerald R. Ford, from Reading, Pa., previously served aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and deployed with the ship for 9 months from December 2021 to September 2022. While deployed with Harry S. Truman, DeJesus regularly taught spin class in his spare time.
“I told our fitness coordinator that I would love to bring spin class over here [to Gerald R. Ford],” said DeJesus. “Spin class isn’t just a workout. It helps with stress management, you get to meet new people in classes, and it builds a sense of comradery. It definitely boosts morale.”
According to McNamara, cycling is greatly beneficial to overall health. It improves daily energy, helps the body burn extra calories throughout the day, improves cardiovascular strength and endurance, and is a mood booster, especially when done on a regular basis.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mike Joseph, operations maintenance division officer, from Houston, is a fellow ‘spinner’ aboard Gerald R. Ford who has experienced the health benefits from regularly attending spin class.
“I like a tough workout,” said Joseph. “So far, I’ve shredded 33 pounds and I’m not as tired when I do other high-intensity interval training workouts. Spin class helps me maintain where I am fitness-wise.”
With the varying schedules Sailors work while deployed, spin class is offered day and night to accommodate ‘spinners’ whose ideal time to work out is during the middle of the night.
Chief Aircrew Survival Equipmentman Brandon Hitz, assigned to the aircraft intermediate maintenance department aboard Gerald R. Ford, from Jonestown, Pa., offers spin classes for Sailors who work nights and want to work on their physical fitness.
“I am really huge on fitness and also helping others achieve their fitness goals,” said Hitz. “[Spin class] is a great tool for cardio endurance, reducing body fat, and improving overall physical fitness. It’s a great stress reliever as well.”
Command Master Chief Chad Mitchell of the “Ragin’ Bulls” of Strike Fighter Squadron 37, from Winston-Salem, N.C., is another spin class instructor aboard Gerald R. Ford. His favorite part of instructing is seeing the difference his classes make on his students.
Mitchell began instructing spin classes following a knee injury. “Spin class offers a good, less-impactful-on-your-knees form of cardio,” said Mitchell. “That’s how I got into it. It’s low to zero impact on your knees, and so it’s a good alternative for folks who have compression injuries.”
DeJesus said the Sailors who attend spin and the energy they bring to the class are why the instructors love teaching so much. “If you have really good music and a really good instructor, spin becomes more than just a class.”
Ensign Mackenzie Culver, deputy public affairs officer assigned to Carrier Strike Group 12, from Columbus, Ohio, is one of Gerald R. Ford’s regular cycling class attendees. Culver went from student to instructor, stating the classes offered aboard the ship inspired her to instruct a class of her own.
“Spin class is a community. It’s a big reason I go to class and why I started teaching my own,” said Culver. “You meet so many different people. You push each other and you perform a lot better in a class environment. I enjoy the culture of healthy living and fitness that Gerald R. Ford created for the deployment.”
The catalyst for the command’s spin community, Lt. Sarahbelle Alferos, physical therapist assigned to Gerald R. Ford, from San Diego, made it a mission to keep spin class on the fitness schedule after learning the ship’s only cycling instructor was transferring before deployment. She succeeded in her mission. After Alferos began teaching her class, more and more instructors signed up to teach classes.
“All of the instructors bring different flavors of music or structure to spin class,” said Alferos. “[Spin class] is a morale-building way to get cardio in, listen to music, and have someone else push you during a workout.”
Spin class on Gerald R. Ford is diverse and it’s because each instructor plays different genres of music and uses different techniques on the bike, according to DeJesus.
Damage Controlman 1st Class Delisa Houchins, from Ardmore, Okla., assigned to the engineering department aboard Gerald R. Ford, plays old-school music when teaching her spin classes. DeJesus plays latin and hip-hop, Culver plays pop and hip-hop, and Mitchell plays 90s hip-hop, modern hip-hop, electronic dance music, metal, and rock.
Hitz said music is the most important part of the class. “The right song or the right beat can make or break your class. The music helps with certain exercises and attendees use the beat from each song for sprints, jumps, or push-ups. I think music also helps push people further and keeps them motivated…[I love seeing] people start hyping each other up and clapping to the music. It’s great to see people having fun while working out and trying to achieve new fitness goals.”
Why is spin class the most popular fitness class aboard Gerald R. Ford? According to the instructors and attendees, it’s for this reason: spin is more than just a class. It is a community. Cycling class brings Sailors from all walks of life together and helps ‘spinners’ of any fitness level crush their goals.
The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG) is conducting a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) area of operations in support of interoperability and maritime security. The GRFCSG provides an inherently flexible naval force capable of deploying across combatant commands to meet emerging missions, deter potential adversaries, reassure allies and partners, enhance security and guarantee the free flow of global commerce. In total, the GRFCSG is deployed with more than 5,000 Sailors across all platforms ready to respond globally to combatant commander tasking. The GRFCSG is currently operating in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, at the direction of the Secretary of Defense. The U.S. maintains forward-deployed, ready, and postured forces to deter aggression and support security and stability around the world.
Gerald R. Ford is the U.S. Navy’s newest and most advanced aircraft carrier. As the first-in-class ship of Ford-class aircraft carriers, CVN 78 represents a generational leap in the U.S. Navy’s capacity to project power on a global scale.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.
For more information about USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), visit https://www.airlant.usff.navy.mil/cvn78/ and follow along on Facebook: @USSGeraldRFord, Instagram: @cvn78_grford, Twitter: @Warship_78, DVIDS www.dvids.net/CVN78 and LinkedIn at USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).
|Date Posted:||12.02.2023 10:57|
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