Archive for the ‘Martial arts’ Category

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania say that practicing even small doses of daily meditation may improve focus and performance.

Meditation, according to Penn neuroscientist Amishi Jha and Michael Baime, director of Penn’s Stress Management Program, is an active and effortful process that literally changes the way the brain works. Their study is the first to examine how meditation may modify the three subcomponents of attention, including the ability to prioritize and manage tasks and goals, the ability to voluntarily focus on specific information and the ability to stay alert to the environment.

In the Penn study, subjects were split into two categories. Those new to meditation, or “mindfulness training,” took part in an eight-week course that included up to 30 minutes of daily meditation. The second group was more experienced with meditation and attended an intensive full-time, one-month retreat.

Researchers found that even for those new to the practice, meditation enhanced performance and the ability to focus attention. Performance-based measures of cognitive function demonstrated improvements in a matter of weeks. The study, published in the journal Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, suggests a new, non-medical means for improving focus and cognitive ability among disparate populations and has implications for workplace performance and learning.

Participants performed tasks at a computer that measured response speeds and accuracy. At the outset, retreat participants who were experienced in meditation demonstrated better executive functioning skills, the cognitive ability to voluntarily focus, manage tasks and prioritize goals. Upon completion of the eight-week training, participants new to meditation had greater improvement in their ability to quickly and accurately move and focus attention, a process known as “orienting.” After the one-month intensive retreat, participants also improved their ability to keep attention “at the ready.”

The results suggest that meditation, even as little as 30 minutes daily, may improve attention and focus for those with heavy demands on their time. While practicing meditation may itself may not be relaxing or restful, the attention-performance improvements that come with practice may paradoxically allow us to be more relaxed.

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Article adapted by MD Sports Weblog from original press release.
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Contact: Jordan Reese
University of Pennsylvania

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Penn Stress Management Program.

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Don’t drink alcohol. Take vitamins. Avoid eating eggs. We’ve heard these pieces of nutritional advice for years – but are they accurate?

Not necessarily, say two exercise physiologists who presented at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) 11th-annual Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition in Dallas, Texas. Wendy Repovich, Ph.D., FACSM, and Janet Peterson, Dr.P.H., FACSM, set out to debunk the “Top 10 Nutrition Myths.”

According to Repovich and Peterson, these nutrition myths are:

10. Eating carbohydrates makes you fat. Cutting carbs from your diet may have short-term weight loss benefits due to water loss from a decrease in carbohydrate stores, but eating carbs in moderation does not directly lead to weight gain. The body uses carbs for energy, and going too long without them can cause lethargy.

9. Drink eight, 8-oz. glasses of water per day. You should replace water lost through breathing, excrement and sweating each day – but that doesn’t necessarily total 64 ounces of water. It’s hard to measure the exact amount of water you have consumed daily in food and drink, but if your urine is pale yellow, you’re doing a good job. If it’s a darker yellow, drink more H2O.

8. Brown grain products are whole grain products. Brown dyes and additives can give foods the deceiving appearance of whole grain. Read labels to be sure a food is whole grain, and try to get three-ounce equivalents of whole grains per day to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

7. Eating eggs will raise your cholesterol. This myth began because egg yolks have the most concentrated amount of cholesterol of any food. However, there’s not enough cholesterol there to pose health risks if eggs are eaten in moderation. Studies suggest that eating one egg per day will not raise cholesterol levels and that eggs are actually a great source of nutrients.

6. All alcohol is bad for you. Again, moderation is key. Six ounces of wine and 12 ounces of beer are considered moderate amounts, and should not pose any adverse health effects to the average healthy adult. All alcohol is an anticoagulant and red wine also contains antioxidants, so drinking a small amount daily can be beneficial.

5. Vitamin supplements are necessary for everyone. If you eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, along with moderate amounts of a variety of low-fat dairy and protein and the right quantity of calories, you don’t need to supplement. Most Americans do not, so a multi-vitamin might be good. Special vitamin supplements are also recommended for people who are pregnant or have nutritional disorders.

4. Consuming extra protein is necessary to build muscle mass. Contrary to claims of some protein supplement companies, consuming extra protein does nothing to bulk up muscle unless you are also doing significant weight training at the same time. Even then the increased requirement can easily come from food. A potential problem with supplements is the body has to work overtime to get rid of excess protein, and can become distressed as a result.

3. Eating fiber causes problems if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). There are two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber can cause problems in IBS sufferers; soluble fiber, however, is more easily absorbed by the body and helps prevent constipation for those with IBS. Soluble fiber is found in most grains.

2. Eating immediately after a workout will improve recovery. Endurance athletes need to take in carbohydrates immediately after a workout to replace glycogen stores, and a small amount of protein with the drink enhances the effect. Drinking low-fat chocolate milk or a carbohydrate drink, like Gatorade, is better for the body, as they replace glycogen stores lost during exercise. Protein is not going to help build muscle, so strength athletes do not need to eat immediately following their workout.

1. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by eating foods low on the glycemic index. High levels of glucose are not what “cause” diabetes; the disease is caused by the body’s resistance to insulin. Foods high on the glycemic index can cause glucose levels to spike, but this is just an indicator of the presence of diabetes, not the root cause.

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Article adapted by MD Sports Weblog from original press release.
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Contact: Communications and Public Information
American College of Sports Medicine

The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 20,000 International, National and Regional members are dedicated to promoting and integrating scientific research, education and practical applications of sports medicine and exercise science to maintain and enhance physical performance, fitness, health and quality of life.

When it comes to coaching, the pep talk is better than the locker room tirade, University of Florida researchers have found.In a project that applied methods previously used only in classroom settings, a team headed by Professor Robert Singer found that changing people’s attributions, or how they think about themselves, influenced their performance in sports tasks they sought to learn.

“How we think about how we will do and how we’ve just done can very much affect our persistence, our attitudes and our achievements,” said Singer, chair of UF’s department of exercise and sport sciences. “It’s not only a belief in what you can do, it’s also an understanding of thinking more objectively.”

The technique is known as attribution training, which involves using people’s self-perceptions and the extent to which they feel they can control their own behavior to help them succeed at various tasks. Those who believe they can control and change how they feel about themselves are said to have constructive attributions.

In the study, scheduled to be published in March in The Sport Psychologist, Singer and UF colleague Iris Orbach divided 35 college-age beginning tennis players into three groups, each of which was given different instructions regarding personal failure. The first was told they could control their attributions and effort and could change their performance. The second was told their failures were due to a lack of innate ability. The third group was told nothing.

In four trials, the first group scored consistently better in performance, expectation, success perception and emotional control, Singer said. For example, on a test to measure feelings of personal control over behavior, the first group scored twice as high as the control group, while the second group scored below the control group.

In a related study in 1997 that focused on basketball time trials, the first group improved their final time between the first and fourth trials more than twice as much as the control group and more than nine times as much as the second group did.

“When it comes down to it, the primary thing is that you really have to understand what helps you to achieve and what’s under your control,” Singer said. “What has been observed is that those individuals who tend to have more constructive attributions tend to persist longer and tend to achieve more than those who do not have constructive attributions.”

Most studies associated with attribution training techniques have been conducted in the area of education, with the goal of raising the standards for children who are underachievers in the classroom. Singer and Orbach were among the first in the world to apply the techniques to sports.

“Why not try this in a sports setting?” Singer said. “The typical design is to train one group with an attributional orientation that reflects that if you try harder and you try smarter, you’ll have a greater chance of doing well. You’ll learn the skills better and think better things will happen.”

Although it is a common perception that believing in yourself can lead you to success, Singer said his study could have a significant impact on the way people teach and learn athletic activities.

“A lot of times in sports, there’s a negative attitude and a lot of criticism that goes on,” he said. “Probably many athletes and coaches don’t realize the significance of what we’re talking about and the relevance of how people think … I believe that if there’s a better understanding by coaches as to the kind of feedback they give to athletes and how stuff is delivered to them, it could make a difference.”

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Article adapted by MD Only Sports Weblog from original press release.
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Contact: Kristin Harmel
University of Florida

Adolescents who don’t get enough sleep might be jeopardizing their athletic performance, and high school sports teams on the west coast may be at a disadvantage if they play east coast rivals, says Mary Carskadon, PhD, of the Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center.Carskadon, a leader in the field of sleep research, compared the results of studies that measured sleep patterns and circadian rhythms in children and adolescents in the May 24 issue of Clinics in Sports Medicine. While it’s widely known that lack of sleep can affect learning, mood and behavior in teenagers, Carskadon suggests that insufficient sleep can also negatively impact teen athletes in a number of ways.

“Young people live in nearly a constant state of chronic insufficient sleep,” says Carskadon, “and adolescents who don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis are extremely impaired in the morning.”

For this reason, she suggests that adolescent travel teams heading westward across time zones have an advantage over home teams early in the day.

While most adults who routinely travel from coast to coast might be well aware of the difficulty adjusting to a different time zone, teens are at even more of a disadvantage.

Evidence suggests that the adolescent circadian rhythm, or internal biological clock, is still adjusting, and their internal day-length is longer than that of adults. This means that teens might not be ready to fall asleep until later in the evening, or may wake up later in the morning.

“For morning games, the home team might still be in the lowest point of alertness,’ while the team that headed west will have the advantage of having been awake for an hour or so longer, and thus have more energy.”

Additionally, if the eastern team arrives the night before, they would gain an extra hour or two of sleep, which can improve focus, alertness, and better reaction skills.

Conversely, she warns that athletic teams taking extended training trips (eg. spring break) of a week or more may experience schedule difficulties on the return home.

“This scenario is most problematic for teams on the east coast that travel west, as student athletes may return with a significant sleep-phase delay that is difficult to correct,” Carskadon says.

Lack of sleep doesn’t just affect athletics in teenagers. Studies repeatedly show that reaction time, vigilance, learning and alertness are impaired by insufficient sleep; so students with short nights and irregular sleep patterns perform poorly in school and in other aspects of their life and have a tendency for a depressed mood.

“Circadian and lifestyle changes conspire to place sleep of adolescents at a markedly delayed time relative to younger children and to adults,” says Carskadon.

In fact, studies have shown that teenagers need as much, if not more sleep as younger children (an average of 9.25 hours per night) but as they mature, their bodies are able to stay alert later into the night.

She cites part-time jobs, caffeinated beverages, social activities, away-games and long practices as factors that help contribute to chronic sleep deprivation for young people.

Is there any reprieve? An afternoon nap can help, but only for so long. Carskadon found that a 45-minute nap taken approximately six hours after waking supported alertness and mood for about eight hours. For a teen who starts his day at 6:30 am, a lunchtime nap could keep him going till 8 or 9 pm.

However, Carskadon warns that afternoon naps don’t help morning fatigue the next day.

“In order to help adolescents do their best, parents need to take an active role in helping set a regular sleep pattern for their teen.”

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Article adapted by MD Only Sports Weblog from original press release.
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Contact: Carol L. Hoy
Lifespan

Mary Carskadon, PhD, directs the Bradley Hospital Sleep and Chronobiology Research Laboratory, and is a Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown Medical School in Providence, RI. She is currently recruiting children and young adults for several studies.

Founded in 1931 as the nation’s first psychiatric hospital for children, Bradley Hospital (www.bradleyhospital.org) remains a premier medical institution devoted exclusively to the research and treatment of childhood psychiatric illnesses. Bradley Hospital, located in Providence, RI, is an affiliate of Brown Medical School and ranks in the top third of private hospitals receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health. Its research arm, the Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center (BHCRC), brings together leading researchers in such topics as: autism, colic, childhood sleep patterns, HIV prevention, infant development, obesity, eating disorders, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and juvenile firesetting. Bradley Hospital is a member of the Lifespan health system.