Newswise — Increasing Muscle Size and Strength: Back to the Basics

While a simple resistance training plan may increase muscle size and strength, a periodized approach is often advocated to maximize these adaptations. Periodization includes planned weekly or monthly changes in the amount of weight lifted (resistance) or the number of times the weight is lifted (repetitions and sets). This review of current literature found that periodization’s claim of superiority for maximizing muscular fitness and minimizing overtraining effects is based more on tradition than on evidence. The general adaptation syndrome (GAS), which describes the body’s physiological response to stress, has been cited as a theoretical framework for periodization. However, published research suggests that responses to the extreme stressors used to postulate the GAS may not parallel responses to the milder physical stress experienced in most exercise training regimens. This paper’s authors recommend gradually increasing resistance and/or the number of repetitions or sets employed to increase muscle size while strength is best improved by progressively increasing resistance. More research is needed to understand how much generality exists among adaptations to resistance training. .


Do Novel Exergames Improve Cognition and Walking Characteristics in Older Adults?

Exergaming is an increasingly popular activity that combines physical exercise with video games. Accumulating evidence suggests that exergaming may have similar or greater effects on cognition and walking performance when compared to traditional exercise. In this study, researchers compared a novel, eight-week exergaming program to a traditional resistance and balance training program to determine if either would cause more improvement in cognition and walking characteristics in 35 older adults at risk for falling. They found that exergaming modestly improved several cognition domains and walking characteristics (e.g., walking speed, length of walking stride and time spent with both feet on the ground as a percent of walking cycle). The researchers concluded that, while more research is needed, exergaming can potentially improve cognition and walking characteristics, which may reduce the risk of falling in older adults. .


Exercise Is Medicine: How a Treadmill Run Could Revolutionize Care for Cancer Survivors

Anthracycline is a cancer chemotherapy that can cause damage to the heart and blood vessels over the years following treatment. Currently, screening for anthracycline injury involves taking ultrasound images of the heart (an echocardiogram) at rest. A research team proposed that this screening would be better at finding heart damage if images were taken immediately after exercise while the heart is stressed. Thirty-eight young adults free of heart disease signs and symptoms, 19 who had received anthracycline treatment for leukemia during childhood and 17 who served as healthy control participants, had echocardiograms performed before and after exhaustive treadmill running. While both groups had normal heart function before and immediately after exercise, the leukemia survivors generally showed early signs of heart injury a few minutes later during the recovery period. Early detection of abnormal heart function may help identify cancer survivors at risk for future cardiac events and can provide opportunity for further research into how much and how quickly the heart changes after anthracycline treatment. .