Health Notes: More activity to maintain weight with age, Kranking an intense calorie burn

If you want to maintain your weight as you age, you may need as much as an hour a day of activity. Plus, Kranking, from the founder of Spinning, appears to be a real calorie churn but may be too intense for some. Read study summaries by SNEWS here.
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You want information about health, physical activity, exercise and wellness, but you don’t want all the techno-science garble that makes most reports overwhelming to read, let alone understand or pass on to customers. In SNEWS® Health Notes, an occasional series, we take a look at recent research that is pertinent to your business and explain it in a way that makes sense. If you have suggestions or comments, let us know!

>> Keep on truckin’ as you age to keep off the weight

Seems you need to increase the amount of physical activity you do as you age to prevent long-term weight gain.

Well, duh.

OK, so maybe that’s not news for those of us in the fitness, outdoors and sports arenas, but for many it may be. Researchers looked at physical activity levels and weight changes in women between 1992 and 2007 in a study that included more than 34,000 subjects, average age of 54. All women gained an average of 5.7 pounds, but those who were highly active gained a mere 0.2 pounds (could that count as water weight?), while those moderately active gained 0.3 pounds.

Researchers concluded that the basic federal recommendations of 150 minutes a week of moderate activity is not enough to prevent weight gain with age if calories are not restricted, although that lower activity level can lower the risk of chronic diseases. In fact, they found that preventing weight gain among normal-weight women, while not restricting calories, meant an hour a day of moderate physical activity.

Naturally, as soon as the study was released, the furor started since folks wondered how the heck they were going to find an hour each and every day to workout. Representatives from the American College of Sports Medicine hit the PR beat to spread the message that you can, of course, maintain your weight with less activity, but you must limit your calories as you age. At the same time, though, an hour a day for most people is still possible since it doesn’t have to be all at once but can be performed in chunks.

So what? If you have customers wondering what to tell consumers, then the message is, calories-in must balance calories-out.Yes, you can do less, but you better stop eating as if you’re still 20 if you do. Otherwise, finding a way to do an hour a day of exercise will keep your weight where it was.

For the scientifically minded: The study appeared in the March 24/31, 2010, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 303(12):1173-1179. You can access the abstract by clicking here. Accessing the entire study requires a fee.


>> “Kranking” it up could use hecka calories

Rolled out by the fitness guru known as Johnny G, the godfather of Spinning, Kranking is a group activity using a newly developed upper-body ergometer called a Krankcycle, which was developed in partnership with Matrix Fitness. Introduced to the industry two years ago with much hoopla, Kranking has been touted as a sweaty, calorie-churning, intense activity good for everybody.

A study just out by the American Council on Exercise says the activity seems to live up to the hype -- but you better be in shape.

Researchers engaged 12 subjects, age 20-30 years, none of whom had used a Krankcycle. After familiarization and testing, they participated in a 30-minute Kranking class, led by the group’s head of training.

Subjects burned an average of nine calories per minute for a total of 269 calories on average for the half-hour class, calculated using metabolic calculations and not the higher numbers shown on the heart-rate monitors used. One researcher noted that the higher HRM reading may not be all wrong, since it was possible subjects used more muscle with the upper-body equipment and by using different standing positions during the workout.

Overall, heart rates averaged 154 beats per minute, or about 86 percent of maximum, meaning the workout was quite intense. Researchers also found that 90 percent of the class was spent in zones of 70 percent of maximum or higher, and there were times some heart rates were so high they were, literally, off the charts.

The conclusion is that Kranking is a very intense workout that is effective at burning calories, may build upper-body fitness and could boost aerobic fitness. However researchers also warned that the intense activity could be a risk for older or sedentary people or those with underlying cardiovascular diseases. Still, it could be a good cross-training tool, they concluded, particularly for cyclists and runners. And it could be a great workout for those with lower-body injuries or other disabilities.

So what? Like many activities, one can get a great calorie burn but you have to be in some kind of shape to not tire out at the start. Plus, if it’s that intense, it may not be what many will find attractive on a long-term basis.However, for athletes, gym rats and others, it seems to live up to its hype.

For the scientifically minded: The study’s summary appears in the March-April 2010 issue of American Council on Exercise’s Fitness Matters newsletter. Click here to access a PDF of the article with tables and charts.

--Therese Iknoian

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