Health Notes: Quad strength for knee pain, nutrition and athletic performance, video game cycling a workout

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. In SNEWS® Health Notes, an occasional series, we take a look at recent research and explain it in a way that makes sense.
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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. In SNEWS® Health Notes, an occasional series, we take a look at recent research and explain it in a way that makes sense. If you have suggestions or comments, let us know!

>> Stronger quads may protect against knee cartilage loss in osteoarthritis

Long said to be a solution for knee pain, stronger quadriceps muscles have now been shown in a recent study to combat loss of cartilage in osteoarthritic knees.

Stronger thigh muscles continue, however, to have no impact in other lower body areas, researchers at the Mayo Clinic reported earlier this year.

"Our results suggest that strong quadriceps muscles have an overall beneficial effect on knee osteoarthritis," said researcher Shreyasee Amin in a statement.

Specifically, quadriceps strength had a beneficial effect on the patellofemoral joint, which is a sign of frequent cartilage loss in patients with osteoarthritis. Also reduced was knee pain and physical function was increased. Stronger legs had no influence on cartilage loss at the tibiofemoral joint.

Researchers had 265 subjects with a 30-month history of knee osteoarthritis do knee extensions with an MRI used to measure progress at 15 and 30 months.

So what? Working out your legs can indeed help with knee pain, as well as just everyday function.

For the scientifically minded: The study was published in the January 2009 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism. A medical story about it can be accessed by clicking here.



>> Nutrition and Athletic Performance: a joint statement by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Dietetic Association

To help exercisers and athletes better fuel their performance smartly, the American College of Sports Medicine, American Dietetics Association, and Dietitians of Canada have released a joint statement regarding nutrition and its role in athletic performance.

“Optimal nutrition is vital to active adults and athletes who are looking to improve and excel. The goal for active individuals should be to maintain hydration, blood glucose levels, and protein to repair and build tissue before, during, and after exertion.”

The statement provides recommendations for active adults and athletes, backing up its statements with research. Included are statements about carbohydrates, protein, fats, hydration and other key factors.

So what? Nutrition is an important part of maintaining good health!

For the scientifically minded: The paper was published in the March 2009 issue of Medicine & Science and Sports & Exercise. Click here to access a list of all position statements.

>> Video game cycling gives you a workout that doesn’t seem as hard

With the distraction of video gaming while cycling for exercise, researchers in this study found that subjects got a workout but didn’t think they were working as hard as they were.

During three sessions, 14 subjects did different workouts -- traditional exercise cycling and interactive video cycling. Although heart rates, oxygen use and energy use were higher while cycling with video games, participants rated the workout as similar to cycling without video games.

So what? For most people, an entertaining distraction like a video game could mean exercising enough for health and fitness.

For the scientifically minded: Published in the April 2009 issue of Medicine & Science and Sports & Exercise from the American College of Sports Medicine, the study’s abstract is available without a fee by clicking here.

--Therese Iknoian

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