TITLE IX: AN EXAMPLE ON HOW TO ACHIEVE WOMEN EQUALITY IN SPORTS

Photo by Jeffrey F Lin (Unsplash)

Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is a United States’ federal law that says:

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

With the passing of this law in 1972 it was required that any public institution, including public schools, had to give boys and girls equal opportunities to practice sports. Nowadays this can be seemed as obvious, but back in 1972 only 1 out of every 27 girls played any kind of sport.

In athletics it had a big effect, as although the disciplines offered for men and women didn´t have to be the same, women got access to similar scholarships, equivalent training/competition facilities, coaching/support, travel allowances and publicity, among others. Thanks to this law participation of women in college sports increased 6 times, and almost 10 times in high college sports.

In 1972 from 400 athletes competing for the USA in the Olympics, only 84 were women, where they won 23 medals against the 71 from his male counterparts. In the last Olympics in Rio, in 2016, the USA women were 294, outnumbering the 264 men. And they also won more medals than men (61 vs. 55), including more gold medals (27 vs. 19).

Clearly the passing of Title IX had a big impact in the women USA team success. It shows that it should be taken as an example on how to tackle female discrimination in sports in countries where women are still suffering high levels of discrimination.

Besides this good news, there are still problems remaining, as girls at all ages still participate in sports at lower rates than boys. Supporting sports practice among them includes many benefits.

High school girls who play sports are less likely to be involved in an unintended pregnancy; get better grades and are more likely to graduate than girls who do not play sports. Additionally, it gives them higher levels of confidence and self-esteem, with a more positive body image, and lower levels of depression.

Abuse and harassment are two of the mains reasons that deter girls and women from participating in sports. Implementing policies to safeguard them would reduce the likelihood of such offenses.

Additionally, it would also help to remove stereotypes, as young women may be afraid of been seen unfeminine. It is important to encourage them, as it requires some practice and time to understand the sport discipline and achieve results.

And more importantly, sports practice doesn´t need to be always competitive either. It must be fun and provide a friendly social environment.

Time to follow suit!

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Sources:

http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/inclusion/title-ix-frequently-asked-questions

https://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/education/title-ix-and-the-rise-of-female-athletes-in-america/

https://www.teamusa.org/News/2017/June/22/Impacts-Of-Title-IX-Still-Felt-By-Team-USA-Athletes-Today

Photo by Morzaszum (Pixabay)

GENETICS: A KEY IN MARATHON PERFORMANCE?

Image by Gerd Altmann (Pixabay)

During marathon history results have implied that there may be a genetic component involved in giving many nations their big champions.

The first United States great runners were Native Americans, specially from the Hopi Tribe, who understood running as a connection with their gods and ancestors. Among them we could talk of Lewis Tewanima, who placed ninth in the marathon during the 1908 Olympics and claimed silver in the 10000 metres during the Olympics four years later.

Athletes from Finland ruled in many distances from the 1912 Olympics until 1976. It was the time of “The Flying Finns”, a golden generation that started with Hannes Kolehmainen, who won four Olympic gold medals ranging from the 5000 metres to the marathon, and finished with Lasse Virén, who won another 4 Olympic gold medals, in the 5000 and 10000 metres in the 1972 and 1976 Olympics.

In the United States the running boom started during the 1970s, especially propelled by the victory of Frank Shorter in the 1972 Olympic marathon, and the victories of Alberto Salazar in Boston and New York in the early 1980s.

Besides the sporadic winning news of some Tarahamura Indians from Mexico in ultra-marathons, nowadays the international marathon scene seems ruled by athletes from East African countries, especially Kenia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and some others.

Therefore, genetics has been linked to elite international marathon performance. Trying to find these sport performance phenotypes, or in other words the genes involved in marathon success, has prompted a whole new area of genetic studies.

The main factors related to running performance are maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), lactate threshold, running economy and oxygen uptake kinetics. It has been found that VO2max is heritable by 40-50%, confirming the importance of genetics in the performance. But obviously not everything is genetics, as there are other key factors involved, such as training.

A recent big meta-analysis has found a total of 14 different genes that could be associated with endurance performance:

  • PPARAGC1α, PPARAGC1β, NRF1, SIRT1, HIF1A, AQP1, AMPD1, BDKRB2, NFIA-AS2 and TSHR

They are mainly involved in ATP generation (the primary energy fuel of all living things), glucose and lipid metabolism, thermogenesis and muscle fibre type composition. They could contribute to an adequate body fluid balance and improvements in blood flow and oxygen delivery to exercising muscles.

  • COL5A1

Important for the collagen in the ligaments, that influence motion, it could improve the energetic cost of running and consequently the performance.

  • ACE, NOS3 and ADRB2

These genes codify the enzymes involved in cardiovascular function, contributing to blood pressure and vasodilation control. A variant of the ADRB2 has been associated with faster marathon times by improving blood delivery to muscles and a better recycling of lactate to produce energy.

All the studies included in the analysis have their own limitations, as sometimes they include athletes from the same ethnicity, different endurance sport disciplines, or a small sample size.

Other genes are linked to power-related sports. Every Olympic sprinter tested had a copy of a R allele in its ACTN3 gene. This allele is involved in the production of proteins used in fast-twitch muscle fibres, determinant in short running sprint distances.

Although we can see the results of these studies are far from determinant, the risk of gene manipulation is already a possibility. The transference of genes or genetically modified cells into an individual to enhance its athletic performance is called genetic doping. Anticipating this issue, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited its use back in 2003, but how could it be tested? Nowadays there is not enough knowledge to test it or know if it has already happened.

As history has sadly proved us, if something can be done, it is done, no matter the consequences. We can be sure that genetic doping will happen, even with all the potential risks that could be associated: what would be the future effects on athlete’s health?

Despite gene doping potential is clear, genetic testing could also be useful to identify the most suitable runners among the young athletes. This tool would allow to optimise training and improve marathon running performance. Therefore, the increasing interest in this research area.

It is important to know that besides genetics there are other factors involved. Nobody will start running sub-2h marathons because his/her good genes are good. Training, diet and mental strength must be also considered. Additionally, there are more than 100 thousand genes in the human genome, all of them interacting among themselves and with the environment. Maybe is not a unique gene necessary to improve your running performance, but a combination of them.

We would love to read your comments.

Thanks for reading.

 

Bibliography:

Genes and Elite Marathon Running Performance: A Systematic Review.

Moir HJ, Kemp R, Folkerts D, Spendiff O, Pavlidis C, Opara E.

J Sports Sci Med. 2019 Aug 1;18(3):559-568.

 

https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/genomicresearch/snp

https://philmaffetone.com/the-marathon-gene/

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/marathon-gene-mutation-may-explain-why-modern-humans-can-go-distance/

Image by Gerd Altmann (Pixabay)

THE GAME CHANGERS (2018, 108min, Louie Psihoyos)

“When I transitioned over to an entirely plant-based diet, I became like a machine”

Dotsie Bausch, cycling silver Olympic medallist

 

 

“Someone asked me, how could you get as strong as an ox without eating any meat? And my answer was, have you ever seen an ox eating meat?

Patrick Baboumian, multiple strength world records holder

5/5

Pros: eye-opening information in a fast-moving documentary.

Cons: maybe some view from the “other side”.

 

It is a 2018 documentary produced by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Novak Djokovic and a long etcetera of other known celebrities. We follow UFC fighter James Wills as he is trying to recover from an injury in both of his knees.

In his search of a healthy diet to help a quick recovery, he comes across a lot of information as why we have been “pushed” to eat meat, in the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle and strength (meat equals energy). We are confronted with the fact that many successful athletes are vegetarian. Many also has achieved their best career results after transitioning to a plant-based diet. For example, Patrick Baboumian, a force of nature with multiple strength world records, the cyclist Dotsie Bausch, who got a silver medal at 39, three years after transitioning to a vegetarian diet, or the ultra-runner Scott Jurek, in his breaking of the Appalachian Trail running record.

We also know of the amount of resources needed to produce meat, and how it is an unnecessary intermediate step for our diet, because most of these animals eat plants to start with. We could eat directly the plants they are eating. Even more, proteins coming from plants are better quality than those coming from meat. Plant proteins carry antioxidants, while meat proteins carry inflammatory molecules that counteract sports recovery. We can see the results of eating a meat-burrito versus a plant-burrito, and how some health markers change in the short term.

But the documentary doesn´t stop there. We are also given anatomical evidence. For example, our teeth are not designed like other carnivorous predators, but more like vegetarian animals. Thanks to new archaeological techniques capable of studying micro fossils, we know that our ancestors were primarily vegetarian. The old misconception came because of the bones found in archaeological sites: they could be conserved for long while plants weren´t.  It almost seems obvious, as vegetables were readily available, and much easier to get than hunting.

James Wills recovers fully following a diet based on plants. His diet change also settles with his family, as his dad suffers a stroke despite carrying a healthy lifestyle. Meat is pointed out as guilty. We come to know that a plant-based diet is surprisingly capable of reversing many of the deleterious effects of stroke and cardiac diseases, with meat linked also with a higher risk of many cancers.

Many of the publicity resources that were used by the tobacco industry for years, moved recently towards the food industry, with a lot of confusion. Although not so remarkably, besides meat, it is also the suggestion of reducing our consumption of dairy products and eggs.

Not being a vegetarian, I didn´t found so difficult to replace meat for other plant alternatives lately. And I haven´t missed it much. Do you think is not easy? You can find easily quinoa, leguminous plants (lentils, chickpeas, etc), nuts and avocados, with more options available every day. Maybe you don´t need to go full vegetarian. I doubt I will leave cheese or eggs in the short term, but as Schwarzenegger says in the documentary, we could start by trying to keep one day meat-free per week.

Watch it and take your own conclusions. We would love to read your comments.

 

For more information check directly the documentary official webpage:

https://gamechangersmovie.com

VITAMIN D ON SKELETAL MUSCLES AND ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE

Image from Hbieser in Pixabay

Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium. Its active form is the calcitriol, which acts binding to specific receptors, the VDR, present in most cells of the human body, including the cells in the skeletal muscles.

Skeletal muscles are one of the major muscular types in the body. They appear usually attached to bones, by the collagen fibres that we know as tendons.

Bone cells produce vitamin D from a precursor, the 25(OH)D, whose free levels in serum are used as an indicative of the body vitamin D status. The calcitriol stimulates protein synthesis in muscular tissue, increasing the number and diameter of type II fibre muscle cells. Consequently, it contributes to muscle contraction velocity and strength.

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with degeneration of type II muscle fibres, causing a loss of strength and decrease in physical performance. Therefore, the importance of adequate vitamin D levels for the athletic performance.

In sedentary subjects has been seen a correlation between 25(OH)D levels and VO2max, although results are not clear in professional athletes. It looks that at a certain fitness level there is no such relation between vitamin D levels and VO2max improvements. Its effects could be linked to an increase in the haemoglobin capacity to transport oxygen.

Additionally, vitamin D has also other important functions, affecting bone mineralization, hormones production and the normal function of the nervous, immune and cardiovascular systems.

Athletes have higher bone mineral density, or BMD levels, than sedentary people. Although it doesn´t mean that they are not susceptible to vitamin D deficiency. But the questions that arises is: Do we need vitamin D supplementation to improve our performance?

Most studies in the literature have been carried out in elderly or inactive subjects, where vitamin D supplementation lowered the risk of bone fractures and improved muscle performance. In athletes there is no clear consensus, although it could improve lower limbs muscle strength, but not affect muscle power of upper limbs or sprinting capacities. Maybe the effects seen in old subjects is because they already had low vitamin D levels.

Levels in the range of 20-30 ng/mL indicate vitamin D insufficiency, and deficiency when they are lower than 20 ng/mL. A meta-study of the literature found that as many as 56% of athletes had low vitamin D levels, especially in the winter season. Also, it was more common in areas of low insolation.

But there is also a genetic factor related to the vitamin D binding protein, or VDBP, whose gene varies greatly among racial groups.

As a conclusion, it looks that vitamin D supplementation is not useful in active and healthy individuals trying to improve its athletic performance. Another thing is when there is an insufficiency/deficiency of vitamin D levels, as often in the elderly, that as we commented have an important effect on health and performance. In this case vitamin D supplementation, could probably be recommended, after looking for a medical check-up.

More studies are needed to clarify the role of vitamin D in sports performance. Meanwhile eat healthy. If you want to increase your ingestion of vitamin D, you can try to include foods with high levels of vitamin D: fatty fish, like tuna, sardines or salmon; egg yolks, especially if eggs come from outdoor raised chicken, and foods fortified with vitamin D, such as some dairy products, certain cereals and orange juice among others.

 

Bibliography:

Vitamin D, Skeletal Muscle Function and Athletic Performance in Athletes-A Narrative Review.

Książek A, Zagrodna A, Słowińska-Lisowska M

Nutrients. 2019 Aug 4;11(8). pii: E1800. doi: 10.3390/nu11081800.

 

https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/guide/calcium-vitamin-d-foods

Food rich in Vitamin D (Image from Silviarita in Unsplash)

VIÑA DEL MAR MARATHON (CHILE) (06/10/19 – 84)

Reñaca beach with start and finish area
3.75/5

Pros: beautiful 1-lap course following continuously the seaside; start and finish area in the beach, with separated area for marathoners; support in the last kilometre getting to the finish line.

Cons: no return buses offered from Reñaca to Viña del Mar, as they were available in the morning; runners´ fair in a subterranean parking lot of a commercial centre.

Marathon course

A long time without a marathon, since June. I was needing a break after an intense first half of the year, with 10 marathons, but I didn´t expect it so long. Summer meant holidays, but also moving to Chile for two months for working reasons. The expected calendar was altered, but marathon is global, and you can find them everywhere.

Viña del Mar was going to be the first marathon in Chilean soil. It is a touristic coastal spot, 2 hours by bus from capital Santiago. Arriving I go straight to pick my bib number and kit. I am surprised to find the runners´ fair in the parking lot of an otherwise massive commercial centre. To make things worse is not even closed for the occasion. Not very welcoming. Really, was there no better place? I get my number and go to pick my t-shirt in the third floor. Bag includes also a cap and running sleeves. After a quick lunch, I go to my hotel and spend the evening walking around.

The race includes also half marathon and 10k options. Start time for the longer distances is 8.00, with 10k scheduled at 8.40. The organisation offers free shuttle buses from Viña del Mar to Reñaca, the village that allocates the start and finish area. An early dinner based on pizza and is time to prepare things and go to sleep.

BIB number collection area
T-shirt collection area

Unfortunately, the hotel is not on a quiet street and traffic doesn´t allow much sleep. Luckily, I had tried to compensate during the week. I get up at 5.10, take breakfast and then an Uber to the shuttle buses departure point. I arrive to Reñaca one hour before start. Day is dawning, and still feels cold, so I keep moving and delay getting undressed until the very last moment.

We are over 1000 runners for the full distance and more than 4000 for the half marathon, separated in the start area. We go punctual, with ideal temperature of around 11-12°C. After only a few metres both races join. The course is a big loop, that could be divided in 4 sections of approximately 10k. From Reñaca to an intermediate point between Viña del Mar and Valparaíso, and back following the same road. Arriving in Reñaca finishes the half marathon. The marathon continues in the other direction, until Concón and then back.

First 2-3 kilometres are a bit complicated as the number of runners is important. I try to accommodate my rhythm to cruising speed. I can see some pacers, but mostly for the half marathon, so I don´t try to keep with any of them. I am feeling well and maintain a regular 5 min/k speed. It is usually faster than last marathons, but I am comfortable.

Leaving behind Viña del Mar we get to the area with the worse pavement conditions. Keeping an eye on the road, kilometres go quickly. Shortly after the 10k we turn around and head back towards Reñaca and the half marathon. As we are leaving Viña, runners suddenly increase, as we join the last runners from the 10k distance. Some navigation skills are required until the halfway point, that I cross in 1.45, maintaining the speed. From that point onwards, is only marathon runners.

Maybe the most demanding part. Undulating terrain and empty roads. Waiting for the gel in the 25k I had only packed 4 gels (instead of the usual 5) and distributed them accordingly. It wasn´t in the 25, nor in the 26, but shortly after the 27 that we got it. Sure, I could have taken one of my own, but unsure as whether we would any, I had decided to wait a bit longer. Until the 25-26k I had maintained my pace, but I started slowing down. Maybe not the gel, because my longest training run in a long time hadn´t gone over that distance either.

Feeling determined I am not that far off from a good finish time. After the last turn around is just only getting back. Motivation at maximum level. I hydrate at every station as the sun is getting intense and eat occasional pieces of banana to get all the energy I can.

For the last 5k I give everything. Mostly downhill and with a lot of supporting people I allow myself to sprint to the finish line. Done. Chip time of 3.40.12, and position 301 over 1101 finishers. Just shy of a sub 3.40, when I was clocking a time closer to 3.30 at halfway point. Nevertheless, happy with the result.

I take my breath and drink enough. With no return transport options to Viña del Mar, nor Uber available, I still have a long walk of 6 kilometres to get back to my hotel.

A new country added to the marathon list, the 11th, for marathon 11 of the year.

Still a few weeks left in Chile, but one more marathon remaining. Next stop: Puerto Varas, in the south.

#maratonviña2019

Marathon finisher´s medal
Resting area in the finish line

RUNNING IN NORTH KOREA (2019, 44min, Carl Hindmarch)

3.5/5

Pros: see that marathon is universal, as it takes place even in a secluded country as North Korea.

Cons: would have liked more opinions from other athletes.

It is a recent documentary from the Olympic Channel, available freely and with subtitles in their webpage .

The documentary subjects are Aimee Fuller, a British snowboarder and two-time Olympian, as she goes to run her first marathon, and Mirjam Jaeger, a retired Swiss Olympic skier who is going for the 10k race of the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon.

It is a yearly event taking place in April, otherwise known as Pyongyang Marathon, in North Korea. It is the only sports event in the country where foreigners can participate. The race has around 1600 runners coming from 59 different countries.

Early in the documentary an official explains to our runners that the goal of the country and the government party is to flourish through sports. The Supreme Leader is greatly interested in sports.

Arriving 5 days before the race our runners will stay in a luxurious and almost empty hotel without internet. They have time to do some tourism and visit the Olympic stadium, where the marathon will start and finish.

Also, they have the chance of meeting some North Korean´s athletes in training for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. In each discipline athletes live and train together in state-of-the-art facilities. They live for the sport to bring glory to their country. If victorious they get luxurious houses and cars and are treated as heroes. They seem sincerely grateful to the government for everything they get in return for their efforts.

Our runners are not allowed to leave the hotel unaccompanied, but they manage to do their last training sessions in the hotel gym or through the hotel corridors. Although finally they get to train outside accompanied by some Korean athletes or followed closely from a car.

On marathon day there is a big parade in the crowded Olympic stadium to introduce the runners. The races start and Aimee and Mirjam enjoy the race, and the chance to finally run freely and interact with the people in the streets. So many foreigners running are seen as a curiosity by the public, but runners are waved and cheered till they get to the finish line.

Personally, I already knew about the North Korean society. I visited South Korea in 2015 to run Seoul Marathon and got a tour to the Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, a buffer frontier separating both Koreas, and still a conflicting separation area since the Korean War in the 1950s.

With the documentary I have added Pyongyang to my future marathon plans, although the registration is a tricky one, as you must go through the unique official agency allowed. Travel also is complicated, as you are not allowed to enter North Korea from the much closer South neighbour but doing a detour from China. Maybe one day, if both Koreas unify, travel will get easier and the marathon more accessible.

Watch it and get your own opinion.

HYPONATREMIA IN ENDURANCE AND ULTRA-ENDURANCE PERFORMANCE

Exercise induced hyponatremia occurs relatively often and has caused deaths in otherwise healthy individuals. It is associated to a wide variety of sports besides endurance events, and its main reason is fluid overload. This overload causes lung or brain edema, many times with fatal consequences.

Focusing on running events, as the number of endurance and ultra-endurance events increases, so it does the number of runners taking part in them. Therefore, the importance of studying the conditions that could be risk factors in developing hyponatremia, such as discipline, environmental conditions and effort duration.

Hyponatremia usually describes a condition developed during prolonged exercise, usually longer than 4 hours, when sodium concentration in plasma goes below a certain level (135mmol/L). During exercise there is a loss of sodium, mainly through sweat and urine. When drinking a sodium-free solution or a hypotonic fluid like water the sodium lost is not compensated. The remaining sodium is diluted, consequently decreasing its level. If the fluid intake is excessive, as happens with most cases of hyponatremia, the increase in total body water is determinant in lowering sodium plasma levels.

The first cases of hyponatremia were reported in the Comrades Marathon during the 1980s. It is a popular ultra-running event, taking place over 90k in South Africa. At that time, endurance athletes were recommended to avoid fluid intake during competition. Shortly afterwards the American College of Sports Medicine changed its view and recommended to drink as much as possible during competition to avoid dehydration and hypernatremia (a rise in the levels of sodium in plasma). This advice caused a rise in the hyponatremia cases.

Besides excessive fluid intake there is also another reason for hyponatremia: the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion, or SIADH. It is an existing condition that is not induced by exercise. The failure in suppressing the antidiuretic hormone (ADH) causes water retention, that ultimately leads to hyponatremia.

When comparing water against carbohydrate drinks, it was found that water tends to stay longer in the intestinal tract because of its slower absorption rate. This would contribute to the transference of sodium from the blood to the gut. This disadvantage is not present in most sport drinks.

The symptoms of hyponatremia change depending of the severity of sodium deficit. Early symptoms such as headache, vomiting and fatigue are not very specific and may be overlooked. When the sodium level decreases further appear confusion, coordination problem and even unconsciousness, as a cerebral edema develops because of brain swelling. If untreated if can lead to respiratory failure and ultimately death in severe cases.

Hyponatremia occurrence can be as high as 30% of participants in Ironman or ultra-running events, and especially among the slowest participants. In US marathons the prevalence is around 8%, with lower percentages in 100k events, and higher in races longer than 100 miles, although if this last case majority of runners didn´t suffer any consequence. It is important to notice that it happens in other disciplines besides the ultra-running and Ironman events.

It also appears more often in women. Physiology of men and women is different despite similar drinking guidelines for everyone. Women usually have higher water retention levels, but also tends to drink more than men. Nevertheless, it is not clear if the higher prevalence is due to their lower body weight or slower finishing times.

Other risk factors associated are: weight gain during the race, low competition experience, intake of non-steroid anti-inflammatories, high fluid availability during the race, and extreme hot/cold conditions, among others.

The best way to prevent hyponatremia is “drinking to thirst” instead of “drinking as much as possible”. Doing so you will certainly avoid fluid overload. The symptoms of untreated hyponatremia are so severe that is important to inform properly coaches, athletes and staff attending in races, to spread proper hydration practices and recognise the symptoms.

Run or practice sports, but always using your head to hydrate: being cautious can save your life.

If you want to keep up to date, subscribe to our webpage (www.onekmore.com) or follow us. Thanks for reading.

 

Bibliography:

Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia in Endurance and Ultra-Endurance Performance-Aspects of Sex, Race Location, Ambient Temperature, Sports Discipline, and Length of Performance: A Narrative Review.

Knechtle B, Chlíbková D, Papadopoulou S, Mantzorou M, Rosemann T, Nikolaidis PT

Medicina (Kaunas). 2019 Aug 26;55(9). pii: E537. doi: 10.3390/medicina55090537.

Photo by Tobias Seidl on Unsplash

LONG-DISTANCE RUNNING IN CHILDREN

Physical inactivity is one of the main causes of chronic disease and premature death in the world. Consequently, exercise is usually recommended at all ages. Children practicing regular exercise have been shown to present less chronic diseases later in life.

As sports practice has become more popular worldwide, children have started participating also in running events, in many occasions over distances longer than the 42.2k of the marathon.

The IAAF set a minimum of 20 years of age to participate in marathon world championships. No such requirement is present in other sport disciplines and is also absent in ultramarathon running. As for the marathons, usually they have an age limit of 16 or 18, but the Houston Chevron Marathon allows runners aged 12, and the Marine Corps Marathon participants who are 14.

The question arising would be: Is there any risk associated with these long running events at a young age? Many doctors recommend avoiding distance running for kids, as they are in a growing process and the effort could affect them physically and mentally.

Nevertheless, there are also supporters of long-distance running for children. Young runners have completed marathons in impressive times. The marathon record for an 11 years old boy is 2:47:17, and 2:49:21 for a girl, results unreachable by many adult runners.

A study following young finishers in the Twin Cities Marathon over 26 years found that only 4 out of 310 finishers needed medical assistance at the finish line, and only for minor questions that didn´t need further treatment. This proportion was slightly smaller that among adult runners.

A recent published review article has followed more than 7000 finishers, aged 19 or under, from 1960 to 2017, who covered distances ranging from 40 to 220k. They found that the most popular running distance among children was the 100k, also popular with adults, followed by the 50k.

From all children running ultramarathons, only 25% of them continued running into adulthood, 12% after 20 years, and only a 6% beyond 30 years. There was no clear long-term adverse health effect due to ultramarathon running, although there is no data regarding training volumes for example. Running a marathon or longer distance requires a commitment, that usually implies many hours of training during a long period of time.

Future studies should be carried out in order to understand the reasons why most child runners stopped running these ultra-events when reaching adulthood. Despite this, the discontinuation of sports practice is also present in other disciplines. Often parents push their kids to an intensity that may result in injury or early burnout. Why ultra-running would be more stressful than any other discipline?

With the present data it looks we should not discourage children from running, whatever the distance, considering that RUNNING should always be FUN, and teach them to LISTEN to their bodies.

If you liked our entrance and wants to keep updated, follow us, or subscribe in our webpage www.onekmore.com.

 

Bibliography:

Too much too early? An analysis of worldwide childhood ultramarathon participation and attrition in adulthood.

Scheer V, Hoffman MD

The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2019 August;59(8):1363-8

 

https://www.verywellfit.com/age-requirements-for-running-marathons-2911428

https://trainright.com/how-young-is-too-young-to-run-an-ultramarathon/

https://ultrarunning.com/featured/children-and-ultramarathons/

QUALITY OF LIFE IN FORMER ATHLETES

Photo by Mesa Minkkinen (Pixabay)

It is well known that sport participation carries a set of physical health benefits: reduced all-cause mortality, longer lifespan, and reduced risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, among others.

On the negative side sports practice brings an injury risk, which can have a long-lasting physical and psychological impact. Injury can cause negative emotions, impair quality of life (QOL) and decrease physical activity, independently of functional recovery. In this sense, sport-related concussions are related to reduced QOL and depression in former athletes, and joint injury is associated with a higher risk of osteoarthritis.

Nevertheless, what happens with athletes after retirement is less known. In former elite athletes, osteoarthritis is more prevalent, and sometimes accompanied by distress, common mental disorders and reduced QOL. These negative physical effects may be counteracted by the positive psychosocial health effects of sport participation: resilience, improved mental health, reduced stress and sense of group belonging.

Adaptation to a life without sport appears more difficult when the athlete retires involuntarily, due to an injury or not being selected. It may result in negative emotions as social exclusion, betrayal or loss of identity. Things change with voluntary retirement, usually accompanied by a sense of achievement and transition to a different life style.

Results

A recent systematic review of the existing scientific literature has found 17 eligible articles about QOL in former athletes. Physical and mental components were given a score (PCS Physical Component Score and MCS Mental Component Score) to determine the level of QOL.  Main results are exposed as follow:

  • Former athletes with no history of concussion or osteoarthritis reported better PCS scores than the general population. Other athletes though showed lower PCS scores, that could be explained by the sport (contact or collision modality), reasons for retirement, chronic pain or osteoarthritis.
  • As for the mental state, all former athletes showed better MCS scores than general population, even in those athletes with lower PCS scores, showing a discordance between physical and mental aspects affecting QOL.
  • A large population-based study in the United States found that people with arthritis were more likely to have physically and mentally unhealthy days compared to aged-matched individuals. Even athletes with osteoarthritis symptoms had a healthier mental state than this population: they were more satisfied with their lives. It looks that competitive sport gave them mental strength, and high levels of resilience and pain coping capabilities.

The main limitations of these studies were that they didn´t consider: current physical activity levels, differences among sport disciplines, time from retirement, length of sport participation, and that many of them were done only in males.

Conclusions

  • In former professional athletes, on average, physical components of QOL were similar, while mental components of QOL were better than in the general population. Discordance between physical and mental components of QOL highlights the importance of using measurement instruments to differentiate among these components. Life satisfaction should also be evaluated.
  • Sport participation can have long-term physical consequences that negatively impact QOL: disciplines involving collision/contact, involuntary retirement from sport, and a history of concussion and/or osteoarthritis.
  • However, sport participation may also have positive mental effects that extend beyond retirement and enhance quality of life.

 

 

Bibliography:

Quality of Life and Life Satisfaction in Former Athletes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

Filbay S, Pandya T, Thomas B, McKay C, Adams J, Arden N

Sports Med. 2019 Aug 19. doi: 10.1007/s40279-019-01163-0. [Epub ahead of print]

Photo by FuSuSu (Pixabay)

HONEY ON HEALTH AND SPORTS PERFORMANCE

Honey has a composition that is approximately 80% carbohydrates and 19% water, with a whole set of components, among them: proteins, amino acids, minerals, polyphenols, vitamins and enzymes. There are over 320 varieties of honey, with very different compositions depending on the plants providing the nectar and environmental conditions. Historically it has been used for more than 5000 years for health reasons, derived especially of its antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

The most abundant carbohydrates present in honey are fructose (35-40%) and glucose (30-35%), with a 5-10% of other carbohydrates. Generally, the glycaemic index (GI) indicates how quickly blood glucose rises after food consumption. Fructose has a low GI, meaning that it is more slowly and evenly absorbed than glucose. On the other hand, glucose has a high GI and is absorbed rapidly. Depending on the ratio fructose/glucose is the GI of honey and consequently its rate of absorption, oscillating between 32, if it takes long to assimilate, and 87 for a “fast” honey.

The fact that carbohydrates supplementation improves performance is well known. Due to the high carbohydrates content of honey, it could be a suitable energy source for athletes, while also providing some other substances that could potentially improve health and performance. We will see these characteristics in further detail.

 

Honey on exercise performance

It was found that acute honey consumption improved exercise performance in a 64k cycling time trial (comparing low GI honey with high GI fructose), a 20-minutes running time trial (comparing honey with water) and a high intensity run.

Low GI carbohydrates, as those in honey, release glucose slowly, sustaining blood glucose levels.  Therefore, they provide a continuous supply of energy, delaying muscle glycogen depletion and improving performance in long lasting events (2h or more).

For short duration activities, or high intensity exercise, honey was not clearly enhancing performance.

 

Honey on bone health

Diet and exercise regulate hormonal and mineral functions that determine bone health. Honey consumption alongside exercise improve bone health markers such as bone mass, mechanical properties and enzymes.

Honey is rich in vitamins D and K, but also in minerals such as calcium, phosphorous and magnesium, that could be the nutrients responsible of bone health. Additionally, honey has alkalinizing properties after digestion. This is an important property as it counteracts the effects of metabolic acidosis, one of the main contributors to osteoporosis. Consequently, it has been found that honey ingestion, even in the absence of exercise, increases bone density. Thus, honey would be recommended to increase bone formation and calcium absorption and prevent osteoporosis.

 

Honey and exercise on immune system and inflammatory responses

It is well known that moderate physical activity enhances immune system, although prolonged high intensity exercise may increase infection, especially in the upper respiratory tract. This latter effect has been linked to an increase of free radicals and the inhibition of monocytes and lymphocytes immune response, during an a few hours after exercise.

Honey is rich in phenolic and flavonoid compounds, with antioxidant properties. Because of the antioxidant properties of honey, its supplementation has been shown to decrease the levels of inflammatory cytokines and increase those of anti-inflammatory cytokines. These effects would improve the immune system, especially when using darker honeys, as they are richer in polyphenols and flavonoids, and consequently more potent antioxidants.

 

Other Honey benefits

From a nutritional point of view honey also contains choline, essential for the cardiovascular system, brain function and cell membranes, and acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter.

Going back to the GI index, acacia honey has a low GI index and its consumption could be beneficial in diabetic patients. An intake of 50g of honey in healthy individuals and diabetic patients led to smaller increases in blood glucose than the same amount of glucose, or a sugar mixture resembling honey.

Additionally, honey has well-known antibacterial properties, and is also effective in inhibiting virus and parasites spreading.

Regarding its effects on teeth there is still some controversy. Because of its antibacterial capacity it could be acting against caries-inducing bacteria. When compared with fruits juice, it was found that 10 minutes after drinking a juice there was tooth enamel erosion, much intense than 30 minutes after honey ingestion. This different effect on teeth could be due to honey´s mineral content (calcium, phosphorous and fluoride).

As for the gastrointestinal system, honey has been used for the treatment of disorders, such as diarrhoea, gastritis and peptic ulcers since centuries ago, probably because its antibacterial properties. Besides this effect it also acts as a prebiotic agent, increasing the levels of intestine bifidobacterial.

 

Final remarks

There are many reasons to include honey into your daily routine. Its benefits on health are multiple, but it could also enhance your sports performance. As a source of carbohydrates, it could be as good, if not better, as commercial gels and sport drinks.

A word of caution for children, as honey is a natural and non-sterilized product, and there is presence of Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria causing botulism. Its spores can be present in the honey, and after ingestion they can start producing the toxin in the stomach of infants less than 12 months old.

We would also recommend knowing the source of your honey. If it is very cheap, maybe is better to avoid, as many times they sell for honey what is simply a sugars mixture solution. It may taste like honey, but it will lack all his benefits.

 

Bibliography:

Honey for nutrition and health: a review.

Bogdanov S, Jurendic T, Sieber R, Gallmann P.

J Am Coll Nutr. 2008 Dec;27(6):677-89.

 

Effects of honey on exercise performance and health components: A systematic review

Yusof A, Ahmad NS, Hamid A, Khong TK.

Science & Sports (2018) 33, 267—281

 

Honey Supplementation and Exercise: A Systematic Review

Hills SP, Mitchell P, Wells C, Russell M.

Nutrients 2019, 11, 1586