sport

‘To do nothing is sometimes a good remedy.’ –Hippocrates

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We all know that exercise can make us fitter and reduce our risk for illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. But just how, from start to finish, a run or a bike ride might translate into a healthier life has remained baffling.

Now new research reports that the answer may lie, in part, in our DNA. Exercise, a new study finds, changes the shape and functioning of our genes, an important stop on the way to improved health and fitness. […]

Epigenetics [is] a process by which the operation of genes is changed, but not the DNA itself. Epigenetic changes occur on the outside of the gene, mainly through a process called methylation. In methylation, clusters of atoms, called methyl groups, attach to the outside of a gene like microscopic mollusks and make the gene more or less able to receive and respond to biochemical signals from the body.

Scientists know that methylation patterns change in response to lifestyle. Eating certain diets or being exposed to pollutants, for instance, can change methylation patterns on some of the genes in our DNA and affect what proteins those genes express. Depending on which genes are involved, it may also affect our health and risk for disease. […]

The volunteers pedaled one-legged at a moderate pace for 45 minutes, four times per week for three months. […] More than 5,000 sites on the genome of muscle cells from the exercised leg now featured new methylation patterns. Some showed more methyl groups; some fewer. […]

Most of the genes in question are known to play a role in energy metabolism, insulin response and inflammation within muscles. In other words, they affect how healthy and fit our muscles — and bodies — become.

They were not changed in the unexercised leg.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

photo { David Hasselhoff, The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie, 2004 }

related { Phobias may be memories passed down in genes from ancestors }

Hear the loud alarum bells

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To examine the effects of grunting on velocity and force production during dynamic and static tennis strokes in collegiate tennis players. […]

The velocity, force, and peak muscle activity during tennis serves and forehand strokes are significantly enhanced when athletes are allowed to grunt.

{ Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research | Continue reading | more }

image { Imp Kerr, Pantherhouse, 2000 }

You have corrupted my imagination and inflamed my blood

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Regular exercise may alter how a person experiences pain, according to a new study. The longer we continue to work out, the new findings suggest, the greater our tolerance for discomfort can grow.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

It was a very fancy hotel. They even made you wear a tie in the shower.

{ Journalists at Sochi are live-tweeting their hotel experiences }

The colossal project, which cost more than $50 billion – more than all previous Winter Olympics combined – was expected to turn Sochi into a sporting paradise, packed with arenas and a new airport. Instead, corruption and construction accidents have plagued preparations, with hotels still unfinished just days before the opening ceremony.

{ Zero Hedge | Continue reading }

Her veil to one departing, dear one, to wind, love, speeding sail, return

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{ Rockets with plastic golf balls, replace driver clubs, as they fly to the green no matter how far. Shawn Kelly, golf pro, will compete against Doug Frost, the inventor of Rocketry Golf, who has built and flown Rockets since 1957 and has won over a dozen awards at 15 national rocket contests. | Rocketry | PRWeb }

Oh yeah. You fly. You cool.

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The paper begins with three individual sports (tennis, golf, and boxing) in which home advantage has been studied. […] It moves on to individual and team sports in the Olympics, where home advantage has also been studied. […] Finally, data are presented for two individual efforts embedded in team sports (free throws in basketball and shootouts in ice hockey). […]

Subjectively evaluated sports such as diving, gymnastics, or figure skating usually show sizable and significant home advantages. […] Except for subjectively evaluated sports, home advantage is not a major factor in individual sports, much less does it play a role in individual sports comparable to its role in team sports.

{ ScienceDirect | Continue reading }

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That we find the reasons why, one step at a time

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Stairway climbing provides a ubiquitous and inconspicuous method of burning calories. While typically two strategies are employed for climbing stairs, climbing one stair step per stride or two steps per stride, research to date has not clarified if there are any differences in energy expenditure between them. Fourteen participants took part in two stair climbing trials. […] Two step climbing invokes a higher rate of energy expenditure; however, one step climbing is energetically more expensive in total over the entirety of a stairway. Therefore to expend the maximum number of calories when climbing a set of stairs the single-step strategy is better.

{ PLOS ONE | Continue reading }

Then jump in first class with third ticket. Then too far.

Four abreast, goose stepping, tramp fast past in noisy marching

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Stretching before exercise is a sacred ritual, but researchers have been finding that it actually slows you down. Florida State researchers recently showed that stretching before a run makes you about 5 percent less efficient, meaning you have to burn more energy to run at the same pace. This year, Italian researchers studying cyclists discovered why stretching is counterproductive. They found evidence that toe-touching stretches change the force-transmission properties of muscle fibers and alter the brain signals to muscle, reducing exercise efficiency by about 4 percent. Furthermore, there’s insufficient scientific evidence that pre-exercise stretching reduces injury risk.

{ Popular Mechanics | Continue reading }

photo { Geof Kern }

Most of the medals might as well say ‘Congratulations on wasting your life perfecting a worthless skill.’

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Research conducted during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens showed that competitors in taekwondo, boxing and wrestling who wore red clothing or body protection had a higher chance of winning. The effect wasn’t large, but when the statistics were combined across all these sports it was undeniable – wearing red seemed to give a slightly better chance of winning gold. The effect has since been shown for other sports, such as football. […]

The researchers had a straightforward explanation for why wearing red makes a difference. Across the animal kingdom, red coloration is associated with male dominance, signaling aggression and danger to others. […] The researchers claimed that humans too are subject to this “red = dominance” effect, and so, for combat sports, the athlete wearing red had a psychological advantage. […]

Another research group analysed data from a different sport at the Athens Olympics, Judo, but they found that contestants who wore either white or blue had an advantage.

{ Mind Hacks | Continue reading }

A duel between titans. My golden gun against your Walther PPK.

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The electronic “pistol” of this summer’s Games was designed to overcome an astonishing problem: The speed of sound is too slow for Olympic athletes. That is to say, athletes far away from the starting pistol were delayed by the time it took for the sound to travel to them, and differences so tiny can matter in races in which the margins are so small.

{ The Atlantic | Continue reading }

related { Statisticians Predict The Number Of Olympic Records That Will Fall at London 2012 }

The occasional acid flashback

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Most people think perfection in bowling is a 300 game, but it isn’t. Any reasonably good recreational bowler can get lucky one night and roll 12 consecutive strikes. If you count all the bowling alleys all over America, somebody somewhere bowls a 300 every night. But only a human robot can roll three 300s in a row—36 straight strikes—for what’s called a “perfect series.” More than 95 million Americans go bowling, but, according to the United States Bowling Congress, there have been only 21 certified 900s since anyone started keeping track. […]

There’s almost never a time when every decision you make is correct and every step is in the right direction. Life, like bowling, is full of complicating factors, unpredictable variables, plenty of times when there is no right answer. But Bill Fong had some experience with near-perfection prior to the night.

{ D | Continue reading }