Take a second to think about the lifestyle of immediate and extended family members. Are they physically active? Is there history of heart disease, hypertension, and/or coronary artery disease? Chances are the answer is yes. The Center for Disease Control reports that heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States. What can be done about such an alarming problem? Is society doing enough to help prevent this frightening statistic?
Physical inactivity is the top heart disease risk factor. Therefore, it is imperative to drastically increase the activity levels of Americans. Many adults are unaware of the recommended physical activity minutes per week. Currently, the government states that adults should perform at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week to lower the risk of premature death, coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. For additional benefits such as lower risk of colon cancer, breast cancer, and unhealthy weight gain, the government recommends that adults should perform at least 300 minutes of activity a week (health.gov). While these numbers and benefits sound appealing, it seems like more needs to be done considering that close to 800,000 Americans have their first heart attack each year (Healthline). The minimum amount of exercise is no longer enough to keep people’s hearts healthy enough for a lasting good quality of life.
Research has found that physical activity and heart failure is considered a “dose dependant” relationship. Therefore, the more physically active a person is, the lower their risk of heart failure (Washington Post). That means the 53% of Americans who said they do not participate in physical activity have a much higher risk of experiencing heart failure. The most important thing is to get the body moving, whether it be in increments of 10 minutes or a full hour of exercise. If time is an issue, no worries! There are short but very effective workouts such as HIIT (high intensity interval training) that fit easily into a busy schedule. This and other vigorous exercise is equivalent to performing two minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, still granting the heart all of the benefits. Cardiovascular exercise is not the only helper on the journey towards a healthier heart. Lifting weights has been shown to reduce heart-disease risk by about 25% (Health). Given the wide variety of exercise types to choose from, there is no excuse not to add it to a daily routine.
Despite the information on how much to exercise and what types of exercise count, such a severe risk of heart disease still dominates American women and men. Think about what the average person does on a daily basis outside of that recommended 150 minutes per week. Perhaps it is not just about structured exercise, but simply moving more often throughout the day. Many people commute to and from work sitting in the car and spend most of their work day immobile at a desk. Taking a break to walk around for several minutes each hour, or taking the stairs rather than the elevator is an easy way for people in these situations to get more active minutes in their day. Parking the car further away at the store instead of the closest spot will allow for an increase in activity level, all benefiting the heart! Gardening or playing a friendly game of basketball on a nice day instead of sitting inside on the computer are also excellent ways to increase activity levels without participating in structured exercise. The options are limitless!
Take inventory of those immediate and extended family members who are suffering from heart disease and let it be a reminder to make physical activity a part of each day. If individuals create a lifestyle where they are not only participating in structured exercise, but moving their bodies more often, there is far more opportunity to take care of the most important muscle in the body; the heart.
Author: Alex Barrett
From the Roots Fitness President, Exercise Specialist, Certified Exercise Physiologist, Personal Trainer
Google the word ‘serape’ and an array of brightly colored blankets will appear on your screen. This makes sense – a serape serves as a shawl or blanket worn as a cloak in Latin America. Now google ‘serape and exercise.’ Fashion and exercise – well, yes, especially at places like Lulu and Ralph. Aside from workout gear, there also exists a muscle scarf, of sorts. Serape who, you ask. Let us break it down for you.
Just beneath your skin lies a complex network of connective tissue called fascia. This thin sheath of fibrous tissue encloses muscle, acting like a straight jacket of sorts. With this said, these muscular compartments that we see on giant anatomy posters or read about in health news articles have, in a way, compartmentalized how we view our bodies. Fascia connects muscles just as much as it separates, if not more so. Muscular guide wires, fascia helping you to move well, stand straight and play hard.
This leads us to what is known as the ‘serape effect.’ The original serape effect was presented by kinesiologists Logan and McKinney in 1970, although the origin of oblique system may be traced to the early 1900s. The serape effect provides some insight into the force generation patterns used by the body to transfer forces across the core – that dreaded core that so many either love or despise. Logan and McKinney’s original serape looks like a giant scarf (hence the term serape) wrapped around the back of the neck, crosses the front of the body, and tucks into the pant line.
From the serape effect came Vleeming’s more in-depth APS model – the anterior posterior serape, involving the anterior and posterior oblique systems. The APS describes how muscles and tendons do not
connect directly to bone, rather they connect to one another transmitting force along pathways arranged in series fashion along spiraling lines. The interplay of these scarf-like patterns of muscular contractions provides the rotational power we see
in many sports and functional activities.
Who cares about all of this stuff? Certainly wellness practitioners think it’s important. And guess what…YOU probably should too.
The serape effect and APS are responsible for both rotational and vertical activities – from swinging a bat or golf club, to getting up out of a chair. Fascia links the muscles together in interconnected chains; myofascial lines’ functioning can be improved through integrated exercises and movements that link the muscles functionally, through dynamic, coordinated movement patterns.
Keeping your muscles and fascial system healthy might be one of the fastest — and most overlooked — ways to improve your health and fitness! Start by making smart exercises choices involving multidimensional full body movements. You were born to move!
For more information, check out the references listed below. You might also find, MFR, Kinesis Myofascial Integration and Fascial Stretch Therapy interesting, too!
Heffernan, Andrew. (November 2011). The Web of Life. Retrieved from https://experiencelife.com/article/the-web-of-life/
Logan G and McKinney W. The serape effect. In: Anatomical Kinesiology (3rd ed).
Lockhart A, ed. Dubuque, IA: Brown, 1970. pp. 287–302.
Brown, Lee, and Stuart Mcguill. Anterior and Posterior Serape. In: Strength and Conditioning Journal. October 2015.
Meyers, Thomas. (2014). Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists. (3rd ed.) Churchill Livingstone: Italy.
Vleeming A. Anatomical linkages and muscle slings of the lumbopelvic region. In: Movement, Stability and Lumbopelvic Pain: Integration of Research and Therapy (2nd ed). Vleeming A, Mooney V, and Stoeckart R, eds. London, United Kingdom: Elsevier, 2007. pp. 47–62.
Vleeming A, Pool-Goudzwaard AL, Stoeckart R, van Wingerden JP, and Snijders CJ. The posterior layer of the thoracolumbar fascia. Its function in load transfer from spine to legs. Spine 20: 753–758, 1995.
Author: Julia Anthony
B.S. Exercise Specialist, CSCS, NASM CPT