News & Views from the Editor-in-Chief - L. Bruce Gladden
Three papers in this month's journal particularly caught my attention. In the first highlight, Shiroma et al. compared the mortality rates between regular exercisers and "weekend warriors"; that is, those engaging in exercise on only 1 or 2 days per week. Drawing from the longitudinal mortality follow-up of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), they used accelerometers to objectively assess physical activity volume, and how and when it was performed. Their results showed that weekend warriors and regular exercisers had similar mortality rate reductions even after adjusting for the total volume of activity. The positive message is that those who perform the majority of their physical activity on only a few days are indeed accruing health benefits.
In a second study of interest this month, the role of the foot in locomotion was investigated. As the main point of contact with the ground, the foot plays a vital role in how humans move. The complex structure of the foot, including 26 bones and 20 intrinsic muscles, allows for both rigid support and flexibility, as necessary. Weakness of the intrinsic foot muscles has been associated with a variety of injuries. Ridge et al. measured the effects of walking in minimalist footwear or performing targeted foot strengthening exercises on the size and strength of intrinsic foot muscles. Their major finding was that walking in minimalist footwear resulted in similar strength and muscle size increases as performing the foot exercises did. While the running community has shown interest in minimalist footwear, there may also be benefits to walking in minimalist footwear for the general population and/or people who suffer from a variety of foot/gait related pathologies.
In the third highlighted article, Vargas et al. examined whether thermoregulatory behavior differs between males and females during and following exercise. The females in their study employed thermal behavior to a greater extent than males during exercise in that the females required greater cooling to maintain thermal comfort, despite similar increases in body temperature in both males and females. The dynamic recovery of body temperature following exercise also differed between males and females. As a result, females also differentially utilized thermal behavior during exercise recovery. This study has practical implications in that females may be more prone to thermal discomfort during and following exercise. Further, this study could inform clothing function and design.
L. Bruce Gladden
School of Kinesiology