Category Archives: Fitness Articles

Training for a better memory

What causes age related memory loss?

Memory Loss

As we get older our memory usually gets worse. Almost everyone knows someone who gets a little more forgetful with age. Some later than others but it seems inevitable. What causes this and is there nothing we can do to prevent or slow down this process?

Our memory is not bound to a single brain structure. Different parts of our brain function as different parts of what we call our memory. For example we have a special memory for movement patterns that we perform without thinking such as walking or riding a bike. These are stored in and retrieved from the cerebellum, the smaller brain behind our large brain (cerebrum). Furthermore both the frontal and temporal lobes play a large part in our memory. Another important structure in forming memories is the hippocampus. The hippocampus, among other things, transfers memories from our short term memory to our long term memory. When the hippocampus gets damaged this process gets interrupted and making new memories might be impossible.

Brain anatomy
Figure 1: Brain anatomy

As we get older several changes take place in our brains. One of these is arteriosclerosis. Our brains use about 20% of the total amount of oxygen that our body uses at rest. Consider that our brains take up only 2% of our total mass and you can see that oxygen and therefore blood needs are quite high. When the quality of our blood vessels decreases blood supply to our brain is compromised. To function optimally, the brain needs an unobstructed blood supply. Arteriosclerosis prevents this and is one of the causes of age related memory loss.

We do not know everything about how the brain functions and how it changes during aging. Aside from that, hereditary factors can play a large role in the aging brain. There is good news however. Arteriosclerosis can be prevented or even reversed by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Aerobic exercise in particular can reverse arteriosclerosis and therefore improve blood flow to the brain.

Is age related memory loss inevitable?

Another reason for age related memory loss is a decrease in mass in the hippocampus. As said before, the hippocampus is essential in forming long term memories. A decrease in size compromises memory.

In addition, both strength training and aerobic exercise can increase the size of the hippocampus, or at least prevent it from shrinking. An important factor in this is training intensity. A higher training intensity in both strength training and aerobic exercise requires more concentration and therefore can be seen as exercise for the brain.

An different way of training the brain is performing more complex exercises such as maintaining balance while performing memory tasks or solving math problems in your head. Other possibilities are learning a new skill that involves complex movement patterns such as juggling or playing a new instrument.

Finally a healthy lifestyle is essential in maintaining a well functioning brain. As said before, arteriosclerosis is an important factor in age related memory loss. The process of arteriosclerosis can be accelerated by physical inactivity, unhealthy nutrition, too much stress, smoking and drinking alcohol. Improving your lifestyle in any or all these fields will be of great benefit to your brain.

In short, although it is not avoidable for everyone, much can be done to prevent or slow down age related memory loss and improve health at the same time.

See also:

-Fitness and depression


– Bear, M.F., Connors, B.W., Paradiso, M. A. Memory Systems. In: Neuroscience exploring the brain 2nd edition. USA Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

-Frodl, T., Strehl, K., Carballedo, A., Tozzi, L. Doyle, M., Amico, F., Gormley, J., Lavell, G., O’Keane, V. Aerobic exercise increases hippocampal subfield volumes in younger adults and prevents volume decline in the elderly. Brain Imaging and Behavior 2019.

-Netz, Y. Is There a Preferred Mode of Exercise for Cognition Enhancement in Older Age?—A Narrative Review. Frontiers in Medicine 2019, 6, 57.

-Roque, F.R. Hernanz, R., Salaices, M., Briones, A.M. Exercise Training and Cardiometabolic Diseases: Focus on the Vascular System. Current Hypertension Reports 2013, 15, 3, 204-2015.

Improving Running Economy

Running Improving Running Economyis a very popular and effective method to increase endurance and improve health. An increasing number of people participate in large running events such as a Marathon, Half-Marathon or other distances. Aside from oxygen uptake (VO2max) running economy is one of the most important variables that influences how well you perform at running events. This article will tell you why and how you should be improving your running economy.

Monitoring Exercise Intensity

Exercise intensityMonitoring exercise intensity is one of the most important factors that determines if your workout is effective or not. Whether your goal is to lose weight or improve your endurance, you should keep track of your exercise intensity when you want results. For cardio training the most accurate way to measure exercise intensity is the oxygen uptake. However this requires expensive and often cumbersome equipment to be practical in everyday training. Fortunately there are three other ways that can be used effectively during your workout.

Top 5 Static stretching fables

 StaticStatic stretching fables stretching is the most performed form of stretching. For most people it is the only form of stretching they know and its simply synonymous with stretching. Static stretching is performed by all sorts of athletes, from those just starting to run after years of inactivity to the most elite athletes in almost all sports. It is often recommended by (personal) trainers and coaches for several reasons, all of which have been disproven by scientific research. Or in other words are plain nonsense. This article will tell you which supposed effects are static stretching fables.

Effects of Amino Acid Supplementation and Resistance Exercise on Muscle Adaptation


The purpose of this article is to investigate and evaluate the effects of amino acid supplementation in combination with resistance exercise on muscle hypertrophy and strength. The mechanisms of different processes in protein turnover on which amino acid supplementation has an effect are explored. Amino acid supplementation in combination with resistance exercise increases serum IGF-1 concentrations, decreases testosterone concentrations and leaves myostatin expression unchanged. These processes increase mRNA translation, which results in an increase in hypertrophy and, if resistance training intensity is high enough, in increases in strength. In the end it seems that although not all effects of amino acid supplementation are positive for protein synthesis, the net effect is an increase in protein synthesis.

Dangers of too much belly fat

Dangers of too much belly fat

More than 60% of adults are currentlyToo much visceral fat overweight and the number of people who suffer from lifestyle related disorders such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and is rising rapidly. To make matters worse, in the western world these diseases are among the leading causes of death. Being overweight or obese is often a central factor in developing diabetes, high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease and both body mass index (BMI) and body composition give a good indication to the risk of developing these disorders. In fact the BMI norms were originally developed based on research that found a connection between body weight relative to body height and risk of developing disease.

Dumbbells vs Barbells: Dumbbell Shoulder Press vs Barbell Shoulder Press

Dumbbell Shoulder Press vs Barbell Shoulder Press

Barbells vs Dumbbells

In the first article in the Barbell vs. Dumbbell series we compared the Bench Press with the Dumbbell Press. In this second article in the Barbell vs. Dumbbell series we analyze which variant is the most effective for muscle growth for shoulder muscles: The Military Press (Barbell Shoulder Press) or the Dumbbell Shoulder Press. The Military Press is another classic barbell exercise and an essential part of a weightlifters’ training in which a barbell is pressed from just above shoulder height to above the head with outstretched arms. The Military press is performed while standing, although it is possible to perform it seated and decrease stability requirements. The Dumbbell Shoulder Press is a variant of this exercise but is usually performed while seated. It is perfectly possible to perform this exercise while standing however. Both exercises target the deltoid and triceps brachii muscles. Since both these exercises can be done both seated and standing, the effects of posture and which is more effective will be discussed as well.

Dumbbells vs Barbells: Barbell Bench Press vs Dumbbell Press

Dumbbells vs Barbells

Barbells vs DumbbellsThere is a long standing debate among strength training enthusiasts and professionals over the differences between training with dumbbells or with a barbell. Using similar exercises which version is more effective to gain muscle mass using dumbbells or a barbell?

The most effective chest exercises

There are many different exercises to train the pectoralis major, but what are the most effective chest excercises? For those who want to increase the size of their chest muscles it is important to train all different parts of the pectoralis major. This article reviews which exercises target the different parts of the chest muscle best. In addition, muscle activity of assisting (synergistic) muscles will be reviewed as well.

Tabata training

What is Tabata Training?

Tabata training is a form of high intensity interval training first investigated by the Japanese scientist Professor Izumi Tabata. The first few studies were primarily aimed at enhancing sport performance in athletes using short interval training sessions on a stationary bicycle. Every training consisted of eight 20 second sprints on a stationary bicycle at very high intensity alternated with resting periods of 10 seconds. After the training period endurance (maximal oxygen uptake) increased to a larger extend in the Tabata interval training group, despite the workouts being much shorter, compared with a group that performed regular modrate intensity endurance training for 60 minutes each training.1 Ever since that study, the Tabata interval training protocol has become very popular and is increasingly used to help (professional) athletes get fitter and help people lose weight.

Muscle soreness: Essential for training results?

Muscle soreness often occurs after very intensive workouts or unknown movements. Muscle soreness It is therefore often seen as an indication of an effective workout and by some even as necessary for adaptations in muscle tissue. For this reason many fitness enthusiasts strive to achieve muscle soreness after their workouts, despite the discomforts this will give in daily life. But can muscle soreness be used as an indication for an effective workout and is muscle soreness essential for training results or is it a sign of overload?

The pro’s and cons of different stretching methods

Stretching is often done as a form of warming up before exercise,Stretching methods to decrease the risk of sports injury or to increase the range of motion of muscles and joints. Although there are several different stretching methods, the most performed method is static stretching. Other forms of stretching are balistic stretching, dynamic stretching and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). This article gives an overview of these different stretching methods and their specific advantages and disadvantages and advice when to use them.

How to increase muscle mass effectively

One of the most important reasons for many men to train is to increase their muscle mass and look more athletic. To achieve this goal many different training methods have been tried and much research has been done to determine what works and what is less effective or even counter productive. This article will give you best tips science can give you on how to increase muscle mass effectively.

How to lose weight and fat effectively

Many people exercise to lose fat by exercising to improve their looks and/or their health. Lose weight and fat effectivelyBut more often than not, hardly any fat is lost, people get frustrated and quit training altogether. In response to the rising demand in fat loss, much research has been performed to determine the most effective ways of losing fat. This article will give you best tips science can give you on how to lose weight and fat effectively.

Compound versus isolation exercises

Compound versus isolation exercises: what are the benefits and drawbacks?

Resistance exercise is an excellent way to increase muscle strength and size. In addition, it is often used to improve sports performance. An ongoing debate among fitness professionals, coaches and fitness enthusiasts is about which sort of exercises are most effective, compound or isolation exercises.

Fitness and exercise and multiple sclerosis


Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory condition which damages myelin sheats around the axons of the brain and spinal cord. The myelin sheath improves nerve conduction velocity and is crucial for communication between nerve cells. Damage or demyelination decreases nerve function which can lead to muscle weakness, muscle spasm and ataxia.1 These are some of the more common symptoms of MS, but is can take many different forms.1,2 Scientists have not found the cause of MS, however more evidence is pointing towards that MS is an auto-immune disorder.1 Patients suffering from MS are usually treated with medicines aimed at improving symptoms and physiotherapy or exercise therapy.3,4 The aim of these therapies is maintaining functioning, such as performing everyday tasks.5 Recently more research is performed to the effects of physical training on MS symptoms,4 however a complete overview is still lacking. The aim of this article is to review the effects of different forms of training on MS symptoms.

Fitness and depression

By: Meike de JongDepression


Almost everyone knows someone who is suffering from a mild or more serious form of depression. A depression is a serious psychological mood disorder which is characterised by insomnia, fatigue, change in appetite and a state of low mood.1 Unfortunately the number of people suffering from depression is expected to increase by as much as 10%.2 Treatment of depression usually consists of medication (antidepressants) and psychotherapy. In addition other therapy forms such as light therapy and alternative treatments are often used.3

Fitness as treatment for cancer


Cancer is a serious illness which affects many people in their lives and currently causes most deaths in the western world. Although cancer is primarily treated by chemotherapy and radiotherapy, physical activity and/or exercise has positive effects on therapy related fatigue, daily functioning, quality of life, muscle strength, physical fitness and risk of developing secondary cancer in (ex)-cancer patients. In addition, fitness as treatment for cancer positively affects inflammatory mediating factors, which are related to developing and maintaining cancer.. Moreover it has been shown that the risk of developing cancer decreases as a result of training. These effects strongly depend on training intensity, training volume and how well exercise guidelines are followed.

Fitness as treatment for high blood pressure

High blood pressure, also known as hypertensionHeart is the main risk factor in developing cardiovascular disease, heart failure and can even lead to a heart attack. Hypertension is diagnosed when systolic pressure is >140mmHg and/or diastolic pressure is >90mmHg when there are no co morbidities such as diabetes or kidney diseases. A systolic and diastolic pressure of <120 and <80 is considered a healthy blood pressure independent of age. Hypertension can have many causes, but often the cause can not be determined, which is known as primary or essential hypertension. Hypertension is usually treated with medicine like diuretics, beta blockers or ACE-inhibitors. However recently another form of treatment is recommended by doctors, which is physical activity and training. This article reviews literature investigating the effects of fitness as treatment for high blood pressure. Studies on cardiovascular of resistance exercise in people with hypertension will be evaluated and determined whether these training forms have a place in the treatment of hypertension.

Strength training to lose fat

Many people train in a gym or fitness center to lose weightStrength training to lose fat or improve their looks. It is often thought that the best way to lose weight by burning fat is to perform cardio training. Outside the fitness centers, many people can be seen running or cycling ot lose weight. Although cardiovascular exercise is an excellent method to burn a lot of calories, especially when performed at the right intensity, strength training or resistance exercise is often overlooked. Strength training to lose fat is not done by many. This however, is a missed oportunity. Resistance exercise can help greatly in burning fat and improving body composition, because it increases resting metabolic rate.