Welcome to another edition of Research Roundup. We dig through the latest studies and highlight the ones that will help you #liveoptimal. In this edition of Research Roundup: stand-up desks, when to do cardio, the health benefits of coffee & why Millennial's struggle with weight loss.
Do Stand-Up Desks Improve Cognitive Function?
Stand-up desks have become hugely popular in the "biohacking space" over the last few years. A recent study at The University of Tasmania in Australia wanted to know if these desks actually improve cognitive function and task efficiency.
What they find might surprise you..."NO DIFFERENCE in cognitive function or task efficiency" when working at sit-stand workstations. (1)
I looked further and found a review of 8 other studies that investigated the effects on productivity. Again, the research was not exactly favorable.
According to this abstract, "3 studies showed increased productivity from stand-up desks, 4 reported no affect, and 1 reported decreased productivity." At best, this report claimed "sit-stand workstations do not cause a decrease in productivity." (2)
"NO DIFFERENCE in cognitive function or task efficiency" when working at sit-stand workstations.
Before we walk away from stand-up desks too quickly, let's pause to realize the full picture. The benefits of stand-up desks go beyond productivity. Obviously, the cognitive effects of standing can be argued, but it would be interesting to see these studies repeated with workers WALKING on a treadmill as walking and other physical activity have been shown to increase brain activity. (3)
Also, the stand-up desk's main benefit is posture and physical health - not cognition. Protecting our spines, our hip flexors, helping prevent upper cross syndrome are all among the top benefits of standing vs. sitting for prolonged periods of time, so even if COGNITION isn't significantly enhanced in studies, the health benefits of standing vs. sitting are not to be overlooked.
Remember, healthy bodies lend themselves toward healthy minds. I still say STAND if/when possible!
Coffee Loves us Back!At Natural Stacks, WE LOVE OUR COFFEE! Last week, we shared research out of UNC-Chapel Hill that shows caffeine and coffee can enhance physical performance. Now, we have more evidence that coffee may be the real nectar of the gods! Numerous studies from Harvard are tying coffee to a myriad of health benefits: (4)
- Famous Nurse's Health Study shows coffee protects against Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- 2001 studies show it has possible anti-Parkinson's Disease properties.
- Coffee is anti cancer! This study found anti-carcinogenic properties and a 20% reduction in carcinoma cells.
- Liver protective: Sanjiv Chopra - a medical professor at Harvard - and author of "Live Better, Live Longer" found "a study revealed that consumption lowers levels of liver enzymes and protects the liver against cancer and cirrhosis. He began asking students, residents, and fellows on the liver unit to quiz patients about their coffee habits, finding repeatedly that none of the patients with liver ailments drank coffee."
Throughout the studies, consumption ranged from 2-4+ cups per day, with 1-3 being the consensus recommendation.
"COFFEE studies find it to be anti-cancer, anti-diabetes, anti-Parkison's, liver and cardio protective."
WHEN Should You Do Cardio & Strength Training?It's a question as old as working out itself...cardio or strength training first? Should they be done on the same day or separate days. Turns out, the answer depends on your goals and your gender. According to research conducted at The University of Rome here's what you should do:
- For WOMEN, aerobic exercise first increases cardiorespiratory fitness when performing sub-maximal efforts (jogging as opposed to sprinting or high intensity lifting).
- For BOTH genders, performing aerobic training and strength training on separate days increased VO2 max. This makes sense as the subject would be fresher going into each activity and more able to exert higher levels of effort.
According this study, if strength or maximum power output is your goal, perform strength training first or on it's own day.
"If strength or maximum power output is your goal, perform strength training before cardio or on it's own day."
Harder to Stay Lean For Millenials Than BoomersAccording to this study published in Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, diet and exercise do NOT produce the same results in 2015 as it did in 1985. Researchers found that participants had a BMI reading 2.3 points higher NOW compared to THEN - even with the exact same diet and exercise plans. They attribute the difference to a combination of 3 factors:
- Chemicals, pesticides, toxins, and hormone disruptors in our food and water supply.
- The extremely high use of prescription drugs - especially SSRI's.
- Our gut microboime's have been negatively impacted over the last 30 years.
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- Russel, BA. A Randomized Control Trial of the Cognitive Effects of Working in a Seated as Opposed To Standing Position in Office Workers. Ergonomics. September, 2015. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26413774
- Karakolis, T. The impact of sit-stand office workstations on worker discomfort and productivity: a review. Journal of Applied Ergonomics, May 2014. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24157240
- Ploughman, M. Exercise is Brain Food: The Effects Of Physical Activity on Cognitive Function. Developmental Neurorehabilitation. 2008. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17518420801997007
- Powell, A. Coffee Loves Us Back. Harvard Gazette. September, 2015. http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/09/how-coffee-loves-us-back/
- Schumann M, Yli-Peltola K, Abbiss CR, Häkkinen K (2015) Cardiorespiratory Adaptations during Concurrent Aerobic and Strength Training in Men and Women. PLoS ONE 10(9): e0139279. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0139279
- Kahzan, O. Why It Was Easier To Be Skinny In The 1980s. The Atlantic. September 2015. http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/09/why-it-was-easier-to-be-skinny-in-the-1980s/407974/?utm_source=SFTwitter