In today's January 15, 2011 newsletter . . .

  • Honest Health and Supplement Information.

  • Be a Fitness Pragmatist.

Honest Health and Supplement Information

It won’t surprise anyone that the Internet is at once the world’s most accessible library — and its biggest trash bin. And the lines can get blurred at times, making it hard to know if you have entered the library or stumbled into the trash bin.

On a walk the other day, I was thinking that health information pools often get polluted with really bad stuff. Erroneous and sometimes dangerous messages are common. The problem is that they are so well disguised it is easy to get fooled. I keep this in mind and try to filter out any nonsense when putting up reference pages.

Two of my pages related to health are on supplement guidance and reliable medical information. These areas in particular are where many dubious claims and promises reside in cyberspace. So I have attempted to bring honesty and links to highly reputable and reliable sources.

Let’s just take as an example the challenge of rating dietary supplements. As you probably know, there is little oversight from regulatory agencies when it comes to supplemental diet pills, herbals, vitamins, and the like. Inflated claims about their potency, quality and effectiveness are common because almost nobody is checking. Cleverly worded advertising and marketing keeps them just under the radar. Until real harm is done to enough people a disreputable company is rarely caught and punished.

It is really up to us to protect ourselves. Keep in mind this quote from Carl Sagan: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." When it comes to supplements, we don’t have to look far to find extraordinary claims. Extraordinary evidence - evidence backed up by real science - is a little harder to come by.

My advice is to not take any supplements or treatments without a clear understanding of them. Manufacturer advertising or friendly tips at the gym or health club should never be the final say. We should always check things out.

The following are two places that will link you to honest, reliable information:

You might even want to bookmark them. The next time you want to know something factual about a supplement, medical condition or treatment, you’ll have them at hand for quick and easy reference.

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Be a Fitness Pragmatist

Pragmatic (prag-MAT-ik) -- means realistic or matter-of-fact; useful in practice, not just theory.

Methods continually evolve in the fitness world. But is the "latest and greatest" always better? For example, when it comes to building strength and muscle, is there really anything better than a simple set of weights? Some claim that machines are safer; and resistance bands are easier on your joints; then again, maybe your own bodyweight is all you really need. There are high-profile experts to make the case for each of them.

Also, what is the ideal number of workouts per week: two, three, four, five times, or more? And what about cardiovascular exercise? For a while jogging was the be all and end all. Aerobics classes were big, too, and some still are. Then along came high intensity intervals, Tabata, etc. and “boot camp” circuits?

Such a smorgasbord of offerings can overwhelm a beginner, because every expert says his way is best. Even seasoned trainees can drive themselves crazy in a search for the perfect workout. I’ve been doing physical things since I was teenager. I don’t plan on stopping. It is a big part of who I am, and the benefits are huge. I have some advice.

If you are beginner, don’t worry too much about discovering the perfect method. Just start with something that seems reasonable and has appeal to you personally. Particularly if you are senior, start off easy and gradually build up. No matter what form or program you practice, if it has a measure of each of the following three components you are probably on the right track.

Any balanced program should include: 1) resistance exercise; 2) cardiovascular training; and 3) flexibility movements. The important thing is to begin and keep moving forward. As you move along you will discover the emphasis that is right for you personally.

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Gray Iron: A Fitness Guide for Senior Men and Women

Newsletter Policy

The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter is a free publication sent twice monthly to subscribers. The purpose is to provide honest and realistic fitness information for people age 50 and above.

I have never been paid or received compensation of any kind to write a positive review or endorse a product. If I say that I personally use a product or service, it is because I find value in it and have paid for it with my own money.

Like newspapers, magazines and television, this newsletter and my web site contain advertising and marketing links. Naturally, I am compensated for these.

The newsletter and web site provide information to help users establish and maintain a fitness lifestyle. But fitness information is not the same as fitness advice, which is the application of exercise and dietary practices to an individual's specific circumstances. Therefore, always consult with your physician for assurance that fitness information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate for you. Your comments and questions are always appreciated.


Logan Franklin
The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter