Bouldering-have you tried it yet?

Everyone agrees that if something is fun, it is easier to do. Also, everyone knows that being active is good for your health. However, there is still a high prevalence of physical inactivity worldwide. Common reasons for not being physically active include the lack of time, or motivation and energy to exercise. Also, many assume that physical activity should be in form of gym-workouts or organized exercises, and leading to exhaustion. Continue reading

“Fitness” foods unfit for waistline?

We have all tried to control our body weight at some time or another. We do so by watching what and how much we eat and by regulating our activity level, thus addressing both sides of the energy balance equation.  To adhere to this lifestyle, we may seek out foods that fit with our goals. Continue reading

Exercise in pregnancy: most women can do more than they think!

Similar to early parenting, pregnancy is a period characterized by an ocean of contradicting advice from family, friends, as well as health professionals and media.
Particularly confusing is the information regarding physical activity. Continue reading

Tabata hit at CERG

Tabata training is a very popular high intensity training protocol consisting of 20 seconds of all out effort, followed up by 10 second rest for a total of 4 minutes.  Tabata training shares the name with it’s inventor, Dr. Izumi Tabata, whom we had the pleasure of hosting at CERG today.

From left: Silvana Bucher sandbakk, Ulrik Wisløff, Izumi Tabata and Øivind Rognmo

The concept of Tabata training was first entertained in 1984 in Norway, where Dr. Tabata was studying physiology along with Mr. Irisawa, a coach of the Japanese speed skating team.  The Tabata training protocol was first invented by Mr. Irisawa and was subsequently tested in the lab and established by Dr. Tabata. This protocol has been shown to deliver impressive improvements in fitness.

Tabata training is very simple to implement.  One can do it with a single movement (such as burpies), varying movements, or while running on a treadmill or cycling. Whichever way one chooses to exercise, the Tabata workout provides an effective full body anaerobic and anaerobic workout.  However, the Tabata-style workouts are very intense and their appropriateness should be assessed on individual basis.

Nina Zisko, Researcher at CERG

World Health Day: Depression-Let’s talk exercise!

This year the topic for the World Health Day  is depression. World Health Day is arranged by the World Health Organization (WHO) every year and this year the goal is to increase  and to lower the threshold for people to talk about it. Depression is characterized by both physical symptoms like pain and fatigue, and psychological symptoms like persistent sad mood and loss of interest in doing tasks one normally enjoys, which leads to decreased ability to perform everyday tasks. Other depressive symptoms are loss of energy, change in appetite and sleep patterns, anxiety, reduced concentration, feelings of being worthless and suicidal thoughts. Depression affects men and women of all ages and nationalities. Adolescents and young adults, women of childbearing age (particularly following childbirth) and adults over 60 years of age are of particular interest in this year’s WHO campaign. Depression is one of the most common mental health diseases in Norway, and it is estimated that 20% of the Norwegian population will experience a depressive episode during life.

Although there is increasing emphasis on mental health today, less than half of those suffering from depression seek treatment. Lack of resources and/or medical personnel, and stigma associated with mental disorders are the most common reasons why depressed individuals do not seek help. There are several methods of prevention and treatment for depression. The most common treatments in Norway today are psychological counselling and antidepressants. The latter treatment is often associated with unfortunate side effects and efforts to find more suitable non-drug methods of treatment and prevention have intensified. Accumulating evidence indicates that regular physical activity can contribute to improve one’s self-esteem and increase positive social interaction, which in turn can prevent future depressive episodes and treat current depression. Last year, two interesting articles were published underlining the importance of exercise and fitness as essential and effective strategies for preventing and treating depression. They found a meaningful link between depression, exercise, and fitness. It has also been shown that those who are physically active are at lower risk of developing depression after having experienced a heart attack, when compared to the physically inactive who have experienced the same.

There is a reason why the WHO has named this year’s World Health Day “Depression – Let’s talk” day. It is crucial that mental illness be taken seriously, and to make room for openly talking about depression, on a par with physical illness. This will contribute to more people getting treatment and being able to function normally in their everyday lives.

Ekaterina Zotcheva and Trude Carlsen

Sitting too much: Try some PAI

When we are in a reclined position (e.g. sitting or lying down) and our energy expenditure does not exceed 1.5 metabolic equivalents of task (METs; 1 MET = 3.5 ml/kg/min), we are said to be sedentary. On average, we spend 50–60% of our day sedentary and as we get older we tend to become even more sedentary. Continue reading

World’s healthiest hearts found in Bolivia: What can we learn from that?

Recent research published in the Lancet has identified world’s healthiest hearts in Tsimane, indigenous people of Bolivia. Tsimenes, live in huts, with no running water or electricity and without all the conveniences of the modern society. And yet, they do not appear to  develop heart disease, even as they age.

Continue reading

Exercise as an alternative treatment for chronic insomnia

Insomnia is characterized by difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, waking-up too early and daytime function impairment. Its prevalence ranges from 10% to 40%, and various medications are used to treat insomnia. However, side effects are common. Non-pharmacological interventions with some efficacy may be useful, and include sleep hygiene advice (e.g., set a regular bedtime, limit alcohol and caffeine, and increase daylight exposure), cognitive–behavioral therapy and exercise. The British Journal of Sport Medicine recently published a systematic review aimed to determine whether aerobic- or resistance-training program improves sleep quality in middle-aged and older adults with sleep problems.


The review confirmed that exercise improves subjective sleep quality. The magnitude of the effect compared with that of hypnotic pharmacotherapy is difficult to gauge. However, tailored exercise may be a safe and effective alternative to such medications. This is particularly important given the side-effect profiles of hypnotic and sedative medications in older adults. With documented efficacy, one should consider exercise as an alternative or adjunctive treatment for older adults with poor sleep quality.

Øivind Rognmo, researcher with CERG