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OlderBeast Weekly Web Picks, 3/10/17 (warming up, coconut oil, and astrology’s view on turning 50)

Useful things from around the web for OlderBeasts: an interesting study and debate about benefits of warming up before exercise; a review of health claims about coconut oil; and what astrology says about turning 50.

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Useful things from around the web for OlderBeasts: an interesting study and debate about benefits of warming up before exercise; a review of health claims about coconut oil; and what astrology says about turning 50.

Fitness: Benefits of Warming Up

It’s generally agreed stretching is best done after you work out, when muscles are warm. But there’s less consensus about warming up before exercise: how, and even whether, to do it.

The New York Times this week describes findings that a warm-up program from soccer’s governing body, the FIFA 11+, reduced injuries by about 40%. This is more than just light warm-up stuff. It includes sprints, squats, leg lifts and vertical leaps.

In the NYT article, be sure to look at the comments. They’re at the top right near headline, next to social media icons. In them, people point out this “warm up” is really a workout in its own right. So maybe the conclusion is certain types of speed and strength exercises help prevent injury.

My takeaways:

⇒ It doesn’t matter what we call it, if doing this stuff before exercise or sports helps protect you.

⇒ Even “light warm up” stuff is like your grandmother, chicken soup, and the common cold. It may not be proven to help, but “it couldn’t hurt.”

Get your heart rate up a bit and get blood flowing around your body before you start intense strength moves, plyometrics (jump training), or sprint-type things. If you’re just out for a cardio session, you can jog-then-run, or cycle slow-then-faster, without dedicated warm up.

Finally, as an aside, note that a few commenters on the NYT article are in their 70s and 80s. These are “ElderBeasts” worth listening to!

Nutrition: Benefits of Coconut Oil?

A lot of advice out there promotes the near-miraculous benefits of coconut oil. Proponents say it drives weight loss, reduces cardiovascular disease risk, prevents and treats diabetes, reverses Alzheimer’s, and has benefits for hair and skin.

This article in Today’s Dietitian says: “While some believe coconut oil is a “superfood” that can do everything from controlling dandruff to curing Alzheimer’s disease, most experts say it’s a dangerous saturated fat to be avoided.”

The debate centers on whether the chemical structure of coconut oil’s fat makes it fundamentally different than other saturated fats, which are widely judged to be unhealthy. This article’s bottom line on all the claims is similar: there’s just not solid evidence.

That said, many fitness and diet gurus keep promoting coconut oil. They don’t believe the “nutrition establishment” has sufficiently researched the topic to “prove” (yet) what people believe they observe first-hand in their own fitness results.

I’m sometimes skeptical of the nutrition establishment, too. It demonized all fats for about 20 years, contributing to a lot of today’s health problems. And nutrition research is less effective than drug research for a few reasons.

However, there’s no doubt coconut products are highly-caloric. And the fact that most trained nutrition scientists think it’s unhealthy does concern me. Besides, I’m always wary when proponents of something are also those who profit from selling it to you.

So, perhaps think of coconut oil like a “hot stock tip.” You might buy a bit of the stock (i.e. sometimes use coconut oil or products). But just as you wouldn’t put your life savings into that single stock, I’d be wary of starting to consume large amounts of coconut oil every day.

Mind-and-Spirit: What Astrologers Say About Turning 50

I made a new friend recently who’s into astrology. Not just the “horoscope” kind, but the heavier-duty kind where they look at your specific time of birth and where planets and the moon were at that moment.

When I told her I’m turning 50 soon, she mentioned something called the “Chiron Return.” This is when Chiron (a comet/planetoid discovered in 1977) returns to the same relative-to-Earth position it had at the moment you were born. That’s somewhere between your age 49 and 51, to be more precise.

Astrology believers view this as a major life watershed, marking the end of the “heroic youth” phase of our lives, and entry into the realm of “elder.”

To me, this is definitely pretty “out there.” But I also feel (as with some people’s belief in ghosts)…who am I to be so sure these things don’t exist?

Besides, when I researched the Chiron Return, I realized —regardless of whether you believe the cosmos “cause” such things—the description of this rite-of-passage resonated with me. I think a lot of guys transitioning from their 40s into their 50s feel some of the feelings associated with Chiron Return.

This article describes this transition like this:

“During this critical time, we may relinquish that which is misshapen or inauthentic; we may re-order our priorities; or liberate the unlived passionate expression of our spirit, living a life which is intimately creative and restorative to our true selves.”

I think how astrology believers describe the Chiron Return is consistent with the OlderBeast philosophical transition: I’m not old, but I am older…time to double down on body-and-soul health, to maximize the 2nd half of my life.

If this is interesting to you, great. If it’s not your thing, no big deal. But please keep the “re-order our priorities” part in mind, brother. It will help you power fitness, nutrition and wellness for life after 50.

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“When the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars. Then peace will guide the planets, and love will steer the stars. This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.” (The Fifth Dimension, Age of Aquarius—click to listen)

If you think this would be useful to others, please help spread the word about OlderBeast by sharing this post with the social media buttons below. THANKS, MAN.

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Ensure Focus on Flexibility — Three “Stretching Routine” Resources to Help

Advice for fitness after 40 usually highlights flexibility as a key component. Within OlderBeast philosophy, flexibility is one foundation of the “endurance, strength, flexibility and balance” goal set. (Come to think of it, those are good goals for long-term mental state, too. But that topic’s for a different day).

But as much as the flexibility goal is touted, there’s surprisingly little high-quality, standalone advice out there on stretching.

Here are three resources I think you’ll find useful, though. None is perfect. But together, they constitute a good start if you currently do little or no stretching. Or they can help you add to or refine things you already do.

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Upgrade Your Energy Bar: 10 Criteria + “Best of the Best” From Reviews

It’s amazing how ubiquitous energy bars have become. You often find an impressive selection in even modest convenience stores…and the category “bars” is even elevated onto supermarket aisle signs.

Since I eat healthy snacks a couple of times a day and travel a lot while trying to still eat well, the trusty energy bar has long been one of my staples.

I’ve tried a ton of ‘em, and dutifully read any best-of list I see on the Web.

Here’s how I suggest you think about criteria for the “best” energy bars. And, a synthesis of high-quality best-of lists. Combining these two views highlights five great bars you should try.

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How Aging Reduces Your Calorie Burn Rate – and How Being Active Reverses The Decline

If you’re a 40+ guy paying at least casual attention to nutrition science, you know this: as we get older, our bodies naturally burn fewer calories.

Given this reality about “base metabolic rate” (BMR), our choices are: (1) Slowly gain weight; (2) Get more active, to counter-balance the BMR decline; or (3) Reduce calories consumed.

I flirted with the first path in my 30’s but ultimately chose to reject Outcome #1, do everything I can toward Outcome #2, and also accept that a bit of Outcome #3 will be needed over time.

Whatever choice you make (and you are making a choice, man), I want it to be an informed one. So please invest a few minutes to learn about your current calorie burn rate, how it’s changing, and how your activity level affects that trajectory. Preview: getting more active can more than offset BMR decline, for many years!

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