Thursday, May 9, 2024

When Is An Ideal Time To Exercise?

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Different health professionals were interviewed on when is a good time to be exercising. No surprises, we have already written on this topic before back in 2022. 

I was surprised to read that one of those interviewed commented that more observations and studies are still required to confirm the findings that suggest that we are at our best in the late afternoon or early evening. 

You can search if you like. There are more than sufficient evidence supporting circadian rhythms and physical performances peaking in the late afternoon or early evening. For most people, this is between 4-7 pm. 

Sports fans will know that NBA Finals, Champions League matches etc are all played in the late evenings. Almost all track and field world records are set in the evening as well. 

Evidence may show that the best time of the day to exercise is the late afternoon to early evening. However, that time may not suit everyone. Better to exercise at whatever time suits you best as some exercise is better than no exercise, especially in Singapore when the weather is warm year round.

The article is published in yesterday's Straits Times. Front page of the Life section. Better still, read our blog, you will get updates quicker.


Aoyama S and Shibata S (2020). Time of Day Dependent Physiological Responses To Meal And Exercise. Frontiers Nutr. DOI: 10.3389/fnut.2020.00018

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Is Your Sports Bra Restricting Your Breathing?

I'll come straight to the point. Sports bras aren't always comfortable. Not only do the shouder straps slip and chafe sometimes, the bands are sometimes so tight around the rib cage that they are uncomfortable and restrict breathing.

Kipp and colleagues (2024) studied whether tight sports bras hinder breathing in runners. They had 9 international and/ or national competitive runners complete a series of treadmill tests while wearing a specially modified version of LuluLemon's Energy sports bra. The underband tightness around the RC can be increased or decreased with extra eye-and-hook attachments at the back.

The bra was also modified so that a small balloon catheter could be inserted into the underband to measure exactly how much pressure was being exerted as the runners breathed in and out.

In addition, the subjects had another balloon catheter inserted through their nose down into their esophagus to measure the internal pressures exerted with each breath by their lungs as they ran! Ouch. Check out the Instagram video Kipp posted here. Definitely worth a watch so you can appreciate what the subjects had to endure for this research.

That catheter allowed the researchers to calculate the "work of breathing" i.e. the energy used by the respiratory muscles to inflate and deflate the lungs. It has been calculated that it takes more than 10 percent of your total energy output during hard exercise.

The runs were done under 3 conditions. Once with the runners' self selected bra size, once with the bra tightened and once with it loosened. 

When the pressure on the band was tight, it was on average 16 % greater than in the loose condition. Going from self selected to tight did not change anything. However going from self selected to loose reduced oxygen (and energy) consumption. Overall difference between tight and loose conditions was between 1-2 percent in most subjects, with an average of 1.3 percent. 8 out of the 9 runners saw improvements in the loose condition. Not the 4 % change like what you get from the carbon plated super running shoes, but significant enough.

Kipp estimated that a 2 % change in oxygen consumption translates to a 3 minute improvement in the marathon time for a 3-hr marathoner runner. 

The reason for the efficiency difference is due to the tighter bra making the runners breathe differently. While running at VO2 max in the tight bra, the women had to breathe in more oxygen overall by breathing more quickly (57 versus 52 breaths per min). However they had to breathe more shallowly. 

That work of breathing took 16 percent more energy, which explains why overall whole body consumption was higher.  Secondary effects include the oxygen rich blood being diverted away from the legs to elsewhere.

It can be a serious problem if you wear your bra too tightly if you value a percent or two in performance. Kipp cited previous data suggesting that 70 % of women choose sports bras that are too small for them compared to a professional fit. If you're happy with your sports bra, you can ignore these findings.

The runners presumably chose a tighter than optimal bra because they wanted adequate support. However none of the women in the study reported that the loose condition was uncomfortable or provided inadequate support. 

A possible reason is that women select and try on sports bras at rest. None of the breathing parameters meaured in Kipp's study were affected at rest. It was only during hard exercise when the runners were breathing hard and inflating their lungs that problems emerged. 

It may be best to choose your sports bra based on how it feels during a hard workout rather how it felt at the store. Sports bra designs are much more than just tight the underband is. All the elite runners in this study had small to medium breasts. It also depends on the activity you are doing. 

There are more than enough models and patents amongst different brands for women to choose between insufficient support and excessive tightness. Pick what you need.

If your sports bra feels tight enough when you are exercising that you wonder if it may interfere with your breathing then it probably is.


Kipp S, Leahy MG and Sheel AW et al (2024). Sports Bra Restriction On Respiratory Mechanics During Exercise. Med Sci Sp Ex. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000003403

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Burnout When You Specialize Early In Sports

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We already are a small nation. Made worse by the fact that most Asian parents tend to prefer degrees to medals. So no surprises as the author noted that many coaches observe that students who specialize early in sports to gain direct admission to the preferred school tends to lose interest after maor exams. 

Just like the author, Gino has written previously about Singapore losing talented young athletes from the Sports School. Many of these 'talented' kids who are early maturers (at 13 years old when they go to Secondary school) don't carry on competing and drop out. 

Previously, another article from the Straits Times, (260818) on why we should not turn childhood into a race for results, the author wrote about how US Olympian Katie Ledecky describe swimming as "really just for her still a hobby". She has by the age of 21 won five Olympic gold medals and a silver, owns six world records and a US$7 million dollar deal with a swimwear company.

She was quoted in a New York Times article saying "I feel lucky that I could enjoy swimming," and "people need to relax ... and take a step back and realize that you don't have to be great at this young age. It's not about immediate results". Ledecky said she recalled she had not raced in events longer than 25 yards (22.9 metres) until she was eight years old.

May I suggest that your child not be involved in more hours of organized sports than their age. Expose them to as many different options as possible while waiting as long as you can to find a sport for them to specialize. Then you can support them as much as possible.

This is exactly what author David Epstein suggest in his book Range: Why Generalists Triumph In A Specialized World,

The Sunday Times article is on page A21 under Views. Go take a look.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

To Stretch Or Not To Stretch Before Exercise

Can't believe our Straits Times is using a New York Times article in today's paper in the Life section on Page C3. 

The author cited 2 recent reviews but ddid not include the references so there was no way to verify the research.

What we have written before is just one static stretch of 30 seconds can reduce your maximum strength. You're more likely to get injured if you do static stretching before exercising.

Good static flexibility also does not help prevent injuries. This topic has been the studied widely, a few studies have found that there are some benefits, while a few other studies have found that being too flexible is associated with injury. Most do not seem to make much difference.

Static flexibility is not associated with non sports related problems like low back pain.

We have written on this since 2009. Was hoping this is common knowledge. 

So take note that static flexibility is not that important, unless your specific sport requires it. Stretching before, during or after a workout does not prevent subsequent muscle soreness. It does not reduce inury risk either (Herbert et al, 2011).

The goal of warming up is to physically warm your muscles to make them more pliable as well as get your heart rate up to be ready to deliver oxygen to your working muscles. 

If you run, you can ride a stationary bike for 10 minutes or just run the first kilometer real slow before picking up the pace. If you're playing badminton or tennis, I'll suggest some lunges, side to side movements, i.e. sport specific movements that you may use while playing.


Herbert RD, Noronha MD and Kamoer SJ (2011). Stretching To Prevent Or Reduce Muscle Soreness After Exercise. Cochrane Reviews. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004577.pub3

Here's the article from today's paper. probably don't have to read it Our blog articles on stretching are much better.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Team Building Event

We had Isabel Lim from Isabel Lim Designs teach us embroidery this morning for our team building event. We learnt how to do the back stitch, the lazy daisy, woven rose and statin stitches. 
MJ's cats
It was great fun learning a new skill and we had a great time together learning how to decorate a little bag.
Riz made this for his wife Stacy
We had lunch after that which doubles up as a farewell lunch to Byron who is leaving us to move to Adelaide, South Australia. 

All the best for your future endeavours Byron. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

An Article About Fascia

Finally an article in today's Straits Times about fascia. It was originally published in the New York Times. This helps explain a little about how and why we treat fascia and how caring for it can improve your health.

There are many skeptics and naysayers still, but more research and knowledge is definitely emerging. It's in the Life section of today's Straits Times on page C3.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Long Term Effects For Sports Related Injuries?

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Found the perfect answer for youths who are told to exercise more frequently, in last Tuesday's (300523) Straits Times article and the comic section in today's Sunday Times (above). 

Please do not get me wrong, I am not disputing the fact that sports are very good for our youths. When they take part in sports, it teaches them teamwork, sportsmanship, improves their self esteem while letting them try risk taking (safely). And of course it makes them healthy and strong. Both physically and mentally.

Be aware that when these children/ teenagers focus too early on a single sport, they often lose interest when the going gets tough. Correct technique is very important, much more important than just brute strength. Especially when they sometimes fail to develop basic movement skills. 

We know that young athletes are definitely not small adults. Remember Gino has written about not forcing the teenage athletes

Our youths have very elastic connective tissue and are very resilient. Unless they are perpetually injured, there probably will not be permanent long term effects. Our clinics can definitely treat them if you need. 

Have a look at the article published on 300523 in the Straits Times on page A14.