A Fitter U Q&A: May 2015 with
Joe Giandonato, MBA, MS, CSCS
Manager of Health Promotion
Drexel Recreation Center
Drexel Recreation’s resident fitness expert, Joe Giandonato will be fielding questions each month from employees, students, and members and addressing topics related to strength training, weight loss, injury prevention and health education.
1. “I’m trying to get information on how exercise helps employee productivity. Can you steer me in the right direction?” – Anonymous
While physical activity has garnered praise for its impactful benefits on musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, and metabolic functioning, many people fail to realize that it tenders significant improvements in neurocognitive functioning, thereby streamlining executive control, processing speed, and controlled processing functions of the brain.
Physical activity stimulates the production of brain derived growth factors, which are neurochemicals that catalyze corticogenesis, or the creation of neural circuitry which compose the brain’s outer layer, commonly known as the cerebral cortex.
The cerebral cortex is the epicenter of CNS activity and is awash in interminable neuronal functioning. Sensorimotor neurons which facilities the necessary “networking” so action potentials can be sent and received consequently ensuring muscular and glandular functioning.
One key brain derived growth factor of relevance is brain derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF for short. BDNF signals the proliferation and differentiation of neurons, in turn influencing synaptic communication and neuronal plasticity which collectively enhance the ability to acquire and recall information. BDNF also economizes energetic and endocrinological functioning as it bridges the gap between the brain and gastric hormones which are involved in hunger (ghrelin) and satiation (leptin). Lastly, BDNF possesses preservative characteristics by repairing damage and allaying degeneration of cortical structures which transpire throughout the aging process.
Literature has pegged both aerobic and anaerobic exercise as efficacious in harbinging BDNF activity.
College aged subjects who underwent five weeks of aerobic training boosted their BDNF levels at rest and following graded exercise testing. Similarly aged participants engaged in a five week anaerobic training program which elicited greater amounts among groups who completed traditional and eccentric based resistance training protocols.
The uptick in BDNF activity stemming from exercise might be the catalyst for boosting workplace productivity of 15 percent among employees who spent 30 to 60 minutes working out during lunch, as pointed out by a landmark study. Substituting work hours with allotted time to engage in physical activity also demonstrated improvements in productivity. Further, intermittent breaks involving exercise throughout the day was found to reduce musculoskeletal discomfort associated with modern day desk-jockeying.
Viable strategies could include endorsing walking meetings, regularly assembling team building initiatives which for example, may involve competitive and recreational activities. For those have trepidations concerned with immersing themselves in competition, have the entire team work together toward a common goal (i.e. accumulation of steps, completion of a list of trick basketball shots, time based relay race or scavenger hunt), rather than pitting them against one another, which may the proclivity to boil tensions.
For those who are less motivated to exercise, you can incentivize participation in physical activity by having them exchange work hours for gym time, provided the employees remain in good standing and that freeing employees does not significant impact operations, such as in the fields of emergency services and hospitality.
Which brings up the point of quality time at work. Quality time spent with loved ones and friends and while engaged in hobbies or leisure is cherished. So why can’t quality time be endorsed within the workplace. For exempt employees, you could encourage working from home or relieving employees once their tasks are completed. In positions which are performance driven, you could establish a “results only work environment” which provides employees greater autonomy and hopefully more time to include physical activity.
Barredo, R.D. & Mahon, K. (2007). The effects of exercise and rest breaks on musculoskeletal discomfort during compyter tasks: an evidence-based perspective. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 19, 151-163.
von Thiele Schwarz, U. & Hasson, H. (2011). Employee self-rated productivity and objective organizational production levels: effects of worksite health interventions involving reduced work hours and physical exercise. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 53, 838-844.
Yarrow, J.F., White, L.J., McCoy SC, et al. (2010). Training augments resistance exercise induced elevation of circulating brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Neuroscience Letters, 431, 161-165
Zoladz, J.A., Pilc, A., Majerczak, J., Grandys, M., Zapart-Bukowska, J., Duda, K. (2008). Endurance training increases plasma brain-derived neurotrophic factor concentration in young healthy men. Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, 59, 119-132.
2. “What are your views on the Functional Movement Screen?” – Leonard J.
Although we incorporate the Functional Movement Screen, or FMS, in a majority of the fitness assessments we conduct, I cannot endorse it as a patent standalone given the emergence of research which demonstrates that the entire battery of tests comprising the screen is ineffective in gauging injury risk.
However, each test included in the screen has distinguishable qualities (i.e. multisegmental stability/mobility, rotary stability, multiplanar function, phasic and tonic properties) and assesses movement capacities of a different collection of joints throughout the kinetic chain. As such, some tests as the aforementioned research also suggested, are more reliable and correlative in the discernment of injury risk.
I think elements of the FMS are great. There is no test which provides more insight on kinetic chain functioning than the Overhead Squat. However, test selection should be specific to the demands of the sport or activity and should also consider needs and goals instead of pigeonholing athletes and clients via blanket protocols such as the FMS, which garnered acclaim through savvy marketing and certification workshops and has become accepted by seemingly ever pseudo physical therapist on the planet as the holy grail to assessing movement.
Furthermore, research has shown that the test is a poor indicator of athletic performance, lending credence to my initial point of it being a component of a comprehensive assessment, rather than utilized as a standalone.
Hotta, T., Nishiguchi, S., Fukutani, N., Tashiro, Y., Adachi, D., Morino, S., Shirooka, H., Nozaki, Y., Hirata, H., Yamaguchi, M., & Aoyama T. (2015). Functional Movement Screen for Predicting Running Injuries in 18-24 Year-Old Competitive Male Runners. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. [Epub ahead of print]
Parchmann, C.J. & McBride, J.M. (2011). Relationship between functional movement screen and athletic performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 25, 3378-3384.
3. “I’m interested in citrulline supplementation. Is it worth it?” – Gary L.
Citrulline has gained a considerable amount of traction within the bodybuilding and fitness communities as both a standalone nutraceutical and additive to proprietary blends, commonly consumed prior to and following strength training.
An endogenous constituent of arginine, citrulline bypasses splanchnic metabolism which amplifies its potency on influencing muscle protein synthesis and maintaining a favorable nitrogen balance, two aspects which are vital for tissue growth.
A recent collaborative review of existing literature revealed that citrulline is capable of rendering the following health improvements: moderate improvements in aerobic and anaerobic work capacity as well as strength endurance, streamlined resting and exercise left ventricular functioning, visceral perfusion, and lowered blood pressure. Evidence also suggests that citrulline supplementation assists with the excretion of ammonia, thus preventing the activation of glycolytically suffocating rate limiting enzymes which consequently wards off fatigue incurred during exercise. Citrulline has also shown effectiveness as a libido remedy.
The verdict: Citrulline does work; between 6-10 grams per day works best if improvements in performance or body composition are warranted.
The caveat: The benefits yielded from citrulline supplementation are comparatively miniscule. You won’t jump a shirt size or break personal records immediately. Keep your expectations realistic.
Giandonato, J.A, Tringali, V.M., Policastro, C.D., & Bryant, J. (2015). Evaluative analysis of citrulline supplementation among athletic populations. Italian Journal of Sports Rehabilitation and Posturology, 3 (2), 311-318.
If you have any inquiries related to programs or or questions pertaining to fitness and health, please contact Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop by his office at the Rec Center, which is located in Room 310 on the third floor, nearest to the 33rd street side of the building.