Tag Archives: fitness science

Upper body exercise versus lower body in terms of inflammation


Like a lot of fitness fanatics, I do a lot of reading. I am always looking for new information to help me and my readers and friends improve their athletic performance and overall health. One area in particular I love exploring are the differences between upper body exercise and lower body exercise.

So I was very excited when I found this- The inflammatory response to upper and lower limb exercise and the effects of exercise training in patients with claudication.I have cited some studies that contrast upper body with lower body exercise before, but they weren’t about the amount of inflammation in response to upper body versus lower body exercise. I’ve been curious about this for some time. To make the long story short, inflammation can be a good thing at a moderate level, while chronic inflammation is associated with, and may play a role in causing many serious diseases.

Too much inflammation may also hinder exercise recovery and performance. The study I mentioned above, from the University of Sheffield, U.K is of particular interest since it found that:


An acute bout of sustained lower limb exercise significantly increased the intensity of CD11b and CD66b(these are markers for inflammation) expression by peripheral blood neutrophils in all groups, whereas upper limb exercise had no effect. Resting neutrophil expression of CD11b and CD66b and circulating von Willebrand factor levels were unaffected by the training program, as were the inflammatory responses to an acute bout of sustained upper and lower limb muscular work, despite the fact that both training programs significantly increased walking distances.


These findings indicate that upper limb exercise training programs may offer certain advantages over currently prescribed lower limb programs. Our results show that exercising nonischemic muscles in a way that promotes improved cardiorespiratory function and walking capacity can avoid the potentially deleterious systemic inflammatory responses associated with lower limb exertion in patients with stable intermittent claudication.

(Bold is mine)

So in essence, the lesson here is that lower body exercise produces a lot of inflammation, while upper body produces none(based on the specific markers used). This makes sense in a way since lower body exercise is generally weight-bearing, compared to most upper body exercise, and the leg muscles are generally larger. This isn’t really that surprising.

So upper body cardio probably wouldn’t be as exhausting, obviously. And as far as joggling is concerned, most of the inflammation is due to the running(most of the effort/calories burned is due to the running), not the juggling, so if you are afraid that adding juggling to your running will be problematic for you, there is little reason to be concerned.

Unlike regular running, joggling helps improve posture and coordination, with little to no drawbacks.

Exercise can even benefit smokers


Cancerous lung. Picture is in the public domain

Think smokers are doomed to a shorter life span due to lung cancer, emphysema, or heart disease? Well, you are right, generally speaking.

Nevertheless, even smokers can lower their disease risk if they exercise. It appears to lower the lung cancer risk of smokers according to our friends at the American Association for Cancer Research:

PHILADELPHIA – In a study of more than 36,000 women, researchers observed that smokers can reduce their risk of developing lung cancer by being physically active. However, they strongly caution that any relative benefit is dwarfed by the benefits gained from quitting smoking.

(Emphasis mine)

This is good news, though the researchers behind this study can’t emphasize enough(and I can’t emphasize enough) that smokers should make every effort to quit smoking. That is vastly more beneficial than exercising while continuing to smoke. So if you do smoke, exercise more, exercise as much as possible, but do this while also trying to quit. Who knows, the exercise may even help you quit by helping you to rewire your brain. In my personal experience, smokers who were the most physically active were more likely to quit than sedentary smokers.

If your last effort to quit failed, try something new. Try juggling, try swimming, try aversion therapy, try yoga(but not “Smoga”, look it up on Youtube, it’s sick and ridiculous).

Good luck to you if you’re a smoker or are close to someone who is.

No pain no gain

Who hasn’t heard this a billion times? I’m sure many of you reading this have even said this phrase, or repeated it like a mantra to yourself during difficult runs or workouts. It’s such a cliche. But more importantly, is it true?

On this blog, I do my best to avoid making assumptions. I prefer using skepticism when it comes to health and fitness. No idea is beyond question. If this means overturning what is considered “wisdom” by many, due to lack of evidence, then so be it. If it means offending people, then so be it, though offending anyone isn’t the intent. This is why, for example, I almost never do any stretching exercises and do not advocate it. There is no unequivocal scientific evidence in favor of stretching when it comes to preventing injuries or improving performance. See my “You don’t have to stretch!” post for more info.

As for the “no pain no gain” idea, it really is an overly simple dictum, to the point that it’s rather difficult to evaluate in any meaningful sense. And surely, few people actually take it literally. Obviously, beyond a certain pain threshold, few of us can continue exercising.

The subjective nature of pain also renders this saying not particularly meaningful or helpful. Not to mention the fact that we all have unique biochemistries, unique fitness goals, unique history of injuries and illnesses, and unique personalities. And while challenging yourself physically is a worthwhile goal that boosts health in ways that no drug can compete with, we have to know our limits. And to a large extent, even our “limits” can be highly subjective.

Like many people, even I believe a little bit of soreness after an intense run is generally a good thing. Note the “generally”. Sometimes the amount of pain we feel can be misleading; sometimes we don’t feel any pain or soreness until the day after the heavy workout.

All this ultimately boils down to yet another cliche – “listen to your body”. Unfortunately, many of us aren’t very good listeners, and our body, as alluded to before, isn’t always the best communicator. Sure, we know when we feel too exhuasted to go on, but we don’t often deal with extreme exhaustion after exercise; there’s a large grey area, and little objective criteria with which to make proper assessments. There’s a “little” pain, and “too much” pain on opposite sides of a pain continuum with so much grey area in between. This is one of the reasons I don’t use caffeine or other drugs – they cloud our judgement to the degree that they can make it almost impossible to listen to our body’s with any accuracy.

Knowing our Vo2 Max can be helpful to some degree, but it isn’t all that accurate and there are many other measurements. There’s also the “talk test” – if you can’t hold a conversation while doing intense cardio, you “may” be pushing yourself too hard.

So what can we do? Perhaps a more reliable “test” is to pay attention to our heart rate. If it isn’t back to normal after even intense exercise, this is usually a good indicator you are overdoing it. Or you are out of shape. Being fit means your body and your heart should have adapted to your fitness program. If it still beats fast well after(an hour or more) working out on a consistent basis, this may be a useful warning sign.

Besides this, avoid working out if you are in any kind of pain beyond minor soreness. If your legs hurt, exercise your arms and vice versa. Try to avoid becoming addicted to exercise and don’t try pushing yourself to your limits every time you exercise. Do this maybe once a week or a few times a month. Question every bit of fitness advice you receive and go ahead and make your fitness routine uniquely you; don’t try to be someone else, just because your friend benefitted from some new fitness program, doesn’t mean you will too. It seems everyone is an “expert” when it comes to fitness. Be careful who you get advice from, consider their credentials and experience. Unfortunately, even some people with multiple degrees and certification will spout pseudo-science.

So while “no pain, no gain” may have some truth to it, don’t take it as a commandment. It may even be harmful to follow it too literally. Whatever the case may be, now that it is spring, take advantage of the outside weather and get back into shape! You don’t need a gym membership. A park or the woods is way better.

Can beet juice improve athletic performance?

Like a lot of athletes, I am always on the look out for something to give me an edge. Unfortunately, it is often very difficult to sort out fact from fiction when it comes to fitness aids. However, if something repeatedly survives intense scientific scrutiny, especially double blind, placebo controlled studies, they are likely to be beneficial.

Whatever the truth may be, you can’t go wrong by consuming more beets, although their sugar content is kind of high compared to most other vegetables. The phytochemicals that give it its distinctive dark reddish-purplish color may have some important health benefits, but besides this, beet juice may also give your athletic performance a boost. This boost seems to be due to the nitrates in beets, not the phytochemicals. According to Department of Human Movement Sciences, Maastricht University Medical Centre, Maastricht, The Netherlands:

Six days of dietary nitrate supplementation in the form of beetroot juice (~0.5 L/d) has been reported to reduce pulmonary oxygen uptake (VO₂) during submaximal exercise and increase tolerance of high-intensity work rates, suggesting that nitrate can be a potent ergogenic aid. Limited data are available regarding the effect of nitrate ingestion on athletic performance, and no study has investigated the potential ergogenic effects of a small-volume, concentrated dose of beetroot juice. The authors tested the hypothesis that 6 d of nitrate ingestion would improve time-trial performance in trained cyclists. Using a double-blind, repeated-measures crossover design, 12 male cyclists (31±3 yr, VO2peak=58±2 ml·kg⁻¹·min⁻¹, maximal power [Wmax]=342±10 W) ingested 140 ml/d of concentrated beetroot (~8 mmol/d nitrate) juice (BEET) or a placebo (nitrate-depleted beetroot juice; PLAC) for 6 d, separated by a 14-d washout. After supplementation on Day 6, subjects performed 60 min of submaximal cycling (2×30 min at 45% and 65% Wmax, respectively), followed by a 10-km time trial. Time-trial performance (953±18 vs. 965±18 s, p<.005) and power output (294±12 vs. 288±12 W, p<.05) improved after BEET compared with PLAC supplementation. Submaximal VO₂ was lower after BEET (45% Wmax=1.92±0.06 vs. 2.02±0.09 L/min, 65% Wmax 2.94±0.12 vs. 3.11±0.12 L/min) than with PLAC (main effect, p<.05). Whole-body fuel selection and plasma lactate, glucose, and insulin concentrations did not differ between treatments. Six days of nitrate supplementation reduced VO₂ during submaximal exercise and improved time-trial performance in trained cyclists.

This is neat. So the beet juice improved performance. I think this is due to nitrates being powerful vasodilators(it opens up the blood vessels). I am going to get some beets next time I go shopping.

The benefits of HIIE, a new approach to cardio

IMG_0811If there is one thing that fitness enthusiasts, researchers, and doctors are all singing the praises of these days, it is HIIE(high intensity intermittent exercise). Even jogglers like myself have joined the chorus, even if I can barely carry a tune.

What is HIIE? It is very short bursts of intense cardio at VO2 Max that is as beneficial or probably more beneficial than moderate intensity cardio for 30 to 40 minutes, according to recent research. It may be more beneficial for losing weight and improving insulin sensitivity than moderate cardio.

Getting fit from doing 4 minutes of cardio? I know what you’re thinking, but look here – The Unbelievable 4-Minute Cardio Workout.

A closer look at the science behind this in the Journal of Obesity:

In conclusion, regular HIIE produces significant increases in aerobic and anaerobic fitness and brings about significant skeletal muscle adaptations that are oxidative and glycolytic in nature. HIIE appears to have a dramatic acute and chronic effect on insulin sensitivity. The effects of HIIE on subcutaneous and abdominal fat loss are promising but more studies using overweight individuals need to be carried out. Given that the major reason given for not exercising is time [64], it is likely that the brevity of HIIE protocols should be appealing to most individuals interested in fat reduction. The optimal intensity and length of the sprint and rest periods together with examination of the benefits of other HIIE modalities need to be established.

That’s neat! So if you can’t do 30 minutes of cardio a day at a moderate pace due to lack of time, just do 4 minutes of intense cardio. But then don’t sit for too long, or, I believe, most of the benefits will vanish. This is great information, but don’t use HIIE as a replacement just yet for your daily 30 minute cardio workout if you have time to do it. Do HIIE in addition to, not as a replacement for moderate cardio, which is still important.

You can do HIIE while running, cycling, jumping rope, joggling, and some forms of dance cardio.

When I joggle, I sometimes go all out for 30 seconds to a minute in intervals. It is so exhilarating, sprinting while juggling very fast. Rhythm is very important here so that I don’t drop the balls. It is also quite shocking to anyone who witnesses it, although a neighbor of mine who is impossible to impress told me the other day she wants to see me do it with bowling balls. I told her I’m working on it.

So add intensity to your cardio workouts, especially if you are short on time.

Eye color and athletic ability

3158106923_c9171e0b9e_zIt’s fun exploring all the different ways our body type or certain traits can influence our athletic ability. Yet hardly anyone pays attention to something like eye color when it comes to athleticism since eye color doesn’t suggest any obvious advantage, unlike height giving a basketball player an advantage in basketball, or the advantages of having an extra thick cranium in boxing.

And yet it appears that eye color does influence how well we perform at certain sports. How, I don’t know, but it is interesting to see what the science says about this. According to the Department of HPES/Crawford Gym, University of Louisville, KY:

Researchers investigating performance differences between light- and dark-eyed individuals have indicated that dark-eyed individuals perform better on reactive activities than light-eyed individuals. College students (61 men, 64 women) performed a forehand rally with different colored racquetballs. Eye color, sex, and total hits were recorded for each subject. Men scored significantly better with balls of each color than did women. Dark-eyed men performed better than other subjects and performance was better with blue balls than yellow or green balls.

There doesn’t seem to be any explanation for why this is, and more research is needed. Perhaps the color of the iris influences how much light reaches the retina, and so a blue-eyed person sees things slightly differently and this explains why they are worse at reactive activities compared to brown-eyed people? Even the color of the balls seems to be of significance, to the point I may consider using blue juggling balls.

A little more info from the University of Louisville:

Researchers continue to examine the distinctiveness of motor performance by dark- versus light-eyed individuals. Dark-eyed individuals generally perform better at reactive type tasks (boxing, hitting a ball, defensive positions in football, rotary pursuit), while light-eyed individuals perform better at self-paced tasks (bowling, golf, pitching baseballs). Subjects performed two tasks, rotary pursuit and ball tossing (with light and dark background). Eye color (light or dark) and accuracy of performance were recorded for each subject. No significant difference was found between eye color and performance on the pursuit rotor (reactive activity). A significant difference was found between men’s and women’s performance in throwing a ball (self-paced activity) at a light-colored background.

These are intriguing findings. Dark-eyed individuals better at boxing? It may be premature to apply whatever was learned from these studies, but it will be fun experimenting with different colored balls or objects while playing sports to see what happens. Just don’t start any fist fights with anyone to try to prove these findings.

How emotions influence athleticism

I’ve long wondered the degree to which our emotional state influences our athletic ability. Does anger help, or hurt us while running or playing sports? What about being a hopeful type of person?

I found some interesting information about this from the School of Sport, Health, and Exercise Sciences, Bangor University, Bangor, UK:

We conducted three experiments to examine the relationships between emotions and subcomponents of performance. Experiment 1 revealed that anger was associated with enhanced gross muscular peak force performance but that happiness did not influence grammatical reasoning performance. Following Lazarus (1991, 2000a), we examined hope rather than happiness in Experiment 2. As hypothesized, hope yielded faster soccer-related reaction times in soccer players. Experiment 3 was an examination of extraversion as a moderator of the anger-performance relationship. When angry, extraverts’ peak force increased more than introverts’. Results are discussed and future research directions are offered in relation to Lazarus’s framework.

This is preliminary, but does this mean we should make ourselves angry if we want to improve our performance? Ah, but wait it seems anger helps extraverts more than introverts. So it looks like anger wouldn’t be of much use to someone like me. Hope also seems to help, but mostly with reaction time.

These are interesting findings, though it isn’t always easy to change our emotional state at will. Based on this, if you want to perform better, think of things that make you angry, but not too angry.

See what happens and report back to me.

Of drugs and juggling

As long as I can remember, I’ve had a deep fascination with addiction and drugs. The neighborhood I grew up in, though not necessarily a terrible one was surrounded by communities ravaged by drug addiction and the associated violence. The crack wars were raging and there were often spill-over effects into my usually peaceful neighborhood.

I remember the “troubled” kids at school, and the stories about their drug-addicted parents. There was the occasional death by overdose, leaving a child motherless or fatherless. I remember playing with friends in the park and discovering crack vials and hypodermic needles nestled in the grass. They often spooked us, since they indicated the presence of drug addicts in the park. We naively believed this drug paraphernalia and the drug addicts responsible for them weren’t supposed to be in our suburban park – this isn’t the south Bronx, this is the “safe” north Bronx.

The exact borders of that the hell-on-earth called the south Bronx was and still is disputed. Us kids who grew up painfully close to it always liked to think of it as being very far away, though it always crept a bit closer each year. We always knew not to walk too far toward it, lest our souls get destroyed, since we always heard horrible stories about it which indicated an absence of civilization there. I remember many childhood friends moving upstate to escape from the horrific violence and social decay that appeared to be crawling closer.

In response to this, the schools did all they could to terrify us kids so that we would never do drugs. They told us how bad drugs were, never to use them, and to say “no” to smoking since it is a “gateway” drug(yet so many adults, even the ones against drugs smoked, which confused us children). Anti-drug messages were plastered almost everywhere – it is a “war” after all. “Drugs” already struck terror in me due to a neighbor I knew who died from an overdose. And every now and then a celebrity would die from a drug overdose or get arrested for possessing drugs. It often seemed that all celebrities were drug addicts, for some perplexing reason, as if you needed to do drugs to be a celebrity. These “glamorous” celebrity drug addicts were in very sharp contrast to the filthy homeless drug addicts we regularly encountered around town.

I never did take any drugs and my friends for the most part were drug-free, but by high school I would witness kids bringing drugs to school and even smoking pot in the bathrooms. And so many students smoked cigarettes.

I always wondered how otherwise intelligent people could become addicted to substances that rob them of their health, and in a large enough dose, their life. It’s like these substances “trick” the mind in some ways, to get a person to do something that is not in their best interest. The “trick” is that drugs tend to make people feel wonderful; it’s an escape, its empowering. The anti-drug crusaders in grammar school tended to leave this out of their anti-drug diatribes(they seem funny in retrospect), which made drug addiction very mysterious to us.

There still is a certain element of mystery in all of this, even if we can understand how substances like cocaine or nicotine trigger the pleasure centers(especially on dopamine) of the brain. Science helps us understand addiction, but it currently offers little hope to people who want to overcome their addictions. Addictions are nowadays labeled “diseases” by the medical establishment, which always seemed bizarre to me.

Whatever it is, it is obvious that some people are more prone to addiction than others. Some people can snort cocaine occasionally and never become addicted. Most people who drink are not alcoholics. Some people are so hopelessly addicted that even the best detox and addiction treatments fail to help them. People like this are looked down on by society, and are often alienated from friends and family, especially if they turn to crime to support their addiction.

People who manage to overcome their addictions often do so by “fixing” the underlying psychological issues that drives them to do drugs as a form of “self-medication”. Indeed, psychiatric problems are often co-morbid with addictive behavior. If their psychiatric problem is treated properly, it is often much easier for them to overcome their addiction(except perhaps their doctor prescribed medication, assuming they need medication). It looks like replacing one addiction with another.

Another way some addicts become drug free is through religious rebirth. It’s almost a cliche: The addict has hit bottom, their entire life is one big hopeless mess. Even their families and friends have given up on them and they have no reason to live. But then they have this epiphany. They see the light. They hear or feel God, and they regain their strength and will to live. They manage to give up drugs by devoting themselves to God. In some ways, these religious feelings approximate the “high” they experienced through drugs, so this in turn may be another case of replacing one addiction with another addiction.

Some other addicts may overcome their addiction through sports or physical activity. It’s well known that vigorous exercise can cause a drug-like “high”, so this may be an ideal approach to overcoming addictions. This doesn’t mean it can help everyone. Yet again, this is replacing one addiction with another, though this is a much healthier, life-affirming addiction.

IMG_0823Which brings me to the subject of juggling. Can it help people overcome addiction? It is a physical activity and it can bring about a “high” if done long enough. It does require intense focus, to the point that a juggler can get lost in the activity and keep doing it for long periods of mine. Sort of like an addiction! I know of a few jugglers who can juggle for several hours straight with little to no breaks. Sometimes this includes me. But is this a kind of addiction, or do we only use “addiction” to refer to compulsively doing something that are detrimental to our health? Can juggling be a helpful replacement addiction to overcome deadlier additions?

As a person with a passion for juggling, I always run the risk of over-stating its benefits. It’s certainly not bad for you, but it is hardly a panacea, and there is little to no evidence it may be beneficial for your mental health in a manner different from other forms of exercise. What I mean is that the benefits of juggling may very well be generic effects, since it is a form of exercise, and any form of exercise that significantly raises your heart rate has benefits. We do know that exercise can be addictive for some people, and since juggling does count as exercise, it can also be addictive.

The brain is such a magnificent organ. No computer can come close to doing what it can do. Yet it still has serious flaws that can lead a person to do self-destructive things, regardless of how “smart” they are. Trying to outsmart an addiction is really just another way of saying we should try to outsmart ourself. Unfortunately, the smarter a person is, the easier it might be for them to rationalize their addiction.

Whatever you want to call it that is in the brain that leads to addiction, a “flaw” or “genetic predisposition”, it’s a part of being a complete human, and it’s a part of being uniquely you, and could just as easily be used to do good as do bad. For as François de La Rochefoucauld once said: “Our virtues are most frequently but vices disguised.”

The benefits of upper body cardio

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for many years, or secretly invented a drug that provides the benefits of exercise without actually exercising, we all know we have to exercise. The real question when it comes to exercise is “how?”.


When most people think of cardio, they think of exercises that primarily use the legs: walking, running, and cycling. Even many otherwise fit people often neglect to do endurance work on their arms if their favorite cardio exercise is a leg exercise.

A cardio workout that includes both the arms and legs may be more beneficial than a workout that exercises either alone – Aerobic exercise training programs for the upper body. In fact, arm cardio all by itself has some interesting benefits: Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1988 Apr;20(2):136-41 – “Effect of arm training on central and peripheral circulatory function.”

The data suggest that endurance arm training as prescribed in this study elicits significant circulorespiratory function adaptations to support improved performance in both arm and leg work. Further, the findings suggest both a specific and general training effect, with the more dominant effect specific to arm work

This is pretty remarkable. So doing arm cardio can benefit the entire body, including the legs, not just the arms.

This raises an important question, and this is especially important for jogglers – Are the arms and legs in competition for cardiac output? Luckily, some scientists at the The Copenhagen Muscle Research Center, have already tried to answer this:

Oxygen transport to working skeletal muscles is challenged during whole-body exercise. In general, arm-cranking exercise elicits a maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) corresponding to approximately 70% of the value reached during leg exercise. However, in arm-trained subjects such as rowers, cross-country skiers, and swimmers, the arm VO2max approaches or surpasses the leg value. Despite this similarity between arm and leg VO2max, when arm exercise is added to leg exercise, VO2max is not markedly elevated, which suggests a central or cardiac limitation. In fact, when intense arm exercise is added to leg exercise, leg blood flow at a given work rate is approximately 10% less than during leg exercise alone. Similarly, when intense leg exercise is added to arm exercise, arm blood flow and muscle oxygenation are reduced by approximately 10%. Such reductions in regional blood flow are mainly attributed to peripheral vasoconstriction induced by the arterial baroreflex to support the prevailing blood pressure. This putative mechanism is also demonstrated when the ability to increase cardiac output is compromised; during exercise, the prevailing blood pressure is established primarily by an increase in cardiac output, but if the contribution of the cardiac output is not sufficient to maintain the preset blood pressure, the arterial baroreflex increases peripheral resistance by augmenting sympathetic activity and restricting blood flow to working skeletal muscles.

(Emphasis is mine)

Leg blood flow 10% less during arm/leg exercise, than leg exercise alone? This is significant, and I must admit that when I joggle it certainly feels like this sometimes. But then at the same time, don’t forget the general fitness benefit from arm cardio suggested by the first study. So it may be 10% less than a higher blood output rate than if I were only running. In other words, a higher fitness level that is the result of leg/arm combination cardio is being compromised than a lower fitness level that is the result of mostly leg cardio. And don’t forget that unless you’re joggling with 3 heavy balls(or 4 or more light balls), juggling isn’t as intense as rowing, so it may be a lot less than 10%.

So if for whatever reason you can’t run or walk long distances, juggling by itself can also provide aerobic benefits. Also, if you joggle, or you are considering joggling, your leg speed may be slightly compromised, but it’s not really a big deal and the juggling may be making you fitter than if you were just a runner.

Nanotechnology and fitness

Nanotechnology is an exciting new field of science and technology that will likely lead to all sorts of major advances in medicine, and technology in general. It is still in its infancy, but is already being used for drug delivery and in medical diagnostics. That said, it is not without risks. New nano-materials need to be carefully examined to limit toxicity and harm.

Nanotube. Source: Public domain

Carbon nanotube. Source: Public domain

Nanotechnology involves building and manipulating things at the atomic and molecular level, which would allow all sorts of unprecedented advantages over older technology(nanotubes and nanomaterials built from carbon at the atomic level are ultra-strong while being very light), especially in the field of medicine. It could revolutionize medicine as we know it.
According to: Nanotechnology and nanomedicine: going small means aiming big


Nanotechnology is an emerging branch of science for designing tools and devices of size 1 to 100 nm with specific function at the cellular, atomic and molecular levels. The concept of employing nanotechnology in biomedical research and clinical practice is best known as nanomedicine. Nanomedicine is an upcoming field that could potentially make a major impact to human health. Nanomaterials are increasingly used in diagnostics, imaging and targeted drug delivery. Nanotechnology will assist the integration of diagnostics/imaging with therapeutics and facilitates the development of personalized medicine, i.e. prescription of specific medications best suited for an individual. This review provides an integrated overview of application of nanotechnology based molecular diagnostics and drug delivery in the development of nanomedicine and ultimately personalized medicine. Finally, we identify critical gaps in our knowledge of nanoparticle toxicity and how these gaps need to be evaluated to enable nanotechnology to transit safely from bench to bedside.

It sounds very promising when it comes to medicine, for treating and preventing heart disease and cancer. However, could nanotechnology help make those of us who are already fit and healthy even fitter? Could nano-engineering or nano-machines going through our bloodstream, or in our muscles help make us stronger, faster, more coordinated or even smarter? There’s also the possibility of nanotechnology leading to the creation of Iron Man suits. Just imagine armies of “Super Soldiers”!

This also leads to all sorts of ethical questions, especially in light of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, but also when it comes to athletic competition in general. What kind of restrictions will there be on nanotechnology in athletic competition? Will they ban as-of-now inconceivable nano-devices that could strengthen the heart muscle and make it beat faster? What would be considered “cheating”? I realize this is all speculative and sounds like science fiction, but technology is moving so fast it is never too early to ask such questions.

Just think of a future in which athletes can have spare body parts if they badly damage a leg or arm, or use nanotechnology combined with biotechnology and stem cells to regrow bad knees. Or why stop there, maybe create hybrid cheetah/human legs for sprinters to help them run faster. Aging itself could even be haulted or reversed through repairing DNA and aged, cross-linked protein structures throughout the body. In a way, it will be like eugenics through technology.

Sounds impossible now, right? Just remember that so much of the technology we have today would have been unimaginable to people living 40 years ago, never mind 200 years ago. People 50 years from now will look upon and laugh at our most “advanced” tablet computers the same way we look at computers from the 1950s.

In some ways the future looks promising, in other ways it looks bleak. Let us hope that along with the billions of dollars being invested in nanotechnology, a lot of wisdom is also being invested in it.