Category Archives: cardio exercise

Regular exercise changes the brain – Harvard

Eat less; move more; live longer remains the mantra of this blog. It is good to learn from Harvard, no less, that moving more also helps to keep our brain intact and functioning.

There are plenty of good reasons to be physically active. Big ones include reducing the odds of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Maybe you want to lose weight, lower your blood pressure, prevent depression, or just look better. Here’s another one, which especially applies to those of us (including me) experiencing the brain fog that comes with age: exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills.

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In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. Resistance training, balance and muscle toning exercises did not have the same results.

The finding comes at a critical time. Researchers say one new case of dementia is detected every four seconds globally. They estimate that by the year 2050, more than 115 million people will have dementia worldwide. Continue reading

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How Exercise Reduces Belly Fat in Humans

I am guessing that belly fat is the number one source of concern for people taking up exercise – or continuing it. So many fruitless hours have been spent on ‘ab-work’ like sit-ups and stomach crunches with little sign of success. It turns out that reduction of that ‘spare tire’ is far less complicated than many suppose. Simple, but not obvious.

Summary: According to researchers, interleukin 6 plays a critical role in how exercise helps to reduce body fat. Source: Cell Press.

Some of you may have made a New Year’s resolution to hit the gym to tackle that annoying belly fat. But have you ever wondered how physical activity produces this desired effect? A signaling molecule called interleukin-6 plays a critical role in this process, researchers report December 27 in the journal Cell Metabolism.

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This graphical abstract shows that in abdominally obese people, exercise-mediated loss of visceral adipose tissue mass requires IL-6 receptor signaling. NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Wedell-Neergaard, Lehrskov, and Christensen, et al. / Cell Metabolism.

As expected, a 12-week intervention consisting of bicycle exercise decreased visceral abdominal fat in obese adults. But remarkably, this effect was abolished in participants who were also treated with tocilizumab, a drug that blocks interleukin-6 signaling and is currently approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Moreover, tocilizumab treatment increased cholesterol levels regardless of physical activity.

“The take home for the general audience is ‘do exercise,’” says first author Anne-Sophie Wedell-Neergaard of the University of Copenhagen. “We all know that exercise promotes better health, and now we also know that regular exercise training reduces abdominal fat mass and thereby potentially also the risk of developing cardio-metabolic diseases.”

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Just 6 months of moderate exercise may boost an aging brain – Study

Getting the heart pumping with aerobic exercise, like walking or cycling for 35 minutes three times a week, may improve thinking skills in older adults with cognitive impairments, according to a study published in the December 19, 2018, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

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After six months of exercise, study participants’ scores on thinking tests improved by the equivalent of reversing nearly nine years of aging. The study looked at people who had cognitive impairments without dementia, which is defined as having difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering, but not severe enough to be diagnosed with dementia.

The study found that exercise improved thinking skills called executive function. Executive function is a person’s ability to regulate their own behavior, pay attention, organize and achieve goals. Continue reading

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The value of one hour of bike riding …

I thought there were some interesting observations in this. I would just like to add that personally, I have found my regular bike riding to be like a moving meditation. Consciously I enjoy the sensation of flying across the pavement, but unconsciously, a whole other thing takes place. I can’t explain it, but often I can create a blog post in my head and when I get home just write it like someone else is dictating it.

I will be 79 next month, but I feel better than I did when I was back in the work force 20 years ago. Biking has a lot to do with that. Think about giving it a chance. You probably enjoyed it as a kid.

One of the things I have learned writing this blog is that a sedentary lifestyle can be as bad as smoking for your health. Get moving ….

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Best wishes for the holidays!

Tony

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Endurance but not resistance training has anti-aging effects – Study

Researchers have discovered evidence that endurance exercise, such as running, swimming, cross-country skiing and cycling, will help you age better than resistance exercise, which involves strength training with weights, as reported in Medical Xpress.

In a study published in the European Heart Journal, researchers in Germany looked at the effects of three types of exercise—endurance training, high intensity interval training and resistance training—on the way cells in the human body age, and they found that endurance and high intensity training both slowed or even reversed cellular aging, but that resistance training did not.

 

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Take home image showing the effects of three types of exercise — endurance training, high intensity interval training and resistance training — on the way cells in the human body age, and they found that endurance and high intensity training both slowed or even reversed cellular aging, but that resistance training did not. Credit: Ulrich Laufs, Christian Werner and the European Heart Journal

Our DNA is organized into chromosomes in all the cells in our bodies. At the end of each chromosome is a repetitive DNA sequence, called a telomere, that caps the chromosome and protects its ends from deteriorating. As we grow older, the telomeres shorten and this is an important molecular mechanism for cell aging, which eventually leads to cell death when the telomere are no longer able to protect the chromosomal DNA. The process of telomere shortening is regulated by several proteins. Among them is the enzyme telomerase that is able to counteract the shortening process and can even add length to the telomeres. Continue reading

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New physical activities guidelines – HHS

Eat less; move move; live longer remains the manta of this blog. So, when we learned that there were new guidelines for physical activity from the department of Health and Human Services (HHS), we thought you might be interested, too.

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This morning at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, ADM Brett P. Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health launched the second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

The second edition is based on the latest scientific evidence that shows that physical activity conveys even more health benefits than previously known. New aspects include discussions of:

  • Additional health benefits related to brain health, additional cancer sites, and fall-related injuries;
  • Immediate and longer term benefits for how people feel, function, and sleep;
  • Further benefits among older adults and people with additional chronic conditions;
  • Risks of sedentary behavior and their relationship with physical activity;
  • Guidance for preschool children (ages 3 through 5 years);
  • Elimination of the requirement for physical activity of adults to occur in bouts of at least 10 minutes; and
  • Tested strategies that can be used to get the population more active.

If you want to know the entire story, you can download the entire set of guidelines in PDF form.

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No limit to benefits of cardio exercise – Study

How many times have I written eat less; move more; live longer. Now comes the Cleveland Clinic with a study that virtually says those very words – only better.

Cleveland Clinic researchers have found that better cardiorespiratory fitness leads to longer life, with no limit to the benefit of aerobic fitness.

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Researchers retrospectively studied 122,007 patients who underwent exercise treadmill testing at Cleveland Clinic between Jan. 1, 1991, and Dec. 31, 2014, to measure all-cause mortality relating to the benefits of exercise and fitness. The paper was published  in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open.

The study found that increased cardiorespiratory fitness was directly associated with reduced long-term mortality, with no limit on the positive effects of aerobic fitness.  Extreme aerobic fitness was associated with the greatest benefit, particularly in older patients (70 and older) and in those with hypertension.

“Aerobic fitness is something that most patients can control. And we found in our study there is no limit to how much exercise is too much,” said Wael Jaber, M.D., Cleveland Clinic cardiologist and senior author of the study.  “Everyone should be encouraged to achieve and maintain high fitness levels.” Continue reading

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High-intensity exercise yields same cell benefits in fewer minutes

Although I personally prefer moderate intensity exercise, maybe it’s my age, I understand that a lot of younger folks are into the high intensity activity. More power to you.

A few minutes of high-intensity interval or sprinting exercise may be as effective as much longer exercise sessions in spurring beneficial improvements in mitochondrial function, according to new research. The small study is published ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology—Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.

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Mitochondria, the energy centers of the cells, are essential for good health. Previous research has found that exercise creates new mitochondria and improves the function of existing mitochondria. Altered mitochondrial function in response to a single session of exercise generates signals that may lead to beneficial changes in the cells, lowering the risk for chronic disease. High-intensity interval exercise consists of short bursts of high-intensity aerobic exercise—physical activity that raises the heart rate—alternating with brief recovery periods. Whether the intensity of a workout affects mitochondrial response is unclear. Continue reading

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Cycling for the elderly – Video

I stumbled across this and thought it might interest you. As regular readers know I am a 78-year-old guy who lives in Chicago and rides his bike daily. I am most grateful for the ability to do just that. There are many seniors, perhaps someone in your family, who have lost some mobility. In the course of writing this blog I have become aware of just how damaging a sedentary lifestyle can be. I thought there were some interesting ideas expressed in the video (less than 3 minutes) which was produced by the BBC in Britain.

To read further on the effects of a sedentary lifestyle check out the following posts:

Combat that sedentary lifestyle with more movement – Harvard

Fitness over 50 – Overcoming a sedentary lifestyle – Harvard

A physiologic link between heart disease and a sedentary lifestyle

Exercise may help counter health risks of a sedentary lifestyle

Physical activity cuts heart disease risks for seniors – AHA

Tony

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Exercise linked to improved mental health – The Lancet

More exercise was not always better, and the study found that exercising for 45 minutes three to five times a week was associated with the biggest benefits.

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Riding a bike scored really high in the study

The study included all types of physical activity, ranging from childcare, housework, lawn-mowing and fishing to cycling, going to the gym, running and skiing.

Exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and mortality from all causes, but its association with mental health remains unclear.

Previous research into the effect of exercise on mental health has conflicting results. While some evidence suggests that exercise may improve mental health, the relationship could go both ways – for example inactivity could be a symptom of and contributor to poor mental health, and being active could be a sign of or contribute to resilience. The authors note that their study cannot confirm cause and effect.

 

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Exercise: Better starting later than never – Harvard

Eat less; move more; live longer. It’s never too late to start.

Exercising regularly throughout life is the best way to keep your heart healthy. But starting to exercise even in late middle age may lessen the risk of heart failure, according to a report in the May 15 issue of Circulation. Heart failure, a gradual decline in the heart’s ability to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs, affects about 6.5 million people in the United States.

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The study involved more than 11,000 people who were part of a long-running project begun in the late 1980s, the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. Every six years, participants got medical testing and filled out questionnaires about their physical activity.

People who followed federal recommendations for physical activity (see How much physical activity do you need?) for the first 12 years of the study had the lowest risk of heart failure—31% lower than people who didn’t exercise at all. But people who increased their physical activity levels starting around age 60 over a period of just six years lowered their risk by 12%.

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Maintaining the good life in later years!

I wanted to share this fine rundown of finding the gold in the golden years. As a dog lover I am a follower of Paul Handover’s Learning from Dogs blog. Clearly, this post covers ground most germaine to Diet, Exercise and Living Past 100.

Tony

Learning from Dogs

Living well as we age.

TIME magazine published a double-issue in February of this year How To Live Longer Better!

The article, on Page 47, opens:

Old age demands to be taken very seriously – and it usually gets its way!

Then later on in that same article one reads:

Exactly how much – or how little – exercise it takes to begin paying dividends has been one of the happy surprises of longevity research. A 2016 study found that elderly people who exercised for just 15 minutes a day, at an intensity level of a brisk walk, had a 22% lower risk of early death compared to people who did not exercise.

Then two sentences later:

Researchers from McMaster University in Canada even found that breaking a sweat for just 60 seconds may be long enough to improve health and fitness (as long as it’s a tough workout).

As…

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How the Brain Controls Food Cravings – Study

Spoiler alert: Exercise has a positive effect on our food cravings. Eat less; move more; live longer.

A newly published study from the University of Waterloo shows that when activity in a specific part of the brain is suppressed, our desire for high-calorie foods increases.

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The investigators found that when they temporarily decreased activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex – the brain network responsible for self-control – participants evaluated high-calorie snacks more positively, paid more attention to appealing images of such foods, and reported stronger urges to eat them than usual.

“We used a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation to temporarily suppress the operation of a part of the brain that is involved in inhibition, known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex,” said Peter Hall, professor of Public Health and Health Systems and co-author of the study. “This resulted in increased attention to high-calorie food images, as well as stronger cravings for and more consumption of such foods when given an opportunity to sample them.”

The study involved 28 young adult females who reported frequent cravings for high-calorie foods but were otherwise healthy. Eighty-nine percent of the participants consumed more food after real suppressive stimulation than after a placebo stimulation.

“Several lifestyle factors affect the function of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex,” said Cassandra Lowe, lead author of the study and a PhD graduate from Waterloo’s School of Public Health. “For example, aerobic exercise has been shown to enhance it, while lack of sleep and stress can impair it – so there may be a link between these lifestyle factors and overeating via their impacts on the brain.”

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Frequent aerobic exercise cuts schizophrenia negative symptoms – Study

More good news on exercise this morning. Writing in the British Psychological Society Research Digest, Emma Young reports positive news on the move more section of our eat less; move more; live longer mantra.

Aerobic exercise – any activity that gets your heart pumping harder – improves mood, anxiety and memory. It can help people with major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder. Now there’s evidence, from a randomized controlled trial published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, that a program of regular aerobic exercise also reduces psychopathology in people diagnosed with schizophrenia. And it seems to have a particular impact on so-called “negative” symptoms, such as apathy and loss of emotional feeling, which are not improved by standard drug treatments.

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“[W]hile antipsychotics [drug treatments] are essential in treating schizophrenia, interventions other than antipsychotic treatment…may be needed to achieve better outcomes,” write the authors of the new study, led by Peng-Wei Wang at Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital in Taiwan. Continue reading

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Mini workouts boost your health – Harvard

As an old retired guy, I don’t have much time pressure in my life these days, but I remember how imposing work,  family and social obligations can be on your schedule. Don’t let that keep you from working on living a healthy life.  As Harvard says in this Women’s Healthwatch post, it all counts.

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Good news for people who struggle to find time for exercise: every little bit matters, even if your “workout” is broken up throughout the day. To come to this conclusion, researchers who published their results March 23 in the Journal of the American Heart Association looked at data from 4,840 people ages 40 and older who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2003 to 2006. People who spent the shortest amount of time in moderate or vigorous activity — 20 minutes or less daily — had the highest risk of dying during the roughly six-year follow-up period. But those who got at least an hour of moderate or vigorous activity cut that risk in half, and those who got at least 100 minutes a day cut their death risk by 76%. And they didn’t have to get those 100 minutes all at once. Even short bursts of activity at different points in the day added up to reduced risk.

According to the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services:

Adults 18 to 64 should get:
2.5 hours/wk of moderate intensity exercise.
OR 1.25 hours a week of vigorous aerobic physical activity
Or Some combination of the above – equivalent episodes of at least 10 minutes spread throughout the week.

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Be careful exercising in this hot weather

As regular readers know, I feel strongly about the great outdoors, savoring the experience of it as well as exercising outdoors. Summer has made its presence known with a vengeance this year and there is a time and a place for everything.

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I have been riding my bike around sunrise lately as a method of avoiding the oppressive heat. I am 78 years old and in excellent shape, but my doctor said that she tells even her 40-year-olds not to push exercise in extreme heat. You can check out my Page – How to deal with extreme heat for lots more examples.

Meanwhile the Go4Life folks offer the following excellent suggestions for heat extremes:

• Walk on the treadmill, ride the stationary bike, or use the rowing machine that’s gathering dust in your bedroom or basement. Or use one at a nearby gym or fitness center.
• Work out with an exercise DVD. You can get a free one from Go4Life.
• Go bowling with friends.
• Join a local mall walking group.
• Walk around an art gallery or museum to catch a new exhibit.
• Check out an exercise class at your neighborhood Y.
• If you like dancing, take a Zumba® or salsa class.
• Try yoga or Tai Chi.
• Go to the gym and work on your strength, balance, and flexibility exercises or set up your own home gym. All you need is a sturdy chair, a towel, and some weights. Soup cans or water bottles will do if you don’t have your own set of weights.
• Go to an indoor pool and swim laps or try water aerobics
• How about a game of indoor tennis, hockey, basketball, or soccer?
• Go indoor ice skating or roller skating.
• Maybe it’s time for some heavy duty cleaning. Vacuum, mop, sweep. Dust those hard-to-reach areas.

Tony

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