Every doctor recommends regular aerobic exercise, since greater aerobic fitness is important for achieving better overall health. But Joslin Diabetes Center scientists now have discovered that some benefits of aerobic exercise may be dampened by higher-than-normal blood sugar levels, a condition known as hyperglycemia.
These diminished gains are seen in mouse models and humans with chronic hyperglycemia that is in the “prediabetes” range, says Sarah Lessard, PhD, a Joslin assistant investigator in the section of Clinical, Behavioral and Outcomes Research and senior author on a paper in Nature Metabolism that presents the work. The study also showed that this maladaptive trait is independent of obesity and insulin levels in the blood.
Clinical studies have demonstrated that people with diabetes or chronically high levels of blood sugar struggle to improve their aerobic exercise capacity compared to people with normal blood sugar levels. “The idea behind this study was to see if we induce high blood sugar in mice, will we impair their ability to improve their aerobic fitness?” says Lessard, who is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. The study also aimed to uncover the mechanisms that may lead to low fitness levels in people with hyperglycemia.
It’s never too late to lace up some sneakers and work up a sweat for brain health, according to a study published in the May 13, 2020, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study suggests older adults, even couch potatoes, may perform better on certain thinking and memory tests after just six months of aerobic exercise.
“As we all find out eventually, we lose a bit mentally and physically as we age. But even if you start an exercise program later in life, the benefit to your brain may be immense,” said study author Marc J. Poulin, Ph.D., D.Phil., from the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. “Sure, aerobic exercise gets blood moving through your body. As our study found, it may also get blood moving to your brain, particularly in areas responsible for verbal fluency and executive functions. Our finding may be important, especially for older adults at risk for Alzheimer’s and other dementias and brain disease.”
Men face some serious health risks. The two most serious ones, heart disease and cancer, account for nearly half of deaths among American men. Unintentional injuries like falls are the third most common cause of death for men. Lung disease and stroke round out the top five, according to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois.
The good news: Along with other healthy lifestyle choices, the right kinds of physical activity can help prevent these and other health threats.
Ward Off Heart Disease: Get Moving
Aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming, running or biking strengthens your heart and lowers your blood pressure. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity five days per week. You don’t have to do it all at once. Three 10-minute walks can be as effective as one 30-minute walk at lowering blood pressure.
You can even get in activity during the work day. Break up the long hours at a desk by getting up and moving around at least once an hour. Just taking a short two-minute stroll can help to keep blood sugar levels stable. When you can, stand up to take breaks from sitting.
Researchers have developed a method to estimate cardiorespiratory fitness levels that could be applied to data captured by wearable fitness trackers during activities of daily life. This could facilitate testing for those with low exercise tolerance and may reduce the need for medically supervised fitness testing. The study is published ahead of print in the Journal of Applied Physiology.
Cardiorespiratory fitness is the ability of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems to deliver enough oxygen to the muscles during physical activity. People with low cardiorespiratory fitness may have an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack or stroke. Testing the amount of oxygen the body uses during exercise (VO2max) can assess these risks and may also function as a preventive measure. However, people must typically exercise to exhaustion to measure VO2max, and such testing requires medical supervision and specialized equipment. In addition, it may not be safe for all who need to undergo cardiorespiratory fitness testing to exercise at maximum effort. Methods that use lower intensity exercise (submaximal) do not always provide results as accurate as maximal testing. Continue reading →
“It is important to say that it is never too late to begin exercising. The average participant in our study was around 60 years old at baseline, and improvement in cardio-respiratory fitness was strongly linked to lower dementia risk. Those who had poor fitness in the 1980s but improved it within the next decade could expect to live two years longer without dementia,” says Atefe Tari of the Cardiac Exercise Research Group (CERG) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).
This blog has evolved over the nine years I have been writing it. Starting as a men’s weight-loss helper, it has developed into a general good health and long life messenger. I have also learned along the way about certain physical dangers that are not at once obvious. I think I am most concerned with the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. It’s possibly that being sedentary does a person more damage than smoking. This seems particularly insidious to me as when folks retire, they think about ‘taking it easy.’ Big mistake. One specific aspect of that is prolonged sitting. Check out my Page – The dangers of too much sitting for more details.
Major physical changes occurred in the human heart as people shifted from hunting and foraging to farming and modern life. As a result, human hearts are now less “ape-like” and better suited to endurance types of activity. But that also means those who lead sedentary lives are at greater risk for heart disease. Those are the main conclusions from a unique study led by Aaron L. Baggish, MD, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cardiovascular Performance Program. Baggish and his collaborators examined how ape hearts differ from those of humans, why those differences exist and what that means to human health. Continue reading →
In the gift that keeps on giving department, a study of nearly half a million people has found for the first time that those with heart or blood vessel problems benefit more from having a physically active lifestyle than do healthy people without cardiovascular disease (CVD). Exercise is good and if you have heart or blood vessel problems, it is even better.
Increased physical activity reduced the risk of dying during a six-year follow-up period for people with and without CVD, but the researchers found the greatest reduction in risk was in people with CVD and this continued to reduce the more exercise they did.
The study, which is published in the European Heart Journal  today (Sunday), is also presented at the same time at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress 2019 together with the World Congress of Cardiology in Paris, France .
There is plenty of evidence to show that physical activity reduces the risk of dying from CVD in healthy people; there is less evidence of its effect in people with pre-existing CVD although guidelines recommend it, and, until now, no study has compared the beneficial effect of physical activity between people with and without CVD. Continue reading →
I have stated previously in these pages that I while I respect and admire the exercise of running, I have even considered taking it up to get more weight-bearing exercise, I think that on-balance marathons damage the body and should be avoided. Since October is the beginning of marathon season, I wanted to put this out.
Dr. Mercola says, “Several recent studies have indicated that conventional cardio, especially endurance exercises such as marathon running can pose significant risks to your heart. It can result in acute volume overload, inflammation, thickening and stiffening of the heart muscle and arteries, arterial calcification, arrhythmias, and potentially sudden cardiac arrest and stroke—the very things you’re trying to avoid by exercising. ”
As regular readers know, I am very sensitive to cognitive impairment, having lost three close family members to Alzheimer’s and dementia. So I was very happy to come across this list of recommendations for building up our mental muscles and reducing our chances of contracting Alzheimer’s from the Alzheimer’s Association.
“Research on cognitive decline is still evolving,” said Theresa Hocker, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association – North Central Texas Chapter. “But there are actions people can take. Certain healthy behaviors known to combat cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes also may reduce the risk of cognitive decline. These include staying mentally active, engaging in regular physical activity, and eating a heart-healthy diet that benefits your body and your brain.”
1. Break a sweat. Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body. Several studies have found an association between physical activity and reduced risk of cognitive decline.
2. Hit the books. Formal education in any stage of life will help reduce your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. For example, take a class at a local college, community center or online.
3. Butt out. Evidence shows that smoking increases risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce that risk to levels comparable to those who have not smoked. Continue reading →
I have just run across another study that backs up the blog mantra of eat less; move more; live longer and its corollary use it or lose it.
Health experts have warned for years that men and women with excess abdominal fat run a greater risk of developing cardiovascular problems. However, individuals with abdominal or central obesity are not the only ones in danger, according to a new study, reported by Elton Alisson | Agência FAPESP
The study found that physically active men who were not overweight but whose waist-stature ratio (WSR) was close to the risk threshold were also more likely to develop heart disorders than individuals with lower WSRs.Continue reading →
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.
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 →
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.
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.”
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.
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 →
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 ….
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.
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 →