Category Archives: cardio exercise

Risk factors for heart disease and stroke largely similar in men and women globally

Women and men share most of the same risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), a large international study has found – the first such study to include people not only from high income countries, but also from low- and middle-income countries where the burden of CVD is the greatest.

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The study was published in The Lancet.

The global study assessed risk factors, including metabolic (such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes), behavioral (smoking and diet), and psycho-social (economic status and depression) in about 156,000 people without a history of CVD between the ages of 35 and 70. Living in 21 low, middle and high-income countries on five continents, they were followed for an average of 10 years.

“Women and men have similar CVD risk factors, which emphasizes the importance of a similar strategy for the prevention of CVD in men and women,” said the paper’s first author Marjan Walli-Attaei, a research fellow at the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS).

Overall, women had a lower risk of developing CVD than men, especially at younger ages.

However, diet was more strongly associated with CVD risk in woman than men – “something that’s not been previous described, and which requires independent confirmation,” said Salim Yusuf, lead investigator of the study, senior author, executive director of PHRI, professor of medicine at McMaster University, and cardiologist at HHS.

High levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol and symptoms of depression were more strongly associated with CVD risk in men than in women.

The patterns of these findings were generally similar in high-income countries and upper-middle-income countries, and in low-income and lower-middle-income countries.

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Filed under cardio exercise, coronary heart disease, heart, heart disease, heart failure, stroke

Poor physical function after age 65 associated with future cardiovascular disease – AHA

Link found between physical function and cardiovascular disease risk in older adults, according to new study in the Journal of the American Heart Association

Among people older than age 65 who were assessed using a short physical function test, having lower physical function was independently associated with a greater risk of developing heart attack, heart failure and stroke, according to new research published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association, an open access, peer-reviewed journal of the American Heart Association.

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The Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) used in this study is considered a measure of physical function, which includes walking speed, leg strength and balance. This study examined physical function, which is different from physical fitness.

“While traditional cardiovascular disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking or diabetes are closely linked to cardiovascular disease, particularly in middle-aged people, we also know these factors may not be as predictive in older adults, so we need to identify nontraditional predictors for older adults,” said study senior author Kunihiro Matsushita, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Division of Cardiology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore. “We found that physical function in older adults predicts future cardiovascular disease beyond traditional heart disease risk factors, regardless of whether an individual has a history of cardiovascular disease.”

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People with low BMI aren’t more active, they are just less hungry and ‘run hotter’

To date most research on obesity has focused on studying those with a high body mass index (BMI), but a research group in China is taking a different approach. In a study published July 14 in the journal Cell Metabolism, the scientists looked at individuals with a very low BMI. Their findings reveal that these individuals are actually considerably less active than people with a BMI in the normal range, contrary to speculation that they have a metabolism that makes them naturally more active. Additionally, they eat less food than those with a normal BMI.

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“We expected to find that these people are really active and to have high activity metabolic rates matched by high food intakes,” says corresponding author John Speakman, a professor at the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology in China and the University of Aberdeen in the UK. “It turns out that something rather different is going on. They had lower food intakes and lower activity, as well as surprisingly higher-than-expected resting metabolic rates linked to elevated levels of their thyroid hormones.”

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What about sweating?-MSU

Since we are entering the warmer weather, I thought it would be worthwhile to consider perspiring, or sweating. We are all going to be doing it. What does it mean to the body?

It is important to stay hydrated and avoid excessive heat during the hot summer months because we lose a lot of body fluid through sweat. But does this mean you should avoid sweating at all costs? Not at all.

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People sweat for many reasons such as hot weather, nervousness, a fever, exercise, and being in a sauna. Sweating can dehydrate us, stress us out, or remind us our body is fighting an illness. In contrast, it may invigorate us on a hike or when working out in a gym. Besides, isn’t sweating what you are supposed to do in a sauna anyhow?   

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Exercise May Protect Brain Volume by Keeping Insulin and BMI Levels Low

Studies have shown that exercise helps protect brain cells. A new study looking at the mechanisms involved in this relationship suggests that the role exercise plays in maintaining insulin and body mass index levels may help protect brain volume and thus help stave off dementia. The research is published in the April 13, 2022, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

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“These results may help us to understand how physical activity affects brain health, which may guide us in developing strategies to prevent or delay age-related decline in memory and thinking skills,” said study author Géraldine Poisnel, PhD, of Inserm Research Center in Caen, France. “Older adults who are physically active gain cardiovascular benefits, which may result in greater structural brain integrity.”

In contrast, researchers found that the relationship between exercise and the metabolism of glucose in the brain was not affected by insulin or body mass index (BMI) levels. Reduced glucose metabolism in the brain can been seen in people with dementia.

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Middle age and weight challenges

Weight management is challenging in our “middle-age” years. Whether because of genetics, aging, hormones, lifestyle, or “life changes,” it is tough for many to lose weight and harder to keep from re-gaining it in these years, according to BeWell at Stanford Medicine.

While many men deal with similar issues, women face the additional mid-life challenge of menopause. Is mid-life weight gain inevitable, permanent, irreversible? Or are some of the factors temporary and can be better managed? To learn more, BeWell spoke with Marcia Stefanick, PhD, professor of medicine and obstetrics/gynecology at Stanford Medicine.

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Does weight gain during middle age result from aging or temporary hormonal changes?

It is challenging to tease apart age-related changes in weight and body composition from changes related to menopause. Age is certainly associated with an increase in body fat and decrease in skeletal muscle mass that the majority of women, and men, experience in middle age. There are both biological, including hormonal and lifestyle, explanations for these changes. Of course, the menopausal transition which all women undergo represents a particularly challenging period of metabolic and physiologic change.

Can you explain what actually happens during menopause, in terms of the physiological transition, and why weight gain is so commonly experienced?

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Healthy diet and activity changes improved tough to treat high blood pressure – AHA

People with treatment-resistant hypertension successfully reduced their blood pressure by adopting the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan, losing weight and improving their aerobic fitness by participating in a structured diet and exercise program at a certified cardiac rehabilitation facility, according to new research published in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation.

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Uncontrolled high blood pressure (130/80 mm Hg or higher) despite the use of three or more medications of different classes including a diuretic to reduce blood pressure is a condition known as resistant hypertension. Although estimates vary, resistant hypertension likely affects about 5% of the general global population and may affect 20% to 30% of adults with high blood pressure. Resistant hypertension is also associated with end-organ damage and a 50% greater risk of adverse cardiovascular events, including stroke, heart attack and death.

Diet and exercise are well-established treatments for high blood pressure. In June 2021, the American Heart Association advised that physical activity is the optimal first treatment choice for adults with mild to moderately elevated blood pressure and blood cholesterol who otherwise have low heart disease risk.

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Year of committed exercise reversed heart stiffness – AHA

A year of exercise training helped to preserve or increase the youthful elasticity of the heart muscle among people showing early signs of heart failure, a small study shows.

The new research, published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, bolsters the idea that “exercise is medicine,” an important shift in approach, the researchers wrote.

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The study focused on a condition called heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, which affects about half of the 6 million people in the United States with heart failure. Characterized by increasing stiffness of the heart muscle and high pressures inside the heart during exercise, the condition is largely untreatable once established and causes fatigue, excess fluid in the lungs and legs, and shortness of breath.

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5-minute breathing workout lowers blood pressure as much as exercise, drugs

Working out just five minutes daily via a practice described as “strength training for your breathing muscles” lowers blood pressure and improves some measures of vascular health as well as, or even more than, aerobic exercise or medication, new CU Boulder research shows.

The study, published June 29 in the Journal of the American Heart Association, provides the strongest evidence yet that the ultra-time-efficient maneuver known as High-Resistance Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training (IMST) could play a key role in helping aging adults fend off cardiovascular disease — the nation’s leading killer.

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In the United States alone, 65% of adults over age 50 have above-normal blood pressure — putting them at greater risk of heart attack or stroke. Yet fewer than 40% meet recommended aerobic exercise guidelines.

“There are a lot of lifestyle strategies that we know can help people maintain cardiovascular health as they age. But the reality is, they take a lot of time and effort and can be expensive and hard for some people to access,” said lead author Daniel Craighead, an assistant research professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology. “IMST can be done in five minutes in your own home while you watch TV.”

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Increased blood sugar levels may decrease benefits of aerobic exercise

Every doctor recommends regular aerobic exercise, since greater aerobic fitness is important for achieving better overall health. But Joslin Diabetes Center scientists have discovered that some benefits of aerobic exercise may be dampened by higher-than-normal blood sugar levels, a condition known as hyperglycemia.

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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.

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Increased blood sugar levels may decrease benefits of aerobic exercise

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.

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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.

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Aerobics a smart workout for your brain at any age

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.”

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Filed under aerobics, aging brain, brain, brain function, brain research, cardio exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits

Men: Exercise Can Do a Lot More for You than Build Muscle

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.

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High tech fitness testing …

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.

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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

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Improved fitness can mean living longer without dementia – Study

“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).

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Tari is lead author of a new study that was recently published in Lancet Public Health, a highly ranked journal in the prestigious Lancet family.

“Persistently low fitness is an independent risk factor for dementia and death due to dementia,” the authors concluded. Continue reading

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Study finds human hearts evolved for endurance

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.

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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

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