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.
A common school-age stereotype is that smart kids are unathletic. However, as a recent study lead by Associate Professor Keita Kamijo at the University of Tsukuba and Assistant Professor Toru Ishihara at Kobe University shows that physical activity is linked to better cognitive ability, which is in turn related to academic performance in school.
Understanding the effects of physical activity on cognition has been difficult for several reasons. “Previous studies looked at the issue too broadly,” explains Professor Kamijo, “When we broke down the data, we were able to see that physical activity helps children the most if they start out with poor executive function.”
Executive functions refer to three types of cognitive skills. The first is the ability to suppress impulses and inhibit reflex-like behaviors or habits. To assess this ability, children were asked to indicate the color in which words like “red” and “blue” were displayed on a computer screen. This is easy when the words and colors match (“red” displayed in red font), but often requires inhibition of a reflex response when they don’t (“red” displayed in blue font). The second skill is the ability to hold information in working memory and process it. This was evaluated by testing how well children could remember strings of letters that vary in length. The third cognitive skill is mental flexibility. This was measured by asking children to frequently switch the rules for categorizing colored circles and squares from shape-based to color-based.
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.”
A little-studied liver protein may be responsible for the well-known benefits of exercise on the aging brain, according to a new study in mice by scientists in the UC San Francisco Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research. The findings could lead to new therapies to confer the neuroprotective effects of physical activity on people who are unable to exercise due to physical limitations.
Exercise is one of the best-studied and most powerful ways of protecting the brain from age-related cognitive decline and has been shown to improve cognition in individuals at risk of neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia — even those with rare gene variants that inevitably lead to dementia.
A device that monitors health conditions in the body using a person’s sweat has been developed by Penn State and Xiangtan University researchers, according to Huanyu “Larry” Cheng, assistant professor of engineering science and mechanics, Penn State.
“We want to be able to analyze the sweat from daily exercise or from the heat of the sun because in sweat we have a lot of biomarkers like pH and glucose that will be a really nice indicator for disease progression or diagnostics,” Cheng said.
Did you get your 10,000 steps today? Many people have adopted this daily walking goal to obtain the recommended amount of physical activity. The 10,000-steps-a-day number comes from the Japanese brand name of a pedometer manufactured in the 1960s, the “10,000 steps meter.” In the Fitbit era, counting daily steps remains appealing to many people as a source of motivation.
In the US, adults are urged to get the equivalent of 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise. Walking is a popular way to meet those recommendations, particularly in older adults or people who are relatively physically inactive.
Although 10,000 steps is a worthy challenge, aiming for more exercise than you normally get—unless you are one of the few who regularly trains for marathons or triathlons—comes with benefits. Any amount or type of physical activity adds to your daily goal. Regularly taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking farther away from your destination, can make a measurable improvement in your health.
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.
I think in basic terms regarding our body, some movement is better than no movement. Eat less, move more, live longer works.
Many worry strenuous exercise could hurt their joints
10 years of vigorous activity did not pose risk
Strenuous activity for one to two hours weekly reduces risk of knee osteoarthritis by 30%
Osteoarthritis affects 32.5 million adults in U.S.
People at high risk for knee osteoarthritis (OA) may be nervous and reluctant to participate in strenuous physical activities such as jogging, cycling, singles tennis and skiing. But a new Northwestern Medicine study that followed high-risk individuals for 10 years showed vigorous exercise did not increase their risk of developing OA and may even protect them from it.
“Our study findings convey a reassuring message that adults at high risk for knee OA may safely engage in long-term strenuous physical activity at a moderate level to improve their general health and well-being,” said Alison Chang, associate professor of physical therapy and human movement sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Protecting your bones is part of a healthy aging strategy. Talk to your doctor about assessing your risk of fractures and devise a strategy to lower the risk, especially if you’ve had a fracture after age 50, according to the Mayo Clinic Health Letter. A comprehensive approach includes optimizing nutrition, reviewing exercise, safe moving practices, and fall prevention, and taking prescription medications if appropriate.
A key factor to maintaining the bone density you have is to make healthy choices to support bone health. These steps are important in both preventing osteoporosis and slowing its progression. They include:
■ Exercise — Weight bearing physical activity such as walking and moderate aerobic exercises can strengthen bones and reduce risk of fracture. Muscle strengthening exercises can help as well. Aim to exercise at least 30 min utes most days of the week. Ask your doctor whether any precautions are recommended, especially if you’re at increased risk of fracture.
■ Eat well — Eat a balanced diet and make certain that you’re getting enough calcium and vitamin D from the food you eat.
■ Don’t smoke — Smoking speeds up bone loss.
■ Limit alcohol — Should you choose to drink, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men 65 and younger.
As the COVID-19 pandemic toll continues to grow, the advice is even more relevant.
“We don’t have a proven vaccine, and we don’t have proven treatments,” said Garrett-Price, a family practice physician with Baylor Scott & White Health System in Dallas. “So, our immune system is our first line of defense.”
Although a strong immune system is helpful, he and other health experts stress the guidelines in place to battle the coronavirus’s spread remain crucial: social distancing, frequent hand-washing, avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands, and staying at home as much as possible to avoid getting COVID-19 in the first place. Continue reading →
This is most welcome information by my reckoning. When we are all staying-at-home these days, I love being reminded that it pays health dividends to get out and move. This bloody virus is not going to last forever. Walking is still superb exercise. Check out my Page – Why you should walk more for further information.
In a new study, higher daily step counts were associated with lower mortality risk from all causes. The research team, which included investigators from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA), both parts of the National Institutes of Health, as well as from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also found that the number of steps a person takes each day, but not the intensity of stepping, had a strong association with mortality.
The findings were published March 24, 2020, in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Continue reading →
I have written repeatedly about the benefits of walking, calling it the ‘Cinderella of the exercise world.’ Now, according the the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it seems that quantity equals quality in walking.
Across the nation, Americans find themselves in varying degrees of social isolation as part of a coordinated effort to try to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Some cities are in full lockdown. Others are asking people to simply remain socially distant.
But navigating this new world of social limitations can be confusing. What should – and shouldn’t – people be doing?
That depends on your level of isolation, said Arthur Caplan, director of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University Grossman School of Medicine.
The most restrictive level, said Caplan, is quarantine – when a person is ill or known to have been exposed to the virus and must be completely separated from others with no social interactions outside the home. Continue reading →
Even as government officials warn us to “stay home, stay safe” during the coronavirus pandemic, some people are flocking to parks, trails and sidewalks to walk and bike away their cabin fever.
That might seem like a total contradiction. But according to health experts, it can be a healthy choice – as long as you exercise caution while exercising outdoors.
An old photo on the Chicago Lakefront with my dog. The mayor has since closed the Lakefront to ALL activities in the face of the virus.
“Since most people don’t have a treadmill, outdoor exercise makes it a heck of a lot easier to meet the physical activity guidelines of 150 minutes a week of moderate activity, like walking, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity, like running,” said Dr. Jeffrey Harris, professor and chair of the University of Washington’s department of health services in the School of Public Health. Continue reading →