Category Archives: Exercise

Marathon running makes arteries younger and lowers blood pressure – Study

Although I think marathon running, per se, makes too many demands on the body, it appears that marathon training and participating can accomplish some very positive effects. New research led by University College of London (UCL) and Barts Health NHS Trust suggests running a marathon for the first time could have several health benefits.

man running on road

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The study, published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that for first-time marathon runners, training and completion of the marathon resulted in reductions in blood pressure and aortic stiffening in healthy participants that were equivalent to a four-year reduction in vascular age. The greatest benefits were seen in older, slower male marathon runners with higher baseline blood pressure. Continue reading

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Filed under aortic stiffening, blood pressure, Exercise, exercise benefits, marathon running, marathon training, running, vascular age

Physical culture in Russia …

If you are busy working out your New Year’s resolutions, it might be helpful to see what our counterparts in Russia are doing for their health.
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In 2011, approximately 20% of both women and men reported doing some form of physical exercise at least once a week. By 2017, that figure had grown only slightly among women — to 25% — but more substantially among men — to 31%.

The trend is positive, researchers noted, but the proportion of physically active working Russians remains below the European average.

The physical activity of Russia’s working population does not meet World Health Organization standards

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Filed under Exercise, exercise benefits, exercise frequency, Russia

A Boxing Day bike ride …

Boxing Day in Chicago was a wonderful high temperature record setter for us residents.

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By the way, are you familiar with the Boxing Day reference? I  first encountered it in 1976 when I had just moved to London working for Reuters News Service. I expected to go out and do some shopping on the day after Christmas and was introduced to Boxing Day as celebrated there – a National Holiday. No stores open! Naturally, I couldn’t figure out any reason for the Brits to be wanting to engage in boxing on the day following Christmas. Really seemed like  a bad match. Continue reading

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Filed under Boxing Day, Exercise, exercise outdoors, regular bike riding

Dealing with visceral fat …

Fat is fat, right? Well, no. There is more than one kind of fat.

Visceral fat is stored in a person’s abdominal cavity and is also known as ‘active fat’ as it influences how hormones function in the body. An excess of visceral fat can, therefore, have potentially dangerous consequences. Because visceral fat is in the abdominal cavity, it is close to many vital organs, such as the pancreas, liver, and intestines.

 

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The higher the amount of visceral fat a person stores, the more at risk they are for certain health complications, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

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Filed under abdominal fat, Exercise, fat, fat storage, stress, visceral fat

Muscle loss linked to cognitive decline

I have written repeatedly about the benefits of exercise on both the body and brain. It turns out that there seems to be a link between loss of muscle mass, sarcopenia, and cognitive decline.

Sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass, tends to happen naturally with age. So, in older people with sarcopenia, excess body fat may not be readily visible. But hidden fat, paired with muscle mass loss later in life, could predict Alzheimer’s risk, researchers warn.

A recent study — the results of which have been published in the journal Clinical Interventions in Aging — has found that sarcopenia and obesity (independently, but especially when occurring together) can heighten the risk of cognitive function impairments later in life.

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The research was conducted by scientists at the Comprehensive Center for Brain Health at the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

“Sarcopenia,” explains senior study author Dr. James Galvin, “has been linked to global cognitive impairment and dysfunction in specific cognitive skills including memory, speed, and executive functions.” Continue reading

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Filed under cognition, cognitive decline, cognitive impairment, Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, sarcopenia

Women, exercise and longevity

Women who can exercise vigorously are at significantly lower risk of dying from heart disease, cancer and other causes. The research was presented 7 December at EuroEcho 2019, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

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Study author Dr Jesús Peteiro, of University Hospital A Coruña, Spain advised women: “Exercise as much as you can. Fitness protects against death from any cause.”

Exercise is good for health and longevity, but information on women is scarce. Women generally live longer than men, so dedicated studies are needed. This study examined exercise capacity and heart function during exercise in women and their links with survival. The study included 4,714 adult women referred for treadmill exercise echocardiography because of known or suspected coronary artery disease. Continue reading

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Filed under aging, Exercise, exercise benefits, senior women, successful aging, women's fitness

The Happy, Healthy Holiday Plate – Tufts

It’s possible to make healthy choices and still enjoy the holidays. Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter has some useful suggestions.

Celebrations often lead to overindulgence, unhealthy choices, and unwanted weight gain. Here are some tips for keeping holiday meals happy and healthy:

bread food plate light

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Make new traditions…and update the old: Many holiday dishes are high in added sugars or salt. Consider making new traditions: try roasted string beans with slivered almonds in place of creamy string bean casserole, for example. Or look for recipes that substitute ingredients to “lighten” traditional dishes. Continue reading

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Filed under Exercise, exercise benefits, holiday eating, holiday weight gain, overeating, portion control, portion size

Exercise and heart-healthy diet may slow memory problems developing

Cognitive impairment without dementia (CIND), or mild cognitive impairment, is a condition that affects your memory and may put you at risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. According to the U.S. National Library for Medicine, signs of mild cognitive impairment may include frequently losing things, forgetting to go to events and appointments, and having more trouble coming up with words than other people of your age.

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My go-to exercise is biking. My dog comes along when the weather is willing. At 79, everything seems to be working …

Some experts believe that risk factors for heart disease also are risk factors for dementia and late-life cognitive decline and dementia. Recently, researchers examined two potential ways to slow the development of CIND based on what we know about preventing heart disease. They published the results of their study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Continue reading

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Filed under aging, aging brain, cognition, cognitive decline, Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, successful aging

Walking improves vision – Study

As a big fan of walking I was thrilled to learn of this further benefit to the Cinderella of the exercise world. Walking leads to an increase of peripheral visual input, according to a study from the University of Wurzburg.

How do we perceive our environment? What is the influence of sensory stimuli on the peripheral nervous system and what on the brain? Science has an interest in this question for many reasons. In the long term, insights from this research could contribute to a better understanding of diseases such as ADHD and Parkinson’s disease.

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The topography of the EEG response (l) and its localization in the brain (r) show visual sensory processing during the walking conditions slow and normal – green and red, and standing – black. The image is credited to Barbara Händel.

Perception and the underlying neuronal activities are usually measured while subjects are sitting or lying, for example while doing magnetic resonance imaging. As a rule, the head is fixed and people are encouraged not to blink. The measurements therefore take place under well-controlled but rather unnatural conditions. Continue reading

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Filed under Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, Uncategorized, vision, walking

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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Filed under aging, aging brain, cardio exercise, Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, exercise frequency, successful aging

Some tips for biking (or any exercise) in cold weather …

“The hawk is back.” That’s what we Chicagoans say when temperatures turn cold here. I woke up to 20F degrees the other morning. The second week in November is a bit early for such temps, but if you want to ride your bike, you deal with it. By the way, when temps fall to sub zero, the expression here is, “The hawk is back … and he brought his whole damn family.”

So, winter seems to have come early to Chicago.

Whether you ride a bike or not, I think you will find some useful info here.

From the Toronto Star

The Wall Street Journal a while back had a cleverly written item on Your Outdoor Sports Survival Guide, by Jason Gay. He aptly describes “the maniacal joy of Survival Season,” and observes “Nobody looks suave playing sports in the freezing cold. If you are doing it correctly, you look a little unhinged and suspicious. Are you going to play golf…or rob the Bank of Alaska?”
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Filed under cold season, cold weather, cold weather biking, cold weather exercising, Exercise, exercise benefits, good health

Thinking about shoveling snow …

It is for many of us the onset of snow shoveling season. If you are a reader on the East Coast, where the El Nino blizzard hit a while back, please be aware that in terms of your body shoveling snow is not a totally innocent activity.

While I strongly support calorie burning exercises to build up your cardiovascular system and other benefits, it is important to know your limits. If you are not currently working out or don’t consider yourself to be “in condition,” please think twice before you grab that snow shovel and race out to clear the walk.

The American Journal of Emergency Medicine reported that more than 195,000 people were treated in U.S. Emergency Rooms for snow-shovel-related incidents from 1990 to 2006. This is an average of 11,500 individuals per year. Keep in mind that this information only covers folks who actually went to the ER for treatment. Plenty more stayed home and nursed their wounds ….

About 2/3 of these incidents occurred among males. Children younger than 18 made up 15.3% of the cases. Older adults (above 55 years) accounted for more than 20%.
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Filed under Exercise, fitness, sedentary lifestyle, snow shoveling

Fitter adults have more fit brains – Study

I have posted numerous times on exercise benefiting the brain as much as the body. But, I have been primarily interested in preserving brain function into our senior years. Here is fresh information immediate brain benefits from physical exercise for all ages.

In a large study, German scientists have shown that physical fitness is associated with better brain structure and brain functioning in young adults. This opens the possibility that increasing fitness levels may lead to improved cognitive ability, such as memory and problem solving, as well as improved structural changes in the brain. This work is presented for the first time at the ECNP Congress in Copenhagen, with simultaneous publication in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports.

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Scientists have previously shown that “exercise is good for the brain,” but most studies have not controlled for underlying causes which might give distorted results, such as body weight, blood glucose levels, education status, age and other factors, making it difficult to take an overall view of the benefits. In addition, studies have rarely looked at fitness in relations to both brain structure and mental functioning.

The scientists used a publicly available database of 1206 MRI brain scans from the Human Connectome Project, which had been contributed by volunteers who wanted to contribute to scientific research. The volunteers (average age 30 years old) underwent some additional testing. The first test was a “two-minute walking test”, where each person was asked to walk as fast as possible for 2 minutes and the distance was then measured. The volunteers then underwent a series of cognitive tests***, to measure such things as memory, sharpness, judgement, and reasoning.

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Lifestyle changes can help maintain cognitive health – Rush

A recent two-year clinical trial in Finland (the FINGER Study) reported that a combination of physical activity, nutritional guidance, cognitive training, social activities and management of heart health risk factors protected cognition in healthy older adults who were identified as being at increased risk of cognitive decline. Currently no pharmacological treatments are available that rival this effect.

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“There is an urgent need to expand this work to test the generalizability, adaptability and sustainability of the FINGER study’s findings in geographically and culturally diverse populations in the U.S. and across the globe,” Morris said. “While there is no proven cure or prevention for dementia, current research shows that combining healthy lifestyle factors may counteract risk and help stave off dementia.” Continue reading

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Filed under aging, aging brain, cognition, cognitive decline, Exercise, exercise benefits, successful aging

Exercise helps heart patients – Study

Ear less; move more; live longer. Works like a charm

Generally, exercise is considered good for you. However, physicians and medical doctors previously prescribed bed rest to people with heart failure, fearing exercise could potentially lead to additional health problems.

man running on ice covered land

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Now, research from the University of Missouri has found exercise can improve the health of blood vessels in the heart for people with heart failure. The finding is based on a study looking at swine, which have very similar blood vessels and heart muscles – both structurally and functionally – as humans. Continue reading

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Filed under coronary heart disease, Exercise, exercise benefits, exercise myths, heart disease, heart problems

Two more cool water bottles …

Having just written about The coolest water bottle ever, in fairness to my other cool water bottles, I thought I should mention them, too. They are really neat, too and make my bike rides as enjoyable as possible. For the mathematically keen, yes, that comes to a total of three water bottles. And, yes, my bike only has two cages for water bottles. Stay tuned, there is an explanation.

The first is my bottle from the Eddie Bauer store for outdoor activities.IMG_8232.jpeg

This is my bottle for riding in summer heat. As you can see, besides the drinking spout  there is a nozzle at the top and also a ‘trigger-like’ mechanism that, in fact, functions as a trigger. This allows me to spray my face with a cool mist during summer rides. The bottle boasts a wide mouth so, I have no trouble putting in ice cubes to keep the water temp down. Also, it is well-constructed with an ‘inner bottle’ which means the ice cubes stay solid a long time. Continue reading

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Filed under biking, Exercise, exercise benefits, hydration, water, water bottle

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