Aim to exceed weekly recommended physical activity level to offset health harms of prolonged sitting

I have written about the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle numerous times as well as the benefits of regular exercise.

New additional research shows that increasing physical activity can counter early death risk linked to long periods of sedentary time.

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The health harms associated with prolonged sitting can be offset by exceeding weekly recommended physical activity levels, says the World Health Organization (WHO) in new global guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behavior, published in a special dedicated issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

But all physical activity counts and is good for long term health, say the new guidelines.

It’s the first time that a recommendation of this kind has been made. It reflects a large and growing body of evidence linking extensive sedentary time to serious ill health and a heightened risk of early death.

New data published in the same special issue, show that adults who clock up long hours of sedentary time every day can counter these risks by increasing the amount of physical activity they do.

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Seniors’ positive mood suggests better brain function

Previous research has led to findings that support links between a positive mental outlook and physical health benefits such as lower blood pressure, less heart disease, and healthier blood sugar levels. In a recent study of mood changes in older adults, scientists also have discovered that healthy brain function may result in maintaining a positive outlook.

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For this study, which was funded in part by NIA and published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry in September 2020, scientists proposed a potential neurobiological connection between an older adult’s mood with changes, over a period of time, in white brain matter and cognitive ability. White matter is where information is transmitted from one brain region to another. As we age, changes can occur in the white matter that may lead to thinking, walking, and balance problems.

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Test your heart health by climbing stairs

Climbing four flights of stairs in less than a minute indicates good heart health, according to research presented at EACVI — Best of Imaging 2020, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

“The stairs test is an easy way to check your heart health,” said study author Dr. Jesús Peteiro, a cardiologist at University Hospital A Coruña, Spain. “If it takes you more than one-and-a-half minutes to ascend four flights of stairs, your health is suboptimal, and it would be a good idea to consult a doctor.”

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This study was conducted to examine the relationship between a daily activity — i.e. climbing stairs — and the results obtained from exercise testing in a laboratory. “The idea was to find a simple and inexpensive method of assessing heart health,” said Dr. Peteiro. “This can help physicians triage patients for more extensive examinations.”

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Weekend funnies …

Happy New Year! Here’s hoping 2021 leaves 2020 in the dust in every way imaginable.

Tony

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Scientists learn how nutrition affects recovery of cardiac surgery patients

Nutrients are the structural components of food that the body needs to function properly. They are divided into macro-nutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) and micro-nutrients (vitamins, pro-vitamins, various minerals, and so on). Their shortage is called nutritional deficiency.

‘Modern medicine pays little attention to nutritional deficiencies in cardiac surgery patients. At the same time, in oncology, pediatrics, gastroenterology, nutrition is treated more closely. To remedy this situation, in 2011 we began a study that included the task of identifying the prevalence of nutritional deficiency among those who underwent cardiac surgery,’ says Sergey Efremov, the main author of the article, an anaesthesiologist-resuscitator, Head of the Research Department at the Pirogov Clinic of High Medical Technologies, St Petersburg University.

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Sleep:The Third Pillar of Health – Tufts

We all know that diet and physical activity are essential to good health, but many are unaware that getting adequate sleep is equally important, if not more so. Sleep affects everything from energy and appetite to performance, mood, attention, memory, and decision making. It is the time when the brain forms and maintains the pathways that let us learn and create new memories. Recent research suggests that the body uses sleep time to remove toxins and metabolic “trash” from the brain (possibly including the plaques that contribute to Alzheimer’s disease). Habitual short sleep duration is associated with greater risk of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, about one third of U.S. adults get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep a night.

“While we don’t understand everything about sleep, we know it is essential for life,” says Jos Ordovs, PhD, a professor at the Friedman School and director of the Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. “We can survive extended periods of time without eating but we cannot go for very long without sleeping.”

How Sleep Works: When we’ve been awake for a long time, we begin to get sleepy; our bodies then try to maintain sleep long enough that we wake up restored and rested. This process is controlled by an internal biological mechanism called sleep/wake homeostasis. Medical conditions, medications (including some for high blood pressure and asthma), stress, sleep environment, and even what we eat and drink can influence sleep-wake needs. Exposure to light is especially critical. Our circadian rhythms respond to light and darkness, releasing hormones to help us feel awake (like cortisol and adrenaline) or promote sleep (like melatonin and GABA). This internal ‘biological clock’ works with sleep/wake homeostasis to regulate the timing of periods of sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day. If you tend to get sleepy in the afternoon no matter how much sleep you’ve gotten (or feel great early in the morning despite not getting much sleep), that’s your circadian rhythms at work. Traveling between time zones disrupts circadian rhythms, and so does keeping long and irregular hours.

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Scientists show what loneliness looks like in the brain

A new study shows a sort of signature in the brains of lonely people that make them distinct in fundamental ways, based on variations in the volume of different brain regions as well as based on how those regions communicate with one another across brain networks.

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This holiday season will be a lonely one for many people as social distancing due to COVID-19 continues, and it is important to understand how isolation affects our health. A new study shows a sort of signature in the brains of lonely people that make them distinct in fundamental ways, based on variations in the volume of different brain regions as well as based on how those regions communicate with one another across brain networks.

A team of researchers examined the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data, genetics and psychological self-assessments of approximately 40,000 middle-aged and older adults who volunteered to have their information included in the UK Biobank: an open-access database available to health scientists around the world. They then compared the MRI data of participants who reported often feeling lonely with those who did not.

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COVID-19 severity affected by proportion of antibodies targeting crucial viral protein – Study

A comprehensive study of immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 associates mild disease with comparatively high levels of antibodies that target the viral spike protein. But all antibodies wane within months.

COVID-19 antibodies preferentially target a different part of the virus in mild cases of COVID-19 than they do in severe cases, and wane significantly within several months of infection, according to a new study by researchers at Stanford Medicine

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The findings identify new links between the course of the disease and a patient’s immune response. They also raise concerns about whether people can be re-infected, whether antibody tests to detect prior infection may underestimate the breadth of the pandemic and whether vaccinations may need to be repeated at regular intervals to maintain a protective immune response. 

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Let there be light …

I don’t know if I suffer from SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder – or not. If I do, I think it is a mild case. Don’t know what SAD is?


Here’s the Mayo Clinic explaining it, “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.”

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“Treatment for SAD may include light therapy (phototherapy), medications and psychotherapy.”


What I do know about myself is that I don’t feel happy about the dwindling hours of sunlight as winter advances. I can’t ride my bike as much because of the looming darkness. By late December I am thrilled to see that the days are beginning, very slowly, a few minutes a day, but undeniably, to have more light.
I live in Chicago. To help me to enjoy the return of the light as winter ebbs, I have charted the sunrise and sunset for January through March. I mentioned living in Chicago because you likely live elsewhere and your sunrise and set times will vary somewhat from mine.

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Study identifies ‘three pillars’ of good mental health for young adults

Although most of my readers are over 21, it is worth remembering that good habits pay big dividends later in life. I hope you will pass along this info to any young adults in your social circle. Like a good investment, it can pay big dividends in later life.

Getting good quality sleep, exercising, and eating more raw fruits and vegetables predicts better mental health and well-being in young adults, a University of Otago study has found.

The study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, surveyed more than 1100 young adults from New Zealand and the United States about their sleep, physical activity, diet, and mental health.

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Lead author Shay-Ruby Wickham, who completed the study as part of her Master of Science, says the research team found sleep quality, rather than sleep quantity, was the strongest predictor of mental health and well-being.

“This is surprising because sleep recommendations predominantly focus on quantity rather than quality. While we did see that both too little sleep – less than eight hours – and too much sleep – more than 12 hours – were associated with higher depressive symptoms and lower well-being, sleep quality significantly outranked sleep quantity in predicting mental health and well-being.

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Weekend funnies – Christmas time …

In the spirit of the time, thought you might enjoy these. Best Christmas and holiday wishes to you and yours!

Seeing his first Christmas tree.
The only thing better than a pun is a bilingual pun.

Tony

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Christmas Eve greetings

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

On the off chance you stumbled by my blog on the day before Christmas, I would like to take this moment to wish you and yours a Wonder-ful Christmas!

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Tony

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Hearing and Vision Loss May Speed Development of Cognitive Problems

Cognitive decline ranges in severity from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD). It is marked by memory loss and difficulty thinking and making decisions. Cognitive decline is a significant, common challenge to older adults’ well-being and their ability to live independently.

Today, cognitive impairment and ADRD are major global public health and social concerns as the population of older adults rises around the world. By 2050, more than 152 million people will be affected by these conditions. That’s why many countries, including the United States, see the prevention of ADRD as a key public health priority and are studying programs to help stem these diseases.

One way to prevent cognitive impairment and ADRD is to treat the problems that raise the risk for developing them. Two of these risk factors are hearing and vision loss. Currently, about 60 percent of people aged 70 years or older are affected by hearing loss, 40 percent are affected by vision loss, and 23 percent of older adults have both vision and hearing loss. Some studies have suggested that having both hearing and vision loss may be linked to poorer cognitive function or to a faster rate of cognitive decline.

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Wearable Sensor May Signal You’re Developing COVID-19 – Even If Your Symptoms Are Subtle – Study

A smart ring that generates continuous temperature data may foreshadow COVID-19, even in cases when infection is not suspected. The device, which may be a better illness indicator than a thermometer, could lead to earlier isolation and testing, curbing the spread of infectious diseases, according to a preliminary study led by UC San Francisco and UC San Diego.  

The Oura Ring is a wearable sensor that continuously measures sleep and wakefulness, heart and respiratory rates and temperature. Photo courtesy of Oura

An analysis of data from 50 people previously infected with COVID-19, published online in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports on Dec. 14, 2020, found that data obtained from the commercially available smart ring accurately identified higher temperatures in people with symptoms of COVID-19. 

While it is not known how effectively the smart ring can detect asymptomatic COVID-19, which affects between 10 percent to 70 percent of those infected according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the authors reported that for 38 of the 50 participants, fever was identified when symptoms were unreported or even unnoticed. 

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I hope this edible Christmas tree will give you healthy ideas about your eating this holiday season and in the coming year.


While you are thinking about it, don’t forget that you need to exercise, too. You won’t be exercising just to burn calories. Exercise benefits your brain and body in many ways. Check out the EXERCISE tags at the right to read further on this.


I hope you will enjoy all the benefits of good food and exercise! Eat less; move more; live longer and keep that brain functioning at a high level. Healthy eating is healthy aging and we all want that. Okay, we seniors are more aware of it than you younger folk, but keep at it and you will come realize and appreciate it too.


Best wishes for this holiday season!

Tony

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Apathy could predict onset of dementia years before other symptoms

Apathy – a lack of interest or motivation – could predict the onset of some forms of dementia many years before symptoms start, offering a ‘window of opportunity’ to treat the disease at an early stage, according to new research from a team of scientists led by Professor James Rowe at the University of Cambridge.

Frontotemporal dementia is a significant cause of dementia among younger people. It is often diagnosed between the ages of 45 and 65. It changes behavior, language and personality, leading to impulsivity, socially inappropriate behavior, and repetitive or compulsive behaviors.

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A common feature of frontotemporal dementia is apathy, with a loss of motivation, initiative and interest in things. It is not depression, or laziness, but it can be mistaken for them. Brain-scanning studies have shown that in people with frontotemporal dementia it is caused by shrinkage in special parts at the front of the brain – and the more severe the shrinkage, the worse the apathy. But, apathy can begin decades before other symptoms, and be a sign of problems to come.

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