I am thrilled to report that today marks the 22nd anniversary of my retirement. On October 2 of 2000, I bade the financial world adieu and started my life as a guy who didn’t have to get up for work every morning. I got my first job at the age of 10 sweeping the floor of a dry cleaner and continued to work till I reached 60. Although my degree is in Finance, I went into the publishing world writing and editing. I liked markets, but always knew I would write. I wrote and practiced journalism for most of my career, spending 20 years working for Reuters covering international markets and then teaching journalism at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University for several years. Because I had written about markets for 30 years, my boss at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation asked me if I would like to manage some money So, I managed $900 million in bond investments for the final five years of my working life.
No mas. I thought I would celebrate with this biking post. When I was working I used to tell my friends at the office that when I retired I was going to ride my bike on the Chicago lakefront every day. They thought that was funny. I was never more serious. You all know how I ride my bike nearly every day year ’round here in Chicago. I do it because I love it. Period. Everything else is gravy. As you know from my numerous posts on exercise and the brain I absolutely believe that my riding aids in my still thinking straight at the ripe of age of 82. For the record, my family has five cases of Alzheimer’s on both sides – my father’s father, my father’s sister and her daughter. On my mother’s side, she and her sister.
Eat less; move more; live longer … How many times have you read that on these pages? Now comes the National Institutes of Health with more of the same.
Physical activity is vital for your health. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight and prevent chronic diseases ranging from heart disease to diabetes. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults get a minimum of 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week, or at least half that amount of vigorous-intensity activity.
Previous studies have found that a wide variety of leisure-time physical activities can provide health benefits. But these studies have largely been done in younger adults. And many did not track different levels of various types of activities.
The Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) has issued a four-part focus seminar series on sports cardiology and of the impact of physical activity, cardio-respiratory fitness and exercise training on the general U.S. population and professional athletes’ cardiovascular health.
“The field of sports cardiology is a well-established but still rapidly evolving sub-specialty,” said Jason C. Kovacic, professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and author of the accompanying introduction article to the focus seminar series. “Given the mounting interest in sports cardiology, its key relevance to all cardiovascular practitioners, and the knowledge explosion in this field, we felt it was particularly timely to pay special attention to this broad topic with a JACC Focus Seminar series.”
Doubling to quadrupling the minimum amount of weekly physical activity recommended for U.S. adults may substantially lower the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and other causes, new research finds.
The study, published Monday in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, found people who followed the minimum guidelines for moderate or vigorous long-term, leisure physical activity lowered their risk of dying from any cause by as much as 21%. But adults who exercised two to four times the minimum might lower their mortality risk by as much as 31%.
Even moderate physical activity has a positive effect on the brain. DZNE researchers led by Dr. Dr. Ahmad Aziz deduce this from examinations of 2,550 participants of the Bonn “Rhineland Study”. According to their findings, certain areas of the brain are larger in physically active individuals than in those who are less active. In particular, brain regions that have a relatively high oxygen demand benefit from this effect. The research results are published in Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Exercise keeps body and mind healthy – but little is known about exactly how and where physical activity affects our brains. “In previous research, the brain was usually considered as a whole,” says Fabienne Fox, neuroscientist and lead author of the current study. “Our goal was to take a more detailed look at the brain and find out which regions of the brain physical activity impacts most.”
People with a condition that restricts blood flow to the legs and feet may be able to improve their long-term walking ability by walking for exercise at a pace that feels painful or uncomfortable, new research suggests.
The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found people with peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, who walked at a speed that caused painful symptoms increased their walking speed and leg function more than those who walked for exercise at a more comfortable pace.
“We were surprised by the results because walking for exercise at a pace that induces pain in the legs among people with PAD has been thought to be associated with damage to leg muscles,” senior study author Dr. Mary McDermott said in a news release. She is a professor of medicine and preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
“Exercise that induces leg pain is beneficial, though difficult,” she said. “We now are working to identify interventions that can make the higher intensity exercise easier – and still beneficial – for people with PAD.”
An estimated 8 to 10 million U.S. adults have PAD, a condition characterized by reduced blood and oxygen flow stemming from a narrowing of the arteries that take blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The condition typically affects the legs and feet, causing symptoms during walking such as cramping, weakness, fatigue, aching, and pain or discomfort that fade within 10 minutes after resting.
Heart health and your health in general are clearly tied to your psychological health. It should come as no surprise to regular readers here that eat less; move more; live longer works.
The American Heart Association has released a scientific statement addressing how psychological health can contribute to cardiovascular disease (CVD). Their analysis of science to date concluded that negative psychological health (depression, chronic stress, anxiety, anger, pessimism, and dissatisfaction with one’s current life) is linked to CVD risk and may play a direct role in both biological processes and downstream lifestyle behaviors that cause CVD. Conversely, positive psychological health can contribute to better cardiovascular health and reduced cardiovascular risk.The majority of research suggests interventions to improve psychological health can have a beneficial impact on cardiovascular health.
Get regular health check-ups that include basic screening for psychological health and seek help from a mental health professional if you have concerns. The study also recommends exercise, meditation, and other self-care as potential ways to promote both mental and physical health.
A recent trial found that getting moving can improve liver health in people with obesity, even without weight loss, according to Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a common condition in which excess fat accumulates in the liver, often in response to diets high in starch and sugar. NAFLD is the most common form of liver disease in the U.S. and may be present in more than 90 percent of individuals with obesity and 75 percent with overweight. According to the National Institutes of Health, people with NAFLD are at high risk of developing liver inflammation that can lead to cirrhosis (advanced scarring) and liver failure.
In this trial, 83 Japanese men with obesity participated for three months in either an aerobic exercise program (fast walking or light jogging for 90 minutes three days a week) or calorie restriction with the help of a registered dietitian. In the activity group, muscle strength increased, markers of general inflammation and oxidative stress decreased, and liver health improved, even without weight loss.
This study adds to a large body of science that physical activity, like a healthy diet, has many benefits beyond weight loss.”
Exercise increases dopamine signaling in the motor areas of mice, according to research recently published in JNeurosci.
It’s no secret exercise is good for the brain — working out can improve mood, sharpen memory, and stave off cognitive decline. Exercise even improves motor behavior in people with Parkinson’s disease, but the exact mechanism is not known. One possibility is through an increase in dopamine, a neurotransmitter needed for motor and emotional control that declines as the disease progresses.
Bastioli et al. compared dopamine signaling in mice after 30 days of voluntary wheel running or inactivity. In the runner mice, dopamine release in the striatum (a motor area) increased in response to electrical stimulation, while there was no change in sedentary mice. The increased dopamine release remained even a week after the exercise ended. The researchers also measured increased levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein involved in neuron health, in the striatum of active mice. When the researchers repeated the experiments in a genetic mouse model lacking BDNF, there was no difference in dopamine release between the active and sedentary mice, suggesting BDNF catalyzes increased dopamine signaling. Future studies will examine if the relationship holds true in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease, and if exercise can improve motor outcomes.
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.
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?
An analysis of data from multiple observational studies suggests 30 minutes of exercise a day may help you live longer, even if you’re otherwise sedentary, Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter said.
In the study, published recently in the British Journal of Medicine, researchers looked at data from activity trackers worn by 44,000 men and women (average age around 66 years) in the U.S., Norway, and Sweden. Most participants were sedentary eight-and-a-half to 10.5 hours a day and engaged in moderate or vigorous activity eight to 35 minutes a day. More sedentary time combined with less active time was associated with higher risk of death. About 30 to 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a day seemed to be enough to attenuate the association between sedentary time and risk of premature death.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend adults get 150 to 300 minutes a week (an average of 30 minutes a day) of moderate-intensity activity (such as taking a brisk walk or raking the yard) or 75 to 150 minutes a week (an average of 15 minutes a day) of vigorous-intensity activity (like jogging or swimming). While moving more and sitting less—in this study and many others—is associated with the best health outcomes, fitting 30 minutes of movement into an otherwise sedentary day may help you live longer.
Eat less, move more, live longer and have a functioning brain thewhole time, as I have written here numerous times.
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.
“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.
One in 10 adults in the United States struggles with depression, and antidepressant medications are a common way to treat the condition. However, pills aren’t the only solution. Research shows that exercise is also an effective treatment. “For some people it works as well as antidepressants, although exercise alone isn’t enough for someone with severe depression,” says Dr. Michael Craig Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
The exercise effect
Exercising starts a biological cascade of events that results in many health benefits, such as protecting against heart disease and diabetes, improving sleep, and lowering blood pressure. High-intensity exercise releases the body’s feel-good chemicals called endorphins, resulting in the “runner’s high” that joggers report. But for most of us, the real value is in low-intensity exercise sustained over time. That kind of activity spurs the release of proteins called neurotrophic or growth factors, which cause nerve cells to grow and make new connections. The improvement in brain function makes you feel better. “In people who are depressed, neuroscientists have noticed that the hippocampus in the brain—the region that helps regulate mood—is smaller. Exercise supports nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, improving nerve cell connections, which helps relieve depression,” explains Dr. Miller.
The challenge of getting started
Depression manifests physically by causing disturbed sleep, reduced energy, appetite changes, body aches, and increased pain perception, all of which can result in less motivation to exercise. It’s a hard cycle to break, but Dr. Miller says getting up and moving just a little bit will help. “Start with five minutes a day of walking or any activity you enjoy. Soon, five minutes of activity will become 10, and 10 will become 15.”
What you can do
It’s unclear how long you need to exercise, or how intensely, before nerve cell improvement begins alleviating depression symptoms. You should begin to feel better a few weeks after you begin exercising. But this is a long-term treatment, not a onetime fix. “Pick something you can sustain over time,” advises Dr. Miller. “The key is to make it something you like and something that you’ll want to keep doing.”
Scientists at Newcastle University have shown that physical activity causes the cancer-fighting protein, interleukin-6 (IL-6), to be released into the bloodstream which helps repair the DNA of damaged cells.
The findings, published in the International Journal of Cancer, sheds new light on the importance of moderate activity in the fight against the life-threatening illness and could help develop treatments in the future.
Dr Sam Orange, Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at Newcastle University, said: “Previous scientific evidence suggests that more exercise is better for reducing bowel cancer risk as the more physical activity people do, the lower their chances of getting it. Our findings support this idea.
“When exercise is repeated multiple times each week over an extended period, cancer-fighting substances – such as IL-6 – released into the bloodstream have the opportunity to interact with abnormal cells, repairing their DNA and reducing growth into cancer.”