Tag Archives: Exercise Benefits

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.

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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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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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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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Your brain needs physical exercise – Scientific American

I have written repeatedly about the brain benefits from physical exercise. Asregular readers know, I have a visceral interest in this having lost three family members to dementia. My mother suffered from dementia. Her sister died of Alzheimer’s Disease and my father’s father also was cognitively challenged. That goes back to the mid 1940’s when far less was understood about cognition in general.

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Scientific American illustration by Tami Tolpa

Now comes the latest issue of Scientific American with fresh insights into the brain/exercise situation:

People often consider walking and running to be activities that the body is able to perform on autopilot. But research carried out over the past decade by us and others would indicate that this folk wisdom is wrong. Instead exercise seems to be as much a cognitive activity as a physical one….

But simply exercising more may not realize the full potential of physical activity for keeping brain decline at bay. Indeed, our model suggests that even people who already get a lot of aerobic activity may want to rethink their routines. It is possible that we might not always exercise in ways that take full advantage of our evolved mechanisms for sustaining brain performance….

… we have developed a game designed to specifically challenge aspects of cognition that tend to decline with age and that are probably needed during foraging. In the game, players spatially navigate and complete attention and memory tasks while cycling at a moderate aerobic intensity level.

Tony

 

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Filed under aging brain, brain, brain function, exercise and brain health

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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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:

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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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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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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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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

Aging folks worried about dementia risk

Nearly half of Americans in their 50s and early 60s think they’re likely to develop dementia as they grow older, but only 5% of them have actually talked with a doctor about what they could do to reduce their risk, a new study finds. 

Meanwhile, a third or more say they’re trying to stave off dementia by taking supplements or doing crossword puzzles – despite the lack of proof that such tactics work. 

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The new findings suggest a need for better counseling for middle-aged Americans about the steps they can take to keep their brains healthy as they age.

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies continue to work on potential dementia-preventing medications. But an over-estimation of future dementia risk by individuals may lead to costly over-use of such products, the researchers warn.

The new results appear in a research letter in the new edition of JAMA Neurology, and a presentation at the Gerontological Society of America’s annual meeting.

Both are by members of a team from the University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation who analyzed data from a nationally representative poll of 1,019 adults between the ages of 50 and 64.

Donovan Maust, M.D., M.S., a geriatric psychiatrist specializing in dementia-related care and lead author of the JAMA Neurology letter, notes that even among the oldest Americans, the risk of dementia is lower than one in three people over age 85.

Risk starts rising around age 65, and is higher among people of Latino or African-American heritage. Continue reading

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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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Dominant Leg Has More Power during Exercise than Non-dominant Leg – Study

A new study confirms important differences in dominant- versus non-dominant-leg oxygen usage and power output during single-leg exercise. The study is published ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology—Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.

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Single-leg exercise, such as cycling, may be a component of scientific studies that examine exercise capacity and other physiological changes that take place in the muscles during physical activity. Single-leg cycling may also play a role in physical, cardiac or respiratory rehabilitation in people who are recovering from injuries. In addition, “single-leg training might be a very useful tool in patients with conditions that prevent them from exercising at higher intensities during whole-body exercise, but who can still benefit from strong signals for adaptation within the active muscles,” explained corresponding author Juan Murias, PhD, of the University of Calgary in Canada. Continue reading

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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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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.

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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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Exercise May Lower Cancer Risk, Improve Outcomes – NIH

Eat less; move more; live longer. Where have I heard that before? Nice to see the National Institutes of Health adding this aspect of positive results from exercise.

Exercise can work wonders for your health, including strengthening muscles and bones, and boosting metabolism, mood, and memory skills. Now comes word that staying active may also help to lower your odds of developing cancer.

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After reviewing the scientific evidence, a panel of experts recently concluded that physical activity is associated with reduced risks for seven common types of cancer: colon, breast, kidney, endometrial, bladder, stomach, and esophageal adenocarcinoma. What’s more, the experts found that exercise—both before and after a cancer diagnosis—was linked to improved survival among people with breast, colorectal, or prostate cancers. Continue reading

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