Category Archives: Exercise

High body fat, not BMI, linked with higher death rate, study finds

~ From the Annals of Internal Medicine

Many health experts will tell you that being skinny is not necessarily healthy. Lending support to that argument, a new study finds that the thinnest people, similar to those who have the most body fat, have higher rates of death.

Unlike many previous studies, the researchers did not rely on BMI — which is a measure of weight that includes both fat and muscle — as a proxy for fat.

A small subset of the individuals in the study had both excess fat and low BMI because of inadequate muscle. “That’s a double whammy in terms of adverse effects on health,” Leslie said.

Overall the study found that the best survival was among individuals who had a BMI that put them in the overweight category and who were middle of the road in terms of total body fat.

The finding agrees with the so-called obesity paradox, said Dr. Carl Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at the John Ochsner Heart & Vascular Institute in New Orleans, who was not involved in the research. The paradox, which has been described by previous studies, is that middle-aged and older adults who are overweight or even moderately obese have lower death rates than those in the normal weight range.

According to the study, the battle of the bulge is not the only war that should be waged. While doctors should still advise patients who have a very high BMI and high body fat to lose weight, they may also want to stress to underweight (“undermuscled”) patients the importance of maintaining fitness, Lavie said.

Getting regular exercise could also be important for individuals like the ones in the current study who are at risk of osteoporosis.

The study involved primarily white adults in Canada. It is possible that the relationship between BMI, body fat and mortality could be different in other populations, such as black and Hispanic people, although Lavie suspects that the same trends would exist.

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Love Your Heart – Get Active

 The American Heart Association as well as the CDC and the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines all agree that getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise is a good way to keep your heart happy and healthy.  If you break it down, that’s less than 30 minutes a day!  (Note: if you’re just starting an exercise program or are pressed for time, research has shown that 3-10 minute exercise workout can have the same benefit on your health as one 30 minute session.  So… No excuses!)

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While 150 minutes of exercise per week may be adequate for heart health, further research has shown that at least 275 minutes per week is best for weight loss.  Here are some examples of moderate versus vigorous activity.

Moderate:

  • walking at a moderate or brisk pace of 3 to 4.5 mph on a level surface inside or outside such as:
    • walking to class, work or the store
    • walking for pleasure
    • walking the dog, walking as a break from work
  • bicycling 5 to 9 mph
  • yoga
  • ballroom or lying dancing
  • playing Frisbee
  • recreational swimming
  • canoeing or rafting or kayaking <4 mph
  • fishing while walking along the riverbank
  • playing on school playground equipment
  • light gardening and yardwork

Examples of Vigorous Activity

  • race walking and aerobic walking greater than 5 mph
  • jogging or running
  • backpacking uphill/mountain climbing/rockclimbing
  • bicycling more than 10 mph or bicycling on steep uphill terrain
  • high impact aerobic dancing
  • calisthenics (push-ups, pull ups, jumping rope) single tenant’s
  • most competitive sports (basketball, football, soccer, kickball) racquetball or squash
  • ice skating or speedskating/playing ice hockey
  • steady paced lapse
  • canoeing or rolling or kayaking 5 or more miles per hour gardening or yardwork that includes heavy or rabid shuffling
  • digging ditches
  • felling trees or pushing a nonmotorized lawnmower

There are lots of choices for you to get out get up and get active!  So, as Nike would say, just do it! 

Active body, active mind

The secret to a younger brain may lie in exercising your body

It is widely recognized that our physical fitness is reflected in our mental fitness, especially as we get older. How does being physically fit affect our aging brains? Neuroimaging studies, in which the activity of different parts of the brain can be visualized, have provided some clues. Until now, however, no study has directly linked brain activation with both mental and physical performance.

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As reported in the latest volume of the journal NeuroImage, an exciting new study led by Dr Hideaki Soya from the University of Tsukuba in Japan and his colleagues show, for the first time, the direct relationship between brain activity, brain function and physical fitness in a group of older Japanese men. They found that the fitter men performed better mentally than the less fit men, by using parts of their brains in the same way as in their youth.

As we age, we use different parts of our brain compared to our younger selves. For example, when young, we mainly use the left side of our prefrontal cortex (PFC) for mental tasks involving short term memory, understanding the meaning of words and the ability to recognize previously encountered events, objects, or people. When older, we tend to use the equivalent parts of our PFC on the right side of the brain for these tasks. The PFC is located in the very front of the brain, just behind the forehead. It has roles in executive function, memory, intelligence, language and vision.

If you are an aging woman, you will be wondering if these results can be applied to your female brain. Both aging sexes might also wonder whether increasing aerobic fitness later in life can increase mental fitness. The results aren’t in, but I’m heading off for a brisk walk just in case.


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Tsukuba. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kazuki Hyodo, Ippeita Dan, Yasushi Kyutoku, Kazuya Suwabe, Kyeongho Byun, Genta Ochi, Morimasa Kato, Hideaki Soya. The association between aerobic fitness and cognitive function in older men mediated by frontal lateralization. NeuroImage, 2015; DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.09.062

Less than 3%

There are really only a few basic habits we know should help keep people healthy: eating well, exercising, avoiding smoking, and keeping body fat in check.

Turns out a shockingly tiny number — just 2.7 percent — of Americans actually manage all four habits, according to a new study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

The research, led by Paul Loprinzi of the University of Mississippi, used data about the lifestyles of nearly 5,000 US adults from the 2003 to 2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. (That’s the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s biggest national health survey.)

The researchers zeroed in on information about exercise (whether people got 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity weekly based on accelerometer data) and smoking status (measured by blood levels of cotinine, a biomarker for tobacco exposure). As for eating habits, the researchers looked at self-reported 24-hour recall data about diet and used the Healthy Eating Index score (an indicator of diet quality that takes into account how many fruits and vegetables people eat, as well as meat, beans, oil, saturated fat, alcohol, and sodium). To evaluate physical fitness, they also looked at body fat percentage.

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The researchers also looked at how these behaviors corresponded with biomarkers related to chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, including cholesterol and fasting glucose.

The findings were stark.

Only about 38 percent of Americans surveyed had a healthy diet, just 10 percent had a normal body fat level, and fewer than half (47 percent) were sufficiently active. On the upside: 70 percent of adults reported themselves as nonsmokers. But overall, fewer than 3 percent of Americans managed all four healthy lifestyle behaviors. Eleven percent had none.

Generally, the researchers also found, people who had three or four of these behaviors had better biomarker measures compared with those who managed none.

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This new research should be a reminder of how difficult behavior change is, and how addressing society’s obesity challenge is going to take more than simply telling people to eat better and exercise more.

From VOX, read post here

Good Posture: A Stance for Better Health

Healthy posture is important for your well-being, but achieving it can be an uphill battle in a high-tech, high-heeled world, experts say.

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“People who have better posture tend to appear more confident and knowledgeable to others. It makes them feel confident internally as well,” said Alynn Kakuk, a physical therapist at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program in Rochester, Minn.

Simple exercises and stretching can help your posture, she said.

One way to practice healthy posture is to stand with your upper back, shoulders and bottom touching the wall, with your feet a couple of inches away from the wall, she said in a Mayo news release.

There should be a slight space between your lower back and the wall, just large enough to fit your hands. Then, step away from the wall and try to see if you can maintain that posture.

It’s also important to remember that strengthening your muscles will make it easier for you to maintain that healthy posture, Kakuk noted.

Frequent use of cellphones and keyboards can sabotage posture and place stress on the upper back and neck, leading to rounded shoulders and a lowered head. Try to keep your cellphone at eye level so that you’re not bending forward, she suggested. Also, do exercises that strengthen your upper back and shoulders, such as chest exercises that strengthen your pectoral muscles and diaphragm-centered breathing techniques that release tension, she added.

Kakuk said maintaining good posture can help you walk, sit, stand and lie in positions that cause the least stress on your muscles and ligaments.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, September 2015

Click here for a handout: Good posture and spinal rolls

NATIONAL FAMILY HEALTH & FITNESS DAY USA – Last Saturday in September

National Family Health & Fitness Day USA is a national health and fitness event that is for families with the purpose to promote family involvement in physical activity.

For complete information regarding National Family Health & Fitness Day USA, see:

http://www.fitnessday.com/family/

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Scientists say they already know how to reduce cancer deaths by half

Scientists say they already know how to reduce cancer deaths by half

No treatment required.

In fact, it wouldn’t take any drugs at all. All we need to do is get people to follow the recommendations that doctors have been making for decades: don’t smoke, drink moderately, maintain a healthy weight, and exercise regularly.

At least, that’s the message from a new study that looked at the lifestyles of more than 100,000 doctors and nurses in the US.

This study made it clear right up front – lifestyle alone is never going to stop all cancers. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, the disease strikes totally at random, and it can happen to even the healthiest of people.

But the new study serves as a reminder that while we often focus all our money and effort on new treatments, there are already proven ways to reduce people’s risk of developing cancer.

“Even while we’re making new discoveries, that shouldn’t stop us from acting on the knowledge we already do have.”

So is the prevention issue really that cut and dry?

While the occasional study might find something random, the reality is that the vast majority of research is on the same page when it comes to risk factors for cancer – cigarettes, too much alcohol, obesity, and a lack of exercise are all bad.

Fitness and diet infographic

Fitness and diet infographic

(And that’s not to mention sun exposure, because this specific study only looked at carcinoma – which are most cancers except brain and skin cancers.)

To figure out just how much of a risk living an ‘unhealthy’ lifestyle really is, Mingyang Song and Edward Giovannucci from Massachusetts General Hospital looked at data on taken from a range of long-term studies on doctors and nurses in the US.

After looking at cancer rates, they found that up to 80 percent of lung cancer could be put down to lifestyle, as well as more than one-fifth of colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and kidney cancer cases.

When they applied those rates to the rest of the US population, they found that between 41 and 63 percent of cancer cases could be preventable, as well as 59 to 67 percent of cancer deaths.

That’s a pretty huge if you consider the fact that despite countless promising new treatments, we’re still no closer to a ‘cure’ for cancer – the more we learn about the disease, the more complex we realise it is.

“These findings reinforce the predominant importance of lifestyle factors in determining cancer risk,” the researchers write in JAMA Oncology. “Therefore, primary prevention should remain a priority for cancer control.”

From Science Alert.  Click here for full article.