Even Minimal Physical Activity Can Thwart Disease

You’ve likely heard the importance of being active and exercising to promote overall physical health. The state of the body is directly connected to a few things, one of which being how active the body is. A recent study, conducted on over 60,000 adult participants showed that even minimal physical activities make a huge difference for the body. Physical activity thwarts the likelihood of issues like cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Physical Activity Study

The primary reason for the study was to see if less frequent instances of activity could still make a difference. In the cases of many individuals, sometimes adhering to a strict and habitual schedule can be difficult for those who lead a busy life. Sometimes incorporating workouts can be time consuming and simply not feasible depending on the person. It was discovered that despite former claims of almost excessive exercise, that physical activity only once or twice a week also makes a huge difference in a person’s health. “Just one or two occasions of physical activity per week is associated with a lower risk of death,” senior author, Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis, explained.

The study does also go on to say that exceeding the minimum recommendation can also be helpful to both the cardiovascular system as well as the nervous system. The World Health Organization recommends adults get at least 150 minutes per week of some type of moderately difficult physical activity. The other option, in lieu of that recommendation, is at least 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity. The best option really depends on the type of time you can allot for your own physical fitness, but making it a bit of a priority is definitely the way to go. If you don’t have your health, you have very little.

Weekend Warriors

There is a term for those who get only one to two days of physical activity. “Weekend warriors” are what they are dubbed because this is where the predominance of their free time is. During the week they typically don’t have enough time to devote to getting exercise. Those with incredibly busy lifestyles sometimes struggle to get in the amount of physical activity they think they need. This leaves time on the weekends where they can maybe take an aerobics class, go for a bike ride or try a new hiking trail they’ve been hearing about.

Various studies are still trying to figure out what the overall best weekly dose of physical exercise coupled with frequency is. This can be specific depending on the person, their health status, previous health issues, genetics and so on. Real overt vigorous exercise can’t be tolerated well by certain people. This is why the more gentle types of physical activity are generally better for various reasons. They are less likely to result in injury and more likely to be easily incorporated into life at a semi-consistent rate. When a person doesn’t feel personally pressured to work out every single day, on the days where they do, they’ll feel better, give their all and generally perform better in the long run. It’s good to ease yourself into a physical activity, especially if you have a pre-existing health condition or are older. Make sure to consult your doctor.

Don’t feel like you must push your body to the edge in order to improve your health and ward off disease.

The Link Between Exercise And Brain Cell Function

Researcexercise brain cell functionhers with the National Institute on Aging Intramural Research Program and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have discovered an enzyme that may protect mice brains against stresses believed to contribute to energy loss. This protective enzyme, called SIRT3, is located in the cell’s mitochondria. It is believed that as we age – or develop neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s – the brain cells may not produce sufficient energy to remain fully functional.

Using a new animal model, the researchers took a look at whether they could aid neurons in resisting energy-depleting stress caused by neurotoxins and other factors.

The Findings

The findings suggest that bolstering mitochondrial function and stress resistance by increasing SIRT3 levels may offer a promising therapeutic target for protecting against age-related cognitive decline and brain diseases.

They discovered that neurons could be protected against stress through use of a gene therapy technology to increase levels of SIRT3 in neurons.

Mice that ran on a wheel increased their levels of SIRT3. Specifically, running wheel exercise increased the amount of SIRT3 in neurons of normal mice and protected them against degeneration. As for the mice lacking the enzyme, the running failed to protect the neurons. The mice models that didn’t produce SIRT3 became highly sensitive to stress when exposed to neurotoxins that cause neurodegeneration and epileptic seizures.

 

HEALTH STUDY: Can Exercise Really Lengthen Your Life Expectancy?

A new study – reported by Doctors Health Press – shows just how many years of life a person can gain by being physically active. It also provides more conclusive evidence on how physical fitness can extend a person’s life expectancy.

The study – conducted by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the National Cancer Center – was applied to various exercise levels among people of all ages and body sizes. It comprised more than 650,000 people who were followed for an average of 10 years – there were 82,000 deaths during that time. The type of exercise used in the study was called leisure-time physical activity – meant to be anywhere from moderate to vigorous physical activity for the direct reason of improving fitness levels.

The Findings

The study revealed:

• If a person over 40 adds a “low” amount of exercise – such as 75 minutes of brisk walking each week – they will gain 1.8 years of life compared to being inactive. This is the minimum level and any exercise performed above this will help people live even longer. If brisk walking is increased to at least 450 minutes per week, the gain will be 4.5 years. Similar patterns were consistent with people of average weight, people who are overweight, and people who are obese.

• Participating in a low level of leisure-time physical activity of moderate to vigorous intensity was linked with a 19 percent reduced risk of death. This translates into nearly two years extra life. For those who did about 150 minutes of brisk walking per week, the gain in life expectancy was about 3.5 years. These benefits were seen in both men and women.

• For people who are above normal weight, exercising at 150 minutes per week was linked to 7.2 years of extra life.

Click here to read the study

For more information visit Doctors Health Press

 

Can Light Exposure Cause Weight Gain? Some Say…Maybe?

The road to weight loss is a long, winding, and often rocky road for most people. You follow all the right plans, dieting and exercising, but still unable to lose weight and in some cases even gaining. Until recently there weren’t many other factors to consider other than caloric intake, exercise, and metabolism. A recent study performed at The Ohio State University, and published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences seeks to suggest a factor that you might never expect: night time light exposure.

 

A lab test involving mice that were exposed to dim light at night over roughly 60 days gained 50% more body mass than ones who were subjected to a normal cycle of light and dark. They were fed the same amount of food, and shared the same levels of activity, and yet the group with the night time lighting appeared to get fatter. The lighting seemed to have the most effect in that even though they didn’t eat any more food than the other group; they were eating at times when they normally wouldn’t. In fact, as a control they were scheduled a precise feeding time instead of having food to eat whenever they were hungry. When this was the case, they did not gain more weight.

 

Now, the idea of lighting having an effect on weight gain may very well sound preposterous at first. However, after looking closer at the science of metabolism it makes a little more sense. The researchers believe that these dim levels of light have an effect on melatonin, a hormone that has important function in metabolism. They also believe that being exposed to light at night can disrupt genes that control when animals are active and when they eat.

 

Things that contribute to light exposure at night like TV and computer use have long been theorized to play a part in weight gain and obesity; however they are now being scrutinized from a different perspective. Before, the lack of physical activity that resulted from prolonged hours of TV watching and computer use at night was viewed as the main risk for obesity. With this new research it may be possible that the light exposure and opportunity for eating at the wrong times to properly metabolize the food could be as much or more to blame.

 

This data can’t be misconstrued as “just turn off the lights and you’ll lose weight”, but it can help some of the people who do everything else they’re supposed to and still struggle.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Volume I: Breast Cancer Prevention

Stay lean
One of the most important ways to lower breast cancer risk is to avoid gaining weight. If you’re already overweight, trimming down before age 45 will lower the chance of developing breast cancer post menopause. Exercise can help to lower the levels of hormones which are related to breast cancer. Studies involving more than 100,000 women showed that those who exercised regularly were at less risk for breast cancer.

 

Moderation
Even though the correlation between diet and breast cancer prevention has been inconclusive, there has been a lot of hard evidence relating it to alcohol consumption. There has been much information about the positive benefits of moderate alcohol intake and heart disease- which kills far more women than breast cancer. However, if you are have other risk factors for breast cancer or a family history of it you may want to avoid it altogether.

 

Forget supplements
Soy foods are very common in eastern countries like China and Japan, and those countries also have some of the lowest breast cancer rates in the entire world. Soy foods like tofu have been shown to slightly lower risk for breast cancer, but soy supplements can have the exact opposite reaction. There are agents present in these supplements that can act like estrogen in the body, and cause cell changes that increase risk for cancer.

 

Fruits and Veggies
There hasn’t been much solid evidence linking diet to cancer risk, but there are facts that support the fact that maintaining a healthy weight (which can be achieved by eating a diet that is lower in calories) can. Studies from UC San Diego reveal that women who eat at least 5 servings of vegetables or fruits daily have cut their risk of breast cancer related death by half.

 

Natural Ways To Save Our Sight

A vision care diet
The most common eye diseases share a common link- oxidation, chemical process in which free radicals damage cells in the body, in this case, the eyes. A natural by-product of metabolism, these oxygen-based molecules are also produced in large amounts by smoking, air pollution, and excessive sunlight. A few of the best antioxidants to help protect your sight are vitamin A, zinc, lutein, and fish oil (which are high in omega 3 fatty acids).

Water and exercise
Drinking a lot of fluids improves the transport of antioxidant nutrients to the eyes, so drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to lubricate them. Regular exercise is also good for eye health, especially in helping to prevent glaucoma. It boosts circulation throughout the entire body and can reduce pressure in the eye as well.

Sunglasses
Most people wear sunglasses for comfort, but there’s a more important reason: the sun’s ultraviolet radiation greatly increases oxidation in eye tissues. Excessive sun exposure is a leading cause of cataracts and macular degeneration. Make sure that your sunglasses block 100% of both UVA and UVB radiation, and styles that wrap around the face are best as they block most of the sunlight that would otherwise hit your eyes.

Relax
Our eyes get virtually no rest other than when we’re sleeping. An easy way to soothe and relax your eyes is to rub your palms together until they’re warm, and place them gently over your closed eyes with the fingers of each hand overlapping and resting in the center of the forehead for a few minutes. Do this at least once a day.

 

Add Healthy Years To Your Life

Learn a word a day
Pick out a word from the newspaper or dictionary every day. Put it on an index card and quiz yourself occasionally. It may not sound like much, but this type of exercise keeps your brain sharp. The brain continues to regenerate nerve cells throughout your entire life, and this process called neurogenesis helps older adults to improve memory and cognitive function as they age. If learning a new word doesn’t appeal to you, try something challenging that’s more your style like reading history books or learning chess. People who have stayed true to this daily learning have been able to recover as much as 20 years of memory power.

Reconnect
Over the last 10 years countless studies have been published showing that people in happy marriages have healthier and longer lives. Some even showed decline in things like heart disease and cholesterol based upon their relationship status. Emotional connections don’t just appear, they require work to maintain. Take the time out to reestablish some of these relationships that you’ve lost. It can be as simple as writing an email or picking up the phone, and it can add years to your life.

Climb the stairs
In a study of 5,000 people over age 70, all participants had some sort of physical limitation, but the ones who got even minimal exercise were 55% less likely to develop more serious physical issues like severe joint pain or muscle weakness. Minimal exercise in this instance was defined as the equivalent of walking a mile in a week, so even the little movements can add up to a great preventative degree.

Stop and smell the flowers
60% of all doctor visits are for stress related issues. Take some time out to remember that the world doesn’t have to be rushed through. For some people it’s as simple as a few minutes of contact with the natural world, even 5 minutes of watching birds at the feeder can have a restorative effect. Nature has a way of restoring our equilibrium, so take a deep breath and relax.

 

Stay Awake At Work…Naturally

Take A Breather
Deep breaths raise your body’s blood oxygen levels, which can help increase your energy and alertness by lowering blood pressure and slowing your heart rate. The idea is to breathe deeply into your belly, not your chest. While sitting upright, inhale slowly through your nose and feel your abdomen push out, then exhale slowly through your mouth. Alternatively, a method used for quick energy in yoga calls for quick inhaling and exhaling through your nose while your mouth is closed. It is recommended to take 3 of these rapid breaths within a second, and repeat up to 15 seconds.

Move Around
If you have an office job like so many Americans, try getting a little exercise either on your lunch hour or if you get a shorter break throughout the day. A study from California State University, Long Beach suggested that the participants had a longer time of increased energy after taking a 10 minute walk than they did if they ate a candy bar or other sugary quick fix. The reason that a little brisk exercise works better than a store bought solution is that walking pumps oxygen through your veins and muscles.

Drink More Water
Your brain is made of 83% water, so it just makes sense that if you’re dehydrated it’s not going to function as well as it could or should. Fatigue isn’t the only symptom of dehydration of course, it can also cause depression, confusion, aggravation, constipation, and headaches. Make sure you drink plenty of water, or eat foods that have high water content like fruits and vegetables. Excess caffeine can cause dehydration, so be sure to balance it carefully.

The Dangers of Sitting

Between driving, watching TV, and working at desks, Americans spend half their waking hours sitting down. The problem with this is that our bodies are designed to move, and when we spend so much time sitting our health suffers in many ways.

Sitting causes the central nervous system to slow down, which can lead to fatigue. One study suggested that fatigue could be reduced by up to 65% within 6 weeks by adding low intensity exercise like walking three times a week. Sitting can also weaken the muscles that support posture and are used to walk. This can stiffen joints, and lead to hunched posture and increase the risk for back and joint pain. Sitting for a few hours can cause enzymes in your body that break down fats in your bloodstream to start switching off. Prolonged sitting can cut their activity by up to 50%.

It’s no secret that the biggest traps at home are the TV and computer, so a little careful planning can add some activity to those non-active pastimes. Try placing exercise equipment like a treadmill or stationary bike near your TV and use it for at least a half hour a day. Some people choose to put their computers on an elevated shelf or stand so that they can stand while using it. Video games are just as sedentary activity as watching TV in most cases, but there are options like some of the games on the Nintendo Wii that allow you to mimic motions in sports such as tennis or baseball. While certainly not a replacement for a workout, but still much better than the alternative.

At the office, try standing up when you answer the phone, or scheduling “walking meetings” when there aren’t a lot of notes to be taken. Another good practice is the 10 minute rule, which is to get up and stretch or walk around for 10 minutes out of every hour. Try parking your car farther away from the office, and take the stairs instead of the elevator when/if you can.

 

When To Stop Exercising

Sudden Dizziness or Chest Pain
Either of these scenarios could signal a serious cardiovascular problem stemming from lack of blood being pumped to your heart or brain. If you experience these symptoms, you should stop exercising immediately and if they don’t subside then you should seriously consider visiting the ER. Sometimes symptoms like chest pains or shortness of breath can be caused by sudden pains or muscle cramps, so be sure to have your doctor evaluate you to be sure.

Chills, Headache, or Blurred Vision
If you experience any of these symptoms while exercising in hot weather or inside a hot building, stop immediately. These symptoms could be a sign of heat stroke, which is potentially fatal. If you don’t feel better right after stopping, your body temperature could be so high that it needs to be cooled right away to prevent possible brain damage.

Feeling the “Burn”
In order for muscles to gain strength and endurance your body breaks down carbohydrates into lactic acid. This makes your muscles acidic and causes the burning sensation. The longer you’re in the burning zone, the longer it will take for your muscles to recuperate for your next workout. When you start to feel the burning, slow your pace and exercise at a low intensity until it subsides.

Pain or Tenderness That Doesn’t Subside
Overuse injuries to bones, tendons, and ligaments are often preceded by localized soreness on one side of the body. This soreness will generally get worse with continued exercise, so stop immediately if you feel this sort of pain. This is different than delayed onset muscle soreness which will typically occur 8-24 hours after intense exercise. This will usually take a few days to completely subside, so exercise at a lighter intensity until you’re fully recovered.

 

Improve Your Odds Against Heart Disease

Manage stress
If stress isn’t properly controlled or managed, it can lead to further physiological damage like high blood pressure. This, in turn, will greatly exacerbate your chances of heart attack or stroke. Try starting with simple relaxation techniques like controlled breathing and meditation. Focus on each breath entering and exiting your lungs, and imagine your stress leaving you every time you exhale.

Exercise
It’s becoming ever more obvious that most of us aren’t getting the proper amount of exercise, especially this time of year. With the busy schedules that most of us carry, it doesn’t often allow for that extra hour to hit the gym. Studies have shown that even moderate amounts of aerobic, physical activity can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Try incorporating things into your regular day that can help, like taking the stairs for example.

Quit smoking
Studies show that smokers have more than double the risk of heart disease than non smokers. It’s easier said than done, but if you smoke, quit. There are many aids available to help you along the way, and while they still contain nicotine, they are much safer than the alternative. These range from patches and gums, to prescription medications, and even newer ideas like electronic cigarettes.

Oral health
It’s estimated that 35% of American adults suffer from some form of gum disease or periodontal disease. You might think it an uncommon link, but recent studies have shown otherwise. One theory is that damaged tissues in the mouth like gum pockets (areas where the gums have pulled away from the teeth) can allow harmful bacteria to enter the blood stream where they can begin to form plaque in the arteries.

 

Natural Treatment And Prevention For Migraines And Chronic Headaches

70 percent of Americans are deficient in magnesium, and only 30 to 40 percent of people get at least 75 percent of the daily recommended value of it, which is 400 milligrams. In relation to headaches and migraines, magnesium effects the production of pain managing chemicals in the brain like serotonin. It also helps to open blood vessels in the brain, thereby improving circulation and reducing tension. Dr. Burton Altura, professor of physiology and medicine at the State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn stated that 50 to 60 percent of his migraine patients were deficient in magnesium, but once they began treatment of the proper daily amounts they often experienced immediate relief.

 

Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, and boosts production of the feel-good hormones called endorphins, which in turn help to fight migraines. Physical activity will also help to release and relieve muscle tension that adds to stress related headaches. A study of over 43,000 Swedish people showed that both men and women alike were less likely to experience migraines or recurring headaches if they got 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise 5 times a week.

 

In some cases you can prevent a migraine from coming to fruition by performing simple acupressure treatments on yourself when you feel their symptoms begin to materialize. Use your right thumb on the webbing at the base of your left thumb and index finger, and your right index finger on the palm side. Apply pressure and massage/squeeze the area with short, circular motions for a couple of minutes. Repeat the same action on the right.