New Study: Six Years Of Exercise May Be Enough To Change Heart Failure Risk

By analyzing reported physical activity levels over time in more than 11,000 American adults, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers conclude that increasing physical activity to recommended levels over as few as six years in middle age is associated with a significantly decreased risk of heart failure. This condition affects an estimated five million to six million Americans. The same analysis found that as little as six years without physical activity in middle age was linked to an increased risk of the disorder.

Unlike heart attack, in which heart muscle dies, heart failure is marked by a long-term, chronic inability of the heart to pump enough blood, or pump it hard enough, to bring needed oxygen to the body. The leading cause of hospitalizations in those over 65, the disorder’s risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and a family history.

“In everyday terms our findings suggest that consistently participating in the recommended 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each week, such as brisk walking or biking, in middle age may be enough to reduce your heart failure risk by 31 percent,” says Chiadi Ndumele, M.D., M.H.S., the Robert E. Meyerhoff Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and the senior author of a report on the study. “Additionally, going from no exercise to recommended activity levels over six years in middle age may reduce heart failure risk by 23 percent.”

The researchers caution that their study, described in the journal Circulation, was observational, meaning the results can’t and don’t show a direct cause-and-effect link between exercise and heart failure. They say the trends observed in data gathered on middle-aged adults suggest that it may never be too late to reduce the risk of heart failure with moderate exercise.

Strategies For Prevention

“The population of people with heart failure is growing because people are living longer and surviving heart attacks and other forms of heart disease,” says Roberta Florido, M.D., cardiology fellow at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease. “Unlike other heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, we don’t have specifically effective drugs to prevent heart failure, so we need to identify and verify effective strategies for prevention and emphasize these to the public.” There are drugs used to treat heart failure, such as beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, but they are essentially “secondary” prevention drugs, working to reduce the heart’s workload after dysfunction is already there.

Several studies suggest that in general people who are more physically active have lower risks of heart failure than those who are less active, but little was known about the impact of changes in exercise levels over time on heart failure risk. For example, if you are sedentary most of your life but then start exercising in middle age, does that decrease your risk of heart failure? Or, if you are active much of your life but then stop being active at middle age, will that increase your risk?

To address those questions, the researchers used data already gathered from 11,351 participants in the federally-funded, long-term Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, recruited from 1987 to 1989 in Forsyth County, North Carolina; Jackson, Mississippi; greater Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Washington County, Maryland. The participants’ average age was 60. Fifty-seven percent were women and most were either white or African-American. Participants were monitored annually for an average of 19 years for cardiovascular disease events such as heart attack, stroke and heart failure using telephone interviews, hospital records and death certificates. Over the course of the study there were 1,693 hospitalizations and 57 deaths due to heart failure.

In addition to those measures, at the first and third ARIC study visits – six years apart – each participant filled out a questionnaire, which asked them to evaluate their physical activity levels, which were then categorized as poor, intermediate or “recommended,” in alignment with guidelines issued by the American Heart Association. The “recommended” amount is at least 75 minutes per week of vigorous intensity or at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise. One to 74 minutes per week of vigorous intensity or one to 149 minutes per week of moderate exercise per week counted as intermediate level activity. And physical activity qualified as “poor” if there was no exercise at all.

After the third visit, 42 percent of participants – 4,733 people – said they performed recommended levels of exercise; 23 percent – 2,594 people – said they performed intermediate levels; and 35 percent – 4,024 people – said they had poor levels of activity. From the first to the third visit over about six years, 24 percent of participants increased their physical activity, 22 percent decreased it and 54 percent stayed in the same category. Those with recommended activity levels at both the first and third visits showed the highest associated heart failure risk decrease – at 31 percent – compared with those with consistently poor activity levels.

Reducing Heart Failure Risk

Heart failure risk decreased by about 12 percent in the 2,702 participants who increased their physical activity category from poor to intermediate or recommended, or from intermediate to recommended, compared with those with consistently poor or intermediate activity ratings. Conversely, heart failure risk increased by 18 percent in the 2,530 participants who reported decreased physical activity from visit one to visit three, compared with those with consistently recommended or intermediate activity levels.

The researchers determined how much of an increase in exercise, among those initially doing no exercise, was needed to reduce the risk of future heart failure. Exercise was calculated as METs (metabolic equivalents), where one MET is 1 kilocalorie per kilogram per hour. Essentially, sitting watching television is 1 MET, fast walking is 3 METs, jogging is 7 METs and jumping rope is 10 METs. The researchers calculated outcomes in METs times the number of minutes of exercise. The researchers found that each 750 MET minutes per week increase in exercise over six years reduced heart failure risk by 16 percent. And each 1,000 MET minutes per week increase in exercise was linked to a reduction in heart failure risk by 21 percent.

Benefits Of Physical Activity Vs. Impact Of Obesity

The benefits of physical activity may outweigh the impact of overweight and obesity on cardiovascular disease in middle-aged and elderly people, according to research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. The observational study was conducted in more than 5,000 people aged 55 years and older who were followed-up for 15 years. “Obesity is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and it is recommended to lose weight,” said author Dr. Klodian Dhana, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. “But in the elderly this is slightly different because weight loss, especially unintentional, is associated with muscle loss and death. Physical activity is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease regardless of age. We investigated the combined impact of body mass index (BMI) and physical activity on cardiovascular disease in the middle age to elderly population.”

The study included 5,344 individuals aged 55 to 97 years of age  – average 70 years – who participated in the Rotterdam Study and were free of cardiovascular disease at baseline. Information about BMI, physical activity, smoking, alcohol use, diet, education, and family history of premature heart attack was collected during the enrollment period from 1997 to 2001. Participants were categorized by BMI: normal weight, overweight, and obese; and physical activity, which was below and above the median in the study population. The group was followed from 1997 to 2012 for cardiovascular events – heart attack and stroke.

During the 15-year follow-up, 16% of participants had a cardiovascular event. When analyzed alone, physical activity was associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease regardless of BMI category. There was no association between BMI alone and cardiovascular disease. “In the overall population we found that physical activity was protective for cardiovascular risk,” Dhana said. “Overweight and obese participants were not at increased cardiovascular risk compared to those of normal weight. We do not refute the risk associated with obesity in the general population even though we did not find it in this older group. BMI may not be the best way to measure adiposity risk in the elderly.”

The Impact Of BMI

The researchers analyzed the joint effect of physical activity and BMI. Compared to normal weight people with high physical activity levels, overweight or obese individuals with high levels of physical activity were not at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but overweight or obese people with low levels of physical activity had 1.33 and 1.35 times higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease, respectively. “Our results show that physical activity plays a crucial role in the health of middle age to elderly people,” Dhana said. “Those who are overweight and obese without adequate physical activity are at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.”

Those overweight or obese exert harmful effects through adipose tissue which accelerates the atherosclerotic process and increases cardiovascular risk. Physical activity lowers the harmful effects of atherosclerosis by reducing the stabilization of plaques on blood vessels and reducing the heart’s oxygen demand. “People who engage in high levels of physical activity are protected from the harmful effects of adipose tissue on cardiovascular disease,” Dhana said. “This may be why we found that the beneficial impact of physical activity on cardiovascular disease outweighs the negative impact of BMI.”

The Rotterdam Study was an active population, with the “low” and “high” groups doing two and four hours of daily activity. This included biking, walking and housework. The important point was that the study compared the two groups and found that more activity was better for health. “Any physical activity is positive for cardiovascular health and in elderly people of all weights walking, biking and housework are good ways to keep moving,” Dhana added. “European guidelines recommend 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity physical activity to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Mindful Motivation To Move

A meditation and stress reduction program may be as effective at getting people to move more as structured exercise programs, according to a new study led by an Iowa State University researcher. The study compared two intervention programs – mindfulness-based stress reduction and aerobic exercise training – with a control group and measured changes in exercise, general physical activity and sedentary time. People assigned to the two interventions were more active than those in the control group, logging roughly an extra 75 minutes a week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity following the eight-week interventions. The results are published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Jacob Meyer, an ISU assistant professor of kinesiology, and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Mississippi Medical Center, say helping sedentary adults get those 75 minutes of exercise can extend life expectancy by nearly two years. Researchers expected the exercise intervention to increase physical activity more than the meditation training. Meyer says to see similar results from the mindfulness intervention was somewhat surprising. “Structured exercise training is something as a field we have used for decades to improve physical activity and physical health,” Meyer said. “To see a similar effect on physical activity from an intervention that focuses on the way someone thinks or perceives the world, was completely unexpected.”

The researchers used a mindfulness-based stress reduction program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, which aims to reduce stress through meditation, self-awareness and being present in the moment. People in the mindfulness intervention spent two-and-a-half hours a week in class learning how to be mindful. They practiced mindful stretching and movement as well as breathing exercises to incorporate into their daily activities. Similarly, those in the exercise group attended two-and-a-half hour weekly sessions learning various exercise techniques and discussing strategies to change behavior. An hour of each class was dedicated to a group activity such as walking or jogging. Both groups were encouraged to do the intervention at home for 20 to 45 minutes each day.

Shifting From Structured Exercise To Overall Movement

While the interventions did not significantly increase time spent exercising or decrease sedentary time, participants generally maintained activity levels. This is important given the timeframe for the study. Researchers collected data during the fall and early winter months as part of a larger study focused on the cold and flu season. Seasonal variation in weather likely contributed to the sharp decline in activity for the control group, but the intervention groups did not experience the same drop-off. The study focused on exercise in bouts that lasted at least 10 minutes, but also tracked general physical activity, such as walking from the parking lot to the office or working in the yard. Both intervention groups saw smaller drop-offs in general activity levels than the control group.

Researchers used the 10-minute threshold to be consistent with guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise weekly, in bouts of at least 10 minutes. However, the recommendations only focus on a small percentage – 1.5 percent – of minutes in the week. That is one reason why updated federal guidelines emphasize overall activity regardless of length of time. “There are clinical and cardiovascular health benefits to exercise training, but there are also important general health benefits from a more active lifestyle,” Meyer said. “Shifting from thinking we need to be in a gym for an hour at a time to thinking about being more active throughout the day helps people understand how physical activity could play a role in helping improve their health.”

Resistance Training And Depression

A primary focus of Meyer’s research examines the benefits of exercise for people with depression. As part of a separate study, Meyer worked with researchers at the University of Limerick in Ireland and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden to test the effects of resistance training on symptoms of depression. The results, published in JAMA Psychiatry, found weightlifting and muscle-strengthening exercises significantly reduced depressive symptoms.

The meta-analysis, led by Brett Gordon at the University of Limerick, included 33 randomized controlled trials with more than 1,800 participants. Resistance training reduced symptoms for adults regardless of health status, the volume of training and whether or not strength improved. The results appear similar to the benefits from aerobic exercise found in other studies. Depression affects more than 300 million people, according to the World Health Organization. Meyer says resistance training could provide a treatment option with benefits that extend beyond mental health. In the paper, researchers explain the economic costs as well as other health risks associated with depression. Resistance training also gives patients an alternative to medication.

“For general feelings of depression and the beginning phases of major depression, antidepressants and medications may not be very effective,” Meyer said. “There also is a shift toward finding options that do not require someone to start a drug regimen they may be on for the rest of their lives. Understanding that resistance training appears to have similar benefits to aerobic exercise may help those wading through daunting traditional medication treatment options.” Future research is needed to know if aerobic exercise and resistance training work through similar channels to reduce depressive symptoms or work independently.

Stairs For Stimulation

A midday jolt of caffeine isn’t as powerful as walking up and down some stairs, according to research from the University of Georgia. In a study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior, researchers in the UGA College of Education found that 10 minutes of walking up and down stairs at a regular pace was more likely to make participants feel energized than ingesting 50 milligrams of caffeine – about the equivalent to the amount in a can of soda.

“We found, in both the caffeine and the placebo conditions, that there was not much change in how they felt,” said Patrick J. O’Connor, a professor in the department of kinesiology who co-authored the study with former graduate student Derek Randolph. “But with exercise they did feel more energetic and vigorous. It was a temporary feeling, felt immediately after the exercise, but with the 50 milligrams of caffeine, we didn’t get as big an effect.”

The study aimed to simulate the hurdles faced in a typical office setting, where workers spend hours sitting and staring at computer screens and don’t have time for a longer bout of exercise during the day. For the study, participants on separate days either ingested capsules containing caffeine or a placebo, or spent 10 minutes walking up and down stairs – about 30 floors total – at a low-intensity pace. O’Connor wanted to compare an exercise that could be achieved by people in an office setting, where they have access to stairs and a little time to be active, but not enough time to change into workout gear, shower and change back into work clothes.

“Office workers can go outside and walk, but weather can be less than ideal. It has never rained on me while walking the stairs,” said O’Connor. “And a lot of people working in office buildings have access to stairs, so it’s an option to keep some fitness while taking a short break from work.” Study participants were female college students who described themselves as chronically sleep deprived – getting less than six-and-a-half hours per night. To test the effects of caffeine versus the exercise, each group took some verbal and computer-based tests to gauge how they felt and how well they performed certain cognitive tasks. Neither caffeine nor exercise caused large improvements in attention or memory, but stair walking was associated with a small increase in motivation for work.

There is still much research to be done on the specific benefits of exercising on the stairs, especially for just 10 minutes. But even a brief bout of stair walking can enhance feelings of energy without reducing cognitive function. “You may not have time to go for a swim, but you might have 10 minutes to walk up and down the stairs,” O’Connor added.

Standing May Save You From Sedentary Lifestyle

While it’s normal for many people to be stuck at their desks for hours upon hours during the day, this trend isn’t good for body composition or health. In fact, it has been shown that individuals who lead more sedentary lifestyles that aren’t physically active are more prone to being overweight and having other health risks.  A study that was conducted in Europe may have found a feasible and easy antidote to this problem. The study examined if the simple act of standing is conducive to weight loss and improved health.

The study first reviewed many prior studies with data points that took into consideration overall health, weight, amount of time standing and sitting as well as other factors. The average age of the participants was 33. Researchers found that standing burned 0.15 calories per minute more than sitting. By that math, standing for even a fraction of the day would lead to expending more calories per day. This is obviously assuming there is no additional calories being added to the person’s diet. Just three hours standing would account for nearly three pounds a year.

N.E. A. T.

“Overall, our study shows that, when you put all the available scientific evidence together, standing accounts for more calories burned than sitting,” says senior author Francisco Lopez-Jimenez. “Standing for long periods of time for many adults may seem unmanageable, especially those who have desk jobs, but for the person who sits for 12 hours a day, cutting sitting time to half would give great benefits. Standing is one of the components of N.E.A.T. (non-exercise activity thermogenesis), and the results of our study support this theory. The idea is to work into our daily routines some lower-impact activities that can improve our long-term health.”

This is excellent news because the difference between sitting and standing for most people that have desk jobs isn’t necessarily that difficult. Getting a standing desk or an insert that allows you to put your keyboard or laptop at waist height while you stand is incredibly simple to do. It’s not always possible to be away from your computer for long periods of the day but you can change how often you’re sitting throughout the day.

Constantly standing may take a bit of getting used to, especially if you’re used to sitting, but you can increase the amount gradually. Start on your feet for an hour, and then try two – slowly increasing the amount each week. Standing desks also help your posture and your alignment. Standing also forces your body to work harder than if you are just sitting, or worse, lying down.

Food Choices And Concerns

There are so many health concerns and risks associated with being overweight. Excess weight has been proven to be linked to conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. There is also something to be said for the choices people may make at desk jobs when it comes to food. There is often a preponderance of greasy, carb-laden foods and sweet treats in office settings. Combined with little caloric output, this is a tough combination on the body which can lead to packing on the pounds.

Exercise Is Imperative: An Anti-Inflammation Key?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for most of your life, you have likely heard of the importance of exercise and remaining as active as possible. This is because so many illnesses and ailments can be linked to things like obesity and stagnation. The body was designed to move and run and jump. When we live sedentary lifestyles without making it a point to get some exercise, our health can suffer. In a new study conducted by California State University of San Diego, it was found that just 20 minutes of moderate exercise can be a key factor in managing inflammation.

There is a cellular response that happens in the body when physical activity is performed. This has been shown to have tremendous benefits on things like the heart, bones, and muscles. In this specific study, it was found that after only one single session of exercise, inflammation markers can be decreased. This is good news for chronic conditions that result in high levels of inflammation such as obesity, fibromyaligia and arthritis.

A study that was recently seen in Brain, Behavior and Immunity, explained extensively the reason a mere 20-minute session of moderate exercise helps to promote the immune system, which in turn activates the anti-inflammatory cellular response.

Mental And Physical Health Benefits

When we think about this is a similar context, it makes perfect sense. As the saying goes, “A body at rest, stays at rest. A body in motion, stays in motion.” So each time we make concerted and conscious efforts to get our steps in or take a yoga class or go for a swim, we are doing tremendous aid to not only our mental health but our physical health as well. While some may see this information and take it at face value, it’s imperative that we can understand just how the process of exercise has this specific effect.

The brain and nervous system are obviously connected and directly impact blood pressure and heart rate. These two things are positively activated during exercise in order for the body to properly carry out the task at hand. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are hormones that trigger immune cells response after they are released into the blood stream. This immunological response is a key way that systemic inflammation is effectively regulated and lessened. Twenty minutes on the treadmill resulted in an over five percent decrease in the number of cells producing inflammatory entities.

One researcher notes: “Our study shows a workout session doesn’t actually have to be intense to have anti-inflammatory effects. Twenty minutes to half an hour of moderate exercise, including fast walking, appears to be sufficient. Feeling like a workout needs to be at a peak exertion level for a long duration can intimidate those who suffer from chronic inflammatory diseases and could greatly benefit from physical activity.”

This is precisely the reason that some people don’t work out. They think it’s too strenuous and too exhaustive when it actually doesn’t have to be. It can be enjoyable and at a pace that can be easily kept up with. This idea that exercise only matters if it’s at a high intensity is what prevents so many people from actually attempting to even get moderate exercise that would actually benefit them tremendously.

New Health Benefits Linked To Cycling

It is well known that physical activities have a plethora of health benefits associated with them. A recent study has found that certain types are more effective. Being active is preferred over staying dormant and stagnant a hundred times over but what some people fail to realize is the type of exercise you take part in will directly affect certain health issues or concerns. A senior exercise physiologist named Deb Tregea who performed this study at Penn State found that the type of exercise performed on two wheels has a variety of positive results.

One of the benefits Tregea talks about is not simply related to the body itself but as a means of transportation. She notes that cyclists can be much more practical with their time and money. For those conscious of how car emissions harm the environment, biking is also a great option as your primary mode of transportation. This is perfect for those cities that don’t necessarily have reliable public transportation and for individuals who don’t feel like racking up Uber miles. Cycling also is associated with a ton of physical benefits like the prevention of weight accumulation as well as illnesses associated with weight issues like diabetes and heart disease.

Tregea found that the varied terrain that is often experienced by cyclists after only 20 minutes of riding is enough to allot for the recommended minutes a week of exercise an average adult needs. There are variances and specific inconsistencies when it comes to cycling that can be of benefit to those interested in their level of fitness. Due to the terrain of outdoor cycling, something like climbing a hill works and engages different muscles throughout the body in a way that requires endurance and strength. Even the routes with less strenuous terrain cause the body to react in a way it may not be used to from other forms of exercise.

Low Impact

One of the greatest benefits associated with cycling is its low impact on the body. So many serious athletes or those who take part in strenuous workouts often experience setbacks from physical injuries to their feet, ankles, and knees. This is especially true for those who enjoy running and doing marathons. While these are admirable and highly difficult practices to do on a long-term basis, it’s important to realize that injury is very common as a result of the overwhelming stress on the joints and the knees.

Due to the low impact of cycling, it’s a great option for those who want to be active but struggle with other more strenuous modes of exercise. Those individuals that suffer from conditions like osteoarthritis may find that something like cycling is the perfect option for them as it minimizes wear and tear to joints.

Cycling also has benefits as it relates to leg functionality. For those who have had strength issues with their knees and legs, Tregea says that the prospect of cycling is great for these sufferers as it helps strengthen leg muscles. It can be as easy as a few times around the block on a bike if you’re completely new to the function of cycling, but it can forever positively impact your health and your life. The exercise high often experienced by those who run is also a very common experience with cyclists. Interested in providing yourself some clarity from stress and mental health hiccups? See if cycling helps.

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.