Tag Archives: exercise

Moderate exercise in mid-life helps

More evidence that we need to get active in mid-life if we want to protect the old ticker.

The BBC is reporting on a study published in the journal Circulation that looked at inflammatory markers in the blood of participants over a ten-year period. You can read the full story here.

This is how it closes:

Dr Mark Hamer, of University College London, who led the research, said: “We should be encouraging more people to get active – for example, walking instead of taking the bus. You can gain health benefits from moderate activity at any time in your life.”

Maureen Talbot of the British Heart Foundation, which funded the work, said: “Donning your gardening gloves or picking up a paint brush can still go a long way to help look after your heart health, as exercise can have a big impact on how well your heart ages.

“This research highlights the positive impact changing your exercise habits can have on the future of your heart health – and that it’s never too late to re-energise your life.

“However it’s important not to wait until you retire to get off the couch, as being active for life is a great way to keep your heart healthy.”

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Exercise-not just about the weight loss

How many people do you know who’ve given up an exercise program when the weight doesn’t come off immediately? Too many, I’m sure.

Now, there’s yet another study showing that there are benefits to exercise, even when the stones aren’t dropping.

The Journal of the American Medical association (JAMA) published a piece this week extolling the benefits of exercise for diabetes patients. The opinion,  released to coincide with the 72nd annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association,  suggests that even moderate exercise can help treat diabetes caused by obesity. Here’s a portion of that report:

“There’s long-standing evidence that physical fitness can help people live longer, even those who carry too many pounds. Seminal research by Steven Blair, PED (then at the CooperInstitute of Aerobics Research in Dallas, Texas) and colleagues found that cardiovascular fitness is strongly associated with improved survival and is independent of body weight (Blair SN et al. JAMA. 1989;262[17]:2395-2401). Further studies have extended these findings, showing that physical fitness is closely associated with diabetes, also independent of body fatness.

There is a dramatic, steep increase in mortality among patients with very low fitness scores. “Actually, it is not fitness we are concerned about but rather low fitness,” said Carl Lavie, MD, of the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans, who spoke at a symposium on the importance of fitness on the pathophysiology and treatment of diabetes. Although both fitness and fatness are important, cardiorespiratory fitness greatly modifies the association of obesity with death due to cardiovascular disease, he said.

The underlying mechanism, explained John Thyfault, PhD, an exercise physiologist at the University of Missouri, appears to be the key role that that muscle plays in how the body processes glucose. The best indicator for the risk of developing diabetes or cardiovascular disease is the glucose response when food is consumed. The release of insulin following food ingestion facilitates glucose transport into muscle and fat and inhibits a mechanism the body uses to keep blood glucose levels from dropping too low, hepatic gluconeogenesis (the generation of glucose in the liver from substances other than carbohydrates, such as lactate). About 80% of circulating glucose is transported into muscle, making it the most important organ in maintaining proper glucose levels.”

The researchers conclude that some of the benefit of exercise in patients with diabetes comes from NOT being sedentary, and not necessarily from being superfit. They also suggest that resistance and strength training are also important in improving the health of diabetics.

Exercise in coping with cancer

GUEST POST

David Haas is a contributing writer to the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog. In this Guest Post, he writes about how important exercise can be for people who are living with cancer:

By David Haas

Successful Cancer Intervention Includes Exercise

When going through cancer, finding the motivation to make the right choices about health and nutrition can be rough. Feeling exhausted and depressed can drain the energy you need to integrate exercise and a healthy diet into your life. Studies show that regular physical activity can improve energy levels, reduce the side effects of treatment, and give you more independence. When your well-being is sagging, it’s difficult to focus on what’s best.

Fighting cancer takes strong will and determination. It requires you to take a hard look at your daily habits and current lifestyle and then to make changes that will improve your chances to survive. That isn’t easy; nothing about cancer is easy. Although your body might feel weakened, exercise increases both stamina and strength.

In a study carried out by the Stanford Prevention Research Center, 400 cancer patients participated in an exercise tracking process that measured physical improvement. The computerized tracking device called FitLinxx allowed researchers to receive instant feedback on a variety of factors such as the number of reps involved and the participant’s position.

In addition to the positive physical changes of improved strength and flexibility, study participants reported improvements in their stress level, mood, vitality and fatigue. Exercise literally made them feel better. The majority of the participants had breast cancer, but those going through colon, prostate, ovarian, lymphoma, lung and other cancers were also included. That points to exercise as being a beneficial component of a successful fight against cancer including aggressive conditions such as pancreas and mesothelioma cancer.

Increase Activity Level Early

An active lifestyle is important for everyone. It helps to reduce the risk factors that lead to cancer, improves the quality of life for those going through therapy programs, and helps to increase the chances that cancer won’t return. Exercise improves the body’s immune system function and can help decrease body fat through improving insulin resistance and lowering inflammation markers. It can smooth out unbalanced hormone levels and improve musculoskeletal weakness.

Early intervention is a key factor in preventing the problems that can result as muscles weaken. It’s easier to maintain endurance, strength and range of motion than it is to regain it. Even so, it’s never too late to begin increasing your activity level. In fact, it’s recommended that you begin upping your exercise as soon as you receive your cancer diagnosis to physically prepare you for treatment.

Exercise works to improve your metabolism, normalize appetite, and helps your body to detox from drug by-products. It relieves the tension that therapy places on the body and gives you an emotional boost to help cope with treatment side effects. Overall, increased activity and exercise encourages healing, and healing is what it takes to survive.

Overcoming Fatigue

When it comes to gaining motivation, the fatigue that comes from cancer treatments can work against you. The ups and downs affect your psychological well-being and provide excuses to remain inactive. The degree and consistency of these exhaustion patterns depends on the type of treatment you’re going through, but overcoming the problem is universal.

Although reaching for a handful of supplements that promise to boost your energy might be your first instinct, exercise is best. It gives your body cells more energy and helps to circulate oxygen. Exercise also encourages the brain to release stress hormones that can leave you feeling energized. Also, don’t forget to drink plenty of water. If your body isn’t adequately hydrated, the major symptom of dehydration is fatigue.

Exercise is Something You Can Control

Cancer is not a lonely disease. Research indicates that about 40 percent of the world’s population will develop cancer at some point in their life. That makes it an important topic to learn about and discuss. Knowledge brings power. That power can change your life for the better and have a very real effect on the outcome of your prevention, diagnosis, and survival. According to Murray University, a greater majority of cancer deaths are related to negative lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet, and inactivity. These negative factors play a heavy role in producing fatigue. While fatigue can quickly interfere with your motivation to exercise, unlike cancer itself, diet and exercise are things you can control.

David Haas is a cancer support group and awareness program advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. In addition to researching the many valuable programs available to the people who visit the MCA’s website, David often blogs about programs and campaigns underway at the MCA, as well as creative fitness ideas for those dealing with cancer, while creating relationships with similar organizations.

Could exercise be bad for you?

A bit of a disturbing study – and it’s just one study- from the States, suggesting that for some healthy people exercise could be bad for the heart.  Gina Kolata writes about it on the NY Times Health blog. Here’s a portion:

“Could exercise actually be bad for some healthy people? A well-known group of researchers, including one who helped write the scientific paper justifying national guidelines that promote exercise for all, say the answer may be a qualified yes.

By analyzing data from six rigorous exercise studies involving 1,687 people, the group found that about 10 percent actually got worse on at least one of the measures related to heart disease:blood pressure and levels of insulin, HDL cholesterol or triglycerides. About 7 percent got worse on at least two measures. And the researchers say they do not know why.”

The study suggests that an equal percentage of people showed very good changes to those key measures.  One of the mysteries is that there doesn’t seem to be a significant correlate to age, gender, race, or previous level of fitness.  The study was not long-term, so failed to measure the actual impact on heart disease and mortality.

In contrast to this study, shows like the Biggest Loser are showing that exercise is a significant part of the treatment for unhealthy people with conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. See this Medscape article.

So what is a jogger to do? Or a swimmer? Or cyclist? I would never suggest anyone ignore the results of good science, but in this case there is so much data supporting regular exercise — from weight loss to improved psychological outlook – that I would file this study under “lets check again about this later, when more research backs it up and spells out the significance.”

My suspicion is that many who start a new exercise program do so too vigorously, and that might have a negative impact on parts of the body.

TOP 5 … things I could have done

What goes through your mind when exercising solo for long periods of time?

While the feet work, what does the mind do?

While the feet work, what does the mind do?

Top 5 things I COULD have done during the 46 minutes and 48 seconds that I spent running a 10 K race in Vaudreuil, Quebec recently.

-could have washed the car, inside and out.

-could have written a letter to the editor complaining about infrastructure.

-could have had a long shower, a shave, flossed my teeth, and tended to the weeds in the yard.

-could have cleaned the bathroom, the kitchen, and the dog bowls.

-could have written at least one blog entry