Tag Archives: exercise

Exercise improves mood for those with chronic illnesses

Reuters reports patients with chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, and back pain improve their mood by working out on a regular basis, according to a study published in Archives of Internal Medicine. Continue reading

Hormone produced by exercise helps control obesity, blood sugar levels

The San Francisco Chronicle reports a study in Nature showing that irisin, “a hormone naturally found in muscle cells … rises during exercise, converting white fat into brown fat, a substance whose primary function is to generate body heat.” Continue reading

Want to dramatically reduce your breast cancer risk?

USA Today ran a number of articles discussing breast cancer, focusing in particular on the role of inflammation. The great news here is that doing something that is highly healthy (increasing exercise) seems to reduce breast cancer risk. Continue reading

TV watching as dangerous as smoking and lack of exercise

Researchers in Australia say smoking “can shorten of life expectancy by more than four years after the age of 50. That represents 11 minutes of life lost for every cigarette and that’s the same as half an hour of TV watching.” Said another way, for every hour of TV watched “after age 25, lifespan falls by 22 minutes.” Ouch! Time to turn off the TV, snub out the cigarettes, and begin walking 15 minutes a day to increase the quality and quantity of your life! Continue reading

15 minutes’ daily exercise boosts life expectancy by three years

ABC World News reported, “If you need any more convincing that a little bit of exercise can make a huge difference in your life, here’s some powerful new proof: A study in the medical journal Lancet looked at 400,000 people and found just 15 minutes of exercise a day increases life expectancy three years.” Continue reading

Even small amounts of aerobic exercise lowers coronary heart disease risk

More research is showing that even small amounts of aerobic exercise help lower coronary heart disease risk. The newest review was published in the journal Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, and should encourage even the most sedentary of us to being moving physically. Continue reading

Regular exercise boosts the brain, especially for kids

Regular workouts not only do your body good, they likely improve your mind as well, at least according to review of the data on the subject. Continue reading

CDC: Most teens not getting enough aerobic activity

The CDC released a report of a nationwide survey of more than 11,000 high school students across the country, finding that only 15 percent get the minimum of 60 minutes per day of aerobic activity that meets the goals outlined in the government’s Healthy People 2020. Continue reading

Exercising at school boosts test scores, study finds

When physical activity was combined with academic skills, elementary students retained more. In other words, exercising at school or while learning might improve kids’ test scores, a new study finds. Continue reading

New study reignites debate on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The New York Times notes that after a disease can be “diagnosed reliably through lab tests, creating an accurate case definition” becomes easy. But for illnesses with no known cause and subjective symptoms, such as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), competing definitions are “inevitable.” Continue reading

Three lifestyle changes significantly reduce cancer rates

In two previous blogs (“Thirty percent of breast cancers could be prevented by lifestyle changes” and “Three Healthy Habits Cut Breast Cancer Risk, Study Finds“) I’ve discussed the association between cancer risk and lifestyle choices. Continue reading

Moderate exercise delays age-related memory decline

Studies show, and my experience with my patients concurs, that people, as they age, fear memory loss, in general, and Alzheimer’s, in particular, even more than cancer. To date, there’s been little that’s been shown to be effective to prevent age-related memory decline … that is until now. To prevent the loss, you’ll need to get off your butt and begin exercising. Here are the details: Continue reading

Regular exercise wards off colds and flu

Earlier this week I discussed how regular exercise can reduce your risk of depression. It can also help you reduce your risk or colds and the flu.

The CNN “The Chart” blog reported, “Working out regularly helps ward off colds and flu,” according to a study published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

HealthDay reported that after collecting “data on 1,002 men and women from ages 18 to 85,” investigators “tracked the number of upper respiratory tract infections the participants suffered” over 12 weeks during the fall and winter of 2008.

Study participants also “reported how much and what kinds of aerobic exercise they did weekly.”

The study authors found that “people who were physically fit and who engaged in exercise five or more days per week were about half as likely to suffer cold symptoms compared to participants who reported less physical activity,” WebMD (11/1, Hendrick) reported.

“What is more, researchers say the severity of symptoms fell by 41% among those who felt fittest and by 31% among the most physically active.”

According to MedPage Today, “In addition to the number of days spent with an upper respiratory tract infection, the severity and symptomatology of such infections was reduced as well, by 32% to 41% between the high versus low aerobic activity and physical fitness tertiles (P<0.05 for all). There were also significant reductions in the middle tertiles.

So, ’tis the season to begin some regular exercise. The benefits are huge!

Exercise Reduces Depression Risk

In past blogs I’ve told you about how exercise can help both prevent and treat depression. I also discuss this phenomena in my book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and staying highly healthy.

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Now, along comes one of the largest studies ever published on the topic (of 40,000 Norwegians), which found that people who take regular exercise during their free time are less likely to have symptoms of depression and anxiety, a study of 40,000 Norwegians has found.

However, physical activity which is part and parcel of the working day does NOT have the same effect. Writing in the British Journal of Psychiatry, the researchers said it was probably because there was not the same level of social interaction. Here are the details from the BBC:

The mental health charity Mind said that exercise and interaction aids our mental health. Higher levels of social interaction during leisure time were found to be part of the reason for the link.

Researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London teamed up with academics from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the University of Bergen in Norway to conduct the study.

Participants were asked how often, and to what degree, they undertook physical activity in their leisure time and during the course of their work.

Researchers also measured participants’ depression and anxiety using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.

People who were not active in their leisure time were almost twice as likely to have symptoms of depression compared to the most active individuals, the study found.

But the intensity of the exercise did not seem to make any difference.

Social benefits

Lead researcher Dr Samuel Harvey, from the Institute of Psychiatry, said: “Our study shows that people who engage in regular leisure-time activity of any intensity are less likely to have symptoms of depression.

“We also found that the context in which activity takes place is vital and that the social benefits associated with exercise, like increased numbers of friends and social support, are more important in understanding how exercise may be linked to improved mental health than any biological markers of fitness.

“This may explain why leisure activity appears to have benefits not seen with physical activity undertaken as part of a working day.”

Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, said that lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise are known to have a positive impact on mental well-being.

“Exercise gives you a natural high and is a great way to boost your mood. However, another mental health benefit of physical activity is derived from social interaction.

“So going out with a running club, taking part in a team sport or working on a communal allotment is far better for your mental well-being than a physically demanding job.

“Mind has found that after just a short country walk 90% of people had increased self-esteem,” Mr Farmer said.

Three Healthy Habits Cut Breast Cancer Risk, Study Finds

There’s been a lot of debate about mammograms for breast cancer screening, but an even more important health promotion exercise would be for women to everything they can to prevent breast cancer. And now experts are reporting that women can do three things to dramatically reduce their risk of getting breast cancer — especially if they have a strong family history of breast cancer:

  • Exercise (20 minutes of heart-rate raising exercise at least five times a week),
  • Maintain a healthy weight (BMI of 18.5 to under 25), and
  • Watch alcohol intake (fewer than seven drinks per week).

Here are the details in a report from HealthDay News:

Women who maintain certain “breast-healthy” habits can lower their risk of breast cancer, even if a close relative has had the disease, a new study finds.

Engaging in regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight and drinking alcohol in moderation, if at all, was shown in a large study to help protect against breast cancer in postmenopausal women, the researchers said.

“Whether or not you have a family history, the risk of breast cancer was lower for women engaged in these three sets of behavior compared to women who were not,” said study leader Dr. Robert Gramling, associate professor of family medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. The study was published in the journal Breast Cancer Research.

Gramling wanted to look at the effects of lifestyle habits on breast cancer risk because he suspects some women with a family history may believe their risk is out of their control.

He analyzed data on U.S. women aged 50 to 79 from the Women’s Health Initiative study starting in 1993. During 5.4 years of follow-up, 1,997 women were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.

Gramling excluded women with a personal history of breast cancer or with a family history of early-onset cancer (diagnosed before age 45), then observed the impact of the healthy habits.

Excluding those with an early-onset family history makes sense, because a stronger genetic (versus environmental) component is thought to play a role in early-onset, experts say.

Following all three habits reduced the risk of breast cancer for women with and without a late-onset family history. “For women who had a family history and adhered to all these behaviors, about six of every 1,000 women got breast cancer over a year’s time,” he said.

In comparison, about seven of every 1,000 women developed breast cancer each year if they had a late-onset family history and followed none of the behaviors.

Among women without a family history who followed all three habits, about 3.5 of every 1,000 were diagnosed with breast cancer annually, compared to about 4.6 per 1,000 per year for those without a family history who followed none of the habits.

For his study, Gramling considered regular physical activity to be 20 minutes of heart-rate raising exercise at least five times a week. Moderate alcohol intake was defined as fewer than seven drinks a week. A healthy body weight was defined in the standard way, having a body mass index, or BMI, of 18.5 to under 25.

Gramling hopes his research will reverse the thinking of women whose mother or sister had breast cancer who sometimes believe they are doomed to develop the disease, too.

The findings echo what other experts have known, said Dr. Susan Gapstur, vice president of the epidemiology research program at the American Cancer Society, who reviewed the study findings.

“The results of this study show that both women with a family history [late-onset] and without will benefit from maintaining a healthy weight and exercising, and consuming lower amounts of alcohol, limiting their alcohol consumption,” she said.

The American Cancer Society guidelines for reducing breast cancer risk include limiting alcohol to no more than a drink a day, maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in 45 to 60 minutes of “intentional physical activity” five or more days a week.

The risk reduction effects found in the Gramling study may actually increase if women follow the more intense exercise guidelines of the ACS, Gapstur said.

To learn more about breast cancer risk factors, visit the American Cancer Society web site here.

Ten minutes of brisk exercise triggers metabolic changes lasting for at least an hour

The AP reports, “Ten minutes of brisk exercise triggers metabolic changes that last at least an hour,” with more fit exercisers reaping a greater number of benefits.

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital came to that conclusion after measuring “biochemical changes in the blood of a variety of people: the healthy middle-aged, some who became short of breath with exertion, and marathon runners.”

In a study of “70 healthy people put on a treadmill, the team found more than 20 metabolites that change during exercise, naturally produced compounds involved in burning calories and fat and improving blood-sugar control.”

As the Scientific American points out, “The virtues of exercise are myriad: better cardiovascular health, decreased risk for diabetes, boosted mood, and even perhaps a leaner physique. But aside from such macro links and knowledge about the heart rates, blood–oxygen levels and hormonal responses related to exercise, scientists have a relatively cursory understanding of the chemical mechanisms at work in the body during and after physical activity.”

This study may be a beginning. But, in the meantime, it backs up my advice to patients, “Even if you can only exercise for 10 minutes at a time, that may well be very helpful to your fitness.”

Expectant Mom’s Exercise Keeps Newborn’s Birth Weight Down

A pregnant mother’s exercise may lower her baby’s risk of obesity later in life. The new research shows that regular moderate-intensity exercise during pregnancy reduces an infant’s birth weight, which may lower the child’s risk of obesity later in life. In a new study, 84 first-time pregnant women were randomly assigned to exercise or control groups, with those in the exercise group participating in a weekly maximum of five 40-minute sessions on a stationary cycle. They did this program until at least 36 weeks into their pregnancy. Here are the details from HealthDay News:

Babies born to mothers in the exercise group were an average of 143 grams lighter than infants born to mothers in the control group, and also had a lower body-mass index (a measurement that takes into account height and weight), the researchers found.

The exercise training had no effect on the mothers’ body weight or body-mass index during late pregnancy, and had no effect on insulin resistance from the start of the study to late gestation, according to the report published online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

“Our findings show that regular aerobic exercise alters the maternal environment in some way that has an impact on nutrient stimulation of fetal growth, resulting in a reduction in offspring birth weight,” study co-author Dr. Paul Hofman, of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, said in an Endocrine Society news release.

“Given that large birth size is associated with an increased risk of obesity, a modest reduction in birth weight may have long-term health benefits for offspring by lowering this risk in later life.”

Hofman added that the “physiological response to pregnancy appears to supersede the chronic improvements in insulin sensitivity previously described in response to exercise training in non-pregnant individuals. This may be an important finding for athletes who want to continue regular training during their pregnancy as it suggests that training will not have a major adverse impact on insulin resistance.”

For more information, the Nemours Foundation has more about exercising during pregnancy.

Women may need at least an hour of exercise daily to avoid weight gain

Here’s a bad news story to post the day after the Easter holiday — a day when many of us consume more calories that we should. Nevertheless, being committed to always bring you the truth about the medical news you can use, here we go: A major study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that without making significant changes in their nutritional habits, women need a lot of exercise just to keep their weight stable.

The AP reports that investigators found that “at least an hour of moderate activity a day is needed for older women at a healthy weight who aren’t dieting,” and overweight women require “even more exercise … to avoid gaining weight without eating less.”

The researchers “said it’s uncertain whether the results would apply to men.” (Whew!)

As they age, people often put on weight. This is “partly because their metabolism slows down,” but the study’s lead author said that it “probably” has more to do with “people’s natural tendency to become more sedentary, without changing their eating habits.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that “the issue of how much exercise is required to maintain a normal weight is far from settled,” with other exercise experts saying “that an average of 35 minutes a day, seven days a week, is probably sufficient.”

The Boston Globe reports, “Lee doesn’t want people to give up on exercise, even if they can’t do an hour a day,” calling it “the best thing you can do for your health.”

USA Today reports that Lee “emphasizes that it’s possible to get the health benefits of physical activity, such as lowering the risk of heart disease, some types of cancers and type 2 diabetes, by following the government guidelines and doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week.”

But, ladies, don’t let this discourage you. For as I’ve said before, some physical activity is better than none, and there’s no better time than now (the day after Easter) to start increasing what you are already doing – if anything.

So, if you’re ready to become more highly healthy and happy, why not order a copy of my new book 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and Staying Highly Healthy. You can see the Table of Contents here, and read the first chapter here. Also, there’s a small-group reader’s guide available for no charge here.

The Ten Commandments of Preventive Medicine – Part 3 – Exercise

In my newest book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People, I teach people how to utilize ten essentials that are necessary to live a happy and highly healthy life. Under The Essential of Self-Care, I teach what I call “The 10 Commandments of Preventive Medicine.” Here’s the third installment of this ten-part series. Continue reading

The Ten Commandments of Preventive Medicine – Part 2 – Obesity

In my newest book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People, I teach people how to utilize the ten essentials that are necessary to live a happy and highly healthy life. Under The Essential of Self-Care, I’ve developed a list of what I call “The 10 Commandments of Preventive Medicine.”  Here’s the second installment of this ten-part series.

More information: Continue reading