Good Habits

No More Excuses – Hit the Stairs

Everyone knows the health benefits that come with physical activity, but when asked, most people use one of two common excuses. The first is time, as in “I just don’t have enough time in my day”, and the second is place, as in, “There’s no gym near me”.

Researchers have put both of those excuses to rest. A study at McMaster University conducted two separate protocols with female participants, divided into two groups. All the women were healthy but admittedly not active. Each group was asked to exercise in short 10 minute sessions three times a week for a period of six weeks. Each session included a warm up and cool down.

In the first experiment one group was asked to climb stairs aggressively in 20 second intervals, while the second group was asked to simply ride an exercise bike for the same length of time. Results showed that the short 20 second bursts of stair climbing were more effective than the exercise bike.

In the second experiment the women were asked to climb stairs for 60 second intervals. As in the first experiment, participants showed an increase in respiratory fitness.

It would appear that the excuses for not exercising have just gone out the window. Short (10 minutes) intense periods of stair climbing will improve cardiovascular and respiratory health which leads to additional benefits derived from a healthy active lifestyle.

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Source: WorldHealth.net

Study: Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors May Prevent 80 Percent of Heart Attacks

Support.Healthy.LivingFive recommended health behaviors may prevent four out of five heart attacks in men, a new study suggests.

Middle-aged and older men were much less likely to have heart attacks over an average of 11 years if they drank moderately, didn’t smoke and did everything right on the diet, exercise and weight fronts, the study found.

Only about 1 percent of men involved in the study fit into this ultra-healthy-living category. But they were 86 percent less likely to have heart attacks than those who ate poorly, were overweight, exercised too little, smoked and drank too much alcohol, the researchers said.

The healthiest men could still eventually die of a heart attack, of course, and the study didn’t say if they live longer than others.

Still, “there is a lot to gain and money to be saved if people had a healthier lifestyle,” said study lead author Agneta Akesson, an associate professor with the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Karolinska Institute in Solna, Sweden.

As for women, Akesson is the co-author of a previous study suggesting healthy living has a similar effect on females.

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Source: MedicineNet.com

Use Rule of Thumb to Control How Much You Drink

Food.Cocktails2Sticking to a general rule of pouring just a half glass of wine limits the likelihood of overconsumption, even for men with a higher body mass index. That’s the finding of a new Iowa State and Cornell University study to be published in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Drug Policy.

Laura Smarandescu, lead author and an assistant professor of marketing at Iowa State, says the research team looked at a variety of factors to understand and control over pouring. Researchers found BMI affected how much men poured, but had no influence on women. However, people who used a “rule of thumb,” such as a half-glass rule or a two-fingers-from-the-top rule when pouring wine, poured less regardless of BMI or gender.

“About 70 percent of the people in the sample used the half-glass rule, and they poured significantly less by about 20 percent,” Smarandescu said. “It’s a big difference. We would suggest using a rule of thumb with pouring because it makes a big difference in how much people pour and prevents them from overdrinking.”

“In this study, we had every expectation that men would always pour more than women, no matter what. But what we found is that the rule of thumb effect is so strong that men using a rule of thumb at all levels of BMI actually poured less than women who were not using a rule of thumb,” said Doug Walker, an assistant professor of marketing at Iowa State.

“Next time you open a bottle, serve yourself a half glass – regardless of the size of your glass – and you will be less likely to accidentally drink too much.”

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Source: Iowa State University. “Use rule of thumb to control how much you drink.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 August 2014.

Healthy Lifestyle May Buffer Against Stress-Related Cell Aging

Support.Healthy.LivingA new study from UC San Francisco is the first to show that while the impact of life’s stressors accumulate overtime and accelerate cellular aging, these negative effects may be reduced by maintaining a healthy diet, exercising and sleeping well.

“The study participants who exercised, slept well and ate well had less telomere shortening than the ones who didn’t maintain healthy lifestyles, even when they had similar levels of stress,” said lead author Eli Puterman, PhD, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at UCSF. “It’s very important that we promote healthy living, especially under circumstances of typical experiences of life stressors like death, caregiving and job loss.”

“This is the first study that supports the idea, at least observationally, that stressful events can accelerate immune cell aging in adults, even in the short period of one year. Exciting, though, is that these results further suggest that keeping active, and eating and sleeping well during periods of high stress are particularly important to attenuate the accelerated aging of our immune cells,” said Puterman.

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Source: University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). “Healthy lifestyle may buffer against stress-related cell aging.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 July 2014.

Swiss Study: A Healthy Lifestyle Adds Years to Life

Support.Healthy.LivingLive longer thanks to fruit, an active lifestyle, limited alcohol and no cigarettes. This is the conclusion of a study by public health physicians at the University of Zurich who documented for the first time the impact of behavioural factors on life expectancy in numbers.

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disorders – the incidence of these non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is constantly rising in industrialised countries. The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) is, therefore, in the process of developing a national prevention strategy with a view to improving the population’s health competence and encouraging healthier behaviour. Attention is focusing, among other things, on the main risk factors for these diseases which are linked to personal behaviour – i.e. tobacco smoking, an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful alcohol consumption.

Against this backdrop Private Docent Brian Martin and his colleagues from the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM) at the University of Zurich have examined the effects of these four factors – both individual and combined – on life expectancy. For the first time the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle can be depicted in numbers. An individual who smokes, drinks a lot, is physically inactive and has an unhealthy diet has 2.5 fold higher mortality risk in epidemiological terms than an individual who looks after his health. Or to put it positively: “A healthy lifestyle can help you stay ten years’ younger”, comments the lead author Eva Martin-Diener.

According to Martin an unhealthy lifestyle has above all a long-lasting impact. Whereas high wine consumption, cigarettes, an unhealthy diet and physical inactivity scarcely had any effect on mortality among the 45 to 55-year-olds, it does have a visible effect on 65 to 75-year-olds. The probability of a 75-year-old man with none of the four risk factors surviving the next ten years is 67 percent, exactly the same as the risk for a smoker who is ten years younger, doesn’t exercise, eats unhealthily and drinks a lot.

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Source: Medical News Today.


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Picking up Healthy Habits in Your 30s and 40s Can Slash Heart Disease Risk

Support.Healthy.LivingThe heart is more forgiving than you may think – especially to adults who try to take charge of their health, a new Northwestern Medicine study has found.

When adults in their 30s and 40s decide to drop unhealthy habits that are harmful to their heart and embrace healthy lifestyle changes, they can control and potentially even reverse the natural progression of coronary artery disease, scientists found.

“It’s not too late,” said Bonnie Spring lead investigator of the study and a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “You’re not doomed if you’ve hit young adulthood and acquired some bad habits. You can still make a change and it will have a benefit for your heart.”

On the flip side, scientists also found that if people drop healthy habits or pick up more bad habits as they age, there is measurable, detrimental impact on their coronary arteries.

“If you don’t keep up a healthy lifestyle, you’ll see the evidence in terms of your risk of heart disease,” she said.

Spring said the healthy changes people in the study made are attainable and sustainable. She offers some tips for those who want to embrace a healthy lifestyle at any age:

  • Keep a healthy body weight.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity five times a week.
  • No more than one alcoholic drink a day for women, no more than two for men.
  • Eat a healthy diet, high in fiber, low in sodium with lots of fruit and vegetables.

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Source: Medical News Today.


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Dance Those Cares Away!

Activity.DanceDancing can reduce seniors’ knee and hip pain and also improve their walking, a new study finds.

The research involved 34 seniors, average age 80, who all had pain or stiffness in their knees or hips as a result mainly of arthritis. The participants – mostly women – were assigned to a group that danced for 45 minutes up to two times a week for 12 weeks or to a control group that did not dance.

By the end of the 12 weeks, those who danced had less pain in their knees and hips and were able to walk faster, said Jean Krampe, an assistant professor of nursing at Saint Louis University and lead author of the study. The use of pain medicines fell by 39 percent among seniors in the dance group but rose 21 percent among those who did not dance, she noted.

The findings about walking speed are important, she added, because seniors who walk too slowly are more likely to fall, be hospitalized or require care from others.

“Dance-based therapy for older adults needs to be gentle, slow and include options so it can be performed standing or sitting, because their fatigue or pain level can change day to day,” Krampe explained.

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Source: MedicineNet.


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Lifetime of Learning Might Thwart Dementia

Support.ReadA lifetime engaging in intellectually stimulating pursuits may significantly lower your risk for dementia in your golden years, new research suggests.

Even people with relatively low educational and professional achievements can gain protection against late-life dementia if they adopt a mentally stimulating lifestyle – reading and playing music and games, for example – by the time they enter middle-age, the new study contended.

“In terms of preventing cognitive [mental] impairment, education and occupation are important,” said study lead author Prashanthi Vemuri, an assistant professor of radiology at the Mayo Clinic and Foundation in Rochester, Minn. “But so is intellectually stimulating activity during mid- to late life,” she added.

“It looks like the bottom-line is that it’s never too late to exercise your brain, and that is good news,” Vemuri said.

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Source: MedicineNet.


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12 Minutes of Exercise Improves Attention, Reading Comprehension in Low-Income Adolescents

Workout.Exercise.Dict2A new Dartmouth study shows 12 minutes of exercise can improve attention and reading comprehension in low-income adolescents, suggesting that schools serving low-income populations should work brief bouts of exercise into their daily schedules.

The study, published as part of the June volume of Frontiers in Psychology, compared low-income adolescents with their high-income peers. While both groups saw improvement in selective visual attention up to 45 minutes after exercising, the low-income group experienced a bigger jump. (Selective visual attention is the ability to remain visually focused on something despite distractions.) The low-income students also improved on tests of reading comprehension following the physical activity, but the high-income students did not.

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Source: Dartmouth College. “12 minutes of exercise improves attention, reading comprehension in low-income adolescents.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 June 2014.


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Quality, Not Quantity, Counts Most in Exercise, Diet

Support.Healthy.LivingIf your goal is to lose weight and maintain optimal health and fitness, the quality of your exercise and diet regimen matters more than the quantity, says Skidmore College exercise scientist Paul Arciero. And he has the results to prove it.

In a paper published by The Journal of Applied Physiology, Arciero and several colleagues report the clear benefits of a multi-dimensional exercise regimen that includes resistance exercise, interval sprint exercise, stretching (including yoga or pilates), and endurance exercise. Add moderate amounts of protein regularly throughout your day, and you’ll be well on your way toward decreasing total and abdominal fat, increasing lean body mass, and achieving optimal levels for blood pressure, blood glucose, and insulin.

To make the regimen easy for the public to remember, Arciero has coined the acronym, “PRISE.” The “P” stands for protein, the “R” stands for “resistance,” the “I” stands for “interval,” the “S” stands for stretching, and the “E” stands for endurance.

For Arciero, this study was the culmination of research he has conducted and published over the last 20 years in an attempt to identify the most effective lifestyle strategies to improve health and physical performance. When the time came to capture the meaning of it all, the name “PRISE” jumped out at him.

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Source: Skidmore College. “Quality, not quantity, counts most in exercise, diet.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 May 2014.


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