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Exercise 'keeps the mind sharp' in over-50s, study finds - BBC News

2017-04-25 08:07:48 Mr Nofatti
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Moderate physical exercise such as cycling or jogging can help boost brain power

Doing moderate exercise several times a week is the best way to keep the mind sharp if you’re over 50, research suggests.

Thinking and memory skills were most improved when people exercised the heart and muscles on a regular basis, a review of 39 studies found.

This remained true in those who already showed signs of cognitive decline.

Taking up exercise at any age was worthwhile for the mind and body, the Australian researchers said.

Exercises such as T’ai Chi were recommended for people over the age of 50 who couldn’t manage other more challenging forms of exercise, the study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine said.

Brain boost

Physical activity has long been known to reduce the risk of a number of diseases, including type-2 diabetes and some cancers, and it is thought to play a role in warding off the brain’s natural decline as we enter middle age.

The theory is that through exercise the brain receives a greater supply of blood, oxygen and nutrients that boost its health as well as a growth hormone that helps the formation of new neurons and connections.

In this analysis of previous studies, researchers from the University of Canberra looked at the effects of at least four weeks of structured physical exercise on the brain function of adults.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption T’ai Chi may help to keep the brain healthy without over-exerting

In a variety of brain tests, they found evidence of aerobic exercise improving cognitive abilities, such as thinking, reading, learning and reasoning, while muscle training – for example, using weights – had a significant effect on memory and the brain’s ability to plan and organise, the so-called executive functions.

Joe Northey, study author and researcher from the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise at Canberra, said the findings were convincing enough to enable both types of exercise to be prescribed to improve brain health in the over-50s.

“Even if you are doing moderate exercise only once or twice a week there are still improvements in cognitive function, but the improvements were better the more exercise was done,” he said.

He said people should be able to hold a conversation while doing moderate exercise.

NHS guidelines recommend that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week and exercise the major muscles on two or more days a week.

Heavy shopping bags

Dr Justin Varney, lead for adult health and wellbeing at Public Health England, said any physical activity was good for brain and body.

“Whilst every 10 minutes of exercise provides some benefit, doing 150 minutes a week cuts the chances of depression and dementia by a third, and boosts mental health at any age.

“Doing both aerobic and strengthening exercises leads to a greater variety of health benefits.”

He said cycling or walking to work could count as aerobic activity and carrying heavy shopping bags was one example of a good strength exercise.

Dr Dean Burnett, lecturer in neuroscience and psychiatry at Cardiff University, said the study gave a clearer picture of how exercise affected the brain – but there were still issues.

“It could lead to increased pressure for the 50-plus age group to exercise more in order to stay mentally healthy, which is good advice but also overlooks the fact that as we age it’s increasingly difficult to engage in physical activity, as our bodies are simply less capable of it,” he said.

“Physical exercise is one element of improved brain functioning, but not the whole story.”

As well as staying physically active, Dr David Reynolds, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, said it was equally important to look after our brains by staying mentally active, eating a balanced diet, drinking only in moderation and not smoking.

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This Fitness Blogger Reveals What Happens When You Dont Shave For a Year

2017-04-22 07:49:34 Mr Nofatti
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Fitness Blogger Reveals What Happens When You Dont Shave Legs And Pits For 1 Year To Promote Natural Beauty

2017-04-20 07:08:37 Mr Nofatti

Fitness blogger Morgan Mikenas probably saves a fortune in razors. She also probably has a lot more free time than many of us. Why? Because in order to promote natural beauty, the fitness blogger has gone an entire year without shaving her body, and here are the results.

“I’m not trying to make all of humanity stop shaving their armpits and leg hair anymore,” said Morgan in a clip she posted to YouTube recently. “I just want to inspire others [to do] what works for you, what makes you feel the most comfortable.” Citing time as the number one reason behind her decision to stop shaving, she was also inspired to let it grow out after being bullied in gym class when she was 11 or 12 for having hairy legs. She decided to embrace her natural beauty instead of subscribing to what society expects of her, and she says that her boyfriend likes it and thinks that she looks beautiful either way. “I want everybody to not feel ashamed of themselves,” she said. “I think it’s unfair that people think they have to be in this culture norm. Just do whatever makes you feel good.” It might not be for everybody, but kudos to Morgan for standing up for what she believes in. Check out the full video on YouTube, which has already been viewed over 200k times.

Shaving your legs and armpits takes a lot of time and effort

So fitness blogger Morgan Mikenas decided to stop shaving her body for a year

“I’m not trying to make all of humanity stop shaving their armpits and leg hair anymore,” she said

“I just want to inspire others [to do] what works for you, what makes you feel the most comfortable”

The main reason she stopped is because shaving takes so much time

She was also inspired to let it grow out after being bullied at school for having hairy legs

“I want everybody to not feel ashamed of themselves”

“I think it’s unfair that people think they have to be in this culture norm”

“Just do whatever makes you feel good”

What do you think? Would you give it a try?

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A fitness tracker helped doctors discover blood clots in womans lungs

2017-04-10 06:50:03 Mr Nofatti

A Fitbitfeature helped save a womans life earlier this year.

Patricia Lauder, a 73 year-old from Connecticut, called 911 when her Fitbit started displaying abnormally high resting heart rates. While some people might suspect such discrepancies are caused by a hardware malfunction, Lauder was not going to take any chances.

Her trust in Fitbit saved her life.

When she called the ambulance, Lauders resting heart rate was hovering around 140 beats per minute, significantly higher than the 60 to 70 she was used to.

Medical staffconfirmed the results of her Fitbit on the way to the hospital. Lauder later learned that her abnormality was caused by blood clots in both of her lungs. Those clots were decreasing blood flow and causing Tachycardia, a potentially dangerous condition that causes your heart to raise above 100 beats per minute. Lauder had been experiencing shortness of breath, and would later learn her heart had enlarged by 65 percent.

“Finally, my resting heart rate got to the point where a simple chore was a big effort,” Lauder told CNN.

She was immediately given clot dissolving drugs, which got rid of both clots, and returned her lungs and heart back to normal in just 24 hours.

“Because of the clot, initially, the pressure in her right ventricle was very dilated and not functioning well,” Dr. JuYong Lee, director of vascular and endovascular medicine at UConn Health Calhoun Cardiology Center, told CNN. “I think the Fitbit actually helped her decide whether or not this was a serious condition at that time. This condition is very critical and she may have actually died if she had not sought medical attention.”

Heart rate monitoring becamea standard feature in most fitness trackers and smartwatches a few years ago, and it has already been credited for saving many lives. Early last year, an 18-year-old student in the U.K. discovered she had an undiagnosed heart condition when she noticed her heart rate had tripled. In April 2016, doctors were able to pinpoint exactly when a patients heart rate spiked with logged data from his Fitbit, and used that info to provide appropriate treatment.

Fitness trackers aren’t for everyone, but as these life-saving incidents go to show, it might be useful to have one anyway.


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Exercise Changes The Way Our Bodies Work At A Molecular Level

2017-03-10 07:16:22 Mr Nofatti

Exercise is good for you, this we know. It helps build muscle, burn fat and make us all into happier, healthier people. But long before you start looking the way you want, there are other hidden, more immediate, molecular and immunological changes taking place inside your cells. Changes which could be responsible for protecting us from heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and even stave off old age and cancer. The Conversation

You may think that molecular changes may not be that much of a big deal. Surely it is fat loss and muscle gain that are the best outcomes of exercise? Actually molecular changes affect the way genes and proteins are controlled inside cells. Genes can become more or less active, while proteins can be rapidly modified to function differently and carry out tasks such as moving glucose into cells more efficiently, or protect cells from harmful toxins.

Type 2 diabetes causes all kinds of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney failure and nerve damage, and may lead to limb amputation. The underlying cause is the development of a heightened inflammatory state in the bodys tissue and cells. This damages cells and can eventually lead to insulin resistance and, ultimately, type 2 diabetes.

The main risk factors for type 2 diabetes include obesity, a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. However, we have found that even low intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, can increase the bodys insulin sensitivity. This means that people at risk of developing diabetes become less prone because they are able to metabolise glucose more efficiently.

In our study, we asked 20 sedentary people who were at risk of developing diabetes to walk briskly for 45 minutes, three times a week, for eight weeks. Although there was no change in their weight, blood pressure or cholesterol level, on average each participant lost a significant six centimetres from their waist circumference. And, more importantly, there was a reduction in their diabetic risk.

Immune system benefits

Interestingly, there were also exercise-induced changes in the participants monocytes an important immune cell that circulates in the bloodstream. This led to a reduction in the bodys inflammatory state, one of the main risks for type 2 diabetes.

When our body is under attack from foreign invaders such as microbes, immune cells such as monocytes change into microbe-eating macrophages. Their main function is to fight infection in our tissues and lungs. There are two main types of macrophages, M1 and M2. M1 macrophages are associated with pro-inflammatory responses and are necessary for aggressively fighting off infections. However, in obese people who do not exercise, these cells become active even in the absence of infection. This can lead to an unwanted, heightened inflammatory condition which may trigger diabetes.

On the other hand, M2 macrophages play a role in switching-off inflammation and are instrumental in damping-down the more aggressive M1s. So a healthy balance of M1 and M2 macrophages is crucial to maintain an optimal immune response for fighting infections and it may help prevent the heightened inflammatory condition which comes from lack of exercise and obesity too.

Macrophages fight off infectious microbes that infiltrate the body. sciencepics/Shutterstock

Other studies have also shown that exercise has a beneficial impact on tissues immune cell function and can reduce unnecessary inflammation. Exercise training in obese individuals has been found to reduce the level of tissue inflammation specifically because there are less macrophage cells present in fat tissue.

In addition, researchers have found a significant link between exercise and the balance of M1 and M2 macrophages. It has been shown that acute exercise in obese rats resulted in a shift from the aggressive M1 macrophages to the more passive M2 and that this reduction in the inflammatory state correlated with an improvement in insulin resistance.

Time to move

There is no definitive answer as to how much and what intensity of exercise is necessary to protect us from diabetes. Though some researchers have shown that while higher-intensity exercise improves overall fitness, there is little difference between high and low-intensity exercise in improving insulin sensitivity.

However, a new study has found that all forms of aerobic exercise in particular high-intensity interval training such as cycling and running can effectively stop ageing at the cellular level. The exercise caused cells to make more proteins for their energy-producing mitochondria and their protein-building ribosomes. Researchers also observed that these molecular changes occurring at the gene and protein levels happened very quickly after exercise and that the effects prevented damage to important proteins in the cells and improve the way in which insulin functions.

Although you might not see the changes you want immediately, even gentle exercise can make a big difference to the way the bodys cells behave. This means that exercise could have far-reaching health benefits for other inflammatory associated diseases and possibly protect us against ageing and cancer too.

Andrew Thomas, Principal Lecturer, Cardiff Metropolitan University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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