Another Revealing Study on Exercise

April 3, 2011 by  
Filed under inspiration

woman-ball
I came across yet another study done on exercise that I wanted to share (am I overdoing this whole exercise study thing here? Please let me know. But I do find these studies endlessly fascinating)

We all know that physical activity is beneficial in countless ways, but even so, Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a professor of pediatrics at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, was startled to discover that exercise kept a strain of mice from becoming gray prematurely.

But shiny fur was the least of its benefits. Indeed, in heartening new research published recently in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, exercise reduced or eliminated almost every detrimental effect of aging in mice that had been genetically programmed to grow old at an accelerated pace.
little-rat
In the experiment, Dr. Tarnopolsky and his colleagues used lab rodents that carry a genetic mutation affecting how well their bodies repair malfunctioning mitochondria, which are tiny organelles within cells. Mitochondria combine oxygen and nutrients to create fuel for the cells. ( Just to let you know, mitochondria are microscopic power generators. I learn from these studies too)

Mitochrondria have their own DNA, distinct from the cell’s own genetic material, and they multiply on their own. But in the process, mitochondria can accumulate small genetic mutations, which under normal circumstances are corrected by specialized repair systems within the cell. Over time, as we age, the number of mutations begins to outstrip the system’s ability to make repairs, and mitochondria start malfunctioning and dying.

Many scientists consider the loss of healthy mitochondria to be an important underlying cause of aging in mammals. As resident mitochondria falter, the cells they fuel wither or die. Muscles shrink, brain volume drops, hair falls out or loses its pigmentation, and soon enough we are, in appearance and beneath the surface, old.

The mice that Dr. Tarnopolsky and his colleagues used lacked the primary mitochondrial repair mechanism, so they developed malfunctioning mitochondria early in their lives, as early as 3 months of age, the human equivalent of age 20. By the time they reached 8 months, or their early 60s in human terms, the animals were extremely frail and decrepit, with spindly muscles, shrunken brains, enlarged hearts, shriveled gonads and patchy, graying fur. Listless, they barely moved around their cages. All were dead before reaching a year of age.

Except the mice that exercised.

Half of the mice were allowed to run on a wheel for 45 minutes three times a week, beginning at 3 months. These rodent runners were required to maintain a fairly brisk pace, Dr. Tarnopolsky said: “It was about like a person running a 50 or 55 minute 10K.” (A 10K race is 6.2 miles.) The mice continued this regimen for five months.

At 8 months, when their sedentary lab mates were bald, frail and dying, the running rats remained youthful. They had full pelts of dark fur, no salt-and-pepper shadings. They also had maintained almost all of their muscle mass and brain volume. Their gonads were normal, as were their hearts. They could balance on narrow rods, the showoffs.

But perhaps most remarkable, although they still harbored the mutation that should have affected mitochondrial repair, they had more mitochondria over all and far fewer with mutations than the sedentary mice had. At 1 year, none of the exercising mice had died of natural causes. (Some were sacrificed to compare their cellular health to that of the unexercised mice, all of whom were, by that age, dead.)

The researchers were surprised by the magnitude of the impact that exercise had on the animals’ aging process, Dr. Tarnopolsky said. He and his colleagues had expected to find that exercise would affect mitochondrial health in muscles, including the heart, since past research had shown a connection. They had not expected that it would affect every tissue and bodily system studied.

Other studies, including a number from Dr. Tarnopolsky’s own lab,  have also found that exercise affects the course of aging, but none has shown such a comprehensive effect. And precisely how exercise alters the aging process remains unknown. In this experiment, running resulted in an upsurge in the rodents’ production of a protein known as PGC-1alpha, which regulates genes involved in metabolism and energy creation, including mitochondrial function.

Exercise also sparked the repair of malfunctioning mitochondria through a mechanism outside the known repair pathway; in these mutant mice, that pathway didn’t exist, but their mitochondria were nonetheless being repaired.
man-push
Dr. Tarnopolsky is currently overseeing a number of experiments that he expects will help to elucidate the specific physiological mechanisms. But for now, he said, the lesson of his experiment and dozens like it is unambiguous. “Exercise alters the course of aging,” he said.

Although in this experiment, the activity was aerobic and strenuous, Dr. Tarnopolsky is not convinced that either is absolutely necessary for benefits. Studies of older humans have shown that weightlifting can improve mitochondrial health, he said, as can moderate endurance exercise. Although there is probably a threshold amount of exercise that is necessary to affect physiological aging, Dr. Tarnopolsky said, “anything is better than nothing.” If you haven’t been active in the past, he continued, start walking five minutes a day, then begin to increase your activity level.

The potential benefits have attractions even for the young. While Dr. Tarnopolsky, a lifelong athlete, noted with satisfaction that active, aged mice kept their hair, his younger graduate students were far more interested in the animals’ robust gonads. Their testicles and ovaries hadn’t shrunk, unlike those of sedentary elderly mice.

Dr. Tarnopolsky’s students were impressed. “I think they all exercise now,” he said.
exercise-pill
After reading a study like this, I always think if they could put exercise in a pill form and sell it, the pill would cost a fortune, due to the benefits it offers. But exercise does not cost anything except our time and energy. Not a bad deal!

Longevity Quiz for You

March 7, 2011 by  
Filed under health

long-one
I know that I will not live forever, but maybe, just maybe, I can make some lifestyle changes that can influence how long I do live. Most importantly I would like those years to be healthy and as active as possible.

Over the past few years I have been reading some of the work that Thomas Perls, MD has been doing with centenarians at Boston University. He has written many books, papers and articles all about the topic of longevity. He recently developed this quiz based on the latest research on what factors help lengthen a person’s life. (this quiz is recently published in Health Magazine so it’s focused a bit more towards women, but men will learn from this too) Thomas Perls, MD is the real deal and I have the highest respect for the work he has been doing.

So spend a few minutes and take this quiz. Once you figure out your number, examine your numbers to figure out on how some simple changes can potentially add years to your life. This is kind of interesting quiz and  do make you think about your own health. Give it a shot. And yes, you can make some small changes in your life that can make a difference.
sea-one
LONGEVITY QUIZ

1. When you’re stressed, how do you handle it?
a) Very well. I thrive on it and find it motivating.
b) Pretty well. I have regular healthy outlets, like yoga, walking, or calling a friend.
c) Not so well. It’s hard for me to let problems and worries go.

2. How often do you do things that keep your brain sharp, like learning a language, playing chess, or solving crosswords?
1) A couple of times a week.
b) Between once a week and once a month.
c) Rarely or never.

3. Do you spend time with friends on a regular basis?
a) Yes, I have lots of friends, and I’m very social
b) Yes, I have a small circle of close friends whom I enjoy spending time with
c) No, I usually either go it alone or spend time just with my partner

4. Have any of your parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles lived to be 97 or older?
a) Yes
b) No
c) Don’t know

5. Do you have a brother, or sister with a history of heart attack or diabetes?
a) Yes
b) No
c) Don’t know

6. How much do you exercise?
a) 30 minutes at least five times a week
b) Some, around twice a week, and/or I regularly do something active like gardening or walking
c) Rarely or never

7. Are you at a health weight? (go to health.com/healthy weight calculator if you’re not sure.)
a) Yes, I’m within my ideal weight range.
b) Pretty close. I’m a bit above what the the charts say I should be, but I’m energetic and don’t have any weight related health problems.
c) No. I am well above my ideal weight, and I get sluggish and out of breath quicker than I’d like.

8. Do you smoke?
a) Yes
b) No

9. Do you floss?
a) every day
b) Once in a while
c) No

10. How often do you eat red meat?
a) 4 times a week or more
b) 2 or 3 times a week
c) Once a week or not at all

11. Did you have a child without fertility assistance after the age of 38, or did you stop getting your period completely after the age of 54?
(If you’re too young for either of these questions or don’t have children, pick “b”

a) Yes
b) No

12. Do you have a primary care doctor you trust whom you’ve seen in the last year?
a) Yes
b) No, but I see my gyno each year
c) No

13. How would you describe your sleep?
a) Great. I sleep enough so that I wake up feeling clearheaded and rested.
b) Could be better. I don’t get enough sleep, and I’m often tired during the day.
c) Not so great. I try to sleep, but I have insomnia sometimes or often.

KEY: For women start with the number 89 and add or subtract based on your answers. Males would start with 86.

1. a) 0 b)0 c)-5
2. a)+5 b)+2 c) 0
3. a)+5 b)+2 c) 0
4. a)+10 b)0 c) 0
5. a)-3 b)0 c) 0
6. a) 0 b)-2 c) -5
7. a) 0 b) 0 c) -8
8. a) -15 b) 0
9. a) 0 b) -3 c) -3
10. a) -5 b) -5 c) 0
11. a) +5 b) 0
12. a) 0 b) 0 c) -3
13. a) 0 b) -2 c) -2

Your potential age = years old.
fly-man

8 Best Exercise Tips for Boomers

January 30, 2011 by  
Filed under health

exercise-tips
I’m always looking in newspaper and magazine articles for good tips from experts to keep us healthy.

Here are 8 insider tips from nationally known personal trainers, coaches and exercise physiologists to help us get a little more oomph!

1) The minimum workout you need to stay healthy
Muscle strengthening exercises twice a week plus 2 1/2 hours a week of moderate activity like walking. Or 75 minutes a week of a more intense activity like jogging. Please ask your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

2) Get fitter faster
A more intense workout burns more calories in less time, says Pamela Peeke, M.D., author of Fit to Live. “You can walk 3.1 mile race in 40 minutes, jog it in 30 minutes or run it in under 20 minutes. Either way, you’re burning the same amount of calories,” she says.

3) Short spurts are best
Alternate spurts of hard, high-speed activity with periods of slower activity to shorten a workout while improving fitness, says Ron Woods, a coach at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando Florida.
man-pump
4) Stronger muscles in minutes
We lose muscle mass as we age, making us weaker. Two or three 30-minute weekly sessions using free weights or resistance bands will restore muscle and keep bones strong, says David Sandler, author of Fundamental Weight Training.

5) Upper and lower body moves
Alternating an upper body strength training exercise with a lower-body move is a time saver, says Gina Lombardi, author of Deadline Fitness, who has trained celebrities such as Andy Garcia. Alternate cardio moves, like rope jumping, with strength exercises such as lunges.

6) Say yes to yoga
A few minutes of yoga type stretches after a workout improves flexibility, range of motion and strength in a way that aerobic activities can’t, says Beryl Bender Birch, author of Boomer Yoga. An introductory class is best for beginners, since regular classes often last 90 minutes.

7) Buddy up
Exercising with others makes time fly. Dodo Stevens, 67, of Portland, Maine, meets 10 women and a trainer for a 45 minutes workout at a neighbor’s house. Cost: $11 per person. “I love working out with other people, “she says. “The whole thing is over before you know it.”
exercise-brain
8) Mix it up
Exercise programs need variety. This is key. If you do the same thing all the time, your body adapts and you stop making progress, says Pamula Peeke, the fitness author. Look for classes that provide an introduction to Zumba, Bellyrobics or other new, fun activities.

Keep in mind what James Fries, M.D., said about exercise. He is an expert on aging at Stanford University. He says “If you had to pick one thing that came closest to the fountain of youth, it would have to be exercise.”

Revealing German Study on Runners and Lifestyle

December 22, 2010 by  
Filed under health

run-good
A German study recently published in the latest issue of Deutsches Arzteblatt International reveals a link between lifestyle and exercise.

Sports scientists have revealed that impairments to health and physical performance are not primarily a result of aging but of bad lifestyle habits and lack of exercise.

Dieter Leyk and his team analyzed the stamina of more than 600, 000 marathon and half marathon runners and asked them about their lifestyle habits and their health.

Marathon running is particularly suitable for studying because participants have to put in sufficient training hours for the competition, and the athletes accommodate this into their day accordingly.
un-habits
The scientists found that unfavorable characteristics such as obesity, smoking, and lack of physical activity were rare in runners, and reductions in physical performance were more likely to be the result of biological aging processes.

These reductions make their presence felt only after the 54th year of life and are but slight. More than 25 per cent of 50- to 69-year-olds had taken up running only in the preceding 5 years and participated in a marathon nonetheless. You can see this connection highlighted in the short video on oomphtv.com about the 94 year old runner Jack Kirk-The Dipsea Demon.
exercise-foot
Something to think about when making your New Year’s resolution.

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Create A Holiday for Your Heart

December 1, 2010 by  
Filed under health

heart-hands
Now that the holidays are here let’s enjoy them, but keep in mind our own health. And yes, we can do both with a little bit of oomph in our holidays.

Heart Disease is still one of the top killers in America and there is much we can do to keep ourselves healthy, even over the holidays. Let’s try and eat the best we can and try to fit in some exercise.

For those concerned about death from cardiovascular disease, heart experts have some good news: Regular exercise, a healthy diet and five other simple measures can cut one’s near term risk of death by more than half. Yes, that right, more than half! Yes, we can have an impact on our own health! Let’s remember this over the holidays.
happy-holidays
And here’s the bad news: In a nationwide study of more than 17,820 adults, only two met all of the criteria for top-notch cardiovascular health.

The message of the study, presented recently at an American Heart Assn. conference in Chicago, is clear, said Dr. Mark Urman, medical director of Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute’s Preventive and Consultative Heart Center.

“Boy, most Americans aren’t very healthy,” said Urman, who wasn’t involved in the research. However, he added, “on a more positive note, the study confirms that individuals can take control of their health. Incremental changes can make a huge difference.”
holiday-exercise
The changes, dubbed Life’s Simple Seven, were laid out in January as part of an American Heart Assn. campaign to guide people toward “ideal cardiovascular health.” They include:

• At least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of intense exercise, a week.

• Having a body mass index of less than 25.

• Being a nonsmoker for at least one year.

• Meeting four out of five of the association’s key components for a healthy diet.

• Keeping total cholesterol below 200 milligrams per deciliter of blood.

• Maintaining blood pressure below 120/80 millimeters of mercury.

• Having a fasting blood sugar level below 100 mg/dL of blood.

“These are the sorts of things your grandmother told you,” said Dr. Mary Cushman, a cardiovascular disease researcher at the University of Vermont, who conducted the study.

Cushman used a database of people between 45 and 84 who were already enrolled in a nationwide study on the prevalence of stroke. All of the participants had been evaluated for the factors that make up the seven criteria.

Two individuals met all seven, while 213 people were compliant with six.

Death rates for those who met at least five criteria were 55% lower over the five-year study period than for those who met none, Cushman said.

The analysis showed how much each factor mattered, for every additional criteria met, a person reduced by 15% the chance of dying in the next four years.

“That tells how powerful these things relate to heart disease risk,” Cushman said. “Being as good as you can be on all of these factors is what your goal should be.”

Americans are most compliant when it comes to maintaining healthy blood pressure and abstaining from smoking. More than 80% of those in the survey were nonsmokers, and almost 67% were in the ideal range for blood pressure, Cushman said.

On the flip side, eating a healthy diet had the fewest adherents, only 0.43% of study participants managed to do so.
holiday-food
The ideal diet requires meeting four of five key components based on a 2,000 calories a day meal plan: 41/2 cups of fruits and vegetables a day; two or more 3.5-ounce servings of fish (preferably oily fish) a day; fewer than 450 calories a week of sugar-sweetened beverages; three or more 1-ounce servings a day of whole grains; and less than 1,500 mg of sodium a day.

Cushman couldn’t identify the two people whose score was perfect. “It would be interesting to go back and talk to them,” she said, to see how they live so healthfully.

I know, 2,000 calories a day might be a tall order, but how about some exercise between those larger meals? Just a thought.

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