Dec
01
2008

Climb Stairs And Stay Healthy

Everybody knows that walking from the TV to the fridge does not qualify as exercise, and those few steps to the mailbox don’t do the trick either, when it comes to staying fit. But by the same token it is also a fallacy to believe that only the work-out in the gym will reap benefits and improve aerobic capacity. According to Dr. Philippe Meyer and colleagues at Geneva University Hospital in Switzerland, the mundane task of taking the stairs can show statistically significant changes in aerobic capacity, decrease in body weight, decrease in fat mass, waist circumference, decrease in diastolic blood pressure and increase in heart healthy HDL cholesterol. Dr. Meyer asked 77 healthy hospital workers including 20 physicians to exclusively use the stairs at the 12-storey hospital. During this 12 week quest for more fitness promotional signs encouraged stair climbing. All of those 77 participants were a sedentary group of individuals. Nevertheless they had to walk…the cafeteria was on the twelfth floor! At the baseline the participants walked up and down an average of 4.5 storeys per day, and at the end of the twelve weeks they were walking about 20.6 storeys per day.

Climb Stairs and Stay Healthy

Climb stairs and stay healthy

The tangible results showed that aerobic capacity and fat mass remained significantly improved, even though the participants walked less storeys after 12 weeks. It seems that initial change of habits-walking instead of taking the elevator- had made the difference in the transformation from couch potato to more active individual.

Stair climbing is an excellent exercise for healthy individuals in the general population. This high intensity exercise cannot be recommended to heart patients that are not entirely stable or to a patient who has angina. In these cases caution and a supervised exercise program is needed.

More information about fitness: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/fitness/

The Medical Post, November 18, 2008, page 17

Last updated Nov. 6, 2014

Nov
01
2008

Pills For Diabetes Not Always Useful

Oral anti-diabetic drugs have been on the market for decades. They are often prescribed to patients with type 2 diabetes in an effort to control blood sugar levels. Type 1 diabetes patients, those who suffer from diabetes since childhood, generally require a different therapeutic approach. They receive insulin in the form of injections, or more recently by pump. The usefulness of the oral antidiabetic drugs has been researched by Elizabeth Sevin, PhD,MPH of John Hopkins Blomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore. Pooled data analysis found that patients who took one of the older medications, metformin, were at a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular illness. Metformin works by blocking the breakdown of glycogen (a storage form of sugar) in the liver, reduces absorption of sugar from the gut and increases insulin sensitivity thus controlling blood sugar more tightly. This protected the heart from cardiovascular illness. None of the other oral medications for type 2 diabetes was significantly linked to cardiovascular illness, but cardiovascular disease and mortality was higher in the patient group that took the drug rosiglitazone.

Pills For Diabetes Not Always Useful

How metformin works for type 2 diabetes

Due to the controversial reports about this drug, the researchers took a closer look at all the other oral anti-diabetic medications. None of them, not even the newest ones, proved to be superior, and the only one that showed a slight benefit was metformin. The author cautions that the association is too weak to be of significance, and a lot more long-term research would be needed to substantiate the benefits for cardiovascular protection.

More information on Diabetes: http://nethealthbook.com/hormones/diabetes/type-2-diabetes/

Comments on Nov. 18, 2012: I do not see any further benefit for more research on oral anti-diabetic agents. Rather this type of research would indicate that subcutaneous insulin treatment 3 or 4 times per day as originally suggested by Banting and Best is still the best treatment for diabetes coupled with an exercise program and a low fat, low glycemic carbohydrate diet.

Arch Intern Med. 2008;168:2070-2080

Last updated Nov. 6, 2014

Oct
01
2008

Lifestyle Can Be A Killer For Middle Age Women

Generally it is assumed that persons in their thirties and forties should be in their prime, and health concerns are cropping up in the higher middle age or only in old age.
Also, women were thought to generally enjoy better health and life expectancy, but the large Nurses’ Health Study on 77,782 women in the age group of 34 to 59 years shows other aspects.
Even in females who had no heart problems and no cancer at the onset of the study, lifestyle choices can make it or break it. At the end of the study that spanned 24 years, it became obvious that a total of 28% of all the mortalities could be attributed to smoking. If risky lifestyle choices were combined in the form of smoking, being overweight, having a lack of physical activity and a qualitatively poor diet, this number jumped to 55%. Alcohol intake did not change this estimate significantly.

Lifestyle Can Be A Killer For Middle Age Women

Lifestyle Can Be A Killer For Middle Age Women

It is obvious that for the benefit of better health and less mortality in middle age women, diet, exercise, a healthy body weight and eradicating smoking are key factors.

Reference: BMJ 2008;337:a1440

Comment on Nov. 18, 2012: So how many years longer will a woman live, if she quits at age 30? The Million Women Study found out that she will live 10 years longer than the control group of smoking women (see link). Nothing has changed since 2008. Lifestyle issues remain at the forefront.

Last edited December 3, 2012

Sep
01
2008

Runners Live Healthier Lives

It has been known for some time that exercise is healthy for you. But how do runners do on the long-term? This has been investigated in a recent study spanning 21 years from 1984 to 2003 published in the August edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine. 538 members 50 years or older of a nationwide running club were compared to a sample of 423 healthy controls. In the beginning of the study the members (all males) were 50 years or older. Disability levels were assessed with a health questionnaire and classified into a scale from 0 (no disability) to 3 (unable to perform). Death rates were also determined.The results showed that disability scores were always lower in runners (0.17) than in controls that did not run (0.36), which translated into 39% less disability. In 2003 the death rate was 34% in the controls, but only 15% in the runner group, in other words a 38% better survival of runners compared to the controls. In 2005 a further follow-up showed that the survival curve was still increasing for the runners who had now entered their eighties.

Runners Live Healthier Lives

Runners Live Healthier Lives

The authors of this study pointed out that length of life, health status and disability status can all be significantly improved with regular moderate exercise such as running. Other studies have suggested this as well, but none has followed this up over such a long period (21 years). Increasing healthy lifestyle behaviors will also reduce health care costs and prevent disabilities from chronic diseases.

Choose your fitness activity as reviewed here: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/fitness/

Reference: Arch Intern Med. 2008;168:1638-1646

Last edited November 5, 2014

Jun
01
2008

Diabetes Onset Can be Delayed

Diabetes delayed by diet and exercise

Prevention is the buzzword in healthcare, but often medicine has to embark on the curative avenues. With the onset of a health problem patients are often tempted to throw in the towel: it’s too late now anyways. There is nothing I can do. It’s up to medication, pills or shots to get a handle on my problem. Nothing could be further from the truth, as major clinical trials have shown, when it comes to intervention to prevent the onset of diabetes. There is a stage where lab tests show that a patient has impaired glucose tolerance. He or she is”pre-diabetic”. Without intervention the development of diabetes is more or less imminent. But this does not mean that “it is too late “. It is exactly at that point, where lifestyle intervention can make a difference. How long do these post-intervention studies remain effective? Professor Guangwei Li at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing, China and Dr. Ping Zhang from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention followed up patients 20 years after enrolment. In 1986, 577 adults from 33 clinics in China were randomly assigned to a control group or one of three lifestyle intervention groups (diet, exercise or diet and exercise combined).

Diabetes Onset Can be Delayed

Diabetes Onset Can be Delayed

All of the patients had impaired glucose tolerance. There was an active intervention program until 1992, and in 2006 participants were assessed for the long-term effect of the interventions. The results showed that the combined lifestyle interventions reduced the incidence of diabetes by about half during the active intervention period of 6 years. Over the 20 year duration the reduction was 43 %. At the end of the 20 year period 80% of the intervention group had developed diabetes, whereas 93% of the control group that had not followed a lifestyle intervention program were diabetic. The researchers reported that lifestyle intervention programs for patients with impaired glucose tolerance can indeed make a difference. A six year intervention program can delay the onset of diabetes by 14 years.

More information about diabetes: http://nethealthbook.com/hormones/diabetes/

Reference: Lancet 2008;371:1783-1789; 1731-1733.

Last edited November 3, 2014

Apr
01
2008

Short Daily Exercise Helps Chronic Pain Patients

Chronic pain can be an affliction that turns normal living and functioning upside down. Quality of life will be negatively affected, and often depression and anxiety are resulting mental problems. Effective pain relief is crucial, but often there are undesirable side effects to pain medication, and the patient will explore other avenues that bring a measure of relief. Amy Burleson, Psy.D. of the Cleveland Clinic’s chronic pain rehabilitation program found that chronic pain patients were physically deconditioned due to chronic pain and a chronic lack of physical activity. Depression and other mood disorder also were very common. A 10 minute exercise program was added to the treatment of a group of 28 patients who suffered of various chronic pains: back pain, fibromyalgia, neuropathy and migraines. Patients started a simple routine of walking on a treadmill, starting with a low speed of 1 mile per hour and increasing the speed every few minutes, till they walked at a speed of 3 miles per hour, a speed which was manageable for all patients. After 3 weeks patients found that their physical endurance had increased. They also experienced less depression and anxiety. Even more remarkable was the fact that the patients’ pain perception had diminished.

Short Daily Exercise Helps Chronic Pain Patients

Short Daily Exercise Helps Chronic Pain Patients

Likert scale scores which were used in the assessment of pain perception showed a drop from 7.32 in the beginning of the program to 2.75 at 3 weeks. It is obvious that even mild exercise has benefits for patients with chronic pain: the overall well being receives a noticeable boost through an approach that has no pharmacological impact, no side effects and has no high cost of health care.

More information on the right dose of exercise: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/fitness/right-dose-exercise/

Reference: Pain Medicine, Volume 9, Issue 1, Page 88-141 (January/February 2008)

Last edited November 3, 2014

Jul
01
2007

Regular Exercise Will Delay Onset Of Alzheimer’s Or Dementia

Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia have become a disease that is dreaded by people approaching middle age. As the population ages it has made its way into the foreground not only for the ageing group but also for younger family members who will face difficult tasks as caregivers to their loved ones.

Research is dealing with a possibility of halting the disease progression, and there are encouraging signs, that more effective treatment will be available, as long as the condition is diagnosed and treated in its early stages.

It is also logical to look at preventative measures. Healthy lifestyle choices have been cited, and a closer look has been taken by Dr. Eric Larson, executive director of the Center for Health Studies of the Group Health Cooperative, Seattle. He reports that it does at this point not seem probable that Alzheimer’s dementia can always be prevented from happening, but the onset can be delayed. Four observational studies have shown with consistency, a 30% to 40% reduction in the incidence of Alzheimer’s when people get regular exercise.

In his own study Dr. Larson looked at 2581 individuals age 65 and over. They were tested for cognitive function and interviewed about their exercise habits every two years. It was found that those who followed an exercise regime 3 or four times per week had a 40 % reduction in the risk of developing dementia compared to those who exercised less than 3 times per week.

Regular Exercise Will Delay Onset Of Alzheimer’s Or Dementia

Regular Exercise Will Delay Onset Of Alzheimer’s Or Dementia

Exercise could consist of at least 15 minutes of hiking, aerobics, stretching, calisthenics, water aerobics, swimming, or weight training. It was also of interest to note that people with the lowest physical performance benefited most from the exercise. For people in the higher age bracket prevention of dementia (and other ills) does not have to be costly. A good pair of walking or running shoes (used more than 3 times per week) will pay a healthy dividend.

More information on prevention of Alzheimer’s and dementia: http://www.askdrray.com/dementia-prevented-with-diet-and-exercise/

Reference regarding the work of Dr. Larson: http://www.news-medical.net/news/2006/05/23/18087.aspx

Last edited December 18, 2014

Jan
01
2007

Ballroom Dancing Improves Heart Health

It has been pointed out that there is not such a notion “It’s too late now to think of an exercise program”.
Researchers led by Dr. Romualdo Belardinelli, director of cardiac rehabilitation from the Lancisi heart Institute in Ancona, Italy took a close look at 110 patients with stable chronic heart failure. The average age of the patients was 59 years and 89 of them were men. The group was assigned different physical activities. Forty-four patients used an exercise bike or exercise treadmill three times a week for 8 weeks. Forty- four other patients chose to participate in 21-minutes of ballroom dancing consisting of waltzes (alternating slow and fast) three times per week. A third group of 22 patients had no exercise. Heart rates during exercise training and dancing were similar at 110 respectively 113 beats per minute. Cardiopulmonary fitness improved at a similar rate in both groups. Oxygen consumption increased by 16 % in the exercise group and by 18% in the dance group. In other words, exercise fitness had significantly improved in these two groups.

Quality of life as measured by the Minnesota Living With Heart Failure Questionnaire improved significantly more in the ballroom dance group, particularly in the emotional domain.

Ballroom Dancing Improves Heart Health

Ballroom Dancing Improves Heart Health

The findings are not just of significance to patients with heart failure. It is the observation that ballroom dancing seems to be a more effective way to get people into an exercise program who otherwise would not be interested in this. For some people it is simply more enjoyable to dance and enjoy social interaction as an additional benefit than running on a treadmill.

More information is available about:

1. Fitness: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/fitness/

2. Health for adults: http://nethealthbook.com/health-adults/

3. Health for seniors: http://nethealthbook.com/health-seniors/

Reference: The Medical Post Dec. 19, 2006, page 17

Last edited November 2, 2014

Jul
01
2006

Exercise Can Reverse Risk Of Heart Disease

A growing health concern is cardiovascular illness. As a rule the risk increases with unhealthy life style choices. The most common neglect is the lack of physical activity, and a couch-potato existence is a sure recipe for poor health. Often juvenile “couch potatoes” lay the groundwork for health problems in their middle age years.
Jennifer Robbins of Duke University in Durham, N.C. led a follow-up study on a group of participants. The objective was to examine, how much impact an exercise program would have on the overall condition of the participants. Fitness parameters included weight, waist circumference, visceral and subcutaneous fat, cholesterol levels and metabolic score.
In a control group 61 subjects were instructed not to change their dietary habits or exercise habits for 6 months. Researchers expected that the general health condition of these people would stay the same. What was observed, however, was a deterioration of all the fitness parameters. The sedentary group actually got worse! At the end of the study, all the 61 were offered to participate in one of the exercise programs offered to the other groups. 53 participants decided to take part, and they were enrolled in a low- intensity, medium-intensity and high- intensity exercise program. The two lower groups managed to reverse the detrimental effects of inactivity on cardio-vascular risk in a half-year exercise program. The researchers noted also that the ones who had deteriorated the most during the sedentary period achieved the most improvement from the exercise program.

Exercise Can Reverse Risk Of Heart Disease

Exercise Can Reverse Risk Of Heart Disease

Exercise Physiologist Jennifer Robbins and her team concluded, that the study result gives encouragement to those who don’t exercise and feel bad about it, as they will reap the most benefits. The results also give doctors more incentive to make physical exercise part of a prescription regimen. With a word of recommendation from the physician patients are more likely to enrol in an exercise program and stick with it.

More info about:

Heart disease: http://nethealthbook.com/cardiovascular-disease/heart-disease/

Fitness and exercise: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/fitness/ 

Reference: The Medical Post, June 20, 2006, page 47

Last edited Nov. 1, 2014

May
01
2006

Life Extension Through Calorie Restriction

Animal experiments in the past have pointed out that overfeeding resulted in less life expectancy of the animal. Experiments with primates showed that withholding food did not compromise the health and vitality. To the contrary: the chimp lived well and even lived longer. Experiments with rodents are still very much removed from the application to humans, and to get closer to the facts, new research has enlisted the help of humans. Participants were randomized to 1 of four groups in a study that went on for half a year. The first group received caloric restriction of 25% of baseline requirement. A second group had 12.5 % caloric restriction, group three 12.5% more exercise with a structured program. A fourth group consumed a very low-calorie diet of 890 kcal until 15% weight reduction, which was followed by a weight maintenance diet.
At 6 months, fasting insulin levels were significantly reduced from baseline in the intervention groups. Core body temperature was reduced in the group with calorie restriction and the group with calorie restriction with exercise.
These findings suggest that 2 biomarkers of longevity (fasting insulin level and body temperature) are decreased by prolonged calorie restriction in humans. The metabolic rate is lowered as a result. DNA damage was also researched, and in the intervention groups (calorie restricted diets) it was lower. The 6-month study suggests, that calorie restriction may not mean deprivation, but less “wear and tear” on the metabolism.

Life Extension Through Calorie Restriction

Life Extension Through Calorie Restriction

Studies of longer duration are required to determine if calorie restriction has the capability to slow down aging in humans.

More on calorie restriction: http://nethealthbook.com/news/calorie-restriction-makes-live-longer/

Reference: JAMA. 2006; 295:1539-1548

Last edited Oct. 31, 2014