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A recent large Swedish study found that men who increased their cardiorespiratory fitness had a  significantly lower prostate cancer risk (when compared to men whose cardiorespiratory fitness stayed the same or declined) .

Men who increased their fitness by more than 3% over the course of a year had a 35% lower risk of prostate cancer during the 7 year follow-up. Cardiorespiratory fitness was measured two times (baseline and a year later) by peddling on a stationary cycle and measuring absolute and relative VO2 max - the amount (volume) of oxygen the body uses while exercising as hard as possible.

By the way, other studies also find that cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with the risk of some cancers, as well as dying from certain cancer types. This study did not find an increase in cancer deaths, but it also only followed the men 7 years.

Bottom line: Increase your activity levels! Walking, hiking, bicycling gardening, sports, exercises - it all counts. You can do it!

From Medical Xpress: Increase in annual cardiorespiratory fitness by more than 3% linked to 35% lower prostate cancer risk

An increase in annual cardiorespiratory fitness by 3% or more is linked to a 35% lower risk of developing, although not dying from, prostate cancer, suggests research published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. ...continue reading "Improve Fitness To Lower Risk of Prostate Cancer"

Erectile dysfunction is a serious problem for many men, especially as they get older. A review and analysis of 11 well-done studies  looking at whether exercise helps with erectile dysfunction found that YES, it does.

They found that exercising for at least 30 minutes three times a week can be just as effective as Viagra and Cialis at improving erectile dysfunction (ED). Also, the worse the ED at the start of a study, the more exercise helped.

What were the exercises? Any aerobic activities that got the heart pumping, such as cycling, tennis, or brisk walking. In the studies looked at, the exercise sessions were typically 30 to 60 minutes, and occurred 3 to 5 times a week. Some studies had the men exercise on their own, while other studies had the men attend supervised exercise sessions.

Bottom line: Exercise improved ED in all men! It didn't matter what the men weighed, their medication use - it helped them all. (Examples of earlier studies looking at exercise and physical activity helping improve ED.)

This could be because ED is considered a measure of a man's overall heart health. When there is heart disease, inflammation, and narrowing or hardening of the arteries - then ED increases. Physical activity, on the other hand, improves health, including heart disease.

Excerpts from Medscape: Exercise as Good as Viagra for ED: Study

Exercising for at least 30 minutes three times a week can be just as effective as Viagra and similar medications at improving erectile function, according to a new analysis of the best research to date on aerobic exercise and erectile function. ...continue reading "Try Exercise First For Erectile Dysfunction"

We've known for a while that exercise and physical activity lower the risk of developing heart disease. It turns out that a good exercise that many of us do in the course of ordinary life is walking up and down stairs. Yes, that counts!

A large study (458,860 adults) used data from the UK (Biobank). They found that walking up 5 flights of stairs (about 50 steps) daily was associated with a 20% lower risk of developing heart disease (including ischemic strokes) after 5 years.

Interestingly, persons who were stair climbers at the beginning of the study, but then stopped at some point during the 5 year length of the study had a higher risk of heart disease than those who never climbed stairs.

Bottom line: Walk up stairs whenever you can. It's good for your heart!

From Science Daily: Walking more than five flights of stairs a day can cut risk of heart disease by 20 percent, study says

Forget walking 10,000 steps a day. Taking at least 50 steps climbing stairs each day could significantly slash your risk of heart disease, according to a new study from Tulane University. ...continue reading "Daily Walking Up Stairs Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease"

There is tremendous interest in how to live a long and healthy life. This means trying to avoid getting diseases that so many suffer from as they age, such as diabetes, heart disease, and dementia. What diets are best? What kind of lifestyle?

NPR published a recent article about 7 daily habits linked to living a longer, healthier life, using information from Dan Buettner's work on blue zones. Scientific research supports the importance of these habits, especially good nutrition (for example, the Mediterranean diet) and physical activity.

The blue zones are communities throughout the world in which there are a lot of centenarians (people living to 100 years or more). What is important is that the people in these communities are aging with good health, and leading active and fulfilling lives - without dementia, and not in nursing homes.

The diets vary from place to place, but all avoid fast foods and highly processed foods. Instead, a lot of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes (beans), and nuts are eaten. Little meat. Food is cooked at home. By the way, this type of diet is associated with a good gut microbiome, and generally a good gut microbiome goes with good health.

Unfortunately, these blue zone areas are now fading, due to changes in lifestyles  - fast food, etc. But a few other places are stepping up, trying to make living spaces healthier and incorporating what has been learned about health and longevity - for example, Singapore.

Bottom line: Research shows a diet rich in plant-based foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes), plenty of sleep, lots of movement (physical activity), and a sense of purpose in life are all important in aging well.

Excerpts from correspondent Allison Aubrey article at NPR: 7 habits to live a healthier life, inspired by the world's longest-lived communities

At a time when life expectancy in the U.S. has dipped and diet-related disease is a leading cause of death, it's no wonder that Dan Buettner's decades-long exploration of centenarians who thrive in the longest-lived communities on Earth is attracting lots of attention. ...continue reading "Some Habits For Living A Longer and Healthier Life"

There has been tremendous interest in the past decade over the best diet and lifestyle for aging well and living to a ripe old age. Author Dan Buettner has spent much of the past decade visiting communities around the world where there are many residents who live to 100 years or more, and in good health. He calls these communities blue zones.

Dan Buettner now has a good National Geographic documentary on Netflix called Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones. This documents him visiting Blue Zones (Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Loma Linda, Calif.; and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica) looking at the lifestyles and diets in this communities.

He found that while the diets vary, overall the people in these communities have a lot of plant based whole foods (especially whole grains, vegetables, beans, and tubers, such as sweet potatoes), and they avoid fast-food and highly processed foods. They do not take dietary supplements. They have a lot of physical activity in their daily activities, are committed to their families, take time to de-stress, and they have social networks with healthy behaviors.

He also recently published a book called The Blue Zones Secrets for Living Longer: Lessons From the Healthiest Places On Earth.

A recent large study found another great reason for being physically active. The researchers found that physical fitness is linked to  atrial fibrillation (AFib) and stroke.

Atrial fibrillation is a heart rhythm disorder, and having it is linked to a much higher risk of having a stroke. The researchers found that being physically fit (exercise! physical activity!) is linked to lower rates of atrial fibrillation, stroke, and MACE (major adverse cardiovascular events, such as stroke or heart attack leading to death).

There was an eleven year follow up of the approximately 15,450 participants, all of whom did not have atrial fibrillation at the start of the study. The study tested the  physical fitness of the participants (average age 55 years) on an exercise treadmill.

Bottom line: Physical activity and physical fitness are important for reducing the risk of developing heart problems, including atrial fibrillation. Yes, even taking walks (brisk is best) will improve physical fitness.

From Science Daily: Keep fit to avoid heart rhythm disorder and stroke

A study in more than 15,000 people has found that physical fitness is linked with a lower likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation and stroke. The research is presented at ESC Congress 2023.
...continue reading "Being Physical Fit Is Linked To A Lower Risk of Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke"

Great news for people who don't have the time or the desire to engage in exercise routines, gym visits, or sports. A recent large study found that several very short bursts of physical activity (each less than a minute or two) during the day are beneficial to health. They lower cancer risk!

Researchers followed 22,398 non-exercising adults (average age 62 years) for 7 years. The participants wore tracking devices (wrist accelerometers) for 1 week at the beginning of the study to measure their activity levels. Starting at year 2 their cancer incidence was looked at.

They found that several short bursts of vigorous physical activity (each lasting less than 1 or 2 minutes) each day was associated with lower rates of cancer. And it was a dose response - the more of these little bursts of physical activity over the day, the lower the rates of cancer, especially physical activity related cancer.

About 3 1/2 minutes a day of vigorous activity was associated with a 17 to 18% reduction in cancer risk, but 4 1/2 minutes a day was associated with a 31% to 32% reduction in physical activity-related cancers (e.g., breast, endometrial, and colon cancers).

Bottom line: Engage in a little huffing and puffing physical activity every day and lower your risk of cancer. Run up those stairs! Dance to a song! Carry those heavy groceries! Every bit counts. This could be because short bursts of physical activity improve cardiorespiratory fitness and lower inflammation.

Excerpts from Science Daily: Short bursts of daily activity linked to reduced cancer risk

Promising new research suggests a total of just 4.5 minutes of vigorous activity that makes you huff and puff during daily tasks could reduce the risk of some cancers by up to 32 percent. ...continue reading "Short Bursts of Physical Activity Associated With Lower Cancer Risk"

Could this be another paradigm shift in medical care? This time it's substituting a non-surgical approach vs the current surgical approach for ACL ruptures.

A recent study found that a non-surgical bracing procedure for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) ruptures of the knee resulted in 90% having evidence of ACL healing at 3 months. And those with more healing at 3 months had better long-term (12 month) outcomes.

Those with less severe ACL ruptures had quicker, better healing, and a greater percentage (92%) returned to their pre-injury sport. But 64% were able to return to their sport even if they had a more severe ACL rupture. Eleven patients (14%) reinjured their ACL within a year.

The Cross Bracing Protocol (CBP) used in this study of 80 patients (within 4 weeks of ACL rupture) was: 1) knee immobilization at 90° flexion in a brace for 4 weeks, 2) followed by progressive increases in range-of-motion until the brace was removed at 12 weeks, and 3) physiotherapist-supervised goal-oriented rehabilitation.

The researchers hypothesized that holding the knee at 90 degrees could help unite the torn ends of the ACL and encourage healing. Of course, more and larger studies are now needed to confirm the results.

From Medical Xpress: New treatment could help avoid surgery by healing ACL rupture, study shows

A new non-surgical bracing treatment may help to facilitate healing after an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture, a new study has found. ...continue reading "New Non-Surgical Approach to ACL Rupture Looks Promising"

Another study was just published with results that may motivate us to go outside more. A small study with college students found that taking a walk outside in nature results in more mental health benefits (improved brain functioning) than taking the same length walk inside.

The walks were short - only 15 minutes long, and yet there were differences in health benefits. This was seen in the brain EEGs done during tasks before and after the walks. One health result which benefited more from outdoor walks is in how the brain functions, which the researchers call cognitive function.

Keep in mind: All exercise has health benefits, including for the brain - whether the exercise/physical activity is done indoors or outdoors. Exercise or physical activity is always better than no exercise or physical activity.

Other studies also show that exercising outdoors in natural environments produces more benefits to the brain than exercising indoors. Outdoor exercise enhances "executive functions" of the brain (such as attention, memory, and control of inhibitions) more than indoor exercise.

Bottom line: Get out and take a walk, even if only for a brief time. It's good for you!

From Medical Xpress: Going for a walk outside found to have more mental health benefits than walking indoors

A team of researchers at the University of Victoria, working with a colleague from York University, both in Canada, has found that going for a short walk outdoors provides people with more mental health benefits than going for a same-length walk inside. In their study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, the group asked volunteers to walk indoors or outdoors and tested them before and after their walk. ...continue reading "Outside Walks May Have More Brain Health Benefits Than Inside Walks"

Some good news for those finding it hard to find time or motivation for lengthy exercise sessions. It turns out that frequent little bursts of exercise about 1 to 2 minutes long also have tremendous health benefits, even if you spend most of the day sitting. Think of them as "exercise snacks".

An exercise or activity snack is a "brief snippet of exercise, usually lasting a minute or two, and done frequently during the day". There are studies (exercise snacking research!) finding it a good way to improve fitness, especially cardiorespiratory fitness and cardiometabolic health. The benefits of exercise snacking can be comparable to lengthier traditional workouts.

Some examples of exercise or activity snacks: walking quickly up and down a staircase, walking quickly around a room, rising and lowering 15 times from a chair, and jumping up and down. Ideally anything that'll raise your heart rate and breathing briefly. Sounds easier than going to a gym, doesn't it?

The Washington Post has a nice article about exercise snacking. Below that is an example of recent exercise snack research.

From The Washington Post - These 2-minute exercise bursts may be better than your regular workout

Here’s an easy and effective way to add physical activity to your daily routine during the new year: turn your exercise into a snack.

New research shows exercise “snacks,” which consist of brief spurts of exertion spread throughout the day, can improve metabolic health, raise endurance and stave off some of the undesirable changes in our muscles that otherwise occur when we sit too long.

...continue reading "Exercise Snacks Can Be An Easy Way To Improve Fitness"