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For a long time we thought that our genes determine how long we will live (longevity). A new study says not so fast - how we live is more important than our genes. Specifically, how much physical activity and sedentary time (time spent sitting) both have an effect on whether we die early or later, no matter our genetic make-up.

Researchers found that among older women - having higher weekly amounts of light, moderate, or vigorous physical activity was associated with a lower risk of early death. Having higher amounts of sedentary (sitting) time was associated with a higher risk of early death. It didn't matter if there was a genetic predisposition for longevity or not - the findings applied to everyone.

Bottom line: Get off the sofa or out of your chair and move, move, move. All types of physical activity are good for longevity and to lower risk of disease. While this study looked at older women, the findings are also thought to apply to older men.

From Science Daily: Physical activity may have a stronger role than genes in longevity

Previous research has shown that low physical activity and greater time spent sitting are associated with a higher risk of death. Does risk change if a person is genetically predisposed to live a long life? ...continue reading "Physical Activity May Be More Important Than Genes In Longevity"

There is something easy you can do to make flu or COVID-19 vaccines that you receive even more effective. Get some exercise after the jab and the antibodies your bodies produce in the following month will increase. It's a way to get an extra immune boost.

How much exercise? Iowa State Univ. researchers found that 90 minutes of light to moderate exercise (e.g. exercise bike or brisk walk) effective in boosting antibody production, but no benefit from 45 minutes of exercise or no exercise after vaccination.

The exercise should be started soon after getting the vaccination (in the study it was 30 minutes after getting vaccinated). By the way, the exercise did not increase vaccine side-effects.

From Science Daily: Exercise post-vaccine bumps up antibodies, new study finds

Researchers at Iowa State University found 90 minutes of mild- to moderate-intensity exercise directly after a flu or COVID-19 vaccine may provide an extra immune boost. ...continue reading "Exercising After Getting Vaccine Boosts Antibodies"

More and more research over the past decade has stressed the importance of exercise for our health, but it turns out it is also important in slowing down tumor development. Yes - it actually reduces the growth of cancer.

During a presentation at a 2022 medical conference in Spain, researcher Adrián Castillo García stated that a prescription for exercise (physical activity) should be part of cancer treatment.

Physical exercise also works to make cancer treatments more effective. For example, physical exercise (physical activity), in combination with chemotherapy, reduces the progression of cancer and on tumor volume (doesn't grow as much). Garcia thought that resistance exercise, such as cycling, was especially effective.

Other studies also find that exercise slows down tumor growth (e.g., colon cancer growth in persons with colorectal cancer is reduced by high intensity interval training), and lowers the risk of developing bowel cancer.

Bottom line: View exercise as anti-cancer.

From Medscape: Nutrients and Exercise Affect Tumor Development

Researchers discussed an update on the latest evidence regarding the cancer-lifestyle link as part of the Precision Health session: Oncology, held during the 7th International Congress of the Spanish Society of Precision Health (SESAP). The role that certain nutrients can have on tumor development was analyzed, along with the most recent data justifying the idea that the prescription of physical exercise should not be optional, but rather integrated into oncological treatment.

Exercise as Oncological Therapy

In the same session, Adrián Castillo García, graduate in physical activity and sports sciences and a researcher at the Barcelona Biomedical Research Institute (IIBB) of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), reviewed the latest studies that showed evidence of the importance of physical exercise during cancer treatment and its potential role in modulating the tumor microenvironment and immune function. 

...continue reading "Exercise Slows Down Tumor Development"

Walking for exercise has another great health benefit - this time for the knees. A study found that frequent walking reduces frequent knee pain in people already diagnosed with knee arthritis (osteoarthritis), but not yet experiencing daily knee pain. It may also be a good way to slow damage from arthritis that occurs within the joint.

Frequent walkers reported 40% less new frequent knee pain (compared to persons who didn't walk for exercise). All the 1212 study participants were 50 years or older.

In other words, get out there and walk, preferably every day - it helps the knees!

From Science Daily: Walking Towards Healthier Knees

A new study published today in Arthritis & Rheumatology led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine reveals that walking for exercise can reduce new frequent knee pain among people age 50 and older diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. Additionally, findings from the study indicate that walking for exercise may be an effective treatment to slow the damage that occurs within the joint. ...continue reading "Walking Benefits the Knees"

Credit: Wikipedia

Athletes, exercise enthusiasts, trainers, and coaches have long supported the use of compression garments (compression workout clothes) during exercise, feeling that it helps recovery after the exercise. Stores market and sell such garments, and exercise bloggers promote their use.

Compression garments are form-fitted elastic garments that compress the body and muscles. However, their use has been "controversial" , with most studies not finding a beneficial effect on "immediate or performance recovery, or on delayed onset of muscle soreness".

A recent Japanese review and analysis of studies (published in Sports Medicine) had a similar finding: "Compression garments during or after training does not seem to facilitate the recovery of muscle strength following physical exercise. Practitioners, athletes, coaches, and trainers should reconsider the use of compression garments as a tool to reduce the effects of physical exercise on muscle strength."

From Science Daily: Do compression garments facilitate muscle recovery after exercise?

Compression garments are an elastic cloth fitting that people wear on their arms, legs, or hips during or after physical exercise. Their use has gained popularity over the last few decades because they are thought to enhance muscle recovery following exercise. ...continue reading "Compression Garments Not Needed During Exercise"

For years people have searched for ways to prevent cancer, which occurs significantly more with age. A recent study conducted in 5 European countries offers hope that some simple steps could reduce the incidence of invasive cancer up to 61 % in older adults (over 70 years of age).

The 3 year long study tested individual and combinations of vitamin D3, marine omega-3, and a simple home strength exercise program and found that the combination of all 3 (vitamin D3 + marine omega-3 supplements + exercise) reduced the incidence of invasive cancer by 61 percent. In other words, it prevented cancer.

What they took: Persons in the double-blind (no one knew who was in what group) study were randomly assigned to one of 8 groups with the intervention alone or combined: daily supplements of 2000 IU of vitamin D3, and/or daily 1 g of marine omega-3s, and/or a simple home strength exercise program compared to a placebo/control group. NOTE: The marine omega-3s supplements used were algae-based (EPA + DHA ratio: 1:2), and not fish oil.

Even though there were over 2000 participants in the study, the numbers were too low to see if there were effects on certain types of cancers. Can only say there was a reduction in invasive cancers when all 3 interventions were combined. Looking at the study report, it is unclear how frequently and how many of the home-strengthening exercises were done each week.

Other studies: As the researchers note - other studies have had mixed results on vitamin D3 and omega-3 supplements, which are typically fish oil. A major review in 2020 of 27 studies using fish oil supplements (for a total of 113,557 participants) found little or no benefit regarding cancer or cancer death, and a 2021 review of 5 studies found increased risk of atrial fibrillation. So once again, we'll see... Three years (the length of this study) is a short time regarding cancer.

Bottom line: While vitamin D3 and fish oil supplements are being debated over their health effects, all studies find health benefits from exercise and eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, some fish, and olive oil. Also, vitamin D3 is superior to vitamin D2, and that taking it daily is better than a mega-dose occasionally (e.g., once a month). Getting some sunlight (vitamin D) is also recommended.

From Medical Xpress: A combination of three simple treatments may reduce invasive cancer risk by 61% among adults aged 70+

A new study published in Frontiers in Aging found that a combination of high-dose vitamin D, omega-3s, and a simple home strength exercise program (SHEP) showed a cumulative reduction by 61% in cancer risk in healthy adults aged 70 or older.  ...continue reading "Study Suggests Simple Steps To Reduce Cancer Risk In Older Adults"

The studies are coming fast and furious about how all daily physical activity has health benefits. Ordinary daily activities that cause a person to move, such as housework, vacuuming, washing dishes, gardening, walking, cooking, even showering - all count. (On the other hand, reading and computer use do not.)

A recent study by University of California researchers found a higher rate of heart disease, stroke, and death in older women who have less than 2 hours each day of "daily life movement" (daily physical activities) compared to those who have more than 4 hours per day. At the start of the study 5416 women (63 years or older, and without heart disease) wore an accelerometer to measure their daily movements for 1 week, and then their health was followed for more than 6 years.

The researchers found that higher amounts of daily life movement or "being up and about" were associated with a lower risk of major cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular death in older women. In other words - all movement (and not just exercise) counts towards cardiovascular disease prevention.

From Science Daily: Daily activities like washing dishes reduced heart disease risk in senior women

Seniors take note, running or brisk walking is not the only way to reduce the risk of heart disease. Simply being "up and about" performing routine activities, referred to as daily life movement, including housework, gardening, cooking and self-care activities like showering can significantly benefit cardiovascular health. ...continue reading "Ordinary Daily Activities Can Have Health Benefits"

Many people think that only exercises done in a gym, in exercise classes, or with exercise equipment can improve health. But no! Any physical activity is good, which means ordinary walks and household tasks or housework are beneficial. And the more frequently you do them, the more beneficial.

Studies show that physical activity from housework tasks (e.g., vacuuming) are associated with improved cognition, increased brain volume, and executive functioning of the brain in older adults, and with less frailty. Higher levels of physical activity are linked to a reduction in early death and heart diseases. Heavy household tasks (e.g. vacuuming, window cleaning, scrubbing, painting) have more benefits than light household tasks (e.g., dusting, ironing, doing laundry, washing dishes, cooking).

I know, I know - no one wants to get up and do such household tasks as vacuuming, but think of it as exercise class replacement.

A commentary (and video) by Dr. Stephan Martin discussing studies showing housework improving health and fitness. From Medscape: Housework Can Increase Brain Volume and Physical Fitness

Physical activity is a panacea: it protects against cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarction and stroke. Very active people are less likely to have type 2 diabetes, and the prevalence of dementia is apparently lower for them.  ...continue reading "Physical Activity of Housework Has Health Benefits"

The CDC (Centers for Disease ) recently released another bit of gloomy news about Americans - that 25% of adults report being physically inactive. Being physically inactive means that they don't do any physical activities outside of work. This means no walking for exercise, no gardening, no bicycling, nothing.

There were differences according to where a person lives - from a low of physical inactivity of 17.7% of people in Colorado to a high of 49.4% in Puerto Rico. There were regional variations with the South reporting 27.5% of adults being physically inactive and with the West the least (21.0%).

There were also differences in physical inactivity levels by race and ethnicity. Overall, Hispanic adults (32.1%) reported the most physical inactivity outside of work, and non-Hispanic Asian adults the least (20.1%). The results were from large-scale health-related telephone surveys (called Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System or BRFSS), with more than 400,000 adults interviewed each year.

Why the concern with physical activity? Numerous studies find that physical activity results in better health, for example in lower risk of diabetes, better brain health, and lower risk of heart disease. Some researchers call exercise or physical activity a "magical bullet" in warding off heart disease.

Dr. Ruth Peterson, Director of CDC's Division of Nutrition, stated that:

“Getting enough physical activity could prevent 1 in 10 premature deaths. Too many people are missing out on the health benefits of physical activity such as improved sleep, reduced blood pressure and anxiety, lowered risk for heart disease, several cancers, and dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease)."

How much physical activity is best? CDC guidelines state that adults should have at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes of moderate intensity workouts each week. This includes brisk walking! All physical activity counts, for example, bicycling, gardening, fast dancing, exercise classes.

Jan. 20, 2022 CDC news release: CDC Releases Updated Maps of America’s High Levels of Inactivity

Atrial fibrillation (a quivering or irregular heartbeat) can be very frightening for the person experiencing it. This heart arrhythmia disorder can be treated with medicines or surgical ablation, but new research suggests that it also can be improved after 6 months of exercise - about 3.5 hours per week.

Researchers at the University of Adelaide randomly assigned 120 patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) to either receive an exercise regimen for 6 months or no exercise regimen. All persons received "usual medical care". [Note: it is not clear what usual medical care involved.] After 6 months and at 12 months, the exercise group had a lower incidence of recurrent AF  and less severe AF symptoms. The exercise helped maintain normal heart rhythm.

The exercise group had supervised exercise once per week for 3 weeks, and then every other week for 3 months, as well as an exercise plan to follow at home. The goal was to increase aerobic exercise up to 3.5 hours per week. Supervised exercise session were higher intensity to increase cardiorespiratory fitness, and home based  exercise was of moderate intensity (e.g. walking, indoor cycling, swimming).

Bottom line: Exercising up to 3.5 hours per week might improve and control AF so that medications or surgery are not necessary.

From ScienceDaily: Exercise maintains normal heart rhythm in patients with atrial fibrillation

A six-month exercise programme helps maintain normal heart rhythm and reduces the severity of symptoms in patients with atrial fibrillation, according to late breaking research presented at ESC Congress 2021. ...continue reading "Atrial Fibrillation Can Be Improved With Exercise"