When it comes to fitness, age is just a number
Although conventional wisdom would lead one to believe that older people become less and less fit as they age, it’s not always the case. New research from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology shows that when it comes to fitness, age is just a number. According to their study, a 50-year-old can be as physically fit as someone up to 30 years younger. However, as you may have guessed, exercise is a key factor.
For this study, researchers examined information from 4,631 healthy men and women (ages 20-90) from Norway’s biggest health database, to determine their level of fitness. All participants underwent laboratory tests in to check their peak oxygen uptake, which is the most reliable measure of cardiovascular fitness. They found that some avid exercisers who were in their fifties were more fit than people in their twenties, who barely exercised or were sedentary. They key, according to researchers, was to maintain a regular physical activity regimen, even for older people.
Aspenes, et al. (2011). Peak Oxygen Uptake and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in 4631 Healthy Women and Men. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 43(8), 1465-74.
Facebook and texting may help in weight loss
How many times per day do you check Facebook? If you’re like most people, you check it more often than you would like to admit. However, checking frequently might not be a bad thing after all. New research shows that in addition to improving your social life, Facebook can improve your chances of losing weight. Researchers from the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University in Philadelphia presented their data at the recent Annual Meeting of the Obesity Society.
In their study, researchers evaluated different methods of weight loss in 52 overweight college students. Participants were divided into three groups. The first group belonged to a private Facebook group where could view podcasts, receive advice on exercise and nutrition, and interact with other members. The second group belonged to this same Facebook group, but also received personalized, motivational text messages. They also received reminders to turn in their food diaries and go to the gym. The third group received no support. After eight weeks, the participants belonging to the Facebook group lost more weight, however the ones in the group that accessed Facebook and received text messages lost significantly more.
More research needs to be done on texting, Facebook and weight loss, but researchers speculate that these methods were effective in helping students lose weight because they provide social support, which is a key element in motivating people to be more active.
The Annual Meeting of The Obesity Society, October, 2011.
Migraines can be treated with exercise
In a previous issue of Health E-Review, we reported on findings that exercise was used to relieve the pain and pressure caused by chronic migraines. Now, there’s been an important development in this field of research. A recently published study conducted at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden is the first report to show evidence that exercise can be just as effective as pharmacotherapy when it comes to migraine relief.
The study, published in the journal Cephalalgia, involved 91 chronic migraine suffers who were divided equally into three groups. The members of the first group were asked to exercise for 40 minutes three times a week, the second performed a series of relaxation exercises, and the final third given topiramate, a pharmaceutical drug used to treat migraines. The study lasted for three months, and researchers regularly monitored participants’ migraine frequency and intensity, quality of life, and physical fitness. They found that the group receiving the medication experienced just as much relief as the members of the exercise group.
Varkey, et al. (2011). Exercise as migraine prophylaxis: A randomized study using relaxation and topiramate as controls. Cephalalgia, 31(14), 1428-1438.
New research evaluates the “talk test”
How can you tell when you’re exercising at the right intensity? According to the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines, moderate-intensity physical activity means working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat, yet still being able to carry on a conversation. However, some experts have speculated that if you’re able to speak comfortably, you’re probably not working hard enough. A study was recently conducted at the University of New Hampshire to determine whether the “talk test” is a suitable way to determine exercise intensity.
For the study, fifteen participants performed a series of treadmill exercises at different intensities. They were asked to recite the Pledge of Allegiance during the various exercise bouts and rate then their comfort level while speaking. They could choose either, “comfortable,” “not sure,” or “not able to speak comfortably.” Researchers also measured various physiological markers, fatigue, and heart rate. They found that the talk test was a very accurate way to determine whether participants were engaging in moderate or intense exercise. If participants were able to speak comfortably, they were exercising at a moderate pace, which helps improve fitness levels.
To learn more about the American College of Sports Medicine exercise guidelines, visit the homepage: http://www.acsm.org/AM/PrinterTemplate.cfm?Section=Home_Page&TEMPLATE=CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&CONTENTID=7764
Quinn and Coons. (2011). The Talk Test and its relationship with the ventilatory and lactate thresholds. Journal of Sports Sciences, 29(11), 1175-1182.
Walking off the pounds leads to decreased risk of metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a condition that is characterized by several risk factors that increase one’s chance of developing heart disease, stroke, and/or diabetes. These risk factors are insulin resistance, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity. According to a national health survey, more than one out of five Americans has metabolic syndrome, and rates continue to increase. However, there is hope. New research published in the Journal of Exercise Physiology shows that weight loss in the abdominal area is directly related to decreased risk of metabolic syndrome.
Researchers studied a group of healthy, middle aged men (average age of 54) who were either sedentary or performed low levels of physical activity. These men were assigned to a 24-week long activity program that involved moderate intensity walking. Over the course of the program, researchers measured the physiological markers of the various risk factors for metabolic syndrome. They found that the walking intervention, not surprisingly, caused weight loss. Interestingly, the researchers also found a direct relationship between waist circumference and risk for metabolic syndrome. The researchers concluded that weight loss, specifically in the abdominal area, affects metabolism and insulin sensitivity, thereby decreasing the risk for metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes.
Woolf-May, et al. (2011). The Effects of 24 Weeks of Moderate Intensity Walking upon Metabolic Syndrome Risk Factors in Previously Sedentary/Low Active Men. Journal of Exercise Physiology, 14(4), 145-156.