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Monday
Sep292014

Why Exercise May Not Be Working

If you view exercise as an unpleasant chore, you may be sabotaging your weight loss efforts. A new study suggests that your outlook may influence whether or not structured physical activity helps you lose weight. To find out whether exercisers are sabotaging themselves, French and American researchers divided 56 mostly overweight women volunteers into two groups. They asked one group to walk a one-mile course "for exercise" with the promise of lunch afterward. They asked the other women to walk the same course, but gave them headphones to listen to music and rate the sound quality, and encouraged them to enjoy themselves. Afterwards, they found that the women in the “exercise” group ate much more at lunch than the women who were told to have fun. The researchers then repeated the experiment with a group of men and women, telling half the group the walk was for exercise, and the other half it was for sightseeing. Afterwards, they gave the participants plastic bags to fill with all the M&M’s they wanted. The “exercise” group took twice as much as the “sightseeing” group. Finally, the researchers went to the finish line of a relay marathon and asked participants whether or not they enjoyed the run, offering them chocolate bars or healthier cereal bars as thanks for answering the questions. Here, the runners who said they had fun preferred the cereal bar, while those who didn’t enjoy themselves tended to take the chocolate bars. The consensus of these observations: watch what you eat after your workout. If you’re “rewarding” yourself for exercising, you may be taking in more calories than you burned off.

My take? I hated exercise for much of my life and now don’t feel right if a day goes by without some form of it. Here is a practical tip: If you want to develop new healthy living habits, spend time with people who have those habits. Your choice of friends and acquaintances is a powerful influence on your behavior. If you want to change your eating habits, spend more time with people who eat healthy food. If you want to be a habitual exerciser, keep company with people who exercise regularly and enjoy it.

Sources:
Carolina O.C. Werle et al, “Is it fun or exercise? The framing of physical activity biases subsequent snacking,” Marketing Letters, published online May 15, 2014, http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11002-014-9301-6/fulltext.html, accessed June 6,2014

Friday
Sep262014

Do You Warm Up and Cool Down When You Exercise? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed whether a cool down is necessary and beneficial after a workout: Cooling Down After Exercise? Check out the article and let us know whether you warm up or cool down, or both, while exercising.

Thursday
Sep252014

Too Cynical for Your Own Good?

Cynicism has been linked to heart disease and other health problems, and now research from Finland suggests that it may also be a risk factor for dementia. The research team tested 1,449 people with an average age of 71 for dementia, and also asked them to respond to a questionnaire that has proved reliable in determining levels of cynicism. The study participants were asked to agree or disagree with statements such as "I think most people would lie to get ahead," "It is safer to trust nobody," and "Most people will use somewhat unfair reasons to gain profit or an advantage rather than lose it." Based on their scores, participants were classified as possessing low, moderate or high levels of cynical distrust. After the investigators adjusted for other dementia risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking, they observed that of the 164 people with high levels of cynicism, 14 developed dementia. This rate was about double the incidence of dementia compared to nine of 212 people with low levels of cynicism. Eventually, these findings, if confirmed by further studies, may lead the way toward addressing attitude as part of preventive health care.

Sources:
Anna-Maija Tolppanen et al “Late-life cynical distrust, risk of incident dementia, and mortality in a population-based cohort”, Neurology, http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000000528

Tuesday
Sep232014

Melatonin for More Sleep and Better Bones

Melatonin might not be the entire solution for women prone to thinning bones, but at least the hormone seems to have strengthened the skeletons of elderly rats, suggesting that it might be an approach to osteoporosis prevention in humans. Researchers at the McGill School of Dentistry found that giving 22-month-old rats (about age 60 in human years) melatonin for 10 weeks (the equivalent of six human years) led to an increase in bone volume, bone density and bone flexibility compared to rats of the same age that didn’t receive melatonin. The rationale behind this study is that osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone, are active at night, while bone-building osteoblasts are active during the day. Since humans tend to sleep less well as they get older, osteoclasts become more active in the time they operate, speeding bone breakdown. Melatonin, known to regulate circadian rhythm, seems to have boosted bone building in the rats, but the researchers still need to determine if the supplement prevented bone breakdown or actually promoted repairs of damage bones. More research and clinical trials are now needed to find out exactly how melatonin influences skeletal health. Stay tuned.

Sources:
Faleh Tamimi et al, “Melatonin dietary supplement as an anti-aging therapy for age-related bone loss,” Rejuvenation Research, doi:10.1089/rej.2013.1542.

Monday
Sep222014

Can Tai Chi Slow Aging?

A new study from Taiwan suggests that the ancient system of movement known as tai chi can slow the aging process. Researchers conducted a yearlong study comparing the effects of the practice to those of brisk walking or to no exercise at all among a group of volunteers under the age of 25. Study co-author Shinn-Zong Lin explained that his team used young volunteers because “they have better cell-renewing abilities than the old population, and we also wanted to avoid having chronic diseases and medications as interfering factors." The researchers compared CD34+ cells in the three groups of volunteers and found that those in the tai chi group had counts “significantly higher” than the brisk-walking group. These cells are important “cluster markers” for blood stem cells that are involved in cell self-renewal, differentiation and proliferation changes that amount to rejuvenating and "anti-aging" effects, the researchers said. They also noted that tai chi has been confirmed to benefit patients with mild to moderate Parkinson's disease and fibromyalgia, and cited tai chi’s possible advantages for pain reduction, fall prevention, balance improvement, aerobic capacity, blood pressure, quality of life and stress reduction.

My take? Tai chi is a practical and enjoyable form of mental and physical stimulation and is beneficial for overall health. Like yoga, tai chi is an effective method of stress reduction and relaxation, and it promotes flexibility, balance, and improved body awareness. It is pleasant to watch and perform, and may be particularly helpful for the elderly, as it reduces risk of injury from falls. While it certainly has potential to improve longevity, we’ll need more studies to determine if it can actually reverse the effects of aging.

Sources:
Shinn-Zong Lin et al, “Tai Chi Intervention Increases Progenitor CD34+ Cells in Young Adults. Cell Transplant. 23(4-5):613-620; 2014.

Friday
Sep192014

What Supplements Do You Take? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed nutrients and minerals necessary for vision and eye health: What Nutrients Can Help Protect Vision? Check out the article and let us know what supplements you take as part of your daily routine.

Thursday
Sep182014

Strange But True: Cell Phone Allergy

Unexplainable itchy rash on your face? A recent investigation indicates the possibility that you – and your kids – may be allergic to the metal in your cell phones. A literature overview published in the peer-reviewed journal Pediatric Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonology, reports that many cell phones release low levels of metals. Mobile phone users have potential exposures to nickel and chromium, both of which can cause allergic contact dermatitis (ACD), which typically presents as red, itchy rash in adults and children. The review states that nickel sensitization is common in kids and that the rash can appear on the face, neck, hands, breast, or anterior thighs, which the investigators note are often exposed to cell phones. Nickel release from mobile phones appears to be common and has been reported in both cheap and expensive mobile phones, the reviewers reported. However, they also commented that nickel can be released from a wide variety of items we use every day including jewelry, belt buckles, zippers, buttons, snaps, glasses, coins, and keys. In addition to mobile phones, nickel sensitization – and ACD - can come from the metals in laptop computers, video game controllers, and other technology accessories, according to the reviewers.

Sources:
Jacob Thyssen et al, “Mobile Phone Dermatitis in Children and Adults: A Review of the Literature,” Pediatric Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonology, doi: 10.1089/ped.2013.0308.

Tuesday
Sep162014

Prudent Diet to Prevent Prostate Cancer

The latest word on this subject comes from researchers at Duke University who found that men whose diets were high in complex carbohydrates and fiber had a risk of prostate cancer that was 70 percent lower than men whose diets were lowest in complex carbs. These findings were applicable to both the African-American and Caucasian men in the study, and spoke to the risk of both low-grade and high-grade prostate cancer. The researchers also reported that high fiber intake was linked to a “significant reduction” in the risk of high-grade prostate cancer, noting that men whose fiber intake was highest had a 50 percent lower risk of high-grade prostate cancer. The findings were presented at a meeting of the American Urological Association. The research team additionally reported that carbohydrate foods with a high glycemic index might increase the risk of prostate cancer among African-American men. The report was derived from an ongoing study at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center and included data on 156 men with diagnosed prostate cancer and 274 without prostate cancer.

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Sources:
Charles Bankhead, “Carbs May Lower Risk of Prostate Cancer,” Medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage, http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/AUA/45911 accessed May 23, 2014

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