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Fitness and Exercise

NIH – NIA Exercise and Physical Activity: Getting Fit For Life “Four Ways to Be Active To get all of the benefits of physical activity, try all four types of exercise – 1) endurance, 2) strength, 3) balance, and 4) flexibility. 1. Be sure to get at least 30 minutes of activity that makes you breathe hard on most or all days of the week. That’s called an endurance activity because it builds your energy or “staying power.” You don’t have to be active for 30 minutes all at once. Ten minutes at a time is fine. Just make sure you are active for a total of 30 minutes most days. How hard do you need to push yourself? If you can talk without any trouble at all, you are not working hard enough. If you can’t talk at all, it’s too hard. 2. Keep using your muscles. Strength exercises build muscles. When you have strong muscles, you can get up from a chair by yourself, you can lift your grandchildren, and you can walk through the park Keeping your muscles in shape helps prevent falls that cause problems like broken hips. You are less likely to fall when your leg and hip muscles are strong 3. Do things to help your balance. Try standing on one foot, then the other. If you can, don’t hold on to anything for support. Get up from a chair without using your hands or arms. Every now and then walk heel-to-toe. When you walk this way, the toes of the foot in back should almost touch the heel of the foot in front. 4. Stretch. Stretching can help you be more flexible. Moving more freely will make it easier for you to reach down to tie your shoes or look over your shoulder when you back the car out of your driveway. Stretch when your muscles are warmed up. Don’t stretch so far that it hurts. Who Should Exercise? Almost anyone, at any age, can do some type of physical activity. You can still exercise even if you have a health condition like heart disease or diabetes. In fact, physical activity may help. For most older adults, brisk walking, riding a bike, swimming, weight lifting, and gardening are safe, especially if you build up slowly. But, check with your doctor if you are over 50 and you aren’t used to energetic activity. Other reasons to check with your doctor before you exercise include: 1. any new symptom you haven’t discussed with your doctor 2. dizziness or shortness of breath 3. chest pain or pressure, or the feeling that your heart is skipping, racing, or fluttering 4. blood clots 5. an infection or fever with muscle aches 6. unplanned weight loss 7. foot or ankle sores that won’t heal 8. joint swelling 9. a bleeding or detached retina, eye surgery, or laser treatment 10. a hernia 11. recent hip surgery “

NHS - Why be active? “Exercise is a great stress buster. It can help you keep the weight off but, more importantly, it will lower your risk of developing major chronic diseases. At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on five or more days a week is all it takes for you to reap the health benefits. Children and young people need to be active for at least an hour every day, for example through active play, sport or walking to and from school. We know that reduced or no physical activity can have serious health consequences. Even a little bit of activity can lower the risk of developing major chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, some cancers and type two diabetes, by up to 50%. It can also cut the risk of premature death by about 20% to 30%. “

NHS – Low-impact exercise “Low-impact exercises can improve your health and fitness without harming weight-bearing joints. Research suggests that moderate intensity, low-impact activity is just as effective as high-impact activity in lowering the risk of heart disease. However, low-impact activities won’t help to maintain healthy bones to protect against conditions such as osteoporosis. Circumstances when high-impact exercise isn’t advisable include: • If you're pregnant. • If you have injured your joints, bones or connective tissue injuries. • If you have chronic problems, such as arthritis, osteoporisis or stress fractures. • If you're very overweight. • If you’re new to exercise. “Low-impact exercise doesn’t put the joints under much stress,” says Robin Gargrave, executive director of YMCAfit, one of the UK’s leading trainers of fitness professionals. “The idea is that it’s less likely to cause an impact-type injury, such as an ankle sprain or cartilage tear.” “

Highlighted Articles

Be smart, exercise your heart: exercise effects on brain and cognition. (Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008) “Lack of physical activity, particularly among children in the developed world, is one of the major causes of obesity. Exercise might not only help to improve their physical health, but might also improve their academic performance. This article examines the positive effects of aerobic physical activity on cognition and brain function, at the molecular, cellular, systems and behavioural levels. A growing number of studies support the idea that physical exercise is a lifestyle factor that might lead to increased physical and mental health throughout life.”

Rethinking Daily Exercise: Less Regular, High-Intensity Intervals May Be Best Bet for Metabolic Syndrome (2008) “According to the Norwegian investigators who tested two different exercise regimens, high-intensity exercise actually reversed most of the risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome; after just 16 weeks of the exercise program, almost half the patients enrolled in this arm of the trial no longer had metabolic syndrome, without making any changes to their diets. Less impressive gains were seen with consistent, moderate exercise.”

Physical Activity and Public Health in Older Adults. Recommendation From the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association (Circulation 2007) "Summary—The recommendation for older adults is similar to the updated ACSM/AHA recommendation for adults, but has several important differences including: the recommended intensity of aerobic activity takes into account the older adult’s aerobic fitness; activities that maintain or increase flexibility are recommended; and balance exercises are recommended for older adults at risk of falls. In addition, older adults should have an activity plan for achieving recommended physical activity that integrates preventive and therapeutic recommendations. The promotion of physical activity in older adults should emphasize moderate-intensity aerobic activity, muscle-strengthening activity, reducing sedentary behavior, and risk management."

Even Small Amounts of Exercise Are Beneficial (2007) "Even small amounts of physical activity — approximately 75 minutes per week — can improve cardiorespiratory fitness levels of sedentary overweight individuals, a study shows. While this level of exercise is lower than that currently recommended to produce weight loss, the current findings may be used to encourage those people who do not exercise at present to start doing some form of physical activity, the authors advise."

Internet Sites

CDC - Growing Stronger - Strength Training for Older Adults

NIH - Exercise for Older Adults (Videos)

NIH - Exercise and Physical Fitness

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Fitness and Exercise

General Information


3 Hours of Exercise Weekly Can Cut Men's Heart Risks “Three hours of vigorous exercise a week can reduce a man's heart attack risk by 22 percent, a new study suggests. The Harvard School of Public Health researchers also found that about 38 percent of that decreased risk was due to the beneficial effects of exercise on a man's levels of "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.”

A Little Exercise Goes a Long Way to Cut Disease, Death Risk

Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Confirmed “On balance this review has identified some promising effects on self-reported mental well-being immediately following exercise in the natural environment, as opposed to those reported following exercise indoors. This is a first step towards vindicating the positive effects of programmes such as the Green Gym and Blue Gym, and innovative interventions by medical practitioners that include exercise outdoors as part of holistic treatments for those suffering from depression and similar psychological ailments.”

Can Interval Training Give Your Workouts a Boost?

Cycling Fast: Vigorous Daily Exercise Recommended for a Longer Life“A study conducted among cyclists in Copenhagen, Denmark showed that it is the relative intensity and not the duration of cycling which is of most importance in relation to all-cause mortality and even more pronounced for coronary heart disease mortality.”

Even a Little Exercise Helps the Heart, Study Finds “New research shows that even small amounts of exercise -- about 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours, of moderate activity a week -- can reduce the risk of heart disease by about 14 percent. Those who did more -- about 300 minutes a week, or five hours -- reduced their risk of heart disease, including heart attacks, angina and bypass surgeries, by 20 percent compared to people who did no exercise, the study found. "Some physical activity is better than none, and more is better," said lead study author Jacob Sattelmair, who was a doctoral candidate at Harvard University School of Public Health, Boston, when he conducted the research.”

Even With Regular Exercise, People With Inactive Lifestyles More at Risk for Chronic Diseases “After reviewing recent literature, University of Missouri researchers contend that physical inactivity is the primary cause of chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and fatty liver disease and that even people who set aside time for exercise regularly but are otherwise sedentary, may not be active enough to combat these diseases. Inactivity, in addition to the availability of high-caloric food has led to an increased rate of metabolic dysfunction in Americans.”

Exercise a Viable Treatment Option for Mental Illness

Exercise Helps Ease Irritable Bowel Symptoms

Exercise Helps Overweight Children Think Better, Do Better in Math “And the more they exercised, the better the result. Intelligence scores increased an average 3.8 points in those exercising 40 minutes per day after school for three months with a smaller benefit in those exercising 20 minutes daily. Activity in the part of their brain responsible for so-called executive function also increased in children who exercised. "In kids you just don't know what impact you are going to have when you improve their ability to control their attention, to behave better in school, to make better choices," Davis notes. "Maybe they will be more likely to stay in school and out of trouble. … The researchers hypothesize that such vigorous physical activity promotes development of brain systems that underlie cognition and behavior. Animal studies have shown that aerobic activity increases growth factors so the brain gets more blood vessels, more neurons and more connections between neurons. Studies in older adults have shown exercise benefits the brain and Davis's study extends the science to children and their ability to learn in school. About one-third of U.S. children are overweight. Davis suspects exercise would have a similar impact on their leaner counterparts."”

Exercise may prevent stress on telomeres, a measure of cell health

Health Vs. Fitness: Why Fitness Does Not Necessarily Equate To Health “Tom Griesel elaborates: "Over-training has a damaging effect on our delicate state of homeostasis. Too much exercise will tap into our lean body mass for energy and this causes stress which results in elevated levels of cortisol and other stress related hormones. “According to Al Sears, MD, countless injuries can result because many of us add repeated "cardio" to our busy days to push for greater endurance or maybe even relieve stress. He says, "Our ancient ancestors never ran for long distances without rest. Maybe it happened rarely but never routinely. It doesn't happen in the animal kingdom either." Walking may be the ideal exercise. "Walking interspersed with short 30-60 second bursts of running is exactly what we were designed to do and has a most beneficial effect on our heart and circulatory system. Anyone can do it. No special equipment or gym memberships are required," recommends Dian Griesel, Ph.D. who wears a pedometer at all times to track her mileage.”

Moderate Exercise Appears to Be Best for Middle-Aged Women

Regular Exercise Helps Keep Leg Arteries Clear

Strong Support for the Brain Benefits of Aerobic Activity “Any aerobic physical activity that raises the heart rate and increases the body's need for oxygen may reduce the risk for dementia and slow cognitive decline once it starts, according to a comprehensive literature review.”

The Health Benefits of Tai Chi

The Weekend Warrior


Exercise intensity: Why it matters, how it's measured

New Ideas on Proper Stretching Techniques


A 45-Minute Vigorous Exercise Bout Increases Metabolic Rate for 14 Hours (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 2011)

Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis: A Possible Way How Physical Exercise Counteracts Stress (Cell Transplantation 2011)

Antioxidant Supplementation during Exercise Training: Beneficial or Detrimental? (Sports Med. 2011)

Carotid and Peripheral Atherosclerosis in Male Marathon Runners. (Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010)

Exercise for Bone Health (Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2011)

Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory. (Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011)

Habitual Physical Activity in Mitochondrial Disease (PLoS One. 2011) “These results demonstrate for the first time that low levels of physical activity are prominent in mitochondrial disease. Combined with a high prevalence of obesity, physical activity may constitute a significant and potentially modifiable risk factor in mitochondrial disease.”

Regular Exercise Can Help Preserve/Build Heart Mass “To heartwire , Bhella commented: "You have to use it or lose it. It is never too late to start exercising. Exercising twice a week can prevent age-related loss of cardiac mass, while exercising four to five times a week can rebuild cardiac mass. This is the first time anybody has shown this." He explained that while higher cardiac mass has not directly been shown to cause better outcomes, it is associated with increased levels of fitness, which has been shown to be associated with better outcomes. He stressed that all the increases were in the healthy range and that cardiac mass did not start to become pathologic until levels of around 130 g/m2, which happens in left ventricular dysfunction. "The increase we are seeing is a healthy remodeling of the heart, associated with delivering more blood effectively to the body. So oxygen uptake increases, and in turn fitness increases," he explained.”

What Is the Effect of Physical Activity on the Knee Joint? A Systematic Review (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 2011) “Given that optimizing cartilage health is important in preventing osteoarthritis, these findings indicate that physical activity is beneficial, rather than detrimental, to joint health.”

Yes, “Exercise is Medicine”….but It Is So Much More! (Cardiopulm Phys Ther J. 2010)


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