Capacity For Exercise Can Be Inherited

There should be an image here!Biologists at the University of California, Riverside have found that voluntary activity, such as daily exercise, is a highly heritable trait that can be passed down genetically to successive generations.

Working on mice in the lab, they found that activity level can be enhanced with “selective breeding” — the process of breeding plants and animals for particular genetic traits. Their experiments showed that mice that were bred to be high runners produced high-running offspring, indicating that the offspring had inherited the trait for activity.

“Our findings have implications for human health,” said Theodore Garland Jr., a professor of biology, whose laboratory conducted the multi-year research. “Down the road people could be treated pharmacologically for low activity levels through drugs that targeted specific genes that promote activity. Pharmacological interventions in the future could make it more pleasurable for people to engage in voluntary exercise. Such interventions could also make it less comfortable for people to sit still for long periods of time.”

In humans, activity levels vary widely from couch-potato-style inactivity to highly active athletic endeavors.

“We have a huge epidemic of obesity in Western society, and yet we have little understanding of what determines variation among individuals for voluntary exercise levels,” Garland said.

Study results appear online Sept. 1 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The researchers began their experiments in 1993 with 224 mice whose levels of genetic variation bore similarity to those seen in wild mouse populations. The researchers randomly divided the base population of mice into eight separate lines — four lines bred for high levels of daily running, with the remaining four used as controls — and measured how much distance the mice voluntarily ran per day on wheels attached to their cages.

With a thousand mice born every generation and four generations of mice each year, the researchers were able to breed highly active mice in the four high-runner lines by selecting the highest running males and females from every generation to be the parents of the next generation. In the control lines, breeders were chosen with no selection imposed, meaning that the mice either changed or did not change over time purely as a result of random genetic drift.

By studying the differences among the replicate lines, the researchers found that mice in the four high-runner lines ran 2.5-3-fold more revolutions per day as compared with mice in the four control lines. They also found that female and male mice evolved differently: females increased their daily running distance almost entirely by speed; males, on the other hand, increased speed but they also ran more minutes per day.

The study is an example of an “experimental evolution” approach applied rigorously to a problem of biomedical relevance. Although this approach is common with microbial systems and fruit flies, it has rarely been applied to vertebrates due to their longer generation times and greater costs of maintenance. The results of such studies can inform biologists about fundamental evolutionary processes as well as “how organisms work” in a way that may lead to new therapeutic strategies.

“This study of experimental evolution confirms some previous observations and raises new questions,” said Douglas Futuyma, a distinguished professor of ecology and evolution at Stony Brook University, New York, who was not involved in the research. “It shows that ‘there are many ways to skin a cat’: different ways in which a species may evolve a similar adaptive characteristic — running activity, in this case. Garland and coauthors go further by beginning to explore the detailed ways in which an adaptive feature, such as muscle size or metabolic rate, may be realized and by showing sex differences in the response to selection. It would be fascinating to know, and challenging to find out, if any one of these different responses is adaptively better than others.”

[Photo above by Jeff Powers / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Iqbal Pittalwala @ University of California – Riverside

[awsbullet:P90X Extreme Home Fitness]

Attention, Couch Potatoes! Walking Boosts Brain Connectivity, Function

There should be an image here!A group of “professional couch potatoes,” as one researcher described them, has proven that even moderate exercise — in this case walking at one’s own pace for 40 minutes three times a week — can enhance the connectivity of important brain circuits, combat declines in brain function associated with aging and increase performance on cognitive tasks.

The study, in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, followed 65 adults, aged 59 to 80, who joined a walking group or stretching and toning group for a year. All of the participants were sedentary before the study, reporting less than two episodes of physical activity lasting 30 minutes or more in the previous six months. The researchers also measured brain activity in 32 younger (18- to 35-year-old) adults.

Rather than focusing on specific brain structures, the study looked at activity in brain regions that function together as networks.

“Almost nothing in the brain gets done by one area — it’s more of a circuit,” said University of Illinois psychology professor and Beckman Institute Director Art Kramer, who led the study with kinesiology and community health professor Edward McAuley and doctoral student Michelle Voss. “These networks can become more or less connected. In general, as we get older, they become less connected, so we were interested in the effects of fitness on connectivity of brain networks that show the most dysfunction with age.”

Neuroscientists have identified several distinct brain circuits. Perhaps the most intriguing is the default mode network (DMN), which dominates brain activity when a person is least engaged with the outside world — either passively observing something or simply daydreaming.

Previous studies found that a loss of coordination in the DMN is a common symptom of aging and in extreme cases can be a marker of disease, Voss said.

“For example, people with Alzheimer’s disease tend to have less activity in the default mode network and they tend to have less connectivity,” she said. Low connectivity means that the different parts of the circuit are not operating in sync. Like poorly trained athletes on a rowing team, the brain regions that make up the circuit lack coordination and so do not function at optimal efficiency or speed, Voss said.

In a healthy young brain, activity in the DMN quickly diminishes when a person engages in an activity that requires focus on the external environment. Older people, people with Alzheimer’s disease and those who are schizophrenic have more difficulty “down-regulating” the DMN so that other brain networks can come to the fore, Kramer said.

A recent study by Kramer, Voss and their colleagues found that older adults who are more fit tend to have better connectivity in specific regions of the DMN than their sedentary peers. Those with more connectivity in the DMN also tend to be better at planning, prioritizing, strategizing and multi-tasking.

The new study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to determine whether aerobic activity increased connectivity in the DMN or other brain networks. The researchers measured participants’ brain connectivity and performance on cognitive tasks at the beginning of the study, at six months and after a year of either walking or toning and stretching.

At the end of the year, DMN connectivity was significantly improved in the brains of the older walkers, but not in the stretching and toning group, the researchers report.

The walkers also had increased connectivity in parts of another brain circuit (the fronto-executive network, which aids in the performance of complex tasks) and they did significantly better on cognitive tests than their toning and stretching peers.

Previous studies have found that aerobic exercise can enhance the function of specific brain structures, Kramer said. This study shows that even moderate aerobic exercise also improves the coordination of important brain networks.

“The higher the connectivity, the better the performance on some of these cognitive tasks, especially the ones we call executive control tasks — things like planning, scheduling, dealing with ambiguity, working memory and multitasking,” Kramer said. These are the very skills that tend to decline with aging, he said.

This study was supported by the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health.

[Photo above by Sameli / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Diana Yates @ University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

[awsbullet:brain age nintendo]

Supplement Produces A Striking Endurance Boost

There should be an image here!Research from the University of Exeter has revealed taking a dietary supplement to boost nitric oxide in the body can significantly boost stamina during high-intensity exercise.

The study has important implications for athletes, as results suggest that taking the supplement can allow people to exercise up to 20% longer and could produce a 1-2% improvement in race times.

This comes on the back of previous research from Exeter which showed that the high nitrate content of beetroot juice, which also boosts nitric oxide in the body, has a similar effect on performance.

However, the latest study gets the nitric oxide into the body through a different biological process — and now the researchers are hoping to find out whether combining the two methods could bring an even greater improvement in athletic performance.

Professor Andrew Jones, from the University’s School of Sport and Health Sciences, said: “The research found that when the dietary supplement was used there was a striking increase in performance by altering the use of oxygen during exercise.

“This is important for endurance athletes as we would expect the supplement to bring a 1-2% improvement in race times. While this may seem small, this is a very meaningful improvement — particularly at elite levels where small gains can be the difference between winning and losing.”

For the research, nine healthy males were put through several different physical challenges on a cycling ergometer to measure their performance under different levels of exercise intensity.

Participants were randomly assigned to take either a blackcurrant cordial placebo drink or the genuine supplement, which was Ark 1 from Arkworld International Limited — which contains the L-arginine amino acid which enhances the production of nitric oxide in the body.

The report, published on-line by the Journal of Applied Physiology, found taking the supplement:

  • Improves severe-intensity exercise endurance by 20%
  • Significantly reduces systolic blood pressure
  • Reduces the oxygen cost of exercise

[Photo above by gruntzooki / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Daniel Williams @ University of Exeter

[awsbullet:nitric oxide]

New Study Finds New Connection Between Yoga And Mood

There should be an image here!Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found that yoga may be superior to other forms of exercise in its positive effect on mood and anxiety. The findings, which currently appear on-line at Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, is the first to demonstrate an association between yoga postures, increased GABA levels and decreased anxiety.

The researchers set out to contrast the brain gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels of yoga subjects with those of participants who spent time walking. Low GABA levels are associated with depression and other widespread anxiety disorders.

The researchers followed two randomized groups of healthy individuals over a 12-week long period. One group practiced yoga three times a week for one hour, while the remaining subjects walked for the same period of time. Using magnetic resonance spectroscopic (MRS) imaging, the participants’ brains were scanned before the study began. At week 12, the researchers compared the GABA levels of both groups before and after their final 60-minute session.

Each subject was also asked to assess his or her psychological state at several points throughout the study, and those who practiced yoga reported a more significant decrease in anxiety and greater improvements in mood than those who walked. “Over time, positive changes in these reports were associated with climbing GABA levels,” said lead author Chris Streeter, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at BUSM.

According to Streeter, this promising research warrants further study of the relationship between yoga and mood, and suggests that the practice of yoga be considered as a potential therapy for certain mental disorders.

[Photo above by stevendepolo / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Jenny Eriksen @ Boston University Medical Center

[awsbullet:yoga dummies]

Exercise And Caloric Restriction Rejuvenate Synapses In Lab Mice

There should be an image here!Harvard University researchers have uncovered a mechanism through which caloric restriction and exercise delay some of the debilitating effects of aging by rejuvenating connections between nerves and the muscles that they control.

The research, conducted in the labs of Joshua Sanes and Jeff Lichtman and described this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, begins to explain prior findings that exercise and restricted-calorie diets help to stave off the mental and physical degeneration of aging.

“Caloric restriction and exercise have numerous, dramatic effects on our mental acuity and motor ability,” says Sanes, a professor of molecular and cellular biology and director of the Center for Brain Science at Harvard. “This research gives us a hint that the way these extremely powerful lifestyle factors act is by attenuating or reversing the decline in our synapses.”

Sanes says their research, conducted with mice genetically engineered so their nerve cells glow in fluorescent colors, shows some of the debilitation of aging is caused by deterioration of connections that nerves make with the muscles they control, structures called neuromuscular junctions. These microscopic links are remarkably similar to the synapses that connect neurons to form information-processing circuits in the brain.

In a healthy neuromuscular synapse, nerve endings and their receptors on muscle fibers are almost a perfect match, like two hands placed together, finger to finger, palm to palm. This lineup ensures maximum efficiency in transmitting the nerve’s signal from the brain to the muscle, which is what makes it contract during movement.

As people age, however, the neuromuscular synapses can deteriorate in several ways. Nerves can shrink, failing to cover the muscle’s receptors completely. The resulting interference with transmission of nerve impulses to the muscles can result in wasting and eventually even death of muscle fibers. This muscle wasting, called sarcopenia, is a common and significant clinical problem in the elderly.

The new work showed that mice on a restricted-calorie diet largely avoid that age-related deterioration of their neuromuscular junctions, while those on a one-month exercise regimen when already elderly partially reverse the damage.

“With calorie restriction, we saw reversal of all aspects of the synapse disassembly. With exercise, we saw a reversal of most, but not all,” Sanes says.

Because of the study’s structure — mice were on calorie-restricted diets for their whole lives, while those that exercised did so for just a month late in life — Sanes cautions against drawing conclusions about the effectiveness of exercise versus calorie restriction. He notes that longer periods of exercise might have more profound effects, a possibility he and Lichtman are now testing.

Though much of Sanes and Lichtman’s work focuses on brain synapses, both have investigated neuromuscular synapses for many years. Neuromuscular junctions are large enough to be viewed by light microscopy, and can be a jumping-off point for brain study, highlighting areas of inquiry and potential techniques.

“These findings in neuromuscular synapses make us curious to know whether similar effects might occur in brain synapses,” Sanes says.

While the changes to the synapses through caloric restriction and exercise were clear in the images the researchers obtained, Sanes cautioned that their work was structural, not functional, and they have not yet tested how well the synapses worked.

Steve Bradt @ Harvard University

[Photo above by Torley / CC BY-ND 2.0]

[awsbullet:mighty mouse cartoon]

High BMI Linked To Proximity To Convenience Stores

There should be an image here!Researchers at the University at Buffalo conducting a neighborhood-scaled exploratory study that tested the association between the food environment, the built environment and women’s body mass index (BMI) have found that women with homes closer to a supermarket, relative to a convenience store, had lower BMIs, and that the greater the number of restaurants within a five minute walk of a woman’s home, the higher her BMI.

The study, “Food Environment, Built Environment and Women’s BMI: Evidence from Erie County, New York,” involved 172 participants and was published in the April issue of the Journal of Planning Education and Research. It was led by Samina Raja, PhD, UB professor of urban and regional planning.

The study team comprised several UB researchers: Li Yin, PhD, assistant professor of urban and regional planning; James Roemmich, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics; Leonard Epstein, PhD, professor of pediatrics; Changxing Ma, PhD, assistant professor of biostatistics; and graduate students Pavan Yadav and Alex Brian Ticoalu.

“In particular, three findings are significant,” says Raja.

“First, a greater number of restaurants within a five-minute walk of a subject’s house was associated with a greater BMI, holding other factors constant,” she says.

“Second,” she says, “on average, women who live within relative proximity to supermarkets and grocery stores (as opposed to convenience stores) tend to have lower BMIs.

“Third, and perhaps most important,” Raja says, “the interaction of the food environment and the built environment in a neighborhood carries significant consequences for obesity. For example, a diverse land-use mix, while beneficial for promoting physical activity, is tied to a net increase in BMI when that land is dominated by restaurants.”

She says future research on the built environment and health must take into account the role of the food environment on women’s health, and the study offers suggestions for how food environments may be improved using planning strategies.

Raja is a nationally regarded community-based scholar in the fields of food security planning and community health whose work supports and is supported by UB’s Civic Engagement and Public Policy research initiative.

She points out that more than one-third of U.S. adults were reported to be obese in 2006, with the prevalence of obesity slightly greater among women than men.

“The prevalence of obesity is a significant public health concern because it places indi¬viduals at a risk for a variety of diseases,” she says, “and the role of environmental factors in contributing to obesity has received a lot of attention. We have attempted here to explain the paradox of high BMI rates among women living in highly walkable inner city neighborhoods.

Raja says the study has several limitations, among them, the fact that the researchers did not know where their subjects shopped for food, only what outlets were closest geographically. The also were not able to classify restaurants based on their quality — fast-food and sit-down restaurants were treated as a single category, even though they know that quality varies widely across different types of restaurants.

“The study raises several questions to be addressed in future research,” she says, “and suggests that innovative research designs will be necessary to develop greater evidence of causality — perhaps longitudinal studies that look at how moving one’s residence (thus changing exposure to a particular food, food type or built environment) affects physical activity, eating behavior and health outcomes.”

The study identifies planning strategies and tools available to improve community food and built environments to support healthy eating behavior.

“Comprehensive plans, regulatory mechanisms and financial incentives can be used individually or in concert to improve food environments,” the study says, and cites recent efforts in Madison and Dane County, Wis.; Marin County, Calif.; Harrison County, Miss.; special regulations adopted in New York City that offer zoning incentives (e.g. allowing denser development and reduction in parking requirements) for development projects that dedicate a greater store floor area to fresh foods in underserved neighborhoods; and Pennsylvania’s Fresh Food Financing Initiative

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB’s more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

Patricia Donovan @ University at Buffalo

[Photo above by Nick J. Webb / CC BY-ND 2.0]

[awsbullet:Let Them Eat Junk]

Is Chocolate Milk A 'Natural' For Post-Exercise Recovery?

There should be an image here!One of the best post-exercise recovery drinks could already be in your refrigerator, according to new research presented at the American College of Sports Medicine conference this week. In a series of four studies, researchers found that chocolate milk offered a recovery advantage to help repair and rebuild muscles, compared to specially designed carbohydrate sports drinks.

Experts agree that the two-hour window after exercise is an important, yet often neglected, part of a fitness routine. After strenuous exercise, this post-workout recovery period is critical for active people at all fitness levels — to help make the most of a workout and stay in top shape for the next workout.

The new research suggests that drinking fat free chocolate milk after exercise can help the body retain, replenish and rebuild muscle to help your body recover. Drinking lowfat chocolate milk after a strenuous workout could even help prep muscles to perform better in a subsequent bout of exercise. Specifically, the researchers found a chocolate milk advantage for:

  • Building Muscle — Post-exercise muscle biopsies in eight moderately trained male runners showed that after drinking 16 ounces of fat free chocolate milk, the runners had enhanced skeletal muscle protein synthesis — a sign that muscles were better able to repair and rebuild — compared to when they drank a carbohydrate only sports beverage with the same amount of calories. The researchers suggest that “athletes can consider fat-free chocolate milk as an economic nutritional alternative to other sports nutrition beverages to support post-endurance exercise skeletal muscle repair.”
  • Replenishing Muscle “Fuel” — Replacing muscle fuel (glycogen) after exercise is essential to an athlete’s future performance and muscle recovery. Researchers found that drinking 16 ounces of fat free chocolate milk with its mix of carbohydrates and protein (compared to a carbohydrate-only sports drink with the same amount of calories) led to greater concentration of glycogen in muscles at 30 and 60 minutes post exercise.
  • Maintaining Lean Muscle — Athletes risk muscle breakdown following exercise when the body’s demands are at their peak. Researchers found that drinking fat free chocolate milk after exercise helped decrease markers of muscle breakdown compared to drinking a carbohydrate sports drink.
  • Subsequent Exercise Performance — Ten trained men and women cyclists rode for an hour and a half, followed by 10 minutes of intervals. They rested for four hours and were provided with one of three drinks immediately and two hours into recovery: lowfat chocolate milk, a carbohydrate drink with the same amount of calories or a control drink. When the cyclists then performed a subsequent 40 kilometer ride, their trial time was significantly shorter after drinking the chocolate milk compared to the carbohydrate drink and the control drink.

Why Chocolate Milk?

Chocolate milk’s combination of carbohydrates and high-quality protein first made researchers take notice of a potential exercise benefit. The combination of carbs and protein already in chocolate milk matched the ratio found to be most beneficial for recovery. In fact, studies suggest that chocolate milk has the right mix of carbs and protein to help refuel exhausted muscles, and the protein in milk helps build lean muscle. This new research adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting milk can be just as effective as some commercial sports drinks in helping athletes refuel and recover.

Milk also provides fluids for rehydration and electrolytes, including potassium, calcium and magnesium lost in sweat, that both recreational exercisers and elite athletes need to replace after strenuous activity. Plus, chocolate milk is naturally nutrient-rich with the advantage of additional nutrients not found in most traditional sports drinks. Penny-for-penny, no other post-exercise drink contains the full range of vitamins and minerals found in chocolate milk.

Gloria Delgadillo @ Weber Shandwick Worldwide

[Photo above by Roadsidepictures / CC BY-ND 2.0]

[awsbullet:organic chocolate Milk]

Video Game Research Project Helps Blind Children Exercise

There should be an image here!VI Fit, a project at the University of Nevada, Reno, helps children who are blind become more physically active and healthy through video games. The human-computer interaction research team in the computer science and engineering department has developed a motion-sensing-based tennis and bowling exergame that can be downloaded for free at vifit.org.

“Lack of vision forms a significant barrier to participation in physical activity and consequently children with visual impairments have much higher obesity rates and obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes,” Eelke Folmer, research team leader and assistant professor in the computer science and engineering department, said.

Exergames are a new type of video game that use physical activity as input and are considered powerful weapons in the fight against obesity. Unfortunately, exergames have not yet been accessible to children with visual impairments, although it is evident they could benefit from them the most.

“Our games are adaptations of the popular Nintendo Wii Sports exercise games that have been modified so they can be played without visual feedback,” Folmer said.

VI Tennis and VI Bowling are the first of several games to be made available. VI Tennis implements the gameplay of Wii sports tennis providing audio and vibrotactile cues that indicate when to serve and when to return the ball. It can be played against the computer or against a friend using two Wii remotes.

“VI Tennis was evaluated at Camp Abilities in New York with 13 children who were blind,” Folmer said. “We found our game to engage children into levels of active energy expenditure that were high enough to be considered healthy, which shows the feasibility of using video games as a health-intervention method.”

The gameplay of Wii sports bowling is implemented through VI Bowling with a novel motor-learning feature that allows players to find the direction in which to throw their ball using vibrotactile feedback. Audio and speech effects are used to indicate the result of each throw. VI Bowling was evaluated with six adults and was found to yield levels of active energy expenditure that are comparable to walking.

Compared to the general population, individuals with visual impairments have even fewer opportunities to engage in physical activities that provide the amounts and kinds of stimulation needed to maintain adequate fitness and support a healthy standard of living. Folmer and his team are exploring alternative forms of interaction that allow individuals with visual impairments to play exercise games and to increase their participation in physical activity.

Folmer’s team includes: Tony Morelli, a doctoral candidate at the University of Nevada, Reno; John Foley, a faculty member in the physical education department and expert in movement studies in disability at State University of New York, Cortland; and Lauren Lieberman, a researcher in the Department of Kinesiology, Sports Studies and Physical Education at SUNY, Brockport who specializes in adapted physical education, especially children with sensory impairments.

To play the VI Fit games, a user would need a Wii remote and a Windows PC with bluetooth support or a USB bluetooth dongle. The games can be downloaded using instructions at vifit.org. The games are not affiliated with or endorsed by Nintendo.

Mike Wolterbeek @ University of Nevada, Reno

[awsbullet:Wii with Wii Sports Resort]

DailyBurn

I never used to be worried about my weight, but of course, that was before I started gaining more weight. For the majority of my life, I’ve been pretty thin, but I’ve been gaining weight a lot quicker over the past few years. In a way that’s not much of a problem because I needed the extra pounds, but there comes a point when you’re satisfied and you’re ready for the weight gain to stop. That’s about where I am right now. If this sounds familiar to you and you’re ready to start focusing on fitness, then DailyBurn is ready to help.

Not only does DailyBurn assist you by enabling you to track what you eat and your workouts, but it also gives you new ideas and encouragement. You can search through the food database to find new foods and recipes, and video exercise instructions help you to develop a program that works for you. The other members of DailyBurn are a great asset because they can offer you the motivation that you need, even if it involves a competition of some sort. It’s time to finally shed those pounds and get fit.

Diet Alone Will Not Likely Lead To Significant Weight Loss

There should be an image here!Newly-published research by scientists at Oregon Health & Science University demonstrates that simply reducing caloric intake is not enough to promote significant weight loss. This appears to be due to a natural compensatory mechanism that reduces a person’s physical activity in response to a reduction in calories. The research is published in the American Journal of Physiology — Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.

“In the midst of America’s obesity epidemic, physicians frequently advise their patients to reduce the number of calories they are consuming on a daily basis. This research shows that simply dieting will not likely cause substantial weight loss. Instead, diet and exercise must be combined to achieve this goal,” explained Judy Cameron Ph.D., a senior scientist at OHSU’s Oregon National Primate Research Center, and a professor of behavioral neuroscience and obstetrics & gynecology in the OHSU School of Medicine, as well as a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh.

To conduct the research, Cameron and OHSU post-doctoral fellow Elinor Sullivan, Ph.D., studied 18 female rhesus macaque monkeys at the Oregon National Primate Research Center. The monkeys were placed on a high-fat diet for several years. They were then returned to a lower-fat diet (standard monkey food) with a 30 percent reduction in calories. For a one-month period, the monkeys’ weight and activity levels were closely tracked. Activity was tracked through the use of an activity monitor worn on a collar.

“Surprisingly, there was no significant weight loss at the end of the month,” explained Sullivan. “However, there was a significant change in the activity levels for these monkeys. Naturally occurring levels of physical activity for the animals began to diminish soon after the reduced-calorie diet began. When caloric intake was further reduced in a second month, physical activity in the monkeys diminished even further.”

A comparison group of three monkeys was fed a normal monkey diet and was trained to exercise for one hour daily on a treadmill. This comparison group did lose weight.

“This study demonstrates that there is a natural body mechanism which conserves energy in response to a reduction in calories. Food is not always plentiful for humans and animals and the body seems to have developed a strategy for responding to these fluctuations,” added Cameron. “These findings will assist medical professionals in advising their patients. It may also impact the development of community interventions to battle the childhood obesity epidemic and lead to programs that emphasize both diet and exercise.”

Jim [email protected] Oregon Health and Science University

[Photo above by Marc / CC BY-ND 2.0]

[awsbullet:diet exercise weight loss]

Mental Health Providers Should Prescribe Exercise More Often For Depression, Anxiety

There should be an image here!Exercise is a magic drug for many people with depression and anxiety disorders, and it should be more widely prescribed by mental health care providers, according to researchers who analyzed the results of numerous published studies.

“Exercise has been shown to have tremendous benefits for mental health,” says Jasper Smits, director of the Anxiety Research and Treatment Program at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “The more therapists who are trained in exercise therapy, the better off patients will be.”

Smits and Michael Otto, psychology professor at Boston University, based their finding on an analysis of dozens of population-based studies, clinical studies and meta-analytic reviews related to exercise and mental health, including the authors’ meta-analysis of exercise interventions for mental health and studies on reducing anxiety sensitivity with exercise. The researchers’ review demonstrated the efficacy of exercise programs in reducing depression and anxiety.

The traditional treatments of cognitive behavioral therapy and pharmacotherapy don’t reach everyone who needs them, says Smits, an associate professor of psychology.

“Exercise can fill the gap for people who can’t receive traditional therapies because of cost or lack of access, or who don’t want to because of the perceived social stigma associated with these treatments,” he says. “Exercise also can supplement traditional treatments, helping patients become more focused and engaged.”

The researchers presented their findings March 6 in Baltimore at the annual conference of the Anxiety Disorder Association of America. Their workshop was based on their therapist guide “Exercise for Mood and Anxiety Disorders,” with accompanying patient workbook (Oxford University Press, September 2009).

“Individuals who exercise report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, and lower levels of stress and anger,” Smits says. “Exercise appears to affect, like an antidepressant, particular neurotransmitter systems in the brain, and it helps patients with depression re-establish positive behaviors. For patients with anxiety disorders, exercise reduces their fears of fear and related bodily sensations such as a racing heart and rapid breathing.”

After patients have passed a health assessment, Smits says, they should work up to the public health dose, which is 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity. At a time when 40 percent of Americans are sedentary, he says, mental health care providers can serve as their patients’ exercise guides and motivators.

“Rather than emphasize the long-term health benefits of an exercise program — which can be difficult to sustain — we urge providers to focus with their patients on the immediate benefits,” he says. “After just 25 minutes, your mood improves, you are less stressed, you have more energy — and you’ll be motivated to exercise again tomorrow. A bad mood is no longer a barrier to exercise; it is the very reason to exercise.”

Smits says health care providers who prescribe exercise also must give their patients the tools they need to succeed, such as the daily schedules, problem-solving strategies and goal-setting featured in his guide for therapists.

“Therapists can help their patients take specific, achievable steps,” he says. “This isn’t about working out five times a week for the next year. It’s about exercising for 20 or 30 minutes and feeling better today.”

Kim Cobb @ Southern Methodist University

[Photo above by My Yoga Online / CC BY-ND 2.0]

[awsbullet:exercise depression]

Exercising Just Got Easier For Busy People, Study Shows

There should be an image here!If you’re the type of person who invokes the “not enough time” clause when it comes to exercising, it’s time to find a new excuse. Researchers who have been studying interval training have found that it not only takes less time than what is typically recommended, but the regimen does not have to be “all out” to be effective in helping reduce the risk of such diseases at Type 2 diabetes.

The study appears in the March issue of The Journal of Physiology.

“What we’ve been able to show is that interval training does not have to be ‘all out’ in order to be effective and time-efficient,” says Martin Gibala, professor and chair of the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University. “While still a very demanding form of training, the exercise might be more achievable by the general public — not just elite athletes — and it certainly doesn’t require the use of specialized laboratory equipment.”

Since Gibala’s first study on interval training was published five years ago, a growing body of research has zeroed in on this particular style of exercise in which you train hard but for less time.

Previous research by the McMaster group involved 30 seconds of maximal pedaling on a special bike followed by four minutes of recovery, and repeated 4-6 times. The new study involves eight to 12 one-minute bouts of exercise on a standard stationary bicycle at a relatively lower intensity with rest intervals of 75 seconds, for a total of 20-25 minutes per session. The workload was still above most people’s comfort zone — about 95% of maximal heart rate — but only about half of what can be achieved when people sprint at an all-out pace.

“That is the trade-off for the relatively lower intensity,” says Gibala. “There is no free lunch; duration must increase as intensity decreases.”

While the total amount of exercise performed was higher than in Gibala’s previous interval training studies, the overall time commitment was still lower than what is typically recommended by public health agencies.

Subjects used in the study performed six training sessions over 14 days. After the two week training period, the subjects showed the same benefits that Gibala’s team has previously observed after traditional, long-duration endurance training: improved exercise performance and muscular adaptations that are linked to reduced risk of diseases such as Type 2 diabetes.

Jane Christmas @ McMaster University

[Photo above by Remy Saglier / CC BY-ND 2.0]

[awsbullet:wii fitness]

Regular Exercise Reduces Patient Anxiety By 20 Percent

There should be an image here!The anxiety that often accompanies a chronic illness can chip away at quality of life and make patients less likely to follow their treatment plan. But regular exercise can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety, a new University of Georgia study shows.

In a study appearing in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers analyzed the results of 40 randomized clinical trials involving nearly 3,000 patients with a variety of medical conditions. They found that, on average, patients who exercised regularly reported a 20 percent reduction in anxiety symptoms compared to those who did not exercise.

“Our findings add to the growing body of evidence that physical activities such as walking or weight lifting may turn out to be the best medicine that physicians can prescribe to help their patients feel less anxious,” said lead author Matthew Herring, a doctoral student in the department of kinesiology, part of the UGA College of Education.

Herring pointed out that while the role of exercise in alleviating symptoms of depression has been well studied, the impact of regular exercise on anxiety symptoms has received less attention. The number of people living with chronic medical conditions is likely to increase as the population ages, he added, underscoring the need for a low-cost, effective treatment.

The researchers limited their analysis to randomized controlled trials, which are the gold standard of clinical research, to ensure that only the highest quality data were used. The patients in the studies suffered from a variety of conditions, including heart disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer and chronic pain from arthritis. In 90 percent of the studies examined, the patients randomly assigned to exercise had fewer anxiety symptoms, such as feelings of worry, apprehension and nervousness, than the control group.

“We found that exercise seems to work with just about everybody under most situations,” said study co-author Pat O’Connor, professor and co-director of the UGA Exercise Psychology Laboratory. “Exercise even helps people who are not very anxious to begin with become more calm.”

Exercise sessions greater than 30 minutes were better at reducing anxiety than sessions of less than 30 minutes, the researchers found. But surprisingly, programs with a duration of between three and twelve weeks appear to be more effective at reducing anxiety than those lasting more than 12 weeks. The researchers noted that study participants were less likely to stick with the longer exercise programs, which suggests that better participation rates result in greater reductions in anxiety.

“Because not all study participants completed every exercise session, the effect of exercise on anxiety reported in our study may be underestimated,” said study co-author Rod Dishman, also a professor of kinesiology. “Regardless, our work supports the use of exercise to treat a variety of physical and mental health conditions, with less risk of adverse events than medication.”

Wendy Jones @ University of Georgia

[Photo above by Lady Jove / CC BY-ND 2.0]

[awsbullet:exercise anxiety]

Sedentary TV Time May Cut Life Short

There should be an image here!Couch potatoes beware: every hour of television watched per day may increase the risk of dying earlier from cardiovascular disease, according to research reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Australian researchers tracked the lifestyle habits of 8,800 adults and found that each hour spent in front of the television daily was associated with:

  • an 11 percent increased risk of death from all causes
  • a 9 percent increased risk of cancer death
  • an 18 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD)-related death

Compared with people who watched less than two hours of television daily, those who watched more than four hours a day had a 46 percent higher risk of death from all causes and an 80 percent increased risk for CVD-related death. This association held regardless of other independent and common cardiovascular disease risk factors, including smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, unhealthy diet, excessive waist circumference, and leisure-time exercises.

While the study focused specifically on television watching, the findings suggest that any prolonged sedentary behavior, such as sitting at a desk or in front of a computer, may pose a risk to one’s health. The human body was designed to move, not sit for extended periods of time, said David Dunstan, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and professor and Head of the Physical Activity Laboratory in the Division of Metabolism and Obesity at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Victoria, Australia.

“What has happened is that a lot of the normal activities of daily living that involved standing up and moving the muscles in the body have been converted to sitting,” Dunstan said. “Technological, social, and economic changes mean that people don’t move their muscles as much as they used to – consequently the levels of energy expenditure as people go about their lives continue to shrink. For many people, on a daily basis they simply shift from one chair to another — from the chair in the car to the chair in the office to the chair in front of the television.”

Dunstan said the findings apply not only to individuals who are overweight and obese, but also those who have a healthy weight. “Even if someone has a healthy body weight, sitting for long periods of time still has an unhealthy influence on their blood sugar and blood fats,” he said.

Although the study was conducted in Australia, Dunstan said the findings are certainly applicable to Americans. Average daily television watching is approximately three hours in Australia and the United Kingdom, and up to eight hours in the United States, where two-thirds of all adults are either overweight or obese.

The benefits of exercise have been long established, but researchers wanted to know what happens when people sit too much. Television-watching is the most common sedentary activity carried out in the home.

Researchers interviewed 3,846 men and 4,954 women age 25 and older who underwent oral glucose-tolerance tests and provided blood samples so researchers could measure biomarkers such as cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Participants were enrolled from 1999–2000 and followed through 2006. They reported their television-viewing habits for the previous seven days and were grouped into one of three categories: those who watched less than two hours per day; those who watched between two and four hours daily; and those who watched more than four hours.

People with a history of CVD were excluded from the study. During the more than six-year follow-up, there were 284 deaths — 87 due to CVD and 125 due to cancer.

The association between cancer and television viewing was only modest, researchers reported. However, there was a direct association between the amount of television watched and elevated CVD death as well as death from all causes even after accounting for typical CVD risk factors and other lifestyle factors. The implications are simple, Dunstan said. “In addition to doing regular exercise, avoid sitting for prolonged periods and keep in mind to ‘move more, more often’. Too much sitting is bad for health.”

Co-authors are: E. L. M. Barr, Ph.D.; G. N. Healy, Ph.D.; J. Salmon, Ph.D.; J. E. Shaw, M.D.; B. Balkau, Ph.D.; D. J. Magliano, Ph.D.; A. J. Cameron, Ph.D.; P. Z. Zimmet, Ph.D. and N. Owen, Ph.D. Author disclosures and funding sources are on the manuscript.

Karen Astle @ American Heart Association

[Photo above by stovak / CC BY-ND 2.0]

[awsbullet:couch potato]

ShareTabs

Whenever I’m using my Web browser, you can count on the fact that I will probably have multiple tabs open at any given time. I like to be able to see several things at once, and browser tabs give me quick access to whatever I want. Keeping track of this content on your own computer is one thing, but it’s not always very easy to share it all with someone else. They’ll end up with a barrage of links that may not mean anything to them out of context. ShareTabs gives us the ability to share multiple links as tabs in a single URL.

The implementation of this is really great. When the ShareTabs URL is viewed, you can see screenshots of all of the links that are included. The page has its own tabbed interface that may be used to check out the links, plus you can open all of them as tabs in your browser. Finally, in addition to being able to customize the ShareTabs URL, you’ll also be able to find out how many times it’s been viewed. More of us should start sharing groups of links in this way.