Running Just 5-10 Minutes A Day Could Increase Life Expectancy

 Running Just 5-10 Minutes A Day Could Increase Life Expectancy

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend adults engage in high-intensity exercise, such as running, for a minimum of 75 minutes a week. But a new study from Iowa State University suggests that running at a slow speed for just 5-10 minutes a day can significantly reduce mortality risk, and running for any longer may actually do more harm than good. The research team, led by Duck-Chul “D.C.” Lee, an assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State, recently published their findings.

For their study, Lee and colleagues assessed the data of 55,137 adults between the ages of 18 and 100 years, who were followed-up for an average of 15 years.

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Participants’ physical activity habits were disclosed through a medical history questionnaire. The team also analyzed the causes of any deaths that occurred during the follow-up, before looking at the amount of exercise each individual participated in every week.

During the follow-up period, 3,413 participants died from all-causes, while 1,217 died from cardiovascular causes. Of these, 24% participated in running on a weekly basis. The team found that participants who engaged in running each week were 30% less likely to die from all-causes and 45% less likely to die from cardiovascular causes, compared with those who did not participate in running. Overall, runners were likely to live 3 years longer than non-runners. But most interestingly, the researchers found that these reduced mortality risks were the same among participants who ran less than an hour a week and those who ran more than 3 hours a week. Even those who ran 5-10 minutes a day at a slow speed showed significantly reduced all-cause and cardi-ovascular mortality risk, com-pared with non-runners, according to the team.

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Lee says, “Running is good for your health, but more may not be better. You don’t have to think it’s a big challenge. We found that even 10 minutes per day is good enough. You don’t need to do a lot to get the benefits from running.” Lee notes that it may actually be better to run for only 5-10 minutes a day, as running for long periods could cause more harm than good. It could cause bone and joint damage, for example, and even heart attacks. “With too much of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, there might be a side effect,” says Lee. “Is there any limit that we shouldn’t go over? It is possible that people who do too much might be harming their health.” But he notes that further studies looking at the side effects of high-intensity exercise need to be conducted before any firm conclusions can be made.

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For now, the researchers say their find-ings emphasize the significant health benefits that can be gained from just running a few minutes each day. “This study may motivate healthy but sedentary individuals to begin and continue running for substantial and attainable mortality benefits,” they conclude. Christopher Allen, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation in the UK, says that many people do not manage to achieve the current recommendations for weekly physical activity, but he notes that this study shows how small amounts of exercise can go a long way. “What this study proves is that when it comes to keeping physically active, every step counts towards helping you main-tain a healthier heart,” he says. “Breaking your exercise down into 10-minute chunks can make this goal much more achievable and can help prolong your life by reducing your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.”

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Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) in the August 2014 Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.

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Enjoy Life More—Your Body Will Age Better, Study Shows

untitled (2)Enjoy Life More—Your Body Will Age Better, Study Shows

A new study from the U.K. claims that people who enjoy life will have better physical function and faster walking speeds than their more pessimistic counterparts. We already know there are health benefits associated with a positive outlook on life.  A study from 2013 suggested people who have happy marriages also enjoy better physical health than couples in stressful marriages. In 2012, a study by researchers at University College London (UCL) in the U.K. found seniors who enjoy life more tend to live longer. As part of a follow-up study testing the link between happiness and physical performance, the UCL researchers have assessed the enjoyment of life of 3,199 participants aged 60 years or older.

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The participants in the study were asked to rate on a four-point scale how much they subscribed to the following statements: “I enjoy the things that I do,” “I enjoy being in the company of others,” “On balance, I look back on my life with a sense of happiness” and “I feel full of energy these days.” Interviewing the people in the study, the researchers then assessed to what extent they had difficulty performing daily activities, such as bathing or getting dressed.  They also measured the walking speed of the participants.

The study found that people who had a low sense of well-being were more than three times as likely to experience problems in performing daily activities. “Our results provide further evidence that enjoyment of life is relevant to the future disability and mobility of older people,” says Dr. Steptoe, co-author of the study. “Efforts to enhance well-being at older ages may have benefits to society and health care systems.” Although the study recorded—perhaps unsurprisingly—that people suffering from chronic illness and lower levels of enjoyment of life, Dr. Steptoe says the link between happiness and physical health is not simply that happier people are healthier: “This is not because the happier people are in better health, or younger, or richer, or have more healthy lifestyles at the outset, since even when we take these factors into account, the relationship persists. Our previous work has shown that older people with greater enjoyment of life are more likely to survive over the next 8 years; what this study shows is that they also keep up better physical function.”

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Dr. Steptoe’s previous study found that nearly three times more people in the study group of over 50s who had low enjoyment of life and died, compared with participants who enjoyed life more. That study considered social isolation in seniors—having few hobbies or social interactions—as being a factor in a loss of enjoyment in life. It found that 1 in 6 people aged 50 and over living in England were socially isolated. But there was also a socio-economic aspect—the wealthier seniors were half as likely to become socially isolated as the less wealthy people in the study.

In the new study, people with higher socio-economic status and education were also more likely to enjoy life. Married and working people also scored higher on the happiness scale than retired or single seniors. “The study shows that older people who are happier and enjoy life more show slower declines in physical function as they age,” Dr. Steptoe concludes.

“They are less likely to develop impairments in activities of daily living such as dressing or getting in or out of bed, and their walking speed declines at a slower rate than those who enjoy life less.”

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) from the March Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.

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Eating Nuts Every Day May Prolong Life

Eating Nuts Every Day May Prolong Life

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The largest study of its kind, published in the New England Journal of Medicine finds that people who eat a handful of nuts every day live longer than those who do not eat them at all. Scientists from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Harvard School of Public Health came to this conclusion after analyzing data on nearly 120,000 people collected over 30 years.  The analysis also showed that regular nut eaters tended to be slimmer than those who ate no nuts, putting to rest the notion that eating nuts leads to weight gain.

Senior author Charles S. Fuchs, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment Center at Dana-Farber and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and colleagues also examined how eating nuts or not related to causes of death. Prof.Fuchs says, “The most obvious benefit was a reduction of 29% in deaths from heart disease—the major killer of people in America.

But we also saw a significant reduction—11%—in the risk of dying from cancer.”  The team also found that the reduced risk of death was similar for both nuts that grow on trees, such as cashews and Brazils, and peanuts, which grow under the ground. Other types of tree nut include almonds, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. However, the data did not allow them to see whether this was also true for links to protection against certain causes of death.

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Previous studies have already shown links between eating nuts and lower risk for many diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, colon cancer and diverticulitis. Eating lots of nuts has also been associated with lower cholesterol, reductions in inflammation, oxidative stress, body fat and insulin resistance.  And while some small studies have linked higher nut consumption to lower death from all causes in certain populations, none has examined the effect in a large population in such detail over a long time.

The more nuts people ate, the less likely they were to die. In this new study, the researchers examined data on 76,464 women between 1980 and 2010 who took part in the Nurses’ Health Study, and on 42,498 men from 1986 to 2010 who took part in the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study.

Participants in both cohorts filled in detailed food questionnaires every 2-4 years, and also answered questions about lifestyle and health. The food questionnaires asked the participants to estimate how often they ate nuts in a serving size of one ounce (about 28g), which is roughly the amount contained in a small packet of peanuts from a vending machine.

The researchers used sophisticated statistical tools to take out the effect of factors that might also have beneficially influenced the risk of death. For example, they found people who ate more nuts tended to be leaner, to eat more fruits and vegetables, not smoke, be more physically active, and drink more alcohol. But they were also able to take out the effects of these factors and find an independent link between nut consumption and lower risk of death.

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First author Dr. Ying Bao, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, explains what they found: “In all these analyses, the more nuts people ate, the less likely they were to die over the 30-year follow-up period.” Eating nuts less than once a week was linked to a 7% reduction in risk of death, once a week was linked to an 11% reduction, two to four times a week to a 13% reduction, five to six times a week to a 15% reduction, and seven or more times a week, to a 20% reduction.

The researchers point out that the study was not designed to examine cause and effect and so cannot conclude that eating more nuts causes people to live longer. However, they say the results are strongly consistent with “a wealth of existing observational and clinical trial data to support health benefits of nut consumption on many chronic diseases.”

Grants from the National Institutes of Health and the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation helped finance the study. In a large prospective study published recently in the British Journal of Cancer, researchers found eating nuts was linked to reduced risk of pancreatic cancer.

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) from the February Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.

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Seeing Doctor Regularly May Cut Your Colon Cancer Risk

Seeing Doctor Regularly May Cut Your Colon Cancer Risk

 The more often seniors with Medicare coverage visit their primary care physician, the less likely they are to either get colorectal cancer or die from the disease if they do, new research suggests. Moreover, the investigation also found that the greater the frequency of visits, the less likely such seniors were to die of any cause at all.

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“Specifically in terms of colorectal cancer this is very important to know, because that is one of the cancers that is preventable,” explained study author Dr. Jeanne Ferrante, an associate professor in the department of family medicine and community health at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Somerset, N.J. “And we found that people who do visit their primary care physician are more likely to get screened for colorectal cancer,” she noted. “And those people, in turn, are less likely to get colorectal cancer, as well as less likely to die from it.”

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The American Cancer Society recommends that men and women who face an average risk for colorectal cancer begin getting some type of routine screening starting at age 50. That can take the form of a colonoscopy once a decade, or a flexible sigmoidoscopy or virtual CT colonoscopy once every five years, and may result in polyp removal. Those at high risk due to a personal or family history of the disease, polyp development and/or inflammatory bowel disease are encouraged to start screening at an earlier age and to repeat the process more frequently.

For the investigation, the authors sifted through U.S. Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) data on nearly 103,000 Medicare patients newly diagnosed with colorectal cancer between 1994 and 2005. Data covering another approximately 27,000 Medicare patients who died of the disease in that timeframe was also included, as was information on more than 62,000 patients who died of any number of causes. Given that Medicare typically kicks in at age 65 (and that colorectal cancer screening is not advised for people over the age of 85), the average age of those in the study hovered around 76.

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A review of Medicare claims paperwork was conducted to identify all primary care visits made during the four– to 27-month period leading up to a cancer diagnosis or death due to colorectal cancer or any other cause.

The result: Patients who had seen a doctor between five and 10 times in the allotted timeframe had a 6% lower risk of disease (and a 22% lower risk of colorectal cancer death) than those who had never seen their doctor or had visited just once. All-cause death rates were 21% lower the more often a patient saw their doctor.

That said, Ferrante stressed that in the world of cancer risk many different factors are at play, making it impossible to draw a simple cause-and-effect link between primary care doctor visits and a reduced risk for colorectal cancer diagnosis and mortality. “For example, we found that although we looked at a group of people that had universal care insurance, still more than one quarter had either never visited a primary care doctor or had done so just once in the study period,” she noted. “So it could be that the Medicare patients who do go in to see their primary care physician are so-called ‘healthy users’ to begin with. By that we mean people who are by definition more concerned about their health and make an effort to take better care of themselves in general,” Ferrante explained. “So, while we do want to emphasize the importance of seeing a primary care physician, the act of going might actually reflect other factors that contribute to a lower cancer risk.”

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Dr. Robert Schoen, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh, suggested that the study should be interpreted as “yet another reason to go see your primary care physician. This looks at a basic research question,” he noted. “What is the benefit of going to a primary care physician? Do routine physicals help? Do blood tests help? What really is of value here?”

“And this study,” Schoen said, “clearly points to a big benefit that comes from going to your doctor, by showing this protective association. Now, there are caveats. Yes, we don’t know if the people who go are more health-conscious to begin with, and because this is based on observational data we don’t actually know what happens during these visits. What did the doctors actually recommend in terms of screenings? But even so, it is logical to presume that the more contact with a primary care physician, the more likely colorectal cancer prevention was discussed and acted on.”

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle, Wellstyles Newsletter, November 2013, Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT).

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Sleep Helps ‘Detox’ Your Brain

Sleep Helps ‘Detox’ Your Brain

New research shows that a recently discovered mechanism that removes waste products from the brain is mainly active during sleep. This revelation could transform scientific understanding of what sleep is for, and how it works and offers new directions for brain disease treatments. The team from University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), write about their findings in an online issue of Science.

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Lead author Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, co-director of URMC’s Center for Translational Neuromedicine, says, “This study shows that the brain has different functional states when asleep and when awake. In fact, the restorative nature of sleep appears to be the result of the active clearance of the by-products of neural activity that accumulate during wakefulness.” The purpose of sleep has puzzled scientists and philosophers for millennia. While more recent research shows sleep can help with storing and consolidating memory, this alone does not balance the huge disadvantages it poses. From a survival point of view, sleep is rife with risk—all creatures are at their most vulnerable during sleep, especially when predators are around. But if sleep has no biological function, then could it just be an evolutionary glitch?

In 2012, Nedergaard and colleagues reported that by using new imaging technology on mice, they had discovered a previously unrecognized system that drains waste from the brain. In a paper published in Science Translational Medicine they dubbed this the “glymphatic system,” because it acts like the body’s lymphatic system but is managed by brain cells known as glial cells. The glymphatic system clears away toxins or waste products that could be responsible for brain disease, such as Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders.

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In this study, the team conducted a series of new experiments on mice and found that the glymphatic system is nearly 10 times more active during sleep. They also noted that the sleeping brain removes significantly more amounts of one toxic protein, amyloid-beta, which is implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Nedergaard says, “The brain only has limited energy at its disposal and it appears that it must [choose] between two different functional states—awake and aware or asleep and cleaning up. You can think of it like having a house party. You can either entertain the guests or clean up the house, but you can’t really do both at the same time.”

The team also found that during sleep, the brain even undergoes physical changes that allows the system to work faster. Brain cells shrink by 60%, increasing the space between them so the toxins can be flushed away more effectively. Another discovery was that noradrenaline, a brain chemical that is released in bursts to keep the brain alert in response to fear and other stimuli, is less active during sleep, leading the team to suggest that the neurotransmitter may control the expansion and shrinking of brain cells during sleep-wake cycles.

Nedergaard says their findings are important for treating “dirty brain” diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, “Understanding precisely how and when the brain activates the glymphatic system and clears waste is a critical first step in efforts to potentially modulate this system and make it work more efficiently.”

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle, Wellstyles Newsletter, November 2013, Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT).

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Calcium-Rich Diet May Reduce Female Mortality

Calcium-Rich Diet May Reduce Female Mortality

A calcium-rich diet, whether from supplements or high-calcium foods, may increase lifespans for women, according to a study. Researchers from McGill University in Canada analyzed data from a large-scale study called the Canadian Multicenter Osteoporosis Study (CaMos). The researchers monitored the health of 9,033 men and women between 1996 and 2007 and then analyzed whether calcium supplements had any beneficial effects on their health. The results suggest that women who take calcium supplement doses of up to 1,000 mg per day may live longer, compared with women who do not take the supplements.

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David Goltzman of McGill University and the study’s lead author, explains, “Our study found daily use of calcium supplements was associated with a lower risk of death among women. The benefit was seen for women who took doses of up to 1,000 mg per day, regardless of whether the supplement contained vitamin D.”

The researchers say although the results showed that women who took calcium supplements had a lower mortality risk, the same was not seen in men. Other research this year, from the National Institutes of Health, found that men who take calcium supplements are more likely to die of heart disease than men who do not take the supplements. In women, high amounts of calcium in the present study were linked to longer lifespans, regardless of whether the source came from supplements or calcium-rich food. “The same benefits were seen when the calcium came from dairy foods, non-dairy foods or supplements,” adds Goltzman.

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It is a well-known fact that the body needs a good level of calcium to build and maintain strong bones. The minimum recommended dietary allowance of calcium for men and women up to 50 years of age is 1,000 mg per day. For women aged 51 and over, and men aged 71 and over, this increases to 1,200 mg a day.

According to the Mayo Clinic, lack of calcium in children means they may not reach their full potential adult height, while adults may have low bone mass—a risk for osteoporosis. The Mayo Clinic recommends eating the following foods in order to get a rich source of calcium:

  • Dairy products, such as cheese, milk and yogurt
  • Dark green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and kale
  • Fish with edible soft bones, such as sardines and canned salmon
  • Calcium-fortified foods and beverages, such as soy products, cereal and fruit juices. 

Not all research on women’s use of calcium supplements is positive. A BMJ study from the University of Auckland in 2011 revealed that calcium supplements often prescribed to postmenopausal women appeared to raise the risk of cardiovascular events, especially heart attacks in older females.

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Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle, Wellstyles Newsletter, November 2013, Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT).

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Money Motivates Employees To Lose Weight

Money Motivates Employees To Lose Weight

Financial incentives can be a very effective tool in encouraging employees to lose weight at companies that offer their workers those types of programs, research from a University of Texas at Arlington economics assistant professor shows. Joshua Price, a UT Arlington assistant professor of economics, teamed with Cornell University Professor John Cawley to perform a case study on an employer-sponsored program that offered financial incentives for weight loss.

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“We examined how effective different weight loss programs are to business,” Price said. “We discovered that the best results for weight loss were through a more regular payment of refundable participation fees. The payments seem to work as a reinforcement for people to continue to lose weight.” Price and Cawley were given access to outcomes of 2,635 workers at one company. Under an agreement with the business, the researchers cannot reveal the company’s name. “Overall, we found modest weight loss in the program that offers financial incentives for weight loss,” Price said. “We wanted to show the effectiveness of the different types of payment structures offered in this intervention.”

Price said the research studied four weight-loss options the company provided in its wellness package to employees.

  • Option one was the control group. Participants signed up and participated in weigh-ins but there was no financial component to the intervention.
  • Option two allowed employees to join a weight loss program for free and paid the financial incentives for losing weight once per quarter.
  • Option three required employees to pay to join the weight loss program. This option then paid employees a refundable bond or rebate at the end of the year based on how much weight the employees lost.
  • Option four was similar to the second except that the bonds were refunded every quarter instead of at the end of the year.

Individuals who were asked to put up their own money, either with a deposit contract or refundable participation fee, experienced more weight loss than in the control group, Price said. “In option three, we discovered that the large incentives to lose weight at the end of the year created unintended consequences,” Price said. “Anecdotally, the employer observed unhealthy weight loss methods being implemented leading up to the last weigh in.”

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Rachel Croson, dean of the UT Arlington College of Business, said Price’s work makes useful recommendations based on behavioral economics. “Finding creative ways to improve our health is an increasingly important endeavor as we continue to struggle with spikes in health care costs,” Croson said. “With this research, we can identify which types of financial incentives work best. When employees lose weight, they win and the employers win, too.”

Companies across the globe are becoming more and more interested in keeping their employees healthier, Price said. Price and Cawley wrote that businesses bear some of the costs of employee obesity. In the United States, obesity raises medical care costs by $190.2 billion annually, a 2012 Cawley study showed. Moreover, obesity is associated with $4.3 billion in job absenteeism costs annually, 2007 Cawley research showed. These costs may ultimately be borne by workers in the form of lower wages, but employers are increasingly offering worksite health promotion programs to help employees lose weight. Employers save on health insurance premiums and absenteeism. Plus, Price said companies could bargain for better health care rates when negotiating with carriers.

As of 2012, 94% of large employers (those with 200 or more employees) in the U.S. offer wellness programs, and among those offering health benefits, 65% offer weight loss programs in particular, according to a 2012 study. Price said it would be nearly impossible to measure the exact monetary effectiveness for companies who instituted these weight loss programs. “It is extremely difficult to quantify the resulting health benefits caused by weight loss from participants in this particular intervention,” Price said.

Price noted that the deposit contracts were more effective at inducing weight loss, and it was less likely for the companies to lose money. When the companies refunded employees some of what they paid into the program, the mission had been accomplished: employees had improved their health. He said if the employees didn’t lose weight, the company kept the money employees had paid into the program.

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle, Wellstyles Newsletter, October 2013, Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT).

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