For muscle building, lighter weights are just as effective as heavier weights. Strange but true. And proven by a study at McMaster University, where researchers recruited two groups of experienced weight lifters- all of them men. For 12 weeks, one group lifted lighter weights (up to 50 per cent of maximum strength) for sets ranging from 20 to 25 repetitions. The other group lifted heavier weights (up to 90 per cent of maximum strength) for eight to 12 repetitions. Both groups lifted to the point of failure. A McMaster news release reports that when researchers analyzed muscle and blood samples, they found that gains in muscle mass and muscle fibre size were virtually identical. They also found that none of the strength or muscle growth was related to testosterone or growth hormone.
First came standing desks. Now comes walking meetings. HealthDay reports on research conducted at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine suggesting that converting a single weekly meeting to a “walking meeting” may raise work-related physical activity levels of white-collar workers by 10 minutes, a good thing, and one that could help desk bound workers meet exercise goals set by the American Heart Association. During the first week of research, workers went about their normal activities, without a walking meeting. Over the second and third weeks, however, they had one weekly walking meeting lasting 30 minutes. The researchers then had meeting participants increase their moderate/vigorous physical activity from 107 minutes in the first week to 114 minutes in the second week and then to 117 minutes in the third week. The researchers believe that walking meetings could be good for morale, but yes, bad for taking notes. They recommend a sit-and-conclude time after the 30-minute walk to go over paperwork or other things that couldn’t be addressed while walking,
Many doctors, mainly orthopedic surgeons, would like us to think that surgical repair is the best fix for a torn meniscus, and for some particularly large tears, that may be true. But now comes a study from orthopedic surgeons at Martina Hansens Hospital in Sandvika, Norway, which tracked outcomes for 140 meniscal tear patients, half of whom had surgery and half of whom did knee exercises three times a week for three months. HealthDay reports that after two years, pain, sports and recreation function, and knee-related quality of life were similar for both groups.
Would you like to eat a more healthful lunch? Try ordering your food at least an hour before lunchtime. A news release from Carnegie Mellon University reports that researchers at the school have found that people choose higher-calorie meals when ordering immediately before eating and lower-calorie meals when orders are placed an hour or more in advance. Here’s how they know: The researchers did two field studies examining online lunch orders of 690 employees using an onsite corporate cafeteria, and a third study with 195 university students selecting among catered lunch options. Across all three studies, they noted that meals with higher calorie content were ordered and consumed when there were shorter (or no) waiting periods between ordering and eating. In the first study, they looked at more than 1,000 orders that could be placed any time after 7 a.m. to be picked up between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The second study randomly assigned participants to place orders before 10 a.m. or after 11 a.m. The third study randomly assigned university students to order lunch before or after class, with lunches provided immediately after class. In the first study, they found that for every hour of delay between when the order was placed and the food was ready (average delay of 105 minutes), there was a decrease of approximately 38 calories in the items ordered. In the second study, the researchers found that those who placed orders in advance, with an average delay of 168 minutes, had an average reduction of 30 calories (568 vs. 598) compared to those who ordered closer to lunchtime (with an average delay of 42 minutes between ordering and eating). The third study showed that students who placed orders in advance ordered significantly fewer calories (an average of 890 calories) compared to those who ordered at lunchtime (an average of 999 calories).
The seasonal advice “Don’t forget the sunscreen” should be amended this year to “Don’t forget the sunscreen that actually works,” a category that includes only 60 percent of the top-selling sunscreens. How do we know? Because when researchers at Northwestern University looked at the top rated 1 percent of the 6,500 sunscreens with four or more stars sold on Amazon.com, they found that about 40 percent of them don’t meet the American Academy of Dermatology’s guidelines for sunscreens, mainly because of a lack of water or sweat resistance. A Northwestern news release about the research includes a list of which sunscreens meet AAD criteria and which do not.
- EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 – no
- Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen Silk Hydration SPF 30 – yes
- Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, Sensitive SPF 30+ – no
- SPF 30 daily oil-free face moisturizer – no
- Neutrogena Age Shield Face Lotion Sunscreen SPF 110 – yes
- EltaMD UV Physical SPF 41 – yes
- Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 55 – yes
- Neutrogena Sunscreen Ultra Sheer Stick SPF 70 – yes
- Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture SPF 35 – no
- Eucerin Daily Protection Moisturizing Face Lotion – no
Life isn’t fair, and neither, apparently, is exercise: it appears to help some people more than others. Researchers at Brown University analyzed the results of 160 clinical trials of the cardiometabolic benefits of exercise showing which health indicators improve most with physical activity and for whom. Who were the winners? Men, people under 50, and people battling type 2 diabetes or other cardiovascular conditions. A Brown University news release reports that the researchers also found that while exercise appears to affect total cholesterol, lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol for at least some people and raising “good” HDL for most, “the proportion of cardiovascular disease risk that could have been reduced by exercise via effects on total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol is much lower than what has been observed previously.” Instead, some of the significant benefits of exercise appear to lie in reducing insulin resistance and inflammation based on how those biomarkers performed in the studies.
French fries are not your friend. In fact, research conducted at the University of Georgia and Penn State suggests that large amounts of french fries can change gut bacteria in ways that make it harder for your gut to tell your brain that you’re full. So yes, you eat some more. Science Daily reports on the research, which found that high fat feeding of rats reorganizes the gut-to-brain neural pathway and triggers inflammation in brain regions responsible for feeding behavior. The researchers found that could reverse those effects with a daily a low dose of a large spectrum antibiotic. Wait, there’s more. They also found, in a separate study, that animals fed blueberries had a completely different microbiota profile, less inflammation, and more stable blood sugar levels. The researchers are convinced that specific properties of bioactive foods may be used to target and improve the microbiota composition and overall health.
No, it’s not OK to drink more if you exercise more, but it is a good idea to exercise, particularly if you like a drink or two. Researchers at the University of Missouri School of Medicine have reason to believe that aerobic exercise may protect the liver against alcohol-related inflammation and injury. A U of Missouri news release has this to say:
The research team used rats bred for high activity, or “runner rats,” to test if increased metabolism protected the liver against fatty deposits and inflammation. One group of rats was exposed to chronic alcohol use for six weeks and compared to a second group that was not exposed to alcohol during the same time period. “As expected, we found that fatty deposits were greater in the livers of the chronic alcohol group,” said Jamal Ibdah, who also serves as director of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the MU School of Medicine. “However, chronic alcohol ingestion did not cause significant inflammation in the liver. Higher physical activity levels seemed to protect against the metabolic dysfunction that eventually leads to irreversible liver damage.”
Ibdah’s team also found that chronic alcohol ingestion caused no discernable increase in free fatty acids, triglycerides, insulin or glucose in the blood of the group exposed to alcohol as compared to the control group.
“This is significant because chronic alcohol ingestion may reduce insulin effectiveness over time, leading to elevated blood insulin and sugar levels,” Ibdah said. “With chronic use, we would expect to see these levels much higher than the control group, yet surprisingly, they were about the same.”
Many breast cancer survivors have trouble remembering things, a problem that researchers attribute to stress, rather than to chemotherapy or radiation. Now comes research from Northwestern University linking physical activity to higher levels of self-confidence, lower distress and less fatigue, which in turn is associated with lower levels of perceived memory impairment. A Northwestern news release reports that when investigators looked at memory and exercise in breast cancer survivors in two studies: one in self-reported data for 1,477 women across the country; the other in accelerometers worn by 362 women, they found improved memory was linked to higher levels of physical activity in both groups. Breast cancer survivors who had higher levels of moderate and vigorous physical activity — brisk walking, biking, jogging or an exercise class — had fewer subjective memory problems.
People who drink enough water to be adequately hydrated are half as likely to be obese as people who are inadequately hydrated. That’s the verdict of researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School, who assessed water intake as adequate or inadequate based on urine samples of more than 9,500 people. Nearly one third were found to be inadequately hydrated. HealthDay reports that the researchers can’t prove cause and effect, and they don’t really know why water drinkers are thinner. One researcher suggests that obese people eat rather than drink when they are thirsty. Another thinks drinking water may make people feel fuller, so big water drinkers eat less. They also note that there’s a very easy way to tell if you are under-hydrated: if your urine is dark yellow, you need more water. So, how much water should we be drinking? The Institute of Medicine suggests 125 ounces of water daily for men and 91 ounces for women, from all food and beverages combined.
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