6 Things to Know About Working Out On Your Period

Your period and all that comes along with it is enough to make you want to ditch the gym and stay in bed with a hot compress and a bag of salt-and-vinegar chips. But that bag of chips isn’t doing that belly bloat any favors—while a good sweat sesh can. Here’s what you need to know about working out on your period.

Working Out on Your Period? What Type of Exercise You Do Matters

Don’t get us wrong, you earn yourself a fist-bump just for getting your butt to the gym. Any exercise is better than none—especially when you’ve committed to working out on your period—but if you’re looking to get the most sweat-equity for your efforts, then make this workout a high-intensity one. “Higher-intensity exercise can release more endorphins, which are the feel-good chemicals released in our brains when we exercise,” says Alyse Kelly-Jones, M.D., an ob-gyn at Novant Health Mintview OB/GYN. Endorphins help relieve pain and get rid of prostaglandins, which are chemicals that are produced during menstruation (and at other times, like when you get injured) that can cause inflammation, muscle contractions, pain, and fever. So the more endorphins you release, the less period pain you feel. (You’ll also score these eight major benefits of HIIT training at the same time.)

Another reason to go for box jumps over yoga? Sex hormones. Progesterone and estrogen levels are actually at their lowest point during menstruation, says Kelly-Jones, and that means your body is able to access carbohydrates and glycogen more easily than they can when estrogen is at an all-time high (the middle of your cycle). That means the fuel your body needs to power through an intense set is more readily available, and you can push harder to get the most out of short bursts of fast-paced movements.

Cardio Is Better Than Strength Training

If your goal is to alleviate PMS symptoms, then the week of your period is when you should focus more on the treadmill and less on the barbell. Research shows that there’s a direct correlation between aerobic capacity and the severity of PMS symptoms: When your aerobic exercise goes up, the PMS symptoms go down. But when the scientists looked to see if the same thing happened with anaerobic power—so, strength training—they found that there was no significant connection between the two variables.

Not to mention that your body temperature is actually lower when you’re on your period, thanks to the drop in hormones. This increases the amount of time it takes your body to tire, and you can store more heat without exhausting your central nervous system. What that means for you: Those sprint intervals are going to feel easier than they did mid-cycle. (Related: How to Make the Most of Sprint Interval Workouts)

Workout Out On Your Period Won’t Lighten Your Flow

The first few days, when your period is usually the heaviest, is when you’re probably least likely to book a TRX class. But if that’s part of your regular routine, then it could pay off to go anyway. Kelly-Jones says that regular, moderate exercise could reduce your flow each month, making it a solid preventative method. That’s because “estrogen is decreased when body fat is decreased, and estrogen stimulates growth of the uterus lining [that you shed when you have your period],” she explains. Translation: Regular exercise (plus a healthy diet) can mean less body fat, which means less estrogen and a lighter menstrual flow.

Unfortunately, that TRX class won’t have an immediate impact on your flow, says Kelly-Jones. “Once the cycle starts, it’s going to be what it is,” she says. Since your uterus lining has already been thickened throughout the month, by the time you get your period it’s simply in the process of shedding it because you’re not pregnant. So working out on your period won’t change how heavy things are flowing right now. (Also worth noting: everything you need to know about having sex on your period.)

But It Can Help With Other Symptoms

Working out on your period can help with other symptoms, though, like that god-awful belly bloat. “As you sweat during exercise, your body is shedding water, which may relieve some bloating,” says Kelly-Jones. “There have [also] been studies that connect a higher level of overall physical fitness with fewer PMS symptoms.” Case in point: Research published in the Crescent Journal of Medical and Biological Sciences shows that if you work out three times a week, specifically making time for moves that get your heart rate up, then symptoms like headache, fatigue, and breast pain can be lessened.

You’re Not More Likely to Get Injured

Yes, it’s a good idea to squeeze in a quality HIIT session when working out on your period. And no, there is no reason to worry about an increased risk of injury. “Adjusting your activity while you have your period is really a myth,” Kelly-Jones says. “Everything is fair game, unless you bleed very heavily and become anemic. Then you might feel more fatigued,” so you may not be able to go as hard as you normally do.

Research backs her up: While scientists have found that women are more likely to get ACL injuries at certain points of their cycle, that risk increases during the preovulatory phase, which is when hormones start being produced again, the ovaries are stimulated, and an ovarian follicle starts to mature. That typically occurs from days 9 to 14 of a 28-day cycle, so yeah, it’s after you get your period (the first day of your period is considered day one of your menstrual cycle, Kelly-Jones explains).

Not to mention that, even though a woman’s risk of injury is higher, research also shows that neuromuscular training can cut that risk in half. Researchers discovered that the risk increases because there’s a difference in the way women’s knees move during menstruation compared to ovulation. But Timothy E. Hewett, Ph.D. (who’s been studying the effect of the menstrual cycle on injury for more than 15 years), found that when athletes were taught how to reduce load on their knees and ankles and build up strength and coordination, the rate of ACL injury, ankle injury, and knee-cap pain fell by 50 to 60 percent. So simply strengthening and learning how to properly move your body while you work out can help—period or not. (Related: Does It Matter What Order You Perform Exercises In a Workout?)

In other words, have no fear and keep on busting reps like your badass self.

And Your Performance Will Still Rock When Working Out on Your Period

Unless you have extremely heavy bleeding, like Kelly-Jones mentioned above, it’s not likely that your performance will be impacted. After surveying 241 elite athletes about how their menstrual cycle affected their performance, researchers noted that about 62 percent of them thought their workout was just as good when they had their periods compared to when they didn’t. (Plus, 63 percent of them said their pain decreased during training and competition as opposed to recovery time.) And lest you think they’re simply better at powering through because they’re elite-level, know that that just isn’t so. Another study from West Virginia University found that, when analyzed during both the first and second half of their menstrual cycles, female runners still performed just as well on their periods as they did when off. So go on and grab those sneaks—it’s time to start sweating.

Simple Home Workouts

By Kara Mayer Robinson

For days when you don’t feel like going to the gym or gearing up for an outdoor workout like running or biking, make it simple with these at-home cardio workouts.

Circuit Train

Circuit training pumps up your heart rate and builds strength in a short amount of time.

To create an at-home circuit, first choose three to four cardio exercises like jumping jacks, jogging in place, step-ups, mountain climbers, burpees, and jumping rope. Then choose three strength training exercises like pushups, planks, abdominal crunches, tricep dips, wall sits, lunges, and squats.

Alternate between cardio and strength training exercises. Do 30-second bursts of each for 3 to 4 minutes. Repeat this circuit two to three times.

Jump Rope

Jumping rope burns calories, elevates your heart rate, and improves coordination, muscle elasticity, and brain function. Plus, it’s fun, easy, and takes up very little space.

After a short warmup, do 30-second intervals of jumps, followed by 15 to 30 seconds of rest. Mix it up with a combination of single-leg jumps, split-leg jumps, wide-to-narrow jumps, running in place, and taking off and landing on both feet.

Bump up the time as you get better. Cool down with calf and quadriceps stretches.

Box or Kickbox

“Think inside the box,” says Grant Roberts, an Internal Sports Medicine Association-certified fitness trainer who works with celebs like Eva Longoria and Zachary Levi. Boxing and kickboxing are stellar conditioning workouts you can easily do at home while channeling your inner aggressor and relieving stress.
Fire up YouTube or on-demand TV for a wide range of boxing and kickboxing workouts to follow along with at home. Or create your own. Alternate 1-minute intervals of jabs, crosses, and kicks and 1-minute intervals of active recovery like shadow boxing, jogging in place, or skipping rope. Gradually increase the time of your active intervals. “If you can work your way up to three 12-minute rounds with 1-minute rests in between, you’ll feel like a champion,” Roberts says.

Climb Stairs

“Got some stairs in your home?” asks Roberts. “Include them in your cardio workout.” An at-home stair-climbing workout is about as simple as it gets. Set a timer for your preferred workout length, walk up and down your stairs, and repeat until it beeps. Start with just a few minutes, then work your way up to longer stair-climbing workouts as you feel stronger.

Strength training bonus: Take breaks for calf raises. Put the balls of your feet on one step, then use your calf muscles to raise up as high as you can. Lower your body as far as you can, then return to your starting position and repeat.

Physical fitness in middle aged linked to later risk of COPD

Ingrid Torjesen

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

High cardiorespiratory fitness in middle age is associated with a lower long-term risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), suggests Danish research* published online in the journal Thorax.

Previous studies have suggested that a high level of physical activity and/or leisure time exercise is associated with a reduced risk of COPD, and that physical inactivity may speed up its progression. To explore this further, the researchers tracked the respiratory health of 4,730 healthy middle-aged men from the Copenhagen Male Study, who were recruited from 14 large workplaces in Copenhagen between 1970 and 1971. Their average age was 49. Those with a previous diagnosis of COPD, asthma, or with symptoms of chronic bronchitis were excluded, and the men were monitored for up to 46 years to January 2016.

All participants provided information on smoking, alcohol intake, physical activity levels, educational attainment, occupation, and medical history. Height, weight, and resting blood pressure were measured, and cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) was calculated as low, normal, or high, using a VO2 max test. National registers were used to identify cases of COPD and death from COPD.

Compared with low CRF, the estimated risk of COPD diagnosis was 21% lower in men with normal CRF and 31% lower in men with high CRF. Similarly, compared with low CRF, the estimated risk of death from COPD was 35% lower in men with normal CRF and 62% lower in men with high CRF. High CRF in middle age was also associated with a delay to both diagnosis of, and death from, COPD by 1.5 to two years.

The results were largely unchanged after excluding those who were diagnosed with COPD or who died during the first 10 years of monitoring, suggesting that the findings withstand scrutiny, say the researchers.

While the processes that link CRF with the development and progression of COPD aren’t clear, the researchers nevertheless speculated that inflammation, linked to physical inactivity, may have a key role. However, they added that this was an observational study, and as such, can’t establish cause, and that is possible that participants with high levels of CRF were more resilient to underlying COPD, delaying time to diagnosis.

A short bout of exercise enhances brain function

Most people know that regular exercise is good for your health. New research shows it may make you smarter, too.

Neuroscientists at OHSU in Portland, Oregon, working with mice, have discovered that a short burst of exercise directly boosts the function of a gene that increases connections between neurons in the hippocampus, the region of the brain associated with learning and memory.

The research is published online in the journal eLife.

“Exercise is cheap, and you don’t necessarily need a fancy gym membership or have to run 10 miles a day,” said co-senior author Gary Westbrook, M.D., senior scientist at the OHSU Vollum Institute and Dixon Professor of Neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine.

Previous research in animals and in people shows that regular exercise promotes general brain health. However, it’s hard to untangle the overall benefits of exercise to the heart, liver and muscles from the specific effect on the brain. For example, a healthy heart oxygenates the whole body, including the brain.

“Previous studies of exercise almost all focus on sustained exercise,” Westbrook said. “As neuroscientists, it’s not that we don’t care about the benefits on the heart and muscles but we wanted to know the brain-specific benefit of exercise.”

So the scientists designed a study in mice that specifically measured the brain’s response to single bouts of exercise in otherwise sedentary mice that were placed for short periods on running wheels. The mice ran a few kilometers in two hours.

The study found that short-term bursts of exercise — the human equivalent of a weekly game of pickup basketball, or 4,000 steps — promoted an increase in synapses in the hippocampus. Scientists made the key discovery by analyzing genes that were increased in single neurons activated during exercise.

One particular gene stood out: Mtss1L. This gene had been largely ignored in prior studies in the brain.

“That was the most exciting thing,” said co-lead author Christina Chatzi, Ph.D.

The Mtss1L gene encodes a protein that causes bending of the cell membrane. Researchers discovered that when this gene is activated by short bursts of exercise, it promotes small growths on neurons known as dendritic spines — the site at which synapses form.

In effect, the study showed that an acute burst of exercise is enough to prime the brain for learning.

In the next stage of research, scientists plan to pair acute bouts of exercise with learning tasks to better understand the impact on learning and memory.

7 Most Effective Exercises

Does Your Workout Really Work?
Done right, these seven exercises give you results that you can see and feel. You can you do them at a gym or at home. Watch the form shown by the trainer in the pictures. Good technique is a must. If you’re not active now, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor first, especially if you have been diagnosed with health concerns. For example, if you have advanced osteoporosis some of these exercises may be too aggressive.
1. Walking
Why it’s a winner: You can walk anywhere, anytime. Use a treadmill or hit the streets.

How to: If you’re just starting to walk for fitness, begin with five to 10 minutes at a time. Add a few minutes to each walk until you get to at least 30 minutes per walk. Then, quicken your pace or add hills.
2. Interval Training
Why it’s a winner: Interval training boosts your fitness levels and burns more calories to help you lose weight. The basic idea is to vary the intensity within your workout, instead of going at a steady pace.

How to: Whether you walk, run, dance, or do another cardio exercise, push up the pace for a minute or two. Then back off for 2 to 4 minutes. How long your interval should last depends on the length of your workout and how much recovery time you need. A trainer can fine-tune the pacing. Repeat the intervals throughout your workout.
3. Squats
Why it’s a winner: Squats work several muscle groups — your quadriceps (“quads”), hamstrings, and gluteals (“glutes”) — at the same time.

How to: Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your back straight. Bend your knees and lower your rear as if you were sitting down in a chair. Your weight should be evenly distributed on 3 points of your feet — heel, outaside ball, inside ball — that form a triangle. Your knees won’t stay in line with your ankles that way, but there will be less strain on other parts of your body. Add dumbbells once you can do 12 reps with good form.

Read more

Bedroom Light at Night Might Boost Women’s Weight

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, June 10, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Women, beware: Sleeping with a light on or the TV going in your bedroom could make you put on weight.

That’s the finding of new research published in JAMA Internal Medicine. While the study doesn’t prove that sleeping with a light on causes weight gain, it suggests the two may be linked, the researchers said.

“Turning off the light while sleeping may be a useful tool for reducing a possibility of weight gain and becoming overweight or obese,” said lead author Dr. Yong-Moon Mark Park. He is a postdoctoral fellow at the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Park said that exposure to artificial light at night may suppress the sleep hormone melatonin and disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle.

“It also may disturb day-to-day variations of stress hormones and affect other metabolic processes in ways that contribute to weight gain,” Park added.

Keeping a light on might also result in poorer sleep. Shorter sleep could prompt you to exercise less and eat more, he noted.

For the study, Park’s team relied on self-reported data from nearly 44,000 women, aged 35 to 74. They weren’t shift workers, daytime sleepers or pregnant when the study began.

Women who slept with a light on were 17% more likely to gain 11 pounds or more over five years, the study found. And the level of artificial light seemed to matter, Park said.

“For example, using a small nightlight was not associated with weight gain, whereas women who slept with a light or television on were,” he explained.

The findings didn’t change when researchers accounted for women’s diet and physical activity, which suggests that light during sleep may be important in weight gain and obesity.

Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Conn., reviewed the findings. He said the link between exposure to artificial light at night and obesity may not indicate that one causes the other.

“As with any study of association, two findings are true — true, but not directly related,” he said.

The key takeaway relates to poor sleep, Katz suggested.

“Sleep deficiency and impairment is a known obesity risk factor, for reasons ranging from mood and reduced restraint, to changes in hormonal balance,” he said.

It’s also possible that reliance on artificial light at night and obesity are both linked to other factors, such as “loneliness, anxiety or some form of social insecurity,” Katz said.

The report was published online June 10.

Americans Sit Way Too Much, But Exercise May Help

April 23, 2019 — Tethered to our televisions and computers, Americans are sitting even more than in years past, according to a new study.

And while prolonged sitting has long been linked with a higher risk of obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and death, another new study found that exercise may blunt some of the risks.

While researchers say it’s no surprise that we’re all sitting more, they don’t all agree about how much exercise can help.

Sitting Study Details

In the U.S., total sitting time from 2007 to 2016 rose by about an hour a day, to 8.2 hours for teens and 6.4 hours for adults, says Yin Cao, ScD, assistant professor of surgery in the Division of Public Health Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. She is the senior author of the study that tracked Americans’ sitting habits. (Data on children’s total sitting time was not collected.)

Cao’s team used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2001 through 2016 to track the sitting behaviors of nearly 52,000 children, teens, and adults.

The survey had separate questions on time spent sitting to watch TV or videos and time spent sitting for computer use outside of school or work needs.

By age group, the percentage of people who watched at least 2 hours a day of TV or videos in 2015-2016 included:

  • 62% of children
  • 59% of teens, and
  • 65% of adults (84% of those 65 and above).

Those times are averages. Overall, across all the age groups, up to 38% watched 3 hours a day or more, and up to 23% watched for 4 hours or more daily.

While these daily TV and video viewing times remained fairly stable over the 15-year period, leisure time computer use rose, driving the overall increase in sedentary behavior, Cao says.

Time spent on computers — meaning traditional desktop computers or laptops — outside of school or work increased in all age groups over the 15-year period. Comparing 2015-2016 to 2001:

56% of children spent an hour or more on computers, up from 43%.
57% of teens did, up from 53%.
50% of adults did, up from 29%.
And these numbers don’t capture all sedentary behavior. “A missing component is how much time is spent sitting and using handheld devices,” Cao says. That data is not collected in the NHANES survey.

“The findings on computer use are not surprising as we know technology changes,” she says. “We were surprised that time on TV and video [viewing] was stable, as we thought it would be decreased with the increase in computer time.”

Some groups are more likely to sit too much, Cao found, including non-Hispanic black people, overweight people, and boys.

Exercise Study Details

In the other study, researchers looked at the sitting and exercise habits of nearly 150,000 Australians ages 45 and older, from 2006-2009, to see if higher levels of exercise could eliminate the health risks of sitting.

As exercise levels rose, risks declined, says lead author Emmanuel Stamatakis, PhD, a professor of physical activity, lifestyle, and population health at the University of Sydney. He calls 150 minutes of activity a week ”the magic threshold” when risks start to decline.

The participants reported how many hours a day they spent sitting, standing, and sleeping, as well as how much time they took part in moderate to vigorous physical activity.

The researchers tracked deaths from any cause until June 2017, nearly 9 years after the original survey, and death from heart disease through December 2015, a follow-up of more than 7 years. During that period, more than 8,600 of the 150,000 study participants died (more than 1,600 from heart-related causes).

Sitting more than 6 hours daily was linked with a higher risk of death and was strongest in people who did not meet the recommendation of at least 150 minutes of activity a week, Stamatakis says.

Among people who reported no physical activity, those who sat more than 8 hours a day were 1.5 times more likely to die during the follow-up than those who sat less than 4 hours a day.

While risks began to decline with 150 minutes of activity a week, people taking part in the study needed to get more than 300 minutes a week to eliminate the risk, Stamatakis says.

Replacing sitting time with standing ”doesn’t seem to do much,” he says, but replacing sitting with physical activity was consistently linked with less risk.

“Moderate to vigorous activity includes walking, sports, and exercise such as running or playing tennis, hiking, strenuous work in the garden, or vigorous housework,” Stamatakis says.

U.S. guidelines say adults should get at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity activity; 75 minutes to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity; or an equal combination of both.

Few Americans get the recommended amount of activity, with 65% reporting doing less than the minimum.

‘Just the Tip of the Iceberg’

Not everyone agrees that exercise can combat the effects of hours of sitting.

In its 2016 scientific statement, the American Heart Association says that being sedentary could make you more likely to have heart disease and stroke, and that moderate to vigorous physical activity does not cancel out the impact of being sedentary.

Nieca Goldberg, MD, medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU Langone Health in New York City, calls the exercise study results promising, but she says more research is needed.

Both studies show the unhealthy downside of technology, she says, and Stamatakis agrees.

“The health risks of excessive screen media use go well beyond the increase in sedentary behavior they impose; sitting is just the tip of the iceberg,” he says. He cites social isolation, screen addiction, and other mental health issues. Figuring out how to moderate screen media use is an ongoing challenge for health professionals, he says.

The Best Butt Exercises for Knee Pain—No Squats or Lunges Included

Let me tell you a secret: Squats and lunges are not the magic ingredients for getting a better butt. Yes, they’re both *great* lower-body exercises that recruit tons of muscles, but they aren’t the be-all and end-all of boosting your glutes. That’s great news if you have knee pain, because you can do all these booty-blasting moves without worrying about bugging your knees. (Must-read: 4 Reasons Why You Have Pain Behind Your Knee)

Just follow along with celeb trainer Jeanette Jenkins of the Hollywood Trainer Club for the ultimate butt workout that you can do if you have knee pain—or just want to build muscle in that booty. (Want to spread the burn beyond the booty? Try Jeanette’s total-body toning dumbbell workout too.)

How it works: Do each move for the number of reps indicated and then repeat the circuit two to three times. Watch the video for full move demos and form tips from Jeanette.

Butt Burner Toe Tap

A. Stand with feet together and sit back into a quarter squat.
B. Shift weight into left foot and tap the right foot backward, then back to center, then out to the side, then back to center, while keeping left leg bent and pumping arms as if running.

Do 16 to 20 reps per side.

Side Toe Tap

A. Stand with feet together and sit back into a quarter squat.
B. Staying in squat position, shift weight into left foot and tap the right foot out to the side, opening arms up to the side.
C. Tap the right foot back to center, lowering arms. Continue quickly tapping in and out.

Do 20 to 25 reps per side.

Single-Leg Deadlift

A. Stand with feet together, dumbbells in hands by sides. Shift weight into right foot, balancing on left toe.
B. Hinge forward at the hip, lifting straight left leg backward and reaching dumbbells toward right foot.
C. Keeping core tight, engage right glute to raise torso and return to starting position.
D. For a challenge, after doing 16 reps, hold the extended position (left foot lifted and torso parallel to the ground) and add a dumbbell row, drawing dumbbells up next to ribs, elbows in tight. Do 8 reps.

Do 16 reps per side.

Arabesque Pulse

A. Stand on the right leg, with left toes extended slightly backward to balance. Extend right arm straight overhead and left arm out to the side at shoulder height.
B. Maintaining the upper body position, lift back left leg and pulse up and down without touching toes to the floor.

Do 20 to 25 reps per side.

Kneeling Back Kick

A. Start in tabletop position, on all fours with hips over knees and shoulders over wrists, core engaged.
B. Lift right knee off the floor and kick diagonally backward and up, pressing heel toward the top back corner of the room.
C. Return knee to starting position without touching it to the ground and repeat.

Do 25 reps per side.

Kneeling Combo

A. Start in tabletop position, on all fours with hips over knees and shoulders over wrists, core engaged.
B. Lift right knee off the floor and kick diagonally backward and up, pressing heel toward the top back corner of the room.
C. Return knee to starting position without touching it to the ground, then lift knee out to the side, maintaining 90-degree bend.
D. Return knee to starting position without touching it to the ground.

Do 16 reps per side.

Kneeling Roundhouse

A. Start in tabletop position, on all fours with hips over knees and shoulders over wrists, core engaged.
B. Lift right knee out to the side, then extend leg to kick, leg parallel to the ground with knee pointing forward.
C. Reverse motion to return to starting position and repeat.

Do 16 reps per side.

Straight-Leg Pulse

A. Start in tabletop position, on all fours with hips over knees and shoulders over wrists, core engaged.
B. Lift and straighten right leg backward, knee pointing down. Pulse right leg up and down.

Do 16 reps per side.

Kneeling Bird-Dog Balance

A. Start in tabletop position, on all fours with hips over knees and shoulders over wrists, core engaged.
B. Lift and straighten right leg backward, knee pointing down. Extend left arm forward.

Hold for 15 seconds per side.

Leg Lift Hold

A. Start in tabletop position, on all fours with hips over knees and shoulders over wrists, core engaged.
B. Lift and straighten right leg backward, knee pointing down. Lift right leg as high as possible, and bend elbows to lower chest to the floor.

Hold for 15 seconds per side.

Shoulder Bridge

A. Lie faceup on the ground with feet planted and knees pointing up.
B. Engage core and tuck pelvis, then push into feet to press hips off the ground.
C. Pulse hips up and down, squeezing glutes at the top.

Do 20 reps.

Single-Leg Shoulder Bridge

A. Lie faceup on the ground with feet planted and knees pointing up.
B. Engage core and tuck pelvis, then push into feet to press hips off the ground. Lift the right leg straight into the air over hips.
C. Maintaining this position, pulse hips up and down.

Do 15 to 20 reps per side.

Getting Fit in 40s, 50s Still Can Add to Life Span

By E.J. Mundell

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, March 8, 2019 (HealthDay News) — It’s truly never too late to begin exercising, new research shows.

Even for people who were “couch potatoes” in their youth, embarking on a regimen of regular exercise in middle-age can still greatly cut the odds for death from any cause, a major new study finds.

The study tracked the health — and lifetime exercise patterns — of more than 315,000 people who were members of AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons).

The investigators found that folks who’d exercised all their lives had a 36 percent lower risk of dying during the study period, compared to people who’d never exercised.

But, perhaps surprisingly, people who’d been inactive in youth but decided to get more physical in their 40s and 50s saw almost the same decline — 35 percent — in their odds for an early death.

This suggests “that midlife is not too late to start physical activity,” according to the research team led by Pedro Saint-Maurice of the U.S. National Cancer Institute. “Inactive adults may be encouraged to be more active, whereas young adults who are already active may strive to maintain their activity level as they get older,” the study authors wrote.

What’s more, a mid-life start to physical activity seemed to cut the odds of death from the two major killers — heart disease and cancer. The study found that for people who began exercising in their 40s and 50s, rates of death from heart disease fell by 43 percent compared to people who’d never exercised, and the cancer death rate fell by 16 percent.

Those declines were similar to those seen in people who’d exercised all their adult lives, the researchers noted.

“This study, once again, portrays the importance of physical activity in relationship to one’s long-term mortality,” said cardiologist Dr. Evelina Grayver, who wasn’t involved in the new research.

“Whether or not you start exercising when you are younger or older, the benefits will always be there,” said Grayver, who directs the coronary care unit at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y.

She did offer up one caveat, however: “This does not mean that starting exercising at a later age, and getting the same mortality benefit, means that one should not exercise in your younger years.”

Grayver said that she still believes that it is “overall continuous cumulative effects of continuous physical activity” that subsequently decreases the odds for an early death.

Indeed, the study authors seemed to agree, stressing that in the study, “participants who maintained the highest amount of [exercise] in each age period were at lower risk” for death from any cause.

The researchers also noted that while other research linking exercise to longevity has looked at physical activity at just one point in the life span, theirs is the first to examine the role of “participation in physical activity throughout the different stages of adulthood.”

Dr. Sunny Intwala directs sports cardiology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He noted that current federal government health guidelines “recommend that Americans should move more, sit less and squeeze in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly.”

Trouble is, just one in five American adults meets those guidelines, Intwala said. But the new research “demonstrates the crucial relationship between physical activity in the prevention of heart disease and death at any age,” he added.

And you don’t have to start running marathons at 55 to reap the benefit of exercise, Intwala said.

“As I tell my patients that are not keeping up with their New Year’s resolutions to exercise, doing something is better than doing nothing, and doing more is even better than doing something,” he said.

The study findings were published online March 8 in JAMA Network Open.

Exercise boosts well-being by improving gut health

Both bacterial diversity in the gut and regular exercise are important when it comes to health. But how are the two related? A new study uncovers the effect that exercise has on our health by adjusting the balance of the gut microbiome.
women at the gym
New research finds out how exercise could support bacterial diversity in the gut.

Though this may seem strange, human bodies are actually made, according to recent estimates, of about as many bacteria and other microorganisms as regular human cells.

In the colon alone — the tract that contains the largest number of bacterial cells — there are approximately 38 trillion bacteria.

These bacteria have important effects on the state of our health, and loss of bacterial diversity in the gut is linked to a heightened risk of disease.

Now, a new study suggests that the level of a person’s physical activity may affect the bacterial diversity in their gut, and thus influence their health.

In a paper that appears in the journal Experimental Physiology, the authors, from Indiana University Bloomington and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, also explain the biological mechanism that makes this possible.

The link between exercise and the gut

The researchers knew that cardiorespiratory fitness — the efficiency with which the circulatory and respiratory systems deliver oxygen during exercise — was associated with greater bacterial diversity, but it was unclear whether this was due to physical activity or an individual’s percentage of body fat.

In order to find out, the team worked with a cohort of 37 participants who had been successfully treated for nonmetastatic breast cancer.

The decision to work with this cohort resulted from the fact that cancer treatment typically has a negative impact on metabolic health, including cardiorespiratory fitness.

The participants agreed to perform graded exercises so that the researchers could assess their peak cardiorespiratory fitness, as well as total energy expenditure. The investigators also collected fecal samples from the volunteers and used them to analyze the participants’ gut microbiota.

Following all the assessments and analyses, the researchers established that participants with higher cardiorespiratory fitness also had more diverse bacterial populations in the gut, compared with peers who had low cardiorespiratory fitness.

Moreover, the team confirmed that cardiorespiratory fitness was linked with about a quarter of the variance in bacterial species diversity and that this effect was independent of that produced by an individual’s body fat percentage.

The data thus indicate that exercising with an intensity that is adequately high and can boost cardiorespiratory effectiveness will improve overall health by supporting a better-balanced gut.

New line of research

Still, the researchers warn that their findings are only correlative, and further research should aim to test the potential causational relationships.

Furthermore, the cohort was very restricted — a small group of women treated for breast cancer — so the team advises caution in applying the findings to other populations.

However, going forward, the investigators aim to address these shortcomings and find out how best to apply their findings to improve the health of at-risk individuals.

“Our group is actively pursuing an interventional study to determine how variation in exercise intensity can influence gut microbiota diversity under controlled-feeding conditions,” says the study’s lead author, Stephen Carter, Ph.D.