Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New studies show exercise strongly protects your heart & slows aging....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 5-11-2010

Not one but two studies were on the Healthday online news today with this information.

The first one lists evidence that regular exercise slows aging; but it’s main focus is on how powerful it is in protecting your heart.

The second found evidence that healthy distance runners avoid a biomarker of aging almost entirely as if the aging process had been turned off. (This may mean that exercise lengthens or protects your telomeres as well.)

In the posts here I already listed a study done on regular exercisers at Stanford University who started out initially as runners and compared them to a matched group economically and professionally who did not exercise and did so over many years.

The regular exercisers got far fewer degenerative diseases, they looked and acted younger, and fewer of them died during the study.

Also, I found out that regular exercise increases HDL. Then I found out that regular exercise directly lowers the amount of small particle LDL that causes heart disease. And, it’s known that when that happens HDL goes up and triglycerides go down. Exercise also tends to prevent insulin resistance, high blood sugar levels, and type 2 diabetes. And, it tends to lower inflammation.

Each of these effects is strongly heart protective.

But even knowing all that, I was surprised at the effects described in these studies.

For example, now that it’s known high triglycerides are a risk factor for heart disease, drug companies are trying to find a drug to lower them.

It seems regular exercise already does a superb job of doing that and has no side effects. In fact, it has all the other heart protecting things it does and other benefits instead.

It seems the longer you are a regular exerciser, the more protection you get according to this first study.

“With Long-Term Exercise, Being 80 Is Just a Number

TUESDAY, May 11, 2010 (HealthDay News) HealthDay Reporter by Jenifer Goodwin”

Apparently in 1977, Lawrence Golding, now 81, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, started an exercise class for men, each weekday at lunchtime in a building on campus.

Many of those men, who were 30 to 51 when the class began, stuck with the program for over 20 years.

They now have cholesterol and triglyceride levels that are better than when they were younger.

And their aerobic capacity, flexibility & strength have not shown the age-related declines non-exercisers get in these measures of fitness and ability.

Golding, who led the exercise class until it was disbanded a couple of years ago said this: "People who exercise regularly continue doing the things they used to do when they were in their 20s."

The class Golding led was 45-minute class weekdays from September to May. Golding counted repetitions from the front of the room. The regular class members did three sets of 50 sit-ups and three sets of 20 push-ups as part of this program.

“The men, all white, all sedentary and most mildly overweight, quickly showed improvement. Within two to three years, participants, regardless of their age, on average performed better on tests of flexibility, strength and aerobics than incoming freshman, Golding said.

Among the 20 who continued coming to class -- 3½ times a week for more than 20 years -- low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the bad type, dropped 27 percent after the first year and 60 percent over 20 years. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the good type, increased by 60 percent after the first year and continued to improve for the next 15 years, according to research published in 2009 in Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport.

Total cholesterol (LDL, HDL and other lipid components) dropped nearly 18 percent after year one and 40 percent over 20 years, the study found. Triglyceride levels decreased every year, including 23 percent after the first year and 61 percent over 20 years.

The men also lost an average of 27 pounds, though the improvements in cholesterol profiles were independent of weight loss, according to the study.”

In short, they not only got strong heart protection their first year, by continuing to be in this regular exercise group, their heart protection kept increasing the longer they remained in this moderately strenuous regular exercise program!

The second story was titled:

“Strenuous Exercise May Stop Cellular Death

TUESDAY, May 11, 2010 (HealthDay News)

Strenuous exercise appears to stop the body's cells from killing themselves as they're programmed to do, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that cells of people who had just run a marathon didn't engage in what is called apoptosis -- the natural death of cells.

"Apoptosis is a normal physiological function dependent on a variety of signals, many of which can be modulated by strenuous exercise. Here, we've shown for the first time that exercise modulates expression of the sirtuin family of proteins, which may be key regulators of training," study lead author Gabriella Marfe, of the University of Rome, said in a news release.

Marfe and colleagues took blood samples from 10 male athletes who'd taken part in a 42-kilometer run and found a shift in the balance between expression of pro- and anti-apoptotic genes after the race.

The researchers think that proteins in the sirtuin family may play a protective role in preventing cell death through exercise.

So should you go out for a run? Be careful if you haven't been training, Marfe said. "Untrained amateur athletes often do hard training without professional advice. Such intense and exhaustive exercise can be harmful to health," she said. To achieve beneficial effects, the authors recommend that exercise be part of a lifelong regimen with expert medical advice and supervision.

The study was published May 10 in the journal BMC Physiology.”

In fact, Marathon running has a bad track record for tending to overstrain the heart and not everyone who does it survives the experience.

It also places very large time demands on those who do it.

However, much, much shorter sessions of vigorous regular exercise do not have that problem and seem to get very similar positive health effects.

And, fitting in 15 to 45 minutes a day of such exercise as the first group did is far more doable without making it your only hobby as Marathon runners often do.

But it’s quite clear.

As long as you don’t overdo it in the early stages, do a reasonable amount each week, build up to more intensity gradually AND you do vigorous exercise regularly every week as a normal practice for many years and keep doing it, you will have superb heart protection that keeps getting better

AND you will stay young, healthy, and able in a way you simply otherwise would not.

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