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  Aerobic Exercise  
 
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Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness. - Earl of Derby

Aerobic exercise is any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously, and is rhythmic in nature. It is a type of exercise that overloads the heart and lungs and causes them to work harder than at rest. The benefits of aerobic exercise can be yours today if you simply get up and get moving - life is in motion!
We should all try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. A lot of things count as physical activity - try walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming, dancing… whatever you enjoy. In general, the more activity, the better.

Specific benefits of aerobic exercise include:

  • Increased ability to handle stress; a better attitude; emotional lift
  • Increased aerobic threshold and oxygen pickup in the lungs; easier to do more exercise
  • Increased fat burning enzymes; fat deposits are encouraged to release fatty acids
  • Increased glycogen storage; reduced conversion of sugar to fat; reduced incidence of hypoglycemia
  • Increased hemoglobin levels; decreased blood triglycerides; improved high density blood cholesterol levels
  • Increased muscle mass; improved bone calcium levels and strength
  • Increased stroke volume of heart; decreased blood pressure; decreased load on the heart; decreased resting pulse rate
  • Improved handling of excess heat and resistance to cold
  • More calories and fat burned (even while at rest!); decreased body fat; better hunger control
  • Decreased insulin requirement; decreased muscle dependence on sugar
  • Lower chance of senility - increased oxygen delivery to brain
With all of these benefits, and more activities than ever to choose from, everyone should find one or more things that keep their heart rate elevated for a continuous time period and get moving to a healthier life.
 

 
 

Aerobic Exercise can help with the following:
 
 
Aging  Alzheimer's Disease
 A study (October 2008) coming from Professor Art Kramer, of the US Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois, gives strong evidence that aerobic exercise can actually reverse mental decline.

According to a report in The Telegraph, research suggests that the benefits of regular workouts are seen not only in those undergoing the normal aging process but also in people suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Indeed, says the report, the findings of one study suggested that people who exercised for just one hour three times a week over three months increased their brain size to that of someone three years younger.

Writing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Professor Kramer, who is quoted as saying he believes that around six months of physical activity would be enough to see a marked improvement in brain power, said: "We can safely argue that an active lifestyle with moderate amounts of aerobic activity will likely improve cognitive and brain function, and reverse the neural decay frequently observed in older adults. The effect of aerobic exercise training on cognitive function also seems to extend to older adults with dementia."

  Senile Dementia
 A study (October 2008) coming from Professor Art Kramer, of the US Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois, gives strong evidence that aerobic exercise can actually reverse mental decline.

According to a report in The Telegraph, research suggests that the benefits of regular workouts are seen not only in those undergoing the normal aging process but also in people suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Indeed, says the report, the findings of one study suggested that people who exercised for just one hour three times a week over three months increased their brain size to that of someone three years younger.

Writing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Professor Kramer, who is quoted as saying he believes that around six months of physical activity would be enough to see a marked improvement in brain power, said: "We can safely argue that an active lifestyle with moderate amounts of aerobic activity will likely improve cognitive and brain function, and reverse the neural decay frequently observed in older adults. The effect of aerobic exercise training on cognitive function also seems to extend to older adults with dementia."

Autoimmune

  Myasthenia Gravis
 Available literature indicates that patients with myasthenia gravis may benefit from both a strengthening as well as an aerobic/cardiovascular fitness program. Patients should be taught a home exercise program that is individualized for their limitations and tolerance. Physical training is safe for patients with mild myasthenia gravis and does produce some improvement in overall muscle strength.

Walking for short periods at a slow pace is a good way to start a walking program. Increase the exercise time slowly until you build up to 30 minutes of continuous walking. If you are comfortable with this, then your speed can slowly be increased. Before beginning any exercise program, please check with your doctor for advice on whether this is appropriate for you, and what form of exercise is preferred.

  Multiple Sclerosis / Risk
 A 1996 study of people with mild to moderate disability from MS demonstrated clear benefit. Regular aerobic exercise increased fitness, arm and leg strength, workout capacity, and improved the participants’ bowel and bladder control. People in the study also reported reduced depression, fatigue, and anger. Other studies have shown that exercise can combat the loss of fitness caused by a sedentary lifestyle and be therapeutic for such MS-related problems as spasticity and poor balance.

Low-level aerobic training in MS improves not only quality of life but also coordinative function and physical fitness. [J Neurol Sci. 2004 Oct 15;225(1-2):11-8]

Circulation

  Angina
 A carefully graded, progressive, aerobic exercise program (30 minutes 3 times per week) is a necessity. Walking is a good exercise with which to start. Since angina is known to be exacerbated by physical exertion following a meal, give your body at least one and a half hours after a meal before exercising.

  Phlebitis / Thrombophlebitis
 It is important to get regular moderate exercise. Walking is the best, and swimming may also be helpful. Regular exercise increases the body's ability to dissolve clots.

If you are prone to this condition, wherever you may be, do not sit for long periods of time without getting up and walking around. Better yet, every hour exercise the legs for 2 minutes, as if you are riding a bike (lifting the legs) while breathing deeply. Do not squat (sit back on your heels), except momentarily. If you have to travel a distance while seated (airplane, car, etc.), stop and walk around every so often. Do not let the circulation become sluggish.

Traveling for more than 4 hours by air, car, bus or train is associated with an increased risk of venous thrombosis. In a large study (the MEGA study) of nearly 2000 people with a first thrombosis in the Netherlands, Dr Suzanne Cannegieter and colleagues from the Leiden University Medical Center looked at the risk factors for thrombosis compared with their partners, who did not have thrombosis. The results, published in the international open-access medical journal PLoS Medicine, showed that 233 of the people with thrombosis had traveled for more than 4 h in the 8 weeks preceding the event. Although the overall risk of developing thrombosis is still low, traveling in general was found to increase the risk of venous thrombosis 2-fold. The risk was highest in the first week after traveling, and the overall risk of flying was largely similar to the risks of traveling by car, bus, or train. [PLoS Med 3(8): e307]

  Atherosclerosis
 Regular aerobic exercise lowers fibrinogen levels - a risk factor for atherosclerosis of equal or greater predictive value than cholesterol. Additionally, exercise improves the production of nitric oxide within the blood vessel wall, which should limit the progression of atherosclerosis. Exercise improves the fitness of the heart as well as circulation.

  Mitral Valve Prolapse
 Some patients are told to take it easy, but a recent study found that moderate exercise can benefit individuals with this condition. Amongst women who exercised, the symptoms that saw the most improvement were chest pain, fatigue, dizziness and mood swings. Over-exertion can often increase the symptoms of mitral valve prolapse, so increase exercise levels gradually.

  Hypotension
 Regular exercise to promote blood flow and regulation can improve low blood pressure.

  Intermittent Claudication
 A systematic review of randomized trials suggests that exercise improves symptoms of intermittent claudication. [Physical Therapy 1998 78: pp.278-88]

  Hypertension
 Postmenopausal women with hypertension who walked 3km per day experienced an 11 point drop in systolic blood pressure over 6 months. [Med Sci Sports Exerc 2001;33(11): pp.1825-1831]

  Varicose Veins
 Regular aerobic exercise provides benefits for the circulatory system.


Not recommended for:
  Cardiomyopathy
 Heavy physical activity can be life-threatening for cardiomyopathy patients. However, appropriate physician supervised exercise often benefits individuals with cardiomyopathy.

Diet

  Overconsumption
 Vigorous aerobic exercise suppresses appetite by triggering the release of the appetite suppressing hormone peptide YY and lowering levels of the appetite stimulating hormone ghrelin. [Exercise Suppresses Appetite by Affecting Appetite Hormones. American Physiological Society. December 11th 2008]

Digestion

  Constipation
 Lack of exercise can lead to constipation, although doctors do not know precisely why.

  Gastric/Peptic Ulcers
 Active men had one-half to one-third the risk of developing a duodenal ulcer over 20 years compared with their sedentary counterparts. Men who walked or ran at least 10 miles per week were 62% less likely than inactive subjects to develop an ulcer. Men who walked or ran less than 10 miles each week had about half the ulcer risk of those with no regular exercise.


Not recommended for:
  Heartburn / GERD
 Heartburn is more frequent when exercising within 2 hours of eating. However, for some people, the weight loss experienced with more exercise reduces heartburn symptoms.

Environment / Toxicity

  General Detoxification Requirement

Genetic

  Ehlers Danlos Syndrome
 Joint stability may be improved through prescribed exercise programs that strengthen the muscles. But avoid weightlifting. It puts too much strain on your joints. Any exercises that cause you to put pressure on locked joints should be avoided. Check with your doctor or physical therapist to learn appropriate strengthening exercises and the proper way to do them.

Habits

  Aerobic Exercise Need

Not recommended for:
  Overtraining, Effects
  Aerobic Exercise Level

Hormones

  Elevated Insulin Levels
 Aerobic exercise is very important in keeping insulin levels low and to prevent cells from becoming insulin resistant. Exercise becomes effective in promoting weight loss through these two mechanisms.

Please see the link and comment between Metabolic Syndrome and Exercise.

  Low HGH (Human Growth Hormone)
 Exercise usually results in an increase in growth hormone levels. Unfortunately, this rise in growth hormone with exercise is blocked in fibromyalgia. Adding the medication mestinon (30-60 milligrams before exercise) may restore the normal rise in growth hormone release during exercise in fibromyalgia.

Immunity

  AIDS / Risk
 Exercise of any type 3 - 4 times per week or more has been associated with slower progression to AIDS at one year and with a slower progression to death from AIDS at one year in men. [Ann Epidemiol 1999;9: pp.127–31]

  Chronic Fatigue / Fibromyalgia Syndrome
 A comparison of 50 subjects with fibromyalgia found those who underwent an exercise program for 30 minutes per day, 3 day a week, experienced an improvement in mood and function and a reduction in pain compared with controls. [Arthriti Care Res December 2001;45(6): pp.519-529]

Lab Values

  Elevated Triglycerides
 For many individuals, an exercise period of 45 minutes can produce greater reduction in plasma triglycerides than the shorter periods of exercise sometimes recommended for lowering triglyceride levels.

  Elevated Total Cholesterol
 In a recent study, the more a person exercised, the more their cholesterol improved, but positive results were seen even in those who engaged in small amounts of exercise. The amount of exercise may be more important than intensity. This means that if equal amounts of calories are spent, you would be better off with moderate exertion for longer periods than intense exertion for shorter periods of time. [NEJM November 7, 2002;347: pp.1483-1492]

Mental

  Depression
 Researchers found that walking for 30 minutes each day quickly improved depressive symptoms faster than antidepressant drugs typically do. Another study compared exercise with antidepressants among older adults and found that physical activity was the more effective depression-fighter. [British Journal of Sports Medicine April 2001;35: pp.114-117]

Previous studies have suggested that exercise is a potent mood-booster, and some research indicates that for some patients regular activity may be a better depression treatment than psychotherapy or medication. Exactly why is unclear, but exercise does influence certain mood-related hormones. And it is also believed to enhance people's sense of control over their lives.

The main conclusion to draw from studies conducted is that the practice of exercise shows a negative correlation with depression - in other words, the more you exercise, the less depressed you feel. Interestingly, any kind of exercise relieves the symptoms of depression.

Research has shown that listening to music while exercising not only improves mood, but may also boost cognitive levels. An example of this was seen in higher scores among cardiac rehabilitation patients on verbal fluency tests. The study looked at the effects of music combined with short-term exercise and found that people diagnosed with coronary artery disease had enhanced brainpower after listening to music while exercising. The study also had the participants fill out a 30-item checklist, which included adjectives to describe the patient’s current mood, before and after exercising as a way to assess their anxiety and depression levels. The study concluded that participants claimed they felt better both emotionally and mentally after exercising regardless if they listened to music or not. However, signs of improvement in the verbal fluency areas were more than doubled after listening to music compared to that of the non-music session. [EurekAlert! March 23, 2004]

More and more researchers and physicians are coming to the conclusion that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants in reducing the symptoms of major depression.

Research on the subject has demonstrated that:
*10 months of regular, moderate exercise outperformed a leading antidepressant (Zoloft) in easing symptoms in young adults
*30-minute aerobic workouts done three to five times a week cut depressive symptoms by 50% in young adults [Yahoo News November 6, 2005]

  Stress
 Regular exercise can help reduce elevated levels of hormones (such as cortisol) that are associated with chronic stress.

  Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD / ADHD)
 The results of a study involving vigorous treadmill exercise and children suggests that aerobic exercise can improve symptoms of ADHD via dopamine release. [Med Sci Sports Exerc 2002 Feb; 34(2): pp.203-12]

Metabolic

  Metabolic Syndrome (Syndrome X)
 Researchers at Yale University School of Medicine have determined, via new imaging technologies, that insulin resistance in skeletal muscle leads to changes in energy storage, leading to metabolic syndrome.

Insulin resistance, which occurs when the body becomes resistant to the hormone insulin, occurs in skeletal muscle when the muscles are no longer able to make glycogen, a form of stored carbohydrate, from food energy. In turn, insulin resistance in skeletal muscle promotes an increase in fats in the bloodstream, which leads to metabolic syndrome.

Using magnetic resonance imaging techniques, the researchers were able to determine that insulin-sensitive individuals in their study converted carbohydrate energy (from eating a high-carb meal) into glycogen that was stored in the liver and muscle.

Among insulin-resistant individuals, however, the carbohydrate energy was rerouted to liver fat production. The process elevated the participants’ triglycerides in the blood by as much as 60 percent while lowering HDL (good) cholesterol by 20 percent. This occurred even though the participants were young and lean, with no excess of abdominal fat.

More than 50 million Americans suffer from metabolic syndrome, and half of the population is predisposed to it.

The researchers pointed out that there is good news to their findings: insulin resistance in skeletal muscle can be treated with a simple method, exercise. [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences July 18, 2007]

  Problem Caused By Being Overweight
 Increased physical activity lowers the risk of obesity, favorably influences the distribution of body weight and has a variety of health-related benefits, even in the absence of weight loss. Exercise is the natural partner to weight loss. You will discover improvement in balance, energy level, immune function, muscular strength, reflexes, and self-esteem.

One of the biggest challenges for dieters is keeping the weight off. Previous research has shown that the hormone leptin decreases food consumption while increasing fat metabolism and energy expenditure. Researchers delivered leptin into the brains of obese rats to determine whether an increase in energy expenditure alone would maintain, over an extended period of time, weight loss achieved through an initial food reduction. They concluded that a reduction in food intake mediated the initial loss of body weight, however, only an increase in energy expenditure was necessary to maintain the reduced weight, even after food consumption returned to normal. The findings suggest that a continuation of reduced food consumption is not critical to maintain a reduced body weight as long as there is a sustained increase in energy expenditure.[Endocrinology August 2002 143: p.3183]

Products like Leptoprin and Anorex SF refer to a study [Current Therapeutic Research 60; 4; April 1999] which demonstrates weight loss with the use of “the active compounds” from their product. These appear to be conventional metabolic stimulants, and the name Leptoprin being merely a play on words with the hormone Leptin. Caution is advised when listening to any ‘sales pitch’ by promoters of these expensive products. It remains to be seen if a Leptin based product promotes weight loss and becomes commercially available.

Weight loss and exercise gyms are available in just about any city. For example, Curves for Women, now the largest fitness franchise in the world, seeks to provide women affordable, one stop fitness and nutritional guidance.

If swimming is what you would like to do, this study is of interest. Researchers compared the energy exhausted by 11 students, ages 21-31, who rode a stationary bike in warm-water (91 degrees Fahrenheit) and cold-water (68 degrees Fahrenheit) pools for 45 minutes. The amount of calories students expended in both water temperatures was virtually the same.

After a rest period, students were brought into a room to have their blood pressure and heart rates measured. They were asked to remain in that same room, where they had free access to a standard assortment of food, for an hour. Researchers found:
1. Significantly more calories were eaten after exercise in cold water, compared to exercise in warm water or at rest.
2. Caloric intake after exercise in cold water was 44 percent higher than after exercise in warm water and 41 percent higher than after periods of rest.
3. Students consumed a mean of 877 calories after exercise in cold water, 608 after exercise in warm water and 618 after resting.

The practical implication is that cold water temperature minht impair weight loss by increasing your caloric intake after the exercise. [International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism February 2005 ] Something to keep in mind…

Please also review the link between being Overweight and a High Protein Diet.

Exercise may well be the key factor leading to sustained weight loss. Studies consistently find that people who reported the most exercise also had the most weight loss. When time is short, a program called Sprint 8 could be considered. Twenty minutes, twice a week is all it takes.Here is an introduction to Phil Campbell's book [Ready, Set, GO! Synergy Fitness] with recommendations.

  Hypoglycemia
 Moderate exercise improves glucose metabolism. Those few individuals who find that strenuous or prolonged exercise causes hypoglycemia should take food at the earliest opportunity.

  Headaches, Cluster
 Vigorous physical exertion at the earliest sign of an attack can, in some patients, be remarkably effective in ameliorating or even aborting an attack. [Atkinson, 1977; Ekbom and Lindahl, 1970]

  Edema (Water Retention)
 Edema can be caused by a sedentary lifestyle - in other words, long periods of standing or sitting. If this is the case for you, regular exercise (not necessarily prolonged or strenuous) should help.

  Tinnitus
 Regular exercise may help increase blood circulation to the head and thus reduce the symptoms of tinnitus if it is caused by poor circulation.

  Blood Type O

Musculo-Skeletal

  Elevated Body Fat Percentage
  Osteoarthritis
 Research shows that a good treatment for Osteoarthritis is exercise. It can improve mood and outlook, decrease pain, increase joint flexibility, improve the heart and blood flow, maintain or decrease weight, and promote general well being. The amount and form of exercise will depend on which joints are involved, how stable the joints are, and whether a joint replacement has already been done.

  Osteoporosis / Risk
 Physical activity may help reduce fracture risk by enhancing bone strength and improving bone quality.

Please read the following study summary carefully. It demonstrates the value of exercise.

Twelve months of supplementation with calcium citrate (800mg) plus exercise (aerobic, weight-bearing and weight-lifting exercise three times per week) increased trochanteric bone mineral density among women who did not use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in a study of 320 healthy, non-smoking postmenopausal women who did or did not use HRT. HRT users who exercised and took calcium experienced increased femoral neck, trochanteric and lumbar spine BMD, while women who used HRT and calcium but did not exercise had no change in BMD. [Osteoporos Int 2003;14(8):637-43]

  Leg Cramps At Night
 Exercise, such as riding a stationary bicycle for a few minutes before bedtime, can help prevent cramps from developing during the night, especially if you do not get a lot of exercise during the day.


Not recommended for:
  Marfan's Syndrome
 Because the Marfan syndrome appears in many forms, recommendations about exercise vary widely. People with dilation of the aorta may be asked to avoid the usual team sports. Isometric exercises (such as weight lifting or rowing) and contact sports in which a blow to the chest could occur (such as football or hockey) also may be off-limits. Many people with the Marfan syndrome can participate in modified physical and recreational activities without being overly concerned.

Organ Health

  Diabetes Type II
 Aerobic exercise reduces the risk of diabetes and improves the diabetic condition through several different mechanisms.

  Increased Risk of Diabetes ll
 Aerobic exercise reduces the risk of diabetes and improves the diabetic condition through several different mechanisms.

  Diverticular Disease
 In one of the few studies that have been done, the most active men had a 37% lower risk of symptomatic diverticular disease than the least active men. Most of the protection against diverticulitis was due to vigorous activities such as jogging and running, rather than moderate activities like walking. [Gut 36:276, 1995]

  Gallbladder Disease
 Studies have shown that the more physically active one is, the lower one's risk of gallstone formation. One study indicated that men who performed endurance-type exercise (such as jogging and running, racquet sports, and brisk walking) for thirty minutes five times per week reduced their risk for gallbladder disease by up to 34%. The benefit depended more on the intensity of activity than the type of exercise. Some researchers guess that in addition to controlling weight, exercise helps normalize blood sugar levels and insulin levels, which, if abnormal, may contribute to gallstones.

If you already have gallbladder disease, then gallbladder flushes may provide some relief. If symptoms then resolve, consider an aggressive aerobic exercise program to permanently improve gallbladder function.

Pain

  Low Back Pain / Problems
 An exercise program is important for improvement of low back pain. Begin with those exercises which provide the greatest range of motion with the least amount of pain. Some find that remaining very active and mobile is their key to remaining pain-free. However, you should avoid exercise during the recovery period from acute low back pain. [The New Eng J of Med. Feb. 9,1995;332(6):35 pp.1-55

Exercises to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles can be helpful. Inactivity is definitely detrimental to patients with chronic low back pain. Normal activity produces better recovery than bed rest, so stay mobile. The success of using exercise as a treatment of low back pain and rehabilitation is overwhelming. The tissues of the vertebral column need the stresses of exercise, even under conditions of back pain.

Although not aerobic, there is a particular exercise that has relieved back pain which occurs during long periods of sitting. The technique is: "Sit up straight. Put your feet on the floor, then raise both feet off the floor at the same time 1 inch. This lightens the abdominal muscles and is the sitting-up equivalent of the old bent knee sit-up exercises". This exercise can be done almost anywhere.

An experienced physical therapist can develop an exercise program to help rehabilitate your back and prevent future recurrences.

Risks

  Increased Risk of Coronary Disease / Heart Attack
 A sedentary lifestyle of physical inactivity is almost as great a risk factor for heart disease as smoking because of diminished circulation and weight gain.

Men who reported running had a 42% risk reduction compared with men who did not run. This was followed by weight training for at least 30 minutes per week, which was found to decrease the risk by 23%. Men who reported rowing for an hour or more each week or brisk walking for at least 30 minutes per day, were both found to have an 18% risk reduction.

Exercise intensity also played a role. Men who exercised at a high level of intensity decreased their risk of CHD by 17%, while those who exercised at a moderate level had a 6% lower risk, as compared with men who exercised at a low level. [Jama October 23, 2002;288: pp.1994-2000]

From a purely statistical standpoint, you can probably get a pretty good indication of not only your risk of developing heart disease, but also your life expectancy in general, from one simple test. How physically fit are you? An accurate answer to that question is possibly a better predictor of life expectancy than any test or risk factor we have.

In a study out of Stanford University, 6,213 men, who were referred for exercise treadmill stress tests (known in medicine as gaited exercise treadmills-GXT), were followed for an average of 6 years after their tests were conducted. Of those who were studied, 3,679 (59%) had abnormal treadmill results, indicating blockage of the coronary arteries. The remaining 41% of the men had normal treadmills.

Over the course of the 6-year follow-up period, 1,256 (20%, or 1 out of every 5) men died. After adjusting for age, the peak exercise capacity (as measured during the GXT) proved to be the single best predictor of death between both groups. n other words, their life expectancy was not related to the presence of heart disease in and of itself but to their overall level of fitness. This was found to be even more important than the fact that some of the individuals were discovered to have blockage of their coronary arteries and to have coronary artery disease.

The standard for measuring exercise capacity during a GXT is referred to as Multiples of Resting Energy Requirements (METs). For example, it takes only one MET to carry on a conversation or to sit or stand in a relaxed position. It takes two METs to be able to dress and undress, wash your hands and face or play billiards. Using a bedside commode requires three METs, as well as washing a car and playing croquet. Horseshoes, volleyball, sailing, fishing, and music require four METs. Add another for badminton, table tennis, raking leaves, and swimming. A sixth MET is needed to be able to skate or walk at a rate of 4 miles per hour. The seventh is needed to split wood, hike, ski, and play competitive volleyball. For each single MET increase in exercise capacity, there is a 12% improvement in survival rate. [NEJM, 2002. 346(11): pp. 793-801]

Your overall fitness level may be the single best predictor of longevity.

  Increased Risk of Alzheimer's / Dementia
 A study (October 2008) coming from Professor Art Kramer, of the US Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois, gives strong evidence that aerobic exercise can actually reverse mental decline.

According to a report in The Telegraph, research suggests that the benefits of regular workouts are seen not only in those undergoing the normal aging process but also in people suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Indeed, says the report, the findings of one study suggested that people who exercised for just one hour three times a week over three months increased their brain size to that of someone three years younger.

Writing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Professor Kramer, who is quoted as saying he believes that around six months of physical activity would be enough to see a marked improvement in brain power, said: "We can safely argue that an active lifestyle with moderate amounts of aerobic activity will likely improve cognitive and brain function, and reverse the neural decay frequently observed in older adults. The effect of aerobic exercise training on cognitive function also seems to extend to older adults with dementia."

Also, patients with Alzheimer's disease have been found to have had lower levels of physical activity earlier in life. Those who exercised regularly throughout life were less likely to contract the disease than those who were inactive. Of course, doctors caution that exercise does not guarantee immunity.

  Increased Risk of Colon Cancer
 Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.

Regular, moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise significantly reduces a risk factor associated with the formation of colon polyps and colon cancer in men, according to a study led by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The findings, from the first randomized clinical trial to test the effect of exercise on colon-cancer biomarkers in colon tissue, appear in the September 2006 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.

  Increased Risk of Hypertension
 One study of 6,000 healthy adults found a 52% increased risk for hypertension in sedentary individuals compared to those who were fit, while another study found a 35% increase.

  Increased Risk of Breast Cancer
 Exercising at least four hours per week for 12 years can reduce a woman's risk of breast cancer in half, according to a study of breast cancer patients performed at the University of Southern California. The study revealed that exercise is especially important during the adolescent and child-bearing years. In addition, the 12 years of exercise do not need to be performed consecutively. This study complements one performed at the Alberta Cancer Board in Alberta, Canada, which showed that exercising throughout life can cut a woman's risk of breast cancer by 20%.

Women who reported the highest levels of physical activity in the year before they were diagnosed with breast cancer may have higher survival, according to a new study. Published in the October 15, 2006 issue of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study found that obese and overweight women who had higher levels of moderate or vigorous recreational physical activity within one year before diagnosis tended to have better five-year survival patterns compared to other groups. Women of ideal body weight did not experience survival benefits from exercise; more remote histories of physical activity also had no impact on survival.

Research from the US (2008) suggests that vigorous exercise cuts the risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women and is particularly effective for women who are not overweight.

This study was the work of researchers at the National Cancer Institute and is published in the 31 October issue of the journal Breast Cancer Research.

For the study the investigators examined data on over 32,000 women enrolled in the Breast Cancer Detection Demonstration Project Follow-up Study. This included responses to a questionnaire about their physical activity (including everyday tasks like housework, work related activity and leisure activity) over 12 months before baseline, after which incidence of post-menopausal breast cancer and deaths were monitored. The investigators then performed statistical tests to estimate the relative risk of post-menopausal breast cancer linked to physical activity.

The results showed that:
  • There was a weak inverse relationship between total physical activity and postmenopausal breast cancer (after adjusting for other possible breast cancer risk factors). Vigorous activity accounted for practically all of this trend.
  • The inverse link to vigorous activity was limited to lean women (BMI less than 25 kg/m2).
  • In contrast, no link to vigorous activity was found for overweight and obese women (BMI of 25 kg/m2 and over).
  • Non-vigorous activity was not linked to breast cancer at all.
  • These results were independent of hormone receptor subtype.
The researchers concluded that for this sample, only vigorous activity appeared to reduce breast cancer risk. The result was significant for lean but not overweight and obese women and it was independent of cancer type (the hormone receptor status).

"Our findings suggest that physical activity acts through underlying biological mechanisms that are independent of body weight control," wrote the researchers. Thus it was the exercise itself that was beneficial, regardless of whether it resulted in weight loss, they argued.

The researchers rated the following activities as "vigorous": heavy housework like scrubbing floors and washing windows (vacuuming was rated as non-vigorous); garden digging (as opposed to general gardening); chopping wood; strenuous sports and exercise, including running, fast jogging and aerobics (as opposed to walking, golf or light jogging); cycling on hills (as opposed to on the flat); and fast dancing.

  Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer
 Researchers studied more than 2,100 women and found that those who exercised for more than 6 hours per week were 27% less likely to develop ovarian cancer than women who exercised less than 1 hour each week. High activity levels were found to protect women of all ages. [Obstetrics and Gynecology 96: pp.609-14, October 2000]

Skin-Hair-Nails

  Cold Hands and Feet
  Dry skin
 Exercise increases blood flow and thus the supply of oxygen and nutrients to your skin.

Uro-Genital

  Dysmenorrhea, Painful Menstruation
 Regular exercise can help minimize pain and cramping.

  Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
  Female Infertility
 Exercise regularly but moderately. Maintaining a high level of physical fitness increases the possibility of conception. For both men and women, the ability to reproduce is dependent on a healthy body. Stressing your body with intensive exercise can cause a decrease in fertility.

  Fibrocystic Breasts
 Exercise may decrease breast tenderness. In one study, women who ran forty five miles per menstrual cycle reported less breast tenderness as well as improvement in other symptoms, such as anxiety.
 
 


KEY
May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended
May have adverse consequences
Reasonably likely to cause problems
Avoid absolutely







GLOSSARY

Aerobic:  Using oxygen. For example, aerobic exercises such as running, swimming, bicycling or playing tennis use up lots of oxygen and burn up lots of calories and fat.

Calcium:  The body's most abundant mineral. Its primary function is to help build and maintain bones and teeth. Calcium is also important to heart health, nerves, muscles and skin. Calcium helps control blood acid-alkaline balance, plays a role in cell division, muscle growth and iron utilization, activates certain enzymes, and helps transport nutrients through cell membranes. Calcium also forms a cellular cement called ground substance that helps hold cells and tissues together.

Cholesterol:  A waxy, fat-like substance manufactured in the liver and found in all tissues, it facilitates the transport and absorption of fatty acids. In foods, only animal products contain cholesterol. An excess of cholesterol in the bloodstream can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.

Enzymes:  Specific protein catalysts produced by the cells that are crucial in chemical reactions and in building up or synthesizing most compounds in the body. Each enzyme performs a specific function without itself being consumed. For example, the digestive enzyme amylase acts on carbohydrates in foods to break them down.

Fatty Acids:  Chemical chains of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms that are part of a fat (lipid) and are the major component of triglycerides. Depending on the number and arrangement of these atoms, fatty acids are classified as either saturated, polyunsaturated, or monounsaturated. They are nutritional substances found in nature which include cholesterol, prostaglandins, and stearic, palmitic, linoleic, linolenic, eicosapentanoic (EPA), and decohexanoic acids. Important nutritional lipids include lecithin, choline, gamma-linoleic acid, and inositol.

Glycogen:  A compound produced by the liver from glucose and stored in the liver and muscles. It acts as an energy source for muscles, and releases glucose from the liver to maintain blood sugar.

Hemoglobin:  The oxygen-carrying protein of the blood found in red blood cells.

Hypoglycemia:  A condition characterized by an abnormally low blood glucose level. Severe hypoglycemia is rare and dangerous. It can be caused by medications such as insulin (diabetics are prone to hypoglycemia), severe physical exhaustion, and some illnesses.

Insulin:  A hormone secreted by the pancreas in response to elevated blood glucose levels. Insulin stimulates the liver, muscles, and fat cells to remove glucose from the blood for use or storage.

Stroke:  A sudden loss of brain function caused by a blockage or rupture of a blood vessel that supplies the brain, characterized by loss of muscular control, complete or partial loss of sensation or consciousness, dizziness, slurred speech, or other symptoms that vary with the extent and severity of the damage to the brain. The most common manifestation is some degree of paralysis, but small strokes may occur without symptoms. Usually caused by arteriosclerosis, it often results in brain damage.

Triglyceride:  The main form of fat found in foods and the human body. Containing three fatty acids and one unit of glycerol, triglycerides are stored in adipose cells in the body, which, when broken down, release fatty acids into the blood. Triglycerides are fat storage molecules and are the major lipid component of the diet.