Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Brain Energy Restored by Sleep

In an article published by PsychCentral titled "Sleep Restores Brain Energy", it is reported that research conducted at the Harvard Medical School shows the energy levels in the brain are dramatically recharged in the initial stages of sleep.

The researchers measured a chemical that is responsible for energy transfer in cells called adenosine triphosphate or ATP. They found that ATP levels in certain areas of the brain increased when rats were in non-REM sleep as brain activity decreased. When the rats were awake, ATP levels remained steady. When the rats were kept awake 3 to 6 hours past their normal sleep times, there was no increase in ATP.

This shows that a sleep dependent energy capacity surge is necessary for restorative processes absent during hours of wakeful activity.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New Gender Specific Formula for Peak Heart Rate

According to a report published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, women have a new formula that estimates the peak heart rate that a healthy woman should attain during exercise.

Previously, both men and women used the formula, 220 minus age, for the peak heart rate that should be obtained during exercise. Now the formula for women is 206 minus 88 percent of age. In comparison, the original formula gave a peak heart rate of 170 for 50 year olds. The new formula gives a peak heart rate of 162 for 50 year old women.

The peak heart rate becomes important when using the chronotropic index. Studies have shown that men who score less than 0.8 on the chronotropic index have a higher risk of dying prematurely. However, this study assumed that the peak heart rate is 220 minus age. It has been found that this assumption made the prediction of premature death less useful for women. The new formula for peak heart rate may improve the prediction of the chronotropic index for women.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Christy Matta published an excellent article on Breathing Exercises that calm the body at PsychCentral titled "Exercises to Calm The Body." Following are two additional views on the importance of breathing.

"The Complete Book of Pilates For Men" by Daniel Lyon, Jr.

"This brings us to the principle of breathing, which Joseph Pilates emphasized a great deal. 'Above all else learn how to breathe properly. Squeeze every atom of air from your lungs until they are almost as free of air as is a vacuum,' he wrote. But first, a caution: When drawing your navel to the spine during an exercise, sucking in your stomach in such a way that makes you hold your breath will only weaken your powerhouse. Do not hollow out your midsection. Instead, hold the abdominals in so that the stomach doesn't expand on the inhale but rather remains firm and - depending on your girth and powerhouse strength - hourglass-shaped at the waistline. Think of lying on the floor and tightening up your stomach because someone is about to stand on it. This will help you fully breathe into the sides and back of the ribcage while maintaining a strongly engaged powerhouse. Keep your stomach firm on the exhale as you pull your navel to the spine. Anything that hinders your breathing, such as sucking in your gut, will consequently slow or stop your movement. "

"Joyful Wisdom" by Yongey Mingyur

"Begin by sitting with your spine straight and body relaxed. If it's more comfortable, you can lie down. You can keep your eyes open or closed. Just breathe in and out naturally through your nose. And as you do, gently bring your attention to the changes in your body as you breathe, especially the expansion and contraction of your lungs and the rising and falling of the muscles in the abdominal region. Don't worry about concentrating too hard, thinking 'I've got to watch my breath...I've got to watch my breath.' Just let your mind rest in bare awareness of the changes occurring as you breathe in and out. Don't worry, either, if you find your mind wandering as you continue the exercise - that is simply another lesson in impermanence. If you find yourself thinking about something that happened yesterday, or daydreaming about tomorrow, gently bring your attention back to the changes in the body as you breathe. Continue this exercise for about a minute."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Moderate Coffee or Tea Consumption for Health

In a study published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology: Journal of the American Heart Association, consumption of tea and moderate coffee consumption are linked to a reduces risk of heart disease.

Researchers in the Netherlands found that drinking more than 6 cups of tea each day reduced the risk of heart disease by 36%. Interestingly, drinking 3 to 6 cups of tea each day reduced the risk of heart disease by 45%. This is a comparison to people who drink less than 1 cup of tea each day. Drinking 3 to 6 cups of tea each day appears to be the optimal amount for health.

The report also shows that drinking 2 to 4 cups of coffee each day reduced the risk of heart disease by 20% compared to those drinking less than 2 cups or drinking more than 4 cups. Drinking 2 to 4 cups of coffee each day is the optimum amount.

Apparently, neither tea or coffee affected stroke risks.

Mediterranean-Style Diet Improves Heart Function

A study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes reports that people who follow a Mediterranean-Style diet may have a reduced risk of heart disease by maintaining heart rate variability. This means that the autonomic system controlling a person's heart rate works better in people who eat a Mediterranean-type of diet. This reduces their risks of coronary artery disease and sudden death.

By studying twins, the study showed that even with a genetic predisposition to cardiovascular disease, eating a Mediterranean-style diet can improve heart function, and reduce the risk of heart disease and sudden death.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Exercise After Heart Attack Rehab

A new study as found that only 37 percent of patients were exercising even three times a week after one year following a heart attack, bypass surgery or angioplasty. Guidelines suggest exercising five times a week.

The study also found that women were less likely than men to exercise, and younger men were more likely than women and older men to adhere to their exercise program. More work is needed to convince these patients that regular exercise needs to be a lifelong habit.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

HDL and Lower Cancer Risk

According to the research conducted at the Tufts Medical Center Molecular Cardiology Research Institute, "For about a 10-point increase of HDL, there is a reduced risk of cancer by about one third over an average follow-up of 4.5 years." However, this association is not necessarily a linear relationship. "We can say that higher levels of HDL are associated with a lower risk of cancer, but we can't say that one causes the other," stated Dr. Richard Karas, executive director of the Institute.

In other words, HDL levels alone may not reduce cancer risks, but is a result of life style traits that lead to a lower risk of cancer, such as proper diet and exercise. However, HDL may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the risk of cancer. Further test are needed to determine the exact role of HDL in reducing cancer risks.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Exercise to Reduce the Risk of Falls

After analyzing the results of the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study, it was found that younger people fall as much as older folks. It was also determined that two hours a week of exercises can reduce the risk of falls. These results will appear in the July issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

However, it was also found that the relationship between physical activity and walking-related falls are stronger with men than women. Men who are more fit fall less. However, women of all fitness levels tend to fall with equal frequency, and more often than men.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Exercise Reduces Angry Mood

The results of a study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine's 57 th Annual Meeting in Baltimore reported that exercise may reduce anger in men.

According to lead investigator Nathaniel Thorn, Ph.D., a stress physiologist, "the major novel finding from this study is that exercise protected against angry mood induction, almost like taking aspirin to prevent a heart attack." Exercise may actually be like taking medicine for anger.

The research was conducted on 16 collegiate men who rated high in "trait anger."

Friday, June 4, 2010

Breathing Exercises Boost Performance

The results of a new study that was presented at the June 3, 2010 annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine shows that daily breathing exercises helps boost performance during endurance activities. Breathing exercises, also known as Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) reduces the amount of oxygen needed by muslces used for breathing. This makes oxygen available to other muscles during physical activities.

Below are two common Breathing Exercises to help you boost your physical activity performance.

Bellow Breathing or Stimulating Breath Exercise

  1. Sit up with your spine straight.
  2. With your mouth closed but relaxed, breathe in and out of your nose about 2 to 3 breathes each second.
  3. This action moves the diaphragm quickly like a bellows.
  4. In your first attempt at this exercise, do it for no longer than 15 seconds. With practice, you can slowly increase your exercise time by 5 seconds up to and not exceeding 1 minute.
  5. Be careful to not hyperventilate.

Abdominal Breathing or Relaxing Breath Exercise

  1. Exhale completely through your mouth.
  2. Take a slow and deep breath through your nose. This should take about 4 counts to inhale.
  3. Hold your breath for a count of 7.
  4. Slowly exhale through your mouth. This should take up to a count of 8.
  5. Repeat this cycle again 4 more times for a total of 5 deep breaths.