Physio findings: the latest exercise-related research

Janet Wright looks at the latest physio research and clinical findings

Do what you like

Science is constantly coming up with new reasons to keep fit. And evidence is growing that you can do that in whatever way suits you best.

Researchers in Sweden have found that people who are generally active – as opposed to specifically taking regular exercise – have a good chance of living long and healthily.

They recruited 4,232 Stockholm 60-year-olds and followed them for 12 years. As well as exercise, they noted how much ‘non-exercise physical activity’ people did such as mowing the lawn, cycling or going out picking wild berries.

The ones who did plenty of non-exercise activity had healthier cholesterol and triglyceride levels, smaller waists and less likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome or cardiovascular disease than people leading sedentary lives.

Even the non-exercisers among them lived longer and in better health than the couch potatoes.

Because they were just looking at what people did, alongside their health and the numbers who died during the study, researchers couldn’t say that being active is what made people live longer – only that the more active people did live longer.  

‘A generally active daily life was, regardless of exercising regularly or not, associated with cardiovascular health and longevity in older adults,’ say the authors.Ekblom-Bak E et al. The importance of non-exercise physical activity for cardiovascular health and longevity. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2013;

Physically active teenaged girls feel better about themselves, and their increased self-confidence makes them more active, Finnish researchers have found.

‘Findings demonstrated a reciprocal relationship between physical self-worth and physical activity,’ say the authors. Raudsepp L et al. European Journal of Sport Science 2013;

Not only can moderate exercise relieve depression, but it may also reduce the risk of becoming depressed in the future, a review of 25 long-term studies shows.

Even just walking for half an hour five times a week may be enough to prevent depression in later life.  Mammen C & Faulkner G. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2013;

People with diabetes strongly reduce their risk of death from cardiovascular disease if they take 30 minutes exercise at least three times a week, according to a Swedish study of 15,462 subjects.

Those who exercised less were 25 per cent more likely to have cardiovascular problems and 70 per cent more likely to die as a result. Zethelius B et al. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology 2013; http://dx.doio

Age care

New backing for resolutions
If your patients’ new-year resolutions are flagging as January wears on, the latest evidence could help bolster their willpower.

Look after your teeth – this could reduce your risk of heart disease. Researchers who followed 420 adults for three years found that those with the best dental hygiene had the least clogged arteries – even allowing for major risk factors such as obesity, smoking, and high cholesterol.

Those who improved their dental hygiene slowed the rate at which their arteries narrowed, while those who slacked off speeded up the deterioration of their arteries as well as their teeth. Dentists recommend cleaning teeth for two minutes twice a day, flossing every day and having regular check-ups.  Desvarieux M et al. Journal of the American Heart Association 2013;

Lend a hand

People who do voluntary work reduce their death risk by about a fifth in the following few years, according to a large systematic review and meta-analysis of 40 published studies. It is also found to ease depression and is linked with better mental health generally. Jenkinson CE et al. BMC Public Health 2013;

Think positive. Brooding on bad times makes them more likely to cause depression and anxiety, psychologists have found.

Though traumatic life events are the main root cause, people who avoid ruminating on the past suffer less stress as a result.

Those who find themselves stuck in a rut can learn positive coping techniques to break the habit and reduce the risk of mental illness. Kinderman P et al. PLOS One 2013;

If you eat a lot of meat, it may be worth cutting down. French researchers have linked an acid-forming diet -- including animal proteins – with an increased risk of diabetes, even among people who also eat plenty of alkaline foods such as fruit and veg, which balance the acid load. Fagherazzi G et al. Diabetologia, 2013;

And find something more fun than housework! Researchers from the University of Ulster found that people who count housework as part of their weekly exercise weigh more than others – possibly because they compensate with a snack. Murphy MH et al. BMC Public Health 2013;

Janet Wright

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