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Audio Items that encourage us...

CBC radio's "The Current" put on a program segment(Wednesday November 21) that encourages Seniors to undertake Art lessons and programs for the anti-aging brain perks such exercises entail. I tried to tape it- but my Blaster ate the tape. I'm trying to get this so that I can pass it on to you. It might be part of a podcast from The Current's folder on the CBC website... if you can find it, let me know.

Science Daily Information...Stiffening of the Heart.

Prolonged, Sustained Exercise Prevents Precursor To Heart Failure

ScienceDaily (Sep. 14, 2004) — DALLAS – Sept. 14, 2004 – Prolonged and sustained endurance training prevents stiffening of the heart, a condition associated with the onset of heart failure, according to researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. The researchers also report that a sedentary lifestyle, in addition to aging, puts older people at risk for heart failure, the leading cause of hospitalizations for patients over 65 and a condition that affects eight out of every 1,000 people older than 70.

Their findings are available online and will be published in the Sept. 28 print edition of Circulation.

"It appears that lifelong exercise training completely prevented the stiffening of the heart muscle that has been thought to be an inevitable consequence of aging. We found that it is aging in addition to being sedentary," said Dr. Benjamin Levine, professor of internal medicine and senior author of the study.

"If people can train and sustain it, a huge impact will be made on one of the biggest scourges of the elderly, which is heart failure with a normal ejection fraction, also called 'diastolic heart failure'. The overall health of the population would radically improve if a larger number of people would make exercise a part of their daily life."

About 40 percent of all hospitalizations for heart failure in patients 65 and older are due to diastolic heart failure, a condition in which the heart appears to pump normally. It appears to occur as a result of stiffening of the heart muscle, causing excess fluid to accumulate in the lungs, feet, ankles and legs.

The researchers measured the function and compliance of the left ventricle (the heart's main pumping chamber) in the study participants. Twelve healthy but sedentary seniors (all about 70 years old), 12 Masters athletes (average age of 68) and 14 young, sedentary controls, (average age of 29) were tested. Six of the Masters athletes, who participate in events from swimming to track, were nationally ranked competitors and six were regional champions. Sedentary participants had not engaged in regular endurance exercise throughout their life.

The researchers tested whether left ventricular compliance decreased with aging alone, or if physical inactivity contributed equally to this process.

"We found that the older, sedentary individuals' hearts were 50 percent stiffer than the Masters athletes, which we expected," said Dr. Levine, medical director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, a collaboration between UT Southwestern and Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas. "But what we didn't expect was that the hearts of these senior athletes were indistinguishable from those of the healthy younger participants.

"That specific finding led us to conclude that a sedentary lifestyle is associated with a decline of ventricular compliance and prolonged, sustained endurance training preserves ventricular compliance and may reduce the high incidence of heart failure in the elderly."

Dr. Levine and his collaborators have already designed an endurance-training program for several of the elderly, sedentary study participants, which has already yielded dramatic results.

"About two-thirds of the sedentary, elderly participants have trained for a year and there is already improvement in their cardiac compliance. Their hearts are more muscular and more flexible," Dr. Levine said.

A sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to one's health, but starting and sticking with an endurance-training program plays a major role in reversing the damage done to the heart, even if that program is initiated later in life, he added. Most of the Masters athletes were not elite athletes when they were younger, Dr. Levine pointed out. In fact, most of them did not start training until they were in their 30s.

"It's not necessarily starting an exercise program that is important, but sustaining it and making it a part of your daily life," Dr. Levine said.

Other researchers who contributed to the study included Dr. Armin Arbab-Zadeh, a postdoctoral trainee clinician at UT Southwestern and first author of the study; Dr. Rong Zhang, assistant professor of internal medicine; Dr. Qi Fu, Dean Palmer, Dr. Pilar Ochoa-Torres, all from the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, along with researchers at the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Adapted from materials provided by University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center At Dallas

Pilot Program Helps Boost Seniors' Activity Levels, Quality Of Life

ScienceDaily (Nov. 19, 2007) — Older adults often carry a deeply ingrained belief that inactive, sedentary lives are an inevitable part of aging. But this mindset is not just wrong, it can be changed -- with positive physical and mental health results.

In a new UCLA study, researchers show that older adults who participated in a pilot test for a program aimed at changing this mindset became more physically active, increasing their walking levels by about 24 percent -- an average increase of 2.5 miles per week. The study is available on the Web site of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

"We can teach older adults to get rid of those old beliefs that becoming sedentary is just a normal part of growing older," said Dr. Catherine Sarkisian, assistant professor of geriatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the study's lead author. "We can teach them that they can and should remain physically active at all ages."

The researchers used a technique known as "attribution retraining" to effect a change among study participants about what it means to age and what to expect out of it.

"The exciting part is that, to our knowledge, this attribution retraining component hasn't been tested in a physical activity intervention," Sarkisian said. "It's been very successful in educational interventions."

The researchers worked with 46 sedentary adults age 65 and older from three senior centers in the Los Angeles area. The participants attended four weekly, hour-long group sessions led by a trained health educator who applied an attribution retraining curriculum. The participants were taught to reject the notion that becoming older means becoming sedentary and to accept that they can continue engaging in physical activity well into old age. Each attribution retraining session was followed by a one-hour exercise class that included strength, endurance and flexibility training.

Participants were fitted with electronic pedometers, to be worn at all times, which measured the number of steps they took each week. They also completed surveys that gauged their expectations about aging -- higher scores indicated that participants expected high functioning with aging, while lower scores meant they expected physical and mental decline.

As a result of the program, participants increased the number of steps they took per week from a mean of 24,749 to 30,707 -- a 24 percent increase -- and their scores on the age-expectation survey rose by 30 percent. Also, their mental health-related quality of life improved, and they reported fewer difficulties with daily activities, experienced less pain, had higher energy levels and slept better.

"An intervention combining attribution retraining with a weekly exercise class raised walking levels and improved quality of life in sedentary older adults in this small pre-post community-based pilot study," the researchers wrote. "Attribution retraining deserves further investigation as a potential means of increasing physical activity in sedentary older adults."

Other co-authors were Bernard Weiner of the UCLA Department of Psychology, Thomas R. Prohaska of the department of community health sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago's School of Public Health, and Connie Davis of the Fraser Health Authority in Abbotsford, British Columbia.

The study was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) through the UCLA Older Americans Independence Center and the UCLA Mentored Clinical Scientist Program in Geriatrics, and an NIA Paul B. Beeson Career Development Award in Aging.

Adapted from materials provided by University of California - Los Angeles.

Training Quiets Aging Reflexes

ScienceDaily (Nov. 15, 2007) — Older participants in a 5-week balance class at Indiana University saw their balance improve on average by 19.5 percent. Researchers attribute much of this improvement to training geared toward minimizing the influence of the participants' aging and less reliable reflexes.

Special exercises on a wobble board targeted muscle fibers and motor neurons associated with their gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, which are the calf muscle and the muscle immediately beneath it. These muscles are important for balance because they help people stand upright.

The special exercises were designed to help the participants, ages 80-90, retrain the 1a sensory fiber and motor neurons in the spinal cord in an attempt to have subjects rely less on reflex corrections, which are involuntary, and more on cortical control from the brain, which is much more effective at controlling balance.

Koichi Kitano, a doctoral student in the Department of Kinesiology in IU's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation and the Program in Neuroscience, said he and his colleagues determined that after training, the reflex measured in the soleus muscle showed little change, but that the changes measured in the gastrocnemius were "significant."

Background: This study is part of a larger research effort by motor control experts at HPER to develop a screening technique that could alert older people to their increased risk for falls. Falls involving a broken bone can be fatal and also can result in a dramatic decline in mobility, health, independence and quality of life as the person changes her lifestyle to avoid more falls. IU researchers have recently found that a psychological inventory that probes such things as planning strategies and short-term memory is surprisingly effective in predicting balance ability. 

Kitano's study involved 12 people who participated in a 45-minute balance class three days a week. In addition to stretching and strengthening exercises, they spent 15 minutes of each class using a specially designed wobble board to target the postural and balance muscles.

This research was presented on November 4, 2007 at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego.

Adapted from materials provided by Indiana University.

Contrary to Research, British Believe Moderate Exercise Healthier Than Vigorous

Science Daily — British adults now believe that moderate activity is more beneficial than vigorous exercise, according to new research by the University of Exeter and Brunel University. Although most large studies show that the greatest health benefits are derived from regular participation in vigorous activities, such as jogging and competitive sports, 56% of men and 71% of women now believe moderate activities, like walking, are most beneficial.

The first study to investigate attitudes to moderate and vigorous activity since Government physical activity guidelines changed in the mid 1990s, this research is now published in Preventive Medicine.

Traditionally, adults were encouraged to take part in 20 to 60 minutes of vigorous exercise three or more times a week. In 1990, research showed around 90% of British adults believed vigorous exercise was important in maintaining and improving health and fitness. Since 1995 the Department of Health has instead promoted 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week, which can be achieved through everyday activities such as walking, housework or gardening. The research team believes this shift in attitudes is threatening the nation's health and is calling for evidence-based guidelines.

Dr Gary O'Donovan, exercise physiologist from the University of Exeter and lead author on the paper said: "Time and time again, the largest and most robust studies have shown that vigorously active individuals live longer and enjoy a better quality of life than moderately active individuals and couch potatoes. It's extremely worrying that British adults now believe that a brief stroll and a bit of gardening is enough to make them fit and healthy. The challenge now is to amend Britain's physical activity guidelines so that they emphasise the role vigorous activity plays in fighting obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease."

In addition to halving the risk of diabetes and heart disease, recent studies have shown that regular exercise offers protection from certain cancers. The research team believes that 30 minutes of brisk walking per day might be sufficient to reduce the risk of breast cancer, but regular participation in vigorous exercise is probably necessary to reduce the risk of prostate and colorectal cancers.

The researchers argue that in order to enable the public to make fully-informed decisions about exercise, policymakers should describe the dose-response relationship between physical activity and health. Dr. O'Donovan explains that: "Brisk walking offers some health benefits, but jogging, running and other vigorous activities offer maximal protection from disease."

Dr. O'Donovan adds: "Sedentary adults should complete a six- to twelve-week programme of moderate exercise before beginning a programme of vigorous exercise. Men older than 45 and women older than 55 should consult their GP before taking up vigorous exercise."

The survey, which was funded by the Sports Marketing Research Trust, shows for the first time, the extent of awareness of the current Government exercise recommendations: 78% of men and 84% of women interviewed were aware that moderate activity is currently recommended for adults.

Examples of moderate activities in healthy adults

Brisk walking

Cycling at less than 10 mph

Mowing the lawn with a power mower

Examples of vigorous activities in healthy adults

Doubles tennis

Competitive badminton

Circuit training

Jogging and running

Note: This story has been adapted from material provided by University of Exeter.

October 23, 2007

The Elderly Always Sleep Worse, and Other Myths of Aging

By GINA KOLATA… New York Times

Correction Appended

As every sleep researcher knows, the surest way to hear complaints about sleep is to ask the elderly.

“Older people complain more about their sleep; they just do,” said Dr. Michael Vitiello, a sleep researcher who is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington.

And for years, sleep scientists thought they knew what was going on: sleep starts to deteriorate in late middle age and steadily erodes from then on. It seemed so obvious that few thought to question the prevailing wisdom.

Now, though, new research is leading many to change their minds. To researchers’ great surprise, it turns out that sleep does not change much from age 60 on. And poor sleep, it turns out, is not because of aging itself, but mostly because of illnesses or the medications used to treat them.

“The more disorders older adults have, the worse they sleep,” said Sonia Ancoli-Israel, a professor of psychiatry and a sleep researcher at the University of California, San Diego. “If you look at older adults who are very healthy, they rarely have sleep problems.”

And new studies are indicating that poor sleep may circle back to cause poor health. At least when it comes to pain, a common cause of disrupted sleep, a restless night can make pain worse the next day. Then with worse pain, sleep may become even more difficult — a vicious cycle common in people with conditions that tend to afflict the elderly, like back pain and arthritis.

The new view of sleep emerged from two parallel lines of research. The first asked what happened to sleep patterns when healthy people grew old. The second sought to uncover the relationship between sleep and pain.

To find out what happens with aging, some investigators, including Dr. Vitiello, studied older people who reported no sleep problems. They actually make up a large group — nearly half of people over 65. Were these people somehow spared age-related changes in sleep?

They were not. Their sleep turned out to be different from sleep in young people: it was lighter, more often disrupted by brief awakenings, and shorter by a half hour to an hour. Dr. Vitiello reasoned that the age-related changes in sleep patterns might not be an issue in themselves. Something else was making people complain about their sleep.

Dr. Vitiello and his colleagues also asked what normally happened to sleep over the life span. It had long been known that sleep changes, but no one had systematically studied when those changes occurred or how pronounced they were in healthy people.

With analysis of 65 sleep studies, which included 3,577 healthy subjects ages 5 to 102, the investigators had their next surprise. Most of the changes in sleep patterns occurred when people were between the ages of 20 and 60. Compared with teenagers and young adults, healthy middle-aged and older people slept a half hour to an hour less each night, they woke up a bit more often during the night, and their sleep was lighter. But after age 60, there was little change in sleep, at least in people who were healthy.

And even though sleep changed during adulthood, many of the changes were subtle. Middle-aged and older people, for example, did not have more difficulty falling asleep. The only change in sleep latency, as it is called, emerged when the investigators compared latency at the two extremes, in 20- and 80-year-olds. The 80-year-olds took an average of 10 more minutes to fall asleep.

Contrary to their expectations, the investigators found no increase in daytime drowsiness in healthy older people. Nor did aging affect the time it took for people to start dreaming after they fell asleep.

Instead, the biggest change was the number of times people woke after having fallen asleep.

Healthy young adults sleep 95 percent of the night, said Dr. Donald Bliwise, a sleep researcher at Emory University. “They fall asleep,” he said, “and don’t wake up until the alarm goes off.”

By age 60, healthy people are asleep 85 percent of the night. Their sleep is disrupted by brief wakeful moments typically lasting about 3 to 10 seconds. “There is some aspect of sleep that isn’t going to be as good as when you were 20,” Dr. Bliwise said. But he added, “When that crosses the threshold and becomes a significant complaint is difficult to say.”

The real sleep problems, he and others say, arise when people have any of a number of conditions that make them wake up in the night, like sleep apnea, chronic pain, restless leg syndrome or urinary problems. That, of course, describes many older people.

“The sheer number of challenges to maintaining solid sleep in old age is just huge,” Dr. Bliwise said. “You come out with the question, Well, what is normal? What should I expect?”

The new frontier of what to expect, and what to do about it, involves studies of the relationship of sleep to pain. It’s no surprise that pain can disrupt sleep. But what is new is that a lack of sleep can apparently increase the sensation of pain.

Michael T. Smith, the research and training director of the behavioral sleep medicine program at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, reached that conclusion with a study of healthy young people. One group slept normally for eight hours in the hospital. Another was awakened every hour by a nurse and kept up for 20 minutes. Their sleep pattern was meant to mimic the fragmented sleep of elderly people. A third group was allowed four hours of solid sleep.

Comparing the second and third groups allowed Dr. Smith to tease apart the causes of the problems that arise from fragmented sleep: were they because of the short total sleep time, or because of the disrupted nature of the sleep?

Fragmented sleep, he found, led to severe impairments the next day in pain pathways. The subjects felt pain more easily, were less able to inhibit pain, and even developed spontaneous pain, like mild backaches and headaches.

Timothy Roehrs, director of research at the sleep disorders research center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, also found that healthy young people became exquisitely sensitive to pain after a night of fragmented sleep.

And getting more sleep, Dr. Roehrs found, had the opposite effect. His subjects were young healthy people who said they were chronically sleepy, just not getting enough time to sleep at night. Dr. Roehrs had them stay in bed 10 hours a night. The extra sleep, he said, reduced their sensitivity to pain to the same degree as a tablet of codeine.

Now, Dr. Smith says, he and others have markedly changed their attitude about sleep problems and aging.

Of course, he said, sleep is different in 20-year-olds and 70-year-olds. But he added, “It’s not normal to get a clinical sleep disorder when you get old.”

Correction: October 26, 2007

An article in Science Times on Tuesday about sleep and aging misidentified the position held by Timothy Roehrs, a sleep researcher at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. He is director of research for the hospital’s sleep disorders research center; he is not director of the center itself.

 

Fear Is Stronger Than Hope When It Comes To Fitness

ScienceDaily (Nov. 28, 2007) — Fear of looking unattractive can be a stronger motivation for keeping people going to the gym than the hope of looking good, a study says.

 

Researchers at the University of Bath, UK, interviewed 281 male and female undergraduates and got half to imagine a physically unattractive version of themselves they feared they might turn into. They then asked this group to either imagine a scenario in which they dramatically failed to keep to a fitness program or one in which they dramatically succeeded. The researchers found that those who had been asked to think about a dramatic failure to keep to the program were motivated to keep on training because they were fearful of not looking good.

Those who were asked to imagine they were succeeding in getting fit became less motivated to continue at the gym because they no longer had this fear of not looking good. The findings reveal why marketing works or doesn’t work for some products like gyms to get a better body or cosmetics to reduce wrinkles. The study shows that fear of failure motivates people more than gaining some success, which de-motivates them. This fear of failure is particularly strong when people feel they can already see signs of the feared self they are striving to avoid.

“How consumers see themselves in the future has a strong effect on how motivated they are to keep using a product or service,” said Professor Brett Martin, of the University of Bath’s School of Management, who carried out the study with Dr Rana Sobh of Qatar University.

“When people dwell on a negative future, fear motivates them, yet as they move away from their feared state – a flabby body, or a wrinkled skin – they become less motivated.

“At that point, marketers should take advantage of another insight of our study - that of motivating people with a more positive outlook.”

Professor Martin found that among those who were asked to think positively about their bodies – the other half of the 281 surveyed - being successful in keeping to the fitness program made them even keener to keep going to the gym. Failing to keep to the program de-motivated them.

“Once someone moves away from their “feared self” – in this case an unattractive body - because they are successful in the gym, they lose motivation, so highlighting thoughts of being unattractive is unlikely to work,” said Professor Martin, part of the School’s Marketing Group.

“But at that point, as they become more positive in their outlook, good marketing will build on this and suggest they can do even better. That type of motivation works for those with a positive outlook.

“However marketers should also be aware that those who are thinking positively will become discouraged if they don’t see success.”

Professor Martin and Dr Sobh have devised performance measures to ensure marketers achieve the optimal balance in their communications with consumers and keep them motivated.

The 281 undergraduates were surveyed in Bath and 62 per cent were gym users.

Professor Martin and Dr Sobh found that 85 per cent of those who wanted to avoid a feared unattractive self responded to a scenario where they were failing in the gym by wanting to press on, compared with 65 per cent who were succeeding in the gym who were motivated to continue.

They found that 91 per cent of those thinking positively about their bodies responded to a scenario where they were succeeding in the gym by wanting to press on, compared with just 57 per cent of people who were failing in the gym and wanted to go on.

Adapted from materials provided by University of Bath.

 

(Let's hope the Age-ility Program is not so cosmetic!!!)

 

November 9, 2007,  12:18 pm

A Little More Sweat, Maestro

For the audience, a symphony performance is about relaxing to beautiful music. But for the conductor, it’s a workout. Most conductors wave their arms, jump and break a sweat during every performance.

Inspired by the aerobic workout he gets from leading an orchestra, long-time conductor David Dworkin has created “Conductorcise,'’ an exercise program that has participants waving batons and sweating to the really-oldies by Beethoven and Mozart.

“There’s such energy in classical music,'’ said Mr. Dworkin, 73, a retired Metropolitan Opera clarinetist and former conductor of the New Jersey and Vermont symphonies, among others. “I try to translate the musical energy into physical energy.'’

While there’s no scientific research on the health benefits of Conductorcise, studies do show that physical activity that boosts heart rate is good for you. Conductorcise also works out the upper body, which is often neglected by walkers and runners. And it is low impact and requires no skill, making it easy for people who are older, very overweight or chair bound. Mr. Dworkin teaches his students some basic conducting techniques based on the beat of the music, such as the “2-4″ and the “4-4,” among others. But the real goal is for participants to feel the beat and wave their arms to the music. “I put a baton in your hand, but you don’t need to be precise,'’ he noted. Mr. Dworkin has hosted warm-ups before American Heart Association walk-a-thons and conducts classes all over the country, including workshops in nursing homes. On Sunday, he will host two large classes at the Forever Young: 50-Plus Expo in New York City. You can see a video on his Web site.

How much of a workout you end up getting from Conductorcise all depends on the music. For high-energy conducting, Mr. Dworkin suggests “Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa. The first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony or the “Thunder and Lightning Polka” by Johann Strauss are also heart rate-boosting options. For a cool-down or meditative moment, he recommends the middle movement of Mozart’s 21st Piano Concerto.

Exercise May Play Role In Reducing Inflammation In Damaged Skin Tissue

ScienceDaily (Dec. 4, 2007) —  In recent years, researchers at the University of Illinois have uncovered a host of reasons for people to remain physically active as they age, ranging from better brain function to improved immune responses.

Now a new U. of I. study points to yet another benefit: a link between moderate exercise and decreased inflammation of damaged skin tissue.

“The key point of the study is that moderate exercise sped up how fast wounds heal in old mice,” said researcher K. Todd Keylock, who noted that the improved healing response “may be the result of an exercise-induced anti-inflammatory response in the wound.”

Keylock, now a professor of kinesiology at Bowling Green State University, conducted the research as a doctoral student while working with Jeffrey A. Woods, a U. of I. professor of kinesiology and integrative immunology and behavior.

While previous research conducted at Ohio State University demonstrated a correlation between wound healing response time and moderate exercise, that research did not reveal a physiological cause for the reaction.

“That’s the key part that our study adds – that the acceleration and healing were associated with decreased levels of inflammation,” Keylock said.

Jeffrey Woods, a professor of kinesiology and integrative immunology and behavior at Illinois, said the new study points to another benefit to moderate exercise: decreased inflammation of damaged skin tissue.

“One of the proposed mechanisms whereby aging adds to delayed healing is that the aged have hyper-inflammatory response to wounding,” Woods said. “The thought is that the exaggerated inflammatory response slows the healing process. So, in essence, what happened here is that the exercise reduced the exaggerated inflammatory response.”

Keylock explained that exercise may be contributing to that reduction in any number of ways.

“Increasing blood flow during the time of exercise is one (possibility),” he said. “We’ve shown in the past that has an effect on how certain immune cells – such as macrophages, function. “And if exercise can help decrease the amount of inflammatory cytokines put out by macrophages, maybe that would help decrease the inflammation, and therefore, speed healing.”

Cytokines are molecules that signal and direct immune cells, such as macrophages, to the site of an infection, Woods said. Macrophages play two critical roles in the wound-healing process, according to Keylock.

“First, they help fight any infection that may have gotten into the wound, and they also help the wound repair itself and get back to its original strength,” Keylock said.

Woods noted that if an exaggerated inflammatory response occurs when an older person incurs a wound, “the proinflammatory cytokines that the macropahges produce slow the rate of healing. And interestingly,” he said, “macrophages are drawn to damaged tissue and hypoxic tissue, that is, tissue that has low oxygen content. Wounds, because of the damage to the blood vessels, typically are hypoxic, and macrophages are attracted to that.

“So one potential thing that exercise might be doing, although we would need to test this, is reducing hypoxia within the wounds. And it’s known that hyperbaric oxygen therapy – which has been used with burn patients – speeds wound healing in some people.”

The next step required to better understand the mechanisms at work with respect to the exercise-healing relationship will be to test the researchers’ theories in people. Woods said he expects to begin such trials in the near future.

In the meantime, Keylock hopes to initiate similar tests as those done at the U. of I., but with diabetic mice, which also have delayed wound-healing responses and high levels of inflammation.

“The public-health message of this applies not just to older people, but also to diabetics, those who are obese and many different populations at risk of having high levels of inflammation,” he said. Those other populations include people with congestive heart failure and coronary heart disease.

“If exercise can help decrease inflammation, all of those populations would benefit.”

Woods speculates additional research may even eventually prove the health benefits of exercise among a much broader sector of individuals.

“This is going a bit beyond our results, but there are certain characteristics ... a set of events that are followed when any tissue is damaged – not just skin, like in this study, but arterial walls or other internal organs,” he said. “First, there’s hemostasis, which is limiting blood leakage. Then there’s an inflammatory process, then a regenerative process. So, using this model, we may be able to get at whether exercise could have farther-reaching implications for tissue damage in general.

“There are probably some things unique to the skin, as opposed to these other tissues, so we can’t make leaps of faith,” he cautioned. “But if we study the inflammatory process, the regenerative process in one tissue might have implications for other tissues.”

Meanwhile, the benefits of regular, moderate exercise – essentially a brisk walk most days of the week – for older adults, are many.

“There’s obviously the financial cost, which is important,” Keylock said, noting that “the clinical impact of delayed wound healing in the aged population is priced at more than $9 billion per year in the United States.”

“But the personal cost to people with poorly healing wounds is tremendous,” he said, “because it means not only pain and suffering, but also means they’re immobile or their mobility is limited for a period of time. So, faster healing wounds would mean getting them up on their feet again. For people with poorly healing wounds, like diabetics, that’s a critical factor.”

Woods added: “The bottom line is that if you are wounded or have a problem healing, exercise is safe and potentially beneficial.”

The results appear in the American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. In addition to Keylock and Woods, co-authors are Victoria Vieira, a predoctoral fellow in kinesiology and community health and in nutritional sciences; Matthew Wallig, a professor of veterinary pathobiology; Luisa A. DiPietro, a professor of periodontics and director of the Center for Wound Healing and Tissue Regeneration at the U. of I. at Chicago, and Megan Schrementi, a postdoctoral student in periodontics, U. of I. at Chicago.

Adapted from materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

 

Poor Fitness Common In Teens And Adults, With Associated Rise In Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

ScienceDaily (Dec. 28, 2005) — Approximately one-third of adolescents and 14 percent of adults (aged 20 to 49 years) in the U.S. have poor cardiorespiratory fitness, with an associated increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors such as higher total cholesterol and blood pressure levels, according to a study in the December 21 issue of JAMA.

There is strong and consistent evidence from observational studies that physical inactivity and poor cardiorespiratory fitness (i.e., fitness) are associated with higher illness and death from all causes, including cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer, according to background information in the article. United States population reports describe an increasingly less physically active society, with marked downturns in reported physical activity during adolescence and young adulthood. Prior to the current National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), data were not available to quantify objectively determined cardiorespiratory fitness in the U.S. population. The extent to which physical inactivity affects the risk of heart disease through its negative impact on cardiorespiratory fitness, which is associated with a high prevalence of other CVD risk factors, is not known at the population level.

Mercedes R. Carnethon, Ph.D., and colleagues from the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, examined the prevalence of low fitness in the U.S. population of adolescents and adults younger than 50 years and determined the relation between low fitness and CVD risk factors in this population. Using data from NHANES 1999-2002, the researchers analyzed data for adolescents (aged 12-19 years; n = 3,110) and adults (aged 20-49 years; n = 2,205) who were free from previously diagnosed CVD. The participants underwent submaximal graded exercise treadmill testing to achieve at least 75 percent to 90 percent of their age-predicted maximum heart rate. Maximal oxygen consumption (Vo2max) was estimated by measuring the heart rate response to reference levels of submaximal work.

The researchers found that 19.2 percent of the surveyed population--an estimated 16 million U.S. adolescents and adults younger than 50 years--were in the low fitness category, and 33.6 percent of adolescents (approximately 7.5 million) and 13.9 percent of adults (approximately 8.5 million) had low fitness. Among adolescents, the prevalence of low fitness was similar between females (34.4 percent) and males (32.9 percent), but among adults the prevalence of low fitness was significantly higher in females (16.2 percent) compared with males (11.8 percent). Non-Hispanic blacks and Mexican Americans were less fit than non-Hispanic whites. Body mass index and waist circumference demonstrated the most consistent inverse associations with fitness. Total cholesterol levels and systolic blood pressure were higher and levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol were lower among participants with low vs. high fitness.

The researchers add that because older adults and individuals with existing risk factors for CVD were not tested on the treadmill because of possible health risks, the results of this study likely underestimate the true prevalence of low fitness in the population.

" ... this report indicates that low fitness is a prevalent and important public health problem in the U.S. population. The consequences of declines in physical activity over time are now evident by the large proportion of society with low levels of fitness. The correlations we report between low fitness and CVD risk factors suggest a potential trend of increasing morbidity and mortality from chronic diseases--the first sign of which is the burgeoning obesity epidemic. Historical evidence from the campaign to educate about the dangers of cigarette smoking indicates that education efforts, particularly among youth, can retard and reverse these negative health behaviors. Thus, it is plausible that a similar education campaign about the health benefits of physical activity to improve cardiorespiratory fitness, in combination with changes in health care policy to make environments more conducive to physical activity, could begin to reverse this serious public health problem," the authors conclude.

###

(JAMA.2005; 294:2981-2988. Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org)

Editor's Note: Financial support for data collection was provided by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Carnethon was supported in part by a career development award from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health.

Adapted from materials provided by JAMA and Archives Journals.

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