Scientists have always believed that the human heart stops producing new cells after birth and that these cells do not multiply but only grow in size as we age. However, according to a new study published in the “Journal of Physiology” exercise at an early age can increase the number of these cells and that these cells will remain with us for life. Scientists divided rodents into three groups. They started them on an exercise routine at ages that were equivalent to what humans would classify as childhood, adolescence and adulthood. All the groups had bigger cardiac-muscle cells but the childhood group had as many as 20 million additional cardiomyocytes (the type of cells that contract). The group that began as adolescents had some but fewer. Although exercise will benefit a heart at any age, these extra cells make it more likely to survive a heart attack in later years. Time to get the kids out there away from the TV, computer and video games and have them start adding those extra heart cells.
Extreme mental focus such as preparing for an exam or just solving problems that require intense concentration can actually drain the brain. Since the brain has a limited capacity to store fuel, the results can be similar to using stored energy from caloric expenditure through physical movement. This is the reason why college students not only eat poorly but also overeat. Scientists experimented with thirty eight college students. After 35 minutes of sitting quietly in a peaceful setting to establish a baseline for what they would normally consume, all were given as much pizza as they wished. After a few weeks they were called back and were all given intense college exams that required extreme mental focus. Afterwards, half were given pizza to consume and half were put on a treadmill. The group on the treadmill consumed less than they would normally consume while the other group consumed much more. The increased flow of fuel-rich blood to the brain brought on by intense exercise increased both the amount of blood sugar and lactate circulating in the blood. This in turn reduced the desire to overeat by feeding an exhausted brain.
A new study has revealed that letting out a powerful sound during exercise may have a beneficial effect in spite of the fact that it may alarm all that surround you. It seems that letting out a grunting noise during explosive movements required while lifting weights, practicing martial arts and even tennis strokes can be traced to our historic ancestors and the noises they made as they heaved giant stones as projectiles. To test the theory researchers gathered 20 martial arts men and women to test their power on a kicking bag. The bag contained a device to measure force. When the kick was accompanied by a grunt or a yell the force of the kick was 10% greater which proved that it can be a useful competitive tool.
Studies show that as we age normal weight gain is one to two pounds a year. Along with this gain is a loss of muscle mass and a gain in fat tissue which is metabolically less active. An ideal weight loss program should include a weight training regimen. For every pound of weight we lose a majority of it is lost in muscle. The benefit of working with weights is to enable a person to hold on to much of the muscle which otherwise would be lost. A study was conducted at Forest University of Winston-Salem, N.C.. There were 249 participants all from different ethnic backgrounds. All of the participants diets were reduced by 300 calories a day. Group 1 dieted but did not exercise. Group 2 added a walking routine and group 3 added weight training. At the end of 18 months the group who trained with weights retained more muscle mass and an increase in overall strength. The researchers concluded that weight training might be the best way to supplement walking while reducing calorie intake.
Working out has a positive effect on health but just how physiologically complex is exercise? Studies are now showing how movement demands coordination between different body systems. It seems that fat cells communicate with muscle cells who in turn communicate with the brain and finally the liver. The Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sidney, Australia has begun to look at what is known as vesicles within the cells. These are tiny microscopic globules, similar to little boats, that are responsible for transporting waste material out of the cells and into the blood to be excreted out of the body. It is now known they are also an important messenger carrier. After extracting blood samples from men before and while performing intense exercise they noted an increase in these tiny vesicles. Upon tracking these vesicles with fluorescent markers after injecting them into mice, it was noted that these vesicles travelled directly to the liver instructing it to rev up energy production in order to accommodate for the increase in energy expenditure. The study reveals the complexity of what happens in the blood during exercise.This is how the liver is aware of what is happening and how it is able to transfer that information to cells farthest away from itself that may also need energy. As a result, scientists are able to get clearer insight into how metabolism actually works.
After an injury, not only athletes but also physically active people have one thing on their mind. How can I get back in the game. This kind of thinking can backfire and short circuit recovery. Post-traumatic osteoarthritis can exhibit itself decades later if adequate attention is not given to rehabilitation. Previously thought of as a disease which affects senior citizens it is now becoming prevalent in younger people as well. The odds of developing osteoarthritis after not treating an injury properly are six to one. According to research done by a team at the University of Iowa, it is the protective cartilage at the ends of the bones that is often damaged. These tissues are what cushion and stabilize bone and need sufficient time and care to heal properly. Osteoarthritis can be prevented or even seriously curtailed. Physical therapy which includes a program of strength and flexibility to all the supporting muscle groups can produce positive effects. For example, if a knee is injured attention should be given to strengthening the quads, hamstrings and hip muscles. Moderate activity is encouraged as long as it does not stress the particular joint in question.
In a study recorded in the Annals of Internal Medicine, yoga works as well as physical therapy in relieving back pain. There were 320 participants whose ages ranged from 18 to 64. Everyone had persistent back pain either moderate or severe. Subjects were divided into 3 groups and the experiment lasted 12 weeks. Group 1 was assigned weekly sessions of yoga. Group 2 was given 15 physical therapy sessions over that period and the last group was basically given educational material about back pain problems. At the end of the study both the yoga and physical therapy groups had similar outcomes. Half were relieved of their problems and half reduced all pain medication. The educational group had only about 20% that said they had reduced their pain level. Consistency remained higher in the yoga group which more of the participants found to be much more enjoyable. It allowed them to either do it in the privacy of their own home or be in a social situation when they felt they needed more support.
According to new research, heat may be much more beneficial for muscle recovery then ice. Researches at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden invited fit men and women to be tested on arm-peddling machines. The exercise was designed to exhaust arm muscles with periods of slow and intense intervals. Once the glycogen (carbohydrate fuel source) storage was depleted in the muscles they no longer had any strength. After which they slipped cuffs on their arms that were pre-heated to 100 degrees F or chilled to 5 degrees F by the coils within them. It turned out that the muscles recovered quicker with heat but only if it was accompanied with a resupply of glycogen. Because of this experiment researchers feel that after a long marathon it may be best to sit in a relaxing warm bath while eating a chocolate bar.
Fat is important for protecting our organs and lubricating our joints. Critical for nerve function, brain and eye operation. It supports hormone production as well as absorption of nutrients. It is not the elimination of fat from the diet but ingesting the right fats that is now what health professionals consider more important. But what about how fat is stored by the body. Why does the body store some as visceral and some as subcutaneous. What exactly is “brown” as opposed to “white” fat. Are we able to control how the body stores these fats or is it in our genes? It is important to understand how all these fats serve a positive purpose in the body and how maintenance and not complete elimination of any one of them should be the goal. Visceral fat is important in so far as it lies deep within the body and lines and protects our organs. By wrapping itself around our organs it protects the body in case of impact. However, when there is an excess it can result in abdominal weight that can result in a host of health problems. Subcutaneous fat is that which lies directly under the skin. It is home to blood vessels that supply the skin and nerves with oxygen. It lies loosely under the skin protecting the skin from trauma. Subcutaneous is that fat which is most easily reduced by exercising because it contains the energy storeage of the body. Which brings us to brown and white fat. Brown fat usually accumulates around the back of the neck and upper back. Its purpose is to burn calories and generate heat. It is usually derived from muscle tissue and especially high in hibernating animals and new born babies. As we age it is harder to maintain a good supply of this fat unless we maintain a healthy weight and exercise (especially outdoors) to allow the body to generate heat. It is rich with blood vessels which helps to give it the brown color. White fat is more abundant in the body. It is the largest store of potential energy in the body. White fat contains the receptors for insulin, growth and stress hormones. Of course the amount of each fat differs with all body types but it is important to realize that they all have a purpose in a healthy body.
Doing a flight of stairs may be the last thing you feel like doing after a meal but it may well be another minor act that can encourage weight loss. Climbing stairs can force the body to use more blood sugar instead of storing it. Lower blood sugar levels were found in people who were active immediately after a meal as opposed to those who started walking 45 minutes later. This according to results published in Diabetes Cure.