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Exercise Doesn’t Boost Health If You Stay Obese


FRIDAY, Jan. 22, 2021 (HealthDay News) — The harmful effects of obesity on the heart can’t be undone by exercise, and it’s not possible to be “fat but healthy,” Spanish researchers warn.

“Exercise does not seem to compensate for the negative effects of excess weight,” said study author Alejandro Lucia, a professor of exercise physiology at European University in Madrid.

The study findings “refute the notion that a physically active lifestyle can completely negate the deleterious effects of overweight and obesity,” he said.

Lucia and his colleagues analyzed data from nearly 528,000 working adults in Spain. The participants’ average age was 42 and close to 7 out of 10 were men.

About 42% of these adults were normal weight; 41% were overweight, and 18% were obese. Most were inactive (63.5%); 12.3% got some but not enough exercise, and 24.2% were regularly active.

About 30% of participants had high cholesterol; 15% had high blood pressure, and 3% had diabetes.

No matter how active they were, however, overweight and obese people had a higher risk of heart disease than those whose weight was normal, according to the study, published Jan. 22 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Compared to active people of normal weight, active obese people were about twice as likely to have high cholesterol, four times more likely to have diabetes, and five times more likely to have high blood pressure.

“One cannot be ‘fat but healthy,’ ” Lucia warned in a journal news release.

But the researchers did not disregard the importance of exercise. In all weight categories, any physical activity was associated with a lower risk of diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, according to the findings. And the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure fell as physical activity rose.

“This tells us that everyone, irrespective of their body weight, should be physically active to safeguard their health,” Lucia said.

“More activity is better, so walking 30 minutes per day is better than walking 15 minutes a day,” he noted.

Lucia said it’s equally important to fight obesity and inactivity. “Weight loss should remain a primary target for health policies together with promoting active lifestyles,” he concluded.


More information

The American Heart Association offers healthy living tips.


SOURCE: European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, news release, Jan. 22, 2021





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Is it good for your body to exercise by climbing stairs? | The State

People who are not in the habit of exercising may indicate that climbing stairs is a exercise physical in itself, a statement that those who do perform routines observe with certain doubts.

However, as indicated in Webconsultas, climbing stairs tests your heart health, allowing to know in what condition it can be found without having to resort to clinical tests to corroborate it.

Climbing stairs, a way to know our heart health

According to a study presented at the Scientific Congress of the European Society of Cardiology, climbing four flights of stairs in less than 1 minute is a sign of good heart health. This is the reason for the emergence of the so-called “ladder test”.

According to Dr. Jesús Peteiro, author of the study, the stair test is a reliable way to check the state of our heart. According to him, it takes more than a minute and a half to climb four flights of stairs would indicate heart health problems that need to be seen by a doctor.

The objective of his research was to examine the relationship between daily physical activity and the results of physical exercise in a laboratory environment in order to find a simple and inexpensive method of assessing heart health.

Climbing stairs and maintaining a routine of physical exercise will allow us to perceive benefits for our health in general. Source: Shutterstock

Results of the investigation

This study included 165 symptomatic patients who were selected for exercise because they were known or suspected of suffering from Coronary artery disease. His symptoms included chest pain and shortness of breath on exertion.

Exercise capacity was measured in metabolic equivalents (METs), and after resting for 15 or 20 minutes, patients were asked to climb 4 flights of stairs at a fast pace and without resting, but without running. In addition, the time they did it was recorded.

Patients who climbed between 40 and 45 seconds obtained between 9 and 10 METs, while patients who took a minute and a half or more to climb the stairs obtained less than 8 METs.

Studies prior to the investigation have shown that the figure of 10 METs was associated with a low mortality rate (1% or less per year). On the other hand, a smaller amount of METs was associated with a slightly higher mortality, of approximately between 2 and 4% per year.

Although more research is still needed, specialists have pointed out that climbing stairs can serve as a useful method of checking our heart health on a daily basis, and that it is an aspect of life that is worth taking into better consideration.

Despite the above, it is still highly recommended to have a physical exercise routine with which to perceive relevant benefits not only to our heart, but to our state of health in general.

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Why running is one of the best methods to lose weight according to experts

Lose Weight For Men: 5 Dumbbell Workout Routines To Increase Your Muscle Mass Daily

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Healthier 2021: Bill Is Staying on Track, Even While Traveling



This post appears as part of our Healthier 2021 series, in which we follow three WebMD team members as they strive to improve their health this year. You can follow their journeys here.

By Bill Kimm

I was put to the test last week. (Spoiler alert: I passed!)

 My daughter is a competitive cheerleader, and last weekend we had an out-of-town competition. In the past, that meant eating out for every meal and lots of sitting around, but with a focus on a Healthier 2021, I couldn’t treat this cheer competition like the previous ones. I had to do better.

My amazing wife of 23 years, Marlene, who is also on this Healthier 2021 journey with me, came up with a brilliant, albeit simple, game plan for us to make sure we didn’t take a step back after 2 weeks of great progress. Be ready to have your mind blown! We brought food with us to the hotel to make sure we didn’t need to eat out every meal. Simple, right? We knew we had a fridge in our hotel room, so we packed up our cooler with healthy options and ate at the hotel, not at a restaurant. Due to our cheer schedule, we ate brunch each day instead of breakfast and lunch. We brought low-calorie tortillas, lunchmeat, lettuce, and cheese, and made wraps. We brought baked chips, apples and peanut butter, grapes, and other low-calorie snack options, and it was perfect.



Not only did we stick to our calorie and healthy-eating goals, but because we were good during the day, it allowed us to splurge a little bit when we went out to dinner (and we did!). I think this is going to be the new normal for us moving forward when we are out of town. It was incredibly easy.

Knowing I was going to have a lot of downtime, I brought my workout clothes with me with every intention of hitting the treadmill on both Saturday and Sunday to finally get my exercise going. I was heartbroken when I arrived at the hotel and learned the gym was closed due to COVID-19. Not to be deterred, I went to plan B, and it’s one I find myself doing more and more.


A couple of years ago, I created a HIIT workout for myself that uses no equipment and gives me a good sweat and sore muscles every time. It features 12 exercises, focusing on four groups: cardio, legs, arms, and abs. Here is what it looks like:

Warm-Up: 5 minutes of stretches

Cardio: Jumping Jacks, High Knees, Mountain Climbers

Arms: Push-Ups, Chair Dips, Overhead Arm Press

Legs: Wall Sit, Squats, Lunges

Abs: Crunches, Plank, Leg Raises

I am a firm believer that all of us can do anything for 30 seconds, so that is the basis for this workout. Do each of the 12 exercises once, in whatever order you want, to the best of your ability, for 30 seconds, and take a 15-second break between each exercise. That’s 9 minutes, and because I like an even number, I run in place for 1 minute at the end for some extra cardio. On Saturday I was able to do a full circuit twice for a 25-minute workout, but Sunday I was sore and did it once. But I did it!

The gym was closed, but that’s not an excuse anymore. It was too cold to run outside, but that’s not an excuse anymore, either. There are no more excuses.

This weekend was a big boost for my confidence: Even though I was out of town, I not only ate healthy and stayed under my calorie goal, but I exercised both days! On top of that, my daughter’s two teams finished second and fourth in their divisions, so all in all, a very successful weekend!

 



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Learn this stretching routine to increase your mobility at home | The State

Many are the people who perform physical activity in the comfort of their home, as Vitónica points out. If you are not one of them, a simple and accessible way to start is to start physical stretching routines.

The following exercise routine will help you combat the discomfort your body presents from remote work, and also to get practice in case you want to do more physically demanding exercises.

Stretching routine poses

The following stretching routine is made up of four basic postures that stimulate different muscles and stimulations throughout your body. The objective of these positions is increase the flexibility and mobility of your body through continuous practice.

These are exercises that can easily done within your free time, but you can also run them between your work periods in front of the PC or laptop so that you stretch out after spending a long time in the same position.

Frequent practice will allow us to obtain the full benefit of these exercises for our body. Source: Unsplash

Pincer or half pincer pose

This is a partial inversion pose that helps lengthen your back muscles. She supposes a flexion of our hips from the standing position as we we relieve the column of the pressure it suffers in its usual position.

We must be aware of our physical limits so that we avoid hurting ourselves or getting frustrated.

Downward facing dog pose

This is one of the best known postures in the world of yoga. It is a partial inversion position where the head is at the same height as the feet, and that helps us elongate the spine and stretch the muscles of the posterior chain.

The key to this posture is to direct the tailbone upward while pushing the ground with our hands as we imagine our spine lengthening.

Half pigeon pose

The most important thing in this pose is to make sure your hips are parallel to the ground, so it is preferable that we have good hip mobility previously acquired. The leg that is stretched back remains activated and with its muscles tensioned.

Sun salutation posture

The sun salutation posture consists of a sequence of 7 different postures that are repeated around 12 steps. With this position we manage to mobilize our back and our joints.

Perform these poses following your limits physical so that you do not demand more. As you get used to it, you can try to do these positions fully and thus perceive all the benefits that they can offer you.

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How to train with dumbbells to exercise your glutes at home without hurting yourself

How many squats to do daily to strengthen leg muscles

Why running is one of the best methods to lose weight according to experts

Lose Weight For Men: 5 Dumbbell Workout Routines To Increase Your Muscle Mass Daily

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Healthier 2021: Laura’s Got Her Mojo Back!



This post appears as part of our Healthier 2021 series, in which we follow three WebMD team members as they strive to improve their health this year. You can follow their journeys here.

By Laura J. Downey

Whew! I made it past my birthday week. People told me that calories don’t count on your birthday, so I took the liberty to indulge a smidgen on that day. But the following day and the rest of the week, it was back to business for me. I stayed on track with my goals and refused to let anything get in my way.

For my birthday, I treated myself to a stay at a nice hotel. Before I hit the spa, I changed into my gym clothes and jumped on a Peloton bike. (Maybe I can challenge my colleague and fellow Peloton app user, Mark Spoor, to a friendly competition next month!) When I was finished, I walked on a treadmill for 30 minutes. On last year’s birthday getaway, I most certainly did not use the gym on my special day, so I consider this progress.



And when it was time for dinner, I ordered salmon, Brussels sprouts, truffled whipped potatoes, and lobster macaroni and cheese. I didn’t stuff my face and stopped eating when I felt full. The waiter asked me if I wanted dessert; I said no because I savored a mini red velvet cake in my hotel room earlier, and I did not want to overdo it. Normally, I would have said yes to dessert even if I just had sweets a few hours earlier. I see this as more progress, too.

The next morning when I ordered room service, I was intentional about my food choices. Instead of getting my usual waffle with a side of bacon, scrambled eggs topped with cheese, wheat toast and jam, I opted for an egg white omelet with a side salad to replace the home fries. Another small victory in my book.

Later in the week, I got together with a few of my sorority sisters for an intimate chef-prepared dinner. After our temperatures were checked at the door, I headed straight for the appetizers and filled my plate with salad. I steered clear of the cheese tray and was looking forward to eating the pan-seared red snapper, garlic French green beans, and roasted herb potatoes. More progress, right?


I will admit, some nights I struggled wanting to eat more because that’s the time I usually crave additional sugar. But I stayed strong and put my retainer in my mouth. (That’s one of the tricks I use to stop overeating.)



During the week, I continued running 3 minutes straight on the treadmill. There were a couple of days that I ran up to 5 minutes straight, and in those exact moments, I felt like I was getting my mojo back.

Every choice I made was intentional. Whether it was taking the stairs instead of the escalator or buying grapes and apples instead of chips, I chose to be a better me. And honestly, I like how I’m feeling on the inside. Because when I make unhealthy food choices, I usually feel physically and mentally weighed down. So I’m going to do my best to stay focused and keep my eyes on the prize.    



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What kinds of exercises help you have stronger bones? | The State

It is well known that exercise is good for the heart, lungs and brain. But there is one part of our body that is often overlooked: our bones.

The doctors on the BBC program Trust me, I’m a Doctor decided to explore that topic and conducted an illuminating experiment. This is how they explain it:

As we age, our bones become less dense, which can ultimately make them weaker and more prone to fractures.

Starting at age 35, we lose approximately one 0.5% of bone mass per year. This accelerates once women reach menopause and, in the case of men, after age 50.

Although calcium and vitamin D are known to be essential for bone health, studies have shown that exercise can slow, or even reverse, the decline in bone strength with age.

Exercise is believed to help keep our bones strong by putting them under stress and subjecting them to jolts and shocks.

It is believed that each jolt sends signals to bone cells that activate them to grow back stronger. Bone also responds directly to local muscle, which, if well developed, provides additional bone-building benefits.

But what is the best type of exercise to strengthen your bones?

The experiment

To find out, we partnered with Leeds Beckett University bone health expert Dr Karen Hind to conduct an experiment recruiting elite athletes of both genders, including Olympic medalists, from three different sports: gymnastics, cycling and cricket (called by some the ancestor of baseball or his very cousin).

It is certainly a great exercise, but if you are thinking about your bones you may need to supplement it with others. (Photo: Getty Images)

Studying these elite athletes allowed us to clearly characterize the bone density that can derive from the particular movements involved in different types of exercise.

This gave us an indication of what types of exercises could benefit bone strength in the general population and therefore could help avoid fractures in the future.

Each group was analyzed with the help of bone densitometry or DEXA, a method that allows images of the inside of the body to be obtained with a very small dose of radiation.

This technology was used to measure the bone density of hips and spine of athletes, two delicate and commonly problem areas, that suffer fractures in older people.

The results were compared with the average bone density of people of the age and sex of the participants in the experiment.

The conclusions

While gymnasts were expected to have stronger than average bones, our results for cyclists and cricketers were surprising.

Seniors dancing
What you do for your bones in youth, they will thank you later. (Photo: Getty Images)

The cyclists had less dense bones in the spine and hips than average, and the cricketers had the densest bones of the three groups we tested.

These results suggest that the type of activity may be responsible for the differences we observe.

Gymnasts suffer repeated impacts due to jumping and landing, which is known to result in strengthening of the bones.

The weight of the cyclists is supported by their bicycles, so they may not exercise enough pressure on your bones to strengthen them, particularly in the region of the lumbar spine.

While cycling is a good way to improve your fitness and cardiovascular health, our tests indicate that it is not that good for your bones.

The cricketers gave the most surprising result – they showed the densest bones in our tests.

Although there is a popular perception that cricketers stay still most of the time, our results suggest that their brief moments of explosive activity (running, jumping and turning) are beneficial for bone density.

Muscle mass was also very well developed in cricketers, especially men, and this was also positively associated with bone density.

This study gives a good indication of what kind of exercise we could do to improve our bone health. Exercises that involve some jumps and turns, like dancing, are beneficial.


“The best exercises for your bones”, according to Harvard

In May, Harvard Health Publishing, from Harvard Medical School, published the article “The best exercises for your bones” and explained that it is important to challenge the muscles against some type of resistanceFor example, with the use of dumbbells, elastic bands, or your own body weight.

Drawing of a skeleton playing soccer
Sports that involve “quick turns and start-stop actions” help strengthen bones. (Photo: Getty Images)

“Resistance exercises, including classic strength training, rely on muscle contractions that pull on the bones to stimulate them to bulk up.”

As the BBC program experiment demonstrated, Harvard experts also note that “higher impact activities generally have a more pronounced effect on the bones than lower impact exercises.”

For example: “when you jump or hit the ground with each step while running, you multiply the loading effect of gravity.”

And it is precisely the force that is exerted to counteract gravity, “Is what stimulates the bones to get stronger.”

Therefore, the list can also include exercises such as: climb, climb stairs, play tennis or basketball, because it works against gravity, which does not happen with swimming or, as we have already seen, with cycling.

Address changes

The speed with which you do the exercises also influences: “Jogging or doing fast-paced aerobics will strengthen your bones more than a walk or slow calisthenics,” the article says.

Address changes are also beneficial.

“When the researchers analyzed bone strength in the hips of a variety of athletes, they found that those who played sports like soccer and squash, which involve quick turns and start and stop actions, they had similar bone strength to those who practiced high impact sports, such as triple jumpers and high jumpers, and all had higher bone density than long distance runners.

The article also mentions not to neglect exercises to improve balance, because although they are not decisive to strengthen bones, they are to prevent falls.

Whatever your age, if you have a health problem and want to start an exercise routine, it is key that check with your doctor first to do it properly.


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Healthier 2021: Mark Is Becoming More Flexible



This post appears as part of our Healthier 2021 series, in which we follow three WebMD team members as they strive to improve their health this year. You can follow their journeys here.

By Mark Spoor

Things got real this week, my friends.

When I started my renewal of fitness vows, it was the middle of the holidays. So I could do my workouts whenever I wanted to. If I slept in, lounged around a bit, and didn’t get to my workout until mid-morning, it didn’t really matter.

What’s more, if I, let’s say, needed a little more time for recovery, it was cool. What else was I doing?



Watching more football?

Another true crime marathon?


The Shawshank Redemption for the 987th time?

Well, things sure did change that Monday after the new year. The alarm went off at an ungodly hour, and I had no time to snooze. I had a strictly defined workout window that was closing quickly.

I needed to get my daughter to school. That meant I needed my workout, shower, and all of the pre-going-to-school things I’m responsible for done long before my kid’s opening bell, which is, uh, early.

Then, after my daughter was dropped off, it was back to the house for, ya know, my job.

Trust me, for those first couple of days, it was tough. I couldn’t sacrifice the workout, and the other early-morning stuff was non-negotiable. So, since I’m not a fan of working out at night, I had to adjust to this new, slightly painful new normal.

But I learned something important about myself: I can do it.

At the same time, because I’m clearly a glutton for punishment, I tried to expand my workout repertoire a little bit. The Peloton bike is awesome and I love it, but I felt like I needed to explore some of the other things so that I could get a well-rounded workout. I tried some strength training classes and some other cardio classes. (To my fellow blogger Bill Kimm: Watch out! I’m getting serious about this exercise thing!)







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Healthier 2021: Mark’s Fitness Fell Flat During Quarantine — Now He’s Making a Comeback



2020 was a wild ride. And for many of us, healthy eating, exercise, and self-care habits went flying off the rails.


If you’re feeling ready to get back on track, we’re with you. Three of our editorial team members are making big changes in the New Year, and they’ve offered to take us along for the ride. For the next few weeks, we’ll be following Laura as she ditches her sugar habit and jump-starts her fitness routine, and we’ll be rooting for our dynamic dieting duo, Bill and Mark, as they work hard to drop pounds and improve their health. Here’s to a healthier 2021!

By Mark Spoor

When I started at WebMD a bit more than 5 years ago, I was — let’s just say — a bit off-brand.

I wasn’t very active. I had spent the previous 12 months as a freelance writer and editor at home (where all my food is). Before that, I was in sports media, where they don’t let you eat anything that isn’t fried.

I was heavy and I knew it.

Since I wasn’t feeling great, and I had just started a new job at WebMD, I thought it’d make sense to get a physical, something I hadn’t done in years.



That appointment will forever be known as “my butt kicking.”

I was the heaviest I had ever been (by a good bit) and, as a bonus, I had prediabetes. That first part was bad enough, but the second part scared me straight. After all, I have a wife and a now-teenage daughter. I needed energy. More than that, I’d needed to make sure that I was going to be around for them. So I had to get back on track right away.

I went headlong into fitness. I was in the gym in our office building every weekday morning at 7. I never missed. I was a slave to routine. I’d start with 20-30 minutes of elliptical work, then follow that up with some weights and some core work. I could do all of that, get a good sweat on, and still be at my desk by 8:30. I had no excuses. I cleaned up the diet, too. Very strict on weekdays and a bit more lax (but not crazy) on the weekends.


The work paid off. I was getting compliments at the office and at home, my numbers were going down, and I felt great. What’s more, I was proud of myself for overcoming my health hurdles.

And then came COVID-19.

When we started working from home in March of 2020, we all thought it’d be for a week — 2 weeks tops. So I really wasn’t concerned that I’d get off track. I moved my workouts to the garage and went old-school: push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, planks, and some brisk walks around my neighborhood.



It all sounded good, but some important things were working against me. For one, I wasn’t really getting the cardio workout I needed. The walks weren’t enough, and I dislike running. Like, really dislike it.

Did I mention that I don’t like to run?

What’s worse, all my food was just a few steps away. Again, I thought it’d only be a week or two, so I thought a few snacks here and there wouldn’t matter.

Before long, the snacks became a habit, and the workouts weren’t as strong as they needed to be, so the numbers went back up. They aren’t as high as they were. My “thin clothes” still fit (albeit a bit differently), but I can tell a change, so frustration and disappointment have set in.

Hence, I start Round 2.

For Christmas, my wife bought me an exercise bike and a Peloton membership. I’ve worked on them for about a week. The sweat is back, but the food is still there, as is the stress of needing to turn things around, to say nothing of the COVID stress.

I need accountability. That’s where you guys — and this weekly blog — come in.

Each week, I’ll share what’s been going on in my journey of redemption. My friends Bill Kimm and Laura Downey will share their stories, too. In fact, as the weeks go on, you’ll probably read Bill and I engaging in some friendly trash talking. We’ve been friends for years and it’s just what guys do, particularly guys who worked in sports together.


One of the doctors here at WebMD, who’s actually a weight loss specialist, is gonna give me some pointers along the way, too.

We’ll all keep each other honest, and hopefully motivate you to take the journey with us.

Let’s get after it!


Mark Spoor is a senior health editor with WebMD. He spent more than 2 decades in sports media, working with groups like the NCAA, NASCAR, and the PGA TOUR. Most weekends, you can find him and his wife, Chris, cheering on their daughter’s softball team. 


While Mark has spent a lot of time with athletes, he’s not one, so fitness has always been a bit of a challenge. He hopes this endeavor will help him get a little closer to winning that battle.


You can follow Mark on Twitter @markspoor.

 



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Ten minutes of physical exercise a day can prevent the brain from decline, study shows 

Just ten minutes of physical exercise a day during middle age can prevent the brain from decline, study shows

  • Researchers studied 1,600 people over a period of 25 years looking at activity
  • They found that those active in middle age had healthier brains later in life
  • The team say 10 minutes of daily exercise can reduce the risk of brain issues 

Getting ten minutes of physical exercise a day while in middle age can help to protect your brain from decline as you get older, a new study shows. 

Regular physical activity – such as walking briskly, running or cycling – in middle age into later life is associated with less brain damage 25 years later, say scientists.

Colombia University Irving Medical Center researchers studied 1,600 people with an average age of 53 who had attended five physical examinations over 25 years.

Their findings suggest greater amounts of ‘moderate-to-vigorous intensity’ physical activity in middle age have a ‘protective’ effect on the brain as you get older.

Regular physical activity – such as walking briskly, running or cycling – in middle age into later life is associated with less brain damage 25 years later, say scientists. Stock image 

The participants involved in the study rated their weekly activity levels once at the start and again at two additional times over the 25 year period.

Each person reported the amount of time they engaged in moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity, which researchers classified as none, low, middle or high.

The researchers then used brain scans to measure participants’ grey and white brain matter and lesions, or areas of injury or disease in the brain, at the end of the study.

Study author Priya Palta said the findings suggest physical activity – particularly during mid-life – is closely linked to brain health.

‘Getting at least an hour and 15 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity a week may be important throughout your lifetime for promoting brain health and preserving the actual structure of your brain,’ Palta said.

‘In particular, engaging in more than two-and-a-half hours of physical activity per week in middle age was associated with fewer signs of brain disease.’

After adjusting for lifestyle factors and demographics people with no moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in mid-life had a 47 per cent greater chance of developing small areas of brain damage after 25 years than those who did exercise. 

Researchers used brain scans to measure the amount of damage to the brain’s white matter – the tissue composed of nerve fibres connecting different regions.regions – and found higher activity levels were linked to more intact white matter. 

The team also looked at movement of water molecules in the brain tissue. 

Participants who reported high physical activity in mid-life had movement that was more beneficial, compared to participants who reported no activity in mid-life.

The researchers then used brain scans to measure participants' grey and white brain matter and lesions, or areas of injury or disease in the brain, at the end of the study. Stock image

The researchers then used brain scans to measure participants’ grey and white brain matter and lesions, or areas of injury or disease in the brain, at the end of the study. Stock image

Dr Palta said the results show being active in mid-life has real brain benefits, particularly ‘consistently high levels of mid-life moderate-to-vigour physical activity’. 

Other research has shown that brain lesions may be caused by inflammation or other damage to the small blood vessels in the brain.

Dr Palta added: ‘Our research suggests that physical activity may impact cognition in part through its effects on small vessels in the brain.

‘This study adds to the body of evidence showing that exercise with moderate-to-vigorous intensity is important for maintaining thinking skills throughout your lifetime.’

The study has been published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. 

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JOANNA HALL’S 30-day exercise plan to kickstart your New Year 

I’ll get you fit without you even leaving home! Top fitness trainer JOANNA HALL’S 30-day exercise plan to kickstart your New Year

One of the best New Year resolutions you could make for 2021 is to be more active. But I’d be the first to urge you not to throw yourself into a rigorous running programme or brutal high-intensity workouts

One of the best New Year resolutions you could make for 2021 is to be more active. But I’d be the first to urge you not to throw yourself into a rigorous running programme or brutal high-intensity workouts.

After the year we’ve had, it makes much more sense to ease into exercise gradually, dedicating ten to 20 minutes every day to working on building up the strength and flexibility your lockdown body really needs, rather than setting off at speed in search of some unattainable goal.

This year, especially, we need to invest in our health. As a trainer and sports scientist, I have more than 30 years’ experience helping people improve their fitness and wellbeing. 

So I have devised a simple but effective 30-day exercise plan for the Daily Mail’s January Big Health Kick. It will not only improve your fitness and boost your energy levels, but reduce stress and leave you feeling brighter, lighter and more agile.

Starting today, and every day throughout January, you can log in to MyMail.co.uk for free to watch a short and simple exercise video (see box below).

These sessions will focus on mobility, stretching and enhancing posture for all ability levels — whether you are super-fit or a complete beginner — and all in the comfort of your own home, with no fancy gym equipment required.

I’ll even be recording special chair-based exercises as well as ones you can do standing up, always with plenty of options to suit different abilities.

Think of this as a 30-day journey to a better body and a better mindset.

Each session lasts no longer than 20 minutes. In them you’ll find abdominal exercises, spine-mobilisers, arm-toners, leg-strengtheners and full body stretches. Each sequence is gentle yet progressive — a little really does go a long way!

Join me each day, and you’ll quickly notice an improvement in your posture, strength, mood and energy.

As part of this fantastic 30-day plan, I will also be encouraging you to get out and walk more. You’ll find videos packed with advice for optimising your walking technique, based on my scientifically proven WalkActive System.

This blends sports science techniques to ensure even the shortest stroll works hard to improve your posture, reduce joint strain and trim your waist.

Today’s instant body booster

This is a simple sequence of stretches designed to wake up the body, encourage flexibility and help elongate any tight muscles. No equipment is needed and you can do it in bare feet.

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees and inhale deeply as you scoop your arms forward and swing them up above your head, exhaling as you lower your arms out wide to the sides. 
  • Repeat three times. WIth your arms stretched up above your head, grab one wrist with the opposite hand and take it over to the side, stretching one side of the body. Change sides and repeat. 
  • Repeat the first exercise — standing tall with feet hip-width apart, bend your knees and inhale deeply as you scoop your arms forward and swing them up above your head, exhaling as you lower your arms out wide to the sides. Repeat three times.
  • With arms still stretched above your head, bend your knees slightly and tuck the tail bone under to feel a stretch in the lower spine. Then bend your arms and bring them down so your hands touch your shoulders, elbows facing forward. Next, tuck your head under to curl down to a forward-hanging bend, letting your arms drop down. 
  • Bend your knees so that your hands can reach the floor (or to a chair in front of you if that is too difficult). Curl back up to standing position. Repeat.
  • Come down on to all fours from the forward-hanging bend position. Shift your weight from side to side, then dip your spine by sticking out your bottom (‘cow position’) and push your spine up in an arch (‘cat position’). Repeat.
  • On all fours with your spine straight, extend one leg out behind you, resting toes on the floor (pictured). Feel the stretch in your calf and hip. Look over your shoulder towards the extended foot. Switch legs.
  • Back in the all-fours position, tuck your toes under and push back with your hands into a bent-legged crouch, extending into a ‘downward dog’ (with hands and feet on the floor, a straight back and your bottom in the air) if you can, then walk your hands back towards your feet.
  • In the forward-hanging position with head relaxed, imagine you have a piece of string attached to the back of each shoulder. Lift one shoulder up and then drop down. Repeat on the other side and do this a few times before very slowly rolling back up to standing position. 
  • Reach your arms above your head and stretch tall as you inhale, sending your arms out wide to the side with the exhale.l Finish by interlinking hands behind the back to feel a stretch across the chest. Roll the shoulders.
On all fours with your spine straight, extend one leg out behind you, resting toes on the floor (pictured

On all fours with your spine straight, extend one leg out behind you, resting toes on the floor (pictured

If you combine my exercise videos with regular walking, you’ll quickly see your fitness level improve while feeling the added benefits of being out in the fresh air. Team up with a friend and you can also enjoy the socialising benefits of walking with a socially distanced companion.

As well as being vitally important for our heart and lungs, regular activity has been shown to enhance our immunity and safeguard our mental wellbeing — two factors which have taken on a new level of importance in the face of the Covid pandemic.

We’ve all had to learn to cope with the ever-changing tier system, working from home, endless Zoom calls and extended periods sitting. This means our posture, mobility, mental wellbeing and motivation have all suffered over the past year.

The rise in popularity of online exercise classes is most certainly a very good thing. But my concern is that, for many of us, the sudden shift from a sedentary state could be too extreme.

Rather than throw yourself into an intense one-hour exercise session three times a week, it’s far better, in my opinion, to spend ten to 20 minutes every day building up strength, flexibility and confidence gradually.

By the end of January, you will have established good mental and physical foundations you can continue, or build on. Think of this as your body’s springboard to brighter days ahead!

I urge you to click on the MyMail link every morning. Our bodies love consistency and you will find your motivation gathers momentum as the month progresses.

Look out for my special live classes at the weekends, too.

How to watch your free Joanna Hall exercise videos

1. Log in or sign up to MyMail for free at MyMail.co.uk

2. Enter the Unique Number from the back page of today’s newspaper. Then, enter your Unique Number every day until January 31, 2021, to access your FREE daily Joanna Hall exercise videos.

3. Click on the picture of Joanna Hall on the website homepage and follow the instructions to view the videos.

NOTE: Mail Subscribers will automatically receive access to the daily videos as part of their subscription.