Seniors who exercise regularly are more likely to say they are in excellent or very good health. In a recent Gallup poll, 51 percent of older adults who exercised frequently said they were in excellent health while only 34 percent of seniors who do not exercise said the same. But while healthy eating habits increase with age, exercise habits fall off as we get older. Nearly 60 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 report exercising at least 30 minutes three or more days during the week. That number falls to 45 percent among those over the age of 90. By comparison, 91 percent of respondents over the age of 90 said they ate a healthy diet all day yesterday, while just 54 percent of Americans between the age of 18 and 24 said the same. In short, seniors who maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and visit the dentist are more likely to report good health than those that don’t. More here.
Adding to a long list of studies that link physical activity to lowered risk of disease, new research from the University of Washington in Seattle shows that people who report a low level of physical activity have a higher rate of diabetes. The study asked 1,800 people to wear a pedometer and tally the number of steps they took each day. The results showed that, after five years, the people who walked the most were nearly 30 percent less likely to develop diabetes than those who walked the least. Amanda Fretts, lead author of the study, said that increasing physical activity prevents weight gain and promotes weight loss, which would explain why walking would lead to a lowered risk of developing diabetes. More here.
How much stress you feel and how you react under stressful situations affects your heart, whether it has a direct physical effect or leads to behaviors proven to increase risk such as smoking or overeating. Learning to effectively manage stress is an important part of maintaining a healthy heart and avoiding numerous health problems associated with stress, such as high blood pressure, asthma, and ulcers. Experts recommend managing stress with relaxation and natural techniques rather than medication and tranquilizing drugs. Exercising, maintaining a positive attitude, not smoking, cutting back on coffee, and maintaining a healthy weight and diet are among the top recommendations from the American Heart Association on how to manage stress and reduce risk of cardiovascular trouble. More here.
In an editorial published in the June issue of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Spero Tsindos of La Trobe University argues that efforts to convince people they need to drink more water are based on business interests rather than good health. For years, people have been encouraged to drink more water in order to improve their health, lose weight, and nourish their bodies. According to Tsindos, our bodies need about two liters of fluid each day but that two liters can include water consumed through food, coffee, tea, and other sources. Tsindos says research has revealed that water eaten in food has a greater benefit in weight reduction and beverages like tea and coffee contribute to a person’s fluid needs. Tsindos links the effort to increase water consumption to bottled water, though he stresses the importance of drinking water and maintaining fluid balance. More here.
A study from researchers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Health found that deaths from heart attack and stroke fell 40 percent among diabetics between 1997 and 2006. The research, which compared 3-year death rates for Americans 18 years and older with and without diabetes, also revealed that deaths from all causes fell 23 percent during the same time period. Despite the encouraging results, people with diabetes are still twice as likely to die from heart attack and stroke than people without diabetes. The CDC recommends following a healthy meal plan, getting 150 minutes of physical activity each week, and losing weight if needed to help manage diabetes and prevent cardiovascular disease. More here and here.
A new study, published in the journal Circulation, finds that young adults who practice healthy habits have a lowered risk of developing heart disease later in life. The researchers followed 2,336 people beginning in 1985. The average age of the participants at the beginning of the study was 24 and researchers monitored whether or not they kept a healthy weight and diet, didn’t smoke or drink excessively, and exercised regularly. Among the participants who maintained healthy habits, 60 percent had a low risk of heart disease compared to those who didn’t live a healthy lifestyle. Among those that didn’t keep a healthy weight or diet, drank, smoke and didn’t exercise, only 5 percent were categorized as low risk. More here.
The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society published a recent study which followed 10,755 individuals over the age of 65 between the years 1998 and 2006 and recorded the rate at which they suffered falls. The results showed that obese seniors were up to 50 percent more likely to have fallen than seniors maintaining their recommended weight, even when factoring in related health conditions such as arthritis and diabetes. The study also found that, though severely obese adults were less likely to have been injured by a fall, when injured, overweight seniors were less likely to recover. There was also a correlation between the level of obesity and the risk of suffering a fall. The more overweight, the higher the likelihood of having fallen. More here.
Through taxes and health-insurance premiums, the average American pays $878 per year for costs associated with cardiovascular disease, whether or not they personally have heart problems. In fact, heart disease, including stroke, peripheral artery disease, and high blood pressure, costs $273 billion each year and represents 17 percent of all the money spent on health care in the U.S. On an individual basis, the financial strain can be even more devastating. A recent study estimated that the total cost of severe coronary artery disease per person is more than $1 million over a lifetime. That includes direct costs, such as hospitalization, surgeries, ambulance transportation, and long-term maintenance, and the indirect costs associated with lost productivity and income. In order to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, controlling your weight, getting regular exercise, and improving your diet are among the lifestyle changes experts recommend. More here.
There is increasing evidence that sitting too long can be a detriment to your health, leading to strained muscles, obesity, slowed metabolism, and an increased risk of heart disease and premature death. A recent study followed 70,000 healthy women for 14 years and determined that those who spent six hours a day sitting increased their risk of dying by 37 percent and were 2.7 times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease, regardless of their exercise habits or weight. Marc Hamilton, PhD, a microbiologist at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, said sitting is a health hazard on the order of smoking. According to Hamilton, the biomedical reactions slowed by sitting are different than those activated by a daily workout, which means that even daily exercise can’t combat the negative effects of hours spent sitting down. More here.
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More than 6 million men and women over the age of 62 visit a doctor each year for knee pain. But experts agree that, with exercise and a bit of prevention, knee troubles aren’t inevitable. The knee is the largest joint in the body and the most commonly injured, due largely to the fact that as we age cartilage cells become less resilient leaving the knee vulnerable to tears and bruising. According to Leigh Callahan, Ph.D., associate professor with the Thurston Arthritis Research Center, the most important thing for knee health is to be active, especially if your knee is sore. Strengthening thigh muscles, stretching, and losing weight are also among the top tips for keeping your knees healthy and free from pain. More here.