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Those smokers who quit, even in later life, may be able to repair their cardiovascular health in as little as 8 years, a new study has shown. Studies in the past have shown that it takes longer; it was previously thought that 15 years was needed to reduce the ex-smoker’s chances of death from cardiovascular disease to become the same as a non-smokers.
But a new study that tested candidates who were 65 years or older and who had smoked fewer than 32 “pack years” found that for half of them the damage only took 8 years be healed. (A pack year is a formula to work out how much someone has smoked over time. It’s the multiple of the number of cigarettes smoked a day by the number of years smoked. So 10 cigarettes a day over ten years would be 100 pack years).
Despite the healing process the ex-smokers still had a greater risk of cancer and emphysema than those who had never smoked. And those who had smoked more than 32 pack years had higher risks of death from any health condition.
Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable death in the world, but id you smoke, “stop early” says professor Ali Ahmed of the University of Alabama who led the study.
In a separate study, researchers in South Korea found that the effects of passive smoking are also worse than expected. Even the outdoor air quality 30 feet away from a smoker is worse and contains significantly raised levels of fine particle pollutants the research showed.
Want to stop smoking? Never mind the patches – would you really give crack to a crack addict trying to stop? Hypnotherapy, counselling, group therapy and in particular NLP have the highest success rates. Try here for the most successful way to quit.
A sound and simple guide to cardio-vascular health, the resting heart rate of Britain’s children is on the rise. Over the past 30 years it has increased by one beat per minute in girls and two beats per minute for boys, both aged from 9 to 11 years old.
Researchers at the University College London describe the rise as modest, but worrying all the same; resting heart rate in the young can be an indicator of health problems in later life. High resting heart rates are commonly associated with coronary heart disease.
Part of the rise is believed to be linked to higher obesity rates among children in the same age groups, but the figures show that body weight and fat percentage alone could not be the only cause. More time spent doing sedentary activities, leading to an overall decline in fitness levels most likely also played a role, said the researchers.
Their findings were based on analysis from 5 studies covering 23,000 children in the same age group.
Some simple and well known exercises can be all you need to see if you are fit for your age. Or not!
1 – Push up test.
How many push-ups can you do continuously until failure? For men this is a full push up with the shoulders, knees and hips in a straight line. The tempo should be slow – 2 seconds down and two seconds up; you should go to a depth where your elbows are at 90 degrees. For women the same applies but do them from the knee. A poor score in this test means that you have low upper body strength and suffer from sarcopenia; this is the natural muscle wastage that happens to us all with ageing.
Scores: Women – aged 30-39 – 13 or above is good. Below 13 is poor. Women 40-49 – 11 reps is good, below 11 poor. Women 50-59 – 7 or above is good, below 7 is poor. Women 60-69 5 or above is good, less than 5 is poor.
Scores men: 30-39: 17 or above is good, less than 17 is poor. 40-49: 13 or above is good, less than 13 poor. 50-59: 10 or above is good, less is poor. 60-69: 8 or above is good, less than 8 is poor.
2 – Stand up sit down test.This is a simple yet one of the most functional moves there is. Using only one hand, from a cross legged position, how many times can you get up and sit down in 2 minutes? Regardless of sex, if you are under 40 you should be able to do 15. According to a Brazilian study of 2,000 people and published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention, this simple test is a strong predictor of how long you are likely to live. Those who had to use both hands or who needed to get up on both knees were 6 times more likely to die prematurely.
3 – What is your running speed? A simple but perhaps painful test. How fast can you run 1 mile? Running speed in midlife has been closely linked to the likelihood of heart disease.
1) a man is his fifties who can run a mile in 8 minutes or fewer (9 min for a woman) had a 10% lifetime risk of heart problems.
2) a man who could run a 9 minute mile (10 min 30s for a woman) had a 20% risk
3) a man who could only do a mile in more than 10 minutes (12 minutes for females) had a 30% risk.
The study concluded that the exercise that you do in your 40s has a large bearing on your health in your 80s.
3 – How far can you walk in 6 minutes?
Studies show that not only is this test an indicator of cardiovascular health, but it is also a guide to how well you will stave off aches and pains like a bad back in later life. Distances to aim for are: men and women under 60: 650-900m. men aged 60-64: 600m (women 500m). Men aged 65-69: 515m (women 460m). Men aged 70-74: 500m (women 440m).
A team of scientists in Norway have devised a new simple formula to calculate your “fitness age”. Although our birthday marks another year that we have been alive, the process of ageing varies greatly from one individual to another and can be hugely influenced not just by genetics but also by the amount of exercise, healthy food and sleep you have (to name just a few). Now scientists have come up with a simple formula to see how your body is defying the ageing process.
The lead author of the study, professor Ulrik Wilsoff, director of the KG Jebsen Centre of Exercise in Medicine, says that the low-tech calculation is the single best predictor of current health. After evaluating the fitness, weight and health measurements of 5000 subjects between the ages of 20-90, the professor and his team came up with a formula to estimate someone’s VO2 max. This is the maximum amount of oxygen that can be taken in, transported and utilised by the body and delivered to the cells. Although it declines with age the drop can be slowed with regular exercise. A good VO2 max is linked to a host of health benefits, from prevention of cardio-vascular disease to diabetes.
How fit you are is increasingly thought to be a better measurement of health than BMI or weight alone. Adults aged 60+ with a good level of aerobic fitness have been found to live longer that those with a low VO2 max regardless of weight and levels of fat. A low level of fitness means longer stays in hospital for older people following illness or surgery as well as a greater propensity for other health related diseases.
Although not completely accurate, the test provides a useful guide to cardio-respiratory fitness. The results will be a wake up call for many. A 45 year old man who exercises moderately, has a 36 inch waist and a resting heart rate of 72 beats per minute will have a fitness age of 55. The good news is that no matter how old you are, starting exercise or increasing the frequency and intensity of activity can still turn back the clock. You can still have a fitness age of someone much younger!
Try the test by filling out your details here!.
Older women who walk for just an hour a day could prevent cancer, says new research.
While it is well known that people who maintain an active lifestyle are lees likely to develop cancer and other life threatening diseases, this study was the first to look at the benefits of moderate exercise alone. Researchers at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta looked at data from 70,000 post-menopausal women aged from 50-74, half of whom reported walking as their only daily exercise. Within the group, those that walked for 7 hours a week were 14% less likely to have been diagnosed with cancer than those who walked for 3 hours or less. Women who were even more active - doing an hour of vigorous exercise a day on average – were at an even lower risk of developing cancer, by a whopping 25%.
25% of people who join a gym put on weight after doing do, almost certainly because they reward themselves with sweet treats or extra food afterwards, reports the Hufftington Post.
A survey of 1,000 gym users found that although 25% had lost weight since joining 49% said that their weight had remained the same; 35% said that they rewarded themselves with extra calories after a workout, usually in the form of chocolate or wine. 53% of gym goers said that the exercise had made them hungrier.
Most people in the survey went to the gym 3 times a week, but only burned an average of 300 calories per visit, while 4% did so little that they used no kore than 100 calories. That’s slightly more than the amount needed to stay alive while sleeping.
Many of you will have read about or seen HIIT on TV – high intensity interval training.
It makes us much fitter much faster than conventional training where you try to stay in the aerobic fat burning zone Jane Fonda style.
But HIIT also has another big advantage. Not only will it increase your fitness and decrease time spent exercising but it also surprises the appetite, making you less hungry. According to the International Journal of Obesity, subjects in a trial who did high intensity interval training for 30 minutes ate 170 less calories at a meal an hour later then subjects who had been exercising at a moderate intensity.
They also ate 100 fewer calories over the next 24 hour period. Even further appetite suppression was found to occur during weight bearing forms of cardio-vascular training like running or skipping.
A good example of this weight bearing HIIT would be skipping at absolute maximum for 20 seconds, followed by 60 seconds of slow jogging, then a 20 second sprinting shuttle run followed by 60 seconds slow jogging. Try to do 4 sets.Then try a circuit of power moves, 14 reps with no recovery: push ups, barbell dead lift, barbell bent over row, barbell clean and press. Go for 2-4 cycles with one minute active recovery between cycles.
HIIT has received some negative press recently, but so long as you are not new to exercise, have stable healthy joints and have warmed up properly…go for it!
When the healthy minded among us began to turn away from sugary fizzy drinks to more healthy beverages, the big manufacturers realised that they needed to move with the trend; so Coca-Cola acquired Innocent, Pepsi bought Tropicana. But now nutritionists warn that in the battle of the bulge these so called “healthy” drinks are little or no better than the soft drinks that they replaced.
“Smoothies and fruit juice are the new danger” reports Professor Barry Popkin of the University of North Carolina, who was one of the scientists responsible for identifying the link between corn syrup and the obesity epidemic in the US.
Smoothies are laden with sugar. Although it is natural fructose, it is still sugar and will still trigger an insulin response, promoting fat storage and ceasing fat metabolisation. Not only are they also bad for the teeth (sugar + acidity) but they do not fill you up like the whole fruits from which they come. This means that drinking them does not mean a reduction in other foods that we eat.
“Pulped up fruit smoothies do nothing good for us, but give us the same amount of sugar as a large coke,” says Popkin. “It is deceiving
He added that the long term effects of high sugar consumption was the same regardless of whether the sugar comes from natural or manufactured sources.
For more information on sugar, insulin and fat storage read our other articles here.
On Sunday the 15th (September) Diets Don’t Work creator and keen kitesurfer Adam Atkinson took part in the Virgin Armada. This new charity event aimed to set the world record for the largest kitesurfing armada to continuously sail a one mile course. All funds and sponsorship raised will go to the RNLI, Virgin Unite and Snow Camp.
Richard Branson led the charge on the big day, having arrived by helicopter. He then roused the team with a great speech before the start. There was also a representative from the Guinness book of world records. 318 kite surfers completed the course (setting a new world record) and then sailed on to Pagham (14 miles), Littlehampton (24 miles) or Lancing (46 miles).
DDW personal trainer Adam Atkinson took part and with his two kite buddies completing the 14 mile course to Pagham in 47 minutes.
It was an amazing spectacle and Mr Branson hopes to see the event continue on a yearly basis.
We still need more donations to get Adam’s total up to the £1000 mark (only a little to go!) so every tenner helps!
To donate go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/dietsdontwork1
You can also read more on the virgin website with a statement from Richard Branson here.
..And then look at the BBC news page.
PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) affects millions of women in the UK, and is a condition that effects how womens’ ovaries work.
There are three common features/symptoms that lead to the diagnosis of PCOS and it’s important to note that even two of the features can mean that you have the condition. These are:
A number of cysts that develop around the edge of the ovaries (polycystic ovaries)
A failure to ovulate properly (there can be problems in the release of eggs from the ovaries)
A higher level of male hormones than usual, testosterone hormones that are more active than normal
These can lead to the following symptoms: excessive body hair (hirsutism), irregular or light periods, problems becoming pregnant, weight gain,skin problems like acne and sometimes hair loss from the head
What are polycystic ovaries?
Polycystic ovaries contain a large number of benign or harmless cysts that are usually no bigger than 8mm each. Normal ovaries have only about half this number of cysts.
The cysts are under-developed follicles which contain eggs that have not reached full development. Often in PCOS, these follicles are unable to release an egg, meaning ovulation does not actually take place.
Many women have polycystic ovaries without having the syndrome (so without the symptoms). Some women have the syndrome, but have normal-looking ovaries on ultrasound. Over 60% of women with PCOS are overweight.
Causes of polycystic ovary syndrome
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it can often be hereditary.
Women who are overweight are more at risk of developing PCOS. Many women with PCOS have a family history diabetes and high cholesterol.
It’s also believed that insulin may play a role. Insulin is a hormone (a chemical messenger) that controls sugar levels in the body. As food is consumed blood sugar levels rise. Insulin is then released as a messenger, telling the cells to take in blood glucose and store it in the liver, muscles and also as fat. Only in the presence of insulin can we store fat properly. Many women with PCOS have too much insulin in their body, and/or insulin resistance which contributes both to the increased production and activity of male hormones and increased storage of fat, especially during spikes in blood sugars. These are most commonly brought on via consumption of starchy, processed carbohydrates and sugars.
Treating polycystic ovary syndrome
There’s no cure for PCOS, but the symptoms can be treated. Specific types of contraceptive pill may be prescribed to help regulate the menstrual cycle and improve hair growth. Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight,couples with a reduction of high GI carbohydrates and sugars may help to control some of the symptoms.
Polycystic ovary syndrome is associated with an increased risk of problems in later life, such as adult onset (type 2) diabetes and high cholesterol levels.
There are treatment options for infertility caused by PCOS. There’s also medication to increase ovulation and, in some cases, surgery.
Many women with fertility problems due to PCOS can still have a baby.
Losing weight with PCOS
When you have PCPS, reducing weight by just 10% can bring a return to healthy and regular periods. It will also help with insulin resistance and having too much insulin in the blood stream.
Step 1 – healthy eating
Insulin resistance mans that your body finds it difficult to deal with excess blood sugar levels. As your blood sugar levels become elevated by eating foods with high starch content and a high glycaemic index it makes sense to avoid these foods. These include all processed sugary snacks, starchy root vegetables (potatoes, sewed etc, but NOT sweet potato..That’s OK). All breads and of course pastries are to be avoided and surprisingly many fruits touted as healthy have too much fructose (fruit sugars) in them for your insulin resistance to handle. So avoid bananas, tomatoes, apples, pears, cherries and mangoes. Instead of these foods go for fruit with a lower GI and more fibre like berries (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries). Pulses are great (lentils are the best), beans, nuts and seeds all have lots of fibre, protein and a low GI. Vegetables are great, especially green ones and so are peppers, chillies and onions.
Lean meats are great, all salad leaves, and seeds too.
Step 2 – medication.
Several medications can help with PCOS.
Metformin (Glucophage). Metformin is a diabetes drug that helps the body use insulin more efficiently. It also reduces testosterone production. Some research has found that it can help obese women with PCOS lose weight.
Thiazolidinediones. The drugs pioglitazone (Actos) and rosiglitazone (Avandia) also help the body use insulin. In studies, these drugs improved insulin resistance. But their effect on body weight is unclear. Also, the FDA has restricted Avandia for use in new patients only if they can’t control their blood sugar on other medications and are unable to take Actos. Current users can continue Avandia if they choose to do so. All patients using Avandia must review and fully understand the cardiovascular risks. Research has found that Flutamide (Eulexin), an anti-androgen drug, helps obese women with PCOS lose weight. It also improves their blood sugar levels. The drug can be given alone or with metformin.
Rimonabant (Acomplia). This obesity drug has been shown to promote weight loss in women with PCOS. Once women stop taking rimonabant, they tend to gain the weight back. But starting metformin after rimonabant can help women maintain their weight loss.
Step 3 – exercise
Blood sugar can be removed from the blood in only 2 ways. The first is through the release of insulin..but as POCS promotes insulin resistance then this is limited for sufferers. The second is exercise. Exercise immediately places demand for energy, using blood sugars and lowering high levels. Intense interval training can keep this effect going for several hours after exercise.
As the muscles are where blood sugar energy is stored, it makes sense to ensure that you have plenty of lean muscle to promote proper storage of energy (so not in the fat cells!). Thus strength training is important. The after burn effect of intense strength training will also help keep blood sugars low for extended periods after exercise.