After Just 10 Days of Rest, Brain Benefits of Exercise Diminis

CreditGetty Images

Before you skip another workout, you might think about your brain. A provocative new study finds that some of the benefits of exercise for brain health may evaporate if we take to the couch and stop being active, even just for a week or so.

I have frequently written about how physical activity,especially endurance exercise like running, aids our brains and minds. Studies with animals and people show that working out can lead to the creation of new neurons, blood vessels and synapses and greater overall volume in areas of the brain related to memory and higher-level thinking.

Presumably as a result, people and animals that exercise tend to have sturdier memories and cognitive skills than their sedentary counterparts.

Exercise prompts these changes in large part by increasing blood flow to the brain, many exercise scientists believe. Blood carries fuel and oxygen to brain cells, along with other substances that help to jump-start desirable biochemical processes there, so more blood circulating in the brain is generally a good thing.

Exercise is particularly important for brain health because it appears to ramp up blood flow through the skull not only during the actual activity, but throughout the rest of the day. In past neurological studies, when sedentary people began an exercise program, they soon developed augmented blood flow to their brains, even when they were resting and not running or otherwise moving.

But whether those improvements in blood flow are permanent or how long they might last was not clear.

So for the new study, which was published in August in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, researchers from the department of kinesiology at the University of Maryland in College Park decided to ask a group of exceedingly fit older men and women to stop exercising for awhile.

“We wanted to study longtime, serious endurance athletes because they would be expected to have a very high baseline” level of aerobic fitness and established habits of frequent exercise, says J. Carson Smith, an associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Maryland and senior author of the study. If these people abruptly stopped exercising, he says, the impacts could be expected to be more outsized than among people who worked out only lightly.

The researchers eventually found 12 competitive masters runners between the ages of 50 and 80 who agreed to join the study. All had been running and racing for at least 15 years and still regularly ran 35 miles a week or more.

At the start of the experiment, the runners visited the researchers’ lab for tests of their cognitive skills. They also had a special brain M.R.I. that tracks how much blood is flowing to various parts of the brain.

The researchers were particularly interested in blood flow to the hippocampus, a portion of the brain that is essential for memory function.

Then the athletes sat around for 10 days. They did not run or otherwise exercise and were asked to engage in as little physical activity as possible.

While some people might find such a directive easy to follow, these men and women loved to work out, Dr. Smith says, and might have been tempted to cheat and jog just a little. But researchers “called them frequently,” he says, to gently remind them to remain couch-bound.

After 10 days of being sedentary, the erstwhile runners returned to the lab to repeat the earlier tests, including the M.R.I. scan of their brains.

The results showed striking changes in blood flow now. Much less blood streamed to most of the areas in the runners’ brains, and the flow declined significantly to both the left and right lobes of the hippocampus.

Encouragingly, the volunteers did not perform noticeably worse now on the tests of cognitive function than they had at the start.

But the results do suggest that the improvements in brain blood flow because of exercise will diminish if you stop training, Dr. Smith says.

Dr. Smith also suspects that the runners regained their exercise-related boost in blood flow to the head after returning to training, though he and his colleagues did not retest their volunteers and so cannot say for certain.

They also do not know whether the effects on brain blood flow would be as pronounced among moderate exercisers who quit for 10 days or whether shorter or longer periods of exercise abstinence would have comparable effects.

“I would not want someone to think that if they are on deadline or on vacation for a week or so and don’t manage to work out,” that they have necessarily starved their brains of blood, he says.

He also points out that although brain blood flow dropped significantly after the 10 days of rest among the runners, their performance on cognitive tests did not decline.

“We need far more research” into the time course of changes to the brain and to thinking skills because of exercise and skipping workouts, he says.

But for now, the study’s message seems fairly straightforward. For the continued health of your brain, try to keep moving.

Fatigue Is All in Your Head

First day of Fall.  Great day to break out the Prowlers.

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4x

150m Prowler Pushes

150m Run

25-Sit-ups

This is the worst kind of science…junk science.  It is full of anecdotal information, no peer review, “facts” that cannot be replicated…where’s the double blind study?!  I hate this!  From Outside

New research shows that perceptions of fatigue and pain stop us from hitting our physical limits long before our bodies do. Can athletes train their brains to reach unheard-of levels of peak performance?

Fatigue Is All in Your Head

Get out of your head.    Photo: Dustin Sammann

Samuele Marcora, the 47-year-old director of research at the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at England’s University of Kent, doesn’t consider himself an endurance athlete. But he’s fast becoming one of the most talked-about researchers in the field. Marcora, who is originally from Italy, started making Maverick’s-size waves in 2009, with a study showing that a tired brain can have nearly as much impact on athletic performance as muscle exhaustion. The article, titled “Mental Fatigue Impairs Physical Performance in Humans” and published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, suggested that fatigue and the role it plays in endurance sports might be mostly in your head.

The implications are huge. If fatigue is grounded in perception, the logic goes, then an athlete can train to manage it, opening up new frontiers of performance. The theory, which Marcora calls the psychobiological model of exercise tolerance, because it combines the fields of psychology and biology, revises the long-dominant “central governor” theory, attributed to South African exercise physiologist Tim Noakes. Noakes argues that fatigue is a largely physical phenomenon that occurs when the brain signals depleted muscles that they’re out of gas. Read more Fatigue Is All in Your Head

Activity Trackers May Undermine Weight Loss Efforts

 Wearable activity monitors can count your steps and track your movements, but they don’t, apparently, help you lose weight. In fact, you might lose more weight without them.

The fascinating finding comes from a study published today in JAMA that found dieting adults who wore activity monitors for 18 months lost significantly fewer pounds over that time than those who did not.

The results suggest that activity monitors may not change our behavior in the way we expected, and raise interesting questions about the tangled relationships between exercise, eating, our willpower and our waistlines.

There have been tantalizing hints in a few studies recently that new technologies such as wearable activity monitors, which tell us how much we are moving and how many calories we have burned during the day, might help some people to drop pounds.

Those studies, however, had typically been small scale and short term, so it was still unclear how much activity monitors might aid in weight loss.

So for the new study, University of Pittsburgh scientists from the Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center and their colleagues gathered almost 500 young, overweight men and women who wanted to lose weight. The recruits ranged in age from 18 to 35 since, presumably, these younger volunteers would be familiar with and competent using technologies such as activity trackers and any learning curve would be slight.

The volunteers were weighed and their general health and fitness assessed.

Then, for the first six months of the study, the volunteers Read more Activity Trackers May Undermine Weight Loss Efforts

The End of Antibacterial Soap

From The Atlantic

The FDA is banning certain chemicals it says may have harmful side effects.


Mariana Bazo / Reuters

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday banned soap companies from using more than a dozen chemicals in antibacterial soaps, citing the possibility they could have harmful side effects.

Regulators also say there is a lack of evidence that soaps with antibacterial chemicals are more effective than soaps without them. The FDA, in a statement, said:

Companies will no longer be able to market antibacterial washes with these ingredients because manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections.
The new FDA mandate targets two ingredients that are widely used: triclosan and triclocarban, reports the Associated Press. Previous animal research has shown those chemicals can encourage drug-resistant bacteria and affect hormone levels.

The FDA has scrutinized the soaps for years. In December 2013, the FDA proposed that companies prove their soap products were safe and more effective than plain soap. A study in November 2014 linked the chemical triclosan to tumor growth.

According to the FDA, some companies are already removing the chemicals from their products. The FDA has not yet ruled on hand sanitizers. While some use antibacterial chemicals, many of them use alcohol instead.

Obese patients and smokers banned from routine surgery in ‘most severe ever’ rationing in the NHS

Overweight man eating

Obese people are to be routinely denied operations
CREDIT: DOMINIC LIPINSKI/PA

 

Obese people will be routinely refused operations across the NHS, health service bosses have warned, after one authority said it would limit procedures on an unprecedented scale.

Hospital leaders in North Yorkshire said that patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above – as well as smokers – will be barred from most surgery for up to a year amid increasingly desperate measures to plug a funding black hole. The restrictions will apply to standard hip and knee operations.

The decision, described by the Royal College of Surgeons as the “most severe the modern NHS has ever seen”, led to warnings that other trusts will soon be forced to follow suit and rationing will become the norm if the current funding crisis continues.

Leaving patients waiting in pain for treatment longer than is clinically necessary cannot be acceptedClare Marx, president of the Royal College of Surgeons

Chris Hopson, the head of NHS Providers, which represents acute care, ambulance and community services, said: “I think we are going to see more and more decisions like this.

“It’s the only way providers are going to be able to balance their books, and in a way you have to applaud their honesty. You can see why they’re doing this – the service is bursting at the seams.”

The announcement is the latest in a series of setbacks for patients Read more Obese patients and smokers banned from routine surgery in ‘most severe ever’ rationing in the NHS

Finnish study finds even moderate exercise lowers odds of early death

From HealthDay.  Get your parents moving…

Over 64? Want to Cut Your Heart Disease Risk? Try Exercise

Finnish study finds even moderate exercise lowers odds of early death

man biking

By E.J. Mundell
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 29, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Ride a bike, take a swim, walk your dog: New research shows even a “moderate” amount of exercise each week drastically reduces the odds a person aged 65 or older will die from heart disease.

The benefits of exercise are “good prevention for many diseases, and the effect is dose-dependent — the more you do, the better,” said study lead author Riitta Antikainen. She is a professor of geriatrics at the University of Oulu in Finland.

Antikainen’s team wanted to quantify the benefits of exercise on health over the long term. To do so, her group tracked the health outcomes of almost 2,500 Finnish people aged 65 and older for almost 12 years.

None of the participants had a serious chronic illness at the start of the study. About 1,600 did at least moderate exercise, Antikainen said.

Based on questionnaires, the research team assessed each participant as a low, moderate or high exerciser. Low exercisers spent their time mostly reading or watching TV, and did very little activity. Moderate exercise included activities such as walking, cycling or gardening at least four hours per week. High exercisers participated in more intense activities, such as jogging, skiing, swimming, ball games, or even heavy gardening, at least three hours per week.

After adjusting for other heart risk factors — such as high blood pressure, smoking and cholesterol levels — the researchers found that even a moderate level of activity greatly boosted a senior’s health. Compared to people with low activity, people at the moderate level achieved an average 31 percent lower odds for a cardiovascular “event” (such as a heart attack), and 54 percent lower odds of dying during the study period.

Things got even better for those who exercised more intensely. Those in the high-activity category saw a 45 percent reduction in heart events, plus a 66 percent boost in survival over the next 12 years, the investigators found.

Antikainen presented the findings Saturday in Rome at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology.

Why might exercise bring an even bigger benefit in overall survival than it does for curbing heart attack?

“A likely explanation is there are several other diseases affected by an active lifestyle, I think there is a spillover [effect],” said Dr. Joep Perk, a cardiologist who studies heart disease prevention at Linnaeus University in Sweden.

Speaking at the conference, he said that — all too often — people neglect healthy living until it’s too late.

“They aren’t generally aware of the power there is in being more active and taking care of your health,” Perk said. “They tend to believe that, as doctors, we fix it once you get sick — you don’t have to do anything else before that.”

But nothing could be further from the truth, he said, and you’re never too old to start benefiting from exercise.

“Arteriosclerosis — the inflammation of your vessel walls — is a thing that happens from second to second. So the moment that you decide to become more physically active, you change this whole process. It’s never too late,” Perk explained.

“The message to the general public is: start moving around after retirement, if you haven’t done so already,” he said.

Findings presented at medical meetings are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

Find out more about the powerful benefits of exercise at the American Heart Association.

SOURCES: Riitta Antikainen, Ph.D., professor of geriatrics, University of Oulu, Finland; Joep Perk, M.D., cardiologist and senior professor, Linnaeus University, Sweden; Aug, 27, 2016, presentation, annual meeting, European Society of Cardiology, Rome

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ITT Tech’s closure is one of the largest in US history —and it was ‘long overdue

Yet another for profit college goes under…
empty classroom

(ITT Technical Educational Services abruptly announced that it will cease operations.Flickr/Andrew Allio)
ITT Technical Educational Services Inc. abruptly announced on Tuesday that it will cease operations at all campuses.

The college’s closure, which affects 40,000 students and 8,000 employees, is one of the largest in US history.

Ben Miller, a senior director at the Center for American Progress and a former senior policy adviser at the Department of Education, called the closure “long overdue” and described an institution whose concern about growth and profit trumped a quality education for students.

“The reason why this action took down ITT was because of choices repeatedly made by management for years that weakened the school, harmed students, and ultimately tarnished a brand that used to have value,” Miller told Business Insider.

ITT, however, blamed the Department of Education for forcing its hand.

“With what we believe is a complete disregard by the US Department of Education for due process to the company, hundreds of thousands of current students and alumni and more than 8,000 employees will be negatively affected,” ITT wrote in a statement on Tuesday.

ITT Tech

(The Department of Education imposed sanctions on ITT Education Services.Wikimedia Commons)
Tuesday’s announcement that ITT Tech will close comes a week and a half after thedepartment imposed sanctions on ITT Education Services that banned the school from enrolling students who use federal financial aid and required ITT post a $153 million letter of credit on top of the $94 million reserve requirements it must already meet.

Shortly after, ITT announced it wouldn’t accept new enrollments at all. The department’s sanctions struck such a blow to ITT Tech because, like most for-profit colleges, it’s highly dependent on federal aid.

More than a year ago, another for-profit college behemoth, Corinthian Colleges, shuttered doors on its California campuses, affecting 16,000 students.

Corinthian, however, was able to sell its campuses in other states to nonprofit schools, which allowed a majority of students to continue working toward their degrees.

ITT Tech, however, won’t be selling the school to another institution, according to a statement.

“We reached this decision only after having exhausted the exploration of alternatives, including transfer of the schools to a non-profit or public institution,” it said.

What We Eat Affects Everything

From The Atlantic

What We Eat Affects Everything

How men and women digest differently, diet changes our skin, and gluten remains mysterious: A forward-thinking gastroenterologist on eating one’s way to “gutbliss”

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Robynne Chutkan, MD, is an integrative gastroenterologist and founder of the Digestive Center for Women, just outside of Washington, D.C. She trained at Columbia University and is on faculty at Georgetown, but her approach to practicing medicine and understanding disease is more holistic than many specialists with academic backgrounds. She has also appeared on The Dr. Oz Show (of which I’ve been openly skeptical in the past, because of Oz’s tendency to divorce his recommendations from evidence).

Chutkan’s first book comes out today. You might pick out an Oz-ian air to the title: Gutbliss: A 10-Day Plan to Ban Bloat, Flush Toxins, and Dump Your Digestive Baggage. Oz even endorses it on the back of the jacket: “Dr. Chutkan blasts away the bloat as she tastefully explains the guts of our problems.”

Dr. Chutkan helped me reconcile some of this—blast away a little bloat, if you will—on simplifying medicine, subspecialists embracing therapies aimed at overall wellness, why a gastroenterology clinic would be sex-specific, and how to think about the whole gluten-free idea; among other answers to questions I wouldn’t have thought to ask.
The title of your book is catchy and uses this evocative term “gutbliss.” I’d not heard it before. Did you come up with it, and what does it mean?

I did come up with it. The earlier part of my career, my first eight years after my training I was at Georgetown full-time in an academic practice seeing patients in my area of expertise, which is Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. I was treating people who had serious medical problems, we were doing complex procedures, and prescribing complicated drugs with a lot of side effects. And then things sort of shifted for me. I began to feel like academic medicine didn’t pay enough attention to the contribution of diet and lifestyle and stress, to digestive health, which felt, to me, like an obvious connection.

So I decided to open an integrative practice where we focus on additional things besides the illness, like the things that created the illness. I switched from being at the top of the pyramid treating people at the end-stage of the disease, to the base of the pyramid counseling more people who were starting to have symptoms, but didn’t necessarily have bad diseases yet. So “gutbliss” for me evokes this idea of how you can create wellness in your digestive tract. And this blissful gastrointestinal tract has a lot to do with how you eat and how you live, since most diseases don’t just fall out of the sky into your lap.

I had started a nonprofit in ’09 called Gutrunners, which was sponsored by one of the large GI societies, and we put on races at our national GI meetings, and the idea was to focus on the contribution of nutrition and exercise in preventing digestive disorders. So, this whole “gut” thing for me was very natural.

People advised against calling Read more What We Eat Affects Everything

Elbow Pain

Have you ever had pain from Pull-ups, Pressing (bench or standing), and repetitive sports like golf or tennis?  I sure have.  Based on the flowing, it seems time really does heal all wounds.  From The New York Times

For Tennis Elbow, No Such Thing as a Quick Fix

CreditIllustration by Mark Matcho

Tennis elbow is not exclusive to tennis players; anyone who frequently twists an arm or carries a heavy briefcase can develop it. But whoever they may be, sufferers of the condition in the past 10 years have generally been offered a cortisone shot as treatment. Recent surveys in the United States and Britain show that injections of the steroid, which rapidly dulls pain and fights inflammation, are the preferred first line of treatment among many orthopedic specialists. But growing evidence suggests that the injections, while effective in the short term, can frequently worsen the condition in the months that follow, raising interesting questions about the risks of quick fixes for pain.

For decades, tennis elbow was thought to be caused by inflammation in the tissues around the joint. Newer science, however, including biopsies of the sore tissues, shows little inflammation, except in the very early stages of the injury. Instead, it is thought to involve degeneration of the tissues: If the joint is used repeatedly and strenuously, the body cannot repair any resulting minor damage before more damage occurs, and the tendons that hold the elbow together begin to fray and buckle. The pain can be debilitating and last for months.

As a treatment, cortisone shots are appealing because they are easy to obtain; any general practitioner can administer them. But the most sophisticated study to date of tennis-elbow treatments finds that cortisone seems to be counterproductive.

In the study, published last summer in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 177 people who had just developed tennis elbow randomly received two cortisone shots three weeks apart or a placebo injection on the same time schedule. Both groups also got elbow massages and began a six-week series of at-home arm stretches and exercises. A third group was not treated at all, to serve as a control.

The volunteers’ elbow function and pain were tested periodically until they were a year out from treatment. At the first check-in at six weeks, the men and women who had received cortisone reported much less pain than those in the placebo and control groups, both of which, on average, reported elbow soreness that was only slightly lower than at the start. But in another six weeks, the cortisone-treated elbows were as sore as those of everyone else. And six months after treatment, those who had received cortisone had significantly more elbow pain than the other groups.

Why cortisone might have worsened people’s tennis elbow remains uncertain, says Dr. Morten Olaussen, a family-medicine physician and researcher at the University of Oslo in Norway who is a co-author of the new study. But it is plausible that the drug could impede structural healing within the joint.

The good news is that after a year, almost everyone’s elbow recovered, whatever their treatment or lack of it. In fact, the control group had the same success rate — close to 80 percent — after a year as all other participants. These results suggest that despite many of our instincts to do something — anything — when we hurt, the cheapest and most efficacious treatment for tennis elbow could turn out to be time.

“Avoid painful activity and just wait and see,” Dr. Olaussen says.

Everyone Remembers Their First Bike

From The New York Times

Everyone Remembers Their First Bike

CreditGiselle Potter

When I outgrew my tricycle, my mother never replaced my wheels. Enviously I watched as the other kids in my neighborhood mounted their shiny Schwinns, confident cowkids on imaginary mares. They wobbled side to side on training wheels, inserted cards into the spokes as noisemakers, and sailed by with colorful banners flowing from handlebars. I was the one kid on the block with only feet as transportation.

My mother, a first-generation American, never learned childhood pleasures like how to swim or skate. Her widowed Russian immigrant mother, unable to support her, placed her in the Hebrew Home for Orphans in Jersey City when she was 2 until her teens. Sensible shoes took precedence over fun.

Growing up without a mother as a role model, Mom later relied on Dr. Spock for parenting advice, supplemented by rumors and old wives’ tales. When I asked why I couldn’t have a bike, she found it hard to explain. It was more than the sticker price, or a fear that I’d fall and break bones. Finally she said, “It’s just… you could hurt yourself. Permanently.”

I didn’t understand until much later that she somehow believed I’d lose my virginity. She thought she was protecting me, in more ways than one. I bitterly watched my friends ride off, leaving me behind. I was the tortoise in our neighborhood Tour de France.

When Mom wasn’t watching, my friend Lonny let me hop aboard his bike, holding me steady until I learned to steer around my driveway in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

By the time I graduated from college, my mother’s thinking had evolved. She bought a heavy old used bike, relying on me to teach her to ride. Helmetless to the library and back again, gray hair tousled in the wind, she proved it was never too late to discover the joys of going out for a spin.

When I was married she finally approved of my first two-wheeler. We rode around, side by side. “Isn’t this fun?” she asked, stopping for a red light. Nodding, I didn’t confess that I wished we could have shared these kinds of activities together when I was young. I silently vowed I’d be a different kind of mother.

I bought my daughter, Amy, her first bike when she was a toddler, one of those contraptions with a long handle for a parent to push and steer. Proudly I measured her development by her bicycles. The first one, pink with streamers, sold at the end of the summer to an even smaller girl for $10. Her first “big bike” in neon blue. I sprinted beside her when she cast off her training wheels.

Every summer my family drove to a lakeside utopia to vacation with our three bikes — Papa, Mama and Baby — perched on top of the car. Eventually I let Amy take off on her bike with friends to the playground, or the mythical place under Thunder Bridge where kids mistook raccoons for monsters.

Driving home one August when Amy was 10, we were singing show tunes in the car when we heard an alarming noise. In the rearview mirror, we saw our rooftop bike rack fly onto the highway at 70 miles per hour, landing with a thud, toppling over in the right lane of the highway — luckily deserted.

My husband backed up 100 feet to the carnage. Amy, sitting up on her knees to see through the rear window, sobbed as she saw our family of bicycles, disabled on the road. The bike rack was defective, and its anchor had loosened on top of our car.

I stroked Amy’s arm, unable to hug her from the front seat. Then I echoed my mother’s voice, recalling the time she reassured me that she had minimal injuries after her car tires blew out on the highway: “Things can be replaced. People can’t.”

Amy stared at her bent wheel, the torn seats of all three, my basket crushed flat. “My bike can’t be replaced!” Her bike was a symbol of independence and growing up, the freedom of wheels that I hadn’t had at her age.

Just that morning we’d taken a farewell ride to say good-bye to the lake, feeding ducks leftover bread, a three-generational family ritual started years ago by my mother, and continued after she died.

“We’re lucky we had one last ride together,” Amy said now, watching grimly while my husband, Steve, dragged the bikes and twisted rack off the highway. We dialed 911 and waited for a state trooper to arrive. No one had been hurt, but we had the wreckage to contend with: The rack was ruined and there was no way to fit the bikes in the car.

Amy, freshly freckled from weeks in the sun, stroked her bike’s front tire. This was her first brush with the startling reality that everything can change in an instant.

She scraped the registration sticker from her bike frame, her own personal memory. I knew then, just as my mother eventually realized, that I wouldn’t always be able to protect my daughter from harm. And like my mother, I would never stop trying. But I also learned the value in encouraging my daughter to have adventures I’d been denied, even if they sometimes end with tears.