physical activity

Study: Making Changes To Calorie Intake, Physical Activity Does Not Prevent Long-Term Weight Gain

Washington [US], March 7 (ANI): According to a trial done by researchers, small changes to calorie intake and physical activity levels do not prevent long-term weight gain better than monitoring alone.

The study was published in the journal, ‘Canadian Medical Association Journal’. The trial involved 320 sedentary adults aged 25-70 years living with overweight or obesity (body mass index between 25 and 39.9 kg/m2). The mean age of participants was 52.6 years, and 77 per cent were female. They were randomized to either monitoring alone or to a small change approach that involved reducing caloric intake by 100 kilocalories per day or increasing physical activity by 2000 steps a day throughout the 2-year study.

“We found that the small change approach was not more effective than monitoring alone in preventing weight gain at 2 or 3 years in adults with overweight or obesity,” wrote Dr Robert Ross, lead author and professor of health kinesiology at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, with co-authors.

“We had reasoned that the prevention of weight gain by making small changes in dietary intake or physical activity behaviours would be sustainable long term and would have clinical relevance, as even modest weight gain (0.5-1.0 kg/yr) in adults with overweight and obesity is negatively associated with important health outcomes,” the authors wrote.

Although the small change approach led to reduced weight at 3, 6, 12 and 15 months, by 24 months the prevention of weight gain did not differ from that associated with monitoring alone. On average, prevention of weight gain was observed in both arms of the trial.

Researchers were surprised at the study results, which contrasted with those of a previous study that showed the small change approach prevented weight gain over 3 years in a large sample of young adults with overweight.

However, in a sub-analysis, the authors observed that weight gain was prevented in adults with overweight, but not those with obesity.

More than 63 per cent of Canadian adults currently live with overweight or obesity, which contributes to chronic health conditions.

“The management of adults with overweight and obesity remains a public health challenge,” the authors concluded.

Study: Physical Activity Can Help Protect Your Cognitive Abilities As You Age

Washington [US], March 9 (ANI): New research from the University of Georgia has shown that physical activity can help protect your cognitive abilities as you age and it doesn’t have to be an intense exercise to make an impact.

The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘Sport Sciences for Health’. “This finding isn’t saying, ‘If you’re older, you need to go out there and start running marathons,'” said Marissa Gogniat, lead author of the study and a recent doctoral graduate in psychology from the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

She added, “This is saying if you get more steps, if you’re moving around your environment a little bit more, that can be helpful to your brain health and keep you more independent as you age.”

Exercise improves brain function

The study followed 51 older adults, tracking their physical activity and fitness measurements. The participants performed tests specifically designed to measure cognitive functioning and underwent MRIs to assess brain functioning.

They also wore a device that measured the intensity of the wearer’s physical activity, number of steps taken and distance covered. The researchers assessed fitness through a six-minute walking test, during which participants walked as quickly as they could to cover the most distance possible within the time limit.

“We’ve always been told it’s good to exercise, but I think this is some evidence that exercise can actually change your brain,” Gogniat said. “And that impacts the way you’re able to function in your daily life.”

Brain networks improve with physical activity

The brain is made up of a bunch of distinct networks. Those networks are in constant communication, sending information to each other.

But different parts of the brain are active at different times. The network that is active when the body is at rest, for example, flips off when a person starts trying to complete a task. At that time, another network kicks on.

While one of these networks is active, the other should be shut off. If it’s not, that’s a sign that a person’s brain isn’t functioning as well as it should be.

These networks are the key to being able to perform basic tasks in daily life, such as remembering important information and exhibiting self-control. But as people age, these tasks often become more difficult.

This study was the first to examine how these networks interact with physical activity and fitness to impact how the brain functions.

“This paper is exciting because it gives us some evidence that when people whose brain networks aren’t functioning optimally engage in physical activity, we see improvement in their executive function and their independence,” Gogniat said. “We’re not saying you need to radically change your life.

She continued, “Maybe just take the stairs on the way to work. Stand up and walk around a little bit more. That’s where you get the most bang for your buck, not crazy, high-intensity exercise.”

Study: Physical Activity Monitors Help In Increasing The Activity Levels In Adults

Washington [US], January 28 (ANI): A new research has found that physical activity monitors like fitness applications and wearable devices help in increasing the activity levels in adults.

The study has been published in ‘The BMJ Journal’. The effects are small to moderate – equal to 1,235 extra steps a day and almost 50 extra minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week – and the certainty of evidence ranged from low to moderate. But the findings suggested that these devices may be useful at a time when many adults don’t meet recommended activity levels.

Modern physical activity monitoring devices have the potential to change people’s behaviour, but studies looking at their effectiveness have often reached different conclusions.

To address this uncertainty, researchers in Denmark searched databases for trials comparing activity levels in adults who received feedback from physical activity monitors with control interventions in which no feedback was provided.

They found 121 randomised controlled trials involving 16,743 mainly healthy 18 to 65-year-olds. Most of the trials were European (31 per cent) or North American (40 per cent) with a median intervention period of 12 weeks. The median age of study participants was 47 years, with a higher proportion of women (median 77 per cent) than men.

Overall, the interventions showed a moderate effect on physical activity (equivalent to 1,235 daily steps), a small effect on moderate to vigorous physical activity (equivalent to 48.5 weekly minutes) and a small but insignificant effect on sedentary time (equal to 9.9 daily minutes).

For all outcomes, physical activity monitors that provided feedback was more effective than those that did not provide feedback.

The researchers acknowledged that the included trials varied in design and methods and said that the results may not be applicable to lower-income countries.

Nevertheless, they added, this is the first systematic review to summarise the entire body of evidence across different patient populations and different types of physical activity monitors.

As such, they said that this study “provides evidence for using physical activity monitors for enhancing physical activity and moderate to vigorous physical activity at a time when large, feasible, and scalable interventions are urgently needed.”

And they called for future studies to investigate how physical activity monitors can be used in combination with other behavioural change strategies or how they might affect sedentary time.

Study: Resuming Non-Contact Physical Activity 72 Hours After A Concussion Is Safe

Ottawa [Canada], January 27 (ANI): The question that plagues people after having a concussion is when to restart physical activity and what impact it will have on one’s body? A new study has answered these questions.

Led by researchers at the CHEO Research Institute, the multi-site study was published by the ‘British Journal of Sports Medicine’, the world’s leading journal in the field. Resuming non-contact physical activity 72 hours after a concussion is safe, and may also reduce symptoms and the risk of delayed recovery, suggests the first and largest real-world, randomized clinical trial on the topic to be conducted with children and youth aged 10 to 18.

Previous randomized clinical trials have been smaller in nature, conducted in the lab or only used a sport-related population.

“The findings of this study should give every health-care professional who manages kids with concussions the confidence to prescribe early and controlled return to physical activity, even if they have symptoms,” said Andree-Anne Ledoux, the study’s corresponding author and a scientist at the CHEO Research Institute, a pediatric health-care and research centre in Ottawa, Canada.

“The study confirms that early return to physical activity is safe, can reduce concussion symptoms and reduces the rate of delayed recovery,” added Ledoux, who is also an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa. “Gone are the days of resting in a dark room.”

Called PedCARE, the clinical trial divided 456 participants into two groups. One group rested until symptom resolution after their concussion and the second group started to re-introduce physical activity 72 hours after the concussion, according to a set protocol. They regularly answered a standard survey about their symptoms and their activity levels were recorded using an accelerometer.

At two weeks, symptoms were comparable between both groups, which meant that early physical activity was not harmful. When examining results of everyone who stayed within the prescribed level of activity, those who re-introduced physical activity early showed improved symptoms and a reduced rate of delayed recovery, when compared to those who rested until they were symptom free.

The study sets out guidelines for gradually introducing physical activity back into the daily routine of a child or youth. For example, at 72 hours after the injury, the youth should start walking for 15 minutes at a moderate level.

If symptoms are tolerable the youth should increase their physical activity intensity the next day, for example, light jogging. If symptoms are not tolerable while doing physical activity or after physical activity, the next day the child or youth should return to the last well-tolerated physical activity intensity and re-attempt progression after 24 hours. They must be cleared by their primary care provider before returning to contact sports.

Study: Exercise Alters Brain Chemistry To Protect Ageing Synapses

California [US], January 24 (ANI): A new study has found that when older adults stay active, their brains have more of a class of proteins that enhance the connections between neurons to maintain healthy cognition.

The study has been published in the ‘Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association’. This protective impact was found even in people whose brains at autopsy were riddled with toxic proteins associated with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

“Our work is the first that uses human data to show that synaptic protein regulation is related to physical activity and may drive the beneficial cognitive outcomes we see,” said Kaitlin Casaletto, PhD, an assistant professor of neurology and lead author on the study.

The beneficial effects of physical activity on cognition have been shown in mice but have been much harder to demonstrate in people.

Casaletto, a neuropsychologist and member of the Weill Institute for Neurosciences, worked with William Honer, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia and senior author of the study, to leverage data from the Memory and Ageing Project at Rush University in Chicago. That project tracked the late-life physical activity of elderly participants, who also agreed to donate their brains when they died.

“Maintaining the integrity of these connections between neurons may be vital to fending off dementia since the synapse is really the site where cognition happens,” Casaletto said.

“Physical activity — a readily available tool — may help boost this synaptic functioning,” she added.

Honer and Casaletto found that elderly people who remained active had higher levels of proteins that facilitate the exchange of information between neurons. This result dovetailed with Honer’s earlier finding that people who had more of these proteins in their brains when they died were better able to maintain their cognition late in life.

To their surprise, Honer said, the researchers found that the effects ranged beyond the hippocampus, the brain’s seat of memory, to encompass other brain regions associated with cognitive function.

“It may be that physical activity exerts a global sustaining effect, supporting and stimulating the healthy function of proteins that facilitate synaptic transmission throughout the brain,” Honer said.

The brains of most older adults accumulated amyloid and tau, toxic proteins that are the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease pathology. Many scientists believe that amyloid accumulates first, then tau, causing synapses and neurons to fall apart.

Casaletto previously found that synaptic integrity, whether measured in the spinal fluid of living adults or the brain tissue of autopsied adults, appeared to dampen the relationship between amyloid and tau, and between tau and neurodegeneration.

“In older adults with higher levels of the proteins associated with synaptic integrity, this cascade of neurotoxicity that leads to Alzheimer’s disease appears to be attenuated,” she said.

“Taken together, these two studies show the potential importance of maintaining synaptic health to support the brain against Alzheimer’s disease,” she concluded.

Physical Activity Associated With Risk Reductions Of Non-Communicable Diseases & Mortality: Study

Moderate to vigorous physical activity is associated with risk reductions of non-communicable diseases and mortality, according to a recent study.

A study published in the journal PLOS Medicine by Thijs Eijsvogels at Radboud University Medical Center, The Netherlands and colleagues suggest that while risk reduction for healthy individuals plateaus at higher levels of physical activity, those with cardiovascular disease have no upper limit of physical activity beyond which there is no further benefit. How cardiovascular health status affects the association between physical activity and health outcomes is not well understood. To investigate, researchers used prospectively gathered data from the Lifelines Cohort Study; a population-based cohort of 167,729 individuals living in the Northern Netherlands. They compared the association between physical activity and major adverse cardiovascular events as well as all-cause mortality across healthy individuals, individuals with elevated levels of cardiovascular risk factors, and individuals with cardiovascular disease.

The researchers found that increasing physical activity reduced mortality risk in all groups. However, health benefits appeared to level off above a certain volume of physical activity in healthy individuals and those with cardiovascular risk factors.

In cardiovascular disease patients, the researchers found no evidence of an upper physical activity limit above which there is no further health benefit. The study was limited in that it relied on self-reported physical activity data from participants, so future research is needed to further validate the findings.

“These findings suggest that cardiovascular disease patients should be encouraged that ‘more is better’ in regard to physical activity. Physical activity recommendations should not follow a ‘one-guideline-fits-all’ approach but underline the need for precision medicine in which physical activity prescription may be dependent, amongst other factors, on an individual’s cardiovascular health status,” according to the authors.

Study: Housework Can Lead To Sharper Memory, Attention Span

According to a new study, older adults who do housework may have a sharper memory, attention span, better leg strength and greater protection against falls.

The findings of the study were published in the open-access journal ‘BMJ Open’. The findings were independent of other regular recreational and workplace physical activities, and active commuting.

Regular physical activity is good for maintaining optimal physical and mental health. And among older adults, it curbs the risks of long term conditions, falls, immobility, dependency and death.

Yet global monitoring data indicate that in 2016, physical activity was well below recommended weekly levels and had budged little in a decade, with people in high-income countries more than twice as likely to be couch potatoes as those in low-income countries.

Given that housework involves physical activity and is an indicator of the ability to live independently, the researchers wanted to explore whether doing the household chores might contribute to healthy ageing and boost physical and mental capacity among older adults in a wealthy country.

They included 489 randomly selected adults, aged between 21 and 90, with fewer than 5 underlying conditions and no cognitive issues. All were living independently in one large residential town in Singapore, and able to carry out routine daily tasks.

Participants were divided into two age bands: 21-64-year-olds (249; average age 44), classified as ‘younger’; and 65-90-year-olds (240; average age 75), classified as ‘older.’

Walking (gait) speed and sit-to-stand speed from a chair (indicative of leg strength and falls risk) were used to assess physical ability. Validated tests were used to assess mental agility (short and delayed memory, visuospatial ability, language and attention span) and physiological factors linked to falls.

Participants were quizzed about the intensity and frequency of household chores they regularly did, as well as how many other types of physical activity they engaged in.

Light housework included washing up, dusting, making the bed, hanging out the washing, ironing, tidying up, and cooking. Heavy housework was defined as window cleaning, changing the bed, vacuuming, washing the floor, and activities such as painting/decorating.

Housework intensity was measured in metabolic equivalent of task (METs). These are roughly equivalent to the amount of energy (calories) expended per minute of physical activity. Light housework was assigned a MET of 2.5; heavy housework was assigned a MET of 4.

Only around a third (36 per cent; 90) of those in the younger group and only around half (48 per cent;116) of those in the older age group, met the recommended physical activity quota from recreational physical activity alone.

But nearly two thirds (61 per cent, 152 younger; and 66 per cent, 159 older) met this target exclusively through housework.

After adjusting for other types of regular physical activity, the results showed that housework was associated with sharper mental abilities and better physical capacity. But only among the older age group.

Cognitive scores were 8 per cent and 5 per cent higher, respectively, in those doing high volumes of light or heavy housework compared with those in the low volume groups.

And the intensity of housework was associated with specific cognitive domains. Specifically, heavy housework was associated with a 14 per cent higher attention score while light housework was associated with 12 per cent and 8 per cent higher short and delayed memory scores, respectively.
Similarly, sit-to-stand time and balance/coordination scores were 8 per cent and 23 per cent faster, respectively, in the high volume group than they were in the low volume group.

Those in the younger age group had five more years of education on average than their older counterparts. And since education level is positively associated with baseline mental agility and slower cognitive decline, this might explain the observed differences in the impact of housework between the two age groups, explained the researchers.

This is an observational study, and as such, can’t establish cause, they caution, adding that the study relied on subjective reporting of physical activity levels and the volume and intensity of household chores.

But they point to previous research indicating a link between aerobic exercise and improved cognitive function, so the sharper mental agility associated with housework might occur through similar mechanisms, they suggested.

They added: “These results collectively suggest that the higher cognitive, physical and sensorimotor functions related to heavy housework activities might plausibly be associated with lower physiological fall risk among community-dwelling older adults.”

They concluded: “Incorporating (physical activity) into the daily lifestyle through domestic duties (ie, housework) has the potential to achieve higher (physical activity), which is positively associated with functional health, especially among older community-dwelling adults.”

Study: As You Grow Old It Become Important To Stay Physically Active

Everyone knows that physical activity is very important to have a healthy body. It not only keeps your muscle and joints strong but also fights against certain diseases.

However, as we age, we tend to lessen our physical activity and rest more, which, according to research, is wrong for our health. The findings of this study have been published in the ‘PNAS Journal’.

A team of evolutionary biologists and biomedical researchers from Harvard were taking a run at it (sometimes literally). The work laid out evolutionary and biomedical evidence showing that humans, who evolved to live many decades after they stopped reproducing, also evolved to be relatively active in their later years.

The researchers said that physical activity later in life shifted energy away from processes that compromised health and toward mechanisms in the body that extended it. They hypothesized that humans evolved to remain physically active as they age — and in doing so allocated energy to physiological processes that slowed the body’s gradual deterioration over the years. This guarded against chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and even some cancers.

“It’s a widespread idea in Western societies that as we get older, it’s normal to slow down, do less, and retire,” said Harvard evolutionary biologist Daniel E. Lieberman, the paper’s lead author.

“Our message is the reverse: As we get older, it becomes even more important to stay physically active,” he added

The research team, which included Aaron Baggish and I-Min Lee from Harvard Medical School, believed the paper is the first detailed evolutionary explanation for why lack of physical activity as humans aged increased disease risk and reduced longevity.

Baggish, 47, who also served as team cardiologist for the New England Patriots and U.S. Soccer, and Lieberman, 57, are long-time running buddies and often discussed the ideas that went into the paper during 5-to-10-mile morning runs.

The study used humans’ ape cousins as a jumping-off point. The researchers pointed out that apes, which usually live for only about 35 to 40 years in the wild and rarely survived past menopause, are considerably less active than most humans, suggesting that there was a selection in human evolution not just to live longer but also to be more physically active.

“We evolved basically from couch potatoes,” said Lieberman, who has twice observed wild chimpanzees in Tanzania and been surprised by how much of their day is spent “sitting on their butts, digesting.”

This is especially jarring when contrasted against contemporary hunter-gatherers, who on average spend about 135 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day. That level of movement — about six to ten times more than average Americans — may be one of the keys to why hunter-gatherers who survive childhood tended to live about seven decades, approximately 20 years past the age at which humans generally stopped having children. Fossil evidence indicated that these extended life spans were common 40,000 years ago, contrary to the belief that human life spans until recently were short.

The team emphasized that the key health benefit of physical activity is to extend the human health span, which is defined as the years of life spent in good health.

Researchers examined two pathways by which lifelong physical activity reallocated energy to improve health. The first involved dealing with excess energy away from potentially harmful mechanisms, like excess fat storage. The team also identified how physical activity allocated energy to repair and maintenance processes. The paper showed that besides burning calories, physical activity is physiologically stressful, causing damage to the body at the molecular, cellular, and tissue levels. The body’s response to this damage, however, is essential to build back stronger.

This included repairing tears in muscle fibres, repairing cartilage damage, and healing microfractures. The response also caused the release of exercise-related antioxidants and anti-inflammatories and enhanced blood flow. In the absence of physical activity, these responses are activated less. The cellular and DNA repair processes have been shown to lower the risk of diabetes, obesity, cancer, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, and depression.

“The key take-home point is that because we evolved to be active throughout our lives, our bodies need physical activity to age well. In the past, daily physical activity was necessary in order to survive, but today we have to choose to exercise, that is do voluntary physical activity for the sake of health and fitness,” Lieberman said.

The research team, which included graduate students Timothy Kistner and Daniel Richard, hope the study makes that message harder to ignore.

Physical activity levels had been decreasing worldwide as machines and technology replace human labour. A recent study from Lieberman’s lab showed that Americans are engaging in less physical activity than they did 200 years ago.

The researchers’ advice? Get out of your chair and get in some exercise.

“The key is to do something, and to try to make it enjoyable so you’ll keep doing it,” Lieberman said.

“The good news is that you don’t need to be as active as a hunter-gatherer. Even small amounts of physical activity — just 10 or 20 minutes a day — substantially lower your risk of mortality.” Lieberman added.

Americans Do Less Physical Activity A Day Than 200 Years Ago: Study

A new research has estimated that the average American does about 30 minutes less physical activity a day than an American 200 years ago.

The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘Current Biology’. That’s the conclusion reached by researchers from the lab of evolutionary biologist Daniel E Lieberman after using data on falling body temperature in the US and changing metabolic rates to measure declining levels of physical activity in the US since the industrial revolution.

The scientists found that since 1820, resting metabolic rate (or the total number of calories burned when the body is completely at rest) has declined by about six per cent for Americans, which translates to about 27 minutes per day of less moderate to vigorous physical activity than 200 years ago. The reason, the authors say, is largely because of technology.

“Instead of walking to work, we take cars or trains; instead of manual labour in factories, we use machines,” said Andrew K Yegian, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Human and Evolutionary Biology and the paper’s lead author.

“We’ve made technology to do our physical activity for us….Our hope is that this helps people think more about the long-term changes of activity that have come with our changes in lifestyle and technology,” added K Yegian.

Over the past two centuries, while it’s been well documented in the scientific literature that profound technological and social changes have reduced overall levels of physical activity, how much it has gone down for the population had never been calculated.

The paper puts a quantitative number to the literature and shows that historical records of resting body temperature may be able to serve as a thermometer of population-level physical activity.

“This is a first pass estimate of taking physiological data and trying to quantify declines in activity. The next step would be to try to apply this as a tool to other populations,” Yegian said.

The work started as a back-of-the-envelope type calculation after new research last year from scientists at Stanford University showed that the average body temperature of Americans went down in that time to about 97.5 degrees Fahrenheit –a tick slower than the well-established 98.6.

The researchers figured that falling body temperature and falling physical activity are related and could be linked by the human metabolism, which produces body heat and is, in part, powered by what people are doing in terms of physical activity.

The scientists scoured the previous studies by other researchers to find a quantitative answer to this question: If there is a change in body temperature, what does that mean in terms of metabolism and activity? They pulled data from two papers to calculate how they corresponded and used that to estimate on how much physical activity has gone down.

In the paper, the researchers note that factors other than reduced physical activity can influence the resting metabolic rate and body temperature, complicating their estimate.

They also say that future work that refining relationships between the metabolic rates, body temperature, and physical activity could allow for a more precise investigation of physical activity trends and serve as an anchor for understanding how this decline in physical activity affected the health and morbidity of Americans during the industrial era.

“Physical activity is a major determinant of health,” said Lieberman, the Edwin M Lerner II Professor of Biological Science.

“Understanding how much less active Americans have become over the last few generations can help us assess just how much increases in the incidence of chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s can be attributed to decreases in physical activity,” concluded Lieberman.

Study: Long Covid Can Negatively Impact Physical, Cognitive Function, Quality Of Life

According to a new Mount Sinai study, patients experiencing post-acute COVID syndrome (PACS, also known as “long COVID”) may have symptoms for at least 12 months after initial COVID-19 infection, significantly and negatively impacting their cognition, ability to work, participation in physical activity, interaction with others, and overall quality of life.

The findings of the study were published in the ‘American Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine’. The study is one of the first to measure the actual impairment and impact of PACS on patients and detail factors that may exacerbate their symptoms. This work will help guide lawmakers and national and international health agencies to develop strategies and policies to support these patients during their lengthy recovery.

“With millions of Americans at risk of developing PACS by the end of the pandemic, a second, longer-term public health emergency has emerged. It is imperative to understand the burden of this novel condition and develop targeted interventions to help patients participate in daily activities, as well as policies that will assist them with their disability and employment status,” said senior author David Putrino, PhD, Director of Rehabilitation Innovation for the Mount Sinai Health System.

“This study is a concerning reminder of how severely debilitating PACS symptoms are, the toll they take on health and wellness, and the fact that, without active treatment, these symptoms appear to persist indefinitely,” Putrino added.

A team of researchers did a retrospective, observational study of 156 patients treated at Mount Sinai’s Center for Post-COVID Care between March 2020 and March 2021. The patients had previously had COVID-19 and had not yet been vaccinated at the time of the study.

Patients filled out surveys on persistent symptoms and triggers of symptom exacerbation a median of 351 days from their first day of infection – patients received surveys after scheduling their first appointment and timestamped once submitted.

They were asked detailed questions about fatigue, breathlessness, ability to complete the moderate and vigorous-intensity physical activity, cognitive function, health-related quality of life, anxiety, depression, disability, and their pre-and post-COVID-19 employment status.

The most common reported symptoms were fatigue (82 per cent of patients), followed by brain fog (67 per cent), headache (60 per cent), sleep disturbance (59 per cent), and dizziness (54 per cent).

Researchers performed a more detailed evaluation of the severity of self-reported cognitive impairment and discovered that more than 60 per cent of PACS patients had some level of cognitive impairment (either mild, moderate or severe), with symptoms including diminished short-term memory, difficulty remembering names, and issues with decision-making and daily planning.

In total, 135 patients answered questions about their employment pre- and post-COVID-19, and the number of patients in full-time work (102) went down to 55.

Going further, the study noted factors that the patients said made their PACS symptoms worse. The biggest trigger was physical exertion (reported by 86 per cent of patients), followed by stress (69 per cent), dehydration (49 per cent), and weather changes (37 per cent).

“Many of the symptoms reported in this study have been measured, but for many, this is the first time they have been objectively documented using well-validated patient-reported outcomes, and linked to changes in activities of daily living and quality of life,” explained Dr Putrino.

“The long duration of these symptoms remind us that this is a problem that is not going away and that we need to aggressively pursue policies that will better support and protect these patients in the long-term. Future research should focus on more detailed monitoring of PACS symptoms–better understanding how and why they are happening will be crucial in developing targeted treatments,” concluded Dr Putrino.

Five Hours Of Physical Activity Per Week May Prevent Some Cancers: Study

New research has found that more than 46,000 cancer cases annually in the United States could be prevented if Americans met the five hours per week of moderate-intensity recommended physical activity guidelines.

The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise’. The data has shown that three per cent of all cancer cases in adults in the US aged 30 years and older during 2013 to 2016 were attributable to physical inactivity and the proportion was higher in women (average annual attributable cases 32,089) compared to men (14,277).

For both men and women, states with the highest proportion of cancers attributable to physical inactivity were in the South, such as Kentucky, West Virginia, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Mississippi, whereas the lowest proportions were found in the Mountain region and northern states, such as Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Led by Adair Minihan, MPH at the American Cancer Society, this is the first study to estimate the number of cancer cases attributable to physical inactivity based on cancer sites (breast, endometrial, colon, stomach, kidney, oesophagal adenocarcinoma, and urinary bladder) by state.

Data show when focusing on specific cancer sites, 16.9 per cent of stomach cancers, 11.9 per cent of endometrial cancers, 11.0 per cent of kidney cancers, 9.3 per cent of colon cancers, 8.1 per cent of oesophagal cancers, 6.5 per cent of female breast cancers, and 3.9 per cent of urinary bladder cancers were associated with lack of exercise. By state, the proportion of cancer cases attributable to physical inactivity ranged from 2.3 per cent in Utah to 3.7 per cent in Kentucky.

While this data has shown the importance of physical activity, there are many barriers to recreational physical activity, which include, but are not limited to, lack of time due to long working hours in low-wage jobs, the cost of gym memberships or personal equipment, lack of access to a safe environment in which to be active, and potential childcare costs involved with recreational physical activity.

Unfortunately, these barriers are more likely to affect historically marginalised populations, including the Black population and individuals with a limited income, underscoring the importance of enhancing health equity.

“These findings underscore the need to encourage physical activity as a means of cancer prevention and implement individual- and community-level interventions that address the various behavioural and socioeconomic barriers to recreational physical activity. Understanding and reducing the behavioural and socioeconomic barriers to physical activity is essential for optimising intervention strategies targeting at-risk groups across the country,” wrote the authors.

Researchers Take Steps Toward More Effective Fitness Trackers, More Physical Activity

As the popularity of fitness trackers has increased, so have the opportunities to use such devices to not only track fitness goals but also increase the motivation to meet those goals.

Researchers in the College of Engineering and the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State have teamed up to use control systems engineering tools to tailor motivational messages sent to individual device users. The results of their study were published in Health Psychology. “One of the really exciting advances of the last 15 years has been the advent of wearable and portable consumer technology that can be used to help promote physical activity,” said David Conroy, professor of kinesiology and human development and family studies, and co-principal investigator on the paper.

David added, “You can get real-time feedback from these devices and monitor your goals, and you can even push people messages, depending on what their goals are and what their behaviour is. We know that those messages work well for improving behaviour on average. But nobody is average, and we don’t know how to make sure each individual consistently gets the greatest benefit from a limited number of messages.”

Conroy said that researchers have tried several strategies, including messages that are specific to certain population segments; messages based on recent behaviour — for example, sending one of two different messages depending on if a user did or did not meet their goals the previous day; and customizing the messages by putting in a person’s name or something they might like. So far, none of these approaches has proven to be consistently effective in improving the messages’ effects.

The new messaging approach developed by Conroy and Constantino Lagoa, co-principal investigator and professor of electrical engineering, applies tools used regularly in controlled systems engineering to behaviour science.

“Essentially, we’re using the same mathematical tools that people in control engineering usually use to model behaviours as differential equations,” Lagoa said. “We’re using those models to design feedback controllers that take into account the current state of the person and together with the model decide what is the best time to send the messages.”

Conroy emphasized that establishing the correct dosing — meaning the type of message and its timing, frequency and context — is a critical part of this approach.

“We’re really prioritizing understanding the dosing so that we only send the right message at the right time and in the right context so people get the benefits that they’re looking for,” he said. “We don’t want to disrupt them without them getting the payoff that they’re looking for.”

The researchers refer to this individualized approach as precision behavioural medicine.

“This is one of the first studies that were able to leverage data collected from each individual and zoom in on his or her personal response,” Lagoa said.

One of the main examples of how the researchers personalized the messages was by considering the weather in the area of the user, noting that certain messages were more effective for certain individuals on rainy days, hot days and so on.

The researchers acknowledged the potential concern people may have about trading privacy for personalization but said that the automation means that the data can be used and then discarded, as opposed to stored, and the location settings only need to be approximate to know the weather and customize the messaging appropriately. They also said, if their approach is commercialized, users would be able to adjust their settings to select how much information to share, and they plan on conducting more research before applying their approach to a larger population.

“We’ve established here is there’s a new tool to use with an established problem,” Conroy said. “Our next project will focus on establishing efficacy: Does this work better than sending messages at random or not sending messages at all? But once we establish efficacy, I would imagine that it’d be very attractive to device manufacturers to consider this kind of approach.”

Other authors of the paper include Sarah Hojjatinia, a former electrical engineering graduate student and currently at Advanced Safety & User Experience; Sahar Hojjatinia, an electrical engineering graduate student; and Deborah Brunke-Reese, research project manager for the Motivation Lab in the College of Health and Human Development.

Moderate-Vigorous Physical Activity Is Most Efficient At Improving Fitness: Study

In the largest study performed to date to understand the relationship between habitual physical activity and physical fitness, researchers have found that higher amount of time spent performing exercise (moderate-vigorous physical activity) and low-moderate level activity (steps) and less time spent sedentary, translated to greater physical fitness.

The findings of the study were published in the ‘European Heart Journal’. “By establishing the relationship between different forms of habitual physical activity and detailed fitness measures, we hope that our study will provide important information that can ultimately be used to improve physical fitness and overall health across the life course,” explained corresponding author Matthew Nayor, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at BUSM.

He and his team studied approximately 2,000 participants from the community-based Framingham Heart Study who underwent comprehensive cardiopulmonary exercise tests (CPET) for the “gold standard” measurement of physical fitness.

Physical fitness measurements were associated with physical activity data obtained through accelerometers (a device that measures frequency and intensity of human movement) that were worn for one week around the time of CPET and approximately eight years earlier.

They found dedicated exercise (moderate-vigorous physical activity) was the most efficient at improving fitness. Specifically, exercise was three times more efficient than walking alone and more than 14 times more efficient than reducing the time spent sedentary.

Additionally, they found that the greater time spent exercising and higher steps/day could partially offset the negative effects of being sedentary in terms of physical fitness.

According to the researchers, while the study was focused on the relationship of physical activity and fitness specifically (rather than any health-related outcomes), fitness has a powerful influence on health and is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and premature death.

“Therefore, improved understanding of methods to improve fitness would be expected to have broad implications for improved health,” said Nayor, a cardiologist at Boston Medical Center.

Physical Activity Among Children Can Be Improved By ‘Exergames’

A new research has shown that physical activity among children can be improved by well-designed and delivered online interventions such as ‘exergames’ and smartphone apps.

The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘ Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy’. According to the review study carried out at the University of Birmingham, children and young people reacted positively in PE lessons to the use of exergames, which deliver physical activity lessons via games or personalised activities.

Changes included increases in physical activity levels, but also improved emotions, attitudes and motivations towards physical activity.

The study is one of the first to examine not only the impact of online interventions on physical behaviours in non-clinical groups of young people but the effects of digital mediums on physical activity knowledge, social development and improving mental health.

The evidence can be used to inform guidance for health and education organisations on how they can design online interventions to reach and engage young people in physical activity.

The authors analysed 26 studies of online interventions for physical activity.

They found three main mechanisms at work: gamification, in which participants progress through different levels of achievement; personalisation, in which participants received tailored feedback and rewards based on progress; and information, in which participants received educational material or guidance to encourage behavioural change.

Most of the interventions were focused on gamification or personalisation and the researchers found the majority of studies (70 per cent) reported an increase and/or improvement in outcomes related to physical activity for children and young people who participated in online interventions.

Primary school age pupils in particular who participated during PE lessons benefited.

Lead author Dr Victoria Goodyear, in the University of Birmingham’s School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Science, said, “We find convincing evidence that PE teachers can use online learning to boost attitudes and participation in physical activity among young people, particularly at primary school age.”

Dr Goodyear concluded, “There’s a real opportunity here for the PE profession to lead the way in designing meaningful and effective online exercise opportunities, as well as an opportunity to embed positive approaches to exercise and online games and apps at an early stage.”

Physical Activity Important For Protecting Cognition In Breast Cancer Patients

A new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has found a strong association between high levels of physical activity and the ability to maintain cognitive function among breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy.

The study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology lays the groundwork for future clinical trials aimed at investigating whether moderate to vigorous exercise can ward off what is commonly referred to as “chemo brain,” a decline in cognitive function many breast cancer patients experience.

Collaborators of the study include researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y., and the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“Cognitive decline related to cancer treatment is a growing clinical concern,” said first author Elizabeth A. Salerno, Ph.D., an assistant professor of surgery in the Division of Public Health Sciences at Washington University.

Elizabeth added, “Some patients with cancer experience memory lapses, difficulty concentrating, or trouble finding the right word to finish a sentence. Knowing the detrimental effects of chemotherapy on cognitive function, we wanted to understand the dynamic relationships between physical activity and cognition before, during, and after chemotherapy to hopefully inform early, cost-effective prevention strategies to promote health in these patients. Our findings suggest that maintaining higher levels of physical activity may indeed be important for protecting cognition in patients with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy.”

The researchers emphasized that their observational study can’t demonstrate that physical activity definitively protects against chemotherapy-related cognitive decline; it’s possible that physically active people have other characteristics, independent of exercise, that may protect cognition. But the study sets the stage for clinical trials investigating whether physical activity interventions before and during chemotherapy can indeed ward off treatment-related cognitive decline.

“Physical activity is a complex behavior,” Salerno said. “So, it will be important to test whether we can intervene with physical activity during a specific time window, such as during chemotherapy, and protect cognitive function in patients of all activity levels.”

The researchers analyzed data from a national sample of 580 breast cancer patients and 363 cancer-free participants, who acted as controls. The scientists measured physical activity as reported by patients on a questionnaire taken before, immediately after and six months after chemotherapy. At the same three times, the researchers also assessed four different measures of cognitive function.

At the beginning of the study, about 33 per cent of the cancer patients met physical activity guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. During chemotherapy, the percentage of patients meeting the guidelines dropped to 21 per cent and then rebounded to 37 per cent six months after treatment ended. The proportion of cancer-free participants meeting the weekly minimum of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity hovered around 40% at all three time points.

“Despite this recovery to pre-chemotherapy physical activity levels, a majority of patients remained insufficiently active,” said Salerno. “As we consider the design of future physical activity interventions during chemotherapy, it will be important to understand what may be driving this rebound, whether it be improved health status now that chemotherapy is over or renewed motivation toward healthy aging during survivorship.”

The four assessments of cognition included two measures of how individuals perceive their own cognition; a test of visual memory; and a test of sustained attention. Inactive patients showed what is classified as a moderate reduction in perceived cognitive function, which is considered clinically meaningful.

On all of the assessments, patients who had met the physical activity guidelines before and after chemotherapy consistently outperformed patients who had never met the guidelines. The cancer-free study participants performed similarly on all of the assessments, regardless of whether they had met the physical activity guidelines.

Importantly, breast cancer patients who had met the physical activity guidelines before chemotherapy ended up performing similarly to active and inactive healthy participants on the memory and attention tests. While objective measures of memory and attention indicated that physically active cancer patients had performed about as well as cancer-free participants, the physically active patients still perceived a significant decline in cognition, especially during chemotherapy.

However, their perceived decline was not as great as that of the inactive patients. The researchers speculate that the self-reported measures of cognition may be capturing other common problems associated with chemotherapy, such as anxiety, fatigue, or depression.

“Patients who were consistently meeting physical activity guidelines during chemotherapy not only had better cognitive recovery after chemotherapy completion, they also did not demonstrate clinically meaningful perceived cognitive decline, meaning that they did not report a large perceived cognitive change,” said senior author Michelle C. Janelsins, Ph.D., an associate professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center and Wilmot Cancer Institute.

Michelle added, “By assessment with our objective cognitive measures, patients who were meeting physical activity guidelines prior to chemotherapy had better cognitive function scores following chemotherapy and looked cognitively similar to people who didn’t have cancer.”

Added Salerno: “These findings contribute to the growing body of evidence highlighting the importance of promoting physical activity as early as possible across the continuum of cancer care.”

Physical Activity Reduces Risk Of Being Overweight In Adolescence: Study

Obesity in children and adolescents is one of the most significant health-related challenges globally. A recent study has shown that physical activity protects children from the adverse effects of digital media on their weight later in adolescence.

The results of the study were published in the ‘Journal of Physical Activity and Health’. The study showed that six hours of leisure-time physical activity per week at the age of 11 reduces the risk of being overweight at 14 years of age-associated with heavy use of digital media. The study carried out by the Folkhalsan Research Center and the University of Helsinki investigated whether a link exists between the digital media use of Finnish school-age children and the risk of being overweight later in adolescence. In addition, the study looked into whether children’s physical activity has an effect on this potential link.

The study involved 4,661 children from the Finnish Health in Teens (Fin-HIT) study. The participating children reported how much time they spent on sedentary digital media use and physical activity outside school hours.

The study demonstrated that heavy use of digital media at 11 years of age was associated with a heightened risk of being overweight at 14 years of age in children who reported engaging in under six hours per week of physical activity in their leisure time. In children who reported being physically active for six or more hours per week, such a link was not observed.

The study also took into account other factors potentially impacting obesity, such as childhood eating habits and the amount of sleep, as well as the amount of digital media use and physical activity in adolescence.

In spite of the confounding factors, the protective role of childhood physical activity in the connection between digital media use in childhood and being overweight later in life was successfully confirmed.
“The effect of physical activity on the association between digital media use and being overweight has not been extensively investigated in follow-up studies so far,” said Postdoctoral Researcher Elina Engberg.

Further research is needed to determine in more detail how much sedentary digital media use increases the risk of being overweight, and how much physical activity is needed, and at what intensity, to ward off such a risk.

In this study, the amount of physical activity and use of digital media was reported by the children themselves, and the level of their activity was not surveyed, so there is a need for further studies.
“A good rule of thumb is to adhere to the physical activity guidelines for children and adolescents, according to which school-aged children and adolescents should be physically active in a versatile, brisk, and strenuous manner for at least 60 minutes a day in a way that suits the individual, considering their age,” said Engberg.

In addition, excessive and extended sedentary activity should be avoided.

Scroll to Top