Health Perspective: The more you know
Every day new research comes to light regarding almost everything imaginable and this includes fitness and nutrition. Although one study is definitely not a concrete fact it can help guide us in new and smarter ways to get healthier and change our health perspective. Are you ready for a longer read? Well sit back, grab a beverage because here are 10 recent studies that will change your health perspectives!
Let’s Mold our Health Perspectives
1. Lower Your Blood Pressure with…Probiotics?
Really, what can’t probiotics do? It seems there is a new study being released daily about the amazing benefits of these microbes. One such recent study indicated that if you commonly consume probiotics on a regular basis you can moderately lower your blood pressure!
The research which was published in Hypertension illustrated that those who consumed probiotics for at least 8 weeks on a regular basis significantly lowered their blood pressure over this period compared to those who did not. While this was only a modest lowering of blood pressure (3.5mm Hg [systolic]/2.38mm Hg [diastolic]) it still is incredible what your diet can do for your entire physiology.
A word of advice though, these results were not found in those that ate probiotics with a CFU (colony forming units) less than 109!
The researchers on the project hypothesized that probiotics were able to do this by helping regulate the hormone system that affects blood pressure and glucose and insulin resistance, among other things. Where’s the yogurt?
2. Less Exercise for Amazing Results?
First of all, this is not a proclamation to start exercising less; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. This study basically makes you take the excuse “I don’t have time to exercise” and throw it out the window because exercise, no matter how short, can help you reap substantial health effects.
Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that everyone should get at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week, but many people simply don’t have the time!
This recent study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology determined that performing simple short bouts of exercise (this study looked at running) over the course of the week (totaling less than 60 minutes) on a consistent/persistent basis can be just as useful as long-duration workouts when it comes to heart health and reducing your mortality risk.
These short bursts were just as effective as those that exercised over 3 hours a week in terms of reducing your risk of death via cardiovascular disease by as much as 45% compared to non-runners.
They found you get the same benefits whether it was running for 180 minutes a week (25.7 minutes a day) or less than 60 minutes (8.5 minutes a day); the main factor was that you do it on a persistent basis (for the study that was 6 years or more).
Now it’s time to throw away the old excuses of not having enough time because, in fact, you do have enough time to improve your health! Every little bit helps!
3. Get Your Kids Active Outside for Added Health Benefits
Well okay, you may not have kids, but you may one day (plus this could correlate to yourself as well). Recent research in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health demonstrated that kids that were active outside (in this case, exercised) were likely to get more health benefits from this exercise than kids who were active indoors.
To determine this, the scientists had a group of 9-10-year-olds cycles for 15 minutes during which one session they were shown pictures of a forest and in the other, they were not shown anything.
The researchers found that after cycling on the forest path the children had significantly lower blood pressure, which can be a factor in cardiovascular disease.
While there are other factors that could have played a role in this outcome (e.g. what if visual stimulus in itself was responsible, not the visual stimulus of a forest path) it paints an interesting picture as to how activity indoors and outdoors can have varying effects on the body.
Although there are numerous variables in the study that need to be tested further, this study does make for a good excuse/reason to get your kids outside and active (and not bothering you)!
4. Need More Motivation to Exercise? Use Positive Memories
There is nothing harder than finding the motivation to exercise, especially if you’ve already missed the previous 3 days. What difference does another day make, right? Forget that, you need to pick yourself up and get into the swing of things again, but this can be hard.
Remember that workout where you crushed your personal record? Or that workout when you ran your fastest mile? Or even when you were able to finish a workout without falling down, sweating like a pig, or cursing out loud?
Well a recent study has indicated that you can use these positive memories to provide you with incredible motivation!
Published in the journal Memory, this study was simple in its nature. It asked over a hundred college students to either recall a great workout memory (like the ones listed above) or either a terrible workout memory (like the time your feet couldn’t keep up with the treadmill).
The researchers found that the cohort that recalled the positive memories were way more likely to exercise over the next week. The simple task of recalling these awesome exercise memories has the power to get us to the gym.
Next time you are slothed-out on the couch trying to remember the last time you really killed a workout; it might put you into motion!
5. There Really is an Optimal Calorie Burning Temperature
Wouldn’t it be great to burn more calories while just sitting on your computer doing homework or business work? Well, it is possible, if you like cooler temperatures. Recently in Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, it was illustrated how a study out of Japan found that those who spent at least 2 hours a day in 62.6 degrees F (17 degrees Celsius) for 6 weeks had a considerable decrease in body fat.
The team said that this was because when we are exposed to this temperature for an extended period of time in order to raise our internal temperature (without shivering) we use our brown fat.
Brown fat can keep us warm and produce heat without the need for shivering by burning calories. In fact, brown fat heat production CAN account for over 30% of our total energy budget. That is a lot of calories especially considering many of these calories are specifically stored as fat; perfect, right?
Non-shivering heat production seems to be the way to go this winter!
6. A Healthy Lifestyle Can Reduce the Cellular Effects of Stress
How stressed are you? If you are like the majority of us, between work, family, and all the other obligations, stress can add up! Not only can stress really mess with our psyche it can also totally wreck our bodies.
From increasing cellular aging to reducing your metabolism to affecting your sleep, stress is something we all must contend with.
A healthy lifestyle may be the answer. A recent study in Molecular Psychiatry found that we can actually reverse the cellular aging effects (think affecting our telomeres) of stress by living a healthy lifestyle that revolves around three practices: exercise, a healthy diet, and proper sleep.
The research looked at over 230 post-menopausal women who were all non-smokers over the course of a year. It found that those that performed these three practices had significantly reduced cellular aging than women who didn’t eat, exercise, or sleep properly although both cohorts had very similar stress levels.
In just one year a healthy lifestyle was able to greatly reduce cellular aging and help the women live healthier lives!
7. Bean Consumption Can Reduce Cholesterol
It truly is amazing how food can be like a natural medicine and really heal us or help us run on all cylinders. As we discussed earlier, probiotics are one such food that can provide us with numerous health benefits. Add another one to the list: beans. Beans get a bad rap due to all the flatulence jokes but they can be incredibly beneficial.
For instance, a recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal illustrated that beans can actually help decrease our risk of cardiovascular disease. By consuming one serving each and every day, which is about ¾ cup, you can greatly lower your cholesterol.
In fact, eating a serving of lentils, beans, and even chickpeas a day can decrease your LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) by 5%. This doesn’t sound like a humongous amount but that can equate to over a 5% decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Want to naturally help decrease your risk of the leading cause of mortality in the United States? Grab a serving of the musical fruit every day!
8. Keep the Foods You Love in Your Diet
You hear it all the time, many health experts saying cut out this and cut out that in terms of our guilty pleasure foods. While I agree that you need to cut back on those types of foods it is also important to keep the foods you love in your diet in order to make them sustainable and it seems science agrees.
Recently a study came out of Vanderbilt University that said that in order to convince your brain and therefore yourself to start eating healthier you actually have to keep these foods, “vice” foods labeled by the study, in your diet but in lower portions. It makes perfect sense as well.
By teaching yourself to cut back on these vice foods while still keeping them in your diet you are teaching your body to control its cravings.
It would be an entirely different craving if you cut that food out completely from your diet; that’s where the “midnight crushing a carton of ice cream” comes into play.
The study said that by keeping these vice foods in lower moderation while increasing the consumption of healthier foods you convince yourself to eat healthier and it creates a better more sustainable diet. Like everything in nutrition, make sure to keep it all in moderation!
9. Want to Eat Less After a Workout? Have Fun!
How often do you go into a workout and think, “Okay let’s just get this over with, one more mile!” Actually, it turns out this can lead to pigging out after your workout. Recent research by Cornell Food and Brand Lab found that believing you are working out or exercising and dreading it can lead to eating more after you are finished.
On the other hand, when you go into the activity thinking of it as a “fun or leisure” activity, you eat significantly less after the workout.
The research involved two studies in which the participants were told they were either going for a 2km “exercise walk” or they were told they were going for a 2k “scenic walk”. In one of the studies, those that thought they were exercising ate 35% more chocolate pudding after the walk than those that thought it was just a fun, scenic walk.
In the second study, those that thought it was exercise ate %124 more calories in chocolate than those who thought it was a fun activity.
The researchers concluded that when you go into something thinking it is going to be exercise and therefore tough, it can make you feel more fatigued and mentally drained leading to higher consumption of sweets. These are often thought of as “rewards” for getting through the tough workout.
When it comes down to it, make exercise as fun as possible and keep it engaging. Make it to where it doesn’t feel like such a dreaded task and you may better be able to control your urges after the workout is over!
10. Exercising Doesn’t Have to be Incredibly Complex
“Start with a pyramid set then rest for 15 seconds followed by a 35-second AMRAP with a 45-second rest followed by a curl and crunch superset then rest for 20 seconds.” Wait, What? A workout routine can be incredibly confusing and these days it seems they are getting more and more intricate. Does “Keep It Simple Stupid” not work for working out and building strength anymore?
Recent research in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism illustrated that a simple workout format can be just as effective as a super ornate workout in terms of building strength.
The research tested a simple strength training workout (PreEx workouts for this study) performed at a high intensity compared to a complex workout with varying resting sets and order of exercises (considering complex for the study) over a 12 week period and found that both were equally as effective in building strength.
The moral of the story is while your complex workout with varying sets, rest periods, and repetitions can produce results, a simple strength training routine performed at a high intensity can be just as equally effective!
WOW! Kudos to you if you made it through all of those studies!
These studies make for some interesting reading and can be applied to your exercise/nutrition regime and help shape your health perspective!
Any way to help make weight loss or getting fit smarter and easier is always helpful! Why not use the most recent science to your advantage and shape your health perspectives?
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