Every week, we’re bringing you a roundup of the latest health and wellness news to hit the wire. This week, we look at research that quantifies the anti-aging effects of lifelong fitness, as well as the toll that the obesity epidemic is taking on global cancer rates, and tips for using bullet journaling to stay on track over the holidays.
Fitness keeps you young at heart … and muscle
You know you need to work out for your health, but did you know that a regular fitness habit can make your body look and feel decades younger well into your senior years?
Exercise physiologist Scott Trappe, who heads the Human Performance Lab at Ball State University, told NPR that in his research, 75-year-old men and women who had a long-standing running or cycling habit (averaging about seven hours a week) had similar cardiovascular health to that of a 40- to 45-year-old.
That’s impressive because for the average adult, the ability to process oxygen during a workout declines by about 10 percent each decade after age 30. Even more significant was the benefit to muscle health, with biopsies of the septuagenarians looking very similar to those of the 25-year-olds studied.
“Exercise wins was the take-home message,” Trappe said.
Excess weight responsible for some cancers
If you need more motivation to work out, here’s some sobering news from CNN: Excess body weight was responsible for 3.9 percent of cancer globally, or 544,300 cases, in 2012, according to a newly published report in the journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
The report shows a link between obesity and the risk of 13 cancers, including postmenopausal breast cancer, esophagus, stomach, colon and liver cancer, and a probable relationship with three others, including prostate cancer.
Women represented nearly twice as many cases of cancer linked to being overweight or obese, with breast cancer being one of the largest contributors, compared to men, with liver cancer being the highest. Moreover, excess body fat accounted for one-third of endometrial cancers and esophageal cancers for women globally.
Researchers blame the growing obesity epidemic brought on by a Western diet of low-quality, high-calorie foods, along with reduced opportunities for movement.
A magic bullet for motivation?
Over the last several years, you might have heard friends talk about starting a bullet journal—a kind of colorful pen-and-paper free-form planner and diary that includes to-do lists, goal setting and other tracking or logs, typically kept in notebooks with grid paper.
What you might not know is that it can be an effective tool for tracking your health and wellness goals each day and month and getting a visual picture of your progress. Writer Sarah Muoio of Popsugar Fitness says she finds it more motivating than checking the results on an app. For some people, it’s almost a form of scrapbooking, with colorful pens, artful doodles, and other elements to highlight the logs and plans.
“It doesn’t just include number metrics like weight or how many workouts I did in a week,” Muoio said. “It includes whatever else I want to focus on in my journey to better health, whether that’s more self-awareness, more time meditating, or calories or water consumption.”
Starting a bullet journal can be a little confusing, so here’s Muoio’s Popsugar slideshow for starting a bullet journal and how you can use it to track your progress, workouts and other inspiration.
Photo credit: Mladen Zivkovic, Thinkstock