Every week, we’re bringing you a roundup of the latest health and wellness news to hit the wire. This week, we look at how movement compares to drugs when it comes to lowering blood pressure and visceral fat, why starting a workout program at any age helps you live longer, and why weight lifting even a little bit helps keep your heart young.
Movement is good medicine
Here’s one more reason to get back on the treadmill. Two important new research reviews show that movement can lower blood pressure and reduce dangerous belly fat at least as effectively as many common prescription drugs.
The new studies, discussed in The New York Times, highlight the effectiveness of movement as a first step in the treatment of some of our most common maladies such as high blood pressure, insulin resistance, obesity, osteoarthritis and others.
Doctors have long urged patients to work out to head off chronic conditions. However, to date, there hadn’t been enough large, long-term studies to determine the type and amount of movement to help them determine an effective prescription for different diseases.
So, the authors of two new reviews, published in British Journal of Sports Medicine and the Mayo Clinic Proceedings looked at the best of recent studies looking at the effectiveness of certain drugs for a condition, and separately looked at studies using movement to treat the same condition, then analyzed and compared the results.
One set looked at the reduction in systolic blood pressure in groups that worked out or took diuretics or beta blockers, the other looked at drops in visceral body fat around the middle from movement, versus drugs such as metformin and orlistat.
In the two reviews, drugs and aerobic exercise succeeded for both sets of participants in reducing blood pressure and visceral fat. Moreover, in the second case, movement resulted in pound-for-pound a greater reduction of fat around the middle than drugs. Taken together the new reviews show that movement can equal or even exceed the effects of drugs on blood pressure and dangerous belly fat.
Better late than never
For those who think you have to work out consistently over the course of your life to reap the big rewards in disease prevention and longevity, think again.
A new study published in JAMA Network Open of 315,000 U.S. adults showed similar declines in premature death, as well as drops in heart disease and cancer risk, from those who just started working out regularly after they reached their 40s, versus those who had worked out consistently throughout their life.
Those surveyed in this Time article that said they worked out anywhere from two to eight hours a week in each age range from the teen years to middle age had a 29 to 36 percent lower risk of dying from any cause during the study’s 20-year-period, a 42 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease, and a 14 percent risk reduction for cancer, compared to inactive people.
Those that said they were not active when they were younger, only when they reached the last age group in the study of 40 to 61, showed similar drops of 32 to 35 percent in dying early when compared to those that didn’t work out at all.
With both groups, those that increased their movement levels the most saw the greatest benefits.
The new Danish wellness word you should know
By now, you’ve probably heard the Danish word “hygge” and used it to justify all those cozy nights in bingeing Netflix with your partner.
The hot new Danish word making the rounds is “pyt” (pronounced pid) which, despite a literal English translation, has something to do with cultivating positive thoughts to combat stress.
It’s usually uttered in reaction to a daily frustration, hassle or mistake as a way to gain perspective and reset so you don’t get bogged down. Here the lowdown from CNN on how to use it as a mental health tool.
Photo credit: Guillaume Briard, Unsplash