Tag Archives: Health

Passive exercise may have benefits

12 Oct

When I was a kid, there were a number of popular books touting the benefits of isometric exercise. It seemed like a great idea, exercise without equipment, sweat, or repetition. As I remember them, the books would feature highly muscled individuals performing the exercises. Now, I realize that these people must have gained their muscular physiques from workouts with weights, but at the time I was quite convinced.

Naturally, I have become suspicious of claims that you can exercise without exertion. But this article by Dr. Mirkin suggests that passive exercise may have benefits for otherwise inactive people:

The exciting new concept is that passive exercise — sitting on a motor-driven stationary bicycle and letting the pedals move the person’s legs for 30 minutes — burns extra calories and lowers blood sugar and insulin levels in inactive people (Med Sci Sprts Ex, Sept, 2016;48(9):1821-1828). Having their legs moved by motor-driven pedals increases insulin sensitivity by lowering blood sugar rises after eating.

Reading and longevity

29 Aug

I hate to be such a killjoy all the time. But this recent study on reading and longevity has received a lot of attention. I don’t fault the researchers for how their findings have been presented, but many media outlets have presented the findings as causal rather than correlational. Put simply, we cannot tell from these data if reading causes people to live longer. It could be true, but this study can demonstrate that this is the case. An alternative explanation might be that people with higher IQs both read more and have higher life expectancy. 

As someone who reads a lot, I hope this hypothesis turns out to be true. And reading more is never bad advice.

Micronutrients and insomnia

22 Jul

The most recent issue of Clinical Psychological Science includes a paper titled “Effect of Micronutrients on Insomnia in Adults.” Here is the abstract:

Insomnia is a debilitating condition causing psychological distress and frequently comorbid with other mental health conditions. This study examined the effect of 8 weeks of treatment by broad spectrum micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) on insomnia using a multiple-baseline-across-participants open-label trial design. Seventeen adults were randomized to 1-, 2-, or 3-week baseline periods (14 completed). Self-report measures were the Consensus Sleep Diary–Morning (CSD-M), the Pittsburgh Insomnia Rating Scale (PIRS), and the Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scale (DASS). Baselines were generally stable. Treatment completers reported reliable and clinically significant change in insomnia severity (PIRS), in depression, stress, and anxiety (DASS), and on at least two aspects of sleep measured by the CDS-M. All completers were treatment-compliant, and side effects were minimal. Nutritional supplementation is shown to be a novel, beneficial treatment for insomnia in adults. Follow-up research using placebo-controlled designs as well as comparisons to cognitive-behavioral and other treatments is recommended.

I think the paper is quite interesting and it is consistent with some other research. I do, however, have some concerns. The researchers use a commercial brand name supplement, DSD (Daily Self Defense). Here is their description:

DSD contains all the B vitamins identified as being important for stress reduction (Table S1 in the Supplemental Material available online provides a full list of ingredients).

As a subscriber, I have access to the supplementary material, yet when I checked s1 it did not contain that information. I found a list of ingredients on line and I think the researchers should be clearer about why they thought this formulation would be more effective than other commercially available products. The main ingredients are very similar to what you would find in many commercially available multiple vitamin pills, plus 460 milligrams of a proprietary herbal blend.

 

 

Pocket Hercules and the Mighty Atom

15 Jun

I am fascinated by all things Indian. A few days ago The New York Times published an obituary for Indian bodybuilder Manohar Aich, who died at the age of 103.

Manohar Aich, was only 4 feet 11 inches tall. A fact that earned him the nickname of “Pocket Hercules.”

 

I was struck by the similarities between the story of Manohar Aich and the life of Joseph L. Greenstein, a strong man know as the Mighty Atom. Years ago, my brother had given me a biography of Greenstein, which I highly recommend. Greenstein was only 5 feet 4 inches tall and he was the inspiration for the golden age comic book superhero “the Atom.”

Tobacco and Parkinson’s Disease

22 Apr

Two videos from Dr. Greger lay out the relationship between Parkinson’s and Tobacco.

 

 

The false promise of fish oil

24 Jul

I have been blogging a lot about diet lately and I should move onto other topics, but I think this Washington Post story is important:

“People in the United States spend about $1.2 billion annually for fish oil pills and related supplements even though the vast majority of research published recently in major journals provides no evidence of a health benefit.”

 

 

Pyschologists study telomeres

19 Dec

Telomeres are structures at the end of chromosomes that shorten with each cell division. They are restored through the action of an enzyme. Shorter telomeres is a sign of aging and stress.

The Observer, a publication of the Association for Psychological Science, reports on the psychological study of telomeres.

“Over the last decade, these scientists and others have investigated how protracted psychological stress lowers telomerase activity, leading to shorter telomeres. This line of research represents the height of integrative science, incorporating disciplines that include psychology, immunology, epidemiology, genetics, and even nutrition.”

The entire piece is worth reading.

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