Friday, August 31, 2012

Midlife exercise can boost heart health

New study demonstrates that regular moderate exercising lowers the risk of heart diseases in middle-aged people.

According to the article published in the Circulation, people who were engaged in the recommended 2.5 hours of exercise a week had lower levels of inflammatory markers in their blood.

Inflammatory markers are important because their high levels have been linked to increased heart risk, experts say.
Researchers believe exercising should not be limited to hard toil in a gym, suggesting that activities such as gardening, brisk walking and many other similar activities may have similar effects.

Conducted by Professor Andrew Steptoe and Dr Mark Hamer from UCL Epidemiology and Public Health, the study of over 4,000 people showed that even those who start exercising in their late 40s and 50s can benefit from the advantages.

The results confirmed that people who had consistently performed the recommended amount of exercise for the entire 10-year study period had the lowest inflammatory levels overall.

Lower levels of inflammatory markers were also seen in those who had started doing the recommended amount of exercise in their 40s. The result is considerable particularly when compared with people who had never performed enough exercise.

"We should be encouraging more people to get active for example walking instead of taking the bus. You can gain health benefits from moderate activity at any time in your life," said Dr Hamer who led the research.

Vitamin C reduces air pollution harmful effects on lungs

New study suggests that following a vitamin C-rich diet can protect patients suffering from chronic lung diseases against harmful effects of air pollution.

Researchers at Imperial College in London found that vitamin C, acting as an antioxidant, could have a protective role for lungs.

They observed more than 200 patients admitted to hospital for asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). They also measured the severity of air pollution on the days before and after the patients’ admission by assessing the levels of "course particulate matter," which is largely produced through the combustion of fossil fuels.

According to the study published in Epidemiology, patients with low levels of vitamin C were at an increased risk of developing breathing problems on days when outdoor air pollution levels were high.

"The protective effect of vitamin C was still present after excluding smokers and elderly subjects, implying that the effect of this antioxidant was not explained by smoking or age," explained Dr Cristina Canova said.

The results uncovered that each 10 micrograms per cubic meter (mcg/m3) rise in the amount of course particulate matter was associated with a 35 percent increase in the risk of hospital admission for patients with asthma or COPD.

"This study adds to a small but growing body of evidence that the effects of air pollution might be modified by antioxidants," said environmental health scientist at the University of British Columbia in Canada Michael Brauer.

Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, may protect the body from harmful molecules called free radicals, counteracting them before they damage cells and cause heart disease, cancer and even respiratory ailments.