Health report
Health report – September 2017
We've done the rounds of the recent local and international health research to bring you a wrap up of reasons to ride a bike.

Physical Activity Assists Cancer Rehabilitation

A pilot study by the University of California suggests that physical activity helps restore cognitive functioning in breast cancer survivors.

Associate professor Sheri Hartman of the Department of Family and Preventative Medicine says the effects of breast cancer on the brain can be long-term.

"Whether or not they receive chemotherapy, many breast cancer survivors experience a decline in brain function that impacts memory, thinking and concentration,” she said.

87 female breast cancer survivors were split into two groups, one of which was enrolled in a physical activity program tailored to each person’s ability and preferences.

"The women who participated in the physical activity intervention experienced a significant improvement in cognitive processing speed and some improvements in their perceived mental abilities. This study supports the idea that exercise could be a way to help improve cognition among breast cancer survivors,” she added.

Further research is needed to support these findings on breast cancer survivors specifically, but they are consistent with previous studies on the effects of exercise on cognitive function.

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Good News for Asthma Sufferers

Going for a ride could improve the quality of life of asthma sufferers.

New findings from the European Lung Foundation show that asthma sufferers who participated in three exercise classes a week rated their asthma symptoms as 50% better than those who did not.

The participants also had their diets altered as part of the trial, with those who exercised consuming a low glycemic index diet which assists in keeping blood sugar low.

Dr. Louise Lindhardt Toennesen, who conducted the study, said that the results show that asthma sufferers don’t need to fear exercise, and in fact should embrace it.

“We know that many patients are interested in whether they can improve their asthma control with exercise and a healthy diet,” she said.

"Our research suggests that people with asthma should be encouraged to eat a healthy diet and to take part in physical activity."

Researchers aim to determine the best choices asthma sufferers can make for themselves, with the hope that lifestyle changes may be able to replace asthma prevention medication.

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No Substitute for Exercise

Physical activity is so good for you researchers are studying its effects at a cellular level to help treat heart disease.

According to the University of Sao Paula, some of the effects of physical exercise at could be mimicked to create drugs.

"Basically, we discovered that aerobic training facilitates the removal of dysfunctional mitochondria from heart cells”, said Julio Cesar Batista Ferreira, a professor at the Biomedical Science Institute.

“The removal of dysfunctional mitochondria increases the supply of ATP and reduces the production of toxic molecules, such as oxygen free radicals and reactive aldehydes, an excess of which damages the cell structure.”

The long-term aim of this research is to identify cellular targets that can be modified by drugs to produce some of the same benefits of physical exercise. But Ferreira admits it is impossible to come close to replicating exercise.

"Evidently, we don't aim to create an exercise pill, which would be impossible because exercise acts at many levels”.

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It's not the only study to show that you can't sub out exercise for something else and expect the same result – it's been found that the benefits of stand up desks have been overstated.

It’s Never Too Early

The importance of getting our kids active has been underlined by the discovery that our bodies may remember physical activity from early in life.

Researchers at the Liggins institute at the University of Auckland have found that the bones of rats memorise exercise’s effects long after it has ended. This bone memory plays a big part in the way the body metabolises a high-fat diet.

High fat diets are known to increase genes that cause inflammation, which results in obesity, heart disease and cancer.

The ability for our body to metabolise these high fat diets using this ‘memory’ could have huge health ramifications according to Dr. Justin O’Sullivan, a molecular geneticist at the institute.

"The bone marrow carried a 'memory' of the effects of exercise. This is the first demonstration of a long-lasting effect of exercise past puberty,” he said.

“The rats still got fat, but that early extra exercise basically set them up so that even though they put on weight they didn't have the same profile of negative effects that is common with a high fat diet."

While further research is required, there is no reason the same profiling wouldn’t occur in humans, indicating that adolescence may be the most important time in our lives to be active.

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