This Week in Health: Short bursts of exercise can help you lose weight

You don't have to train for a marathon (although that's great too!). Short bursts of exercise count. Credit: Metro File
You don’t have to train for a marathon (although that’s great too!) — short bursts of exercise count.
Credit: Metro Archive

Brief periods of exercise can prevent weight gain

Location of study: U.S.

Study subjects: Data study

Results: Brief periods of rigorous physical activity can prevent weight gain as effectively as the recommended 10-minute-plus intervals, says a new study in the American Journal of Health Promotion. People are encouraged to exercise at least 150 minutes per week at a moderate or high intensity.

Significance: For people who don’t exercise, the study found that simple aerobic activity like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or taking a brisk walk for short distances rather than taking the car, paired with a healthy diet, can significantly boost metabolic rate and help avoid weight gain, or promote weight loss.

 

Study supports mammogram screening in young women

Location of study: U.S.

Study subjects: Patients with invasive breast cancers diagnosed in Boston between 1990 and 1999

Results: A new analysis has found that most deaths from breast cancer occur in younger women who do not receive regular mammograms, according to a report in Cancer, a journal of the American Cancer Society. The results of a study conducted at Harvard Medical School in Boston indicate that regular screening before age 50 should be encouraged.

Significance: Study co-author Dr. Blake Cady, professor of surgery emeritus, comments, “The biological nature of breast cancer in young women is more aggressive, while breast cancer in older women tends to be more indolent. This suggests that less frequent screening in older women, but more frequent screening in younger women, may be more biologically based, practical and cost-effective.”

 

No sleep can lead to unhealthy shopping habits

Location of study: Sweden

Study subjects: 14 normal-weight men

Results: As little as one night’s sleep deprivation makes a person more likely to purchase food that’s higher in calories and buy greater quantities of food, according to a new study published in the journal Obesity. The study also found that sleep deprivation led to increased blood levels of ghrelin, a hormone that increases hunger. However, there was no correlation between individual ghrelin levels and buying more food during a shopping trip, indicating that other personal factors come into play, too.

Significance: “We hypothesized that sleep deprivation’s impact on hunger and decision making would make for the ‘perfect storm’ with regard to shopping and food purchasing, leaving individuals hungrier and less capable of employing self-control and higher-level decision-making processes to avoid making impulsive, calorie-driven purchases,” says the study’s first author, Colin Chapman of Uppsala University.

 

Three out of five endometrial cancers are preventable

Location of study: U.K.

Study subjects: Data study

Results: Three out of every five new cases of endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus) in the U.S. could be prevented if women remain physically active and keep to a healthy weight, according to a report published by the American Institute for Cancer Research and World Cancer Research Fund International. A diet high in sugary foods, sugary drinks and processed foods high in carbohydrates is said to increase risk. Also, the report included new evidence that coffee — both decaffeinated and caffeinated – helps reduce the risk of endometrial cancer. The therapeutic amount, though, was uncertain.

Significance: “Many women are not aware of the strong link between obesity and cancer, which is particularly strong for endometrial cancer,” comments Dr. Elisa Bandera, associate professor of epidemiology at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. “We know many American women can reduce their risk of endometrial cancer, as well as other cancers, and heart disease and diabetes; this is a great reason to take a look at your diet and physical activity, and take steps to move more and eat smarter.”


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