Thursday, November 30, 2006

Workouts Help Ward Off Cancer's Return

Just 1 to 3 hours of exercise per week may be protective, experts say

THURSDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- For cancer survivors, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight are important factors in preventing malignancy's return, at least for some forms of the disease.

That's the conclusion of an American Cancer Society report that updates nutrition and physical activity recommendations for cancer survivors during and after treatment.

Among the points contained in the report:

* For some kinds of cancer, just 1 to 3 hours a week of exercise can lower the risk of cancer recurrence and death, as well as death from all causes. Exercise has also been shown to improve fitness, fatigue, and several other quality of life aspects in cancer survivors.
* While a vegetarian diet can help health in some ways, there's no direct evidence that this kind of diet can prevent cancer recurrence. Survivors who eat a vegetarian diet should ensure that they're getting an adequate intake of nutrients.
* A standard multivitamin and mineral supplement in amounts equivalent to 100 percent of the Daily Value can help cancer survivors meet their nutrient needs when it's difficult for them to eat a healthy diet. However, some supplements -- such as those with high levels of folic acid or antioxidants -- may be harmful during cancer treatment.
* Food safety is especially important for cancer survivors, particularly during treatment that involves immunosuppression.
* Alcohol can affect the risk for new primary cancers in certain areas of the body.

The report is published in the November/December issue of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

Currently, nearly two out of three cancer patients in the United States live more than five years after their diagnosis. There are more than 10 million Americans who have been diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about life after cancer treatment.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Cancer Society, news release, Nov. 30, 2006

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Pilates Provides Benefits for Some with Parkinson's

By SARAH SKIDMORE, Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. - Movements in Pilates exercises are controlled — sometimes
moving the body only inches — but those small motions are making a big
difference to some people with Parkinson's disease.

No research has been done to prove Pilates' effectiveness in reducing
Parkinson's symptoms, but a growing number of patients say they are finding
some relief.

"I love it, it's great," said Karen Smith, 62. "It exercises muscles that
otherwise don't get exercised."

Parkinson's, a degenerative disorder, inhibits a person's ability to control
movement. Its most common symptoms include tremors, slowness of movement,
rigidity and poor balance.

Smith is part of a group that meets twice a week at the Parkinson Center of
the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. The center held a
Pilates pilot program earlier this year, and after it found improvement in
the participants' rigidity and balance it launched a twice-weekly class open
to the public.

The center already has a waiting list for its next round of classes.

A few Pilates instructors elsewhere around the country also are offering
classes specifically for people with the disease.

"It could be any exercise" that might help people, said Kristi Sesso, owner
of the Harmony Group Pilates and Gyrotonics studio in Englewood, N.J. "But
Pilates is a great point of access."

Instructors say the basic principal of Pilates — increasing core strength
and improving flexibility and balance — is extremely helpful in countering
the effects of Parkinson's in some people.

"I never dreamed of trying to do Pilates or anything like that," said Greg
Moore, 59, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's 17 years ago and just started
practicing Pilates. "Now I realized how stiff and boxed up I am."

There are studies that show exercise can ease the severity of Parkinson's
symptoms, said Michael S. Okun, national medical director for the National
Medical Foundation. However, it needs much further research, he said.

"I tell my patients that exercise is like a drug — if they exercise
religiously or stretch religiously, they do great," Okun said.

Pilates participants say the exercises aren't a strain, which makes the
program more approachable for patients who don't exercise at all.
Additionally, they say, it's supportive to be in a positive environment with
other people with Parkinson's.

Many Parkinson's patients struggle with depression and some say the exercise
has helped them.

"A lot of times exercise is as much for the head as it is for the body,"
said John White of Corvallis, Ore. "To feel like you can help yourself in
some way is really important."

White, a former track and wrestling coach, says Parkinson's is a
"seven-day-a-week job." But he says he exercises religiously and it allows
him to continue hiking, golfing and running.

Debi LaVietes Clark, owner of Body Balance Pilates where White practices,
says she is seeing an increasing number of people brought in by participants
who have described how the program helps with flexibility, agility and

"But what I've noticed, first and foremost, is confidence," Clark said.
"Just because you are diagnosed with a disease doesn't mean the end of the


Oregon Parkinson Center:

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Exercise Key to Seniors' Independence: Study

Even moderate workouts kept elderly walking on their own

FRIDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Structured exercise programs can help keep sedentary seniors from losing their independence, new research shows.

"Compared with those who received health education [only], participants in the physical activity group had a lower risk of becoming unable to walk 400 meters," or about a quarter-mile, said lead researcher Dr. Marco Pahor of the University of Florida, Gainesville.

The study, conducted at four centers across the United States, also found it's largely safe for many older adults to start a moderate exercise program.

The study was funded by the U.S. National Institute on Aging (NIA) and included 424 people, ages 70 to 89, who exercised less than 20 minutes a week and had low scores on three physical performance assessments -- walking speed, balance and the ability to get out of chair. They also had to walk 400 meters (about a quarter of a mile) within 15 minutes without sitting or using a cane or any other kind of assistive device.

Half the participants were assigned to a control group that took part in a "successful aging" health-education program that offered information about nutrition, foot care, medications, preventive services, and other health topics. It also included arm-and-shoulder flexibility exercises led by an instructor.

The other participants were enrolled in an exercise program that included individualized counseling and supervised and home-based exercises that focused on areas such as endurance, strengthening, flexibility and balance.

After 6 months and 12 months, seniors in the exercise group had significantly higher physical performance scores than those in the control group and were more likely to maintain their walking speed through the 400-meter walking test.

The findings, published in the November issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, were to be presented Friday at a meeting of the Gerontological Society of America.

The researchers said their findings from this pilot study confirm the feasibility and safety of testing this kind of exercise program in a larger study.

"As U.S. life expectancy rises, functional decline and disability among older people are growing public health and clinical concerns," Dr. Richard J. Hodes, NIA director, said in a prepared statement.

"This pilot study helps us to understand better the relationship between exercise training and mobility, which is a key to maintaining older adults' independence and quality of life, and provides a basis for designing more definitive large-scale clinical trials," Hodes said.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about fitness for older adult

SOURCE: U.S. National Institutes of Health, news release, Nov. 17, 2006

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Exercise Trumps Diet for Weight Loss

By Sara Goudarzi
LiveScience Staff Writer

Hitting the gym is a better way to trim down than agonizing over portion size, a new study suggests.

Although the ultimate goal of using more energy than what you ingest can be achieved with dieting or exercise, working out has more perks.

Those who exercise tend to be stronger, have more muscle mass, and an increased aerobic capacity. Dieters, however, tend to lose muscle mass and strength.

"If push comes to shove and somebody wants to know if they should diet or exercise to lose weight, I would suggest exercise, provided they are willing to put in the extra time and effort and not offset the gains they make by eating more," said study lead author Edward Weiss, a researcher at Saint Louis University's Doisy College of Health Sciences.

Weiss and his colleagues studied 34 people between the ages of 50 and 60 who were in the high end of normal weight or overweight. Of the participants, 18 dieted while 16 exercised.

The dieters cut out their calorie intake by 16 percent the first three months and 20 percent for the next nine months. Similarly the exercise group worked out to burn 16 percent more calories the first three months and 20 percent the following nine months.

Both groups lost around 9 to 10 percent of their body weight. But the dieters lost muscle mass, while the exercisers did not.

"It's important that dieting not be seen as a bad thing because it provides enormous benefits with respect to reducing the risk of disease and is effective for weight loss," Weiss said. "Furthermore, based on studies in rodents, there is a real possibility that calorie restriction provides benefits that cannot be achieved through exercise-induced weight loss."

The study is detailed in an online edition of the Journal of Applied Physiology.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Exercise Gets Blood to Your Brain, Study Shows

ISLAMABAD: Exercise fanatics may be right -- getting out and moving increases blood flow in the brain, U.S. researchers said on Saturday.

Tests on monkeys show that exercise helps foster blood vessel development in the brain, making the animals more alert than non-exercisers.

"What we found was a higher brain capillary volume in those monkeys who exercised than in those monkeys who did not," Judy Cameron of the divisions of Reproductive Sciences and Neuroscience at Oregon Health & Science University said in a statement.

"Specifically, changes were most noted in older animals that were less fit at the start of the study," she added in a statement.

"The next step of this research is to determine whether other areas of the brain undergo physical changes. For instance, how are brain cells affected and does that impact cognitive performance." Cameron, who presented her findings to a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in New Orleans, said the findings should help explain why exercise also seems to make people more alert.

"While we already know that exercise is good for the heart and reduces the incidence of obesity, this study shows exercise can literally cause physical changes in the brain," she said.

"Furthermore, we believe the study results show exercise causes a person to be more engaged and provides another reason for Americans to make physical activity part of their daily regimen. This is especially true in the case of older Americans with whom decline in mental function over time is a common occurrence."

For their study they separated 24 monkeys into three groups.

One group exercised on treadmills for a set distance five days a week. A second group did not exercise, and a third group exercised for 20 weeks and then remained sedentary.

They measured the volume of small blood vessels, called capillaries, in the motor cortex region of the brain in all three groups of monkeys.

They also ran several tests on the monkeys' mental abilities.

In one, a treat is placed under two toys. After a brief delay, the monkey was allowed to find the treat.

Exercisers were "more aroused, alert and engaged," Cameron said, although they did not find the treats any faster.

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