Your Health the Week of July 20th

Nancy Heppwritten by Nancy Hepp, MS
Research and Communications Specialist

Exercise and Health

Other than diet, exercise is probably the contributor to health that we have the most control over as individuals. Three studies this week provide evidence that exercise affects several aspects of health, sometimes in combination with other factors.

bicyclingAs reported in ScienceDaily, Exercise can improve brain function in older adults. A study was conducted with healthy but underactive or sedentary adults ages 65 and older who showed no signs of cognitive decline. Individuals were randomly assigned to one of four groups: those without any change in their exercise (the control group), and groups that exercised moderately for 75, 150 or 225 minutes per week. All groups who exercised saw some benefit, with greater amounts of exercise related to greater cardiorespiratory fitness and less perceived disability at the end of six months. Those who exercised also saw benefits in cognitive test scores, particularly in improved visual-spatial processing, and an increase in their overall attention levels and ability to focus. In sum, better scores on cognitive tests were related to cardiorespiratory fitness rather than the number of minutes of exercise, so the study concludes that cardiorespiratory fitness may be an appropriate goal for maintaining both physical and cognitive health as we age.

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Society’s Feeding Disorder: Food Additives and Our Health

Elise Miller, MEd

How has food, something essential to human evolution, become so disconnected from health and nutrition? You would think in the 10,000 years since humans started domesticating food supplies we would have pretty much figured out how to feed ourselves well—and by “well” I do not mean having supermarket shelves stocked with 50 kinds of sugary cereals and three varieties of pesticide-laden apples.

There are of course many aspects of the agricultural industry and our current food system that can make one queasy about buying almost any food, except from the farmer next door (and unfortunately, most people do not have a farmer next door). I think of these as society’s feeding disorder—including farm subsidies, antibiotics in meats, pesticide use, toxins in food packaging, and myriad external costs of transporting food thousands of miles from where it was grown. The regulation of food additives, however, is what I will focus on here.

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