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This week on HealthFarm
May 13, 2021 • 4 min read
EXERCISE: Brief intense exercise helps to manage stress
-- Students who did short bursts of intense exercise during class a few times a week cope better with stress
Repeated bouts of high-intensity exertion counteract some of the unhealthy metabolic consequences of sitting for hours. HIIT sessions could also produce less stressed, more attentive students.
Year 11 students who did short bursts of intense exercise during class a few times a week coped better with stress, were more engaged in their learning, felt fitter and sharper, and had fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The study enlisted 670 year 11 students from 20 NSW government schools to take part in the randomised controlled trial of the Burn2Learn program, which involved different styles of high-intensity interval training that could be done in the classroom or outside.
The typical session was eight minutes, involving a one- or two-minute warm up then cycles of 30 seconds of intense exercise - such as push-ups - followed by 30 seconds of rest. Some sessions were just four minutes long.
Cardio-respiratory fitness improved after six months of doing the program, and upper body muscular endurance remained stronger six months after students stopped doing the workouts.
But one of the study’s most significant findings related to stress. Students’ cortisol, or stress hormone, measured via a hair test, dropped over the course of the trial.
While exercise sessions ate into class time, which was one of the concerns raised by teachers before the trial began, students were more focused when they returned to their desks.
RECOVERY: Ice for sore muscles? Think again!
-- Icing muscles after strenuous exercise is not just ineffective, it could be counterproductive
Ice packs reduce soreness and swelling but could slow healing.
A cautionary new animal study has found that icing alters the molecular environment inside injured muscles in detrimental ways, slowing healing.
The study involved mice, not people, but adds to mounting evidence that icing muscles after strenuous exercise is not just ineffective; it could be counterproductive.
Researchers put mice through their paces and saw clear evidence of damage to fibres.
In the tissue of mice that had not been iced, they saw a rapid muster of pro-inflammatory cells. Within hours, these cells began busily removing cellular debris, until, by the third day after the workout, most of the damaged fibres had been cleared away. At that point, anti-inflammatory cells showed up, together with specialised muscle cells that rebuild tissue, and by the end of two weeks, these muscles appeared fully healed.
Not so in the iced muscle, where recovery seemed markedly delayed. It took seven days for these tissues to reach the same levels of pro-inflammatory cells as on day three in the unchilled muscle, with both the clearance of debris and arrival of anti-inflammatory cells similarly slowed. Even after two weeks, these muscles showed lingering molecular signs of tissue damage and incomplete healing.
Damaged, aching muscles know how to heal themselves.
Chi ****ll out and leave the ice packs in the cooler.
SLEEP: Too little sleep in middle age increases dementia risk
-- Getting less than six hours of sleep a night could lead to dementia
A new study suggests that people who don’t get enough sleep in their 50s and 60s may be more likely to develop dementia when they are older.
The research, published in the journal Nature Communications, followed nearly 8,000 people in Britain for about 25 years, beginning when they were 50 years old.
Researchers found that those who consistently reported sleeping six hours or less on an average weeknight were about 30% more likely than people who regularly got seven hours sleep (defined as “normal” sleep in the study) to be diagnosed with dementia nearly three decades later.
There are compelling scientific theories about why too little sleep might exacerbate the risk of dementia, especially Alzheimer’s. Studies have found that cerebrospinal fluid levels of amyloid, a protein that clumps into plaques in Alzheimer’s, increase with sleep deprivation.
Other studies of amyloid and another Alzheimer’s protein, tau, suggest that sleep is important for clearing proteins from the brain.
Here’s a guide to becoming a more successful sleeper.
BAREFOOT RUNNING: Better suited to those who grew up not wearing shoes
-- Running barefoot lessens pressure and wear on knee joints, but it may not be for everyone
Barefoot running’s popularity comes and goes, but diehards swear by the injury limiting effects of the lighter load barefoot running places on their leg joints.
However, before you throw out your running shoes, ensure your feet are cut out for the job. New research suggests foot shape has a bearing on suitability for running barefoot.
Barefoot runners place more pressure on the balls of their feet, leading to a forefront strike pattern.
Researchers say people with a decent space between their big toe and other toes have muscles and bones better adapted for changing the distribution of pressure on their feet and are therefore more suited to barefoot running.
The study also suggests that people who spent their formative years going barefoot were likely to have feet better conditioned for barefoot running, simply because their toes had spent less time mashed together inside shoes, allowing the gap to flourish between their toes.
Toe gap is the new thigh gap.