Stay physical, stay sharp

Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago conducted a 20+ year study of 454 volunteers who were all followed (not in a creepy way) until death. Researchers were interested in the association between physical activity, cognitive abilities, and brain pathology. Participants wore activity trackers, took frequent tests of mental ability, and consented to have their brains examined after death. There’s good news and bad news. The good news: like many studies before, they found a clear association between physical activity—even light physical activity—and cognitive ability. And this remained true whether the volunteer had dementia or not. The bad news: the research failed to identify the underlying mechanism for this outcome. According to one study author, “There must be other proteins or molecular mechanisms that we didn’t check or new pathologies that are waiting to be discovered.” Time to get smarter, y’all!

Physicians switch to working in tech, fitness

Two stories about physicians getting snapped up by non-traditional employers caught our attention this week. First is this story about tech companies like Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet attracting doctors to give direction on their respective ventures into healthcare. Apple in particular is looking to improve products like their Apple Watch, which they’ve been loading up with increasingly more precise biometric sensors. But if you’re a doc who wants to get away from traditional healthcare without having to work on fancy gadgets, there’s a second option: open a CrossFit gym. The high-intensity workout program has been hosting networking/training events for physicians as part of its CrossFit Health program, which seems to have a bone to pick with the current healthcare landscape if their site banner is anything to go off of.

Long live the ThighMaster

Turns out exercise helps you lose weight. Apparently, a lot of people disagree. There’s an ongoing debate between the importance of cutting calorie intake vs. burning more calories through exercise. While we’re not going to weigh in on the debate (see what we did there), it seems like cutting calories and exercising would be helpful. In one study, 90% of people who lose significant weight and keep it off exercise at least one hour a day. While another study says increased activity does not correspond with increased energy expenditure. You can’t ask someone who gets winded walking upstairs to run for 30 minutes and you can’t ask someone used to taking in 5,000 calories a day to start taking in 1,500. Moderation and time people, moderation and time. Ok, you’ve weighted long enough. Here’s the original ThighMaster commercial. Wow, just wow. Still better than the Shake Weight, amiright?

Sweet glutes and strong immune systems in old age

A study in the UK has demonstrated the immune-boosting effects of significant exercise during old age. 125 long-distance cyclists in their 60s, 70s, and 80s were tracked and their immune systems measured. Results showed that many of these elderly cyclists—riding 100km to 300km in a stretch—had immune systems that produce the same level of T-cells as healthy 20-year-olds. The effect of this, of course, is resistance to infection and disease. As one participant put it, “If exercise was a pill, everyone would be taking it.” Dilly dilly. Here’s all the commercials in order. And here’s a short story behind the use of that phrase and its appearance in US Bud Light commercials.

Surprise! You now have high blood pressure

That’s the news 4.2 million Americans woke up to on Monday when the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology released new guidelines on what is considered hypertension. Now, if your sphygmomanometer reads 130/80, then your blood pressure is considered high. But the new guidelines aren’t changing much in terms of treatment—the physicians are advising that only about 80,000 more patients will benefit from hypertensive drugs. Those newly within the high blood pressure range are pretty much just being put on notice to change their lifestyle habits. However, nearly everyone can benefit from lowering their blood pressure—here’s 10 ways to do that without medication.

A bit obsessed with Fitbit

Last week, researchers found that exercise can counteract the cognitive decline some patients experience post-breast cancer treatment. It’s the 457th publication since 2012 to use a Fitbit device in research. Or to put it a different way, this study found that 83 percent of clinical trials used a Fitbit as opposed to another brand. Researchers apparently just really prefer it. That’s good news for the company, since it now has a slew of clinical data under its belt, and it’s thinking about a run at a medical device designation a few years in the future. According to their GM of Health Solutions, “as we start going deeper down the health road with more and more advanced sensors, I’d say, just stay tuned.” Oooooh, mysterious.