Latest News & Research: 17 October 2017

This week: Aussie health funds to stop covering yoga, Pilates and tai chi; reducing weight also reduces cancer risk by one-third; 3 new studies point way to heart health + more.

3 new studies point way to heart health

There’s been a lot of research into the effects of various foodstuffs on heart health recently – probably because it’s one of the leading preventable killers globally. One study found that otherwise healthy individuals can’t indulge too freely in sugary treats because within just three months of consuming a higher sugar diet, their fat metabolism can change enough to negatively impact their heart health.

Perhaps they should swap the lollies for a banana (or, indeed, leafy greens or any of these potassium-rich foods), because another study has found that potassium may be a vital weapon in the fight against heart disease. Researchers from the University of Alabama in the US found in a mouse study that study subjects on a lower potassium diet experienced vascular calcification, a characteristic of heart disease. When fed a higher potassium diet, the vascular calcification levels in these mice lowered.

As well as being great sources of potassium, leafy greens such as kale and spinach have also been found to be even better for the heart than previously thought due to their high vitamin K content. A US study of 766 healthy young people found that the higher the intake of vitamin K (aka phylloquinone), the healthier the heart function. So, come on kids, eat your greens.


Reducing weight also reduces cancer risk by one-third

Now, we’re in the fitness industry, not the surgery industry, but the findings of a recent study certainly hold much interest due to the effects of weight loss. One of the effects of obesity is an increased susceptibility to cancer, specifically endometrial cancer, pancreatic cancer, postmenopausal breast cancer and colon cancer.

Analysing the data of 22,000 people who had undergone bariatric surgery to reduce the size of the stomach, researchers found that these individuals experienced a 33 per cent lower incidence of cancer than a population of obese individuals that did not have the surgery.

While a more gradual fat loss achieved through exercise, dietary and lifestyle changes may be preferable, the key point here is that fat loss has a number of health benefits, including lower incidence of cancer.


Tai chi preferable to rehab for some

Noting that less than half of people that have experienced a heart attack go on to take part in recommended rehabilitation exercise, researchers in the US investigated whether rehab in the guise of the mind body movement practice of tai chi might prove more appealing. And sure enough, it did.

For the study, 29 coronary heart patients with an average age of 68 years who had declined traditional rehab took part in a 12 or 24-week tai chi program. The attendance rate of 66% suggested that, although it didn’t result in increased aerobic capacity, it was a feasible way of getting more heart patients to start moving – and potentially working their way towards higher intensity exercise.


Aussie health funds to stop covering yoga, Pilates and tai chi

Considering the news in the feature above about the useful role of tai chi in getting people to start moving more, it seems a shame that from 2019 tai chi and a host of other mind body practices won’t be covered by Australian health funds.

Last week the government announced a big shake-up of health funds, in a bid to put the brakes on rapidly increasing prices which could see customers ditching private health cover, and thereby putting more pressure on Medicare. The changes to these practices, which were grouped under ‘natural therapies’, came about after a recent review by the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer found there was no clear evidence of their efficacy.  


Belinda Nelson wins National #ActiveAchievers Award

Network Member Belinda Nelson was recently presented with Fitness Australia’s National Achievers Award.

Belinda, whose training business View to Fitness bears the legend ‘for a stronger, energised, more balanced you’, was nominated for the award for her work with client Donna Egglestone who lives with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and arthritis.

Fitness Australia’s CEO, Bill Moore, said ‘A trainer and client relationship like this one between Belinda and Donna demonstrates the life-changing work that AusREPs are capable of.’

A huge congratulations to Belinda for this fantastic achievement.