Latest News & Research: 21 December 2017

This week: Slower tunes enhance post-workout recovery • Working out improves gut function (regardless of diet) • More evidence that exercise slows Parkinson’s progress + MORE

Physical activity improves gut function – regardless of diet

Tis the season to be merry, which is fantastic for our social health, but not always so great for our dietary wellbeing. The good news, according to a couple of recent studies, is that even if we don’t always treat our bodies like temples in terms of what we eat and drink, as long as we exercise, we can still improve our gut health.

One study of mice by scientists from the University of Illinois found that a group of mice that exercised on a running wheel had higher levels of gut microbes that produce butyrate, a short chain fatty acid that reduces inflammation and promotes gut health.

Curious as to whether the same would be true in humans, the same researchers then undertook a second study in which 18 lean and 14 obese participants exercised for six weeks, and were then sedentary for six weeks. The participants made no change to their diets. Measurements showed that the gut microbiota of all individuals – but particularly those classified as lean – improved after the exercise period, and then declined after the ensuing sedentary period.

Even one workout helps your heart

A new review of previous studies has concluded that not only can regular exercise improve heart health, but that even a single workout can provide almost immediate protection from ischemia – a shortage of blood to the heart which can lead to heart attack or stroke.

The theory is that by exposing the heart to short, ‘safe’ episodes of ischemia, intense exercise pre-conditions it to be resistant to serious future incidence of ischemia.

The study reviewers found that one workout can immediately supply ‘cardioprotection’ for two to three hours, and that after 24 hours even stronger benefits kick in.

Lead study author Professor Dick Thijssen from Liverpool John Moores University in the UK commented; ‘Firstly, this means that one bout of exercise can cause clinically relevant protection against cardiovascular disease. Secondly, this means that benefits of exercise are present, even in the absence of changes in risk factors.’

More evidence that exercise may fight Parkinson’s

A new US study has found that regular high intensity exercise may help to halt the progression of the neurodegenerative motor system disorder, Parkinson’s disease.

A team from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and the University of Colorado recruited 128 participants with the early stages of the disease who were not yet needing to take medication to target the symptoms, such as tremors and loss of coordination.

One group undertook six-months of high intensity exercise three time a week, while another undertook the same regime but for moderate-intensity exercise. A third non-exercising group served as the control. The results showed that the intense exercisers managed to prevent any deterioration of their symptoms, while the non-exercising group did experience deterioration. The moderate intensity group experienced an increase in severity of symptoms, but to a lesser degree than the non-exercisers.

Study author Daniel Corcos said ‘We delayed worsening of symptoms for 6 months; whether we can prevent progression any longer than 6 months will require further study.’

A lifetime teaching the many benefits of exercise hadn't prepared Steve Schiemer for the remarkable effect it would have on his own health condition. Read Boxing for fitness takes the fight to Parkinson’s disease

Slower tunes enhance post-workout recovery

We know the effect that loud, positive and high BPM tracks can have on the motivation of our clients and participants, but a new study from the UK has found equal value in music from the other end of the spectrum – and for the other end of the workout.

For the study, researchers from Brunel University in London got 42 adults to participate in an intense cycle workout until they reached exhaustion. After a period of active recovery on the bike they participated in ‘passive recovery’, sitting comfortably listening to either ‘chillout’ or upbeat pop music.

Those who listened to the relaxing music experienced reduced levels of cortisol – the stress hormone – and an improved emotional state.

Study author Dr Costas Karageorghis said; ‘Sedative music can positively influence psychological and psychophysiological aspects of recovery. This study marks a new phase in harnessing the power of music in exercise. This takes research into the effects of music on exercise into a new realm. It is part of a bigger picture of how to tailor music to how you want to feel and how to maximise its use at different stages of a workout to elevate your mood and disassociate from pain.’