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This week: Group fitness best for mental health • Endurance exercise training benefits the gut • Nutrition has a greater impact than exercise on bone strength

Group fitness best for mental health

Recent studies show that certain factors such as group-based fitness and exercising in moderation contribute to achieving optimal brain and mental health and wellbeing benefits, proving that high intensity, interval training style group fitness workouts are best exercises for mental wellbeing.

A study of 1.2 million US adults shows that those who undertook shorter workouts such as HIIT enjoyed better mental health, rather than those who undertake marathon type workouts. Research also showed that those who work out three to five times a week had a bigger reduction in poor mental health days, compared to those who work out more than five times a week, or don’t work out at all.  The research found that the important factors to achieving optimal mental health from exercise are knowing the right exercises to do–Including team sports, group fitness and cycle-based exercises—lifting weights regardless of the weight, mixing up workouts and introducing variety, and exercising your brain by using mindfulness techniques such as meditation.  The study led researchers to recommending a ‘sweet spot’ of between two and six hours of exercise a week.

Source: Les Mills Asia Pacific

Endurance exercise training benefits the gut

According to recent research, endurance exercise training beneficially modifies gut microbiota composition. After six weeks of training, potentially inflammation-causing microbes (proteobacteria) decreased and microbes that are linked to enhanced metabolism (Akkermansia) increased.

Even though there was no significant drop in the weight of the subjects, exercise had other beneficial health effects, said Academy of Finland research fellow Satu Pekkala from the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences of the University of Jyväskylä.

‘We found that phospholipids and cholesterol in VLDL particles decreased in response to exercise.  These changes are beneficial for cardiometabolic health because VLDL transports lipids from the  liver to peripheral tissues, converts into ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in the circulation, and thus has detrimental cardiovascular effects.’

Exercise training also decreased Vascular adhesion protein-1 activity, which can have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects especially on vasculature.

Source: University of Jyväskylä

Nutrition has a greater impact than exercise on bone strength

study by University of Michigan researchers has found that, in mice at least, nutrition has a greater impact than exercise on bone mass and strength. Further, even after the exercise training stopped, the mice retained bone strength gains as long as they ate a mineral-supplemented diet.

‘The longer-term mineral-supplemented diet leads to not only increases in bone mass and strength, but the ability to maintain those increases even after detraining’ according to David Kohn, a professor in the schools of dentistry and engineering; ‘This was done in mice, but if you think about the progression to humans, diet is easier for someone to carry on as they get older and stop exercising, rather than the continuation of exercise itself.’

The second important finding is that the diet alone has beneficial effects on bone, even without exercising. This surprised Kohn, who expected exercise with a normal diet to fuel greater gains in bone strength, but that wasn’t the case.

‘The data suggests the long-term consumption of the mineral-supplemented diet could be beneficial in preventing the loss of bone and strength with age, even if you don’t do exercise training’ he said.
Of course, positive though this study’s findings are in terms of bone strength, it doesn’t negate the numerous other benefits that older people can gain through maintaining an exercise regime.

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