As medical scientists, we work towards a major goal: to improve human health through prevention and treatment of disease. Given the size of this challenge, a key feature of the most successful projects is capacity to bring together collaborators with complementary expertise and common interests. We at CERG have established partnership with scientists from all over the world, and in recent years we have strengthened our collaborations with researchers from the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil). As a highlight of this collaboration, we are excited to join our colleagues in Sao Paulo this week for the first UTFORSK Seminar in Exercise Physiology.
Movember is here and it’s time to focus on prostate cancer and male health. Exercise both prevent cancer and play an important role in both treatment and rehabilitation of cancer. This year Movember has made the campaign Move that encourages people to be active. Get active with our 4 -week Movember program!
If you would like to live a long and healthy life you should take good care of your skeletal muscles.
Our body is made up of over 660 skeletal muscles. Muscles mainly contain water, while approximately 20% are proteins and 5% salts and minerals. The muscle proteins have several distinct structures making muscle contractions and relaxations possible. By fine-tuned coordination of muscle contractions and relaxations we are able to walk and move around. Amino acids are the building blocks of all proteins, also our skeletal muscle proteins. To maintain strong skeletal muscles, we need to eat a sufficient amount of food containing amino acids and to do lifelong exercise.
Tiredness or fatigue is one of the most commonly reported symptoms in primary care. There are many different types of fatigue. For example, people may experience fatigue if they cannot sleep well or if they exercise intensively. But there are a lot of older people that feel fatigued all day every day for no apparent reason. This can be distressing and may reduce their quality of life. We don’t currently know a great deal about this problem. For example, we don’t know how daily physical activity levels are related to these experiences of fatigue. On one hand, people who are more active might be more likely to feel tired. But on the other hand, people who experience unrelenting fatigue may be forced to be less active. I am a post-doctoral research fellow working in the Geriatrics, Movement and Stroke (GeMS) group at NTNU, and through collaboration with CERG and the Generation 100 study, I was able to try and find out a bit more about fatigue.
This spring the first data from a large British health survey and information database, called the UK Biobank, was published in The Lancet. UK Biobank consist of more than 655 different measurements of demographics, health and lifestyle factors from about 500 000 middle-aged to elderly brits. The aim of the study was simply to rank all the information, spanning from number of white blood cells and preferred handedness to number of vehicles in your household, by their statistical association with risk of premature death from different diseases within 5 years. Then the researchers developed a prediction score based on the strongest predictors for each sex.
Getting old itself is associated with numerous shortcomings, or are there advantages of being older?
The notion of prime time of life has been changing with the changing era. Some say that life begins at 40, or 60 is the new 50. Is there a way to figure out what is the best age to be? I try to summarize the writings of already published BBC article on this topic, published on 26th May 2015.
When we talk about physical fitness, mid 20s seems to be the best age for sprint running, shot put, javelin or other associated sports activities with a sharp decline after hitting 30s. Professional footballers have their prime time in sports in early 20 years of their life.
The Senior Olympics is a biennial competition for athletes over 50 and consist of a variety of sports, and for this year ́s Games, in and around Minneapolis-St. Paul, in Minnesota, nearly 10,000 men and women aged from 50 to 100 participate. The games begin on Friday 2nd of July. Senior Olympians are not professional athletes, but most train frequently, and tend to be more physically active than other people of the same chronological age.
CERGs Fitness Calculator has been extremely popular worldwide and the calculated Fitness Number was recently shown to be a robust predict of current and future health. CERG is now making the first catalogue of global fitness for “normal people” that could be used for a variety of purposes, especially to define large-scale public health policies. We have now fitness data from exactly 100 countries and on average about 1000 new users worldwide register their fitness and health data every day.
Also, we aim to study special groups such as the Senior Athletes. In collaboration with Dr. Pamela Peeke at The University of Maryland and board member of the foundation that runs the National Senior Games we are now determining the health status and their Fitness Age. So far we have collected data on more than 5000 of the Senior Athletes before the Games starts, and expect to have data for most of the 10,000 participants within the upcoming week. As can be seen from the figure to the right, Fitness Age in both Senior Olympic men and women was about 25 years lower than their real age.
This is a massive difference! We had expected a big difference as these people have trained for years and are probably among the fittest in the world in their age groups. However we were surprised it was that big. As can be seen from the figure to the left their peak oxygen uptake (fitness number) is about 13 ml/kg/min higher compared with their healthy, normally active and age matched counterparts.
We all know that we need to exercise in order to get more fit and research has shown that high intensity training will get us fit much faster than moderate intensity training. Increasing our fitness should, at least in theory, give us more energy, which would in turn enable us to increase our daily activity levels, even when we are not exercising. We at K. G. Jebsen – Center of Exercise in Medicine at NTNU wanted to test if this was in fact true. Do we become more active when we become fore fit?
The response to exercise training is often described in general terms, with the assumption that the group average represents a typical response for most individuals. However, in reality, it is more common for individuals to show a wide range of responses to identical exercise programs. In 1999, a large study published by Claude Bouchard and colleagues, reported that 20 % of us show little or no gain in maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) with exercise training. This is a concern, since a high VO2max is associated with decreased rates of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Exploring the phenomenon of high responders and low responders following the same exercise program may provide helpful insights into mechanisms of training adaptation and methods of training prescription.
Communication and dissemination is an important part of the research chain. Unfortunately, scientists too often overlook communication with the general public, or tend to speak our ”tribal” language, making it hard to understand the implications of scientific results.
Within the CERG group we work hard with this aspect, and try to reach out to the general public through several social media channels, user-friendly health and physical activity tools, media contributions, welcoming visitors to our lab, and attendance at both scientific and public events. Having many followers of our work humbles us, and we hope our effort in communicating the implications of our research is helping as many people as possible.