Another reason why exercise makes us live longer

Simona Salerno Foto: Berre ASTo live as long as possible: isn’t that what we all want?

In the animal kingdom there is an interesting inverse relation between heart rate and life expectancy. For a 177 years old Galapagos tortoise with a heart rate of 6 beats/min, the 2 years lifespan with 450 beats/min of a mouse is just a blink of an eye. In general, there is a “rule”: the faster the heart rate the shorter the lifespan. The immediate consequence of this “rule” is that the total number of heartbeats in a lifetime is approximately constant and equal in most of the animal species. The only exception is … humans! According to “the rule” we should live no longer than 30 years, which actually was our life expectancy back in the days. We thank ourselves and the progress we have made in medical science for living almost 3 times longer than we should. In reality, what I have called “rule” is a gross approximation. Multiple factors that affect the basal metabolic rate have to be considered since they in turn affect the heart rate. For instance, hibernation extends life expectancy in mammals.

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Exercise for a healthy brain

hjerne2Most people know that exercise is good for their physical health, but not everyone knows that it also has beneficial effects for cognitive functions and mental health. Cognitive performance decreases with old age, and a growing elderly population increases the amount of people that will get diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. In addition, mood related disorders are a major worldwide problem. Exercise can improve the lives of people who are at the risk of developing these brain-associated disorders.

Exercise can increase your memory

A study performed on elderly people showed that increased physical activity resulted in an enhanced memory performance. It did not matter if the increased activity came from organized training sessions or from routines embedded into the daily life such as walking to the supermarket, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and generally move around more in the house. One of the symptoms of diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s is impaired memory, and regular aerobic exercise is therefore recommended to prevent or delay the onset of these diseases.

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Training can reduce arrhythmias in individuals with diabetes and myocardial infarction

Kondisjonstrening (Illustrasjonsfoto: Geir Mogen)Type 2 diabetes is increasing world-wide due to obesity caused by physical inactivity and generally poor lifestyle. Patients with diabetes have more than 2-fold increased risk of developing terminal heart disease (heart failure) and heart failure patients with diabetes have a greater risk dying of arrhythmias than heart failure patients without diabetes. We all know that exercise training is good and that regular exercise prevents the risk of diabetes and heart disease. But what happens if you already have diabetes and have suffered a myocardial infarction?

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Are people who feel tired all the time less active?

Thorlene EgertonTiredness 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.

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High fitness reduces risk of atrial fibrillation

Two women running outdoorOverweight, hypertension, diabetes and sleep apnea increases the risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AF). Interventions aimed at these risk factors are known to reduce the risk and improve the outcome for most cardiovascular diseases. However, there has been lacking knowledge on the effect of such interventions on AF, and there has been considerable attention on the finding that large amounts of endurance exercise increases the risk of developing AF. Recent years, there have been published some studies examining this topic.

Read also: CERG at ESC 2014

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International Scholar Award to Linda Ernstsen

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Linda ErnstsenAmerican College of Sports Medicine’s 62nd Annual Meeting, 6th World Congress on Exercise is Medicine® and World Congress on the Basic Science of Exercise Fatigue is held May 26-30, 2015 San Diego, California. This is the most comprehensive sports medicine and exercise science conference in the world with more than 6000 participants.

It is a great pleasure to announce that ACSM has selected Linda Ernstsen from K.G. Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine as the 2015 ACSM Oded Bar-Or International Scholar Award recipient.

The price allows Dr. Ernstsen to work with, and learn from, the world-leading expert in “Exercise Epidemiology” Professor Steven Blair at Departments of Exercise Science and Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, USA, for 3 months. Currently she lives in South Carolina and have already started her work with Professor Blair and his research group where the aim is to learn new methodological approaches within epidemiological and clinical research on the association between physical fitness, mental health and cognitive function.

On Friday May 29, she will be recognized and receive the price at the ACSM Awards Banquet. K.G. Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine is proud of Ernstsen´s achievement, wish her all the best of luck working at University of South Carolina, and look forward to get her back home with new knowledge that will benefit our research group.

Ulrik Wisløff, professor and head of CERG

Does the cell’s own powerhouse contribute to depression?

Woman looking sadly out of a windowThe mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cells, where nutrients from food is converted to ATP: energy that is usable by the body. Normally, we associate better mitochondrial function with athletes: being able to run, swim or bike fast over long distances requires a lot of energy.

However, all cells in the body require energy and a team of researchers from the University of Ulm, Germany investigated if mitochondrial function was impaired in immune cells (peripheral blood mononuclear cells) of patients suffering from depression. Their reasoning was that symptoms of depression such as fatigue and lack of energy could be related to ATP availability.

Read also: Can exercise training prevent premature death in elderly?

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Do we become more active when we get fitter?

Four women running by riverWe 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?

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Why do some people get fitter than others?

Two women running outdoorThe 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.

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Exercise Addiction; when too much is never enough

Foto: iStockExercise is healthy, and most of us do not get enough compared to what is ideal for good health. Debates and research focus has understandably gone in depth to look at effects in both sick and inactive. There has also been an important focus to find the most effective and time-saving workouts that can make it easier to motivate yourself to get a good effect. Meanwhile there is a growing group of people who have had the opposite challenge to contend with; exercise addiction. A Danish documentary was recently broadcasted on Norwegian television, showing this growing problem and how exercise totally governed their life.

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