How much exercise do you need to gain good health and a longer life? PAI was presented at the heart congress ESC

Javaid Nauman“Confused about how much exercise to take for a healthy heart? Norwegian researchers have come up with a useful app that allows you to personalise the amount of exercise needed to reduce your risk of death from heart attack and stroke”, The Irish Times writes about our reserach that lies behind the app PAI (Personal activity intelligence).

This weekend our senior researcher Javaid Nauman was invited to speak about this reserch in front of other researchers and the press at the large congress for heart research, ESC in Rome.

“Individuals do not know how much exercise they need to prevent cardiovascular disease”, Nauman said during the session.

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Can we control the genetic information we pass on to our children?

NathanEvery parent wants to provide whatever they can to help their child grow up happy and healthy. Most people will immediately think of things like a safe place to live, healthy food to eat, a good education, and so on. However, the very first thing that a parent provides is something much more fundamental: the genes that determine the biological makeup of their child. As I have written about before in this blog post, our gene DNA sequences determine the functions of the proteins, cells, tissues and organs that biologically define us. But we can’t change our DNA sequences (at least not yet, though maybe one day it will be possible through genome editing technology such as CRISPR/Cas9), so is there any way of controlling the genetic information we pass on to our children?

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Do treadmills have to come with a health warning?

At the recent American College of Sports Medicine Conference in Orlando Florida, one of the speakers in a physical inactivity and health session was challenging why treadmills needs come with a health warning such as: “ See your physician before beginning any exercise program or changing your physical activity or changing your physical activity patterns, you should always consult with your doctor or physician, particularly if you have been inactive, are very overweight, or have or suspect any sort of medical condition that might be worsened with exercise”.


As of today we discuss whether “sitting is the new smoking” in terms of the epidemic of negative health consequences seen from an inactive lifestyle. The Norwegian health authorities has targeted inactivity as the major future health challenge, and as many as 83% of adult Norwegians are far from the daily goal of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity.

Read also: Funny tredmills

An inactive lifestyle is associated with premature disease development and decreased quality of life. In Norway it has been estimated an increase in daily physical activity by 10-15 minutes per day may save 500 000 Nok per year of living, as people live longer in a healthy condition. In sum this is estimated to add up to a saving of 3 million Nok per individual that changes from an inactive to a moderately active lifestyle.

 Read also: High-intensity exercise is shown to be protective against coronary heart disease (CHD)

As inactivity is the major future health challenge and physical activity is safe in the majority of healthy individuals and patient populations it might be time to remove health warnings on treadmills and rather advice people to exercise as inactivity is a greater killer than smoking.

Read also: Exercise or medicines – what to prefere?

Trine Karlsen, researcher at CERG

Are couches bad for your health?

This question was raised by Professor I-Min Lee in her keynote lecture this week in the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) 61st Annual Meeting and 5th World Congress on Exercise is Medicine in Orlando, Florida USA. Dr. Lee is an acknowledged researcher and epidemiologists because of her important contributions to the research field of of physical activity in promoting health and preventing chronic disease. Dr. Lee was on the Steering Committee for the Physical Activity series published in the Lancet in 2012, and she has 41 articles cited more than 100 times (articles receiving more than 50 times is considered as classical articles). In her keynote lecture, Dr. Lee looked into the development of the research field of physical activity and health from the past to the present.

Gaining legitimacy for the benefits of physical activity started with the Scottish epidemiologist Jeremiah Morris (1910-2009). By performing a large scale survey in 1949, he noticed that the sedentary drivers of London’s double-decker buses had higher rates of cardiovascular disease than the conductors who climbed the stairs. After this discovery, a considerable amount of literature has been published as strong evidence for the health benefits of regular physical activity across the life course.

However, the scientific evidence up today has uncovered complexity in the research field of physical activity, which can be illustrated by the following two statements: “I was born with bad genes” and “How little can I get away with”? According to Dr. Lee, there is at present no scientific evidence supporting that fact that genes can totally explain sedentary behavior. However, there is a growing awareness that our health status is based not only on our genes or only on our environment, but on the ways in which these two components “interact” with each other.  For example, some people may be more sensitive than others to the effects of physical inactivity, which means that being regular physical active will outweight any harmul effects from “bad genes”. In fact, recent results from 23,016 initially healthy women in the Women’s Genome Health Study suggest that women will reduce their risk of developing CHD by being physically active, regardless of their genetic predisposition for physical fitness.


The Joseph B. Wolffe Memorial Lecture at ACSM 2014.

The Joseph B. Wolffe Memorial Lecture at ACSM 2014.

When it comes to the question on how little physical activity is needed to gain any health benefits, there is some confusion about ways to distinguish sedentary behavior from physical inactivity. Dr. Lee claims that there is a need for a clear definition of the concept sedentary behavior, further, that we need more research using objectively measures of sedentatary behavior and physical inactivity in different populations. Nevertheless, in a recent meta-analysis of epidemiological studies, Sattelmair et al. found that individuals who met the official guidelines and engaged in the equivalent of 150 min/week of moderate-intensity leisure-time physical activity had a 14 percent lower coronary heart disease risk compared with those reporting no leisure-time physical activity. Further, and just as important, that people who were physically active at levels lower than the minimum recommended amount also had significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease.

So, are couches really bad for your health? Given the scientific evidence of the beneficial effects of physical activity and the harmful effects of physical inactivity and sedentary behavior the answer to this question should definitely be “yes”. According to Dr. Lee, sitting is the new smoking and it is time to quit. So if you really love your couch, the best way to keep it last longer is to minimize the use of it!

 Linda Ernstsen, Post doc. at CERG

Og der..! var det Movember igjen

Etter en rosa måned med fokus på brystkreft, som oftest rammer kvinner, er vi nå kommet til 1.november, som betyr at vi retter blikket mot menns helse. I år som tidligere, arrangeres Movember-aksjonen, der Kreftforeningen er en viktig faglig aktør. Menn i alle aldre oppfordres herved til å la barten gro! Dette kan du lese mer om på Medisinsk fakultet ved NTNU sin blogg. (Det ryktes at vår dekanus planlegger en anseelig mustasje og vi venter spent på resultatet..)

Vi er som alltid opptatt av å sette aktuelle saker i sammenheng med trening, og i dag resirkulerer vi derfor et blogginnlegg om prostatakreft og trening fra bloggen i fjor:

Prostatakreft er en av de mest hyppige kreftformene hos menn, og mange lever symptomfritt med sykdommen. Det finnes både saktevoksende kreftformer og mer aggressiv hurtigvoksende prostatakreft.

iStock_000011162087XSmallForskere har i flere runder undersøkt om trening kan bidra til å redusere risikoen for prostatakreft, ettersom alder og familiehistorie hittil har vært de viktigste kjente risikofaktorene. Hvis man klarer å finne atferdsendringer som reduserer risiko vil det være lettere å drive forebyggende arbeid. Grunnen til at det var naturlig å undersøke om trening kunne virke forebyggende var at det er kjent at fysisk aktivitet kan nedregulere både kjønnshormoner, insulin og muligens diverse insulinlignende veksthormoner i blodet. Disse hormonene er nødvendige for at prostataceller kan dele seg, og ettersom kjennetegnet til kreft er uhemmet vekst var det ikke utenkelig at hormonendringen fra trening kunne virke krefthemmende.

Usikkerhet i starten
En reviewartikkel av Oliveria og Lee fra 1997 tok for seg 17 studier av trening og prostatakreft, men kunne ikke bekrefte at trening reduserte risikoen. Et flertall av studiene konkluderte at trening muligens kunne redusere kreftrisikoen, mens andre ikke klarte å finne noen effekt. Noen få fant til og med at fysisk aktivitet kanskje kunne øke risikoen for prostatakreft. Forfatterne konkluderte at fremtidige studier også måtte ta hensyn til hva slags fysisk aktivitet det var snakk om, og hvor regelmessig folk bedrev den.

I 2005 viste forskere fra den amerikanske kreftforeningen (American Cancer Society) at selv om trening sannsynligvis ikke reduserte den totale risikoen for prostatakreft, kunne det redusere risikoen for aggressiv prostatakreft. Selv om det er godt nytt, tok heller ikke denne undersøkelsen høyde for hva slags fysisk aktivitet mennene bedrev – selv blant de med høyest aktivitetsnivå var det for det meste turgåing som gjaldt.

Treningsintensitetens rolle
Av spesiell interesse for de av oss som er opptatt av treningsintensitet, kan man også nevne en studie fra University College of London Medical School fra 2001. Etter å ha korrigert for alder, røyking, kroppsmasseindeks, alkoholinntak og sosiale forskjeller fant de at den totale risikoen for alle typer kreft var redusert ved trening, men bare hvis den var av middels eller høy intensitet. Regelmessig trening var helt nødvendig for risikoreduksjonen for de krefttypene det gjaldt, og det var en klar dose-responssammenheng mellom treningsmengde og reduksjon av risikoen for prostatakreft.

Altså ser det ut til at det lønner seg å drive med regelmessig høyintensitetstrening for å redusere risikoen for både prostatakreft generelt, og spesielt den aggressive kreftformen. Og det må man kunne regne som gode nyheter!

God movember – og lykke til med både trening og bartevekst!

6 ways to lower stroke risk

Stroke – one of the most fatal types of cardiovascular diseases, and the third leading cause of deaths in Norway. Every year around 15 000 Norwegians are affected by stroke, and the number is expected to increase by 50 % over the next 20 years due to an ageing population.

hjerne2A stroke is caused by interruption of the blood supply to the brain, usually because a blood vessel bursts or is blocked. This causes damage to the brain tissue, since the supply of oxygen and nutrients is affected. The consequences of a stroke depends on which part of the brain is injured and how severly the injury is. Time between symptom onset and treatment is also a crucial factor for the outcome.

The most common symptom of a stroke is sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, most often on one side of the body. Other symptoms may be confusion, aphasia, visual disturbances, difficulties with walking, dizziness, severe headache with no known cause, fainting or unconsciousness.

Is there any way to prevent this disease? Some factors, like age and family history of stroke, is unchangeable. However, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself. This months Harvard Health Letter gives 6 tips to lower the stroke risk:

  • Smoking is the worst risk factor of smoking – quitting will be a great step to prevent stroke (and several other diseases at the same time, of course).
  • Weight loss – a healthy weight is associated with lower prevalence of cardiovascular disease
  • Moderate alcohol consumption – according to Harvard this means no more than two drinks a day for a man and one a day for a woman. Bingeing on weekends is not either recommended, even though you don’t drink during the week.
  • Lower salt consumption –  limit sodium to no more than 2,300 mg per day—and to no more than 1,500 mg per day if you’re over age 50, or have diabetes, kidney disease, or certain other chronic conditions.
  • Healthy diet – you already knew, right? Reduce the intake of saturated fat, sugar and red meat, but gorge on vegetables, fruits, fat-free or low-fat dairy, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds and nuts.
  • Exercise – last, but not least; your comfortable couch may represent one of the greatest risk factors of stroke. Get up and move!

Maria Henningsen, CERG

Meatfree Monday – for helse og miljø

I de siste tiårene har vi hatt en massiv vekst av kjøttforbruk i Norge, og i følge en rapport fra Helsedirektoratet, har vi gått fra å spise omtrent 50 kg kjøtt per person i 1980 til nesten 80 kg i 2010. Denne enorme veksten har sannsynligvis store effekter på helse og miljø. For å forsøke å bremse økningen i kjøttforbruk og forbedre folkehelsa oppfordrer helseeksperter til å spise vegetarisk mat minst en dag i uka. Konseptet «Meatfree Monday», ble opprinnelig lansert i USA for å forbedre forbrukernes helse, men har spredt seg til flere steder i Europa og resten av verden.

Pasta PrimaveraDessverre henger Norge noe etter når det gjelder utvalg av vegetariske matvarer i butikkene og på restauranter i forhold til mange andre land i verden. Heldigvis er dette noe politikerne nå ser ut til å ta tak i. Tidligere i høst vedtok Oslo bystyre at det skal legges til rette for valgmuligheter mellom kjøtt/fisk og vegetarmat i kommunens kantiner. Her følger noen gode grunner for å innføre «Meatfree Monday» også i din familie:

Helse: Det økte kjøttforbruket gjør at nordmenn får i seg for mye mettet fett. Flere studier viser at et kosthold uten eller med små mengder rødt kjøtt minker risikoen for hjerte- og karsykdommer og type-2 diabetes. Personer som spiser lite kjøtt har også lavere BMI og blodtrykk. Sammenhengen mellom kjøttinntak og kreft er ikke like godt bevist, men flere studier tyder på at mindre inntak av kjøtt kan redusere risiko for tarmkreft og brystkreft.

Miljø: Produksjon av kjøtt og andre animalske produkter står, ifølge Framtiden i Våre Hender, for omkring 18 prosent av de samlede klimagassutslippene og bidrar mer til den globale oppvarmingen enn hele transportsektoren. Beregninger antyder at hvis alle husstander i Norge hadde spist kun 1 pakke kjøttdeig mindre i måneden, ville det spart miljøet for CO2-utslipp tilsvarende det årlige utslippet fra omtrent 60 000 privatbiler.

Så med dette vil jeg anbefale alle sammen å innføre Meatfree Monday og i tillegg huske å invitere gode venner på vegetarmiddag i jula.

Skrevet av Anja Bye, post doktor ved CERG.