Health Updates 7 May 2012

  • Joggers live longer, study says: Jogging regularly could add about six years to your life, a new Danish study suggests.  ‘The results of our research allow us to definitively answer the question of whether jogging is good for your health,’ Peter Schnohr, chief cardiologist of the long-term Copenhagen City Heart Study, said in a news release from the European Society of Cardiology.  ‘We can say with certainty that regular jogging increases longevity.  The good news is that you don’t actually need to do that much to reap the benefits’.  In conducting the study, the researchers compared the mortality of joggers and non-joggers who took part in the population study of 20,000 people aged 20 to 93 that began in 1976.  In making their comparison, they asked 1,116 male joggers and 762 women joggers about their jogging routine, including how fast and how long they jogged weekly….In the follow-up period of up to 35 years, the study found that 10,158 non-joggers and 122 joggers died.  The researchers noted this was a 44 percent drop in the risk of death for male and female joggers.  The researchers found that male joggers can extend their life by 6.2 years, and women by 5.6 years.  Jogging at a slow pace for one to two and a half hours weekly provided the most significant benefits.” (HealthDay)
  • Upper body strength key for NASCAR drivers: “A resistance-training program that focuses on building upper body strength can improve success for stock car drivers, such as those on the NASCAR circuit, a new study suggests.  Researchers conducted interviews with 40 stock car drivers in 27 states and asked them about physical demands, injuries and other issues regarding their profession.  The drivers, most of whom were regionally or nationally ranked, also were asked about their physical-training regimens….Upper body strength, cardiovascular endurance and heat tolerance were the main factors noted by the drivers as important for coping with the demands of racing, said William Ebben, of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside….The drivers did resistance (strength or weight) training three days a week, with the majority of that time focused on building upper body strength.  The drivers spent another three days a week on cardiovascular-endurance training.  Cardiovascular endurance relates to how well the heart, lungs and vascular system perform during grueling physical activity.  The more time a driver spent on resistance training, the higher their track points standings, according to the study.” (MedlinePlus)
  • Sudden death in athletes: debate continues: “Relying on media reports is no basis for estimating the incidence of sudden cardiac death in athletes, nor does it provide the necessary basis to establish policy on the use of 12- lead electrocardiograms (ECGs) in pre-participation physicals, researchers agree.  Yet, news reports about the death of Norwegian Olympic swimmer Alexander Dale Oen, 26, on April 30 at an Arizona training facility fueled hallway discussions throughout the 3-day long EuroPrevent 2012 meeting here.  Although the cause of death is not yet known, the incident focuses attention on the ongoing debate about the risk of sudden death in athletes — and whether that risk increases as the level of competition increases….the risk appears to be gender specific, estimated to be as much as 9 times higher for male athletes.  The most common causes are inherited or congenital cardiac disease…but blunt trauma to the chest…is also a factor, as is infection.”  More solid data is needed.  Symptoms before sudden cardiac death “‘include syncope, chest pain, palpitations, dyspnea and fatigue — problems that are diffuse and common, which cannot be adequately assessed with a history and clinical exam’.” (Peggy Peck, MedPage Today)
  • Energy and sports drinks eat away at teeth, study finds: “Sports and energy drinks are causing irreversible damage to the teeth of teens and young adults in the United States, the authors of a new study claim.  High acidity levels in the drinks erode tooth enamel, the glossy outer level of teeth, the researchers contend in the May/June issue of the journal General Dentistry.  ‘Young adults consume these drinks assuming that they will improve their sports performance and energy levels and that they are ‘better’ for them than soda,’ study author Poonam Jain said in a news release….However, ‘most of these patients are shocked to learn that these drinks are essentially bathing their teeth with acid’, Jain said.”  Damage to tooth enamel is irreversible, and without the protection of the enamel, teeth become overly sensitive and subject to decay.  The American Beverage Association took issue with the study, contending that lab experiments do not mimic the natural environment of the human mouth, where saliva neutralizes any acidity from food and drink. (NIH/HealthDay)

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