# 1 – Living in a country where over two thirds of the population is overweight, you will be pleased to hear that a new study presented recently at a conference of the American Heart Association (AHA) found that walking can have a huge effect on our ‘obesity-related’ genes.
On the other hand, “prolonged TV watching exacerbates the effect of the gene,” said Qibin Qi, Ph.D., a research fellow in nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health where the study was undertaken.
The conclusion is based on trials of 12,000 individuals over a period of two years which showed that those who have a propensity for gaining weight can halve the effect of those genes by undertaking a brisk walk for just one hour a day. The main gene, known as the Fat Mass and Obesity (FTO), has up to 32 variations and it’s believed around half the population have it in their makeup.
Concerned that Americans don’t miss their favourite TV programmes, Qi has come up with a compromise: “Rather than just sitting there, I have a better idea. When they watch, they should exercise. There’s nothing wrong with TV per se, but TV watching may be indicative of a sedentary lifestyle.”
#2 – Staying at Harvard, it’s been discovered that omega-3 in fish (already a source of much good news) can help against chronic arrhythmia (irregular heart beats) which can lead to strokes. This is based on a study which found that adults of pensionable age who had more omega 3 in their blood streams were 30 per cent less likely to develop the condition than their peers.
The study lasted 14 years and involved more than 3,300 males and females aged 65 years and over. Current medical treatment for illness related to chronic arrhythmia is to administer blood-thinning drugs.
#3 – Meanwhile, chocoholics will love the next study, conducted at the University of Reading in England, which found that eating dark chocolate temporarily improved visual and cognitive functions for up to two hours afterwards. A control study on 30 18-25 year olds found that those who’d eaten the dark chocolate were 17 per cent more likely to identify objects in contrasting light than those who’d eaten white chocolate. Their reaction times and memory were also better.
The good effects of the dark chocolate were put down to cocoa flavanoids (which also exist in red wine and green tea) increasing nitric oxide which controls blood flow and pressure. This has led some scientists to suggest that dark chocolate could be good for the heart and even lower blood pressure. Milk chocolate doesn’t have the same effects however. It contains fewer flavanoids due to the fact it’s sweetened with sugar.
#4 – More good news – this time for yoga advocates. A study at the Universities of Manchester and York with 39 GP practices found that yoga can work just as well for lower back pain as many conventional treatments. A control study of 313 people with lower back pain were enrolled on a three month yoga programme and followed up at three monthly intervals up to 12 months later. Those who did the yoga had lower disability scores compared to the control group.
#5 – And finally, there’s no need to get grumpy about getting on in age according to scientists at the University of Warwick. For, although we may be on a physical decline after middle age, on the whole we’re actually happier. And the turning point for this improved optimism? Age 45. Regarding this age as the bottom of the U curve, scientists say by 46 we’ve begun to come up the other side and start to really see the good side of life. This is highly significant because happiness has been found the number one contributing factor to healthy aging more so than anything else.
The study based its conclusions on examining lifestyle and health in more than 10,000 people resident in the UK and US. Mental health, social functioning, general health and five other factors were all considered.
Survey leader Dr Saverio Stranges, said older people had ‘better coping abilities’ to deal with hardship.
He added: “It’s obvious that people’s physical quality of life deteriorates as they age, but what is interesting is that their mental well-being doesn’t also deteriorate – in fact it increases.”
“We suggest that this could be due to better coping abilities, an interpretation supported by previous research showing older people tend to have internal mechanisms to deal better with hardship or negative circumstances than those who are younger.
“It could also be due to a lowering of expectations from life, with older people less likely to put pressure on themselves in the personal and professional spheres.”
Whatever the reason – we’re up for it!
So, taking advantage of these significant discoveries from the past year and incorporating them into your lifestyle would include walking for at least an hour a day, regularly consuming Omega 3 in fish, modest consumption of dark chocolate, yoga participation, and focusing on happiness. I bet you thought it would be a lot more difficult to adjust your life for a healthier existence, but there you have it! Make adjustments and get started right away