A few good reads:

Exercise vs. Standing? You Probably Need to Do Both

Exercise alone is probably not enough for us to achieve and maintain good health.

We must also try to sit less, according to a fascinating new study of the separate physiological effects that exercise and light, almost-incidental activities, such as standing up, can have on our bodies. By now, we all know that regular exercise is good for us. The United States national exercise guidelines, which are based on a wealth of scientific evidence, recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week in order to lengthen our life spans and reduce our risks of a variety of diseases.

In practice, this recommendation translates into 30 minutes almost daily of exercise that should be brisk enough to raise our heart rates and make us gasp a bit for breath.

But exercising 30 minutes a day leaves us plenty of time for other activities, the primary one of which (apart from sleeping) tends to be sitting. A typical office worker can easily log more than 10 or 11 hours a day in a chair, according to studies of how we spend our time.

-New York Times

Standing Up at Your Desk Could Make You Smarter

We’ve known for a while that sitting for long stretches of every day has myriad health consequences, like a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes, that culminate in a higher mortality rate. But now a new study has found that sitting is also bad for your brain. And it might be the case that lots of exercise is not enough to save you if you’re a couch potato the rest of the time.

A study published last week, conducted by Dr. Prabha Siddarth at the University of California at Los Angeles, showed that sedentary behavior is associated with reduced thickness of the medial temporal lobe, which contains the hippocampus, a brain region that is critical to learning and memory.

This all puts me in mind of the Peripatetics, followers of Aristotle, who conducted their philosophical inquiries while strolling about the Lyceum in ancient Athens. Sounds as if they were on to something.

-New York Times

Weight Training May Help to Ease or Prevent Depression

Lifting weights might also lift moods, according to an important new review of dozens of studies about strength training and depression. It finds that resistance exercise often substantially reduces people’s gloom, no matter how melancholy they feel at first, or how often — or seldom — they actually get to the gym and lift.

Researchers found 33 experiments of weight training and depression. The studies involved almost 2,000 men and women of various ages, some of whom had been diagnosed with depression, while others had not.

The researchers aggregated the results from all of these studies and then began digging through the data.

What they found was that resistance training consistently reduced the symptoms of depression, whether someone was formally depressed at the start of the study or not. In other words, if people began the study with depression, they usually felt better after taking up weight training. And if they started out with normal mental health, they ended the experiment with less chance of having become morose and sad than people who did not train.

-New York Times

Uptempo music helps people to keep exercising for longer

Listening to uptempo music helps gym-goers to work out for longer, research suggests.

The study found that those listening to energetic tunes were able to sustain exercise for more than 10 per cent longer than those working out in silence.

Researchers said doctors should consider prescribing music when they were trying to encourage patients to take more exercise.

-UK Telegraph

How Exercise Can Keep Aging Muscles and Immune Systems ‘Young’

Remaining physically active as we grow older could help to keep our muscles and immune systems robust, according to two inspiring new studies of older recreational cyclists.

Together, the experiments add to growing evidence that some of our assumptions about aging may be outdated and we might have more control over the process than we think.

Aging often seems inexorable and unvarying, and, in chronological terms, it is. The years mount at the same pace for each of us.

But our bodies’ responses to the passage of time can differ. While most people become frail, a few remain spry.

-New York Times

Strong grip may predict longer life at all ages

(Reuters Health) – Grip strength may be a better predictor of future health than some measurements doctors currently use to gauge risk, a large UK study suggests.

Although grip strength has long been a good indicator of frailty or health in older people, it could help doctors understand adults’ risk profile at all ages, including the odds of heart and lung disease, cancer and overall mortality, the study team writes in The BMJ.

“Grip strength is easy to measure and may be useful in helping to predict future disease,” said senior study author Stuart Gray of the University of Glasgow.

“Grip strength showed a stronger association with cardiovascular disease than blood pressure and physical activity, which was a bit of a surprise,” Gray told Reuters Health by email. “It highlights nicely just how strong the association is.”

The researchers studied more than half a million participants in the UK Biobank project, who were aged 40 to 69 years when they were recruited in 2007-2010. Periodically over the years, participants underwent medical exams, provided samples and answered extensive questionnaires about health and lifestyles.

-Yahoo News