Several studies conducted in 2014 indicated that “super-short” workouts are effective in attaining health and fitness goals, the New York Times reported. Regular exercise helps prevent obesity, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. It also strengthens muscles and joints, resulting in less pain in their shoulders, hips and knees. People who work out and keep fit are much less likely to suffer a joint injury. One of last year’s studies revealed the benefits of a daily workout that begins with walking briskly for one minute, then strolling for a minute, and repeating the process six times. Research volunteers who did the exercise had better blood-sugar levels than others who instead took normal, 30-minute walks. The study, which a group of New Zealand researchers published in Diabetologia, featured nine men and women diagnosed with insulin resistance (which often leads to Type 2 diabetes). Each volunteer walked at a regular pace on a treadmill for one-half hour, completing the task 30 minutes before eating a meal. The scientists measured blood-sugar levels that day and the following day. Next, the participants engaged in three daily workouts that the researchers called “exercise snacks.” Alternating periods of fast and slow walking on treadmills were repeated six times. The study’s final stage entailed walking; then doing one minute of high-intensity upper-body resistance training with stretchy bands; and finishing by walking on the treadmills again. The volunteers performed this workout before each of their three daily meals. All the participants had lower blood-sugar levels immediately after they took the half-hour walks and ate dinner. However, the shorter exercises produced more long-lasting effects, as blood sugar remained healthy for 24 hours. James D. Cotter, a professor at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, was one of the study’s lead scientists. He concluded that “high-intensity exercise shows a more potent effect” on blood sugar than more moderate workouts. Treadmills are not required. Cotter told the Times: “For some people, simply walking anywhere will provide ample stimulus, whereas fitter individuals might need to go up one or even a few flights of stairs or up a slope, or jog somewhere. Jogging on the spot would be just as good.” The study confirmed the results of research conducted in 2012, in which participants were able to regulate their blood pressure better by taking three 10-minute walks per day than by walking just once for 30 minutes. Another team of scientists reported in July 2014 that running just five minutes daily can add years to a person’s life, the Times’ Gretchen Reynolds wrote.
She noted that scientists have long believed short, repetitive workouts are as worthwhile as longer, more strenuous activity. That is good news for people on tight schedules who struggle to find time to exercise. Researchers last year had those folks in mind when they developed a one-minute workout consisting of three 20-second periods of intense exercises. Study participants, who were overweight, enjoyed “robust improvements in (their) endurance and health,” according to Reynolds. She reported that, in a June 2014 clinical trial, mice that raced fast on running wheels gained more strength than a control group of mice due to “distinctly different biochemical responses within their muscle cells.
” Additional studies last year found that people who exercise regularly are less susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia; and that working out improves a person’s mood, and may protect the brain from depression and stress (Xanax). In one trial, mice were separated into groups that either ran or remained sedentary. Neurons in the inactive rodents’ brains that are key to controlling blood pressure reportedly changed in shape and function. Reynolds wrote that “in various experiments (during 2014), physical activity was found to lessen and even reverse the effects of aging on human skin; protect against age-related vision loss; improve creativity; lower people’s risk of developing heart disease, even if they had multiple risk factors for the condition; increase the numbers of good bacteria in athletes’ guts; raise exercisers’ pain tolerance; and alter, in desirable ways, how DNA works.” She cited a study published in October that showed how people who maintain fitness are “biologically younger” (and live longer) than those who are out of shape. The study’s senior author told Reynolds: “There is a huge benefit (of exercise), larger than any known medical treatment, in improving your fitness level to what is expected for your age group.” If you are experiencing pain in a shoulder, knee or hip (or have sustained an injury in one of the joints), schedule an appointment for an evaluation by the sports medicine surgeons at Orthopedic Surgery San Diego. They can diagnose the cause of the discomfort, and recommend appropriate exercises or treatments.