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Friday, 30 January 2015

How to Burn Calories by Walking With a Weighted Backpack

When you wear a weighted backpack, you burn more calories because you have to work harder to carry the extra weight. For example, a 150-pound person walking at a rate of 4 mph for 30 minutes burns 175 calories. Add 5 pounds and the same individual burns 181 calories, according to the HealthStatus website. Walking with added weight also puts stress on your joints, including your back and knees. The key to burning calories by walking with a weighted backpack is to ensure that you get the maximum burn with the minimum risk of injury.

Step 1

Use a backpack with padded shoulder straps and a hip strap. The hip strap will keep the backpack from bouncing and moving as you walk and protect your back and shoulders. The padding will prevent the straps from digging into your shoulders.

Step 2

Unzip the backpack and open it all the way. Lay the weights lengthwise inside the strap side of the bag and arrange them from the center out.

Step 3

Use duct tape to tape the weights inside the bag to keep them in place. You want the weight evenly distributed from top to bottom. Do not let the weights lay in the bottom of the bag, which can pull you off center. Having the weights in the bottom of the bag can also press against and irritate your hips and lower back.

Step 4

Zip up the backpack and put it on. Adjust the shoulder straps so that the bag is centered on your torso, and secure the strap around your hips.

Step 5

Walk outdoors or on a treadmill for at least 30 minutes plus a five-minute warm-up and cool-down. Keep your shoulders in line with your hips and your chin level with the ground. Pump your arms as you walk to increase your heart rate.

Step 6

Incorporate hills and stairs into your routine. Hills and stairs will raise the intensity and increase the number of calories you burn.

Step 7

Do intervals. Walk at a rate of 3 mph for two minutes, then speed up to 4 mph for one minute. Alternate between fast and slow for at least 30 minutes.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Skipping breakfast can lead to TWO STONE of weight gain over a year

  • Survey reveals those who skip breakfast three times a week are twice as likely to snack on a packet of crisps and chocolate bar mid-morning
  • One in 10 people never eat breakfast, with more than a third admitting to skipping the first meal of the day at some point during the week
  • An average 35g bowl of cereal with semi-skimmed milk is around 181 kcal
  • But a 33g packet of crisps and 49g chocolate bar total 433 kcal

People who skip breakfast three times a week are twice as likely to gorge on an extra 252 calories a day, new research has today revealed.
Missing the first meal of the day increases the urge to snack and could cause a person to gain up to 26lb - almost two stone - a year, if the extra calories are not burned off through exercise.

A survey, conducted for Breakfast Week, revealed the most popular mid-morning snacks for breakfast skippers are crisps, chocolate and biscuits.
One in 10 people do not eat breakfast at all during the week.
And more than a third - 37 per cent - admit to skipping the first meal of the day at some point during the working week.

That is despite the survey, of 2,000 adults, revealing 45 per cent of breakfast skippers admitting it makes them feel hungry mid-morning, 30 per cent complaining of being tired and lacking in energy and 14 per cent revealing it leaves them feeling grumpy. 
The main reasons for missing breakfast are not feeling hungry first thing (30 per cent) or sacrificing eating for extra time in bed (23 per cent).

Meanwhile just over one in 10 (12 per cent) say they simply forget to eat breakfast, with the same number admitting they are too busy doing household chores. 
The survey also revealed how breakfast is key in affecting your food choices for the rest of the day.

Those who skip the meal are more likely to opt for a chocolate bar (27 per cent) and a can of sugary fizzy drink (one in 10) with their lunch, than those who eat breakfast every day (13 per cent and four per cent respectively).  
Dietitian Azmina Govindji said missing breakfast can cause a person's blood sugar levels to drop, encouraging them to reach for a snack that will provide instant gratification.

'This research suggests that those who are missing breakfast are more likely to have unhealthier eating habits during the rest of that morning period,' she told MailOnline.
'Perhaps a low blood sugar level prompts people to opt for something that is going to give them an instant boost, like a biscuit or chocolate bar, but this can be counter-productive, and offers little nutritional value.

'Or perhaps they're so hungry that they reach for the most convenient food to fill them up.
'Unfortunately convenient snacks don't always tend to be the healthiest and can be laden with sugar, salt and fat.

Those who miss breakfast are likely to reach for a packet of crisps and chocolate bar mid-morning. They are also more likely to then add a packet of crisps and fizzy drink at lunch

'The extra 252 calories that we've calculated people can be consuming if they miss breakfast and choose a chocolate bar and a 33g bag of crisps as snacks, can, over time, lead to significant weight gain if it's not compensated for in activity.'
The extra 252 calories is the difference between a person eating an average 35g bowl of branflakes cereal with 135ml of semi-skimmed milk (181 calories), and a 33g bag of crisps (173 calories) and a 49g chocolate bar (260 calories) - two of the most popular snacks among those missing breakfast.

Researchers calculated the potential weight gain, assuming a person eats an extra 252 calories every day - totalling 91,980 calories every year.
Assuming the extra calories are not matched with any physical activity or a reduced total intake over the course of each day, using the assumption that an extra 3,500 calories equate to an extra 1lb in weight, there is the potential for a person to gain 26lbs a year.
Ms Govindji added: 'Research shows that eating breakfast can help improve mood, energy and concentration.

'Studies have also demonstrated that people who eat breakfast are more likely to be in a healthy weight range than those who do not. 
'If you're someone that simply can't face eating first thing, then it's fine to have your breakfast a little later, perhaps when you get to work. 
'Or opt for something light like a small bowl of cereal or a piece of fruit. 
'There are lots of choices out there, many of which are quick and easy, so ideal for those who like to spend as much time as possible in bed; it's a case of finding something that works for you.'

Breakfast Week, a not-for-profit campaign organised by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, runs this week, until Sunday and is in its 16th year. 

Those who miss breakfast are likely to reach for a packet of crisps and chocolate bar mid-morning. They are also more likely to then add a packet of crisps and fizzy drink at lunch


Wednesday, 28 January 2015

How to Increase Lung Capacity After Smoking

Smoking can damage the lungs and affect lung capacity, making it difficult to breathe. The lungs contain tiny air sacs called alveoli where oxygen is transferred from inhaled air to the blood, according to the Cleveland Clinic. When these air sacs are damaged by smoking, the lungs and heart must work harder to take in oxygen, which can lead to shortness of breath, says Norman Edelman, M.D., chief medical officer for the American Lung Association. But there are ways to help heal your lungs and increase lung capacity after smoking.


Step 1

Do cardiovascular exercise. Run, speed walk, ride a bicycle or work out on fitness equipment, such as a stair climber or rowing machine, several times a week. "Aerobic exercise is the best thing you can do to heal the lungs after giving up smoking," Edelman says. Moving the large muscles of the body increases the demand for oxygen and expands the lungs ability to take in more air. This will help keep the respiratory system strong and may eventually increase lung capacity, according to Edelman.

Step 2

Add swimming to your workout mix. Swimming uses more muscles and requires greater lung capacity than any other type of cardiovascular exercise, according to Alice Burron, an exercise physiologist in Cheyenne, Wyoming and spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise. "The lung capacity of swimmers in peak condition can be three times that of the average person," Burron notes. Try to swim laps at least once a week to give your lungs a good workout, Burron recommends.

Step 3

Eat apples. In a British study of 2,500 men published in the journal "Thorax," regular consumption of apples was associated with increased lung capacity. The men who ate five or more apples per week had the greatest lung capacity. Edelmen says that other studies suggest eating apples may reduce your risk of lung cancer and improve your resistance to respiratory infections.

Step 4

Try yoga. The focused breathing required to practice yoga may help increase lung capacity. Yoga exercises the diaphragm muscles that expand the lungs during breathing and allow more air to be inhaled into the lungs. "More air in the lungs may eventually stretch the lungs and increase lung capacity," Burron says. If yoga isn't your cup of tea, Burron adds that simply doing deep breathing exercises can also improve the health of your respiratory system and may increase lung capacity.

Step 5

Take up a musical wind instrument. Playing a wind or brass instrument is a good way to exercise the lungs, which may improve lung capacity, Edelman says. The best musical instruments for increasing lung capacity? Edelman recommends a clarinet, flute, oboe, tuba, trumpet or trombone. Singing may also be helpful.

Step 6

Be patient. Increasing lung capacity after smoking takes time. Edelman says that it won't happen overnight no matter what you do. According to the American Lung Association, it takes two weeks to three months for lung function to begin to improve after giving up smoking and up to nine months for shortness of breath to decrease. But regular exercise, a healthy diet and continued smoking cessation will help improve the health of your lungs and increase lung capacity over time.

Stretch Away Tension At Your Desk

Daily stretches can ease fatigue, tension and body pain. 

Try the following daily exercises:

Reach up to the sky - when used with correct breathing this movement can improve circulation, body and mind.

Press the feet into the floor, inhale deeply through the nose and lift your arms above your head and reach upwards. Exhale and lower your arms back to starting position. Repeat.

Arm stretch - great for stretching your back and reducing slouching.

Bring your arms behind your back or chair and interlock fingers. Try to straighten your elbows and hold for one minute. Make sure you breath gently through your nose. To enhance the stretch, take your neck slightly forward. Repeat through out the day if you feel tension in your back.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Core Body Exercises

No equipment required. These exercises are not only good for the abdominal muscles and your posture, but also help to prevent back-ache. In addition, they reduce the risk of a hernia developing in the groin.

Exercise 1: Lie on your back, hands behind your head. Bend forward, lifting your head and shoulders up six inches from the floor. Hold that position as long as you can — the aim is to get up to 20 seconds within about a month.

Exercise 2: With your hands by your sides, lift your feet six inches off the ground, keeping the legs straight. Hold them up for 20 seconds if you can, or build up to that over a month if you can’t. Then criss-cross your legs ten times, before lowering them slowly.

Exercise 1: Lie on your back with the right knee bent and your right foot on the floor. Bend your left leg and rest your ankle across the knee of the bent leg. Push gently on the left knee just to rock the knee a little away from you, while keeping the left knee pointing towards the wall. Do this ten times, then repeat the exercise with the other leg.

Exercise 2: To challenge and strengthen your hips and thigh muscles, just stand up from your sitting position on a chair ten times without using your arms. If this is too easy, do it from the bottom step of the stairs instead. (If you have had a hip replacement check with your physio before doing this exercise.)

The little muscles of the foot are supported by the tendons of the calf muscles — so these exercises are excellent for your feet.

Exercise 1: First, put the front half of your right foot on a step. Hold onto something with one hand and bounce your foot very gently ten times, pushing down on the heel. Repeat with the other foot.

Exercise 2: Second, stand on tiptoes for three minutes — holding onto a chair or work surface if necessary. Try to incorporate this one into your daily life — in my own case, I always watch or listen to the weather forecast on my toes.


Thursday, 22 January 2015

Superfoods to Help You Eat Yourself Youthful

There’s a raft of everyday and surprising foods that can help hold back the years. Here, ANGELA DOWDEN picks ten of the best.

Reduce blood clot risk
Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant linked to a lower risk of blood clots. A 2012 study of 1,000 men in the journal Neurology found those who had high blood levels of lycopene were least likely to have a stroke. Cooked tomatoes supply more lycopene, as heat breaks down the cell walls, improving your body’s absorption of the compound. A rounded tablespoon of tomato paste daily supplies about 16g of lycopene — enough to keep blood levels high.

Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant linked to a lower risk of blood clots. Above, file image

Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant linked to a lower risk of blood clots

Cut risk of heart disease
People who eat a handful of mixed nuts a day live longer than those who rarely eat them, according to a 2013 New England Journal of Medicine study, which looked at the dietary habits of 100,000 men and women. Nuts help because they don’t cause surges of blood sugar or insulin, reducing the risk of diabetes); also the fibre and polyunsaturated fats help keep cholesterol levels down, reducing heart disease risk.

Curly kale 
Protects eyes against sun damage
Kale is a rich source of lutein, a pigment responsible for the red, yellow and orange hues in fruit and veg. Lutein also protects the eyes against UV rays that can damage the lens and retina. A high lutein intake is linked to a lower risk age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of sight loss.
Improve blood flow

Blueberries are generally seen as the superfood for old age, but blackcurrants have more antioxidants — these help protect the body’s cells against damage, but their real anti-ageing action could be improving the elasticity of arteries, so improving blood flow and heart health.

Blackberries' real anti-ageing action could be improving the elasticity of arteries, so improving blood flow and heart health

Blackberries' real anti-ageing action could be improving the elasticity of arteries, so improving blood flow and heart health

Kidney beans
Anti-ageing all-rounder
Kidney beans and pulses are a good source of potassium, magnesium and iron, which keep energy levels high, blood pressure normal and the digestive system working. Kidney beans also contain soluble fibre that binds to cholesterol and remove it from the body.

Olive oil
Fewer wrinkles
The more olive oil, pulses and veg you eat, the less lined you will be — that’s according to a study at Monash University in Melbourne in 2001, that identified olive oil as the reason some elderly people had fewer wrinkles.
After accounting for sun exposure and genetics, the researchers said 20 per cent of the remaining difference in skin damage between nationalities was down to how much olive oil, vegetables and pulses people ate. Olive oil provides unsaturated fats that are important to the structure of skin cells.

May protect against cancer
The American Institute of Cancer Research’s includes soya on its list of ‘foods that fight cancer’. Soya foods such as tofu contain sphingolipoids — fat-like substances that regulate cell growth and can help destroy abnormal cells. Compounds called saponins in soya may also prevent the growth of blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to tumours.

Boost immune system
Carrots are the very best source of beta carotene, an antioxidant that targets free radicals — harmful molecules produced by processes such as breathing and the environment; they attack cells, ageing the skin, causing the arteries to stiffen and leading to diseases such as cancer. Beta carotene is also converted by the body into vitamin A, important for the respiratory tract’s mucous passages, which keep out bacteria. Other orange or red fruit and vegetables such as mangoes have similar benefits.

Red onions
Reduce inflammation
These are rich in the antioxidant quercetin that has anti-inflammatory properties. Research last year at Newcastle University found that chronic inflammation, which can occur as a result of being overweight, high blood sugar and a poor diet, can trigger the release of free radical molecules that harm cells.

For a sharper memory
Phenolic compounds — chemicals found in plants and in champagne — can alter proteins in the brain linked to storing memories, a 2013 study at Reading University found. Just one to two glasses a week might be all you need to reap the benefits, said the researchers.


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

6 Minutes To A Toned Waist

Start off gentle and only do what you feel capable of. 
Not recommended if you have any back problems.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

4 Quick Steps To Stop You From Eating When You're Not Really Hungry

Do you ever down a snack and feel zero satisfaction afterward? Or find yourself wanting to eat while staring off into space at work? Then there's a good chance that you've eaten for a reason other than your body needing nourishment.

Hunger is your body's fuel gauge," says Michelle May, M.D., author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat and creator of the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Program. "The trick is to pay attention to the signals for hunger before you eat. It's like checking your fuel gauge before getting off the highway for gas."
Here's May's step-by-step process for doing just that:

Pause Before You Eat

"The key is awareness," says May. "When you feel like eating, always pause in that moment between wanting to eat and actually eating." This is where you'll figure out if you're hungry or just bored, tired, stressed, or thirsty. May says you shouldn't necessarily be eating every two or three hours like some experts suggest—only when you're truly hungry —but that you can check in every two or three hours if you're busy and often forget to eat until you're starving.
"Letting your body get to the point of famished is also dangerous," she says. "Your blood sugar is super-low, and all balanced diet ideas and enjoyment goes out the window, so you may overeat." Set an alarm on your phone if necessary.

Check for Hunger Cues
May recommends placing your fist over your stomach, right below the breastbone, and checking for signals of true hunger. "Draw all attention to that area," says May. "You should look for physical symptoms like pangs, growling, and feelings of emptiness—or if the area feels full or stretched." If it's the former, you're probably truly hungry. If it's the latter, you're probably craving something other than food.

Do a Body-Mind-Heart Scan
May says you can look to three different areas to determine whether you need to eat or whether you just want to eat: "I recommend doing what I call a body-mind-heart scan," she says. For body, May says you should start scanning from head to toe and just notice the various sensations in your body. Often tension, like in the neck and shoulders, can signal anxiety or stress, not hunger.
For mind, if your productivity is down and you find yourself wondering about what's in the break room or where you'll eat your next meal, you're probably not hungry, you might just be bored. For heart, listen to your emotions.
Are you feeling tired from a late night out or stressed about a work deadline? Your anxiety might be provoking "head hunger," says May. "Do this before you start to eat," she says. "If you're not truly hungry, you'll start to eat and not feel satisfied [since you're not addressing the true root of the problem], causing you to eat more and more."

Address Your Needs (Beyond Food)
If you're ever unsure whether you're truly hungry—and know you're not totally famished—try to address other issues before you nosh.
Step outside for a walk around the block to relieve stress, lie down for a 20-minute power nap if you're tired, or down a glass of water to try and eliminate lingering thirst.
"You may just need a few moments to re-center," says May. If, after you do this, you feel like your hunger has increased (since you haven't eaten anything), you can be sure it's your appetite that needs to be dealt with—and not some other issue.

Fresh doughnut and cookies with an espresso


Friday, 16 January 2015

Cinnamon the Queen of Spices

Cinnamon contains anti-inflammatory compounds that can aid pain relief, but one of the most exciting benefits of this spice is it helps our bodies deal with sugar better.

Just a quarter of a teaspoon of cinnamon a day can reduce blood sugar dramatically.

Cinnamon is also a caloric restriction mimetic (CRM), meaning it has the ability to mimic the effects of a very low-calorie diet, which had been shown in research to extend lifespan.

Natural Health Magazine

Thursday, 15 January 2015

5 Ways to Eliminate Back Fat

Back bulge around the bra area or a pesky muffin top aren't fun to deal with. But you can feel more confident in your own skin with just a little extra effort. Sure, targeting specific body parts to burn fat doesn't work, but these healthy tips can help you get the results you want faster!
Turn Up Your Cardio
If you're serious about getting rid of fat, you've got to start getting serious about cardio. According to the USDA, you should perform 60-minute sessions five times a week.
For even more intense cardio, opt for interval training that alternates between periods of pushing your body and recovery, since it offers an "afterburn effect." This means that after exercising, your body can burn more calories—an extra 200 calories throughout the day even at rest or sleep—than you would after completing a steady-paced workout.
Focus on Toning
Add moves that sculpt your back, shoulders, and obliques to reveal the strong muscles that lie beneath. Posture-improving exercises can also do wonders! This five-minute back workout and these body-balancing back exercises are great ones to try!
Practice Yoga
Quality strength training and cardio are key, but yoga can help you take off back fat, too. This heart-pumping yoga routine is just what you need!
Eat Smarter
Choosing healthier foods and cooking up cleaner recipes are essential in your battle against back bulge. Check out the best fat-burning recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks that can support your goals.
Shop Your Shape
Okay, this won't really get rid of fat, but it'll certainly help you feel more comfortable in your skin. If you're concerned about the bulge around your bra or a muffin top, it simply might be time to go up a size in your bra or jeans. Flattering clothes will help you feel more confident so that you feel less stressed while dressing. Instead of getting caught up in the size you're wearing, always focus on how you feel in the clothes you're in.


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

How To Do The Plank For A Strong Core

Stop when you need to and only do what feels comfortable. Do not perform this or any exercise immediately after or before eating.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

How To Build Muscle & Gain Weight



Facts you need to know about gaining muscle  

How to build muscle and gain weight

Friday, 9 January 2015

Blend Your Way To Health

I have always been a fan of juicing, but never liked the waste and time consuming efforts to clean the thing afterwards, then I discovered blending!

After a bit of research into the various types of juicers and gadgets available, I stumbled upon the Nutri Bullet. I compared it to other types of blenders available and was impressed with the ease of use and how easy it was to clean. Also the motor power is much more powerful than a normal blender, which makes blending together hard vegetables easier.

I liked the fact that everything was blended up with no waste left over. I also found that unlike juicing (remember we are blending here, not juicing), the end result wasn't too sweet for me. When you drink juice, you're getting all of the sugar in the fruits and veggies it contains—but none of the fibre that fills you up.

The blender I bought came with a book of foods to blend and their benefits. I personally prefer to just throw in whatever I have available, knowing that whatever goes in it will have its benefits to me.

 From this........,,,,,,,,,to this           

However, I do have my regular favourite foods that I use which are:

Spinach (I have low iron levels and this is packed with iron), half of an orange (Vitamin C for my skin and also to help my body absorb iron), Avocado (for the Omega-3), Turmeric powder (anti-inflammatory properties) along with berries and vegetables for the various vitamins and minerals. Not forgetting Cinnamon power which is known to stabilise blood sugar levels along with other health benefits.

I like to have a variety of different foods in my juice so that I get a range of benefits. I also sometimes add a small amount of protein powder to make the juice more filling.

You can experiment with your own flavours.

Tip: If you find a blend you really enjoy, write down what you have used so you don't forget.

The above is based on my own personal experience and is my opinion only. 

I use blending as a way of getting extra nutrients into my body as oppose to using it as a weight loss solution.

Don't just take my word for it, click to read more     Nutribullet Black

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

The key to a long and healthy life? A bowl of porridge every day, say scientists

  • Harvard study of more than 100,000 people for more than 14 years found that whole grains reduce the risk of dying from heart disease
  • Daily 28 gram serving of whole grains associated with a 5% lower mortality
  • Each serving also cut deaths from cardiovascular disease by 9%
A small bowl of porridge each day could be the key to a long and healthy life, researchers have found.
A major study of more than 100,000 people for more than 14 years found that whole grains reduce the risk of dying from heart disease.
They say a daily 28 gram serving of whole grains was associated with a 5% lower total mortality.

Although whole grains are widely believed to be beneficial for health it is the first research to look at whether they have a long-term impact on lifespan.
Researchers followed more than 100,000 people for more than 14 years monitoring their diets and health outcomes.
Eating whole grain foods reduces death rates from heart disease, but not cancer, a study has shown.

Scientists looked at data on more than 74,000 women and 43,000 men to investigate associations between whole grain consumption and death risk.
Over a period of more than two decades, a total of 26,920 deaths were recorded.
After adjusting for factors such as age, smoking and body mass index (BMI) that may have influenced the results, the researchers found that people who ate whole grains were less likely to die than those who did not.

Every daily 28 gram serving of whole grains was associated with a 5% lower total mortality.

Every daily 28 gram serving of whole grains was associated with a 5% lower total mortality. Each serving of whole grains also cut deaths from cardiovascular disease by 9%.

Each serving of whole grains also cut deaths from cardiovascular disease by 9%. However, there was no evidence of an impact on cancer death rates.
Writing in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, the authors, led by Dr Hongyu Wu, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, US, concluded: 'These findings further support current dietary guidelines that recommend increasing whole grain consumption to facilitate primary and secondary prevention of chronic disease and also provide promising evidence that suggests a diet enriched with whole grains may confer benefits towards extended life expectancy.'

Whole grains are cereal grains that are not refined and contain the 'germ', or seed embryo, which is packed with nutrients. 

Examples of whole grain foods include whole-wheat or rye bread, brown rice, whole grain pasta, and breakfast cereals such as muesli and shredded wheat.

Victoria Taylor, senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation, said: 'This is an interesting study and reinforces existing dietary recommendations to eat more foods high in fibre.
'But this study didn't look at what might be the cause of the link between eating whole grains and reduced death rates for cardiovascular disease.
'People with a higher intake of whole grains also tended to have a healthier overall lifestyle and diet so it might not be the whole grains alone that are having the benefit in relation to cardiovascular disease.
'But at this time of year when we are all making resolutions to eat better, switching to whole grain versions of bread, breakfast cereals, pasta and rice is a simple change to make.'


Whole grains are cereal grains that are not refined and contain the 'germ', or seed embryo, which is packed with nutrients. 
Examples of whole grain foods include whole-wheat or rye bread, brown rice, whole grain pasta, and breakfast cereals such as muesli and shredded wheat.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The secret to staying young? Get on your bike!

Tests find cyclists in their seventies are physically much younger than most people their age 

  • Study of cyclists found they were physically younger than most their age 
  • Underwent extensive tests of their heart, lungs and exercise capacity
  •  Researchers found they had muscle strength similar to younger people
  • Say it proves cycling keeps the body and the mind staying young  

Want to stay younger for longer? It could be as easy as riding a bike.
For cycling really does keep the body – and the mind – young, scientists say.
A study of fit amateur cyclists aged 55 to 79 found many were physically much younger than most people their age.

A study of fit amateur cyclists aged 55 to 79 found many were physically much younger than most people their age

The 81 male and 41 female participants underwent extensive tests, including of their hearts, lungs, reflexes, muscle and bone strength and mental ability.
Despite an age range of 25 years, older members of the group had similar muscle strength, lung power and exercise capacity to the younger participants.

In a simple test to show a person's risk of falling over – which measured how long it took participants to stand from a chair, walk three metres, walk back and sit down – even those in their seventies achieved times expected of healthy young adults, the Journal of Physiology reports.

The participants were all able to cycle long distances, but you do not need to be super-fit to enjoy the benefits of activities like cycling – as it is staying active at any level that is important.

Dr Ross Pollock, who led the team of scientists from King's College London, warned that most of us are inactive, which causes 'physiological problems at any age'.
The 81 male and 41 female participants underwent extensive tests, including of their hearts, lungs, reflexes, muscle and bone strength and mental ability
The 81 male and 41 female participants underwent extensive tests, including of their hearts, lungs, reflexes, muscle and bone strength and mental ability
Professor Norman Lazarus said that staying active can 'buy you extra years of function', adding: 'Cycling not only keeps you mentally alert, but requires the vigorous use of many of the body's key systems, such as your muscles, heart and lungs, which you need for maintaining health.'

The cyclists were recruited deliberately to exclude effects from a sedentary lifestyle that may cause changes in the body capable of being confused with those due to ageing.
Men and women had to be able to cycle 100 kilometres in under 6.5 hours, and 60 kilometres in 5.5 hours, to be included in the study. Smokers, heavy drinkers, and people with high blood pressure or other health conditions were excluded.

Oxygen consumption rate showed the closest association with birth date, according to the results published in the Journal of Physiology. But even this marker could not provide an accurate indication of the age of any given individual.

Dr Pollock added: 'The main problem facing health research is that in modern societies the majority of the population is inactive.

'A sedentary lifestyle causes physiological problems at any age. Hence the confusion as to how much the decline in bodily functions is due to the natural ageing process and how much is due to the combined effects of ageing and inactivity.

'In many models of ageing lifespan is the primary measure, but in human beings this is arguably less important than the consequences of deterioration in health.
'Healthy life expectancy - our healthspan - is not keeping pace with the average lifespan, and the years we spend with poor health and disabilities in old age are growing.'

Co-author Professor Stephen Harridge, director of the Centre of Human & Aerospace Physiological Sciences at King's College, added: 'Because most of the population is largely sedentary, the tendency is to assume that inactivity is the inevitable condition for humans.
'However, given that our genetic inheritance stems from a period when high levels of physical activity were the likely norm, being physically active should be considered to play an essential role in maintaining health and well-being throughout life.'

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