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Best of 2012: From brain fitness to belly fat

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
2012 research: What's the best exercise for head to toe fitness?

Several studies found in 2012 support the importance of aerobic exercise that is a must for living a longer, healthier and happier life. Aerobic exercise is mandatory for helping obese Americans lose weight, but researchers have found out even more about how aerobics promotes health.

Highlighted benefits of aerobic activity found in 2012 include improved brain health, , extending life as much as 4.5 years,, controlling symptoms of menopause, lowering heart disease risks by as much as 35% and burning belly fat.

If you’re serious about losing weight and getting rid of ‘killer’ belly fat in 2013, consider everything we’ve learned in 2012. You might be able to drop a few pounds by putting yourself on a trendy diet, but it’s unlikely you’ll sustain weight loss

Instead, focus on eating healthy foods that are consistently recommended for all age groups and all body types – either Mediterranean foods or the DASH diet. But most importantly, remain active.

Aerobic exercise is a guaranteed way to lose weight and help you keep weight off. It’s important to remember that belly fat is the most dangerous type for risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer and a variety of metabolic disorders.

Weight loss pills, green coffee beans and other supplements just aren’t going to help and can be dangerous. As is often the case, supplements that are put on the market can be pulled off later from untoward side effects.

Just make sure to speak with your doctor about what type of exercise is best for you.

Aerobics and brain health
One newer study review positively shows aerobic exercise can go a long way for helping keep our memory intact, especially as we age. The analysis comes from several recent findings showing aerobic exercise can help ward off dementia, make us smarter and keep arteries healthy.

The finding comes from research published in Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. Investigators for the review found older adults who engage in aerobic exercise score better on mental health tests, have better memory and are able to switch tasks more easily than unfit older adults.

The study authors suggest aerobic exercise can help older adults with activities such as driving that can become a barrier for independent living.

Resistance training vs.vigorous activity
Duke Medicine researchers recently conducted a study showing that though weight training can help with glucose control, weight loss and maintaining muscle mass, aerobic exercise is superior for burning fat.

Leslie H. Willis, MS, an exercise physiologist at Duke Medicine and the study's lead author says in a press release, "Given that approximately two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight due to excess body fat, we want to offer clear, evidence-based exercise recommendations that will truly help people lose weight and body fat.”

For their study, the researchers compared resistance training, aerobic exercise to include swimming, running and walking and a combination of both.

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Participants who engaged in resistance training spend more time per week to lose weight. Aerobic exercise is more efficient. The authors say resistance training is good for you – it’s just that it doesn’t burn fat as well as aerobic exercise. Time commitment is a big consideration when it comes to meeting your weight loss goals, said Cris A. Slentz, PhD, a Duke exercise physiologist and study co-author.

Willis adds, resistance training alone might need to be reconsidered as an option for changing fat mass from increased metabolism – he said their study found “no change”.

Get in the pool
If you have trouble walking, bicycling, or performing other exercise activities, consider getting in the pool.

Findings from 2012 show pull exercises are just as good for promoting health and aerobic fitness.

Researchers tested study participants who rode immersible bicycles. The findings were presented at The Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2012. The results showed moving your legs in the pool is an efficient way to work out.

Researchers from the study explained you don’t have to get your heart rate up because resistance in the water returns blood to the heart more effectively than exercise on land. The authors say getting in the pool can lower heart disease risk as much as 35%.

Treat menopause
Scientist also discovered it’s possible to treat menopause symptoms of night sweats, mood swings, irritability, headache, and depression by getting more physically active.

The study, published in the journal Menopause, adds to the evidence that regular moderate physical activity has benefits that go beyond what was previously known.

Live longer with aerobics
Adding life years is good – but adding quality life years is even better. Aerobic exercise was found to extend life by 4.5 years in a 2012 study published in PloS ONE.

Staying fit from head to toes can be accomplished by moving more in 2013. Forget fad diets and make it a goal to keep your brain fit, burn belly fat, live longer and even control menopause symptoms with walking, cycling or getting aerobic exercise in the pool

Guiney H and Machado L. (2012) Benefits of regular aerobic exercise for executive functioning in healthy populations. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review
DOI 10.3758/s13423-012-0345-4

Aerobic Exercise Trumps Resistance Training for Weight and Fat Loss

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

Image credit: Morguefile



Hi Kathleen, Have a Spiritual Christmas and a healthy and happy new year!
Hans - Same to you! Thank you so much.