1. Joggers live longer, happier lives. In a 35-year long Copenhagen City Heart Study, Danish researchers found that the joggers among the 19,329 participants enjoyed a 44% reduction in relative mortality risk, a reduction equivalent to 5.6 years of extra life in women and 6.2 extra years for men.
Not surprisingly, the joggers are enjoying their added years and report an overall greater sense of well being than reported by participants who didn’t jog.
Researchers report that the increased longevity may be even greater for older joggers, and “you don’t actually need to do that much to reap the benefits.” The optimum activity level in the study was reached for a total of 60-150 minutes of jogging at a slow to average pace, two to three times a week.
Researchers ended their presentation of findings at a science conference with these words: “The results of our research allow us to definitively answer the question of whether jogging is good for your health. We can say with certainty that regular jogging increases longevity.”
2. Combining body and brain activity protects your memory.
Earlier studies have found that exercising either the mind or the body protects memory as we age. In a new study from the Mayo Clinic, researchers studied questionnaires completed by 926 Minnesotans, ages 70-93, about their habits of physical and mental exercise and found a synergistic benefit from doing both.
They discovered that combining mentally stimulating activities with moderate exercise decreased the odds of memory loss more than either activity alone.
Moderate exercise included brisk walking, hiking, aerobics, strength training, golfing without a golf cart, swimming, double tennis, yoga, martial arts, using exercise machines and weightlifting.
The study singled out computer use because of its popularity as a common mentally stimulating activity.
Among the study participants who neither exercised nor used a computer, 20.1% were cognitively normal; 37.6% exhibited signs of mild cognitive impairment.
Among participants who did both, 36% were cognitively normal; only 18.3% showed signs of cognitive decline.
Study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings
3. Raisins might be a surprising “health food.” Researchers from the Louisville Metabolic and Atherosclerosis Research Center discovered that people with prehypertension who ate a handful of raisins three times a day significantly reduced their blood pressure readings.
The study, the first clinical trial testing raisins’ effects on blood pressure, compared the effects of snacking on raisins to cookie or cracker snacks among 46 participants with slightly elevated blood pressure readings. Their levels ranged from 120/80 to 139/89 mmHg.
After 12 weeks, people who snacked on raisins had lowered systolic pressure (the first number) as much as 10.2 mmHg.
Researchers attributed the high potassium levels (212 mg/ounce) in raisins as the most obvious contributor to lower systolic readings, but the one gram of dietary fiber in 60 raisins (one ounce) could also help lower readings.
An ounce of raisins has only 85 calories, making it a pretty healthy snack.
Study presented at an American College of Cardiology conference
Study presented to the Heart Rhythm Society
Source: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, August 2012