Does the Weekend Warrior Lower His/Her Risks of Death – Yes!
Is being a weekend warrior and cramming the recommended amount of weekly physical activity into one or two sessions associated with lower risks for death?
A new article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that compared with inactive adults, weekend warriors who performed the recommended amount of 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity in one or two sessions per week had lower risks for death from all causes, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer.
Although it may be easier to fit less frequent bouts of activity into a busy lifestyle, little has been known about the weekend warrior physical activity pattern.
Gary O’Donovan, Ph.D., of Loughborough University, England, and coauthors conducted an analysis of 63,591 adults who responded to English and Scottish household-based surveys. Data were collected from 1994 to 2012. The authors looked at associations between the weekend warrior and other physical activity patterns and the risk for death from all causes, CVD and cancer.
Among 63,591 adults (average age almost 59), there were 8,802 deaths from all causes, 2,780 deaths from CVD and 2,526 from cancer.
The risk of death from all causes was about 30 percent lower among active adults compared with inactive adults, while the risk of CVD death for these people was 40 percent lower and the risk of cancer death was 18 percent lower.
“The weekend warrior and other physical activity patterns characterized by one or two sessions per week of moderate- or vigorous-intensity physical activity may be sufficient to reduce risks for all-cause, CVD and cancer mortality regardless of adherence to prevailing physical activity guidelines,” the study concludes.
Heartache Tonight – The Eagles
Should Pain and Heart Disease
A new study led by investigators at the University of Utah School of Medicine finds that individuals with symptoms that put them at increased risk for heart disease could be more likely to have shoulder problems, including joint pain and rotator cuff injury.
“If someone has rotator cuff problems, it could be a sign that there is something else going on. They may need to manage risk factors for heart disease,” says the study’s lead author Kurt Hegmann, M.D., M.P.H., Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine and Director of the Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health. The research was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Repeated physical stress is most frequently blamed for aggravating shoulder joints and the muscles and tendons that surround them. Think about a pitcher who throws a baseball 100 times a day. While physical exertion can certainly be an irritant, accumulating evidence points other factors that could also be at play. Previous research found that people who had an increased risk for heart disease also had a tendency toward carpal tunnel syndrome, Achilles tendinitis, and tennis elbow, all musculoskeletal disorders.
The current study by Hegmann and colleagues adds shoulder problems to the list and takes the connection one step further. The more heart disease risk factors that each of the study participants had racked up – including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes – the more likely they were to have had shoulder trouble.
36 participants with the most severe collection of risk factors were 4.6 times more likely than those with none of the risk factors to have had shoulder joint pain. They were also nearly six times more likely to have had a second shoulder condition, rotator cuff tendinopathy. Participants with mid-level heart risk were less likely to have had either shoulder condition, at 1.5 to 3-fold.
It may seem like physical strain would be at least just as likely to cause shoulder pain but data from the 1,226 skilled laborers who took part in the study suggest otherwise. Ergonomists carefully monitored airbag manufacturers, meat, processors, cabinet makers and skilled laborers. Every forceful twist, push, and pull was factored into a strain index assigned to each worker. But a more straining job did not translate to an uptick in shoulder difficulties. Nor did more time spent doing other physical activities.
“What we think we are seeing is that high force can accelerate rotator cuff issues but is not the primary driver,” says Hegmann. “Cardiovascular disease risk factors could be more important than job factors for incurring these types of problems.”
He says it’s possible that controlling blood pressure and other heart risk factors could alleviate shoulder discomfort, too.
Mediterranean Diet May Have Lasting Effects on Brain Health
A new study shows that older people who followed a Mediterranean diet retained more brain volume over a three-year period than those who did not follow the diet as closely. The study was published in the online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. But contrary to earlier studies, eating more fish and less meat was not related to changes in the brain.
The Mediterranean diet includes large amounts of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, beans and cereal grains such as wheat and rice, moderate amounts of fish, dairy and wine, and limited red meat and poultry.
“As we age, the brain shrinks and we lose brain cells which can affect learning and memory,” said study author Michelle Luciano, PhD, of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. “This study adds to the body of evidence that suggests the Mediterranean diet has a positive impact on brain health.”
Researchers gathered information on the eating habits of 967 Scottish people around age 70 who did not have dementia. Of those people, 562 had an MRI brain scan around age 73 to measure overall brain volume, gray matter volume and thickness of the cortex, which is the outer layer of the brain. From that group, 401 people then returned for a second MRI at age 76. These measurements were compared to how closely participants followed the plan.
The participants varied in how closely their dietary habits followed principles. People who didn’t follow as closely to the Mediterranean diet were more likely to have a higher loss of total brain volume over the three years than people who followed the diet more closely. The difference in diet explained 0.5 percent of the variation in total brain volume, an effect that was half the size of that due to normal aging.
The results were the same when researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect brain volume, such as age, education and having diabetes or high blood pressure.
The researchers also found that fish and meat consumption were not related to brain changes, which is contrary to earlier studies.
Luciano noted that earlier studies looked at brain measurements at one point in time, whereas the current study followed people over time.
“In our study, eating habits were measured before brain volume was, which suggests that the diet may be able to provide long-term protection to the brain,” said Luciano. “Still, larger studies are needed to confirm these results.”
Parkinson Disease and Welders
For Welders, Parkinson Disease May Show Itself in Symptoms That Get Worse with Exposure
Welders can develop Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms that may get worse the longer and more they are exposed to the chemical element manganese from welding fumes, according to a study published in Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
“These welders are developing parkinsonian symptoms even though their exposure to manganese is below the current regulatory limits,” said study author Brad A. Racette, MD, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo., and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. “This study suggests that we need more stringent workplace monitoring of manganese exposure, greater use of protective equipment and monitoring and systematic assessment of workers to prevent this disabling disease.”
Welding has been linked to parkinsonism, which is a general term for a group of disorders that cause movement problems similar to those seen in Parkinson disease, such as slow movement and stiffness.
The study involved 886 Midwestern workers at two shipyards and a heavy machinery fabrication shop. The participants were examined by neurologists who specialize in movement disorders at the start of the study, and 398 of them were followed for up to 10 years to test for Parkinson disease symptoms.
The workers’ exposure to manganese was assessed through a questionnaire about their job types and length of time on the job. Average exposure was estimated at a manganese concentration of 0.14 milligrams manganese per cubic meter.
A total of 135 of the workers, or 15 percent, had parkinsonism, with scores of at least 15 on a scale of zero to 108 points. The researchers found that cumulative manganese exposure was associated with a yearly increase in scores on a movement test. Each additional milligram of manganese per cubic meter per year added an estimated 0.24 points on the scale of movement problems.
“For example, a worker who had been a welder for 20 years before the first examination had an estimated 2.8 milligrams manganese per cubic meter years exposure and would be predicted to have nearly a seven-point increase on the movement test related to that welding fume exposure,” Racette said.
The results remained the same after adjusting for other factors that could affect risk of movement disorders, such as smoking, alcohol consumption and pesticide exposure.
The symptoms that got worse with cumulative manganese exposure were slowness of movement in the arms and hands, stiffness in arms and legs, speech problems and reduction of facial expression.
The relationship between welding exposure and increased symptoms was especially strong in welders who did flux core arc welding in a confined space, the welding process that generates the highest levels of particulate matter. It was also strong in workers whose first exam was within five years after they started welding, which may be because workers with higher exposure may develop parkinsonism and then drop out of the workforce, Racette said.
Racette noted that they were unable to measure workers’ cumulative manganese exposure directly. He also said that they cannot rule out the effect of other metals in the welding fumes or other exposures, such as paint and degreasing solvents.
The study was supported by the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Center for Research Resources and National Institutes of Health Roadmap for Medical Research.
To learn more about Parkinson’s disease, visit www.aan.com/patients.