The saga of Damar Hamlin’s recent collapse during a football game has thrown the dangers of sports-related cardiac arrest into the spotlight. What about this happening to someone much older? A new study brings reassuring news: It’s rare for an older adult to have a sudden cardiac arrest during exercise, and those who do tend to have fewer health issues than those who experience this medical emergency outside of exercise, according to researchers. While exercise is among the most heart-healthy habits, a new study from Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles noted that it can trigger an irregular heart rhythm that leads to sudden cardiac arrest. Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when an electrical malfunction causes a person’s heart to stop beating. Most people die within minutes. In recent years, rates of sudden cardiac arrest have increased for older adults. However, “the annual incidence of sports-related sudden cardiac arrest among older adults is extremely rare,” said senior study author Dr. Sumeet Chugh. He is director of the Heart Rhythm Center in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai. For the new study, his team analyzed cases of sudden cardiac arrest in people aged 65 and older in Portland, Ore., and Ventura County, Calif. The data came from the Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study, which began in 2002, and the Ventura Prediction of Sudden Death in Multi-ethnic Communities study, which…  read on >  read on >

It’s clear that staying active is key to being healthy, and fitness trackers and smartwatches have become popular tools for tracking activity. But just how many steps does someone need to take to lose weight? That’s not such a simple a question. While evidence is limited on exactly how many steps a day it takes to lose weight, experts say to get about 150 to 300 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise weekly, said Amanda Paluch, an assistant professor in the department of kinesiology and Institute for Applied Life Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. That’s about an average of 22 minutes per day on the low end and 45 minutes on the high end, Paluch said. “And we do know that for weight loss and weight maintenance, you really need to get to that higher end,” Paluch said. “We do need to exercise more often at this moderate to vigorous intensity to really see weight loss,” Paluch added, but “we really haven’t figured out how much that equates to in terms of steps per day.” Tracking steps That doesn’t mean a person shouldn’t track their steps. “These types of devices can really help us with tracking and goal-setting,” Paluch said. Harvard Health cited a review of recent studies that found people who were overweight or obese and who had chronic health conditions were…  read on >  read on >

Starting a walking routine is simple because it requires so little: comfortable, supportive walking shoes and your own two feet. Unlike gym workouts, the initial expense is small and the schedule is flexible. “Walking’s a great way to work out because we can integrate it into our daily lives,” said Amanda Paluch, an assistant professor in the department of kinesiology and Institute for Applied Life Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “And if you can just fit it around your house or within your neighborhood, it’s one of the most convenient options,” Paluch said. The benefits abound, too. Even a single bout of walking at a moderate-to-vigorous intensity can improve sleep, memory, ability to think and anxiety, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Harvard Health noted some surprising benefits, including that walking can reduce sugar cravings, ease joint pain, boost immunity, counteract obesity genetics and reduce breast cancer risk. More well-known benefits include lowering high blood pressure and the risk for type 2 diabetes, helping someone maintain a healthy body weight and strengthening the musculoskeletal system, according to Colorado State University. A Texas clinical trial credited a half-hour of power walking or jogging five times weekly with better blood flow in and out of the brain in research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. “Taking just a few more…  read on >  read on >

“Move it or lose it” the saying goes, but too much exercise or playing sports can lead to overuse injuries. These injuries include damage to bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles due to repetitive actions, such running, throwing, biking, lifting and swimming, to name a few. An overuse injury can be the result of poor training techniques such as doing too much too fast; not warming up or cooling down; failing to take enough time to recover after exercise; or not doing the proper cross training to support the activity. Shoulder impingement Shoulder impingement is an overuse injury in the rotator cuff — the muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint. It is caused by “repetitive overhead activities while the shoulder joint is in a forward rotated position,” said Jessica Moyer, owner of Viva Stretch in Jacksonville, Fla., and a sport rehabilitation specialist for nearly 20 years. According to the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, pain is usually felt when lifting overhead, and is most common in active adults in their 30s and 40s. In a hospital release, Dr. Lawrence Gulotta, head of the shoulder and elbow division at the hospital’s Sports Medicine Institute, says this type of injury often stems from poor technique and rushing when lifting weights. How to prevent it: Moyer recommends strengthening the scapular, or shoulder blade, muscles.…  read on >  read on >

A lot of people wear watches that count their every step as they try to move more. Now, a new study finds that getting more of those steps each day, along with moderate-to-vigorous physical exercise, could cut the risk of dementia and thinking impairments for women. For women aged 65 or older, each additional 31 minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was associated with a 21% lower risk of developing mild cognitive (thinking) impairment or dementia, according to the study led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). The risk was 33% lower with each additional 1,865 daily steps. “Given that the onset of dementia begins 20 years or more before symptoms show, early intervention for delaying or preventing cognitive decline and dementia among older adults is essential,” said senior study author Andrea LaCroix, a professor at UCSD’s Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science. Much of past research on movement and sitting in relation to mild cognitive impairment and dementia has used self-reported measures rather than devices, noted first study author Steve Nguyen, a postdoctoral scholar at the School of Public Health. For this study, the researchers included data from 1,277 women who were in Women’s Health Initiative ancillary studies that looked at memory, physical activity and heart health. Study participants wore research-grade accelerometers (a device that…  read on >  read on >

A good physical workout benefits an older brain. So does socializing. Put those two together and the payoff may be even bigger. Researchers in Japan found that link in a new study that looked at exercising solo and in a group. “Exercise is manageable for many older people, and we saw cognitive benefits from it compared with those who don’t exercise,” said study senior author Tomohiro Okura, a professor at the University of Tsukuba in Japan. “But it’s even more noteworthy that we found exercise’s benefits rise — 14.1 percentage points in our study — when performed with others and at least twice a week,” Okura added in a university news release. Starting in 2017, the study collected data on nearly 4,400 older adults for four years in a city 62 miles north of central Tokyo. The investigators analyzed the data to find the relation between cognitive (or mental) decline; exercise in general; and exercise with others. People who exercised alone twice or more weekly decreased their risk of developing impaired thinking or learning skills by more than 15%. Those who exercised with others twice or more weekly showed about a 29% decrease. Exercise provides other physical and mental benefits, such as reducing chronic diseases, including high blood pressure and diabetes, the study authors said in background notes. Socializing is known for reducing development of…  read on >  read on >