Need to get your shut-eye on time? What you eat could make a difference, according to a new study. Researchers found that college athletes who ate more carbohydrates and vitamins B12 and C tended to go to sleep and wake up earlier. It’s possible that these nutrients might increase synthesis of vital hormones that regulate sleep, including serotonin and melatonin, the authors said. “For athletes, success is measured not only by readiness to perform but also resiliency on and off the field,” said first author Lauren Rentz, a doctoral student at West Virginia University. “We know that sleep helps the body heal from daily physical and mental stress and influences future physical and mental performance,” she said. “The relationship between sleep and nutrient intake hasn’t been researched as thoroughly in high-performing athletes, who consistently experience large amounts of stress.” For the study, researchers evaluated sleep and nutritional patterns of 23 women who play college soccer. Each of the athletes wore a smart ring that tracked their sleep for 31 straight nights during the season. They also recorded their food intake during the final three days. The study found links between nutrient consumption and sleep timing but not duration. Most of the athletes averaged seven to eight hours of sleep a night. They also met recommended intake for many vitamins, but not for all their nutritional…  read on >  read on >

A good sports bra provides more than sturdy support alone for female runners. The increased breast support affects biomechanics in other parts of the body — and, a new study shows, the right sports bra could actually boost a woman’s running performance by 7%. “Our study represents one of a series of research studies on the topic of breast support and whole body biomechanics,” said Douglas Powell, of the Breast Biomechanics Research Center at the University of Memphis. “We wanted to identify strategies to reduce activity-induced breast pain for females, a group that makes up approximately 50% of the population.” For the study, published April 21 in Frontiers in Sports and Active Living, the researchers looked at the influence of breast support on knee joint stiffness during treadmill running. Knee joint stiffness is a measure of the knee’s resistance to movement when force is applied. It has been linked to lower oxygen consumption, improved running performance and running-related injury. There were 12 recreational runners between 18 and 35 years of age professionally fitted with two sports bras. One had high support; the other, low support. The women had self-reported cup sizes of B, C or D. As a control, participants were also asked to perform the experiment bare-chested. Each runner did three-minute running bouts in each of the three randomized breast support conditions: high, low…  read on >  read on >

(HealthDay News) – Damar Hamlin has returned to practice with the Buffalo Bills after recovering from his sudden cardiac arrest during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals in January. Hamlin, 25, said commotio cordis was the cause of his cardiac arrest. “I died on national TV in front of the whole world,” Hamlin told reporters Tuesday. “I lost a bunch of people in my life. I know a bunch of people who lost people in their lives. I know that feeling. That right there is the biggest blessing of it all – for me to still have my people and my people to still have me.” With commotio cordis, severe trauma to the chest can disrupt the heart’s electrical charge and cause dangerous fibrillations. For Hamlin, this happened after making a tackle. He appeared to be hit with a helmet in his chest. Bills General Manager Brandon Beane said Hamlin has seen three separate specialists during the offseason. He “is clear to resume full activities just like anyone else who was coming back from an injury,” Beane said. Hamlin has been participating in offseason workouts this week. “He is fully cleared,” Beane said. “He’s here.” “[Hamlin’s] in a great headspace to come back and make his return,” Beane added. Hamlin said he was blessed by a medical team who “treat me with the care of…  read on >  read on >

Spring brings with it the joy of baseball, but too much of a good thing can lead to elbow injuries in young pitchers. An expert from UT Southwestern in Dallas offers some tips for youth baseball players, their parents and coaches about avoiding and being aware of injuries, including tears or ruptures of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). “Athletes 18 and younger should not pitch more than 100 innings in games during a calendar year,” said Dr. Nathan Boes, an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and director of sports medicine for Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. “And they should take four months a year with no competitive pitching.” UCL injuries are the most common elbow injury among baseball players of all ages, from youth to major leagues. When the injury is severe, it can require reconstructive surgery, sometimes called Tommy John surgery, named after the pitcher who was the first to have the procedure in 1974 while with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The UCL runs along the inside of the elbow, with three bands that connect the upper arm bone to the largest of the forearm bones. What happens is that pitching’s repetitive motion causes microtraumas in the UCL. Symptoms include a popping sensation, swelling or irritation on the inside of the elbow, pain while throwing and numbness…  read on >  read on >

For those who want to get active but feel that joining a gym or exercising on a daily basis is a bridge too far, new research may have found the sweet spot: walking. After stacking the walking habits of 3,100 adults up against a decade’s worth of health outcomes, investigators concluded that those who logged roughly 8,000 steps in a single day — even if only just one day a week — reduced their risk for premature death. An 8,000-step jaunt is hardly a quick stroll around the block. It’s equivalent to about 4 miles a day. But the study team counted all steps taken — including while doing chores or shopping for groceries — not just dedicated walks. And in the end, logging one or two 4-mile days per week lowered the risk for premature death by roughly 15%. An even greater benefit was seen among those who logged 4-mile walks three days a week. They lowered their risk by nearly 17%, though the benefit appeared to max out at three days per week; no additional protection was seen among those who walked 4 miles on four or more days. “Our findings should not discourage walking as many days as possible,” said study author Dr. Kosuke Inoue, a physician-scientist in chronic disease epidemiology at Kyoto University in Japan. “The more, the better. But they…  read on >  read on >

It can be downright discouraging to work hard to lose 10 pounds, only to regain a few later. But don’t be downhearted — a new evidence review says the important heart health benefits of weight loss are sustained even if some of the weight comes back. People who drop some pounds still have lower blood pressure and better cholesterol and blood sugar numbers even if they regain a little, British researchers reported March 28 in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. “It should serve as encouragement for people to try to lose weight, and do so in the most effective way by joining a behavioral weight loss program,” said senior researcher Paul Aveyard, a professor of behavioral medicine at the University of Oxford. “Even if weight is regained, which most people do, the health benefits persist.” For this review, Aveyard’s team analyzed the combined results of 124 weight loss clinical trials involving more than 50,000 people and with an average follow-up of more than two years. The participants’ average age was 51, and their average body mass index (BMI) was 33, which is considered obese. BMI is an estimate of body fat based on height and weight. On average, people assigned to a weight loss program shed 5 to 10 pounds as a result of the initial experiment, which typically lasted around seven months.…  read on >  read on >

It’s long been thought that working out helps a person stay sharp, but a new review argues there’s little solid scientific evidence for the mental benefits of physical exercise. Individual clinical trial results have tended to support the idea that regular exercise helps maintain brain health. But a combined review of 109 trials involving more than 11,000 healthy folks found evidence for that notion is weak overall, according to findings published March 27 in Nature Human Behavior. “There is little evidence for a positive relationship between regular physical exercise and improved cognition in healthy people,” said lead researcher Luis Ciria, a postdoctoral researcher with the Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Center at the University of Granada in Spain. “Our findings suggest caution in claims and recommendations linking regular physical exercise to cognitive benefits in the healthy human population until more reliable causal evidence accumulates,” he added. The new evidence review focused on clinical trials, which are considered the gold standard for assessing the effectiveness of drugs or therapies. Evidence for the physical benefits of exercise has steadily accumulated over the last century, Ciria said, which suggests working out might benefit the brain as well. “If physical exercise positively affects so many physiological systems, why wouldn’t it have a beneficial effect on the brain?” he said. During the last 50 years, there has been a steady…  read on >  read on >

A new study hones in on what part of your brain controls walking. Researchers discovered that two main regions of the cortex were activated as people moved in various ways through an environment. But the occipital place area (OPA) didn’t activate during crawling, while the second region, the retrosplenial complex (RSC), did. RSC supports map-based navigation, according to the researchers. This involves finding the way from a specific place to some distant, out-of-sight place. Study co-author Daniel Dilks, of Emory University in Atlanta, has theorized that OPA supports visually guided navigation, such as moving through the kitchen without bumping into things. His theory has been controversial, in part because the OPA doesn’t seem to support visually guided navigation until around age 8 and yet young kids still manage to walk through their homes before that and to crawl even earlier. “We asked ourselves, ‘Does the OPA come on early, but just mature slowly?’” Dilks said. “Or does crawling use an entirely different system?” If OPA just matured slowly, then it should be activated by both walking and crawling, Dilks reasoned. To test this theory, he and his team recorded videos from the perspective of someone walking through an environment. They then made similar videos from the perspective of someone crawling through that same environment. The researchers also patched together random shots of the videos and…  read on >  read on >

Exercise can help improve movement-related symptoms for people who have Parkinson’s disease, a new review finds. And any type of structured exercise is better than none, researchers added. The findings were published recently in the Cochrane Reviews. “Parkinson’s disease cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be relieved, and physiotherapy or other forms of exercise may help, too. Until now, it has been unclear whether some types of exercise work better than others,” said Elke Kalbe, a professor of medical psychology at the University of Cologne in Germany. “We wanted to find out what exercise works best to improve movement and quality of life,” she said in a journal news release. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that mostly affects people over 60. Symptoms can include trembling, stiffness, slowness of movement, balance issues and lack of coordination. Patients may also have emotional and mood problems, fatigue, sleep problems and thinking difficulties. In the new review, published researchers analyzed 156 randomized controlled trials, comparing exercise with no exercise and with different types of exercise. The trials included nearly 8,000 people from around the world, which the authors said made this the largest and most comprehensive systematic review on the effects of physical exercise in people with Parkinson’s. The reviewers found that physical exercise including dance, water exercise, strength and resistance exercise, endurance…  read on >  read on >

Problems walking and talking or thinking at the same time might be a warning sign of impending dementia, a new study suggests. Being unable to juggle two tasks simultaneously has been recognized as a sign of mental (or “cognitive”) decline after age 65, but this research shows that the ability actually starts to fall off in middle-age. The finding could spur calls for earlier screening, researchers say. “The ability to maintain walking performance while performing another task, a common scenario of walking in daily life, starts to decline in the middle of the sixth decade of lifespan,” said lead researcher Junhong Zhou. He’s an assistant scientist at the Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research at Harvard Medical School, in Boston. The decline of dual-task walking can lead to falls and injuries. Zhou said it’s closely linked to thinking skills and underlying brain function. “This outcome would be a marker for brain health and, in turn, taking interventions that target cognitive function may help preserve and enhance the dual-task walking, reducing the risk of dementia in later life,” Zhou said. With advancing age, the brain’s ability to handle multiple tasks at the same time is diminished, he noted. And the ability to dual task while walking drops off by age 55 — up to a decade sooner than what is traditionally defined as “old…  read on >  read on >