A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences led by Scott Small shows that exercise can lead to new brain cell growth in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is part of the limbic system of the brain and is involved in memory and spatial navigation. Previous research had shown that exercise can result in the growth of new brain cells in mice in their equivalent of the human dentate gyrus (which is part of the hippocampus). In this study 11 people had MRI’s of their brains done and then participated for 3 months in a cardiovascular exercise program. An MRI was was then performed again and it showed an increase in new cell growth in the dentate gyrus of the people’s hippocampus. The new cell growth was measured by detecting an increased blood flow in the dentate gyrus through the MRI.
A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine presented evidence that vigorous cardiovascular exercise seems to decrease the chances of developing breast cancer in some women. This study involved examining data from over 100,000 women. Those that reported that they had exercised for more than 5 hours a week had a 20% less chance of developing invasive breast cancer and a 31% lower risk of early stage breast cancer compared to women who said they only exercised less than a half an hour a day. (I guess if House saw this study he would say that women who lie have a 20% less chance of getting breast cancer )
A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology a while back suggests that women who exercise more have lower chance of getting uterine fibroids. Uterine fibroids – also known as uterine leiomyomas – are benign tumors in the uterus and can result in problems with fertility and pregnancy and well as cause bleeding and pain. Donna Day Baird and her group at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina report that of the more than 1000 women they screened for fibroids that the women who were more active were less likely to have them. More specifically they found that women who exercised for 7 or more hours a week had a 40% lower chance of having them compared to those who exercised less than 2 hours a week. Even women who exercised 4 hours a week had a somewhat lower chance of having them.
The American Heart Association also recently released new guidelines for women to help prevent cardiovascular disease. One the new recommendations is for women to exercise 60 to 90 minutes everyday.
It seems we are always hearing about how regular exercise is good for our health. I wonder how many people really do exercise on a regular basis? And why or why not? I have been for a while now, but not as much as is recommended – maybe only 3-4 hours of cardiovascular exercise a week. I’d like to increase that a bit – but how to find the time?
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