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Excercise and fitness in old age

Excercise and fitness in old age


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I have seen so many news and study online, saying exercise keeps body healthy in old age and keeps us fit? how is this possible normal tear and wear will become more with activity hence more mutation hence more loss. Why exercise help?

Tear and wear means lots of regeneration in our body, regeneration will lead to mutations, no regeneration is perfect, hence more regeneration's, more risk of bad DNA.


Not all "wear and tear" is bad. I will provide only one example. Trust me, I can provide many more, but I think one is sufficient to answer your question.

Exercise (against resistance, e.g. even gravity) is known to strengthen bones, for example. The stronger your bones, the less likely they will break as a result of a fall. While that sounds kinda "meh", it's incredibly important in the elderly, because once they sustain a fracture, their activity level falls dramatically for fear of sustaining another fall/fracture. Because of this, they have a decrease in muscle mass, a decrease in lung capacity, a decrease in cardiac fitness and an overall acceleration in decline of motor function, as well as a decreased quality of life.

Low-impact fractures, commonly called fragility fractures, have even higher mortality. Older patients with injuries from a fall have five times the mortality that their same age colleagues have from injuries from MVCs (motor vehicle accidents.) Five-year survival after an osteoporotic hip fracture is similar to that of patients with breast or other cancer. Almost one in 13 (7.5%) of those with fragility fractures will die within 90 days of fracture.*… A fracture can be a devastating blow to an older adult's health and independence, decreasing functional status and quality of life permanently. While some may recover their independence, half of older adults will require home health care in the 6 months following a fracture, and many will have long-term functional decline.

"Wear and tear" is good for muscles, bones, the heart, the lungs, balance, proprioception, and a number of other systems which help to prolong life, as well as the quality of life.

*Mortality is mainly with regards to hip fracture.

Fractures in Older Adults


Exercise has been regarded as important to human health for thousands of years, beginning with ancient cultures. The Greek physician Hippocrates is one of the earliest-recorded and most well-known proponents of exercise. He recommended moderate exercise in order to stay healthy and even improve health. Other prominent ancient scholars throughout history followed suit, including Plato, Aristotle, and the Roman physician Galen, who believed that exercise improved general health, metabolism, and muscle tone, and even led to better bowel movements. Later, the Persian physician Avicenna also wrote in support of Galen in the medical text Canon of Medicine. Avicenna believed that exercise balanced the four body humors (an idea that was popular at the time and had been passed down from Ancient Greece). Importantly, he also recognized that too much exercise could have negative effects on the body.

In the 16th Century, around the start of Scientific Revolution, physicians began to write books on exercise. One of the earliest known books on exercise was Book of Bodily Exercise, written by the Spanish physician Cristobal Mendez. In his book, Mendez discussed benefits, types, and values of exercise, along with common exercises and why they were important to perform. In the 19th Century, some medical textbooks began to include chapters on exercise. The negative effects of lack of exercise, including poor circulation, weakness, and increased likelihood of disease, became more well-known. As the importance of physical activity became more and more important, schools also began to offer physical education classes, which required students to perform exercises for a set period of time each day.

The first true exercise physiology textbook, Exercise in Education and Medicine by Dr. R. Tait McKenzie, was published in 1910. Laboratories devoted to the study of exercise physiology were also established in the 20th Century. These included the Harvard Fatigue Laboratory, opened in 1927, and the Physical Fitness Research Laboratory at University of Illinois, opened in 1944. These schools conducted numerous on such topics as fatigue, cardiovascular changes during exercise, oxygen uptake by the body, and the effects of training. In 1948, the Journal of Applied Physiology began to be published. This journal publishes peer-reviewed research in exercise physiology and still exists today. While contributing greatly to our understanding of exercise’s effects, exercise physiology labs also trained numerous scientists who would go on to found their own exercise physiology laboratories in universities and medical schools all over the world.


60 mins (1 hour) or more of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity daily

A variety of enjoyable physical activities

As part of the 60 minutes, on at least 3 days a week, children and adolescents need:

  • Vigorous Activity such as running or soccer
  • Activity that strengthens muscles such as climbing or push ups
  • Activity that strengthens bones such as gymnastics or jumping rope

So why do they do it?

Pam Jones, 79, told me: "I do it for my health, because it's sociable, and because I enjoy the freedom it gives you."

Brian Matkins, 82, said: "One of the first results I got from the medical study was I was told my body fat was comparable to that of a 19-year-old."

Aged just 64, Jim Woods, is a comparative youngster in the group. He averages 100 miles a week on his bike, with more during the summer.

He said: "I cycle for a sense of wellbeing and to enjoy our wonderful countryside."

Cycling 60 miles or more may not be your idea of fun, but these riders have found something that gives them pleasure, which is a key reason why they continue.


For Even Greater Health Benefits

If you go beyond 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity (60 minutes a day, 5 days a week), or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity (30 minutes a day, 5 days a week), or an equivalent combination, you&rsquoll gain even more health benefits.

  • Multicomponent physical activity includes more than one type of physical activity, such as aerobic activity, muscle-strengthening activity, and balance training. Multicomponent physical activity can be done at home or in a community setting as part of a structured program that includes a combination of balance, muscle-strengthening, and aerobic physical activity, and may include gait, coordination, and physical function training. Recreational activities such as dancing, yoga, tai chi, gardening, or sports can also be considered multicomponent because they often incorporate multiple types of physical activity.
  • Older adults should include stretching and balance activities as part of their weekly physical activity. Doing multicomponent physical activities can help reduce the risk of injury from falls and improve physical function.

Aerobic physical activity or &ldquocardio&rdquo gets you breathing harder and your heart beating faster. From pushing a lawn mower, to taking a dance class, to walking or biking to the store &ndash these types of activities and more count. As long as you&rsquore doing aerobic physical activities at a moderate- or vigorous-intensity, they count towards meeting the aerobic guideline. Even something as simple as walking is a great way to get the aerobic activity you need, as long as it&rsquos at a moderately intense pace.

Intensity is how hard your body is working during physical activity. Try a few of these aerobic activities:

  • Walking or hiking
  • Some forms of yoga
  • Some yard work, such as raking and pushing a lawn mower
  • Bicycle riding (stationary or outdoors)
  • Water aerobics

How do you know if you&rsquore doing moderate or vigorous aerobic activity?

On a 10-point scale, where sitting is 0 and working as hard as you can is 10, moderate-intensity aerobic activity is a 5 or 6. It will make you breathe harder and your heart beat faster. You&rsquoll also notice that you&rsquoll be able to talk, but not sing the words to your favorite song.

Vigorous-intensity activity is a 7 or 8 on this scale. Your heart rate will increase quite a bit, and you&rsquoll be breathing hard enough that you won&rsquot be able to say more than a few words without stopping to catch your breath.

You can do moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or a mix of the two each week. Intensity is how hard your body is working during aerobic activity. A rule of thumb is that 1 minute of vigorous-intensity activity is about the same as 2 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.

Everyone&rsquos fitness level is different. This means that walking may feel like a moderate-intensity activity to you, but for others, it may feel vigorous. It all depends on you &ndash the shape you&rsquore in, what you feel comfortable doing, and your health condition. What&rsquos important is that you do physical activities that are right for you and your abilities.

Besides aerobic activity, you need to do things to make your muscles stronger at least 2 days a week. These types of activities will help keep you from losing muscle as you get older.

To gain health benefits, you need to do muscle-strengthening activities to the point where it&rsquos hard for you to do another repetition without help. A repetition is one complete movement of an activity, like lifting a weight or doing one sit-up. Try to do 8-12 repetitions per activity, which counts as 1 set. Try to do at least 1 set of muscle-strengthening activities, but to gain even more benefits, do 2 or 3 sets.

There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether it&rsquos at home or the gym. The activities you choose should work all the major muscle groups of your body (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms). You may want to try:


Now is not the time to stop moving

Staying active can be challenging, as many older adults are remaining at home most, if not all, of the time to avoid the novel coronavirus. As a result, the very changes in lifestyle that keep people safe from exposure can also result in their adopting sedentary habits – which leave people vulnerable to serious health consequences should they get COVID-19.

Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, which gets the heart pumping hard and improves cardiorespiratory fitness, has multiple health benefits, including reduced risk for stroke, heart attack, depression and age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that older adults get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise. That means three 50-minute sessions each week, or a little over 20 minutes per day.


Myths About Exercise and Older Adults

Have you given up on exercise? A lot of older people do -- just one out of four people between the ages of 65 and 74 exercises regularly. Many people assume that they're too out-of-shape, or sick, or tired, or just plain old to exercise. They're wrong.

"Exercise is almost always good for people of any age," says Chhanda Dutta, PhD, chief of the Clinical Gerontology Branch at the National Institute on Aging. Exercise can help make you stronger, prevent bone loss, improve balance and coordination, lift your mood, boost your memory, and ease the symptoms of many chronic conditions.

Here are some common myths that stop older people from exercising -- along with some expert advice to get you started working out.

Exercise Myth: Trying to exercise and get healthy is pointless -- decline in old age is inevitable.

"There's a powerful myth that getting older means getting decrepit," says Dutta. "It's not true. Some people in their 70s, 80s, and 90s are out there running marathons and becoming body-builders." A lot of the symptoms that we associate with old age -- such as weakness and loss of balance -- are actually symptoms of inactivity, not age, says Alicia I. Arbaje, MD, MPH, assistant professor of Geriatrics and Gerontology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Exercise improves more than your physical health. It can also boost memory and help prevent dementia. And it can help you maintain your independence and your way of life. If you stay strong and agile as you age, you'll be more able to keep doing the things you enjoy and less likely to need help.

Exercise Myth: Exercise isn't safe for someone my age -- I don't want to fall and break a hip.

In fact, studies show that exercise can reduce your chances of a fall, says Dutta. Exercise builds strength, balance, and agility. Exercises like tai chi may be especially helpful in improving balance. Worried about osteoporosis and weak bones? One of the best ways to strengthen them is with regular exercise.

Exercise Myth: Since I'm older, I need to check with my doctor before I exercise.

Continued

If you have a medical condition or any unexplained symptoms or you haven't had a physical in a long time, check with your doctor before you start exercising. Otherwise, go ahead. "People don't need to check with a doctor before they exercise just because they're older," says Dutta. Just go slowly and don't overdo it.

Exercise Myth: I'm sick, so I shouldn't exercise.

On the contrary, if you have a chronic health problem -- such as arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease -- exercise is almost certainly a good idea. Check with a doctor first, but exercise will probably help.

"Exercise is almost like a silver bullet for lots of health problems," says Arbaje. "For many people, exercise can do as much if not more good than the 5 to 10 medications they take every day."

Exercise Myth: I'm afraid I might have a heart attack.

We've all heard about people who had heart attacks while exercising. It can happen. However, the many health benefits of exercise far exceed the small risk. "Being a couch potato is actually more dangerous than being physically active," says Dutta. "That's true for the risk of heart disease and many other conditions."

Exercise Myth: I never really exercised before -- it's too late to make a difference in my health.

It may seem too late to atone for a lifetime of not exercising. "That's absolutely not true," says Dutta. Studies have found that even in people in their nineties living in nursing homes, starting an exercise routine can boost muscle strength. Other research shows that starting exercise late in life can still cut the risk of health problems -- such as diabetes --and improve symptoms. "It really is never too late to start exercising and reaping the benefits," Dutta tells WebMD.

Exercise Myth: Exercise will hurt my joints.

If you're in chronic pain from arthritis, exercising may seem too painful. Here's a counterintuitive fact: studies show that exercising helps with arthritis pain. One study of people over age 60 with knee arthritis found that those who exercised more had less pain and better joint function.

Continued

Exercise Myth: I don't have time.

This is a myth that's common in all age groups. Experts recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week. That might sound like a lot. Actually, it's only a little over 20 minutes a day. What's more, you don't have to do it all in one chunk. You can split it up. For instance, take a 10-minute walk in the morning and pedal on a stationary bike for 15 minutes in the evening -- you're done.

Exercise Myth: I'm too weak to start exercising.

Maybe you just recovered from an illness or surgery and are feeling too weak even to walk around the block. Maybe you only get out of the chair each day to go to the bathroom. If so, start there. Decide today to get in and out of your chair 10 times. As you do it more, your strength will increase and you can set higher goals.

Exercise Myth: I'm disabled, so I can't exercise.

"A disability can make exercise challenging, but there really is no excuse for not doing some sort of exercise," says Arbaje. If you’re in a wheelchair, you can use your arms to get an aerobic workout and build strength. Even people who are bedridden can find ways to exercise, she says. Talk to a doctor or a physical therapist about ways you can modify exercises to work around your disability.

Exercise Myth: I can't afford it -- I don't have the budget to join a gym or buy equipment.

Gym memberships and home treadmills can be expensive. Still, that's no reason to skip exercising, Dutta says. You can exercise for free. Walking doesn't cost anything. Look into free demonstration classes at your local senior center. If you want to lift weights at home, use soup cans or milk jugs filled with sand. Use your dining room chair for exercises that improve balance and flexibility. If you have a health problem, insurance may cover a few sessions with a physical trainer or an occupational therapist, says Arbaje. There are lots of ways to get fit at low or no cost.

Continued

Exercise Myth: Gyms are for young people.

"The gym scene can be intimidating for older people," says Dutta. Look to see if gyms in your area have offerings for seniors or people new to exercise. If you're retired, try going in the middle of the day, so you can avoid the before and after-work rush. "Find an environment where you feel comfortable exercising," says Arbaje.

Exercise Myth: Exercise is boring.

If exercise is boring, you're not doing it right. Exercise doesn't even have to feel like exercise.

Remember that any physical activity counts. Whether it's catching up with a friend while you walk the mall, or taking a dance class, or chasing your grandchildren, or bowling, or raking, or gardening, or volunteering at your local school system or park, it's physical activity.

"Don’t forget sex," says Arbaje. "That's good exercise too."

The key is to figure out something you enjoy doing and do that. When you get tired of it, try something new. "The type of exercise doesn't matter," says Arbaje. "The best exercise is the one that you actually do."

Sources

Alicia I. Arbaje, MD, MPH, assistant professor, Geriatrics and Gerontology associate director of Transitional Care Research, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore.

Chhanda Dutta, PhD, Chief, Clinical Gerontology Branch, Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity: Strength Training for Older Adults: Introduction.

National Institute on Aging -- Go4Life: Being physically active without spending a dime, Fitness Centers Aren't Just for Kids, Stay Safe, 4 Types of Exercise, How Exercise Can Help You, New Go4Life campaign focuses on fitness for older adults.


Fitness inspiration

1. Try activities that mirror your interests and stick to a routine: According to fitness pro David Higgins, “Do what you enjoy - maybe something social like dancing. Whatever it is, go with your partner or friends as you will keep yourselves motivated.” Once you’ve made the decision to get fit, stick to it as best as you can. He adds, “Make it a priority. Put it in your diary and keep it there. Consistency is the building block to creating habit.”

2. Get out and about: TenPilates Master Trainer Luke Meessman stresses the importance of making conscious fitness choices in order to be as active as possible. “Move as much as you can, including simple weight bearing exercise such as getting up and down stairs and walking up escalators. Weight bearing and resistance exercise is good for maintaining the health of the body’s bones - important for keeping osteoporosis in check.”

3. You don’t need to live and breathe in the gym: TenPilates Trainer Jason Reynolds suggests improvising with equipment that you may have at home. “Cans of beans and bottled drinks make perfect hand weights for bicep curls and lateral raises sitting on a chair with a soft cushion will make you activate your core and glutes to stop you wobbling around and just a few trips up and down the stairs will get those leg muscles working hard - not to mention your heart!”

4. Work out your kinks: TenPhysio Sports Therapist Evelyn Kummer recommends having a good sports massage, especially if you haven't been looking after yourselves recently. “It can really benefit your general health and fitness by releasing tension that has been building up for a while.”

5. Start the day right: TenPilates Trainer Johanna Francis suggests giving your day a boost from the very start. “Drink a cup of lukewarm water with a slice of lemon every morning before anything else. It’s great for the skin, aids digestion and kick-starts your liver and kidney functions.”

6. Don’t be a slouch: Master Trainer Adam Ridler stresses the importance of good posture: “Think tall, use your postural muscles, sit up straight and draw your shoulders back to eliminate stooping!”


Sport in old age can stimulate brain fitness, but effect decreases with advancing age

Physical exercise in old age can improve brain perfusion as well as certain memory skills. This is the finding of Magdeburg neuroscientists who studied men and women aged between 60 and 77. In younger individuals regular training on a treadmill tended to improve cerebral blood flow and visual memory. However, trial participants who were older than 70 years of age tended to show no benefit of exercise. Thus, the study also indicates that the benefits of exercise may be limited by advancing age. Researchers of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), the University of Magdeburg and the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology have published these results in the current edition of the journal Molecular Psychiatry. Scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development were also involved in the study.

The 40 test volunteers were healthy for their age, sedentary when the study commenced and divided into two groups. About half of the study participants exercised regularly on a treadmill for 3 months. The other individuals merely performed muscle relaxation sessions. In 7 out of 9 members of the exercise group who were not more than 70 years old, the training improved physical fitness and also tended to increase perfusion in the hippocampus -- an area of the brain which is important for memory function. The increased perfusion was accompanied by improved visual memory: at the end of the study, these individuals found it easier to memorize abstract images than at the beginning of the training program. These effects were largely absent in older volunteers who participated in the workout as well as in the members of the control group.

The study included extensive tests of the volunteers' physical condition and memory. Furthermore, the study participants were examined by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This technique enables detailed insights into the interior of the brain.

Exercising against dementia

Physical exercise is known to have considerable health benefits: the effects on the body have been researched extensively, the effects on brain function less so. An increase in brain perfusion through physical exercise had previously only been demonstrated empirically in younger people. The new study shows that some aging brains also retain this ability to adapt, even though it seems to decrease with advancing age. Furthermore, the results indicate that changes in memory performance resulting from physical exercise are closely linked to changes in brain perfusion.

"Ultimately, we aim to develop measures to purposefully counteract dementia such as Alzheimer's disease. This is why we want to understand the effects of physical exercise on the brain and the related neurobiological mechanisms. This is essential for developing treatments that are truly effective," is how Professor Emrah Düzel, site speaker of the DZNE in Magdeburg and director of the Institute of Cognitive Neurology and Dementia Research at the University of Magdeburg, explains the background to the study.

The goal: new brain cells

The researchers' goal is to cause new nerve cells to grow in the brain. This is how they intend to counter the loss of neurons typical of dementia. "The human brain is able to change and evolve throughout our lives. New nerve cells can form even in adult brains," says Düzel. "Our aim is to stimulate this so-called neurogenesis. We don't yet know whether our training methods promote the development of new brain cells. However, fundamental research shows that the formation of new brain cells often goes hand in hand with improved brain perfusion."

Changes in the hippocampus

Indeed, it did turn out that the treadmill exercise sessions caused more blood to reach the hippocampus in younger participants. "This improves the supply of oxygen and nutrients and may also have other positive effects on the brain's metabolism," says the neuroscientist. "However, we have also seen that the effect of the training decreases with age. It is less effective in people aged over 70 than in people in their early 60s. It will be an important goal of our research to understand the causes for this and to find remedies."

Düzel adds: "It is encouraging to see that visual memory improved as brain perfusion increased. However, effective treatments would also have to affect other brain functions. In our study, the effect was limited to visual short-term memory."

A combined training for body and mind

Other experiments are now under way in Magdeburg in which test participants are sent on an unusual kind of scavenger hunt: they are assigned the task of finding objects concealed in a computer-generated landscape which is pictured on a large screen. Movement control in this virtual world is done with the help of a treadmill. "This complex situation makes high demands on motor skills and sense of orientation," explains Düzel. "It challenges both the brain as well as the muscles."

In the long term, the scientists aim to include people in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease in their study program. "We are looking for ways of delaying or even stopping the progression of the disease. And we are also researching methods of prevention," emphasizes Düzel. "Connecting physical activity and mental exercise may have a broad impact, and combined training might become a therapeutic approach. However, this has yet to be shown. In fact, our current results suggest that we may need pharmacological treatments to make exercise more effective."


Physical exercise and wellbeing

There are consistent evidences that PE has many benefits for people of any age, improving psychological wellbeing (Zubala et al., 2017) and quality of life (Penedo and Dahn, 2005 Windle et al., 2010 Table ​ Table3 3 ).

Table 3

Biological and psychological effects of PE (Adapted from Weinberg and Gould, 2015).

PE effects on psychological wellbeing
Biological effectsPsychological benefits
Increased cerebral blood flow, maximal oxygen consumption and delivery of oxygen to cerebral tissue, reduction in muscle tension, increased serum concentrations of endocannabinoid receptors [1]
Cerebral structural changes, increased levels of neurotransmitters (e.g., serotonin, beta-endorphins) [2]
PE decreases: anxiety, depression, dysfunctional and psychotic behaviors, hostility, tension, phobias, headaches [3]

In children, PE is correlated with high levels of self-efficacy, tasks goal orientation, and perceived competence (Biddle et al., 2011). In youth and adulthood, most studies evidenced that PE is associated with better health outcomes, such as better mood and self-concept (Berger and Motl, 2001 Landers and Arent, 2001 Penedo and Dahn, 2005). In the aging population, PE helps maintaining independence (Stessman et al., 2009), favoring social relations and mental health.

It was now well-accepted that is the interaction between biological and psychological mechanisms linked to PE enhances the wellbeing (Penedo and Dahn, 2005). Biological mechanisms of beneficial effects of PE are mainly related to increasing in cerebral blood flow and in maximal oxygen consumption, to delivery of oxygen to cerebral tissue, to reduction in muscle tension and to increased serum concentrations of endocannabinoid receptors (Thomas et al., 1989 Dietrich and McDaniel, 2004 Querido and Sheel, 2007 Gomes da Silva et al., 2010 Ferreira-Vieira et al., 2014). Moreover, neuroplasticity phenomena such as changes in neurotransmitters are recognized to affect wellbeing. For example, PE increases the levels of serotonin (Young, 2007 Korb et al., 2010) and the levels of beta-endorphins, such as anandamide (Fuss et al., 2015).

Among the psychological hypothesis proposed to explain how PE enhances wellbeing, it has been underlined feeling of control (Weinberg and Gould, 2015), competency and self-efficacy (Craft, 2005 Rodgers et al., 2014), improved self-concept and self-esteem (Marsh and Sonstroem, 1995 Fox, 2000 Zamani Sani et al., 2016), positive social interactions and opportunities for fun and enjoyment (Raedeke, 2007 Bartlett et al., 2011).

Psychological research evidenced that PE can even modulate the personality and the development of Self (Weinberg and Gould, 2015). Moreover, PE has been correlated with hardiness, a personality style that enables a person to withstand or cope with stressful situations (Weinberg and Gould, 2015).

In the following sections, we will focus on correlations among PE and the most common mental illnesses.

Depression and anxiety

Depression is the most common type of mental illness and will be the second leading cause of disease by 2020 (Farioli-Vecchioli et al., 2018). Similar entity concerns anxiety disorders that are among the most prevalent mental disorders in the world population (Weinberg and Gould, 2015).

Epidemiological studies have consistently reported benefits of PE on reductions in depression (Mammen and Faulkner, 2013) and anxiety (DeBoer et al., 2012). For example, it has been seen that individuals that practice PE regularly are less depressed or anxious than those who do not (De Moor et al., 2006), suggesting the use of exercise as a treatment for these illnesses (Carek et al., 2011).

Most of the research on the relationship between PE and positive changes in mood state has evidenced positive effects, especially as a consequence of aerobic exercise, regardless of the specific type of activity (Knapen et al., 2009), even if the correct intensity of aerobic PE to control and reduce symptoms is debated (de Souza Moura et al., 2015). For example, it has been revealed that after about 16 weeks of an aerobic exercise program, individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD), significantly reduced their depressive symptoms (Craft and Perna, 2004). However, there are evidenced that documented that even anaerobic activity has positive effects on treatment of clinical depression (Martinsen, 1990). For anxiety disorders, it has been evidenced that the positive effects of PE are visible even with short bursts of exercise, independently from the nature of the exercise (Scully et al., 1998).

A physiologic mechanism correlated to the improvement in depressed mood post-exercise PE was identified in modulation of peripheral levels of BDNF (Coelho et al., 2013). In this line, it was suggested recently that the intensity of exercise to improve mood should be prescribed on individual basis and not on the patient's preferred intensity (Meyer et al., 2016a,b). Conversely, physical inactivity correlated to worse depressive symptoms and, then, to lower peripheral levels of BDNF (Brunoni et al., 2008). Post-PE mood improvement might also be due to lower oxidative stress (Thomson et al., 2015). In this contest, it was evidenced that there is an abnormal oxidative stress in individuals with MDD or bipolar disorder (Cataldo et al., 2010 Andreazza et al., 2013) and that PE, particularly in higher intensity, decreases oxidative stress with consequent mood improvement (Urso and Clarkson, 2003).

Addictive and unhealthy behaviors

PE has been widely evidenced to be an effective tool for treating several addictive and unhealthy behaviors. PE tends to reduce and prevent behaviors such as smoking, alcohol, and gambling, and to regulate the impulse for hunger and satiety (Vatansever-Ozen et al., 2011 Tiryaki-Sonmez et al., 2015). In this context, several studies evidenced substance abusers benefit from regular PE, that also helps increasing healthy behaviors (Giesen et al., 2015). It has been evidenced that regular PE reduces tobacco cravings and cigarette use (Haasova et al., 2013). Although PE has positive effects on psychological wellbeing, in this context it is right underline that in some cases PE could reveal unhealthy behaviors with negative consequence on health (Schwellnus et al., 2016). It is the case of exercise addiction, a dependence on a regular regimen of exercise that is characterized by withdrawal symptoms, after 24� h without exercise (Sachs, 1981), such as anxiety, irritability, guilt, muscle twitching, a bloated feeling, and nervousness (Weinberg and Gould, 2015). There is a strong correlation between exercise addiction and eating disorders (Scully et al., 1998) suggesting thus a comorbidity of these disorders and a common biological substrate. In particular, recent studies have shown that these unhealthy behaviors are associated to lower prefrontal cortex volume, activity and oxygenation, with consequent impairment in cognitive functions, such as the inhibitory control with the consequent compulsive behaviors (Asensio et al., 2016 Wang et al., 2016 Pahng et al., 2017). Also, it has been seen that a few days of PE increase oxygenation of prefrontal cortex, improving mental health (Cabral et al., 2017).


Meri Fitness

What did Lance Armstrong miss most while battling against cancer? His bicycle- that had won him three victories at the Tour De France. What was Indian cricketer Irfan Pathan’s most prized possession as a child? A bicycle again. Such is the charm of the good old bicycle, which is dubbed as the transport for a poor, a hobby for a rich and a necessity for an unfit.

However, cycling would not have its long-term health benefits if it were not practiced with much consideration. One such consideration happens to be choosing the right bike. The kind of cycle plays a key role in getting a person comfortable with cycling that finally leads to several fitness and health merits.

If we are serous about exercising through cycling, it is crucial to pay a lot of attention to the selection of the bike. In India, bicycles are available for all kinds of purposes, likes and gender of the people. Some tips should help in the venture.

Right mindset: It is important that a person is very sure of the purpose behind his buying the bike. Though, if one has a bike already, one may go ahead and start cycling. But if there is an option of buying, he or she must ask a few questions like whether one is a new cyclist or one is starting to cycle due to fitness issues. Other considerations could be if a person has been advised by the doctor to start cycling. In this case, he or she has to choose a bike, which is in accordance with the body posture as advised by the physician. For example, racing bikes involve bending down which may be fatal for people with backaches.

Another similar consideration could be whether one is selecting a bike for an event like the triathlon etc or for taking up off-road riding. There is a fair chance and is also the tendency of most Indians that we start an exercise regimen after seeing a group of friends do the same. The same could be true for cycling as well.

Frequency of cycling: Another consideration before investing money on a cycle is for how many times a week, a day or a month one would go for cycling. Many young people pick up something simply out of fun or because their peers are doing it. Sometimes, this results in irregularity. The quality of the bike to be bought would largely depend on how frequently it would be used in a week.

Then there are cycling clubs in many Indian cities and they require their members to have a certain kind of bike to maintain uniformity in the group. This also is a determining factor in choosing the bike. If this is not so, then a person may go for a simple comfort bike.

Personality and location: Location determines the kind of bike to be bought. In India, residential areas have good and bad roads. Thus, one must buy a bike considering rainy seasons too as weather and quality of roads would take a beating on the cycle. The next important factor is one’s personality. A brainy and simple IT professional might be embarrassed if seen on a flashy kind of bike. Hence, this should be thought much before buying a bike.

Budget: This is a vital aspect of choosing the right bike. We must invest in a decent bike that would last for many years, if we are serious about cycling as an exercise. Avon cyles and Hero cycles have an array of quality and kind of bikes that range from bikes for men, women and children. This also determines how much money would one’s pocket allow to be spent on the same.

Types of Bikes: The next important consideration in choosing the right bike is the type of bike that would suit a person. Every person has his own body type and reasons for cycling. Some of the major types of bike are:

1) Comfort Bikes: These give the least amount of stress on the body. Such bikes are best for leisurely town riding, cruising by the shore, vacation outings and any fun.

2) Hybrid Bikes: These bike are particularly recommended for people with fitness goal in mind. They are a mixed version of the mountain bike and the road bike and very good for touring as well.

3) Mountain Bikes: These are for some serious biking and will not be found on any kid or bike store. They are particularly meant for sports and mountain expeditions and one has to import them from metro cities like Mumbai or Delhi.

4) Road Racing Bikes: Many teens fantasize about such bikes as they are niche and expensive and meant for racing. They are very light in weight and good for those who ride faster and harder.

Any exercise when done in the right way, right proportion, with the right knowledge and spirit can be really efficient in contributing towards a good health. One such exercise is cycling which is neither very expensive nor very hassled. So lets get started with cycling and re-live some childhood memories.


Merifitness Blog by Anumita is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.