Stimulating stuff :
Exercise and Stem Cells
Doing research on rats, the University of Tel Aviv made another small step for mankind towards understanding the miracle of exercise. In this case, they found that endurance exercise (likely it would be true of resistance exercise as well, but guess it's hard to get rats to lift weights) increases muscle stem cells, which might be key to preventing or slowing sarcopenia, the wasting of muscles that occurs with aging. What's interesting is the researcher dreams of finding a pill people can pop. How about just exercising more?
More Is Better
Speaking of pill popping, the credible Institute of Medicine has released the results of their research on Vitamin D. In the past few years, an alphabet of vitamins has been touted to do all kinds of wonderful things for us; first it was C, then E, and lately Vitamin D. While all these vitamins do play important roles in our health, somehow when we hear something is good, we think more must be even better. Often the "more" message is supported by the supplement industry. Read what the IOM has to say. Contrary to rumors, most North Americans get enough Vitamin D, so crucial to bone health. Remember Vitamin D shortage is what causes rickets, a disease with skeletal deformities. The IOM confirms Vitamin D is important to bone health, but other claims about cancer prevention and heart health are questionable. There's a nice chart with recommended levels by age.
Getting Vitamins the Good Old-Fashioned Way
Dr. Mercola has a concise collection of info on vegetables, which is the preferred way to get our nutrients (see the Becoming a Lean, Mean, Eating Machine last month). Especially useful is a chart showing which vegetables are worth the premium to go organic. Mercola sells supplements, but to his credit, his article concludes that the best way to get your nutrients is by eating vegetables.
Why Wii Fit?
Gretchen Reynolds has an excellent article in the NY Times about exercising via video games like Wii Fit. No surprise, studies find the games are not physically demanding enough to for most folks to get the health benefits of real exercise. However, they did find that the technology worked well to improve the balance of older folks in their 70's. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the exercises might not help TOJ's of all ages, too. Balance is completely overlooked in many exercise routines.