RESEARCH ROUNDUP: THE LATEST HEALTH & FITNESS FACTS BACKED BY SCIENCE

What does your push-up capacity say about your health? Could roundworms shape the fitness of future generations? Is it too late to start building your fitness? Check out this latest health and fitness research to find out the answers.

What your push-up ability says about your future health

Person doing push ups

Powering through push-ups could be one of the easiest ways to assess – and reduce – your risk of cardiovascular disease down the track. A recent study has shown push-up capacity is more strongly linked to cardiovascular disease risk than aerobic capacity (as measured by submaximal treadmill tests). Harvard researchers analysed ten years of data from 1100 middle-aged male firefighters, and during the 10-year period 37 cardiovascular disease outcomes were reported – all but one occurring in men who completed less than 40 push-ups during the baseline exam. The researchers concluded that men able to do more than 40 consecutive push-ups had a 96 percent reduced cardiovascular disease risk compared with those who could do fewer than 10 push-ups.

Learn more about why middle-aged men should aim for 40 push-ups.

It’s never too late to start reducing the risk of early death

Person running in fields

Lifting your physical activity levels in your 40s and 50s can be just as good for your longevity as staying fit from your teens. This is what a team of researchers found when they reviewed survey data from more than 300,000 Americans (aged 50-71) to identify the association between physical activity levels at different stages of life and premature death. The study, which was based on self-reported exercise levels and considered factors such as age, sex, smoking and diet, revealed that middle-aged men and women who increased their exercise efforts to seven hours a week reduced their risk of death by about 35 percent.

Learn more about the link between exercise in middle age and living a long, healthy life.

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Type 2 diabetes is not a life sentence: Study reveals how the condition can be reversed

Weightlifting

Type 2 diabetes has long been considered a progressive disease, but now, thanks to a Scottish trial involving nearly 300 sufferers, we have evidence that substantial weight loss can lead to remission. The study split diabetes patients into two groups; one group received standard diabetes care and the other was put on a very low-calorie weight loss program for 12-20 weeks. The group on the diet also received professional nutritional guidance on how to sustain long-term weight management. One year on, 46 percent of those who followed the low-calorie diet had lost a substantial amount of weight and were able to reverse the type 2 diabetes diagnosis. More than one third were still in remission two years down the track!

Learn more about how weight loss can reverse type 2 diabetes.

Building strength is key to prevention: Another recent study indicates that building moderate muscle mass can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 32 percent. The study author, D.C. Lee, says the results are encouraging as it highlights how even small amounts of resistance exercise can be helpful in type 2 diabetes prevention. Interestingly, higher levels of muscle strength didn’t seem to provide any additional protection.

Read more about how improving muscle strength can lower type 2 diabetes risk.

Could we “switch off” certain genes to live longer and produce fitter kids?

Parent holding child

Exploring the genetic manipulation of roundworms has led researchers to make some interesting suggestions about how we humans might increase our lifespan in the future. The researchers looked specifically at the DAF-2 gene, an insulin receptor gene that plays a key role in the insulin growth factor (IGG-1) signalling pathway, controlling growth, reproduction and longevity. They found that by reducing the gene’s expression they could increase the worm’s lifespan and improve the fitness of its offspring. This indicates that “switching off” certain genes’ functionality as we age could one day help us stay younger for longer – not to mention grow healthier future generations.

Read more about the roundworm research that might help us live longer.

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