News you can use from the frontier of health research.

High intensity training brings joy

Sticking to an exercise plan requires finding the time to exercise, but the exercise itself must also be enjoyable. We know that about half of the people who drop out of any exercise regime do so because of the lack of time. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is increasingly being recognized as being as, if not more, beneficial for health than the traditional moderate continuous exercise (MICT). And, as HIIT compresses the amount of time required, HIIT might also be more enjoyable. Over a series of different exercise classes, healthy volunteers complete a questionnaire known as the Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale (PACES). In this study 92 percent of the participants enjoyed the HIIT workouts more than traditional MICT exercise. Exercising hard and fast, then, is scientifically proven to bring health gains and a smile each day.

Spicy food lovers live longer

Spicy foods have been used as traditional remedies for improving health for many decades, but there has been little evidence of any long-term health benefits. Until now. In a study analyzing the diets of over 16,000 healthy Americans, and examining their health (or death) records over 23 years, lovers of spicy food were found to live longer. The chilli eaters had an overall 13 percent reduction in death rate. The major benefit was a lower death rate from vascular disease, which includes all types of heart disease and strokes. It is not yet clear how chillies work to improve health, but the active spicy chemical (capsaicin) is a known regulator of Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels, which can improve heart function and increase metabolic rate.

Ice baths delay recovery

Many athletes regularly, slowly and gingerly, lower themselves into an icy cold bath. The theory is that the shock of at least 10 minutes in the icy water cools the muscles, reducing blood flow and inflammation. There is little doubt the numbing sensations of the cold water momentarily reduce muscle pain. However, in a less positive twist, this also reduces the ability of the muscles to repair and regenerate. In a study measuring strength gains over three months, people randomly allocated to an ice bath (or a slow stationary bike cycle) after a strength workout had fewer muscle and strength gains. What’s even worse is that further research has shown that their icy baths are of no benefit when it comes to reducing inflammation. It seems, ice baths are one part of exercise recovery that should now be avoided.

Professor David Cameron-Smith is a regular Fit Planet contributor. A transplanted Australian living in New Zealand, he obtained a PhD in nutritional biochemistry from Deakin University, and undertook postdoctoral training at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney. His research interests include the importance of nutrition in the maintenance of optimal health in an ageing population, and the impact of nutrition in regulating the function of muscles.

Professor David Cameron-Smith was a member of the Ice bath study scientific team, which included scientists from Australia, Norway, Japan and New Zealand.

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