CAT | General Health
Regular exercise is good for the heart, which is why leading experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day (5X weekly) to help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. However, many older adults fall short of this goal because of arthritis or other ailments that may limit their movement—but according to a new study even small doses of physical activity can have significant benefits.
Researchers from the University of Florida Institute on Aging recently tracked nearly 1,200 70- and 80-year-olds with limited mobility and discovered that even when the majority of the day was spent sitting, adding a few hours of light movement was associated with notable heart benefits, specifically a reduced risk of heart attack in the following years.
Even if it was just moving around the house doing simple chores or walking slowly, such activity reduced the amount of time that seniors spent sitting down and, in turn, had a positive impact on cardiovascular health. Previous studies have found that a sedentary lifestyle—even more than obesity—can be detrimental to heart health and result in a shorter life expectancy.
The findings, published online this month in the Journal of the American Heart Association, should encourage caregivers to help seniors find ways to stay moving throughout the day. Doctors may be able to recommend low-impact exercises that can be done safely at home, and family members can look into local classes specifically designed for seniors with limited mobility. The bottom line, says lead researcher Thomas Buford, is that it is never too late to benefit from physical activity.
The leading nutrition advisory panel may soon revise its guidelines about cholesterol. For decades we’ve been cautioned against eating too many foods high in cholesterol such as eggs and seafood, but the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) wants to modify their warning to focus on what they believe is the bigger threat: eating too many unhealthy fats—especially trans fats.
Under the new guidelines, cholesterol will no longer be considered a nutrient of concern—meaning, in this case, something to focus on reducing instead of something to increase in your diet. To help clear things up a bit and explain why the DGAC may be updating their previous recommendations, here are a few things you need to know about cholesterol:
Cholesterol: Fact vs. Fiction
Myth: Cholesterol is bad for you.
Fact: We need cholesterol. It is found in every cell in the body. Cholesterol is needed to make a variety of hormones as well as to help manufacture vitamin D, promote digestive health, and repair damage to the body.
Myth: There are two types of cholesterol, good and bad.
Fact: There is only one cholesterol—but two main “vehicles” that carry it throughout the body. They are known as HDL and LDL. Cholesterol is only the passenger.
3 Important Truths about HDL (“Good”) Cholesterol:
- HDL brings cholesterol to the liver for recycling
- HDL scavenges cholesterol from damaged arteries
- High HDL levels reduce heart disease risk
3 Important Truths about LDL (“Bad”) Cholesterol:
- LDL transports cholesterol away from the liver to damaged tissues and cells
- Small LDL particles can deposit in artery walls and accumulate as plaque
- That plaque can then can inflame artery walls, increasing heart disease risk
The overall goal of the new guidelines, due out this year, is to encourage people to eat more healthy foods that are rich in nutrients their bodies need. Get a head start on a healthy heart and body by eating plenty of:
- Non-starchy vegetables such as asparagus and cauliflower
- Low-sugar fruits such as avocado, raspberries and grapefruit
- Protein from sources such as tofu, poultry, eggs, fish and yogurt
- Healthy fats
- Nuts and seeds