Summer exercise research studies to make you think

2 summer studies to make you think about your exercise

Summer’s here and it looks like the exercise research community has hung up its statistical analysis tools in favour of beach towels and suncream bottles. Before the universities packed up for the holidays I noticed two intriguing articles that at first glance look a little unusual, but which nevertheless provide food for thought for anyone thinking about their own health and fitness.

It only takes a minute girl… to get healthier bones

Just 1 minute of exercise can make a difference. What are you waiting for?

Just 1 minute of exercise each day can improve bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures in older age in women, according to a study from the Universities of Exeter and Leicester.

Researchers found those who did ‘brief bursts’ of high-intensity, weight-bearing activity – equivalent to a medium-paced run for pre-menopausal women or a slow jog for post-menopausal women – had better bone health.

The study examined data from 1,218 pre- and 1,316 post-menopausal healthy women and compared participants’ activity levels, using wrist-worn trackers, with their bone health, measured by an ultrasound scan of the heel bone. The results show those who on average did 60-120 seconds of high-intensity, weight-bearing activity per day had 4% better bone health than those who did less than a minute. They also show 6% better bone health among those who did more than 2 minutes a day.

According to the National Osteoporosis Society, half of women and 20% of men over the age of 50 will break a bone as a result of osteoporosis – a condition in which bones lose their strength and are more likely to break.

Lead author Dr Victoria Stiles says, “We don’t yet know whether it’s better to accumulate this small amount of exercise in bits throughout each day or all at once, and also whether a slightly longer bout of exercise on 1 or 2 days per week is just as good as 1-2 minutes a day.

“But there’s a clear link between this kind of high-intensity, weight-bearing exercise and better bone health in women.”

Read more about exercise and bone health

Find out more about osteoporosis and how to improve your bone health


It’s thoughts as well as deeds that count

Thinking that you're not getting enough exercise can be bad for your health

Thinking that you are not exercising enough can be harmful to your health. This is the startling finding of a new US study that suggests that your perceptions of your exercise activity are as important as the activity itself.

Researchers analysed data from 61,141 adults surveyed between 1990 and 2006 and followed until 2011. They had access to medical records and information about disabilities, mental health, body mass index, gender, age, education levels and race. The participants answered questions about their activity levels, and some wore accelerometers to track their activity. All were asked, “Would you say that you are physically more active, less active, or about as active as other persons your age?”

Individuals who thought they were less active than their peers were 71% more likely to die during the study follow-up period than those who believed that they were more active, even after controlling for factors including actual levels of exercise, chronic illness and age.

The research suggests the health benefits of exercise may come not just from the physical movements, but also how people think and feel about them. For example, some may think that because they are not exercising in lyrca in a gym they aren’t reaching their recommended activity levels.

The researchers comment, “Being mindful of and feeling good about activities you do every day – like taking the stairs, walking or biking to work, or cleaning the house – could be an easy first step for everyone to benefit their health.”

Find out more about  how negative thoughts can affect  your health