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Science and Exercise: Nag, Nag

Exercise improves symptoms in arthritis patients, moderate exercise improves insomnia, exercise combats cancer-related fatigue, and helps prevent age-related brain changes in older adults.
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Dear Mother Science -

Has it occurred to you that you've become a nag? This becomes particularly evident in January, the Month of Lifestyle Resolutions. Hardly a day goes by without some eager researcher letting us know that we should eat more beets (a purple root-like substance that I've spent my life avoiding) or warning us that our memories may suffer if we don't do more calisthenics.

Remember that last one? It was published in the Annals of Neurology and duly reported the first week of this month. The study found that blood sugar spikes can damage brain structures important in memory, that as we age we lose our ability to regulate such spikes, but that exercise can help moderate glucose blood levels and therefore protect cognition. "We have a behavioral recommendation: exercise," the researchers told The New York Times.

Was this necessary after last year's barrage of pro-exercise results? Yes, I mean barrage and I have the evidence to prove it. If I look up "exercise" in the news reports section of the American Associate for the Advancement of Science website Eurekalert I find 63 results for 2008 which as you know, Mother Science, is more than one a week.

Last year scientists told us that exercise improves symptoms in arthritis patients, that moderate exercise improves insomnia, that exercise combats cancer-related fatigue, and that -- here's that brain thing again -- exercise helps prevent age-related brain changes in older adults. That last finding, from a presentation at Radiological Society of America in December used brain imaging to show that adults who exercised three hours a week for ten years had better cerebral blood flow in their brains than their sedentary friends.

My completely unscientific survey of Eurekalert, tells me that you seem to believe that we weren't smart enough to get the message last year, even with all those reminders. That some of aren't even doing that minimum three times a week work out? This January, almost 20 pro-exercise findings have already been posted. Some of them even refer to treadmills. How heavy handed can you get? You know I prefer elliptical striders. Could you nag about those instead? If you do I'll forgive you for inventing beets.

Best, Deborah