With billions of dollars of medical research spent every year, even experts have a hard time keeping up with the latest developments. And while many of those discoveries won’t directly affect the average person, many do. Below are four of the most valuable recent findings that researchers have learned this year. What you find may help you age slowly, stay healthy, and drastically reduce your risk of a cardiac event.
More Reasons to Exercise
It shouldn’t be news to anyone that regular moderate exercise is essential to your health and well-being. But the full extent of those benefits, and exactly how much activity you need to obtain them, is information that has only begun to come into focus over the past year. Researchers at Brigham Young University earlier this year found that regular exercise can slow cellular aging drastically.
Consistently doing 30 minutes of cardio for five days a week results in as much as nine years slower aging on the cellular level over the course of a lifetime. That’s because exercise has a direct influence on the health of your telomeres, which are the caps on the ends of your chromosomal DNA. Anytime one of your cells replicates, it loses a small amount of the cap, resulting in aging.
Some people might wonder how many hours they are gaining by spending all their time in the gym. Another study, which focused specifically on runners, found that one hour of running added six hours to the lifespan of the athletes, who also enjoyed a nearly 40% reduced risk of premature mortality.
But if you want to achieve similar benefits, you’ve got to put in the work. Researchers agree that you need 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week to unlock reduced cellar aging. In fact, there’s no significant difference in the cellular aging of people who are sedentary and individuals who are moderately active if members of the latter group aren’t meeting suggested levels. It’s not clear why moderately active people don’t get these benefits, although it may be related to oxidative stress or inflammation, which regular exercise is known to suppress.
Vitamin D and the Sun
Researchers have been learning more about vitamin D for years, including the connection between vitamin D deficiency and heart disease and hypertension. Moreover, vitamin D3 has become widely popular as the most bioavailable form of vitamin D.
Unfortunately, there are significant differences between obtaining vitamin B from a supplement compared to natural exposure to UV-B radiation. In fact, there’s been a well-established connection between UV-B and cholesterol for nearly a century. Researchers at the Boston University Medical Center compared the blood lipid profiles of adults receiving their vitamin D from supplements compared to natural exposure to the elements.
The specific details of what goes in inside a blood lipid profile are extremely complicated, but the takeaway is easy to understand. Vitamin D is just one chemical produced as a byproduct of exposure to the sun. Many of these byproducts have implications on your health. If you’re getting less sun as the summer winds down, a vitamin D supplement is a step in the right direction, but it’s not a panacea.
Avoid using NSAIDs
It’s fairly common knowledge that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should be used in moderation because they’re taxing on the kidneys and liver. But new research suggests taking these painkillers for even one week can drastically increase the risk of having a heart attack, as much as 50%.
Although doctors have long suspected a connection between heart issues and painkillers, they haven’t known exactly how long people could take these drugs before putting their heart at risk. This new research, as the largest study of its kind, suggests that even one week of use can be dangerous, with the dangers peaking around one month.
Researchers aren’t sure as to why this connection exists; it may be related to painkillers blocking a hormone involved in protecting blood vessels. Whether you get your NSAIDs over the counter or by prescription, it’s important to seek out pain management alternatives whenever possible.
Leading a Healthy Life
Many of the lessons here are lessons in moderation. Not enough activity and you won’t see all the benefits; too much activity can be just as dangerous. Not enough UV-B can mess with your blood lipid profile; too much UV-B can be a contributor to skin cancer. As the risks come into focus, even over-the-counter painkillers require your mindfulness of use. It may take vigilance to lead a healthy life, but the rewards are undoubtedly compelling.
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