Breakfast and Physical Activity Improve Academic Performance In School Children
Previous research has said that greater physical activity may help children focus and improve school test scores, and children who eat breakfast perform better in school. Recently, a study in Health Education Research looked at the relationship between literacy and numeracy scores and health related factors such as nutritional quality of breakfast, physical activity, attitude and self-esteem. The results showed that eating a nutritious breakfast was associated with higher reading scores and engaging in greater amounts of physical activity was associated with higher math scores in children, regardless of that child’s socioeconomic status. While economic status is still a factor influencing children’s test scores, this influence can be mitigated to some extent by engaging in good health behaviors like eating breakfast and exercising regularly.
Protein Intake and Muscle Mass in Middle-Aged and Older Adults
It has been reported recently that resistance training and high protein intake may help maintain skeletal muscle during aging. However, the relationship between dietary protein, recreational physical exercise, and muscle mass preservation is not that well known. However, a new study in the British Journal of Nutrition used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES) on over 2,000 participants to better understand this relationship. Researchers found that:
- In non-obese Americans (those with a BMI under 30), one’s muscle mass depended largely on protein intake, while strength training exercises were found to be a secondary influencer.
- Non-obese people who performed vigorous aerobic exercise had higher muscle mass than those who didn’t.
- For non-obese people who are inactive, increasing dietary protein intake was associated with increased muscle mass.
- Eating higher than recommended amounts of protein appeared beneficial only for obese people.
- Obese people with low protein intake who performed strength-training exercises actually had less muscle mass than their sedentary counterparts.
This research supports the current evidence that eating adequate dietary protein and engaging in regular strength training exercise can help preserve muscle mass in older adults.
The Effect of Exercise on Fitness and Health of Pregnant Women
Previous research has shown that moderate exercise can be both safe and beneficial for mother and baby. An article recently published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise looked at the effects of an exercise regimen on maternal fitness and delivery outcomes in pregnant women. Participants either remained sedentary or began an exercise regimen at the end of the first trimester. The regimen consisted of aerobic exercise for 45-60 minutes 4 days a week, and lasted until about a month before the mother’s due date. The results found that women who exercised saw improvements in aerobic fitness and strength. They also delivered comparably sized infants with lower incidence of C-sections than their sedentary peers. Exercisers also recovered more quickly from their delivery, experienced no hypertension during pregnancy, and reported no injuries due to exercise. There was no association between exercise and muscle pains, flexibility, duration of pregnancy or labor, or weight gain during pregnancy. Evidence suggests that most healthy women benefit from continuing or initiating moderate exercise regimens during pregnancy, without posing significant risks to their health or their baby’s health.
Exercise Beneficial to Patients in Advanced Stages of Cancer
While the benefits of exercise in preventing some types of cancer have been noted, there is little research on the effects of exercise on people with more advanced forms of cancer. A review in Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing looked at the current body of research on exercise in patients with more advanced forms of cancer. They found that exercise in a variety of forms, anything from yoga and walking to biking or swimming, are beneficial for people with cancer as well as the general population. According to the evidence, people with cancer – including more advanced forms of cancer – can see decreased anxiety, stress and depression while reducing symptoms such as pain, fatigue, shortness of breath and insomnia. People with advanced stages of cancer should continue to engage in physical activity under the supervision of their doctor. Health clubs provide a safe place with abundant resources for people with cancer to reap the benefits of exercise.
O’Dea JA, Mugridge AC. Nutritional quality of breakfast and physical activity independently predict the literacy and numeracy scores of children after adjusting for socioeconomic status. Health Educ Res. 2012 Jul 13. [Epub ahead of print]Morris MS, Jacques PF. Total protein, animal protein and physical activity in relation to muscle mass in middle-aged and older Americans. Br J Nutr. 2012 Aug 2:1-10. [Epub ahead of print]Price BB, Amini SB, Kappeler K. Exercise in Pregnancy: Effect on Fitness and Obstetric Outcomes- A Randomized Trial. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Jul 26. [Epub ahead of print]Albrecht TA, Taylor AG. Physical activity in patients with advanced-stage cancer: a systematic review of the literature. Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2012 Jun 1;16(3):293-300.