Newsletter #189 - The Benefits of an Active Lifestyle 🏃🏽♀️
Welcome to the Almost Christmas edition of the humanOS newsletter! We certainly hope, as always, that everyone is staying sane and healthy out there.
This week, we took a look at some of the recent research on how levels of physical activity correlate with risk of death from any cause, and how intensity of activity and long-term adherence (or lack thereof) influence this relationship. To learn more, scroll down 👇
This Week's Research Highlights
🐾 More steps per day is associated with significantly lower mortality risk.
Researchers followed a group of 2110 middle-aged adults for about eleven years. Participants wore devices to count their steps, and were divided into groups based on the number of steps that they got daily on average. They found that people who walked at least 7,000 steps per day had a 50%-70% lower risk of mortality over the followup period, compared to those taking less than 7,000 steps per day. Risk reduction leveled off at around 10,000 steps per day.
🪑 Exercise can partially offset the negative impact of a sedentary lifestyle.
Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of data on physical activity patterns and all-cause mortality from a total of 44370 people. Participants wore devices that objectively measured their physical activity and were followed for 4-14 years. Unsurprisingly, sedentary time was associated with higher risk of dying over the follow-up period, with the highest risk of death in those who spent the most time sitting. However, that risk was offset - albeit not entirely eliminated - in individuals who spent at least 30-40 minutes per day performing moderate-to-vigorous physical exercise.
👵🏽 Maintaining physical activity is ideal, but starting later in life has major benefits too.
Researchers in Switzerland performed a meta-analysis of data from a total of 33,576 patients with coronary heart disease from nine cohorts, who were followed for an average of about seven years. The researchers divided the subjects into four groups according to their physical activity status at the start and end of the study: 1) inactive over time, 2) active over time, 3) increased activity over time, and 4) decreased activity over time. When they compared the groups, they found that the risk of death from any cause was 50% lower in those who were active over time, 45% lower in those who were inactive but became active, and 20% lower in those who had been active but became inactive, compared to those who remained inactive over the entire study period.
Random Trivia & Weird News
🦌 Reindeer are the only mammals whose eyes change color seasonally.
Many mammals have a layer of cells behind the retina known as the tapetum lucidum which helps them see in the dark (humans do not have this, which is why our night vision kind of sucks). In most animals this reflective layer shines gold. Reindeer eyes are also gold in the summer months, but in the winter they turn blue to help capture even more light.
This is likely an adaptation to the Arctic environment, where they experience dramatic changes in light levels, with long hours of bright light in the summer and almost total darkness in winter.
Podcasts We Loved This Week
- Noah Baker & Ewen Callaway: Omicron - your questions answered. Via Nature Podcast.
- Michael Pollan: Three plant-based chemicals that can change your brain. Via Science Friday.
Products We Are Enjoying
Whole Foods Market at Amazon Prime
If you are preparing a holiday feast, this is an amazing time-saver (especially if your nearest Whole Foods is located on a ridiculously busy thoroughfare like mine). You can order all of your stuff online, without having to deal with the crowds or traffic, and get them delivered right to your doorstep in a 2-hour window. You can also take advantage of in-store sales on the site, and Amazon keeps track of past purchases so it’s easy to reorder staple items. Totally worth it for the stress relief.
humanOS Catalog Feature of the Week
Food Reward and Weight Control
This week, we’d like to highlight another one of the courses from the Ideal Weight Program, developed by Stephan Guyenet. This course addresses a vexing problem that is more salient this time of year than perhaps any other: Why do we overeat, even when we know it’s bad for us, and even when we can see that it sabotages our long term goals?
What specific properties cause us to be so drawn to particular foods, like cookies and french fries, but not as much to others, like broccoli and lettuce? And what can we do about it?
In this course, Stephan explores the challenge of food reward, and how to manage it, so you can be successful in your health and body composition goals - whatever they may be.
Thanks for reading, and we will see y'all next week!