to vigorous physical activity emerged as the most protective
lifestyle-related factor for reducing the risk of mortality in persons diagnosed
with diabetes, according to a new study presented recently at the 20th World
Diabetes Congress in Montreal.
Researchers assessed the behaviors of 1,177 persons with diabetes and 15,217
without the disease. The healthy behaviors that were addressed included physical
activity, good nutritional habits, not smoking, moderate alcohol use, and making
an effort to maintain or lose weight over the past 12-month period.
Physical activity significantly decreased the risk of dying not only in
adults with diabetes, but also in those without the disease.
New research indicates that the advice to "take it easy" following
brain radiation may be misguided. Instead, performing physical exercise after
the treatment was seen to enhance memory in mice, the subjects of a study
described during October's Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago.
After brain radiation, the members of one group of mice were returned to
their cages to interact as usual with their non-irradiated peers. Members of
another group were given a running wheel after radiation to use as desired.
The mice that exercised scored just as high on a memory test as did untreated
mice, while those who did not exercise scored lower.
In many brain tumor patients, short-term memory undergoes impairment
following radiation therapy. With medical clearance to exercise, patients may be
able to avoid that impairment.
What measures can society take to prevent walking disability in older
adults? A major research project is now in the works to help answer that
question. Below are excerpts from an exciting news release on this subject from
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
The National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of
Health, has announced the award of $29.5 million in grant support over the next
two years to determine whether a specific physical activity program can stave
off disability in older people.
funding will begin the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders --
LIFE -- trial, the largest ever undertaken to prevent mobility disability among
older people who are at risk of losing their ability to walk and to live
independently in the community. The grant is being awarded to the University of
Florida's Institute on Aging in Gainesville.
The first two years of the six-year, eight-site LIFE trial are being funded
through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The grants are part of the
$5 billion that President Obama announced September 30 on the NIH campus.
"There is a lot of evidence indicating that exercise can help in preventing
diseases, such as diabetes, among older people. But we do not know whether and
how a specific regimen might prevent walking disability in older people who are
at risk of losing mobility," said NIA director Richard J. Hodes, MD. "This
research is critically important at a time when the population is aging and new
interventions should be sought to keep people healthy and functioning in the
At eight sites around the country, LIFE will involve 1,600 people aged 70 to
89, who at the start of the study meet its criteria for risk of walking
disability, defined as the inability to walk a quarter of a mile or four blocks.
About 200 participants will be enrolled at each of the study sites.
"Limitations in walking ability compromise independence and contribute to the
need for assistive care," said Evan C. Hadley, MD, director of NIA's Division of
Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology, whose program is overseeing the trial.
"Older people with impaired walking are less likely to remain in the community,
have higher rates of certain diseases and death, and experience a poorer quality
of life. A successful intervention might help prevent these bad outcomes."
"We know that many older people have chronic health problems that affect
their ability to walk," said Jack Guralnik, MD, PhD, chief of the NIA's
Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography and Biometry. "Arthritis, muscle weakness
and poor balance can all affect how well and how far a person can walk. And,
some older people have all of these problems. We will test the LIFE intervention
in this population to see how it works in a real-world setting."
Study participants will be randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group
will follow a structured intervention consisting of walking at moderate
intensity, stretching, balance and lower extremity strength training; the
control group will participate in a health education program. The participants
will be followed for about three years. Researchers will evaluate whether,
compared to health education, the physical activity intervention reduces the
risk of major walking disability, serious fall injuries and disability in
activities of daily living, and whether it improves cognitive function. They
will also assess the cost-effectiveness of the intervention.
"This will be the largest randomized controlled trial to prevent major
mobility disability ever conducted in older persons who are at risk of losing
their physical independence," said Marco Pahor, MD, director of the University
of Florida's Institute on Aging and study principal investigator. "Typically,
this population is excluded from large trials, and from this perspective the
LIFE study is unique."
The NIA leads the federal effort supporting and conducting research on aging
and the medical, social and behavioral issues of older people. For more
information on research and aging, visit
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) -- The Nation's Medical Research
Agency -- includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for
conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research,
and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare
diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit