Activity Trackers Don’t Help With Weight Loss from 9 Biggest Health and Fitness Breakthroughs of 2016 Slideshow

9 Biggest Health and Fitness Breakthroughs of 2016 Slideshow

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Activity Trackers Don’t Help With Weight Loss

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Activity Trackers Don’t Help With Weight Loss

Fitbit enthusiasts will be disappointed to know that activity trackers are relatively ineffective at sustaining weight loss. Research out of University of Pittsburgh evaluated weight loss in two group of people; those who only went to behavioral counseling for weight loss and those who used activity trackers in conjunction with counseling. The latter lost almost half as much weight during the 24-month trial. 

Exercise Increases Testosterone Levels in Men

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Exercise Increases Testosterone Levels in Men

For men, the best way to naturally regain their mojo might be as simple as exercise. Research from Tsukuba University and Ryutsu Keizai University in Japan linked “vigorous” aerobic workouts to an increase in testosterone levels. Testosterone is the male sex hormone, but it does more than boost libido; it’s also responsible for maintaining energy, muscle, and bone mass. The overall conclusion of the study was that a reduction in body mass was the key factor for raising testosterone levels.  

Exercising Can Improve Memory Functioning in Older Adults

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Exercising Can Improve Memory Functioning in Older Adults

Prior studies have shown that exercise can reduce the risk of developing dementia, but new research published in the journal of the American Academy of Neurology showed that exercise can actually improve the likelihood of regaining already-lost memories. The study divided participants (the average age was 74) into an exercise group and a control group, and tested their cognitive functioning over a six-month period. The exercise group did slightly better on the memory examination than did the control group, but the researchers saw vast improvements in their blood pressure and cardiovascular capacity. This finding was relevant because high blood pressure increases the likelihood of developing vascular cognitive impairments. 

Laughter-Based Exercises May Be the Future of Fitness

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Laughter-Based Exercises May Be the Future of Fitness

It’s healthy to be able to laugh at yourself, but incorporating some chuckles, giggles, and belly laughs into physical activity programs can improve mental health, aerobic endurance, and confidence in exercise abilities. A Georgia State University study found that athletic performance improved when participants engaged in simulated laughter exercises — the body can’t distinguish between self-initiated or spontaneous laughter. 

Low-Calorie Diets Reduce Risk of Age-Related Diseases

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Low-Calorie Diets Reduce Risk of Age-Related Diseases

Cutting calories does more than just slim down your waist line; a new study showed that a low-calorie diet could help you live longer by reducing the risk of developing certain chronic illnesses. The theory is that a calorie-restricted but nutritionally balanced eating regimen decreases inflammation, which is the source of many diseases such as heart disease and dementia.  

Marijuana Can Help Mental Health

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Marijuana Can Help Mental Health

After this most recent election cycle, four states passed ballot initiatives to legalize medical marijuana use, and four others legalized recreational use. As more research continues to come out in support of marijuana’s effects, the trend is likely to continue. Cannabinoids (compounds found in marijuana) have already been associated with reducing the intensity of mental health illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. These findings were reconfirmed in a recent report published in Clinical Psychology Review that reviewed 31 different studies testing the impact of marijuana on certain mental health disorders.   

Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation Makes Your Workout Easier

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Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation Makes Your Workout Easier

Want to make your workout a little easier? Try some hooking up some electrodes to your forehead, and give your brain a dose of transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS). A study out of the University of Kent showed that when subjects were given tDCS, a form of non-invasive brain stimulation, during an intense leg workout, their muscles delayed exhaustion by 15 percent. The researchers concluded that since subjects felt they were exerting less effort, that they could exercise longer. 

Spinach and Other Dark Leafy Greens Are Linked to Improved Sports Performance

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Spinach and Other Dark Leafy Greens Are Linked to Improved Sports Performance

It looks like Popeye may have been on to something when he guzzled down those cans of spinach. Research out of the University of Leuven in Belgium demonstrated that nitrate, a nutrient plentiful in dark leafy greens, improved athletic performance in low-oxygen environments. Subjects who consumed nitrate supplements saw a change in muscle fiber composition after only five weeks. This finding might not help the average runner, but it could be monumental for professional athletes training to compete in low-oxygen environments. 

When It Comes to Exercising, Competition Is Better Than Moral Support

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When It Comes to Exercising, Competition Is Better Than Moral Support

A little competition can improve your workouts, while friendly moral support was found to actually decrease the likelihood of your going to the gym, according to a new study out of the University of Pennsylvania. This research showed that people were more motivated to work out when they were directly comparing themselves to competing individuals or teams. Jingwen Zhang, lead author of the study, said, “Supportive groups can backfire because they draw attention to members who are less active, which can create a downward spiral of participation. Competition triggers a social ratcheting-up process…social support is the opposite: a ratcheting-down can happen.”  

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When It Comes to Exercising, Competition Is Better Than Moral Support

9 Biggest Health and Fitness Breakthroughs of 2016 Slideshow

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