Part of running a health-oriented business means that you have to stay abreast of the industry’s latest news. And while dozens of health and fitness-related studies come out every day, the results can often be murky or unconvincing. The groundbreaking ones, however, can have a major impact on your work. We’ve waded through the sea of reports out there and rounded up 10 of the most important and interesting studies that have come out this spring.
Small Weight Loss Can Produce Big Results in Obese
Source: Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University School of Medicine
Release Date: February 22
The Gist: Despite being a small study that only followed 40 patients, Cell Metabolism’s report garnered many headlines—mainly because it revealed that in obese patients, losing as little as 5 percent of total body weight can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. “Even though five percent weight loss may not have dramatic cosmetic benefits, it does have significant health benefits,” said the study’s author, Dr. Samuel Klein, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University School of Medicine. “You’re much healthier on the inside, and it’s a really reasonable and legitimate target for people with obesity.”
Exercise Keeps Your Brain 10 Years Younger
Source: University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Release Date: March 2016
The Gist: Regularly breaking a sweat—think running, swimming, racquetball and other heart-racing activities—after the age of 40 results in a more youthful brain. “Our study showed that for older people, getting regular exercise may be protective, helping them keep their cognitive abilities longer,” said Dr. Clinton Wright of the University of Miami, who led the study. Disclaimer: Walking, golf, bowling and yoga do not count, and the regular exercise needs to begin before one starts developing memory loss.
Longer Rests Between Weightlifting Sets Improves Muscle Growth
Source: University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom
Release Date: April 29
The Gist: While it’s widely accepted that one should rest in between weightlifting sets, the typical time is around one minute—but according to this new study that followed 16 men, resting two to three minutes in between sets resulted in double the muscle growth, compared to those who only rested one minute. “If you’re looking for maximized muscle growth with your training program, a slightly longer interval between sets may provide a better chance of having the muscle response you’re looking for,” said study co-author Dr. Leigh Breen.
More Than 40 Percent of Retired NFL Players Had Brain Injury
Source: Florida Center for Headache and Sports Neurology and Florida State University College of Medicine
Release Date: April 11
The Gist: One of the largest studies of living retired NFL players ever conducted, this research found brain injury in 40 percent of the subjects, who received sensitive MRI scans called diffusion tensor imaging. The study tested 40 retired NFL-ers, ages 27 to 56, and is being received as some of the most conclusive evidence to date that football is directly related to brain injury.
The Biggest Loser Study
Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health
Release Date: May 2
The Gist: Researchers found that the massive weight losses shown on The Biggest Loser are nearly impossible to maintain, and the blame is squarely on a slower metabolism after being on the show (compared to, say, overweight people who hadn’t shed as many pounds), rather than willpower issues. The study followed the 14 season 8 cast participants, and all but one of them had regained significant amounts of weight, with four of them weighing more than their original weight at the beginning of the show.
Meditation Before Exercise Can Help Depression
Source: Rutgers University
Release Date: February 2
The Gist: With the knowledge that both meditation and exercise improve one’s mood, the team at Rutgers aimed to find if the two were combined, whether the impact would be even greater. Of the 52 men and women in the study, 22 were clinically depressed, and after eight weeks of combined meditation and exercise—specifically 20 minutes of “focused attention” meditation and 30 minutes of jogging or pedaling on a treadmill or stationary bike, twice a week—it was found the 22 suffering from depression had a 40 percent decrease in their symptoms.
Only One in 5 Adults Meets Government’s Recommended Activity Amount
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a journal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Release Date: May 2
The Gist: The federal government recommends adults fit in 2.5 hours per week of moderate aerobic activity (think: walking) or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous activity (running, swimming, etc.), in addition to two days of strength-training exercise like sit-ups and push-ups. Based on a phone survey, the CDC found that only 20 percent of Americans are following the guidelines, but that 50 percent are meeting the aerobic recommendations and 30 percent are engaging in the muscle-strengthening.
We Finally Know How to Stop Blisters
Source: Stanford University
Release Date: April 13
The Gist: This study asked 130 ultramarathoners partaking in a multi-stage race across Jordan, Madagascar and the Gobi and Atacama deserts to wrap their feet in paper tape as they covered 200 miles of land. The result? The tape reduced incidence of a blister by 40 percent. While nearly all of the runners did experience blisters, 70 percent of the sores occurred in areas unprotected by the tape.
Women Cite Intimidation as One of Biggest Gym Excuses
Source: British Heart Foundation
Release Date: April 27
The Gist: The British Heart Foundation polled 2,000 British women and found that 33 percent avoided the gym because they were intimidated by fellow gym-goers, while 22 percent said they didn’t feel fit enough and 26 percent cited not having enough confidence to use the machines.
Body Image Tops Overall Self-Satisfaction Factors
Source: Chapman University
Release Date: May 10
The Gist: Surveying more than 12,000 adults on what makes them satisfied, this study found that, for women, appearance was the third most important factor in overall life satisfaction (factors #1 and 2: financial and romantic partner) and for men, appearance was the second most important factor (behind financial). “Few men (24 percent) and women (20 percent) felt very or extremely satisfied with their weight, and only half felt somewhat to extremely satisfied,” David Frederick, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Chapman University and lead author on the study. “These findings are consistent with the emphasis placed on the importance of being slender for women and for appearing athletic and/or lean for men. It would seem therefore, that we still have a long way to go before we achieve the goal of Americans being truly happy with their bodies.”