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Baby Boomers, Elderly Exercise Metabolic Syndrome Away

I recently posted an article detailing some of the risks of metabolic syndrome, a deadly mix of several conditions -- weight gain, obesity, lack of physical activity and various genetic factors. As always, preventing weight gains and obesity is far easier than applying treatment options, though the success of prevention depends directly on the patient.

In a recent study of baby boomers and seniors (ages 55-75), even moderate exercise cuts the risk of developing a syndrome which increases heart disease and diabetes risk.

The group of more than 100 people, none of whom had shown any signs of cardiovascular disease (apart from slightly raised blood pressure), were monitored for six months. Half the participants took part in exercise sessions for an hour three times a week, including aerobic exercise and weightlifting, while the rest were given a booklet that encouraged increased activity, such as walking, to promote good health. (One caveat: At the beginning of the study, 41 percent of the participants had metabolic syndrome.)

By the end of the study, nine cases of metabolic syndrome were resolved and no new cases cropped up in the exercise group. In the control group, although eight participants no longer had the syndrome, four new cases appeared.

I was pleased by the results of the study, particularly the advice of one physician whose advice largely mirrors my own. "Our results show that this population can be motivated to follow through with a moderate exercise programm, and for some risk factors, such as abdominal fat, exercise can be as effective as what is accomplished today with drugs."

It's also important for you to think of exercise like a "drug." Needless to say, very few clinicians or patients understand this. In fact, exercise is one of the most powerful "drugs" that we have to treat type 2 diabetes. Unlike typical commercial drugs, exercise can actually cause one to go into permanent remission for diabetes.

There's plenty of information on my site that can help you jump-start an exercise program, particularly from experts in the field, contributing editors Paul Chek and Ben Lerner.

BBC News December 30, 2004

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