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Top health and fitness developments in 2015

Health and fitness were on people’s minds in 2015. Exercise and nutrition have become an important part of Canadians’ lives, and people continue to look for tips and the best ways to keep fit and stay healthy.

The Globe and Mail took a look at five notable developments in health and fitness that occurred in 2015:

1. Is there such thing as too much exercise?

“A long-term study of 38,000 patients by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, published this year in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that greater fitness was linked to greater longevity, with benefits that continued to increase even at the very highest levels of fitness.”

In general, the more you exercise the better, but it is important to ensure your body is fuelled and hydrated to complete extensive workout programs.

2. Why are tendon injuries so common?

“In a British Journal of Sports Medicine study published online in October, researchers from the University of Cape Town review the growing evidence that tendon injuries run in families. A small number of gene variants affect the structure of collagen fibrils, the underlying units of tendons and ligaments, leaving some people more susceptible than others to tendon injuries.”

If other people in your family have tendon injuries, talk to your doctor about what you can do to prevent these injuries.

3. What are the benefits of exercise on the brain?

“A University of Kansas study assigned older adults to walk for between zero and 225 minutes a week for 26 weeks. As little as 75 minutes a week was enough to improve scores on a battery of cognitive tests, and there were further gains all the way up to 225 minutes.”

This study shows a clear connection between an increase in exercise and improvement in brain function.

4. What is the key to being more efficient with workouts?

“Researchers at the University of Verona, in Italy, recently presented the results of a study in which runners with an average age of 44 were assigned to either run and do leg-press exercises to strengthen their legs, or just run for eight weeks. The strengthening group improved their running economy (a measure analogous to gas mileage in a car) by 5 per cent – without adding any muscle mass.”

This study suggests that the brain–muscle connection is important in improving efficiency and results.

5. Why do people shy away from working out?

“University of Kent researcher Dr. Samuele Marcora argues that we should try to develop psychoactive drugs that reduce the perception of effort during exercise (or enhance positive feelings such as ‘runner’s high’).”

Excuses such as “I’m too busy” or “I am too tired” act as barriers to exercise, especially given the new, time-efficient workouts people can do with a minimal time commitment.

When it comes to your personal health and fitness, it’s important to pay attention to your body and how it reacts to certain diets, foods, exercises and workout regimens. While a certain exercise program may work for one person, it may not be as effective for you. Pay attention to your own results, and make adjustments to your health and fitness plan accordingly.