Current health information from around the globe

Findings presented recently at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine suggest that lifting weights can protect against free radicals, a natural by-product of metabolism with links to a number of diseases, including cancer. Research-ers who presented these findings studied two groups of healthy men and women, aged 65 to 85. One group exercised with weights three times a week, the other group didn't. The investigators found that the exercising group had less damage from free radicals after exertion. Furthermore, high-intensity exercisers increased bone mass and lowered blood levels of homocystein, a substance that increases the risk of heart disease.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that women who get 30 minutes of vigorous exercise a day can reduce their risk of suffering a stroke. These findings are based on the Harvard Nurses Health Study, which included 72,488 women, aged 40 to 65. In the study, women who took brisk walks, jogged or performed aerobics all enjoyed the same benefits: The risk of ischemic stroke (the most common type) was cut by 30 percent, while other types of stroke were cut by 20 percent. Previous studies, including the surgeon general's report on exercise published in 1996, concluded that it was unclear if physical activity reduced the risk of stroke.

Findings in the recent Archives of Internal Medicine indicate that a program that combines exercise with weight loss is the most effective means for managing high blood pressure in overweight individuals. Researchers drew this conclusion after studying 133 sedentary, overweight men and women with unmediated high normal blood pressure or stage 1 or 2 hypertension. The investigators discovered that a behavioral weight management program which included exercise worked best.