Health Notes: Computers plus exercise, good; extreme sports, bad

In SNEWS Health Notes, we take a look at recent health research that might be pertinent to your business. In this report, SNEWS looks at two studies, one that concludes computers and moderate exercise help alleviate memory loss, and another that says extreme sports could be bad for the heart.

You want the latest information about health, physical activity, exercise and wellness, but perhaps you'd rather not wade through the techno-science garble that makes most reports hard to read, let alone understand or pass on to customers. In SNEWS Health Notes, an occasional series, we take a look at recent research that is pertinent to your business and explain it in a way that makes sense. If you have suggestions or comments, let us know by emailing

>>Combining computer use and exercise reduces chance of memory loss

According to a recent study by the Mayo Clinic, using computers for mentally stimulating activities and exercising moderately decreases the chance of developing memory loss.

Researchers studied 926 people in Olmsted County, Minn., ages 70 to 93, for a year. The participants completed self-reports at the beginning of the study period, and participated in post-study interviews. Moderate exercise included brisk walking, hiking, aerobics, strength training, golfing sans golf cart, swimming, doubles tennis, yoga, martial arts, using exercise equipment and lifting weights. The mentally stimulating activities included using computers, playing games, playing music, artistic activities, reading and crafts. Of all those, computer use was the most popular.

Study Author Yonas E. Geda, M.D., MSc., a physician scientist with Mayo Clinic in Arizona, said, “The aging of baby boomers is projected to lead to dramatic increases in the prevalence of dementia. As frequent computer use has becoming increasingly common among all age groups, it is important to examine how it relates to aging and dementia. Our study further adds to this discussion.”

So what? More manufacturers, such as Precor and Life Fitness, are incorporating some form of computer on equipment consoles. Retailers, you can use this information to help the baby boomer customer feel more confident in their purchase. Not only will this equipment, if used regularly, make them physically healthier; it will also make them healthier mentally.

For the scientifically minded: Find the free journal article here.

>>Extreme athletes at higher risk of cardiac arrest

Turns out too much of a good thing isn’t always good. While SNEWS has brought you numerous Health Notes that discuss the wonderful benefits of exercise, a recent study by Mayo Clinic showed that extreme athletes like ultramarthoners were at a higher risk of heart failure. 

The study, led by Dr. James O’Keefe, cardiologist at Mid America Heart Institute of St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, showed that extreme athletes had an increased level of the enzyme troponin, which is released when the heart is in distress, as it frequently is during long periods of exercise.

Though the study noted damage doesn’t occur overnight, eventually the enzyme causes scar tissue to form around the heart, causing thicker right atria and ventricles. Over time, this scar tissue puts athletes at risk for cardiac arrest.

Multiple articles reporting on the study, published June 4 in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, mentioned famed ultramarathoner Micah True, also known as Caballo Blanco, who died from heart failure while on a 12-mile trail run in the New Mexico wilderness.

So what? This information is vital to share with your more hard-core consumers, who might be ultramarathoners, triathletes, marathoners and other types of extreme athletes. The goal is to keep your customers healthy, and if their exercise routine is killing them, perhaps they should know about it.

For the scientifically minded: Get the abstract here, or the full article (for a fee) here.