Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Walking ‘could save 37,000 lives a year’ report claims - Health News - NHS Choices

Walking ‘could save 37,000 lives a year’ report claims - Health News - NHS Choices

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Strength and Flex - Health Guidelines

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Fancy a personal trainer but can't afford one? Download our Strength and Flex podcasts and get your fitness coach for free.

Podcast features

  • Free to download
  • Virtual personal trainer
  • Equipment-free
  • Easy to follow
  • Get fit in five weeks
  • Full body workout
  • Video clips
  • Use anywhere, anytime
  • Can be used with Couch to 5K programme
Let our virtual trainer coach you through a series of equipment-free exercises designed to improve your strength and flexibility.
The workout instructions and pace are easy to follow to ensure you perform each exercise correctly and in time.
Strength and Flex consists of five 35- to 45-minute podcasts, which are available as a mobile download for MP3 players, mobile phones, iPod and iPhones.
You can easily combine these workouts with our popular Couch to 5K running programme, by following the plans on alternate days of the week.
Starting with Strength and Flex podcast 1, your goal is to work your way up to podcast 5 in five weeks. To achieve this, you need to do each podcast at least three times in a week.
By podcast 5, you’ll be doing back, arm and leg stretches along with press-ups and squats with ease. You'll be feeling stronger, more flexible and full of energy to go about your daily life.
You can do these full body workouts anywhere and any time you choose. They can be done indoors or out in the park or garden, on your own or with a friend.

Getting started

  1. Download podcasts to your PC or Mac.
  2. Transfer files to an MP3 player.
  3. Press play and go!
All you need is enough space to walk about freely, a fixed bench, a wall and either some shoulder-height railings or a shoulder-height horizontal bar.
There are Strength and Flex video clips available of all the exercises in this series, so you can check you’re doing each move safely and effectively.
The Strength and flexibility plan will ease you into the habit of regular exercise, which will help you burn calories, lose weight and stay healthy.
Podcast 5 is designed to be used beyond the programme. It provides a regular 45-minute workout to de-stress and feel good.
Your coach for the five-week Strength and flexibility programme is Laura, whose friendly and encouraging voice is one of the reasons behind C25K’s success.
To exercise, wear something that's loose and comfortable in a breathable material, like cotton, and pick shoes that offer support and cushioning.
If you have any health concerns about beginning the Strength and flexibility programme, see your GP and discuss it with them before you start.

Strength and flexibility - Health tools - NHS Choices

source: Strength and flexibility - Health tools - NHS Choices

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Strength and flexibility podcasts
Fancy a free personal trainer? Download these free podcasts designed to guide you through a five week plan of exercises to improve your strength and flexibility. By week five, you'll be doing a 40 minute routine of press-ups, squats and stretches.

Physical activity guidelines for adults - Live Well - NHS Choices

source: Physical activity guidelines for adults - Live Well - NHS Choices

How much physical activity do adults aged 19-64 years old need to do to keep healthy?
To stay healthy or to improve health, adults need to do two types of physical activity each week: aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity.
How much physical activity you need to do each week depends on your age. Click on the links below for the recommendations for other age groups:

Physical activity for adults aged 19-64

To stay healthy, adults aged 19-64 should try to be active daily and should do:

At least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and  
             muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a
             week that work all major muscle groups (legs,
             hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms). 

75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity such as running or a game of singles tennis every week, and
             muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a
             week that work all major muscle groups (legs,
             hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms). 

An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week (for example 2 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of fast walking), and
muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).   

What counts as moderate-intensity aerobic activity?Examples of activities that require moderate effort for most people include:
  • walking fast
  • water aerobics
  • riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
  • doubles tennis
  • pushing a lawn mower
  • hiking
  • skateboarding
  • rollerblading
  • volleyball
  • basketball 

5 x 30 minutes

One way to do your recommended 150 minutes of weekly physical activity is to do 30 minutes on 5 days a week.
Moderate-intensity activity will raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you're working at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk, but you can't sing the words to a song. 
What counts as vigorous-intensity aerobic activity?Examples of activities that require vigorous effort for most people include:
Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity means you're breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you're working at this level, you won't be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.
In general, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity can give similar health benefits to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.
For a moderate to vigorous intensity workout, try Couch to 5K, a nine-week running plan for beginners.
What counts as muscle-strengthening activity? Muscle-strengthening exercises are counted in repetitions and sets. A repetition is 1 complete movement of an activity, like lifting a weight or doing a sit-up. A set is a group of repetitions.
For each activity, try to do 8 to 12 repetitions in each set. Try to do at least 1 set of each muscle-strengthening activity. You'll get even more benefits if you do 2 or 3 sets.

Healthy weight

  • Adults who are overweight can improve their health by meeting the activity guidelines, even if they don’t lose weight.
  • To lose weight, you are likely to need to do more than 150 minutes a week and make changes to your diet.
  • Start by gradually building up towards 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week.
To get health benefits from muscle-strengthening activities, you should do them to the point where you struggle to complete another repetition.
There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether it's at home or in the gym. Examples of muscle-strengthening activities for most people include:
  • lifting weights
  • working with resistance bands
  • doing exercises that use your body weight for resistance, such as push-ups and sit-ups
  • heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling
  • yoga
Try Strength and Flex, a five-week exercise plan for beginners to improve your strength and flexibility.
You can do activities that strengthen your muscles on the same day or on different days as your aerobic activity, whatever's best for you.
However, muscle-strengthening activities don't count towards your aerobic activity total, so you'll need to do them in addition to your aerobic activity.
Some vigorous-intensity aerobic activities may provide 75 minutes of aerobic activity and sufficient muscle-strengthening activity. Examples include circuit training and sports such as football or rugby.
Page last reviewed: 11/07/2013
Next review due: 11/07/2015

Sunday, 6 October 2013

TIME Feature: CSO Aubrey de Grey on Google's Newly Launched Anti-Aging Initiative

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Posted by Desiree Dudley on September 18, 2013 | Outreach

In today's TIME Tech Exclusive Google vs. Death, Larry Page announced Calico, a new Google firm focusing on the challenges of healthcare, aging and associated diseases.
"Illness and aging affect all our families. With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives," said Larry.
Arthur D. Levinson, Chairman and former CEO of Genentech, Chairman of Apple, and director of Hoffmann-La Roche, will be CEO and a founding investor.
"We focus on early-stage, proof-of-concept research as a non-profit here at SENS Research Foundation. That sort of work is appealing to only the most visionary of investors in the for-profit world. But the ultimate goal of Peter Thiel and our other early supporters has always been to kickstart real anti-aging industry, so it's very important news." said Mike Kope, CEO of SENS Research Foundation.
"I applaud the vision of Google in choosing to devote their energies toward solving the problems of age-related disease, and warmly welcome Art Levinson to this new initiative."
After speaking at a Google Tech Talk in Mountain View last month, SENS Research Foundation co-founder and CSO Aubrey de Grey was asked to opine on the news in a response at TIME, also published today.
"The 'beginning of the beginning' of the war on aging began in the 1990s. Since then, the battle for hearts and minds as to that quest’s feasibility has been proceeding at full tilt. With Google’s decision to direct its resources toward aging, that battle may have been transcended. The curmudgeons no longer matter," said Aubrey. "It's no exaggeration to state that the end of the beginning may have arrived. I won’t go so far as to say that my crusading job is done, but for sure it just got a whole lot easier."

New cholesterol drug shows promise

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“Heart attack risk could be cut by new cholesterol lowering drug,” The Guardian reports.
This headline – and others like it – stretch the findings from an early safety trial of ALN-PCS, a new drug that targets LDL (or ‘bad’) cholesterol.
Such trials are not designed to see whether a drug is effective, and in this case, the trial had too few people involved to be able to tell.
ALN-PCS belongs to a class of molecules known as small interfering RNAs or siRNAs. The drug is designed to block the effects of a protein, called PCSK9, that is associated with cholesterol levels.
The trial included 32 healthy people and found that a single dose of the new drug was safe and well tolerated. Further trials are planned to assess the long-term safety and effectiveness of the drug in people with high cholesterol who need lipid-lowering medications such as statins.
As this was just a phase I trial the drug was not compared to other cholesterol-lowering drugs, and information on long-term outcomes, such as reduced risk of heart attacks, was not assessed. Also, the drug was tested in healthy volunteers and not among individuals with very high cholesterol levels who would normally need such treatment.
Further research, in the form of a phase II clinical trial is now required.

The 1, 2, 3 of clinical trials

There are three levels to clinical trials:
  • phase I trials are small trials that enrol healthy people and are primarily designed to see if a drug is safe, and to determine the best dosage for future studies
  • phase II trials are larger, longer-term trials designed to see if a drug is both safe and effective
  • phase III trials are very large trials, usually lasting several years, to see how well the drug works in real patients

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, the University of Texas South Western in the US, Guy’s Hospital in London, and Covance Clinical Research Unit, Leeds. The trial was funded by Alnylam Pharmaceuticals.
A number of the researchers involved in the study are employees of, and/or stock owners in Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, which represents a potential conflict of interest (which was declared in the study).
The study was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal, The Lancet.
Media coverage of the study was mixed, with most headlines focusing on the cholesterol lowering effects of the drug. This was despite the fact that this was not the main aim of the study, and that it was not large enough to detect such changes. The Daily Telegraph did go on to report that, “larger studies would now be needed to check long-term safety and tolerability of the drug on patients who take statins as well as those who cannot take the drugs”.

What kind of research was this?

This was a phase I clinical trial (a randomised controlled trial) that assessed the safety and tolerability of a newly developed cholesterol lowering drug called ALN-PCS.
ALN-PCS is a small interfering RNA (siRNA) molecule, which prevents the production of a protein called PCSK9. PCSK9 has been shown to bind to other proteins called LDL receptors, which are responsible for clearing ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol from the blood. When these receptors are blocked by PCSK9, LDL cholesterol builds up in the blood. There is substantial evidence that high LDL cholesterol levels increase the risk of coronary heart disease.
ALN-PCS works by interrupting the production of PCKS9. The process by which such siRNA molecules interrupt gene expression is called RNA interference (RNAi).
Based on previous research in animals, researchers expected that when participants received ALN-PCS, the levels of PCSK9 in their blood would drop, and a corresponding reduction in LDL cholesterol would be seen.

What did the research involve?

The researchers recruited 32 healthy volunteers with mild to moderately elevated LDL cholesterol. They were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo infusion of a salt solution or a single infusion of the drug, called ALN-PCS, into a vein.
The night and morning before the infusion, volunteers were given a pre-treatment including paracetamol, a corticosteroid and an antihistamine. This was in order to reduce the chances of an adverse reaction to the infusion of the drug.
As a phase I trial, the main aim of the study was to determine whether the drug was safe, and which doses were tolerable by people. As such, six different doses of ALN-PCS were tested, and the primary outcome of the study was the frequency and severity of adverse events (side effects).
As a secondary outcome, the researchers checked for changes in PCSK9 and LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, measured at the beginning of the study and seven days after the drug infusion.

What were the basic results?

Of the 32 healthy participants, 24 were randomly assigned to receive the drug (ALN-PCS) and eight to receive placebo.
Treatment with ALN-PCS was found to be both safe and well tolerated at all doses.
No one receiving the drug experienced any drug-related serious side effects. One patient receiving a low dose was diagnosed with a serious condition on the third day of the study. However, this was determined to be unrelated to the drug being trialled.
Overall, similar proportions of patients receiving ALN-PCS and placebo experienced mild to moderate side effects (79% in the treatment group and 88% in the placebo group).
The researchers also found that the single dose of ALN-PCS was found to significantly reduce concentrations of PCSK9 in the blood, with greater reductions seen at higher drug doses. This was associated with a reduction in LDL cholesterol levels, with higher drug doses causing greater and longer reductions in cholesterol concentrations. The highest drug dose resulted in an average reduction of 40%, compared to placebo.

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers concluded that treatment with the RNAi drug ALN-PCS was safe and well tolerated, and that “future trials are needed to fully assess the benefit and long-term safety of ALN-PCS in various patient populations” including patients who are receiving statins as well as patients who cannot tolerate statins.


Media headlines reporting on this phase I trial concentrated on the secondary outcome (that ALN-PCS reduced LDL cholesterol levels). However, these results will need to be confirmed during phase II and phase III clinical trials, which will involve more participants who would normally receive cholesterol-lowering treatment.
While it is tempting to focus on the results of the cholesterol levels, phase I clinical trials are designed to test the safety of a new drug to make sure it is safe enough to test further. They also aim to determine what the highest tolerable dose is, so the appropriate one can be used in later studies. For those reasons, they involve testing the drug in a small group of healthy individuals.
The researchers note (although no media outlets seemed to report on this aspect of the study) that the study was too small to detect statistically significant changes in PCSK9 or LDL cholesterol levels compared with placebo group.
The results of this study will be used to design further phase II and phase III trials, which will further characterise the safety profile of the drug and determine its effectiveness at reducing LDL cholesterol among people who need cholesterol-lowering medications. Only then can we determine whether the drug offers an effective option for managing high LDL cholesterol.
While perhaps less immediately interesting from the general public’s perspective, one of the more exciting aspects of this research is that it is the first time an RNA interference drug has been shown – in humans – to lower a protein that is made in the liver. It is also the first time such a drug has shown a measurable health benefit, even though this was not the primary outcome of the study.
The process of RNA interference is a relatively new discovery (first described in 1998), and substantial research efforts have been directed towards the development of siRNA treatments for human disease. This field of research has hit several hurdles, so this study showing potential clinical benefit from siRNA treatment is exciting news for scientists.
Analysis by Bazian. Edited by NHS Choices. Follow Behind the Headlines on twitter.