Intensity of workouts not duration is better for the heart, says Danish study

Research from Denmark suggests a faster paced workout has greater long-term health benefits than plodding along.

Danish researchers who have monitored the health of 5,000 people in the Copenhagen City Heart Study found those who cycled fast for between half an hour and an hour a day were likely to live longest.

Relative to slow cyclists, those who cycled more quickly had a 56 per cent lower risk of dying overall during the study period, which included a 74 per cent lower risk of dying from coronary heart disease.

The study was based on people without health problems such as high blood pressure or diabetes, aged 20 to 90.

Men in the study, who said they rode fast, could expect to live up to 5.3 years longer than those who said they rode slowly. The comparative figure for women was 3.9 years.

Men who believed they rode at an average speed could expect another 2.9 years of life, and such women 2.2 years.

Dr Peter Schnohr, from Bispebjerg University Hospital, told the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in Paris: “It is the intensity, not the duration, of cycling that is of the greatest importance in relation to all forms of mortality, or longevity, and it is even more pronounced for coronary heart disease.”

Dr Schnohr argued that governments should advise people to take activity in more vigorous bursts as well as taking regular moderate exercise.

However, the research met with caution from Prof Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation.

He warned that it could be dangerous for inactive people to simply get up and start doing hard exercise. “I would hate the message to get out in the UK that people who are not used to cycling should start doing it short and sharp,” he said.

He said it was interesting in relation to people who already cycled but most people in Britain were not that active.

“Current guidelines say that you’ve got to do sufficient exercise to get your heart rate up and get slightly breathless,” he added.

A lifetime of physical activity yields measurable benefits as we age

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Researchers in England and Australia have examinied the associations of leisure-time physical activity across adulthood with physical performance and strength in a group of British men and women.

Investigators from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing in the UK, and the School of Population Health at the University of Queensland in Australia, followed 2,400 men and women from the UK Medical Research Council National Survey of Health and Development who were born in 1946. They analysed self-reported leisure time physical activity (LTPA) levels at 36, 43 and 53 years of age. During the 53-year investigation, grip strength, standing balance, and chair rise times were measured as indicators of strength and physical performance. The results, published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, showed cumulative benefits of physical activity across adulthood on physical performance in mid-life.

Lead Investigator Rachel Cooper, from the MRC Unit said: “Increased activity should be promoted early in adulthood ensure the maintenace of physical performance in later life. Promotion of leisure time activity is likely to become incerasingly important in younger populations as people’s daily routines become more sedentary.”

Grip strength is a measure of upper-body muscle condition. Chair-rise times are associated with lower body strength and power, as well as cardiorespiratory fitness. Standing balance requires mental concentration and subtle motor control and measures a number of neurophysiological and sensory systems. Participants who were more active at all three ages showed better performance on the chair-rise test. Persons more active at ages 43 and 53 had better performance on the standing balance test, even after adjusting for covariates. However, physical activity and grip strength were not associated in women and, in men, only physical activity at age 53 was associated with grip strength.

Dr. Cooper added that the findings in relation to chair rising and standing balance performance suggest that promotion of leisure time physical activity across adulthood would have beneficial effects on physical performance later in life and hence the functional health and quality of life of the aging population, especially as the size of the differences in performance detected may be clinically relevant. Click here for more info >

Exercise can help curb brain damage

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A new study suggests that regular exercise before a brain injury can produce a reduction in the levels of expected inflammation and damage. Previous research has already demonstrated that exercise after brain injury can help the brain’s repair mechanisms but this new study, carried out by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in America, shows that exercise before the onset of damage modifies the brain environment in such a way that the neurons have extra protection.

The study used an experimental model of brain damage, in which mice were exposed to a chemical that destroys the hippocampus, an area of the brain which controls learning and memory. Mice that were exercised regularly prior to exposure produced an immune messenger called interlukin-6 in the brain, which dampens harmful inflammatory response to this damage, and prevents the depth of loss of function that is usually observed.

“This elegant series of experiments reveals an alternative pathway by which voluntary physical exercise may protect hippcampal neurons”, said Dr Ruth Barrientos from the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado. She added: “Perhaps the greatest challenge with this line of research will not be more discoveries of compelling evidence of the anti-neuroinflammatory effects of exercise, but instead, getting humans to exercise voluntarily and regularly.”  Click here read more >

Looking for someone ready to work and willing to learn?

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If you’re looking for enthusiastic, experienced staff, and want to help young people get onto the career ladder then a new website – – which offers a free online job matching service, could be just the thing for you. is the second phase of the National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure’s Future Jobs Fund (FJF) project, which took people who had been unemployed for six months or more, and placed them in jobs so they could get hands-on experience and training. Hundreds of young people have now graduated from the FJF programme, with up to £2,000 of level 2 training and six months of relevant, practical experience. They are now looking for work via which lets them showcase their talents and skills online.

After logging-on employers can browse the secure site for potential employees. For example: Daniel who earned a level 2 fitness instructor qualification and a 21 week placement at the gym he now works at; or Kyle who now has training in first aid, computer skills and behaviour in sport. Before the scheme Kyle was claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance and had little or no way of realising his dream to work as a gym instructor and then become a personal trainer. By starting your recruitment search at you have the opportunity to make a real difference to the lives young people as well as employing motivated, experienced staff.

Florence Orban, CEO of the Skills Academy which runs the programme, said: “The young people who took part in the Future Jobs Fund scheme come from a variety of backgrounds but they all have one thing in common – they are desperate to start working and forge a career. “Unfortunately many of them didn’t have the experience, qualifications or direction to get started which is were the FJF came in. These young people are now ready to take on the challenges of the working world and we would urge any employer looking for a new recruit to make logging on to the their first port of call.” and the National Skills Academy are part of the Skills Active Group. Skills Active is the sector skills council for active leisure, learning and well being. Click here for more info >

15 minutes of daily exercise is “bare minimum”

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Research from Taiwan suggests just 15 minutes of exercise a day can boost life expectancy by three years and cut death risk by 14 per cent. Experts in The Lancet say this is the least amount of activity an adult can do to gain any health benefit. Meanwhile, work in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests a couch potato lifestyle with six hours of TV a day cuts lifespan by five years.

The Lancet study, based on a review of more than 400,000 people in Taiwan, showed 15 minutes per day or 90 minutes per week of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, can add three years to your life. And people who start to do more exercise tend to get a taste for it and up their daily quota, the researchers from the National Health Research Institutes, Taiwan, and China Medical University Hospital found. More exercise led to further life gains. Every additional 15 minutes of daily exercise further reduced all-cause death rates by 4%. And research from Australia on health risks linked to TV viewing suggest too much time sat in front of the box can shorten life expectancy, presumably because viewers who watch a lot of telly do little or no exercise.

Prof Stuart Biddle, an expert in exercise psychology at Loughborough University, said a lot of people in the UK now fall into the category of inactive or sedentary. He said that aiming for 30 minutes of exercise a day on pretty much every day of the week might seem too challenging for some, but starting low and building up could be achievable. “You can get good gains with relatively small amounts of physical activity. More is always better, but less is a good place to start.” More info >

See you in September

Places are still available for the REPs National Convention to be held during Leisure Industry Week on Thursday 22nd September in Birmingham. Delegates will be able to listen to a key note presentation on obesity and fitness as well as taking part in a selection of interactive workshops including ones on exercise referral, Nordic Walking, blast fx, postural analysis and physical activity for neurological conditions. In addition they will get free entry to the Leisure Industry Week trade show where the latest fitness equipment and products will be show-cased.

Prices are £35 for REPs members and £55 for non-members*. This price includes a buffet lunch and REPs members can earn up to 4 CPD points. Group discounts are available.

*Bookings made after 15th September will be charged at £40 and £60 respectively.

For more information, and to book, visit

Let’s get tweeting….

REPs is now on Twitter – to keep up with the latest from the team plus exercise and research news follow us @REPsUK or click here >

Baffled by blogging? Out-witted by Twitter? Fed-up with Facebook? Lost it with Linked-in? If you’d like to learn how to make social media work for you and get the most out of on-line communications send your questions to We’ll be using them as part of a practical guide to web-based networking in the New Year issue of the REPs Journal.

“Pumping Iron” can double chances of quitting smoking

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A weightlifting regime can help smokers kick their habit according to new research. The findings published by the Miriam  Hospital in Rhode Island, USA, follow on from previous studies that aerobic exercise can reduce cravings for cigarettes as well as controlling weight gain after giving up.

The study followed 25 male and female smokers between the ages of 18 and 65 who reported smoking at least five cigarettes a day for at least one year. All participants received a 15-20 minute smoking cessation counselling session as well as an eight-week supply of nicotine patches before being placed into two random groups. The resistance training group engaged in two, 60 minute training sessions per week for 12 weeks. The full-body routine involved 10 exercises, with researchers gradually increasing weight and intensity every three weeks. Participants in the control group watched a brief health and wellness video twice a week.

At the end of the 12 weeks, 16 per cent of smokers in the weight training group had not only quit smoking, but had also lost weight and body fat. In comparison, just 8% of individuals in the control group had quit smoking and also reported an increase in their body weight and fat ratios. Click here for more info >  

Croydon office update


Following news of riots in Croydon the REPs’ office will be shut today (Tuesday 9th August 2011).

The situation in the town centre will be reviewed later today and the team hopes to be back in action by tomorrow, following advice from the police and emergency services.

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.

Exercise should be standard part of cancer care, says new report

The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) has welcomed the publication of a report advising all cancer patients to exercise for at least two and a half hours a week.

The report published by Macmillan Cancer Support says advice to rest and take it easy after treatment is an outdated view.

REPs Registrar Jean-Ann Marnoch said: “This report confirms what we, as exercise professionals, have known for a long time – that regular exercise has far-reaching long-term health benefits regardless of most other conditions someone may be facing.

“For the past five years we have been working with SkillsActive (the sector skills council for the active leisure industry), doctors, medical charities and healthcare professionals to ensure fitness instructors are properly qualified to work with patients with chronic conditions like cancer.

“Indeed, SkillsActive has just written qualification standards for cancer rehabilitation, meaning specialist training courses can now be produced for those members wanting to make the move to level 4 Specialist Instructor status.”

Macmillan’s report, Move More, says that of the two million cancer survivors in theUK, around 1.6 million are not physically active enough.

Adult cancer patients and cancer survivors should undertake 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week, the reports says, which, is in-line with Department of Health guidelines.

Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said physical activity was very important to the survival and recovery process. She said: “Cancer patients would be shocked if they knew just how much of a benefit physical activity could have on their recovery and long term health, in some cases reducing their chances of having to go through the gruelling ordeal of treatment all over again.”

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