Bursts of exercises boost health of older adults
Short intervals of high-intensity exercise may improve the overall health of older people, according to new research in Scotland.
Scientists at Abertay University examined the effects of exercise on 12 retired adults over the course of six weeks. The participants went to the lab twice a week, during which they were asked to exercise at high-intensity on an exercise bike in six-second intervals. The exercise was a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which is a type of exercise that keeps heart rate elevated and is known to burn more fat in less time than exercise done at a sustained level of intensity.
The researchers found that after the study was over, the participants’ blood pressure had decreased by about 9 percent. They also reported having an improved ability to carry out daily activities, such as walking a dog or getting out of a chair.
The study’s findings, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, suggest that elderly people may benefit more from short and strenuous exercise programs than low intensity exercise. The researchers noted, however, that because a high heart rate could trigger heart attack and stroke, older people should consult with their doctor first.
Medicare is born: July 30, 1965
President Lyndon Johnson signs the law creating Medicare and Medicaid and, in doing so, dramatically expands health care coverage in America. The signing takes place in Independence, Missouri as part of a ceremony honoring former president Harry S. Truman, who, 20 years earlier, had first proposed the idea of national health insurance. A year later, when the new law actually goes into effect, Truman and his wife, Bess, will be presented with the first two Medicare cards.
Truman’s plan hadn’t been able to get through Congress–even though it was introduced three different times–mainly because the American Medical Association (AMA) had aggressively campaigned against it, calling government-funded health insurance nothing more than “socialized medicine.”
President John F. Kennedy had renewed the fight in 1961, announcing that national health insurance would be one of the top priorities of his administration. But he had been no more successful than Truman. Again, the AMA had vigorously opposed it, using a tactic that’s been described as one of the first successful viral marketing campaigns in American politics.
It hired a former actor named Ronald Reagan to record an album titled “Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine” and sent it to all of the AMA’s “lady auxiliaries” around the country—these were local organizations made up of doctors’ wives. An accompanying note asked the women to invite friends over, “put on the coffeepot,” and play the record for all to hear. Then, it was suggested, that they might want to follow up by writing personalized letters opposing national health insurance to their congressmen.
Reagan’s script for what became known as “Operation Coffeecup” didn’t mince words. It warned that government –subsidized medicine would curtail Americans’ freedom and that “pretty soon your son won’t decide when he’s in school, where he will go or what he will do for a living. He will wait for the government to tell him where he will go to work and what he will do.”
It ended with him saying that if this kind of health insurance wasn’t stopped, “one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in America when men were free.” The recording not only spurred a groundswell of letter-writing, but it also helped to launch Reagan’s political career. It led to an invitation asking him be a main speaker at the 1964 Republican National Convention, which nominated Barry Goldwater as the party’s presidential candidate.
But Lyndon Johnson’s landslide victory over Goldwater gave him the political muscle to push through legislation providing health insurance for the elderly and the poor—almost half of the Americans over 65 had no insurance and many had little or no savings. Johnson, who knew how Congress worked as well as anyone did, kept up the pressure to make sure the proposal didn’t get stalled again.
In a recorded phone conversation with Rep. Wilbur Mills, head of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, Johnson lobbied hard to keep the legislation moving. He warned that if the bill was allowed to lay around, “that gets the doctors organized. Then they get others organized.” Johnson also compared festering legislation to a “dead cat,” and implored Mills, “Don’t let dead cats stay on your porch.”
In the spring of 1965, the House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 313-115, and the Senate followed suit in July. Within a year of Johnson signing the law, almost 20 million people signed up. Today, close to 50 million Americans are covered by Medicare.
More slices of history
Shift workers face higher diabetes risk
People whose jobs require them to work in shifts may have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.
Scientists at Huazhong University of Science and Technology analyzed data from more than 220,000 adults. They found that the people who were most at risk of diabetes were men who rotated working day and night shifts. Their risk increased by about 42 percent. Shift workers in general were found to be about 9 percent more likely to have type 2 diabetes.
The researchers said that one reason for the findings could be that shift work disrupts the body clock and eating patterns, which may affect waistlines, hormones and sleep–all factors which could increase diabetes risk. The findings are particularly timely, they said, given the increasing prevalence of jobs that require shift work.
The study’s results, published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, suggest that shift workers should pay more attention to the prevention of diabetes, such as maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise and by eating a healthy balanced diet.
Fist bumps spread fewer germs than handshakes
New research has found that handshakes may spread more germs than other gestures that involve hand-to-hand contact, such as high fives or fist bumps.
Scientists at Aberystwyth University in Wales first coated a sterile rubber glove in E. coli by dipping it into a bacterial-broth. They then tested the degrees to which various hand maneuvers, including handshakes of different intensities, fist bumps and high fives spread the E. coli.
The researchers found that handshakes transferred the most bacteria. Compared to fist bumps, handshakes transferred 10 times more bacteria.
Researchers said that the findings, published in the American Journal of Infection Control, suggest that people may want to avoid handshakes during flu season or a flu pandemic. They added that people would benefit from consistently and thoroughly washing their hands after going to the bathroom in order to reduce the spread of bacteria.
Lack of sleep may raise risk of false memories
Sleep deprivation may contribute to false memories, where you recall events that never happened, according to a new study.
Scientists from the University of California-Irvine and Michigan State University recruited 104 college-aged participants and divided them into four groups. All groups were given a test in which they saw a series of photos depicting a crime taking place. Two of the groups took the test late at night, one of which was allowed to sleep while the other was required to stay awake throughout the night. The other two groups took the test in the morning. The same sleep rules applied for them.
The participants were then asked to read eyewitness statements about the crime scene depicted in the photos. Some of the eyewitness statements matched what was actually shown in the photos, while others did not. After reading the statements, the participants were asked whether they recalled what was shown in the photos.
The results of the study showed that people in the groups who were not allowed to sleep were more likely to recall the events shown in the photos not as what they actually saw, but as what they had read in false eyewitness narratives.
The findings, published in the journal Psychological Science, suggest that lack of sleep may contribute to false memory formation. Researchers noted that further research is needed, however, before such findings could be applied to law enforcement.