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Analyzing Health News

Por Eleazar Lara-Pantin, MD, MSc.* -

People in the media have a fascinating interest in scientific information relating to health. For example, they constantly publish research results just a few hours after appearing in prestigious scientific journals. However, it is concerning that some of this information actually creates confusion, rather than helping foster behaviors that prevent disease.  They miss the point of making science public altogether.

A few days back, an important media service company published an article worldwide, illustrating this concern. The title was: “One Hour of Exercise a Week Eliminates Hypertension.” It featured a study carried out by Japanese researchers which had been published three days before.  The study showed that exercising one hour once a week was enough to reduce high blood pressure levels in individuals suffering from hypertension.

Many people read this article, heard it on the radio or saw it on TV and wrote to us. They wanted to know if the study was true, and why public and private health institutions insist you exercise five times a week for one hour. I will now share the answer with you.

Analyzing the Information

The purpose of the study was to find out the minimum amount of exercise necessary to lower high blood pressure levels in otherwise healthy individuals.  The recommendations given to the general population are based on the importance of exercise for a healthy life and not for the treatment of a specific disease. Recommendations to the general population are only given after analyzing, discussing, and carefully interpreting the results of many investigations regarding the relationship between physical activity and health. Once the recommendations are found to be valid, they are approved and published, always keeping general well-being in mind, and taking into consideration the importance of providing the best guide for people to implement said recommendations.

The recommendation to exercise five times a week, for one hour, stems from the knowledge that regular physical activity can help prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and several factors associated with diseases like hypertension. One of these factors is obesity, which is now a worldwide epidemic. An hour of exercise once a week is not enough to control cholesterol levels, maintain high levels of “good cholesterol”, or increase the capacity of our cells to properly use the sugar in our blood, burn excess calories, or fight stress. Although they both involve similar health concerns, this demonstrates the vast difference between investigation results with a specific purpose and recommendations made based on the need to adopt a healthy lifestyle that adds quantity and quality to life.

*Dr. Lara-Pantin, a nutrition specialist, is Vice President of Product Development for DrTango, Inc.


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