TIME Cancer

17 Everyday Chemicals Could Be Linked to Breast Cancer

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Scientists who looked at data linking mammary tumors in animals to vehicle exhaust, paint removers, disinfectants and other common items, and compared it to more limited data for humans, say there's cause for concern

New research sheds light on possible nongenetic causes of breast cancer: everyday chemicals.

Scientists at the nonprofit Silent Spring Institute and the Harvard School of Public Health did a deep dive on epidemiological data, looking at chemicals linked to mammary tumors in animals and then comparing their findings against existing data for humans, which is far more limited. The study authors, who published their research in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives, identified 17 groups of chemicals they say are cause for concern.

These everyday chemicals include those found in vehicle exhaust, flame retardants (which are commonly used on furniture, rugs and mattresses), stain-resistant textiles (like the kind used to upholster furniture), paint removers and disinfection byproducts in drinking water. The study also identified chemicals formed by combustion (benzene and butadiene), which humans are exposed to from gasoline, lawn equipment, tobacco smoke, and charred or burned food.

More research is needed before a conclusive cause-and-effect link can be established between these chemicals and breast cancer, but the authors urge men and women to take care in the meantime. In addition to standard breast-cancer prevention — maintaining a healthy weight, moderating alcohol consumption and not smoking — the study authors offer seven tips women and men should follow to minimize the risk of exposure to those substances:

1) Reduce your exposure to fumes from gasoline and to exhaust from diesel or other fuel combustion. That means: don’t idle your car, and if possible, use electric, not gas-powered, lawnmowers, leaf blowers and weed whackers.

2) Use a fan when you cook, and avoid eating burned or charred food.

3) Don’t buy furniture with polyurethane foam — or ask for foam not treated with flame retardants.

4) Avoid stain-resistant rugs, furniture and fabrics.

5) Find a dry cleaner who doesn’t use solvents; ask for “wet cleaning.”

6) Purify your drinking water with a solid carbon-block filter.

7) Keep your house clean to avoid bringing in outside chemicals. Remove your shoes at the door, vacuum with a HEPA filter, and clean with wet rags and mops.

TIME Cancer

Rates of Cervical Cancer Are Underestimated, Study Says

A new report says rates of the cancer in black women and women in their 60s are understated because they include those who have had hysterectomies

Rates of cervical cancer are higher than previously reported, according to a new study, specifically among older women and black women.

Previous estimates put the rate of cervical cancer at 11.7 per 100,000 women, with prevalence peaking for women between ages 40 and 44. But most of those estimates included women who had hysterectomies, which removes the uterus and cervix, making it impossible for those women to get cervical cancer.

The University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers published recalculations of cervical cancer rates in the journal Cancer. The researchers looked at the rates of hysterectomies and cervical cancer between 2000 and 2009. With these numbers, they were able to eliminate the women with hysterectomies from their calculations. They found that the cervical cancer incidence rate is actually 18.6 per 100,000 women.

The recalculations also found that cervical cancer prevalence actually peaked between ages 65 and 69. Black women were also at a greater risk compared to white women.

The new findings have notable implications for screening guidelines, since current recommendations say women with negative results can stop routine screening at age 65. But if cancer rates start to peak at 65, the researchers suggest regular check-ups should continue.

More research is needed to determine whether the rise in cervical cancer rates with age—as well as the risk disparity for black women—is due to problems with current screening guidelines or whether necessary precautions are not being taken when women are deemed at risk for cervical cancer. Since HPV is the most common cause of cervical cancer, greater use of the HPV vaccine is also recommended.

TIME Pregnancy

Women Keep Having Kids Later and Later

New data shows that the number of American women having kids after age 35 is continuing to grow

The case for “Leaning In” — prioritizing career over landing a man and starting a family — has some fresh new data to support it: The number of women having kids after age 35 is again on the rise, according to a CDC report.

The average age of women at their first birth has also risen over the past 4 decades, and since 2000, 46 states and DC have experienced a rise in the first-birth rate for women over 35.

“We are definitely seeing this in our practices,” says Dr. Rebecca Starck, chair of the department of regional obstetrics and gynecology at Cleveland Clinic. Given what we know about the risks associated with pregnancy at later ages, should we be worried?

“A healthy 40 year old can have a much less risky pregnancy than a healthy 28 year old,” says Starck, especially if she prepares her body for pregnancy with healthy food and exercise. Once pregnant, eating well, gaining the right amount of weight and abstaining from harmful behaviors like smoking also make a big difference.

The new report also shows that first time older mothers are generally more educated and more likely to have more resources like higher incomes than women of the youngest reproductive ages.

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 10.21.12 AM But the over-35 set still tend to face more risks and complications. For instance, the risks of having a child with a genetic disorder rise after 40, says Starck. It’s still very likely the baby will be healthy and won’t have a chromosome problem, she adds, but the risk does go up proportionally with age.

Why is there a greater risk? It’s because females are born with a limited supply of eggs, and just as all other parts of the body age, so do eggs. During the dividing processes, chromosomes are more likely to become displaced in older eggs, and that can lead to problems.

“That being said, many women in these advance maternal age groups will do just great,” says Dr. Starck. “While we do watch them more carefully, we don’t want people to fear that they absolutely can’t and shouldn’t get pregnant after age 35. It’s not an absolute risk, it’s a relative risk.”

Even so, Starck says it’s important to have these conversations early, so that women can plan ahead if necessary. She doesn’t like seeing her patients come in in a panic over it being potentially too late to have kids.

“Every woman has to make her own decision, but for those women who are very adamant that they do want children and are concerned about their risks, [egg freezing] is something to consider,” says Starck.

According to 2012 data from the CDC, the use of assisted reproductive technology (ART), like in vitro fertilization, is still rare compared to the potential demand for it. But use of ART has doubled over the past decade, and today 1% of all babies born in the U.S. every year are conceived via ART.

 

TIME

7 Ways Pets Improve Your Health

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Jasper White—Getty Images

When you come home to a purr or wagging tail at the end of a stressful day, the sudden wave of calm you feel isn’t just your imagination. Research suggests that your fluffy friend truly is good for your physical and mental health. “Pets often provide unconditional acceptance and love and they’re always there for you,” says Gary A. Christenson, MD, chief medical officer at Boynton Health Service at the University of Minnesota. “There is a bond and companionship that makes a big difference in mental health,” not to mention the extra exercise you get from walks and playtime. Read on to learn the surprising ways your pet can boost your health.

Health.com: 27 Mistakes Healthy People Make

Pets may lower your cholesterol

If you have a dog, those daily walks are helping to keep your cholesterol in check, says Rebecca A. Johnson, PhD, director of the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. Plus, a survey by the Australian National Heart Foundation revealed that people who own pets, especially men, tend to have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Pets help relieve stress

Simply being in the same room as your pet can have a calming effect. “A powerful neurochemical, oxytocin, is released when we look at our companion animal, which brings feelings of joy,” says Johnson. “It’s also accompanied by a decrease in cortisol, a stress hormone.” Through her research with veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Johnson has witnessed the powerful effects of animals. “One veteran couldn’t leave his home without his wife until we placed a dog with him and in less than a week he was able to go around his town,” she says.

Health.com: 12 Signs You May Have an Anxiety Disorder

Pets may reduce your blood pressure

It’s a win-win: petting your pooch or kitty brings down blood pressure while pleasing your pet. Researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo discovered that in people already taking medication for hypertension, their blood pressure response to stress was cut by half if they owned a cat or dog.

Pets boost your fitness

A dog is the best companion for a stroll—even better than a friend. Johnson—co-author of Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound—led a study at the University of Missouri that found that dog walkers improved their fitness more than people who walked with other people. A separate study found that dog owners walked 300 minutes a week on average, while people who didn’t own dogs walked just 168 minutes a week. And a study in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health found that not only did dog owners walk more than non-owners, they were also 54% more likely to meet the recommended levels of physical activity.

Health.com: 25 Fat-Burning Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

Pets reduce your cardiovascular disease risk

Lower cholesterol, stress, and blood pressure levels combined with increased fitness may add up to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. That’s a theory supported by the American Heart Association. In 2013, the AHA reviewed numerous studies examining the effects of pet ownership on cardiovascular disease risk and concluded that having a furry friend, particularly a dog, is associated with a reduction in risk and increased survival among patients.

Pets may prevent allergies in children

If you had a pet as a kid, you may be in luck. In a study published in Clinical & Experimental Allergy, children who were exposed to pets before they were six months old were less likely to develop allergic diseases, hay fever, and eczema as they got older. “In the first year of life, babies who are exposed to dogs in the household are more likely not to have allergies, asthma, and fewer upper respiratory infections,” says Johnson. “If exposed at an early age to dander and allergens, we may be less reactive to them over time.” And kids who grow up around farm animals, dogs, or cats typically have stronger immune systems and a reduced risk of developing asthma or eczema.

Health.com: 11 Unexpected Seasonal Allergy Triggers

Pets relieve depression

Pets can provide social support for their owners, who tend to have better overall wellbeing than non-owners, according to a study published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. And a large review of studies by the British Psychological Society found that dogs especially promote therapeutic and psychological wellbeing, particularly lowering stress levels and boosting self-esteem, as well as feelings of autonomy and competence. “The calming presence and the social bond that pets bring can be very powerful,” says Dr. Christenson. “Animals give something to focus on instead of the negative thoughts a depressed person is prone to have. When a pet pays attention to you, they’re giving you unconditional love and acceptance.”

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME

5 Smart Steps to Cut Down On Sugar

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Bruce Law—Getty Images

Thinking of banning added sugars for a while? Make sure to read this first.

The bad news about sugar just keeps on coming: A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study linked taking in too much of the sweet stuff to a higher risk of dying of heart disease, and a brand-new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the participants who ate the most sugar had a 10 percent higher risk of dying from any cause, compared to the average person.

It’s enough to make you want to quit sugar altogether—and an increasing number of people are doing just that, whether it’s through an elimination diet or banning sugar for a more extended period of time (this writer actually steered clear of added fructose for a year).

Thinking about trying a no-added-sugar diet yourself? That’s not a bad idea, says Pooja Mottl, author of the new book The 3-Day Reset. One of the primary resets she describes in the book focuses on sugar, which she writes is “notoriously difficult to detect in foods.” Here, she shares five common mistakes people make when avoiding added sugar.

Mistake No. 1: Trying to Ignore Your Sweet Tooth Altogether
Some people view added-sugar bans as a test of their ability to resist eating anything sweet. But that’s the wrong approach, says Mottl. The point is to find whole foods that satisfy your cravings—not to out-willpower your cravings entirely. “You should make sure that you do satisfy your sweet cravings during this time but with unrefined sources of sugar,” she says. “If you don’t give yourself whole food-based alternatives for sweetness, doing a diet like this won’t be sustainable.” As an added bonus, you’ll discover new, more nutritious ways to sate your sweet tooth in the process.

Mistake No. 2: Only Avoiding Sweet Foods
Things that you think of as savory can still contain plenty of sugar (just consider these surprising foods with more sugar than a candy bar). “Pasta sauces, chicken nuggets, cured meats, ketchup, even almond milk often contain added sugar,” says Mottl. To make sure you’re really steering clear of excess amounts of sweet stuff, you’ll have to read nutrition labels (or, if you’re eating out, start asking questions).

Mistake No. 3: Forgetting That Sugar Comes in Many Forms
When you’re checking those labels, you’re not just looking for the word “sugar.” “Another misstep happens when people don’t know the various terms that refer to sugar on ingredient lists,” says Mottl. Some of the many different ingredients that actually refer to sugar include high-fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, demerara, evaporated cane juice, evaporated cane juice solids, fruit-juice concentrates, dextrose, fructose, lactose, and a number of other terms ending in “-ose”

Mistake No. 4: Not Defining Which Sugars Are Off-Limits Ahead of Time
In her book, Mottl suggests only allowing what she calls whole and minimally processed sweeteners (ones that are unrefined) during the sugar reset: maple syrup, raw honey, rapadura, and coconut palm sugar. In her recent book Year of No Sugar, Eve Schaub avoided any sweeteners containing fructose but allowed herself those that were fructose-free (so glucose and dextrose were OK). Whether to ban artificial sweeteners is also an important decision to make. Regardless of which forms of sugar you decide are off-limits, make sure to set some sort of guidelines before you start; otherwise your sugar ban will be that much more confusing.

Mistake No. 5: Trying to Forgo Added Sugar for Too Long a Timespan
Schaub may have gone 365 days without sugar, but for most people that’s too long. There’s a reason that Mottl recommends avoiding added sugars for 72 hours: It’s long enough to help you re-adjust your taste buds, get into the habit of checking nutrition labels, and discover ways to satisfy your sweet tooth with whole and minimally processed foods. But it’s not so long that it feels intimidating—or like you’re just setting yourself up for failure. “Three days isn’t very long, but it’s still plenty long enough,” Mottl writes in her book. “You’ll feel a difference in your mouth and your energy.”

This article was written by Robin Hilmantel and originally appeared on WomensHealthMag.com

TIME

5 Ways to Make Your Bagged Lunch Less Boring

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Tooga—Getty Images

You can only eat so many blah turkey sandwiches or ho-hum dinner leftovers before caving to the call of fast food joints, right? To break up the BYO monotony, here are five tricks to make your bagged lunch feel more special, so you won’t chuck it and head around the corner for some far less healthy take-away.

Display your food artfully

We eat with our eyes as well as our stomachs, so playing part-time food stylist can really pay off. Packed meals that look and feel special can get you excited about eating healthfully again, like garden salads packed in mason jars, which are all over Pinterest (you put the dressing on the bottom so your greens don’t get soggy), or meals that allow you to express your creativity, like stuffing tomatoes with filling, rather than chopping them up and adding them to your meal. Let your artistic side out, and fuel your foodie passion—and motivation to keep eating healthfully—by sharing your culinary creations on social media.

Health.com:16 Ways to Lose Weight Fast

Go halfsies

The allure of prepared food can be compelling (why do some things taste so much better when someone else makes them?!). But an entire pre-made meal may blow your healthy eating plan. To strike a balance, combine the two. Some of my clients pack their own healthy salad greens, complete with a serving of lean protein and whole grain, and then buy sides of pico and guac at a place like Chipotle to “dress” the meal. Others bring generous servings of steamed veggies, which they combine with a purchased cup of soup or chili.

Bought extras can feel like treats, but you still feel in control when you prepare at least a portion of you own meals, with the big picture of balance in mind. Between what you bring and buy, strive for lots of veggies (the size of 1 to 2 tennis balls), with a serving of lean protein (about the size of a smartphone), some type of healthy fat (extra virgin olive oil, guacamole, avocado, or nuts/seeds), and a small portion of healthy starch (such as brown or wild rice, organic corn, or quinoa).

Health.com:20 Snacks That Burn Fat

Indulge your inner kid

Kids love dips and fun shapes, and there’s no reason you can’t enjoy the same to spruce up your lunch break. I often recommend single-serve portions of guacamole, hummus, or tahini (sesame seed paste) with veggies for dipping to my adult clients, or advise them to swap a typical apple for a fun shaped fruit, like starfruit. We still love to feel carefree even as grown-ups, so finding ways to make lunch feel fun again can help you get out of a monotonous rut.

Health.com: 31 Superfoods for Longevity

Break out of your comfort zone

One major way my clients have fallen in love with healthy eating again is by trying new foods, new spices, or even new ways of combining existing favorites. For example, if you’re burned out on salad greens topped with grilled chicken, add a new healthy starch to the mix, like black or red quinoa, purple sweet potato (amazing!), or heirloom beans. Or spice up your meals with seasonings you haven’t yet tried, like harissa, sumac, black garlic, grated ginger root, chili pepper, or lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. (A quick Google search will give you ideas for ways to use these spices).

Or try mixing things up in non-traditional ways, like using hummus as a salad dressing rather than a dip. When lunch feels like a culinary adventure, you can begin to get excited about healthy dishes. And bonus: Many herbs and spices have been linked to a metabolic boost and/or greater satiety, which can leave you feeling fuller longer compared to your regular fare.

Health.com: 11 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Belly Fat

Include a decadent treat

I’m a huge advocate of a daily dark chocolate escape, but some of my clients go beyond tossing a square or two of dark in their lunch bags. Several have packed a single truffle or treat from an artisan chocolate shop to savor after their meal. Just knowing they have this truly special goody waiting for them mid-day has allowed many of my clients to say “No thanks” to other less-appealing office treats, like donuts, pastries, or candy. If you decide to follow suit, take a few moments to truly savor your treat without distractions. The meditative aspect of enjoying your food mindfully has been shown to boost feelings of satiety, and curb the desire to indulge in other sweet and salty foods.

Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME

Endurance Training Helps Your Heart, Even if You’re Over 40

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Cavan Images—Getty Images

Men who exercised regularly after age 40 had similar heart benefits to men who started exercising before they turned 30

You’re never to old to start getting in shape, a new study says.

Researchers in France studied 40 healthy men between ages 55 and 70 who were not at a risk for heart disease. They divided them into groups based on their level of fitness and when they started. Ten of the men had never exercised more than two hours a week throughout their lives, 30 had exercised for a minimum of seven hours a week over the last five years. Some of these man started this exercise regimen before age 30, and some started after age 40. The participants were either running or cycling.

Interestingly, there was not much of a difference between the heart rates of the men who exercised despite age. Heart rates were much higher among the men who did not exercise. The men who exercised regularly also appeared to have better heart function, with high oxygen intake.

The researchers conclude that even though there are biological changes associated with age, even at age 40 the heart appears to benefit from endurance training.

Past evidence has also shown that exercise for people even older than 40 has benefits, like heart disease protection and even better memory.

There really are no excuses.

TIME

This Is Your Body on Motherhood

Weird and wonderful facts about being a mom

Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and we’ve illustrated the many reasons moms are well worth celebrating.

Hover over the image below to zoom in.

Text by Emily Maltby and Alexandra Sifferlin
TIME

Katie Couric: “I Am An Activist”

During an interview about the movie Fed Up, which I executive produced and narrated, I was asked by Andrew O’Hehir of Salon.com if I was an activist. I demurred at the suggestion, saying instead I was a strong feminist but never really thought of myself as an activist per se. A few days later, I decided to look up the true definition of the word “activist” (thank you, dictionary.com). It’s defined as “a vigorous advocate of a cause, especially a political cause.” So now I’d like to reconsider my answer: maybe I am an activist. But I don’t think our children’s health is a political issue. This shouldn’t divide us—it should unite us.

More than three years ago, after interviewing filmmaker Stephanie Soechtig, I asked her if she would ever consider doing a documentary on childhood obesity. I was troubled by the alarming statistics and never ending studies that showed this country growing heavier and heavier. In a country obsessed with diet and exercise, how could we be getting so unhealthy? Could this really just be about things like portion size and a more sedentary lifestyle?

I thought a comprehensive examination about how we got here would be the first step to understanding the problem and finding some solutions. Stephanie agreed to look into the issue and what she discovered was disheartening, frustrating, even infuriating. We then tapped Laurie David, the Oscar-winning producer of An Inconvenient Truth, and we were off to the races. Three years later we got to the finish line…and it was not a happy ending. We are in trouble as a nation and we need to do something. Fast.

This is the first generation of children expected to live shorter lifespans than their parents. If that doesn’t upset you, you have ice water running through your veins. The mantra of “eat less, exercise more” just doesn’t seem to be cutting it, though no one disputes the importance of fitness for your overall health. But it’s really about the food we’re eating every day and the sugar that’s hidden in so much of it.

Incredibly, from 1977 to 2000, Americans doubled their daily intake of sugar. The only reason it started to decline after 2000 was because of the increasing use of high fructose corn syrup – which, by the way, is metabolized by our bodies exactly the same way as sugar.

The American Heart Association recommends we eat no more than 6-9 teaspoons of added sugar each day, but the average American consumes about 22 teaspoons, often without even knowing it. That’s because 80% of the products you’ll find on grocery store shelves contain added sugar, even items like tomato sauce, yogurt, and salad dressing. Low fat often translates into high sugar. Furthermore, sugary snacks and beverages are now ubiquitous: they’re being hawked in gas stations, toy stores, and office supply stores, often by appealing cartoon characters basically shouting “eat us, eat us” at every turn.

Is it any surprise then that while there were zero reported cases of Type 2 diabetes among adolescents in 1980, by 2010, there were close to 58,000 American kids with the disease? Clearly, we can’t continue on this trajectory.

Marketing also plays a key role in this epidemic. Studies show that on television alone, American children are exposed to 21 advertisements an hour, with junk food commercials leading the pack. In this country there are no restrictions on how we can market food to kids, but places like Britain and Greece are reining in food advertisers, and Denmark has gone so far as to outlaw junk food commercials.

When we send our kids off to school, the food they are getting is not exactly good fuel for learning. In fact, 50% of school districts allow fast food to be served in their cafeterias. How many kids do you know who would choose broccoli over pizza when given the choice?

First Lady Michelle Obama deserves a great deal of credit for bringing attention to this issue, and she is certainly making strides by phasing out sugary drinks and junk food from school vending machines starting this summer. But much more needs to be done. So often, any potential step forward by the government is met with an onslaught of assaults by the food industry’s powerful lobbying groups.

I’m confident Big Food will respond to Fed Up with calls for personal responsibility and cries of an impending “nanny state.” Food and beverage executives don’t want the government telling us what to eat and drink – they think that’s their job! After all, the industry has been dictating our palate preferences for years with their highly addictive products.

This isn’t an issue that affects only those Americans struggling with their weight. The unintended consequences of this obesity crisis are staggering. Our military preparedness is in jeopardy because 27% of 17- to 24-year-olds in this country are too overweight to serve. Obesity-related health care costs are out of control, totaling between $150 and $200 billion annually. Our academic performance and global competitiveness are being compromised, because better nutrition leads to higher grades and increased productivity.

But all is not lost. If we send a message to the food industry with our forks, if we tell them we want minimally processed, less sugar-laden foods, they will be forced to respond accordingly to protect their bottom lines.

My hope is that viewers will walk away from Fed Up with a renewed perspective on our food environment, and armed with the will and the tools necessary to immediately change the way they’re eating and feeding their families. Our individual and collective futures depend on it. So call me an advocate, an activist, a journalist who wants to deliver information or just a concerned citizen. We need to to have a serious conversation about food in this country…before we take another bite.

 

TIME

Exercise Snacking: How to Make 1 Minute of Exercise Work Like 30 Minutes

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Zia Soleil—Getty Images

Less is more when it comes to keeping blood sugar in check with exercise, but it’s all about when you schedule those workouts

Think of exercise the same way you think of food, and break it up into snack-sized sessions rather than marathon ones. That’s the message of the latest study published in the journal Diabetologia, which showed that parsing physical activity into short bouts of intense exercise is better than working out once a day. If snacking throughout the day is one way to keep your weight in check (as long as you don’t go overboard and stick to healthy ones), why not exercise snack too?

The trial was small but provides some encouraging ways to make exercise more efficient. And who doesn’t want to learn how to stay trim by trimming the time spent at the gym?

MORE: Even Brief Exercise Can Improve Memory In Older Adults

All of the participants were just beginning to show signs of insulin resistance, one of the first steps toward diabetes, in which the body’s insulin starts to lose the battle in breaking down sugar from the diet. On three different days, each was asked to exercise in three different ways before eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, and their blood sugar was measured after each meal on the day they exercised and the following day. Spikes in blood sugar are normal after meals, but sustained peaks mean the body isn’t dispatching the sugar as quickly as it should; the result could be obesity and diabetes.

Exercise snacking before eating — or exercising for just one minute at an intense enough level to push their hearts to 90% of their maximum beating rates — dropped blood sugar among the men and women after breakfast and dinner by more than a single session of 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (in which the heart reached 60% of its maximum beating rate). Even more encouraging, their blood sugar remained lower for at least 24 hours.

MORE: Extreme Workouts: When Exercise Does More Harm than Good

The idea of breaking up exercise makes sense; recent studies showed, for example, that even people who meet the recommended daily 30 minutes of moderate physical activity still spend most of the remaining minutes of the day relatively inactive. And intense activity, especially before meals, may be key to kicking the body’s fat- and sugar-burning mechanisms into functioning at their best.

The research does leave some questions unanswered, including how cumulative the effect of the short sessions are, whether the same effect holds for people who aren’t yet insulin resistant, and why the exercise snacks didn’t work as well before lunch. But the possibility that packaging exercise into smaller, and better timed sessions is certainly appealing, and will be the subject or more studies to come. Here’s hoping that intense, one minute exercise sessions are the wave of the future.

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