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Health news from around the globe

* New research shows that regular exercise may help improve mental health. After reviewing all of the studies published since 1981 on exercise and mental health, researchers at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba, found that exercise - strength training and cardiovascular - helps to alleviate mild to moderate depression and may also help treat other mental disorders such as anxiety and substance abuse. In one study, people who ran, waked or performed strengthening exercises three times a week for about 20 to 60 minutes at a time were significantly less depressed after five weeks and the improvements lasted for up to one year. While the correlation is not completely understood, it is likely that the release of endorphins in the brain most likely lessen the depression, the researchers said.

* A recent study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that moderate weight training reduced anxiety in male and female volunteers - some of whom had no weight-lifting experience. However, study participants who engaged in intense resistance exercise did not experience the same benefit. According to researchers at the University of Florida, Gainesville, the message is that moderate intensity was better than high-intensity, especially with regard to anxiety reduction. So, tell your residents not to overdo it!

* Overweight children, especially those who are obese, are more likely to develop asthma than youngsters who maintain normal body weights, according to a recent study by Harvard Medical School researchers. Researchers studied close to 17,000 9-to-14-year-old children of female nurses and found that children who developed asthma during a one-year period were more likely to be overweight. The heavier they were, the more likely they were to develop the symptoms. The study went on to reveal that children who never take deep breaths associated with exercise may develop bronchial hyperactivity, which is more susceptible to environmental irritants.

* Even couch potatoes can cut their cholesterol level and reduce body fat if they work out regularly at a fitness center. A study conducted at Old Dominion University (Norfolk, Va.) found that sedentary women who participated in 40 to 50 minutes of resistance training per week for 14 weeks reduced total cholesterol levels by 10 percent and bad cholesterol levels by 14 percent. Total cholesterol is the sum of good and bad cholesterol. No changes were found in the women who did not exercise during that period.

* In addition to its cardiovascular benefits, regular exercise also may help prevent diabetes and other chronic illnesses by reducing common risk factors, according to researchers at the Outlook

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