With a whole host of information out there, sometimes it’s nice to look at exactly what the science is saying. That’s exactly the reason for our weekly study review — you can check in to find out the latest news from the world of health and fitness science and apply new-found knowledge to your own life.
This week, we’re looking at how to preserve that well-earned muscle mass as you age and whether using tech at mealtimes limits how much you eat. Finally, we’ll look at whether exercise is really detrimental to your immune system — something we’ve all been thinking about a lot lately.
Preserve muscle into old age
By now, you’re probably pretty aware of the role protein has in building muscle, but what you might not know is that ensuring you get enough through the day as you age can make a difference to whether you keep building muscle, according to a new study.1
Researchers looked at the protein intake of young, middle-aged, and old-aged people, including the source of protein, how often a day it was consumed, and the quantity consumed. They found that older people needed to eat far more protein to see the same muscle-building results, as well as spreading it out through the day. They also found that muscles made better use of the protein consumed if the individual exercised regularly too. While this research is only on a small group of people and over a short period of time, it suggests that you may have to up your protein intake as you age if you want to keep that mass.
Technology at mealtimes and food intake
Always heading back for seconds? This next study could have the answer for keeping your appetite under control. According to a new study of 119 young adults, playing a simple computer game while you eat for 15 minutes could mean you eat significantly less.2
The participants had their food consumptions measured over two different meals — one where they played the video game and one where they gave the meal their undivided attention. The game they played was actually designed to test memory and sustained visual attention, so required a decent amount of concentration. This probably means that scrolling through Instagram, or watching TV won’t have the same impact on how much you eat.
Does exercise affect immunity?
Worried that keeping fit might lower your immune system? Well, worry no more. A review of studies on exercise and its effect on the immune system has determined that exercise actually improves how well your immune system works over your life.3
In fact, they go on to say that it’s long been a misconception that a tough exercise session can be detrimental in the short term for the immune system, saying that there is limited evidence to support this. While you shouldn’t wear yourself out if you’re feeling overtired or under the weather, you can hit that workout hard knowing that it won’t impact your immunity negatively.
Take home message
This week, we’ve discovered that you may need to re-evaluate your protein levels as you age, that a good distraction that works your brain hard could be the answer to filling up on second helpings, and that you can most likely work out worry-free when it comes to immune health.
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1. Smeuninx, B., Greig, C. A., & Breen, L. (2020). Amount, Source and Pattern of Dietary Protein Intake Across the Adult Lifespan: A Cross-Sectional Study. Frontiers in Nutrition, 7, 25.
2. Liguori, C. A., Nikolaus, C. J., & Nickols-Richardson, S. M. (2020). Cognitive Distraction at Mealtime Decreases Amount Consumed in Healthy Young Adults: A Randomized Crossover Exploratory Study. The Journal of nutrition.
3. Campbell, J. P., & Turner, J. E. (2018). Debunking the myth of exercise-induced immune suppression: redefining the impact of exercise on immunological health across the lifespan. Frontiers in immunology, 9, 648.