Exercise and Fitness

Biking to work linked to reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and early death

Beverly Merz
Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

A five-year study of more than a quarter of a million commuters in the United Kingdom found that those who commute to work by bicycle had lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, or of dying from any cause.

Racket sports serve up health benefits

Matthew Solan
Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch

Racket sports like tennis are beneficial to health, in part because of the types of movement required, and also because of the social component of playing with others. One of the fastest-growing racket sports particularly among older adults is “pickleball,” which blends tennis, table tennis, and the backyard childhood game of Wiffle ball.

Exercise versus caffeine: Which is your best ally to fight fatigue?

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

When you need a boost, it’s tempting to reach for a cup of coffee or a soda, but studies show that even a short burst of physical activity will also provide a dose of energy, plus all the other benefits of exercise.

Run for your (long) life

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

A large, long-term study confirms that running decreases a person’s overall risk of death, and while the benefits from other forms of physical activity are not as significant, any activity is still better than none.

Treadmills: Tips for using this versatile piece of exercise equipment

Matthew Solan
Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch

With the variety of speeds and inclines and the pre-programmed terrain patterns included, a treadmill is a flexible piece of exercise equipment that can provide a thorough and varied workout. Because you can control pace and intensity, treadmills are also a good option for people returning to activity following injury or surgery.

Find your exercise style

Heidi Godman
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

One of the biggest challenges to sticking with any fitness routine is finding the type of exercise you most enjoy doing, so you will look forward to your activity and stay motivated. Think about activities that appeal to you, and consider their pros and cons.

Weight loss that works: A true story

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

When there are so many articles, books, and TV pitches on how to lose weight, how do you know what works and what’s a gimmick? When life is busy and you don’t want to completely give up the joys of the occasional treat, what’s a person to do. This story combines science and a physician’s personal experience to shed light on the basics of how to really lose weight.

The underappreciated health benefits of being a weekend warrior

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

While it’s been believed that intense exercise only on weekends is not an advisable or effective fitness routine, a new study suggests that, if done safely and for enough time to meet the recommended guidelines, weekend-only exercise can be beneficial.

Personalized activity intelligence: A better way to track exercise?

Julie Corliss
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

Small devices and smart phone apps that are designed to track fitness activities don’t necessarily provide the most accurate information. A recent Norwegian study, involving thousands of participants, has led researchers to develop a more precise method for measuring cardiovascular activity on electronic devices. Personalized Activity Intelligence, or PAI, is a formula that converts your heart rate to a number of points, based on your age, gender, resting heart rate, and maximum heart rate.

What is prediabetes and why does it matter?

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

Considering the range and severity of health problems caused by diabetes, the focus on treating prediabetes in order to prevent it from becoming diabetes is sensible, and a large study found that it is possible. A healthy diet and adequate physical activity can help most people side step this condition. For some, medication is also necessary.