Last year, two large studies, including one in Copenhagen, found that running extends life expectancy by as much as six years. But there was a catch: People who ran 15 to 20 miles, or about two and half hours, per week enjoyed the added years. Those who ran 30 miles or more did not live longer. Moreover, the higher-mileage runners showed signs of heart scarring.

That data suggested there is a threshold to running's benefits, a ceiling at which we'd be better off resting or maybe walking than logging more miles. But Martin Matsumura, M.D., a cardiologist and researcher at the Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania, isn't convinced that's the case. He suspects other factors, such as family history and medication use, contribute to the adverse effects on the heart, and he's launched a study to begin to uncover them.

"I have a suspicion there are confounders, other habits that are connected to the cardiovascular events, and that it's not, 'If you run beyond 30 miles [per week] you scar your heart and drop dead sooner,'" Matsumura said by phone from his office in the Lehigh Valley. "But what are those habits? What differentiates these runners? That's part of what I hope to find out."

Plus: 6 Ways Running Improves Your Health

The study consists of an online survey directed at runners age 35 and older. It asks 45 wide-ranging questions, from weekly mileage to smoking habits to coffee consumption. Family health history is assessed, as is the use of ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and thyroid medication, many of which may have negative effects on the heart.

Matsumura said the study also aims to begin teasing out what degree of running is most beneficial. It will offer a snapshot of masters runners' training and racing habits as well as their perception of running's risk to the heart.

"There's a growing population of masters runner who want to maintain not just fitness but competitiveness, but there's very little guidance on how to assess risk to the heart involved in running as you age," he said.

Plus: How Type of Exercise Affects Blood Pressure

Matsumura's own heart problem influenced his decision to conduct the research. Matsumura, 47, is a former collegiate 800-meter specialist who now runs 25 to 30 miles a week. He has no family history of heart disease, but last fall he had a coronary stent placed in one of his arteries.

"It was out of the blue," Matsumura said, adding that he does not believe his heart issue was the result of too much running, but that its cause is puzzling.

At present, about 1,000 people across all age groups have taken the survey, including a large number of triathletes. The triathletes' participation is a bonus, said Matsumura, as it will enable him to assess the role of aerobic cross-training in the U-shaped relationship between running and life expectancy found in the earlier research.

Plus: Less-Fit Marathoners Stress Their Hearts More

Matsumura emphasized the survey is one step in ongoing research. He wasn't open to speculating on what he expects to find, nor does he allow himself to peek at the data early to get preliminary results. But he hopes more people will participate. "It'll be up as long as people respond," he said.

You can take the survey here.

Source: Heart and Education in Heart

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Forget gray hair and slower race times. Science, once again, offers considerable consolation for the aging athlete. Two recently published studies add to the growing body of evidence that regular exercise preserves brain function, including memory, and lowers the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

The two studies examined the brains of 10 masters athletes and 10 sedentary but otherwise healthy older adults. The athletes-regionally and nationally ranked runners recruited from running clubs and races — were age 72 on average and had been exercising for 15 or more years. The inactive adults had an average age of 74.

Middle-Aged Fitness Linked to Less Dementia Later

The first study compared the brain structure and cognitive abilities of the two groups. The second attempted to determine why the master athletes outperformed their contemporaries -- and a younger control group -- on some cognitive tests in the first study.

MRI scans in the first study showed that all the older adults had less gray matter than the nine young adults who served as a control group (average age 27). But the masters athletes had higher concentrations of both gray and white matter than their sedentary counterparts in key areas that control movement, memory and perception. White matter transmits messages between gray matter, the brain's outer layer where information is processed.

5 Ways Running Boosts Brain Power

In the first study, the masters group scored higher than the sedentary group in cognitive tests involving language. They also outperformed the sedentary and the younger control groups on test for "working memory," the parts of the brain responsible for attention, multi-tasking and decision-making.

"That these masters athletes who were in their 70s were performing as well as the young controls is massively impressive already, but that they out-performed the young in a few categories, that's the big picture here," says Benjamin Tseng, Ph.D., a researcher in the Exercise and Environmental Medicine lab at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas and the lead author of both studies.

The second study, published in the journal NeuroImage, found that the white matter of older athletes was healthier than the sedentary group's.

Sitting is the New Smoking - Even for Runners

"White matter impacts how quickly someone can retrieve a piece of information and how well they can solve a problem," says Tseng. "While brain tissue volume is important, the integrity of the white matter fiber tracts is just as critical."

The results suggest that older athletes have a lower risk for dementia and Alzheimer's disease, according to Tseng. But he emphasizes the key message here is the extraordinary benefits of long-term exercise—and that’s it's never too late to start.

"Brain plasticity [changes] can happen even later in life and that's an important message from the study," he says, noting that some of the athletes began running in their 40s and 50s.

Activity Linked To Less Age-Related Brain Change

Was it the number of year or the frequency and intensity that lead to better brain health? It's unclear, says Tseng, but likely a combination of consistency over time.

Tseng says it's not just the exercise that helps. "Being out and about is very good for your brain,” he says. “The social interactions, meeting new people, seeing new places all stimulate the brain."

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Last year, Guinness World Records certified a 93-year-old New York woman as the world's oldest yoga teacher.

Well, Tao Porchon-Lynch hasn't spent the past year just being content with holding that distinction.

She has released a yoga instructional DVD. Titled Yoga with Tao Porchon-Lynch, the disc runs 82 minutes and is listed at $9.99.

"I think it's the joy of living," she told Fox News of why she loves to practice yoga. "To feel that when you are in touch with this wonderful power that's inside of you, nothing's impossible."

Porchon-Lynch turns 95 in August. She began doing yoga when she was 8. As a professional actress who performed in Europe, India and Hollywood, she also taught yoga. She founded the Westchester Institute of Yoga in 1982 and continues teaching several classes a week.

"When (students) think they can't do something, and they suddenly realize that they can -- that this is something not out of the limit – the expression on their face is very special," she said. "It's a big smile (that) comes on their face, and I feel that you can't give me a diamond worth more than that."

If you're looking for additional motivation to get into better shape, check out what she does in the segment with Fox News:

She credits yoga to being a huge factor in her longevity, but her vibrant outlook can't hurt either.

"My mantra is to wake up the morning and say, 'This is going to be the best day of my life,'" she told the Huffington Post.

Shortly after celebrating her 95th birthday, Porchon-Lynch will be taking her show on the road with a one-week yoga retreat -- in the Loire Valley of France. Looks like international travel just another one of her ways of loving life and staying young.

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Just about everybody is a fan of firing up the grill and feasting on some freshly cooked cuts of beef, chicken or fish. But there is a smart of way doing it that can give you better odds against developing certain types of cancer. So before cranking up the heat super high, check out these pointers on a healthier way to barbecue:

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As Washington sports fans hold their breath waiting for Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III to come back, it seems like nothing else really matters (after all, who are they going to root for there? The Wizards?) So when Tiger Woods did an interview with a CSN Washington, a local TV station there, it's only natural the conversation drifted into the one thing Woods and RGIII have in common: Knee surgery.

And the answer that Woods gave, when asked what kind of advice he would give the young quarterback, certainly won't calm the nerves of 'Skins fans.

"For me, did I have to be explosive when I came back? Yes, but only to a certain extent,” Woods said. “I could still hit the ball 30 yards shorter and still win golf tournaments. For him, losing a half a step is a big deal. And no one's gonna be hitting me out there on the golf course.

"That would be fun, though. It’d be aggressive. We used to do that in high school -- full-contact golf -- but that's a different story. I think what Robert's going through, and we saw what [Adrian Peterson] went through and the year that he came back and had, and even Tom Brady. Those were lead leg injuries, too, at least for Tom. Robert, being a trail leg, hopefully he has the power back and explosiveness so he can push off and throw that ball.”

(h/t Washington Post's Sports Bog)

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Jennie Finch makes it look easy.

Whether she's on the softball diamond or the red carpet, Finch is always flashing her mega-watt smile. When she's broadcasting softball for ESPN or doing an interview on TV, she never sounds tired. Quite frankly, it's amazing.

If Finch was to take some time off, it would surely be understandable. The 32-year-old Olympic gold medalist is the mother of three kids all under 10, including a 4-month-old girl. She's retired from softball, but she still works as a broadcaster, spokeswoman and author. And her husband, Casey Daigle, isn’t exactly a stay-at-home-dad, as a pitcher in the San Francisco Giants organization.

So, how does Finch do it all?

"There's a lot of family support,” Finch says. "There's no way that we could pull off what we do without their help. Our family is for sure our first priority, luckily my husband’s going to sacrifice a lot too to allow me to still be involved in the sport and stuff that I love which is being around the game."

Finch has been juggling multiple pursuits since her playing days. Not only was she a star pitcher in the National Pro Fastpich League and a two-time Olympian, she modeled and appeared on several television shows (including "Pros vs. Joes" and "Celebrity Apprentice").

Finch says her mother told her to take things one day at a time, and that's what she does. Finch says she makes sure not to go overboard when it comes to meals, and as a former professional athlete, she knows how important it is to hit the gym.

“Being fit and being in the best shape that I can be helps me be the best mom as well," Finch says. "It’s all about balance. The main key is keeping your priorities in order.”

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Playing professional football for a decade takes more than luck and skill. Staying in the NFL for that long requires a keen understanding of one's body and how to care for it.

James Harrison, the longtime Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker, discussed the extreme commitment he makes to his body during his introductory press conference with his new team, the Cincinnati Bengals.

"You want to stay in this business for a while, you're going to have to take care of your body," Harrison said. "If you want to do that, you're going to have to spend money. It's not cheap."

The 35-year-old Harrison estimated that he spends between $400,000 and $600,000 on his body each year. He says he's tried 150 different masseuses and he's now down to five. He also has a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, a homeopathic doctor, a trainer and a hyperbaric chamber. During the season, all those medical professionals live with Harrison.

Lest people think that Harrison is representative of NFL players as a whole, he said he's earned the nickname "massage whore" from his teammates because of his affinity for rubdowns.

"I've always been what everybody’d like to call -- excuse my English -- is massage whore," Harrison said. "I can’t think of nothing else. They done called me it so long I’m starting to believe it."

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By Wendy Walsh

Debating the battle of the bulge is America's favorite pastime. In fact, the weight-loss industry is a cash cow simply because losing weight is so darn difficult and keeping that weight off is often harder.

Until recently, weight-loss experts have focused on behavior as the biggest factor in weight gain and obesity. The conventional wisdom is that people who have weight problems simply eat too much and move too little. But now psychologists have taken an educated look at a long-term study to ask questions about what underlying psychological forces motivate such self-destructive behavior. Could weight gain have less to do with bad habits and more to do with personality type?

More from AskMen: The Secret To Being More Confident

Are you prone to weight gain?
The answer is yes. Using data from an ongoing 50-year study that monitors health, researchers from the National Institute on Aging found that a number of personality traits are directly linked to those prone to weight gain. People with neurotic tendencies -- those prone to anxiety and aggression -- were likely to pack on extra pounds, as were those who enjoy taking risks. Gives new meaning to the "dangerous" dessert cart.

Another group who tended toward plump were cynical, aggressive and competitive people. Picture Wall Street power brokers shoveling in pasta at New York's Cipriani's, or riled-up tailgaters stuffing in Texas barbecue outside Reliant Stadium. Come to think of it, didn't the Grinch have a paunch too?

But the study, which compared personality to weight- and body-mass index, found that, by far, the most powerful personality trait that causes belt loosening across the lifespan is being impulsive. In fact, highly impulsive people in the study packed on an average of 22 extra pounds over the years. Can I say "duh" here? Poor impulse control is the very feature that has people overloading at buffet tables and easily distracted from a weight-loss program. The key to losing fat and maintaining a healthy body weight is consistency. Impulsive people are less likely to stick to healthy routines long enough to maintain weight in the long term.

More from AskMen: Why CrossFit Is Better Than The Workout You're Doing Right Now?

Does culture have anything to do with it?
Some other points about the study are interesting to note. The group of nearly 2,000 were equally divided by gender but were disproportionately white (71 percent) and highly educated (most were college educated or held graduate degrees). This leads me to consider cultural factors. Might the weight gain of whites be largely linked to psychology and the weight gain of some minorities be linked to Mom's Sunday dinners? Family dynamics and food are clearly another piece to the puzzle.

But this fascinating study begs the question: Would psychotherapy be better for sustained weight management than crash diets and sudden workout kicks? I think the answer is a resounding "yes" for those with impulse-control problems. And the side effect of therapy for this population would be improved relationships, as people with poor impulse control are also more likely to have affairs.

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Athletes are attracted to participate in sports at the high school level because of the bonding, competition and the many invaluable life lessons that they learn. Unfortunately, an adolescent body is still in the growing process and subject to a greater risk of injury and consequences than in college and the pros. My 40 years of work with professional athletes makes clear how deep and profound athletic denial about how risks is.

It starts early in life in Pop Warner, AYSO and Little League. Athletes are taught to ignore pain, be stoic and not jeopardize their chance to play. Long-term health is an abstract concern, off the radar. Playing the next play becomes everything. This is why it is critical for athletes and their parents, coaches and trainers to make themselves aware of methods of prevention and the most effective treatment of athletic injury.

Dr. Joseph Horrigan, a world-renowned sports medicine specialist, and his DISC Sports and Spine Center, are attempting to bring light into this murky landscape by holding a series of symposiums on the biomechanics of injuries and their prevention. The first session on concussions was held last Thursday evening and these presentations continue every Thursday through May 9 at their clinic in Newport Beach.

Field experts, such as Nike track and field coach John Smith, Oakland Raiders team physician Dr. Fred Nicola and pioneering neurosurgeon Dr. Robert Bray Jr, will be part of the presentations. The series is titled Coaches and Captains, attempting to change the awareness on high school campuses surrounding injury be involving coaches and player team leaders. These tend to be the role models that athletes take their cues from and any change in this paradigm needs to involve them.

Dr. Horrigan has been a focused for the past 25 years on strength and conditioning, and sports medicine. He was conditioning coach for the NHL's Los Angeles Kings and still is club coach for USA Weightlifting. He trained Jennifer Lawrence for her starring role in "The Hunger Games" and consulted on the film "Django Unchained."

I asked Dr. Horrigan for his motivation in holding these conferences and he replied, "If we help one girl and one boy on each team, in each school, each year from having an ACL tear, one less concussion, one less SLAP tear, one less dehydration case,then we will have achieved something great and worthwhile."

Topics will include "Concussions" (my personal crusade), "Improving the 40-Yard Dash","Shoulder Injuries in Overhead Athletes," "Surprising Symptoms of Back Injuries," "ACL Injuries in Athletes" and "Preventing Dehydration." The last topic continues to be a difficulty as the death of a Grambling State athlete after running 4.5 miles in the summer heat of Louisiana -- a wrongful death suit I testified in -- illustrates. Dr. Horrigan made the point that by the time someone recognizes that they are thirsty, they are already dehydrated.

The health of high school athletes in all sports is a serious concern for the schools, the athletes, and their parents. Some of the consequences not only prevent athletes from continuing to participate in sports at that level, they can lead to lifelong health problems.

The exciting news is that medical and training techniques to prevent and treat these athletes are evolving quickly. These seminars have the potential to raise the level of awareness and push this invaluable
field forward and stimulate a national discussion on these issues.

-- Leigh Steinberg has represented many of the most successful athletes and coaches in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing and golf, including the first overall pick in the NFL draft an unprecedented eight times, among more than 60 first-round selections. His clients have included Hall of Fame quarterbacks Steve Young, Troy Aikman and Warren Moon, and he served as the inspiration for the movie "Jerry Maguire." Follow him on Twitter @SteinbergSports.

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If you're feeling stressed at work or generally unhappy, you may want to consider turning to tango.

A new study by Australian researchers and published in the journal Music and Medicine found that after just a few weeks of tango classes, participants' "satisfaction with life and self-efficacy significantly increased."

The researchers at the University of New England and Australian National University studied 41 people with say they suffered from stress, anxiety and depression. The group spanned from ages 18 to 73 and was 80 percent female.

About half of that group (20) was enrolled in eight 90-minute tango classes during a two-week period while the other participants were put on a waiting list. The dance required synchronization, improvisation and a "strong connection" with a partner. After taking the classes, most participants reported less stress, anxiety or depression. The effects of the dance classes were still evident when these participants were surveyed a month after finishing their tango lessons.

The symptoms for those who were wait-listed, however, stayed the same or got worse.

The authors wrote that the results of their study "indicated that this activity helped the participants to focus on the present moment and mentally switch off from their feelings of stress and distress."

Interestingly, these are not the only health benefits that tango can offer. Parkinson's patients have been found to benefit from the dance as well.

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