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Daily 45-minute workouts 'cut festive food damage'

Experts at the University of Bath have found that exercising for 45 minutes a day during a period of over-eating can stabilise blood sugar levels and prevent damage to metabolism - even if the amount of calories consumed is "significantly" more than those burned off.

A short daily workout will stave off most of the negative effects of over-eating and inactivity at Christmas, scientists say. Credit: PA

In tests on exercising and non-exercising groups who both consumed extra calories, the group that remained inactive showed an unhealthy decline in their blood sugar control, while the exercising group - whose calorie intake was 25% higher than the inactive group - had stable blood sugar levels.

Researcher Dr James Betts, writing in the Journal of Physiology Today, said: "This new research shows that the picture is more sophisticated than 'energy' alone. Exercise has positive effects even when we are actively storing energy and gaining weight."

Dr Dylan Thompson, senior researcher, added: "If you are facing a period of overconsumption and inactivity this Christmas, then our study shows that a daily bout of exercise will prevent many of the negative changes in the way in which your body handles sugar, even if you do still gain weight."

Exercise levels set to drop '35% by 2020', says charity

The amount of exercise adults take part in every week could drop by a further 35% by the end of the decade if current trends continue, a charity has warned.

Health director for sustainable transport charity Sustrans, Philip Insall warned adults needed to buck the trend in order to avoid health risks like diabetes.

From 1961 to 2005, levels of physical activity in the UK dropped by 20% and if current trends continue, will reduce by more than 35% by 2030.

As a direct result, obesity, diabetes and many more health disorders are becoming increasingly prevalent.

Getting a healthy amount of physical activity doesn't have to mean slogging away in the gym - it can be achieved by building activity into your daily routine by choosing to walk or cycle your everyday journeys.

– Health Director Philip Insall

41% 'underestimate' exercise level needed to keep fit

Two in five adults are not getting enough exercise to stay healthy as they underestimate the amount needed to keep fit, new data has shown.

Adults need to clock up at least 150 minutes of moderate cardio exercise every week to stay healthy. Credit: PA

Adults under 65 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, such as cycling or swimming, every week, according to sustainable transport charity Sustrans.

Activities to strengthen muscles, like yoga, should also be practiced twice-a-week in order to stay fit.

Of the 2,000 people quizzed as part of the poll, women emerged as more aware of the health benefits of a robust exercise regime.

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Active pregnancy linked to smarter newborns

Women are being encouraged to exercise throughout their pregnancy in order to improve their own health and that of their newborn.

Scientists in Canada have linked exercise with increased brain function in babies for the first time.

In the past women would be advised to take it easy and rest during pregnancy, however recent research has shown that a lack of exercise increases risks of pregnancy and the risk of the baby developing obesity.

A baby having its brain waves monitored by researchers at the University of Montreal Credit: Universite de Montreal/PA Wire

Professor Daniel Curnier, scientist at the University of Montreal, said:

"While being sedentary increases the risks of suffering complications during pregnancy, being active can ease after delivery recovery, make pregnancy more comfortable and reduce the risk of obesity in the children.

"Given that exercise has been demonstrated to be beneficial for the adult's brain, we hypothesised that it could also be beneficial for the unborn child through the mother's actions."

"Our results show that the babies born from the mothers who were physically active have a more mature cerebral activation, suggesting that their brains developed more rapidly."

Pregnant women urged to 'change health habits'

Pregnant women are being urged to exercise three times a week whilst pregnant to improve their child's brain development.

Read: Exercising whilst pregnant 'boost's baby's brain'

New research from the University of Montreal found that exercising three times a week for 20 minutes whilst pregnant boosted a newborn baby's brain development, and the boost could have an impact on a child's entire life. Study leader Professor Dave Ellemberg said:

Our research indicates that exercise during pregnancy enhances the newborn child's brain development.

This is the first randomised controlled trial in humans to objectively measure the impact of exercise during pregnancy directly on the newborn's brain.

We hope these results will guide public health interventions and research on brain plasticity. Most of all, we are optimistic that this will encourage women to change their health habits, given that the simple act of exercising during pregnancy could make a difference for their child's future.

Exercising whilst pregnant 'boost's baby's brain'

Taking regular exercise whilst pregnant boosts a newborn baby's brain development, new research has shown.

A baby "wired up" for the study by researchers at the University of Montreal. Credit: Universite de Montreal/PA Wire

Scientists from the University of Montreal in Canada found that just 20 minutes of moderate exercise three times a week whilst pregnant was enough to stimulate brain function in newborn babies.

Exercise 'not beneficial to depression'

A study into whether physical activity alleviates the symptoms of depression has found there is no benefit Credit: David Cheskin/PA Wire

Research suggests that adding a physical activity intervention to usual care does not reduce symptoms of depression more than usual care alone.

To carry out the study researchers recruited 361 patients aged 18 to 69 years who had recently been diagnosed with depression.

Trial participants were split into two groups to receive either the physical activity intervention in addition to usual care, or usual care on its own and were followed up for 12 months to assess any change in their symptoms.

But the study found that adding exercise failed to alleviate symptoms of depression more than usual care alone, only increasing levels of physical activity.

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