Top Trending Fitness News, April 2-6
Fitness cybercrime. Supplement research. April Fool’s Day gags. Health and fitness stories dominated headlines this week, but if you’re anything like us, you found it hard to catch all the news you wanted to. Here’s our weekly roundup of the trending fitness stories you might have missed over the last few days.
Hamburger-flavored whey protein
Before we get into the hard-hitting stories, here’s a lighter one to whet your appetite. This week, the internet was buzzing about a new promo video from White Castle. The video introduced the fast food chain’s hamburger-flavored whey protein, which promised to bring the taste of a White Castle burger to every protein shake.
It turns out that White Castle’s hamburger-flavored whey protein was just an April Fool’s Day gag gone viral. But now that the idea is out there, it does make us wonder. Are meat-flavored protein powders something we’ll actually see on shelves someday?
The MyFitnessPal security breach
In February, the popular food and nutrition app MyFitnessPal was targeted by hackers, who gained access to data from 150 million people around the world. This makes it one of the largest data breaches in history.
Under Armour, who owns MyFitnessPal and a full suite of other fitness apps, found out about the hack in March. Ever since, the fitness world has been wondering if sharing personal data and GPS whereabouts is really a good idea.
Just what information made it’s way into the hands of the hacker? Reports show that no payment information was stolen. But personal information—passwords, email addresses and usernames—may have been breached.
Health records and data have become valuable targets for cyber criminals. The health and fitness data you share with your wearables, trackers and other apps gets up to 20 times more than credit card information does on the black market. Luckily for Under Armour, there’s been no indication so far that any of the fitness and health information stored on the app was compromised.
This isn’t the first time that fitness data tracking has posed a problem. Strava, another fitness tracking app, wasn’t hacked, exactly. But in 2017, it shared its data visualization heat map with users in what proved to be a catastrophic event. While doing so, Strava inadvertently gave away the locations of several of the U.S.’s secret army bases. The heat map allowed viewers to not only see the running routes among the 3 trillion GPS points, but the names of the soldiers stationed at the bases, as well.
What does all this boil down to? Major questions about the security of our health and fitness data.
Mid-life fitness could ward off dementia
With dementia on the rise, doctors and researchers are searching for new ways to delay or eliminate it altogether. In 2015, unpaid care, social care and medical costs for dementia added up to around $813 billion. With 7.7 million dementia cases diagnosed every year, rates are expected to reach 75.8 million by 2030. There’s no wonder experts are calling it “The Silver Tsunami.”
The statistics are staggering. But a major new study may offer a lifeline. In the study, researchers tracked the fitness habits of 191 women at low, medium and high fitness levels over the course of four decades. By 2012, only 44 of the women had developed dementia, and the highest rate was in the low-level fitness group. The risk of dementia in the most fitness-oriented group was slashed by a staggering 88%.
The conclusion of the study? Cardiovascular exercises appears to help ward off late-life dementia. What is the optimal amount of exercise? And at what age does physical activity matter most? Questions still remain, but this study lays crucial groundwork for a more in-depth exploration of how fitness keeps us healthy—even in our later years.
Robust research on supplements
The supplement industry brings in more than $30 billion annually. But unlike prescription drugs, supplements aren’t regulated, meaning they don’t have to prove that they do what they suggest they do. Even so, about 52% of U.S. adults use at least one supplement. There are 90,000 or so alternative products on the market to date, but few researchers have done in-depth studies to test their effectiveness on a broad, long-term scale.
JoAnn Manson, a Harvard epidemiologist, has set out to change all that. She’s leading the charge toward separating fact from fiction when it comes to popular supplements like Vitamin D, fish oil, multivitamins and cocoa. Said Manson, “The goal isn’t to refute previous findings. We’re looking at what we think are promising supplements. We’re trying to identify dietary supplements that are effective and have a favorable benefit/risk profile.”
Vitamin D and calcium, for example, have been touted as beneficial in preventing osteoporosis. And with more people than ever before turning to supplements as a way of taking control of their health, Manson believes it’s vital for doctors to understand how and what to recommend to their patients.
In her Viewpoint article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Manson laid out supplement recommendations for a number of age groups and life stages. Her goal? To help doctors discuss options intelligently with their patients. With her new research, she’s taking this a giant step further.
Manson’s research might just confirm what supplement users already profess: that supplements are the secret to health and wellbeing. If you’re already exploring supplements and can’t wait for the new study to help you make the best choices, check out some reviews of top-rated supplements here.