Mediterranean diet and exercise 'add 15 years to life'

Wellbeing in brief: Plus good vibrations, virtuous grapes, the wonders of walking, matter over mind, and mobile health risks.

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Gain 15 years with nuts and exercise

If you're a nonsmoking female who exercises and eats a "Mediterranean diet" high in olive oil, fruit, vegetables, nuts and fish, you can add up to 15 years to your life. That's according to new research from Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Men, by comparison, stand to gain an additional eight years by following the same regime, say the experts, following a study of health habits among 120,000 men and women since 1986. "Within this diet, the nuts, vegetables and low alcohol have the biggest impact on mortality rates," says Piet van den Brandt, a professor of epidemiology. "This diet helps to lower levels of cholesterol and enables better control of blood-sugar levels."

Good vibrations in new exercise bicycle

A state-of-the-art exercise bicycle that vibrates while you ride could shake-up gym sessions. The powerBike is the latest development from Power Plate, the maker of vibrating exercise platforms found in fitness centres around the world. Using the same physiological principle - that vibrations make more demands on the body's stabilising muscles and so intensify workouts - the creators have made a ride that mimics constant bumping over cobbles. Muscle activity has been claimed to increase by 167 per cent, but a stumbling block could be the price - it's available through at £2,295 (Dh13,802).

Save your hide with a grape

While the health benefits of the grape and its products are well established, a leading cancer specialist is now claiming that the fruit can also protect skin cells against ultraviolet radiation. Dr Marta Cascante, a biochemist with the University of Barcelona, is asking that the healing properties of grapes be considered by the makers of skin-protection products after a research project at the Spanish university published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggested that flavonoids in grapes could inhibit skin-cell damage from ultraviolet rays.

Don't fret if you don't sweat

New research shows that even moderate exercise can have a beneficial effect on your risk of heart disease. According to researchers with the department of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in America, just 2 hours of brisk walking every week are enough to lower the risk of heart disease by 14 per cent. "Even a little bit of exercise is good, but more is better - 150 minutes of exercise per week is beneficial, 300 minutes per week will give even more benefits," says the researcher Jacob Sattelmair after reviewing 33 academic studies of physical activity and heart disease for the heart health journal Circulation.

Get a head from a better figure

The wider your waistline, the quicker you lose your mind, according to studies into weight gain and brain size from the University of California. In the survey of more than 1,300 men and women aged between 50 and 70, researchers found that the memory section of the grey matter (the hippocampus) shrank fastest among those classed as obese. Measures of weight, brain volume and blood pressure, among other factors, were taken 10 years apart. The hippocampus shrivelled faster in smokers while people with high blood pressure were more prone to small lesions on the brain and worse scores on mental tests. The scientists concluded that people who are overweight at 60 are more than twice as likely as others to get dementia by the time they're 75.

Parents ignore mobile phone warnings

Amid ongoing fears about the long-term effects of mobile phone usage on the health of developing minds comes disturbing news from the UK. It's estimated that 93 per cent of 11-year-olds in Britain now own mobiles, according to a survey by the phone company T-Mobile, which also found that parents pay little heed to health concerns. Warnings about the possible effects mobile technology can have on health were repeated this week when researchers at Bristol and Loughborough Universities in England announced that the use of multiple electronic devices can increase the risk of obesity and mental health problems.