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Apart from that pesky breathless feeling, aerobic exercise is almost always a good thing.

Apart from that pesky breathless feeling, aerobic exercise is almost always a good thing. A new study shows it may be of particular benefit to patients with mild cognitive impairment, a condition that is often a harbinger of subsequent Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers asked patients to use a treadmill or bike four times per week for six months. The result: They showed increased brain volume, including in the temporal lobe, which is involved in short-term memory. A control group that did only stretching exercises showed no brain change.

"Even over a short period of time, we saw aerobic exercise lead to a remarkable change in the brain," the study's lead investigator Laura D. Baker of Wake Forest School of Medicine, told STAT.

Paying medical bills

New research from the Centers for Disease Control indicates that American families seem to be getting their financial houses in order — at least in terms of healthcare. The CDC reports that the percentage of people under 65 who said they had trouble paying medical bills dropped to 16.2 percent in the first six months of 2016 compared to 21.3 percent in 2011.

The improvement coincided with the expansion of insurance coverage over the last five years of Obamacare. Nearly 18 million people have gained insurance coverage since 2011.

President-elect Trump is proposing to repeal portions of Obamacare, but says he may keep some of its most popular aspects, such as a provision that allows children to stay on their parents insurance until they are 26.

Body of knowledge

The average woman's thighs are 1.5 inches longer in circumference than the average man's.

Get me that, stat!

Officially, the Food and Drug Administration recognizes and measures just seven types of synthetic and naturally occurring fibers found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It is currently seeking scientific data and considering adding 26 additional types.

Life in Big Macs

One hour of sitting at a table eating burns 102 calories (based on a 150-pound person) or the equivalent of 0.1 Big Macs. Of course, if you're sitting at a table eating Big Macs, this stat is basically pointless.

Counts

4.8: Amount, in billions of dollars, that the National Institutes of Health would be awarded over next 10 years to fund White House's precision medicine and cancer moonshot initiatives, plus other projects

500: Amount, in millions of dollars that the Food and Drug Administration would receive to accelerate drug and medical device approvals

1: Amount, in billions of dollars, that states would receive in new grants to battle the opioid epidemic.

12.5: Amount, in millions of dollars, that states would be eligible to receive in grants to improve access to mental health treatment

Source: 21st Century Cures bill of 2016

Doc talk

Code brown: a term used when a patient doesn't make it to the bathroom in time

Never say diet

The Major League Eating record for baked beans is 84 ounces in 58 seconds, held by Micah Collins, who attributed his victory to an explosive finish.

Observation

"Never under any circumstances take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night."

— Dave Barry, humorist

Medical history

This week in 1993, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta announced that the smallpox virus stockpile would not be destroyed. The last specimens of the virus to exist on Earth were secured in storage in 600 frozen vials in Atlanta and Russia, ready to make vaccine should it ever again be necessary. The announcement reversed an earlier decision for final destruction of the last remnants of smallpox with heat. Scientists who wanted to continue research on the virus stopped the destruction plan.

Self-exam

Q: What's the hardest substance in the human body?

A: Tooth enamel

Medical myths

Contrary to perception (assuming you happen to be watching a dead body over a period of time), fingernails and hair do not continue to grow after death. Rather, the corpse's skin is drying out and retracting, exposing more hair and nail.

Epitaphs

"Cast a cold eye

On life, on death

Horseman, pass by!"

— William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), Irish poet, from one of his last poems, "Under Ben Bulben"

Contract Publishing

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