Intelligent Health – August Newsletter

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Intelligent Health has been recognised for its innovative approach to improving health after Beat the Street has been highlighted as one of Nesta and The Observer’s 50 ‘New Radicals’ in 2016. New Radicals is a search led by Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation, and The Observer to find the top people, projects and organisations offering innovative ways to tackle social challenges.

Intelligent Health has also been identified as one of 50 ‘game-changing’ businesses based in the Thames Valley region by Connect TVT and Tech City UK.

In September, we will be kicking off seven new projects covering a combined population of more than 1.2 million people. Among our upcoming projects is Beat the Street Northern Ireland which will be working in an area of more than 670,000 people.

The latest edition of Public Health England’s Health Matters has featured Beat the Street as a positive example of how to make people more physically active. Beat the Street has also been highlighted in a separate Health Matters blog post on whether mobile games are a new frontier for health.

Pokemon GO has been one of the biggest talking points of the past month, in a blog for Nesta we discuss the powerful potential of gamifying health and physical activity.

Knowledge

Exercise improves short term memory by boosting the Hippocampus

It is known that being active can boost our memory. This study showed that doing exercise immediately after memorising pictures had little effect on recall 48 hours later but exercise done 4 hours after the memory test boosted memory and was visualised on brain scans as greater Hippocampus activity.

van Dongen, Eelco V., et al. “Physical Exercise Performed Four Hours after Learning Improves Memory Retention and Increases Hippocampal Pattern Similarity during Retrieval.” Current Biology 26.13 (2016): 1722-1727.

Even 10 minutes of exercise 5 times a week reduces incidence of Fatty Liver

Fat accumulating around the liver and internal organs is highly toxic to the body. This visceral fat is strongly linked to diabetes, dementia, heart disease and depression. This study showed that even 10 minutes of exercise 5 times a week can both reduce existing fatty liver and prevent new fat accumulating.

Sung, Ki-Chul, et al. “Development of new fatty liver, or resolution of existing fatty liver, over 5 years of follow up: effect of exercise.” Journal of hepatology (2016).

Adding resistance exercise is important to help prevent diabetes

A new blood test (HOMA-AD) has been used to predict diabetes. This study showed that although aerobic exercise helped reduce weight and decrease fat mass only the addition of resistance exercise in teenagers helped improve levels of blood glucose and HOMA-AD therefore reducing the risk of developing diabetes.

Campos, R. M., et al. “HOMA-AD: the role of different types of physical exercise in obese adolescents.” The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness (2016).

Being active helps you choose a better diet

The eating habits after a 12-week programme of moderate-intensity exercise was studied. It showed that compared to no exercise those in the 12-week programme had less craving for high fat food, fast food and carbohydrate. This is why exercise is so important to help to improve diet and reduce weight.

Rocha, Joel, et al. “Effects of a 12-week aerobic exercise intervention on eating behaviour, food cravings and 7-day energy intake and energy expenditure in inactive men.” Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism ja (2016).

Engagement

This month saw the completion of our Beat the Street games in Tendring, East London, North and South Liverpool. The four schemes energised entire communities with more than 47,000 participants across the schemes.

Looking ahead to September, Intelligent Health will be delivering Beat the Street in seven areas. The programme will be kicking off in Salford, Sudbury, Stranraer, and Southall for the first time ever – as well as Belfast and surrounding areas in Northern Ireland, covering an area of more than 370 square miles.

Beat the Street will also be returning to Terni as well as Hounslow for its third and biggest game with the entire borough invited to take part. We will be engaging with huge numbers of people this Autumn with more than 10% of the population expected to play Beat the Street across all seven programmes.

Beat the Street continues to engage with local communities and keep people active after the game has been completed. As part of the legacy programme for Wolverhampton, Beat the Street promoted Wednesfield junior parkrun via social media and saw a record number of runners attend – more than twice the average for the run.

Beat the Street shows players how to get active and stay active by listening to what the participants want and then signposting into ongoing activity. In Sandwell, Beat the Street have been building links with local stakeholders to host free and fun sessions in six parks across the area this summer. In Birmingham, Beat the Street were interviewed by BBC Midlands Today as part of a feature on one year on since the launch of Big Bikes Birmingham where Asian women from Beat the Street have been supported to take up cycling.

Evidence

Beat the Street has helped get whole populations moving across 18 projects so far in 2016 with 6 more ready to launch in September. We will continue to measure the impact moving is having on the public.

We have received the analysis from the Evidence Centre on the follow-up responses from six game phases in March and continue to see meaningful changes in population physical activity levels in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.Three of these games are part of our ongoing project with the National Charity Partnership between Diabetes UK, the British Heart Foundation and Tesco. In Reading we saw the proportion who reported walking for seven days per week almost double, from 22% at the start of Beat the Street to 41% at the end (p<0.01). There are also positive trends for those who were the least active. At the beginning of Beat the Street, 15% of people said that they did zero or one day per week of physical activity, which had reduced to 5% by the end (P<0.05).

Beat the Street Austria also shows the game has the power to shift physical activity levels. At the beginning of Beat the Street in Wiener Neustädter, 24% of people said that they did zero or one day per week of physical activity. This had reduced to 7% by the end (p<0.01) in Wiener Neustädter, and from 22% to 5% in St Pölten (p<0.01).

The Department of Health recommends that adults should aim to be active daily and that over a week, activity should add up to at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate intensity activity. There was a statistically significant increase in the proportion meeting the Department of Health’s physical activity target in Reading (38% at the beginning of Beat the Street versus 54% at the end, p<0.05)

Across all of these projects between 61% and 87% said they would attempt to continue any changes they made after the Beat the Street game phase ended. Intelligent Health will follow up in about six months to see whether the changes in reported walking and activity levels are sustained.

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