Easy riders have healthier hearts

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Exercise is the powerful, surprise antidote for metabolic syndrome--a deadly combination of "little" health problems that raise heart attack risk for one in four Americans.

In a groundbreaking study from Queen's University in Ontario, 105 people with metabolic syndrome pedaled stationary bikes three times a week, ramping up from 30 to 50 minutes per session and from moderate exertion to vigorous intensity. Five months later, nearly a third of the cyclists were syndrome-free. "This is the first research showing that many of the symptoms of metabolic syndrome can be simultaneously lowered--perhaps even prevented--with exercise," says study author Peter Katzmarzyk, PhD.

Most of us (and our doctors) miss this heart threat So hop on your bike after you take this self-test. You're at risk for metabolic syndrome with three or more of these: tummy fat; high-normal blood pressure (above 130/85); slightly high triglycerides (is o and up); low HDLs (below so for women, 40 for men); or above-normal blood sugar (100 mg/dl or higher on a fasting blood-glucose test).

PHOTO (COLOR): Cycling's practical magic

Music lessons boos memory skills, even if your kid quits after "Beginning Tuba, Book 1." A Chinese study of 90 boys found that a year or more of musical training stimulates the brain's left side.

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By Shelly Drozd

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