Thursday, July 31, 2008

Obesity Increases Risk Of Certain Ovarian Cancers

“Obesity increases the risk of invasive clear cell ovarian cancer, a subcategory of ovarian cancer that is difficult to treat, according to Australian researchers. In the International Journal of Cancer, Dr. Catherine M. Olsen of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Herston, and colleagues note that the association between body mass index (BMI), weight gain and different ovarian cancer subtypes has been unclear. To investigate further, the researchers studied data for 1,269 women newly diagnosed with invasive epithelial ovarian cancer, 311 women with borderline ovarian tumors and 1,509 ‘controls’ without ovarian disease. The team found that obesity was associated with more than twice the risk of clear cell tumors, but not with endometrioid or mucinous tumors. There was no association with invasive serous tumors overall, but obesity was linked with close to three-times the risk of serous peritoneal tumors. For women with the borderline tumor subtypes, obesity was positively associated with serous tumors. ‘The study findings,’ Olsen told Reuters Health, ‘suggest that obesity may increase a woman's risk of developing some types of ovarian cancer.’ ‘This therefore potentially offers women an opportunity to reduce their risk of ovarian cancer in addition to the numerous other chronic diseases associated with obesity,’ she concluded.”

Cia Athletica Launches Campaign In Which The Weight Lost By Their Members Will Turn To Food For Undernourished Children

“Cia Athletica has decided to give a push to those of their members who need more motivation to eliminate some extra kilos: turning the excess of weight into food help for undernourished children. Through Instituto Cia Athletica, the gym chain launches the Super 100 Challenge – a 100-day weight loss program in which kilos eliminated by the participants will be assigned for care institutions fighting child malnutrition. The program will start in August in all of the 12 fitness centers of the chain and will be exclusive for members aged 18 years or over and, who hold an updated medical examination. To join the challenge, the member has to enroll and must participate in an initial weighing session (in order to set the target weight goal) and, in a final session on the 100th day with a physical evaluator. Weekly weight checks, made by professional monitors from the bodybuilding area, will help the participant to control their target goal. People under or at their ideal weight will not be allowed in the program. Cia Athletica will assign R$10 to pre-selected institutions for every kilo eliminated by a participant. ‘The Super 100 Challenge is an intelligent way to promote volunteering, to highlight the importance of the performance of some actions to combat malnutrition and to draw attention to overweight problems,’ says President of Instituto Cia Athletica, Daniel Adler. ‘The idea is that our members can have a different incentive and thus achieve their goals,’ says Marketing Director for the chain Marco Nisti. With the Super 100 Challenge, Cia Athletica inaugurates the concept of feeding recycling, in which one person’s extra weight (which may be considered superfluous) turns into feeding for children in need. Every gym center will help a local organization (see chart below). The weight lost by the members at the fitness centers in São Paulo will be to the advantage of Centro de Recuperação e Educação Nutricional (CREN), a philanthropic institution linked to Universidade Federal de São Paulo (Unifesp), which offers health assistance, nutrition education and Human Resources qualification to care for malnourished children and monitoring their families at risk.”

Obesity Predisposition Traced To The Brain's Reward System

“The tendency toward obesity is directly related to the brain system that is involved in food reward and addictive behaviors, according to a new study. Researchers at Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM) and colleagues have demonstrated a link between a predisposition to obesity and defective dopamine signaling in the mesolimbic system in rats. Their report appears in the August 2008 issue of The FASEB Journal. The mesolimbic system is a system of neurons in the brain that secretes dopamine, a neurotransmitter or chemical messenger, which mediates emotion and pleasure. The release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the mesolimbic system is traditionally associated with euphoria and considered to be the major neurochemical signature of drug addiction. ‘Baseline dopamine levels were 50 percent lower and stimulated dopamine release was significantly attenuated in the brain reward systems of obesity-prone rats, compared with obesity-resistant rats. Defects in brain dopamine synthesis and release were evident in rats immediately after birth,’ said Emmanuel Pothos, PhD, assistant professor in the department of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics at TUSM and member of the neuroscience program faculty of the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences. Pothos says, ‘these findings have important implications in our understanding of the obesity epidemic. The notion that decreased dopamine signaling leads to increased feeding is compatible with the finding from human studies that obese individuals have reduced central dopamine receptors.’ He speculates that an attenuated dopamine signal may interfere with satiation, leading to overeating.”

Brain Plays Key Role In Appetite By Regulating Free Radicals

“Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have found the brain's appetite center uses fat for fuel by involving oxygen free radicals-molecules associated with aging and neurodegeneration. The findings, reported in the journal Nature, suggest that antioxidants could play a role in weight control. The study's lead authors were Sabrina Diano and Tamas Horvath, who are an associate professor and professor, respectively, in the Departments of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences and Neurobiology. Horvath is also chair of the Section of Comparative Medicine. ‘In contrast to the accepted view, the brain does use fat as fuel,’ said Horvath. ‘Our study shows that the minute-by-minute control of appetite is regulated by free radicals, implying that if you interfere with free radicals, you may affect eating and satiety.’ The results also imply, added Horvath, "that each time a feeling of fullness or satiety is reached during a meal, you may be chipping away some time from your maximum lifespan as the most free radicals are produced when satiety-promoting brain cells are active."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Olympic Abs vs. Simple Fitness

“For those who haven’t been paying attention, Olympic swimmer Dara Torres has become an iconic figure ever since a stunning Robert Maxwell photo of her appeared in The New York Times Magazine. As my colleagues at the Rings blog have noted, Ms. Torres and her ‘phenomenally ripped’ belly have become the ‘physical ideal for mothers, women at or approaching middle age, and just women in general.’ But I’m going to suggest a new candidate to represent the physical ideal for women, young and old and in the middle. As reported in today’s Times, Estelle Parsons, a star of the Broadway show ‘August: Osage County,’ has been winning acclaim not just for her acting but for the high level of fitness her demanding role requires. What’s amazing is that she is 80. While Ms. Torres has a head coach, a sprint coach, a strength coach, two stretchers, two masseuses, a chiropractor and a nanny, all at the cost of at least $100,000 per year, Ms. Parsons’s stamina is a tribute to a lifetime of simple physical fitness. She lifts weights, swims 30 minutes twice a week and takes a 30-minute bike ride on two other days. She takes a break from exercise on Wednesdays and Saturdays, when she has two performances. She swims, hikes or bikes on her Mondays off work. She also cross-country skis and does yoga in her dressing room and at home whenever she gets a few minutes. ‘I’ve always been a fit person,’ Ms. Parsons said. ‘I’ve been acting all my life, and I’ve always felt you should be in shape. I’m used to devoting my whole life to the work and what it requires.’”

Risk Of Heart Attacks May Be Increased By Fat Around The Heart

“When it comes to risk for a heart attack, having excess fat around the heart may be worse than having a high body mass index or a thick waist, according to researchers from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and colleagues reporting in the August issue of the journal Obesity. The study was among the first to explore whether there is a link between fat deposits around the heart, known as pericardial fat, and the development of hard, calcified plaque in the arteries. Calcified plaque itself is not considered risky, but it is associated with the presence of less stable fatty deposits that can lead to heart attack and stroke. ‘The distribution of body fat may be as important as the amount of body fat in determining risk of heart attacks,’ said Jingzhong Ding, M.D., lead author and an assistant professor of gerontology. ‘Even a thin person can have fat around the heart.’ In addition to its role as energy storage, fat is considered to be an "organ" that produces proteins and hormones that affect metabolism and health. Ding's study is based on a new idea in medicine - that excess fat around the heart and other organs may impair their function. Pericardial fat, or stores of fat around the heart, is known to have a higher secretion of inflammatory cytokines, proteins that regulate inflammation, than fat stored just under the skin. The scientists suspect that constant exposure of inflammatory proteins produced by fat around the heart may accelerate the development of atherosclerosis. The scientists found that while the volume of pericardial fat was related to levels of calcified coronary plaque, body mass index and waist circumference were not related.”

A Little Stretching May Not Dampen Muscle Strength

“While some research has raised the question of whether pre-workout stretching hinders muscle performance, a new study suggests that a few minutes of stretching may not sap the average exerciser's muscle strength. Stretching is part of many active people's pre-exercise routine. But some recent studies have been pointing to potentially negative effects on athletic performance. In some studies, though not all, stretching right before a workout has been found to decrease both sprint speed and jump height. There's also evidence that stretching temporarily reduces muscle strength. However, one question has been whether such effects would be seen after the short bouts of stretching that a typical exerciser or weekend athlete might perform. The new study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, looked at just such a ‘practical’ stretching regimen. Researchers measured calf-muscle strength in 13 moderately active men and women under four different conditions: after no stretching, and before and after 2, 4 or 8 minutes of calf-muscle stretching. They found that stretching did not diminish the participants' muscle strength compared with the no-stretching condition. It did, however, temporarily improve the range of motion in the ankle joint. The findings suggest that ‘a few minutes of static stretching of the calf muscles before exercise is unlikely to diminish muscle strength,’ senior researcher Dr. Joel T. Cramer, of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, told Reuters Health.

Heart Research UK Says 'Obesity Gene' Is An Excuse For Piling On The Pounds

“National charity, Heart Research UK, has commented that the recent headline claiming an 'obesity gene' causes people to put on weight by keeping them hungry, is only a small factor into why people are overweight and shouldn't be used as an excuse for them to accept their size. Barbara Harpham, National Director of Heart Research UK, says: ‘This information is a useful thing to know but it is an explanation, not a reason. Findings like these can give those who are prone to being overweight an excuse to accept their size and not do anything about it. What they have to remember is that, behind the headline, this is only a small factor in why people are overweight - they have to make the right choices.’ The research, carried out by the University College of London, said that ‘Usually the act of eating ‘switches off’ the appetite and creates a feeling of satiety or ‘fullness’, but the FTO gene stops this from happening." On the other hand, Heart Research UK say that, although a percentage of the public may have this gene, it should not deter them from eating a healthy balanced diet and taking regular exercise which will become second nature within time. They also emphasised how important it is that people are given lifestyle advice and encouraged to make healthy lifestyle choices.”

Researchers Verify Link Between Type 2 Diabetes And Diet

“Three studies published in the July 28 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine address diet and risk of type 2 diabetes. Researchers found no association between eating a low-fat diet and diabetes risk, but found that people who drink more sugar-sweetened beverages or eat fewer fruits and vegetables have an increased risk of the disease. Public health experts expect that about 11.2% of US adults will have type 2 diabetes (also known as adult-onset diabetes) by 2030. In addition, rates of the condition are predicted to continue to increase quite rapidly in the developed world. One of the strongest risk factors for type 2 diabetes is obesity, and this is also one of the most modifiable as it can be partially controlled through diet and exercise. The set of papers published this week specifically focuses on how diet is related to type 2 diabetes risk.”

Pre-Pregnancy Diabetes Boosts Risk for Birth Defects

“Women who develop diabetes before they become pregnant are three to four times more likely than non-diabetic women to have a baby with at least one birth defect, says a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. This is the first study to identify the wide range of birth defects -- such as heart defects, brain and spine defects, oral clefts, limb deficiencies, and defects of the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract -- associated with pre-pregnancy diagnoses of type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The study was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. ‘The continued association of diabetes with a number of birth defects highlights the importance of increasing the number of women who receive the best possible preconception care, especially for those diagnosed with diabetes,’ lead author Dr. Adolfo Correa, an epidemiologist at the CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, said in a CDC news release. ‘Early and effective management of diabetes for pregnant women is critical in helping to not only prevent birth defects, but also to reduce the risk for other health complications for them and their children,’ Correa added. In addition, preconception care should be considered and promoted for women with pre-pregnancy obesity, which is a known risk factor for both diabetes and birth defects, Correa and colleagues recommended.”

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Study Suggests 86 Percent Of Americans Could Be Overweight Or Obese By 2030

“Most adults in the U.S. will be overweight or obese by 2030, with related health care spending projected to be as much as $956.9 billion, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Their results are published in the July 2008 online issue of Obesity. ‘National survey data show that the prevalence of overweight and obese adults in the U.S. has increased steadily over the past three decades,’ said Youfa Wang, MD, PhD, lead author of the study and associate professor with the Bloomberg School's Center for Human Nutrition. ‘If these trends continue, more than 86 percent of adults will be overweight or obese by 2030 with approximately 96 percent of non-Hispanic black women and 91 percent of Mexican-American men affected. This would result in 1 of every 6 health care dollars spent in total direct health care costs paying for overweight and obesity-related costs.’”

Overweight Women Need More Exercise To Maintain Weight Loss

“A study published in the July 28 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine finds that overweight and obese women need to do more than just limit calories in order to sustain a 10 percent weight loss over two years: they also need to exercise 55 minutes per day, five days per week. Overweight people account for more than 65% of adults in America, and it is a serious public health concern. ‘Among obese adults, long-term weight loss and prevention of weight regain have been less than desired,’ write the authors of this recent study. ‘Therefore, there is a need for more effective interventions.’ Experts have recommended at least 150 minutes of exercise per week through their suggestion of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on at least 5 days of the week. More effective long-term weight loss maintenance, however, may require more frequent exercise.”

Most Fit Have Less Brain Atrophy From Alzheimer's

Even Moderate Exercise, Done Regularly, Improves Quality Of Life

“Physical fitness can help the mind, body and quality of life of people with early Alzheimer's disease and dementia, according to new research. ‘These studies reinforce the need for increased awareness and education about the importance of living a brain-healthy lifestyle, including staying physically active,’ William Thies, vice president of medical and scientific relations for the Alzheimer's Association, said in a news release. ‘Growing evidence shows that physical exercise does not have to be strenuous or require a major time commitment. It is most effective when done regularly, and in combination with a brain-healthy diet, mental activity and social interaction.’”

Obesity Linked To Newer, Less Walkable Neighborhood

“The age of your neighborhood may influence your risk of obesity, according to a new study from the University of Utah. The study, to be published in the September issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, linked the body mass index (BMI) of nearly a half million Salt Lake County residents to 2000 Census data. The study found that residents were at less risk of being obese or overweight if they lived in walkable neighborhoods-those that are more densely populated, designed to be more friendly to pedestrians and have a range of destinations for pedestrians. The study found that neighborhoods built before 1950 tended to offer greater overall walkability as they more often were designed with the pedestrian in mind, while newer neighborhoods often were designed to facilitate car travel. Demographer Ken Smith, co-author of the study and professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah, says that although individuals clearly make personal decisions that influence their weight, neighborhood characteristics also play a potentially important role in affecting residents' risk of obesity. ‘It is difficult for individuals to change their behavior,’ he says, ‘but we can build environments that promote healthy behavior.’”

Weight Drives the Young to Adult Pills, Data Says

“A growing number of American children are taking drugs for a wide range of chronic conditions related to childhood obesity, according to prescription data from three large organizations. The numbers, from pharmacy plans Medco Health Solutions, Express Scripts and the marketing data collection company Verispan, indicate that hundreds of thousands of children are taking medication to treat Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and acid reflux — all problems linked to obesity that were practically unheard-of in children two decades ago. The data, disclosed publicly in recent months or provided at the request of The New York Times, shows that concerns that children will be taking adult medications — heightened recently by a controversial recommendation by a national pediatricians group — are already a reality. This month, the American Academy of Pediatrics said that more children, as young as 8, should be given cholesterol-lowering drugs. The recommendation was quickly attacked by some experts as a license to put children on grown-up drugs. While the drugs do help treat the conditions, some doctors fear they are simply a shortcut fix for a problem better addressed by exercise and diet. Even so, some pharmaceutical companies are developing new versions, including flavored ones, of adult medications for children. Experts say that the trend could balloon health care costs. As many as 30 percent of children nationwide are overweight. And children who start such medication often rely on the drugs for a lifetime and are prone to health problems as adults.”

Negative Effects On Bones After Weight Loss Persist Through Weight Maintenance

“When a person is losing a significant amount of weight, they expect to notice changes in their body. However, they may overlook changes happening in their bones. During weight loss through calorie-restricted diets, bones are being remodeled - breaking down old bone and forming new bone - at an accelerated rate. At the same time, bone density is decreasing, causing increased fragility. In a new study, a University of Missouri researcher and collaborators at the University of Kansas found that the potentially harmful effects of weight loss on bone persist during weight maintenance following moderate weight loss.”

RCN Supports Call For National Campaign To Tackle Obesity, UK

“The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) welcomed the Government's calls for all health charities, retailers, the health profession and community action groups to join in a national campaign to tackle obesity in the United Kingdom. Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘Obesity is this country's single biggest health issue and is threatening the health and wellbeing of the two thirds of adults, and a third of children, who are overweight or obese. 600 000 nurses from across public and private healthcare, from community midwives to intensive care, have a part to play in educating the public about the dangers of obesity and ways in which they can adopt healthier lifestyles. If we are to have a long-term impact on tackling obesity, it is essential the Government invest in specialists and school nurses who can put children on the right track at an early age. The RCN supports the Government's call for a national movement to address this epidemic. Obesity is everyone's business and we need a collaborative approach to address this growing issue of concern.’”

Monday, July 28, 2008

Role Models For Fitness

Recent Success By Older Athletes May Aid Health Clubs, Therapists

“Fifty-three-year-old Greg Norman's unexpected resurrection in last week's British Open golf championship and the comeback of 41-year-old Olympic swimmer's Dara Torres might be more than simply fascinating sports stories. Norman's strong showing -- he was the oldest player ever to lead the venerable tournament after three rounds before finishing third -- and Torres' try for more Olympic gold in Beijing next month might serve as moments of inspiration for a generation of aging weekend warriors. ‘No question,’ said T.W. Pulliam, PGA director of golf at The Dominion Club at Wyndham in Glen Allen, talking about Norman's out-of-the-blue performance. ‘I would certainly hope people would see this and say, 'It's never too late.’ Baby boomers and others beyond the traditional age of competitive sports don't need a lot of encouragement when it comes to acknowledging the importance of exercise -- even if they don't all carry through by actually jogging, lifting weights or taking aerobics classes. According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, the number of health-club members 55 or older in 2005 was 8 million, an increase of 314 percent since 1990. The number in the 35-to-54 age category, 13.5 million, represents an increase of 113 percent. The success of aging famous athletes on the world stage might lead even more boomers to join health clubs or sign up for more golf lessons, which would certainly please Pulliam and other teaching pros. At the least, such triumphs of age will reinforce what boomers already know, said Hunter Schwartz, director of operations at the James Center YMCA in downtown Richmond. ‘The boomers are really the first generation that's grown up with exercise as part of their life,’ he said.”

Kids Find The Fun In Working Out

Many Young People Are Discovering The Benefits Of Getting Up Off The Sofa

“Kids just want to have fun. Exercise isn't usually on the ‘fun list,’ but the lure of modern, high-tech workout equipment along with input from active, electrolyte-chugging parents, has been changing some young minds. The second-fastest-growing demographic among health club members is ages 6-17, according to the trade group International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association. Only fitness-minded baby boomers beat out the kids in membership growth. ‘Parents are bringing children to the health club, and a lot of the newer equipment is from video gaming and virtual fitness,’ says Rosemary Lavery, spokeswoman for the Boston-based IHRSA. ‘That makes the activities fun.’ Unfortunately, most of the news about young people and exercise is bad. A new study, which tracked children in the United States for six years (2000-06), was published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Among findings: While 90 percent of 9-year-olds exercise a couple of hours most days, fewer than 3 percent of 15-year-olds do the same. What's the secret to convincing more teens and 'tweens to get active? Alex Van Dyke's Going Vertical training facility in Sacramento has a kid magnet – the CYBEX Trazer reaction trainer, which transports clients to an interactive virtual world where power, balance, speed and reaction time work the muscles. ‘It's you and the screen controlling the program,’ says Van Dyke, a former NFL player. ‘Young and old enjoy it. It's animated, like a game, and it's fun.’”

Overweight Elderly Americans Contribute To Financial Burdens Of The US Health Care System

“Being overweight or obese is not only a personal issue that affects one's health but is also a public health issue that impacts other people in society. A new study in the journal Health Services Research reveals that the extra Medicare cost associated with overweight elderly people could place a significant financial burden on taxpayers, costing up to hundreds of billions of dollars across the entire current Medicare population. The article's findings show that treating the health needs of an overweight or obese elderly person will cost Medicare 6 to 17 percent more over a lifetime than treating an elderly person with a healthy weight. The authors used a measure of weight that takes into account a person's height, known as the body mass index and looked at total costs from Medicare alone for individuals covered from age 65 until death. The extra demands made of the healthcare system by overweight and obese elderly amounts to Medicare's spending on average an extra $15,000 on overweight elderly individuals and an extra $26,000 on obese individuals.”

Sports Participation More Likely Among Comfortably-Off, Middle-Aged White People, UK

“A person who is middle class, middle-aged and white is more likely to take part in sporting activities compared to other people in society, says a ten-year study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. In fact, the study reports that the gap is widening. The results of the study are based on information gathered from several of the national representative annual Health Survey for England 1997-2006. The whole sample consisted of 61,000 adults, of whom 27,217 were male. Compared to 1997, in 2006 men were 10% more likely and women about 20% more likely to practice sports regularly. To say that sporting activities have declined over the years is oversimplistic, say the researchers. Since 1997 there are 4% more regular female runners/joggers. 20% of both men and women are more likely to take part in gym and fitness activities compared to 1997. However, this rise in sports participation is largely due to a significant increase in uptake by middle-aged and older individuals. Most noticeable are the increasing trends among both men and women aged 45 or more, and women aged 30-44. On the other hand, the percentage of men under 30 who took part in cycling, dancing and racquet sports dropped significantly. Both men and women are most likely to be put off taking part in sports and physical activity if they are overweight. The researchers said the higher the household income the more likely people are to take part in sports - they also found a correlation between car ownership, higher social class, and general good health and higher sports participation.”

'Obesity Gene' Works By Influencing Appetite

“A gene associated with obesity works through effects on appetite, according to a study of over 3,000 UK children led by researchers at UCL (University College London) and the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, and published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. The finding helps to unravel the mechanism of the genetic basis of obesity. Previous studies have demonstrated that the gene, known as FTO, is strongly associated with obesity. However, it was not known whether it affects weight by influencing the amount of food eaten or the amount of calories burnt off. The results of this study strongly suggest that the gene works by modifying appetite, so that the children in the study who had two copies of the higher-risk FTO gene are less likely to have their appetite 'switched off' by eating. The researchers, led by Professor Jane Wardle, UCL Epidemiology & Public Health, tested whether children carrying the higher risk gene had altered appetite in a sample of 3337 unrelated children aged 8-11 years old. This included parental reports of the children's height, weight and waist circumference and asking parents to complete a specially-designed questionnaire about their children's eating habits, to assess aspects such as their child's enjoyment of food and how easily they became full. ‘What we have shown is that children with the 'risky' variants of the gene have weaker satiety responses - meaning they don't just overeat, but they struggle to recognise when they are full. Importantly, the effect of FTO on appetite is the same regardless of the age, sex, socioeconomic background or body mass index of the children.’”

Programs Seek To Promote Weight-Loss Among Hispanics, Encourage Minority College Students To Attend Dental School, Addr. American Indian Health Disp.

“Integris Health: Nearly 350 Hispanic community members in Oklahoma City, Okla., recently completed a 12-week program sponsored by Integris that sought to promote weight loss and healthy lifestyles among the group, the Oklahoman reports. The first Hispanic Weight Loss Challenge -- called ‘Gane ... Perdiendo,’ or ‘Win ... Losing,’ --included weekend salsa dance lessons, healthy snack choices and free massages. One hundred participants recently gathered at a local church to celebrate the completion of the program. Of those, 88 weighed in at the event and had lost a total of 573 pounds (Jackson, Oklahoman, 7/20).”

No Justification For Denying Obese Patients Knee Replacements

“There is no justification for denying obese patients knee replacement surgery: They benefit almost as much as anyone else from the procedure, concludes a small study published ahead of print in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. Around 55,000 knee replacements are performed every year in England to relieve the pain and disability of knee osteoarthritis. But in some parts of the country the surgery is offered only to patients who are not clinically obese (body mass index (BMI) below 30 kg/m2), on the grounds that obesity is itself a risk factor for knee osteoarthritis. ‘The long term improvement in physical function that we observed in patients who have undergone TKA [knee replacement surgery] is striking when set against the decline that occurred in [the comparison group],’ say the authors. ‘These benefits extend to patients [who are obese] and, provided appropriate selection criteria are applied with regard to fitness for surgery, there seems no justification for withholding [knee replacement surgery] from patients who are obese,’ they conclude.”

Discovery Of Circadian Rhythm-Metabolism Link

“UC Irvine researchers have found a molecular link between circadian rhythms - our own body clock - and metabolism. The discovery reveals new possibilities for the treatment of diabetes, obesity and other related diseases. Paolo Sassone-Corsi, Distinguished Professor and Chair of Pharmacology, and his colleagues have identified that an essential protein called CLOCK that regulates the body's circadian rhythms, works in balance with another protein called SIRT1 that modulates how much energy a cell uses. The findings also suggest that proper sleep and diet could help maintain or rebuild the CLOCK-SIRT1 equilibrium and may help explain why lack of proper rest or disruption in our normal sleep patterns is known to increase hunger, which can lead to obesity and related illnesses and can accelerate the aging process. The specific interaction between CLOCK and SIRT1 also could lead to the development of drugs aimed at facilitating healthy metabolism, thereby helping to solve major social and medical problems such as diabetes and obesity.”

Genaera Releases Phase 1 Data And New Preclinical Data On The CNS Function Of Trodusquemine (MSI-1436) At CBI Obesity Summit

“Genaera Corporation (Nasdaq: GENR) announced interim Phase 1 safety and pharmacokinetic (PK) data and new preclinical data on trodusquemine (MSI-1436), Genaera's lead drug candidate for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity, during the CBI 4th Annual Obesity Drug Development Summit in Arlington, Virginia. Dr. Michael McLane, Vice President, Nonclinical Development, presented ‘Trodusquemine: A First-in-Class Allosteric PTP1B Inhibitor for the Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity,’ concluding that systemically administered MSI-1436 is well tolerated by type 2 diabetic subjects across its likely range of clinical doses and is functionally active in the hypothalamus, the most important area of the brain for the regulation of food intake, adiposity and glucose homeostasis.”

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Low-Cost (Budget) Health Club Gains Momentum In The UK

“‘We can’t open in Newbury; the town already has a private health club.’ A few years ago, that was the unwritten market rule; the first to enter, won. Why waste resources competing; let’s just find our own town. How the rules of the game quickly change. Now clubs stand side-by-side and compete hard, and not just small clubs. Some towns now have two £13 million health and racquets club within a mile of their respective front doors. ‘If the town is good enough for them, it’s good enough for us’, became the new mantra, as chains rushed to build a national estate. As competition intensified, one rule seemed to remain constant. Prosperous consumers joined the premium clubs, while those of moderate financial means frequented the ‘affordable’ private mid-market club or leisure centre. A David Lloyd membership card used to proudly sit alongside the ‘platinum’ credit card as a key symbol of success. However, unlike the credit card, they were not often pulled out of the wallet. Everyone is now well aware that the principle of neatly defined homogeneous consumer segments is now in turmoil and causing marketers sleepless nights. Promiscuous buying behaviour is everywhere, where shopping at Lidl now suggests, more ‘smart’ and ‘savvy’, than skint. ‘Geiz ist geil’ is how Hans Muench, European Director for IHRSA (International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association) characterises German consumers attitude to low-cost purchasing. ‘Stinginess is cool’, is how it translates.”

AARP Fitness Ambassador Martina Navratilova Offers Tips To Help Get Active And Healthy

“Starting an exercise routine is no easy task - it is even harder to stick with one. This is the focus of a new study on the "Step and Stride with Ruby" walking program released today by AARP and the Red Hat Society with support from the AARP Foundation's Women's Leadership Circle. Over 500 women in Red Hat Society Chapters participated in the study, which found that friendly competition and participation in group activities was the key to sticking with an exercise regimen. Martina Navratilova, the professional tennis Hall of Famer who serves as the AARP Health and Fitness Ambassador, helped launch these findings as part of her work to promote healthy behaviors. ‘It is really important that people get active to stay healthy as they age,’ said Navratilova. ‘This study shows what I've known all along about competition - while it feels good to play, it also feels good to win. Adding a little healthy competition to your work-out is a win-win for everybody and can go along way to helping you stick with your exercise program.’”

Research Says Fat Friends And Poor Education Helps People Think Thin

“Research by economists at the University of Warwick, Dartmouth College, and the University of Leuven, finds that people are powerfully but subconsciously influenced by the weight of those around them. Without being aware of it, the researchers believe, human beings keep up with the weight of the Joneses. For a whole society, this can lead to a spiral of imitative obesity. The researchers will present their results on Friday July 25th at a National Bureau of Economic Research conference in Cambridge Massachusetts in a paper entitled Imitative Obesity and Relative Utility at the NBER Summer Institute on Health Economics. Using data on 27,000 Europeans from 29 countries, the researchers find that nearly half of European women feel overweight. Less than a third of males feel overweight. The authors suggest that whether for reasons of job promotions or finding a mate, it is someone's weight relative to others that matters. They show that overweight perceptions and dieting decisions are influenced by people's comparisons with others of the same age and gender. Highly educated Europeans hold themselves to a particularly tough standard, the research shows. For any given level of Body Mass Index (BMI), somebody with a university degree feels much fatter than someone with low educational qualifications.”

Weekends Tough on the Diet

Saturday Can Be Toughest For Those Trying To Drop Pounds, Study Finds

“Anyone who has avoided Monday morning weigh-ins knows this unalterable truth: Weekends are not a dieter's friend. Now, researchers have some science to back up dieters' complaints about weekends being their undoing: Most people do eat more on the weekend, even when they're trying to lose weight. ‘Weekend indulgences can wreak havoc on weight control, either causing our weight to increase or if we are following a diet to lose weight, can hinder our weight loss efforts,’ said study author Susan Racette, an assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis. The research was published online recently in the journal Obesity. Weekend indulgences help explain the slower-than-expected weight loss of many dieters, Racette said. ‘There is less structure on the weekend for a lot of people, and that can wreak havoc,’ she said. ‘A little indulgence turns into a big indulgence. Being vigilant on the weekends is really important for people either trying to lose weight or maintain a weight loss,’ she said.”

Rethinking Diets, Weight Loss and Health

“The latest study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, compared three diets. Some participants cut fat, others counted carbohydrates in a version of the Atkins diet, while others adopted Mediterranean-style eating habits. Some people declared the research a vindication for Atkins, others criticized my view of the study as more evidence that diets don’t really work. For some needed perspective, I turned to Gina Kolata, a New York Times reporter and author of the wonderful book, ‘Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss — and the Myths and Realities of Dieting.’ ‘Every study that has ever been done, and this one included, shows that it’s absolutely unbelievably difficult,'’ she said. ‘When people beat themselves up and say, ‘I should be thin, it’s my own fault,’ maybe it’s not your own fault. How much harder can somebody try than people in this study and look what happened. They didn’t lose much weight.'’ ‘Don’t always blame yourself, and don’t beat up on yourself,' she said. ‘It’s obviously really, really hard. Don’t say, ‘I’m a weak person and it’s my own fault.’
Instead, Gina says some people who have tried unsuccessfully to lose weight may decide to say to themselves, ‘I can be attractive. I can buy clothes. I can be fit. I can be healthy. I can have a good life, and I may not be skinny, but so what.’”

Boosting Weight Loss By Limiting Fructose

“One of the reasons people on low-carbohydrate diets may lose weight is that they reduce their intake of fructose, a type of sugar that can be made into body fat quickly, according to a researcher at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Dr. Elizabeth Parks, associate professor of clinical nutrition and lead author of a study appearing in a current issue of the Journal of Nutrition, said her team's findings suggest that the right type of carbohydrates a person eats may be just as important in weight control as the number of calories a person eats. Current health guidelines suggest that limiting processed carbohydrates, many of which contain high-fructose corn syrup, may help prevent weight gain, and the new data on fructose clearly support this recommendation. ‘Our study shows for the first time the surprising speed with which humans make body fat from fructose,’ Dr. Parks said. Fructose, glucose and sucrose, which is a mixture of fructose and glucose, are all forms of sugar but are metabolized differently. ‘All three can be made into triglycerides, a form of body fat; however, once you start the process of fat synthesis from fructose, it's hard to slow it down,’ she said. In humans, triglycerides are predominantly formed in the liver, which acts like a traffic cop to coordinate the use of dietary sugars. It is the liver's job, when it encounters glucose, to decide whether the body needs to store the glucose as glycogen, burn it for energy or turn the glucose into triglycerides. When there's a lot of glucose to process, it is put aside to process later”

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Encourage Children To Stay Active, Healthy

Joe Moore, president and CEO, International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association – Boston

"Encourage children to stay active, healthy The recent finding that there is a sharp drop in physical activity levels as children become teenagers underscores the urgency of our country's health crisis (‘As kids get older, they drop the ball on exercise,’ Life, July 16). Our current culture of inactivity, overconsumption and unhealthy living wasn't created by America's youth; they're its victims. It's the responsibility of every parent, educator, policymaker, legislator, industry leader and medical professional to create a culture of health in this country that supports physical activity, sound nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices. This includes increases in physical education requirements, legislation that supports healthy living and realigning our health care system to focus on prevention first. The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association recently started the Teen Fitness Connection, an outreach program that invites IHRSA health clubs across the country to fight physical inactivity and teen obesity.”

The Importance Of Exercise

“It is common knowledge that regular exercise supports physical and mental well-being. Despite this and recommendations from health care providers, the majority of patients with chronic illnesses remain inactive. In a new study, University of Missouri researchers found that adults with chronic illness who received interventions focused on behavior-changing strategies significantly increased their physical activity levels. In contrast, interventions based on cognitive approaches, which attempt to change knowledge, beliefs and attitudes, and are most commonly used by health care providers, did not improve physical activity. ‘The information that physicians are giving patients isn't working. Patients are not motivated when they hear 'exercise is good; it will improve your health.' What works is providing patients with simple, action-orientated strategies to increase their activity levels,’ said Vicki Conn, professor and associate dean of research in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. ‘It is important for care providers to set very specific, manageable goals with patients,’ Conn said. ‘For example, ask them to exercise for 20 minutes, three times a week and track their progress by writing it down. Have them schedule exercise on their calendars, or prompt them by setting their walking shoes by their doors. Ask how they can reward themselves if they accomplish the goal. This will help incorporate activity into their daily routines and provide them with a sense of accomplishment.’”

The Inside Track:Personal Training Is A Great First Fitness Career

“Clint Phillips gets paid to do what he loves: working out. The 46-year-old former Air National Guard staff sergeant is a Chicago-area personal fitness trainer who has helped many clients build biceps while on his way to establishing a successful exercise business. Phillips went from being a $15-an-hour personal trainer for a health club to employing 14 trainers, operating 20 websites to attract clients and commanding an hourly rate of $70 to $80 over the course of his decade-long career. ‘I love what I'm doing now,’ he said. If you're like Phillips and think there's no ‘work’ in working out, consider an after-military career in the exercise industry. The military’s emphasis on discipline and staying in shape makes former service members ideal candidates for careers in fitness, where those qualities also are crucial to success, said Richard Cotton, an exercise physiologist and the national director of certification for the American College of Sports Medicine. What's more, the job outlook is bright. Employment is projected to rise 27 percent through 2016 - much faster than the projected average of 7 percent to 13 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And as Phillips' career demonstrates, becoming a certified personal trainer is a great start toward a lifelong career in fitness. The industry's certification process is self-regulated. Most legitimate fitness organizations such as the American Council on Exercise, American College of Sports Medicine and the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, the fitness industry's largest nonprofit trade organization, recognize certifications accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.”

Santa Barbarans Still Getting 'Physical'

Fitness Facilities Aren't Seeing Economic Fallout

“As if rising grocery and fuel costs aren’t t enough to derail a healthy lifestyle, the cost of staying in shape may give some budget minded South Coast residents pause to consider the investment. In an economy where money is tight, gym memberships declined in the United States last year for the first time in a decade, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. Several fitness providers in Santa Barbara,' however, said they have yet to see a drop m their membership ranks In fact, most are bullish about the market and are pumping up their presence in a number of ways, including the recruitment of new member. ‘Your good health is your most important asset,’ declared Cindy Capra, manager of the Spectrum Health Club on upper State Street ‘A sound body makes for a sound mind If you can't afford a gym, you should still exercise.’ Ms Capra said the health club is investing $1 million in remodeling and equipment purchases to better serve its 15,000 members at three Santa Barbara clubs. ‘The owner is very optimistic about this market,’ said Ms Capra, and is looking at adding services and programs to retain members and bring new ones into the club.”

Health Clubs Adjust The Bar To Target Youth

“Red, yellow, blue and green walls match the colors of workout T-shirts the kids wear and the exercise balls they use. This is not your typical fitness facility. PowerKidz Youth Fitness Center in Indianapolis is exclusively for kids ages 6 to 17. The kids like it that way. So do their parents. Marketing fitness to kids is an expanding trend. It's fueled by the growing childhood obesity problem nationwide, cutbacks in school gym classes and working parents looking for ways to keep children active, fitness experts say. ‘With over 35 million children in our target market, the potential certainly is very big,’ said Kurt Knierim, chief marketing officer for Fitwize 4 Kids, a Novato, Calif.-based company with 52 franchises nationwide. ‘We're looking in the next five years to have anywhere between 200 to 500 locations.’ While those are ambitious, there's a bigger market for the kids who aren't athletic but want a place to work out where they won't be intimidated by kids who bench-press 300 pounds." The International Health Racquet & Sportsclub Association reports the youth market is the second-fastest-growing segment of the fitness industry. Their membership in commercial clubs has risen from 1.8 million in 1990 to 4.1 million in 2006.”

Twofold Action Urged for Pre-Diabete

Goal Is To Prevent Progression To The Full-Blown Disease And Its Huge Costs

“Lifestyle changes, coupled with a reduction in heart disease risks, will go a long way toward preventing pre-diabetes from progressing to the full-blown disease, experts from the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) recommend. Pre-diabetes occurs when blood sugar levels or impaired glucose tolerance is elevated, but not quite to the point defined as diabetes. More than 56 million Americans currently suffer from pre-diabetes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ‘Diabetes has become the major problem in the United States,’ Dr. Harold Lebovitz, a professor of medicine at the division of endocrinology and metabolism/diabetes at the State University of New York Health Sciences Center at Brooklyn, said during a noon teleconference Wednesday. The AACE is pressing for aggressive action to keep pre-diabetes from progressing to full-blown diabetes. The first step involves lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise. ‘It will cost a lot of money to develop lifestyle programs, but in the long run we will save trillions of dollars in health care,’ Lebovitz said.”

Johnson Calls For National Movement To Tackle Obesity, UK

“Health Secretary Alan Johnson will tonight call for a national movement to tackle the growing problem of obesity. In a major speech on public health the Secretary of State for Health will outline the public health implications of the obesity epidemic and argue that our strategy to combat obesity will only succeed if every part of our society recognises the problem and joins together to takes steps to address it. "Obesity is the biggest health challenge we face. Over the last 60 years, the number of people who are severely overweight has risen steadily. There is a very real danger that today's children will be the first to live shorter lives than their parents and spend more of their years in poor health. ‘Just as the government has a moral duty to tackle poverty and exclusion, so it also has a duty to address obesity. But this is not a licence to hector and lecture people on how they should spend their lives - not least because this simply won't work. Tackling obesity requires a much broader partnership, not only with families, but with employers, retailers, the leisure industry, the media, local government and the voluntary sector. We need a national movement that will bring about a fundamental change in the way we live our lives.’ ‘Earlier today, I met with leaders from major health charities, retailers, the health profession and community action groups to discuss how we could form a national campaign that would help us change the way we live. I have also written to 220,000 local activists who are already doing excellent work in their communities to promote good health to ask them to shape this movement.’”

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

HEALTH MATTERS: Healthy Kids Are Fit Kids

“With childhood obesity rates at record highs — more than 16 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 19 are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control — the approach to kids’ fitness is changing. While exercise for children was once viewed as fun and recreation, it is now considered a necessity, and more and more families are turning to their health clubs to help meet that need. In fact, more than five million children under age 18 belong to a fitness center, and children are one of the fastest growing markets for gym memberships, second only to baby boomers over age 55, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association. Health clubs like the Princeton Fitness &Wellness Center recognize the need for fitness programs geared toward children and are expanding their offerings. In August, the Wellness Center, in partnership with Princeton Healthcare System, will offer its ‘Fit Kids’ series, which includes circuit training classes, Pilates instruction, exercise ball workouts, dance sessions and aquatic fitness classes. One of the keys to children’s fitness is to keep kids from getting bored and losing interest. Classes such as Groove and Zumba — a Latin-infused dance class — make working up a sweat fun. In addition to being fun, physical fitness has numerous health benefits for children. According to the CDC, regular physical activity helps to build and maintain healthy bones and muscles and helps to reduce the risk of developing obesity and chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and reduces feelings of depression and anxiety and promotes psychological well being. The CDC recommends that children and teens should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week, preferably daily. In addition, the CDC suggests parents help children to avoid too much sedentary time and recommends that parents limit the time their children watch television, play video games, or surf the Web to no more than two hours per day. It is important to note that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend television viewing for children age 2 or younger.”

Might The Olympics Inspire You To Exercise More And Eat Better? Heart Research UK Tips

“It's Olympics time again and, even if we can't travel to Beijing, we can still be inspired to exercise more as we watch athletes on TV compete in almost every sport imaginable. We can also get into the Olympic spirit at home by cooking some healthy Chinese dishes and encouraging young ones to try new healthy foods and flavours. Watching Olympians compete is great but even better if it spurs us on to exercise more; so organize a kids' mini-Olympics in your garden or local park and record their efforts as they race, hurdle over cushions, jump in the sandpit or play ball games. Arrange a swim-athon at your local pool, a long bike ride or badminton session - ask the children for ideas, they'll have plenty. Keep their energy levels up and their hearts healthy by giving them healthy snacks and meals this summer. Serve up a plate of 'Olympic rings' made from rings of red, yellow, orange, green and even brown peppers. Nutritious healthy food and plenty of exercise brings out the best in athletes and will do just the same with your young ones, so make this an Olympic heart-healthy summer for all.”

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

American Diabetes Association Urges Congress To Examine Ravages Of Childhood Obesity And Type 2 Diabetes

“The American Diabetes Association (ADA) today, applauded Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT), Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and members of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families for holding a hearing on, ‘Childhood Obesity: The Declining Health of America's Next Generation.’ Appearing before the Committee was Francine Kaufman, M.D., a prominent pediatric endocrinologist, past president of the ADA, and a distinguished professor of Pediatrics and Communication at the University of Southern California. Kaufman went on to illustrate that one in three children born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes at some point in his or her life, and that this statistic is nearly one in two for children in minority communities. ‘Today, there is no doubt that obesity in youth, along with its associated medical conditions, is the major health challenge of this century,’ said Kaufman. ‘Despite the efforts of government and public health officials, the number of overweight and obese youth continues to increase. More needs to be done to combat the ever growing epidemics of obesity and diabetes.’”

Pumping Up The Franchises

“Minnesota has long been a hub of fitness innovation and businesses. It's the birthplace of Rollerblades and waterskiing, the headquarters of Life Time Fitness and consistently ranks at the top of polls for its physically active populace. It's also the home to two of the nation's fastest-growing fitness franchise companies -- Anytime Fitness and Snap Fitness. After years of blockbuster growth in the United States and Canada, both are ready to take their no-frills, 24-hour fitness club concept overseas. Anytime Fitness recently signed a revenue-sharing agreement to launch up to 350 franchised clubs in Australia and New Zealand, with five centers expected to open in the next year. The Hastings-based company also recently hired a director of international development, who'll explore markets in Western Europe. But as a recent press release also trumpeted, the company envisions its members someday visiting clubs in Tokyo, Berlin or Dubai. Snap Fitness, based in Chanhassen, launched its first outlet in 2004. These days it has about 1,500 franchise agreements and 750 clubs currently open. Last month, Snap announced it had taken on an undisclosed minority investment from Summit Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm, which Snap said will help it move swiftly into international markets. The $18.5 billion health club industry remains a healthy one, even as Americans are stung by rising costs of food, fuel and housing. Some 41.5 million of us belong to a health club of some sort, and revenues have increased 60 percent since 2000, according to IHRSA, the International Health, Racquet and Sports Club Association. Retail analysts are often cautious about overseas expansion given various real estate tax laws, franchise fees and even cultural differences. But both Anytime's Runyon and Snap's Taunton are not dissuaded. Taunton said international growth will make up about 10 percent of Snap Fitness' business next year. He sees it as key to reaching the 6,000-store range in five years. Though potential franchisees are getting stung by the credit crunch along with consumers and other businesses, Runyon notes that it's much easier to get lender approval to launch a $150,000 Anytime Fitness than some other kinds of franchises that require $1 million-plus investments. “

Celebrity Boost For Gym

Glitzy Partnerships Let 24 Hour Fitness Buck Downward Health Club Trend

“On Tuesday, the much-hyped 24 Hour Fitness-Derek Jeter will welcome New Yorkers into its sleek facility on Fifth Avenue at Madison Square Park for the first time. In February, 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide made headlines when it announced a partnership with the Yankee captain for its entry into the New York market. The company has found that attaching the name of a high-profile athlete to a club helps attract members. It will need that boost, because even health clubs are feeling the effects of the country's economic turmoil. Gym membership declined unexpectedly last year from 2006, falling nearly 1% in New York state and 3% nationally, to 41.5 million members, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association. ‘When the cost of basic essentials goes up and salaries don't go up in proportion, certain luxury amenities have to be cut,’ says Fabio Comana, an exercise physiologist at the American Council on Exercise. ‘We've seen a few people make the decision to say, 'My membership's gotta go.' The last time the economy slipped, after Sept. 11, many viewed working out as necessary to relieving stress and restoring a sense of normalcy. Health club openings in New York state rose 55% between 2001 and 2006, to 686, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association and InfoUSA Inc. Now, the combination of an oversupply of gyms and consumers' growing economic anxiety makes it appear that the boom is waning. Scott Rosen, chief operating officer at Equinox, declined to provide current membership numbers but says that they far exceed last year's. ‘A lot of our members would sooner cut out a meal at a restaurant than their gym membership,’ Mr. Rosen says.”

Personal Trainers Whip Kids Into Shape

“Jumping hurdles, doing box jumps, and walking up on a revolving ladder are just some of the exercises Aundrea Lagana does with her personal trainer. ‘It's really fun,’ Aundrea said, ‘I like the machines. And the ladder is my favorite.’ Since starting this past year, Aundrea, 8, has improved her flexibility and agility - making her a star in her jazz acrobatics class, said her mother Rye Brook resident Rosa Lagana, Getting children personal trainers and into the gym to improve their fitness and coordination is a growing trend in Greenwich and nationwide. Children ages 6 to 17 comprise 17 percent of the 6.3 million people who used personal trainers in 2006 and the numbers continue to rise each year, according to data from the Boston-based International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association. Here in town parents pay up to $100 a session to get their child a customized gym experience. Parents whose children work with personal trainers say the expense is worthwhile because it helps promote healthy habits and is another way to get them doing sports and being active.”

Common Stereotypes About Obese Workers Refuted By Study

“New research led by a Michigan State University scholar refutes commonly held stereotypes that overweight workers are lazier, more emotionally unstable and harder to get along with than their ‘normal weight’ colleagues. With the findings, employers are urged to guard against the use of weight-based stereotypes when it comes to hiring, promoting or firing. Mark Roehling, associate professor of human resource management, and two colleagues studied the relationship between body weight and personality traits for nearly 3,500 adults. Contrary to widely held stereotypes, overweight and obese adults were not found to be significantly less conscientious, less agreeable, less extraverted or less emotionally stable. The research, done in conjunction with Hope College near Grand Rapids, appears in the current edition of the journal Group & Organization Management. ‘Previous research has demonstrated that many employers hold negative stereotypes about obese workers, and those beliefs contribute to discrimination against overweight workers at virtually every stage of the employment process, from hiring to promotion to firing,’ Roehling said. ‘Employers concerned about the fair and effective management of their work force," Roehling said, "should be proactive in preventing negative stereotypes about overweight workers from influencing employment decisions.’”

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mississippi Remains Most Obese State, CDC Reports

“The South tips the scales again as the nation's fattest region, according to a new government survey. More than 30 percent of adults in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee are considered obese. In part, experts blame Southern eating habits, poverty and demographic groups that have higher obesity rates. Colorado was the least obese, with about 19 percent fitting that category in a random telephone survey done last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 2007 findings are similar to results from the same survey the three previous years. Mississippi has had the highest obesity rate every year since 2004. But Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia and Louisiana have also clustered near the top of the list, often so close that the difference between their rates and Mississippi's may not be statistically significant. The South has had high death rates from heart disease and stroke, health risks that have been linked to obesity, some experts noted. The CDC study only surveyed adults, but results for kids are similar, said Dr. Miriam Vos, assistant professor of pediatrics at Atlanta's Emory School of Medicine. ‘Most of the studies of obesity and children show the South has the highest rates as well,’ Vos said.”

Disease Prevention Programs Worth the Investment

“Community-based health programs aimed at diet, exercise, smoking prevention and other known risk factors for chronic diseases could cut health-care costs in the United States by $16 billion a year, a new report says. ‘We worked with economists at the Urban Institute who looked at health-care costs associated with these chronic diseases,’ said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the Washington-based Trust for America's Health, which issued the report. ‘They estimated a 5 percent reduction in these chronic diseases to derive these savings.’ The estimate was based on a model developed at the Urban Institute and a review of studies on the cost and effectiveness of prevention programs by experts at the New York Academy of Medicine. Spending $10 a year per person would save the United States more than $16 billion annually within five years, the economists said, for a return of $5.60 on every $1 invested. Their survey showed that effective prevention programs costing less than $10 per person could reduce rates of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure by 5 percent within two years, reduce heart disease, kidney disease and stroke by 5 percent within five years, and reduce some forms of cancer, arthritis and lung disease by 2.5 percent in 10 to 20 years. Who would pay for the prevention programs? Primarily the same agencies that promote prevention programs now, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other agencies, along with state and local health departments, according to Levi.”

Obesity Still Rising Among Americans

“Obesity is still rising among Americans, according to figures from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, where data based on annual nationwide telephone surveys with more than 350,000 adults showed that between 2005 and 2007, the percentage who reported being obese went up from 23.9 to 25.6, a rise of nearly 2 per cent. The full report is published in this week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), available as a download from the CDC website.”

Health Tip: Exercising During Pregnancy

“Exercise is good for you during any stage of life. But among pregnant women, it can offset some common problems. Your doctor should approve of any exercise program while you're pregnant. The American Pregnancy Association offers this list of potential benefits:
· It can help alleviate conditions such as poor circulation and back pain.
· It can give you more energy throughout your day.
· It can help you sleep better.
· It can put you in a better mood.
· It can better prepare your body for childbirth.
· It can help prevent excessive weight gain during pregnancy.”

Thursday, July 17, 2008

IHRSA Engaging Fitness Professionals in Planning Agenda for Health Care Reform

“The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) is reaching out to its membership of fitness professionals at clubs and industry suppliers to work together in developing an industry agenda that will guide the association’s efforts in Washington, DC, during the health care reform debate. ‘We are asking the people of the industry to be creative and think broadly about health care reform,’ says Joe Moore, IHRSA President and CEO. ‘These are the people who every day see the impact that regular exercise has on the lives of Americans. It is important for them to have a voice in this process.’ In the past year, IHRSA has been very encouraged by a growing interest among Washington policymakers in prevention and wellness. The association plans to capitalize on that interest during two major upcoming events. The first is the presidential election, and the second is the widespread belief that 2009 will bring debate and passage of sweeping health care reform legislation. While these events will likely curtail real debate and consideration of health care legislation this year, they offer a great opportunity for the health club industry to become an integral part of the solution to the growing obesity, physical inactivity and health care crises. This agenda will be part of IHRSA’s coordinated effort to remove federal barriers to exercise and focus legislators’ attention on the need to transform our current health care system from one that focuses on ‘sick’ care to one that focuses on prevention and wellness. IHRSA actively lobbies in Washington to support two health promotion bills: The Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act (H.R. 245) and The Workforce Health Improvement Program (WHIP) Act (H.R. 1748 and S. 1038).”

Muscular Strength in Men Linked to Lower All-Cause and Cancer Mortality

“Muscular strength is linked with death from all causes and cancer in men, even after adjustment for cardiorespiratory fitness, according to the results of a prospective cohort study reported in the July 12 Online First issue of the BMJ. ‘Resistance exercise training increases muscular strength and is currently prescribed by major health organisations for improving health and fitness,’ write Jonatan R. Ruiz, from Karolinska Institutet in Huddinge, Sweden, and colleagues. "Likewise, cardiorespiratory fitness provides strong and independent prognostic information about the overall risk of illness and death in adults across a broad spectrum of ages. . . . Several prospective studies have shown that muscular strength is inversely associated with all cause mortality. "It might be possible to reduce all cause mortality among men by promoting regular resistance training involving the major muscle groups of the upper and lower body two or three days a week," the study authors conclude. ‘Resistance training should be a complement to rather than a replacement for aerobic exercise.’”

Obesity Ups A Woman's Pancreatic Cancer Risk: Study

“Obese women who carry most of their extra weight around the stomach are 70 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, an international team of researchers reported on Tuesday. The findings suggest are some of the first evidence that the link between obesity and pancreatic cancer is as strong in women as in men, Juhua Luo of Sweden's Karolinska Institute and colleagues reported in the British Journal of Cancer. ‘We found that the risk of developing pancreatic cancer was significantly raised in obese postmenopausal women who carry most of their excess weight around the stomach,’ she said in a statement. ‘Obesity is a growing and largely preventable problem, so it's important that women are aware of this major increase in risk.’ Pancreatic cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death worldwide. It accounts for only about 2 percent of the cancers diagnosed each year but the first-year survival rate is less than 5 percent, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.”

Aerobic Capacity Lower In Boys With Hemophilia

“Boys with hemophilia have a lower aerobic capacity than their healthy peers, according to study findings published the Journal of Pediatrics. However, the overall muscle strength of these children is comparable to that seen in the normal population. Aerobic capacity refers to the maximum amount of oxygen that the body can take in and use to generate energy --- the more oxygen used, the greater the physical performance. This also referred to as cardiovascular capacity - and cardiovascular fitness is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure and coronary heart disease. Hemophilia patients used to have a sedentary lifestyle, because of frequent episodes of internal bleeding into the muscles and joints, often leading to inflammation and joint diseases, note Dr. Tim Takken and colleagues from University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands. Since clotting factor replacement therapy was introduced, hemophilia patients have fewer bleeding episode and are able to participate more in physical activities.”

Lose Those Last 10 Pounds of Stubborn Weight

“You've cut back on calories, torched them off at the gym, and until now, been handily rewarded with an ever-increasing slide down the scale. Then, bam! You hit a weight-loss wall, and those last few pounds won't budge. You're not the only parent who faces the ‘What do I do with the kids while I exercise?’ problem. And home workouts won't cut it. A recent Australian study found that women who exercised at home were four times more likely to skip sessions than women who worked out at a gym. Nearly 70 percent of gyms now offer supervised child care for only a few bucks extra per month, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. Find one in your neighborhood. Or sign the kids up for swimming lessons; while they're learning a new crawl, you can slip in a workout.”

Possible Genetic Influence In Active And Sedentary Behavior

“The well-documented importance of exercise in maintaining fitness has created the idea that individuals can manage their health by increasing their activity. But what if the inclination to engage in physical activity is itself significantly affected by factors that are predetermined? Two new studies suggest that the inclination to exercise may be strongly affected by genetics.
In a paper recently published in the journal Physiological Genomics, a team of researchers led by University of North Carolina at Charlotte kinesiologist J. Timothy Lightfoot announced that they had found six specific chromosomal locations that significantly correlate to the inheritance of a trait of high physical activity in mice, indicating that at least six genetic locations were affecting activity. Now, in a study forthcoming in The Journal of Heredity, the same team has identified 17 other genetic locations that also appear to control the level of physical activity in mice through interaction with each other, a genetic effect known as epistasis. Together, the located genes account for approximately 84% of the behavioral differences between mice that exhibit low activity levels and mice that show high activity traits. ‘Can you be born a couch potato? In exercise physiology, we didn't used to think so, but now I would say most definitely you can,’ said Lightfoot.”

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Children Move Less as They Get Older

“By the time children reach their teens, their level of physical activity drops significantly, new research shows. Kids who were averaging three hours of moderate to vigorous activity when they were 9 barely manage to get more than a half-hour of daily exercise by the time they reach 15, according to a study in the July 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. ‘Kids' activity is decreasing dramatically between 9 and 15,’ said study author Dr. Philip Nader, professor emeritus of pediatrics at the University of California at San Diego in La Jolla. Nader said the reasons for the drop are many. ‘There may be competing, more interesting things to do; physical education is being done away with in some places, and so is recess; there aren't as many open spaces or parks, and being outside is one of the main things that keeps people active,’ he said. Plus, children don't get the same routine daily activity that youngsters from a generation or two ago did. ‘Kids used to just run around and ride their bikes everywhere, and kids used to walk to school. Now, parents drive them,’ Nader noted. The lack of physical activity is linked to the growing problem of childhood obesity, and most experts recommend that children should be getting at least one hour of moderate to vigorous activity each day, reports the study. Nader added that exercise should really be a family affair, and that parents need to model good exercise behavior.”

The Epigenetics Of Increasing Weight Through The Generations

“Overweight mothers give birth to offspring who become even heavier, resulting in amplification of obesity across generations, said Baylor College of Medicine researchers in Houston who found that chemical changes in the ways genes are expressed - a phenomenon called epigenetics - could affect successive generations of mice. ‘There is an obesity epidemic in the United States and it's increasingly recognized as a worldwide phenomenon,’ said Dr. Robert A. Waterland, assistant professor of pediatrics - nutrition at BCM and lead author of the study that appears in the International Journal of Obesity. "Why is everyone getting heavier and heavier? One hypothesis is that maternal obesity before and during pregnancy affects the establishment of body weight regulatory mechanisms in her baby. Maternal obesity could promote obesity in the next generation.”

Therapeutic Lifestyle Change (TLC) Programs: The Key To Fighting Chronic Disease

“Chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease have reached epidemic proportions, affecting half of Americans and costing $1.5 trillion annually. But a little-known and relatively inexpensive tool called a TLC program has been shown to be effective in preventing, managing, or even reversing, many of our most prevalent chronic conditions. So why don't more health professionals offer TLC? Jeffrey Bland, PhD is a nutritional biochemist and the chief science officer for Metagenics, Inc., a company that offers a TLC program called FirstLine Therapy®. According to Bland, ‘TLC programs are designed to increase a person's state of wellness through healthier eating and moderate physical activity. They should not be confused with weight loss programs or diets. Whereas those programs generally fail, TLC programs have been remarkably successful in helping people achieve long-term success.’”

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Workouts Still A Priority For Cash-Strapped Area Residents

"They'll give up road trips, dining out or even (gasp!) upgraded cell phone plans. But one thing folks are not willing to sacrifice is their health and well-being. At least not locally.With gas prices continuing to soar as the stock market swoons, not only have area gyms and health clubs not felt the pinch, several have reported an increase in memberships and overall daily traffic. ‘This used to be the time of year that I went on vacation because it was so slow,’ said John Lankford, owner of Nautilus Fitness Center in downtown Spartanburg, who chose the Fourth of July week last year to close his business for renovations for that reason. ‘But it seems like we've been very busy this year.’ Lankford's business is up 67 percent over this time last year - a combination of one-half new memberships and one-half renewals. Lankford believes people turn to therapeutic measures to get through tough economic times, much like the number of bar patrons increased during the Great Depression. But as Hoffmann said, ‘(Exercise) is better than anything you can get out of a bottle. I may go (to the gym) dragging, but I come out feeling like a new person.’”

Exercise Might Slow Brain Shrinkage in Alzheimer's Patients

"Men and women with early-stage Alzheimer's disease who were more physically fit also had larger brains compared to their counterparts in less stellar shape. The findings, though preliminary, may indicate that staying physically fit could slow the brain atrophy (shrinkage) associated with Alzheimer's disease. ‘We're interested in how exercise impacts the Alzheimer's disease process. There's a lot of data in normal older adults that exercising and fitness may have a beneficial effect on brain health, but there's not a lot on Alzheimer's in terms of studies to draw on to inform our recommendations for exercise and fitness,’ said study author Dr. Jeffrey Burns, director of the Alzheimer's and Memory Program at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City. ‘We used an objective, gold-standard measure of fitness which hadn't been assessed in Alzheimer's patients yet, cardiorespiratory fitness, or VO2 peak, where we basically measure how much work someone is capable of doing,’ Burns explained. The VO2 peak was slightly lower in people with Alzheimer's compared to controls. And individuals with Alzheimer's who were less physically fit had quadruple the amount of brain shrinkage compared to normal older adults.‘The people with higher fitness levels had larger brains, and there was a strong correlation between the two,’ Burns explained. ‘We're limited because of the study design, but it could suggest that maintaining fitness may have a beneficial effect on the Alzheimer's disease process.’"

Obesity Is No. 1 Health Concern For Kids In 2008

“As children's waistlines continue to grow, so have concerns about childhood obesity. According to a report released by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, childhood obesity is now the No. 1 health concern for kids in 2008, topping smoking and drug abuse. In 2007, childhood obesity ranked third among parents' top 10 overall health concerns for kids. ‘The National Poll on Children's Health report clearly shows that adults in America are very concerned about the problem of childhood obesity and its causes,’ says Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., director of the National Poll on Children's Health. ‘While recent studies have suggested that the childhood obesity epidemic may be leveling off, the results of this poll reveal that adults in the U.S. are still very much concerned about this issue.’”

Eating Less May Slow Aging Process

“Cutting just 300 to 500 calories a day from your diet could be the key to slowing the signs of aging and living longer, according to a new study. Studies have long shown that reducing calorie intake slows the aging process in rats and mice. A popular theory is that fewer daily calories decreases production of the thyroid hormone triiodothyronine (T3), which then slows metabolism and tissue aging. The findings, published in the June 2008 issue of Rejuvenation Research, are based on a study of healthy but sedentary, non-smoking, 50- to 60-year-old men and post-menopausal women. For a year, the volunteers participated in either: a calorie-restriction group that cut their daily calorie intake by 300 to 500 calories per day; a group that stayed on their regular diet and exercised regularly; or a group that maintained its normal routine. While those in the calorie-restriction and exercise groups both lost body fat mass, only those in the calorie restriction group also had lower levels of the thyroid hormone. ‘There is plenty of evidence the calorie restriction can reduce your risks for many common diseases including cancer, diabetes and heart disease," Weiss said. ‘And you may live to be substantially older.’ Weiss warned that while cutting calories, people need to maintain a healthy diet by eating nutrient-rich foods. He noted that long-term slowing of the metabolism could also make people more prone to weight gain over time. The key to maintaining a healthy weight, Weiss said, is keeping a consistent diet and exercising regularly.”

Monday, July 14, 2008

Lean Times Have Little Effect On Fitness Industry

“In today's sinking economy, many businesses find themselves tossing services and workers to remain afloat. The fitness industry, on the other hand, seems to be wading through the tides effortlessly, as new gym owner Drew Schlosser proved, opening Snap Fitness May 30. The gym already has 300 members. ‘It’s been kind of like a phenomenon,’ said Schlosser, who co-owns Snap Fitness at 20041 S. Tamiami Trail in Estero. Schlosser said he and his partner looked into different businesses, such as restaurants, but after more research realized fitness was the way to go. ‘We wanted to make sure we were in an industry that's growing.’ According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, U.S. fitness industry revenues have increased by 5 percent from $17.6 million in 2006 to $18.5 million in 2007. U.S. health clubs have increased by almost 1 percent from 29,357 in 2006 to 29,636 in 2007. But club membership has decreased almost 3 percent, from 42.7 million members in 2006 to 41.5 million in 2007. Regardless of the decrease people are still spending money to get fit. ‘When times are tough there are certain mainstays people are going to gravitate to,’ Drumm said. ‘One is the bars - the bars are not going to be empty - and the other is health clubs.’”

More Are Failing To Recognise They Have A Weight Problem

“More and more people are failing to recognise they are overweight, despite an actual rise in the number of people who are clinically ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’, according to research published on today. Researchers from the Health Behaviour Research Centre at University College London, compared data taken from two household surveys carried out in 1999 and 2007. In each survey participants were asked to give their height and weight (from which their Body Mass Index (BMI) and clinical weight category could be determined) and also categorise themselves as either: 'very underweight', 'underweight', 'about right', 'overweight' or 'very overweight'. The 2007 survey also included 'obese' as a category. Professor Jane Wardle and colleagues found the proportion of respondents whose weight placed them in the clinically obese category had nearly doubled in eight years from 11% in 1999 to 19% in 2007. Yet, those whose weight put them in the overweight category were less likely to think that they were overweight in 2007 than in 1999. In 1999, 43% of the population had a BMI that put them in the overweight or obese range, of whom 81% correctly identified themselves as overweight. But in 2007, 53% of the population had a BMI in the overweight or obese range, but only 75% of these correctly classed themselves as overweight. The researchers suggest that the growing division between actual and perceived weight may be due to overweight becoming more widespread in the population and the appearance of mild overweight being increasingly accepted as 'normal'. According to the authors, these perceptions are reinforced by media images of people who are morbidly obese, which add to the misconception that extremely high weights are required to meet the medical criteria for overweight. This can also increase the stigma attached to the labels 'overweight' and 'obese'.”

Live Healthy To Beat Diabetes National Diabetes Week: 13 - 19 July Australia

“The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is urging Australians to adopt a healthier lifestyle against the backdrop of National Diabetes Week. The awareness raising event runs from 13 - 19 July. ‘General practitioners are often the first point of contact in the health system for people with Type 2 diabetes. The complexity of treatment for this common disease requires systematic care from the practice team and the timely referral to community and hospital based specialists,’ said Dr Linda Mann, GP from Sydney and member of the college's diabetes guidelines editorial committee. ‘Type 2 diabetes - the most common form of diabetes - is a chronic condition which can result in disability and early death. However, Type 2 diabetes can be successfully managed or even prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular physical activity and having healthy eating patterns,’ said Dr Mann. ‘National Diabetes week presents a great opportunity for GPs to talk with their patients about diabetes. We can take this opportunity to provide advice on staying fit, undertaking regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and adopting a healthy diet,’ said Dr Mann.”

Too Fat and Pregnant

“The offices of Dr. Mark Chames, an obstetrician at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, are outfitted with some special equipment. The blood-pressure cuffs used on patients’ arms are actually thigh cuffs, originally designed to strap around a leg. Standard scales, which measure up to 350 pounds, have been supplemented by ones that accommodate 880 pounds. Before the new scales arrived, some patients were weighed at the hospital loading dock. After decades in which the obesity epidemic spread to every demographic group in the nation, it has also ended up here: the maternity ward. One in five women who give birth in the U.S. is obese, according to Susan Chu, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And doctors are seeing more pregnant women who are morbidly obese, weighing 400, 500, even 600 pounds. Excess weight makes pregnancy riskier: obese women are more likely to develop hypertension and diabetes, and to deliver prematurely. The need to manage their conditions, and to meet their logistical needs, is giving rise to a new medical subspecialty, what some are calling ‘bariatric obstetrics.’ Chames, who already sees at least a dozen morbidly obese pregnant women each month, will direct his hospital’s new Center for Bariatric Obstetric Care when it opens later this summer.”

Friday, July 11, 2008

Companies Win As Workers Lose Pounds

“To Bill Pratt, two things seemed to grow out of proportion at Wesley Willows Corp. retirement community in recent years: employees' health-insurance premiums, and their waistlines. Mr. Pratt, the chief executive, could see there was a connection. Each time he walked around his nonprofit's leafy campus, he noticed that the ‘employee base could stand to lose a few pounds,’ he says. Meanwhile, like many companies around the country, the organization had seen its health-care costs soar for several years running, due in part to claims from its less-than-healthy-looking work force. But a little over a year later, employees on the 290-person staff at Wesley Willows have lost a cumulative 750 pounds -- and health-insurance claims by the staff have dropped dramatically. When the company renewed its health insurance for 2008, premiums edged up just over 3% -- the lowest increase in at least a decade, company executives say. How did it happen? Wesley Willows, in Rockford, Ill., embarked on a companywide wellness contest that pitted groups of employees against one another in friendly competition. In effect, it paid workers to lose weight. Inspired by TV shows like ‘The Biggest Loser’ and plagued by rising health-care costs, a growing number of small companies are using contest-style incentive programs to spur employees to get healthy. The format is a natural fit for small companies, where executives say the natural camaraderie lends itself to teamwork and competitive spirit.”

Obese Men Have Less Semen, More Sperm Abnormalities, And Should Lose Weight Before Trying For A Baby

“Obese men should consider losing weight if they want to have children, a scientist told the 24th annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. Dr. A Ghiyath Shayeb, from the University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK, said that his research had shown that men with a higher body mass index (BMI) had lower volumes of seminal fluid and a higher proportion of abnormal sperm. Dr. Shayeb and colleagues looked at the results of seminal fluid analysis in 5316 men attending Aberdeen Fertility Centre with their partners for difficulties in conceiving. 2037 of these men had complete data on their BMIs. ‘We felt that it was possible that male overweight might contribute to fertility problems,’ he said, ‘particularly since it is a known risk factor for problems in conceiving among women.’ ‘Our findings were quite independent of any other factors,’ he said, ‘and seem to suggest that men who are trying for a baby with their partners, should first try to achieve an ideal body weight. This is in addition to the benefit of a healthy BMI for their general well being. ‘Adopting a healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet, and regular exercise will, in the vast majority of cases, lead to a normal BMI. We are pleased to be able to add improved semen quality to the long list of benefits that we know are the result of an optimal body weight.’”

Experts Say Most Effective Time To Exercise Is When You Can Commit To Doing It

“‘Whatever keeps you committed and coming, I sincerely believe, is the best time to exercise,’ said Robin Koehler, owner of Curves in Elburn. ‘For most of my clients, the morning works best for their schedules.’ Morning exercise has its benefits. It jump-starts your day. Peg Jordan, author of ‘The Fitness Instinct,’ writes that morning exercise helps you wake up and ready yourself for your day by stimulating your circulation and energy. But for many people, their bodies are not ready to jump into vigorous exercise. One reason lies in the body's connective tissue. Connective tissue, or fascia, wraps around tendons, ligaments, muscles and organs and holds them together. It contracts all the time, but especially during sleep and with age. The stiffness you feel in the morning is fascia that has repaired the microscopic tears that happen with everyday living by shortening up. ‘It's a revolutionary idea in modern physiology that connective tissue shrinks,’ said Paul Grilley in a lecture on connective tissue in ‘Anatomy for Yoga.’ ‘The premise that it does not shrink and that if stretched will cause the joint to de-stabilize is wrong.’ All experts agree that if you don't get around to exercising, then no time of day is better. Morning, afternoon and evening can work for you if it fits your schedule and you will do it on a regular basis. ‘The most important thing is a consistant exercise regime,’ said Richard Cotton, spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise.’ ‘It is really (your) lifestyle and what works for (you) that's really important when determining your exercise time.’”

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Samba Lines at the Gym

“With a name like Zumba, the exercise class defined by its Latin rhythms and party atmosphere was not exactly an easy sell at first. But five years after arriving in gyms and dance studios, Zumba Fitness keeps expanding, most recently into schools, senior centers and unconquered territory like New York City, and some foreign markets. The man who started it all, Alberto Perez, 37, said he still does not fully grasp the empire he has created. Mr. Perez, a former aerobics trainer from Colombia, said he stumbled upon his fitness concept by accident. In 1986, as he was about to teach a class in Cali, Colombia, he realized he had forgotten his aerobics music tapes. He grabbed his own music from his car — salsa and merengue from El Gran Combo, Las Chicas del Can and other popular bands — and improvised the class. The enthusiasm for Zumba is now in evidence in cities like Los Angeles, where more than 100 instructors offer classes. Most students are women, but the cross-section of ages, from 20 to 60 in one class, speaks of Zumba’s wide appeal, despite its challenging pace. The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association says dance classes have steadily expanded among its 5,700 member clubs. A census by the organization found that 1,017 of its clubs had dance programming this year, compared with 749 in 2002 and 603 in 2001. Rosemary Lavery, a spokeswoman for the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, said Latino membership among health clubs has been on the rise, now accounting for 19 percent, compared with 15 percent in 2005, but she couldn’t say how much Zumba had to do with the trend.”

Surfing to a Higher Weight

“Teen girls who spend a lot of time on the Internet are more likely to see their weight creeping slowly up than adolescents who spend less time in front of the computer screen, new research shows. And the association between computer use and weight held true even when the researchers accounted for the amount of exercise the girls were getting. The Harvard researchers also found that a lack of sleep and alcohol consumption were associated with increasing weight. ‘We found more weight gain -- after adjustment for height growth and other factors including physical activity -- for females who spent more recreational time on the Internet, for those getting the least sleep, and for those drinking the most alcohol,’ said study author Catherine Berkey, a biostatistician at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. Results of the study were published in the July issue of The Journal of Pediatrics.”

Active Lifestyle May Prevent Cancer: Japan Study

“Physically active people are less likely than sedentary types to develop cancer, a research group led by the Japanese health ministry announced on Thursday. Men in the most active group of people surveyed had 13 percent less risk of developing cancer compared with the least active group, and women in the most active group had a 16 percent lower risk than their sedentary counterparts. ‘There has been a lot of research done in the past on the relationship between leisure and development of cancer in the West,’ said Dr. Manami Inoue, section chief of the National Cancer Centre. ‘However, our research is the first in Japan of its size and scope -- we looked at overall exercise and labor, which is not only related to leisure.’ The trend was most noticeable among Japanese women, who were less likely to develop cancer if they were engaging in regular exercise and led an active lifestyle. The results of the study also showed the trend to be prevalent for colon, liver and pancreas cancer risks for men and the development of stomach cancer among women. Inoue said: ‘There are a lot of physical differences between Asians and our Western counterparts. Asians are usually leaner, with a lower BMI (Body Mass Index). Many contributing factors for cancer have been suggested ... our research showed that lack of general physical activity is one of such reasons.’”