Friday, October 31, 2008

Vigorous Activity Protects Against Breast Cancer

“Normal-weight women who carry out lots of vigorous exercise are approximately 30% less likely to develop breast cancer than those who don't exercise vigorously. A study of more than thirty thousand postmenopausal American women, reported in BioMed Central's open access journal Breast Cancer Research, has revealed that a sedentary lifestyle can be a risk factor for the disease - even in women who are not overweight. While an Investigator at the National Cancer Institute of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, Michael F. Leitzmann led a team of researchers who followed the 32,269 women for eleven years and found that vigorous activity may protect against breast cancer, independent of body weight control. Vigorous activity was judged to include things like heavy housework (scrubbing floors, washing windows, heavy yard-work, digging, chopping wood) and strenuous sports or exercise (running, fast jogging, competitive tennis; aerobics, bicycling on hills, and fast dancing). Leitzmann said, ‘Notable strengths of our study include its large sample size, prospective design, high follow-up rate, and availability of relevant known or suspected breast cancer risk factors. These features enabled us to minimize any effects from other factors apart from exercise.’ Interestingly, the authors found that non-vigorous activity, such as light housework (vacuuming, washing clothes, painting, general gardening) and light sports or exercise (walking, hiking, light jogging, recreational tennis, bowling) was not protective. Furthermore, vigorous activity was only protective in lean women and not those who were overweight or obese.”

Results Of Workplace Obesity Program

“Environmental changes implemented at 12 Dow Chemical Company worksites helped employees' there achieve modest improvements in health risks, including weight management, decreasing tobacco use and blood pressure, says Emory University public health researcher Ron Goetzel, PhD. Goetzel and his team will present the findings from their study Oct. 29, 2008, at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in San Diego. ‘These are early findings from a longer and larger multi-site study that examine the effects of introducing relatively low-cost environmental and ecological interventions at the workplace aimed at curbing the growth of overweight and obesity among workers,’ says Goetzel, research professor of health policy and management, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. Goetzel is also director of Emory's Institute for Health and Productivity Studies and vice president of consulting and applied research for Thomson Reuters. Researchers found that after one year, employees who participated in the environmental weight management interventions significantly reduced their blood pressure risk and maintained a steady weight when compared to employees at control sites who only received individual interventions. ‘We continue to study the effects of environmental interventions aimed at preventing obesity in the workplace, and we are now beginning to analyze results from the second year. We expect to present updated findings at future scientific meetings,’ says Goetzel.”

Simple Blood Test Predicts Obesity

According to new research from the Monell Center, the degree of change in blood triglyceride levels following a fatty meal may indicate susceptibility to diet-induced obesity. The findings open doors to new methods of identifying people, including children, who are at risk for becoming obese. Triglycerides are a form of fat that is transported in the blood and stored in the body's fat tissues. They are found in foods and also are manufactured by the body. ‘These findings suggest we may someday be able to use a simple blood test to identify those at risk for obesity,’ said senior author Mark Friedman, PhD, a behavioral physiologist at Monell. ‘The ability to identify more susceptible individuals would make it possible to target obesity-prevention resources on those who need them most.’

Fox-Sponsored ‘Pac-10 Fitness Challenge’ Kicks Off

“The second annual ‘Pac-10 Fitness Challenge’ begins this week, with Fox Sports Enterprises partnering with the NCAA regional conference to push the weeklong fitness competition. Thousands of students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters at Pac-10 schools are expected to participate. Participants log their total exercise minutes in various categories, including running, swimming and cycling, with the ‘most fit’ university crowned on the time spent doing physical activity. The idea is to promote physical activity and exercise along with school spirit. The Fitness Challenge is part of a variety of Pac-10 recreational sports events and competitions to be held throughout the year, including intramural and club sports under an umbrella program called the Pac-10 Challenge. Through its Pac-10 Properties division, Fox Sports Enterprises partnered with Pac-10 recreation departments to solicit corporate partners and promote Pac-10 Challenge events. ‘The Pac-10 Challenge presents a tremendous opportunity to reach, support and promote recreation and intramural activities on campus,’ said Mitch Huberman, senior vice president, Fox Sports Enterprises. It also provides Fox a chance to improve its profile among 18-to-24-year-olds most likely to engage in the competition.”

Phone Coaching Can Help Promote Modest Weight Loss

“Many Americans rarely leave home without their phones, and that could come in handy for those attempting to lose weight, according to a new study. ‘Since so many people use cell phones and gas prices were getting higher, we thought, 'How well can we reach people, and how well can we reach people if it's not face to face?' said Larry Tucker, Ph.D., the study's lead author. Tucker and colleagues at Brigham Young University found that of 120 men and women, those who received 11 sessions of personalized weight-loss phone coaching over a 17-week period lost an average of seven pounds, compared with an average of four pounds in un-coached adults. The sessions lasted 30 minutes. The study appears in the November/December issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion. ‘People tend to do better when they have a support system and when they have someone they report to each week. The weight loss coach can help people work through weight loss issues, barriers and problems,’ Tucker said. ‘Compared to no coaching, phone coaching tends to show a benefit.’”

Women's Sexual Behavior Not Affected By Weight

“Oregon and Hawaiian researchers have found that a woman's weight does not seem to affect sexual behavior. In fact, overweight women are more likely to report having sex with men than women considered to be of ‘normal weight.’ The study, published in the September issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, is based on data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth that looked at sexual behavior of more than 7,000 women. Dr. Bliss Kaneshiro, an assistant professor at the School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii, was a student at Oregon Health & Science University at the time. Oregon State University professor Marie Harvey helped Kaneshiro with her research because of Harvey's background and expertise in women's sexual and reproductive health issues. The study seems to contradict widely held stereotypes that overweight and obese women are not as sexually active as other women. If anything, the researchers concluded the opposite seems to be true. ‘I was glad to see that the stereotype that you have to be slender to have sex is just that, a stereotype,’ Harvey said.”

Gaining Too Much Weight During Pregnancy Nearly Doubles Risk Of Having A Heavy Baby

“A study by the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research of more than 40,000 women and their babies found that women who gained more than 40 pounds during their pregnancies were nearly twice as likely to have a heavy baby. Published in the November issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the study found that more than one in five women gains excessive weight during pregnancy, doubling her chances of having a baby that weighs 9 pounds or more.”

Thursday, October 30, 2008

New Program Internationalizes Health And Fitness Research

ACSM And Japan-Based Sato Sports Plaza To Investigate New Muscle Training Methods

“In an effort to expand global health and fitness research and partnerships, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has formed an international science and health exchange to highlight scientific discovery and collaboration among international scientists. A research program with Sato Sports Plaza of Japan is the first major partnership in the ACSM initiative. The scientific collaboration will further examine the KAATSU Training™ method, developed by Sato and designed to increase muscle size and build strength with lighter weights and less stressful motions on muscles, joints and ligaments. ACSM, the world’s largest sports medicine and exercise organization, will act as a scientific research partner with Sato Sports Plaza helping facilitate international scientific discovery among ACSM researchers and scientists. KAATSU, which has been in development for more than 40 years in Japan, utilizes a special belt that when tightened near the joints of the upper arm or leg, applies pressure to the muscle through temporary blood-flow restriction. The method is being introduced in the United States, primarily among competitive athletes in training. The technique is also expected to be effective for older adults who may need to choose activities that limit physical stress to the body. ‘ACSM has always been at the forefront of scientific research and discovery, and that’s what this research is all about,’ said Mindy Millard-Stafford, Ph.D., FACSM, ACSM president. ‘We’re committed to being the world’s knowledge leader on new breakthroughs in physical activity and fitness, and are privileged to be able to conduct this program with Sato Sports Plaza. We encourage more collaborations like this, to make new discoveries in health and fitness a global effort.’ Research with Sato Sports Plaza is one of many international initiatives undertaken by ACSM, which provides health and fitness certifications to professionals worldwide and is expanding its Exercise is Medicine™ program beyond the United States. Exercise is Medicine™ is designed to encourage physicians to advise patients about the importance of physical activity, and ‘prescribe’ exercise as part of every treatment plan.”

Exercise Prevents Fatty Liver Disease According To New Study

“It's easy to go to the gym on a regular basis right after a person buys the gym membership. It's also easy to skip the gym one day, then the next day and the day after that. A new University of Missouri study indicates that the negative effects of skipping exercise can occur in a short period. The researchers found that a sudden transition to a sedentary lifestyle can quickly lead to symptoms of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (hepatic steatosis), which affects at least 75 percent of obese people. ‘We found that the cessation of daily exercise dramatically activates specific precursors known to promote hepatic steatosis,’ said Jamal Ibdah, professor of medicine and medical pharmacology and physiology in the MU School of Medicine. ‘This study has important implications for obese humans who continually stop and start exercise programs. Our findings strongly suggest that a sudden transition to a sedentary lifestyle increases susceptibility to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.’ Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a reversible condition that causes fat to accumulate in liver cells of obese people. As Westernized societies are experiencing a weight gain epidemic, the prevalence of the disease is growing, Ibdah said. In the study, researchers gave obese rats access to voluntary running wheels for 16 weeks. Scientists then locked the wheels, and transitioned the animals to a sedentary condition. After 173 hours, or about seven days, the rats began showing signs of factors responsible for promoting hepatic steatosis. In the animals tested immediately at the end of 16 weeks of voluntary running, there were no signs of hepatic steatosis. ‘Physical activity prevented fatty liver disease by 100 percent in an animal model of fatty liver disease,’ said Frank Booth, a professor in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine and the MU School of Medicine and a research investigator in the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center. ‘In contrast, 100 percent of the group that did not have physical activity had fatty liver disease. This is a remarkable event. It is rare in medicine for any treatment to prevent any disease by 100 percent.’”

Local Communities Receive $1.1 Million To Fight Obesity, OHIO

“The Office of Healthy Ohio (OHO) recently granted more than $1.1 million to 14 local health departments to help reduce the risk of obesity in their respective communities. Poor nutrition and physical inactivity are driving an obesity epidemic that leads to preventable illness such as heart disease and diabetes as well as skyrocketing health care costs. Awarded Oct. 17, the 2008 Healthy Ohio Obesity Prevention grants are designed to help communities protect and improve the health of their residents through environmental change, community expansion and capacitybuilding efforts. In order to fight obesity, communities need to increase opportunities to provide for more physical activity, access to nutritious foods and motivation to live healthier lives. Obesity-reduction and prevention efforts are especially important because nearly two-thirds of Ohio's residents are overweight (38 percent) or obese (28 percent), making Ohio the fifth-heaviest state in the nation. ‘Good nutrition and ample physical activity lead to better quality of life, assure a more productive workforce and contribute to a more efficient and cost effective use of medical services,’ said Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Alvin D. Jackson, M.D. ‘Partnerships such as this award program will help make Ohio the state of living well for all residents.’”

Local Communities Receive $1.1 Million To Fight Obesity, OHIO

“The Office of Healthy Ohio (OHO) recently granted more than $1.1 million to 14 local health departments to help reduce the risk of obesity in their respective communities. Poor nutrition and physical inactivity are driving an obesity epidemic that leads to preventable illness such as heart disease and diabetes as well as skyrocketing health care costs. Awarded Oct. 17, the 2008 Healthy Ohio Obesity Prevention grants are designed to help communities protect and improve the health of their residents through environmental change, community expansion and capacitybuilding efforts. In order to fight obesity, communities need to increase opportunities to provide for more physical activity, access to nutritious foods and motivation to live healthier lives. Obesity-reduction and prevention efforts are especially important because nearly two-thirds of Ohio's residents are overweight (38 percent) or obese (28 percent), making Ohio the fifth-heaviest state in the nation. ‘Good nutrition and ample physical activity lead to better quality of life, assure a more productive workforce and contribute to a more efficient and cost effective use of medical services,’ said Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Alvin D. Jackson, M.D. ‘Partnerships such as this award program will help make Ohio the state of living well for all residents.’”

Economy Hits Fitness Center

“The walls of a 112,000-square-foot Life Time Fitness center are rising along Houston Levee in Collierville -- just in time for the credit crunch and an economic slowdown. And now the scheduled spring 2009 opening of the two-story Collierville facility at 3470 Houston Levee north of Poplar -- the company's first in Tennessee -- is under review. Construction is moving along on the 120,000-square-foot Life Time Fitness facility on Houston Levee. It seems consumers are buying fewer massages, and those who pay for memberships and fail to use them are canceling more quickly, company officials said Thursday in a conference call with Wall Street analysts. Because of the challenging financial and economic times, Life Time Fitness, a New York Stock Exchange company based in Chanhassen, Minn., is throttling back its expansion plans for a chain that will have 81 locations in 17 states by year's end. From 11 openings this year, the firm is considering six in 2009 and six in 2010. ‘Internally, we're simply looking at this as taking our foot off the gas slightly,’ Michael Robinson, chief financial officer, told analysts. ‘We've got a number of projects in various stages and we're going to logically work through each of them,’ Jason Thunstrom, a company spokesman, said Friday. Thunstrom said the company is within a week or so of deciding how to proceed. And it has the advantage of having its own construction company, allowing it to start and stop projects at will, he said. Even with the credit crunch -- the company may accelerate expansion plans if it eases -- and the slowing economy, Life Time Fitness has posted double-digit revenue and profit increases this year. Company founder, chairman and chief executive Bahram Akradi told analysts that the key during recessions is making it easy for customers to join and applying more aggressive marketing. Connecting with members comes next. For consumers, Life Time Fitness will be hungry for business in an area that already includes Prairie Life Fitness, the YMCA, DAC at the Collierville Community Center and the Germantown Athletic Club, among others. ‘Everybody will be on their 'A' game," said Jennifer Mahlendorf, director of sales and marketing for Prairie Life in Omaha, Neb.”

America On The Move's STEPtember Campaign Inspired More Than 17 Million Americans To Move More And Eat Less

"America On the Move® Foundation Inc., a national nonprofit helping individuals, families and communities make positive changes to improve their health and quality of life, recently wrapped up its third annual STEPtember campaign, demonstrating how easy it is to be active and eat healthier. During the month of September, America On the Move encouraged Americans to try its small-changes approach to healthier living, and more than 17 million people responded by participating in a STEPtember event or registering for the online STEPtember challenge. America On the Move's own research proves that making small, manageable lifestyle changes can help control weight and overall health. The foundation's research-based programs encourage people to move more and eat healthier by making two small daily changes: take 2,000 more steps (about one mile); eat 100 fewer calories (about a tablespoon of butter). Doing so is proven to help stop the average national weight gain of one to two pounds a year. ’Obesity has become a public health crisis that America On the Move is determined to help solve - with simple steps. During this year's STEPtember campaign, we were able to show millions of Americans just how easy it is to take small steps toward a healthier way of life,’ said Dr. James O. Hill, co-founder of America On the Move and director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Denver. ‘We are thrilled with the participation we saw this year and are encouraged by the sheer numbers of people willing to make positive lifestyle changes in order to achieve better health. This is a great first step to fighting the obesity epidemic.’ Individuals, families, worksites, schools and communities from all 50 states and the District of Columbia participated in America On the Move's STEPtember campaign. During America On the Move Week with the YMCA, more than 1,500 YMCAs nationwide coordinated special local events to inspire individuals and families to take small steps and get active. In fact, through the YMCA events alone, participants logged more than 8 million steps during the STEPtember campaign.”

Powerhouse Gym Bulks Up

“A former competitive powerlifter turned businessman used his skills of endurance, strength and discipline to launch a gym of his own, catering to hard-core lifters as well as the typical gym-goer looking to get in a cardio workout. After more than a decade as a competitive powerlifter - hauling up as much as 585 pounds - Alvin Paguio and his wife, Keri, a physical therapist by trade, started Powerhouse Gym on Keawe Street. The couple opened the more than 22,000-square-foot gym in July 2007 and last month inherited in excess of 1,500 members as part of an agreement with Gold's Gym, which closed a few blocks away on Aug. 31. Powerhouse Gym now has about 3,500 total members. The deal, valued at between $39,175 and $54,845 based on fees of $25 to $35 month, changed the game for the mom-and-pop operation, which suddenly became a larger player in the local fitness market. ‘We actually took a risk starting from pretty much dirt level and we're going to bring this thing up into a big business,’ Alvin said.”

Obesity, Other Health Issues Delay Diagnosis Of MS

"A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) may be delayed in people who are obese or in those with conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, research indicates. As a result, these patients are prone to greater disability once the neurologic condition is recognized, the researchers say. ‘Our study suggests that doctors who treat people with chronic diseases should not attribute new neurological symptoms, such a numbness and tingling, to existing conditions without careful consideration,’ study chief Dr. Ruth Ann Marrie noted in a written statement. Marrie, from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, and colleagues examined the records of 8,983 people who had been diagnosed with MS. They found that it took 1 to 10 years longer for people who were obese, smoked, or had physical or mental health conditions to be diagnosed with MS compared to people without these conditions. They also found that the more medical problems a person with MS had, the more severe the disease had become by the time they were diagnosed. People with blood vessel problems or who were obese were about one-and-a-half times more likely to be moderately disabled at the time of diagnosis compared with those who had MS but did not have any heart or weight problems,’ Marrie noted. "People who had a mental disorder or any muscle or joint problem along with MS were nearly two times more likely to be severely disabled at the time of diagnosis.’ Pre-existing conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes are common in the United States and can mask symptoms of a new disease or affect access to care. "People with multiple medical problems on top of MS may need more healthcare resources or might respond differently to medication," Marrie said. ‘This needs more study.’”

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Childhood Obesity Problem May be An Opportunity for Health Clubs

“As more and more of our precious children join the unhealthy ranks of obesity, the knowledge of how to address the problem resides at the neighborhood health club, provided the club focuses its knowledge on this matter. Many health clubs are answering the call and several are actually becoming niche plays in this emerging market. Faced with the prospects of their obese children facing a life of adult diabetes and premature heart disease, parents are now spending big bucks for health club memberships, fitness equipment and personal trainers designed to get youngsters-some just toddlers -up and moving. More than 19% of children age 6 to 11 are considered seriously overweight, resulting in an increased risk of cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol as well as Type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. More than 80 percent of overweight children are likely to become obese adults, the CDC said. As the nation's schools have cut back on physical education classes, the youth fitness industry has emerged as a new segment: American families now spend an estimated $2 billion a year on child fitness. ‘There is an emphasis on sports in our culture, and people turn there when they are looking for ways to get their kids active,’ Dr. Anthony Luke, director of primary care sports medicine at the University of California San Francisco told the Chicago Tribune. ‘Really, they are just trying to be good parents.’ Youth memberships are one of the strongest growth areas for the fitness club industry, and clubs catering to young people have spread across the country. For example, Little Gym and Gymboree offer ways for infants and toddlers to get active. Chains such as Fitwize 4 Kids, now with outlets in Illinois, offer everything from yoga to rigorous circuit training to resistance exercises. At full service health clubs, memberships for youths age 6 to 17 have more than doubled in the past two decades, rising from 1.3 million in 1987 to 3.9 million in 2007. More than 1.3 million of those memberships were for children 6 to 11, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). About a quarter of the adult fitness businesses in the country have children's programs, and many YMCAs and private and public schools offer weight machines, recumbent bicycles and other fitness equipment for kids.”

Economy Weak? Gyms Try to Stay Fit

“With the bleak economy weighing down our psyches and lightening up our wallets, you might assume that Sacramentans would consider health club memberships or home gyms a luxury they no longer can afford. Think again. Though nationally, gym membership showed its first decline in a decade in 2007, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sports Association, many Sacramento clubs report that attrition is minimal. In fact, Life Time Fitness Inc. last week announced plans to build a 91,000-square-foot gym in Roseville, pending city approval. Maybe, posits Joel Bouchereau, manager of 24-Hour Fitness in Roseville, people need the stress relief of exercise. Then again, perhaps Sacramentans value their healthful lifestyles over healthy bank accounts. ‘In this economy,’ says Bouchereau, whose club charges $24 to $39 a month for membership, "the one thing people still have any type of control over is taking care of their health. ‘Our numbers are up from 2007, but we are seeing less walk-in traffic. Maybe people don't want to fork over the cash, but they'll pay the (monthly) dues.’ Lean times for the economy mean the fitness industry needs to do more to attract and retain members, says Tom Petrul, marketing director for the Capital Athletic Club in Sacramento. ‘It's a bit more of a challenge these days, but we're holding steady,’ says Petrul, whose high-end downtown club charges $113 in monthly dues. ‘Every club on the face of the Earth has attrition.’ ‘Typically, we're below the national average for attrition. But this past year, we're at the average, due to all the (economic) reasons.’ One sector of the fitness business reportedly cleaning up during the downturn is used-equipment outlets. At Fitness 4 Less on Arden Way in Sacramento, which buys and sells ’pre-owned’ equipment, manager Steve Collins reports that more customers are looking to buy treadmills, stationary bikes and weight machines after dropping gym memberships.”

Planet Fitness Has Yet to Stretch Its Reach Into Nashua

“Wanted: Someone with 15,000-20,000 square feet for rent to a New Hampshire-based company that Inc. Magazine just called the fastest growing health club firm in the nation. In this economy, people should be beating down the doors to Planet Fitness headquarters, but that doesn't appear to be the case, at least not when it comes to Nashua. For several years, the firm – founded in 1992 in Dover – has been trying to crack the Nashua market and, so far, has been stymied. ‘We did have a deal several years ago, but it fell through at the last minute,’ said Mark Christie, Planet Fitness regional manager for New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Indeed, that site – in the plaza that houses Chunky's movie theater/restaurant on Broad Street – is still vacant and Planet Fitness is still interested. But so far, no deal. New Hampshire's health club industry has grown rapidly in the last decade, according to data from the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. There are well more than 200 gyms in the state today, versus just 95 in 1996. 
Compared to other states, a healthy percentage of New Hampshire residents belong to gyms. The state ranks 15th in the nation in terms membership, with more than 17 percent of residents who belong to a club, IHRSA data shows. ‘Nashua is a great area,’ said Christie. ‘It's a phenomenal market we'd like to get into.’ And he believes that for many reasons, including cost, people will welcome Planet Fitness to the city. The club charges between $10 and $20 a month, he said. ‘It's so very affordable,’ said Christie. ‘The highest we'll go is $19.99. With the economy still in difficulty, it's very affordable.’ The average cost of a health club membership nationwide is about $34, IHRSA Public Relations Assistant Kara Thompson said. Gyms like Planet Fitness cost less because they're known as ‘no frills facilities,’ she said. These facilities are ideal for the person who wants quick access to weights and machines without waiting in line, Thompson said. But for those who want extra amenities like group fitness, a full service health club that costs more may be a better fit, she said.”

Planet Fitness Has Yet to Stretch Its Reach Into Nashua

“Wanted: Someone with 15,000-20,000 square feet for rent to a New Hampshire-based company that Inc. Magazine just called the fastest growing health club firm in the nation. In this economy, people should be beating down the doors to Planet Fitness headquarters, but that doesn't appear to be the case, at least not when it comes to Nashua. For several years, the firm – founded in 1992 in Dover – has been trying to crack the Nashua market and, so far, has been stymied. ‘We did have a deal several years ago, but it fell through at the last minute,’ said Mark Christie, Planet Fitness regional manager for New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Indeed, that site – in the plaza that houses Chunky's movie theater/restaurant on Broad Street – is still vacant and Planet Fitness is still interested. But so far, no deal. New Hampshire's health club industry has grown rapidly in the last decade, according to data from the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. There are well more than 200 gyms in the state today, versus just 95 in 1996. 
Compared to other states, a healthy percentage of New Hampshire residents belong to gyms. The state ranks 15th in the nation in terms membership, with more than 17 percent of residents who belong to a club, IHRSA data shows. ‘Nashua is a great area,’ said Christie. ‘It's a phenomenal market we'd like to get into.’ And he believes that for many reasons, including cost, people will welcome Planet Fitness to the city. The club charges between $10 and $20 a month, he said. ‘It's so very affordable,’ said Christie. ‘The highest we'll go is $19.99. With the economy still in difficulty, it's very affordable.’ The average cost of a health club membership nationwide is about $34, IHRSA Public Relations Assistant Kara Thompson said. Gyms like Planet Fitness cost less because they're known as ‘no frills facilities,’ she said. These facilities are ideal for the person who wants quick access to weights and machines without waiting in line, Thompson said. But for those who want extra amenities like group fitness, a full service health club that costs more may be a better fit, she said.”

Fitness Fusion Pumps Up The Extras For The Time-Crunched

“As more Canadians consider tightening their belts instead of their buttocks, gyms are getting creative in their appeal to the underfinanced and overscheduled. With an eye to giving exercisers the most bang for their buck - not to mention their time - fitness centres across the country are marrying traditional workouts with other popular leisure activities. Casino vultures can now play blackjack while cycling. Singles can save time - and money for outfits for a night on the town - during sessions that combine circuit training and speed dating. Video game fans mix body-toning business with pleasure at Wii workout stations, while conventional gamers play Monopoly during interactive spin classes. And in la belle province, push-ups are followed by pedicures at women's gyms that double as spas. Forget mere exercise. It's all about the extras. ‘We combine and collapse activities so that we believe we can control that most fleeting and sought-after commodity - time.’ Chief among these multi-tasking marriages, which Blank says nurture our ‘attention-deficit behaviours,’ is the fusion of physical and sexual health. Calgary's Heavens Elevated Fitness, for example, offers strippercize. Arcadia Fitness in B.C., Alberta and Ontario, offers ‘sensual exercises’ that include pole dancing, striptease and lap-dance lessons. And Toronto's Extreme Fitness hosts ‘sexy Pilates’ classes to make couples more limber, as well as speed-dating events that incorporate circuit-training.In the U.S., the flagging economy has triggered the first nationwide decrease in gym memberships in more than a decade, according to a report by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. Canadian fitness centres could avoid a similar fate by updating their offerings to suit people's evolving needs - much the way bowling allies came to recognize people were coming for the sport but staying for the snacks and socializing, says UVic's Blank. ‘Even with the financial crisis, a lot of people realize that yeah, a gym membership costs money but they're maintaining it because it's their one outlet for stress relief,’ says Jacque Walters, vice-president of group fitness for Extreme Fitness. ‘It's no longer all about just coming in, doing your high-impact (exercise) and going out again," she said. ‘We're affecting people's lifestyles much more intimately.’”

Motivation Is Key To Beat The Inactivity Crisis, Says 'Take To The Streets’

“Despite the glorious success of Team GB at the Beijing Olympics last summer, the UK is still suffering from a growth in obesity levels which have doubled since the 1980's. Around one in four men and one in three women in the UK are obese, according to government statistics. People who are obese also have an increased risk of high blood pressure and/or cholesterol, type two diabetes, a heart attack or stroke and some forms of cancer. Now, people are being asked to Take To The Streets, to participate in a national activity programme which aims to encourage more people to take part in challenges such as the Bupa Great North Run, to motivate them to change their lifestyles for the better. This follows recent research by UK scientists underlining the importance of having a goal to work towards in order to keep fit and healthy. They have proven that people taking part in activity with the ultimate target of participating in an event, are more likely to improve their activity levels and lifestyles. Founder of the Bupa Great North Run and former Olympian, Brendan Foster, wants to fight obesity by getting more people involved in mass participation events. He said: ‘With the UK being less fit than it ever has been, I feel it is our duty to address the problem of obesity, especially when you see research showing that our children have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.’ ‘Take To The Streets provides the motivation many people need to do something about their fitness and health through a series of exciting, varied nationwide events. We hope that more people than ever will be inspired to take part and join our bid to improve the nation's fitness.’ During the next four years in the lead-up to 2012, Take To The Streets will provide a national network of events to cover a variety of activities including running, walking, cycling, swimming, gym and even dance, with the aim of challenging people to get fit.”

WHO: Heart, Infectious Diseases, Cancer Kill Most

“Heart ailments, infectious diseases and cancer remain the world's top three killers, the U.N. health agency said Monday. Heart attacks and related problems are the top killer -- especially among women -- claiming 29 percent of people who die each year, the World Health Organization said in a report on the global burden of disease. In second place, infectious diseases lead to 16.2 percent of worldwide deaths. Cancer, in third, claims 12.6 percent of global deaths, said the 146-page report, which is based on death registration data from 112 countries and estimates where reporting is incomplete. The figures are from 2004, the most recent records available on a wide scale, officials from WHO said. But the rankings are unchanged since 1990 when WHO first did a global check. Some 58.8 million people died worldwide in 2004, most of them over 60, the report said. Nearly one in five deaths was a child under 5.”

Green Neighborhoods May Reduce Childhood Obesity

“Childhood obesity can lead to type 2 diabetes, asthma, hypertension, sleep apnea and emotional distress. Obese children and youth are likely to be obese as adults, experience more cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and stroke and incur higher healthcare costs. In an article published in the December 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers report that children living in inner city neighborhoods with higher ‘greenness’ experienced lower weight gains compared to those in areas with less green space. Children and youth in urban environments may be active in a wider variety of open spaces (e.g., yards, parks, vacant lots) and less likely to constrain activity to streets and sidewalks. Greenness might indicate proximity to parks, playfields or other open spaces that promote either physical activity or increased time spent outdoors in active play. Writing in the article, Janice F. Bell, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor in the department of Health Services at the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, and co-investigators state, ‘This study's findings align with previous research linking exposure to green landscapes with health improvements. Among adults, greenness is associated with less stress and lower BMI, improved self-reported health and shorter post-operative recovery periods. Among children and youth, the positive health effects of green landscapes include improved cognitive functioning and reduced attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms. Ideally, future research in this area will be multidisciplinary - involving city planners, architects, geographers, psychologists and public health researchers - and will consider the ways children live and play in urban environments.’”

High-Tech Elliptical Workout Machines Stand Out From The Rest

“Buying an expensive, all-body elliptical machine -- even cutting-edge models that push the technology envelope like the novel sit-down and multi-mode models tested here -- might seem a bit counterintuitive in the midst of tough economic times. But bull and bear markets don't matter if you think of health as a long-term investment. The four excellent, club-quality machines below, each of which deliver smooth, heart-rate-monitored, arm-and-leg aerobic workouts that burn calories without joint stress, will pay dividends for decades. Precor AMT (Adaptive Motion Trainer): Unlike other ellipticals on the market, it features a free-form, user-determined foot motion that can, on the fly, change from a vertical stepping motion to an all-out, full-stride running motion; Octane xRide: The world's first seated elliptical machine; Vision S7200 HRT: Suspension elliptical trainer; PaceMaster Silver XT: Conventional-looking elliptical with an unconventional feel and programming at a price that's a relative bargain.”,0,1270486.story

Health Tip: Lose Weight, and Keep It Off

“Losing extra weight is the first step to better health. It's also important to keep those extra pounds from creeping back. The American Heart Association offers these suggestions:
• Figure out what works for you -- what motivates you, which rewards you prefer, and which long-term habits you can maintain.
• Be realistic about how much you can lose and how long it will take.
• Pay attention to your calorie intake versus calories burned.
• Use a pedometer to track your how much you walk each day.
• Make a healthy shopping list -- and stick to it.
• There's no need to weigh yourself every day -- once weekly is fine. Try measuring inches lost, instead of pounds.
• Keep a record of the foods you eat, total calories, and exercise.
• Plan ahead for special occasions such as holidays, and make up for the extra eating before and after.”

Supersized P.E.: Ten Tips To Help Overweight Kids Get Healthy

“Bags of Halloween candy are piled high in the grocery stores this week, providing a dangerous temptation for those battling obesity. For the parents of overweight children, getting their children to understand the dangers of overindulging after trick-or-treating can be even more difficult. San Diego State University Exercise and Nutritional Sciences professor David Kahan, offers ten ways to help parents -- and teachers -- get overweight kids back on track, not just after Halloween, but for the rest of their life, in his new book ‘Supersized P.E.’ ‘Being physically active every day is especially crucial for children struggling with weight issues,’ said Kahan, a physical education teacher and researcher. ‘Overweight and obese youth carry social, psychological and emotional burdens that often lead to anger, despair and ultimately, a sedentary lifestyle. Our goal is to help youth love physical activity.’ Supersized P.E. is designed to help parents, physical educators and leaders of physical activity programs to better understand the physical, emotional and psychological issues that reduce the overweight child's quality of life and help them learn how to be physically active for a life.”

Friday, October 24, 2008

Workout Regimens You Can Live With

“Swim, bike, run, rake leaves. Climb monkey bars if you’re a child, do water aerobics if you’re older. Do whatever you like. Just keep moving. That, in essence, is the message of the physical activity guidelines announced this month by the federal Department of Health and Human Services. The basic recommendations — including the core guideline that Americans should get about 150 minutes of moderately intense activity per week — have not really changed from the ones announced in 1996 by the surgeon general’s office. What is different is the emphasis on the variety of activities — including daily chores — that can reap the profound health benefits of exercise. There is no ‘one size fits all.’ Instead, the guidelines are broken into specific recommendations for adults, children, people over 65 and others. And while sustained aerobic activities are the foundation, there are other types of activities — muscle-building and flexibility-enhancing — that are also important. The people who accrue the greatest health benefits from exercise go from doing nothing to doing something.”

Exercise Improves Stroke Outcome

“Recovering from a stroke is easier if you were physically active before the attack, a new Danish study finds. Researchers found that such patients had less severe strokes and a better chance of long-term recovery. ‘Keeping fit will increase your chance of a life without stroke,’ said lead researcher Dr. Lars-Henrik Krarup, from the Bispebjerg University Hospital in Copenhagen. ‘However, should you suffer a stroke, the chance is that it will be of milder severity, and you will make a better recovery.’ ‘The findings may have implications for future prevention campaigns, as people can be told of the beneficial effects of physical activity even if they get a stroke,’ Krarup said. Dr. Norman M. Kaplan, a clinical professor in the Division of Hypertension at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, thinks exercise is an important component to reducing the number and severity of strokes. ‘Regular physical activity has repeatedly been proven to have multiple cardiovascular benefits that could reduce both the frequency and severity of strokes," Kaplan said. "These include a lowering of blood pressure, improvement of vascular endothelial function, and prevention of obesity.’ ‘This article provides good evidence for these benefits and should further encourage all people to exercise to reduce the likelihood of strokes,’ Kaplan added. Dr. Larry B. Goldstein, director of the Duke University Stroke Center, said that living a healthy lifestyle can significantly cut the risk of stroke. ‘The importance of getting regular exercise is part of primary stroke prevention,’ Goldstein said. The other factors include eating a healthful diet, maintaining a lean body, not smoking, and restricting alcohol, he said. ‘People who follow all of these healthy lifestyle habits have about an 80 percent reduction in the risk of stroke,’ Goldstein said. ‘There is nothing we do that is associated with an 80 percent reduction in the risk of stroke medically.’”

Obesity Drug Should Be Suspended Says European Agency

“The European Medicines Agency (EMEA) says the authorization that was granted two years ago to Sanofi-Aventis to market its anti-obesity drug Acomplia (rimonabant) in the Eropean Union (EU) should be suspended because the drug's advantages don't outweigh the potential disadvantages which include a doubling of the risk of developing psychiatric disorders such as depression when compared with placebo.”

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Effects of Fatness and Fitness on White Blood Cell Counts

“A study published ahead of print in the British Journal of Sports Medicine finds that fatness increases the level of inflammatory activity in the body as measured by white blood cell counts. Researchers also found that levels of inflammatory activity are lower in people who are more physically fit. Neil M. Johannsen (Pennington Biomedical Research Center, United States) and colleagues studied 452 healthy men who participated in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study. The researchers measured levels of different groups of white blood cells (neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, basophils, and eosinophils) during exercise and analyzed their relationships to body fat and physical fitness. The researchers found that, after controlling for age, men who were most physically fit had the lowest levels of groups of white blood cells. Men who had both high levels of body fat and low levels of physical fitness had the highest total white cell count and highest levels of neutrophils, lymphocytes, and basophils groups. High white cell count levels were also associated with men with lower body weight and lower levels of fitness. The researchers note that the effect of extra body fat on white blood cell count could be negated by a high degree of physical fitness. According to the authors, regular exercise may train the body to respond more efficiently to physical demands even though vigorous exercise tends to raise white cell counts.”

Different Psychosocial Factors Predict Adoption, Maintenance Of Physical Activity Program

“The health benefits of regular physical activity are well documented, yet only 32 percent of adults in the United States engage in regular exercise. Now a new study by researchers at The Miriam Hospital offers some new insight into the role of social and environmental influences on physical activity behaviors. According to the study, published online by the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, a person who is starting a physical activity program is influenced by different psychosocial factors than a person who is trying to maintain such a program. These factors include access to home exercise equipment and the belief that one can succeed. ‘What influences an individual to become physically active may not necessarily help them maintain their activity level over time, and vice versa,’ says lead author David Williams, PhD, of The Miriam Hospital's Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine. ‘A better understanding of these variables will help us design more effective interventions that encourage individuals to initiate, and stick with, a physical activity program.’ The study included more than 200 participants (84 percent female) who were already enrolled in a randomized controlled physical activity promotion trial. All individuals were initially sedentary and did not engage in regular physical activity, which was defined as participating in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or at least one hour of vigorous exercise per week. At six months and a year into the program, participants completed questionnaires designed to measure 12 psychosocial variables, including: physical activity levels, self-efficacy (or the beliefs about one's ability to perform and succeed), decisional balance (or perceived beliefs about the pros and cons of physical activity), outcome expectations, physical activity enjoyment, cognitive and behavioral processes of change, perceived satisfaction with physical activity, social support for physical activity from family and friends, and environmental access to convenient facilities, neighborhood and home exercise equipment. Armed with this data, researchers set out to determine which psychosocial factors at six months were most likely to predict physical activity levels at 12 months. They then compared these predictors among participants were who physically active versus inactive at the six month mark. Overall, self-efficacy emerged as the strongest predictor of physical activity status, with a 139 percent increase in the odds of being active at 12 months. Decisional balance, behavioral processes, outcome expectations and enjoyment were also significant predictors of physical activity. ‘These findings were a little surprising since they were somewhat contradictory of other theoretical models of physical activity behaviors and interventions,; says Williams, who is also an assistant professor of psychiatry at The Warren Alpert School of Medicine of Brown University.”

Beware of Germs

“Dust mites. Parasites. Viruses. And virulent bacteria. It's enough to make a yogini sick-unless you take careful steps to guard against germs. In Patanjali's Yoga Sutra,saucha or cleanliness is considered an essential niyama or self-discipline. And across the United States, yoga teachers and studios are honoring this precept as they scrub mats, mop floors, and work to combat the growing number of illnesses and infections that are related to group fitness. ‘Eighty percent of disease is caught by direct or indirect contact-either interacting with a person who carries germs or touching a surface where those organisms live,’ says Philip M. Tierno, Ph.D ., author of The Secret Life of Germs and director of clinical microbiology at New York University Medical Center. ‘Both types of contact are common in yoga centers.’ How could contact with germs affect your students? It could turn them off to yoga-for good. ‘I developed raised, itchy bumps wherever my body touched a yoga mat provided by my gym,’ says Robin Parkinson, a public relations executive in Los Angeles. ‘The rash was so bad that it lasted for four months, required prescription medication-and prompted me to quit yoga a month after I'd started.’ Bacteria can survive for several hours to several days on inanimate surfaces, while viruses can actually linger for weeks. Warm, humid conditions such as those found in hot yoga, vinyasa, or ashtanga-or a restorative class on a summer day-are the perfect breeding ground for these bugs. America's 15.8 million yoga practitioners also play a part. The average person touches his or her face 18 times per hour, passing germs from the nose and mouth to the skin and back again, reports Charles P. Gerba, Ph.D ., a professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona. An estimated 2 million Americans carry MRSA, which can penetrate the skin through a small cut and become a large pus-filled abscess within an hour. In six percent of cases, community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA) poisons the blood and leads to full-blown sepsis. Unlike restaurants (overseen by health departments) and gyms (following guidelines set by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association), yoga studios aren't subject to strict sanitary standards. That's why they've suffered bedbug and water contamination-and why instructors and studio administrators need to clean up their acts, working together to take joint responsibility for maintaining studio cleanliness.”

Overweight Women May Find Accessing Healthcare Difficult And Stressful

“Women who are overweight and obese can find accessing healthcare difficult and stressful, according to research in the latest UK-based Journal of Advanced Nursing.Researchers from Texas, USA, carried out in-depth interviews with women aged between 20 and 61, after recruiting them through local advertisements placed in community agencies and a regional newspaper. ‘The participants in our study described the experience of seeking healthcare as a constant battle and struggle and were upset by the reactions of healthcare staff’ says lead author Professor Emily Merrill from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. ‘They told us that they felt even more uncomfortable with specialists than with their own family doctors and nurse practitioners.’ Four themes emerged: struggling to fit in, feeling not quite human, being dismissed and refusing to give up. Women talked about feeling shame and embarrassment because they did not fit into the normal healthcare environment because of their size and needed larger gowns, blood pressure cuffs, scales and chairs.”

Extra Cash From Government Program Linked To Higher Risk of Adult Obesity

“While a poverty-alleviation program launched by the Mexican government that has been modeled in the United States and around the world has led to improved health and cognition outcomes in children, a new study by University of California, Berkeley, researchers says that the cash component of the program has a downside for adults. The program, called Oportunidades, provides money to impoverished families on the condition that they participate in health-promoting activities, such as getting annual health checkups and attending nutrition and hygiene education seminars. This is in contrast to traditional welfare programs that provide cash to families based solely upon their income or where they live. The study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that adults in households that received more cash from the program were more likely to be overweight, obese and have higher blood pressure than those who had received less money over time. "It's a controversial finding because it suggests that adults are not necessarily spending the money wisely for themselves," said Lia Fernald, UC Berkeley assistant professor of public health nutrition and lead author of the study.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fitness and the Government

“The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has launched the first-ever Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Izaak Tyrrell, Master Trainer at Upcountry Fitness said, ‘We are excited about the first-ever Physical Activity Guidelines, and we believe they represent a positive step forward in the fight against sedentary lifestyle diseases and they will help us enhance the quality of life in the community.’ Now that the government is actually recognizing the contribution to the health and the economy of the nation, it is time for the government to recognize that an investment in our preventative health is an investment that will save money in the long run. In January of 2007, H.R. 245, the Personal Health Investment Today Act of 2007, was introduced. In a nutshell, it allows the purchase of exercise equipment or the cost of exercise programs (up to $1,000) to be treated as tax-deductible medical expenses. Given the value that the government clearly expresses with their Physical Activity Guidelines, this should be sailing through the House, yet its current status is still ‘introduced.’ The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association has made it easy for your voice to be heard. They have a three-step plan: 1. Log on to; 2. Enter your address (the system will find your legislators for you); 3. Use the key points provided to write a personal email in support of this tax break for healthy activities. Making an investment in your health is making an investment in the health of the nation; it should not be a part of the tax base. Beyond a tax deduction from the federal government, these preventative expenses should not be taxed (as they currently are) at the state level. For information about the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, visit”

Ethnic Differences in Arthritis Due to Obesity

“Older African-American, Native American and non-white Hispanic women are more likely to develop arthritis than their white counterparts, and the larger prevalence of obesity among these ethnic groups may help explain why, new research shows. Among 146,494 women participating in the Women's Health Initiative -- an ongoing study of an ethnically diverse group of healthy postmenopausal women -- 44 percent had been diagnosed with osteoarthritis (degeneration of the joints), the most common form of arthritis. These women were older and less active than their arthritis-free peers, and were also less educated, poorer, and heavier, Nicole C. Wright and colleagues from the University of Arizona in Tucson Wright report in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Risk factors for osteoarthritis were more common among black, Native American and Hispanic women than whites; 57.9 percent of African Americans were obese, for example, compared to 51 percent of American Indian women, 41.9 percent of Hispanic women, and 32.9 percent of non-Hispanic whites. Prevalence of physical inactivity followed the same pattern, with 30.1 percent of black women falling into the lowest activity group, compared to 19.5 percent of whites. The researchers hypothesize that excess weight could contribute to arthritis in two ways: by increasing physical stress on joints, and also by increasing bone mineral density, which may increase bone stiffness and thus contribute to the breakdown of cartilage. The findings, along with other studies showing that black and Hispanic women suffer more pain and disability from osteoarthritis than do whites, offer ‘strong evidence that body weight and BMI may be large contributing factor to the number and severity of osteoarthritis symptoms, further elaborating the importance of postmenopausal women, especially African-American, Hispanic, and American-Indian women, maintaining a healthy weight,’ Wright and her team wrote.”

U.S. Employers Offer And Value Wellness Programs

“More than half of large U.S. employers offer wellness programs like gym memberships and weight loss assistance to their workers, and say these help reduce medical costs, according to a survey released on Tuesday. The MetLife survey found that 70 percent of employers who offer wellness programs saw them as a ‘very important tool for employee retention.’ The 2007 survey of 1,380 full-time employees and 1,652 managers at companies with a minimum of two employees represents a mix of industries and geographic regions, MetLife said. It found that 57 percent of employers with 500 or more workers provide some sort of wellness program such as smoking cessation, weight management, an exercise plan or cancer screening. Only 16 percent of smaller employers do, the survey found. And about four out of five employers with wellness programs add incentives, with 40 percent offering gym memberships, 36 percent awarding gifts or prizes and 27 of employers offering a discounted employee contribution to medical plans. Only nine percent of employers impose financial penalties on employees who do not meet wellness guidelines, a percentage that has remained steady for two years, the survey found. ‘Health insurance is expensive, but employees surveyed for the MetLife study indicated that medical coverage is the second most important factor affecting their loyalty to their employer after salary/wages,’ said Dr. Ronald Leopold, a vice president at MetLife Institutional Business. ‘Since medical coverage has essentially become 'table stakes' for competitive employers, a way to keep health insurance viable and offset future spending for chronic medical conditions can be to invest in targeted wellness and prevention programs,’ he added in a statement.”

Cybex Announces Third Quarter Results

“Net sales for the third quarter of 2008 were $35.8 million compared to $32.6 million for the corresponding 2007 period. The Company reported net income for the third quarter of 2008 of $.3 million, or $0.02 per diluted share, compared to $4.6 million, or $0.26 per diluted share, reported for the corresponding 2007 period. For the nine months ended September 27, 2008, net sales increased to $108.7 million compared to $102.0 million for 2007. Net income for the nine months ended September 27, 2008 was $1.8 million, or $0.10 per diluted share, compared to net income of $6.8 million, or $0.38 per diluted share, for 2007. John Aglialoro, Chairman and CEO stated, ‘Given the current global economic environment, we are pleased with the Q3 results. While general economic conditions make short-term results difficult to predict, we maintain a positive focus over the longer term. We continue to introduce new products, an important factor in continuing sales growth. CYBEX expects to ship Next Generation Arcs, a new home Arc, a totally improved commercial bike, and expanded video display products by the end of Q4.’”{572F12B1-5E41-4730-A81E-F8246F708312}&dist=hppr

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Heart Failure Raises Risk of Fractures

“The study of more than 16,000 heart disease patients treated at emergency rooms in the province of Alberta found a more than fourfold higher incidence of fractures among the 2,000 of them with heart failure. The report is in the Nov. 4 issue of Circulation. While a 1997 study found a hint of low bone density among people getting heart transplants because of heart failure, "this is the first large-scale study of heart failure and fracture rate," said study author Dr. Justin A. Ezekowitz, director of the Heart Function Clinic at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton. The finding has several important implications for people with heart failure and the doctors who treat them, Ezekowitz said. The higher incidence of hip fractures is especially worrying, he said, since, ‘they can be seriously debilitating for older folks, increasing the risk of blood clots to the legs and development of pneumonia.’ ‘First, we need appropriate treatment of osteoporosis for patients with heart failure,’ Ezekowitz said. ‘Second, we need to encourage heart failure patients to maintain exercise and good nutrition.’ Osteoporosis is loss of bone mass that increases the risk of fracture. Exercise and proper dieting are recommended to help prevent the condition. ‘Physicians treating people for heart failure need to be more aware of the risk of fractures,’ said Dr. Mariell L. Jessup, director of the heart failure and transplant program at the University of Pennsylvania and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association. ‘When patients have such a severe disease, we tend to ignore the other problems they might have,’ Jessup said. ‘There is good reason to focus on the total patient, and not just their heart failure.’”

Dear 44: Advancing Healthcare

“Over the past year the U.S. Chamber has outlined a broad growth, opportunity and prosperity agenda for America. In the past few weeks our economy has suffered many blows and finding solutions for tomorrow has moved from the figurative to the literal. It is even more daunting when you step back for a moment and realize that all the issues that threaten the competitiveness of the U.S. economy have not gone away. We still need to modernize our infrastructure, secure our nation with clean and affordable energy, educate our current and future workers, and provide health care security for every American. And all these things need to be paid for. Where that money will come from, in the face of economic uncertainty, is certainly a considerable challenge for the next president. But not all issues are created equal. For all its faults, American health care does many things right – we are not starting from scratch and don’t need a grand overhaul. That’s the good news. The bad news is that our health care system costs too much, covers too few, is rarely efficient, is often negligent, and focuses too much on treatment and not enough on prevention. Quite a list, but there is more good news. By taking a systematic approach and playing to our strengths we can stretch the outlay over a longer period of time. The best way to reduce costs is to prevent the need for services in the first place, and you can only do that through wellness and prevention programs. Many employers have stepped up to the plate by starting walking groups, subsidizing or providing gyms, offering smoking-cessation plans, and switching to healthier foods in cafeterias and vending machines. The Milken Institute estimates that a reorientation to preventive medicine could save about $1.1 trillion. Even if that number is off by 50 percent we are still talking real money. Our health care system does have many problems, but a single solution doesn't exist to solve them all. We need a multifaceted program of wellness and prevention, transparency, technology, and consumer responsibility to cover more people and provide superior care at a lower cost. Health care is a critical issue of obvious concern to every American. With these troubled economic times there will be increased scrutiny of every dollar spent. In the case of health care, though, we can still make progress by focusing on doing a better job of spending the money we already have.”

Stay Fit With Aqua Aerobics

“The word exercise reminds one of sweat and exhaustion, but let's stop you before you think of the rigors of a work out. How about floating in water and yet being able to lose flab and stay fit? Well, aqua fitness is the latest fad in the world of fitness and this trend is fast catching up in India too. Aqua Aerobics can be broken into two major areas, which relate specifically to sport, exercise, fitness and health. Firstly, aquatic exercise is any exercise done in water to complement and enhance your regular training and exercise. Secondly, aquatic therapy is any activity performed in water to assist in rehabilitation and recovery from hard training or a serious injury. ‘Aqua aerobics is refreshing as water calms and relaxes one's body,’ remarks Vanita Choudhary, an aqua aerobic professional from Hyderabad. ‘As a low impact exercise, anyone can do aqua aerobics. The body remains submerged in water and this acts a cushion and prevents any form of injury. Moreover, as one has to do the workout against water, the effect is three times multiplied than any exercise done on land,’ further confirms Vanita. ‘Due to the buoyancy effect of water one has to use specialised workout instruments. ‘Though it's not a new water resistance programme in the West, here in India people are just opening up to this new concept and steadily it's gaining popularity. It can be done on all sides, as compared to land-based exercises. Impacts on the lower joints are much less than the land-based exercises and resistance is much higher. Age is no bar for this type of exercise,’ says L. Balasubramaniam, master trainer in Technogym Olympic, Mumbai. ‘Arthritis patients also stand to gain relief from exercising in water. Aqua therapy is conducive for people with severe backaches, pregnant mothers and individuals recuperating from accidents," adds Balasubramanium.”

40 Percent of Parents Mistaken About Children's Weight

“Research from Australia suggests that more than four in ten parents don't know if their children are under or overweight and because of this they are unlikely to help their children correct their weight and the children themselves tend to under or overestimate their body size. The study was part of doctoral research based at the University of Melbourne's School of Behavioural Science and was conducted by Dr Pene Schmidt who was recently awarded a Doctor of Psychology at the University. One of Schmidt's key findings was that the percentage of under and overweight children in the group she studied varied depending on whether she used body mass index (BMI) or wast circumference to classify them. Using BMI resulted in more children being overweight than using waist circumference. Other studies have looked at parents' perceptions of their children's weight but Schmidt's study is believed to be the first to use both BMI and waist circumference. The study also found that children who were not classified as being of normal weight were more likely to under or overestimate their body size; and a small percentage of parents thought their overweight children were underweight or their underweight children were overweight. Schmidt said that the study showed there was a need to overhaul the way children's weight is classified so as to give parents better information about what is the normal weight range for children of different age groups. She said parents were unlikely to make the right changes if they had the wrong perception about their children's weight.”

Monday, October 20, 2008

Better Health? It's All Hours

“If you've been lax about about your exercise routine and aren't sure what you should be doing, new recommendations give adults and kids specifics on what they can do to reap important health benefits. Adults need a minimum of 2 1/2 hours of moderate exercise per week, or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous activity. And kids should get an hour of activity per day, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans announced earlier this month. Those are the numbers the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services came up with after a two-year process that included having a 13-member advisory committee review scientific research on the effects of physical activity and health. ’The flexibility that is built into guidelines is its strongest suit,’ says Joe Moore, president and chief executive of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, which is helping HHS spread the word. ‘The beauty of this is that you can look at the total hours people are active — whether they're going to a health club, walking to work, climbing the stairs or doing any other activity they enjoy — and figure if it's meeting the guidelines,’ Moore says. ‘The message is to find what you enjoy because research shows that you will stick with it.’ For children and adolescents, the recommendations are similar. Kids don't have to be in a structured program like soccer but can play tag, jump rope or skip as part of their daily routine. ‘The idea is to get them out of doors or into an activity in a gym that they like,’ Moore says. Moore says the guidelines are a ‘huge step’ because the HHS advisory committee was able to take ‘complicated scientific information and distill it down into where it can be understood.’ ‘There's so much disinformation in the public domain about how to exercise and eating that it's really nice to see government come in and give good solid advice,’ Moore says. People can see health benefits from meeting the HHS recommendations, but to get substantial results, adults should put in five hours a week of moderate intensity exercise or 2 1/2 hours of vigorous activity each week. ‘We are emphasizing these guidelines to our entire membership,’ Moore says of the Racquet & Sportsclub Association. ‘We're also hoping to see more schools adding physical education back in.’ ‘The important thing is to make sure children are doing some type of activity, to get off the couch, away from computer games and (go) outside.’”

Staying Healthy in a Sick Economy

“On Wall Street, when the going gets tough, will the tough get yoga mats? Adding classes in yoga, meditation and other so-called mind-body regimens is just one way fitness professionals in the financial district are responding to recent economic uncertainties roiling their corporate clientele. Some are also offering shorter, cheaper personal training sessions and, in at least one health club, quiet discounts for members who lose their jobs. Amid layoffs, concerns about staying buff could seem trivial. (Imagine the headline ‘World Markets Near Collapse: Muscle Tone Under Threat.’) Yet, businesspeople themselves wonder how a perilous financial climate will affect their physical fitness — and if exercise could help them weather hard times. Some struggle to squeeze in any workouts at all. But others, like Amy Sturtevant, an investment director for Oppenheimer & Company in Washington, find themselves doubling down on conditioning for relief. ‘Professionals are doing their best not to panic, but I know a lot of professionals who are panicking’ about the markets, she said. ‘The only way to get away from it is to have some kind of outlet.’ Ms. Sturtevant, a mother of four, is training for her fourth marathon. With brokerage clients needing more hand-holding, she said, she stints on sleep rather than skip her 5 a.m. daily boot camp and 20-mile weekend runs. According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, there are 41.5 million health club members in the United States. To keep them on the roster, clubs may be willing to bargain. Most customers who quit the Telos Fitness Center in Dallas, for example, must pay to rejoin. But, for suddenly strapped longtime members, ‘I’ll put a note in their file and we’ll let them pick up their membership without any fees,’ said Clarisa Duran, the center’s sales and marketing director. For Plus One, which operates in-house fitness centers, corporate accounts are the issue; until recently, its major accounts included the investment banks Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Though still operating in all of those except Bear Stearns (which closed in March), the company now must look to its recent expansion in other regions and industries for growth, said Tom Maraday, the senior vice president. (Google is one new client.) ‘We’re a little experienced with stress because we went through 9/11 down here,’ said Grace DeSimone, Plus One’s national director of group fitness. When disaster strikes, she noted, demand for yoga goes up, and on-site gyms exert a special pull: ‘People come and they want someone to talk to — it’s like Cheers.’ Fitness matters more than ever if you’re laid off, career counselors advise, not just for health, but to network and stay positive. ‘The last thing you want is to gain 20 pounds during a job search,’ said Dr. Jan Cannon, author of ‘Finding a Job in a Slow Economy.’ ‘That just compounds that sense of, ‘What’s wrong with me?’”

Exercise May Cut Uterine Cancer Risk In Heavy Women

“In overweight or obese women, physical activity, even at light or moderate intensities, lowers the risk of cancer of the lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer), according to findings from the American Cancer Society's prospective Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort study. Dr. Alpa V. Patel and colleagues at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta identified 466 women who developed endometrial cancer between 1992 and 2003 among approximately 43,000 older ‘postmenopausal’ women. In the latest issue of the International Journal of Cancer, Patel and colleagues report that all measures of physical activity and ‘avoidance of sedentary behavior’ were strongly associated with reduced risk of endometrial cancer in women who were overweight or obese. Questionnaire responses showed that physically active women engaged primarily in low- to moderate-intensity activities, such as walking, biking, aerobics or dancing, equivalent to about 2 hours of moderately paced walking per week. Patel's team calls for more research into the link between light-intensity activity and endometrial cancer risk reduction in order to ‘strengthen public health recommendations in this regard.’”

Scientists From Granada Find A Potential Treatment To Prevent Diabetes And Obesity

“A molecule called interleukin-6 has opened new doors for the creation of new drugs against obesity and diabetes. These are the conclusions of an international project, which has had the participation of researchers from Vitagenes, a company which forms part of the Campus program promoted by the University of Granada (UGR) and situated in the Technological Park of Health Sciences (PTS). Vitagenes has collaborated in this project through its technical director, doctor José Luis Mesa, who has been one of the main authors of the study together with distinguished scientists of the University of Melbourne and the Baker Heart Research Institute (Australia). The most relevant results of the project, such as a potential treatment to prevent diabetes and obesity, have been published in the international scientific Journal of Endocrinology. Up to now, scientific evidence suggested that interleukin-6, chronically high in obese persons and diabetics, could be harmful for obesity and diabetes; however, this study proves exactly the opposite. He [Mesa] explains that ‘our hypothesis was that interleukin-6 was naturally high in diabetic and obese persons precisely to combat such diseases. In order to prove it, we injected human recombinant interleukin-6 daily for two weeks and analysed its behaviour and its effects on the metabolism’. Mark Febbraio, scientific director in the Baker Heart Research Institute and a member of the Advisory Scientific Committee of Vitagenes, points out that ‘we obtained surprising results. The exogenous administration of interleukin-6 improved insulin sensitivity and the absorption of glucose, essential for diabetics’. In addition, according to Mesa, ‘interleukin-6 also increased the expression of important genes related to fats metabolism, such as PPAR and UCP2. This suggests that interleukin-6 could be involved in the metabolic control of body weight’.”

Fighting Obesity, Hypertension, Diabetes And Other Metabolic Diseases By Computer

“Until now, scientists had to rely on basic observations at the cellular level, since they lacked information about the metabolic processes of individual organs, such as the liver, heart and brain. But a new computational approach developed by computer scientists Tomer Shlomi, Moran Cabili and Prof. Eytan Ruppin from the Blavatnik School of Computer Science at Tel Aviv University may help science gain a clearer overall picture of the metabolic processes in our different tissues. Their model could be potentially used in the future to refine the diagnosis of various metabolic-related disorders, aid in treatment and develop new drugs. The results of their research were recently reported in the prestigious journal Nature Biotechnology.”

Arizona Citizens Need To Move Around More

“The cooler fall temperatures provide the perfect opportunity for Arizonans to get off the couch and spring into action. A move they need to make according to the latest health statistics which found 25% of all adults in the state are now considered obese and the number of people with diabetes has grown 30% in the last 5 years. ‘We need to commit to a healthier lifestyle now,’ said Will Humble, Public Health Services Deputy Director. ‘Obesity is more dangerous than lightning. Most people will run away from lightning, but they won't walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator.’ The statistics aren't all bad. Arizona adults did a better job eating fresh fruits and vegetables and using medical screenings like colorectal exams. The annual Vital Statistics & Behavioral Risk Factor Survey Reports track information about the prevalence of selected risk behaviors, health conditions, and chronic diseases in adults in the Arizona. The Arizona Department of Health Services provides guidance to help everyone achieve their health goals. Get Moving Arizona highlights some of our programs, but people can start with three simple steps.”

Kids’ Health: Study Shows Gap Between Middle Class, Wealthy

"It’s no surprise that children born to poor and uneducated parents are more likely to be in bad health and die as infants than children of the wealthy and educated. But a study recently released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Commission to Build a Healthier America, ‘America’s Health Starts with Healthy Children,’ reveals that parents’ income and education are linked so closely to their children’s health, there’s also a significant difference between the health of middle-class children and that of their wealthier counterparts. The study also reports that states in the South and Southwest, including Arizona, have the largest ‘health gaps’ between poor and rich children. States in the upper Midwest, northern Great Plains and Northeast have the smallest gaps. Arizona ranks 49th among states based on the size of the gap in children’s general health status by family income, when comparing the overall rate of 19.3 percent of children in less than optimal health with the lower rate — 6.3 percent — seen among kids in higher-income families, the report states. The health of American children is a matter of concern, made worse by the disparities between poor kids and rich kids, the report said. The authors warn that the sources of health disparities are so entrenched that a major expansion of health care alone would not close the gap. They said in a conference call to discuss the findings that although policymakers and presidential candidates are focused on improving health care, the problem would best be tackled by changing society. ‘Even if we had equal access to health care, we’d still have disparities and shortfalls in health,’ said David Williams, the commission’s staff director. ‘It’s not just access to health care; it’s where you live, learn, work, play and worship.’ For example, the report’s authors said, children in unsafe neighborhoods have less access to parks and other recreational centers. The report looked at infant mortality and children’s health. Nationwide, 6.5 of 1,000 infants die before their first birthdays. That problem is worst in Mississippi, which has the highest overall infant mortality rates: 9.9 deaths for every 1,000 live births. Massachusetts has the lowest level: 4.6 deaths per 1,000.”^1717318&brthrs=1

Being Fat And Unfit Linked To Inflammation Risk

“U.S. scientists found that men who were fat and unfit were more likely to have raised levels of white blood cells, a marker for inflammation in the body that is believed to raise the risk of coronary heart disease and other illnesses. The cross-sectional study was carried out by researchers from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and colleagues from other research centres, and was published online on 17 October in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM). Corresponding author, Dr Timothy S Church, who is John S. McIlHenny professor in Health Wisdom at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, and colleagues examined the link between fitness, BMI (body mass index), and concentrations of a subfraction of white blood cells in 452 healthy, non-smoking men. The men were taking part in a study known as the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study, which is examining the relation of physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness to health in the middle and later years of life. Church and colleagues measured the resting levels of the different white blood cells in the men, their fitness levels (by measuring the maximal METS they could sustain in a treadmill exercise test) and fatness (using BMI), and adjusted the results for age. MET, or metabolic equivalent, is the ratio of a person's resting rate of energy expenditure compared to their working rate. Thus a MET of 1 is resting, and a MET of 8 is a jog, and 12 is a vigorous fast run or climb. The higher the METs you work at, the more calories per minute you burn and the harder you work. Very fit people can sustain a high level of METs for longer than unfit people. Church and colleagues concluded that: ‘Fitness (inversely) and fatness (directly) are associated with white blood cell subfraction populations.’ According to a BBC report, Church said it was clear that inflammation played a key role in heart disease and other illnesses, but what drives inflammation in the first case is not clear. ‘There is nothing worse than a risk factor that an individual cannot modify, but here are two risk factors - obesity and fitness - which they can do something about,’ said Church.”

Women Taking Their Place in Kickboxing Ring

“The growth of boxing and kickboxing for women has caught the attention of the fitness industry. While boxing gyms of the past were often dimly lit, focused on competitive fighters, and predominantly male, today's boxing gyms resemble any other gym, with bright lights, loud music and a sizable number of female members. LA Boxing, a franchise specializing in boxing and kickboxing for fitness, was listed in July 2008 as one of 25 fastest-growing fitness companies by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, and the company reports that in 2006 and 2007 it expanded its number of locations by 80 percent. It makes sense that a few women who try kickboxing and boxing in a class would fall in love with the sport and decide to fight at an amateur or professional level. Lately they have plenty of role models to choose from. The recent ‘Fight Girls’ reality show followed a group of women competing in Thailand, and the release of films such as ‘Million Dollar Baby,’ and a documentary featuring Lucia Rijker, one of the most renowned female kickboxers, means more women are achieving public visibility. Laila Ali and Gina Carano (a.k.a. ‘Crush’) are known for their fighting as well as their regular roles on ‘American Gladiators.’ And the rise of mixed martial arts competitions, in which most fighters have trained in some form of kickboxing, has spawned a new audience - some female - for combat sports, as well as several competition leagues and a host of reality shows. But while the public has a new appreciation for kickboxing and the athletes who compete in the sport, the notion of women punching each other still makes many uncomfortable. The idea of women emerging from a fight cut and bloody might give pause to some.”

Friday, October 17, 2008

Workouts on the Wild Side

“Taking a run through the park may be a good workout for most people, but some exercise enthusiasts are changing up their routine by trying new, unusual workouts. The Chicago area offers a variety of classes being offered that are keeping them entertained and fit: At Flirty Girl Fitness, you won’t find a spinning class. But you will find pole dancing, belly dancing and chair striptease. One of the more popular offerings, according to studio manager Nikki Lee, is the Coyote Ugly class – an exercise routine designed to burn calories while creating a dance that students perform on a specially designed bar in the classroom, just like the movie. Circus Arts - From unicycling to stiltwalking and trapeze acrobatics, The Actors Gymnasium offers circus-themed classes to all fitness levels. Experience juggling or walking a tightrope is necessary. Professionals in the business teach new students the basics on these skills, resulting in a one-of-a-kind workout that you probably won’t find at your average gym. Drop-in classes are available. The S Factor - Former actress Sheila Kelly developed her workout, coined The S Factor, while researching a role as a stripper. The mother of two turned her dancing skills into a full-body workout and opened studios across the country. The S Factor uses a metal pole to learn dance moves, stretches and routines on a pole.
Power Plate - Using low-impact vibration training, students stand on a vibrating platform for only 25 minutes for a full workout. While standing on the plate and holding onto the handles, they work each muscle for 30-60 seconds each before taking minute-long breaks to rest muscles. Go-Go Dancing - The hour-long dance class starts with a five-to 10-minute warm-up, followed by about 45 minutes of non-stop, high-energy movement. Participants will learn a number of go-go moves, such as the pony, the swim, the frug, the watusi. After lots of repetition and building, those moves are put together into a simple choreographed piece. At the end of class, a short cool-down insures muscles are properly stretched.”

Australian Medical Association Backs 'Measure Up' Campaign

“AMA President, Dr Rosanna Capolingua, commended the government on the launch of its 'Measure Up' campaign. The campaign, which was launched today, is aimed at helping people understand the health risks posed by carrying excessive weight. ‘We are pleased to see the government is highlighting this important indicator. It is also vital people understand they need to see a doctor to be advised on not only the cause, but the management of the issue.’ ‘Central obesity is a risk factor that doctors take into account when assessing the overall risk of disease. Medical diagnosis and advice on increased abdominal girth is essential in the proper management and care of the patient.’ ‘Excess weight can lead to a range of bad health outcomes - such as life threatening cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. We know that we can avoid and reduce the risk of these diseases with better community understanding and the right support,’ Dr Capolingua said. ‘Doctors know that increasing abdominal girth can also be an indicator for a range of diseases unrelated to lifestyle.’ ‘The Measure Up Campaign is a clever and simple way for people to be alerted to a danger sign. Your GP can help you with a proper evaluation of symptoms, appropriate tests, management and advice on suitable diet and exercise where lifestyle is the issue.’ Dr Capolingua said broadening community awareness of the health risks associated with poor lifestyle choices is a positive step forward.”

Cybex Launches New Line of Fitness Products

“CYBEX International Inc., a leading manufacturer of premium exercise equipment for the commercial and consumer markets announced today that it is introducing its new 750 family of cardio products this week, at the Club Industry trade event, in Chicago, IL. CYBEX's launch of the 750 cardio products comes at the time when fitness clubs are looking to ramp up and enhance their facilities for the holiday and New Year's resolution season. It's CYBEX's continuous pursuit of fitness innovation based on exercise science that has lead to the creation of the new 750 series of products. The line includes the category-creating Arc Trainer, a world-class treadmill and an equally impressive new bike line with both a recumbent and upright cycle. The new CYBEX products offer an intuitive and informative display, increased programming and performance options, and are loaded with new functionality. In addition to a consistent design, the 750 series offers enhanced state-of-the-art AV entertainment options and important accessories such as dual water bottle holders, utility tray/iPod holder, and dual speed fans that enhance the user's comfort and enjoyment while they work out.”{1263E991-FD50-4925-8D8D-DBF176E3D1A9}&dist=hppr

Join in a Melt Down - Fitness Center Offers Variety of Workout Options

“Big losers are the real winners at the second Great G/K Melt Down. The Melt Down will kick off from 1-3 p.m. Saturday at the Genoa/Kingston Fitness Center inside Genoa-Kingston High School, 980 Park Ave. ‘There were over 75 attendees at last year's Melt Down,’ said fitness center director Holly Ber. ‘In five weeks, there was a total of 275 pounds and 550 inches lost.’
‘You do not have to be a fitness center member to join the Melt Down,’ Ber said. ‘You can join as an individual or as a team. We're there to help you, and it's a lot of fun.’ Participants will have their body weight and measurements taken, along with a professional body fat analysis. Fitness experts, including the fitness center's registered dietitian/sports nutritionist, will offer advice on setting up each person's health and fitness program. Melt Down participants will be offered discounts on all fitness programs, classes, personal training, nutritional guidance, and fitness center membership. The fitness center opened two years ago. The Genoa Township Park District and Genoa-Kingston Community Unit District 424 worked together to make the fitness center available to the public. ‘The community was thrilled to have a place to work out,’ Ber said. Because it operates inside a high school, the fitness center is only open when students are not in class. Equipment at the fitness center includes new Cybex Total Access resistance/toning equipment, treadmills, ellipticals, free weights, and advanced weight training and specialty training equipment. Handicapped-accessible equipment also is available.”,3_1_EL17_A3GKFITNESS_HM_S1.article

Obese People's Brains Show Less Pleasure From Eating

“New research from the US suggests that certain people may have a genetic predisposition to obesity because the reward centres in their brains respond sluggishly after eating, so to get more pleasure from eating they opt for foods denser in calories, which makes them gain weight. The study was done by Eric Stice, psychology researcher at The University of Texas at Austin, and colleagues from other establishments in the US, and is published in the 17 October issue of Science. Stice has been studying eating disorders and obesity for nearly 20 years. He said that this study: ‘Reveals obese people may have fewer dopamine receptors, so they overeat to compensate for this reward deficit.’ When a person eats, their brain's reward centre responds by releasing the messenger molecule dopamine. But Stice and colleagues found that compared to the brains of lean people, the brains of obese people showed less activation in the striatum, the part of the brain that expresses dopamine receptors. The researchers also found that individuals whose striata were less active during eating were the ones most likely to become overweight, particularly if they had a gene called TaqIA that is linked to having fewer dopamine receptors. Stice said that people with fewer dopamine receptors: ‘Need to take in more of a rewarding substance -- such as food or drugs -- to experience the same level of pleasure as other people.’”

Do Something Different and Lose Weight

“New research findings which endorse a new approach to tackling obesity will be outlined by two University of Hertfordshire academics next week. In a talk entitled: The Great Weight Debate which will take place on Tuesday 21 October at 8.15pm at the University's Health and Human Sciences Research Institute Showcase, Professor Julia Buckroyd, Director of the University's Obesity and Eating Disorders Research Unit and Professor Ben Fletcher, Head of the School of Psychology will outline why they believe current approaches to obesity have failed to address the problem and they will propose a three-tiered approach which they have proved enables individuals to lose weight and maintain it. The first tier of their approach to obesity involves providing individuals with standard guidelines on diet, exercise and behaviour management. According to Professor Fletcher, these methods alone will not work which is why he has developed a second tier, which he calls the Do Something Different (DSD) approach, based on FIT Science a new technique for facilitating change. Both academics agree that most people who are obese will recover successfully through the second tier, but they acknowledge that a third tier is needed for individuals who need a deeper level of attention to their emotions if they are to lose weight and maintain it. This is an area in which Professor Buckroyd specializes.”

Health Messages Reach Elders At Senior Centers

“Community-based senior centers may be a good venue for promoting lifestyle changes to improve the health of senior citizens, researchers report. They suggest minority older adults may particularly benefit from such interventions. Dr. Senaida Fernandez and colleagues recruited 65 mostly African-American senior citizens with high blood pressure at one of six community-based senior centers in New York City. The participants were an average of 72 years old; 35 attended 6 weekly, plus 2 monthly group sessions that discussed the health benefits of altering their diet, exercising and adhering to blood pressure lowering medication regimens. The other 30 elders were wait-listed for this program. After participating in blood pressure lowering education sessions over a 14-week period, the intervention group had statistically significant lower blood pressure readings compared with reading at the beginning of the study, the investigators note in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.”

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Strength Training Good For The Aging Brain: Study

“Results of a new study converge with recent evidence that certain types of non-aerobic exercise, such as strength training, benefit cognitive function in older adults. In the study, researchers found an improvement in higher-order thinking skills among elderly men and women with a history of falling who participated in a falls-prevention exercise program. ‘In older adults, impaired central executive functioning is associated with falls,’ Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, of University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, told Reuters Health. The older men and women who did the strength and balance training showed a 13 percent improvement in an executive function task after 6 months. This group of elders, for example, was better able to name the ink color of the word "blue" printed in red ink. By contrast, non-participants' skills deteriorated 10 percent, the investigators report in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. After one year, 43 percent of participants, compared with 67 percent of non-participants, had repeat falls, Liu-Ambrose and colleagues report. The investigators compared physical and cognitive abilities at baseline and again 6 months later among community-living men and women, aged 70 and older with a history of at least one previous fall, who were able to walk at least 3 meters (about 9 feet) and had no neurological condition associated with increased risk of falling. Of the 52 participants available for follow-up at 6 months, 24 received standard care at a falls clinic. The remaining 28 followed the home-based strength and balance program, known as the Otago Exercise Program, which involved twice-weekly walks plus exercises to strengthen knees, hips, and ankles, and balance exercises such as backwards, sideways, heel, and toe walking, and one-leg stands. As mentioned, program participants showed improved ability to complete color-word tests, but they showed no significant improvement in other executive thinking skills, such as switching between multiple tasks and deciphering between relevant and non-relevant incoming information. ‘The Otago Exercise Program may reduce falls by improving cognitive performance,’ the investigators conclude.”