Friday, January 30, 2009

Garmin Moves Deeper Into The Fitness Market

“A new fitness watch designed as the lynchpin for a new generation of smart exercise gear was introduced today by Olathe-based Garmin International. The Garmin FR60 was designed to connect wirelessly to a new line of exercise equipment indoors, but also was designed to allow triathletes to track their progress running, cycling and swimming outdoors. In developing the watch, Garmin redesigned a previous product, the Forerunner 50. The new watch is smaller, and resembles a traditional watch more than its predecessor. Like the Forerunner 50, the FR60 doesn't use GPS technology to track an exerciser's progress, relying on a foot pod that uses sensors to measure stride, speed, cadence, distance and calories burned. ‘Indoors or out, it’s easier than ever to set fitness goals and track your progress with the fashionable yet affordable FR60,’ said Dan Bartel, Garmin’s vice president of worldwide sales. ‘While you exercise, the easy-to-use FR60 accurately tracks your time, calories burned, heart rate and other data from linked fitness equipment.’ The FR60 connects wirelessly with a heart rate monitor, foot pod, a bike speed and cadence sensor, and a new line of exercise equipment. That exercise gear line, from other manufacturers, is expected to be unveiled at the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association trade show in March. The gear - treadmills, spin bikes, elliptical trainers - will use Garmin's ANT technology to link wirelessly to the FR60. Like other Garmin ANT-powered gear, the FR60 will download data from fitness sessions viw a home computer to the Garmin Connect Web site.”

Seniors Who Exercise Help Their Health

“Sedentary seniors can improve their motor function and decrease their risk for insulin resistance by starting an exercise program that includes both aerobics and resistance training, new Canadian research suggests. ‘For a long time, the standard recommendation for people of moderate age -- those under 65 -- has been 150 minutes a week of aerobic type activity,’ noted study co-author Robert Ross, a professor in the school of kinesiology and health studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. ‘But for older adults, we haven't had a standard, and there has been little evidence to base guidelines on.’ ‘So now we have found, as a first-time observation, that elderly men and women whose objective is to manage their blood sugar, reduce both diabetic and cardiovascular risk, and simultaneously maintain an ability to live independently, should do both aerobic and resistance training.’ On a weekly basis, this optimal training formula would be comprised, said Ross, of 90 minutes of simple aerobics -- such as walking -- alongside 60 minutes of resistance exercise of some kind. Ross and his colleagues reported on their work -- funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research -- in the Jan. 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. The authors pointed out that elderly Americans currently comprise about 12 percent of the country's population -- a figure set to rise to about 20 percent by 2030. They further underscored the fact that the risk for developing insulin resistance -- a pre-diabetic condition in which the body does not properly utilize the hormone insulin to break down food sugars -- has long been associated with growing older. Ross and his team also noted that American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine advocate routine physical exercise as critical means of achieving healthier aging. To examine the impact of exercise on insulin resistance and motor function, between 2002 and 2006, the authors focused on 117 sedentary Canadian men and women between the ages of 60 and 80, all of whom were diagnosed as obese in their abdominal region. The researchers found that among the two groups engaged in aerobic exercise -- either alone or in combination with resistance training -- insulin resistance improved as compared with those who didn't exercise at all. Resistance training alone, however, did not produce any improvements. The same dynamic held in terms of improvements in cardio-respiratory fitness, in which aerobic or combined aerobic-resistance training produced benefits, while resistance training alone did not. However, any form of exercise, alone or in combination, appeared to significantly boost motor function among the participants -- although combining aerobic with resistance exercise provided the most benefit.”

ACSM Position Stand On Physical Activity And Weight Loss Now Available

“The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has published its Position Stand ‘Appropriate Physical Activity Intervention Strategies for Weight Loss and Prevention of Weight Regain for Adults,’ updating its previous guidelines, particularly as it relates to the increased levels of physical activity that may be necessary for prevention of weight gain, for weight loss and for prevention of weight regain. The official ACSM pronouncement is published in the February 2009 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine. The paper is a companion to ‘Weight Management,’ a position paper published by the American Dietetic Association in the February issue Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Together, the statements provide a thorough, scientific overview of two of the most important components of a healthy lifestyle: exercise and nutrition. Among its recommendations, the ACSM Position Stand emphasizes physical activity and its relation to weight loss and weight management. Its prominent points include: Weight management is an urgent public health issue, with more than 66 percent of U.S. adults either overweight or obese. Health improvements in chronic disease risk factors can be realized with as little as a 2- to 3-percent reduction in excess body weight. Greater amounts of physical activity are likely to be needed to achieve weight loss and prevent weight regain in adults. The panel recognized the amounts in these categories: […] – prevent weight gain, weight loss, maintenance after weight loss.”

Health Club Sponsoring Student Essay Contest

“Westboro Tennis & Swim Club is sponsoring its first annual Healthy Lifestyle Essay Contest for local seventh graders this February. Students’ essays must address the question, ‘What could a seventh grader do to stay healthy in mind and body?’ Practices for a healthy lifestyle including physical activity, nutrition and a healthy mind must be mentioned in the submissions, as well as personal examples of each. All essays are due Friday, Feb. 6, and must contain no more than 700 words. The winner will be determined by a panel of judges, including one staff member each from the Fitness, Nutrition, Wellness and Membership Departments at the Westboro Tennis & Swim Club, and be announced on Monday, Feb. 23. This contest was developed by Karen B. Bloom, Member Services Representative at the Westboro Tennis & Swim Club and a former health education teacher in Westborough, who has contacted many local area schools to participate in the contest. The purpose for this essay challenge is to educate families about the importance of physical exercise in order to counteract the increasing childhood obesity rate in America. In a recent study of a group of overweight teenagers, researchers asked their parents to evaluate their children’s health. Although every teen was overweight, only 41 percent of their parents considered their children to be so, and only 35 percent of the teens considered themselves to be overweight. ‘I believe it’s important to encourage healthy habits early on with kids to help prevent health related issues later in life,’ said Matt Valyo, Certified Personal Trainer and USAT Certified Triathlon Coach at the Westboro Tennis & Swim Club. ‘A lack of physical activity can cause early on set of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and much more.’ The winning student will receive a one-year junior fitness membership and a one-year adult fitness membership for a parent. The club’s hope is that this reward will show families that practicing healthy behaviors together encourages them to maintain their health. ‘We all know that our children imitate our behavior,’ said Bloom. ‘If we encourage families to work out together, research shows that a habit developed in a child’s youth is a habit for life.’ All essays should be submitted to Bloom by mail at 35 Chauncy Street, Westborough, MA 01581 or by email to For additional information about the essay contest call 508-366-1222.”

Pacific Islanders In Utah Have High Obesity Rates, Low Rates Of Obesity-Related Disease, Report Finds

“Pacific Islanders in Utah are twice as likely to be obese than the general population but do not seem to have an increased risk for obesity-related diseases, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Utah Department of Health, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. The report is part of a research series the state released that examines racial health disparities. According to the report, 49% of Pacific Islanders in Utah are obese, compared with 21% of all Utah residents. After adjusting for age, researchers found Pacific Islanders have the same rates of obesity-related diseases as the general Utah population, according to the Tribune. Utah Pacific Islanders are younger than the general population, according to April Young Bennett of the health department's Center for Multicultural Health. Bennett said in Utah, the group's higher adult obesity rate is linked to high infant mortality and gestational diabetes rates.”

Paltrow's Exclusive Gym

“Gwyneth Paltrow's new gym is so exclusive her mother doubts she will be allowed membership. Blythe Danner has revealed hundreds of people are keen to sign up at the fitness emporium in New York's Tribeca district, meaning she may not be able to join. ‘Gwyneth has got something like 800 people that have joined. I hope I can get a membership! I haven't seen it yet, but it's going to be gorgeous for sure - just like Gwyneth's style,’ she joked. The Iron Man actress - who is well-known for her honed physique and often trains with Madonna - is teaming up with her instructor Tracy Anderson for the venture. ‘Gwyneth is partnering up with friend and trainer Tracy Anderson to open a gym in Tribeca,’ her representative said. The pair - who released a fitness DVD together last year - are said to be considering launching the chain worldwide, with branches in Europe, Asia and Australia. ‘The DVD they made has been pouring off the shelves. It's been endorsed on the cover by Gwyneth and Madonna, and Gwyneth is pushing it to anyone she can. She has been amazed by the fitness results Tracy's helped her to achieve,’ a source said.”,,2-1225-2108_2460199,00.html

Exercise Plays Large Role In Recovery From Knee Replacement And The Occurrence Of Osteoarthritis

“Two new studies found that exercise may be a factor in recovering from a total knee replacement (total knee arthroplasty or TKA) and knee osteoarthritis (OA). One study involving a progressive quadriceps strengthening program after total knee replacement found that it enhanced clinical improvement almost to the level of healthy older adults. The other study, the first to examine the relationship between four components of physical activity and the incidence of knee OA in older adults, found that certain types of activities were linked to an increased risk of the disease. The studies were published in the February issue of Arthritis Care & Research.”

Gyms And Clubs Aid Local Fitness Goals

“Choosing the right fitness center is critical to achieving personal goals, according to industry experts. The fitness centers and health clubs in the Toledo area offer a wide variety of facilities and programs for men and women. General Manager Chad Ulmer at the new Urban Active Fitness in Maumee. Convenience is important, said Gregg Schwartz, a certified personal trainer who operates American Mobile Fitness. Make sure the facility is one that is close to home or work with hours and class times that fit your schedule, he said. Schwartz writes a health and fitness column for Toledo Free Press. Urban Active Fitness is opening a new facility in Maumee on Feb. 7 with a grand opening sneak preview party for members and the community. The event begins at 9 a.m., with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 12:30 p.m., and ends at 7 p.m. New members joining that day will avoid paying the regular $199 enrollment fee and save more than $300 on monthly dues with the special grand opening promotion. ‘Urban Active’s mission is to create active communities by offering the latest in fitness and wellness programs that takes the concept of ‘health club’ to the next level,’ said Sean Phillips, area manager for Urban Active. The chain, owned by Global Fitness Holdings, has operated a full-service fitness center in Toledo since February 2008. ‘We’re not experiencing any downturn but are seeing a positive increase in the Toledo market,’ Phillips said. ‘We only planned to have one facility there but are adding the second location due to the local response.’ There are several franchises in the area with Bally Total Fitness, Power House Gym, Curves for Women and Lifestyles for Ladies Only, among others. Curves has numerous locations in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan, all operating as individually owned franchises. ‘We’re getting a lot of interest now as people are trying to get back in the groove with their health and weight,’ said Miriam Jueckstock, owner of Curves on Laskey Road. Curves began offering free weight-management classes in January at all Toledo area locations. It has annual and monthly membership plans with a current special for 50 percent off and a free month, Jueckstock said. Another privately owned business, Torio Health Club, has operated at the same location in West Toledo since 1957. Its founder, Dick Torio, continues to manage the business at age 79. Torio doesn’t try to compete with the new clubs or offer special deals. More than 8,000 people have trained at his private club over the years. ‘We’re the exception of health clubs. It’s for people who don’t like crowds and want a quiet place to work out,’ Torio said. ‘I keep it open for many members who have been with us for 25 years or more.’”

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Gym Rats, Newbies Need To Share

“No pain, no gain? Try snagging your favorite piece of equipment at the gym these days. Right now, gyms are packed with regular members returning more frequently and a slew of newcomers making good on their get-fit, weight-loss resolutions. More than a million new warm bodies flock to fitness centers each January, representing a 12 percent increase in membership, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. Unfortunately for the gyms, most of these ‘resolutionaries’ will disappear by March. But for the irritated regulars, that’s exercise music to their ears. So what’s a gym rat to do until the larger crowds and longer waits subside? Don’t let it bother you, said Kip Matthews, an Athens psychologist who says a sense of entitlement about using your favorite piece of equipment at a designated time is unhealthy. ‘The newcomer doesn’t know your routine, and perhaps you just need to change it up for a while,’ he said. That’s what fitness experts recommend, too. Mondays and Tuesdays are among the busiest days, so arrive at a different time and try new pieces of equipment. Consider taking a class, running or playing basketball. When Jennifer Uboh joined Workout Anytime last January, the Hiram educator had little experience using the equipment but received help from fellow members and trainers. She now works out four to five days a week on the treadmill, stationary bike and climber and also does some light weights. Changing one’s lifestyle and going to the gym requires a big commitment, so newcomers should be welcomed, said Donald Loft, an Atlanta corporate attorney who has worked out five days a week for the past 18 years at City Club of Buckhead. ‘It’s a little bit of self-righteousness on the part of the gym rats to look down on the newcomers,’ he said. ‘Everybody has a first day at the gym, and theirs just happens to be in January.’”

Want To Get Healthy? Exercise 7 Minutes A Week

“Rigorous workouts lasting as little as three minutes may help prevent diabetes by helping control blood sugar, British researchers said on Wednesday. The findings published in the journal BioMed Central Endocrine Disorders suggest that people unable to meet government guidelines calling for moderate to vigorous exercise several hours per week can still benefit from exercise. ‘This is such a brief amount of exercise you can do it without breaking a sweat,’ said James Timmons, an exercise biologist at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, who led the study. ‘You can make just as big as an effect doing this as you can by doing hours and hours of endurance training each week.’ Type 2 diabetes, which affects an estimated 246 million adults worldwide and accounts for 6 percent of all global deaths, is a condition in which the body gradually loses the ability to use insulin properly to convert food to energy. Very strict diet and vigorous, regular and sustained exercise can reverse type 2 diabetes, but this can be difficult for many people. The condition is closely linked to inactivity. Timmons and his team showed that just seven minutes of exercise each week helped a group of 16 men in their early twenties control their insulin. The volunteers, who were relatively out of shape but otherwise healthy, rode an exercise bike four times daily in 30 second spurts two days a week. After two weeks, the young men had a 23 percent improvement in how effectively their body used insulin to clear glucose, or blood sugar, from the blood stream, Timmons said. The effect appears to last up to 10 days after the last round of exercise, he added in a telephone interview. ‘The simple idea is if you are doing tense muscle contractions during sprints or exercise on a bike you really enhance insulin's ability to clear glucose out of the bloodstream,’ Timmons said. The findings highlight a way for people who do not have time to work out a few hours each week as recommended to improve their health, he added. His team did not look for other important benefits to health that come from exercise, such as lowered blood pressure or weight control, but said another study had shown similar benefits to heart function. But Timmons said getting people to exercise even a little could translate into big savings for health systems that spend hundreds of million of dollars treating diabetes.”

Fitness Tech: 15 of the Hottest Health and Exercise Gadgets, Gizmos and Apps [Slideshow]

“Given the long-held stereotype of the couch potato/video gamer, it may seem a little surprising that video games and other technology would be used to help us get in shape and lose weight. But tech is increasingly being used to do just that. Fitness technology can even make the process more fun (or at least less painful), thanks to the broadening category of exergaming (literally a portmanteau of exercise and gaming); the popularity of Wii Fit and Dance Dance Revolution; health and music apps for your smartphone and the myriad other fitness tech (or, tech that just makes fitness easier). Without further ado, we present 15 examples of fitness tech that fired up our urge to move.”

Weight Loss Reduces Incontinence For Women

"Starting a weight-loss regimen significantly reduces urinary incontinence for women, according to researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and the University of California, San Francisco. A six-month program of diet, exercise and behavior modification resulted in a loss of 17 pounds and nearly one-half (47 percent) fewer incontinence episodes per week on average, the study authors said. By contrast, an information-only program on diet and exercise without any direct weight-loss training led to a loss of 3 pounds and 28 percent fewer incontinence episodes per week on average, the researchers said. The results are published in the New England Journal of Medicine."

Tackling Obesity Is A Long-Term Challenge - The King's Fund, UK

Commenting on today's publication of the Health Profile of England 2008 by the Department of Health, The King's Fund's Research Fellow in public health Dr Tammy Boyce said: 'Tackling obesity is a long-term challenge and even effective local programmes will not deliver big improvements in national figures right away. The government and the NHS must continue to focus their efforts on supporting people to change their engrained bad behaviours and maintain healthier lifestyles. Increases in exercise rates and consumption of fruit and vegetables are encouraging but lack of progress in reducing childhood obesity is a concern as unhealthy habits are learnt at a young age. 'It is crucial not to view problems like teenage pregnancy and rates of sexually transmitted disease in isolation from other policy. Improvements in both these areas are fundamental in reducing health inequalities and it's important to be aware of how different government health strategies can, and should, support each other.' The King's Fund completed a 12 month investigation into how the NHS can help people live healthier lifestyles in December 2008. The Kicking Bad Habits programme final report 'Commissioning and Behviour Change' can be downloaded here:

New Service To Boost Fitness

"A fantastic new service has been launched by Telford and Wrekin Primary Care Trust, the local health trainer service. Anyone over the age of 16, who lives in Telford and Wrekin, can have free, one-to-one, advice and support on making small lifestyle changes towards a healthier future. This might be about eating more healthily, becoming more active, cutting down or stopping smoking, drinking sensibly or managing and reducing stress levels. More details are available from 01952 686310 or The UK’s first National Fitness Week will run from February 2-9, so now’s the time to start getting into shape. The week will see events, campaigns and promotions throughout the country as the health club group, Fitness First, masterminds the biggest campaign of its kind to get the country active. Gyms across Shropshire are enjoying their post-Christmas rush to the treadmill and there are noticeably more people running, cycling and walking. Now Fitness First wants to turn the often short-term January fitness fad into a year-long commitment to healthy living.”

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Seniors Raise Canes For Fitness, Defense [Video]

“At first glance, a Cane Fu class may look like a group of ordinary seniors, but you'd be wise not to cross them. That's because in Cane Fu class, the sticks are made for more than just walking. ‘We use these canes and we put them around the neck and toss them down, and go at them until they leave us alone,’ said Laura Moore, who enjoys her Cane Fu class. The workout is one where fitness and fighting go hand in hand. The class stemmed from a regular senior aerobics class, where getting the heart rate up was the main goal. But Cane Fu involves self-defense moves that leave the seniors feeling much more empowered. ‘We get balance in there, we get our cardio in there, we get them sweating,’ said Kimmy Wazny, group exercise supervisor, Nifty After Fifty gym. ‘We have chin-thrusting, we have knee kick, we have shin kicks, we have stomps.’ ‘I feel good about myself when I do that. We enjoy ourselves. We have a nice group of people,’ said Moore. Classes are offered at Nifty After Fifty, a chain of Southern California gyms designed especially for seniors. Dr. Sheldon Zinberg started the gym after observing there was no safe and comfortable place for older adults to stay in shape. ‘The concept is to provide customized and clinically supervised fitness training, mental and physical fitness training,’ said Dr. Zinberg. ‘It's not your grandma's health club membership.’ The classes, the equipment, even the camaraderie, are all geared to engage seniors -- efforts to prevent some of the challenges of getting older. ‘Sarcopenia, which is age-related muscle weakness, is perhaps the most important factor of many in the aging generation’. Said Dr. Zinberg, who also says the weakness can lead to more serious injuries like a broken hip. To take the class, it's necessary to join the gym. There are eight locations in L.A. and Orange County. Membership costs an average of $40 per month.”

Weight Affects White, Hispanic Kids' Mental Health

“A new study adds to evidence that overweight teenagers are more prone to depression and anxiety, but suggests the effects vary by race and ethnicity. Researchers found that among more than 35,000 U.S. teenagers in a national health survey, white and Hispanic teens who were overweight were more likely to have symptoms of depression or anxiety than their thinner counterparts. However, this was not true of overweight African-American teenagers, the researchers report in the journal Pediatrics. The reasons for the racial and ethnic differences are not apparent from the findings, according to Dr. Rhonda BeLue and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. In other studies, they note, suggest that black teenagers are simply not as bothered by excess pounds as white teens are, and seem to be under less pressure from family and friends to be thin. It's also possible that black teenagers often deal with a "constellation" of stresses in their lives, so that excess weight has little impact on their mental well-being, BeLue and her colleagues note. The findings are based on a government survey of parents of 35,184 adolescents 12-to-1-year hold. Among white and Hispanic parents, those with an overweight child were more likely to say the teen had depression or anxiety. In general, African-American teens had higher rates of some of these problems, but weight seemed to have no influence. The findings, according to BeLue's team, suggest that when doctors address teenagers' weight problems, they should also try to assess their mental health. At the same time, they add, programs aimed at tackling childhood obesity should be aware that different groups of kids may have different risks of mental health problems.”

Metabolism Boosted By Regular Sprint

A regular high-intensity, three-minute workout has a significant effect on the body's ability to process sugars. Research published in the open access journal BMC Endocrine Disorders shows that a brief but intense exercise session every couple of days may be the best way to cut the risk of diabetes. Professor James Timmons worked with a team of researchers from Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh, Scotland, to investigate the effect of 'high-intensity interval training' (HIT) on the metabolic prowess of sixteen sedentary male volunteers. He said, ‘The risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type two diabetes is substantially reduced through regular physical activity. Unfortunately, many people feel they simply don't have the time to follow current exercise guidelines. What we have found is that doing a few intense muscle exercises, each lasting only about 30 seconds, dramatically improves your metabolism in just two weeks.’ Current exercise guidelines suggest that people should perform moderate to vigorous aerobic and resistance exercise for several hours per week. While these guidelines are very worthwhile in principle, Timmons suggests that a lack of compliance indicates the need for an alternative, ‘Current guidelines, with regards to designing exercise regimes to yield the best health outcomes, may not be optimal and certainly require further discussion. The low volume, high intensity training utilized in our study substantially improved both insulin action and glucose clearance in otherwise sedentary young males and this indicates that we do not yet fully appreciate the traditional connection between exercise and diabetes’.”

An Encouraging Word About Winter

“This time of year, it is easy to get discouraged. The holidays are over, the economy is in a funky place, and the winter weather is cold with chilly winds, ice, and snow. However, your attitude determines your altitude! Here are some suggestions to overcome the winter blues and make the most out of each day.Get physical exercise. You don’t have to cocoon yourself inside all winter. There are still fun outside activities that you can do, such as hiking, skiing, and snowmobiling. You should also either work out at home or join one of the health clubs in our area, and make a commitment to work out regularly. You’ll feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally. I speak from personal experience, being a member of a local health club.”

Diabetes Treatment May Lie In Helping Muscles To Burn Fat Better

“Scientists in Sydney and Melbourne have produced results that could silence the current debate about exactly how fat molecules clog up muscle cells, making them less responsive to insulin. The finding is an important milestone in understanding the mechanisms of obesity related insulin resistance, a precursor of Type 2 diabetes. Dr Clinton Bruce, first working with Professor Ted Kraegen from Sydney's Garvan Institute of Medical Research, and then with Professor Mark Febbraio from Melbourne's Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, has added to evidence that fat molecules clog up the cytosol, or cell interior, but not the mitochondrion, or energy powerhouse of the cell. This is an important distinction because the groups have also found a way to reduce the build-up of fat molecules in the cytosol by increasing the ability of mitochondria to take in fat molecules and burn them. The finding, already online and critical for our understanding of fat metabolism, will be published in a future issue of the prestigious international journal Diabetes.”

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Be Thrifty and Stay Healthy

“Trim expenses or trim your waistline? It's tempting to cut where it's easiest -- by skipping that blood-pressure medicine that costs $200 a month, or that $40 monthly gym membership. Or switching from fish and skinless chicken breast to cheaper meats such as ground beef and hot dogs. But be careful, say experts, because efforts to cut expenses by cutting back on health care or exercise can sometimes ricochet back and hurt you in the long run. Already, doctors' offices are starting to see a wave of patients who have delayed seeing a doctor and are now suffering the consequences. "People are coming in sicker, so we're seeing an increase in more serious illnesses. What may have been bronchitis has progressed to pneumonia, for example," said Dr. Scott Brady, chief executive officer of CentraCare, Florida Hospital's network of urgent-care centers. Now, he says, those people risk missing more work days to recover -- and may have to take more-expensive medication. To take care of your body and your budget, consider some simple steps that may keep you out of the doctor's office while saving you money as well. And don't forget to exercise, which can counteract some of the negative side effects of stress. Like sleep, exercise doesn't have to cost a dime. If you want to join a health club, however, shop around and negotiate. Right now, health-club owners are offering discounts -- beyond the standard New Year's resolution specials -- to attract new members and retain old ones. For consumers, that's good news. ‘It never hurts to ask what they can set you up with,’ said Rosemary Lavery of the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association. If you're already a member, you might be able to renegotiate your membership fee. If you don't want to pay a monthly fee, there are plenty of exercise opportunities in the community. Try running, walking or biking on one of Central Florida's many fitness trails, said Dr. Susan Hewlings, assistant professor of medical education for the University of Central Florida's College of Medicine. ‘The best thing people can do is find something they enjoy. You want exercise to be your escape, so you have to make it fun.’”,0,3369860.story

UFC To Open Line of Gyms For Regular Folks

“The Ultimate Fighting Championship is planning to go toe-to-toe with the country's biggest fitness club chains, and the founder of 24 Hour Fitness is in its corner. UFC Gym officials said they are close to breaking ground on the first of five health clubs planned in California, and plan to build more such gyms across the country and in Canada. ‘We're going to force all these other gyms to take it up to another level,’ UFC President Dana White told The Associated Press on Monday. ‘Just like we have in the fight business, and everyone's trying to compete with us now, same thing's going to happen in the fitness industry.’ White said most gyms and health clubs haven't changed in years, giving the mixed martial arts league an opportunity to attract new fitness customers or others wanting to get different kinds of workouts under the same roof. The gyms aren't intended for professional or wannabe fighters. White said each gym would offer classes in several different disciplines of martial arts, as well as unconventional workouts for people looking to change their routines from typical treadmills and free weights. Each will contain an octagon, the eight-sided caged ring used in UFC fights. UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta said the gyms would resemble the scenes at UFC fights, with energetic participants, music blasting, and large plasma televisions. ‘We didn't want to just build one gym somewhere,’ Fertitta said. "This is going to become its own separate, profitable business and company on the side, and we're talking about rolling out hundreds of gyms all over the place.’ According to numbers released Monday by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, a trade association for the fitness industry, a survey of 17 leading health club companies showed that sales increased an average of 1 percent year over year for the third quarter of 2008, mostly because of a 3.8 percent increase in membership dues. Revenues from other sources were nearly the same, the trade group said. The index represented 200 individual clubs, the trade group said. Fertitta and White said the Las Vegas-based UFC has partnered with former executives at 24 Hour Fitness to build the gyms, including Mark Mastrov, the founder of the company that today has more than 400 clubs in 16 states, 24 gyms in Asia and more than 3 million members.”

Kai Fitness Centre Prepared To Launch Female-Only Gyms Once Regulations Are Clear

“The owner of Kai Fitness Centre in Jeddah has revealed that it would be the first chain in Saudi Arabia to open a health club for women once there are clear regulations on operating female-only gyms. Kai Fitness owner and founder Dr Badr AlShibani said: “There is a huge demand from women to have their own fitness centers. However, there is no clear government regulation on this. ‘At present, KAI Fitness Center is a men’s club,’ continued AlShibani. ‘However, as soon as there is a clear regulation regarding building fitness centres for women, we will be the first to invest.’ AlShibani said that currently people can ‘operate a women health club if it’s technically connected to a hospital’. He said, however, that the increasing awareness in Saudi Arabia of the positive impact of exercise on health would be the ‘catalyst’ to bringing in new regulations regarding female-only health clubs. AlShibani said he was committed to encouraging Saudi nationals to workout at the gym by expanding Kai Fitness and making it affordable. He revealed expansion plans for 25 branches of Kai Fitness over the next three years, which will include mini fitness centres within communities aimed at making exercise more accessible.”

Fighting The Epidemics of Obesity and Diabetes

“Diabetes is exploding - it now afflicts some 200 million individuals worldwide and is fast becoming the No. 1 epidemic of our time. In the U.S. alone, more than 22 million people have diabetes, which is the leading cause of end-stage renal disease, preventable amputations and blindness. Now, thanks to a $2.5 million grant from the prestigious Burroughs Wellcome Fund, UCLA's next generation of scientists will be trained in multiple disciplines to fight diabetes through the newly established Burroughs Wellcome Fund Inter-school Training Program in Metabolic Disease (BWF-ITP-MD). The BWF-ITP-MD, a Ph.D. education and research training program devoted entirely to the understanding of metabolic diseases, will bring together researchers and educators from the UCLA School of Public Health, the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and other UCLA entities. ‘Our hope is to develop an integrative training and research framework where students can learn to assess the many seemingly distinct aspects of dietary, lifestyle and genetic factors that cause these prevalent phenotypes,’ said Dr. Simin Liu, program co-director and a professor of epidemiology and medicine. ‘Once trained, these scientists will be able to develop better insights and system strategies to curb this epidemic.’ In short, Liu said, the goal of the program is to ‘provide comprehensive, interdisciplinary education and research training in all facets, attacking such metabolic diseases across the board, from sick molecules to sick populations.’”

Health Club Lives By Bold Mission

“At the Bradenton Health and Racquet Club, President Paul Hartford operates his business with the mind set of a public safety official. From Hartford’s point of view he’s in the business of saving lives. ‘What I’m trying to do in this facility is not just get members in the gym but get families involved, get children involved,’ Hartford said. ‘We’re dealing with health care, but we’re not dealing with the nucleus of the problem: proper exercise and nutrition.’ At far right, Paul Hartford, standing, and Joey Perea, seated, are co-founders of the new Bradenton Health and Racquet Club with members of their staff in the 2-story machine workout area at the club. Hartford strives to make the Bradenton Health and Racquet Club meet everyone’s interests and needs in those areas. The 23,000-square-foot facility at 6500 Manatee Ave. W. has three competition-size racquet courts and equipment that includes treadmills, elliptical machines, stair masters, stationary bikes and weights that range from 5 to 150 pounds. The health club offers aerobics, yoga, spinning, pilates, martial arts and stretching classes, and personal training sessions are available as well as nutritional evaluations for members. And amenities include child care center, massage therapy, a tanning center, a juice bar, a sauna, and men’s and women’s locker rooms. ‘Our commitment is sustaining a positive environment in which our members feel consistently motivated and at home in a high-energy atmosphere,’ Hartford said. In March 2008, Hartford took over as president of the club, which has about 2,000 members. Membership is $39.99 a month on a no-contract basis or $399.99 for a year. Hartford vows to stop accepting membership when the club’s client base reaches 4,000 and start a waiting list for future members. ‘Most fitness centers it’s just sell, sell, sell to the point you can’t fit everyone in the door,’ Hartford said. ‘We want to be able to service our members.’ And his clients appreciate the promise.”

Blacks In Western Pennsylvania Have High Rates Of Kidney Failure; Educational Campaigns Encourage Prevention, Early Detection

“Western Pennsylvania has the highest rate of blacks with end-stage renal disease, or kidney failure, according to the most recent report from the U.S. Renal Data System, and as a result health care workers are targeting the group with prevention and early detection messages, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. According to the Tribune-Review, blacks are almost four times as likely as whites to die of kidney failure. Major risk factors for kidney disease include high blood pressure and diabetes, according to the Tribune-Review. Cheryl Winkler, head of the molecular genetic epidemiological studies section at the National Cancer Institute, said, "If you go to a dialysis center, it's disproportionately African-Americans. This has been known for a long time, but nobody was ever quite sure why." In a study published in the journal Nature in October 2008, Winkler and her colleagues found a gene associated with people of African descent that increased risk for kidney failure. She said, ‘What we're hoping that means is that we can begin to screen people in the future and tell them their risk for kidney disease and perhaps develop better therapeutics and drugs,’ adding, ‘We could have a form of personalized medicine.’ Health care workers encourage exercise, healthy eating and other behaviors to prevent the onset of obesity, high blood pressure and other conditions that can lead to kidney disease. The University of Pittsburgh Center for Minority Health's Healthy Black Family Project provides blacks with educational material, offers no-cost African dance classes to help encourage physical activity and ‘bring[s] doctors into the community to foster trust,’ the Tribune-Review reports (Heinrichs, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 1/25).”

Monday, January 26, 2009

Cutbacks You Can’t Afford to Make [Today Show Video]

Matt Lauer: “And finally, let’s end on one that’s counter-intuitive thinking; and that is, ‘okay , wait a second, you know what one of my frills is, I belong to a gym. I am going to cancel my membership to the gym.’ Why is that a bad idea?”
Jean Chatzky: “People who exercise regularly spend far less on healthcare. It actually saves you money in the longrun. You want to save money on your exercise? Put on a pair of sneakers, go for a walk, go for a run. But if the gym is you routine, if that’s the only way you’re going to exercise, and you know it, cut somewhere else.”

Sweating Out The Slump

The Recession Has Slowed, But Not Stopped, The Boom In New Health Clubs — And The Twin Cities Market Is The Nation's Most Appealing Target

“Personal trainer Jeff VanMaanen runs his own downtown St. Paul gym. But when he sees health clubs opening all around town, he couldn't be happier. ‘There's been talk of one coming in next door to me and I'm excited about that,’ said VanMaanen, who owns Equipt on East 10th Street. VanMaanen's business model is to get people working out consistently on their own. He wants clients at the gym he opened in 2007 to work with him for a few months, then move on, and encourages them to have a membership elsewhere. The gym options for his clients are expanding rapidly, from big-box suburban centers to small neighborhood outlets with just the basics, including Snap Fitness, which is expected to open next door. Three hometown players, Life Time Fitness, Anytime Fitness and Snap Fitness are among the chains that have expanded in the Twin Cities and around the country. ‘A lot of health clubs are opening nationwide and that certainly breeds healthy competition within a given area,’ said Kara Thompson, a spokeswoman for the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. The Twin Cities holds the distinction of being the top metro area for health club membership, with 29.5 percent of the population belonging to a gym, according to the association. Despite a recession that has seen consumers pull back on spending, the $16 billion fitness club industry in the United States is expected to continue to grow at 5 percent to 10 percent a year even if there's slower growth for a year or two, said Anthony Gikas, a senior research analyst with Minneapolis-based Piper Jaffray. ‘In the last five to 10 years, there's clearly been an increased awareness of a healthy way of life and this has definitely been a catalyst for this group,’ Gikas said.”

Prescription: Fitness ---- Health Clubs Gear Programs For Those With Ailments

“When Patti Kiernan found out she had osteoporosis, she decided it was time to find a more focused workout. The 61-year-old signed up for a fitness program at her Dallas gym that's geared specifically for women with health problems. Kiernan liked the four-week Female Focus program so much she's still in after two years. ‘I just felt that this was the right way to go,’ said Kiernan, who also began taking medication and saw her bone density improve after a year. ‘Plus, there were other women in the program who had the same problem.’ More and more clubs are offering exercise programs fine-tuned for people coping with a variety of ailments, said Joe Moore, head of the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association. He said the number of programs has grown along with the number of studies showing the health benefits of exercise. Medical and fitness experts say that exercise not only elevates the mood and energy levels, but helps control weight ---- a contributing factor for many diseases. For breast cancer patients, ‘being overweight or gaining weight post-diagnosis is a huge risk factor’ for recurrence, said Colleen Doyle, director of nutrition and physical activity for the American Cancer Society. Her group and the American College of Sports Medicine are devising a special certification for people who work with cancer patients on exercise programs. Julie Main developed such a program after she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 36 in 1993. She was inspired after her doctor mentioned that she seemed to be going through treatment better than other patients. She told him one thing she was doing was continuing to exercise. ‘He said, 'Most of my other patients don't do that.' I said, 'Well, maybe they should,' Main said. Now president of West Coast Athletic Clubs with five gyms in California, Main teaches other health clubs how to set up programs similar to her twice-a-week, 10-week program. Her free programs are done in collaboration with the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara and focus on strength training. ‘With cancer, people feel too tired to exercise, but if they exercise, the fatigue is less,’ said Christine Brown, the Cancer Center's wellness manager. In suburban Boston, patients are referred to the Dedham Health and Athletic Complex after they've been diagnosed with anything from heart disease to arthritis to diabetes, said Lloyd Gainsboro, co-owner and director of business development. Sixty-day programs that cost $60 emphasize strength and cardiovascular training and are taught in an area of the gym with more carpet and sofas and fewer "spandex and beautiful bodies," Gainsboro said.”

Obesity Epidemic Shows Perils To Health Reform

For years, Bob Clegg's insurance company paid out some $3,000 a month for doctor visits, drugs and medical devices to treat the health problems caused by his obesity. In September 2007, when his weight peaked at 380 pounds (172 kg), he had gastric bypass surgery, and now his health issues -- joint pain, sleep apnea and esophageal problems -- have vanished, and so have the medical bills. But even though the surgery -- in which the stomach is made smaller and part of the intestine is bypassed -- has saved his insurance company money, Clegg, who now weighs 240 pounds (108 kg), had to pay the $20,000 cost out of his own pocket. ‘It wasn't until the doctor said my sleep apnea was at a point where we seriously had to consider a tracheotomy that we talked about gastric bypass,’ said Clegg, 54. ‘The irony is that insurance would pay for the tracheotomy, but not the surgery.’ Clegg's experience highlights the difficulties facing the United States as it confronts an epidemic of obesity, and the problems for President Barack Obama as he sets about extending health insurance to more Americans at a time of runaway costs. While his experience is typical, unlike most other people, Clegg was in a position to make some changes. As a member of New Hampshire's senate, he took what he knew about obesity and the cost of treating related chronic illnesses to the state capitol, where he introduced a bill in January 2008 requiring insurers to offer surgery as a treatment option, just as the state's Medicaid program for the poor does. About two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, putting them at an increased risk for diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, osteoarthritis, stroke, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea and respiratory problems and even some cancers. The direct and indirect costs of obesity is $117 billion each year, according to a 2000 report by the U.S. Surgeon General. Christine Ferguson, associate professor at George Washington University School of Public Health and the director of STOP Obesity Alliance, said the stigma surrounding obesity and belief that it is not a disease are keeping the government from addressing the crisis. ‘If I have to balance my budget at the end of each year, I have a choice between investing money in children who have mental retardation, or children with developmental disabilities ... or investing in people who have obesity, choosing obesity is a very hard case to make,’ she said. Ronald Williams, the chairman and chief executive of health insurer Aetna, said most large employers that it sells policies to have at least one plan that covers bariatric surgery. But, he said, he's more focused on prevention. ‘The bigger end of the story is, How do we help people not become obese to begin with?" he said. ‘If they are suffering the complications from being overweight or obese, how can we help them manage those conditions?’”

Slim Wallets Pack Punch At The Gym

“The fitness industry, once considered a recession-proof business, is trying to tough it out as trainers and health clubs discover many Americans are worried more about their wallets than their waistlines. In Florida, the casualties are piling up. During the past year, 369 health clubs went out of business, according to state officials, and in recent weeks, two sports-specific training facilities -- Champion Sports Complex in south Orlando and Velocity Sports Performance in Longwood -- have closed. Meanwhile, Bally -- one of the biggest players in the industry -- shut down its Winter Park and Altamonte Springs gyms in early January, leaving only two remaining Bally facilities in Orlando. Some branches of national fitness chains are also struggling. A Curves franchise at Hoffner Avenue in southeast Orlando has closed its doors, and the owner of a Fitness Together franchise has shuttered his Winter Park location, merging it with his Baldwin Park location. At the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, an organization that represents 9,100 health clubs, staffers have been informally polling their members about how they're faring in the recession. ‘It's been a mixed bag,’ said Rosemary Lavery, an IHRSA spokeswoman. ‘What we are seeing are the budget clubs and the higher-end clubs seem to be doing well. The middle-of-the-road clubs seem to be struggling more than the others.’ That could explain why business is booming at clubs such as Planet Fitness, a back-to-basics gym that charges its members $10 a month. ‘When people are signing up, a good portion of them say they're coming from other [gyms] because of the fees,’ said Eric Dore, managing partner for 10 Planet Fitness locations in Central Florida. ‘People may not be able to afford $40 a month, but they can afford $10 a month.’ After the gym ran a $1 joiner's fee special in January, Dore said, membership at his 10 clubs jumped from 55,000 to 70,000 clients.”,0,3087488.story

Exercise Options Abundant In Lexington

“Nearly a month after the holidays, many people are still struggling to take off those extra pounds put on through holiday indulging. The Clipper-Herald asked three of the gyms in the area for their suggestions on battling the holiday bulge. ‘One exciting thing we’re offering is a program called ‘I lost it at the club,’ said Jill Davis-Haussler, manager of Anytime Fitness. ‘Twenty-five people have signed up so far.” The program is a lot like ‘The Biggest Loser’ reality television show, except that instead of competing against each other, Anytime Fitness members are competing against other health clubs. The program started Jan. 5 and was suggested to clubs that are part of the International Health Racquet and Sports Association (IHRSA). ‘I got people talking about it before the new year by putting up signs in the club,’ Davis-Haussler said. ‘I still have people joining every day. The most weight loss the first week was 3 pounds, which was surprising.’ Davis-Haussler thought there would be more as people would be in a very competitive mode, but was glad they were progressing at a healthier pace. In fact, the average weight loss of the gym members has been two pounds a week.”

Snap Fitness Offers Leaner Gym Experience

Talk about your micro machines. Snap Fitness is a network of neighborhood gyms that cherry pick state-of-the art cardio and strength equipment from big box facilities. What it doesn’t have is the miles of aisles of treadmills and stationary bikes. It doesn’t have pools or Pilates classes either. What does it offer? A $34.95 per-month price tag for a personal membership with no long-term commitment. Snap Fitness CEO/founder Peter Taunton has been working in the workout business for 25 years. He used to own America’s Fitness Center, a chain of six full-service clubs that range from 10,000 to 40,000 square feet, so he knows the barriers to entry. He sold that company seven years ago and never expected to go back. As he looked for his next adventure, he wondered what drove gym membership. ‘It wasn’t the racquetball or group fitness classes,’ he said. Instead, he came up with the idea for 2,500-3,500 square-foot gyms, which he estimated would interest 75 percent of his previous customers yet cost only a fraction of what his investment in America’s Fitness Center was. ‘My ‘aha moment’ was when I put one in a town of 3,200 people,’ Taunton said. The Snap concept worked well in large and medium towns, but tiny Cokato, Minn., was the real test. “It performed every bit as well as my metro market club did,” Taunton said, acknowledging that small-market costs were commensurate. ‘I came home and told my wife and kids, ‘I think I have a tiger by the tail here!’ He was back in the health club business. This was in early 2004, and by April of that year, Taunton had sold his first Snap Fitness franchise. Within the last four years, he has turned a 98-pound-weakling into more than 1,700 stores in stripmalls and other locations. Today, Snap is opening more than one unit a day and will expand into India and Mexico this year. The secret to success? ‘Give people a good product and put it in their backyard,’ Taunton said, and watch your overhead. At roughly one-tenth the size and cost of a mega fitness center, a Snap location needs far fewer patrons to turn a profit—as little as 250 members. This keeps franchisees flush and gym rats who hate to wait happy. ‘If you want steam rooms, child care, climbing walls and basketball courts, I’ll never be your answer,’ he said. ‘But if you want to come in and work on state-of-the art-equipment, and get in and out,’ it’s not a bad deal. Snap Fitness prides itself on being economical and within two miles of 90% of members’ homes. The small footprint and 24/7 aspect—an electronic key card system allows safe access to members—helps with traffic flow. Entrepreneur magazine has voted it the No. 1 health and fitness franchise in the country and identified it as the fifth fastest growing franchise. Taunton couldn’t give an example of how the recession has negatively impacted pricier gyms, but he expects it to affect the sector, one that’s no stranger to churn. On the other end of the scale, cheapo gyms are springing up and consumers are getting what they pay for. There are $10-a-month deals that come with dubious management, less-than-stellar equipment and scenic drives. (According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Assn., gym patrons will tolerate about 10-12 minutes travel time, tops.) Of course, obtaining a loan is not exactly a “snap” for everyone right now. Taunton does his best to convince banks that his business model and Middle America franchisees are a good bet. ‘We’re going back to our bankers and saying, ‘You’ve got to find a way to get Joe and Mary Six-pack approved. We’re a successful company, we have very few closings, and from our standpoint, you have to separate us from everyday business USA,’ Taunton said. ‘We have those ‘Come to Jesus!’ meetings with them and I say, ‘You either have to find the money or you’re going to force me to get into the banking business.’”

Experts Discuss State Programs To Fight Smoking, Obesity At Senate Hearing

“Experts on Thursday during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing discussed a number of state programs that have helped residents quit smoking, lose weight and improve their health, CQ HealthBeat reports. During the hearing, part of an ongoing series held by the committee to discuss efforts to improve the U.S. health care system, L. Allen Dobson, chair of North Carolina Community Care Networks, said that the state Community Care program, which provides Medicaid and SCHIP beneficiaries and other low-income residents with important parts of a medical home and community-based care management, has improved care for asthma, reduced hospitalizations by 35% and resulted in savings of more than $100 million annually since 2003. Iowa state Sen. Jack Hatch (D) said that the Health Care Reform Act, a state law approved in May 2008 that seeks to expand health insurance to all eligible children by 2011, has led to the creation of medical homes, a statewide electronic health record system, and local and private-sector prevention programs. According to JudyAnn Bigby, secretary of Massachusetts' Health and Human Services, a state smoking cessation program that makes group or individual counseling and nicotine lozenges, patches and other medications available for Medicaid beneficiaries has helped more than 15,000 beneficiaries quit smoking since July 2006. Jonathan Fielding, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said that states should focus on smoking prevention efforts among teens, establish nutrition standards for school meals and promote physical activity to help prevent childhood obesity. Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said, ‘As we draft health reform legislation at the federal level, it is important that we capture the excellent ideas and practices that are being pioneered by the states and coordinat[e] our initiatives’ (Attias, CQ HealthBeat, 1/22).”

Moderate Weight Loss Reduces Risk Of Heart Disease

“Evidence shows that even a moderate weight reduction in obese people could save them a lifetime of health problems, especially heart disease. An estimated 50 million Americans have the potentially serious metabolic syndrome, a clustering of risk factors that leads to heart disease. Doctors at the Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center in Houston have demonstrated a significant motivation to drop even a modest amount of weight. That is good news when America is facing an epidemic of obesity. ‘Obesity appears to be the central component of the metabolic syndrome. Our study have shown that weight loss of as little as 6.5 percent in individuals with the disease results in substantial reductions in blood pressure, glucose, triglycerides and total cholesterol, all factors that lead to heart disease,’ said Christie Ballantyne, M.D., director of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at the Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center and Baylor College of Medicine. ‘These impressive results occur early in the weight loss, well before individuals even begin to approach their ideal body weight.’”

Friday, January 23, 2009

Fitness May Shield The Aging Brain

“Staying physically fit with age may help protect people from mental decline by maintaining a healthy flow of blood to the brain, new research suggests. A number of studies have found that regular exercise may help prevent or delay age-related cognitive decline and full-blown dementia, but the reasons are not fully clear. For the new study, Canadian researchers looked at the relationships between physical fitness, brain blood flow and cognitive-test performance in 42 women between the ages of 50 and 90. They found that those with the highest fitness levels generally showed better blood flow to the brain during exercise. This, in turn, was related to better scores on tests of memory, reasoning and other cognitive skills. The findings are published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging. ‘Our results suggest that the vascular benefits of exercise that have been reported previously in the heart and muscles are also conferred to the brain,’ senior researcher Dr. Marc J. Poulin, of the University of Calgary in Alberta, told Reuters Health. ‘Basic fitness -- something as simple as getting out for a walk every day -- is critical to staying mentally sharp and remaining healthy as we age,’ said Poulin, who is also a scientist with the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research. The study included 42 healthy postmenopausal women, some of whom regularly got aerobic exercise and some of whom were sedentary. All of the women took fitness tests on an exercise bike and had ultrasound scans to gauge their cerebral blood flow. In general, fitter women showed better blood flow to the brain and greater responsiveness of the blood vessels to increased circulation. ‘Our study identified strong and significant associations between physical fitness and cognition, and between physical fitness and vascular function in the brain,’ Poulin explained. This, according to the researcher, suggests that the benefits of exercise on mental function are at least partly explained by its effects on blood vessel function. The results, Poulin said, ‘provide a strong scientific basis for future studies to examine how exercise improves cognition in older adults.’ ‘The implications are huge,’ he added, ‘given the aging population and age-related diseases like Alzheimer's disease and stroke.’”

Abnormal Heart Function Reduces Exercise Capacity

“Abnormal heart function greatly reduces a person's ability to exercise, say U.S. researchers. Dr. Jasmine Grewal, of the Mayo Clinic, and colleagues found that people with abnormal diastolic function (when the heart is relaxed and expanded) in the left ventricle have a substantially lower maximum capacity for exercise. The left ventricle is one of the four chambers of the heart. The study included nearly 2,900 patients who underwent exercise echocardiography, which uses ultrasound to provide information about the structure and motions of the heart. The researchers also assessed left ventricular systolic (contraction) and diastolic function. Patients with left ventricular diastolic dysfunction while resting had a much lower capacity for exercise than those with normal function. This reduction in exercise ability increased with age. ‘In identifying diastolic function parameters as strong correlates of exercise capacity, we have identified potentially modifiable and preventable factors in the development of exercise intolerance. It is well known that exercise training improves diastolic function in healthy individuals ...,’ the researchers wrote. The study was published the Jan. 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.”

Staying In Shape In A Tough Economy

“Kyle Will is in a lot better shape than the economy. But the recession has negatively affected Will’s WillRace Performance, a personal training business in Bend. He’s not alone. Many personal fitness trainers in Central Oregon have experienced a slowdown of sorts, even in fitness-crazy Bend, where ’triathlete’ and ‘cyclist’ seem about as common a job title as ‘waiter.’ ‘Business is definitely down,’ Will said Thursday. ‘I didn’t really start to feel it significantly until April or May of last year and then it probably dropped off 20 to 25 percent. A lot of our clients, like so many people in this town, were somehow involved in construction or building or development. And people were losing jobs or moving out of town or whatever.’ With the jobless rate hovering around 10 percent in Deschutes County and around 12 percent in Crook and Jefferson counties, it’s little surprise that people are looking to trim expenses. For many, that means scaling back or cutting out luxuries altogether. The Athletic Club of Bend also has seen a decrease in its personal training take. General Manager Kip Heilman said personal training revenues fell 6 percent in 2008 compared with 2007. Despite the year-over-year decrease, 2008 was still 15 percent better than 2006, Heilman said. Still, the slowdown has given the Athletic Club a chance to re-evaluate the way it provides personal training, including focusing more on small-group classes rather than one-on-one training. ‘It has really given us a chance to sit back and think about personal training in a new way,’ Heilman said, adding that group training revenues have increased 300 percent compared with 2006. ‘We will be able to get to more people.’”

Fitness Isn’t an Overnight Sensation

“Carl Foster, an exercise physiologist at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, was amused by ads for a popular piece of exercise equipment. Before-and-after photos showed pudgy men and women turned into athletes with ripped bodies of steel. And it all happened after just 12 weeks of exercising for 30 minutes three times a week. ‘We said: ‘Wait a minute. You can’t change yourself that much,’ Dr. Foster said. So he and his colleagues decided to experiment. Suppose they recruited sedentary people for a six-week exercise program. Would objective observers notice any changes in their bodies? The plan was to photograph volunteers wearing skimpy bathing suits and then randomly assign them to one of three groups: cardiovascular exercise, weight lifting or control. Six weeks later, they would be photographed again. Their heads would be blocked out of the photos, which would be shuffled. Then the subjects and judges would rate the body in each photo on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being spectacular. The volunteers were men, age 18 to 40 (the university’s human-subjects review board looked askance at having women photographed and rated like that). And they were sedentary. ‘These were people who were just sort of dumplings,’ Dr. Foster said. Results were not surprising. The subjects rated themselves more highly than anyone else rated them, and female panelists rated the subjects lower than the male subjects or panelists rated them. But, over all, the subjects’ ratings barely changed, if at all, after their exercise program. And neither did objective measures, like weight or percentage of body fat, or waist size or the size of the bicep or thigh. Exercise physiologists approach the whole new year, new you, total body transformation mania with a jaundiced eye. Yes, they said, people can change the way they look. But not overnight. ‘I think it’s pretty clear,’ said William Kraemer, a kinesiology professor at the University of Connecticut. Often the promises are just marketing, he said. ‘A lot of times when you are dealing with health clubs, they are trying to get new members who have made New Year’s resolutions. ‘To make a change in how you look, you are talking about a significant period of training,’ Dr. Kraemer said. ‘In our studies it takes six months to a year.’ And, he added, that is with regular strength-training workouts, using the appropriate weights and with a carefully designed individualized program. ‘That is what the reality is,’ he said. Jim Lisowski, 45, the owner and chief executive of SciTec, a research and development company in Montgomery, N.J., said he had let himself slip out of shape, going from 189 pounds to 225 pounds. He is 5-foot-10 ½. ‘My approach was to get fit,’ Mr. Lisowski said. ‘I knew I would lose weight.’ The nine months or so that it took to lose the weight and gain strength and endurance seemed fast to him. He attributes it to the fact that he had been fit before he let himself go, and to his attitude. ‘You can go to a gym and spend time there and not make changes,’ he said. ‘You’ve got to break a sweat, you have to increase the weights. You’ve got to challenge yourself.’”

CEO Challenges Announces CEO Fitness Tests in New York, LA, Chicago, Denver

“In one of its most ambitious initiatives ever, Colorado-based CEO Challenges, the world leader in sport competitions designed specifically for C-level executives, has launched fitness competitions in four major U.S. cities - Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Denver. While the fitness test is short - only 15 minutes - it is strenuous. The competition begins in February and runs through March 31. CEOs who want to compete will go to select health clubs in these cities to take the test. Registration is free. Club locations include select Equinox fitness clubs in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City; Colorado Athletic Club and The International Center for Performance & Health in Denver; and RallySport in Boulder. For specific locations, visit: CEOs can register at Competitors must pre-register to take the test. The competition is for CEOs, owners, presidents, and other C-level executives of companies with at least $1 million in annual gross revenue. The 15-minute fitness test, administered by professional trainers, includes: Endurance: number of step ups in three minutes, Core Strength: number of crunches in two minutes, Upper body strength: number of push-ups in one minute, Speed and agility: number of laterals in 30 seconds, and Leg strength: vertical jumps. ‘I encounter amazing CEO athletes, who stay physically active to stay on top of their business game and to promote wellness to their employees. This CEO fitness test in these major cities is an attempt to promote positive behavior of CEOs around the country,’ said Ted Kennedy, founder and president of CEO Challenges.”

CYBEX FT-450 Changes the Functional Training Landscape

“Trends in the fitness industry come and go, but functional training has captured public attention and stayed there. Often under the guidance of a personal trainer or sports trainer, popular approaches to functional training involve exercises that mimic daily activities and athletic movements. In most gyms today there are two primary strength training methods; one is machines that stabilize the body to allow lifting of heavy weights. In the other, the body is unstable which allows muscles to work together but with less weight. Individually both strategies have their advantages, and together they would create a complete functional training solution. Up until now, no product has bridged this gap. The CYBEX FT-450 combines the two exercise methods, for a new total strength training solution. The new CYBEX FT-450 Functional Trainer is a breakthrough product which takes functional strength training to new ground. A unique patent-pending design adds two key features to revolutionize strength training applications. The Progressive Stabilization Pad allows users to incrementally decrease their stability which increases the work the core muscles are called upon to perform. Additionally this feature supports the use of higher weight loads which are typically achievable only on selectorized or other isolative strength machines. The Cable Width Adjustment feature allows innumerable height and width configurations giving the most creative trainers unlimited exercise possibilities.”,688581.shtml

£116,000 Aid For Workers' Fitness

“Staff at Lancashire council have signed up to a new fitness programme. Employees at Fylde Council and the North West Ambulance Service have become the first to benefit from a £116,500 cash injection from the Sport England-funded Y Active Workforce scheme. The two-year funding was secured through a Fylde Coast YMCA bid in partnership with councils and the Fylde and Wyre Sport and Physical Activity Alliances. It means that hundreds of employees in the boroughs are now eligible for reduced YMCA health and fitness memberships.”

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ten Things We're Still Buying

“Hey, Big Spender, are you out there? You must be, since December 2008 sales amounted to $343.2 billion. What did you buy? Nothing impulsive or lavish, it would seem. Consumer confidence is at its lowest point in history and, according to a Jan. 14 report released by the Commerce Department, retail sales were down 2.7% in December 2008 from November 2008 and 9.8% from December 2007. While retailers suffer from shoppers changing their behaviors during recessions (mainly by abandoning brand loyalty), says Lindstrom, ‘There are certain things people won't give up.’ Keeping Fit - Don't let consumers' continued thirst for technology have you thinking everyone will be anchored to the couch through the remainder of the recession, however long it lasts. Gyms, considered by some to be an affordable luxury, aren't completely in the red, as people seem to want to stay healthy in both good and bad times. In fact, market researchers at St. Louis, Missouri-based firm Stifel Nicolaus say overall gym memberships will increase by 4% in 2009. And a nationwide survey conducted by Princeton, N.J.-based Opinion Research Corporation, and sponsored by gym chain Anytime Fitness, found that over 60% of the 1,090 (gym-going) participants planned on keeping their current membership plan, while another 23% planned on downgrading to a less expensive option. Aside from bare necessities, the things consumers are still buying have one thing in common: They provide a break from reality. ‘We want to dream ourselves away,’ says Lindstrom. Maybe everything will be fine by the time we wake up.”

Exercise Some Frugality

“Fitness centers are slashing fees for current and new members, and even former members, for 2009. Lapsed members of the upscale SportsClubLA (the were recently invited to return with no need to pay the one-time initiation fee, which can be at least $600, and no membership dues for two months, a savings for some of at least $330. Less high-end clubs are also offering deals. Among them: A two-week free guest pass at Bally Total Fitness (bally, which recently filed for bankruptcy reorganization but says it plans to continue operations; One month free, then 50% off the monthly membership fee, through March 6 at Curves (; No enrollment fee at Gold's Gym (; A 30-day money-back guarantee at L.A. Boxing ( ). ‘Gyms realize these are tough economic times, for themselves as well as their members,’ says Joe Moore, chief executive of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Assn., a fitness trade group. Even independent gyms are offering deals, so talk to the manager. Moore recommends that new and old gym members review benefits online or in the information package they are typically handed when they sign up. Go through the materials with a staff member to be sure you know what you're getting. Then heck, ask for a little more -- gym membership in the U.S. was down 3% in 2007 (there are no numbers yet for 2008) and clubs might consider throwing in a free month, a bigger membership discount, passes for a workout buddy, free or discounted personal training sessions or a free trial for a service the club otherwise charges for, such as a pool. Check your company benefits to see if free or discounted gym memberships are offered. Many health insurers offer discounts at specific gyms. Call the membership number on your insurance card or check the insurer's website. If your doctor prescribes a gym membership to help treat a problem such as arthritis, you may be able to use your flexible spending account -- a pretax account for medical expenses some firms set up for employees. Ask the doctor if a prescription is appropriate, then show it to the person at your firm who manages employee benefits and ask if your company will allow gym use to be covered by the account.”,0,3527583.story

Almost 90, She Still Works Out Six Days A Week

Who: Goldie Silverman, 89, Portland; 5 feet 2 inches; 160 pounds Workout: A week shy of 90, Silverman works out three days a week for an hour at 24-Hour Fitness. She spends 20 minutes on a treadmill, 20 minutes on a stationary bike and 20 minutes on weight machines. Three other days each week she takes a milelong walk to and from the parks in her Northeast Portland neighborhood. Silverman spends summers on Martha's Vineyard, where she swims and body surfs. Legally blind, she no longer drives or reads but she listens to a lot of books on tape. Twice a week she volunteers at a local nursing home chatting up the residents. A little history: One of seven children in a family with a lot of heart disease, she began working out in a gym following quintuple heart bypass surgery. She also has survived two bouts with lymphoma. Her two children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren will be coming from all over the country to help her celebrate her 90th birthday. Nutrition: During her East Coast summers, Silverman eats fish nearly every day. The rest of the time she takes omega-3 oil. She eats chicken, too -- baked, not fried -- but not much beef. And she makes sure she gets a lot of fresh veggies. She likes chocolate and does all her own cooking and baking. She takes aspirin daily and, depending on her diet, a variety of vitamins. Her doctor recently recommended melatonin or valerian root to help with sleep problems. Words of wisdom: She sometimes visits farmer's markets with her granddaughter. On the cost of living, she says, "I'm of the age group that knows how to tighten their belts. In my day we didn't have credit cards. We didn't buy anything until we had the money in our hot little hands."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dear President Obama - Men's Fitness Editor in Chief urges our new President to create real change by getting America back in shape

“Congratulations on your historic ascension to the highest office in the land. Like many others, I am heartened by it and the promise of an Obama presidency. I am also quite cognizant of the challenges ahead—for all of us. Your task is daunting. The economy. War. Energy. Health care. Housing. Food prices. Not to mention restoring our image around the globe. And that's just your to-do list for February. Now add to your agenda this critical need: Getting America Fit. You're certainly aware of the increasingly alarming (and expanding) state of the American waistline. We can blame a myriad of factors, ranging from poor eating habits to sedentary lifestyles. Childhood obesity has been given much attention (rightly so), but the rest of us could use a few more trips to the gym, as well. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, fewer than one in three Americans between 18 and 64 gets regular exercise. That we stop these trends and change our health and fitness habits is as critical as ending our dependence on foreign oil. It might actually be easier, too, if someone on your team would make shaping up our nation a true priority. Why do it? Well, you certainly know. We've twice recognized your own passion for fitness by naming you one of the Fittest Men in America (in 2005 and again last year), and now everyone knows of your love for basketball and your regular workouts. Beyond the physical and mental benefits of leading a fitter lifestyle, doing so also impacts the cost of health care. And as you seek to ensure that every American has health coverage, those savings could be monumental. Where do you start? Here are some ideas:

· Put some juice behind two bills now languishing in Congress. Both provide tax incentives for Americans who make a commitment to getting fit. The Personal Health Investment Today Bill (introduced in January '07 by your fellow Illini, Representative Gerald Weller, R.) allows a deduction of up to $1,000 for exercise equipment and gym membership fees. The Workforce Health Improvement Program Act (March '07) allows employees to exclude up to $900 from their gross income for fees, dues, or membership expenses paid by an employer. Last year, we published our first Fittest Companies in America list. Each company selected showed a significant rise in productivity and employee self-esteem, as well as a decline in health costs.”

"Poll: What won't you sacrifice? Even in a tough economy, there are some expenses you refuse to cut back on

This is based on a Money magazine reader poll conducted from Dec 9 to
11, 2008. 1,383 responses:

Not willing to give up:
Gym Membership: 48%
Eating Out: 41%
Extra Car: 35%
Premium Cable: 30%
Fine Wine and Spirits: 20%

Willing to give up:
New Gadget: 89%
Sporting Events: 87%
Big Vacation: 83%
Expensive Clothes: 80%
Cultural Events: 78%"

Find Fit At Gym | Workout Facility Must Meet All Your Needs

“New Year's resolution season is in full swing, and it's past time to find a gym. You won't be alone in that quest. January is a huge month for health clubs, with about a million people joining nationwide - 50 percent more than during any other month of the year, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportclub Association. That membership boom means most clubs offer some of their best specials and promotions this time of year, so it's a great time to join. But what should you look for? A small club catering just to men, just to women or just to people who want 20-minute workouts? A gigantic all-inclusive club? We asked fitness experts to give their advice about what to look for when you're sizing up a club to join. Here's what they said: […]”

Lifestyle Changes Help Reduce Child Obesity

“A new review of studies spread over five continents finds that overweight or obese children and teens can lose weight with lifestyle changes sometimes coupled with medication. Lead reviewer Hiltje Oude Luttikhuis, M.D., with the Beatrix Children's Hospital in Groningen, the Netherlands, and her colleagues analyzed 64 randomized controlled trials of lifestyle therapy and drug interventions. Behavioral lifestyle therapy aims to change thinking patterns and actions. For example, children and adolescents were encouraged to have breakfast and to eat regular meals, while controlling portions. They were also encouraged to reduce sedentary behaviors like watching TV and to increase physical activity. Techniques used to change these thinking patterns included self-awareness, self-monitoring and goal setting for eating and physical activity. Participants also learned cognitive behavior strategies that included ways to deal with stress. Studies took place in North America, Europe, Australia, Asia and South America (Brazil). The new review appears in the latest issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research.”

Family-Based Programs Effective In Child And Adolescent Obesity

“Family-based lifestyle interventions that not only modify diet and physical activity but also include behaviour therapy programs can help obese children lose weight and maintain that loss for at least six months. This Cochrane Review also found that in adolescents the effect lasts for at least 12 months. Adding weight controlling drugs orlistat or sibutramine to behaviour change programs for adolescents may provide additional benefits. These findings mark a change in opinion. A systematic review performed in 2003 could not find enough data to draw any conclusions about the effects of different programs. This time the researchers identified 64 randomised controlled trials involving 5230 participants, enabling them to see some definite effects. ‘It is now clear that family-based, lifestyle interventions that include a behavioural program aimed at changing diet and physical activity provide significant and clinically meaningful decreases in overweight and obesity in both children and adolescents compared with standard care or self help regimes,’ says lead researcher Hiltje Oude Luttikhuis, who works at Beatrix Children's Hospital and the Department of Epidemiology in Groningen, Netherlands.”

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why Barack Obama Is Fit To Govern

“So today is the day when Barack Obama becomes the 44th President of the United States. He also enters the White House with the distinction of being the fittest President the States has ever known. The accolades could continue; healthiest leader among the G8 (group of nations); I could go on. Obama discovered the 'exercise effect' at the age of 22, when he decided to stop dabbling with drugs and alcohol. His focused turned to running and it has remained an embedded part of his life for the past 25 years. ‘The main reason I do it is to clear my head and relieve me of stress,’ Obama told Men's Health. ‘My blood pressure is pretty low and I tend to be a healthy eater. Most of my workouts have to come before my day starts. There's always a trade-off between sleep and working out. Usually I get in about 45 minutes, six days a week. I'll lift [weights] one day, do cardio the next. I wish I was getting a 90-minute workout.’ Obama's commitment to exercise is causing quite a debate. It polarises opinion. Some ask: How does a President of the United States make time to exercise six days per week? Others: Shouldn't the President be focusing on the job? Obama's response is: ‘It gives you more mental endurance and more energy to think clearly,’ he said. ‘For a president, that's not a bad thing.’ It will be interesting to see how Obama continues this exercise regime when he moves into the White House. However, it is clear that this 47-year old, six-pack President is already re-defining what 'middle age' means for men who balance the needs of home, health and a career. Obama's fitness achievements may act to inspire more middle-age individuals in England to become more active. The last Active People survey showed that just over 21% of 45-54 year olds exercised at least three-times weekly for at least 30 minutes. That figure includes both men and women. It has risen since the previous Active People survey, but only just. So, the majority are still finding reasons not to take up sport and exercise and the reason cited normally involves a lack of time. So here's a question: If the President of the United States can make time for exercise, shouldn't we?”

Chronically Ill or Disabled Kids Need Exercise, Too

“Children with chronic illnesses or disability can often benefit from the right exercise program, showing improved quality of life, greater aerobic capacity and better function, according to a report published this month. But chronically ill or disabled children and teens who aren't active can get out of shape and too fat, just like their peers who aren't challenged by illness or disability, warns Dr. Patrick J. Morris of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Morris notes that children with cerebral palsy often have movement problems that make it difficult to walk, let alone exercise. But he points to a study in seven teens with the disease that showed three months of training improved their aerobic capacity and their ability to stand, walk, jump and run. Physical activity is also beneficial to individuals with spinal cord injuries, Morris adds. And while the jury is still out on whether exercise can help people with cystic fibrosis get stronger and breathe more easily, he notes, the studies to date show no evidence that physical activity is harmful for these patients. Even children with the bleeding disease hemophilia can engage in physical activity, according to Morris, if they choose a sport that's appropriate for their fitness and coordination level. Aerobic workouts can clearly help children with asthma get stronger and more fit, although the evidence is not as clear on whether training affects symptoms like breathlessness or the amount of medication a patient needs. Exercise is also crucial for helping children with type 2 diabetes manage their illness, according to Morris, but a study out last year showed that adolescents found the hardest thing about following an exercise program was ‘lack of motivation.’ Just because exercise can benefit young people with disease ‘doesn't mean it's easier to get these kids to sign on to physical activity,’ Morris concedes. To help motivate them, he suggests emphasizing ‘fun approaches with variety and freedom that are supported by peers, that have the option of family participation, and that foster success.’ Morris points to the offerings of Courage St. Croix, a rehab and resource center for disabled individuals near his home, as examples of activities that fit the bill: ‘power wheelchair soccer, hockey, softball or rugby; ...handcycling, SCUBA, rock climbing, kayaking, downhill skiing, water skiing, golf, archery, and bicycling; ... and yoga, tai chi and horseback riding.’ ‘Physical activity,’ he concludes, ‘is a positive intervention for children growing up with the challenge of a chronic disease or disability. When physical activity becomes a lifestyle for these children, they're supported on their way to becoming happier, healthier adults who are up to any challenge.’”

Low-Cost Strategies to Maintain Health in Hard Times

“Everyone needs to make sacrifices during hard economic times, but you don't have to shortchange your health. Experts with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston say people can live healthy and cut their risk of cancer without breaking the bank by following several free and low-cost strategies. Get moving. Moderate to intensive aerobic exercise, including brisk walking, are good for the heart and can help cancer survivors reduce the risk of recurrence. ‘The most consistent evidence we have so far for reducing the risk of several types of cancer is exercise and avoiding becoming obese,’ D. Jeffrey Meyerhardt, a Dana-Farber gastrointestinal cancer specialist, said in a news release issued by the institute. Activities can include taking the stairs instead of an elevator, using a stationary bicycle or treadmill while watching TV, or playing a team sport. Eat healthy. Keeping consumption of processed sugars, red meat and calories low, but fruits and vegetables high, helps you maintain a healthy weight and cuts the risk of certain cancers. ‘Many of the beneficial nutrients in fruits and vegetables are concentrated in the pigment or rich colors, which are often in the skins,’ said Stacy L. Kennedy, a nutritionist at Dana-Farber. An apple a day is a good start. The uncooked skin contains the cancer-fighting antioxidant quercitin. Pumpkin, sweet potato, squash (butternut and acorn), carrots and other orange fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids, cancer-fighting nutrients shown to lower one's chances of getting of colon, prostate, lung and breast cancer. Quit smoking. Kicking the habit will save you money later in health-care costs. ‘Even though there have been many recent advances in lung cancer treatments, the most effective way to eradicate lung cancer is to prevent it from ever happening,’ said Dr. Bruce Johnson, director of the Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology at Dana-Farber, noting that smokers who stay off tobacco for at least 10 to 20 years cut lower their chances of developing lung cancer by 50 percent. Though smoking is the cause of 80 percent of all lung cancers, according to the American Cancer Society, it also increases the risk of oral, throat, pancreatic, uterine, bladder and kidney cancers. Mind your Ps and Qs. Obviously you save money by cutting out alcohol consumption, but you may also lower the risk of developing some cancers. For example, Dana-Farber researchers found one drink a day for postmenopausal women may raise their risk for breast cancer.”

Physically Able Stroke Patients Often Sedentary

“Many people who have survived a stroke have the ability to be physically active but aren't, according to research published in the journal Stroke. ‘We were surprised and troubled at how little physical activity our participants with stroke were doing at home and in their community,’ study investigator Dr. Janice Eng told Reuters Health. ‘These were not people with severe stroke, but they had what we consider mild stroke; all could walk independently, yet their physical activity was less than half of what similar aged persons without stroke normally do.’ Their sedentary lifestyle could increase their risk of a second stroke, Eng warned. To gauge how active people with stroke are, Eng, from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and colleagues had 40 stroke patients wear an accelerometer on each hip for three consecutive days at home and during a 6-minute walk test in the laboratory. ‘Importantly,’ Eng said, ‘we found that these individuals had the physical ability, but were not using their abilities to do physical activity.’ This is ‘worrisome, as people with chronic conditions can easily fall into a cycle of sedentary lifestyle and further disability,’ she added. More than half of the stroke survivors (58 percent) did not meet recommended physical activity levels. We know that up to 30 percent of people who have a stroke go on to have another stroke,’ Eng said. ‘Given that physical activity and exercise is such a key method to reduce the risk of a second stroke, we really need to get the message out to these individuals, their families and health care workers that regular physical activity is an essential lifestyle modification for people who have had a stroke.’”

Youngsters Often Miss Diet And Exercise Marks

“According to their parents, pre-school children have somewhat better diets than school-age children, but both groups fall short when it comes to getting recommended amounts of exercise. Dr. Hollie A. Raynor, of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and co-investigators, assessed parents' reports of their children's diet and activity levels. Of 174 boys and girls, about half (49 percent) were preschoolers (2 to 5.9 years old) and 51 percent were school-age children (6 to 12.9 years). Parental reports of physical activity levels showed just 51 percent of kids, aged 2 to 12 years old, participated in sweat-inducing play or exercise for the recommended minimum of 60 minutes on most days, they report in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. Overall, 47 percent of the school-age kids were at risk for or were overweight, compared with 22 percent of the pre-school age kids, the investigators found. They also found that fewer pre-school kids ate salty and sweet snacks daily -- 14 and 16 percent, respectively. Conversely, reports showed nearly double this intake among school-age kids -- about 26 percent ate salty and nearly 30 percent ate sweet snacks daily. On average, parents' reported pre-school children ate minimum recommended daily servings of low fat dairy products, but school-age children did not. Moreover, while kids, regardless of age, minimally met recommended vegetable intake of 1 to 2.5 cups daily, and generally ate the recommended 1 to 1.5 cups of fruit daily, parents reported nearly 74 percent of the children ate fast food at least once a week. In this study, parents' perspectives, as a whole, suggest ‘children's eating and leisure-time behaviors are not close to meeting current recommendations,’ Raynor said. As unhealthy eating and activity habits tend to increase as children age, Ray.”