The Mediterranean diet has long been recommended for lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease among older people. Now, researchers say it appears to help young, working adults, too.
Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health found that the diet – which includes eating lots of fish, nuts, vegetables and fruits – helped a large group of Midwestern firefighters lower their risk factors for heart disease. U.S. firefighters are known to have a high prevalence of obesity and heart disease risk factors, according to a news release from Harvard School of Public Health.
“Our study adds more evidence showing the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, even after adjusting for exercise and body weight,” said Stefanos Kales, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Health at HSPH.
Researchers studied medical and lifestyle data for 780 male firefighters who live in the Midwest. Those who adhered the most to the Mediterranean-style diet showed a 35 percent lower risk in metabolic syndrome – a condition with risk factors that include a large waistline, high triglyceride level, low level of “good” cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar. These firefighters also had a 43 percent lower risk of weight gain compared to those who didn’t stick to the Mediterranean-style diet.
Additionally, obese firefighters drank sugary drinks and ate fast food more often than others.
“The study shows that promoting Mediterranean-style diets could have significant health benefits for young, working populations,” the news release states.
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Visit any gym and you’re likely to hear about High Interval Intensity Training.
It’s the latest trend in fitness, promising fast results for people on a mission to meet their weight loss goals.
But before you jump into your first HIIT class, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is reminding people to approach this program – and all exercise – with safety in mind.
“The key to safe exercise is moderation,” said AAOS spokeswoman Dr. Letha Griffin. “Individuals shouldn’t be deterred from pushing their bodies to the limit because that’s how you build strength and endurance. However, pushing too far, too fast, leaves the body prone to traumatic injuries, such as sprains and even fractures.”
Dr. Griffin, who practices in Atlanta, said she treats patients for a variety of lower body injuries that are associated with extreme-types of exercise training workouts such as common knee injuries and tears to the patella tendon.
Easing into an exercise program appears even more relevant these days as the number of exercise-related injuries is climbing nationwide. In 2012, more than 939,700 Americans received medical treatment for hurting themselves while exercising – approximately 100,000 more people than in 2011, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
To reduce your risk for exercise-related injuries, the AAOS offers the following safety tips:
- Extreme workouts are not for beginners. Start with a program of moderate physical activity— perhaps 30 minutes a session. If 30 minutes is too much in the beginning, break it up into shorter intervals. For instance, walk for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes later in the day.
- Follow a schedule. Both new and experienced exercisers benefit from following a schedule. Set a weekly exercise schedule that includes days off – rest days. For example, you might exercise every other day, with 3 days off each week.
- Embark on a balanced fitness program. A program that incorporates cardiovascular exercise, strength training, flexibility and balance training is preferable for optimal health and fitness. A balanced exercise program also will keep you from getting bored and lessen your chance for injury.
- Warm up first. Run in place for a few minutes, breathe slowly and deeply, or gently rehearse the motions of the exercise to follow. Warming up increases your heart and blood flow rates and loosens up other muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints.
- Stretch. Begin stretches slowly and carefully until reaching a point of muscle tension. Hold each stretch for 10 to 20 seconds, and then slowly and carefully release it. Inhale before each stretch and exhale as you release. Do each stretch only once. Never stretch to the point of pain. Always maintain control.
- Use proper equipment. First, look for running or athletic shoes that provide good construction, shock absorption and foot stability. Also, make sure that there is a thumbnail’s width between the end of the longest toe and the end of the shoe. As 60 percent of a shoe’s shock absorption is lost after 250 to 500 miles of use, people who run up to 10 miles per week should consider replacing their shoes every 9 to 12 months. Also, wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes that allow you to move freely and easily release body heat. When exercising in cold weather, dress in removable layers.
- Take your time. During strength training, move through the full range of motion with each repetition. Breathe regularly to help lower your blood pressure and increase blood supply to the brain.
- Stay hydrated. Drink enough water to prevent dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Drink 1 pint of water 15 minutes before you start exercising and another pint after you cool down. Have a drink of water every 20 minutes or so while you exercise.
- Cool down. Make cooling down the final phase of your exercise routine. It should take twice as long as the warm up. Slow your motions and lessen the intensity of your movements for at least 10 minutes before you stop completely. This phase of a safe exercise program should conclude when your skin is dry and you have cooled down.
Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons news release
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It may not be just extra calories and a lack of physical activity that are affecting children’s waistlines. Parents may want to start watching how much salt their children consume in a day.
Researchers say there’s a link between salt intake and childhood obesity, but more study is needed. New research shows that most adolescents eat much more salt than recommended. High sodium intake correlates with fatness and inflammation, regardless of how many calories they consume, a study found.
“The majority of studies in humans show the more food you eat, the more salt you consume, the fatter you are,” said Dr. Haidong Zhu, a molecular geneticist at the Medical College of Georgia and Institute of Public and Preventive Health at Georgia Regents University. “Our study adjusted for what these young people ate and drank and there was still a correlation between salt intake and obesity.”
The study included 766 healthy teens. Only 3 percent met the American Heart Association’s recommendation to consume less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily. The study was published in the journal, Pediatrics.
The adolescents self-reported how much sodium they consumed daily. Most of them ate just as much sodium as adults – and sometimes even more.
High sodium intake has been linked to higher weight, possibly because it causes water retention. While the new study does not prove that salt causes obesity, it contributes to mounting evidence that high sodium could have a direct role in obesity and inflammation, Zhu and her colleagues reported. But more clinical trials are needed.
“Obesity has a lot of contributing factors, including physical inactivity,” Zhu said. “We think that high sodium intake could be one of those factors.”
Zhu said parents should encourage their children to eat healthy meals. They should choose fresh fruits and vegetables over French fries and processed meats and snacks.
“We hope these findings will reinforce for parents and pediatricians alike that daily decisions about how much salt children consume can set the stage for fatness, chronic inflammation and a host of associated diseases like hypertension and diabetes,” said study co-author Dr. Gregory Harshfield, Director of the Georgia Prevention Center at the GRU institute.
The study was supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Source: Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University
+ Help a child learn healthy habits with the Bon Secours In Motion Youth Fitness Program. At Bon Secours In Motion, we promote physical fitness and nutritional education in a safe and fun environment.
Renowned for its ability to improve balance and decrease stress, yoga apparently benefits breast cancer survivors by reducing fatigue and inflammation, according to a new study.
In fact, researchers found that the more the women practiced yoga regularly, the better their results, a news release from Ohio State University states.
“This showed that modest yoga practice over a period of several months could have substantial benefits for breast cancer survivors,” said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, lead author of the study and professor of psychiatry and psychology at Ohio State University.
“We also think the results could easily generalize to other groups of people who have issues with fatigue and inflammation.”
Researchers recruited 200 women for their study. All of them had completed breast cancer treatments before the start of the study. Only yoga novices were recruited, the news release states.
After doing yoga for three months, the results showed that on average, fatigue was 57 percent lower in women and their inflammation was cut by about 20 percent compared to breast cancer survivors not doing yoga.
Researchers said they focused on breast cancer survivors because the treatment affects their ability to exercise.
“The treatment is so debilitating and they are so tired, and the less you do physically, the less you’re able to do,” Kiecolt-Glaser said. “That’s one reason we think there are higher levels of inflammation in cancer survivors, meaning that an intervention that reduces inflammation could potentially be very beneficial.”
Chronic inflammation is linked to several health problems including:
Women in the study who practiced yoga also reported sleeping better.
“Yoga has many parts to it – meditation, breathing, stretching and strengthening,” Kiecolt-Glaser said. “We think the breathing and meditation components were really important in terms of some of the changes we were seeing.”
Six months into the study, the women who did yoga continued to see health benefits: fatigue was 57 percent lower and inflammation was up to 20 percent lower compared to women not practicing yoga.
Sleep may play an important role in the numbers.
“We think improved sleep could be part of the mechanism of what we were seeing. When women were sleeping better, inflammation could have been lowered by that,” Kiecolt-Glaser said. “Reducing fatigue enables women to engage in other activities over time. So yoga may have offered a variety of benefits in addition to the yoga exercises themselves.”
Source: Ohio State University news release
+ Learn about the breast cancer rehabilitation program at Bon Secours In Motion.
+ Many cancer patients are turning to physical therapy to help improve their health. Read more about the physical therapy programs offered at Bon Secours In Motion Physical Therapy and Sports Performance.
As residents in South Hampton Roads prepare to shovel out their walkways and driveways, it’s important to consider proper form to avoid any back and neck injuries.
Shoveling snow sends many people searching for an ice pack. In 2012, more than 34,000 people nationwide wound up in their doctor’s office or a hospital emergency room for hurting themselves while shoveling snow, according to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
“Snow removal is high stress on the back if done incorrectly and is especially dangerous if you do not exercise regularly,” said Dr. Steven Morgan, spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “Always proceed with caution when removing snow. If you have a medical condition, consider hiring someone or asking for help from friends, neighbors or family members to remove the snow.”
Some of the injuries from snow shoveling may involve torn muscles and shoulder pain.
To help people avoid injuries, the AAOS recommends the following tips to avoid injury:
- Push snow, instead of lifting it. If you must lift it, take small amounts and lift using your legs. Squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift by straightening your legs, without bending at the waist.
- Do not throw snow over your shoulder or to the side. This creates a twisting motion that can put stress on your back. Instead, walk to where you want to dump the snow.
- Clear snow early and often. Begin when a light covering of snow is on the ground to avoid having to clear packed, heavy snow.
- Pace yourself. Take frequent breaks and replenish with fluids to prevent dehydration. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath or other signs of a heart attack, seek emergency care.
Source: AAOS news release
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Parents of adolescents who are recovering from a concussion can help their child recover faster by making sure they follow their doctor’s recommendations to scale back homework and time spent playing video games.
But a complete homework pass may be unnecessary, a new study shows. The study, published in Pediatrics, tracked 335 people ages 8 to 23 who visited a sports concussion clinic between October 2009 and July 2011 after suffering a concussion.
Researchers found that those who continued to do schoolwork as normal took about 100 days on average to recover from their concussion symptoms. But other adolescents who ranged from a complete cognitive rest to moderate activity, (which included reading less than 10 pages per day and completing less than one total hour of homework, online activity and video games), recovered in 20 to 50 days.
“The study adds support to recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and other groups in favor of academic accommodations that allow cognitive rest for students recovering from concussions, which may speed the recovery process,” a news release from the AAP states.
Although patients should follow their doctor’s recommendations, the study suggests that a complete cognitive rest may be unnecessary.
Whether doing no homework or some homework, but for less than one hour, adolescents in the study recovered from their symptoms in the same amount of time.
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics news release
+ Learn about ImPACT™ Neurocognitive Testing at Bon Secours In Motion Physical Therapy and Sports Performance. ImPACT™ is a computer-based program that tests multiple aspects of brain function. Athletes, especially those involved in contact sports who are susceptible to concussions, should have a test before the season begins, to establish a baseline. If they sustain a head injury, they should be retested. This gives athletic trainers, physicians and other health care professionals a comparison to determine if it is safe for the athlete to return to play.
If your child falls between the ages of 12 and 15, chances are they’re not getting enough exercise.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only 25 percent of kids in this age group are meeting the recommendation for 60 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity.
The news comes despite national attention to the problems associated with childhood obesity and campaigns to promote exercise. Researchers used 2012 data from the combined National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and the NHANES National Youth Fitness Survey. The findings appear in the January issue of the NCHS Data Brief.
So what is a parent to do?
According to the report, sports offer great exercise for children. And many kids still enjoy them.
“U.S. youth engaged in a wide range of physical activities out of school-based PE and gym classes, including basketball, football, running and dancing. In fact, almost one-half of all U.S. boys aged 12 to 15 years who reported activities outside of gym classes reported playing basketball during the previous week,” the authors wrote.
Basketball was the most common activity for active boys.
Other favorites included:
Active girls preferred different forms of exercise. Top on their list was running. Followed by:
- bike riding
Researchers also noted that physical activity for children not only helps improve academic performance, but it also helps youth to stay physically active as young adults. And physical inactivity is a modifiable risk factor for many diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, the report states.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys
+ Does a child in your life need to lose weight? Bon Secours In Motion offers a youth fitness program designed to help children make healthier food choices and find ways to enjoy physical exercise.
+ Make 2014 the year you and your family commit to a healthier lifestyle. Learn the latest about nutrition with nutritional analysis, a program offered by the Registered Dietitians at Bon Secours In Motion Physical Therapy and Sports Performance.
If you think you’re not at risk for type 2 diabetes, you’re in good company.
Unfortunately, many people at risk for this chronic disease have no idea that they should be making lifestyle and behavior changes to improve their health.
In fact, four in 10 people who are at risk for type 2 diabetes mistakenly believe they are perfectly healthy, according to a news release from the American Diabetes Association. The statistics come from a survey of 601 health care providers and 1,426 people who were more than 40 years old.
The good news is that once people understand their risk for type 2 diabetes, they can do something about it.
Simple changes can make a big difference. Changing the way they eat and getting enough exercise are two effective ways to minimize their risk. By choosing nutritious foods and controlling portion sizes, many people are able to lose weight, lower unhealthy cholesterol levels, lower their blood pressure and reduce blood glucose levels.
Another healthy step is to quit smoking, according to the ADA.
In an effort to educate and empower people to take action for their health, the American Diabetes Association has implemented CheckUp America, a national prevention initiative aimed at helping Americans learn how to lower their risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. CheckUp America works to help people manage these factors and thereby reduce disease risk through public and physician education campaigns, in addition to online, interactive resources, the news release states.
Part of the challenge, according to health care providers, is getting patients to take their risk seriously. Too many of them “are in denial,” the providers reported in the survey. Another challenge is that while patients may know that diet and exercise lowers their diabetes risk, many of them are still overweight or obese.
“Nearly 80 percent of at-risk patients think they are in “excellent” or “good health,” even though they don’t regularly implement good health habits and don’t believe they are at risk, or have control over lowering their cardiometabolic risk,” the news release states.
Cardiometabolic risk is a group of factors that indicate a patient’s overall risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
While some risk factors cannot be controlled, such as age, gender and family history, other factors – weight, cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, smoking, diet and exercise habits – can be changed by making healthier choices.
Source: American Diabetes Association
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If losing weight this upcoming year is one of your resolutions, you’ll be happy to hear that shedding just a modest amount of weight can make a big difference in your health.
Researchers found that middle-aged women were able to reduce their their risk for heart disease and diabetes over a two-year span by dropping 10 percent of their body weight.
In a study of 417 women participating in weight loss programs for up to 24 months, those who sustained a 10 percent or more loss of their body weight for two years reduced their total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol, HDL “good” cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin, glucose and inflammation markers, according to a news release from the American Heart Association. Women who were at greatest risk at the start of the study benefitted the most from modest weight loss.
“It is challenging to lose weight, but if women commit to losing 10 percent of their body weight and sustain that over time, it can have a large impact on overall risk factors associated with heart disease and diabetes,” said Registered Dietition and study co-author Cynthia A. Thomson, Ph.D. The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
The women, an average 44 years old and weighing nearly 200 pounds at the start of the study, were recruited within the communities of the University of California, San Diego; University of Minnesota; University of Arizona; and Kaiser Permanente Center Northwest in Portland, Ore.
Women in their forties often gain weight because they have sedentary jobs – like so many people who work in an office environment – and have possibly gained weight from previous pregnancies. Menopause can add even more pounds. In the end, a large percent of middle-aged American women find themselves weighing much more in their forties than they weighed in their teens, Thomson said
Women in short-term weight loss programs usually do better with weight loss in the first six months. After that, they start to gain the weight back, researchers said.
“Our study revealed the need for healthcare providers to provide women with longer-term support for weight control. It seems to pay off in terms of modifying risk factors for obesity-related disease,” Thomson said.
“The good news is that when you lose weight long-term, you just don’t move to a smaller dress size, you are actually moving these risk factors markedly and likely reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes,” Thomson said.
Source: American Heart Association news release
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You’re never too old to start working out, according to a new study that shows inactive seniors who start exercising still enjoy the health benefits associated with physical activity.
While it’s good to maintain an exercise regimen throughout your life, starting a workout routine when you’re older can also be helpful, researchers at University College London found. The study, which included more than 3,450 healthy seniors, was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
“The results appear to suggest that maintaining or beginning any form of regular activity is beneficial,” the researchers wrote. “This study supports public health initiatives designed to engage older adults in physical activity, even those who are of advanced age.”
Exercise can help improve arthritis symptoms, sleeping and blood pressure.
While the study didn’t prove that exercise prevented diseases, it did show a correlation with “health aging” eight years after exercise habits started. Healthy aging was described as living without developing major chronic disease, depressive symptoms, physical or cognitive impairment.
+ Read more about the health benefits of exercise.
+ Are you eating the right foods for your activity level? At Bon Secours In Motion, our Registered Dietitians help clients live healthier lives through nutritional analysis.