Category Archives: Fitness & Exercise

Get in the habit

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CalendarIs physical activity part of your everyday routine?

Having an exercise habit means you’ll be more likely to keep moving (or start up again if you fall off the wagon).

Make fitness a part of your daily life by adding extra steps to your commute or taking an active lunch break.

Stick with it despite obligations by exercising while on the phone or playing fun fitness games with your kids and pets.

This Monday, think of little ways you can add motion to your busy life.

Renew your commitment each week and soon fitness will feel just as routine as brushing your teeth or combing your hair.

 

About the Monday Campaigns:

The Healthy Monday Tips is produced by a national health promotion initiative called the Monday Campaigns.

The thinking behind the initiative derives from two studies done at the Center for a Liveable Future at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health by Jullian Fry and Roni Neff.

In one study, they reviewed the scientific studies that looked at ways to get people to adopt healthy habits.

In that review, they found that one of the most effective ways to keep people on track is simply to remind them from time to time to stick to it.

But when would be the best time send those reminders?

Fry and Neff decided to look at Monday, which many of us consider the start of our week.

To better understand how we thought and felt about Monday, they reviewed the scientific literature as well as cultural references to Monday in movies, songs, books and other forms of art and literature, even video games.

They noted that a number of scientific studies have found that we may suffer more health problems on Monday. For example, a number of studies find that Americans have more heart attacks and strokes on Monday.

There is also evidence that we have more on-the-job injuries on Monday, perhaps because we are not quite back into the swing of things, or are still recovering from our weekend.

Fry and Neff also found that while many of us, facing the return to work, may dread Mondays, Monday is also seen as a day for making a fresh start.

Fry and Neff concluded that Monday might be a good day for promoting healthy habits. Calling attention to the health problems linked to the first day of the work week, such as heart attacks and on-the-job injuries, makes Monday a natural day to highlight the importance of prevention.

And the Monday’s reputation as a day to make a fresh start offers the opportunity to help people to renew their efforts to adopt healthier habits.

Fry and Neff’s findings are put into practice by the Monday Campaigns, which helps individuals and organizations use Monday as a focus for their health promotion efforts, providing free research, literature and artwork, and other support.

To learn more about Healthy Mondays:

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Robotics for the paralyzed

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NIH Medline Plus magazine feature

Latest Advances Help People Regain Function and Independence

Founded in 2000, the National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), works to speed discovery and development of biomedical technologies in every field of medicine by bringing together teams of scientists and engineers from many different backgrounds to spark innovative approaches to health care.

The technologies have the potential to greatly advance the lives of persons with paralysis, as well as amputation and numerous neuromuscular disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease and others.

New Technologies—Years of NIH investment have made the field of neural prosthetics and other technologies to assist paralyzed individuals possible.

Improved Quality of Life—Neural prosthetic systems have advanced to allow the severely paralyzed to achieve independent control of function and engage in activities of daily living to improve their quality of life.

Options for the Paralyzed—The expanding options for paralyzed individuals include:

  • robotic arms
  • spinal cord stimulation
  • improved prosthetic limbs
  • restored ability to communicate

Shortly after pitching his Oregon State University baseball team to the 2006 College World Series championship, Rob Summers was struck and paralyzed from the chest down by a hit-and-run driver.

But now, thanks to an experimental mix of physical therapy and electrical stimulation of the spinal cord, he can do something he never dreamed of doing again: stand and voluntarily make some leg movements.

“It was completely unexpected,” says V. Reggie Edgerton, professor of integrative biology and physiology, and neurobiology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Until Summers, scientists believed that patients with a completely severed spinal cord would never be able to regain voluntary control of their paralyzed limbs.

To see if spinal cord stimulation could be successful in people, Edgerton and his collaborator, Dr. Susan Harkema at the University of Louisville, implanted an electrode array normally used to treat back pain in Summers’ lower back.

Harkema led the clinical study, which was supported by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

After years of being bound to his wheelchair, Summers can now push himself up and remain standing for a few minutes while receiving stimulation. With the support of a harness and help from therapists, he also can make stepping motions on the treadmill. Other functions impaired by his injury have improved, too: body temperature regulation, bladder and bowel control, and sexual function.

Edgerton thinks connections between Summers’ brain and the part of the spinal cord below the point of his injury may have been spared, or that the therapy encouraged nerve cells to make new connections.

Imagine Cathy Hutchinson’s satisfaction!

For the first time since being paralyzed from the neck down by a stroke fifteen years ago, she was able to reach for and drink coffee on her own—using her thoughts alone to direct a robotic arm to her lips.

The feat was made possible by Cathy’s fierce determination and a device called the BrainGate2 neural interface system, designed to put robotic arms and other assistive devices under the brain’s control.

The BrainGate consists of a baby aspirin-sized sensor that is implanted into the motor cortex (the part of the brain that directs movement) to monitor brain signals.

It is attached to computer software and hardware that then turn the signals into commands for moving external devices, such as Hutchinson’s robotic arm.

“The smile on her face was remarkable,” said Leigh Hochberg, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of engineering at Brown University in Providence, R.I. and a critical care neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)/Harvard Medical School in Boston, who led the clinical study of BrainGate. Although the technology is years away from practical use, he noted it is making good progress.

“This is another big jump,” said John Donoghue, Ph.D., who leads the development of BrainGate technology and is the director of the Institute for Brain Science at Brown University. “We’re getting closer to restoring some level of everyday function to people with limb paralysis.”

“That it is possible for a person to mentally control a robotic limb in three-dimensional space represents a remarkable advance,” noted Roderic Pettigrew, M.D., Ph.D., director of NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), which supports the research. The ultimate goal is to reconnect the brain directly to paralyzed limbs rather than robotic ones, according to researchers.

To Find Out More

NIH Medline Plus magazine NIH MedlinePlus is produced by NIH, the National Library of Medicine, and the Friends of the National Library of Medicine.

 

 

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Americans living longer but less healthy lives, UW-led research finds

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IHME stats

Change in leading cause of death in high-income North America 1990-2010

Americans are living longer lives, but we are living out these longer lives with chronic illnesses in large part due to our lifestyle choices, including eating unhealthy diets, failing to exercise, smoking, and using alcohol and drugs, according to research led by researchers at the University of Washington.

In the analysis, the researchers looked the causes of death and disability in 187 countries around the world. The study was led by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

A live webcast will be held tomorrow, March 5 from 9 am to 10:30 am PST, in which Microsoft founder Bill Gates, UW President Michael Young, and and IHME Director Dr. Chris Murray help launch a new suite of online data visualization tools.

The webcast can be viewed at http://www.healthmetricsandevaluation.org/gbd/live.

Researchers from more than 303 institutions and 50 countries contributed to the project, called the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2010.

US: a “mixed picture”

Analysis of the US health data revealed a “mixed picture” the researchers said: we are living longer but many of us are not enjoying a healthy old age.

The average life expectancy of American women, for example, increased from 78.6 years in 1990 to 80.5 years in 2010, yet only 69.5 of those 80.5 years were lived in good health.

The picture was the same for American men who in 2010 lived, on average, to be 75.9 years old – up from 71.7 in 1990 – but only 66.2 of those years are healthy.

Most of the illness and death in the US is caused by relatively few conditions. The top causes of death and disability were ischemic heart disease, followed by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, low back pain, lung cancer, and major depressive disorders.

The analysis also found that the leading causes of death had changed over the past 20 years. Over those two decades,

  • ischemic heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer remained the top three causes of death;
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lower respiratory infection, and colorectal and breast cancers had moved down;
  • and diseases like diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and Alzheimer’s disease moved up.

US: Lagging behind

The study found that the US also lagged behind many wealthy and middle-income countries with Americans living shorter lives — and shorter healthy lives — than the residents of many other nations.

For example, men in 39 other countries – including Greece, Lebanon, and South Korea – live longer, and men in 30 other countries – such as Costa Rica, New Zealand, and Portugal – enjoy more years of good health.

American women fare about the same; in terms of life expectancy they are ranked 36th in the world, and in terms of healthy life expectancy they are ranked 35th, the analysis found.

We are doing so poorly because of our lifestyle choices:

  • The number one culprit: a diet that puts us at risk for such obesity-related illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.
  • Number two: smoking, which leads to lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, heart disease and stroke.

To learn more:

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Health highlights from this week’s Seattle Times

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Seattle Times News Partner
Sunday, February 10, 2013

The People’s Pharmacy
Did nose-spray addiction raise blood pressure?
People’s Pharmacy on drug-induced rebound congestion from overusing nose sprays, thyroid hormone deficit and shrimp’s impact on cholesterol. (Sun, 2/10)

One healthful thing we love
One sure sign that spring is not all that far away is the Seattle Bike Swap, Feb. 10 in Seattle. This is a fun and useful way to get the necessary gear for riding. (Sun, 2/10)

Ready to get fit? There’s an app for that
Technology meets the fitness and self-improvement craze. Smartphone apps help people lose weight and change bad habits. Women in particular are drawn to the new toys. (Sun, 2/10)

Fit For Life
Pole dancing is slow dancing for fitness
It turns out that the fireman spin is super fun, says Fit for Life columnist Nicole Tsong. (Fri, 2/08)

Thousands of women sue over surgical mesh 
Soon after her surgery, Susan Harrison had a string of infections that caused intense pain, leaving her weak and unable to pick up and play actively with her young grandchildren. The discomfort and fatigue often kept her from her job as a kindergarten classroom assistant. (Fri, 2/08)

After early start, worst of flu season may be over 
The worst of the flu season appears to be over. (Fri, 2/08)

Medicaid expansion divides GOP governors
Conservatives have attacked governors backing the Medicaid expansion, accusing them of putting political expediency ahead of the Republican Party’s small-government principles. (Fri, 2/08)

Fit & Fun
A day to celebrate stairway walks
The Seattle nonprofit Feet First hosts 15 free walks on inclined pathways around the Puget Sound region to celebrate Stairway Walks Day on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013. (Thu, 2/07)

Abortion-insurance bill will get hearing, legislator pledges
State Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom says a bill to require most health insurers to cover abortions will be heard in a Senate committee this session, even though a Friday hearing on the measure was canceled. (Thu, 2/07)

New whooping cough strain in US raises questions 
Researchers have discovered the first U.S. cases of whooping cough caused by a germ that may be resistant to the vaccine.(Wed, 2/06)

Mentally ill more likely to be smokers 
New studies show that 1 of every 3 adults with mental illness smokes, compared with 1 in 5 adults without mental illness.(Tue, 2/05)

New tuberculosis vaccine doesn’t protect infants 
The world’s most advanced tuberculosis vaccine failed to protect babies against the infectious disease, according to a new study in South Africa. (Mon, 2/04)

On Fitness
Smart goal will help you shape up
Here are some practical tips for those trying to hold onto New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and get in shape. Fitness columnist Kelly Turner recommends setting smart goals from the outset. (Mon, 2/04)

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Commuting by car linked to weight gain

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Traffic_jamBy Laura Kennedy, Contributing Writer
Health Behavior News Service
Research Source: American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Using active transport to commute to work can reduce the weight gain common to most adults. According to an Australian study in the , urban residents who drive to work gain more weight than those who do not commute by car.

“Commuting is a relevant health behavior even for those who are sufficiently physically active in their leisure time,” say the study authors, led by Takemi Sugiyama, a behavioral epidemiologist at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne.

In order to achieve the level of physical activity needed to prevent weight gain, it may be more realistic to accumulate physical activity through active transport, rather than adding exercise to weekly leisure-time routines.

Overall, the 822 adults surveyed gained about 3.5 pounds during the four-year study. Daily car commuters gained the most weight, while those who drove only occasionally or never drove gained smaller amounts.

Daily drivers, even if they engaged in weekly exercise, gained on average 3 pounds more than non-car commuters. The only people who avoided weight gain altogether were non-car commuters who also achieved recommended levels of exercise.

“Public health, urban planning, and transportation initiatives … are needed to prevent weight gain through facilitating active transport and leisure-time physical activity,” the researchers note.

They surmise that the level of physical activity needed for weight maintenance, 150 to 250 minutes a week, may be best achieved by a combination of active transport and exercise.

Daily car commuters gained the most weight, while those who drove only occasionally or never drove gained smaller amounts.

There may also be differences in diet between car commuters and non-car commuters, which were not looked at in the study. More than 85 percent of Americans drive to work, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“For most Americans, it is challenging to find a safe route to work or shopping due to factors such as traffic concerns, lack of sidewalks, or protected bike paths,” says Penny Gordon-Larsen, Ph.D., a public health expert at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Until these factors improve, she comments, there are ways to build more activity into daily life. She recommends “standing while working, taking stairs, activity breaks, doing active work at home … anything but sitting still.”

Along with increasing opportunities for walking or cycling to work, reducing the time spent sitting in a car may be an important public health strategy, the researchers conclude.

Health Behavior News Service is part of the Center for Advancing Health

The Health Behavior News Service disseminates news stories on the latest findings from peer-reviewed research journals. HBNS covers both new studies and systematic reviews of studies on (1) the effects of behavior on health, (2) health disparities data and (3) patient engagement research. The goal of HBNS stories is to present the facts for readers to understand and use for themselves to make informed choices about health and health care.

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Take Out

Eating out adds on the pounds – CDC

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CDC Go Light

New year, new resolutions but it’s the same busy schedule. Families today lead busy lives balancing work, school, and play. Our busy schedules often mean that we don’t have time to make meals for ourselves and find ourselves grabbing food on the go. Sometimes this food isn’t always the healthiest for us.

The food we make at home tends to be cheaper and healthier for us. Did you know that in 1960 26% of the money spent on food in the United States was on food eaten away from home, and by 2011 that number had jumped to nearly half?

Americans now buy and consume food away from home an average of four times a week which can mean an extra eight pounds a year. The more we eat away from home, the more those pounds add up.

Our busy schedules don’t mean we have to eat unhealthy foods. We can plan ahead and make a meal or a snack to take with us on days we know we’ll be rushed. On the days when we don’t have time to plan ahead we can order healthier meal options or smaller sizes.

By making small changes, we can all stick to our New Year’s resolutions and keep our busy schedules.

Want to know more?

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Healthy Monday Tip: Go for the Goal

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Target GoalGo for the Goal

What health goals do you want to accomplish in 2013?

Whether you’re looking to move more, eat better, beat stress or just stay healthy, establishing both long-and short-term targets will help keep you focused.

A long-term goal can be something to work towards, like getting 2 1⁄2 hours of activity each week or eating 5 servings of produce each day.

Short-term goals are the smaller actions you take to build up to your objective.

Think about your long-term goal for 2013 this week, and brainstorm some smaller steps to get there.

Then, take action each Monday: when you have mastered one step, move on to the next!

About the Monday Campaigns:

The Healthy Monday Tips is produced by a national health promotion initiative called the Monday Campaigns.

The thinking behind the initiative derives from two studies done at the Center for a Liveable Future at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health by Jullian Fry and Roni Neff.

In one study, they reviewed the scientific studies that looked at ways to get people to adopt healthy habits.

In that review, they found that one of the most effective ways to keep people on track is simply to remind them from time to time to stick to it.

But when would be the best time send those reminders?

Fry and Neff decided to look at Monday, which many of us consider the start of our week.

To better understand how we thought and felt about Monday, they reviewed the scientific literature as well as cultural references to Monday in movies, songs, books and other forms of art and literature, even video games.

They noted that a number of scientific studies have found that we may suffer more health problems on Monday. For example, a number of studies find that Americans have more heart attacks and strokes on Monday.

There is also evidence that we have more on-the-job injuries on Monday, perhaps because we are not quite back into the swing of things, or are still recovering from our weekend.

Fry and Neff also found that while many of us, facing the return to work, may dread Mondays, Monday is also seen as a day for making a fresh start.

Fry and Neff concluded that Monday might be a good day for promoting healthy habits. Calling attention to the health problems linked to the first day of the work week, such as heart attacks and on-the-job injuries, makes Monday a natural day to highlight the importance of prevention.

And the Monday’s reputation as a day to make a fresh start offers the opportunity to help people to renew their efforts to adopt healthier habits.

Fry and Neff’s findings are put into practice by the Monday Campaigns, which helps individuals and organizations use Monday as a focus for their health promotion efforts, providing free research, literature and artwork, and other support.

To learn more about Healthy Mondays:

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Make a new start, Monday

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This week, LocalHealthGuide begins a series called the Healthy Monday Tips, produced by a national health promotion initiative called the Monday Campaigns.

The thinking behind the initiative derives from two studies done at the Center for a Liveable Future at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health by Jullian Fry and Roni Neff.

Monday Bigger

Courtesy of the Monday Campaigns

In one study, they reviewed the scientific studies that looked at ways to get people to adopt healthy habits.

In that review, they found that one of the most effective ways to keep people on track is simply to remind them from time to time to stick to it.

But when would be the best time send those reminders?

Fry and Neff decided to look at Monday, which many of us consider the start of our week.

To better understand how we thought and felt about Monday, they reviewed the scientific literature as well as cultural references to Monday in movies, songs, books and other forms of art and literature, even video games.

They noted that a number of scientific studies have found that we may suffer more health problems on Monday. For example, a number of studies find that Americans have more heart attacks and strokes on Monday.

There is also evidence that we have more on-the-job injuries on Monday, perhaps because we are not quite back into the swing of things, or are still recovering from our weekend.

Fry and Neff also found that while many of us, facing the return to work, may dread Mondays, Monday is also seen as a day for making a fresh start.

Day

Courtesy of the Monday Campaigns

Fry and Neff concluded that Monday might be a good day for promoting healthy habits. Calling attention to the health problems linked to the first day of the work week, such as heart attacks and on-the-job injuries, makes Monday a natural day to highlight the importance of prevention.

And Monday’s reputation as a day to make a fresh start offers the opportunity to help people to renew their efforts to adopt healthier habits.

Fry and Neff’s findings are put into practice by the Monday Campaigns, which helps individuals and organizations use Monday as a focus for their health promotion efforts, providing free research, literature and artwork, and other support.

This week, the first of the Monday Campaigns’ Healthy Monday Tips emphasizes the importance of setting goals. It urges us to decide on our long-term goals for 2013 and then come up with some smaller steps we can take to achieve them.

It will appear on … Monday.

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Few Americans walk or bike to get around

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By Stephanie Stephens, Contributing Writer
Health Behavior News Service

Research Source: American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Many people in the U.S. do not walk, bike or engage in other forms of active transportation, missing an important opportunity to improve their cardiovascular health, concludes a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Active transportation refers to any form of human-powered transportation, most commonly walking and cycling, but also using a wheelchair, in-line skating or skateboarding.

The study’s researchers suggest active transportation is “an untapped reservoir of opportunity for physical activity for many U.S. adults.”

“We knew that many studies have demonstrated that physical activity can help prevent a variety of conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and serum lipid abnormalities—all risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease,” said lead study author Gregg Furie, M.D. of the Yale School of Medicine, who specializes in adult primary care medicine.

However, the majority of previous studies done on physical activity primarily focused on its use in recreational activity or leisure time activity, he noted.

Using cross-sectional data from the 2007–2008 and 2009–2010 cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), Furie and his colleague, Mayur M Desai, Ph.D., associate professor at the Yale School of Public Health were surprised to find that less than one quarter of U.S. adults in a nationally representative sample reported walking or bicycling for transportation for more than 10 minutes continuously in a typical week.

“That’s a pretty low rate,” said Furie, “and we need to increase that level.” People who engaged in active transportation on average had lower body mass indexes and lower odds of hypertension, compared to those who didn’t.

The study identified reasons why government policies and infrastructure, along with “built environment interventions,” should allow and encourage active transportation.

Communities that do so may promote dedicated bicycle lanes and routes, educate residents about bike and motor vehicle road-sharing, provide bicycle storage, and integrate public transportation for both pedestrians and cyclists.

The U.S. has one of the lowest rates of active transportation in the world, said James F. Sallis, Ph.D., chief of the division of behavioral medicine at the University of California, San Diego.

“This is not an accident. U.S. transportation policies and funding prioritize travel by car, unwittingly discouraging active travel,” said Sallis, who is also director of active living research at UCSD. “This situation is made worse by land use and zoning policies that separate residential and commercial zones to the extent that it is not feasible to walk for daily needs. These new findings point out how transportation policy is health policy.”

He called the study “powerful evidence from a large national sample that active transportation is just as beneficial to health as leisure-time physical activity.

Not surprisingly, the findings highlight that transportation policies that essentially ignore walking and cycling appear to be contributing to the major chronic diseases that account for 80 percent of healthcare costs.”

There’s a need for better understanding of the overall benefits of active transportation, Furie said. “This information adds to the weight of evidence that suggests more work is necessary to develop environmental policies that make it safer, easier, and more desirable for people to walk and bike for transportation.”

Health Behavior News Service is part of the Center for Advancing Health

The Health Behavior News Service disseminates news stories on the latest findings from peer-reviewed research journals. HBNS covers both new studies and systematic reviews of studies on (1) the effects of behavior on health, (2) health disparities data and (3) patient engagement research. The goal of HBNS stories is to present the facts for readers to understand and use for themselves to make informed choices about health and health care.

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Easy tips to stay fit on your summer vacation

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By Katie Shimer, BS, Fitness Instructor, Valley Medical Center

Summer is here and many of you will likely be heading off on summer road trips and other vacation travel.

It can be tempting to ditch your workouts while you’re away; but it’s easy to maintain your health while on the road.

To stay fit, try these quick and simple exercise tips on your next trip.

Note: It’s important to remember to listen to your body while exercising (if it hurts, stop), and talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

Road Trips:

  • Park your car farther away in the parking lot and walk to your destination.
  • Stop at rest stops to take a walk and do some light exercise. Before you get back in your car do 10 squats, 10 marches in place, and 10 reaches up onto your toes.
  • In your hotel/motel or tent, do a few morning stretches in bed when you wake up. Hug your knees into your chest, and then reach your legs above your hips, stretching the hamstrings. Take your arms to your sides and let your knees gently roll and fall side to side.

Flights:

  • Walk the length of the plane every hour. During your walk, take a moment to stretch forward and backward (reach for your toes and reach for the sky).
  • Roll your wrists and ankles; stretch your fingers, back, neck, and hamstrings while seated. Do this after takeoff and while preparing for landing.
  • Have a layover? Walk around the airport; take the stairs instead of the elevator if you are able.

Did you know that even if you don’t have access to a gym or equipment, you can still complete an effective workout?

All you need is yourself and 15 minutes and you are ready to begin!

Here is a simple and quick body weight circuit that you can do anywhere, anytime:

  1. March in place to warm up
  2. Jumping jacks or march in place, 1 minute
  3. Squat and reach up onto toes/hands reach overhead, 12 times
  4. Kicks to the front, 20 each leg
  5. Side steps, 1 minute
  6. Pushups, 12 times (These can be done against a wall, on the floor on your knees, or on the floor on your toes)
  7. Alternating forward lunges, 1 minute
  8. Triceps dips, 12 times. Sit on a chair and place your hands on the sides of the chair by your hips. Slide your hips off the chair and lower your hips toward the floor. Use your triceps to bring your body back to chair height. Repeat without resting your hips on the chair.
  9. Punches forward, 1 minute
  10. Front plank, 45 seconds. Place your elbows on the floor under your shoulders and prop your body up using your knees or feet as the pivot point. Breathe and hold.

If you have the time – repeat!

Finish with some light stretching and that’s it! You can check off your workout for the day!

About Katie Shimer

Katie is a fitness instructor at Valley’s Fitness Center. She earned her B.S. in Kinesiology, Exercise Science from California State University Fresno and then moved to Seattle after graduation. She is an advocate of functional fitness and believes health is achievable at any age. She has a special enjoyment of helping older populations achieve greater movement and decreasing pain. She believes exercise can be (and should be) fun. Exercise means, and will look like, something different for every person. She enjoys working with people to find a program that can bring results and also be enjoyable. In her free time she enjoys running, hiking, biking, cooking, and traveling.

The Fitness Center is located on the first floor of the Talbot Professional Center.

Phone: 425.656.4006

 

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Regular physical activity may help ward off dementia years later

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By Sharyn Alden, Contributing Writer
Health Behavior News Service

Older adults who engage in vigorous physical activity three or more times a week are less likely to be diagnosed with dementia later compared to adults who don’t, according to a new longitudinal study in American Journal of Health Promotion.

“The key finding is that physical activity may be a preventative strategy for dementia, and it is a relatively easy behavioral modification we can all do,” said the study’s lead author Mary Elizabeth Bowen, Ph.D., research health science specialist at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Florida. “There is also evidence that physical activity has cognitive benefits even if a person has other health concerns.”

Researchers examined the effects of self-reported physical activity at age 71 from 808 adults in two ongoing national studies of aging.

On three separate occasions, participants were asked whether they engaged in vigorous physical activity such as biking, running, involvement in sports and heavy household work, over the past year.

Bowen and her colleagues found that people who reported vigorous physical activity three or more times per week were 25 percent less likely to be diagnosed with dementia three to seven years later.

There was no difference between the groups for other health conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

Bowen noted, “It is interesting that the affects of physical activity on dementia remained robust despite considerations of other factors such as genetics, health behaviors and health conditions in this older adult population.”

Barbara B. Bendlin, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, wasn’t surprised by the study’s conclusions. “These are interesting findings and add support to other studies showing that exercise may be beneficial in reducing the risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia.”

Considering the study’s self-reporting measures Bendlin said, “Possibly using other measures like a motion sensor, or measuring a person’s oxygen consumption during exercise could provide a more objective measure. Another potential conundrum is that we can’t know from this type of study whether people who are more physically active are at reduced risk for developing dementia, or whether developing dementia causes people to exercise less. Behavioral changes associated with dementia can manifest several years before the disease is diagnosed, so it may be that reduced activity levels are actually a symptom of the dementia process.”

Health Behavior News Service is part of the Center for Advancing Health

The Health Behavior News Service disseminates news stories on the latest findings from peer-reviewed research journals. HBNS covers both new studies and systematic reviews of studies on (1) the effects of behavior on health, (2) health disparities data and (3) patient engagement research. The goal of HBNS stories is to present the facts for readers to understand and use for themselves to make informed choices about health and health care.

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People with asthma get the green light for exercise

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Illustration of the lungs in blueBy Christen Brownlee, Contributing Writer
Health Behavior News Service

Not only is it safe for people with asthma to exercise, but doing so could reduce their risk of asthma symptoms or attacks, according to a new evidence review in The Cochrane Library.

Many people with asthma report avoiding exercise because they’re afraid it could trigger symptoms including shortness of breath, wheezing or a full-blown asthma attack, said review author Kristin V. Carson.

These fears might be encouraged from misreading their symptoms, their family’s beliefs about exercise and asthma, or even from their physicians.

Over time, Carson explains, patients can become out of shape, losing muscle mass and cardiovascular fitness. That makes any future attempts at physical activity significantly harder, increasing the chances that patients will become fatigued and breathless and further discouraging physical activity.

“This results in a spiraling cycle,” she says, in which patients are even more likely to avoid exercise.

To determine whether exercise was a danger to asthmatics, Carson and her colleagues reviewed previous studies that looked at the effects of physical training on people with asthma , comparing patients who received no or minimal physical activity to those who exercised for at least 20 minutes, twice a week, over the course of four weeks.

The researchers found that the patients who had exercised—using physical training as varied as running outdoors or on a treadmill, cycling, swimming or circuit training—were no more likely to have a serious asthma-related problem than those who weren’t exercising or who did light exercising such as yoga.

Additionally, Carson said, their findings showed that patients in exercise programs improved their cardiovascular fitness, which in turn could reduce asthma symptoms over time.

Some limited evidence from the included studies also suggested that exercise improved patients’ quality of life, she added, which could contribute to other health benefits and improved psychological well-being.

“We found no reason for people with stable asthma to refrain from regular exercise,” Carson said. “Physicians should encourage their patents with stable asthma to engage in physical training programs.”

Len Horowitz, M.D., a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City who wasn’t involved in this review, agrees that asthma patients shouldn’t shy away from exercise.

However, even though research suggests that exercise is safe for asthmatics, he says that many people will still use their asthma as a reason to avoid physical activity.

“Not everyone wants to exercise,” he said. “When patients think exercise makes them symptomatic or makes them risk an attack, it’s a good excuse not to do it.”

Horowitz notes that may professional athletes have asthma, which hasn’t negatively affected their careers.

However, he explains, some patients do have exercise-induced asthma, in which vigorous or prolonged exercise can trigger symptoms.

He advises patients in his practice to take precautions if they’re susceptible, including pre-treating themselves with an albuterol inhaler, avoiding exercise that exposes their lungs to cold, dry air (such as running outside in the winter) and building their activity levels gradually.

Health Behavior News Service is part of the Center for Advancing Health

The Health Behavior News Service disseminates news stories on the latest findings from peer-reviewed research journals. HBNS covers both new studies and systematic reviews of studies on (1) the effects of behavior on health, (2) health disparities data and (3) patient engagement research. The goal of HBNS stories is to present the facts for readers to understand and use for themselves to make informed choices about health and health care.

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Weekend reading: Interesting health articles online this week

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By Karl Eisenhower

Every week, a KHN reporter selects interesting reading from around the Web.

Rolling Stone: Don Berwick On The Fate Of ‘Obamacare’

Between July 2010 and December 2011, Dr. Donald Berwick was head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency that runs the government’s health insurance programs. In a sane world, he would be still. But Senate Republicans refused even to let his confirmation come up for a vote. … A pediatrician by training and a widely respected expert in health care policy, Berwick should have been a lock for the CMS job. But he was a backer of Obamacare; a believer in data and science; a proponent of universal health care. … Rolling Stone got him on the phone to talk about this week’s healthcare hearings at the Supreme Court, the importance of Obamacare, and the future of reform (Julian Brookes, 3/30).

The Economist: Full-Court Press

U.S. Supreme CourtWhen the arguments came to a close at the end of March 28th, Mr Obama faced one hopeful prospect—the court might uphold the mandate—and several nightmares. … The Supreme Court is expected to issue its decision by the end of June. … However the court rules, the political consequences will be huge. Even more important, for the long term, will be the court’s articulation of congressional power. Washington subsists on hyperbole. But this time it is all true (3/31).

The Atlantic: Legal Drug-Pushing: How Disease Mongers Keep Us All Doped Up

Blue and white capsules spilling out of a pill bottlePharmaceutical giants, like small-town pizza parlors, have two options for making more money: convince regulars to buy more of what they obviously like, or find ways to persuade more people that they will be happier with this drug or that thin crust with extra cheese. … These “disease mongers” — as science writer Lynne Payer in her 1992 book of that name called the drug industry and the doctors, insurers, and others who comprise its unofficial sales force — spin and toil “to convince essentially well people that they are sick, or slightly sick people that they are very ill.” Changing the metrics for diagnosing a disease is one reliable technique (John-Manuel Andriote, 4/3).

Outside: The Doctor Won’t See You Now

Last year, 13 Americans died during running races, and another eight while competing in triathlons. … the rising participation and the proportional death toll—especially in cases like (Peter) Hass’s—highlight the need for quality medical care at these events. And usually that care comes from volunteer doctors. At least it used to. More and more doctors are refusing to donate their services, and it’s for one frustrating reason: they can’t get medical-malpractice insurance. Most doctors’ insurers typically won’t issue one-day policy riders for sporting events, and race organizers haven’t stepped up to offer alternative coverage (Eric Beresini, 2/28).

Photo courtesy of Griszka Niewiadomski

The New Yorker: Dentists Without Borders

One thing that puzzled me during the American health-care debate was all the talk about socialized medicine and how ineffective it’s supposed to be. … my experiences in France, where I’ve lived off and on for the past thirteen years, have all been good. A house call in Paris will run you around fifty dollars. … most of my needs are within arm’s reach. There’s a pharmacy right around the corner, and two blocks further is the office of my physician, Dr. Médioni. Twice I’ve called on a Saturday morning, and, after answering the phone himself, he has told me to come on over. These visits, too, cost around fifty dollars. … I’ve gone from avoiding dentists and periodontists to practically stalking them, not in some quest for a Hollywood smile but because I enjoy their company (David Sedaris, 4/2).

Paris by McKenna71

This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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Experts divided over recommendation to screen children for cholesterol

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By Michelle Andrews

Shows blood being drawn from an arm

Photo by Mad Max

One in 500 kids has an inherited disorder that causes high levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol that may require medication to control.However, since the problem doesn’t create observable symptoms, as many as half of these kids don’t know they have the condition.

To help identify these children, late last year an expert panel convened by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommended that all children be screened for high cholesterol, once between the ages of 9 and 11 and again between ages 17 and 21.

Reaction to the guidelines, which were included as part of a larger NHLBI report on improving cardiovascular health in children and adolescents, has been mixed.

Some clinicians and researchers say universal screening is an important tool not only to help identify children who are genetically predisposed to high cholesterol, a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia, but also to pinpoint others who could benefit from treatment, including those with high LDL related to being overweight or obese.

Working with these kids to eat more healthfully and to exercise more may reduce the cumulative negative effect of high cholesterol on their cardiovascular systems and lead to fewer heart attacks and strokes later in life, the experts say.

Others, including clinicians who authored a pair of articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association last month, express concerns that screening may do more harm than good.

To learn more read the LocalHealthGuide article: Should kids with high cholesterol be put on drugs? 

To identify the relatively small number of kids who really need medical treatment, doctors cast a wide and expensive net that identifies many children as at risk who will never develop  premature cardiovascular disease, says Matthew Gillman, director of the obesity prevention program at Harvard Medical School, who co-authored one of the articles. Some of those children will probably be needlessly put on cholesterol-lowering medications, he says.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent group of primary-care providers that evaluates the evidence for clinical care, concluded in 2007 that there isn’t enough evidence to recommend for or against routine lipid screening in children and adolescents.

Research has shown that 10 to 13 percent of children have elevated cholesterol levels. Treatment for the vast majority should focus on lifestyle interventions, says Stephen Daniels, chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, who led the NHLBI panel. A much smaller number of those children, the ones with a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol, may need to take a statin, he says.

Until the new guidelines were released, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended cholesterol screening in children primarily based on family history. If a child had a father who had heart disease or a heart attack before age 55, for example, screening would be indicated. Children who had risk factors such as obesity or diabetes were also candidates for screening. The AAP has since endorsed the new NHLBI guidelines.

More From This Series: Insuring Your Health

“Family history doesn’t really catch everybody” with familial hypercholesterolemia, says Sarah de Ferranti, a member of the AAP committee on nutrition and the director of preventive cardiology at Children’s Hospital Boston.

In addition, she says, “Anecdotally, I can tell you that when someone comes to my office and they know they have high cholesterol values, they’re much more focused.”

That’s the case with the McFeeley family. Bill and Carolyn McFeeley, of Mullica Hill, N.J., had always considered themselves very healthy – until Bill had a heart attack two years ago at age 47.

The pediatrician for their three children checked the kids’ cholesterol and found that while levels for the two girls – Chelsea, now 17, and Chandler, 13 – were normal, Chase, 10, had slightly higher values: His total cholesterol was roughly 210. (In general, anything over 200 is considered high.)

Now Chase has replaced his beloved egg salad sandwiches with turkey and fat-free cheese ones. “If we can get ahead of it and keep Chase healthy, it means a lot to us,” says Bill.

Julie Brothers, medical director of the lipid heart clinic at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, sees Chase once a year now and says she hopes they can manage his cholesterol without medication. “None of us wants to slap medication on anyone,” she says.

Maybe not. “But if you’re going to test every child, it’s a sure bet you’re going to be medicating more kids,” says H. Gilbert Welch, a professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, who has written extensively on the problems created by aggressive screening.

Research on the safety and effectiveness of statins in children is scant; studies that have looked at statin use haven’t enrolled more than a few hundred kids, and none has followed them for more than two years, say experts.

“We don’t know what taking a 10- to 11-year-old kid and putting them on statins long term will do,” says Frederick Rivara, division chief of general pediatrics at Seattle Children’s Hospital and co-author of one of the JAMA articles.

Gillman says that while early intervention to prevent heart disease is critical, screening all children may not be the best way to do it. As an example, he cites a study that he co-authored last year examining the cost-effectiveness of blood pressure screening in adolescents.

“The bottom line of that study is that population approaches like taking the salt out of food are more effective and less costly than any screening program,” he says.

PHOTO by Mad MaxGNU Free Documentation License

Please send comments or ideas for future topics for the Insuring Your Health column to questions@kaiserhealthnews.org.

KHN wants to hear from you: Contact Kaiser Health News


This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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Signs can get us to use stairs instead of the elevator

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By Sharyn Alden, Contributing WriterPoster: Burn Calories, Not Electricity
Health Behavior News Service 

Signs that read, “Burn Calories, Not Electricity” posted in lobbies of New York City buildings, motivated more people to take the stairs and continue to use them even months later.

A new study, which appears online in the February issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, observed and analyzed people making 18,462 trips up and down stairs at three sites. The signs immediately increased stair use between 9.2 and 34.7 percent at all locations.

“The gains in physical activity continued to be observed nine months after the signs were first placed,” noted Karen K Lee, M.D., author of the study at New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “We found that placing stair prompts at the point of decision is effective.”

The study is among the first to assess the effects of stair prompts on stair climbing as well as descent in different types of buildings over many months. Prompts were posted in a three-story health clinic, a 10-story affordable housing building, and an 8-story academic site and studied over several months.

“Human-made environments in everyday life offer numerous opportunities for maintaining health, controlling weight and preventing disease,” Lee said. “One of those health opportunities is stair climbing, a vigorous activity which can burn more calories than jogging.”

“For almost no investment we can improve health.”

Patrick Remington, M.D., associate dean for public health in the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health said, “For decades, we’ve known this type of intervention works, but few, if any, places actually have these signs.”

Instead of removing the signage after the study was completed, the prompts were purposely left in place. New York City continues to promote the health benefits of stair climbing by distributing free stair signs to owners and managers of public and private buildings who request them.

“So far, we’ve distributed over 26,000 signs to owners and managers of about 1,000 buildings including residential, worksites, hospitals and academic centers,” said Lee.

Remington sees opportunities for widespread use of prompts. “For example, a zoning law could be enacted that requires buildings to have stair prompts …like they require signs for exits.”

Remington added, “Overall, this is a great study, showing how for almost no investment we can improve health.”

Health Behavior News Service is part of the Center for Advancing Health

The Health Behavior News Service disseminates news stories on the latest findings from peer-reviewed research journals. HBNS covers both new studies and systematic reviews of studies on (1) the effects of behavior on health, (2) health disparities data and (3) patient engagement research. The goal of HBNS stories is to present the facts for readers to understand and use for themselves to make informed choices about health and health care.

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