Category Archives: Fitness

Surgeon General wants to get us to “Step it up”


US Surgeon General issues a “National Call to Action on Walking”

In a new report, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy calls for Americans to take up walking to improve their health and reduce their risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other common conditions.

The report, called  Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities, discusses the health benefits of walking and calls on individuals to make walking a priority in their lives. Continue reading


More than one in three US adults is obese, study


burger-and-friesBy Alana Pockros

The U.S.’s high obesity rate and its relationship to other chronic diseases is not new information to most public health scientists and physicians, but a new analysis suggests that prevention strategies exist that could counter this trend if they were pursued as a public health priority.

A rearch letter published Monday by JAMA Internal Medicine reported updated results from an earlier study highlighting the burden of chronic conditions associated with body mass index. The new findings use the most recent data available on obesity – from 2007 to 2012 – from the National Health and Nutrition Examination survey, or NHANES.

In the US, early 40 percent of men and 30 percent of women are overweight, nearly 35 percent of men and 37 percent of women are obese.

.NHANES includes data for individuals 25 years or older and excludes pregnant women. “Overweight” and “obese” were classified by patients’ body mass indexes (BMIs).

Before the release of this study, the most recent examination of nation’s obesity and chronic disease burden was based on information from nearly 20 years ago, when researchers concluded that the prevalence of obesity-related health problems “emphasizes the need for concerted efforts to prevent and treat obesity” rather than just the other health conditions.

In the new analysis, the researchers found that nearly 40 percent of men and 30 percent of women were overweight, while nearly 35 percent of men and 37 percent of women were considered obese.

Comparing this data with statistics from the earlier study, the researchers concluded that overweight and obesity rates in the U.S. have increased over the past two decades.

The greatest increase in the proportion of individuals with BMI’s greater than 40, the highest obesity class, was among black women. Continue reading


Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue ranked 8th fittest metro area


Map of SeattleThe Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue region is the 8th fittest metropolitan area in the US, just behind Portland, Oregon and just ahead of Boston, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.  Washington, D.C. was ranked number 1. Indianapolis, dead last.

Our good points are we have:

  • Lower death rate for cardiovascular disease
  • More farmers’ markets per capita
  • Higher percent using public transportation to work
  • Higher percent bicycling or walking to work
  • Higher Walk Score®
  • Higher percent of population within a 10 minute walk to a park
  • More dog parks per capita
  • More park units per capita
  • More tennis courts per capita
  • Higher park-related expenditures per capita
  • Higher level of state requirement for Physical Education classes

Our bad points are we have:

  • Higher percent obese
  • Higher percent of days when physical health was not good during the past 30 days
  • Higher percent of days when mental health was not good during the past 30 days
  • Higher percent with asthma
  • Higher percent with angina or coronary heart disease
  • Higher percent with diabetes
  • Fewer acres of parkland per capita
  • Fewer swimming pools per capita

Continue reading


Washington state ranked most bicycle-friendly state


Road BikeWashington has again been ranked the most bicycle-friendly state by the League of American Bicyclists. But the we better not get complacent, the league warns:

Although Washington State has been #1 for the past 8 years, the gap between #1 and #2 (Minnesota) has steadily decreased since 2013. The Washington

State Department of Transportation should build upon its past successes by increasing staff capacity for planning, engineering, and implementation of solutions that make bicycling and walking safer and more convenient.

To learn more go here.


Paying Medicaid enrollees to get check ups, quit smoking and low weight: Will It pay off?


wellness-incentive-570By Phil Galewitz

When Bruce Hodgins went to the doctor for a checkup in Sioux City, Iowa, he was asked to complete a lengthy survey to gauge his health risks.

In return for filling it out, he saved a $10 monthly premium for his Medicaid coverage.

In Las Cruces, N.M., Isabel Juarez had her eyes tested, her teeth cleaned and recorded how many steps she walked with a pedometer.

In exchange, she received a $100 gift card from Medicaid to help her buy health care products including mouthwash, vitamins, soap and toothpaste.

Taking a cue from workplace wellness programs, Iowa and New Mexico are among more than a dozen states offering incentives to Medicaid beneficiaries to get them to make healthier decisions — and potentially save money for the state-federal health insurance program for the poor.

The stakes are huge because Medicaid enrollees are more likely to engage in unhealthy practices, such as smoking, and are less likely to get preventive care, studies show. Continue reading


Light rail station planning brings cities and communities together for more walkable, connected neighborhoods


By Tara Bostock
Public Health – Seattle & King County

The way streets and sidewalks in your community are built can affect your health. How? If a neighborhood is spread out and disconnected, it requires residents to be more dependent on their cars, which discourages walking and other forms of active transportation.

Studies have shown neighborhoods that are more walkable are associated with active transportation, lower body-mass index for adults, and less air pollution.

Studies have shown neighborhoods that are more walkable are associated with active transportation, lower body-mass index for adults, and less air pollution.

The Angle Lake District in the City of SeaTac is an area that was built for cars. International Boulevard (SR99) is a main thoroughfare with very long city blocks.

With large distances between businesses and not many opportunities to cross the street, it’s difficult to get from place to place without a car.

With the construction of the City’s Angle Lake Link Station, however, comes the opportunity to build a more walkable, bicycle-friendly district.

The City of SeaTac clearly values health and has a long-term vision of the type of city it wants to be.

Through the planning process for the Angle Lake District, the City wanted to explore ways land development around the station could meet the needs of the community and support health and community well-being.

The planning project included two main parts: The Pedestrian and Bicycle Connectivity Study and community engagement.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Connectivity Study
The Pedestrian and Bicycle Connectivity Study included a combination of policy and literature analysis, assessment of existing conditions and community outreach.

Recommendations included:

  • Intersection improvements—such as updating crosswalk markings and curb ramps
  • Increased sidewalk widths recommended for busy streetsSidewalks on both sides of the street
  • Shared streets (low-volume, low-speed streets that accommodate cars, bikes, and pedestrians)
  • Separated bike paths
  • A new signal on International Boulevard

Continue reading


Couch Potatoes Rejoice: Strenuous Exercise May Be Unhealthy – WSJ


potatoA recent study in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association, found that exercising strenuously four to seven days a week conferred an increased risk of vascular disease, compared with two to three days a week of strenuous exercise.

Accompanying the study, published in Circulation’s Feb. 24 edition, is an editorial entitled, “Physical Activity: Can There Be Too Much of a Good Thing?”

Photo: Courtesy of Sanja Gjenero

via Couch Potatoes Rejoice: Strenuous Exercise May Be Unhealthy – WSJ.


The Firefighter Workout –


NY firefighters have developed workouts to get and stay in shape.

fire extinguisherFour out of five firefighters nationwide are overweight or obese, and roughly half of all firefighters who die in the line of duty each year are killed by heart attacks.

But now a group of health-conscious firefighters is trying to change that with a charity they founded called 555 Fitness, which provides daily workout plans – and even free exercise equipment – to thousands of firefighters across the country.

via The Firefighter Workout –

PHOTO: Courtesy of Michael & Christa Richert


Both High and Low Intensity Exercise Benefit Weight, Waist –Doctors Lounge


Running shoes full shotFor people who are obese and sedentary, any exercise can help trim abdominal fat, but it may take a bit more effort to get other health benefits, a new study suggests. The findings were published in the March 3 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

via Both High and Low Intensity Exercise Benefit Weight, Waist –Doctors Lounge.


Should America go vegan to ward off obesity and save the environment? Medical News Today


Brocolli ThumbThe researchers placed employees of the auto-insurance firm GEICO who had type 2 diabetes and a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or above on a low-fat, low-glycemic, high-fiber vegan diet.

The employee cafeteria menu featured vegetable hummus sandwiches, seasonal leafy green salads, black bean chili and various fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals during the study period.

The authors report that study participants lost an average of 10 lb and experienced a 13-point drop in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, as well as improved blood sugar control.

via Should America go vegan to ward off obesity and save the environment? Medical News Today.


Few seniors benefiting from Medicare obesity counseling


ScaleBy Sarah Varney

VISALIA, Calif. — In the farming town of Exeter, deep in California’s Central Valley, Anne Roberson walks a quarter mile down the road each day to her mailbox. Her walk and housekeeping chores are the 68-year-old’s only exercise, and her weight has remained stubbornly over 200 pounds for some time now.

“You get to a certain point in your life and you say, ‘What’s the use?’”

For older adults, being mildly overweight causes little harm, physicians say. But too much weight is especially hazardous for an aging body: Obesity increases inflammation, exacerbates bone and muscle loss and significantly raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Dr. Mylene Middleton Rucker, a primary care physician in Visalia, Calif., is using the new obesity counseling benefit with her patients, but many doctors aren’t aware of it yet. (Sarah Varney/KHN)

Dr. Mylene Middleton Rucker, a primary care physician in Visalia, Calif., is using the new obesity counseling benefit with her patients, but many doctors aren’t aware of it yet. (Sarah Varney/KHN)

To help the 13 million obese seniors in the U.S., the Affordable Care Act included a new Medicare benefit offering face-to-face weight-loss counseling in primary care doctors’ offices.

Doctors are paid to provide the service, which is free to obese patients , with no co-pay. But only 50,000 seniors participated in 2013, the latest year for which data is available.

“We think it’s the perfect storm of several factors,” says Dr. Scott Kahan, an obesity medicine specialist at George Washington University.

Kahan says obese patients and doctors aren’t aware of the benefit, and doctors who want to intervene are often reluctant to do so. It’s a touchy subject to bring up, and some hold outmoded beliefs about weight problems and the elderly. Continue reading


Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue ranked 4th healthiest metro area – Annual Nerdwallet survey


Running shoes full shotThe healthiest places are Boston and the West Coast. Boston came in as the healthiest place in the U.S. by scoring well in all of the variables. Four of the other nine places in the top 10 are West Coast metro areas: San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and San Jose.

The unhealthiest cities are in the South. Seven of the bottom 10 places on the list are metro areas in Southern states, including three in Texas — Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. Residents in most of these places lag behind in terms of fitness and physical activity levels, while the rate of health insurance coverage is also lower than in many of the healthier places.

via Healthiest Places in America – Health.