Category Archives: Fitness

Youth obesity rate drops in King County school districts participating in local public health initiative

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Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 11.23.21February 20, 2014

New findings published today by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that youth obesity dropped significantly in low-income school districts that were part of a King County-focused obesity prevention initiative.

The CDC report shows a 17 percent decline in youth obesity in King County (from 9.5 percent to 7.9 percent) after Public Health – Seattle & King County partnered with schools and community organizations to implement a two-year Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) obesity prevention initiative ending in 2012.  Continue reading

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Rich or poor, schools fall short on providing physical activity

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Soccer BallBy Milly Dawson
HBNS Contributing Writer

Schools in wealthier areas are more likely to have a physical education (PE) teacher on staff than are schools in poorer areas, but students in both wealthy and less affluent areas are coming up short with regard to physical activity, finds a new study in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

The researchers used data on students from elementary schools in San Diego and Seattle.

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Cafeteria ‘traffic light’ promotes healthier eating – study

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Stop light meal

A workplace cafeteria used “traffic light” labeling to indicate the healthiness of food and drinks and rearranged items so that healthier, green-labeled items were more visible. According to a study of 2,285 Massachusetts General Hospital employees who regularly used the cafeteria sales of healthy items jumped, and after two years, employees continued to make healthier choices. – Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reports. To learn more go here.

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Shape up your mood

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Runners LegsExercise releases hormones that can leave you feeling calmer and happier, while offering the opportunity to relieve stress, meet new people, and and boost self-confidence.

When you feel sad, frustrated or stressed this week, blow off some steam with a 30–minute exercise session.

You’ll feel refreshed and happier for it!

 

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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Understanding obesity in children – AHRQ summary for parents

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Kids 1From the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

How do I know if my child is at a healthy weight?

young boy on scaleYour child’s doctor will track your child’s height and weight over time and can tell you if your child is at a healthy weight. During wellness checkups, be sure to talk with your child’s doctor about your child’s weight.

Your child’s doctor may ask you about:

  • Your child’s eating habits
  • Whether you have places to get healthy food for your child
  • How much physical activity your child gets
  • Whether there are safe places for your child to run around and play
  • How much screen time your child has each day (time spent watching television, playing video games, or sitting in front of a computer, cell phone, or tablet such as an iPad)
  • Any health problems your child has
  • Your family’s medical history

What is BMI and what are BMI percentiles?

To find out if your child is in a healthy weight range, your child’s doctor may use something called BMI, or “body mass index.” BMI is a measurement based on your child’s height and weight. BMI helps the doctor estimate how much body fat your child has. The doctor can use BMI to see if your child is at a healthy weight for his or her height. A healthy BMI is different for girls and boys and changes by age.

Your doctor may compare your child’s BMI to the typical BMI range for children of the same sex and age. To do so, doctors may use what is called a “BMI percentile.” This can help the doctor figure out if a child is underweight, at a healthy weight, overweight, or obese.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children are considered:

  • At a healthy weight if their BMI is between the 5th and 85th percentile
  • Overweight if their BMI is between the 85th and 95th percentile
  • Obese if their BMI is in the 95th percentile or above

To calculate your child’s BMI and BMI percentile, go to http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/dnpabmi/.

What health problems can being overweight or obese cause for a child?

Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults. They are also more likely to develop serious health problems such as:

  • High blood sugar or diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol (a type of fat in the blood)
  • Sleep apnea (a condition in which you stop breathing for brief periods of time while you sleep)
  • Heart problems (such as heart attack or heart failure) or a stroke as an adult
  • Extra pressure on bones and joints, which could lead to bone and joint problems both as a child and as an adult
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (a disease caused by too much fat in the liver)
  • Low self-esteem or depression
  • Eating disorders such as binge eating and purging

What might lead to a child becoming overweight or obese?

Many things can lead to a child becoming overweight or obese, including:

  • Unhealthy eating habits. Children may eat too much, eat too many unhealthy foods, or drink too many sugary drinks.
  • Not getting enough sleep. Children who do not get enough sleep each night are more likely to become overweight.
  • Family history. Children from overweight families may be more likely to become overweight. This could be due to a child’s genes or learned family eating habits.
  • Not enough physical activity. Children may not get enough physical activity. Children should be active for at least 1 hour each day.
  • Too much screen time. Children may have too much screen time during the day. Some children may eat while watching television or playing on the computer.
  • Environment. Children may spend time in an environment (such as with relatives, with friends, in childcare, or at school) where healthy eating choices or opportunities for physical activity are not available.Keeping Your Child From Becoming Overweight or Obese

How can I keep my child from becoming overweight or obese?

To help keep your child from becoming overweight or obese, make sure your child eats healthy and is physically active. There are many things that can be done at home, in school, and in the community to help keep children at a healthy weight. Some examples of each are listed below.

At Home

There are many things you can do at home as a family. Some examples include:

Eat healthy
  • Cook healthy meals at home with foods from each food group.
    • The food groups include fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods (such as meats, eggs, fish, tofu, and beans), and low-fat or nonfat dairy.
  • Be sure to eat a healthy breakfast every day.
  • Eat at the table as a family instead of in front of a screen (television, computer, cell phone, or tablet).
  • Limit or do not keep unhealthy foods and drinks at home.
    • Replace unhealthy snacks such as cookies, candy, or chips with healthy snacks such as fruits and vegetables.
    • Replace unhealthy sugary drinks such as sodas, sports drinks, or juices with healthy drinks such as water and low-fat or nonfat milk.
  • Eat most meals at home instead of at restaurants. At home, you are better able to limit the amount of fat, sugar, and salt in your meals.
  • Be sure to eat the right amount of food.
For more information about healthy foods, eating the right amount, and sample menus, go to http://choosemyplate.gov.
father swimming with his childrenBe physically active
  • Give your child a chance to run around and play – at least 1 hour a day.
  • Plan fun activities like bicycling, walking to the park, playing ball, or swimming.
  • Encourage everyone in the family to be active during the day.
    • For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator and walk or bike places instead of driving or taking the bus.
  • Limit the amount of screen time each day.
  • In addition to being physically active, make sure your child gets enough sleep each night.

Let’s Go! is a program to keep children from becoming obese. The program focuses on healthy eating and physical activity.

Let’s Go! recommends the “5-2-1-0” healthy habits for each day:

  • 5 fruits and vegetables
  • 2 hours or less of screen time for recreation
  • 1 hour or more of physical activity
  • 0 sugary drinks

Let’s Go! also recommends keeping television and computers out of your child’s bedroom and not allowing screen time for children younger than 2 years.

Let’s Go! is a State of Maine program that also supplies resources to communities outside of the State. These graphics and messages are adapted from Let’s Go! at www.letsgo.orgExit Disclaimer

In School

Girl in cafeteria line

In addition to eating healthy and being physically active at home, school programs can help keep children at a healthy weight. School programs could include things such as:

  • Lessons about the importance of healthy eating and physical activity
  • Information sessions for parents to learn ways to help keep their child at a healthy weight
  • Healthy breakfast and lunch options in the cafeteria with the right portion sizes
  • Healthy snacks and drinks in vending machines and at parties and events
  • Filtered water coolers to encourage drinking water instead of soft drinks or sports drinks
  • Adult-led walk-to-school or bike-to-school groups
  • A longer physical education (PE) period in which children are physically active
  • Gym equipment such as balls and jump ropes for use during recess

Let’s Go! also has resources for schools to help children eat healthy and be physically active. For more information and toolkits for your child’s school, go to www.letsgo.org/toolkits/Exit Disclaimer

To find out what your child’s school is doing to help keep children from becoming overweight or obese, talk with your child’s principal, school nurse, or school counselor. You can also ask how to become involved in the school’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) or Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO).

In the Community

In addition to home and school, things can also be done in the community to help keep children at a healthy weight. Communities and community centers can:

  • Improve community parks, sidewalks, and biking paths.
  • Take steps to make parks, sidewalks, and biking paths safe.
  • Advertise community events such as health fairs, 5K walks, sports events at local parks, community garden programs, and local farmers markets. This can be done on posters, in local newspapers, and on local television and radio stations.
  • Offer programs in which families can get advice on healthy eating and being physically active.

For other resources to help keep your child at a healthy weight, go to:

For more information about improving parks, sidewalks, and biking paths in your area, contact your local parks and recreation department.

For more information about events or programs in your community, contact your local community or recreation centers (such as the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, or local religious community centers).

What have researchers found about doing things at home, in school, and in the community to help keep children from becoming overweight or obese?

Healthy eating and physical activity are very important in keeping children from becoming overweight or obese.

Researchers found that:

  • Programs at schools to help children eat healthy and be physically active can keep children from becoming overweight or obese.
  • Along with school programs, additional steps at home and in the community can also help.
  • More research is needed to know which particular programs or steps work the best.
  • Talking With Your Child’s Doctor, School, and Community Centers

Examples of Questions To Ask Your Child’s Doctor

  • Is my child at a healthy weight?
  • What are the most important things for me to do at home to help keep my child at a healthy weight?
  • How can I get my child to eat healthy foods?
  • How much of each type of food should my child eat?
  • How much physical activity does my child need each day?
  • What are the best types of physical activity for my child?
  • How much screen time should I allow my child each day?
  • How much sleep should my child get each night?
  • Do you have any resources that can help me keep my child at a healthy weight?
  • Do you know of any community resources that can help?
  • If there are no grocery stores nearby or healthy food is too expensive for me, do you know of any resources that could help me?
  • If there is no safe place for my child to play outside, how can I help my child stay active?

Examples of Questions To Ask Your Child’s School Principal, Nurse, or Counselor

  • Does the school offer programs to help keep children from becoming overweight or obese? If not, how can we start some?
  • In the cafeteria and in vending machines, are healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables available instead of sugary drinks and salty or fatty foods?
  • How much time is my child given during PE, recess, and throughout the day to be physically active?
  • Does the school ever use PE or other physical activity as punishment?
  • Do you have adult-led walk-to-school or bike-to-school programs or other physical activity programs for children?
  • Are there information sessions that I can attend to learn more about helping my child stay at a healthy weight?
  • What can I do at home to help reinforce what my child is taught about healthy eating and physical activity at school?
  • Do you know of any community resources that can help?

Examples of Questions To Ask Your Local Community or Recreation Center

  • Do you have any resources or programs on healthy eating or physical activities for children?
  • Do you keep a calendar of community events such as health fairs, 5K walks, or sports events at local parks?
  • Do you have a list of local community gardens or farmer’s markets?
  • Do you know of any programs that can give me advice on how to help my family eat healthy and be physically active?Sources

The information in this summary comes from the report Childhood Obesity Prevention Programs: Comparative Effectiveness Review and Meta-Analysis, June 2013. The report was produced by the Johns Hopkins University Evidence-based Practice Center through funding by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Additional information came from the MedlinePlus® Web site, a service of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. The site is available at www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus.

This summary was prepared by the John M. Eisenberg Center for Clinical Decisions and Communications Science at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX. It was written by Amelia Williamson Smith, M.S., Jason A. Mendoza, M.D., M.P.H., and Michael Fordis, M.D. Parents of children between the ages of 2 and 18 reviewed this summary.

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Less than 10 minutes of brisk activity helps maintain a healthy weight

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Running shoes full shotBy Milly Dawson, HBNS Contributing Writer
Research Source: American Journal of Health Promotion

Short bursts of less than 10 minutes of higher-intensity physical activity reduce the risk of obesity, finds a new study in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

“This research shows that when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, every little bit of exercise counts, as long as it’s of reasonable intensity, such as a brisk walk, climbing stairs or jumping rope,” said study author Jessie X. Fan, Ph.D., professor in the department of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah.

Little bursts of exercise can add up to have a significant impact on a person’s weight, said Fan. In fact, the study showed that every minute spent in short bouts (1-10 minutes length) of high-intensity activity was as beneficial to Body Mass Index (BMI) as every minute in longer bouts (10 or more minutes) of higher-intensity exercise.

The study found that lower-intensity bouts of activity, of either short or long duration, were not associated with a lower BMI or risk of overweight or obesity in men or women.

The study’s authors noted that people often struggle to find the recommended 10-to-30 minute blocks of time that have been prescribed to meet widely held recommendations for exercise.

The current guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend that adults get 150 minutes weekly of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, accumulated during bouts lasting at least 10 minutes each.

However, the researchers note, fewer than 4 percent of Americans age 20 to 59 reach this guideline.

The new study involved a nationally representative sample of 4,511 Americans aged 18 to 64 from 15 counties across the country. Participants wore accelerometers that measured their steps and the intensity of their steps for 7 consecutive days.

The authors reported that for both men and women, the most minutes of physical activity were accumulated in shorts bouts of low intensity activity, followed by short bouts of higher intensity activity, then by long bouts of low intensity and lastly by long bouts of high intensity.

In other words, short bouts of physical activity represent the bulk of the activity most Americans experience. The findings underscore the notion that for maintaining a healthy weight, the authors write, “every brisk minute counts!”

Jennifer Gay, Ph.D., assistant professor of health promotion and behavior at the University of Georgia explained that the guidelines setting a 10-minute minimum for an exercise session to “count” had been chosen because 10-minute bouts represent the point at which the body starts to experience benefits to the heart and lungs.

This new study, she said, focused on the impact of short-versus-long bouts of activity on people’s weight, which reflects how many calories they burn compared to the number they consume.

Gay noted that, “both cardiorespiratory health and energy expenditure can contribute to reductions in disease risk.”

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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Schools Are Getting Healthier, says CDC

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school-busBy Marissa Evans

Nowadays, the hub for developing healthy habits isn’t just the gym or home. For kids, at least, it’s increasingly their schools, according to a study released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

School districts across the country are demonstrating a range of improvements in terms of nutrition, exercise and tobacco policies.

For instance, after years of efforts to phase out junk food like candy and chips, the percentage of school districts that prohibited such food in vending machines increased from 29.8 percent in 2006 to 43.4 percent in 2012, according to the CDC’s 2012 School Health Policies and Practices Study.

Also, slightly more than half of school districts – up from about 35 percent in 2000 — made information available to families on the nutrition and caloric content of foods available to students.

“Schools play a critical role in the health and well-being of our youth,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, in the news release. “Good news for students and parents — more students have access to healthy food, better physical fitness activities through initiatives such as ‘Let’s Move,’ and campuses that are completely tobacco free.”

Since 2000, the number of school districts that require elementary schools to teach physical education increased. In addition, the number of districts entering into agreements with local YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs or local parks and recreation departments went up, according to the study.

Meanwhile, the percentage of districts with policies that prohibited all tobacco use during any school-related activity increased from 46.7 percent in 2000 to 67.5 percent in 2012.

The CDC study is a periodic, national survey that examines key components of school health at the state, district, school, and classroom level, including health education; physical education and activity; health services; mental health and social services; nutrition services; healthy and safe school environment; faculty and staff health promotion; and family and community involvement.

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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Obesity across states – infographic

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By Michael Ollove
Stateline Staff Writer

After three decades of weight gains, adult obesity rates remained flat in the last year in every state except Arkansas.

Louisiana and Mississippi had the highest obesity rates – more than 34 percent of the adult population in both states was obese — while Colorado had the lowest rate at just over 20 percent.

The report, titled “F As In Fat,” found the poorer and less educated the population, the higher the rate of obesity.

08_16_fat_MAP

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Stateline is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news service of the Pew Center on the States that provides daily reporting and analysis on trends in state policy.

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Working up a sweat may reduce your risk of stroke

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Road BikeFrom NIH Research Matters

New findings suggest that breaking a sweat during regular physical activity may lower your risk of having a stroke.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. It occurs when blood vessels that supply the brain become ruptured or blocked. As a result, brain cells die from lack of oxygen and other nutrients.

Even when a stroke isn’t fatal, the damage to brain cells can lead to permanent speech, movement or memory problems.

It’s still not known why most strokes occur, but various risk factors have been identified, including high blood pressure, diabetes and inactivity.

To investigate the relationship between physical activity and stroke, a team led by Dr. Michelle N. McDonnell from the University of South Australia and Dr. Virginia Howard of the University of Alabama at Birmingham analyzed data from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study.

The dataset included information on more than 27,000 black and white participants, both men and women, from across the country. They were at least 45 years old at the time of recruitment and had no prior history of stroke.

The participants were asked how many times per week they exercised to the point of sweating. They were then contacted every 6 months to see if they had experienced a stroke or a mini-stroke known as a transient ischemic attack.

Participants were followed for an average of 5.7 years. Medical records confirmed their responses. The study was funded by NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). It appeared online on July 18, 2013, in the journal Stroke.

Participants who were inactive (exercising less than once a week) were 20% more likely to have a stroke or transient ischemic attack than those who exercised at least 4 times a week. After adjusting for traditional stroke risk factors (diabetes, hypertension, body mass index, alcohol use and smoking) exercise

was not a significant independent predictor of stroke risk, suggesting that the effect of physical activity is mediated through its association with obesity, hypertension and diabetes.

“Physical inactivity is a major modifiable risk factor for stroke,” Howard says. “This should be emphasized in routine physician checkups.”

“Exercise reduces blood pressure, weight and diabetes. If exercise was a pill, you’d be taking one pill to treat 4 or 5 different conditions,” McDonnell says.

One limitation of the study is that it included self-reported data on the frequency of exercise, but not on the duration of activity.

Official guidelines recommend that healthy adults (ages 18 to 64) get at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic physical activity each week. Activity should be done for at least 10 minutes at a time.

REGARDS will continue to assess stroke risk factors to look for long-term patterns in the study population. The findings will ultimately help researchers develop interventions aimed at preventing stroke and its consequences.

RELATED LINKS:

ReferenceStroke. 2013 Jul 18. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 23868271.

Funding: NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

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Obesity a challenge among the disabled

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Disabled wheelchair handicapped iconBy Glenda Fauntleroy, HBNS Contributing Writer
Research Source: American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Obesity and its related health problems impacts far more people with a disability than previously reported, according to new research in theAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine.

About 54 million people in the U.S. have a disability that affects mobility. The study looked at how these disabilities affect the prevalence of obesity and chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Lead author Katherine Froehlich-Grobe, Ph.D., associate professor at University of Texas School of Public Health in Dallas, said the main impetus of the study was to assess the rate of obesity among people with disabilities based on actual measurements rather than people’s self-reported height and weight, which are often inaccurate.

“While we expected to see higher prevalence than earlier estimates based on self-reports, we were surprised to see how high obesity prevalence was among those with a disability,” she said.

The researchers used six sets of data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (1999–2010) to compare the rates of obesity and extreme obesity among 11,556 adults with disabilities and 20,434 adults without disabilities.

The most common disabilities affecting mobility were arthritis and back and neck problems. Chronic disease risk factors, including blood pressure, lipids and glucose levels were also compared by weight and severity and status of disability.

The study found that 41.6 percent of people with disabilities were obese and 9.3 percent were extremely obese. In contrast, 29.2 percent of those without a disability were obese and 3.9 percent extremely obese.

People with disabilities at all weight categories were significantly more likely to report having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes and to have been prescribed medications for these conditions.

Healthcare providers should be encouraged to include individuals with disabilities in their clinical weight management efforts, suggest the researchers.

“Physical activity and exercise are critical to weight management and those with disabilities should also be as active as they can within the limits of their function and health,” said Froehlich-Grobe. “Common forms of exercise and activity [include] walking or bicycling, so the problem faced by providers is knowing what to recommend to those who face mobility issues and for whom walking is neither feasible or advisable.”

Lawrence J. Cheskin, M.D., director of Johns Hopkins Weight Loss Management Center in Baltimore, said patients with disabilities treated at his center are indeed faced with more challenges, since physical activity may be less possible as a means of preventing or treating weight gain.

“Food may also be a source of pleasure and comfort even more than in the general population,” Cheskin said. “We tend to focus on addressing intake, as this is the area most likely to result in improvements in weight.”

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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Baby boomers can take steps to live long and healthy lives – CDC

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Aging and Health in America, 2013

Longer life spans and aging baby boomers will combine to double the population of older Americans during the next 25 years to about 72 million.

Heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes continue to be the leading cause of death among older adults.

State of Aging and Health in America 2013 Adobe PDF file [PDF - 3 MB] provides a snapshot of our nation’s progress in promoting prevention, improving the health and well-being of older adults, and reducing behaviors that contribute to premature death and disability.

The report looks at 15 key health indicators that address health status (physically unhealthy days, frequent mental distress, oral health and disability); health behaviors (physical inactivity, nutrition, obesity and smoking); preventive care and screening (flu and pneumonia vaccine, breast and colorectal cancer screening); and fall injuries for Americans aged 65 years or older.

As the baby boomer population ages, it is important to take steps to ensure older adults live long and healthy lives.

Get Screened

A man and woman huggingLess than half of men and women aged 65 years or older are up-to-date on preventive services including flu vaccine, pneumonia vaccine, colorectal cancer screening, and mammography for women.

Mammography is the best available method to detect breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms. Women aged 50-74 should get mammograms every two years.

Colorectal cancer screening tests can find precancerous polyps so that they can be removed before they turn into cancer.

They can also detect colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best. Older adults should be screened for colorectal cancer by having a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) during the past year, a flexible sigmoidoscopy within 5 years and FOBT within 3 years, or a colonoscopy within 10 years.

Get Vaccinated

Flu and pneumonia is the seventh leading cause of death among adults 65 years or older, despite the availability of effective vaccines. Older adults should get the flu vaccine every year and get the pneumonia vaccine at least once.

Be Physically Active

Women riding bicyclesRegular physical activity is one of the most important things older adults can do for their health. Physical activity can prevent many of the health problems that may come with age, including the risk of falls.

How Much Activity Do Older Adults Need?

2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups.

OR

1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups.

OR

An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and muscle strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups.

Eat Fruits and Vegetables Daily

Diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of some cancers and chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are important for good health.

Adults aged 65 years or older should eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables daily.

Quit Smoking

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. For help quitting, visit www.smokefree.govExternal Web Site Icon or call 1-800-Quit-Now.

Take Medication for High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of illness and death among older adults. Of the almost 67 million Americans with high blood pressure, more than half do not have it under control.

Health care providers, such as doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, can track their patients’ blood pressure, prescribe once-a-day medications, and give clear instructions on how to take blood pressure medications.

Patients should take the initiative to monitor their blood pressure between medical visits, take medications as prescribed, tell their doctor about any side effects, and make lifestyle changes, such as eating a low-sodium diet, exercising, and stopping smoking.

 More Information

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Lifestyle changes can lower heart attack, stroke risk in patients with coronary artery disease

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Salad in BowlBy Sarah Jorgenson, HBNS Contributing Writer
Research Source: American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Lifestyle modification programs that addressed at least two health behaviors lowered the risk of a fatal heart attack or stroke in people with coronary heart disease, finds a new systematic review in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

In a meta-analysis of nine studies, with population sample sizes ranging from 57 to 1,621 patients, the researchers found an 18 percent reduction in the risk of death from coronary heart disease in people who participated in healthy lifestyle programs while receiving standard care versus people who received standard care alone.

“When you look at healthy lifestyles, you should be comprehensive in doing it because it is not enough to quit smoking if you have very bad dietary habits. So, the combination of lifestyle interventions could be more beneficial,” said lead author Chiara de Waure, M.D., M.Sc., an assistant professor at the Institute of Public Health at the Catholic University of Sacred Heart in Rome, Italy.

Studies varied in program duration with follow-up periods from one to nineteen years. All of the lifestyle intervention programs included diet and nutrition advice and exercise advice or sessions. A number of the studies also provided smoking cessation advice or programs, while other studies also included stress management.

“These interventions that the authors discuss may also subsequently reduce the risk of cancer, respiratory disease, and diabetes, among other chronic diseases…If anything, they were likely to underestimate the potential benefit of lifestyle change in terms of chronic disease,” commented Barry Franklin, Ph.D., professor of physiology at Wayne State University School of Medicine and director of the cardiac rehabilitation program and exercise laboratories at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan.

Franklin added, “The study reiterates that the first line of defense for heart disease, that is, the most proximal risk factors, involves addressing poor diet, physical inactivity and cigarette smoking.”

Researchers found an 18 percent reduction in the risk of death from coronary heart disease in people who participated in healthy lifestyle program.

The review finds that lifestyle interventions are effective even in patients with established coronary heart disease, whether they had symptoms or not, and may lower the risk of non-fatal heart attack and stroke and hospital readmission.

“Sometimes when a patient develops a disease, he may think that his world is over, that there is no way to improve through lifestyles because he has already had the event, but we are showing that healthy lifestyles continue to be important even after the onset of disease,” said de Waure.
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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race_running_runner-Kriss Szkurlatowski

No competition required

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race_running_runner-Kriss Szkurlatowski Photo: Kriss Szkurlatowski

You don’t need athletic prowess to stay active!

There are plenty of solo and team activities that emphasize fun and fitness, rather than competition or scoring points.

Try playing games with like-minded friends, taking a class, or going for a run, bike ride, or swim.

Find your personal motivation this week and try an activity that reflects your interests.

Instead of keeping score, consider the physical and mental benefits of your new activity.

 

Photo courtesy of Kriss Szkurlatowski

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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Doctor offers 8 tips to keep kids safe while biking

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Bike ThumbBy Kathryn Bluher
From Seattle Children’s On the Pulse blog

The long, sunny days of summer are the perfect time to get the bikes out of the garage, but parents should hit the brakes and talk to children about bike safety first.

Bike accidents are the second-leading cause of serious injury in school-age children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2010, 800 bicyclists were killed in the U.S. and an estimated 515,000 sustained bicycle-related injuries that required emergency department care.Roughly half of these cyclists were children and adolescents under the age of 20.

Tony Woodward, MD, MBA, medical director of emergency medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, says most biking injuries occur because a child either isn’t wearing a helmet or is putting themself in a potentially dangerous situation. “Children may see themselves as invincible when they are on a bike, which is not the truth,” says Woodward.

Biking is a great summer time activity for children and families, incorporating both physical fitness and family time, but proper safety measures are important to keeping kids injury-free. Accidents can and will happen while biking, even on the quietest roads and safest sidewalks, but these tips can help reduce the risk of serious injuries.

Top tips for keeping kids safe while biking

Wear a helmet every time. Children should wear a helmet every time they ride a bike. “Most of the serious and life-threatening injuries we see are head injuries,” says Woodward, but that risk can be reduced by wearing a properly fitted helmet. By simply wearing a helmet that fits correctly, children can reduce their risk of serious injury up to 85 percent. It doesn’t matter if a child is biking across town or across the driveway, children should wear a helmet every time they ride their bike, says Woodward. “Children shouldn’t be allowed on their bike unless their helmet is on their head first.”

Make sure you have the right helmet and the right fit. Not all helmets are made for biking. For instance, football helmets or hard hats are not acceptable for biking. Bike helmets are made specifically for head-first falls and should be properly fitted on a child. Helmets should meet safety standards and should have a CPSC (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) or Snell sticker inside. Proper fitting is also important. “Helmets only work if they are the right size,” says Woodward. If you can move the helmet from side to side, the helmet should be adjusted. Helmets should fit solidly on a child’s head and feel level. Due to the type of built-in protection, helmets are also only good for one crash. Remember, after a crash consider it trash!

Wear proper clothing. Kids should wear bright clothes while biking to be more visible to other bikers, pedestrians and cars. Reflectors or lights on the front and back of a bike and helmet are also a great way to increase visibility and ensure safety. Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing that could catch in the bike’s chain and mechanics, and wear proper shoes. “Wearing closed toed shoes while biking can reduce the risk of losing a toe and long sleeves can help guard against road rash if a child falls off their bike,” says Woodward. Flip-flops or shoes with heels are also hazardous.

Ride a bike that is right for you. Bikes come in all shapes, colors and styles. Choose a bike that fits your child’s skill level and style, but most importantly, find a bike that is the right size. Don’t purchase a bike that a child will grow into. A properly sized bike is a safer bike. Your child should be able to sit on the seat with their feet flat on the ground and the handlebars should be no higher than their shoulders.

Perform a safety check before every ride. Before every ride check to make sure a bike’s seat, handlebars and wheels are all adjusted correctly and in good shape. Nothing should be loose or falling apart. Check the chain of the bike and the brakes, and make sure the tires have enough air.

Be aware of surroundings while biking. Set clear guidelines with your child about where it is safe to ride their bike – on the street or on the sidewalk – and how far is too far away from home. Woodward recommends kids younger than 10 not ride without an adult in the street. Bike paths are a great option for children, free from motor vehicles. However, bike paths are not free from potential hazards, like sticks, rocks, protruding objects and other potential obstacles such as dogs, people and faster bikers. Also, bike paths are meant to be shared. Teach children to be respectful of walkers and other bikers and to always pay attention to their surroundings.

Proper supervision is key. Supervision is key, but it isn’t just when kids are on their bike, says Woodward. Supervision starts by preparing kids for their bike, with proper equipment and modeled behavior.

Follow road rules. Most pediatricians recommend not allowing children under 10 to bike on the roads, but if a child is deemed old enough and mature enough to ride on roads, make sure they understand the rules of the road:

  • Ride with traffic, never against traffic
  • Always stop and check for traffic in both directions when exiting a driveway
  • Stop at all stop signs and obey traffic lights
  • When riding on the road, act as a car
  • Use bike lanes and bike routes
  • Avoid riding too close to parked cars to avoid car doors opening suddenly
  • Use proper hand signals, when safe to do so

Accidents can happen anywhere – on the sidewalk, in the driveway, even on a quiet bike path – that’s why being prepared, supervised and aware of surroundings are so important. Biking is fun, but safety comes first!

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