Category Archives: Fitness

How Russian hid its doping in plain sight



By David Epstein

On Monday, the World Anti-Doping Agency issued a report painting Russia’s sports programs as doping machines reminiscent of East Germany’s erstwhile state-sponsored drug programs.

This year we’ve written about the use of prescription drugs to enhance performance and why it’s so hard to catch dopers. But in Russia, there appeared to be no need for ever-more advanced maneuvering to evade positive tests.

In Russia, athletes simply needed cash and a culture that rewarded a no-holds-barred drive for champions. Continue reading


Using a weight-loss app? Are you losing weight? Probably not.


fat-phone-570By Lynne Shallcross

Young American adults own smartphones at a higher rate than any other age group. Researchers from Duke University wanted to see if capitalizing on that smartphone usage with a low-cost weight-loss app might help the 35 percent of young adults in the U.S. who are overweight or obese.

If you’re rooting for smartphones to solve all our health problems, you’re not going to like what these researchers found.

If you’re rooting for smartphones to solve all our health problems, you’re not going to like what the researchers found.

The smartphone app didn’t help young adults lose any more weight than if they hadn’t been using the app at all. Continue reading


Citing cost to taxpayers, cities and states tackle obesity


ScaleBy Teresa Wiltz

More than 35 percent of Arkansas adults are obese, making it the heaviest state in the nation.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson looked at those numbers and saw two problems: an increased risk of all sorts of health challenges, and an increased burden on taxpayers.

Armed with data about the devastating effects of obesity, Hutchinson, a Republican, last month launched a 10-year plan to combat the problem in his state, from tightening nutritional standards in schools to creating more walkable communities and improving access to affordable, healthy foods.

“I’m a conservative,” Hutchinson said. “I’m concerned about tax dollars as well as good health. There’s a consequence to the taxpayer because of bad health habits.”

Arkansas isn’t the only state to take on obesity this year. Governors in New York, Georgia and Tennessee have all announced plans to combat high rates of obesity among their citizens.

Nationwide, a third of all adults—78 million—are obese, up nearly 50 percent since 1990, according to Health Intelligence, a health data analysis site.

The top 10 heaviest states are in the South and the Midwest, according to a new report by the State of Obesity, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health, an advocacy and research group based in Washington, D.C.sln_obesitytable

Cities and states have a vested interest in tackling the issue. Obesity, defined as a body mass index of 30 or higher, is a leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., and can cause a host of chronic health issues, from diabetes to high blood pressure to cancer.  Continue reading


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