Category Archives: Exercise

Study finds working in the office for 8 hours a day is as bad as smoking

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Office Work

Office work bad for your health: Office work is the new smoking, helping to kill millions of people because of increased physical inactivity, a new study has found. The study, which appeared in the Lancet journal, said sitting for at least eight hours a day could increase the risk of premature death by up to 60% and was posing as great a threat to public health as smoking. Inactivity, the study said, was linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers and was associated with more than five million deaths a year. Increased physical activity lowers the risk of at least 13 cancer types.

The researchers analyzed data from more than a million people in 16 studies, and warned that too little was being done to tackle the pandemic of physical inactivity. The good news is doing at least an hour of physical activity a day such as walking or cycling can eliminate this increased risk of death. “For many people who commute or have office jobs, there is no way to escape sitting for prolonged periods of time. For these people in particular, we cannot stress enough the importance of getting exercise, whether it’s getting out for a walk at lunchtime, a run in the morning or cycling to work.

An hour of physical activity a day is ideal, but if this is unmanageable, then doing some exercise each day can help reduce the risk,” said lead author Ulf Ekelund of the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences. “This lack of physical activity is the new smoking,” said Jonathan Broomberg, CEO of Discovery Health, who added that fast-rising numbers of people with diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease caused by an unhealthy lifestyle were taking a toll on medical aids.  –Times Live

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Walking meetings increase physical activity and improve bodily health

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Walking

Walking for Health: Is it time to rethink traditional work meetings? Replacing a seated work meeting with a walking meeting can increase workers’ physical activity and lead to positive health effects, according to researchers from the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine. As part of a study, the researchers recruited 17 workers who led weekly meetings. The workers agreed to wear an accelerometer to track their physical activity at work during a three-week period. They also adhered to guidelines for conducting meetings and note-taking while walking. The protocol included following a set route and walking for at least 30 minutes per meeting.

Results showed that, by the third week, participants had increased their moderate-vigorous physical activity to 117 minutes – up from 107 the first week and 114 the second week. Walking meetings and other interventions to increase physical activity are necessary to “counter the negative health effects of sedentary behavior,” Alberto J. Caban-Martinez, the study’s principal investigator and assistant professor of public health sciences, said in a press release.

Brisk walking for as little as 15 minutes per day can increase a person’s life expectancy by up to three years, researchers said. “Walking is known to have tremendous health benefits,” Hannah Kling, lead study author and project director, said in the release. “Having sedentary, white-collar workers consider walking meetings feasible suggests that this intervention has the potential to positively influence the health of many individuals.” The study was published June 23 in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.  –Safety & Health

Few Americans engage in health behaviors that prevent chronic disease

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Exercise

Body & HealthThere are five key health behaviors that can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, according to researchers, but little more than 6 percent of Americans adhere to them. This is the finding of a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recently published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice, and Policy.

According to the CDC, chronic diseases – such as stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease – are among the most common and costly health problems in the United States. Approximately half of all adults in the United States – around 117 million people – had at least one chronic health condition in 2012, while 1 in 4 adults had two or more. What is more, in 2010, more than 83 percent of healthcare spending in the United States was for people with at least one chronic health condition, with heart disease and stroke costing $315.4 billion alone.

However, there are a number of health-related behaviors that can lower the risk of such diseases. Dr. Yong Lu, of the Division of Population Health at the CDC, and colleagues set out to investigate the proportion of Americans that adhere to them. The team analyzed data from the 2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) – a system of telephone surveys that gathers health-related information from residents across all U.S. states.

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The data included almost 400,000 adults aged 21 and older, and the team looked at what proportion of these individuals adhered to five health behaviors known to reduce the risk of death from chronic disease. These five health behaviors are: Not smoking, Exercising regularly, Avoiding alcohol consumption or only drinking in moderation, Maintaining a healthy body weight, Getting a sufficient amount of sleep. 

Only 6.3 percent of adults engaged in all five key health behaviors. The results of the study did have some good news; they revealed that only 1.4 percent of the adults failed to engage in any of the five health behaviors. A total of 8.4 percent of the adults engaged in one of the health behaviors, 24.3 percent engaged in two, 35.4 percent engaged in three, and 24.3 percent engaged in four.

However, only 6.3 percent of the adults engaged in all five behaviors, with women, older adults, college graduates, and Asians most likely to report doing so. Compared with adults living in southern U.S. states, adults who lived in the Pacific and Rocky Mountain states were more likely to adhere to all five health behaviors. Based on their results, Dr. Lu and colleagues believe there needs to be increased focus on strategies that encourage more Americans to engage in all five health behaviors, which may reduce their risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. –Medical News Today

Five ways obesity may affect the brain

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Obesity and the Brain

DIET & HEALTH The obesity epidemic is not only bad for our waistlines, but it could have a significant effect on our minds, as well. “Obesity not only impacts how you look … or physical health, it also impacts your brain,” says Ranjana Mehta, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health in College Station, Texas.

Putting on the pounds not only transforms your belly, but it also alters your brain, a number of studies suggest. These brain changes may, in turn, fuel overeating, leading to a vicious cycle that makes losing weight and keeping it off challenging. Here are five ways obesity changes the brain:

Desensitizes the brain:

Gaining weight may desensitize the brain to the pleasure we get from sugary and fatty foods, prompting us to eat more cookies and cake than we did when we were leaner, research shows. A similar effect is seen in drug users, who eventually require more cocaine or heroin in order to achieve their original high. In a study published Sept. 29 in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers scanned the brains of women as they drank a milkshake. They saw the sugary drink activated an area known as the striatum.

Half a year later, the researchers repeated the experiment on the same women some of whom had gained some weight. The more weight the women had put on in the interim, the less their brains responded to the milkshake in the second experiment. Research on animals has also shown rats fed a diet rich in sugar and fats are less sensitive to the pleasure-inducing neurotransmitter dopamine.

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Obesity makes us more impulsive:

In obese children, a region of the brain in charge of controlling impulsively, called the orbitofrontal cortex, appears to be shrunken compared with that of lean children, according to a study presented this year at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry meeting in New York. Moreover, the smaller this brain region was, the more likely the adolescents were to eat impulsively, the researchers said.

Increases the risk of dementia:

Having more belly fat is associated with a decrease in total brain volume in middle-aged adults, according to a study published in May in the journal Annals of Neurology. It’s possible that the extra fat triggers inflammation, which puts stress on the body and perhaps impacts the brain, the researchers said. The finding suggests something particular about belly fat, also known as visceral fat the fat located between organs in the abdominal cavity may play a role in reducing brain size.

Visceral fat releases a unique profile of hormones, which may impact the body in a manner different from the hormones released by subcutaneous fat, or fat under the skin, the researchers said. Previous studies have found that people with smaller brain volumes are at higher risk for dementia, and tend to do poorer on cognitive tests.

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Yo-Yo dieting may prompt binge-eating under stress

Dieting may change how the brain responses to stress , so that the next time we find ourselves in a bind, or just plain frazzled, we eat more, according to a study published Dec. 1 in the Journal of Neuroscience. In the study, researchers put a group of mice on a diet so that they lost 10 to 15 percent of their body weight. Then, the mice were allowed to put the weight back on, similar to the way human dieters often see the pounds creep back. When the mice were exposed to stressful situations, such as hearing sounds at nighttime, they ate more food than those who had never been placed on a diet.

The mice also had what are known as epigenetic changes changes in the way genes are expressed that don’t involve changes in the gene sequences themselves particularly in genes involved in regulating responses to stress. The researchers said these modifications may have altered the animals’ eating behavior during stress.

Obesity may impair memory

Obesity may impair memory, at least for women after menopause. A study published July 14 in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society looked at memory test scores for 8,745 women ages 65 to 79. The researchers found a 1-point increase in a woman’s body mass index (BMI) was associated with a 1-point decrease on a 100 point memory test. Hormones released by fat could impair memory, the researchers said. These hormones can cause inflammation, which may affect cognition.  –Live Science