ABC World News reported, “If you need any more convincing that a little bit of exercise can make a huge difference in your life, here’s some powerful new proof: A study in the medical journal Lancet looked at 400,000 people and found just 15 minutes of exercise a day increases life expectancy three years.” Continue reading
When physical activity was combined with academic skills, elementary students retained more. In other words, exercising at school or while learning might improve kids’ test scores, a new study finds. Continue reading
Two of my recent blogs warned of sitting too long in front of a computer at work:
- Does lunch in front of a computer make us eat more?
- Computer time may be linked to increased heart risks
Now Bloomberg News reports that “taking small breaks from sitting down such as standing for phone calls or walking to see colleagues may trim office workers’ waistlines and help their heart and metabolic health.” Continue reading
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggested that four bad habits can lower your life expectancy 12 years and lead to premature death:
- drinking alcohol,
- using tobacco products,
- not eating enough fruits and vegetables, and
- not getting enough physical activity.
In a blog earlier this year, The Formula for Good Health = 0, 5, 10, 30, 150, I discussed an easy-to-remember formula for good health (0, 5, 10, 30, 150) which is designed to help you achieve highly healthy lifestyle goals:
- 0 = no cigarettes or tobacco products
- 5 = five servings of fruits and vegetables per day
- 10 = ten minutes of silence, relaxation, prayer, or meditation per day
- 30 = keep your BMI (body mass index) below 30
- 150 = number of minutes of exercise per week (e.g., brisk walking or equivalent)
You can learn much more about a highly healthy and happy lifestyle in my newest health book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and staying highly healthy. It’s available at my online bookstore here.
The most common causes of death, according to the study, included heart disease and cancer, both of which were related to unhealthy lifestyles.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 72 million adults in the United States were obese in 2007–2008. And based on results from the 2007–2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, nearly 17 percent of children and adolescents, from ages 2 to 19, are obese.
But this isn’t the only cause for concern. The 2008 National Health Interview Survey and the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reveal that about 46 million adults in the United States smoke, with 6,600 new smokers starting each day.
In addition, the 2010 Annual Status Report from the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council points to excessive alcohol use as one of the leading causes of death in the United States. There are an estimated 79,000 alcohol-related deaths each year.
By taking steps toward important lifestyle changes—starting with physicians—patients can greatly diminish their health risks and improve their own lives.
That’s what the AMA’s Healthier Life Steps™ program is about. It addresses these challenges and offers key steps that patients and physicians can take to improve four key lifestyle behaviors:
- healthy eating,
- physical activity,
- eliminating risky drinking and
- discontinuing tobacco use.
The program also offers a format for open, honest discussion among physicians and patients to help target critical health behaviors and prevent and manage avoidable conditions. After all, physicians are one of the most trusted individuals with whom patients interact on a regular basis. Therefore, it is important that they, too, live a healthy life.
As part of the Healthier Life Steps ™ program, the AMA recently launched “A Physician’s Guide to Personal Health” to help physicians reflect on which steps they may need to take to live healthier and serve as role models to their patients.
The program also offers information and resources—including action plans, tip sheets and progress-tracking calendars—to help physicians implement strategies to assess patients’ readiness to change and counsel them on making these changes.
Twenty minutes of daily vigorous physical activity among college students may lead them to have grade point averages about .4 higher, on a scale of 4.0, compared with students who do not exercise. That’s a TEN PERCENT improvement!
A study presented at the American College of Sport Medicine’s annual meeting demonstrated the relationship and reinforced the notion that exercise reduces stress, improves performance and increases a sense of well-being. Here are the details from WebMD.
Joshua Ode supervised the study at a university in the northern U.S., of students ages 18-22. Ode said, “If the students are improving in the classroom, it may create a better campus environment. You’re creating more successful students, which is the goal of universities.”
Researchers studied 266 undergraduates and defined moderate activity as those exercises which don’t make you sweat or breathe hard, and vigorous activity for those which do, of any type. Their findings were consistent regardless of gender or major.
Ode said one of the next questions for further study should include the impact of activity on GPA throughout college.
And it doesn’t have to be seven days a week, Ode said. But the research suggests the more often, the better.
As I’ve blogged before, for younger kids, not only does physical education keep kids fit, but studies show that healthy kids learn more when they are physically active.
In fact, exercising kids not only tend to bring home better report cards, they do better on standardized test scores.
For more information on helping your child (and family) make wise physical activity choices, consider picking up a copy of my book SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat. Both the hard- and soft-cover editions are on sale here.
In addition, I have an entire chapter on how to work with your local school board to help them promote schools with better food and snack choices, and better physical activity choices.
U.S. schools and childcare programs could be required to include daily exercise as part of the new National Physical Activity Plan released recently. This is, in my opinion, critical to the health of our school children – physically, emotionally, and intellectually.
In my book SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat and on my SuperSized Kids Web site I write at some length about this problem. (You can learn more about my book from the links at the bottom of this blog.) Here are a few of the facts I discuss:
- Due to the “No Child Left Behind” legislation, schools kids have less Physical Education and daily physical activity programs.
- Without any question, the No. 1 barrier to physical activity in schools is the perception that time spent in PE and recess will undermine academic learning.
- But, all of the studies of which I am aware show the exact opposite: Physical education and daily physical activity programs for all students (K-12) results in INCREASED school performance.
- Furthermore, several studies demonstrate that when children’s fitness needs are met, they do better on standardized tests.
Here’s more on the new plan from Reuters Health:
With two-thirds of adult Americans and a third of children overweight or obese, the need for more activity is dire, health experts said in launching the plan.
The plan calls for changes in medical school curricula, local regulations to encourage construction of sidewalks, playgrounds and parks, guidelines for doctors on counseling patients, and a return of organized exercise to school days.
The report acknowledged what it said was pressure on schools to improve academic standards. “These pressures, combined with the trend toward children being driven to school and other factors, have reduced the amount of time children and adolescents are physically active during the school day.”
The plan was launched by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity, American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine. It spans law, policy, schools and medicine with recommendations that include:
- A national program to educate Americans about how to help themselves and others exercise more.
- More funding of research into how to get people to exercise.
- Including physical activity education in the training of all health care professionals.
- Making physical activity a patient “vital sign” that all health care providers assess and discuss with their patients.
- Putting a field for tracking physical activity in electronic medical records and electronic health records.
- Making physical inactivity a treatable and preventable health condition, with payments to doctors for a physical inactivity diagnosis.
- Developing state and school district policies requiring schools to account for the quality and quantity of physical education and physical activity programs.
- Ensuring that early childhood education settings for children up to age 5 promote physical activity and discourage sedentary behavior.
- Providing access to and opportunities for physical activity before and after school.
- Enacting federal legislation to support these strategies.
- Developing local policies and joint use agreements for school gyms and community recreation centers.
- Requiring a physical activity component in all state and federally funded after-school programs.
Most research shows that adults and children alike need at least one hour of moderate physical activity a day to stay healthy and keep from gaining weight. Regular exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke and other chronic illnesses.
“Unfortunately, nearly a quarter of the U.S. population does not participate in any physical activities,” Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said in a statement.
Until such a plan is implemented, what can you and your family do? Obtain a copy of SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat and review loads of tips on how to protect your family:
The government’s latest physical activity guidelines recommend:
- Keep track by the week. Adults need at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity activity each week, such as brisk walking, or 1¼ hours of a vigorous-intensity activity, such as jogging or swimming laps, or a combination of the two types. These activities should be done in at least 10-minute bouts and can be spread throughout the week.
- Get more ambitious.For even more health benefits, engage in 5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week or 2½ hours of vigorous activity.
- Strengthen those muscles.Adults should do muscle-strengthening activities at a moderate- or high-intensity level for all major muscle groups two or more days a week, including exercises for the chest, back, shoulders, upper legs, hips, abdomen and lower legs. The exercises can be done with free weights or machines, resistance bands, calisthenics that use body weight for resistance (push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups, for instance) or carrying heavy loads or doing heavy gardening such as digging or hoeing.
- Don’t use age as an excuse. Older Americans should follow the guidelines recommended for other adults if they are able. If not, they should try to be as active as their physical condition allows. Those who are at risk of falling should do exercises that improve balance.
- Kids can make it fun. Children and adolescents should engage in an hour or more of moderate-intensity to vigorous aerobic physical activity each day. That should include vigorous activity at least three days a week, and it should involve bone-strengthening activities such as running, jumping rope, skipping and hopscotch, and muscle-strengthening activities such as tug of war, modified sit-ups and push-ups.
Girls who spend more time in vigorous physical activity may do better in school, even if they are not particularly fit, study findings hint. According to this report from Reuters Health, Dr. Lydia Kwak, at Karolinska Institute in Huddinge, Sweden, and colleagues examined associations between light, moderate, and vigorous physical activity and academic achievement in 232 students (52 percent girls) who were 16 years old on average and attending ninth grade in a Swedish school.
They tallied students’ grades in language, science, math, history, and other school subjects, Kwak’s team explains in the Journal of Pediatrics. They assessed students’ overall physical activity by having each wear an accelerometer – a physical activity meter similar to a pedometer – for 4 consecutive days that included at least one weekend day. The researchers determined students’ overall fitness from timed stationery bicycle tests.
On average, Kwak noted, the girls spent 69 minutes and the boys spent 81 minutes a day in moderate activities such as hiking, skateboarding, or rollerblading, and vigorous activity such as soccer, running, tennis, and basketball.
The link between vigorous physical activity and academic achievement in girls was evident after the investigators allowed for numerous social and family factors potentially associated with academic achievement, and also for girls’ individual measures of fitness.
However, in boys, who were consistently more physically active overall, only fitness appeared linked with academic achievement.
While these findings hint at an association between vigorous physical activity and academic achievement in girls, they don’t say anything about cause and effect, Kwak told Reuters Health by email.
The question, she said: “Is it vigorous physical activity that influences academic achievement or academic achievement that influences vigorous physical activity?” Answering that will require more studies, said Kwak.
In my newest book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People, I teach people how to utilize ten essentials that are necessary to live a happy and highly healthy life. Under The Essential of Self-Care, I teach what I call “The 10 Commandments of Preventive Medicine.” Here’s the third installment of this ten-part series. Continue reading
What an interesting new study. It concludes that to dramatically reduce your healthcare costs, to lengthen your life, to improve the quality of your life, and, in short, to have a happier and more highly healthy life, you need to “only” do four things.
More Information: Continue reading