Entries in Exercise (93)


Study: Exercise and Meditation May Help Reduce Respiratory Infections

ULTRA F/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study suggests that regular meditation or exercise may help reduce acute respiratory infections, Health Day reports.

Researchers compared the preventative effects of moderate exercise and mindful meditation on the severity of respiratory infections, like the common cold and flu, on 149 active and sedentary adults aged 50 years and older. The study was conducted during the winter in Wisconsin.

The study found that adults who participated in a daily exercise routine had fewer cases of respiratory infections and missed fewer days of work. Researchers also found that participants who practiced meditation increased their immunity to illness.

The study was published in the July/August issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study Says Cutting Couch and TV Time Could Bump Up Life Expectancy

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Getting regular exercise is obviously an important part of staying healthy. But what about what we do with the rest of our time? A new study suggests that the time we all spend sitting is taking years off life expectancy in the U.S.

Scientists are just beginning to investigate how sitting affects health, and early evidence has linked an excess of sitting time to all kinds of chronic maladies, particularly heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Now, a new analysis published in the British Medical Journal suggests that the life expectancy of the entire U.S. population could increase if Americans simply reduce the time they reduce channel-surfing on the sofa.

Researchers looked at the results of five studies that explored the effects on nearly 167,000 people of sitting and watching television. Then they turned to national data collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how much time Americans report sitting and watching TV.

Based on all this data, the researchers calculated that limiting the time Americans spend sitting to three hours or fewer each day would increase the life expectancy of the U.S. population by two years. Cutting down TV watching to fewer than two hours each day would bump life expectancy up by another 1.4 years.

Exercise is a good thing, and getting the amount recommended by groups like the CDC, the American Heart Association and the National Cancer Institute -- 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise five times each week -- is a vital part of staying healthy. But Peter Katzmarzyk, the study's lead author and a professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., said it's becoming clearer that people need to do more.

"It is true that meeting the physical activity guidelines is one of the best things you can do for your health. But on the other hand, there are 23 and a half other hours of the day that we can't ignore," he said.

Alpa Patel, an epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society, agreed that the physical activity guidelines are important, but she said they are based on research conducted over the last 60 years.

"In that time, a lot of what we do in our daily lives has changed," she said. "We've replaced much of what we used to do with sedentary behavior, and we have to understand the implications of that."

It's difficult for scientists to say that your recliner or your television will kill you, and Katzmarzyk said the study doesn't establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship between sitting, TV watching and death. But the evidence suggesting an association between shortened lives and sedentary activities, like TV watching and driving, is piling up. For example, a 2010 study found that the mortality rates were 25 percent lower for people reporting the most physical activity compared with those reporting the least.

But what drives that association is unclear. Dr. Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, said one possible explanation is that the health effects come not so much from TV watching or driving themselves, but the other things people do during those activities, such as binging on unhealthy snacks or being stressed.

"Those behaviors are very detrimental to our health independent of our physical activity levels," Hu said.

There also seems to be something about sitting itself that is bad for one's health. Studies in both animals and humans have found that sitting leads to changes in resting glucose levels and blood pressure, and that lots of sitting bumps up levels of certain biomarkers of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

"The take-home message is clear: we may not know exactly why sitting is bad for you, but if you reduce the amount of time spent sitting, there are real health benefits," Patel said.

Researchers say the overall message is to move beyond thinking about physical activity as something you do once a day for half an hour. That suggestion has enormous implications for how people currently work, commute and spend their free time.

Katzmarzyk said since many people spend at least eight hours each day sitting at a computer, the workplace is an ideal place to start looking for ways to reform behavior. Patel said changes don't have to be major -- people can get up to talk to colleagues instead of emailing them, or spend a few minutes of their lunch breaks taking a short walk.

And of course, a good place to start making changes is by squeezing the recommended 30 minutes of exercise into every day.

"We have to get folks to understand that doing anything is better than doing nothing," Patel said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Unlocking Emotional Issues May Be Key to Extreme Weight Loss

ABC/CRAIG SJODIN(NEW YORK) -- Chris Powell, the man who orchestrates each jaw-dropping weight transformation on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, says his secret as a hard-charging trainer has less to do with exercising people's bodies than exorcising their demons.

"There is a tie to some kind of emotional trauma, in the past, of people I've worked with, and that trauma is typically unaddressed," he said.

Powell has helped 11 super-obese people lose more than a ton of weight on the show: 2,198 pounds, to be exact. But in addition to helping people shrink to half their size, Powell also has gotten them to open up about a whole range of psychological issues, including sexual abuse and alcoholism.

Although he admits he is "absolutely not" professionally qualified to advise on these issues, Powell said he approaches it like a friend would.

"I know what's out of my scope of practice with some of these deep-rooted psychological issues," he said. "That's why we have therapists on board with us."

"I think we all have a desire to feel significant in the world," he said. "It's not about me doing nice things for other people. I get something out of this, and its fulfillment. This is the best addiction in the world."

Watch the full story on ABC’s Nightline Friday at 11:35 ET/PT.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


How to Keep the Weight off as Your Metabolism Changes

Getty ImagesBy DIANE HENDERIKS, Health Contributor, ABC News Good Morning America

(NEW YORK) -- Do you find yourself thinking, “I used to be able to eat anything and everything and not gain a pound?”  If so, what happened?

First and foremost is that our nutrient requirements increase or remain the same as we get older while the number of calories we need goes down.  So what do we need to do?  Eat nutrient-dense foods, watch your portions and exercise more.

Also, for many people changes in “metabolism” can make them more susceptible to weight gain.  Metabolism is how your body uses energy from food to build and repair tissues and organs and how efficiently it does this is a key to weight management. A great way to succeed in losing weight and keeping it off is to increase your metabolism and a great way to do this is to add strength training exercises to your physical activity routine.  Muscle tissue is much more “metabolically active” than fat.  This means that the more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you will burn regardless of your age, physical activity level, gender, etc.  An added bonus is that muscle tissue continues to burn calories at rest.

This does not mean dreading the thought of spending endless hours at the gym.  There are simple exercises that you can do to increase muscle mass which will decrease fat mass.  If you like to walk and it is usually on the boardwalk or side streets, find a course that has some hills and you will be adding resistance to your walking routine.  If you walk on the treadmill or use the elliptical machine, crank up the resistance for a fun, cross training workout.   Get yourself some hand weights and have someone to show you how to use them.

Diane’s Top 5 “Prime Time” Health Tips

1. Combine cardiovascular and resistance activity to your daily exercise regimen.
2. Choose foods as close to their natural state as possible – whole grains, fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds.
3. Reduce sodium, sugar, unhealthy fats, packaged and processed foods in your diet.
4. Drink lots of water, avoid sugared and artificially sweetened beverages and limit alcohol intake.
5. Get enough sleep for increased energy level, clearer thinking and stress reduction

We grow smarter and wiser with age so let’s use these years of intelligence building to do what is necessary to keep us healthy.  Maybe we feel a little entitled to be lazier and make unhealthier food choices because we think we’ve earned it but if you really think about it, the “prime time” of life is when you want the MOST energy to enjoy the stress-free mornings and increased free time.  We obviously cannot stop aging, but we do have control over our lifestyle choices, food choices and physical activity.  Use it, move it or lose it.

Diane Henderiks is a registered dietitian, the founder of and a Good Morning America health contributor.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Exercise May Lower Breast Cancer Risk

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In addition to keeping hearts healthy and bones strong, there's another reason why women may want to exercise regularly -- a new study published in the journal Cancer found a link between physical activity and reduced breast cancer risk.

A study of more than 3,000 women from Long Island, N.Y., found that women who engaged in 10 to 19 hours of at least mild exercise per from their reproductive years on had about a 30 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer. The effects of physical activity were strongest among postmenopausal women, based on the data analysis.

The women were between the ages of 20 and 98 who participated in the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project, a series of government-funded studies conducted to investigate possible environmental contributors to breast cancer on Long Island. The women were also predominantly white and upper middle class.

"We didn't see a risk reduction during the time before the first birth," said lead author Lauren McCullough, a doctoral candidate at the UNC Gillings School of Public Health. "There is a strong association seen with postmenopausal women, which is totally in line with other studies."

A separate study published in May by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that postmenopausal women who lose a moderate amount of weight through exercise and a healthier diet can lower their breast cancer risk because losing fat tissue can reduce the amount of two hormones associated with breast cancer.

McCullough and her colleagues found in their current research that weight also plays a role in the relationship between exercise and breast cancer risk. Gaining too much weight, it turns out, can eliminate some of the risk-reduction benefits of exercise after menopause.

Physically active women who gain more than 11 pounds after menopause are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer, though it's lower than for post-menopausal women who gain a similar amount of weight who don't exercise.

And obese women who exercised had about the same risk as normal-weight women who did no physical activity at all.

"For postmenopausal women, if you are physically active or highly active and maintain or gain just a little bit of weight, you are going to reap the benefits in terms of breast cancer reduction," McCullough said.

The study findings, McCullough added, are especially encouraging for post-menopausal women, since breast cancer tends to strike women who are older more often.

And she hopes if future research can confirm these findings, the data will someday lead to broader public health messages about the benefits of exercise.

"Trying to understand the relationship between physical activity and breast cancer will hopefully better tailor public messages to include cancer risk," she said. "Right now, recommendations from the Centers for Disease and Prevention and the World Health Organization about physical activity are based on risk reduction for cardiovascular disease."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Health Study: Outdoor Active Teenagers are Happier than Non Active Teens

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK)-- A study published in the July issue of Pediatrics from 2004 to 2009 in Australia has found that teens who participate in more moderate-to-vigorous outdoor activities are more healthier and sociable than their peers who watch television and surf the net instead, according to HealthDay News.

The research done at the University of Sydney, found that youths who spent about 2 and a half hours playing sports or participating in high intensive activities had the highest percentage of health. In addition, according to the researcher’s findings, youth spent around 3.3 hours a day playing video games, watching television, and 2.1 hours in physical activity.

Approximately 1,216 teens were asked on the questionnaire how much time they spent on outdoor exercise compared to sedentary activities. In addition,  the teens were asked how much time they spent on computers, television and reading. Students were questioned beginning at age 12 and again at age 17. The findings suggest that the teens who were more active had higher social functioning skills as opposed to teens who did not exercise.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Man Loses 370 Pounds the Old-Fashioned Way

Ashley DeFisher/Courtesy of Neil Burns(NEW YORK) -- In 2010, Neil Burns weighed a whopping 680 pounds.  Too tired to go about his daily life because of his size and with his eating habits spiraling out of control, the 44-year-old father from Richmond, Ky., said he felt as if he were in prison.

“I couldn’t walk or move,” Burns said.  “It was just miserable.”

Starring down at the scales, he said he knew something had to change.

“It was like a ton of bricks hit me,” he wrote on his website about the pivotal moment.  “I started and haven’t looked back.”

Since then, the 6-foot-4 Burns has shed 370 pounds -- almost half his body weight -- and completely changed his life the old-fashioned way, through diet and exercise.

Burns’ first step was to get on a healthy eating plan.  A former fast-food fanatic, he used to eat about 10,000 calories a day, subsising on value meals at places like McDonald’s and Dairy Queen.  Plus, he said he’d drink a staggering 24 sodas each day.  He traded all of that in for an 1,800 calorie a day diet of healthy staples, including turkey sandwiches, spinach salads with chicken and protein shakes.

Next, he slowly introduced exercise into his life.  Burns worked his way up to an intense exercise regimen -- an hour and a half of weight-lifting in the morning and then cardio at the gym at night.  His two-a-day workouts burn an average of 1,000 calories a day.

For cardio, Burns took up zumba, a Latin-inspired dance workout class, which he now swears by.  He loved the workout so much -- and saw real results -- that he kept it up, even becoming a certified instructor.

The last component is what Burns calls his “Jedi mind tricks” -- what he does to keep himself mentally in the game. 

First, he, says, commit to a workout buddy.

“I have a friend, Tanya, and if I don’t show up at the gym, she is going to call me!” Burns said. 

Second, his most important policy: Admit when you cheat.

“I yell at myself and say out loud, ‘I just ate an 18-inch pizza and a two liter of Mountain Dew.’  [I] yell … and get all of my anger out,” he said.  “Getting it out in the open.  It’s just the only way to go.”

And to give himself even more incentive, Burns created his “Skinny List,” a list of 37 things he can do now that he has lost weight.

The motivational list ranges from simple tasks like vacuuming, which required too much movement for Burns before his weight loss, to brushing his teeth without losing his breath, being able to sit in a chair with arms, and buying clothes off the rack like everyone else.  It also has activities that he has dreamed of doing for years but couldn’t, like hiking, going horseback riding and fitting into a sports car.

Burns is now a motivational speaker and has set up a website,, to share his story and help others lose weight.  Today, he weighs 310 pounds and he says he has approximately 40 more pounds until he reaches his goal weight of 270 lbs.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Spend Less Time on the Couch and You'll Eat Less Junk Food

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Getting off of the couch will mean less time eating junk food, according to a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine randomly assigned 204 adults one of four different lifestyle treatments.  The treatments included increasing fruit and vegetable intake and exercise; decreasing fat and sedentary leisure; decreasing fat and increasing exercise as well as increasing fruit and vegetable intake; and decreasing sedentary behavior. 

When patients were asked to change one lifestyle behavior, it was easier for them to change others, as well, creating a snowball effect, according to the findings.

“The key take-away is that people can change their unhealthy eating and activity behaviors, contrary to what many health professionals believe.  By focusing on just two targets (increasing fruits/vegetables and cutting down leisure screen time) people were able to make large changes in those behaviors rapidly and they also reduced saturated fat intake without even trying,” Bonnie Spring, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and lead author of the study, told ABC News.

It is important to note that this was not a weight loss study.  Only about 60 percent of participants were overweight or obese.  However, 100 percent had all of four unhealthy diet and activity behaviors that characterize most Americans: not eating enough fruits/vegetables, eating too much saturated fat, not getting enough moderate physical activity, and watching too much TV. 

Spring said these unhealthy lifestyle behaviors are very important behavior change targets in and of themselves, because they all have long-term adverse effects on health, independent of any effects on weight.

For the first three weeks, study participants were paid $175 to stick to the lifestyle changes and report their progress.  When that phase was completed, patients no longer had to maintain the lifestyle changes in order to be paid, but the researchers found that 86 percent of people reported trying to keep with the changes once they were made.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Secret to Kate Middleton’s Figure Revealed?

Samir Hussein/WireImage(LONDON) -- Kate Middleton has stolen the spotlight in recent red carpet appearances by showing up in sexier, more daring gowns and sky-high heels that show off her slim, toned figure.

Now British media are reporting they’ve obtained the Duchess of Cambridge’s secrets to staying so fit and toned, and it could be good news for commoners without a royal budget or a royal personal trainer.

Middleton, 30, reportedly stays fit with just a ball and a set of dumbbells for one hour per day.

Calling it the Duchess’s $15 workout for the price of the ball and dumbbells combined, British magazine Now reports that Middleton, the wife of Prince William, 29, trains herself, without the assistance of a trainer or fancy gym.

“Kate does an hour’s workout every morning using the gym ball and dumbbells, which includes some core exercises like squats, sit-ups and arm curls,” a royal source tells the magazine.

Middleton was an athlete in high school and recently showed off her sporty side in a surprise visit to the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London, where she took the field and held her own with the British Olympic women’s field hockey team.

The Duchess, whom Now claims is a size 6, has also been spotted staying active by cheering her husband and brother-in-law, Prince Harry, on the polo field and taking the couple’s new dog, Lupo, on long walks.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Paula Deen Dishes on New Diet, Weight Loss

ABC/Donna Svennevik(NEW YORK) -- Celebrity chef Paula Deen has revamped her diet and lost 30 pounds, she told the co-hosts of The View Monday.

Monday’s episode, which took a look at increasing American obesity rates, was titled “The Fat Show.” Co-host Joy Behar quipped to Deen “and you’re the guest of honor.”

Deen has come under fire in recent weeks for waiting to announce her diabetes diagnosis and signing a pharmaceutical promo deal with Novo Nordisk.

The co-hosts gave Deen the opportunity to defend herself against critics of the buttery recipes she has become known for.

“Studies have shown, Barbara, that there’s not one food that causes diabetes.  What causes Type II diabetes is being overweight…I’ve just come to grips, over the past four or five months, with my diabetes.”

“This is not something I chose,” she said. “I’m the only one in my family, and my family we all eat the same way.”

However, Deen does acknowledge that she received warnings from her doctors in the past.

“I ignored it for the first couple of years — I thought the doctor was wrong.”

Deen has lost 30 pounds, eating in moderation and allowing herself one cheat day a week with her family.

“I have rearranged my plate,” she said, adding she doesn’t eat comfort food as often.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio