Two Ways To Avoid Running Injuries

February 11, 2016 9:05 am 0 comments

Want to know how to avoid someimages running injuries? Step lightly. That’s the advice coming through New York Times health columnist Gretchen Reynold’s report on research conducted at Harvard Medical School. The researchers followed 249 female runners –all heel-strikers– for two years, recording their injuries and trying to correlate injuries with their impact loads, meaning the force with which their feet hit the ground. Reynolds tells us that during the two-year period, more than 100 runners were injured badly enough to seek medical advice, and 40 others had minor injuries. Then there were the 21 runners who had no injuries. In fact, those 21 runners reported that they had never had a running-related injury. What’s up with that? When the researchers looked further, they found that the never injured runners, as a group, landed more lightly than those runner who had been injured. OK, what to do? Reynolds passes on advice from the study’s lead author: to land more lightly, try taking smaller strides, landing closer to the mid-foot; and/or try increasing your cadence.

Disrupted Body Clock Is Bad For Your Body

February 10, 2016 9:15 am 0 comments

imagesIt’s called circadian misalignment, and it’s more easily understood as a disruption of the body clock, caused by inverted wake and sleep cycles. And yes, experts have known for a while that shift work, which requires workers to be awake when the brain’s circadian clock is expecting sleep, is a risk factor for hypertension, inflammation and cardiovascular disease, but now they have better idea of how all of that works. A news release from the Harvard Medical School reports that researchers at the school measured blood pressure and inflammatory markers, and compared circadian misalignment with circadian alignment in 14 healthy subjects during two eight-day stays in a sleep laboratory. Ready? The envelope please… The researchers found that circadian misalignment increased 24-hour systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure; reduced blood pressure dipping, usually associated with sleep; decreased measures of autonomic nervous system activity, which controls bodily functions such as blood pressure; and increased inflammatory markers. The moral of the story? Pay attention to your body, and if you can, sleep when your body wants to sleep.

Can You Stress Your Way To Slenderness?

February 9, 2016 8:21 am 1 comment

images-1While no one is recommending that we stress ourselves out to stay slim, researchers at the University of Nottingham have suggested that deliberately induced mild stress could help prevent obesity and diabetes. How’s that? Because, the researchers have found, low levels of stress appear to encourage the production of brown fat, whose function is to generate body heat by burning calories. Yes, it’s a good thing. A news release from The Physiological Society reports that the research deliberately induced mild psychological stress by giving five healthy lean women a short math test. It also gave the women a relaxation video. The scientists measured stress by checking the level of cortisol in the saliva, and they measured the activity of brown fat by using infrared thermography to detect changes in temperature of the skin overlying the main area of brown fat in humans. Ready? The envelope please….The researchers found that while the math tests did not elicit an acute stress response, the anticipation of being tested did, and led to raised cortisol and warmer brown fat, meaning more calories were burned.

Mindfulness Training Reduces Inflammation

February 8, 2016 7:30 am 1 comment

imgresWhy do we like mindfulness more than we like prescription drugs? It’s healthier and the price is right: zero cents. Now come researchers at Carnegie Mellon University with evidence that mindfulness does something that is often done with prescription drugs. It reduces inflammation. A Carnegie Mellon news release reports that mindfulness meditation training, compared to relaxation training, reduces Interleukin-6, an inflammatory health biomarker, in high-stress, unemployed adults. The researchers put 35 job-seeking, stressed adults through either an intensive three-day mindfulness meditation retreat program or a relaxation retreat program that did not have a mindfulness component. All participants completed a five-minute resting state brain scan before and after the three-day program. Ready? The envelope please….Brain scans of the participants showed that mindfulness meditation training increased the functional connectivity of the participants’ resting default mode network in areas important to attention and executive control, namely the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Participants who received the relaxation training did not show these brain changes. Wait, there’s more. The participants who completed the mindfulness meditation program also had reduced IL-6 levels, and the changes in brain functional connectivity coupling accounted for the lower inflammation levels. How does that work? The researchers are convinced that the biological health-related benefits occur because mindfulness meditation training fundamentally alters brain network functional connectivity patterns and the brain changes statistically explain the improvements in inflammation.

Overweight Is Not Always Unhealthy

February 5, 2016 7:41 am 0 comments

imagesMillions of Americans, 34.4 million to be slightly more precise, should probably worry less about their health than the have been. Those are people who are considered overweight, according to their Body Mass Index (BMI), a metric that is unfortunately subscribed to by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and by insurance companies. But now comes UC Santa Barbara psychologist Jeffrey Hunger with research suggesting that 47 percent of people in the overweight BMI category are perfectly healthy, as are 19.8 million who are considered obese. A UC Santa Barbara news release reports that researchers at the school used data from the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to analyze the link between BMI — calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of the person’s height in meters — and several health markers, including blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. The results showed that more than 2 million people identified as “very obese” by virtue of having a BMI of 35 or higher are, in reality, healthy; that’s about 15 percent of Americans so classified. The research also revealed that more than 30 percent of those with BMIs in the “normal” range — about 20.7 million people — are actually unhealthy based on their other markers. The University reports that lead author Janet Tomiyama noted that healthy people with BMIs above 24.99 would be no more likely to incur higher medical expenses than those with lower BMIs, so requiring those individuals to pay out more in health insurance premiums would not be justified. Wait, there’s more: Previous research by Tomiyama’s Dieting, Stress and Health (DiSH) laboratory at UCLA found no clear connection between weight loss and health improvements related to hypertension, cholesterol and diabetes and blood glucose levels. The new study recommends that people focus on a healthy diet and regular exercise, rather than placing emphasis on their weight.

 

 

Super Bowl Teams Bring Flu SpikeTo Fans

February 4, 2016 8:46 am 0 comments

imgresHere’s the bad news about living in a city whose football team is playing in the Super Bowl. You are more likely to get the flu. In fact, the many social events that accompany the championship game have been shown to boost flu-related deaths among people above the age of 65 by 18 percent. Yes, even if your team wins. How do we know? Because, as the Cornell Chronicle reports, researchers at that school analyzed county-level data from 1974 to 2009, comparing the rates of influenza-related death in areas that had an NFL team in the Super Bowl to the rates in places that also had football teams but did not reach the the big game that year. The researchers focused on mortality for those over the age of 65, historically the most vulnerable population. The researchers note that while older adults may not change their habits much if their local team makes it to the Super Bowl, their chances of coming into contact with someone who has the flu increases as the infection rate climbs in the overall population.

Fitness Could Get You Through A Heart Attack

February 3, 2016 12:31 pm 0 comments

Among the grimmer reasons to get it shape is thisimages-1 news from researchers at Johns Hopkins: higher levels of physical fitness may not only reduce risk of heart attacks and death from all causes, but also possibly improve the chances of survival after a first attack. A Johns Hopkins news release reports that researchers at the school studied the medical records of people who had taken a treadmill stress test before their first heart attack and used the patient’s achieved metabolic equivalent score — MET, for short — as a quick, although not perfect, measure of energy consumption at rest and during physical activity. The higher the MET score, the more physically fit the participants were considered to be. MET scores range from 1 to 12, where 1 is considered the equivalent of sitting on the couch, 3 aligns with walking, 7 with jogging, 10 with jumping rope and 12 with sprinting. The researchers found that overall, the 634 people achieving MET scores of 10 or higher had about 40 percent fewer deaths after a first heart attack as compared to the rest of the patients. They also found that one-third of the 754 patients with a MET score of 6 or less died within a year of their first heart attack. Overall, their results showed an 8 percent reduction in death risk for each whole-number increase in MET score after a first heart attack.

For Weight Loss, Exercise Only Goes So Far

February 1, 2016 7:53 am 0 comments

Exercise is good for many things, anRunningd one them is weight loss, but researchers at the City University of New York are convinced that it’s not as good for weight loss as many people think it is. HealthDay reports on the research, which measured the activity levels and calories burned for 332 adults for one week. The researchers found that people with moderate activity levels burned more daily calories than sedentary people did — an extra 200 per day, on average, but they also found that more intense activity didn’t necessarily burn more calories. Yes, it’s strange. The researchers suggest that our bodies adapt to more or less exercise. They cite a study of the Hazda– traditional hunter-gatherers in Tanzania who are extremely active, everyday, yet appear to burn the same amount of calories that typical Americans do. They believe their recent study suggest that there is a point at which the daily calorie burn from exercise leveled off– and that point is walking a couple of miles a day.

Sweatband Knows When You’re Dehydrated

January 29, 2016 7:51 am 0 comments

sweat-sensor-wristband450-382x275No, you can’t buy it yet, but somebody is going to take this to the bank. Researchers at UC Berkeley have developed a sweat band that can measure metabolites and electrolytes in sweat, calibrate the data based upon skin temperature and sync the results in real time to a smartphone. A UC Berkeley news release reports that the researchers imagine that their device could alert users to health problems such as fatigue, dehydration and dangerously high body temperatures. Wait, there’s more: The number of biochemicals measured can be ramped up and the device could conceivably be used in large-scale clinical studies, and it can be adapted to monitor other body fluids for people suffering from illness and injury. Read more from UC Berkeley.

Protein Diet Helps Both Muscle Gain and Weight Loss

January 28, 2016 7:56 am 0 comments

imagesHere’s the story: Researchers at McMaster University put 40 young men on a diet with 40 percent of the dietary energy they would normally consume, and also had them suffer through a month of hard exercise. As Science Daily reports, while all of the 40 were on a low calorie diet, half of the group was given more protein than the other half. The bottom line? All of the participants, by virtue of the demanding six-days-a-week exercise routines, got stronger, fitter, and generally were in much better shape, and neither group lost any muscle. But the higher protein group had a greater muscle gain, about 2.5 pounds, despite the lack of energy in their diet. The high-protein group also lost more weight–about 10.5 pounds compared to eight pounds for the low protein group. And no, the researchers do not recommend that anyone cut their calorie count by 40 percent.

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