Study Shows That You Can Be Both Fit And Fat


If you work out 5 days a week, eat super healthy and never lose weight, you’ve probably concluded that you just have to work with what you have. Well, what you have is perfect! Erase the preconceived notions in your mind that you have to be skinny to be healthy. Researchers have found that there is such a thing as being “fat and fit.” Wondering if you fall into that category?

The prestigious Harvard School of Public Health tested fitness levels of over 100,000 people. The results were not totally shocking, except for a few notable circumstances. First of all, many people who are heavy are unfit but so are people that are skinny, despite the fact that less skinny people are unfit. While these all hold up to the classic standards, it has been proven that you can be heavy and be extremely fit.

How is this person classified? A person that is heavy but fit is someone who has a great cardiovascular and metabolic system, works out, eats right, and has healthy organs but just can’t lose that weight. Fat fit people tend to hold their weight in places that don’t affect them as much like their buttocks, thighs, and hips.

Bottom line: go to your doctor and see what he says. If he says you are in good health, don’t focus on losing weight. Focus on staying healthy. Keep doing good things for yourself and your body. If you lose weight, that’s awesome. If you don’t, don’t get down on yourself. You are probably healthier than your skinny friend eating that Big Mac.

An Erectile Dysfunction Primer

E.D.  Checklist

An occasional problem achieving an erection is nothing to worry about. But failure to do so more than 50% of the time at any age may indicate a condition that needs treatment. Are you at risk for erectile dysfunction (ED)? Take the following quiz and find out.

  1. Are you overweight?  Yes or No
  1. Do you have any of the following conditions?
    • Diabetes
    • High cholesterol
    • Depression
    • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries from plaque)
    • Kidney disease
  1. Do you:
    • Smoke
    • Drink alcohol
    • Use recreational drugs
  1. How often do you exercise?
    • Daily
    • Once or twice a week
    • A couple of times a month
    • I never seem to get around to it
  1. How often do you feel stressed?
    • Much of the time
    • Sometimes
    • Rarely

Answers:

  1. Overweight men are more likely to have ED
  2. Common causes of ED include nerve diseases, psychological conditions and diseases that affect blood flow. A number of prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs may also cause ED by affecting a man’s hormones, nerves or blood circulation
  3. Tobacco, alcohol and recreational drugs can all damage a man’s blood vessels and/or restrict blood flow to the penis, causing ED
  4. Regular exercise can reduce the risk of ED
  5. Stress and anxiety are leading causes of temporary ED

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

  • Does my erectile dysfunction stem from an underlying illness?
  • Could any of my medicines be causing this problem or making it worse?
  • Could stress or a psychological problem be to blame for my erection difficulties?
  • Are there medications I can take?

Did You Know?

  • Misinformation about erectile dysfunction includes the notion that ED, also called impotence, is an unavoidable consequence of aging. ED is not considered normal at any age, nor is it normal for a man to lose erectile function completely as a result of being older.
  • Another myth is that tight underwear causes ED. While physical and psychological conditions can lead to ED, tight underwear is not to blame. Tight underwear may be a factor in producing a low sperm count.
  • ED can be treated with oral medications, sex therapy, penile injections and surgery, such as penile implants.
  • Intercavernous injection therapy is a medication injected directly into the penis to treat ED.
  • Intraurethral therapy is a suppository medication that is inserted into the urethra to treat ED.
  • Urologist is a doctor specially trained to treat problems of the male and female urinary systems, and the male sex organs.

Know Your Numbers

  • At least 20 million American men have some degree of erectile dysfunction, and about one in 10 adult males suffers from ED long-term.
  • About 40% of men in their 40s report at least occasional problems getting and maintaining erections. So do more than half (52%) of men aged 40 to 70, and about 70% of men in their 70s.
  • Failure to achieve an erection less than 20% of the time is not unusual; treatment is rarely needed.
  • Atherosclerosis alone accounts for 50% to 60% of ED cases in men 60 and older. Between 35% and 50% of men with diabetes have ED, and ED may be a predictor for other vascular problems.

Well-Being: Hawaii Tops Utah for Nation’s Best

Compared with 2008, 27 states improved, 18 deteriorated, and 5 unchanged

by Elizabeth Mendes

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Hawaii’s residents had the highest well-being in the nation in 2009, pulling ahead of 2008 leader Utah, and coming in with a new high state Well-Being Index score of 70.2. Utah and Montana are also among the top well-being states in the country, sharing the same score of 68.3. Kentucky (62.3) and West Virginia (60.5) have the two lowest well-being scores, as they did in 2008.

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Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index 2009 state-level data encompass more than 350,000 interviews conducted among national adults aged 18 older across all 50 states. Gallup and Healthways started tracking state-level well-being in 2008. The Well-Being Index score for the nation and for each state is an average of six sub-indexes, which individually examine life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and access to basic necessities.

The Well-Being Index is calculated on a scale of 0 to 100, where a score of 100 would represent ideal well-being. Well-Being Index scores among states vary by a narrow range of 9.7 points. The 2009 Well-Being Index score for the country is 65.9, unchanged from 2008.

Nine of the top 10 well-being states — Hawaii, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, Kansas, Montana, Colorado, Utah, and Alaska — are in the Midwest and the West. Seven of the 11 lowest well-being states are in the South. The general geography of well-being in 2009 remained similar to 2008.

In addition to having the highest overall Well-Being Index score, Hawaii was best in the nation on three of the six well-being sub-indexes, Life Evaluation, Emotional Health, and Physical Health. At the opposite end of the spectrum is West Virginia, which performed the worst on the same three sub-indexes. Utah does the best on the Work Environment Index, with a score more than 10 points higher than that of the worst state on this measure, Delaware. As in 2008, Mississippi is at the bottom on the Basic Access Index, and Kentucky scores the worst on the Healthy Behavior Index.

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Each state’s sub-index score reflects the average of the positive percentages found for each of items detailed in the chart above. For example, Mississippi’s Basic Access Index score of 77.3 means that, on average, more than three-quarters of its residents do have access across each of the basic necessities asked about in the sub-index, but that still leaves a large number who are in need, representing millions of people.

Change in Well-Being From 2008 to 2009

Generally speaking, well-being has been fairly stable over time; most states exhibited little change from 2008 to 2009. Only four states — South Dakota, Mississippi, Hawaii, and Iowa — saw an increase of two or more points in their Well-Being Index score from 2008 to 2009. Wyoming saw the largest decrease at 1.3 points. Overall, 18 states moved in a negative direction, 27 in a positive direction, and 5 remained unchanged.

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Some of the six sub-indexes scores are more likely to move because of several factors including the number of questions included in the sub-index and the content of the questions. For example, the Life Evaluation Index, which is calculated using two questions asking respondents to rate their lives now and in the future, score changes a good deal throughout the course of the year. Across states, 2008 to 2009 change in Life Evaluation Index scores ranged from 11.0 in Maine to -1.7 in Wyoming. After Maine, two of the biggest gains in Life Evaluation scores from 2008 to 2009, 10.7 and 10.5 points, were in North Dakota and South Dakota, respectively, also the two states with the highest percentage of residents who were satisfied with their standard of living in 2009. Although Wyoming was the only state in which the Life Evaluation Index score decreased last year in comparison to 2008, the downtick is not statistically significant.

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Basic Access Index scores, on the other hand, are less likely to change over time. This sub-index is made up of 13 individual questions, many of which are items that require community, business, or governmental intervention to change such as if the city where the respondent lives in is getting better or worse as a place to live and if it is easy to get affordable fruits and vegetables where the respondent lives. The year-over-year range of change on this measure is from 0.8 points to -2.1 points and most of the change is not statistically significant, meaning that access to the basic necessities a person needs to have high well-being is essentially stagnant across the United States. However, cities and communities potentially have the opportunity to move the needle on the Basic Access metric by taking significant steps to improve the health and well-being of their residents.

While certain metrics are in the control of the individual and others fall upon businesses and the government to change, what is clear is that a much bigger society-wide effort is needed for more Americans to move their Well-Being Index score closer to the optimal level of 100 points.

Enjoy Life Now

We have never posted an article like this, however if there was ever an exception to promote spiritual and holistic wellness, this is it. 

This is a wonderful piece by Michael Gartner, editor of newspapers large and small and past president of NBC News.  In 1997, he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing.  It is well worth reading, and a few good chuckles are guaranteed.  Here goes….

My father never drove a car.  Well, that’s not quite right.  I should say I never saw him drive a car.

He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.

“In those days,” he told me when he was in his 90s, “to drive a car you had to do things with your hands, and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it.”

At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in: “Oh, bull—-! she said.  “He hit a horse.”

“Well,” my father said, “there was that, too.”

So my brother and I grew up in a household without a car.  The neighbors all had cars — the Kollingses next door had a green 1941 Dodge, the VanLaninghams across the street a gray 1936 Plymouth, the Hopsons two doors down a black 1941 Ford — but we had none.

My father, a newspaperman in Des Moines , would take the streetcar to work and, often as not, walk the 3 miles home.  If he took the streetcar home, my mother and brother and I would walk the three blocks to the streetcar stop, meet him and walk home together.

My brother, David, was born in 1935, and I was born in 1938, and sometimes, at dinner, we’d ask how come all the neighbors had cars but we had none.  “No one in the family drives,” my mother would explain, and that was that.

But, sometimes, my father would say, “But as soon as one of you boys turns 16, we’ll get one.”  It was as if he wasn’t sure which one of us would turn 16 first.

But, sure enough, my brother turned 16 before I did, so in 1951 my parents bought a used 1950 Chevrolet from a friend who ran the parts department at a Chevy dealership downtown.

It was a four-door, white model, stick shift, fender skirts, loaded with everything, and, since my parents didn’t drive, it more or less became my brother’s car.  Having a car but not being able to drive didn’t bother my father, but it didn’t make sense to my mother.

So in 1952, when she was 43 years old, she asked a friend to teach her to drive.  She learned in a nearby cemetery, the place where I learned to drive the following year and where, a generation later, I took my two sons to practice driving.  The cemetery probably was my father’s idea.  “Who can your mother hurt in the cemetery?” I remember him saying more than once.

For the next 45 years or so, until she was 90, my mother was the driver in the family.  Neither she nor my father had any sense of direction, but he loaded up on maps — though they seldom left the city limits — and appointed himself navigator..  It seemed to work.

Still, they both continued to walk a lot.  My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn’t seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of marriage.

(Yes, 75 years, and they were deeply in love the entire time.)

He retired when he was 70, and nearly every morning for the next 20 years or so, he would walk with her the mile to St. Augustin‘s Church.  She would walk down and sit in the front pew, and he would wait in the back until he saw which of the parish’s two priests was on duty that morning.  If it was the pastor, my father then would go out and take a 2-mile walk, meeting my mother at the end of the service and walking her home.

If it was the assistant pastor, he’d take just a 1-mile walk and then head back to the church.  He called the priests “Father Fast” and “Father Slow.”

After he retired, my father almost always accompanied my mother whenever she drove anywhere, even if he had no reason to go along.  If she were going to the beauty parlor, he’d sit in the car and read, or go take a stroll or, if it was summer, have her keep the engine running so he could listen to the Cubs game on the radio.  In the evening, then, when I’d stop by, he’d explain: “The Cubs lost again.  The millionaire on second base made a bad throw to the millionaire on first base, so the multimillionaire on third base scored.”

If she were going to the grocery store, he would go along to carry the bags out — and to make sure she loaded up on ice cream.  As I said, he was always the navigator, and once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, “Do you want to know the secret of a long life?”

“I guess so,” I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre.

“No left turns,” he said.

“What?” I asked.

“No left turns,” he repeated.  “Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic..

As you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said.  So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn.”

“What?” I said again.

“No left turns,” he said.  “Think about it.  Three rights are the same as a left, and that’s a lot safer  So we always make three rights.”

“You’re kidding!” I said, and I turned to my mother for support.  “No,” she said, “your father is right.  We make three rights.  It works.”  But then she added: “Except when your father loses count.”

I was driving at the time, and I almost drove off the road as I started laughing.

“Loses count?” I asked.

“Yes,” my father admitted, “that sometimes happens.  But it’s not a problem.  You just make seven rights, and you’re okay again.”

I couldn’t resist.  “Do you ever go for 11?” I asked.

“No,” he said ” If we miss it at seven, we just come home and call it a bad day.  Besides, nothing in life is so important it can’t be put off another day or another week.”

    My mother was never in an accident, but one evening she handed me her car keys and said she had decided to quit driving.. That was in 1999, when she was 90.

She lived four more years, until 2003.  My father died the next year, at 102.

They both died in the bungalow they had moved into in 1937 and bought a few years later for $3,000.  (Sixty years later, my brother and I paid $8,000 to have a shower put in the tiny bathroom — the house had never had one.  My father would have died then and there if he knew the shower cost nearly three times what he paid for the house.)

He continued to walk daily — he had me get him a treadmill when he was 101 because he was afraid he’d fall on the icy sidewalks but wanted to keep exercising — and he was of sound mind and sound body until the moment he died.

One September afternoon in 2004, he and my son went with me when I had to give a talk in a neighboring town, and it was clear to all three of us that he was wearing out, though we had the usual wide-ranging conversation about politics and newspapers and things in the news.

A few weeks earlier, he had told my son, “You know, Mike, the first hundred years are a lot easier than the second hundred.”  At one point in our drive that Saturday, he said, “You know, I’m probably not going to live much longer.”

“You’re probably right,” I said.

“Why would you say that?”  He countered, somewhat irritated.

“Because you’re 102 years old,” I said..

“Yes,” he said, “you’re right.”  He stayed in bed all the next day.

That night, I suggested to my son and daughter that we sit up with him through the night.

He appreciated it, he said, though at one point, apparently seeing us look gloomy, he said: “I would like to make an announcement.  No one in this room is dead yet”

An hour or so later, he spoke his last words: “I want you to know,” he said, clearly and lucidly, “that I am in no pain.  I am very comfortable.  And I have had as happy a life as anyone on this earth could ever have.”

A short time later, he died.

I miss him a lot, and I think about him a lot  I’ve wondered now and then how it was that my family and I were so lucky that he lived so long.

I can’t figure out if it was because he walked through life, or because he quit taking left turns.

Life is too short to wake up with regrets. 

So love the people who treat you right.  Forget about the one’s who don’t. Believe everything happens for a reason.  If you get a chance, take it & if it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it.

ENJOY LIFE NOW – IT HAS AN EXPIRATION DATE

Most Deaths in Young People are Preventable: WHO study

GENEVA – Most of the 2.6 million deaths of young people each year are preventable, according to a new study supported by the World Health Organization and released in Geneva Friday.

The main causes of deaths in the 10-24 age group were road traffic accidents, complications during pregnancy and child birth, suicide, violence, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

The study, to be published in the Lancet, a medical journal, found that 97 percent of these deaths were taking place in low and middle-income countries.

“Young people … often fall through the cracks,” said Daisy Mafubelu, WHO’s expert for family and community health.

She said it was important to improve their access to information and services “and help young people avoid risky behaviors that can lead to death”.

There are an estimated 1.8 billion people that fall into this age group, accounting for 30 percent of the world’s population.

Road traffic accidents could be avoided through more appropriate speed limits, strict enforcement of drunk-driving laws and by the use of helmets and safety belts, the WHO said.

Moreover, young people need sex education, condoms and other contraceptives, the ability to perform safe abortions, access to antenatal and obstetric services and testing and care for HIV/AIDS.

The study also led the researchers to conclude that suicide and other violence could be prevented through life-skills training and positive parental involvement in young people’s lives.

Furthermore, the WHO recommended that access to lethal means of all kinds, including guns and toxins, should be reduced, along with limiting the consumption of alcohol.

There also needed to be better care and support for those exposed to child abuse, youth violence, and sexual assault, to help young people deal with the immediate and long-term consequences of these traumatic events.

How Infant Pain Has Repercussions in Adulthood

How Infant Pain Has Repercussions in Adulthood

ATLANTA – Researchers at Georgia State University have thrown light on how pain in infancy alters the brain’s ability to process pain in adulthood.

The study has now indicated that infants who spent time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) show altered pain sensitivity in adolescence.

The results have profound implications, and highlight the need for pre-emptive and post-operative pain medicine for newborn infants.

The study sheds light on how the mechanisms of pain are altered after infant injury in a region of the brain called the periaqueductal gray, which is involved in the perception of pain.

For the study, graduate student Jamie LaPrairie and professor Anne Murphy used Sprague-Dawley rats to examine why the brief experience of pain at the time of birth permanently decreased pain sensitivity in adulthood.

Endogenous opioid peptides, such as beta-endorphin and enkephalin, function to inhibit pain and they are also the ‘feel good’ substances that are released following high levels of exercise or love.

As these peptides are released following injury and act like morphine to dampen the experience of pain, the researchers tested to see if the rats, who were injured at birth, had unusually high levels of endogenous opioids in adulthood.

Thus, they gave adult animals that were injured at the time of birth a drug called naloxone, which blocks the actions of endogenous opioids.

The researchers observed that after animals received an injection of naloxone, they behaved just like an uninjured animal.

Using a variety of anatomical techniques, the investigators showed that animals that were injured at birth had endogenous opioid levels that were two times higher than normal.

Interestingly, while there is an increase in endorphin and enkephalin proteins in adults, there is also a big decrease in the availability of mu and delta opioid receptors, which are necessary in order for pain medications, such as morphine, to work.

This means that it takes more pain-relieving medications in order to provide relief as there are fewer available receptors in the brain. Studies in humans are reporting the same phenomenon.

The number of invasive procedures an infant experienced in the NICU is negatively correlated with how responsive the child is to morphine later in life.

Thus, the researchers concluded that the more painful procedures an infant experienced, the less effective morphine is in alleviating pain.

The study has been published online in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.

Sleep Loss May Affect Health by Curbing Exercise

LUEBECK –  A number of studies have linked chronic sleep deprivation to a heightened risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Now, a small study suggests that low levels of physical activity during the day may partly account for the connection.

In a study of 15 healthy men, researchers found that a couple nights of grabbing only four hours of sleep caused the men to curtail their physical activity compared with days where they had gotten the standard eight hours the night before.

In contrast, there was no evidence that sleep loss altered blood levels of appetite-regulating hormones or caused the men to eat more the next day — effects that have been seen in a number of previous studies.

The implication is that there may be a broader range of reasons for the link between sleep loss and weight and health, the researchers report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Practically speaking, the findings offer adults another reason to get enough sleep.

For healthy adults, that means regularly getting seven to eight hours per night, lead researcher Dr. Sebastian M. Schmid, of the University of Luebeck in Germany, told Reuters Health in an email.

A number of large epidemiological studies have found associations between poor sleep and higher risks of obesity and other health problems. Since then, a few small studies done in the sleep lab have attempted to find the possible reasons for the connection.

In some, researchers have found evidence that sleep loss alters the regulation of the hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin, and may boost daytime appetite. Leptin, which helps regulate body weight, is secreted by fat cells; low blood levels of the hormone promote hunger, while increases tell the brain that the body is full and encourage calorie burning. Ghrelin is secreted by the stomach to boost appetite.

But another possibility is that sleep-deprived people are just too tired to be physically active during the day.

While that seems logical, apparently no human studies had examined the question before.

For the new study, Schmid and his colleagues had 15 healthy, normal-weight men go through two consecutive nights with four hours of sleep and two nights with eight hours of sleep.

After the first night, the men spent the day doing their normal activities, while wearing a wrist device that recorded their movements. After the second night, they came to the sleep lab, where they again wore the wrist devices and also had their levels of leptin and ghrelin measured and their calorie intake monitored.

The researchers found that, unexpectedly, the men showed no differences in their hormone levels, hunger or food intake after the four-hour night compared with the eight-hour night.

They were, however, less active after sleep-deprived nights — devoting both fewer minutes to physical activity and a smaller proportion of that time to more-intense exercise.

Last Updated: 2010-01-01 13:00:52 -0400 (Reuters Health)

When the men got eight hours of sleep, they spent an average of 25 percent of their active time performing higher-intensity exercise; that declined to about 22 percent with four hours of sleep.

Over time, such differences could affect a person’s weight and general health, according to Schmid’s team.

The findings do not mean that sleep loss has no effects on hunger hormones and appetite, as earlier studies have suggested that it does. However, Schmid said, the results do suggest that even modest sleep restriction — so common in today’s society — reduces physical activity, while hormones and appetite are “less affected.”

 

Study Finds Women Happier than Men, While Youth Most Distressed

SYDNEY – A new online survey has found that women are happier than men, and that young people are more likely to be distressed.

The survey of 309 people, conducted by the Mental Health Association NSW (MHA), also found that spending time with friends or being a member of a club contributed much to an individual’s happiness.

It also showed that those unsure whether they would like socialising, “fence sitters”, were more prone to mental ill-health.

A majority of women reported feeling happier than men, and they also had more active social lives.

“The report reveals that there is a strong link between participating and feeling happy when socialising with friends or being a member of a club,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted MHA spokeswoman Nataly Bovopoulos as saying in a statement.

“It was also interesting to note that the majority (72 per cent) of the respondents were female, which indicates immediately that women are more likely to get involved than men,” she added.

Those who were experiencing a disadvantage from factors such as a financial crisis reported being distressed, as did 18 to 25-year-olds, who were unhappier than older age groups.

The survey, which asks people if they attend religious services or use social networking sites such as Facebook, is part of research into community participation, psychological distress, and mental well-being trends in NSW.

Bovopoulos also said it was possible for people to feel unhappy without being depressed or anxious, however, most people who were distressed reported feeling unhappy.

India, Nigeria, Congo Account for 40 percent Child Deaths

GENEVA – India, Nigeria and Congo account for 40 percent of the 8.8 million deaths of children under the age of five years, a new Unicef study released Friday says.

Though a little satisfied over a drop in child mortality, the UN agency said these three countries were a key to the world achieving the millennium development goals by 2015. The goals have been set up by United Nations.

“A handful of countries with large populations bear a disproportionate burden of under-five deaths, with forty per cent of the worlds under-five deaths occurring in just three countries: India, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the global report said.

Unless mortality in these countries is significantly reduced, the MDG (millennium development goals) targets will not be met, said Unicef Executive Director Ann M. Veneman.

The study said achieving the goal of a two-thirds reduction in the under-five mortality rate by 2015 would require a strong sense of urgency with targeted resources for greater progress.

While praising some countries for making efforts in reducing the mortality, Unicef expressed dissatisfaction that South Africa was not doing enough in this regard.

In some countries, the progress is slow or non-existent. In South Africa, the under-five mortality rate has actually gone up since 1990. The health of the child is inextricably linked to the health of the mother and South Africa has the highest number of women living with HIV in the world, the report said.

Recent commitments by the government to scale up interventions to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS should help improve the situation, the UN agency hoped.

Unicef said the progress could be accelerated even in the poorest environments, through integrated, evidence-driven, community-based health programmes that focus on addressing the major causes of death — pneumonia, diarrhoea, newborn disorders, malaria, HIV and under-nutrition.

The two leading causes of under-five mortality are pneumonia and diarrhoea. New tools, such as vaccines against pneumococcal pneumonia and rotaviral diarrhoea, could provide (the) additional momentum, the report said.

The data, however, shows a 28 per cent decline in the under-five mortality rate, from 90 deaths per 1000 live births in 1990, to 65 deaths per 1000 live births in 2008 in the world.

According to these estimates, the absolute number of child deaths in 2008 declined to an estimated 8.8 million from 12.5 million in 1990, the base line year for the millennium development goals.

Compared to 1990, 10,000 fewer children are dying every day. While progress is being made, it is unacceptable that each year 8.8 million children die before their fifth birthday, added Veneman.

Physically Active Boys Are Smarter

GOTHENBURG – Jocks get new respect in a large Swedish study that suggests physically active teen boys may be smarter than their couch-potato counterparts.

The findings, the investigators say, have important implications for the education of young people. Increasing, not decreasing, physical education in schools can not only slow the shift toward sedentary lifestyles but, by doing so, reduce risk of disease and “perhaps intellectual and academic underachievement,” they concluded.

Dr. H. Georg Kuhn and colleagues from the Institute of Medicine at the University of Gothenburg wanted to know if aerobic (cardiovascular) fitness and muscle strength were associated with brain power and future socioeconomic status.

They analyzed a physical and intelligence snapshot taken of all Swedish men (1.2 million) born between 1950 and 1976 when they reported for mandatory military duty at age 18.

They also assessed genetic and family influences by looking at the scores of brothers and twins and, over time, the association between all initial scores and measures of success at midlife, including education level and occupation.

The results show a strong positive link between cardiovascular fitness and smarts but not between muscle strength and intelligence measures.

The results also hint that positive fitness changes can have positive cognitive results in teen boys. “Male subjects with improved predicted cardiovascular fitness between 15 and 18 years of age exhibited significantly greater intelligence scores than subjects with decreased cardiovascular fitness,” Kuhn and colleagues report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The validity of the findings rest on the strength of the data, Kuhn noted in an email to Reuters Health. “The data are ‘objective’ and standardized measurements of fitness and cognition and do not rely on self-rating scales and questionnaires,” the researcher said.

The ability to compare twins’ scores was another important strength allowing the researchers to remove the “influence of genetic, social and family backgrounds. With several thousand twins, we were able to show that, on average, the fitter twin has also the higher IQ score,” Kuhn said.

The question remains: Are more-active boys smarter or smarter boys more active? This study does not answer that question. “More studies addressing causality are needed,” Kuhn and colleagues emphasize in their report.

“We cannot assume that fitness per se increases cognitive function, so joining a gym does not by itself make you ‘smarter’. But in order for optimal cognitive function/development to take place, regular cardiovascular exercise is needed,” Kuhn told Reuters Health.

Do the results hold true for girls? The study can’t say but, “there is no reason to assume that this cannot be extrapolated to girls. Women have more or less the same cardiovascular risk factors and therefore benefit from cardiovascular exercise in the same way,” Kuhn said.

SOURCES: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Bike Rides for Women Over 50 Can Cut 16 Years off Age

LOS ANGELES-  Post-menopausal women can turn back the time clock by 16 years with just 12 weeks’ of sweat on an exercise bike, a new study claims.

The research claimed that over-50s who make regular visits to the gym, go for a long bike ride or enjoy a swim can regain the fitness they had in their thirties.

Tests on older women revealed that a one-hour cycling session five days a week improved their blood pressure and heart rate, reports The Sun.

In an extra bonus, their ability to burn fat also rocketed 10 per cent.

Professor George Brooks, of the University of California, said: “The women in our study had the cardiovascular and metabolic capabilities of women 16 years younger.

“The results are very encouraging for exercise without weight loss.”

Tai Chi Relieves Osteoarthritis Knee Pain: Study

Tai Chi Relieves Osteoarthritis Knee Pain: Study

BOSTON – A traditional Chinese martial art can help reduce pain and improve knee function among seniors with osteoarthritis, American researchers have found.

“Tai chi is a mind-body approach that appears to be an applicable treatment for older adults with knee osteoarthritis,” Dr. Chenchen Wang, co-author of a study published in The November issue of Arthritis Care & Research, said in a release.

Tai chi features slow, rhythmic movements designed to relax people and enhance balance, strength and flexibility.

In the study, researchers looked at 40 people with confirmed knee osteoarthritis from Boston who were in otherwise good health. They had an average age of 65.

Half the study participants took Yang-style tai chi sessions for one hour, twice a week for three months. The sessions included 10 minutes each of self-massage and review of principles, breathing techniques and relaxation, and 30 minutes of tai chi movements.

The rest took two 60-minute classes per week for three months to learn about diet and nutrition, and treatments for osteoarthritis. These participants also stretched for 20 minutes.

At the end of the 12-week period, people practising tai chi showed a significant decrease in knee pain on a standard pain scale compared with those in the control group.

The findings show the need to further evaluate the biological mechanisms of tai chi to extend its benefits to a wider population, Wang said.

No severe adverse events were reported.

Osteoarthritis affects an estimated 3,000,000 or one in 10 Canadians, according to the Arthritis Society.

Aspirin Is Only for Heart Patients

LONDON – Low dose aspirin is widely given to people who have had heart problems

The use of aspirin to ward off heart attacks and strokes in those who do not have obvious cardiovascular disease should be abandoned, researchers say.

The Drugs and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB) study says aspirin can cause serious internal bleeding and does not prevent cardiovascular disease deaths.

It says doctors should review all patients currently taking the drug for prevention of heart disease.

The Royal College of GPs says it supports the DTB’s recommendations.

Low-dose aspirin is widely used to prevent further episodes of cardiovascular disease in people who have already had problems such as a heart attack or stroke.

Given the evidence, the DTB’s statement on aspirin prescription is a sensible one

This approach – known as secondary prevention – is well-established and has confirmed benefits.

But many thousands of people in the UK are believed to be taking aspirin as a protective measure before they have any heart symptoms.

Between 2005 and 2008, the DTB said four sets of guidelines were published recommending aspirin for the “primary prevention” of cardiovascular disease – in patients who had shown no sign of the disease.

These included people aged 50 and older with type 2 diabetes and those with high blood pressure.

But the DTB said a recent analysis of six controlled trials involving a total of 95,000 patients published in the journal the Lancet does not back up the routine use of aspirin in these patients because of the risk of serious gastrointestinal bleeds and the negligible impact it has on curbing death rates.

Dr Ike Ikeanacho, editor of the DTB, said: “Current evidence for primary prevention suggests the benefits and harms of aspirin in this setting may be more finely balanced than previously thought, even in individuals estimated to be at high risk of experiencing cardiovascular events, including those with diabetes or elevated blood pressure.”

 

Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said the DTB was an excellent source of independent advice for medical professionals.

He said: “Given the evidence, the DTB’s statement on aspirin prescription is a sensible one.

“The Royal College of General Practitioners would support their call for existing guidelines on aspirin prescription to be amended, and for a review of patients currently taking aspirin for prevention.”

June Davison, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation said: “It is well established that aspirin can help prevent heart attacks and strokes among people with heart and circulatory disease – so this group of people should continue to take aspirin as prescribed by their doctor.

However, for those who do not have heart and circulatory disease the risk of serious bleeding outweighs the potential preventative benefits of taking aspirin.

“We advise people not to take aspirin daily, unless they check with their doctor.

“The best way to reduce your risk of developing this disease is to avoid smoking, eat a diet low in saturated fat and rich in fruit and vegetables and take regular physical activity.”

Calorie Restriction Reduces Disease and Extends Life

In literally thousands of experiments, on a wide range of animals (almost certainly to include humans!), calorie restriction has greatly extended maximum and average lifespans and improved disease resistance, including resistance to many cancers. There is still uncertainty about why calorie restriction has these desired effects. Two important reasons proposed for the benefits of calorie restriction are: 1) fewer calories mean that there will be a reduction in the accumulation of oxidant and free-radical damage, and 2) fewer calories alter fat deposition, obesity, and hormones. The practical effect of this is improve the immune response of calorie-restricted (hereafter CR) animals.

There are numerous reputable websites to learn more about the underlying animal studies (preliminary corroborative results are now coming out on the rhesus monkey experiments currently underway). Indeed, there are already convincing studies demonstrating the health benefits (and, no doubt, the longevity benefits…though not enough time has passed to observe these!) in humans.

For present purposes, that CR—with adequate or optimal nutrition (the first controversy)–is good for your prospects for a long, healthy life will be taken as a given. The science is unambiguous and the life extension benefits have been known (surprisingly) since 1935. The interesting questions revolve around related issues.

What is Calorie Restriction?

You might (in an ideal world) want to get an extensive blood test, so that you can verify for yourself the benefits of CR as they occur. Also, in an ideal world, you would want to calculate how many calories you are currently eating. This will add some useful precision, if others are to learn from your experience with CR—remember that you are a pioneer and that leaving a record is a good thing. But, unfortunately, I did not do the latter, so I have only a loose understanding of what percentage of CR I am engaged in at any particular time.

The range of recommended calorie restriction levels is from 10% to 25% from the unrestricted diet (Walford believes most people should start CR with 1,800 to 2,200 calories per day). But, you don’t want to lose too much weight and you don’t want to lose it too fast! A number of ways of thinking about CR have emerged. If you feel weak, lightheaded, or are overly tired and sleep a lot, you are either losing too fast or not getting enough nutrition with your reduced caloric intake—you should feel better, not worse, if things are going right.

To give a reference, it would be difficult for most people to lose more than a pound a week of true weight (ignoring water) in a healthy way. Since a pound loss (3500 calories, roughly) in a week breaks down to 500 calories per day, that is a quite substantial restriction (16.7% CR if one is initially at 3,000 calories a day, which is plenty of food). Note that the “Percent Daily Values” on all of the food packages these days refer to a 2,000-calorie diet, with gram numbers also being given for the 2,500 calorie diet. If you were eating at those levels before restriction, losing one pound a week would be 25% and 20% CR respectively.

So, you are “safer” to take six weeks to lose 6 pounds, though this, too, is likely to vary with the individual. When I lost 12 pounds in that time (2 per week), I felt very bad, but Ray (another CR Society member) lost 15 pounds in 6 weeks and felt fine. The key is to be guided by how you feel–you are supposed to feel better, not worse. If you feel worse, lose more slowly. Remember that when you are losing fat you are also losing muscle along with that fat; you may also be releasing toxins stored in fat too rapidly.

Also, and especially if you are moderately to very active, you will find your fat percentage declining steadily as you lose weight. Walford believes that you should not let that fall below 6-10% for men and 10-15% for women. This is not terribly likely to happen for most people on CR—the 1990 mean values for males between 40 and 75 years old varied from 25.3 to 26.8% while the female means were 34.9 to 39.0% for those age groups! For men between 40 and 75, a 13 to16% body fat will put you in the lowest 5% of the nation, while for women, a 25 to 28% body fat will also make them leaner than 19 out of 20 people!

And, we’ve gotten a bit fatter since 1990. So, it’s not too likely that you will acquire a dangerously low fat percentage. Despite Walford’s warning, having quite low body fat percentages may not be so terribly undesirable at least for particular individuals (Frank Shorter was estimated to be only 1-3% fat when he won the Olympic marathon in 1972!).

A rough measure of how fat people are is the Body Mass Index or BMI. This can be calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms (2.2 pounds to a kilogram) by the square of your height in meters (39.4 inches to a meter). Thus, if you weigh 150 lbs. (68.2kg) at a height of 5’9″ (69″ or 1.75m) tall and weigh 150 lbs., your BMI is 68.2kg/3.0625 = 22.3. Traditional nutrition/health sources say that the BMI for “normal” men and women should be in the range of 20-27, which roughly corresponded to the 10th and 75th percentile values in 1971-74. For a flavor of where you stand, from 1990 data (we’ve gotten fatter since then!)

Women generally have lower BMIs, except among the very obese, where there are more women than men. The reconciliation of these BMI data with the earlier data that indicated that women have higher fat percentages (true at every BMI) than men comes via the greater amount of lean body mass among men. I would guess that the average BMI of the members of the CR Society (a newsgroup on the web) would be well under 21, with many as low as 17. A recent study has indicated that those with lower BMIs are much healthier and less prone to disease and premature death than those with high BMIs.

While perhaps a depressing revelation for many, it turns out that you do not get CR’s health benefits by losing weight via increased caloric expenditure. It is true that a typical person could lose 1 pound a week either by restricting calories an average of 500 per day or by running 5 miles every day (losing an average of 100 calories per mile more-or-less regardless of speed) and eating the original number of calories.

The reason exercise does not give CR benefits even if it gave equivalent CR weight stems from how CR is hypothesized to work. Food is the source of 90% of the oxidants or free radicals in the body—reducing food reduces oxidative damage. Exercise, ironically, actually contributes to free radical formation by burning that food faster. These negative effects are for most people (the non-CRers) more than offset by the health benefits of exercise, so that average lifespan is certainly increased by exercise. [Probably the oxidative damage is more than offset by positive effects of improved fat deposition, reduced obesity, and improved hormone status.] But a number of rodent experiments indicate that exercise doesn’t add anything to the maximum lifespan and fairly little to the average lifespan when animals are already calorie restricted.

It is the CR that gives the benefits—exercise to feel better and to maintain independence in old age, but don’t exercise as a substitute for calorie restriction. Note, too, that while CR won’t make you stronger, it will make you relatively stronger—you’ll be able to do more push-ups and chin-ups, for example, just because you have less weight to lift! These benefits will be manifest in everything you do as you move around in your lighter body throughout the day.

Exercise can Cut Heart Disease Deaths by 60 per cent

LONDON – As little as half an hour of aerobic exercise such as walking, rowing or jogging three times a week can make patients 60 per cent less likely to die, the research found.

The results of the study, carried out by the Department of Cardiology in New Orleans, Louisiana and reported in the American Journal of Medicine, have be welcomed by the British Heart Foundation.

 More than 200,000 die each year from conditions related to circulation, including strokes and heart attacks.

One in five men and one in seven women die from heart disease in the UK.

The American study offered patients 12 weeks of exercise classes of 30 or 40 minutes of walking, rowing or jogging and were given advice on diet and lifestyle improvements.

A follow-up with the patients over six years found those who got fitter through the exercise regime were 60 per cent less likely to have died.

Exercise also helped to reduce levels of stress, according to a report of the study in the Daily Express.

The British Heart Foundation told the newspaper: “This study proves once again that exercise has both psychological and physical benefits for patients with heart disease.”

Many British patients with heart problems are put on drugs to lower cholesterol and reduce blood pressure.