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What’s Your Fitness Age?

by Bob Curley on October 16, 2014

Battalion Civilian Fitness ProgramMeasuring the health of your cardiovascular system is a better way to gauge your longevity than simply looking at your chronological age, the New York Times reported Oct. 15.

Cardiovascular endurance is the measure used to define your “fitness age,” which in turn can help predict how long you will live. Endurance is calculated by checking your VO2max, a measure of your ability to take in and use oxygen.

A simplified tool for measuring your fitness age was recently published online. If you take the test and find that your fitness age isn’t where you’d like it to be, experts have some simple advice for improving your score: just exercise.

“There is a huge benefit, larger than any known medical treatment, in improving your fitness level to what is expected for your age group or, even better, to above it,” says reseacher Ulrik Wisloff of the K.G. Jebsen Center for Exercise in Medicine at The Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

(Photo © Army Strong PA via Flickr)

Pumpkins are Jack Full ‘o Goodness

by Bob Curley on October 22, 2014

halloweenpumpkinThomasBackaFlickrPumpkins are pretty great when it comes to nutritional value.

CNN reported Oct. 21 that the health benefits of pumpkins include:

  • low in calories and high in filling fiber
  • contains beta-carotene, converted to Vitamin A in the body for improved vision and skin beauty
  • has lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that also help in eye health
  • rich in vitamin C for improved immunity

(Photo © Thomas Backa/CC by 2.0)





belliesSonyaGreenFlickrA recent animal study suggests that males and females process and store fat differently, offering clues to the links among a high-fat diet, obesity, and conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Fox News reported Oct. 16 that male rats fed a diet mirroring the fat, sugar, and carbohydrate consumption of the average American developed type 2 diabetes and enlarged hearts, while pre-menopausal female rats fed the same diet did not. However, menopausal rats also developed these chronic health conditions.

“The whole idea is that women tend to always accumulate fat in the hips and the thighs. We know biologically that site of storage has a lot of expandability,” said study author Biff Palmer of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “In men, we accumulate more of our fat in the belly. Those fat cells have less expandability. The excess fat has to go somewhere— in this animal data we find that it goes to the brain,” as well as the pancreas and heart.

The research was published in the journal Cell Reports.

(Photo © Sonya Green/CC by 2.0)

Make Your Commute More Mindful

by Bob Curley on October 22, 2014

metrosubwayEnzoFigueresFlickrStressed out by the daily grind? Take control of your commute with a few minutes of meditation.

The Washington Post reported Oct. 19 that “mindful commuting” has taken hold among some Metro riders in Washington, D.C.

“It gets me into the mind-set I want to be in for work,” said Denise Keyes, a commuter who lives in Bethesda, Md., and meditates on her way to work at Georgetown University. “I want to be somebody who — not to sound all Oprah — but I want to be my best self. I want to be compassionate and really listen to people. This helps me do that.”

Nancy Kaplan, chief operating officer at a management consulting firm, says she tries to be mindful of moments when she clenches her jaw or grips the steering wheel too hard while driving to work in D.C. At such moments, she tries to shift her attention to the landscape around her and regulates her breathing to relax.

Commuters can also try the Headspace app, a guided meditation practice that can be played on a mobile device. “Mindfulness practice trains us to use all the moments of our lives productively, including the commute, rather than seeing the commute as something to get through so we can get to the good stuff,” says Ronald Siegel, author and assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School.

(Photo © Enzo Figueres/CC by 2.0)

Wellness Wise, Kids are a Mixed Blessing

by Bob Curley on October 21, 2014

Gallup-Healthways-logoKids can make you laugh, but they also can be a big source of stress. (Tell us parents something we don’t already know.)

Data from the Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index finds that people who live with children under age 18 are more likely to report smiling or laughing on a given day (84.1 percent) than those who don’t live with kids (79.6 percent). However, living with kids is more strongly associated with feeling a lot of daily stress (45.1 percent) than not having kids at home (36.8 percent).

The findings generally held true for both men and women.

As many parents will attest, raising children is a task filled with great joys as well as great challenges,” Gallup researchers noted. “The parenting experience of having children living at home is filled with many moments of joy, typically driven by love and buttressed by the satisfaction that comes with children’s growth and successes as students, artists, athletes, friends, and citizens — inside and outside the home.

“Parenting, in turn, also comes with many challenges that can catalyze stress on a daily basis,” according to Gallup. “These range from managing normal behavioral struggles about mealtime, household routines, and homework, along with loss of sleep, to more serious issues faced by many parents — including teen rebellion, addressing special needs, eating disorders, peer issues, substance abuse, and self-injury.”

“That these elevated emotions are common to women as well as men underscores the shared parenting that occurs in many families, and can play a part in helping spouses recognize a shared set of experiences in this role.”

Long-Term Weight Loss Has Little to Do with Speed

by Bob Curley on October 21, 2014

Whether you keep off weight lost on a diet may have less to do with how quickly you dropped the pounds than what you do to maintain your healthier weight.

The New York Times reported Oct. 20 that Australian researchers put a study group of both rapid weight-losers and long-term weight losers on a maintenance diet for three years. At the end of the study, there was little difference in the amount of weight regained between the two groups (70.5 percent versus 71.2 percent).

The research was published in the journal Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Swimming is Safe and Effective Exercise for Older Adults

The best type of exercise for older adults may be swimming — the one type of activity that lowers the risk of falls among the elderly. LiveScience reported Oct. 20 that Australian researchers who studied active men ages 70 and older found that those who swam were 33 percent less likely to suffer a fall […]

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Double Dosing Sick Kids a Common Mistake

Got a sick kid? Double-check the dosage before treating them with medication. Fox News reported Oct. 20 that it’s fairly common for parents and other caregivers to administer the wrong dose of medicine to children under age 6 — and especially those under age one. Double-dosing is among the mistakes made most: typically, one parent […]

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Control Sugar to Cut Tooth Decay

Risk of developing calories increases dramatically as sugar consumption grows from one to 10 percent of total daily calories, British researchers report. Based on the findings, a new study recommends that adults cut their sugar intake to no more than 5 percent of daily calories, Men’s Health reported Oct. 19. The Institute of Medicine’s recommendation […]

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Sugary Sodas May Affect Longevity

A soda a day could cut years off your life, the Washington Post reported Oct. 20. Researchers from the University of California at San Francisco found that people who consume the most sugary drinks tend to have shorter telomeres — caps on the ends of chromosomes. Shorter telomeres are a sign of cellular aging. From […]

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Making Good Choices When You Eat Fast Food

Even the most conscientious among us are sometimes put in the position of having to do for a fast-food meal. Women’s Health reported Oct. 20 on some of your healthier (low calorie, low fat, protein rich) options when going out for a quick bite, including: Breakfast: McDonald’s Fruit ‘n Yogurt Parfait Dunkin’ Donuts Ham & […]

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