Category: Fitness

Run Long, Live Longer?

Everyone knows that regular exercise is good for you – it controls your weight, helps you combat disease, improves mood and energy, and many other benefits. However, the extent to which exercising can improve and lengthen your life is still being discovered. Now, a new literature review has shown that exercising regularly can generously lengthen life expectancy.

The review found that people who engage in the highest levels of physical activity lived up to 5.5 years on average longer than those who did not. A different study discovered similar benefits. Researchers found that women who regularly exercised were at a 31% lower chance of dying prematurely.

These results show that exercise may be a crucial tool to living a longer life. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has published physical activity guidelines which can help people improve their health by exercising. Following these recommendations can help anyone engage in this healthy behavior, and get them on track for a longer, healthier lifestyle.

 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6139866/pdf/ms115_p0098.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25844730

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/prevention/policies_practices/physical_activity/guidelines.htm

 

 

RICE your knees…How to care for a sports injury

As the weather is starting to warm up, many of us are thinking about getting outside and getting active.  With this increased movement, it’s no wonder that a search of google trends from 2004-2016 showed that April of each year is the most common month for searches related to knee injuries (1).

The R.I.C.E. method is one of the most commonly recommended ways to treat sports injuries to joints and muscles.  It has even received a stamp of approval from the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (2).  This method has 4 steps:

 

R is for Rest  Try to avoid using the injured area and putting weight on it for 24-48 hours if possible (3)

I is for Ice Every 4 hours, put rice on the injury for 20 minutes at a time (3).  For comfort, you can place a thin cloth between the ice bag and your skin (2).

C is for Compression Wrap the area with a bandage, like an ACE wrap, in order to gently compress the injured area.  This will help control swelling.  Just be careful not to wrap it too tight and cut of your blood flow (3).

E is for Elevation This is your opportunity to sit and prop your feet (or other injured spot) up.  Use pillows or other comfortable items to try to keep the area above the level of your heart.  This can reduce swelling (3).

 

Once you start feeling better, you can SLOWLY and GENTLY start using the injured area again.  Also, if you’re not sure how bad you’ve hurt yourself, be sure to get it checked out by a medical provider.

 

References

  1. Using Google Trends To Assess For Seasonal Variation In Knee Injuries. Dewan, Varun and Sur, Hartej. February 21, 2018, Journal of Arthroscopy and Joint Surgery.
  2. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. How to Care for a Sprained Ankle. American Orhopaedic Foot and Ankle Society. [Online] http://www.aofas.org/footcaremd/how-to/foot-injury/Pages/How%20to%20Care%20for%20a%20Sprained%20Ankle.aspx.
  3. Sports Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. How to Use the R.I.C.E Method for Treating Injuries. UPMC Health Beat. [Online] August 27, 2014. https://share.upmc.com/2014/08/rice-method-for-treating-injury/.

 

 

Dear Apple, Keep doing what you are doing

The new Apple Watch commercial “Dear Apple” has the world talking after its debut during this year’s Winter Olympics. It’s personal, heart wrenching and most importantly highlights the incredible impacts of it’s less advertised features. This commercial emphasizes that this technology could revolutionize healthcare and provide life-changing health support. It features anecdotes of a car accident survivor using the feature on the watch to call 911 after their phone was thrown from the vehicle and a child with Type 1 diabetes pairing the watch with her glucose monitor that alerts her when her blood sugars are at low levels. While the ad still features its more traditional feature of tracking physical activity, it was nice to see that the more innovative features of its products and it’s direct benefits. While I love a good selfie, it’s reassuring to know that Apple and other technology companies are using their technology for just more than just three dimensional emojis and higher quality selfies. I look forward to seeing what other technology these companies come up with in the future to help us lead healthier lives.

If you haven’t seen the commercial check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-x8Ik9G5Dg

 

 

Wearable Health: Who Benefits and Who is Left Out?

By Shazia Manji

There’s no denying the ubiquity of wearable health technology. The global wearables market is expected to grow by more than 15% this year alone, with projected sale of 310.4 million devices worldwide and $30.5 billion generated in revenue. These technologies generate real-time personalized data with the promise to improve individual health by helping to track, manage, incentivize, and improve healthy behaviors and decision making. As wearable tech finds success in the market, it’s important to consider where they can be most effective and where do they face barriers in impact. For example, a device such as a FitBit may be helpful in motivating an individual to make small changes to their diet when they have the necessary resources to make that happen. But what happens if you can’t afford a gym membership and you don’t feel safe running around your neighborhood at night? How well will these devices work for people who live in food swamps, neighborhoods or areas with many fast food and liquor stores but few places to buy healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables?

The overall efficacy and effectiveness of wearable tech is still being determined. A 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association noted that while these kinds of tracking devices were increasing in popularity, there has been little evidence to show that they are successful in actually changing behavior. Still another suggested that wearables are more likely to be purchased by those who already live a relatively healthy lifestyle, and are less in use by those who might most benefit from a shift in physical activity, or by those with an existing and related health condition. Few studies or initiatives have looked at connecting these mobile health technologies with lower-income individuals in the US or at increasing their prevalence across socioeconomic status. This is largely in part because cost can be prohibitive for those at the lower end of the spectrum. Low-income populations are most at risk for diabetic complications, and may be less likely to have easy access to a physician, but the tools to help improve compliance and self-care have not been made with them in mind. The digital divide in healthcare technology is yet another example of how opportunities and resources for health are inequitably distributed. If we truly want to increase the effectiveness and relevance of wearable health tech, there needs to be a shift in their development and distribution.

A great first step to reducing the cost barrier would be working to get more health tech to be covered by insurers – and not just more robust private or employer-provided insurance plans, but by the insurance plans used by targeted populations, including Medicare and Medicaid. Tech companies could forge partnerships with community-based initiatives working to understand and shift the more structural barriers to health in low-income neighborhoods as part of potential multi-level interventions that go beyond individual behavior change. Wearable health tech used in research studies could combine the tracking technology with forms of interviewing or survey collection aimed at better understanding the barriers to behavior change in the most vulnerable populations, to help collect participant data that can in turn inform chronic disease prevention efforts. At the very least, developers could recognize that tech developed and marketed towards more affluent populations will differ from tech tailored for the most vulnerable.

Perhaps most importantly, I think it’s important to approach investment in and development of wearable health technologies with caution. Investment in digital health technologies is rising tremendously – but it’s crucial to understand who benefits from these technologies and who is left out, and then work proactively toward decreasing the digital divide. Investment in new tech should not trump investment in people and investment in improving the places and conditions in which people live, the conditions which shape and constrain quality of life and health behaviors.

Image: Koolme, Andri. “Fitbit Blaze activity tracker / wristwatch / smartband / smartwatch / smartphone.” 16 July 2016. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0). Accessed 31 Jan 2018.

Adam Rippon: America’s Olympic Sweetheart

During the 2018 Winter Olympics that have been happening in Pyeongchang, South Korea, American Figure Skater Adam Rippon has stolen the hearts and minds of many, including this writer. But beyond his charming persona and impressive skating abilities, Rippon has brought visibility to other queer athletes by being the first openly gay athlete to compete in the Games.

Rippon presents by what is defined as stereotypically gay: often using more “feminine” mannerisms and speaking with what can be called the “gay lisp”. At the same time, he is being praised not just for his personality and looks, but also his athleticism, a praise that is often withheld from gay men who do not present in ways that are more heteronormative.

I look forward to seeing what other heights Rippon can reach, and what he will continue to do with the platform that he has amassed. If you’re interested in more reading on this topic, I would highly recommend the article below.

Sources:

them. How a Fabulous, Femme Gay Man Finally Became America’s Sweetheart – https://www.them.us/story/how-a-femme-gay-man-became-americas-new-sweetheart

Warming Up Before Your Workout With the RAMP Method

Many people, perhaps especially men, go into the gym for a heavy workout and head straight to the weights. At best, they might take a few minutes on a treadmill before getting into their workout. However, research shows that this isn’t the best way to exercise. A proper warm up can improve the strength and power of your muscles among other benefits (Jeffreys, 2006).

The RAMP method is a three stage (though four letters) method for optimizing your warm up: (1) Raise your heart rate, blood flow, body temperature, etc. (2) Activate the muscles groups you’ll be exercising or that you want to focus on and Mobilize the joints and ranges of motion that will be employed for your workout, (3) Potentiate, referring to using activities more directly related to the sport or workout you’ll be doing (e.g. if I’m doing back squats, here I could start doing air squats or back squat with the bar and slowly add weight up to my working set.)

Using the RAMP method to warm up for leg day, we could start with 5-10 minutes on a treadmill, stairclimber, or using other cardio. Next, we can either mobilize or activate first. In this case, we might use a foam roller or dynamic stretches to mobilize the hip and knee joints. To mobilize the hips, you might try forward and side leg swings, half pigeon pose, or frog pose. Look for dynamic stretches that keep you actively moving through the range of motion rather than static stretches. To activate the leg muscles, especially the glutes, try clams, lateral walks or air squats all using a resistance band. If you have trouble feeling your calves, try one-legged calf raises using your bodyweight or light weights to activate the calf muscles before your workout. For the potentiate phase, move towards the specific exercises for your workout. Perform lunges or squats with just your bodyweight and slowly add weight to your working sets.

 

Jeffreys, I. (2006). Warm up revisited–the ‘ramp’method of optimising performance preparation. Uksca J6, 15-19.

Image: Sutherland, Ben. “Warm up.” 10 Oct 2009. Online image licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC-BY2.0). Accessed 30 Jan 2018. https://www.flickr.com/photos/bensutherland/4004584424

Fitness trackers… well, they track

Currently in the headlines is that “U.S. soldiers are revealing sensitive and dangerous information by jogging,” an alarming accusation against aerobic exercise. More specifically, the GPS tracking company Strava published a global heat map of aggregate areas of fitness-device-wearer activity, brought to Twitter’s attention by an Australian student. The “sensitive and dangerous information” the headline was referring to is this public data of consistent patterns of activity around bases, information such as patrol routes and high-trafficked areas that can be turned into actionable intelligence.

So jogging is not the problem and as per military policy wearing activity trackers with Bluetooth and GPS functionality is not a problem either. You know those pesky Terms and Conditions, Statements of Privacy, the small print? They most likely are problematic and could improve in readability and clarity so that people will actually read them. However, I think the true problem here is an underestimation of daily tech implications and scope by everyone, not just the military. Strava, the tracking company, puts the responsibility on the consumer to understand and then accordingly adjust privacy settings. My concern is that default settings are counterintuitive—one has to opt out to gain privacy rather than consciously opt in to share data.

 

Sources:

https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/world/us-soldiers-are-revealing-sensitive-and-dangerous-information-by-jogging/ar-BBImwt5

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jan/29/strava-secret-army-base-locations-heatmap-public-users-military-ban

Teaching Old Recipes New Tricks

As the weather makes some serious changes here in North Carolina, I’m always looking for rich, comfort food that incorporates nutrient-dense vegetables. This week I came across an amazing recipe that not only boasts low-calorie options; it’s packed with flavor! Registered Dietitian Andrea Mathis features a beautiful Kale, Tomato, & Mushroom Egg White Frittata. This new spin on a historically Italian dish is the way to go if you’re looking for a healthy option that makes meal prepping a breeze. Get the directions here.

 

Masters of Disguise: How artificial sweeteners make it past consumers

Viewed by consumers as a healthier alternative to sugary drinks, artificially sweetened beverages are becoming increasingly popular. These drinks include most diet sodas and juices, energy drinks, and flavored water. The shift away from drinks sweetened with sugar came after research showed the relationship between sugar intake and excess weight, obesity, and diabetes. Artificially sweetened beverages have little-to-no calories; however, the medical community has not supported any of their proposed health benefits. In fact, many scientists believe that artificially sweetened drinks lead to overeating and encourage sweet cravings. They could be an alternative route to health problems. Researchers are still looking into these associations, but for now, water is always a safe choice. Check out this article for tasty ways of sprucing up your water.

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17712114

Image: https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/is-diet-coke-bad-for-you-what-about-artificial-sweeteners/

 

Recent Data on Obesity Prevalence in the U.S.

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) recently released a data brief on recent estimates for obesity prevalence in the United States. These estimates are from the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 2015-2016. Some key survey findings showed that in 2015-2016, obesity prevalence was 39.8% among adults and 18.5% among youth in the U.S. Additionally, obesity prevalence was found to be 13.9% for children aged 2-5 years, 18.4% for children aged 6-11 years, and 20.6% for children aged 12-19 years.

While there was not a significant change in obesity prevalence among U.S. adults and youth between 2013-2014 and 2015-2016, obesity continues to remain an important public health concern.

Obesity prevalence rates in the U.S. do not currently meet national weight status objectives set forth in Healthy People 2020, a 10-year national agenda for improving public health in the U.S. These objectives are to reduce the proportion of U.S. adults that are obese to 30.5%, as well as reduce the proportion of U.S. children aged 2-5 years, 6-11 years, and 12-19 years that are obese to 9.4%, 15.7%, and 16.1%, respectively, by the year 2020.

Obesity can lead to serious health effects, such as: high blood pressure, heart disease, and even type 2 diabetes. However, maintaining a healthy weight through eating right and staying physically active can prevent these negative health outcomes.

References

Prevalence of Obesity among Adults and Youth: United States, 2015-2016. (2017, October). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db288.pdf

Nutrition and Weight Status. (2017, October 13). Retrieved from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/nutrition-and-weight-status/objectives

Eat Right. (N.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/eat/index.htm

Be Physically Active. (N.d.) Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/physical.htm