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Exercise at the Extreme

The benefits of physical activity outweigh the risks of lifelong, endurance activities.

Can you get too much good physical activity? Maybe, but the American Cardiology Sports and Exercise Cardiology Leadership Council has concluded that the benefits of exercise outweigh the risks associated with lifelong, very active endurance athletes. Even small amounts of exercise, including standing, result in lower cardiovascular risk compared to a sedentary lifestyle.

PositiveTip: Regular physical activity is vital for the prevention of heart disease and the promotion of longevity.

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Sitting Too Much Is Hazardous to Your Health

The human body was designed for movement!

Evidence is accumulating which strongly suggests we spend way too much time sitting every day--which can be harmful to our health. Watch this short video which portrays the hidden risk of sitting too much. Suggestion: stand while you watch it!

PositiveTip: Find a new way each day to be active and avoid too much sitting!

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To Sit or Stand?

Spending a lot of time in chairs increases all-cause mortality.

Most of us spend a significant portion of our day just sitting. Growing evidence suggests this may not be good for our health. Researchers in Australia attached an actigraph monitor to almost 700 participants for more than a week. They found 2 hours spent sitting each day was significantly associated with higher body mass, fasting plasma glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol. When participants replaced two hours of sitting each day with stepping, the same biomarkers were significantly improved.

PositiveTip: Fight sedentary lifestyles with intentional physical activity!

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Should You Get a Height-Adjustable Desk?

Sitting for long periods of the day increases risks for major disease.

Do height-adjustable workstations actually encourage people to stand more, and does standing translate to reduced risks? A review of five small studies comparing employees who used height-adjustable desks with those who did not failed to find any differences. The authors stated standing might be only marginally better than sitting and moderate to vigorous purposeful exercise could be more useful.

PositiveTip: Instead of sitting all day, go for a short walk several times per day!

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Report Card on U.S. Health

Smoking no longer leads the list of risk factors for premature death.

The U.S. continues to lose ground on important measures of health when compared to other nations--in spite of spending the most per capita on healthcare in the world. The State of US Health, 1990-2010 reveals poor dietary and physical inactivity now surpass smoking as key factors in years of life lost prematurely. 

PositiveTip: Which way did your activity and dietary choices today influence the population trends? Changes are made one person at a time!

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FDA Acts to Curb Tobacco Industry Deception

Bravo to the FDA for taking the tobacco industry bull by horns!

For decades the tobacco industry has decieved the public about the risks of light and low-tar cigarettes as safer alternatives. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has now taken action to require that any future health claims for tobacco products be supported by a wide range of sound evidence, benefit the public, and must be marketed in a way that does not increase youth tobacco use or discourage quitting. These new regulations will put the burden of proof on the tobacco manufactures to tell the truth.

PositiveTip: Strongly encourage young people to stay away from this deadly habit.

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Water-pipe Smoking Similar to Effects of Cigarettes

Effects of water-pipe smoking are very similar to cigarette smoking.

Have you heard of water-pipe smoking (WPS)? Long-practiced in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, it is gaining popularity in western nations--especially among college students and young professionals. New York researchers conducted a meta-analysis of six studies and found that both WPS and cigarette smokers experienced similar declines in lung-function measurements. Israeli scientists have also found strong similarities in carboxyhemoglobin levels, blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate changes between WPS and cigarette smokers.

To Drink or Not to Drink? - 3

In the last couple of posts we have been exploring the issue of moderate drinking. Is it really all it is cracked up to be? Alcohol certainly takes a huge toll on society. The case for moderate drinking has a large number of studies to support its benefits, too. Are there alternative explanations? Certainly!

Last month I had the opportunity to attend the Global Health and Lifestyle Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. One of the speakers I heard was David Williams, PhD, MPH who is a Harvard University professor. He postulated several very interesting alternative explanations for alcohol's purported benefits.

To Drink or Not to Drink? - 2

Last week we looked at a summary of the impact of alcohol on society, families and individual health. The data is sobering, indeed. Why then do we hear so much about the health benefits of moderate alcohol use?

In the scientific literature there is overwhelming evidence from prospective, observational studies that individuals who drink 1-2 drinks per day have a lower rate of cardiovascular mortality than heavy drinkers and non-drinkers. More than 100 prospective studies have shown a J-shaped curve between alcohol and coronary heart disease (CHD). The lowest rates of CHD are found among those who consume two drinks of alcohol per day. Moderate alcohol consumption has also been associated with lowered risk of diabetes, dementia, and osteoporosis.