physical activity

  1. Walking and jogging prevents metabolic syndrome

    Stay one step ahead of disease

    You can outrun disease like metabolic syndrome, and you don't even have to move very fast. A quick walk or a light jog is all it takes to stay a step ahead of diabetes, heart disease, and more.

    I've written to you before about the dangers of being sedentary as well as the benefits of even light movement. Now, a new study confirms that you can get fit, stay healthy, avoid disease, and more -- and it starts with a brisk walk.

    Researchers tracked more than 10,000 Danish adults from age 21 all the way up to 98 for up to a decade, quizzing them about their levels of physical activity along the way.

    Not at all surprisingly, the ones who engaged in either fast walking or jogging for between two and four hours a week -- that's as little as 20 minutes a day -- were 50 percent less likely to develop metabolic syndrome when compared to those who walked slower, walked less, or didn't walk at all.

    Metabolic syndrome is often a precursor to prediabetes, diabetes, and heart disease -- so you definitely want to take every step you can to avoid it.

    Just make sure it's a lively step. A slow walk for even an hour day, for example, may be a great habit to have -- but it won't lower the risk of metabolic syndrome, according to the study in BMJ Open.

    Along with preventing metabolic syndrome, a daily jog or run can help awaken the disease-fighting T-cells of the immune system. And in another new study, it actually helped transform those cells in cancer survivors.

    After just 12 weeks of jogging, their T-cells went from a weakened state to a much more powerful one better able to fight the cancer and keep it from returning.

    Maybe that's why joggers and runners have a lower risk of some cancers in the first place.

    And that's still not all getting up and moving around can do for you -- because another new study finds that simply not sitting all day can slash your risk of kidney disease.

    That's one of the nation's top 10 killers, responsible for more than 50,000 deaths every year. But if you sit less, you can avoid it.

    For women, sitting for less than 3 hours a day can slash the risk of the disease by 30 percent when compared to sitting for 8 hours a day or more. For men, the risk is cut by around 20 percent, according to the study of 5,650 Brits.

    The important thing to remember here is that a little daily exercise isn't going to make up for sitting all day long -- and in the new study, even people who got that exercise faced the same increased risk of kidney disease if they were sitting the rest of the time.

    So go out for a run, get some exercise, and keep moving.

    But just as importantly, remember to get out of your seat and on your feet throughout the day as well.

  2. Wii Fit won’t make you fit

    Videogames are often blamed for everything wrong with kids today -- but in most cases, they get a bum rap.

    Believe it or not, videogames can be an enriching, engaging, and even productive way to pass the time -- and as I’ll tell you later in the week, some games might even slash the dementia risk in seniors.

    But there’s one thing videogames can’t do. They can’t help you lose weight, and that includes games that require movement, like Nintendo’s Wii Fit.

    In a new study, 84 overweight kids were randomly assigned to either a Nintendo Wii with Wii Fit games that require active play -- like sports and dancing -- or a Nintendo Wii with a more traditional game that can be played in the usual couch potato position.

    The kids also wore accelerometers to measure total daily activity, which 13 weeks later revealed virtually no difference at all between the two groups, according to the study in Pediatrics.

    The kids who played Wii Fit got between 25 and 28 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day, while the kids who played less active games got between 26 and 29 minutes a day -- both a far cry from the hour or so kids should spend engaged in active play each day.

    The researchers say they’re not sure if the movements of Wii Fit were so minimal that the accelerometers didn’t pick them up, or if the kids balanced out their Wii Fit sessions by spending less time engaged in other forms of physical activity.

    Either way, the results speak for themselves: No one’s getting fit off Wii Fit.

    Surprised? Don’t be -- one of the company’s own studies found that many Wii Fit games don’t even reach the levels of exercise achieved by ordinary walking.

    Another study found that 10 minutes of Wii Fit burned just 25 calories -- less than cleaning or vacuuming, and a fraction of what you can burn in 10 minutes of running on a treadmill.

    That’s not to say you need to slave away in a gym -- or even on a treadmill -- to lose weight and stay fit.

    You don’t.

    But you do need to get out and get moving, whether it’s a brisk walk through the local park, a daily "workout" in your garden or a regular tennis habit.

    And by that, I mean "real" tennis... not the one in Wii Sports.

  3. Risky business: Sleepless kids are bad news

    Kids who miss out on sleep aren't just groggy in school -- they're also far more likely to do all the things that give parents nightmares.
  4. Olive oil cuts stroke risk

    Years ago, researchers tried using olive oil as a placebo in trials for heart drugs. As it turned out, olive oil -- not widely known at the time for its heart benefits -- protected the patients in placebo groups better than some meds.

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