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The Link Between Exercise & The Quality Of Our SLEEP

What’s the relationship between physical exercise and the quality of your sleep?  Dr. Kelly Baron is a sleep researcher at Northwestern University and she decided to find out.

She learned that the influence of daily exercise on sleep habits is somewhat complicated.  In fact, in the short term, sleep may have more of an impact on exercise than exercise has on sleep.

The New York Times reports on Dr. Baron’s research, which looked at older people with insomnia, all of whom DIDN’T exercise.  Half of the people in the study began a moderate exercise program, consisting of three or four 30-minute exercise sessions per week.  The exercise program continued for 16 weeks.

At the end of that time, the volunteers in the exercise group were sleeping much more soundly than they had been at the start of the study. But the positive effects of exercise didn’t occur right away.

After the first two months of their fitness program, the exercising volunteers weren’t sleeping any better than at the start of the study.  It took four months of regular exercise before their insomnia improved substantially.

Dr. Baron also found another interesting connection between sleep and exercise. When the people in the study had a poor night of sleep, they were much less likely to get the full amount of exercise the next day.

According to Dr. Baron, at first glance, these results might seem “a bit discouraging.”  But she points out that the volunteers in this study already had sleep problems.  She says that people with chronic insomnia and other sleep disturbances tend to be “neurologically different.”

For most of us, better exercise during the day tends to lead to better sleep at night.  But don’t exercise too closely to bedtime.  Aerobic exercise raises the temperature of your body for a few hours, which can make it more difficult to fall asleep.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Americans Are Exercising More, But It’s Not Making A Dent in Our Nation’s Epidemic Of OBESITY

Americans are exercising more, but it hasn’t made a dent into the epidemic of obesity in this country.  LA Times writer Noam Levey is reporting on new research on physical fitness in the US, and he says the news is mixed.

In more than two-thirds of the nation’s counties, men and women became more physically active over the last 10 years.

Women made the most progress, with a 5% increase in the number of females who got sufficient exercise each week.  The number of guys who increased their level of fitness went up just one percent.

But researchers at the University of Washington say these improvements haven’t done much to reduce obesity.  In fact obesity rates for men and women fell in just nine counties.

Dr. Christopher Murray, lead author of the study, says : “To tackle obesity, we need to do this. But we probably also need to do more. … Just counting on physical activity is not going to be the solution.”

Today, more than one-third of U.S. adults and approximately 17% of children are clinically obese.  Many health experts believe that changing diet may do more to bring those numbers down than increasing exercise.

A separate paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, identifies poor diet as the No. 1 factor contributing to America’s poor health compared to other industrialized nations.

In fact, Americans living in Appalachia now have shorter live-spans than people in Vietnam, Yemen and Sudan.

By the way, for this study, researchers defined sufficient physical activity as 150 minutes of moderate activity a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week.

For some great advice on exercise and eating healthy, go to the American Heart Association’s website at heart.org.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Shine Family Expert

Snow Day!

It’s Garrett from Shine Afternoons and some parts of the Shine.FM
listening area had another “snow day” today.  Are you still excited
about them this year, or is the winter dragging on a little bit for
your family?  What’s your favorite thing to do on a “snow day?”

Happy Spring!

What’s your favorite thing about Spring?

~Garrett

Kids Who Are More Active Are Less Stressed

Kids who are more active tend to be less stressed.

Physically active children tend to be happier and have and have fewer symptoms of depression than children who are less active. Now researchers may have an explanation–exercise appears to help children cope with stress.

The New York Times is reporting on a new study done in Finland, in which researchers had 8-year-old kids wear an instrument called an “accelerometer” on their wrists.  The device measures the quality and quantity of a person’s physical activity.

The children’s parents took samples of their kids’ saliva at various times during the day, and that was used to measure the amount of the cortisol in their bodies.  Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone,” and high levels indicated physical or mental stress.

When the kids were at home, there was no difference in the cortisol levels of those who were active and those who were less active.

But when the researchers gave the children standard math and reading tests at a clinic, they found that the non-active children had higher levels of cortisol.   The kids who had engaged in moderate or vigorous physical activity showed almost no rise in cortisol levels.

Disa Hatfield, a professor at the University of Rhode Island says “This study shows that children who are more active throughout their day have a better hormonal response to an acute stressful situation,”

Dr. Hatfield notes that the study didn’t control for sugar intake, which has been linked with higher levels of cortisol.  Also, the researchers noted that the accelerometers worn by the kids could not accurately measure certain activities like bicycling or swimming.

But given all the other research on the benefits of physical activity, it’s clear that we should be getting our kids off the couch and out to the park, pool, or just the backyard.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

The Health of Baby Boomers Is Going Bust!

Were you born between 1946 and 1964?  If so, how are you feeling?  According to a story on HealthDay.com, the baby boom is turning out to be a health bust.

Medical advances have led to the longest life expectancy ever, but baby boomers have higher rates of chronic disease, more disability and lower self-rated health than their parents did at a comparable age.

Baby boomers, have embraced activities such as running, fitness classes and backpacking in unprecedented numbers.

In spite of that, they have increasing rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

Dr. Dana King at West Virginia University School of Medicine says “There seems to be somewhat of a disconnect between the reputation of baby boomers for being healthy and what we see.  It’s really discouraging that they’re not the healthiest generation.”

Dr. King compared the health of men and women between the ages of 46 to 64 to the health of people in their parents’ generation.   While 32 percent of their parents’ generation described their health as “excellent” during middle age, only about 13 percent of baby boomers felt that way.

Obesity was more common among baby boomers than their parents.  In addition, 52 percent of boomers said they had no regular physical activity, while only 17 percent in their parents’ generation reported being couch potatoes.

Dr. King said it’s still not too late for baby boomers to get healthier. He said his previous research showed that it is possible to “turn back the clock” even if you’re in your 50s or 60s.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

What’s One Thing You Do To Get/Stay In Shape?

It’s Garrett from Shine Afternoons and if you are like me, you’re working on making 2013 a healthier year than 2012 (remember…my one word is “transform”).  I want to run a couple of 10K’s this spring and a longer race or two later in the year…so I started putting on a few miles over the weekend.  What about you, what’s one thing you do to get in shape or stay in shape?

Take A Walk

Here’s a simple thing you can do to reduce your risk of stroke.

A new study done in Spain has found that taking daily walks may reduce the risk of stroke in women.

The study included 13,000 men and 19,000 women, who were all between the ages of 29 and 69.

The researchers found that walking for at least 3-1/2 hours a week was associated with a lower risk of stroke for women compared with those who didn’t report regularly walking.

Interestingly, no link was found between men’s stroke risk and walking.

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum is the director of women and heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital.  She told CBS News “What women can take away from this is there is something that you can do that is very simple, very easy and not too time consuming to protect your cardiovascular health status, and that is walking.”

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults are recommended to do at least two-and-a-half hours of moderate exercise each week. That could include brisk walking, and muscle strengthening exercises.

By the way, an earlier study found that the pace at which you walk also makes a difference. Those findings, by Harvard researchers, showed that walking at a pace of three miles an hour for at least two hours a week was linked with a lower stroke risk for women.

If you’d like to read more about the study, visit Health Watch and enter “walking and stroke” in the search engine.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

Fit Generation: 9 Fun Ways to Sneak Fitness Into Your Day

Fun, everyday ways to sneak fitness in with your kid. Plus, get healthy eating tips, exercise ideas, and more ways to shape up with Parenting’s Fit Generation!

By Shaun Dreisbach
1. Hit the playground!“It’s honestly better — and far more fun — than any gym,” says Stefko. The monkey bars and mini-rock wall build upper-body muscle. Jumping off the climbing structures boosts bone density and leg strength. Heck, even the swings can be a good core workout. It’s like an outside circuit course.
2. Play a game. Kick-ball, tag, jumping rope, wheelbarrow races — they’re classics that absolutely count toward your child’s daily activity requirement. For younger kids, try Move Like an Animal (it’s a huge hit with the children Stefko works with). Call out the name of a critter and challenge your child to mimic the way it moves: hop like a frog, balance on one leg like a flamingo, stretch like a cat, and so on.
3. Speed wash the car. Kill two birds with one sponge: Get that heart rate up and make the family car spotless. See how fast you can get it soaped, scrubbed, and hosed down—and try to best it next time.
4. Check out a class. Take your child to an open gym at the local gymnastics center and let her try out the equipment, or head to the indoor climbing wall or skate park for a lesson. One-offs like this are good because they let your kid try out a bunch of different activities to see what she likes best — without the time and money commitment of full-on, three-days-a-week lessons (which your child may end up hating).
5. Use people power. Ditch the car and walk or bike when you can. Pedal to the pool, playground, or pizza shop, and trek the mile to school on foot.
6. Inspire her. “Bring your kid to a sporting event — a Major League Baseball game or a high school volleyball match — so she can see and be motivated by the athletes,” suggests Stefko. Before or after the game, kick around a ball together, shoot baskets, or play a little backyard volleyball.
7. Wobble hobble. Have your child place a water balloon between his knees and race to the finish line without dropping it. In just 15 minutes, he’ll burn nearly 70 calories. Perfect for summer playdates. Benefits: cardio, coordination, balance, mood booster.
8. Backyard bowling. This is the sneaky-fitness version of “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Grab empty plastic bottles from the recycling bin and set them up like bowling pins. Take turns trying to knock them down with a soccer ball or kickball. Benefits: cardio, flexibility, balance, coordination
9. Garden party. Help your child choose some fruits and veggies to grow, plot out the garden, and tend the plants. (Hint: Opt for lower-maintenance items like tomatoes, zucchini, and carrots—kids have been known to forget a watering or two!) This idea is a better-health tri-fecta: Digging and planting is serious activity, it’s something fun the whole fam can get involved in, and you get super-fresh, organic food out of the deal. Don’t have room? Volunteer at a local community garden. Benefits: strength, cardio, flexibility, mood booster.

Why A.M. Exercise is Awesome

By Alice OglethorpeSELF magazine

According to researchers at the University College London, it only takes 18 days to make a habit stick. Get #UpNOut for an A.M. sweat session with these five tips.

1. It’s the Fit Girl’s #1 Secret: The enviably in-shape women we polled–athletes, trainers, everyday superwomen with flat abs–break a sweat first thing. No wonder: In the morning, you have max willpower, but as the day wears on, making healthy decisions becomes tougher, says Roy Baumeister, Ph.D., social psychology professor at Florida State University and coauthor of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. Resisting online shopping splurges, ignoring an ex’s text–these feats sap resolve, and you may not have much left to drag yourself to the gym at night. 

2.Treats Won’t Be As Tempting: A workout can make you less I-need-that at the sight of food (like those office cupcakes that show up at your weakest moments), say Brigham Young University researchers. And that crap about exercise making you famished? Nothing to it; you won’t eat more after you sweat, their research indicates.

3. You Could be Little Miss Sunshine All Day: The mood high from exercise lasts up to 12 hours, a study from The University of Vermont found. That’s a lot of smiling.

4. BTW, You Might Nab a Promotion: After a sweatfeast, people are better at managing their time at work (aka you’re more likely to switch your Gchat notification to Busy), a study from the University of Bristol in England reports.

5. No More Tossing and Turning: Morning exercisers have less trouble falling asleep than do evening gymgoers, a study published in Sleep shows, and the more A.M. minutes you log, the easier it is to nod off. Better still: Your night’s wide open!