Healthy Bits

By AFM Staff – November 1, 2015

Power Hour

It’s been said that 30 minutes a day will keep the doctor away, but studies show we may need to engage in physical activity for much longer to stay healthy long-term. For years doctors have recommended a half hour of daily moderate-intensity exercise to maintain heart health. However, in a recent analysis published by the journal Circulation, researchers reviewed 12 studies involving 370,460 men and women with varying levels of physical activity. Over a mean follow-up time of 15 years, this group experienced 20,203 (about 5 percent) heart failure events. The participants self-reported their activity levels, which led the researchers to find that people who exercised 30 minutes a day only had “modest reduction” in heart failure risk compared with other participants. Those who exercised an hour or two hours daily had “a substantial risk reduction" of 20 percent and 35 percent, respectively.

Recess is More Important Than You Think 

Adults aren’t the only ones at risk for sedentary side effects. In a study published in Experimental Physiology, it was revealed that children can develop changes in their blood flow and arteries that signal the start of serious cardiovascular problems. The researchers at the University of British Columbia in Kelowna focused on nine girls (two of whom were overweight) between the ages of 9 and 12 for the study. They began by testing the participants’ baseline arterial function by using ultrasound and blood pressure cuffs, revealing that all of the girls had healthy arterial function. Then, half of the girls were seated in comfortable beanbag chair for three hours, where they were entertained with iPads and movies. The other half of the girls also sat for three hours, but at the beginning of each hour, they moved to stationary bikes where they rode at a moderate pace for 10 minutes before returning to their beanbags. When they were all re-examined, the more sedentary girls showed “a profound reduction in vascular function,” with arterial dilation—the normal and healthy widening of blood vessels—falling by as much as 33 percent. Although the girls’ arteries quickly returned to functioning normally, it was alarming to see how drastically uninterrupted sitting could affect health in such little time.

A Snack is the Most Important Meal of the Day 

As we begin to move away from the three-square-meals routine and transition into a regular habit of continuous snacking, can we still consider breakfast the most important meal of the day? Our society is moving away from the prescribed meal times, blurring the lines between what’s considered a meal versus a hearty snack. Additionally, there’s a discrepancy about what exactly is healthy to consume in the morning. A recent study by researchers at Harvard University and the University of Murcia found that dieters who front-loaded their eating to the early part of the day (think: breakfast and a main meal before 3 p.m.) lost more weight than people who ate late into the night. A research group also found that young adults skip twice as many breakfast meals compared with older Americans. And although millennials are not eating breakfast every day, when they do, they tend to consume more protein-rich foods (which curbs appetite later in the day).

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