Do this all-over strength workout 2–3 times per week, leaving at least a day’s rest in between.
Each move is a “compound” exercise, meaning it targets multiple muscle groups, so you get a really big bang for your strength-training buck! Rest for 30–60 seconds after each set.
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No pain, no gain” is often the phrase used when it comes to exercise. But in relation to jogging, this may not be the case. In a new study, researchers found people who engage in strenuous jogging have the same mortality risk as sedentary non-joggers, while light joggers are likely to live the longest.
Dr. Peter Schnohr, of the Frederiksberg Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues publish their findings in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Numerous studies have associated physical activity with reduced mortality, with some suggesting that just small amounts of exercise can do the job. A recent study reported by Medical News Today, for example, claims that a daily 20-minute brisk walk could reduce the risk of early death by 16-30%.
The link between lower levels of exercise and reduced mortality is supported with this latest study, which suggests light jogging is most beneficial for lowering the risk of premature death.
To reach their findings, Dr. Schnohr and colleagues analyzed 5,048 healthy individuals who were a part of the Copenhagen City Heart Study. Of these, 1,098 were joggers and 3,950 were sedentary non-joggers.
Over 12 years of follow-up, the researchers tracked participants’ frequency of jogging, the number of hours they spent jogging and their jogging pace.
Jogging more than a few times a week at a strenuous pace ‘may be harmful’
During the study, there were 28 deaths among joggers and 128 among non-joggers. The team notes that overall, the joggers were younger, had a lower prevalence of diabetes and smoking, and had lower blood pressure and body mass index (BMI).
The researchers found that participants who jogged for 1-2.4 hours a week over no more than 3 days had the lowest mortality, and lower mortality rates were identified among those who jogged at a slow or moderate pace. The highest mortality rates were found in both the fast-paced joggers and sedentary non-joggers.
Commenting on the findings, Dr. Schnohr says:
“The U-shaped association between jogging and mortality suggests there may be an upper limit for exercise dosing that is optimal for health benefits. If your goal is to decrease risk of death and improve life expectancy, jogging a few times a week at a moderate pace is a good strategy. Anything more is not just unnecessary, it may be harmful.”
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans state that adults should engage in either 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 1.25 hours of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week.
Dr. Schnohr notes that light jogging in this study represents vigorous exercise, while strenuous jogging represents very vigorous exercise. “When performed for decades, this activity level could pose health risks, especially to the cardiovascular system,” he adds.
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A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds the majority of pre-packaged meals and snacks for toddlers in the US contain high levels of salt or sugar, which researchers say could be putting children’s health at risk.
Pre-packaged toddler meals analyzed in this study contained sodium at levels almost 1.5 times higher than the recommendations set by the Institute of Medicine.
Study leader Mary Cogswell, of the Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and her team used a 2012 US nutrient database to analyze the sodium and sugar content of 1,074 commercial foods for infants and toddlers.
Within their analysis, they included pre-packaged dinners – such as macaroni cheese and mini hot dogs – snacks, fruits, vegetables, dry cereals, juices and desserts.
Their findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, revealed that 72% of the pre-packaged toddler meals assessed were high in sodium, containing an average of 361 milligrams (mg) per serving.
According to recommendations set by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), toddlers should consume no more than 210 mg of sodium per food serving, meaning that the pre-packaged toddler meals analyzed in this study contained sodium at levels almost 1.5 times higher.
IOM recommendations for school foods also state that children should consume no more than 35% of calories from sugar in each food portion.
However, the researchers found that dry fruit-based snacks included in the study contained an average of 60 g of sugar per portion, meaning around 66% of calories were coming from sugar. Sugar made up an average of 47% of calories among mixed grains and fruit and accounted for more than 35% of calories in dairy-based desserts.
At least one added sugar – including glucose, high-fructose corn syrup and dextrose – was found in around 32% of pre-packaged infant and toddler meals, as well as the majority of dry-based fruit snacks, cereal/breakfast bars and pastries, desserts and fruit juices.
While around 7 out of 10 meals for toddlers contained too much sodium, the researchers found most foods for infants were low in sodium – only two of the 657 infant foods contained sodium at levels higher than 140 mg per serving.
High salt and sugar levels in commercial infant, toddler foods ‘a potential concern’
It is estimated that 79% of children aged 1-3 years in the US consume sodium at levels higher than the recommended 1,500 mg per day, which can increase the risk of high blood pressure – a risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Approximately 1 in 6 children in the US have high blood pressure.
In addition, a 2009 study from the American Heart Association found that the average child aged 1-3 years consumes around 12 teaspoons of sugar each day, while recommendations from the organization state that children this age should consume no more than 3-4 teaspoons of sugar each day.
As well as high blood pressure, excess sugar and salt intake can increase the risk of obesity. In the US, more than a third of children and adolescents are obese.
As such, Cogswell and her team say the high sodium or sugar content of infant and toddler foods assessed in their study are worrying:
“Commercial toddler foods and infant or toddler snacks, desserts and juice drinks are of potential concern due to sodium or sugar content. Pediatricians should advise parents to look carefully at labels when selecting commercial toddler foods and to limit salty snacks, sweet desserts and juice drinks.”
The researchers add that excess intake of foods high in sugar and salt early in life may cause children to develop a preference for such foods later in life, increasing their risk of obesity and related diseases. Limiting the intake of these foods for infants and toddlers, however, may reduce this risk.
One of the most common questions we receive in our email inbox is “how much should I weigh for my age and height?” In this article, we will explain the most common ways in which this can be worked out.
To determine how much you should weigh (your ideal body weight) several factors should be considered, including age, muscle-fat ratio, height, sex, and bone density.
Some health professionals suggest that calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI) is the best way to decide whether your body weight is ideal. Others say that BMI is faulty as it does not account for muscle mass and that waist-hip ratio is better.
One person’s ideal body weight may be completely different from another’s. If you compare yourself to family and friends you risk either aiming too high if you are surrounded by obese or overweight people, or too low if everyone around you works as fashion models.
Even comparing yourself with people outside your immediate surroundings may not work.
The levels of overweight and obesity in one country, such as the USA or UK, are much higher than in The Netherlands. So a Dutch person may aim for a lower ideal weight than an American if all he did was to compare himself to other people.
Is Body Mass Index (BMI) a good measure of your weight?
Your BMI is your weight in relation to your height.
BMI metric units: Your weight (kilograms) divided by the square of your height (meters)
e.g. Weight 80 kilograms. Height 1.8 meters.
1.82 meters = 3.24
80 divided by 3.24 = BMI 24.69.
Imperial units: Your weight (pounds) times 703, divided by the square of your height in inches.
e.g. Weight 190 pounds. Height 6 ft (72 inches)
722 = 5184
190 x 703 divided by 5184 = BMI 25.76
Health authorities worldwide mostly agree that:
People with a BMI of less than 18.5 are underweight.
A BMI of between 18.5 and 25 is ideal.
Somebody with a BMI between 25 and 30 is classed as overweight.
A person with a BMI over 30 is obese.
In some countries health authorities say the lower limit for BMI is 20, anything below it is underweight.
What is the problem with BMI?
BMI is a very simple measurement which does not take into account the person’s waist, chest or hip measurements. An Olympic 100 meters sprint champion may have a BMI higher than a couch potato of the same height. The couch potato may have a big belly, not much muscle and a lot of body fat on his hips, upper thighs, in his blood and other parts of his body. While the athlete will have a smaller waist, much less body fat, and most likely enjoy better health. According to a purely BMI criteria, the couch potato is healthier.
BMI does not take into account bone density (bone mass). A person with severe osteoporosis (very low bone density) may have a lower BMI than somebody else of the same height who is healthy, but the person with osteoporosis will have a larger waist, more body fat and weak bones.
Many experts criticize BMI as not generally useful in evaluation of health. It is at best a rough ballpark basic standard that may indicate population variations, but should not be used for individuals in health care.
Put simply: experts say that BMI underestimates the amount of body fat in overweight/obese people and overestimates it in lean or muscular people.
More information on BMI, together with imperial and metric BMI calculators, is available here.
Nick Trefethen, a Professor of Numerical Analysis at Oxford University’s Mathematical Institute, has created what he believes to be a better, more accurate and relevant formula than the BMI one for deciding whether people are carrying too much fat. Humans do not grow equally in all three dimensions, he explains – the existing BMI formula presumes we do.
Waist-Hip Ratio (WHR)
A waist-hip measurement is the ratio of the circumference of your waist to that of your hips. You measure the smallest circumference of your waist, usually just above your belly button, and divide that total by the circumference of your hip at its widest part.
If a woman’s waist is 28 inches and her hips are 36 inches, her WHR is 28 divided by 36 = 0.77. Below is a breakdown of WHR linked to risk of cardiovascular health problems.
Less than 0.9 – low risk of cardiovascular health problems
0.9 to 0.99 – moderate risk of cardiovascular health problems
1 or over – high risk of cardiovascular problems
Less than 0.8 – low risk of cardiovascular health problems
0.8 to 0.89 – moderate risk of cardiovascular health problems
0.9 or over – high risk of cardiovascular problems
The WHR of a person is a much better indicator of whether their body weight is ideal and what their risks of developing serious health conditions are, compared to BMI. Various studies have shown that people with apple-shaped bodies – who have larger WHRs – have higher health risks compared to people with pear-shaped bodies – who have lower WHRs. An apple-shaped person will have more fat accumulating on the waist, while a pear-shaped person has the fat accumulating on the hips.
A woman with a WHR of less than 0.8 is generally healthier and more fertile than females with higher WHRs. They are less likely to develop diabetes, most cancers, or cardiovascular disorders. Similarly, men with a WHR no more than 9 are generally healthier and more fertile than men with higher WHRs, and less likely to develop serious conditions or diseases.
Studies indicate that if WHR were to replace BMI as a predictor of heart attack worldwide, figures would include many more people.
What is the problem with WHR?
WHR does not accurately measure a person’s total body fat percentage, or their muscle-to-fat ratio. However, it is a better predictor of ideal weight and health risks than BMI.
Dr Margaret Ashwell, who used to be science director of the British Nutrition Foundation, and team have found that waist-to-height ratio is better at predicting future heart disease and diabetes risk than BMI.
Dr. Ashwell presented their findings at the 19th Congress on Obesity in Lyon, France, on 12th May, 2012.
Dr. Ashwell said, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, a leading UK newspaper:
“Keeping your waist circumference to less than half your height can help increase life expectancy for every person in the world.”
A man 6ft (72 inches, 183 cm) tall, should keep his waist measurement below 36 inches (91 cm)
A woman 5ft 4 inches, i.e. 64 inches (163 cm) tall, should keep her waist measurement below 32 inches (81 cm)
Dr. Ashwell says waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) should be used as a screening tool.
The team found that after analyzing several studies involving approximately 300,000 people, they concluded that WHtR is better at predicting heart attacks, stroked, diabetes, and hypertension risk compared to BMI.
Ashwell explains that BMI does not take into account fat distribution around the body. The accumulation of abdominal fat (visceral fat) may be harmful for the heart, kidneys and liver, while fat build-up around the hips and bottom is less hazardous to health.
The researchers added that WHtR is much simpler for people to work out:
“Keep your waist circumference to less than half your height”
What is Body Fat Percentage?
Your body fat percentage is the weight of your fat divided by your total weight. The result indicates your essential fat as well as storage fat.
Essential fat – this is the amount of fat we need to survive. Women require a higher percentage than men. Essential fat is 2%-5% in men, and 10%-13% in women.
Storage fat – this consists of fat accumulation in adipose tissue, some of which protects our internal organs in the chest and abdomen.
Total body fat percentage – this is essential fat plus storage fat.
The American Council on Exercise recommends the following percentages:
Non-athletes classed as fit
Men 38% or more
Women 42% or more
Many experts say that calculating people’s body fat percentage is the best way to gauge their fitness level because it is the only measurement that includes the body’s true composition. Any male whose body fat percentage is over 25% or female over 31% is either overweight or possibly obese.
Body fat percentage would not make the couch potato seem fitter than the 100 meter Olympic champion – as was the case with BMI.
There are various ways of calculating a person’s body fat percentage. None of them can give a 100% accurate figure, but the estimates are accepted as fairly close. Examples include near-infrared interactance, dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, and bioelectrical impedance analysis.
Many gyms and doctor’s practices have devices that can tell you what your body fat percentage is.
Conclusion about your ideal weight
This article has briefly explained four ways to help you find out whether your weight is ideal, and what your target should be if it is not. You can work out your BMI (body mass index), WHR (waist-hip ratio), WHtR (waist-height ratio) or Body Fat Percentage.
BMI, WHR and WHtR can be done easily in your home. WHR and WHtR are more accurate than BMI. However, BMI is a useful indicator if you are an “average” person – not an Olympic athlete or a dedicated weight trainer.
If you embark on a weight loss regime that includes exercise and diet, bear in mind that the exercise will probably increase your muscle mass, which may increase your weight, even though your waist may shrink. Muscle weighs more than fat.
It might be better to aim for target waist, hips and chest measurements. A Waist-hip ratio goal is also possible. If you feel really dedicated, check your Body Fat Percentage; if you are not happy with the reading, discuss a realistic target with a nutritionist, sports scientist, or personal trainer and go for it!
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A study due to be published Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggests that teenagers who have a false perception of themselves as being overweight are more likely to become obese as adults.
Teens who falsely believe themselves to be overweight may be more likely to using diet pills or vomiting in an attempt to control their weight – behaviors linked with long-term weight gain. The authors of the new study, from Florida State University College of Medicine in Tallahassee, were interested in what the health outcomes might be for teenagers of a healthyweight who misperceived themselves as being overweight.
To do this, the team examined data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (also known as Add Health) concerning the height, weight and self-perceptions of 6,523 adolescents.
At the start of the study, the adolescents rated what they thought their weight was, on a scale ranging from 1 (“very underweight”) to 5 (“overweight”). The study participants had an average age of 16 at the start of the study and were followed-up when they were about 28 years old.
The results show that adolescents who had an inaccurate perception of themselves as being overweight had a 40% increased risk of obesity – defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more – in adulthood, compared with peers who had an accurate perception of their weight.
Although it might seem strange that healthy teens who feel that they are overweight subsequently actually become overweight, the authors suggest mechanisms that might drive this association between misperception and overall weight gain.
One theory proposed in the study is that teens who falsely believe themselves to be overweight may be more susceptible to using diet pills or vomiting in an attempt to control their weight – unhealthy behaviors that are known to be linked with weight gain over the long term.
The same psychological factors that drive the weight misperception could also cause the teens to have “lower self-regulatory abilities,” the researchers suggest. And it is also likely that weight-related stigmatization could influence this group’s weight-control behaviors, as previous studies have found that weight stigmatization is associated with obesity.
It is possible that these factors contribute to what the authors describe as a “self-fulfilling prophecy,” where teens who see themselves as overweight then fail to take the required steps to maintain a healthy weight, “because as they gain weight, they physically become what they have long perceived themselves to be.”
Boys who misperceive weight have 89% increased risk of adult obesity
A surprise finding of the research was a particularly strong association between misperceived weight and later obesity among males. The boys in the study who had a misperception of their weight had an 89% increased risk of adult obesity.
Study author Angelina Sutin says that it is not clear why the association is stronger for boys:
“It may be that girls are more attentive to their weight and may intervene earlier when they experience any weight gain. As such, the self-fulfilling prophecy may be stronger for boys than for girls. Physicians and other health care providers may also notice weight gain sooner for girls than for boys, or may be more likely to address any weight gain with girls than with boys. We were unable, however, to test exactly why there is this difference across the sexes.”
Sutin says her study proves how complex the determinants of obesity are, suggesting that a greater understanding is needed of determinants at all levels, including psychological determinants, in order to address the obesity-related challenges faced by medical practitioners and policymakers.
Ways of keeping the heart healthy has widened, with the discovery that the brain can help fight off hardening of the arteries.
Atherosclerosis–hardening and narrowing of the arteries–can be caused by fat build up that causes plaque deposits, and is one of the main causes of cardiovascular disease. Jessica Yue, a newly recruited researcher in the Department of Physiology in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, has shown a link between how the brain can regulate fat metabolism, potentially stopping the development of this disease risk factor in obesity and diabetes.
Her findings, published this month in Nature Communications, the online version of the high-impact Nature publication, outlines how the brain can use the presence of fatty acids, which are building blocks of fat molecules, to trigger the liver to reduce its own lipid production.
“We know that when there is dyslipidemia, or an abnormal amount of fat in the bloodstream, it’s dangerous for health–largely because this can lead to obesity, obesity-related disorders such as Type 2 diabetes, and atherosclerosis,” says Yue, and that “if you can find ways to lower fats in the bloodstream, it helps to lower these chances of diabetes and cardiovascular disease as a result of this atherosclerosis.”
Yue trained at the Toronto General Research Institute under Tony Lam, where she was a recipient of fellowships from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Canadian Diabetes Association. With her associates in Toronto and with Peter Light, professor of pharmacology in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, she looked at how the infusion of oleic acid, a naturally occurring monounsaturated fatty acid, in the brain “triggers” a signal from the hypothalamus to the liver to lower its fat secretion, which Yue says is a “triglyceride-rich, very-low-density lipoprotein. Light is the co-author of Yue’s paper in Nature Communications and is the director of the Alberta Diabetes Institute (ADI), where Yue is applying for membership.
“This fat complex is the kind of lipoprotein that is dangerous when its levels in the blood are elevated because it promotes atherosclerosis,” she says.
The catch, though, is that this “trigger” doesn’t work in obesity, a setting in which blood lipid levels are usually high. “In a model of diet-induced obesity, which then leads to insulin resistance and pre-diabetes, oleic acid no longer provides the fat-lowering trigger to the liver.” Yue’s findings, though, demonstrate how this faulty signal can be bypassed, unveiling potentially other ways to trigger this same function in obese patients.
This study could potentially impact how obesity and diabetes are treated, says Yue, which is the focus of her future research.
The next steps, she says, will be to look at how the brain can sense other compounds to regulate not only liver secretion of fats, but also liver glucose production, a significant contributing factor to diabetes. As a member of the Group on Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids and with the strength of the ADI, she feels enthusiastic and inspired by her new research environment at the University of Alberta.
“It’s a big field and it’s emerging,” says Yue about neuroscience research in the areas of metabolic disease. “Whereas the peripheral organs have gained a lot of attention in terms of how they release glucose and lipids, it’s exciting to see that within the last decade and a half that the brain now is emerging as an organ that has a lot of control over our health.”
Preventing inflammation in obese fat tissue may hold the key to preventing or even reversing type 2 diabetes, new research has found.
Researchers from Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, with colleagues from the RIKEN Institute, Japan, found they could ‘reverse’ type 2 diabetes in laboratory models by dampening the inflammatory response in fat tissue.
Dr Ajith Vasanthakumar, Dr Axel Kallies and colleagues from the institute discovered that specialised immune cells, called regulatory T cells (Tregs), played a key role in controlling inflammation in fat tissue and maintaining insulin sensitivity. The findings were published in the journal Nature Immunology.
More than 850,000 Australians are estimated to have type 2 diabetes, which is the most common type of diabetes, and its prevalence is rising. The disease is strongly linked with ‘lifestyle’ factors, such as being overweight or having high blood pressure. Long-term complications of type 2 diabetes include kidney, eye and heart disease, and there is no cure.
People with type 2 diabetes have reduced sensitivity to insulin, a hormone that normally triggers uptake of glucose by cells, and their cells no longer respond to insulin appropriately. This decrease in insulin sensitivity is thought to be a result of long-term, low-level inflammation of fat tissue in people who are obese.
Dr Vasanthakumar said Tregs acted as the guardians of the immune system, preventing the immune response from getting out-of-hand and attacking the body’s own tissues. “When Treg numbers are reduced, inflammatory diseases such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis can occur,” he said.
Recent studies have shown that fat tissue has its own unique type of Tregs, which disappear from fat tissue during obesity. “The fat tissue of obese people has lower numbers of Tregs than the fat tissue of people in a healthy weight range,” Dr Vasanthakumar said. “Without Tregs, inflammation-causing cell levels increase, and this rise in inflammation can lead to insulin resistance and high blood glucose levels, a classic hallmark of type 2 diabetes.”
The research team discovered a key hormone called IL-33 (interleukin-33) was able to selectively boost Treg populations in fat tissue, effectively halting the development of type 2 diabetes, or even reversing the disease in preclinical models.
“Treating fat tissues with IL-33 restored normal Treg cell levels, which reduced inflammation and decreased blood glucose levels,” Dr Vasanthakumar said. “Treatments that mimic IL-33 could have the potential to reduce obesity-related inflammation and type 2 diabetes.”
Dr Kallies said the research underscored the importance of ‘healthy’ fat tissue in maintaining a healthy body. “We can no longer think of fat tissue simply as energy storage,” Dr Kallies said.
“Fat tissue is increasingly being recognised as a crucial organ that releases hormones and regulates development. Keeping our fat tissue healthy is important for our general wellbeing, and our research highlights the important role it plays in preventing disease.”
In a new study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, a research group led by James A. Hamilton, PhD, professor of Physiology, Biophysics and Radiology at Boston University School of Medicine, applied novel methods to detect binding of fatty acids to CD36 and their effect on internalization of oxidized LDL. Although other research groups have characterized a fatty acid binding site on CD36 and postulated CD36 to be a gatekeeper for fatty acid entry into cells, the Hamilton lab previously found that CD36 did not increase fatty acid translocation across the plasma membrane.
In the current study all of the common dietary fatty acid types (saturated, unsaturated, trans and polyunsaturated) were shown by a new assay to bind to CD36 at levels greater than expected for a single binding site characterized in previous studies. In cells with CD36 present in the plasma membrane, all of the fatty acids also enhanced oxidized LDL uptake, except for the fish oil fatty acid DHA. This current study adds to the possible mechanisms for fish oil benefits that are now widely recognized.
“Since obesity and type 2 diabetes are characterized by high plasma levels of fatty acids, the demonstrated enhancement of oxLDL uptake by increases in common dietary fatty acids may contribute to the pathophysiology of these diseases. Furthermore, our new results provided a link between fatty acids, CD36, and atherosclerosis and new drugs can be designed that target the exact mechanism more precisely.” added Hamilton.