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It is common for health-conscious individuals to maintain their exercise regimen throughout the majority of the year only to find themselves struggling to stay on schedule during the holiday season. Numerous articles have identified this annual behavioral shift where many in America will gain ‘holiday weight’. For most this will be a 1-2 kg increase from pre-November weight, for others the ranges will double. The unfortunate outcome is the well-documented annual accumulation average of approximately 0.5-1 kg each year. Over the span of ten years, even minimal weight gain during the holidays can make for a considerable difference in one’s body composition. This ends up being starkly noticeable when observing Holidays past captured in pictures of one’s yesteryears.
New research funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, and published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, has led to the development of a new algorithm which ranks foods based on a continuous numerical score. Higher scores identify healthier foods and lower scores represent foods to avoid.
For many, Thanksgiving represents a day in which family and friends get together to enjoy each other’s company over a large meal (or number of meals). The holiday is centered on social eating and drinking, creating the perfect environment for the overindulgence of high-calorie food and drink. Often, refusing food is a challenge, because the mindset of the day supports savoring simple joys and giving thanks for the food on the table and friendships made over the years. Turning down second or third helpings, or a taste of a special holiday dish “made just for you,” can easily result in offense, depending on the familial and cultural dynamics present in the household. Even in this environment however, there are a few simple steps that one can follow to minimize overconsumption of calories while still enjoying Thanksgiving and the holiday season.
The use of energy drinks have increased exponential in recent years. Marketing has associated the use of the beverages (or shots) with performance weight management, and in the case of the Five Hour Energy ads, the two o’clock crash. Whether real or perceived, many consumers associate the beverages with an improved degree of alertness, increased ability to focus on tasks and the potential to increase the intensity of physical activity. Others use energy drinks to improve their focus and concentration during cognitively challenging tasks like studying or testing, to replace sleep or as an additive to alcohol to counteract the ‘downer effects’. Many energy drinks on the market contain proprietary blends that are potent in their neurostimulant content and many contain various herbal compounds with the potential for synergistic effects. Demographics including teenagers are easily swayed by the constant barrage of advertisements that imply energy beverages will improve their level of excitation, making life more engaging.
It has been well-documented that employees who engage in exercise-promoting fitness gains demonstrate higher levels of productivity and experience a reduction in absenteeism. Based on this information, it seems that these individuals should be rewarded for their efforts, and according to Cleveland State researcher Vasilios Kosteas, they are already benefitting from their work ethic. In his research, Kosteas suggests that exercising three or more times a week leads to, on average, a 6% pay increase for men and a 10% increase for women. According to his findings, the pay hike is due to exercise-induced productivity, which is unique from the well-established link between obesity and lower earnings. Such information implies that fit individuals are believed to work harder due to their participation in fitness-based activities. Additionally, people who engage in routine exercise are likely to maintain better control of their weight than those who are sedentary, ultimately reducing the risk of obesity-linked compensation adjustments.
In the past two decades, sleep has been noted as a relevant factor in the risk of weight gain, but new findings over the last ten years suggest it is not simply hormones in the gut that are affected. In fact, sleep exerts important modulatory effects on several neuroendocrine functions, including glucose regulation. However, human behaviors have changed significantly, reflecting an ever more industrialized nation. Consequently, people are sleeping less and less. Interestingly, this trend toward shorter sleep times has occurred over the same time period as the dramatic increases in the prevalence of obesity and diabetes.
It’s hot across the wire – the NYC Board of Health has put a ban on sugar-sweetened beverages. The ban is an amendment to the New York City Health Code, prohibiting the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages larger than 16 ounces in restaurants, delis, movie theaters, stadiums, food carts, and other venues throughout New York City. What some are calling the Bloomberg ban extends to any beverage with more than 25 calories per 8 ounces, including some sodas, coffees, teas, smoothies and lemonades. It excludes drinks such as milkshakes, drinks that are more than 70% fruit juice, and alcoholic beverages.
Lack of physical activity has been cited as a primary contributing factor to the nation’s health problems. Most jobs do not offer adequate physical activity during the day, and the majority of Americans do not fulfill minimum movement requirements in their free time. In an effort to motivate the country to engage in more physical activity The National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (NCPPA) is encouraging Chief Executive Officers (CEO) to pledge to provide their employees with a workplace culture that promotes and supports employee health and wellness through physical activity. People succeed in lifestyle behavior modifications with appropriate structure, motivation and support. The CEO Pledge provides American business leaders the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to physical activity in the workplace by acknowledging that senior management support is the cornerstone to a successful employee wellness program.
One of the requirements for re-certification of the NCSF-CPT credential is proof of valid, current CPR. Knowledge into the techniques is not difficult to attain, but can be very relevant in a professional environment. Certainly the occurrence of an emergency event of this nature is not an everyday situation but the possibility of such an event warrants preparation and appropriate readiness. In a clear example of how important the competency is to a fitness environment, Anna Henson, an employee of Charter Fitness of Bloomington, IL saved the life of a club member after he went into cardiac arrest last month. While sitting on a bench in the club the member suddenly passed out and fell to the floor. Taking immediate action Henson called 911, retrieved the club's defibrillator and began CPR, keeping the member alive until paramedics arrived. The member later recovered at the hospital. In a statement from Bloomington Fire Department, Captain Brad McCollum wrote, "The patient's survival from this event was due in large part to the quick action of the employee.”
As the Olympics continue through the final days of competition, the whole world is watching classic battles take place among the global superpowers, supporting their homegrown heroes along the way. With the greatest media reach ever, observers have been enthralled by what could be called the largest reality television program of its kind. The networks create the drama that unfolds during competition; we focus on the athletes who have devoted their lives to getting to this stage, cheering as they rise to the occasion or sympathizing if they miss the mark they have hit so many times in practices and prior competitions. We adore our greatest athletes and vilify those who beat our favorites by nanoseconds. Watching and supporting the best athletes in the world generates powerful emotions among viewers, and without a doubt the Games encourage even casual viewers to contemplate their own physical capabilities and potential.