Overweight, obese kids have higher asthma risk

Children and teens who are overweight or obese may be more likely to develop asthma, a U.S. study suggests.

While obesity has long been linked to asthma in adults, research to date has offered conflicting evidence about whether this also holds true for young people, researchers note in Pediatrics.

The current study followed more than 500,000 kids, ages two to 17, for an average of four years. Overall, about eight percent had been diagnosed with asthma.

Compared to kids at healthy weight, overweight children were 17 percent more likely to have an asthma diagnosis and obese youth were 26 percent more likely to have an asthma diagnosis, the study found. This was based on a diagnosis or asthma drug prescription but not on breathing test results.

When researchers looked at the connection between asthma and obesity based on so-called spirometry tests that show how easily people can breathe air out of their lungs, the link was stronger. Obesity was associated with a 29 percent higher risk of asthma based on this stricter diagnostic criteria, the study found.

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how being overweight or obese might directly cause asthma, but the results offer some of the most compelling evidence to date suggesting that there is indeed a connection, said lead study author Dr. Jason Lang of Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina.

“Experts have speculated that abnormal lung growth associated with obesity causes airflow obstruction,” Lang said by email.

Obesity can also trigger the development of so-called cardiometabolic risk factors like high cholesterol and an inability to use the hormone insulin to contribute blood sugar into energy that may lead to impairment in the airway, Lang added.

“Several studies have shown that asthma symptoms get much better with weight loss but the exact mechanism is unknown,” Lang said.

An estimated 23 percent to 27 percent of new asthma cases in children with obesity may be directly attributable to obesity, researchers calculated.

If no children were overweight or obese, 10 percent of asthma cases would be avoided, they estimated.

One limitation of the study is that researchers relied on medical records kept by clinicians, and documentation of an asthma diagnosis or ordering of spirometry is at doctors’ discretion, the researchers note.

It’s also impossible to determine from the study whether asthma might lead to obesity or whether obesity might lead to asthma.

Even so, the results suggest that it may be possible to prevent the development of asthma by helping children maintain a healthy weight, said Dr. Deepa Rastogi, director of the Pediatric Asthma Center at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in Bronx, New York.

Even with asthma, kids can exercise to help them achieve and maintain a healthy weight, Rastogi said by email.

“Children with asthma can be as active as they want to be – we have had Olympic level athletes with asthma,” said Rastogi, who wrote an editorial that was published with the study.

“There is no activity that children with asthma need to avoid,” Rastogi added. “They need to be aware of their symptoms and if they associate a particular activity with asthma, they should take their asthma medication called albuterol 20 to 30 minutes before they participate in that activity.”

Could Fasting Help You Lose Weight, Get Healthier?

The route to weight loss has traditionally been to cut calories. Swap that regular soda for diet, grab an apple instead of a cookie, and you’ll trim pounds, the idea goes.

But, instead of going for such calorie cuts, many people are now taking more intense steps to lower their average daily calorie counts.

Called intermittent fasting, this latest way to diet takes a different approach. Rather than change how much you eat, you change when you eat. “Intermittent fasting is loosely defined as periods of non-eating, followed by periods of eating,” explains Krista Varady, PhD, an associate professor of nutrition in the University of Illinois at Chicago department of kinesiology and nutrition.

The origins of fasting are rooted in religion. Several faiths, including Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, observe periods of food restriction for spiritual reasons. Somewhere along the line, researchers discovered that skipping meals also has a few health benefits, including weight loss and lowered blood pressure and cholesterol.

How Does It Work?
Normally after you eat, your pancreas releases the hormone insulin. That burst of insulin helps move sugar from your bloodstream into your cells to be used for energy.

Whatever sugar is left over goes into your fat cells for storage. In between meals, your insulin levels drop and your fat cells release stored sugar to keep you going.

Fasting prevents insulin release for a longer period of time. So your body has to burn fat for energy, instead of sugar.

Types of Intermittent Fasting
You can fast in a few different ways. Some methods are more extreme than others:

Alternate-day fasting is the most intense version. You eat nothing and drink only water or calorie-free beverages one day, and then you basically eat what you want the next day.
Modified alternate-day fasting switches between one low-calorie day (about 500 calories) and one day of normal eating.
The 5:2 diet (also called the Fast Diet) involves eating normally 5 days a week, and then cutting down to about 500 calories on the 2 other days.
The fasting-mimicking diet has you eat a very low-calorie diet for just a few days, and then go back to a normal diet. It offers many of the benefits of fasting, without the time investment.
Time-restricted feeding focuses on the timing of your meals. You eat only within a certain time window each day — for example, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Then you fast for the rest of the day.
Can It Help Me Lose Weight?
There is evidence that alternating fasts with periods of eating helps you lose weight, but not much more than you would by cutting calories.

Varady did a study comparing the effects of alternate-day fasting with calorie restriction in 100 obese adults. After 1 year, people on the alternate-day fast had lost about 6% of their body weight. The calorie restriction group had lost about 5.3% of their weight.

Other studies on alternate-day fasting showed a weight loss of 3% to 8%. Time-restricted feeding produced slightly less weight loss — about 3% to 4%.

Other Advantages to Fasting
Intermittent fasting has a few other benefits, beyond weight loss. After you eat, your body is tied up with the digestion process. Taking a break from food shifts the focus to other areas, like maintaining optimal performance and repairing cell damage. “It gives our bodies time to heal, because they’re not constantly dealing with the influx of nutrients,” Varady says.

And that’s good for your health in general. Early research finds intermittent fasting could help ease things that could harm your heart, like high blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol — sometimes significantly.

Courtney Peterson, PhD, an assistant professor in the University of Alabama department of nutrition sciences, studies the effects of intermittent fasting on conditions like diabetes, blood pressure, and heart disease. She says some of her participants had their blood pressure drop 10 to 11 points from the practice. “That’s a huge effect. It’s about equivalent to a blood pressure-lowering medicine.”

Most of the health benefits from fasting are likely due to weight loss, and some people with type 2 diabetes could also benefit, she says.

“There is research that suggests that intermittent fasting improves blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes,” Peterson says. “However, they need to be more careful about blood sugar drops. Episodes of hypoglycemia [too low blood sugar] are more common than usual.”

But fasting with type 2 diabetes can be especially dangerous. It’s best to consult a doctor before trying it.

Intermittent fasting might also slow the aging process and improve longevity, but so far, the only evidence of this is from studies of mice, worms, and other animals. “We’re still in the early phases of doing intermittent fasting research in humans,” Peterson says. “There probably will eventually be a study in older adults to see whether it can slow some indicators of aging, such as the loss of muscle mass.”

How to Get Started
Intermittent fasting can take some adjustment. “It takes your body a little while to get used to that up-down pattern of eating,” Varady says.

You’re likely to be hungry at first. But after about 2 weeks, most people get used to the routine.

In time, fasting could actually help control your hunger. “It may be because your blood sugar levels are more stabilized throughout the day,” Peterson says. And time-restricted feeding causes less hunger than alternate-day fasting, which could make it more sustainable long-term, she says.

One way to avoid hunger during your fast is to drink more water. Extra fluids will also prevent the headaches some people get when they don’t eat.

You might also need to change what you eat. Get more protein from sources like lean poultry, tofu, beans, and nuts. “That helps keep your muscle mass up, because you can lose muscle mass while fasting,” Varady says. It also helps you feel full for longer.

Although many of these diets let you eat what you want during your feast days, don’t go wild and binge. You’ll get the best results if you eat healthy every day.

Who Shouldn’t Fast?
Intermittent fasting is safe for healthy people. Any side effects are usually mild, like constipation and bad breath. Drinking more water can help with both issues.

Certain groups of people shouldn’t fast, though, including women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Fasting is also not recommended for some people with diabetes, because it can lower your blood sugar to dangerous levels. And avoid fasting if you’re recovering from an illness or being treated for cancer and you need to maintain or gain weight, Peterson says.

This style of eating isn’t a good fit for everyone. Varady doesn’t recommend it for people with binge eating disorder, who could overeat during their “on” days. And if you’re a snacker who can’t go more than a few hours without food, other eating plans might be better for you.

Vitamin D levels in the blood linked to cardiorespiratory fitness

Vitamin D levels in the blood are linked to cardiorespiratory fitness, according to a study published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a publication of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

“Our study shows that higher levels of vitamin D are associated with better exercise capacity,” said Dr Amr Marawan, assistant professor of internal medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia, US. “We also know from previous research that vitamin D has positive effects on the heart and bones. Make sure your vitamin D levels are normal to high. You can do this with diet, supplements, and a sensible amount of sun exposure.”

It is well established that vitamin D is important for healthy bones, but there is increasing evidence that it plays a role in other areas of the body including the heart and muscles.

Cardiorespiratory fitness, a reliable surrogate for physical fitness, is the ability of the heart and lungs to supply oxygen to the muscles during exercise. It is best measured as the maximal oxygen consumption during exercise, referred to as VO2 max. People with higher cardiorespiratory fitness are healthier and live longer.

This study investigated whether people with higher levels of vitamin D in the blood have improved cardiorespiratory fitness. The study was conducted in a representative sample of the US population aged 20-49 years using the National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES) in 2001-2004. Data was collected on serum vitamin D and VO2 max. Participants were divided into quartiles of vitamin D levels.

Of 1,995 participants, 45% were women, 49% were white, 13% had hypertension, and 4% had diabetes. Participants in the top quartile of vitamin D had a 4.3-fold higher cardiorespiratory fitness than those in the bottom quartile. The link remained significant, with a 2.9-fold strength, after adjusting for factors that could influence the association such as age, sex, race, body mass index, smoking, hypertension, and diabetes.

Dr Marawan said: “The relationship between higher vitamin D levels and better exercise capacity holds in men and women, across the young and middle age groups, across ethnicities, regardless of body mass index or smoking status, and whether or not participants have hypertension or diabetes.”

Each 10 nmol/L increase in vitamin D was associated with a statistically significant 0.78 mL/kg/min increase in VO2 max. “This suggests that there is a dose response relationship, with each rise in vitamin D associated with a rise in exercise capacity,” said Dr Marawan.

Dr Marawan noted that this was an observational study and it cannot be concluded that vitamin D improves exercise capacity. But he added: “The association was strong, incremental, and consistent across groups. This suggests that there is a robust connection and provides further impetus for having adequate vitamin D levels, which is particularly challenging in cold, cloudy places where people are less exposed to the sun.”

On the other hand, Vitamin D toxicity can lead to excess calcium in the blood, which can cause nausea, vomiting, and weakness. “It is not the case that the more vitamin D, the better,” said Dr Marawan. “Toxicity is caused by megadoses of supplements rather than diet or sun exposure, so caution is needed when taking tablets.”

Regarding further research, Dr Marawan said: “We know the optimum vitamin D levels for healthy bones but studies are required to determine how much the heart needs to function at its best. Randomised controlled trials should be conducted to examine the impact of differing amounts of vitamin D supplements on cardiorespiratory fitness. From a public health perspective, research should look into whether supplementing food products with vitamin D provides additional benefits beyond bone health.”

What it takes to be a Celebrity Personal Trainer

Celebrity personal trainers live an exciting life, mingling with the who’s who from among the elite society, travelling with them all over the globe and becoming almost as high profile themselves. They get paid handsomely for their services and build an enviable reputation as their already famous clients climb even higher on the success ladder. While all this makes the job of a celebrity personal trainer sound absolutely amazing, it is something that needs time, commitment and determined effort to achieve.

Everyone avails the services of a personal trainer with the same basic aims – to look fit and feel great. The main difference between training a regular client and a high profile one is that there is a lot more pressure and urgency in case of the latter. The celebrity client may need to be in flawless shape for an upcoming event/performance and as the personal trainer you would be expected to deliver results in the shortest time frames. The secret lies in designing exclusive, stimulating workouts and planning effective diets that achieve quick results and make your celebrity client an ambassador of your expertise.

Some valuable advice on how to be a celebrity personal trainer Steele Williams from TRAIN.FITNESS who has worked with Naomi Campbell, Mel B, Melanie Sykes, Bjork, Ruby Wax, Sinitta, Max Beesley and Elle McPherson to name a few.

• Get certified: Obtain the required qualifications from accredited sources which will maximise your chances of getting employed at an elite gym. Choosing the right personal training course is crucial.

• The next step is to build a strong client base: Start working as a personal trainer and gradually build a vast network of clients and other social contacts. Take every effort to steer your clients towards achieving their fitness goals so that your reputation spreads by word of mouth.

• Have a marketing strategy in place: It’s just as important to know how to use the latest online and offline strategies to promote your business and be more visible in the market. You will need to invest time and money towards building a strong reputation to counter the fierce competition and be able to stand apart.

• Have the perfect physique that inspires admiration: Work hard to develop a fantastic body that would speak volumes about your competence as a physical trainer. Just flaunting your physique amongst the high profile elite can help to boost your profile and possibly make waves towards becoming a celebrity personal trainer

• Apply for a job at a high end gym: Try to get employed at the most expensive gyms in the city, which are known to be frequented by celebrities. The reputation and publicity of high end gyms will rub off on your career as well, helping you to gain credibility. It will give you an opportunity to get noticed by celebrity clientele and build a rapport with them, of course keeping in mind the rules of the gym about soliciting clients.

• Contact PR managers of celebrities: Get in touch with managers of celebrities offering to train them for free. Show the portfolio of work you have done so far and possibly design a free 10 session workout plan for them.

• Keep up to date about latest fitness trends: Make sure that you are always learning about the newest innovations in human physiology, sports science and exercise techniques. Enrol in courses and workshops for more specialised knowledge in specific fields like nutrition, kinesiology and motor skills. Celebrities expect their personal trainer to be experts at their profession to be able to provide them with unique, personalised training regimens that will enable them look and feel their best.

• Have your own website which can be a platform for you to post your own ideas about fitness methods, showcase your workout designs and share expert insight. Make unique training programs and post videos of your workouts that are trendy and effective enough to catch the eye of your audience, slowly but surely giving you an edge over your competitors.

• Open to relocate: You may have to take the decision to relocate to bigger cities where celebrities usually live and work. You might have to make your choice based on the profession of the celebrities you intend to work with – movie stars, musicians, artists, models, sports stars. But in any case, your move will have to be to a big city which will not happen without its share of challenges and difficulties.

• Be prepared for an erratic work schedule: You will obviously have to plan your schedule around your celebrity clients’ busy schedule which may require you to work at odd hours. But considering the rewards of your efforts, it is a small compromise to make. With every success that your client achieves, your business too will grow by leaps and bounds.

How daytime naps could help us make better decisions

A new study, now published in the Journal of Sleep Research, examines the effects of short naps on the brain’s ability to process unconscious information.

Sleep is key in both memory formation and the consolidation of new information.

Cutting-edge technologies now allow scientists to see where in the brain learning takes place, and how sleep deprivation interferes with the brain’s neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to respond and adapt to the stimuli it receives from the environment.

What happens “under the hood” when we are asleep has also been the focus of numerous studies.

According to research that Medical News Today recently reported on, scientists were able to locate specific memories and strengthen them while the study participants were asleep using certain auditory cues.

Now, an intriguing new study focuses on the effect of daytime naps on the brain’s ability to process information that we are not consciously aware of.

Additionally, the study examined how daytime naps impact conscious behavior and choice reaction time — that is, the speed with which the brain processes new information.

Liz Coulthard, a consultant senior lecturer in dementia neurology at the University of Bristol Medical School in the United Kingdom, led the new research.

Naps help process unconscious information

Coulthard and colleagues recruited 16 volunteers for the study and gave the study participants two tasks.

In the first, a “masked prime task,” the researchers presented information to the participants very briefly so that they didn’t have time to register the information consciously.

In the second (control) task, the participants responded when they were shown a red or blue square on a screen.

Best Time for Cardio – What time of day is best for your cardio workout

Most wonder when the best time is to do cardiovascular training. But is there really an exact time to put cardio into your workout that will benefit your body? Many researchers have looked at this in a number of ways, but there has been no significant proof of when the best time of day is to do your cardio work out. However, there are many factors to consider when deciding on when to do your cardiovascular training. By following a few simple steps, you can make your cardio workout most effective.

First off, most people would agree that the best time to do a cardio workout is the time when you feel most energetic throughout the day. This allows you to use all your energy, and to maximize the effectiveness of your workout. A lot of people say that they feel best doing their cardiovascular workouts in the mornings because this is the time they have the most energy.
However, if you are not a morning person, this is probably not the best time for you. Remember, there is no specific time of day that is proven to help benefit your cardio workout. In the end, you have to choose what time works well for you.

To get the best results of cardio training, it is ideal to separate your cardio days from your weight training days. So, if you lift weights 3 times a week, try to do your cardio sessions on the days you are not weight training. This is especially important for men who are trying to gain mass. If you do your cardio workout before lifting weights this can deplete your glycogen stores, and defeat the purpose of your entire weight lifting session. Glycogen stores are your muscles main source of energy, and if you have very few of them you will not be able to push yourself through those last few reps that mean the most from your workout. For women and those who’s priorities are not to gain mass, it is alright to do a cardio workout before a low-intensity weight training session.

If your ultimate goal is to try and get both your cardiovascular training and resistance workout done in one session, you are better off doing your cardio session after your weight training. The main reason for this is because weight lifting does not deplete your glycogen stores as much as it would during a session of cardio. Therefore, if you do your cardio session after your weight training, you will still have some left over glycogen stores to get in a decent
cardio session. If you want a more effective cardio session in the same day as weight training, it is best to wait a few hours before jumping right into it after lifting weights. The reason for this is that it is important to restore your glycogen stores to stop the breakdown of protein. But, if you are trying to get both weight lifting and cardio done in one day, it is best to do your cardio session last.

People often ask if they should do their cardio training on an empty stomach. The answer to this is no. The reality of it is that if your body has no food in it, it has no easy source of energy. Therefore your body will start to look elsewhere for a source of energy. But where does it get the energy from? It will actually start to take energy from your muscles. So unless your goal is to lose muscle and become scrawny, I wouldn’t recommend doing cardio on an empty stomach. Although I would never recommend eating a meal before working out, I would try to plan a light snack about 30 minutes prior to your cardio training. This would be most beneficial to your entire work out.

Cardio equipment choice is also something that is often questioned. However, the choice of the equipment you use simply does not matter. They are all effective for cardio training, so whether you use a treadmill, an elliptical trainer, or a bike, all will lead to an effective cardio workout.

Finally, taking these simple things into consideration should help you decide what the best time is for you to do cardio. Only you can decide when and where, however knowing these simple facts may make your decision a lot easier. In order to make a cardiovascular workout effective, you must be consistent in your routine. The benefits from cardio will only be revealed if you stick to a set schedule. Also, it is important to note that every single person has a certain time of day when they feel most energetic. Try to figure out when that time of day is for you and fit your cardio workout into that time slot. You will most likely be able to push yourself the most during this time, and have an overall better workout. In the end the only person who can decide when the best time for cardio is, is you. But, if you stick to these simple rules, your cardio workout should be most beneficial.

NEW YORK TIMES: Lift Weights, Eat More Protein if You’re Over 40 — The Combination Can Help You Become Stronger

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A comprehensive scientific review of research, which was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, aggregated the results from the best past studies of weight training and protein. What the published review found was that eating more protein — and, as the New York Times reported, “well past the amounts currently recommended” — can amplify “the results of lifting weights, especially for people past the age of 40.” That means larger, stronger muscles and greater strength.

Follow this link to take a look at their write up: Lift Weights, Eat More Protein

To Sit or to Stand: Try a 30-Day Challenge — Sitting Too Long Can Shave Time Off Your Longevity

Dr. Sudip Bose on the treadmill

By Dr. Sudip Bose, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

Smoking one cigarette is the medical equivalent of cutting one hour off your life. You may have heard that oft-quoted statistic before.

By the same token, sitting for too long can shave time off your longevity as well.

There are some major things regarding health that are effected by the amount of time you sit vs. stand or engage in anything else active. Sitting for long periods of time can effect your cardiovascular health, it can hasten the slide towards obesity; people who have sitting jobs are about 2.5 times more obese than those who do not.

Sitting also has an effect on mortality — death. Data shows that people who sit three hours a day vs. people who sit six hours a day. The people who sit six hours a day have a 40 percent increased chance of death. If you have an office job that requires you to sit for long amounts of time, there are some things you can do to mitigate the “sitting effect” and lessen the impact of sitting on your overall health. These are small things, but if you’re mindful of them, they can help:

  • Take phone calls standing up
  • Set a timer reminder and get out of your chair every 30 minutes or so
  • Park farther away from your office and walk more
  • Take the stairs and not the elevator or escalator

All these will help with blood flow and help circulate oxygen throughout your body and especially to your brain. It can help make you more productive.

Continue reading “To Sit or to Stand: Try a 30-Day Challenge — Sitting Too Long Can Shave Time Off Your Longevity”

10 New Year’s Resolutions You Can Keep? According to Men’s Health Magazine, These Are Resolutions They Say You Can Actually Stick With

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Men’s Health has published a roundup of their 10 New Year’s resolutions they say you’ll actually be able to stick to. They encourage us to, “Make this year your best one yet by picking a goal that will prime you for success.” Follow this link to take a look at their write up: 10 New Year’s Resolutions to Keep

Prehistoric Women Had Stronger Arms Than Competitive Rowers Today

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This article originally appeared on Time.com.

Today’s athletes may be strong, but they’ve got nothing on prehistoric women who spent their days harvesting crops and grinding grain. According to a new study in the journal Science Advances, the average woman who lived during the first 6,000 years of farming had stronger upper arms than modern-day female rowing champions.

The study “highlights the scale of women’s labor in prehistoric agricultural communities, and the hidden history of women’s work across thousands of years of farming,” says study author Alison Macintosh, a postdoctoral anthropology researcher at the University of Cambridge in the UK.

Previous research has compared women’s bones to men’s of the same era, the authors write in their study. But male bones respond to strain in a more visibly dramatic way than female bones, they explain, which has caused scientists to underestimate the true nature and scale of the physical work done by women in prehistoric societies.

Continue reading “Prehistoric Women Had Stronger Arms Than Competitive Rowers Today”