Pages

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Exercise Helps Overweight Children Think Better, Do Better in Math

The study findings we are publishing today reaffirms what we have known all along. Exercise plays a major role in neurogenesis. This is Jungle Miami's post today.


Regular exercise improves thinking and planning ability of overweight, previously inactive children, Georgia Health Sciences University researchers report. (Credit: Phil Jones/GHSU)ScienceDaily (Feb. 11, 2011) — Regular exercise improves the ability of overweight, previously inactive children to think, plan and even do math, Georgia Health Sciences University researchers report.



They hope the findings in 171 overweight 7- to 11 year-olds -- all sedentary when the study started -- gives educators the evidence they need to ensure that regular, vigorous physical activity is a part of every school day, said Dr. Catherine Davis, clinical health psychologist at GHSU's Georgia Prevention Institute and corresponding author on the study in Health Psychology.



"I hope these findings will help reestablish physical activity's important place in the schools in helping kids stay physically well and mentally sharp," Davis said. "For children to reach their potential, they need to be active."



To measure cognition, researchers used the Cognitive Assessment System and Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement III that measure abilities such as planning and academic skills such as math and reading. A subset of the children received functional magnetic resonance imaging highlighting increased or decreased areas of brain activity.



MRIs showed those who exercised experienced increased brain activity in the prefrontal cortex -- an area associated with complex thinking, decision making and correct social behavior -- and decreased activity in an area of the brain that sits behind it. The shift forward appears consistent with more rapidly developing cognitive skills, Davis said.



And the more they exercised, the better the result. Intelligence scores increased an average 3.8 points in those exercising 40 minutes per day after school for three months with a smaller benefit in those exercising 20 minutes daily.



Activity in the part of their brain responsible for so-called executive function also increased in children who exercised. "In kids you just don't know what impact you are going to have when you improve their ability to control their attention, to behave better in school, to make better choices," Davis notes. "Maybe they will be more likely to stay in school and out of trouble."



Similar improvements were seen in math skills; interestingly, no improvements were found in reading skill. Researchers note that improved math achievement was "remarkable" since no math lessons were given and suggests longer intervention could produce even better results.



Children in the exercise program played hard, with running games, hula hoops and jump ropes, raising their heart rates to 79 percent of maximum, which is considered vigorous.



Cognitive improvements likely resulted from the brain stimulation that came from movement rather than resulting cardiovascular improvements, such as increased blood and oxygen supplies, Davis said. "You cannot move your body without your brain."



The researchers hypothesize that such vigorous physical activity promotes development of brain systems that underlie cognition and behavior. Animal studies have shown that aerobic activity increases growth factors so the brain gets more blood vessels, more neurons and more connections between neurons. Studies in older adults have shown exercise benefits the brain and Davis's study extends the science to children and their ability to learn in school.



About one-third of U.S. children are overweight. Davis suspects exercise would have a similar impact on their leaner counterparts.



Co-authors include Dr. Jennifer E. McDowell, neuroscientist, and Dr. Phillip Dr. Tomporowski, exercise and cognition expert, at the University of Georgia.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Story Source:


The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Medical College of Georgia. The original article was written by Toni Baker.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Journal Reference:


1.By Davis, Catherine L.; Tomporowski, Phillip D.; McDowell, Jennifer E.; Austin, Benjamin P.; Miller, Patricia H.; Yanasak, Nathan E.; Allison, Jerry D.; Naglieri, Jack A. Exercise improves executive function and achievement and alters brain activation in overweight children: A randomized, controlled trial.. Health Psychology, Vol 30(1), Jan 2011, 91-98 [link]


Medical College of Georgia (2011, February 11). Exercise helps overweight children think better, do better in math. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 23, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2011/02/110210111309.htm

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.


Article's Website


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This website does not intend to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Friday, February 11, 2011

ACL Injuries. How to prevent it.

Physical Therapists Say Appropriate Exercise Can Help Prevent ACL Injuries In Female Athletes



ScienceDaily (Oct. 2, 2008) — he American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is urging female athletes — particularly soccer players — to consider a new warm-up program to help lower their growing risk of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries.




Concurring with a new study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine (August 2008), APTA says specialized stretching, strengthening, agility and jumping exercises could lower the overall ACL injury rate among female athletes.



The study evaluated outcomes of NCAA Division 1 female soccer players who performed the Prevent Injury, Enhance Performance (PEP) program, designed by physical therapists at Santa Monica (CA) Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Group. Those who performed the PEP program had an overall ACL injury rate 41 percent lower than a group of female athletes who did their regular warm-up. This was one of the largest studies conducted in the NCAA with 1,435 athletes participating.



The PEP program, one example of the many physical therapy-based programs that have demonstrated an equal ability to reduce ACL injuries among female athletes, consists of sport-specific agility exercises and addresses potential deficits in the strength and neuromuscular coordination of the stabilizing muscles around the knee joint. Physical therapist and APTA spokesperson Holly Silvers, MPT, who helped develop PEP, says, "The program was created to address the deficits that are seen in female athletes, particularly weakness in the lateral hip muscles, gluteal, and core muscles." These deficits can contribute to ACL injuries, notes Silvers.



According to physical therapist and APTA spokesperson Mark Paterno, PT, MS, MBA, SCS, ATC, coordinator of orthopedic and sports physical therapy at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, recent research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that ACL tears occur four times more frequently in females than in males involved in the same amount of sports participation. He says the difference in neuromuscular control, or the way our muscles contract and react, is one of four primary factors contributing to why women are more susceptible to knee injuries than men. Other discrepancies are anatomical (men and women are structurally differently), hormonal (women's hormonal makeup affects the integrity of the ligament, making it more lax), and bio-mechanical (the positions our knees get in during athletic activities).



Sample exercises athletes can perform to avoid ACL injuries can be found on the APTA Web site.



"Women perform athletic tasks in a more upright position, putting added stress on parts of the knee such as the ACL, resulting in less controlled rotation of the joint," said Paterno. "While men use their hamstring muscles more often, women rely more on their quadriceps, which puts the knee at constant risk. To combat these natural tendencies, physical therapists may develop a treatment program to improve strength, flexibility, and coordination, as well as to counteract incorrect existing patterns of movement that may be damaging to joints," he added.



Silvers notes that physical therapist-designed programs can teach athletes how to avoid abnormal movement patterns and lessen stress on the knee, which may include exercises to strengthen hamstring and core muscles.



"Whether patients are athletes or not, physical therapist expertise includes not only rehabilitation and restoration of normal levels of function, but also education regarding how to prevent further injury," says Silvers.



The APTA is celebrating National Physical Therapy Month this October, an annual observance designed to educate the public about the important role physical therapists and physical therapist assistants play in the health care system.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Source

Thursday, February 10, 2011

How about a walk in the park?

In many countries whole cities are built around parks, plazas, public spaces in which people can gather and do many activities. This is not modern invention. It is as old as civilization. In today's society there are many factors that are taken into account when it comes to planning public spaces. The need for living and working spaces has increased, so, we are building less public spaces. This article makes the case into the importance of building parks and plazas. At Jungle Miami we thought we bring it to you. This is our post today.

A Walk In The Park Could Be Key To Better Health Care


10 Feb 2011



The payoff for investing in public parks and recreation sites may be healthier, more physically fit residents and a less strained healthcare system, according to Penn State researchers.



Investments in parks and recreational services have a dramatic effect on health and fitness, say Geof Godbey, professor emeritus of leisure studies, and Andrew Mowen, associate professor of recreation and parks management.



"There is a strong relationship between how much money is spent to provide such services and the amount of physical activity that people take part in," said Godbey. "You get what you pay for."



In one study cited in the report prepared by the researchers for the National Recreation and Park Association, spending an extra $10 per person on park and recreational facilities provided more vigorous exercise for girls and better strength-building for both sexes.



"As the study points out, for just an additional $10, that money provides a significant increase in the amount of exercise you can get," said Godbey. "What would a health club provide for that same $10?"



The number of parks and playgrounds in a community can also raise the fitness level of residents. For example, one study found that there was an increase of 17 more minutes of physical activity for each park within a half mile of a home.



In addition, studies have shown that the closer parks and recreational sites are to where people live, the more people use them and the more physically active they are.



Access to public parks promotes increased physical activity for nearly all age groups. About 85 percent of middle-aged and older participants surveyed in a five-city study said they visited a local park within the last year. The same survey indicated that 40 percent of those people go to the park more than once a week, a sign that park use was embedded into their lifestyle.



"Park use becomes more deeply ingrained in users and quickly becomes part of their lives," said Godbey. "People are being active and having fun for the sake of having fun, not as a health outcome, which, to them, is just an added benefit."



Godbey said that losing access to parks might cause unhealthy behavior.



"The physical benefits of park and recreation access are sort of obvious, but we have to look at the reverse," said Godbey. "If people aren't going to parks, what would they be doing with that time? Would they be sitting around at home, drinking a few beers, eating cheese puffs, and watching reruns on television?"



Since government officials often cut park and recreation spending first, Mowen said that park and recreational professionals could use the evidence presented in this report to educate officials and residents on the relatively inexpensive health benefits provided by parks.



"Most people, especially elected officials, consider park and recreational services as an amenity or as discretionary spending," said Mowen. "These studies argue that park and recreational facilities are part of the health care system, or should be."


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Source:

Matt Swayne

Penn State

Article's Website.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Of Salt, Sodium and Nonsodium Salts.

Salt. Can you live without it? Seems most people love to add it to their food. We found this interesting Q and A on the health page of CNN and we thought we could all benefit greatly from learning about salt. This is Jungle Miami's post of today. Enjoy.



Are nonsodium salts healthier than traditional?



Asked by Kristan, Atlanta, Georgia

My sister and I were talking about salt. She has noticed that sea salt is currently being marketed as a healthy, or trendy, food additive, but can't figure out if there's any real science behind the marketing. Are nonsodium salts, like magnesium chloride and potassium chloride, any healthier than traditional sodium chloride? People with, say, high blood pressure are told to stick to low-sodium diets. But is it the sodium, or is it a different quality that causes the increased risk?




Diet and Fitness Expert

Dr. Melina Jampolis

Physician Nutrition Specialist

Expert answer


Hi Kristan. In light of the new dietary guidelines for Americans that came out this week recomending a reduction in sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams a day, and a further reduction in intake to 1,500 milligrams a day among persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African-American or have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, I thought this was a good time to answer this question.



Lowering sodium helps lower blood pressure, one of the main risk factors for heart disease and stroke, because too much sodium intake leads to water retention, which stretches blood vessel walls, leading to high blood pressure. This is particularly important as people age and blood vessels become more stiff, leading to even further increases in blood pressure.



Sea salt is a less-processed form of sodium, which may contain trace amounts of minerals, but by weight contains the same amount of sodium. It has a coarser texture and is not as finely ground as table salt, so an equivalent serving size contains slightly less sodium due to the larger volume of the salt crystals (you get less per serving).



In addition, some people find that it has slightly more flavor, so they can get away with using less, which is always a good thing. While sea salt does contain minute amounts of iodine, it does not have iodine added as table salt does. Iodine deficiency is relatively uncommon in the United States, so this should not be a major concern for most people.



Salt substitutes usually contain potassium chloride, which does not raise blood pressure as sodium chloride (table salt) does. It should, however, be used with caution in those with kidney disease, heart failure or on blood pressure or heart medications that increase potassium levels.



A better option is to use herbs and spices to add flavor to your meals to keep salt intake down. Even more important, limit your intake of processed and prepared foods (grocery and restaurant) as these foods make up more than 70% of our daily salt intake, while added salt makes up only about 10% (the remainder comes from naturally occurring salt). To my knowledge, magnesium chloride is used to melt ice and snow on roads, not as an edible salt substitute.


Source

Webpage

Other links of interest.

http://www.saltinstitute.org/

!5 Fascinating Facts About Salt.

Salt Mountains Diagram Website

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Getting ready for a knee surgery?

Many people suffer knee injuries. Many end up on a surgeon's table. This is the subject of Jungle Miami's post of today.


Prehabilitation Better Prepares Patients for Knee Replacement Surgery




ScienceDaily
Feb. 2, 2011

An exercise program designed by researchers at the University of Louisville for patients with severe knee arthritis improves leg strength and patients' functional ability before knee replacement surgery, according to recent report in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.


The study, led by UofL's Ann Swank, Ph.D., CSCS, and Robert Topp, Ph.D., R.N., says gains from exercise before knee replacement or prehabilitation may translate into improved recovery after surgery.


"We designed this program to be easily transferred to a home environment," Swank said. "It is very possible for many patients preparing for knee replacement surgery to participate in this exercise program and experience increased strength and functionality such as getting up from a chair or climbing stairs."



However, Swank noted the prehabilitation program did not significantly improve functional tasks such as walking speed or going downstairs.


The study included 71 patients scheduled for knee replacement surgery because of severe osteoarthritis that could not be managed with pain medications. Osteoarthritis of the knee is a very common condition in older adults, causing pain and gradual declines in the ability to perform everyday tasks. When pain becomes so severe that medications no longer provide relief, knee replacement surgery is the only option. By that time, reduced leg strength may be present for several years -- not only decreasing functional ability, but increasing the risk of falls.


One group of participants was randomly assigned to a comprehensive prehabilitation program, consisting of light resistance training, flexibility and step exercise, and light walking.


Patients in this "pre-rehab" group exercised three times per week, in the clinic and at home, for four to eight weeks before knee replacement surgery. Patients in the comparison group received standard preoperative care, with instructions to continue their usual activities. The two groups were compared for knee strength and performance on standard functional tests.



When tested one week before surgery, patients who went through the prehabilitation program showed improvements in several areas. In particular, they had a 10 percent increase in extension strength in the leg scheduled for knee replacement. In contrast, the comparison group had a 10 percent decrease in extension strength.


In addition, patients in the prehabilitation group had less pain when performing the functional tests. For patients receiving standard care, performance on some functional tests actually decreased in the weeks before surgery -- possibly reflecting increased pain scores.



The results show significant improvements in strength and functioning in the weeks before knee replacement surgery. Strengthening of the leg undergoing knee replacement may be a particularly important factor -- exercise may reduce the strength imbalance between legs, therefore contributing to the functional improvement. The researchers do note that even with exercise, the surgical leg remains significantly weaker than the other leg.



Previous studies have evaluated exercise programs to improve leg strength and functional ability before knee replacement surgery, but with limited success.



Although the study did not compare postoperative recovery, increases in leg strength and performance of functional tasks before knee replacement surgery may result in improved postoperative recovery because preoperative performance of functional tasks has been shown to be a predictor of postoperative performance of functional tasks, Swank said.


Topp noted that in addition to the clinical aspects, there is the potential for cost-savings as well.


"The next step in this research is to determine whether this comprehensive prehabilitation exercise program translates to a savings in healthcare dollars," Topp said. "For example, reducing the number of days a patient stays in the hospital or reducing the number of physical therapy sessions."


Several other University of Louisville faculty also contributed to the study, "Prehabilitaion Before Total Knee Arthroplasty Increases Strength and Function in Older Adults With Severe Osteoarthritis."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110202114951.htm