Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Global spa, wellness industry estimated at $3.4 trillion: report

 


  
(Reuters) – A growing middle class and consumers’ evolving attitudes toward health and travel have fueled a global spa and wellness industry worth an estimated $3.4 trillion in 2013, according to a report released on Tuesday.
Nutrition and weight loss, preventative and personalized health, complementary and alternative medicine, and beauty and anti-aging treatments were the biggest growing sectors, the report compiled by the non-profit research center SRI International showed.
“All across the world we have seen, from Asia to Europe to Africa to North America, more and more people are consciously thinking about healthy food, exercising, looking to nature, getting massages and doing yoga,” said Ophelia Yeung, a senior consultant for SRI International who led the study.
  
Spa treatments and products, alternative and complementary treatments and weight-loss programs once considered beyond the means of many people, she added, are becoming more mainstream with a growing middle class.
While medical care treats illness and disease, wellness is focused on prevention through a variety of healthy habits, nutritional eating, exercise and treatments.
To compile the report researchers looked at wellness sectors ranging from mind and body fitness to beauty and anti-aging, spas and workplace wellness.
The global spa industry generated $94 billion last year, according to the Global Spa and Wellness Economy Monitor report, up from $60 billion in 2007.
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Lift weights, improve your memory: Georgia Tech

Posted on by Stone Hearth News    

  
Here’s another reason why it’s a good idea to hit the gym: it can improve memory. A new Georgia Institute of Technology study shows that an intense workout of as little as 20 minutes can enhance episodic memory, also known as long-term memory for previous events, by about 10 percent in healthy young adults (see a video demo).

The Georgia Tech research isn’t the first to find that exercise can improve memory. But the study, which was just published in the journal Acta Psychologica, took a few new approaches. While many existing studies have demonstrated that months of aerobic exercises such as running can improve memory, the current study had participants lift weights just once two days before testing them. The Georgia Tech researchers also had participants study events just before the exercise rather than after workout. They did this because of extensive animal research suggesting that the period after learning (or consolidation) is when the arousal or stress caused by exercise is most likely to benefit memory.
The study began with everyone looking at a series of 90 photos on a computer screen. The images were evenly split between positive (i.e. kids on a waterslide), negative (mutilated bodies) and neutral (clocks) pictures. Participants weren’t asked to try and remember the photos. Everyone then sat at a leg extension resistance exercise machine. Half of them extended and contracted each leg at their personal maximum effort 50 times. The control group simply sat in the chair and allowed the machine and the experimenter to move their legs. Throughout the process, each participant’s blood pressure and heart rate were monitored. Every person also contributed saliva samples so the team could detect levels of neurotransmitter markers linked to stress.

The participants returned to the lab 48 hours later and saw a series of 180 pictures – the 90 originals were mixed in with 90 new photos. The control group recalled about 50 percent of the photos from the first session. Those who exercised remembered about 60 percent.

The participants returned to the lab 48 hours later and saw a series of 180 pictures – the 90 originals were mixed in with 90 new photos. The control group recalled about 50 percent of the photos from the first session. Those who exercised remembered about 60 percent.

“Our study indicates that people don’t have to dedicate large amounts of time to give their brain a boost,” said Lisa Weinberg, the Georgia Tech graduate student who led the project.
  
Although the study used weight exercises, Weinberg notes that resistance activities such as squats or knee bends would likely produce the same results. In other words, exercises that don’t require the person to be in good enough to shape to bike, run or participate in prolonged aerobic exercises.
While all participants remembered the positive and negative images better than the neutral images, this pattern was greatest in the exercise participants, who showed the highest physiological responses. The team expected that result, as existing research on memory indicates that people are more likely to remember emotional experiences especially after acute (short-term) stress.

But why does it work? Existing, non-Georgia Tech human research has linked memory enhancements to acute stress responses, usually from psychological stressors such as public speaking. Other studies have also tied specific hormonal and norepinephrine releases in rodent brains to better memory. Interestingly, the current study found that exercise participants had increased saliva measures of alpha amylase, a marker of central norepinephrine.

“Even without doing expensive fMRI scans, our results give us an idea of what areas of the brain might be supporting these exercise-induced memory benefits,” said Audrey Duarte, an associate professor in the School of Psychology. “The findings are encouraging because they are consistent with rodent literature that pinpoints exactly the parts of the brain that play a role in stress-induced memory benefits caused by exercise.”

The collaborative team of psychology and applied physiology faculty and students plans to expand the study in the future, now that the researchers know resistance exercise can enhance episodic memory in healthy young adults.

“We can now try to determine its applicability to other types of memories and the optimal type and amount of resistance exercise in various populations,” said Minoru Shinohara, an associate professor in the School of Applied Physiology. “This includes older adults and individuals with memory impairment.”

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This research was supported in part by PHS Grant UL1 RR025008 from the Clinical and Translational Science Award Program, National Institutes of Health, National Center for Research Resource.

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Exercise walking, fine tuned

Posted on October 1, 2014 by Stone Hearth News

Newswise — New research suggests the adage that encourages people to keep their “eyes on the prize” may be on target when it comes to exercise. When walking, staying focused on a specific target ahead can make the distance to it appear shorter and help people walk there faster, psychology researchers have found. Their study, which compares this technique to walking while looking around the environment naturally, offers a new strategy to improve the quality of exercise.

“People are less interested in exercise if physical activity seems daunting, which can happen when distances to be walked appear quite long,” explains New York University’s Emily Balcetis, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and one of the study’s co-authors. “These findings indicate that narrowly focusing visual attention on a specific target, like a building a few blocks ahead, rather than looking around your surroundings, makes that distance appear shorter, helps you walk faster, and also makes exercising seem easier.”

The study, which appears in the journal Motivation and Emotion, focused on “attentional narrowing,” which affects perceptions of space. The researchers, who also included Shana Cole, an NYU doctoral student at the time of the study and now an assistant professor in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University, and Matthew Riccio, an undergraduate at NYU’s College of Arts and Science, hypothesized that narrowing attention on a finish line would lead it to appear closer, increase walking speed, and reduce feelings of physical exertion.

Related research previously conducted in Balcetis’ lab and published last year found that people who are overweight see distances as farther than those who are average weight, especially when they are not very motivated to exercise.

“People are gaining weight at alarming rates,” Balcetis says. “More than 1.4 billion adults and 40 million kids under the age of five are overweight or obese worldwide. And in America, obesity rates have almost tripled in the last 30 years. Attentional narrowing might help people exercise more effectively because it makes physical activity look easier.” The new research found that attentional narrowing acts as an intervention, changing perceptions of distance, so that all people can see the distances in ways that fit people see it. In the Motivation and Emotion paper, the researchers conducted two experiments. In the first, the study’s subjects—66 adults visiting a New York City park in the summer—stood 12 feet away from an open cooler, which contained cold beverages and ice. The experimenter explained to participants that they would estimate the distance to the cooler.

One set of subjects was randomly assigned to a narrowed attention condition in which they imagined that a spotlight was shining only on the cooler. They learned that to be effective at estimating distance, they should direct and focus their attention on the cooler and avoid looking around the environment. The second set of subjects was assigned to the natural attention condition and was instructed to allow their attention to move naturally and in whatever way they found to be most helpful for estimating distance.

Subjects who focused their attention only on the cooler perceived the cooler as closer than did those in the natural attention group.

In a second experiment, the researchers used this intervention to change perceptions of distance and improve the quality of exercise. Here, 73 participants walked 20 feet in a gymnasium while wearing ankle weights that added 15 percent to their body weight, thus making the task more challenging than unfettered walking.

As in the first experiment, one set of participants received the narrowed attention instructions (they were asked to focus on a traffic cone marking a finish line) and the other set received the natural attention condition (they were told to glance at the cone as well as look at their surroundings). Each group then completed the walking test while being timed by the experimenters.

The results confirmed the researchers’ hypothesis that attentional narrowing changed perceptions of distance, speed of walking, and perceived effort.

Those in the narrowed attention group perceived the cones to be 28 percent closer than did those in the natural condition group. In addition, those in the narrowed attention group walked 23 percent faster than did those in the natural attention group. Finally, those in the narrowed attention group reported that the walk required less physical exertion than did those in the natural condition group—a finding that may serve as an incentive to exercise.

“Physical activity is an important component of a healthy lifestyle,” Cole remarks. “Interventions that train people to keep their ‘eyes on the prize’ may play an important role in health and fitness. When goals appear within reach, and when people move faster and experience exercise as easier, they may be especially motivated to continue exercising.

“Given the alarming obesity epidemic in America, strategies that encourage or improve exercise may be particularly important for aiding the nationwide effort to combat obesity and promote healthier living.”

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Walking is a biological imperative like eating

 


  
(Reuters) – Walking may never become as trendy as CrossFit, as sexy as mud runs or as ego-boosting as Ironman races but for fitness experts who stress daily movement over workouts and an active lifestyle over weekends of warrior games, walking is a super star.
For author and scientist Katy Bowman, walking is a biological imperative like eating. In her book, “Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement,” she suggests there are movement nutrients, just like dietary nutrients, that the body needs.
“Walking is a superfood. It’s the defining movement of a human,” said Bowman, a biomechanist based in Ventura, California.
  
“It’s a lot easier to get movement than it is to get exercise.”
Researchers say emerging evidence suggests that combined physical activity and inactivity may be more important for chronic disease risk than physical activity alone.
“Actively sedentary is a new category of people who are fit for one hour but sitting around the rest of the day,” Bowman said. “You can’t offset 10 hours of stillness with one hour of exercise.”
Last year researchers at the University of Texas School of Public Health asked 218 marathoners and half marathoners to report their training and sitting times.
Median training time was 6.5 hours per week.
Median total sitting time was eight to 10.75 hours per day, suggesting that recreational distance runners are simultaneously highly sedentary and highly active.
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US gov’t to spend $31 million to “empower people to make healthy eating choices”

            Posted on September 29, 2014 by Stone Hearth News


 Richmond, VA, Sept. 29, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is making up to $31.5 million in funding available to help participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) more easily afford healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. Secretary Vilsack made the announcement with Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe in Richmond.

“Too many struggling families do not have adequate access to nutritious food,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Helping families purchase more fresh produce is clearly good for families’ health, helps contribute to lower health costs for the country, and increases local food sales for family farmers. Public-private partnerships with non-profit organizations and other community groups are already proving to have great success across the country. These resources will allow partnerships like these to help even more families.”

The Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program, a new Farm Bill program, brings together stakeholders from distinct parts of the food system and fosters understanding of how they might improve the nutrition and health status of SNAP households. Under FINI, applicants may propose relatively small pilot projects, multi-year community-based projects, or larger-scale multi-year projects. Funded projects will test community based strategies that could contribute to our understanding of how best to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants through incentives at the point of purchase, supported by effective and efficient benefit redemption technologies, that would inform future efforts.

NIFA will give priority to projects that:

Maximize the share of funds used for direct incentives to participants

Test innovative or promising strategies that would contribute to our understanding of how best to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants, which would inform future efforts

Develop innovative or improved benefit redemption systems that could be replicated or scaled

 Use direct-to-consumer sales marketing

Demonstrate a track record of designing and implementing successful nutrition incentive programs that connect low-income consumers and agricultural producers

Provide locally- or regionally-produced fruits and vegetables, especially culturally-appropriate fruits and vegetables for the target audience

Are located in underserved communities, particularly Promise ZonesThis is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website. and StrikeForce communities.

 All FINI projects must (1) have the support of a state SNAP agency; (2) increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by low-income consumers participating in SNAP by providing incentives at the point of purchase; (3) operate through authorized SNAP retailers, and be in compliance with all relevant SNAP regulations and operating requirements; (4) agree to participate in the FINI comprehensive program evaluation; (5) ensure that the same terms and conditions apply to purchases made by individuals receiving SNAP benefits as apply to purchases made by individuals who are not SNAP participants; and (6) include effective and efficient technologies for benefit redemption systems that may be replicated in other states and communities.

Applications are requested in each of the following three categories: (1) FINI pilot projects (awards not to exceed $100,000 over one year); (2) multi-year, community-based FINI projects (awards not to exceed $500,000 over no more than four years); and (3) multi-year, FINI large-scale projects (awards of $500,000 or more over no more than four years).

 FINI is a joint effort between NIFA and USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, which oversees SNAP and has responsibility for evaluating the impacts of the incentive projects. This solicitation combines funds for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. There will not be a solicitation in fiscal year 2015. Applications are due Dec. 15, 2014. NIFA will host a webinar for applicants on Oct. 2 at 2 p.m., EDT.

Funding for the FINI program is authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

SNAP – the nation’s first line of defense against hunger – helps put food on the table for millions of families experiencing hardship. The program has never been more critical to the fight against hunger. Nearly half of SNAP participants are children, and 42 percent of recipients live in households in which at least one adult is working but still cannot afford to put food on the table. SNAP benefits provided help to millions who lost their jobs during the Great Recession. For many, SNAP benefits provide temporary assistance, with the average new applicant remaining on the program 10 months.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people’s daily lives and the nation’s future.

More information is at www.nifa.usda.gov.

 #

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).

Last Date Modified: 09/29/2014

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New hamstring tester may keep more players on the field


 

  
Elite sporting stars can assess and reduce their risk of a hamstring injury thanks to a breakthrough made by QUT researchers.
The discovery could be worth a fortune to football codes, with hamstring strain injuries accounting for most non-contact injuries in Australian rules football, football and rugby union, as well as track events like sprinting.
Using an innovative field device, a research team led by Dr Anthony Shield, from QUT’s School – Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, and former QUT PhD student, Dr David Opar, now at the Australian Catholic University, measured the eccentric hamstring strengthof more than 200 AFL players from five professional clubs.
The in-demand device, the only portable ‘machine’ in the world capable of measuring strength during the Nordic hamstring curl, has attracted attention from some of the world’s biggest sporting teams, including French football giants Paris Saint-Germain and several top English Premier League sides, and National Football League teams in the United States.
The researchers found that higher levels of eccentric hamstring strength in pre-season could dramatically reduce a player’s chances of suffering a hamstring injury during the season.
The results have been e-published in leading sports medicine journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise and accepted for publication in an upcoming print edition.
  
“We showed, for the first time, that hamstring injury risk can be quantified by measuring an athlete’s hamstring strength when they’re performing the Nordic hamstring curl exercise,” Dr Shield said.
“The greater the athlete’s hamstring strength, the less likely they were to injure their hamstring, with the probability of a hamstring strain injury dropping to less than 10 per cent in the strongest athletes.
“Improving hamstring strength by 10 Newtons decreased the risk of hamstring injury by approximately 9 per cent. This is a significant benefit and it is likely that players new to the exercise could improve hamstring strength by 30 Newtons in a month.
“This means it’s possible to effectively counter the additional risk conferred by having a prior hamstring injury by improving the eccentric hamstring strength through exercises such as the Nordic curl.
“This is particularly important for athletes who are already at an increased risk of injury due to their age or because they have sustained a hamstring injury in the previous season.”
Dr Shield said players considered to have weak hamstring in early pre-season testing were 2.7 times more at risk of a hamstring injury than stronger players.
The trial, which included players from five professional AFL clubs, is part of proof-of-concept study funded by QUT’s innovation and knowledge transfer company qutbluebox (bluebox) to develop the patented device for the market.
Major sports clubs in Australia are already using prototypes of the device and the research team is also in the early stages of trials with rugby union, NRL, cricket and A-League clubs. Hockey Australia will also begin a trial shortly.
Source

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Over-hydrating can be lethal, though it rarely happens

 


  
Newswise — MAYWOOD, Ill. (Sept. 2, 2014) – The recent deaths of two high school football players illustrate the dangers of drinking too much water and sports drinks, according to Loyola University Medical Center sports medicine physician Dr. James Winger.
Over-hydration by athletes is called exercise-associated hyponatremia. It occurs when athletes drink even when they are not thirsty. Drinking too much during exercise can overwhelm the body’s ability to remove water. The sodium content of blood is diluted to abnormally low levels. Cells absorb excess water, which can cause swelling — most dangerously in the brain.
Hyponatremia can cause muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, seizures, unconsciousness, and, in rare cases, death.
Georgia football player Zyrees Oliver reportedly drank 2 gallons of water and 2 gallons of a sports drink. He collapsed at home after football practice, and died later at a hospital. In Mississippi, Walker Wilbank was taken to the hospital during the second half of a game after vomiting and complaining of a leg cramp. He had a seizure in the emergency room and later died. A doctor confirmed he had exercise-associated hyponatremia.
And in recent years, there have been more than a dozen documented and suspected runners’ deaths from hyponatremia.
  
Winger said it’s common for coaches to encourage athletes to drink profusely, before they get thirsty. But he noted that expert guidelines recommend athletes drink only when thirsty. Winger said athletes should not drink a predetermined amount, or try to get ahead of their thirst.
Drinking only when thirsty can cause mild dehydration. “However, the risks associated with dehydration are small,” Winger said. “No one has died on sports fields from dehydration, and the adverse effects of mild dehydration are questionable. But athletes, on rare occasions, have died from over-hydration.”
Winger is co-author of a 2011 study that found that nearly half of Chicago-area recreational runners surveyed may be drinking too much fluid during races. Winger and colleagues found that, contrary to expert guidelines, 36.5 percent of runners drink according to a present schedule or to maintain a certain body weight and 8.9 percent drink as much as possible.
“Many athletes hold unscientific views regarding the benefits of different hydration practices,” Winger and colleagues concluded. Their study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Winger is an associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
  
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