Monday, October 07, 2002

Fit Bits

Ways to stay active and healthy

Compiled by Peggy O'Farrell


        Sweet news: Aerobic exercise and weight training can ease the double-whammy diabetes and high blood pressure pose to heart health, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

        Regular aerobic and weight-lifting activities control blood sugar and lower blood pressure while providing heart benefits. Diabetes and hypertension can damage the heart and blood vessels.

        “There's a great focus on the search for genetic methods of treating diabetes and other chronic conditions, but although gene therapy is not yet available for diabetics, "gym therapy' is,” says Dr. Kerry J. Stewart, director of clinical exercise physiology at Hopkins. “The benefits of exercise go way beyond controlling blood sugar. Physicians should urge their patients to become more active.”

        His study is in the Oct. 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

        The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association recommend patients with Type 2 diabetes get aerobic exercise (walking, cycling, swimming, etc.) 45 minutes per session and three sessions a week. They also recommend resistance training at least twice a week.


        Downhill run: Planning on hitting the ski trails this winter? The experts at the American Council on Exercise say it's time to start training so you won't be stuck on the bunny slopes. Their suggestions:

        Include sports-specific exercises in your regular routine. For skiing, try wall sits to build up isometric strength you'll need for the tuck position. Squats and lunges will build up lower body strength and crunches will strengthen the abdomen and add to your “core” stability. Try plyometric movements, like hopping from side to side, to develop power and strength and improve agility.

        Work the circuit: Set up a ski-specific circuit training routine and set a time limit for each exercise. Try using the slide for lateral training, one-legged squats for balance and strength. Bounce two tennis balls simultaneously to improve coordination and make your own slalom by running between cones.

        Hot news

        Risk factors: Middle-aged men with a “spare tire” are vulnerable to a host of metabolic disorders, according to researchers in Italy.

        In fact, waist circumference can be a better indicator of blood pressure and body mass index than the waist-to-hip ratio currently favored. Measuring a patient's waist can be an inexpensive step to detecting metabolic syndrome and heart disease risks.

        Metabolic syndrome, also known as Syndrome X or insulin resistance syndrome, is a cluster of medical abnormalities blamed on inactivity, genetics and overeating. People with diabetes and insulin resistance, hypertension and some heart attack survivors are at risk for metabolic syndrome.

        Researchers analyzed data from 768 men in Pozzuoli and Marcinise, Italy. The study was published in September's American Journal of Hypertension.


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