Monday, March 31, 2003

Fit Bits


Ways to stay active and healthy

Research

At home: People who live in unsafe neighborhoods that lack parks, walking trails or other opportunities for outdoor exercise are more likely to be overweight, new research indicates.

A survey by the St. Louis University School of Public Health and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services found that people who consider their neighborhoods unsafe and unpleasant were 1.5 times more likely to be overweight than people who considered their neighborhoods safe and pleasant.

The survey also found that those who didn't have access to walking or running tracks, swimming pools or basketball courts were more likely to be overweight.

Crime, traffic, poor lighting, abandoned buildings and graffiti all contributed to perceptions of safety, researchers reported.

The survey also found that while people were aware of the health benefits of physical activity and weight management, they're not responding to that information. In Missouri obesity levels increased 65 percent from 1991 to 1998.

The study appears in the March edition of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Hot news

Forecast: Women with breast cancer are less physically active after diagnosis than they were before, which could lead to a worse prognosis, researchers say.

A survey funded by the National Cancer Institute found that most women diagnosed with breast cancer exercise or engage in physical activity an average of two hours less a week after diagnosis than before diagnosis. Women who were obese before diagnosis or who received the most intensive treatment, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, reported the most significant decrease.

Decreases in physical activity could lead to increases in weight and body fat, which could in turn lead to poorer outcomes for cancer patients, said lead author Dr. Melinda Irwin of the Yale School of Medicine.

Tips

Safety: Bicycling, basketball, football, baseball/softball and soccer lead the way in sending children to the emergency room and doctor's office, say the experts at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Bicycling causes more than 640,000 injuries a year, followed by basketball (540,000), football (504,000), baseball/softball (271,000) and soccer (210,000).

Their advice to reduce injuries:

• Learn and follow the rules of the sport.

• Wear appropriate protective gear.

• Learn how to use the equipment and make sure it's in good working order.

• Warm up before playing.

• Don't play when tired or in pain.

Shelf help

Get ready: Triathlete Magazine's Complete Triathlon Book (Warner Books; $16.95) by Matt Fitzgerald offers advice, stories and tips on training, diet, health, equipment and safety.

Contact Peggy O'Farrell by phone, 768-8510; fax, 768-8330, or e-mail, pofarrell@enquirer.com



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