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Exercise News and Info

Exercise and Diet Body-wide Benefits-- Studies that have followed the health of large groups of people for many years, as well as short-term studies of the physiologic effects of exercise, all point in the same direction: A sedentary (inactive) lifestyle increases the chances of becoming overweight and developing a number of chronic diseases. Exercise or regular physical activity helps many of the body's systems function better and keeps a host of diseases at bay. According to the US Surgeon General's report, Physical Activity and Health (1), regular physical activity:

  • improves your chances of living longer and living healthier
  • helps protect you from developing heart disease or its precursors, high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • helps protect you from developing certain cancers, including colon and breast cancer
  • helps prevent or control type 2 diabetes (what was once called adult-onset diabetes)
  • helps prevent arthritis and may help relieve pain and stiffness in people with this condition
  • helps prevent the insidious loss of bone known as osteoporosis
  • reduces the risk of falling among older adults
  • relieves symptoms of depression and anxiety and improves mood
  • controls weight

The cost of inactivity
If exercise and regular physical activity benefit the body, a sedentary lifestyle does the opposite. According to analyses by Graham Colditz, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, the direct medical cost of inactivity is at least $24 billion a year.(3) An analysis of health-care costs by a team from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that because individuals who are physically active have significantly lower annual direct medical costs than those who are inactive, getting people to become more active could cut yearly medical costs in the U.S. by more than $70 billion.(4)
Reaping the benefits
A wealth of studies have established the benefits of exercise. Yet two related - and very practical - questions remain: What is the best kind of exercise? and How much exercise do we need each day?
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DIETS -- Obesity rates lower in schools with comprehensive healthy living program
Study shows fifth-graders in Nova Scotia schools following CDC guidelines eat more fruits, vegetables
A new study funded by the Canadian Institute for Health Information's Canadian Population Health Initiative shows that Nova Scotia schools with a comprehensive healthy living program had significantly lower rates of overweight and obese students than schools without such a program. The study, published today in the American Journal of Public Health, reports that only 4% of fifth-grade students enrolled in schools following a comprehensive healthy living program were obese-versus 10% of fifth-grade students in schools with a less comprehensive program or with no program at all.
"We know that reaching children during critical periods of growth is key to long-term good health and helps lower the risk of chronic diseases in adulthood," says Dr. Paul Veugelers, a professor from the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Alberta and the lead researcher on this study. "This research points to evidence that establishing healthy behaviours at a young age is possible, and schools can play an important role in reducing childhood obesity and promoting healthy eating."
Launched in 2003, the Children's Lifestyle and School-Performance Study (CLASS) surveyed 5,200 fifth-grade students in a sample of Nova Scotia schools, along with the students' parents and school principals. Researchers collected height and weight measurements and information on physical and sedentary activities and assessed dietary intake using a questionnaire developed at Harvard University. MORE

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