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Blog posts of '2013' 'April'

Brisk Walking Is Just as Good for Heart Health as Running

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Brisk Walking Is Just as Good for Heart Health as RunningRunning is one of the best exercises you can do for heart health. Studies show that regular running workouts can help support blood pressure, cholesterol, and even blood sugar management. Running isn't for everyone, however, especially if you have weak bones and joints because the impact can cause even more discomfort. The good news is that researchers have found that brisk walking can be equally effective.

Go for Distance

Based on data collected from about 33,000 runners and 16,000 walkers between the ages of 18 and 80, researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Hartford Hospital discovered that walkers and runners both had lower risks of developing blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and heart health challenges. In fact, walkers fared slightly better in reducing these risk factors than runners.

  • High blood pressure risk decreased 4.2% percent in runners, 7.2% in walkers
  • High cholesterol risk decreased 4.3% in runners, 7% in walkers
  • High blood sugar risk decreased 12.1% in runners, 12.3% in walkers
  • Heart disease risk decreased 4.5% in runners, 9.3% in walkers

More detailed results can be found in the full study, published in the April edition of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. According to Paul Williams, a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, the distance covered while walking or running mattered more than the length of the workout. In this instance, running is more advantageous because more distance can be covered, but Williams and his research partner, Dr. Paul Thompson, agree that brisk walking—as opposed to leisurely strolling—can be just as effective as long as you cover the distance you normally would if running.

Regular Exercise Reduces Health Risks

The other great thing about walking is that practically anyone can do it. You don't need a gym membership or expensive equipment; all you need is a comfortable pair of shoes and clothing, and a route you can safely navigate that covers a respectable workout distance. Whether you prefer walking or running, the American Heart Association recommends engaging in regular physical activity to help reduce heart health risks and promote a healthier general lifestyle. In addition to exercise, healthy eating also plays a part in your overall wellness. After all, it makes little sense to exercise frequently if you continue to consume a high-fat diet every day, too.

References:

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Where Are You Getting Your Energy From?

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Where Are You Getting Your Energy From?One of the more recent crazes pervasive in today’s society is the influence of over-the-counter energy drinks. As modern lifestyles get increasingly busy, people are turning to energy drinks in an attempt to get a quick boost.

The Sustainable Energy Problem

Energy drinks have embedded themselves in many peoples’ everyday diets—even as increasing evidence shows just how unhealthy these “natural” energy booster drinks can be. Due to the high concentrated doses of caffeine plus a mixture of artificial stimulants that require warning labels about consumption, some short-term physical side-effects are commonly reported. Irritability, nausea, nervousness and jitters are only a few of the more simple side-effects. The long terms effects of energy drinks are increasingly coming under scrutiny, and many experts in the health and nutrition industry are concerned about the reliance on these types of drinks for daily energy. The FDA has recently posted adverse-event reports (AERs) on some of the more popular drinks filed by patients, doctors, and families. However AERs can simply warn that a product might have harmed someone. The FDA can only remove a product if—after investigation—they find that using the product as directed can cause harm. Some energy drinks available in your local gas station or food store contain up to a whooping 242 milligrams of caffeine per serving! By contrast, an 8-ounce cup of coffee contains about 100 milligrams of caffeine.

Energize the Healthy and Natural Way

Attaining energy from your diet and getting adequate sleep supports a healthier lifestyle and can prevent you from choosing unhealthy alternatives to boost your energy levels. A balanced diet with vegetables, fruits, protein, and the right amount of carbohydrates can help supply you with a healthy dose of natural energy throughout your day without resorting to caffeine and harsh energy drinks. Natural energy sources also last longer and won’t cause your system to crash after a sugar surge. If you can’t get the energy you need from your diet alone, there are supplements that boost your energy levels in a natural way by supplying your body the vitamins and minerals it would normally use to create energy. Shortcuts to boosting energy are just that: They last a short while and the boost they provide cuts out fast. For lasting energy, the payoff from healthier options can be more rewarding—and lasting.

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Don’t Let Colored Labels Fool You into Unhealthy Choices

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Don’t Let Colored Labels Fool You into Unhealthy ChoicesMarketing and advertising are an embedded part of our visual world. When it comes to making consumer choices you are bombarded with color choices and slogans that try to influence your decisions. In the world of nutrition, the colorful world of advertising may also have the tendency to fool you into making unhealthy food choices, according to a new study done by a researcher from the University of Cornell.

A Study in Green

According to research published in an issue of the journal, Health Communication, consumers are more likely to perceive a candy bar as being nutritious or healthier if it has a green-colored label—even if it has the same number of calories as another candy bar with a differently colored label. Green labels in general were said to increase the perceived healthiness of that particular snack or food. In the study, the researcher asked 93 university students to imagine that they were hungry while waiting in line at a grocery checkout counter. The students were then shown images of a candy bar with either a green or red calorie label. When asked if they thought a particular candy bar contained more or fewer calories, and how healthy it was, the students perceived the green-labeled bar as being healthier than the red one even though both contained the same amount of calories. Further research was conducted online. Participants were shown a picture of a candy bar with either a white label or a green label, and were asked to rate how important a food’s healthiness was (1 being not important and 7 being very important) in their decision to consume it. Results showed that the more importance participants placed on healthy eating, the more they perceived the white-labeled candy bar as being less nutritious. Researchers noted that green-colored calorie labels act as buffers for low-nutrient foods from appearing less healthy than they actually are.

Details and Supplementation

Researchers noted that as the FDA considers formulating a consistent, front-of-package labeling design, marketplace findings such as these suggest that design and color of labeling systems may deserve as much attention as the content of said labels. That said, you should never take the nutrition of a food item at face value; always read the nutrition facts and supplement facts to make sure that you’re not paying for just a pretty label.

References:

  • Jonathon P. Schuldt. Does Green Mean Healthy? Nutrition Label Color Affects Perceptions of Healthfulness. Health Communication, 2013: 1 DOI: 10.1080/10410236.2012.725270

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