Little is known about the effect of physical education (PE) on child weight, but a new study from Cornell University finds that increasing the amount of time that elementary schoolchildren spent in gym class reduces the probability of obesity. The study represents some of the first evidence of a causal effect of PE on youth obesity, and is forthcoming in the Journal of Health Economics. Continue.
Forget apples — lifting weights and doing cardio can also keep the doctors away, according a new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute. The study, published today in the online journal PLOS ONE, followed 86 women, aged 70- to 80-years-old, who were randomly assigned to participate in weight training classes, outdoor walking classes, or balance and toning classes (such as yoga and pilates) for six months. All participants have mild cognitive impairment, a well-recognized risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The researchers tabulated the total costs incurred by each participant in accessing a variety of health care resources. Continue.
A new study released today from Mathematica Policy Research and the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford University suggests that there may be more to recess than just a break in the school day. The randomized controlled trial of Playworks, a nonprofit organization that delivers a safe, healthy recess in low-income elementary schools in 22 U.S. cities, found that the program reduced bullying, enhanced feelings of safety at school, increased vigorous physical activity during recess, and provided more time for classroom teaching. The research raises the possibility that what happens at recess can affect a school’s learning environment in important ways, and that improving recess and play may enable schools to address a number of pressing issues at the same time. Continue.
The Atlantic Cities | The link between kids who walk or bike to school and concentration
Every day outside my son’s Brooklyn school, no matter what the weather, you will see a distinctive pale blue bicycle locked to the rack. It belongs to a 7th-grade girl from a Dutch family whose members have stuck with their traditional practice of riding to school each day, despite finding themselves in the not-so-bike-friendly United States for a few years. This lovely blue city bike was a gift from the parents to their eldest child, who is now almost as tall as a grown woman. She has graduated from riding with her parents, and deserves a first-class vehicle to get to class each day. She is fiercely proud of it.
According to the results of a Danish study released late last year, my Dutch friends are giving their daughter a less tangible but more lasting gift along with that bicycle: the ability to concentrate better. The survey looked at nearly 20,000 Danish kids between the ages of 5 and 19. It found that kids who cycled or walked to school, rather than traveling by car or public transportation, performed measurably better on tasks demanding concentration, such as solving puzzles, and that the effects lasted for up to four hours after they got to school. Continue.
HHS HealthBeat | Seniors home exercise
Working out with a safe and sensible exercise DVD can do a senior good. At the University of Illinois, Edward McAuley tested a DVD program that focused on flexibility, toning and balance.
McAuley says most of the 307 seniors stayed with it over the six months of the study, and did about as much work as the program required. And he says physical tests showed they wound up in better shape. Continue.
Walking briskly can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes as much as running can, according to surprising findings reported in the American Heart Association. Researchers analyzed 33,060 runners in the National Runners’ Health Study and 15,045 walkers in the National Walkers’ Health Study. They found that the same energy used for moderate intensity walking and vigorous intensity running resulted in similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and possibly coronary heart disease over the study’s six years. Continue.
News Bureau Illinois | Elite athletes also excel at some cognitive tasks
New research suggests that elite athletes – Olympic medalists in volleyball, for example – perform better than the rest of us in yet another way. These athletes excel not only in their sport of choice but also in how fast their brains take in and respond to new information – cognitive abilities that are important on and off the court. Continue.
Doctor Daniele Volpe is not an ordinary Italian neurologist. In addition to heading up the Parkinson’s Rehabilitation unit at the St. John of God hospital in Venice, he is a musician who loves trad and who visits Ireland frequently to play in a band. Amazingly, he has found a way to connect both his professional life and his love of trad music. Continue.
Science Daily | Exercise key to good sleep
Exercise can affect your sleep. The results of the National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 Sleep in America® poll show a compelling association between exercise and better sleep. “Exercise is great for sleep. For the millions of people who want better sleep, exercise may help,” says David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Continue.