Health Buzz: Hit the Gym. It Could Add Years to Your Life

Making exercise fun; smart snacking for kids

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Want to Live About 4 Years Longer? Exercise, Study Says

While there's little argument that exercising is a healthy choice, a new study indicates that regularly working out each week can also add years to your life. Meeting or exceeding the World Health Organization's recommended minimum of 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity weekly exercise is associated with an increase in life expectancy of roughly 3.4 to 4.5 years, relative to no activity, according to the study. Even study participants who said they only exercised half the WHO-recommended amount added about 1.8 years to their lives, reports the National Institutes of Health. The study, published yesterday in PLoS Medicine, also indicates that inactive obese participants had a life expectancy between five to seven years shorter than people with normal weight who were moderately active. "This result may help convince currently inactive people that a modest physical activity program may have health benefits, even if it does not result in weight loss," the study authors wrote. "The findings also suggest that physical activity at recommended levels or higher may increase longevity further, and that a lack of leisure time physical activity may markedly reduce life expectancy when combined with obesity."

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  • Making Exercise Fun

    Do you love exercise? If you're like many people I know, maybe the answer is "not so much," writes U.S. News blogger Keri Gans. Maybe you do it simply because you think you should to lose weight. But two recent studies concluded that exercise does not cause weight loss. So should you skip exercise and just focus on what you eat? Not so fast. Remember, exercise affords tremendous benefits to overall health and well–being, including heart health, bone health, and for me, personally, mental health.

    Rarely do you ever hear a person say, "I wish I didn't work out." But how often do you hear "I feel guilty I didn't make it to the gym"? In reality exercise shouldn't be a chore, but instead something that makes you feel good before, during, and after. Some people I know really love going to the gym; for them, a workout of lifting weights and doing cardio machines is perfect. For others, the gym is boring or makes them uncomfortable.

    Below are some fresh ideas to get you moving:

    1. Pilates: Developed by Joseph Pilates, the method emphasizes the balanced development of the body through core strength and flexibility. Moves are done either on a mat or on the Reformer, resistance equipment specific to a Pilates studio. Years ago, I did Pilates and can honestly say that I have never worked my abdomen like I did on the Reformer.

    2. Spinning: If you like to get your heart rate up and enjoy cycling, spinning is a win-win. Before I discovered yoga (we'll get to that below), I was a devoted spinner. I loved the energy of the room and camaraderie with the other cyclists. If I was still into spinning today, I guess the question would be whether I would choose Flywheel or SoulCycle. [Read more: Making Exercise Fun]

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    • Smart Snacking for Kids

      As I flipped through a photo album of my kids the other day, seeing picture upon picture of them snacking, I was reminded of the movie Ocean's Eleven, writes U.S. News blogger Tamara Duker Freuman. In virtually every scene that featured him, Rusty Ryan (played by Brad Pitt), was comically munching away on something. Parents of young children can no doubt relate; it feels like we're constantly feeding our kids.

      We're not imagining things. U.S. kids are, in fact, snacking more than ever. A 2010 study published in Health Trends examined the snacking behaviors of more than 30,000 children ages 2 to 18 from 2003 to 2006, and compared these to behaviors analyzed in the late 1970s. The authors found that, on average, 27 percent of total calories came from snacks, and that kids today consume 113 more snack calories than they did 30 years ago. Among the youngest children, ages 2 to 6, snack calories were up 182 calories per day from what they were decades ago. The researchers also noted that, on average, kids today are snacking close to three times daily.