Friday, December 1, 2017

Fun Gifts Kids Love —and Are Even Good for Them

Children opening a gift and going wild with enthusiasm. That’s the gift we want to give, the present the child in our lives will love. 

We recently had that experience. “It’s a hit,” our niece texted us with the video of her two-year old daughter Sofia using the present we’d given her. 

And the best part? The fact that the over-size piano keyboard makes music with the child’s footsteps lured Sofia out of her chair and into motion. Little Sofia loves the movies Troll and Moana as testified by their presence in the background as she watched them over the Thanksgiving holiday. Just like adults tempted to sit too much, children’s health suffers the effects. Their are immediate effects as well as establishing a pattern for a lifetime of sitting. 

The giant piano keyboard is suggested for children over the age of 12 months. It is suggested adults can enjoy it too. Warning: the keyboard does not come with the necessary 4 AA batteries.

This next gift suggestion is something I want for myself —but, unfortnately, it doesn’t come in adult-size.

Music and special effects noises are created by SoundMoovz, a FitBit-type device worn on the wrist, as the child moves, dances or just runs around. It is advertised as “Music by Moooving.” I haven’t seen any videos of them in use but it sounds like a promising fun gift.

It’s intended for children ages 8 or more. While I won’t be buying gift for a child in that age range this year, a friend appreciated the suggestion for the children in her life.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Baby Boomers: Get off the Couch Now Or You May Not Be Able To Later

Move now or you might not be able to later. These are the results of a study that followed a group of people ages 50 to 71 for 8 to 10 years. Those who sat “the most and move the least had more than three times the risk of difficulty walking by the end of the study, when compared to their more active counterparts. … “Some ended up unable to walk at all. The study appears in the current issue of The Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.”

Our advice: get up and move. The study’s authors suggest being up and about every 30 minutes.

Learn more how much and how often to move as well as others health dangers of sitting too much: Un-Sit Your Life

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Americans Walk Less, Weigh More

Is where you live and walking a certain number of steps per day related to obesity? One study shows the answer may be, yes. Researcher David Bassett of the University of Tennessee compared average daily steps to obesity rates in several countries. The findings indicate those in countries with fewer steps have a higher obesity rate: 
  • US: 5,117 average daily steps, 34% obesity rate
  • Australia: 9695 average daily steps, 16% obesity rate
  • Switzerland: 9,650 average daily steps, 8% obesity rate
  • Japan: 7,168 average daily steps, 3% obesity rate

Researcher Bassett notes: “While diet and culture play a role in a nation’s obesity rate, average adults in other countries use public transportation more and rely less on their cars than Americans do.”
“Foreign Exchange,” Women’s Health March 2011, p. 26

Thursday, March 16, 2017

What’s Interesting about Brisk Walking Helping Only Some with Alzheimer’s

By Henri Bergius from Finland (Walking) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Regular exercise is linked to improved memory and endurance for older adults but this was not the case in a recent study of those with early onset Alzheimer’s.  
“What surprised the scientists was how few of the walkers with Alzheimer’s had actually gained endurance. The same exercise program that previously had increased the aerobic capacity of almost every healthy, older participant now had benefits for the bodies of only a few of the walkers with Alzheimer’s.
“This finding suggests that ‘there may be physiological differences between people with and without Alzheimer’s that reach to the cellular level,’ says Jill Morris, a senior scientist at the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center, who led the study.
“In effect, the bodies as well as the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease may be unusual compared to those of healthy older people and may respond differently, if at all, to exercise, she says.”

New Look at Recess: Get kids moving!!!

By Silverije (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Recess is getting a make-over as schools have discovered structured activities  lead by recess coaches and special activity zones encourage physical activity. Research has found that “recess not only improves physical activity among students, but also improves concentration and attention in the classroom. It can even improve emotional and social development in children.”
SUMATHI REDDY, Does Recess Need Coaching?, Wall Street Journal, p. A12, March 13, 2017,

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Make your exercise time count: Log your miles and help charity

By Henri Bergius from Finland (Walking) [CC BY-SA 2.0

Walk, run or bike ride and your miles can contribute to a charity to combat childhood obesity. Women’s magazine Family Circle and non-profit Partnership for a Healthier America, have teamed up in a program called Move to Improve. The goal is to log a total of 20.17 million miles. Download the Charity Miles app (, select Partnership for a Healthier America, log your miles and money will be donated to the combat childhood obesity. More information is available about the program; how moving more helps you; benefits of power walking; walking tips to burn more calories and using incline walking to build a better body.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Recipe for Health: Sit Less, Sleep More

What do sitting less and sleeping more have in common? And why would this be a recipe for health?

Sitting and sleeping are related to increased risk for chronic health concerns such as obesity, diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular problems, certain types of cancer and a lessened longevity. 

Why would this be? It’s because of the way our metabolisms work. Both sitting the right amount of time and sleeping the right amount of time trigger our metabolisms to do the things necessary to see that our bodies work well and stay healthy.

The foot is a common link between sitting and sleeping. You see, the foot is a motion detector. Sensors in the feet add to other signals informing the rest of the body that we’re up and about. Pressure sensed by the feet provides a request that our metabolisms create the resources necessary to get us where we want to go. Sit too much and metabolism becomes inactive leading to disregulation of basic metabolic components (blood pressure, glucose, triglycerides, cholesterol and waistline size)

As we sleep, the pressure sensing capabilities of the feet are turned down. Moving about is not necessary. Sleep restores our bodies as decreased are basic components of metabolism such as glucose utilization, blood pressure as well as heart rate and sympathetic nervous activity. Hormones that regulate appetite and energy expenditure, important to weight control, are activated. 

Sleep too little and restorative time is shortened. As we lay awake, the pressure sensors of the feet remain on alert with metabolism on daytime settings as well. Research shows those who fail to sleep enough are 55% more likely to experience metabolic syndrome, abnormal measures for 3 of the 5 basic metabolic components. 

People with metabolic syndrome are two to three times as likely to develop cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes; twice as likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke and more than three times as likely to die early from those causes. Those with metabolic risk factors in middle age have poorer cognitive function, suggestive of dementia or Alzheimer’s later in life.

What’s a person to do to stay healthy? Actually think about your body and its schedule. Make sleep a priority. Seven hours of sleep a night is recommended. Move more during the day. Take breaks from sitting, preferably 2 minutes every 20 minutes. Your glucose and blood pressure levels as well as musculoskeletal system will thank you. Walk 15 minutes after each meal. Aim for two hours more up and about time than you now do. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

The 5-minute Break Resolution

Want to feel better at work? Take a 5-minute break from sitting, standing up and walking around, every hour. Research shows this formula compared to other routines helped volunteer subjects feel “greater happiness, less fatigue and considerably less craving for food …. Their feelings of vigor also tended to increase throughout the day, … .”

The volunteers were directed to simulate one working day sitting with no breaks except for bathroom use, one day with a 30 minute moderate walk at its start and one day with 5-minute breaks each hour. Positive results were seen with the 5-minute break routine. Volunteers felt more energetic with concentration and focus not impacted by the breaks.

Reflexology Helping Wounded Warriors

For some veterans the experiences of serving continue after the trip home. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and, for those who have lost a limb, phantom limb syndrome create issues seeking a solution. Research shows potential for reflexology to help. Researchers in Israel and physiotherapists in England demonstrated such potential.
PTSD and Reflexology
It is estimated one-third of veterans who returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. Common symptoms include depression, outbursts, muscle tension, concentration levels and sleep disruption. 
Researchers analyzed results following reflexology work applied to 15 Israeli soldiers suffering from PTSD following the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Sessions of 50 to 60 minutes were applied over 14 weeks. Improvements of 75% to 80% in the common symptoms were found the day after a session. General feelings improved by 90% and medication was reduced by 50%. Improvements were reduced two days after a session and measured at 50%. Day 3 found symptoms back as before. Researchers suggested 2 or 3 sessions a week to achieve a more effective result.
Phantom Limb Pain and Reflexology
Phantom limb pain (PLP) is experienced as pain or sensations such as tingling, cramping, heat or cold coming from a part of the body that was removed. Some 60% to 70 % of amputees experience PLP. A 30-week study found that reflexology work made a highly significant overall difference and was “effective in eradicating or reducing the intensity and duration of phantom limb pain.”
Seven men and 3 women “with unilateral lower limb amputations and a history of phantom limb pain” followed a five phase program conducted by British physiotherapist and reflexologist Tina Brown at the Prosthetic Services Centre in Wolverhampton, England. 
Notes researcher Brown “Although I do not think that reflexology is the answer to everyone’s PLP (Phantom Limb Pain), I do feel that it is a pleasant, non-invasive therapy that does help in some situations. Another benefit found was that the patients could self-treat after being taught how to use reflexology on their hands. … I would love to see if it helped pre-amputation: i.e. would it help prevent PLP from occurring?”