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Sports like soccer, basketball better for young athletes’ bone health than running alone

The study’s findings support recommendations that athletes delay specialization in running and play multi-directional sports when younger to build a more robust skeleton – and potentially prevent bone stress injuries.

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Photo by Md Mahdi from Unsplash.com

Young athletes who participate in multidirectional sports, instead of specializing in a unidirectional sport like running, can build stronger bones that may be at less risk for bone injuries as adults, according to a new study from Indiana University researchers.

Published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, the study examined Division I and II female cross country runners, who often experience bone stress injuries like stress fractures. The researchers found that athletes who ran and participated in sports that require movement in many directions – such as basketball or soccer – when younger had better bone structure and strength than those who solely ran, swam or cycled.

As a result, the study’s findings support recommendations that athletes delay specialization in running and play multi-directional sports when younger to build a more robust skeleton – and potentially prevent bone stress injuries.

Media kit: Access video interview with Stuart Warden

“Our data shows that playing multidirectional sports when younger versus specializing in one sport, such as running, decreased a person’s bone injury risk by developing a bigger, stronger skeleton,” said Stuart Warden, associate dean for research and Chancellor’s Professor in the IU School of Health and Human Sciences at IUPUI. “There is a common misperception that kids need to specialize in a single sport to succeed at higher levels. However, recent data indicate that athletes who specialize at a young age are at a greater risk of an overuse injury and are less likely to progress to higher levels of competition.”

Historically, Warden said, researchers have examined the bone’s mass – how much bone a person has – to determine how healthy their skeleton will be through life. But in previous studies, Warden and his colleagues found that as a person ages, both mass and size are equally important.

In the current study, the researchers used high-resolution imaging to assess the shin bone near the ankle and bones in the feet where bone stress injuries frequently occur in runners. They found that the athletes who participated in both running and multidirectional sports when younger had 10 to 20 percent greater bone strength than athletes who solely ran.

“Our research shows that the runners who played multidirectional sports when younger had stronger bones as collegiate athletes, which puts them at less risk for bone stress injuries including stress fractures,” Warden said. “We want to ensure people have better, stronger bones as they grow, become adolescents and go through life. Specializing in one sport at too young of an age means they are more likely to get injured and not make it at the collegiate and professional levels.”

Warden said that anyone who oversees a junior athlete or team – whether that be parents, coaches or trainers – should think twice about pushing them to specialize in one area too early. To allow for proper growth and development to occur, he recommends young athletes not specialize until at least their freshman year of high school. For athletes who already play multidirectional sports, he said it is important that they take time off for rest and recovery during the year, which can improve both bone strength and performance.

Additional authors on the study were Austin Sventeckis, Ph.D. student, and Robyn Fuchs, associate professor, of the IU School of Health and Human Sciences at IUPUI, and Rachel Surowiec of the School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI.

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Wellness

Whether you exercise regularly or one-to-two days a week, weight loss is possible

Whether you engage in physical activity on a regular basis or one-to-two days a week, both options produce weight loss suggests a new study published in the journal Obesity.

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Whether you engage in physical activity on a regular basis or one-to-two days a week, both options produce weight loss suggests a new study published in the journal Obesity, The Obesity Society’s (TOS) flagship journal. The study is the first of its kind to examine the association between physical activity patterns and objectively-measured fat tissue mass.

Guidelines from the World Health Organization recommend that adults perform at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity, 75 minutes per week of vigorous physical activity or an equivalent combination of both intensities. However, many individuals find it challenging to meet this recommendation due to physical activity being time consuming in a fast-paced society. The new study found that people defined by researchers as “weekend warriors”—individuals who condense their exercise into one-to-two days a week—can also lose weight similar to individuals who exercise on a regular basis as long as they achieved the recommended goals.

“The weekend warrior pattern is worth promoting in individuals who cannot meet the recommended frequency in current guidelines,” said Lihua Zhang, health care scientist, Fuwai Hospital, National Center for Cardiovascular Diseases, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China. Zhang is one of the corresponding authors of the study.

Zhang suggested that office workers, bus drivers and other employees who have to sit for many hours during the work day care about the research. “Those people are struggling to catch up in their exercise plan in daily life to offset the hazard of a sedentary lifestyle but have less free time to get to the gym,” she said. “Our study could offer them an alternative choice to keep fit,” said Zhang, who added that there are suitable activities for weekend warriors such as climbing, hiking, cycling or running.

Researchers extracted data from more than 9,600 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2011 to 2018. Participants ranged in age from 20- to 59-years-old.

Abdominal and general adiposity were assessed by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA)—a non-invasive and easily accessible body composition scan—and anthropometric measures. Physical activity levels were collected from the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire and classified as inactive, weekend warrior and regularly active. Survey linear regression models were used to assess associations between physical activity patterns and adiposity indicators.

Results showed that 772 participants reported the weekend warrior pattern and 3,277 reported the regularly active pattern. Compared to the 5,580 inactive participants, both the weekend warrior and regular active groups had lower DXA-measured abdominal adiposity, waist circumference, whole-body fat mass and body mass index. These two groups were also younger, more likely to be non-Hispanic White, have higher educational backgrounds, and less likely to be unemployed or to have hypertension or diabetes.

“On a high level, this study reaffirms the old adage about physical activity and health: any activity is better than no activity. Notably, the weekend warriors’ workout was of higher intensity and longer duration, and more intensity and longer duration correlated with even lower abdominal fat. The main takeaway, though, is that people should be active in any manner that suits their lifestyle,” said Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine Beverly Tchang, MD, DABOM, Comprehensive Weight Control Center, Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. Tchang was not associated with the research study.

Steven B. Heymsfield, MD, professor, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, La., who was also not associated with the study added, “Findings in a cross-sectional sample such as reported by the study’s researchers need confirmation in prospective longitudinal studies.”

Other authors of the study include Lubi Lei, Jingkuo Li, Wei Wang, Yanwu Yu, Boxuan Pu and Yue Peng, National Clinical Research Center for Cardiovascular Diseases, Fuwai Hospital, National Center for Cardiovascular Diseases, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China. Another corresponding author, Zhenyan Zhao, is from the Department of Cardiology, Fuwai Hospital, National Center for Cardiovascular Diseases, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China.

The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

The study, titled “The Associations of ‘Weekend Warrior’ and Regularly Active Physical Activity with Abdominal and General Adiposity in U.S. Adults,” will be published in the April 2024 issue of Obesity.

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NewsMakers

Light exercise could be the key to reversing childhood obesity linked to sedentariness

Each minute spent sedentary was associated with a 1.3-gram increase in total body fat mass. Both male and female children gained an average of 10kg of fat mass during growth from childhood until young adulthood. However, sedentary time potentially contributed 700 grams to 1kg of fat mass (approximately seven to ten percent) of the total fat mass gained during growth from childhood until young adulthood.

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Increased sedentary time as a child through adolescence is directly linked to childhood obesity, but new research has found light physical activity may completely reverse the adverse process.

The study – conducted in collaboration with between University of Exeter, University of Eastern Finland, University of Bristol, and University of Colorado and published in Nature Communications – is the largest and longest follow-up to objectively measure physical activity and fat mass, using the University of Bristol’s Children of the 90s data (also known as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children). The study included 6,059 children (53 percent female) aged 11 years who were followed up until the age of 24.

Recent reports concluded that more than 80 percent of adolescents across the globe do not meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended average of 60 minutes a day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. It is estimated that physical inactivity will have caused 500 million new cases of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, or other noncommunicable diseases by 2030, costing £21-million annually. This alarming forecast regarding the morbid danger of physical inactivity necessitates urgent research on the most effective preventive approach.

Yet results from this new study shows that moderate-to-vigorous physical activity is up to ten times less effective than light physical activity in decreasing overall gain in fat mass.

Dr Andrew Agbaje of the University of Exeter led the study and said: “These new findings strongly emphasise that light physical activity may be an unsung hero in preventing fat mass obesity from early life. It is about time the world replaced the mantra of ‘an average of 60 minutes a day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity’ with ‘at least 3 hours a day of light physical activity’. Light physical activity appears to be the antidote to the catastrophic effect of sedentary time in the young population.”

During the study, a waist-worn accelerometer measured sedentary time, light physical activity, and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity among participants at ages 11, 15, and 24 years. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry-measured fat mass and skeletal muscle mass were also collected at the same ages and fasting blood samples were repeatedly measured for glucose, insulin, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglyceride, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. In addition, blood pressure, heart rate, smoking status, socio-economic status, and family history of cardiovascular disease were measured and controlled for in the analyses.

During the 13-year follow-up, sedentary time increased from approximately six hours a day in childhood to nine hours a day in young adulthood. Light physical activity decreased from six hours a day to three hours a day, while moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was relatively stable at around 50 minutes a day from childhood through young adulthood.

It was observed that each minute spent sedentary was associated with a 1.3-gram increase in total body fat mass. Both male and female children gained an average of 10kg of fat mass during growth from childhood until young adulthood. However, sedentary time potentially contributed 700 grams to 1kg of fat mass (approximately seven to ten percent) of the total fat mass gained during growth from childhood until young adulthood. A 1kg increase in fat has been linked to a 60-percent higher risk of premature death in a person’s early 50s.

Each minute spent in light physical activity during growth from childhood through young adulthood was associated with a 3.6-gram reduction in total body fat mass. This implies that cumulative light physical activity decreased total body fat mass by 950 grams to 1.5kg during growth from childhood to young adulthood, (approximately 9.5 to 15 percent decrease in overall gain in fat mass during the 13-year observation period). Examples of light physical activity are long walks, house chores, slow dancing, slow swimming, and slow bicycling.

In contrast, time spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity – including meeting the 60 minutes a day recommended by the WHO – during growth from childhood through young adulthood was associated with 70 to 170 grams (approximately 0.7 to 1.7 percent) reduction in total body fat mass. Prior to this study, it has not been possible to quantify the long-term contribution of sedentary time to fat mass obesity and the magnitude by which physical activity may reduce it. But this study confirmed the report from a recent meta-analysis of 140 school-based randomised controlled trials across the globe that engaging in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity had minimal or no effect in reducing childhood BMI-obesity.

Dr Andrew Agbaje of the University of Exeter said: “Our study provides novel information that would be useful in updating future health guidelines and policy statements. Public health experts, health policymakers, health journalists and bloggers, paediatricians, and parents should encourage continued and sustained participation in light physical activity to prevent childhood obesity.”

The paper entitled ‘Effects of Accelerometer-based Sedentary Time and Physical Activity on DEXA-measured Fat Mass in 6059 Children’ is published in Nature Communications.

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Health

Self-care for sick days

To help navigate this cough, cold and flu season, consider these tips.

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Cooler weather inevitably means cough, cold and flu season isn’t far behind. Now is the time to take precautions and set yourself up with healthy habits.

“As much as we try, avoiding viruses, bacteria and germs to prevent getting sick can be a challenge,” Dr. Tim Tiutan, MD, said. “However, being prepared with the right remedies, listening to your body and its symptoms and remaining diligent with a healthy routine is just as important as treating symptoms head on.”

To help navigate this cough, cold and flu season, consider these tips from Tiutan and the experts at Mucinex.

Prepare and Prevent
You won’t find a foolproof way to keep germs away, but you can lessen your chances of getting sick and make sure you’re equipped to weather an illness.

  • Practice healthy habits. Keeping your body in prime condition can help ensure you’re in the best condition possible to fight back when germs attack. That means keeping up with exercise and ensuring you’re getting enough vitamins and nutrients through a well-balanced diet.
  • Get a flu shot. The flu shot gives your body a head start in fighting back against flu bugs. If you’re exposed to the flu after receiving the shot, your body can immediately go on the offensive against those germs. You may not stay completely symptom-free, but you’re more likely to experience a mild case and be back on your feet quicker.
  • Restock the medicine cabinet. The start of cough, cold and flu season is an ideal time to dig through your medicine cabinet. Start by discarding any medications that are out of date and make a list of anything you need to replenish. Be sure to include pain relievers, fever reducers, decongestants, antihistamines and cough syrups to fight symptoms. It’s also a good time to restock items like tissues, cough drops, hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial soap.

Treat Symptoms
Although the flu can hit fast, it’s often hard to tell at first whether your symptoms are due to a simple cough, cold or a case of the flu. Either way, managing symptoms like a cough can bring relief and help you keep comfortable and get plenty of rest.

  • Give your body time to heal. Sleep plays an important role in your overall health, especially when you’re under the weather. On average, you need 7-9 hours each night to give your body enough time to fully recharge. When you’re sick, you likely need even more, and it’s a good idea to dial back your activity level, too. Pushing your physical limits often only delays your recovery time.
  • Take medications as directed. Nagging symptoms can often keep you from getting the sleep you need. One way to give your body the break it needs is to effectively manage symptoms. A hacking cough is a common symptom that can be painful and disrupt your sleep. Consider an option like Mucinex DM 12-Hour, a cough suppresent which relieves chest congestion and thins and loosens mucus, giving you an extended reprieve. It’s clinically proven to last up to 12 hours, provides relief for chest congestion and makes coughs more productive.

Prevent Spread
Getting sick may be beyond your complete control, but you can take steps to protect others from germs when you’re feeling ill.

  • Keep germs to yourself. Washing your hands often, covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and sneezing into your elbow if you don’t have a tissue are simple ways you can limit the spread of germs, especially within your home or workspace. Frequently wiping down high-touch surfaces can also help reduce the spread of germs.
  • Skip socializing. If you’re feeling under the weather, stay home. Even a mild cold can easily spread, and an illness that affects you mildly could cause significant distress for someone else. Avoid unnecessary errands and take advantage of services like curbside pickup if you must get out. Also check with your employer about working remotely if you’re up to it.

Cold vs. Flu
There’s a lot of overlap between cold and flu symptoms, so it can be tricky to figure out whether the bug you’re fighting is a cold or influenza and how to tackle it.

While both the common cold and the flu are respiratory illnesses, they are not caused by the same viruses. Although colds are inconvenient, they are far less likely to develop into anything more serious, as the flu can.

What is a Cold?
Generally, colds are milder than the flu, and more likely to cause runny or stuffy noses (while the flu can cause stuffy or runny noses, it’s less likely to do so). You won’t feel good, but you’ll probably be able to do some or all of your daily tasks. The flu typically hits harder, making it difficult to go to work or follow your usual routine.

What is the Flu?
The flu often feels worse than a cold; you might experience the same symptoms but amplified. The flu comes with more pain and fever than a cold. Common flu symptoms include sore throat, chills, fever, runny or stuffy nose, muscle fatigue or aches and headaches. The flu can also develop into more serious conditions and complications, making it more dangerous than the average cold. While the common cold is rarely serious, the flu can be dangerous for young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.

Treating a Cold vs. Flu
You can be vaccinated against the flu. There is no such vaccine for common colds. If your provider recommends it, getting the flu vaccine each year can go a long way toward preventing sickness.

Whether you have a cold or the flu, symptom relief is largely the same. Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids and take over-the-counter medicines to relieve symptoms. Stay home to avoid spreading sickness. Wash your hands frequently and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.

Watch for shortness of breath, chest or abdomen pain, confusion, sudden dizziness, severe or persistent vomiting and flu symptoms that improve then return with fever and worse cough. If you experience any of these symptoms, consult a doctor.

Find more ways to stay healthy and limit symptoms by visiting Mucinex.com.

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