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For December 16, 2018

  • Vigorous Exercise Helps Women Quit Smoking, Stay Smoke Free
    Vigorous Exercise Helps Women Quit Smoking, Stay Smoke Free

    CHICAGO (AP)--Women who exercise vigorously while trying to quit smoking are twice as likely to kick the habit than wannabe ex-smokers who don't work out regularly, a new study finds.

    The report also offers good news to female smokers who fear that giving up tobacco and nicotine will lead to weight gain. Researchers found that women who worked out as they tried to quit gained only about half the weight of those who did not exercise.

    "I can't say that definitively this will help all people, but given all of the other health benefits associated with regular exercise I would certainly encourage people trying to quit smoking to talk to their physicians about starting a program," said Bess Marcus, an associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University and the study's lead author.

    The findings appear in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine.

    Researchers at The Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I., followed 281 healthy but sedentary female smokers who attended a 12-week program to stop smoking. About half of the women participated in supervised workouts three times a week during the program while the others did not.

    Of the 134 women in the group who exercised regularly, 19.4 percent kicked the habit for at least two months after their program ended while 10.2 percent of the 147 non-exercisers did the same.

    Three months later, the comparison of those still smoke-free was 16.4 percent to 8.2 percent, respectively, and 11.9 percent vs. 5.4 percent a year later. The women ranged between ages 18 and 65 and had smoked routinely for at least a year.

    "There seems to be a new drug every day to help you quit smoking," Marcus said in a telephone interview Sunday. "But this study suggests that there's a drug-free alternative to quitting smoking if that's what you prefer."

    While the researchers at Miriam Hospital studied only women smokers, men who want to quit should expect similar results, said Dr. Michael Roizen, head of anesthesiology and critical care at the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine.

    "I don't think it (gender) makes any difference," said Roizen, a health and lifestyle modification enthusiast who was not involved in the study. "I think you almost have to do some sort of exercise to be successful at quitting."

  • Melatonin-Aging

    Contrary to popular belief, melatonin levels probably do not decline with age, according to a new study. Many advertisements for melatonin supplements target older people and encourage them to take these supplements to restore amounts of the hormone said to be lost with aging. Older Americans who follow this advice, however, have responded to a false sales pitch, according to the new study that contradicts the popular notion that melatonin levels in older people decline with age.

    The study led by Dr. Charles A. Czeisler, researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, studied 34 healthy older men and women ranging in age from 64 to 81. It found that their nighttime melatonin levels did not differ significantly from those of 98 younger men ages 18 to 30. As part of the their participation in the study, each person spent three days and three nights isolated under carefully controlled conditions in a sleep laboratory at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Participants maintained their normal sleep schedules, and scientists took blood samples in order to assess melatonin production. Participants had to forego alcohol, caffeine and nicotine, and were also asked to keep a sleep journal.

    ``In our analysis, we did not find any statistically significant difference in nighttime melatonin concentrations between younger and older subjects,'' said Czeisler. ``This means that in most healthy people, concentrations of melatonin in plasma probably do not decline with aging.''

    The study appears in the November issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

  • Tips for Good Sleep
    Tips for Good Sleep

    (AP) - Having trouble getting to sleep at night, or awakening too early in the morning? Experts have these tips, based, in part, on a new study:

    • Maintain a regular sleep-wake cycle, even on weekends. Staying up late, with the lights burning, tends to reset the brain's sleep clock, making the body cry out for more sleep when the alarm sounds Monday morning.
    • If awakened during the night, try to remain in bed, with the lights out and your eyes closed. This will help sleep return and will not affect your normal sleep-wake cycle.
    • If you must get up, keep the lights as dim as possible. Bright lights tend to reset the brain's sleep clock. One hour of bright light exposure at night shifts the clock forward by about 10 minutes.
    • Avoid alcohol, tobacco and caffeine before bedtime.
    • If sleeplessness is caused by a disorder, treat that disorder specifically instead of trying to force sleep with pills.
    • Afternoon or early evening naps may make it harder to fall asleep at the regular time.
    • American travelers who fly overnight to Europe should try to nap immediately upon arrival. After a few hours of sleep, get up and walk in the sunlight. This will help reset the body clock to European time.

    Copyright 1999 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

  • Fat in America
    Fat in America

    �Breaking Bioethics� on our expanding waistline

    (By Glenn McGee, Ph.D. SPECIAL TO MSNBC) � Aug. 25 � It is always diet season in America, always time to squeeze into a dress or swimsuit. Americans are more overweight than any people of the world, and infinitely more obsessed about it. Ads for liposuction clinics keep local magazines afloat. And everyone knows someone who takes a diet drug, or who took fen-phen, or who abuses diet, herbs, exercise or laxatives in pursuit of a better body.

    MEN TOO are dieting in record numbers to meet an ever-more-fit male standard for health. And recent studies reveal that even young American children experience the throes of anorexia and bulimia, and more and more parents worry early about the fat baby. Discrimination against the obese has been documented so many times that litigation for it has become commonplace.

    We spend more than $10 billion annually on dieting, which fails to accomplish long-term results more than 99 percent of the time. Imagine a society that spends 300 times more on weight loss than on prenatal care, 1,000 times more on weight loss than on housing the homeless, and 6,000 times more on it than on physical education in our public schools.

    How we see our expanding waistline says a lot about us as a society. Being fat is expensive � food costs money, sedentary behavior is inefficient and reports continually document the long-term health risks of obesity. We could debate the fact that society as a whole supports the health cost of any of our risky behaviors � driving too fast, drinking alcohol, living on hurricane swept coastline. But who among us would pass a sin test for health insurance?


    It is almost the year 2000 in the nation that boldly goes west. We are a people that explore, a people that welcome struggle, a people that think on our feet. We are the society that mastered technology and converted it into products and powers. But, as David Shenk chronicles in his exceptional new book, �The End of Patience: More Notes of Caution on the Information Revolution,� the technologies that seem to liberate us can create their own prison. Our lives are lived through virtual-this and artificial-that. We don�t go west to surf anymore. We do it from the sofa in Jersey. Most Americans get their exercise riding a stationary bicycle � a bike ride that never goes anywhere.

    Philosopher William James said human beings need the �moral equivalent of war.� When we are at peace, we rot. James said we need a struggle against an enemy and an urgent goal to keep us alive. His words inspired F.D.R. to create the CCC, an agency that built much of the nation�s new infrastructure of dams and bridges by putting Americans to work. His words inspired John F. Kennedy, who mentioned them in creating the Peace Corps. It is time for the moral equivalent of war. We are a people whose disease is not our obesity, but our lack of inspiration.


    Ours is a generation of geek heroes, men and women who changed the world by inventing plastic boxes that think for us. The Web you are surfing is the world we have created in their image. We want to live in that world but with the body of Mr. Atlas, the guy who kicks sand on Bill Gates at the beach.

    Get real. Weight loss is a stupid goal for virtually all of the American population. Weight loss has to be a byproduct of a change in the way we see life and living. It is time to put some of our diet money into innovative new ways to flourish that use our bodies and our minds. Our nation needs a new volunteer effort, to clean up the streets and build houses and fight fires and teach little kids to play soccer. The answer is surprisingly simple: advertising. Here�s the ad: LOSE 10 POUNDS NOW WITH UNIQUE HAMMER AND NAIL METHOD. The weight we lose might just be the chip on our shoulder.

    Glenn McGee is an associate director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. His most recent book is �Pragmatic Bioethics.�

  • 12 Ways to Restart Stalled Weight Loss
    12 Ways to Restart Stalled Weight Loss

    What to do When the Scale is Stuck

    (From Prevention, Nov 1997; 49(11), By Marisa Fox)

    Reaching a plateau in weight loss when dieting is common but it can be overcome. The problem is caused when the diet is no longer burning enough calories for the new lower weight. Tips include: monitoring portion size, eating more whole foods, drinking more water, and burning more calories.

    So you're still doing the same things that peeled off the first 5, 10, or 50 pounds. You've kept up the daily walk, and you're a role model for low-fat eating. So why does it seem that your scale is stuck?

    You're on a plateau. Join the club. It happens to people losing weight all the time. "Plateaus can happen when you're doing the same thing as you always were, diet and exercisewise," says Terri Brownlee, R.D., dietitian at the Duke University Diet & Fitness Center in Durham, NC.

    What's changed is you.

    The smaller you are, the fewer calories you require. So the diet and exercise program that helped you get from 190 pounds down to 160 may not be burning enough calories to get you to your goal of 145. This doesn't mean you have to swear off satisfying meals or walk to the other side of the state and back to get rid of more pounds. You just need to stop for a minute and grab a pencil.

    Keep a Positive Attitude

    "Instead of getting down on yourself, try to understand what's not working and rethink your strategy," is the advice for dieters given by Cathy Nonas, R.D., administrative director of the Theodore B. VanItallie Center for Nutrition and Weight Management at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City.

    That's what Cathy Upchurch did when she hit a two-month plateau after losing 70 pounds. "I kept on giving myself pep talks and refused to give up," says this 45-year-old Colorado work-at-home woman. "I kept telling myself that I was an athletic person underneath it all and that there were all these fun things I wanted to do." Cathy eventually lost another 70 pounds and has kept it all off for eight years. Like Cathy, thousands of people have come up against plateaus and been victorious. You can too! As important as a positive attitude is, you need specific and careful evaluation as well. "Once you see what the problems are, you can get back on track," says Pamela Walker, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas. "It shifts the focus from 'something is wrong with me' to problem solving."

    The first thing you want to take a look at is what you've been eating and doing:

    • Have your portions expanded as your waistline has shrunk? "Many people who experience success start getting overconfident and complacent," Dr. Walker says. "Portions start creeping up, and sweets are slowly added again."
    • Has your exercise routine taken a backseat to less strenuous activity? Exercise is always one of the first things to go. Walks get shorter or get skipped.

    Careful examination of eating and exercise logs can pinpoint areas where your guard may be down. Skipping your evening workout in favor of drinks with friends or indulging your sweet tooth more frequently? No time to pack a healthy lunch, so you're resorting to the vending machines?

    "It makes you accountable to yourself, and frequently you're shocked to see that you did start eating more and exercising less," Dr. Walker says.

    Get Calories Under Control

    No matter how you got on the plateau, the answer to blasting off it is to shake things up. You need to start burning more calories than you're taking in. But don't despair. That's not as hard as it sounds. Here's how to get going:

    1. Measure your portions. Arm yourself with measuring devices like scales or cups, so you don't have to rely on your eyes (or your stomach), says Nonas. Once you're familiar with what your portion sizes should be, you need only measure from time to time to make sure you're still on track. Keep portions reasonable. (But don't put limits on plain veggies -- raw or cooked. And try for three to five servings of fruit a day.)

    2. Shortcut portion control. Stock up on prepackaged low-fat meals. Food labels make it easy to know exactly what you're getting -- and you save yourself the job of measuring portions.

    3. Try a meal substitute. Liquid meals can be helpful, especially when you're on the run. This shouldn't become a long-term strategy, but it can help break a plateau.

    4. Fill up on whole foods. Bananas, carrots, and air-popped popcorn pack more fiber and fewer calories than reduced-fat cakes or cookies. Result: You feel full on less food.

    5. Postpone dinner. Eating half an hour or even an hour later than usual may be just what you need to take the edge off late-night munchies.

    6. Drink up. "Put a liter of water on your desk, and make sure you drink it by the end of the day," says Nonas. Filling up on water during the day can help make portion control easier at meals.

    7. Limit mealtimes. So you stuck to your portion, but then you ate your kids' leftovers, and before you knew it, you were noshing ad infinitum. "It's important to do things that signal the end of the meal, like brushing your teeth," says Nonas. "Or set a timer when you sit down to dinner, and when it goes off, you're out of the kitchen or dining room."

    Burn More Calories

    1. Add a minute. "Gradually extend the length of your workouts," says J.P. Slovak, fitness director at the Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas. A few extra minutes here and there can go along way toward producing real results.

    2. Lift some weights. To combat the decrease in metabolism that often comes with weight loss, increase your muscle mass. Muscles burn more calories than fat, even when you're sleeping. And they take up less space, so you look slimmer.

    3. Try something new. You're not the only one who gets bored on the stationary bike -- your muscles do too. If you always work the same muscles in the same way, they become very efficient and then won't burn as many calories as when you first started doing the activity, explains Tedd Mitchell, M.D., medical director at the Cooper Wellness Program in Dallas. If you want to shake up your metabolism, work your muscles in new ways by cross-training. If you're walking, try swimming. If you're running, try boxing. No one activity should ever get to be too easy.

    4. Add some intervals. Invigorate your routine with short blasts of very intense exercise. "Try not to mosey along at the same pace," says Dr. Mitchell. "Sprint for an interval if you're running. Pedal really fast on the bike if you're cycling." Intervals not only make working out more exciting and challenging, they help burn extra calories.

    5. Go the long way. "You don't need to have gym clothes on to get exercise," says Kyle McInnis, Ph.D., a professor in the department of human performance and fitness at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. Use the second-floor bathroom or the copier down the hall. "Accumulating physical activity throughout the day, such as walking more and taking the stairs, adds up," he says.

    A Veteran's Advice

    "The important thing is to realize how far you've come and to remind yourself of your goals," says weight-loss success Cathy Upchurch.

    And that's exactly what Cathy did. She celebrated her victories, didn't dwell on what the scale said, and reevaluated her exercise regime. When she added biking to her daily 1-hour walk and water walking in the pool, the weight started to come off. Today Cathy climbs mountains, mountain bikes, and even snowboards. She's every inch the athlete she always wanted to be.

    Is it really a plateau -- or your ideal weight?

    If you're still 70 pounds more than what most weight tables recommend for your height, chances are you're just on a plateau. If you're merely 10 pounds more, then it might be time to accept your weight. In between? That's a gray area.

    Ideal weight varies among individuals. But the term has become a statistical figure generated by insurance people who are telling you what to weight to live the longest based on averages. "That's something very different," says David Levitsky, Ph.D., professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

    So if you're in that gray area, here are some things to consider when deciding if you should lose more weight:

    • Are you weight training? Muscle weighs more than fat but looks a heck of a lot better.
    • Where's the weight? If those stubborn pounds are around your middle, they could be increasing your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even some types of cancer. Waist measurements greater than 39 inches for men and premenopausal women younger than 40, greater than 35 inches for men and women 40 or older, and greater than 33 inches for postmenopausal women pose greater health risks.
    • Do you have any signs of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or high blood glucose? These may be the first clues that your weight is affecting your health.
    • Is it realistic to eat any less or exercise any more?

    "You can't diet forever," Dr. Levitsky says. "It's better to choose a lifestyle that encourages healthy weight -- in which exercise and healthy eating are a regular part of the program -- than to obsess over a few pounds.

    Balancing Act

    The slimmer you get, the less effective your current weight-loss plan will be. Here's why:

    If you were 190 pounds and sedentary when you started, you burned 2,280 calories a day to maintain that weight. (Men burn slightly more.) If you ate 2,280 calories and burned 344 calories in a 1-hour walk, you burned 344 calories more than your body needed to maintain that weight -- so you lost weight.

    Say you reach 160 pounds. Now, you need only 1,920 calories to stay at your current weight. But you're still eating 2,280 calories and going for a 1-hour walk. Since you're lighter, your walk burns 292 calories. Now you're eating more -- 68 calories -- than you're burning. Keep it up, and the scale will start moving in the wrong direction. Here's how it adds up:

    If you weigh 190 and:

    • You eat: +2,280 calories
    • You burn*: -2,280 calories
    • You exercise: - 344 calories

    Result: -344 calories a day and weight loss

    If you weigh 160 and:

    • You eat: +2,280 calories
    • You burn*: -1,920 calories
    • You exercise: - 292 calories

    Result: +68 calories a day

    This means a plateau, even though your eating and exercising habits haven't changed. Over time, you'll regain some weight unless you shift the balance.

    *to maintain your current weight if you're sedentary

  • What's Hot, Tasty and Burns Fat?
    What's Hot, Tasty and Burns Fat?

    Eating Red Pepper May Help Burn Calories

    (From MSN Health by WebMD, September 30 1999)

    Question: A friend told me that spicing my food with red pepper can help me lose weight by making me burn more calories. Is this true?

    Answer: Yes, adding red pepper to your diet may increase the burning of fat because a certain amount of ingested food is immediately converted to heat. This process is known as diet-induced thermogenesis, and it plays a major role in determining whether an individual is likely to be lean or obese. For people who are lean, a meal may stimulate up to a 40 percent increase in thermogenesis. In contrast, obese individuals often display only a 10 percent increase in heat production, during which the food energy is stored and not converted to heat.

    Recent studies have shown that increasing the intake of cayenne pepper may be an effective method for increasing diet-induced thermogenesis. In a recent study of 13 Japanese women, scientists found that adding red pepper to meals, either high in fat or carbohydrates, increased the level of thermogenesis.

    Studies have shown that eating chili pepper may protect the stomach from some conditions such as ulcers. However, eating more than a teaspoon at any one time can cause stomach irritation.

    If you have any medical problems and are thinking about making major changes to your diet, consult your physician beforehand.


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