Monday, April 18, 2011

Occupational, household and recreational activity don't all help reduce risk of endometrial cancer

Again and again we come across studies that find physical activity decreases risk for various types of cancers, but it is less common to come across a study that compares occupational, household and recreational physical activities.

A team of researchers from the University of Calgary, Canada recently published an article in Cancer Causes and Control finding that in women, only recreational activity, specifically low-intensity activity reduced the risk of endometrial cancer. Furthermore, sedentary occupation increased risk with every 5 hours/week of sedentary activity.

The bottom line is to go out and have fun! Make time for yourself, get your blood flowing and decrease your risk of endometrial cancer and possibly other cancers as well.

Read an abstract of the article here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Grab your helmet when you hit the slopes

As the ski and snowboarding season approaches, here is something to think about. Globally, it is reported by ski patrols and ER departments that head injuries account for 9% to 19%, and neck injuries for 1% to 4%, of all injuries. Head and neck injuries are the most common cause of severe trauma, death and serious injury among skiers and snowboarders, but the incidence of injury can be reduced.

Researchers from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Calgary, Canada performed a literature review with meta-analysis to determine if helmet use affected the incidence of head and neck injuries.  The researchers found that helmets do reduce head injuries and do not increase neck injuries. The article was recently published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The bottom line is clear that helmets should be worn by skiers and snowboarders, regardless of age or experience.

Read an abstract of the article here.

Indoor cycling and mild calorie restriction improve health profile

A sedentary lifestyle is a behavior clearly identified with an unfavorable lipid profile and being overweight or obese. Exercise and diet are often recommended for weight loss and to improve cardiovascular health, but many people don’t know where to start. Here researchers find clear and beneficial results testing a specific protocol that modestly decreases calories by 175-200 kcal/day and requires moderate intensity exercise (55-85% HR max) on an indoor bike for 45-minutes, 3 times/week.

Researchers from the Human Biomechanics Laboratory at the Universidade Castelo Branco, Brazil published an article concluding that modest calorie restriction and moderate exercise can result in weight loss and improve blood lipid profile. Forty young and overweight women participated in the 12-week study.

The message is clear that diet with calorie restriction (1200 kcal/week) and indoor cycling (three 45-minutes sessions/week) proved to be an excellent strategy to reduce weight and improve blood lipid/cholesterol profile.

Read an abstract of the article here.

Post-partum physical therapy for mental and physical well-being

Post-partum depression isn’t uncommon after childbirth, but it usually passes within a few weeks. Depression can occur due to many reasons, including physical well-being. Here, researchers compare the effects of a group-based physical therapy and education program vs. a group based education program alone in 161 post-partum mothers.

Researchers from the University of Melborne, Australia, recently published the article in Physical Therapy finding that exercise-based post-partum physical therapy reduces depression by as much as 50%.

The message here is that exercise can do more than help your physical well-being; it can help your emotional state too. Speak to your physician about rehabilitation after post-partum and enjoy this special time in your life.

Read an abstract of the article here.

Girl's recreational gymnastics can have long-term benefits on bone density

Bone density is a topic that frequently recurs because it is important, and women are especially at risk to bone loss. Although a genetic predisposition to low bone density may exist, appropriate exercise and a well-balanced diet play important roles. Bones are believed to primarily increase in density up to a certain age (early 20’s), and then we must maintain bone mass as best we can in the years that follow. Participating in gymnastics from a young age is known to result in increased bone strength and density.

Researchers from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, recently published an article in Osteoporosis International concluding that even recreational young female gymnasts benefit in long-term effects on bone density vs. non-gymnasts.

The researchers measured total body, hip, and spine bone mineral content (BMC) in 120 children, ages 4-9 years: 29 gymnasts, 46 ex-gymnasts, and 45 non-gymnasts. They found that both gymnasts and ex-gymnast had 5% greater adjusted total body BMC that the young non-gymnasts.

Given the young age of the population observed, a 5% change in bone mineral content is very significant. The bottom line is to provide kids time, space and a safe environment for cartwheels, tumbling and bouncing around. It may have a significant impact on their health for years to come.

Read an abstract of the article here.

Fatigue affects dynamic knee joint stability in women

Female athletes often sustain knee injuries, so physiologists investigated knee stability in fatigued and non-fatigued conditions. Researchers from the School of Health Professions at the University of Puerto Rico-Medical Sciences Center recently published an article in the NSCA’s Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, stating that fatigue can increase the risk of knee injury in female athletes by decreasing dynamic knee joint stability.

Fifteen young women (mean age: 24.6 +/- 2.6 years) performed two tasks in a non-fatigued test session and a fatigued session. During both sessions, knee landing flexion, knee extension, joint angles and muscle activity of the quadriceps and hamstrings were measured. The first task was a single-leg drop jump from a 40-cm box, and the second was a repeated up/down hop on a 20-cm box. An anaerobic Wingate protocol was used to induce fatigue. Participants had greater knee injury-predisposing factors during the fatigued session. Specifically, a decrease in knee flexion during the up/down hop was statistically significant (p = 0.028).

The bottom line is that fatigue can increase the risk of injury. To mitigate this risk, athletes should incorporate strength-endurance components with emphasis on dynamic knee stability to increase control of body movements even when fatigued.

Read an abstract of the article here.

Monday, April 11, 2011

High heels may alter anatomy and pose health risks

High heels help women to look and feel gorgeous, but new research warns of long-term health risks associated with wearing high heels.

Researchers from the Institute for Biomedical Research into Human Movement and Health, Manchester Metropolitan University, U.K., recently published an article in the Journal of Experimental Biology concluding that long-term use of high-heeled shoes induces shortening of the Gastrocnemius medialis (calf) muscle and increases Achilles tendon stiffness, reducing the ankle's active range of motion.

The incline of high heels causes the calf muscles to contract. Over time, the muscle fibers shorten and the Achilles tendon thickens, so much that women may feel pain when they try to walk in flats or sneakers. In addition to the shortening of the calf muscle and stiffening of the ankle, aching feet and a variety of foot deformities are possible.

The bottom line is that if you must wear heels, minimize the time you spend wearing and walking in them. Make sure you spend plenty of time in comfortable, supportive flat shoes with good arch support.

For more information on foot health, visit the American Podiatric Medical Association, and visit for further coverage.

Read an abstract of the article here.