This just in via Andrew Sullivan: The average American walks 5,117 steps per day, which ranks them way below (among others) the Swiss and the Aussies, who log about 9,600 steps daily on average, AND the Japanese, who are at 7,100 steps per day.
Slackers! Sullivan links to a nice summary of recent walking research by Wayne Curtis. Turns out we're historically slothful. Writes Curtis: "In 1906, just as cars were coming into vogue, the nation was afflicted by a small outbreak of long-distance walking — multi-day walking races and long-distance walkers seemed to be tromping everywhere."
How far would the average 19th Century American walk in a day? To sort that out, researchers apparently visited the Old Order of Amish in Canada, and equipped those folks with pedometers. This, it seemed, a reasonable simulation of normal 19th Century life. Turns out the average non-motorized Amish male logs 18,425 steps per day, or roughly nine miles.
The evidence is mounting that excessive sitting will, um, shorten your life. "Every single hour of television watched after the age of 25," reports the NY Times today, "reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes."
Put another way: "An adult who spends an average of six hours a day watching TV over the course of a lifetime can expect to live 4.8 years fewer than a person who does not watch TV."
Ouch. And, get this, these results hold even for people who also exercise. Exercise is critical, but lot's of sitting remains dangerous even still. The good news, however, is that there is a simple solution: Get up and move around! Run, don't walk to Social Workout, and set yourself a goal: Workday stretch breaks for example, or maybe you want to track your walking minutes, miles, or steps?
Choose your metric, and begin managing what you measure. We've got your back.More...
This just in from Mark Bittman (via New Scientist magazine):
Just in case you need another reason to cut back on junk food, it now turns out that Alzheimer’s could well be a form of diet-induced diabetes. That’s the bad news. The good news is that laying off soda, doughnuts, processed meats and fries could allow you to keep your mind intact until your body fails you.
Yup, too much sugar in the diet spikes your insulin levels and hurts your brain cells. Ahem, those at risk, please proceed directly to the Social Workout healthy eating goals area....More...
Today's data-driven fitness inspiration: A new 40-plus year study of nearly 18,670 people strongly indicates that mid-life fitness makes for late life healthiness. Specifically, writes Gretchen Reynolds in the New York Times, "the results show...that being physically fit 'compresses the time' that someone is likely to spend being debilitated during old age, leaving the earlier post-retirement years free of serious illness and, at least potentially, imbued with a finer quality of life."
Conclusion: Walk, run, dance, swim, cycle, stretch. Start now. Rinse, repeat. Live long, and prosper.
Say hello to Ultrashape, a new "body-contouring" technology. Simply point the "wand-like transducer" at your love handles and blammo, "high-intensity ultrasound waves guided by a sophisticated tracking and delivery system...explode unwanted fat cells — much the way heat-seeking missiles destroy enemy objects." Yowza. You're thinking this is some late-night Ronco infomercial? Wrong! That description is straight out of Time magazine which reports that the Ultrashape is not quite a joke. "We know the...technology works," says one unaffiliated doctor interviewee to Time. "It really does 'melt' fat as a walk-in/walk-out procedure." Well, so, 200,000 people have used it, with mixed-but-not laughable results. Available now in Europe, Israel, and Canada, and pending FDA approval in the U.S.A. Whatever, but here's the truly crazy part: Time explains that Ultrashape was born in Yokneam, a tiny Israeli town in the bucolic hills of Galilee, 20 or so miles from Nazareth. Yokneam, it turns out, is the Silicon Valley of "beauty technology," churning out new gizmos and treatments based on scientific breakthroughs made possible by Israel's bottomless military R&D budget. Let's break it down: Spend billions in the Holy Land on weapons which, if nothing else, demonstrate our profound internal imperfections; get magic wands which make us appear "perfect" on the outside. Reality is stranger than fiction.
When it comes to exercise, people thrive with a little push, but not enough of us ask for it, or get it. This is the upshot of a massive feature in today's Wall Street Journal which rounds up the latest research on social interaction and exercise. In one Stanford University study, test subjects set exercise goals and were then divided into three groups. One group received a "check in" call every three weeks from a human being, another got a call from a "robot" voice, and a third group got no call at all. Turns out just getting that call, even from the robot, produced an 80% increase in physical activity, while the no call control group saw a 28% increase (despite knowing that they were a part of a study). And, surprisingy, the positive effects of those check in calls lasted long after the study ended. Other interesting stats?More...
Breaking news out of Uppsala, Sweden: "The hunter-gatherers who inhabited the southern coast of Scandinavia 4,000 years ago were lactose intolerant." This is interesting, but the implications for you are minimal. Nonetheless, let's recap the dairy debates: Anthropologists say that developing the ability to digest dairy was a critical step on the human path to agriculture-based civilization. Paleo dieters argue (very roughly) that this civilized diet is the ruin of our health. The latest consensus on Social Workout appears to be that butter is non-negotiable. The big question that remains, however, is how did we get milkshake-swilling Minnesotans from non-dairy Scandy cavemen?More...
Moving to higher altitudes may help overweight or obese people lose weight. This according to a new German study. Statistically suspect 20 person sample group aside, the data clearly suggests a state swap in the U.S. is in order. As in: Missippi, with it's low lying swampy terrain and 32.5% rate of adult obesity should simply switch terrain with Colorado, thinnest and highest altitude state in the Union. Never be afraid to leap from sketchy data to aggressive policy proposals.
Breaking: It's not having a workout buddy that matters, but having a workout buddy that actually works out. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine ran a two year "culturally specific" study featuring 193 African American subjects, mostly women. Test subjects were split into three groups: Those who exercised alone, those who worked with a buddy, and those who worked with a buddy and were given high "social support." (Whatever that means.) "Success" was measured in terms of weight loss. The upshot: "Being assigned to participate with family members, friends, or other group members had no effect on weight change. Enrolling with others was associated with greater weight loss only when partners participated more and lost more weight." In other words, you can be just as lazy with a workout buddy as you can be alone; BUT, if you have a good workout buddy, you're better off than you would be alone. At least if you're a black woman.More...
Women who exercise beat breast cancer far more often than those that don't. Sort of common sense, but the numbers from a new study (via Reuters) are surprising:
Among 1,231 women with breast cancer who were followed for a minimum of 8.3 years, those who obtained about 4 hours or more of weekly moderate-intensity recreational activity over their lifetime had a 44 percent lower risk of death from breast cancer