Is your city getting healthier? It can help prevent cancer

Memphis is getting more dog parks; San Antonio has slightly lowered its death rate from diabetes, and in Orlando, the percent of residents walking or biking to work has nudged upwards, according to a new trends report released today. These cities — all ranked among the least fit cities in the United States — are among the 50 largest US metropolitan areas that the report highlights key health and fitness changes over the past five years.canstockphoto16502958

The report by the The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) analyzes health behaviors and community environment, many both directly — and indirectly – relate to cancer prevention.

Health behavior indicators included looking at how many vegetables and fruits residents ate, how active they were in the previous month, and if they were smokers. Then the authors gathered data on chronic health problems of the residents, such as the percent of residents that were obese, and/or diagnosed with diabetes, asthma and heart disease.  Environmental indicators of good health included the numbers of recreational centers, parks, tennis courts and farmer’s markets were in the city. Continue reading


Runner’s World Contest Winner: Running through Cancer

Running is a process – and a powerful one, says Scott Spitz, a cancer survivor who is currently featured on the cover of this month’s Runner’s World. A competitive runner, Scott continues to run through treatment for a rare form of abdominal cancer. We talked with Scott about why he runs and how running has helped him grapple with the physical and mental challenges of treatment.Scott Spitz cover

Congratulations on winning the Runner’s World Cover Contest. Why did you decide to enter?

I was a little reluctant to enter because I didn’t want to assume my story was better than others, but I’ve heard from a lot of people who said they gained something from hearing about my experience. I’ve never won anything like this before, and I was humbled and flattered that they recognized the power of my story.

What drew you to running and why have you stuck with it?

I discovered really young that I enjoyed running and had a talent for it. I ran competitively in middle and high school, but then I didn’t run for 13 years after that. I was living in a small town and wanted a physical outlet, so I went for a run and all the experiences came rushing back. I started running regularly again and never stopped. I can cite all the health benefits of running, but ultimately I run because it gives me a sense of accomplishment that has added immeasurable value to my life. Continue reading


Lifestyle changes are hard: You make the difference

Working as a dietitian specializing in weight loss for the past two years, my patients consistently report similar challenges. Lifestyle changes are hard – going from daily take out/fast food to home-cooked meals, for example, requires a dramatic change in your daily routine. Suddenly you have to not only plan out a grocery list, but you might also have to develop cooking skills and allow extra time in your day for food preparation.

One major thing I’ve leTop View Of A Pair Of Shoes With Laces Making Heart Shape On Wooarned in helping people manage their weight is that anyone can make a lifestyle change, but the motivation and commitment comes from you.

Most people are aware that maintaining a healthy body weight leads to health benefits (from reducing risk of cancer, to diabetes, to increasing life span and improving quality of life). Your doctor, a friend, or a significant other may have put pressure on you to lose weight. However, at the end of the day, the one thing that really matters is your own desire and motivation to make that change.

I like to show my patients a model called the Stages of Change Transtheoretical Model, developed by a health psychologist at the University of Rhode Island and his colleagues. This model depicts 5 stages and can be a helpful tool for anyone interested in embarking in the life-long commitment that is necessary to lose and maintain weight loss. Here are the stages: Continue reading