Review: plenty of health reasons to get those young kids active

If being active is good for you — and you know it is — how important is it for young kids? Very, suggests a new review of the research out of the United Kingdom. The review points to how running about and playing sports as children links to numerous health benefits, many of which relate to lowering cancer risk decades later as adults.

For the review, researchers at the British Heart Foundation for Public Health England, part of the UK’s Department of Health, looked at how activity improves 5- to 11-year-olds mental, physical and long-term behaviors.

After finding then rating the studies, the review found strong evidence that activity helps kids’ cardiometabolic health, which puts them at lower risk to develop type 2 diabetes, obesity and other issues related to poor metabolic health. These studies generally focused on how physical activity linked to risk factors for chronic diseases, such as insulin levels and markers of inflammation. Many of these risk factors for heart disease and type 2 diabetes are also shared factors for increased cancer risk.

Here’s the PDF of the evidence review, and below is the summary of what they found.

Rapid evidence review  on the effect of physical activity participation among children aged 5  –11 years. Public Health England

Rapid evidence review on the effect of physical activity participation among children aged 5–11 years. Public Health England

Evidence relating to how physical activity improves body fatness/composition was not as Continue reading


Keep that Fitbit On: Exercise Helps Prevent Cancer

If you’ve seen the recent headlines warning that physical activity won’t help you lose weight, you may be wondering if your evening walk or daily workout is worth the time.

The answer is a resounding YES – do take that evening walk, keep your pedometer on and get your exercise in whether you want to lose weight or not.

In the last few weeks, there’s been one article after another with experts arguing about what’s most important for weight loss – diet or exercise. But getting lost in all this discussion is the overwhelming evidence that physical activity provides many health benefits independent of weight loss, including lowering risk for at least three cancers – endometrial, colorectal and postmenopausal breast.being-physically-active-decreases-risk-of-these-cancers

There’s no argument that getting to and staying a healthy weight is also important for cancer. But this debate misses the mark when it comes to shaping your health. It is true that you “can’t outrun a bad diet,” as the author of a Washington Post article “Take off that Fitbit” says. It’s also true that for better health you need to do more than just cut calories.

For example, in that Post article, the author cites a study showing that diet only led to more weight loss than a diet and exercise group. What he didn’t point out is that while the diet only group lost slightly more weight, they also lost more muscle and bone mass than the diet and exercise group. This is especially critical because the study’s participants were 65 and older. Exercise helps you keep your muscle and strong bones at any age.

Apps, tracking devices and pedometers have also been singled out as not being the answer to weight loss. But losing weight takes a lot of work – it is hard to eat less – and you need all the support you can get to succeed. So while these devices aren’t the answer, studies do show that tracking your food and exercise is one key component to successful weight loss. You can also use a notebook, calendar or checklist, what matters is keeping track of your progress.

For more tips on eating smarter, learn about AICR’s New American Plate way of eating to lower cancer risk and lose weight healthfully.


How Fit is Your City? It Relates to Cancer Prevention

Plenty of parks and active commuting along with relatively low rates of obesity and diabetes have led Washington, DC, to rank as America’s fittest metropolitan area for the second year in a row, finds the latest American Fitness Index survey, released today. Minneapolis and San Diego, ranked only slightly below. Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 2.13.49 AM

The survey is one way residents and policymakers can take steps to lower cancer risk, with many of the measured risk factors related to prevention. Obesity is a cause of ten cancers, and type 2 diabetes links to increased risk of several cancers. Eating fruits and vegetables along with being active — regardless of weight — also reduces risk of several cancers.

The cities that ranked among the least fit face many challenges, including fewer biking paths, parks and physical education school requirements. They also may have less access to fresh fruits and vegetables (farmers markets) and access to public transportation, which generally involves walking.

In Memphis for example, which ranked among the least fit cities, only about 1 percent of residents are taking public transportation to work. And about half the residents reported doing any physical activity in the past 30 days. Compare that to DC, in which 14 percent of the residents are commuting to work by public transportation, and about three-quarters said they were active within the past month.

You can read the full report and see how your city ranks at American Fitness Index.

The survey, by the American College of Sports Medicine and the Anthem Foundation, used primarily government data to look at measures of personal health and community/environmental health. Personal health indicators included the percent of the residents that smokes, is obese, meets government activity guidelines, and eats three or more vegetables a day.

Community health indicators include biking and walking to work, as well as the amount of parks and recreational centers.