Can Active Video Games Replace Your Gym Membership?

This morning, AICR Vice-President for Programs Deirdre McGinley-Gieser shares some thoughts about the role of active video games in the day to day life of her family. 

Researchers are looking at the Wii Fit and similar active video games to see if they can play a role in increasing physical activity and fitness. From the few studies published so far, it seems that the intensity of game is crucial. The health benefits seem to kick in once the “Beginner” levels have passed, and the intensity of activity reaches moderate-to-vigorous levels.

I’m trying this out myself, as a Wii was one of the packages under our Christmas tree this year – offering a more convenient path to regular exercise than a daily trip to the gym. Continue reading

Your New Status: Not Sedentary

Surf the web, watch TV or check your friends’ social media status and latest posts and suddenly you realize you haven’t been on your feet for 3 or 4 hours.

Over time, sedentary behavior (sitting in front of the computer or TV for example) may be, by itself, contributing to chronic disease risk, including cancer.

Yes, researchers are looking more and more at how much time people spend being  sedentary and the harm that does.

Two large studies (European Heart Journal and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology) measured participants’ “sedentary behavior” time and found that those with highest levels compared to those with lowest levels had increased risk of heart disease or heart disease risk factors.  These results are similar to those from smaller studies.

The good news: in one study participants who took more frequent breaks from being sedentary fared somewhat better.

If you have a sedentary job, take a short break every 30 minutes just to get up and walk or move around, even for a couple of minutes.  Spend less time in front of the TV and when you do watch TV, stretch or stand up for awhile – avoid just sitting for long periods of time.  Small steps do, indeed, make a difference.

Join our Never Too Late campaign and find ideas on how you can make changes at any age to move toward more activity  and healthier eating patterns.

A TV Diet: A Nutritional No-No

Watching TV is already linked with several negative health outcomes, here’s one possible reason why.

A new study has found that if we were to base our diet entirely on foods in TV ads, we would be eating 25 times the recommended servings of sugars and 20 times the recommended servings of fat. Our diet would provide less than half of the recommended servings of vegetables, dairy, and fruits.

The study is published in this month’s Journal of the American Dietetic Association. You can read the abstract here.

The study analyzed food ads during 84 hours of primetime and 12 hours of Saturday morning shows over a 28-day period. The result was about 800 food ads. After analyzing the food’s nutritional content and serving size, researchers compared the food item to the recommended Daily Values (based on a 2,000 calorie daily diet) and the Food Guide Pyramid.

The average observed foods contained too many serving of sugars, fat, and meat and too few servings of dairy, fruit and vegetables. These foods also oversupplied 8 nutrients – including sodium, saturated fat, and thiamin – and undersupplied 12 nutrients, many of which are linked with heath benefits, including vitamins A, D, and E.

You may not knowingly base your diet on TV ads but media messages are powerful influencers of our eating behavior, suggest the authors. (By age 65, according to the study, the average person will have seen about 2 million ads on television, a lot of which are for food.)

The authors recommend several strategies to increase awareness and change. You could also watch a little less TV.

AICR’s expert report found that watching a lot of television probably increases the risk of overweight and obesity. And excess body fat causes seven types of cancer, along with several other health disorders.

Is there a food ad you find particularly bothersome? Or one that you love?