High BMI increases diabetes risk

Being overweight is less likely to cause a heart attack or kill you than it is to increase your risk of diabetes, according to a new study of identical twins, the American Heart Association News reports.

Researchers used a nationwide Swedish twin registry to find twin pairs with identical DNA but different body mass indexes, or BMIs. While conventional medical wisdom has long suggested that heavier people are more likely to have premature heart attacks than lean people, the new study suggests otherwise.

The research, published online recently by JAMA Internal Medicine, followed more than 4,000 genetically identical twin pairs with differing BMIs from March 1998 to January 2003, and followed up with them through 2013. The study compared the risk of heart attack, death and Type 2 diabetes. Read more

5 Things During Every Workout to Burn More Calories

POPSUGAR author Jenny Sugar suggests that committing to regular workouts is one way to lose weight and get strong, but if you want to maximize your time, here are five things you should do at every single workout to burn more calories and reach your goals faster.

  1. Change up your routine: While you may be a runner or yogi at heart, always doing the same workout is bound to make you hit a plateau; it can also lead to overuse injuries that could prevent you from exercising at all. Try to switch up your workouts every single day to keep your body and brain guessing. Mix up the types of exercise you do, the equipment you use, the order you do things, and the speed or weight. If you absolutely love doing a certain type of workout a few times a week, like running, pick a new route or focus on adding hills or sprints to mix things up.
  2. Get speedy: When doing cardio, whether it’s running, cycling, swimming, or jumping rope, include short bursts of fast-paced intervals, which are proven to help you burn more calories and target belly fat. Start off easy by adding five 30-second intervals to a 30-minute workout, then increase the interval time and frequency as you build your endurance. Here’s a 45-minute walk-run-sprint interval workout you can try.
  3. Work smarter: Why just work the legs doing lunges when you can also work the arms by adding in an overhead press? Do compound movements that work more than one part of the body, and you’ll not only burn more calories by working harder, but you’ll save time, too. Include these multitasking moves in your next workout.
  4. Go longer: Tack on an extra five minutes to your workout, whether it’s cardio or strength training. More exercise means more calories burned — 25 to 50 more!
  5. Build muscle: Muscle mass burns more calories, so your goal should be to keep building muscles. So even if you’re doing cardio, like going for a bike ride, tack on some bodyweight exercises or a quick dumbbell session.

Plan to Attend Healthy Kids Day

For families looking to spring clean their lifestyles, the Tri-Town YMCA offers Healthy Kids Day to get them up and moving and give them ideas to improve their health and well-being.

The event, part of the Y’s national initiative, aims to inspire kids to keep their minds and bodies active with games and activities, healthy snacks and prizes from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, April 7, at Madison Elementary School, 150 W. Madison St., Lombard. Admission is free.

Participants will be able to learn bocce ball with Pinstripes, experience the benefits of karate with Sky Centers Martial Arts, sample healthy snacks, play games, win prizes and more. Families can bring home healthy routines and gear up for summer.

YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day, celebrated by more than 1.2 million participants at more than 1,600 Ys nationwide, works to get more kids moving and learning, creating habits that they continue all summer. Research shows that without access to out-of-school learning activities, kids fall behind academically.

This summer learning loss is more pronounced among students from low-income families. Kids also gain weight twice as fast during summer than the school year.

Healthy Kids Day is a reminder not to let children idle away their summer days. Instead, the Y wants families to focus on “charging” kids up with enthusiasm for themselves and their potential.

“We believe in the potential of all children, and we strive to help kids find that potential within themselves,” Tri-Town Y Executive Director Joanne Mitrenga said.

“A child’s development is never on vacation, and Healthy Kids Day is a great opportunity to educate families and motivate kids to stay active in spirit, mind and body throughout the summer.”

In conjunction with Healthy Kids Day, the Y offers the following tips to help families develop healthy habits:

• High-five the fruits and veggies: Make sure kids get at least five servings a day, the minimum number nutritionists recommend to maintain healthy childhood development. And to keep kids’ taste buds evolving, have everyone in the family try at least one bite of a new fruit or vegetable at least once a month.

• Foster an early and ongoing passion for books: Read to and with your kids. Help children read at every age and every stage of their development.

• Team up for athletic events: Set a family goal of great health by teaming up for community or charity events like races, walks, fun runs, bike rides and more.

• Volunteer together: Find a cause that matters to the kids. Open their eyes to a world beyond themselves and the rich rewards that come from making a difference.

• Make sleep a priority: Doctors recommend 10 to 12 hours of sleep a day for children ages 5 to 12 and 7 to 8 hours per night for adults. Sleep plays a critical role in maintaining a healthy immune system, metabolism, mood, memory, learning and other vital functions.

How athletes can avoid — or at least minimize — cramps

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Are you as fit as you should be for your age?

Victoria Hall, Acting Beauty Director for the Telegraph shared that according to Virgin Active’s latest research, 52% of British women between the ages of 25 and 34 would rather look slim and toned in their holiday photos than be fit enough to run a marathon. Those under 25 claimed that ‘looking good’ was the main reason that they worked out. It’s not until we hit our mid-thirties that the majority of us are more motivated to hit the gym for our health.

At the other end of the age-spectrum, those over 55 years tend to spend more time working up a sweat, exercising for around 4.8 hours a week compared to the national average of 4.3. However, it’s not just about the amount of time spent in the gym. Too many of us focus on one type of exercise, such as a weekly run or spin class, rather than having a varied exercise routine that covers strength, stamina and mobility. “Exercise won’t just help keep you slim, it’s also an important step to fighting the effect of ageing and improving your mental and physical,” says Tim Wright, fitness expert and the man behind Virgin Active’s latest service, Beyond Movement, which incorporates Pilates, sports massage and physiotherapy to ensure you are fit and healthy for your age. “Working out regularly has multiple health benefits at any age but becomes increasingly important as we get older.”

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Exercise can help lower dementia risk

The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences shared that new research has found that regular physical activity in older adults could increase brain size and decrease the risk of cognitive decline.

New research has found further evidence to support the positive association between exercise and dementia, finding that regular physical activity in older adults could increase brain size and decrease the risk of cognitive decline.

Carried out by researchers from UCLA, Calif., the team used the landmark Framingham Heart Study to look at an association between exercise, brain volume and the risk of developing dementia.

The Framingham Heart Study was set up to look at common characteristics that contribute to heart disease, but since it started back in 1948 it has also looked at factors that contribute to other physiological conditions including dementia.

For their study the team looked at the physical activity levels from the original group of participants in the Framingham Heart Study as well as their offspring who were age 60 or over.

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Meditation for Better Health

College of DuPage Nursing student Joan Jones shared that according to Richard Miller, PhD in “Let Joy In”, the ways in finding joy can be as simple as accepting and welcoming feelings in. It can’t always be as easy as it sounds, but through this article, meditation and yoga can be a vital tool in allowing joy in regardless of a negative or stressful life event.

Meditation Versus Yoga – People may look at yoga and meditation as a form of a religion or maybe a work-out program that just doesn’t quite entice you. Some of us may be confused as far was what yoga is, or maybe how meditation is incorporated with yoga. Then, another part of us may bring up the financial aspect in how much money it costs to attend a yoga class, or join a gym that gives free yoga classes, or maybe even a gym membership that requires more money in attending their yoga classes. Although this may be true, yoga and meditation can sometimes be separate all together and meditation is the start or the only thing you need to fully understand how joy can be found. But for now, let’s just say that yoga can be the advancement of practicing the art of meditation.

Meditation – Meditation can be identified as the simple act of taking a few moments throughout your day, preferably before we sleep, to take some deep breaths and allow the mind to quiet down and think about happy thoughts. Happy thoughts can be a simple as a walk in the park on a spring day, the voice of the person you love telling you that everything is going to be alright, or maybe just the sweetest sound of your child’s laughter. Taking deep breaths and allowing someone to remind you of these events can be found through guided meditation, which can be found anywhere. Looking up, “guided meditation” on google or downloading an app on, “guided meditation” can be found on YouTube and in any app stores on your smart phone, and can be a useful tool in guiding us to help us stop the mind from over thinking the negatives, and thinking purely on the positives of life. This simple form of meditating can allow our bodies to stop from over thinking about the problems that arose in our day, like the people that may have hurt us and allowed any form of negative stress and doubt into our lives. Linking the joy of simply breathing and slowing down our instinct to stress by focusing on the happy events in life, can allow the mind to accept and turn that stressful feeling into acceptance and simply, letting go.

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Exercise – More Is Not Better
but Something Is Better Than Nothing

Elizabeth Moxley, PhD, RN, BS​​​, and Assistant Professor at the College of Dupage School of Nursing, shared the following great insight about exercise.

The Pandemic of Inactivity – Physical inactivity is a pandemic. It is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality and an estimated 40-80% of all people are currently sedentary. The benefits of physical activity have been known since the early 1950s, but the promotion of activity lags with respect to the evidence. Inactivity has become a chronic disease resulting in chronic complications.

The Benefits of Exercise – Exercise has been dubbed ‘the closest thing there is to a magic bullet’. The Nurse’s Health Study revealed the benefits from exercise are lasting; exercise performed during midlife yielded benefits at age 70. Few medications work that well!

The most important question not to ask-therefore, in this day and age is; what do I need to do to for good health, rather; why doesn’t our society exercise enough? Several obvious reasons exist, such as; a lack of time, sedentary lifestyles, diminished resources for which to engage in exercise, not realizing the extent of health benefits, and simply, not knowing where to begin. A ‘too much exercise hypothesis’ has even emerged regarding safe doses of vigorous-intensity and/or high quantities of exercise. The determination of the perfect dose of exercise is not only not clear – it has nearly become a perfect muddle! However, the evidence clearly demonstrates, any exercise is more beneficial than none at all, and some believe more is better.

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Help Protect Illinois’ Daily P.E. Requirement!

The Illinois Alliance to prevent Obesity shared that as the new Illinois legislative session gets underway, we have already seen legislation put forth that threatens the daily physical education requirement. As you know, high-quality physical education (P.E.) is not only a core way of helping kids meet the National Physical Activity Guidelines of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each day, but is critical for teaching students the skills, content and knowledge they need for a lifetime of fitness and health.

Contact your legislators today and tell them to protect daily P.E. in Illinois

With one in three children in Illinois overweight and obese and at risk for diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, P.E. plays a critical role in keeping kids healthy. With several advancements in the quality of P.E. programming in Illinois over the last several years, we can’t afford to roll back requirements for schools. Every student deserves a chance to learn the skills and content necessary to be active and healthy throughout their life.

Contact your legislators today and tell them to protect daily P.E. in Illinois

We know active students learn better. Help improve health, academic achievement and in-class behavior by protecting daily P.E. in Illinois.

Regular Stretching May Boost Fitness of Those Who Can’t Exercise

A single 40-minute session of static, whole-body stretching significantly improved arterial function in the upper and lower body for up to an hour in relatively inactive young men, the study found. Repeated stretching may result in long-term arterial changes and be a safe alternative to aerobic exercise, researchers said.

Static stretching refers to slow muscle stretches, which are usually performed in one position and held for several seconds. Recent studies found that static stretching lowered blood pressure and improved blood flow in older patients, but it wasn’t known how long these changes lasted, researchers said.

The study, in Japan, involved 26 sedentary men in their early 20s. Arterial function was measured during 10 stretching exercises involving muscle groups in the arms, legs, neck and trunk. Each exercise was performed three times and held for 30 seconds while sitting, standing and lying on the back and stomach.

A noninvasive technique called pulse wave velocity, or PWV, was used to assess the subjects’ blood-vessel response. Higher PWV is an indicator of greater arterial stiffness, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Read more