Many studies have pointed to the serious health threats of long periods of uninterrupted sitting at home or at work. Even if you get in a 30-minute exercise session a day, that may not be enough to undo all the damage of sitting. An overall sedentary lifestyle has been linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers and premature death. Compounding the problem, not enough people are even meeting that basic goal of 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. In North America and Europe, between 70 percent and 95 percent of people are classified as inactive. What’s the answer? According to a panel of British health experts, sedentary office workers must find ways to get off their rears during every workday. The ideal is to stand, move or do light activity for at least 4 hours daily. To make it easier, they suggest starting off with a goal of 2 hours, or about 15 minutes per hour of the average workday, and working up from there. One way to achieve this is with an adjustable workstation that allows you to alternate between sitting and standing. If it’s not possible to get a desk that lifts, investigate getting a desktop device that raises and lowers your computer. More ideas to get you moving: Twice a day, stand up and do a series of stretches targeting the…  read on >

Staying hydrated is a mantra not only when exercising, but throughout the day for optimal health. Yet it’s possible to get too much of a good thing. In recent years, a number of athletes have died from a condition called exercise-associated hyponatremia, or EAH, which results from overwhelming the kidneys with excess fluid and upsetting the body’s natural balance of sodium. One high school football player died after consuming four gallons of liquids during a practice session. EAH has happened to athletes during endurance events like triathlons, but it can occur with any type of activity, even yoga. That’s why it’s important to balance fluid intake with individual needs. According to an EAH conference report, smaller people and those who exercise at a slower pace tend to drink more than they lose through sweat. The American College of Sports Medicine has hydration guidelines for before, during and after exercise, and suggests weighing yourself before and after to see if you’re losing weight and truly need to replace fluids. When extra liquids are in order, knowing quantity limits can help keep you safe. Before exercise: Have 16 to 20 ounces of water or a sports beverage at least 4 hours in advance. Have 8 to 12 ounces of water 10 to 15 minutes in advance. During exercise: For workouts under one hour, 3 to 8 ounces…  read on >

Ace hitters like Barry Bonds and Derek Jeter probably can confirm this: Baseball players with faster hand-eye coordination are better batters, a new study finds. This is especially true when it comes to measures of “plate discipline,” like drawing walks and swinging at pitches in the strike zone, researchers said. “Batters with better eye-hand visual motor reaction time appear to be more discerning in deciding to swing at pitches as compared [to those with] poorer visual-motor reaction time,” wrote study leader Dr. Daniel Laby and colleagues. Laby is with the State University of New York College of Optometry. Their findings from tests of 450 professional baseball players appear in the July issue of the journal Optometry and Vision Science. They found that players with the fastest hand-eye coordination drew walks 22 percent more often than those with the slowest hand-eye coordination — an average of one walk per 10 times at bat, compared with one walk per 13 times at bat, respectively. Players with the fastest hand-eye coordination were also 6 to 7 percent more likely to swing at pitches in the strike zone and to swing at fastballs in the strike zone, rather than curveballs or other off-speed pitches, the researchers found. “One could hypothesize that faster eye-hand reaction time allows the batter an opportunity to be selective in which pitches he ultimately decides…  read on >

Hopefully, you enjoy exercising and don’t watch the clock, impatient for it to be over. But it’s important to know how much exercise you’re getting so you can reap all its health rewards. Between the ages of 18 and 64, barring any medical restrictions, the weekly goal is at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio (aerobic) exercise, or 75 minutes if the activity is vigorous, plus two or three strength-training sessions. For older adults, it’s even better to shoot for five hours (300 minutes) each week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and weight training/muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Moderate-intensity cardio raises your heart rate and causes you to break a sweat — you’ll be able to talk, but not sing the words to a song. With vigorous-intensity cardio, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. Moderate-intensity exercises: Brisk walking Water aerobics Cycling on mostly level ground Doubles tennis Vigorous-intensity exercises: Jogging or running Swimming laps Cycling fast or on hills Singles tennis Basketball While the amount of exercise time will stay consistent until your senior years, your target heart rate goes down slightly as you get older since it’s based in part on your age. There’s no time minimum or maximum for strength…  read on >

Exercise boot camps get you in shape through one or more days of intensive training. Some have a celebrity aspect, like camps run by the dance squads of pro sports teams, while others promise the secrets of elite military training forces. There are so many that a quick internet search could serve up dozens in your area alone. Follow these tips to find the right one for you. According to the experts at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), there are many criteria to evaluate, starting with safety. Ask about precautions the organizers have taken to prevent injury and whether they review your health history prior to sign up to make sure you’re fit enough for the sessions. Investigate the training of the instructors. Are they certified by the ACSM or another respected fitness association such as the American Council on Exercise (ACE) or IDEA Health and Fitness Association? And what’s their prior teaching experience? How big is the class size and how many instructors are there for each class? You want to figure out whether the instructor-to-participant ratio will allow you to get personalized attention. Does the content of the sessions meet national fitness standards, and will you get a mix of cardio, strength training and flexibility with appropriate warm-ups and cool-downs? How do they track your progress and the boot camp’s effectiveness?…  read on >

Bicycling or other regular exercise may help reduce harmful inflammation in obese people, a new study suggests. Physical activity tames inflammation by changing blood characteristics, according to a team led by Dr. Michael De Lisio, of the University of Ottawa in Canada. Chronic inflammation is behind many of the health problems associated with obesity, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, the researchers noted. Although inflammation is the body’s natural response to harm, it can become long term in someone who’s obese. Then it can cause damage to healthy tissue, De Lisio and his colleagues explained. The new findings were published June 19 in the Journal of Physiology. “This research is important because it helps us understand how and why exercise improves the health of people with obesity,” De Lisio said in a journal news release. He’s a molecular exercise physiologist. The study included young obese adults who were otherwise healthy. The participants took part in a six-week exercise program that included three one-hour bicycling or treadmill-running sessions a week. Blood samples were taken from the participants at the start and the end of the study. The samples showed that after six weeks of regular workouts, there was a decline in stem cells that create blood cells responsible for inflammation. The next step, the researchers said, is to determine if these blood changes improve…  read on >