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 >

Obesity is no picnic for those who struggle with it, but new research sheds some light on why so few ever find their way to a healthy weight. It turns out that overweight and obese folks hold starkly different views on diet and exercise than their normal-weight peers, the study found. Namely, taste is their top consideration when choosing what to eat, nutritional labels are rarely examined, and their relationship with food tends to be more impulsive and emotional. And while many were open to the idea of smaller meal portions, they were on the other hand less likely to exercise than normal-weight people. Cost was also a factor, with many believing that healthier foods were more expensive. What does all this mean for public health efforts to tackle America’s obesity epidemic? “A major disparity exists between food-related policies and the mindsets and motivations of the people these policies are designed to impact,” said report author Hank Cardello. He is director of the Hudson Institute’s Food Policy Center in Washington, D.C. “Previous Hudson Institute studies have confirmed that healthier items are where the [food product] growth is coming from,” Cardello stressed. But that trend just doesn’t seem to apply to overweight and obese Americans, whose “eating patterns and attitudes reflect the more traditional consumer mindsets exemplified in the ’70s and ’80s,” he explained. “This suggests…  read on >

You’d better think twice before taking booze to the beach or out on a boat. Alcohol increases the risk of injury and death in and on the water, safety experts warn. For example, alcohol is a factor in up to 70 percent of all water recreation deaths of teens and adults, according to the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism (NIAAA). Drinking impairs judgment and makes people more likely to take risks, a dangerous combination for swimmers, the institute noted. Even experienced swimmers may go farther out than they should and not be able to make it back to shore, or they may not notice how cold they’re getting and develop hypothermia. Diving after drinking is especially dangerous, according to the NIAAA. Being drunk may cause divers to collide with a diving board or to dive where the water is too shallow, the institute noted in a news release. In addition, alcohol can lead surfers to become overconfident and try to ride a wave beyond their abilities. And drinking while boating presents another set of challenges. NIAAA-funded research shows that alcohol may play a role in 60 percent of boating deaths, including falling overboard. Also, a boat operator who’s had four to five drinks is 16 times more likely to be killed in a boating accident than one who hasn’t had any alcohol.…  read on >

It’s often said salt water is good for cuts. Or that sunscreen isn’t needed on cloudy days. But both are incorrect, says Isabel Valdez, a physician assistant and instructor of family medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. When you head outdoors this summer, you should be aware of some common health myths, she noted. “Salt water from the beach can actually contain germs or bacteria that can infect an open wound,” Valdez said in a college news release. “You should wait until the wound is healed and sealed completely before submerging it in fresh or salt water.” Wash wounds with warm, soapy water. See your doctor if the wound becomes red, sore or warm to touch, Valdez advised. It’s also a myth that you don’t need to wear sunscreen when it’s cloudy. “You definitely want to wear sunscreen even when it’s cloudy because you are still going to be exposed to some UV rays,” Valdez said. “I recommend always wearing an SPF over 30.” Reapply sunscreen throughout the day, especially if you are swimming or sweating, she added. You probably know you need to drink more fluids in the heat. But don’t assume all liquids are equal. Drinking soda or an alcoholic beverage will not hydrate you. In fact, too much alcohol or caffeine actually can dehydrate you because they are diuretics that…  read on >

(HealthDay News) — Wearing athletic shoes that don’t fit can lead to injury, pain and poor performance. The American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society suggests how to select the right shoes: Buy footwear from a specialty store, where the staff can offer advice and fit you for the right shoes. Try on shoes later in the day or after a workout, when your feet are larger. Try on shoes with the socks that you will wear during athletics. Make sure you can wiggle all of your toes inside the shoes. The shoes should be comfortable as soon as you try them on. Walk or run a few steps in the shoes to see if they are comfortable. The shoes should grip your heels firmly, preventing the heels from slipping while you run or walk. Replace shoes after 500 miles of running or 300 hours of aerobic activity.