Fitter kids, better grades?

Published: Monday, August 13, 2012 @ 7:33 AM
Updated: Monday, August 13, 2012 @ 7:33 AM

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-- Fitter kids do better on school tests, according to new research that echoes previous findings.

The fitter the middle school students were, the better they did on reading and math tests, says researcher Sudhish Srikanth, a University of North Texas student. He presented his research Friday at the American Psychological Association's annual meeting in Orlando.

The researchers tested 1,211 students from five Texas middle schools. They looked at each student's academic self-concept -- how confident they were in their abilities to do well -- and took into account the student's socioeconomic status.

They knew these two factors would play a role in how well the students did, Srikanth says.

After those factors, they looked at others that might influence school performance, such as social support, fitness, or body composition.

Bottom line? Of the other factors examined, "cardiorespiratory fitness has the strongest effect on academic achievement," he says.

The research doesn't prove cause and effect, and the researchers didn't try to explain the link. But other research suggests why fitness is so important, says researcher Trent Petrie, PhD, director of the Center for Sport Psychology at the University of North Texas.

"Physical fitness is associated with improvements in memory, concentration, organization, and staying on task," he says.

Fitter Kids, Better Grades: Details

For one to five months before the students took standardized reading and math tests, they answered questions about:

  • Usual physical activity
  • Their view of their school ability
  • Self-esteem
  • Social support

The researchers assessed the students' fitness. They used a variety of tests that looked at muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, aerobic capacity, and body composition.

Previous studies have found a link between fitness and improved school performance, Srikanth says. However, this new study also looked at several other potential influences.

For the boys, having social support was also related to better reading scores.

For the girls, a larger body mass index was the only factor other than fitness that predicted better reading scores. The researchers are not sure why.

Other studies have found fitness more important than weight for test scores.

For both boys and girls, fitness levels were the only factors studied (besides socioeconomic status and self-concept) related to math scores.

Srikanth found an upward trend, with more fitness linked with better scores. He says he can't quantify it beyond that.

Fitter Kids, Better Grades: Perspectives

The new research echoes that of James Sallis, PhD, distinguished professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego. A long-time researcher on physical fitness, he reviewed the findings.

"The mountain of evidence just got higher that active and fit kids perform better in school," he says.

The finding that fitness was related to both reading and math scores in both girls and boys is impressive, he says. "That's strong evidence."

"I hope this study convinces both parents and school administrators to increase and improve physical education, recess, classroom activity breaks, after-school physical activity and sports, and walk-to-school programs."

He is a co-founder of SPARK physical activity programs, in place nationwide.

Lesley Cottrell, PhD, vice chair of research in pediatrics at West Virginia University, has also linked fitness with better school performance in her research. "They extend our findings by considering students' self-concept," she says.

Her advice to parents? "A healthy child is a well-rounded child. Focusing on one developmental area may neglect other, important areas. For instance, in our findings we acknowledge that we have neglected the physical activity and fitness development for our children as a whole."

"By doing so, we may miss an opportunity to improve or sustain their academic development," she says.

The study was funded by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

SOURCES:Sudhish Srikanth, University of North Texas student, Denton.James Sallis, PhD, distinguished professor of family and preventive medicine; chief, division of behavioral medicine, University of California, San Diego.Lesley Cottrell, PhD, vice chair of research, pediatrics, West Virginia University, Morgantown.American Psychological Association annual convention, Orlando, Aug. 2-5, 2012.Trent Petrie, PhD,  professor of psychology and director of the Center for Sport Psychology, University of North Texas, Denton.

5 questions every woman in her 40s should ask her doctor

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 10:36 AM

Women are waiting longer on average to have babies. Now there’s a push for women in their 20s and 30s to spend thousands of dollars to have their eggs stored. So they can improve their chances for pregnancy later in life. Freezing tiny embryos is also an option. At Reproductive Biology Associates, a fertility clinic in Atlanta, lab workers fertilize patients’ eggs, one by one, with sperm. This lab worker uses a tube and the suction of her breath to hold the material in place for the delicate pro

Women who are in their 40s are in many cases reaching a new stage in their lives. Your children may be more independent, and you might have a well-established career. It can also be a time of change, when it's easier to gain weight, and you may start to see the first signs of menopause.

»RELATED: 4 questions every woman in her 30s should ask her doctor

Being informed about the changes you may face during your 40s is an important way to protect your health for many years to come. It pays to have regular checkups and discuss any potential issues or concerns with your doctor. In addition, you may want to undergo some health screenings to confirm or rule out problems that may be more common after age 40.

The following are five questions every woman in her 40s should ask her doctor:

What supplements should I take?

It's common for women in their 40s to be deficient in nutrients such as vitamin D, according to DoctorOz.com, so it's important to ask your doctor if you should be taking any supplements. This vitamin helps your body absorb calcium, which protects against osteoporosis-related bone loss – a particular concern as you get older.

A blood test can check your vitamin D levels, and if they're low, you may be advised stop smoking, start resistance training and add a supplement to your daily routine.

Should I be tested for diabetes?

Your risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases with age, especially after you're 45, according to Healthline. A blood test can determine whether your body is using insulin efficiently enough to help your body maintain consistent blood glucose levels.

You're at particular risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you're overweight, have a family history of the disease or have a history of gestational diabetes. If you have this disease, you're at an increased risk of developing heart disease, blindness and depression.

How can I control my weight?

Women's metabolism slows after age 40, and as a result, you'll need to eat less and exercise in order to maintain the same weight, according to DoctorOz.com. You may also have hypothyroidism – an underactive thyroid gland that can result in weight gain. If you're gaining weight, it's worth asking your doctor about, especially if you have dry skin, feel tired and are less able to tolerate cold temperatures.

Your doctor can treat hypothyroidism and also suggest an appropriate fitness plan that takes into account your age, weight and health history.

Should I keep taking birth control pills?

If you're in your 40s, you may think you've left your child-bearing years behind, but that's not necessarily true. Unless you've been menopausal for more than a year, you'll still need to take birth control. The second highest rate of unintended pregnancy is for sexually active women who are age 40 to 50, JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of The North American Menopause Society, told the Chicago Tribune.

Doctors have differing opinions on whether you should keep taking birth control pills after age 40, so talk to your doctor to find out what form of contraception he or she recommends for you.

What about menopause?

You may not be thinking about menopause yet, but it's normal for this process to occur at any age from 40 to 59, according to familydoctor.org. For an indication about when this might happen, look to when the older women in your family reached menopause. Although this can influence when you enter menopause, it's not guaranteed.

After menopause, your body produces less estrogen, and this may increase your risk of heart disease, the American Heart Association says. Heart disease is the number-one threat to women's health. Talk to your doctor about symptoms that could indicate your may be headed toward menopause and whether hormone replacement therapy is recommended.

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'Tide Pod Challenge': Georgia teen among those sickened in dangerous trend

Published: Sunday, January 21, 2018 @ 6:04 AM

‘Tide Pod Challenge’ On Social Media Alarms Doctors, Parents Warned

Don’t do the Tide Pod Challenge. Seriously.

>> Watch the news report here

That’s the message poison control officials are urging people after a bizarre trend spread like wildfire online.

The challenge involves people popping the small laundry detergent packs in their mouths and posting videos online of themselves chewing and gagging on the oozing product.

Dozens of people have been taken to the hospital after doing the challenge. 

>> Doctors warn parents about dangerous 'Tide Pod Challenge'

Dr. Gaylord Lopez, the director of Georgia's Poison Control Center, confirmed to WSB-TV that the center has handled one case involving a teen.

“This year, we had a call about a 13-year-old. In fact, it was the mother who called us because the kid was getting sick and vomiting,” Lopez said.

While there's only been one confirmed “Tide Pod Challenge” case in Georgia, Lopez said this is a good reminder about the dangers of detergent pods in general.

There are still hundreds of children under the age of 5 getting sick from them.

“When you’ve got a young child picking up a packet, like I have in my hand, thinking it might be candy or food, you could see why kids are attracted to them,” Lopez said.

>> Read more trending news 

Lopez also wants parents to be aware of the latest social media craze.

“Parents need to know that if their young teens are getting into them, they can easily have problems ranging from just mild upset of the stomach to this stuff getting into their lungs and causing far more problems,” Lopez said.

Last week, YouTube and Facebook announced they are removing “Tide Pod Challenge” videos from their sites.

Flu virus spread by breathing, study finds

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 1:06 PM


Joe Raedle/Getty Images
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Most people believe that the influenza virus is spread through the coughs and sneezes of infected people, but new research published Thursday suggests that the flu virus is spread more easily than previously thought.

>> Read more trending news

Medical professionals believe that the virus is spread most often by “droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But researchers studying how the virus spreads recently found large amounts of the virus in the breath of people suffering from the flu, according to the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health.

>> Related: Influenza surveillance map: Where is the flu in my state? 

The researchers -- from the University of Maryland, San Jose State University, Missouri Western State University and the University of California, Berkeley -- published their findings Thursday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We found that flu cases contaminated the air around them with infectious virus just by breathing, without coughing or sneezing,” said Donald Milton, professor of environmental health in the University of Maryland School of Public Health and lead researcher for the study.

Milton and his team examined the virus content in the breath of 142 people who were diagnosed with flu as they were breathing normally, speaking, coughing and sneezing. Researchers found that a majority of those who participated in the study had enough of the infectious virus in just their regular, exhaled breath to possibly infect another person.

A review of the data collected from the coughs and sneezes of infected participants showed that neither action appeared to have a large impact on whether or not the virus was spread.

>> Related: 11 things parents need to know about the flu, the vaccine, how long kids need to stay out of school  

“People with flu generate infectious aerosols (tiny droplets that stay suspended in the air for a long time), even when they are not coughing and especially during the first days of illness,” Milton said.

The study’s authors said the results highlighted how necessary it is for people who have the flu to stay at home.

>> Related: What is the H3N2 flu and how bad is flu season this year? 

“The study findings suggest that keeping surfaces clean, washing our hands all the time, and avoiding people who are coughing does not provide complete protection from getting the flu,” said Sheryl Ehrman, the dean of the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering at San Jose State University. “Staying home and out of public spaces could make a difference in the spread of the influenza virus.”

<p>5 Reasons to get a Flu Shot</p>(Bryan Erdy/News | WHBQ)

5 questions every man in his 40s should ask his doctor

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 2:28 PM

Here are 5 health questions every man in his 30s should ask his doctor Do I need any immunizations? Should I be worried about this blemish on my skin? Should I be concerned about heart disease? Is my back pain normal? What are the main signs of depression and other mental health conditions?

Men are notorious for not wanting to go to the doctor unless they're desperate. But routine doctor's visits – especially when you hit your 40s and beyond – can help you be as healthy as possible. Getting regular care and screenings can help your doctor catch and treat issues while they're in their earliest stages.

»RELATED: 4 health questions every man in his 30s should ask his doctor

The following are five questions every man in his 40s should ask at his next doctor's exam:

What screenings do I need?

After age 40, family history plays a greater role in what your particular health concerns may be, according to Men's Journal. For example, if you have a family history of colon or prostate cancer, you'll want to start getting screened every five years in your 40s rather than waiting until the usually-recommended age of 50.

You'll also want to monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol by getting a full lipid panel every three years – or more often if there's an issue. You should also have your blood glucose level checked, particularly if you're overweight.

Could I be depressed?

Middle-aged men can be at risk for depression or even suicide, but they're often less likely to seek help than women are. Suicide rates for men ages 45 to 64 increased by 43 percent in the years from 1999 to 2014, according to Men's Health.

Many men who are suffering from depression may not experience the typical sadness that's associated with this disorder. They may have a change in sleep patterns, fatigue, a diminished interest in sex or feeling a lack of purpose and connection to life. Increased substance abuse is also a common indication that you may be depressed.

Should I be tested for sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that causes repeated pauses in breathing during sleep. This deprives your brain and the rest of your body of the oxygen it needs to function at your best and increases your risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, depression and type 2 diabetes, WebMD says.

If you're a man over 40, you're at an increased risk of developing sleep apnea, especially if you're overweight. Other risk factors include having a neck size of 17 inches or greater, a family history of sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and nasal obstruction due to allergies or sinus issues.

If your doctor thinks you may have sleep apnea, he or she can refer you to a sleep specialist. A sleep study, which measures and records what happens to your body as you sleep, can help confirm or rule out the presence of sleep apnea.

Should I be taking a statin?

Statins are cholesterol-busting drugs, and they're now recommended for people ages 40 to 75 who have one or more risk factors that make them have a 10 percent or greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke within 10 years. The Washington Post says that with these new guidelines, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force has greatly expanded the number of people who should take statins.

Risk factors that could cause your doctor to recommend statins include smoking or having high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes.

How can I reduce or prevent a "spare tire?"

As men hit middle age, many tend to gain weight around the middle, which is commonly known as a "spare tire," WebMD says. Studies show that gaining weight in this area is a predictor of heart disease and diabetes, even more so than overall obesity is.

Talk to your doctor about what you can do to lose weight and target extra weight around the middle. He or she can point you to a weight loss and fitness plan that's appropriate for your age, weight and any health considerations you may have.

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