TIME fitness

Study: Running 5 Minutes a Day Could Add Years to Your Life

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According to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, running 5 minutes per day can reduce an individual’s risk of premature death by about 3 years. Researchers found that people who ran less than an hour per week also saw an increase in lifespan, not just a decrease in risk of premature death. The study took place over the course of 15 years, testing participants ranging in age from 18-100.

Separate research found that running more than 20 miles per week could take years off an individual’s life, providing further evidence that less can be more with regard to exercise. According to that research, individuals who exhibit consistent but moderate workout patterns are likely to live the longest.

TIME fitness

63% of Americans Actively Avoid Soda

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Crushed can Getty Images

The soda craze is going flat–at least, according to a new Gallup poll, which found that almost two-thirds of Americans actively avoid soda in their diet.

While 41% percent of those polled in 2002 said that they try to steer clear of soda, that number has now jumped to 63%. Gallup’s poll shows that generally Americans are making more effort to have healthier diets. More than nine out of ten Americans try to include fruits and vegetables in their diets, and 52% said that they are trying to avoid sugars.

Don’t start pouring one out for the dying soda business just yet, though. A 2012 Gallup poll also found that 48% of Americans drink at least one glass of soda a day.

TIME Exercise/Fitness

1 in 4 Americans Admit Doing No Exercise At All

Overweight man using remote controls
Overweight man using remote controls Geri Lavrov—Getty Images

The 10 most sedentary states in America are as follows

The CDC released a new report Tuesday that looks at how states across the country support physical activity, revealing one in four people across the U.S. admit doing no voluntary exercise at all.

The research is intended to show how some states are much more active than others. But to really drill in the point, the CDC included a table that tracks the percentage of adults by state who participate in zero physical activity in their free time.

A total of 25.4 percent across the U.S. admitted making no time at all for leisure-time physical activity, according to the report. Just over half of those surveyed said they met the CDC’s 150-minute weekly guideline for aerobic activity.

The 10 states with the highest percentage of inactivity were as follows:

Mississippi: 36%
Tennessee: 35.1%
West Virginia: 35.1%
Louisiana: 33.8%
Alabama: 32.6%
Oklahoma: 31.2%
Arkansas: 30.9%
Kentucky: 29.3%
Indiana: 29.2%
Missouri: 28.4%

The report states that data on physical activity behavior was gathered using data from the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, and the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (which was used to track youth physical activity.)

While some of the above numbers might look bad, all hope isn’t lost. The CDC’s report suggests strategies states can employ to encourage physical activity. Those include:

1) Creating or enhancing access to safe places for physical activity
2) Enhancing physical education and physical activity in schools and child care settings
3) Supporting street-scale and community-scale design policy.

The CDC found that 27 states are tying to make the streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists with Complete Street policies to get people up and moving.

TIME fitness

Sitting All Day Isn’t As Bad If You Do This

African American businessman using laptop
Jetta Productions/Blend Images RM/Getty Images

Getting to the bottom of sitting on your bottom: the latest study shows that fitness matters

There’s a growing drumbeat to get all of us out of our chairs and off our bottoms. Some studies, including the most recent analysis, suggest that something about being sedentary can lead to poor health outcomes, including heart disease and things like obesity, diabetes and overall “fitness”—which, in technical terms, is a measure of how strong the heart and respiratory system are. Those studies found that even people who exercised weren’t immune to the dangers of sitting—though exercise did help.

But were the effects of sitting actually independently lowering fitness and causing health problems, or was the sitting just a reflection of the fact that people who sat more spent less time being active?

MORE: Sitting Can Increase Your Risk of Cancer By Up to 66%

Kerem Shuval, a research specialist in nutrition and physical activity at the American Cancer Society, and his colleagues wanted to address that question. So they turned to the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study, an ongoing trial of white men that measures how lifestyle behaviors affect disease and longevity. They asked the men about how many hours they spent in a car or watching TV (the sedentary part) and then put them on a treadmill to record their fitness levels, as well as tested their blood for cholesterol and blood sugar. The scientists also calculated the participants’ body fat percentage, their waist circumference and their body mass index (BMI).

When they adjusted for the amount of physical activity that the men reported, they found that those who spent more hours each week in a car or watching TV showed higher triglyceride levels, a higher BMI, waist circumference and more body fat compared to those who reported less than nine hours a week of sedentary behavior.

MORE: An Hour of Exercise Can Make Up for a Day of Sitting Down

But when Shuval then factored in the mens’ fitness levels, he found that most of the interaction with negative health outcomes went away. “Once we controlled for fitness, the effects of sedentary behavior were a lot less pronounced on health outcomes,” he says.

So there’s no question that people who are fit, which means they are physically active, and those who exercise regularly, enjoy better health. The question is whether you can get fitter not just by becoming more active, but also by sitting less. “The jury is still out in my mind about what to do about decreasing sitting,” says Shuval, who published his results in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

There are some studies that follow people over time that found that more sitting time is linked to a higher risk of early death. But that could be due to the fact that people who sit more are less physically active, so sitting is displacing exercise. Shuval found, for example, no strong association between how much time people spent sitting and their risk of metabolic syndrome – the constellation of risk factors connected to heart disease – nearly nine years later. That suggests that physical activity, and not something unique about sedentary behavior, may be the driving factor in that syndrome.

MORE: Now There’s Another Reason Sitting Will Kill You

That’s supported by a study published in PLOS ONE in January 2014 in which researchers from the U.S. and Australia found that when they included all levels of physical activity – not just moderate or vigorous activity, but even the light forms that make up most of what people do during the day – the negative effect of sitting on adverse health measures like blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar and waist circumference disappeared. In other words, how active people are – and the more active they are, the less they sit – likely has the strongest effect on health.

Shuval, however, admits that his results likely aren’t the definitive ones that will resolve the question of how sitting affects our health. The men in the Cooper study, for example, were only asked about the time they spent in their cars or watching television; they didn’t account for time spent sitting at their jobs, for instance, so the sedentary time could have been underestimated. They also only asked about sedentary habits once, so the study couldn’t account for any changes the participants had in the amount of time they spent in chairs.

The uncertainly probably explains why there aren’t yet any guidelines about healthy and unhealthy amounts of sitting time, as there are for physical activity. “We haven’t established yet by how much we need to reduce sedentary behavior and how to do it,” says Shuval. But one thing is clear – sitting less means you are probably more physically active. And there is plenty of evidence suggesting that’s good for your health.

 

TIME fitness

7 New Ways to Sit Less

You probably know by now that sitting for long periods is a big health no-no. Not only can sitting make you fat, but in 2012, Australian researchers found that people who sit for more than 11 hours a day have a 40% increased risk of death from any cause, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

More recently, a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that people who spent most of the day on their butts had a 24% greater colon cancer risk—and that number shot up to 54% for people who clocked the most hours sitting in front of the TV. And the risks remained even for so-called “active couch potatoes”—people who work out but still spend most of their day off their feet. The study authors said this suggests that regular exercise can’t offset the risks of too much sitting.

So if sitting is so bad, why don’t we just stand all the time? While it’s important to get up and moving when you can, standing for an entire day isn’t good for you either.

Health.com:15 Exercises for People in Pain

That’s what writer Dan Kois learned, according to a recent story for New York magazine. Kois tried standing 95% of the time for 30 days straight, and had cramps in his calves at bedtime and pain in his hips, heels, and legs—even after using cushioned insoles and standing on an anti-fatigue mat at work. The take-home message? The goal isn’t to make a complete switch from one to the other. As one University of Pittsburgh professor told Kois, jobs that require a lot of standing (like nursing or retail) are linked to their own set of health problems including varicose veins, lower-back pain, and increased risk of stroke.

When it comes down to it, you really need both to stay healthy. There are easy ways to incorporate standing into your daily routine for better health.

Here are some tips to break out of a mostly sedentary lifestyle:

Set an alarm

It seems silly, but you need to remind yourself to get up. Setting your phone alarm or using an app like BreakTime for Mac devices are simple ways to encourage more movement throughout the day. Even the scientists that Kois talked to for his article used this strategy to stand up for 10 minutes every hour. Plus, you won’t be able to ignore that loud ping on your smartphone or computer when the time comes.

Health.com:18 Moves to Tone Your Legs and Butt

Start pacing

One activity you can certainly do while standing: talking on the phone. This is especially great for office dwellers who constantly get bogged down by calls or people who have lots of phone dates with friends and family. At work, you just need a long phone-to-ear cord or quality headset to ensure you get more mobile. Even taking a call standing will help your legs shift more naturally.

Walk whenever possible

You’d be surprised how many ways you can sneak walking into your daily routine. A quick walk after a meal can be a relaxing way to get your feet moving. After eating, the fat levels in your bloodstream are at their peak, so simply moving around post meal increases the activity of lipoprotein lipase, a gene that boosts your metabolism.

If you drive to work, park your car a few blocks away from the building, suggests Roshini Raj, M.D., Health‘s contributing medical editor. That way you can get your legs working before you even get through the door. Same goes for you train and subway riders. Get off a stop or two early, or take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator to add some extra steps to your day. Dr. Raj also recommends walking to get your lunch instead of ordering in. It’s that simple!

Health.com: 10 Ways to Walk Off Fat Faster

Choose the right seat

The next time you go out for food or drinks, skip the table and try sitting at the bar. Seating yourself on the front third of a bar stool can help you maintain the S-shape in your spine and distribute your weight more evenly (that is, more weight supported by your feet and less by your butt). To mimic this position, called “perching,” spread your feet just wider than hip distance and gently roll your hips forward, arching your back slightly.

Ditch the chair

Summer is definitely the time for concerts, tailgates, and lazy days at the park. Next time, don’t haul a chair with you. Leaving your folding chairs at home will force you to get up more often while outdoors. Just have a blanket on hand to rest every so often, but don’t be afraid to stand the whole time either–better yet, go for a short walk while you’re up.

Health.com:17 Easy Ways to Burn Calories Outdoors

Do stuff in person

Sometimes the best way to ask a question is face to face. Yes, it’s super easy to email, call, or IM someone at work. But does walking to your coworker’s desk really take that long? You may even get a faster response to a simple question this way. When it comes time to hash out a project, opt to chat with your colleague in person or even suggest taking a walk to the coffee machine. Both are great ways to get you two moving and working at the same time.

Create mini workstations

The idea here is to give your body the chance to rotate between different positions throughout the day. Start by creating an area at your desk where you can stand and work. A box or milk crate covered with fabric can be a great resting place for your laptop, or you can leave memos to read on a shelf at standing height. If you’re daring enough, you could even try a standing desk.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Big Picture

Where Wearable Health Gadgets Are Headed

fitbit
A person wearing a Fitbit fitness band types on a laptop Getty Images

Every once in a while, I’m shown a tech product and I can’t figure out why it was created. One great example of this was a two-handed mouse I was shown at large R&D-based company many years ago.

I was asked to review it to see if they should bring it to market. After trying to use it and viewing the complicated things you had to do to make it work, I told them it would never succeed. However, the engineer behind it was convinced he had created the next great mouse and was determined to try and get it to market. Thankfully, the management at this company killed it, as it would have been a complete failure and provided no real value to any customer. However, the technology was available to create it and this engineer did it because he could.

In the world of tech, most successful products address serious needs that people have. This is very much the case behind the current movement to create all types of wearable devices designed to make people healthier.

Folks behind products like the Jawbone Up, Nike Fuel, Fitbit and others have solid backgrounds in exercise and exercise science. They wanted to create stylish wearable products that could be used to monitor steps, count calories and track various other fitness metrics. Other products such as ones from iHealth, which has created a digital blood pressure device and a blood glucose testing kit that are tied to smartphones, were designed by people close to the health industry who saw a need to create products that could utilize digital technology to power new health monitoring tools.

At a personal level, I’m pleased that these folks are utilizing key technologies like accelerometers, sensors, Bluetooth low-energy radios and new types of semiconductors to create products that aim to impact people’s health. Readers of this column may remember that two years ago I suffered a heart attack and had a triple bypass. As you can imagine, this provided a serious wake up call to me about taking better care of myself. Since then, my Nike Fuelband has been my 24-hour wearable companion: I check its step-monitoring readout religiously to make sure I get the 10,000 steps in each day that my doctor has required of me as part of my recovery regimen.

While I would like to think that these tech folks are doing it for the altruistic reasons, the bottom line is that there is a lot of money to be made in health-related wearables. The folks from IHS published a good report last year on the market for wearables, which are mostly driven by health-related apps.

Most researchers that track this market believe that the wearable health market will represent at least $2 billion in revenue worldwide by 2018. In many developed countries around the world, people are becoming much more health conscious. Reports seem to come out daily, talking about the good or bad effects some foods have on our lives. And more and more, we hear that we need to exercise to either maintain our health or to improve it.

So a combination of the right technology becoming available and an increased awareness for better health has created this groundswell of health-related wearable devices and digital monitoring tools designed to help people have healthier lives. But there is another major reason that we are seeing more and more health-related wearables and digital monitoring products come to market now. This is driven by most healthcare providers and is one of their major initiatives: In simple terms, it’s cheaper to keep a person healthy than to cover their costs in the hospital when they’re sick.

Almost all the major health care providers have created web sites with all types of information about managing one’s health. These sites have information and programs for cancer patients, diabetics, and many other health issues that help people better manage these diseases. Health insurers are also really getting behind the various digital monitoring tools and health wearables, too, viewing them as vital tools that can help their customers stay healthier and keep them out of the hospital as much as possible.

Interestingly, as I talk to many of the executives of these health-related wearable companies, many of them claim to be on a mission. Yes, they admit there is money to be made, but most I speak with are serious about giving people the technology to help them keep themselves healthy. In fact, in at least two cases, the executives I have talked to have special funds they personally set aside to donate to major health causes as part of their personal commitment to using technology to make people healthier.

While there is some chatter about the market for wearable technology not being a sustainable one, I suspect that it will stay on track to eventually become integrated into everyday objects such as watches, hats and even clothes, becoming part of a broader trend called “self-health monitoring.” This trend basically says that people will want to have more and more information about calories the number of calories they’ve burned, the number of steps they’ve steps taken, their pulse and other metrics. Thanks to these new technologies, this data would be available to them in a variety of ways.

Of course, not everyone may want to know these health-related data points, but the research shows that at least one-fourth of U.S. adults have these types of health-related wearable monitoring devices on their personal radars. The fact that this market is growing around 20% or more each year suggests that we could continue to see growth for at least another three years. As these devices become part of our wardrobes, they could eventually fade into the background while still providing health-related info that many people may need to stay motivated. This is the goal that the tech world has embraced wholeheartedly, providing more and better tools for this purpose.

Bajarin is the president of Creative Strategies Inc., a technology industry analysis and market-intelligence firm in Silicon Valley. He contributes to Big Picture, an opinion column that appears every week on TIME Tech.

TIME Music

This Is Spotify’s Ultimate Workout Playlist

The perfect jams to keep you motivated

Need some new tunes to listen to while attempting to fulfill your summer fitness goals? Well, here’s a handy playlist brought to you by the folks at Spotify and Billboard.

Billboard explains the not-super-scientific methodology that led to the curation of the list:

In order to put this list together, we at Billboard asked Spotify and their data science wing the Echo Nest to poll their 24 million users, and the one-and-a-half billion playlists those users have created, to generate the top songs people place in their exercise-related digital mixtapes.

With the data Spotify provided, Billboard created playlists for everything from crossfit to tae bo, but the above playlist is the ultimate roundup of general workout songs. Surprisingly, it does not exclusively consist of Top 40 hits. Here’s a breakdown:

Billboard

 

TIME fitness

4 Great Sports Headphones for Under $50

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Getting active is always more fun with music, especially when you exercise solo. Normal headphones aren’t often up to the challenge, though, breaking when they’re covered in sweat and falling out when you move from a walk to a jog. So it’s important to use a pair of headphones made for sports.

Key features in sports headphones to look for include a stabilizer, like ear hooks, sweat resistance and different size eartips for you to choose from to get the perfect fit. Below are four top rated sports headphones that not only deliver a superior auditory experience, but also won’t break the bank.

Philips

1. Philips ActionFit Sports SHQ4200 ($35 on Amazon)

The flexible neckband auto-adjusts to your head for a perfect fit and you can choose from three eartip sizes for the best fit.

Sony

2. Sony MDR-AS200 ($16 on Amazon)

The Sony MDR-AS200 is built to stay in, with a loop hanger for stable fitting and angled earbuds that stay put.
 
 

Koss

3. Koss KSC 32 FitClips ($18 on Amazon)

Amazon reviewers rave about the fit as well as the sound quality of the FitClips earbuds. They come in five colors designed to appeal to women, including coral, purple and lime.
 

Philips

4. Philips ActionFit Sports SHQ1200 ($20 on Amazon)

Smaller and lighter than the SHQ4200 earbuds, these are coated in an anti-slip rubber to keep them in your ears while you run and sweat, even in the rain.

This article was written by Dan O’Halloran and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Apple

Apple’s iWatch to Come in Multiple Sizes, Pack 10 Sensors: WSJ

Apple is reportedly getting close to launching its much-rumored smartwatch. The Wall Street Journal reports that the tech powerhouse is working on a new device that will be available in “multiple screen sizes” and will pack “more than 10 sensors” to track users’ fitness. A flurry of reports suggest the device will be different from the company’s other gadgets in that it will be able to collect data without the need for a tethered mobile device.

The newest rumor adds to a recent New York Times report which indicated that Apple was testing new ways to charge its wearable without plugging it in. The WSJ suggest that production may begin in the coming weeks ahead of an October launch.

Check out five of the coolest iWatch mockups here.

[WSJ]

TIME fitness

Here’s How Kids Can Get Better Grades

It’s not the brain but the heart that may matter more when it comes to excelling at school

Just like other organs, the brain needs to be used regularly to be at its best. And new research suggests physical exercise is correlated with improved mental functions, too.

Researchers in Spain followed more than 2,000 children aged 6 to 18 for three years and looked at how physical fitness, motor skills and muscle strength related to academic performance. Fitness levels were assessed based on how efficiently people’s hearts and lungs respond during exercise—and when they compared the students’ fitness to their grades in math and language classes, as well as their overall GPA, the researchers found that the more fit kids had higher grades.

The scientists say theirs is the first study to look at the independent role that fitness can have on academic performance, and suggests that efforts to improve students’ grades may include not just intellectual but physical programs as well. Other studies have linked strong heart and lung function, for example, to better blood flow in the brain, which can help cognitive functions. Other benefits include the release of nerve growth factors that keep neural connections healthy and functioning properly.

“Promoting physical activity that involves aerobic exercise and motor tasks during the school years … may be important not only for health, but also for successful academic development,” the authors write in the Journal of Pediatrics. Another reason to keep gym class in school.

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