Latest Research Highlights from ACSM

If you're looking for new health and fitness story ideas, here are some highlights from recently released research in ACSM’s flagship journal, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world.

 Give Yourself Choice in Exercise and You’ll Eat Better Afterwards

Exercise has many benefits, but some of these may be offset by indulging in unhealthy food choices after a workout. What if the way that you go about exercising could decrease the likelihood of this happening? This study examined how having choice over the type, amount and timing of exercise may affect food intake during post-exercise recovery. Fifty-eight healthy men and women with normal body weight were randomly assigned to either ‘choice’ or ‘no choice’ exercise conditions. Individuals who exercised with ‘choice’ ate less unhealthy foods compared with those who exercised under controlling conditions without choice (i.e. were told what to do). Those given choice over exercise also reported greater enjoyment and saw more value in the activity. These findings suggest that promoting choice in exercise (that is, exercising because you choose to, you can see the value and you enjoy it) is important to maximize the benefits of exercise. On the other hand, exercising under controlling conditions (with limited choice, or because you feel you must) may increase the chance of offsetting the benefits of exercise by indulging more in unhealthy food choices afterwards.   

Read the abstract here or contact the investigators.

Rest for The Weary: Can Physical Activity Help Breast Cancer Survivors Sleep Better?

Not sleeping well is a frequent problem for women with a history of breast cancer. It has been assumed that physical activity, such as walking, can improve sleep quality after cancer. However, research has not always confirmed this. Investigators randomly assigned half of 222 breast cancer survivors to a 3-month aerobic physical activity program (BEAT Cancer). The women receiving BEAT Cancer reported significant improvements in sleep quality at the end of the program that continued three months later. It is also possible that the benefits of staff attention and/or the subjects unconsciously reporting a better outcome to please study staff may have played a role in our results. Nevertheless, the continued beneficial program effects three months after completing the intervention are notable. It is appropriate to recommend regular physical activity for helping breast cancer survivors rest better. Doing so can improve their quality of life and over-all health.

Read the abstract here or contact the investigators.

Be Wary of Binge-Watching Your Favorite Television Shows!

With on-demand television, many of us easily spend several hours a day binge-watching our favorite shows. Such prolonged periods of sitting are known to increase risk of death from heart disease and some cancers, but why is that so? Inflammation is a normal response where chemicals are released into the blood in a helpful response to a harmful event – this contributes to recovery. But inflammation itself can become harmful if these chemicals hang around for long periods, causing disease. These Australian scientists suggest inflammation may be a key link between prolonged sitting and risk of death. In a survey of over 8,000 adults, the investigators found that every extra hour per day spent watching television leads to 12 percent higher risk of death and that this is linked to inflammation, including diabetes, respiratory, cognitive, and kidney diseases! It was found that even those who watch TV in moderate doses (2-4 hours per day) may benefit by cutting down their television viewing time.

Read the abstract here or contact the investigators.

What’s the Most Important Activity Behavior to Combat Childhood Obesity?

In the US, obesity affects one in every six children or adolescents. Reducing this level of obesity requires targeting the behaviors that most contribute to excessive fatness during the growing years. Over 450 five-year-olds participated, with a high percentage of these followed for up to 14 years. The aim was to determine what intensity of physical activity most influenced excessive fatness. Uniquely, the study used an objective measure of physical activity and a “gold standard” measure of fatness (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry). The authors also asked about TV viewing. They found that low levels of moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity and high levels of TV viewing were the best predictors of excessive fatness throughout childhood and adolescence. Overall sedentary time and light physical activity did not matter. Programs and policies for reducing childhood obesity should shift to focus on increasing the moderate intensity physical activity and paying special attention to reducing TV viewing and the potential unhealthy eating habits associated with it.

Read the abstract here or contact the investigators.

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Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise