Is my job making me fat?

According to a report from the University of Montreal, office-workers have become less active over the last three decades. This decreased activity may partly explain the rise in obesity. The findings are published in the early online edition of Preventive Medicine,

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Is being a ‘weekend warrior’ bad for your health?

( — Work and family obligations keep many people from exercising on a regular basis. But working out only once a week or less puts you at risk of injury. Jeffrey Spang, MD, an expert at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, explains how you can develop a long-term, healthy approach to exercise.

During the week, you fight your battles behind a desk, slinging e-mail arrows from the safety of your cubicle. But on the weekend, your fights get physical: You defeat a 5K or soldier through a weight-lifting session.

If this description matches your behavior, you’re probably a weekend warrior, said Jeffrey Spang, MD, an assistant professor of orthopedics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. But exercising vigorously only once a week or less increases your risk of an injury, he said.

Weekend-warrior injuries can hit men and women, both young and old. But they’re most common among formerly active people over age 30 whose work and  prevent weekday exercise.

“Much of their activity is kind of crammed into the weekend,” Spang said.

The most common injury is muscle strain, Spang said. But he regularly treats weekend warriors with chronic tendonitis and, more seriously, ruptures of the achilles tendon, which require prompt medical attention.

Each day, more than 10,000 Americans visit emergency rooms for sports and exercise-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Spang said many people hurt themselves when they have been inactive and then suddenly take on a major exercise program, such as training for a half-marathon.

“The most common mistake is to get out there and to do too much, too fast,”Spang said. Often, people get injured in the first few sessions and then are unable to train again for a while.

A better plan is to break your sessions into smaller, more frequent increments and to avoid exercising too much, too soon, Spang said.

“Gradually increase the amount that you’re working out – and the intensity level – on a week-to-week basis,” he said.

In the end, is it better to exercise only once a week than not at all?

“Something is always better than nothing,” Spang said. But spreading your exercise out over two or three days allows you to build endurance and gives your body recovery time.

Here are other guidelines for avoiding weekend-warrior injuries:

– Do a warm-up, such as by walking or biking at a moderate pace. Don’t stretch until your muscles are warmed up. You can also try lunges and shoulder circles during your warm-up. Cool down by gradually slowing your pace. Then stretch your muscles.

– Sore muscles are normal after an intense workout, but if you feel sharp or stabbing pain, stop exercising immediately. Apply ice and visit your doctor if the pain doesn’t go away after a few days.

– Find an exercise buddy, such as a friend or romantic partner. When you work out with a friend, the time will be more enjoyable. You’ll also be more likely to exercise regularly, because you won’t want to let your buddy down.

– Use proper technique when you’re working out. To learn about the safest ways to , talk with a trainer or learn more about your favorite activity on the Internet. You’ll find the most trustworthy information on warm-ups, cool-downs and technique from nationally-known sports magazines and university websites, Spang said. “With a plan, you can really get started,” he said.

Provided by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine (newsweb)


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Bottle-feeding small babies can set them up for a life of heart disease and obesity

At least 20% of adult obesity is caused by over-feeding in infancy, study reports. The study, lead by Prof. Singhal (MRC Childhood Nutrition Research Centre at the Institute of Child Health in London) soon to be published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concluded that a nutrient-enriched diet in infancy increases fat mass later in childhood. Therefore, a causal link between faster early weight gain and a later risk of obesity can be argued. These findings have important implications for the management of infants born small for gestational age and suggest that the primary prevention of obesity could begin in infancy.


The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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Does sitting on an exercise ball help in good body posture?

Sitting on an exercise ball burns more energy than sitting on an office chair, but no evidence is still available that it improves posture. In addition, the extra caloric expenditure is minimal — roughly 30 extra calories in a typical workday. In addition,  a 2009 British study found that prolonged sitting on a therapy ball led to just as much slumping and “poor sitting position” as a desk chair. For greater improvement in caloric expenditure and posture, check FLOW:

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Nutrition and medicine

A notorious absence of nutrition knowledge exists among American doctors. According to Dr. Chen, “Research has increasingly pointed to a link between the nutritional status of Americans and the chronic diseases that plague them. Between the growing list of diet-related diseases and a burgeoning obesity epidemic, the most important public health measure for any of us to take may well be watching what we eat. But few doctors are prepared to effectively spearhead or even help in those efforts. In the mid-1980s, the National Academy of Science published a landmark report highlighting the lack of adequate nutrition education in medical schools; the writers recommended a minimum of 25 hours of nutrition instruction. Now, in a study published this month, it appears that even two and a half decades later a vast majority of medical schools still fail to meet the minimum recommended 25 hours of instruction.


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Making own meals does not necessarily mean better diet quality

In a study of 2,800 Australians between the ages of 26 and 36, researchers found little evidence that those who typically helped prepare the main meal on a workday had more healthful diets than those who left the cooking to someone else in the household.

Women who cooked for themselves tended to get more vegetables in their overall diet than women who did not — but the difference was just less than one extra serving.

Similarly, men who prepared their own meals tended to eat more lean meat and meat “alternatives” than their less health-minded counterparts. However, again, the average difference was minor.

The findings were reported in the Journal of American Dietetic Association.


Journal of the American Dietetic Association, September 2010:

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On Calories and Cheating

Don’t say “no.” Say “See you on Sunday.”

“Cheating should be planned and deliberate,” says Ann Kulze, MD, author of Dr. Ann’s 10-Step Diet: A Simple Plan for Permanent Weight Loss and Lifelong Vitality (Top Ten Wellness and Fitness, 2004). “Avoiding favorite foods can lead to bingeing, followed by regret and abandonment of all your efforts.” Allowing yourself the occasional splurge helps you truly enjoy the treat — and that makes it easier to take a pass on little extras the rest of the time.


Fitness Magazine
Dr. Ann’s 10-Step Diet: A Simple Plan For Permanent Weight Loss and Lifelong Vitality


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CDC report: Adults eating less fruit, not enough veggies

According to an article of The Washington Post, a new government report from the  the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that Americans still don’t eat vegetables often enough. Not only that, but fruit consumption is dropping a little.

According to the article, last year, only about one-third of U.S. adults consumed fruit or fruit juice at least twice a day (down from more than 34 percent in 2000), and about 26 percent ate vegetables three or more times a day (no better than 2000). These statistics where gathered from a national telephone survey of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

No state met federal goals of three-quarters of Americans eating enough fruit, and half eating enough vegetables.

For more information go to:

For the CDC report:



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On Depression, Anti-Depressants, and Jane’s Crazy Stressful Life.

So Jane goes to the doctor. The following is thier dialogue:

  • I’ve been feeling very tired and sad.
  • For how long?
  • On and off for the past seven months.
  • Have you been experiencing any other physical symptoms?
  • I wake up too early in the morning and can’t fall back asleep. I can’t concentrate. … And I have this feeling of pressure in the middle of my chest.
  • Aha… What else?
  • I’ve lost my appetite; and my libido. All I want to do is stay in bed and cry all day.
  • Well… I think you are experiencing a bout of depression.
  • Depression?
  • Yes.
  • Why would I be depressed?
  • Well… Depression is typically the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain.
  • So how do I cure it?
  • Don’t worry. I’ll prescribe you an antidepressant. You’ll be fine.
  • OK. Thank you doctor.

Great! So Jane goes ahead and takes the medication. Now she’s happy again. Well… not exactly “happy,” but at least she is not experiencing those horrible negative symptoms. Now she sleeps all night, she feels more energetic, her concentration has improved, she no longer feels like crying all day, she has regained her appetite, and the pressure in her chest is gone. True, she’s been gaining a lot of weight, and more often than not she’s constipated. Also, her libido is still non-existent. So much so that her husband stopped trying to have sex with her. She thinks that he probably got tired of being rejected. She sometimes wonders if he’s having an affair. But for some weird reason non of this bothers her. Interesting… Some of her friends have been telling her that she seems sort of detached from her emotions. But hey, she’s not suffering the way she used to, right?
Now, the doctor stated a simple truth: Depression is a direct result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. The same way that a wilted plant is a direct result of lack of water. However… what if someone curious — like I was when I was a psychology student — were to ask, “Wait… but what causes a chemical imbalance in the first place?” Most scientists would most likely respond: “There are four factors accounting for the development of a chemical imbalance in the brain: 1. genetics, 2. life stressors, 3. a combination of both, or 4. some rare conditions that pertains to such a small percentage of individuals that it’s not worth even mentioning.” Medication restores the chemical balance in our brain by modifying how our brain cells function. It does not change the actual cause of our imbalance, be this our genetics, our life stressors, or a rare disease. Any of these factors, therefore, will continue to affect us, one way or another.
Meanwhile, and just for the heck of it, let’s take a peek into Jane’s life? Maybe we could find out if any of these factors are present, and therefore contributing to her chemical imbalance in the first place. > Hmm… Let’s see… Did I mention that Jane drinks alcohol? Well, yes she does; two whiskeys neat after work. They help her wind down — along with the half pack of cigarettes she smokes a day. She also has six cups of coffee and way too many sweets daily just to keep from passing out at her desk. She knows she should try to workout and eat healthier. But who has time to go to the gym or cook? She works in an extremely high stress environment, sometimes up to 70 hour a week! And her boss is a bully who is constantly rushing her, putting her down and threatening to fire her. She is wracked with guilt because her frequent overtime hours hardly allow her to see her two year old son, who seems to rather hang out with his nanny and watch TV than play with her lately. > Therefore, the main factor accounting for Jane’s imbalance is an overwhelming amount of emotional, physical, and psychological, STRESS. > Because we live in a world that leaves little room to the proper care of our health, we tend to write off these stressors with the paradoxical and yet acceptable excuse: “I don’t have the time to deal with this right now. I’m too busy.” Unfortunately, we are oblivious of the fact that these are the very causes of our depression.
So what’s the moral of the story?

In all my years of treating patients with depression, I never met anyone that couldn’t come up with a list of possible stressors that could explain the onset of their symptoms. After looking into their lives, it’s always been easy to identify the source or sources of imbalance, or what I call the “dysrhythmic behaviors.” Dysrhythmic behaviors are the behaviors that increase the release of stress hormones, which in turn make the brain lose its “rhythmic precision” to release chemicals. Cigarettes, recreational drugs, alcohol, caffeine, unhealthy foods, lack of exercise, severe emotional stress, financial problems: these are at the root of depression. > > And yet, it is very common to hear people who are dealing with depression say, “I don’t take care of myself because I’m depressed,” when unless they have a — rather extremely rare — health condition that renders them depressed, the truth is more like: > “I am depressed because I don’t take care of myself” > Please understand that I am not vilifying the use of medication. I believe medication is a great spring board for those who need a first push in their attempt to address their chemical imbalance. However, simply taking medication without addressing the real problems will not cure depression. It will only mask it. > > So, when you hear “chemical imbalance in your brain”, please ask yourself this question:

“Is this chemical imbalance the trigger of my problem or is it the result of my problem?”

Your chances of finding the actual factors underlying the onset of your depression will increase dramatically if you look more into your life and the way you live it before you look into your genes.

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Occupational Sedentariness: A fancy name for “I’m trapped in my chair and I can’t get up!”.

People call me crazy — some even call me ridiculous.  Why? Because I workout while I’m sitting at my desk.
I use Flow, a software program I invented myself.  Every hour, my “virtual coach” pops into my computer screen to guide me through five minutes of exercises that I can do without ever having to leave my chair. Yes, you heard right; I never leave my chair. Not only that, I get a full body exercise, too!
Why did I invent such an apparently oxymoronic thing?  Well, I practically almost had my butt welded to my chair. Just today I spent approximately twelve hours sitting down! If you don’t believe me, just make a quick calculation. Between work, commute, and TV watching, sitting seems to be my main activity. And come on, don’t be so surprised! I’m SO not alone. Half the country sits all day— fact.
I guess we owe this extraordinary phenomenon to technology.

Yes; I strongly believe that we owe it all to the irresistible tempting dual power of technology; one that can increase work efficiency and simultaneously reduce work effort.  Only twenty years ago, writing this article would have demanded a great deal of time and energy: Walking to the parking lot, walking to the library, searching for and gathering books and journals, carrying them to the closest photocopy machine, copying them one page at a time, and walking back to the car. Then we would have to type several copies on a typewriter that did not have the cut, paste, or delete functions of today’s word processors.  Nowadays, all we need is a chair, a computer and presto.

We have it so good…

However, good things always come with a cost and our reliance on machines at work has radically changed the way we live life. We are becoming freaks of nature: completely motile beings voluntarily attaching ourselves to a chair for most of the day. That is what a 2009 study conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic suggests. According to this study, on the average, people sit more at work than during leisure. Can you believe that? We finally managed to take the “effortlessness” of the equation to an extreme, and as for many like me, “working” means sitting around all day. If we added the time we spend sitting down at home eating, watching TV and sleeping, we could easily come up with a full daily sedentary time of sixteen to twenty hours.


We are becoming a “chair-potato” society. Should we be concerned?

I’ve been investigating the effects of sitting for long hours for the past ten years. During that period of time, research — at first timidly, then assertively, and more recently, alarmingly — has been sending over and over the same warning: Technology overuse — especially the kind that restricts our daily physical activity — can potentially lead to highly undesired health risks. I wanted to focus on the workplace because after all, that’s where we spend most of our waking hours. I began by noticing that an incredibly growing number of jobs require  the employee’s constant presence at their work station, either sitting at a desk; standing still behind a cash register; or operating vehicles, heavy machines, or weird gadgets that only require hand movement. I decided to call this phenomenon “occupational sedentariness,” or a state of body confinement in the workplace. And here are some shocking facts I found within the literature regarding occupational sedentariness:

1.  Occupational sedentariness alone has been associated with the development of chronic back and neck problems, osteoporosis, weight gain and obesity, ovarian and renal cancer, and cardiovascular diseases including thrombosis and varicose veins.

2. The more we sit the more our Body Mass Index and our chance of dying from cardiovascular diseases increases.

3. For every 2-hour daily increments in sitting we increase our risk of  developing obesity and diabetes by 5% and 7% respectively.

4. If we forced ourselves to avoid exercising we increase the chances of developing negative moods, fatigue, and loss of vigor.

5. Lack of muscle contraction due to sitting for long hours suppresses the activity of lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that helps regulate the metabolism of triglycerides at the muscles level. Low activation of this enzyme increases our risk of developing heart diseases, obesity and diabetes.

What’s more shocking, in my opinion is the fact that all the health risks mentioned above are independent of whether we exercise or not. In other words, exercising an hour a day or swimming in the ocean on weekends will not counterbalance the harmful effects of sitting! Oh no… That means that it is possible to be physically active and highly sedentary at the same time. In fact, scientists have coined this type of lifestyle as the “Active Couch Potato” phenomenon.

The good news is that taking frequent breaks from sitting time helps reduce waist circumference, body mass index, triglycerides, and blood sugar.  I can attest to that!

So, the answer is an absolute, “Yes, we should be concerned.” Now do you understand why I workout at my desk? Call me ridiculous, call me crazy. But I’m happy that you can also call me a “healthy human being.”

If you want to sample Flow, you can do so by clicking here:

Whatever you do, though, please remember: If you spend many hours sitting on a chair and you want to preserve your health, you will have to find a way to get off your bootie and shake it at least once every hour. There’s no other way around it.


1. Kominski R, Newburger E. Access denied: Changes in computer ownership and use: 1984-1997. Population Division U.S. Census Bureau Washington, D.C. 1999.

Accessed [May 25, 2006]:

2. Janwantanakul P, Pensri P, Jiamjarasrangsri V, Sinsongsook T. Prevalence of self-reported musculoskeletal symptoms among office workers. Occup Med. 2008;58:436-438.

3. Brown WJ, Miller Y, Miller, R. Sitting time and work patterns as indicators of overweight and obesity in working Australians. Int J Obes. 2003;27:1340–1346.

4 Patel AV, Rodriguez C, Pavluck AL, Thun MJ, Calle EE. Recreational physical activity and sedentary behavior in relation to ovarian cancer risk in a large cohort of US women. Am J Epidemiol. 2006;163:709-716.  Accessed [August, 2009]:

5. Tavani A, Zucchetto A, Dal Maso L, et al. Lifetime physical activity and the risk of renal cell cancer. Int J Cancer. 2007;120:1977-1980. Accessed [August, 2009]:

6. Beasley R, Raymond N, Hill S, Nowitz M, Hughes R. Thrombosis: the 21st century variant of venous thromboembolism associated with immobility. Eur Respir J. 2003;21:371–376.

7. Mummery WK, Schofield GM, Steele R, Eakin EG, Brown WJ. Occupational sitting time and overweight and obesity in Australian workers. Am J Prev Med. 2005;29:91-97.

8.Hu FB, Li TY, Colditz GA, Willett WC, Manson JE. Television watching and other sedentary behaviors in relation to risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus in women. JAMA. 2003;289:1785-1791. Accessed [March, 2009]:

9. Berlin AA, Kop WJ, Deuster PA. Depressive mood symptoms and fatigue after exercise withdrawal: The potential role of decreased fitness. Psychosom Med. 2006;68:224-230. Accessed [September 2009]:

10. Patel, AV, Bernstein, L, Deka, A, et al. Leisure time spent sitting in relation to total mortality in a prospective cohort of US adults. Am. J. Epidemiol.2010. Advance Access online:

11. Warren TYBarry VHooker SPSui XChurch TSBlair SN. Sedentary behaviors increase risk of cardiovascular disease mortality in men. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 May;42(5):879-85. Accessed [July 2010]:

12. McCrady SK  &  Levine JA. Sedentariness at work; how much do we really sit? Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009; 17(11): 2103–2105. Full text:

13. Owen N, Healy GN, Matthews CE, & Dunstan DW. Too Much Sitting: The Population Health Science of Sedentary Behavior. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2010


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