IU Health & Wellness
Research and insights from Indiana University
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 18, 2008
Overweight but active -- vascular benefits from exercise. Overweight but active men responded dramatically better compared to their inactive counterparts in a first-of-its kind study from Indiana University that examined the vascular response to exercise in overweight men. Vascular function is important because of its relationship to cardiovascular disease. The active cohort saw an average 24 percent improvement in their vascular function, compared to the 32 percent decrease observed in the inactive group. The results were published in the journal Obesity. "This overweight-obesity phenomenon is an epidemic in today's society," said Ryan A. Harris, who led the study while a doctoral student in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation's Department of Kinesiology. "This study supports that being consistent with daily physical activity is beneficial to cardiovascular health. Being active may not drop the pounds as quickly as you'd like, but it still is beneficial." Obesity contributes to a variety of diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. "But being overweight isn't hopeless," said Janet P. Wallace, professor of exercise physiology in the Department of Kinesiology. "This study shows you can still do some measures to help yourself while you work to lose weight."
- The study: The study involved 16 overweight men ages 46-68. Half were active, performing at least 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days. For the study, they performed low, moderate or high intensity treadmill walking for 45 minutes. The researchers examined the brachial artery flow-mediated dilation -- how well the artery can expand to accommodate an increase in blood flow. The brachial artery was examined because it has been related to coronary function.
The beneficial effect observed in the active group lasted for about an hour, said Harris, now a post-doctoral research fellow in the Department of Medicine at the University of California in San Diego. Wallace said this is the first study to examine the vascular effect of exercise in overweight men despite the growing belief among some health and fitness experts that active, overweight people might be healthier in some ways than lean, sedentary people. She said managing weight is still important because of the relationship between obesity and a host of diseases and conditions. Co-authors of the study are Jaume Padilla, doctoral student in IU's Department of Kinesiology, Kevin P. Hanlon, an undergraduate student in the department, and Lawrence D. Rink, M.D., with Internal Medicine Associates in Bloomington. The study was supported by the Gatorade Sports Science Institute and a research grant in aid from the School of HPER. For a copy of the study, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional assistance, contact Tracy James, 812-855-0084 and email@example.com.
"The Flow-mediated Dilation Response to Acute Exercise in Overweight Active and Inactive Men," Obesity, Jan. 2008, doi:10.1038/oby.2007.120.
HPV vaccine -- what's a parent to do? A random telephone survey of Hoosier adults' opinions about whether the HPV vaccine should be mandatory for middle school students reveals an "ambivalence about sexuality in our culture," similar to debates surrounding contraception and sex education, said William L. Yarber, senior director of the Rural Center on AIDS/STD Prevention at Indiana University. "Parents face a real dilemma. They want to protect their children, but they're fearful of the protective methods." The study, which will be published in the winter Health Education Monograph, found that survey respondents were three times as likely to oppose a mandatory vaccine if they also believed it would encourage youth to have sex.
RCAP is housed in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation's Department of Applied Health Science at IU Bloomington. Here are additional findings of the study, "Public Opinion in Indiana Regarding the Vaccination of Middle School Students for HPV," which involved phone surveys of 504 adults. The survey was conducted in 2005, just prior to the FDA approval of the HPV vaccine.
- More than one third (35.5 percent) of respondents reported opposing a mandatory vaccine.
- Almost a quarter (24.8 percent) of respondents reported favoring a mandatory vaccine for girls and boys (the vaccine is only approved for girls to date).
- The remaining respondents were uncertain.
- Survey respondents who had more than a high school education and were white were more likely to oppose the vaccine.
- Background: The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a national study earlier in March stating that at least one in four teenage girls reported having an STD. Of the girls who reported having sex, an estimated 40 percent had an STD. The HPV vaccine Gardasil has been shown to prevent cervical cancer precursors caused by four types of human papillomavirus that are responsible for 70 percent of all cervical cancers and 90 percent of cases of genital warts. HPV also is thought to cause some oral cancers in men. While some states have proposed mandatory vaccines from school-age girls, the issue is controversial.
Yarber said sexual intercourse in the middle school years is considered too early from sexual health education and mental health perspectives. From a public health perspective, however, research has shown that some youth become sexually active following puberty, indicating a need to protect youth from the associated health risks, which can be serious. Yarber said many sexuality professionals think the HPV vaccine will not encourage sex because of the many other factors that more strongly influence this decision, but he added that more research is needed in this area. Schools require various vaccines, Yarber said, but public opinion plays an important role in policy involving the HPV vaccine because it involves sex.
Co-authors of the study include lead author Robin Milhausen, RCAP and University of Guelph, Ontario; and Richard Crosby, RCAP, the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction and the College of Public Health at the University of Kentucky. Yarber also is a professor in the departments of Applied Health Science and Gender Studies and is a senior research fellow of the Kinsey Institute.
Computer vision syndrome -- a pain in the neck, back and elsewhere. If you have ever gotten home after a full day's work and felt completely exhausted, even though your day was not particularly stressful or difficult, you may be among the thousands of Americans who can blame their computer. Computer vision syndrome is the result of spending prolonged periods of time looking at a computer screen and can result in several health problems, including dry eye, eyestrain, neck and backache, light sensitivity and even general fatigue. "The number one reason for developing computer vision syndrome is focusing on a single target and not leaving it," said Steve Hitzeman, Indiana University School of Optometry clinic director and president of the Indiana Optometric Association. "It's like holding a heavy object in one fixed spot -- eventually your arms get tired, and similarly, eventually your eye muscles get tired."
Hitzeman recommends looking away from the computer screen for a minute or two several times per hour. Additionally, he says there are many other risks associated with using a computer monitor for long periods of time, but each one can be helped with these tips:
- Blink. It may sound strange, but remembering to blink is important. According to Hitzeman, when someone stares at one object for a long time, they don't blink. This can lead to dry eyes, which can in turn lead to corneal irritation and diseases. People who have dry eyes naturally are especially at risk of chronic dry eye, which weakens the corneal structure.
- Position your monitor correctly. Besides making sure your monitor is about two feet away and four inches below eye level to minimize neck strain, Hitzeman recommends making sure your monitor is glare-free. Any glare on the screen makes it harder to focus, which causes additional stress on the eye.
- Get computer glasses. Just like reading glasses, those extremists who look at a monitor eight hours a day should consider getting computer glasses. These are specially designed to make it as easy as possible for your eyes to focus on the computer screen. According to Hitzeman, the optometrists will test your eyes while you look at a monitor, giving the ideal computer screen prescription.
- Get regular eye exams. According to the American Optometric Association, adults should get their vision checked once at least every two years. This is especially important to computer vision syndrome, because improperly corrected vision can lead to the syndrome more easily, and even can cause permanent ocular damage. "Other than the dry eye issues, the only other damage that can occur from working excessive hours with a computer monitor comes from improperly corrected vision," said Hitzeman. "Everything else is just fatigue and can be fixed with rest."
Those elusive 30 minutes. When time is scarce, individuals often cut out their exercise routine first. According to a recent survey conducted at Indiana University Bloomington's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, IU students and faculty list lack of time as their number one barrier to exercising. "It's a 'perceived' lack of time," said Andy Fry, assistant director for fitness and wellness at Campus Recreational Sports, which conducted the survey. He said 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week is enough to gain health benefits such as a lower risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. The American Heart Association, the U.S. Surgeon General and the American College of Sports Medicine agree. It should be noted that 30-minute workouts are best for maintaining weight, not losing it. "For general fitness and health, 30-minute workouts are enough, but if your goal is weight loss you may need to bump it up, depending on your fitness level, and couple that with proper nutrition," said Fry. As always, he said, make sure to consult a doctor if starting a new exercise routine. Fry offers the following tips:
- Get it in before going home. "If people try to put workouts before work, in the middle during lunch, or immediately after work, they are often more successful. When people go home, they want to relax and be with family and friends," Fry said. If a full half-hour is difficult to carve out during your workday, consider breaking up a 30-minute workout into three 10-minute workouts. "It is preferred that you do 30 minutes at one time, but if you can split it up into two or three segments, that is still adequate. Some activity is better than none, but when you do less than ten minutes at a time you start to see fewer benefits."
- Be open to all types of exercise. "Some people like to lift weights, but they don't think they have enough time to get a full workout. You can actually do strength circuit training as part of your 30 minutes of activity," says Fry. He suggests doing 8-10 exercises that encompass all the major muscle groups, doing at least one set of 8-12 slow and controlled reps. That should take about 15 minutes to complete. Perform the circuit in a way that allows one muscle group to relax while the other is working. One could also take a brisk walk, jog, swim or play basketball. "The key is to do something where you are actively moving and engaging in physical activity. Make sure that your heart rate is elevated for 30 minutes," he said.
- Be creative. Exercising does not have to be restricted to the gym. Move workouts outdoors. Take a brisk walk to meet a friend for lunch. Fry suggested paying close attention to your environment for exercise opportunities. For example, if your office has large hallways, go into work early and take a brisk walk. Or take advantage of the many flights of stairs in your apartment or office building.
For additional assistance with these tips, contact Tracy James, 812-855-0084 or firstname.lastname@example.org.