Health and wellness tips from Indiana University
EDITORS: This monthly tip sheet is based on Indiana University faculty research, teaching and service. "Living Well Through Healthy Lifestyles" is the guiding philosophy of IU Bloomington's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. In keeping with that philosophy, this tip sheet offers information related to both physical and mental well-being. Faculty in other IU schools and departments also contribute their expertise in this area.
May's tips focus on obesity and include items about children's television viewing habits and obesity, bariatric surgery, economic impact of obesity, college programs to train fitness experts, and gender differences in sticking to workouts.
Television watching has been linked to adolescent obesity. Watching more than two hours of television per day increases adolescents' chances of being overweight, according to a recent study at Indiana University. "The effect of TV is independent of eating and exercise habits," said Millicent Fleming-Moran, an associate professor in the Department of Applied Health Science in IUB's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. "We found that the TV watching alone added a 50 percent risk of being overweight for high school students." Fleming-Moran's study will be published in a biomedical journal this summer. "This information suggests that reducing television exposure has as strong an influence on adolescent obesity levels as increasing exercise and healthier eating," she said. Researchers are unsure how television watching might lead directly to weight gain, but Fleming-Moran has an idea. "Watching TV may be the most inactive behavior next to sleeping. When you watch TV you tend to be totally still and may even lie down. Sitting at the computer is not active behavior, but at least you are upright and moving your arms to type or use the mouse," she said. Overweight kids have an 80 percent higher risk of continued obesity problems in adulthood. Adolescent obesity contributes to a range of health problems during high school and later life. "Parents, schools and even health care providers should be thinking more critically about TV watching," Fleming-Moran said. "Some doctors have even written prescriptions for their younger patients to reduce their TV watching."
Fleming-Moran can be reached at 812-855-8361 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bariatric surgery won't make you "thin." It's a common misconception that bariatric surgery, or "stomach stapling," is a cure-all for weight problems. Not so, said Alice Lindeman, a professor in the Department of Applied Health Science in IUB's school of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. "This surgical procedure can help patients lose up to 50 to 66 percent of excess body fat," Lindeman said. Patients who are 100 pounds overweight are likely to remain at least 50 pounds overweight at the end of the process. Lindeman has been a dietitian for bariatric surgery patients since 1976. "We don't accept patients who have unrealistic expectations," she said. "We screen very carefully to find people who want to improve their quality of life and their overall mobility." Patients have a lot of work to do post-surgery, Lindeman said. "You still have to overcome your old habits in order to maintain weight loss. It is possible to gain weight back after the initial loss that results from reducing the size of the stomach. Bariatric surgery is a tool, not a solution."
Lindeman can be reached 812-855-6437 and email@example.com.
Obesity is bad for business. Rising health care costs due to obesity-related illness put the nation's economy in jeopardy, said Lloyd Kolbe, a professor in the Department of Applied Health Science in IUB's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. In 2000, obesity cost the nation an estimated $117 billion, much of which was borne by employers. "The obesity epidemic is affecting business by driving up the cost of health care, which puts an enormous strain on business owners," Kolbe said. Companies are then forced to raise prices to maintain their profit margins, which creates a disadvantage for consumers and less incentive to spend. Jobs may be lost or benefits cut in response to the higher price tag on health care. "Obesity is bad for business, and it's bad for the U.S. economy, especially in an increasingly competitive global marketplace," Kolbe said.
Kolbe can be reached at 812-856-6781 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students seek fitness education. Where most Americans are seeing a crisis, college students see a job opportunity. Students at Indiana University's Bloomington campus are responding to high obesity rates in the state by preparing themselves for a career in fitness. IU's fitness specialist degree is one of the fastest-growing programs in the Department of Kinesiology, said Michelle Miller, a lecturer in that department and one of the principal coordinators of the degree program. "The public is demanding better quality and more educated professionals to work with them and help them change," Miller said. Increased attention to weight management and lifestyle has developed an educated consumer base and led to more jobs available for fitness professionals. "We feel that the fitness specialist degree is so popular because of a society that is more knowledgeable about health and fitness than at any time before," Miller said. Carole Kennedy, who also teaches in the department and helps coordinate the fitness specialist degree program, said the program is overflowing with applicants. "If we get a lot more students applying, we may need to do entrance interviews or develop requirements for acceptance to the program," Kennedy said. Over 150 students have declared the major since it was first offered three years ago. The four-year fitness specialist degree program emphasizes exercise coaching, management and personal training skills. "Our goal is to produce quality professionals for the field of fitness who have a degree, certifications and appropriate practical training," Kennedy said. The Department of Kinesiology also offers a fitness certificate for non-majors and a master's degree program in fitness management that prepares students for management positions in an exercise facility setting.
Consistent exercise habits are linked to different factors for men and women, according to IU researchers. In their recent study of college students, Bryan Stednitz and Chris Arvin found that sticking to an exercise program was associated with a number of factors for women, including confidence using exercise equipment, positive body image, and a preference for aerobic exercise such as running or swimming. For men there was one clear influence on keeping up a workout regimen: strength training. "Among the men we surveyed, lifting weights appeared to be the major factor associated with consistent workout habits," said Stednitz, the assistant director for strength and conditioning and personal training at IUB's Division of Recreational Sports. Men who incorporated strength training into their workouts were more likely to stick to a routine than men who engaged only in aerobic exercise. "Women who lifted weights were also consistent exercisers," Stednitz said. "But unlike men, women who did mostly aerobic activities were also steady about going to the gym." Women who reported feelings of confidence using exercise equipment and positive body image were also more likely to be consistent exercisers. These factors did not appear to affect exercise adherence in men. "We were surprised to see such a difference between men and women," Stednitz said. "Our findings suggest that it might take a different approach for women to stay motivated to work out as opposed to men." Stednitz added that men may not report feelings of insecurity with their bodies or lack of familiarity with equipment due to social expectations. "I think men are less comfortable talking about insecurities, but in practice we have seen that men and women share the same concerns about developing a workout program. People who hire personal trainers want coaching and reassurance, regardless of gender." Besides hiring a personal trainer, Stednitz recommended trying group exercise classes that offer a mix of aerobic and strength activities. These classes are offered at beginning to advanced levels and can help participants develop skills using different types of equipment. He also noted that many gyms now offer smaller, separate workout spaces without mirrors that may be more comfortable for self-conscious exercisers.
Stednitz can be reached at 812-855-9653 and email@example.com. Chris Arvin is the program director for fitness and wellness at the Division of Recreational Sports and can be reached at 812-855-7772 and firstname.lastname@example.org.