Health and wellness tips from Indiana University
Note to Indiana news editors: Fitness experts John Raglin and Joanne Klossner, featured below, will discuss their topics on Feb. 22 in Indianapolis at the Indiana University Conference on Healthy Living, which reporters may attend. More information about the conference can be found at http://www.alumni.indiana.edu/docs/iupui2006.pdf.
Living Well tips for February discuss behavior patterns that sabotage workout routines, obesity and eating disorders among high school athletes, and pharming, a form of prescription drug abuse, among teens.
Has your New Year's fitness resolution gone flat? Most people who quit do so within two months.Sticking to an exercise routine is a lot like quitting smoking -- most people want the health and aesthetic benefits and know they should do it but knowing just isn't enough. "Staying with it is incredibly hard for most people," said John Raglin, a psychologist in the Indiana University Bloomington Department of Kinesiology who conducts research on exercise and sport. "Most people who do quit do so within two months." Half of the people who begin a workout routine can be expected to quit, which is the same drop-out rate as 20 years ago despite the growth of the fitness industry, more sophisticated equipment and fitness clubs, and better-trained instructors. Raglin said people quit -- or don't start -- for a variety of reasons, some of which are difficult or impossible to address, such as socioeconomic factors that can include unsafe neighborhoods or a lack of parks or recreational facilities. Some factors and behaviors, however, can more easily be addressed or even exploited.
- Companionship and responsibility: In a study of married couples and exercise adherence, Raglin and IU exercise physiologist Janet P. Wallace found that only 8 percent of the participants who exercised with their spouses quit compared to half of the participants who exercised independently of their spouses. Raglin said the social support is key. "It's more important what the people around you think," he said. "For many people, their exercise routine becomes their social network, which brings with it social obligations. If you see it's raining outside and think, "Maybe I'll skip my walk today,' it's an entirely different matter if people are waiting for you."
- Stress and anxiety: Improved health and potentially a longer life are poor motivators when it comes to exercise, Raglin said, because the payoff is not immediate. The stress relief and mood boosts from exercise, however, can be felt immediately and last for hours. "The psychological consequences are significant," Raglin said. "When you exercise you don't know what your blood pressure or insulin levels are even though they're important health benefits," Raglin said.
- Social stress and "meat markets": Many people find the emphasis on appearances at some fitness or recreational facilities too much to bear so they quit. This stress can be avoided by choosing a facility or exercise class that's more comfortable, where staff are more cognizant of these stresses and other special needs. Some facilities cater to women, for example, or offer classes geared toward specific age groups.
- It doesn't just happen: Time is one of the "environmental barriers" that can be tweaked to make room for exercise. Raglin said lack of time is often cited as a reason people quit exercising, but studies of prison populations have found similar drop-out rates. Raglin suggests looking at a typical week and finding the pockets of time that are consistently available. Exercise broken into five- and 10-minute increments is just as beneficial as one 30-minute stint, he said.
Raglin can be reached at 812-855-1844 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
High school athletes choosing to be overweight? Eating disorders have been a troubling but familiar problem for athletes in aesthetic sports such as gymnastics, diving and figure skating. Now the growing number of massive professional football players is having a "trickle-down effect" resulting in an increasing number of high school football players who may believe that large body size enhances performance. Joanne Klossner, clinical assistant professor in Indiana University's Department of Kinesiology, said little research has been done in this area, but anecdotal trends suggest that bigger is being seen as better for some athletes, especially those playing positions such as the offensive and defensive lines in football. Often there is a perceived ideal weight for a position or sport, she said, even though it might not be an ideal weight for wellness. "Obesity predisposes them to conditions such as high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis and cardiovascular disease, to name a few. It can be difficult as an adult to take weight off after the athlete transitions from competitive athletics to a sedentary lifestyle," said Klossner, clinical education coordinator for the kinesiology department's athletic training program. Obesity also increases student athletes' risks for joint injuries and heat stress and can cause complications for asthmatics. On the other end of the spectrum, body image and eating disorders remain a perennial problem for coaches, athletes and parents because of today's racy culture, a lingering "thin to win" mentality in some coaches, and a natural competitive streak in athletes. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia can potentially lead to death in severe cases. Eating disorders increase student athletes' risks for heart arrhythmia, irreversible bone loss and dehydration as well as numerous other health problems. Klossner said coaches are becoming more sensitive to body image issues and better trained to help athletes avoid such problems. She said high school athletes are more vulnerable to eating disorders, because they have a smaller support network than college and professional athletes, making it easier for the problem to go unnoticed.
Klossner's biggest tips:
- Student athletes should have a physical each year, even if one is not required. Klossner said pediatricians can offer guidance on healthy weight practices.
- Parents and students should refer to growth charts (see http://www.cdc.gov/growthcharts/), which are designed to reflect the normal growth of adolescents and teens, not adults.
Klossner makes the following recommendations as well:
- Parents and students should refer to the revised food pyramid (see http://www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines/) and dietary guidelines when considering the students' dietary needs. Student athletes typically will need more calories, not fewer, Klossner said, with the correct balance between complex carbohydrates, proteins and fats. She also noted that the American Academy of Pediatrics states there should be no weight-loss plan for athletes in ninth grade or younger strictly for athletic purposes. If weight gain or loss is a problem, a physician or athletic trainer can help with proper referrals.
- Professional help should be sought as quickly as possible once an eating disorder is detected. Coaches should refer such athletes to a specialist without negative consequences such as team suspension.
- Parents and coaches should de-emphasize weight in the athletic setting, emphasize nutrition and appropriate weight control, treat each athlete individually, and never suggest or encourage purging behavior. Weigh-ins should only be conducted by appropriate medical personnel.
Additional links: The Academy for Eating Disorders, http://www.aedweb.org, is an international transdisciplinary professional organization that promotes excellence in research, treatment and prevention of eating disorders. The National Athletic Trainers' Association has a checklist of questions parents and students can ask about sport safety at http://www.nata.org/publicinformation/files/safetychecklist.pdf.
Klossner can be reached at 812-856-1570 and email@example.com.
Parents can discourage "pharming" of prescription drugs. Non-medical use of prescription drugs is a serious problem among teens, but parents can be strong deterrents, said JoBeth McCarthy-Jean, a researcher at the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University Bloomington. "'Pharming' is a term used by children and adolescents to describe the harvesting of prescription drugs from medicine cabinets for recreational or experimental purposes," McCarthy-Jean said. "Many times children perceive prescription drugs in the home as safe and are not aware of how dangerous it is to take these medicines without a prescription. Using non-prescribed medication can cause heart, liver or kidney damage or failure, central nervous system impairment and mood disorders, among other complications." In addition to serious health risks, teens caught possessing such medications without a prescription can face drug charges equivalent to possession of illegal narcotics. Moreover, sharing these medications with their friends is viewed within the justice system as drug trafficking. McCarthy-Jean said parents can discourage children and teens from misusing prescription drugs by talking openly about the dangers and brainstorming safe and healthy ways to find fun and adventure. "It's important to talk openly with your teenager about the truth -- that using non-prescribed medication can be just as dangerous as using illicit drugs. Even if the use is occasional, the negative effects can last a lifetime," she said. Some of the best ways to discourage misuse of prescription drugs include:
- Talking with your child about the dangers of taking non-prescribed drugs
- Disposing of unused medication in the home
- Encouraging realistic expectations of performance
- Encouraging participation in school and extracurricular activities
- Approving of chaperoned parties only
- Monitoring financial expenditures and Internet purchases and activities
Signs that a child may be abusing prescription drugs include changes in patterns of behavior, difficulty sleeping or staying awake, disengagement from family, and nervousness or paranoia.
McCarthy-Jean can be reached at 812-855-1237 and firstname.lastname@example.org. The IPRC is operated by the Indiana University Department of Applied Health Science and the IU School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Visit the IPRC online at http://www.drugs.indiana.edu.
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.