HEADLINES / TRENDS l STATS l RESEARCH l MEDIA l PEOPLE

April 2010

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Fitness Training
Goes to the Dogs

Michele Cuteri of Cedar Park, Texas, used to go to the gym five days a week although, as she puts it, “I had to drag myself.” Now Cuteri, 45, and her 10-month-old dog Lexi attend Bow Wow Workout at the Austin Dog Alliance Training Center (www.austindogalliance.org), where Cuteri volunteers as the office manager. This program is designed for dog owners who want to get into shape without leaving their furry pals at home. “Doing the class with the dogs makes it so much more fun,” Cuteri says.

“It’s a hard workout but when you’re doing a sit-up and your dog comes and licks your face, somehow it’s not so hard anymore.”

Canine-inclusive workouts combine two popular trends: fitness bootcamps for people and agility training for dogs. The average bootcamp is a one-hour session that includes aerobic and strength training. Participants move from activity to activity, such as calisthenics and core workouts, with little rest in between. In agility training, dogs are put through courses that include such obstacles as jumps and tunnels; the idea is to run the course as quickly as possible. A canine bootcamp will include elements of both; for example, participants will weave through cones or run sprints with their dogs.

The fitness trainers who conduct canine bootcamps are generally dog owners themselves. Jen Andrew of Austin’s Green Feet Fitness (www.greenfeetfitness.com) is accompanied by Ginger, an Australian shepherd mix, at Bow Wow Workout. “It’s a good way to not feel guilty about not
taking your dog for a walk,” she says. “Most people are looking to do something different with their dog besides just going to the park. And it’s considerably cheaper than a gym membership.” Dawn Celapino began Leash Your Fitness (www.leashyourfitness.com) in the San Diego area after adopting Jack, a Cairn Terrier. “He was the inspiration for the class,” she says. “I started incorporating the clients’ dogs into the workouts.”

Both species benefit. “I just had a lady lose 20 pounds,” says Celepino. Cuteri says that someone told her, “You’re really shaping up. I can tell you are losing inches.” She notes that Lexi, as a high-energy lab mix, “needs to be challenged—a walk around the block is not going to do it.”
Bootcamps also help the dogs improve their manners. When Bow Wow started, “one gentleman’s dog barked the whole time and just wanted to play,” Cuteri recalls. “Now his dog has learned to behave.”

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Green Tea for Fibroids?

In “Going for the Throat” (October 2009), we learned that the most common reason for a sore throat is upper respiratory infection. Some, like colds and flus, are viral in nature. Other infections are caused by bacteria, including streptococcal (strep) bacteria, some strains of which can cause a serious illness called rheumatic fever.

Now there is a new reason to guard your—and your children’s—immunity. According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Fusobac­terium necrophorum is linked to a rare but life-threatening complication known as Lemierre syndrome, in which the jugular vein becomes infected. Those at the highest risk are people between the ages of 15 and 24. “The risk of Lemierre syndrome exceeds the risk of rheumatic fever,” says lead author Robert Centor, MD of the University of Alabama at Birm­ingham.

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The Disappearing
American Vacation

34%

Employed US adults who don’t take all of their vacation days

 

19%

Those who have cancelled/postponed vacation time because of work

 

24%

Those who check work email or voicemail when they do take time off

To learn how to deal with workplace (and other sources of) stress,
see “The Secrets of Stress”.

(Source: Expedia.com 2009 International Vacation Deprivation Survey)

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M E D I A

Star-Powered Workout

Time on the treadmill may help you burn calories, but to many folks going nowhere fast is boring. You’re not likely to have that problem with Robin Antin’s Pussycat Dolls Workout, featuring the girl group’s lead singer Nicole Scherzinger in a dance performance. Along with the girls from the Pussycat Lounge Review, Antin demonstrates simple but effective signature moves to hit Pussycat Dolls songs, taking the tedium out of the pursuit of fitness and offering hope of attaining a dancer’s physique.

The workout “is very sexy,” Antin says, “but it’s also empowering, powerful, and it’s hard on your body in a way that lets you feel your muscles working.”

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Transformational Giving

Tell a child it’s better to give than to receive, and he or she is likely to disagree. As adults, we often cling to such self-interest—even if we’ve learned to keep that thought to ourselves.

With her world thrown into turmoil by multiple sclerosis, Cami Walker was at first taken aback when a friend suggested that giving could lead to healing. But Walker would soon meet that challenge. 29 Gifts (De Capo) is the story of how even small gifts—a perfect conch shell here, three dollars there—helped give Walker a grateful heart and taught her to not be overwhelmed by illness. (Want to take the challenge yourself? Then visit www.29gifts.org.)

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QUOTE

"For fast-acting relief try slowing down"

—Lily Tomlin

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Magnesium May Ease Breathing

The airway restriction associ­ated with asthma can make breathing difficult. But magnesium supplementation may improve lung function in people who have this inflammatory disorder, which is marked by wheezing and coughing.

Researchers at Bastyr University in Washington state enrolled 55 people with mild-to-moderate
asthma in a carefully controlled trial. The volunteers received either 340 milligrams of magnesium or a placebo for 6.5 months. Neither the scientists nor the participants knew who was taking which substance until the study was over.

Lung function, as measured by peak expiratory flow rate, increased by 6% in the magnesium group, compared with no improvement in the control group. It was also more difficult for the scientists to induce airway constriction in the participants who had taken the supplements. “This study adds to the body of research that shows a beneficial response to magnesium supplementation in people who have mild to moderate asthma,” the investigators wrote in the February issue of Journal of Asthma.

Magnesium is known to promote relaxation and is often recommended for muscle cramps and aches. Evidence suggests that it also supports heart health.

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Post-Workout Pomegranate
May Ease Soreness

After your next session at the gym you may want to see red, as in pomegranates: Antioxidants from this popular fruit have reduced exercise-induced soreness in a recent study.

Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin reported the results of this study in the March issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Their investigation looked at 16 healthy men who were recreationally active but not involved in endurance or resistance training. All the participants took a pomegranate antioxidant supplement and a placebo for nine days each, separated by a two-week washout period. On the fifth day of each treatment period, the volunteers performed intense exercise with an eye towards developing delayed muscle soreness. They were monitored at two, 24, 48, 72 and 96 hours after exercising.

At the two-hour mark, all the participants experienced a 28% decrease in strength. But by 48 hours the men in the supplement group experienced 33% less strength loss than those taking the placebo. The supplement takers also had 28% less muscle soreness. In evaluating the pomegranate extract the researchers wrote, “Faster strengthening and reduced muscle soreness could help people with their training.”

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