Friday, May 10, 2013

24 Awesome Group Workouts That Don’t Feel Like Exercise

Sleeping, going to the bathroom, having conversations — these are things I like to do alone. Exercise, on the other hand, has just never been one of them. To me there’s nothing as exciting as bringing a pal to my favorite yoga class or bonding with fellow dancing queens and kings during a ballet barre workout.
I’m always on the lookout for new ways to exercise in a group, especially activities that don’t feel like the awesome workout they really are. Here we’ve rounded up 24 group workouts as varied as Dance Dance Revolution, kayaking, and the Suzuki acting method (hint: it involves a lot of stomping). For those who prefer a solo workout sesh or love being part of a team, there’s bound to be something for everyone.

Team Effort — Your Action Plan

Group workouts aren’t just about being able to hide in the back corner where the instructor can’t see us. People who work out with a partner (even a virtual one!) are generally more motivated to exercise than those who go it alone[1]. One study even found certain athletes could tolerate higher levels of pain during exercise when surrounded by teammates[2]. All these effects might have to do with the fact that we put on our best performance when other people are watching[3]. But impressing Zumba classmates with hips that don’t lie isn’t the only kind of group fitness.
The 24 exercises below are for the rugged (get on those hiking boots), the yogis (plus their flexible friends), and the techies (hey, Wii sports). Got a workout planned for this week? Try one of these!

The Great Outdoors

1. Hike it out. Trail mix, swanky boots, a great tan… oh, right, and a serious workout. On a free weekend, get a group of friends together and head for a beautiful outdoor trail. It’s pretty obvious all that walking and climbing adds up to a great cardio workout, but hikers also tend to be happier and may even enjoy life more than the rest of us. Friends not crunchy enough? Make some new ones in one of these hiking groups.
2. Kick it on a kayak. Row, row, row that boat. Every stroke is another step toward physical fitness. An unexpected low-impact workout, kayaking is a perfect way to appreciate the Great Outdoors while strengthening the arms and core and burning hundreds of calories. Find fellow aquatic exercisers in some of these groups.
3. Make waves. The crash of the waves against jagged rocks, the splash of foam against the sides of the rubber boat, and no one’s thinking about the unbelievable health benefits of white water rafting. Rafters get an arm, ab, and core workout and can burn about 300 calories an hour. Plus every raft brings home some awesome group memories.
4. Bust out the bike. There’s nothing like feeling the wind in your hair and seeing it in someone else’s. Biking is great for cardiovascular health, building muscles, and even strengthening the immune system. Plus guys who bike to work tend to be extra-happy[4]. So find some other cycling enthusiasts or just grab one or two pals and hit the road.
5. Rock on. Talk about trust-building exercises. Try dangling from a cliff (in appropriate equipment, of course) and waiting for someone to grab your hand. Beginners might want to start on an indoor rock wall and then move on to the real thing. Some of the best benefits include improved aerobic fitness and stronger muscles.
Volunteer Service
6. Pretty up the park. Parks all over the USA are always looking for volunteers, so sign up today to help preserve nature. Whether it’s carrying heavy trash bags or squatting to pull trash from a lake, saving the earth is a group effort and a team workout.
7. Keep it green. Go green and make friends with the trees. You can even make friends with some people, too, while caring for trees or planting new ones. Besides helping the environment, interacting with nature may even improve our attention span and boost ladies’ self-esteem[5].
8. Run for someone’s life. For those who haven’t heard, running is a great form of exercise. And there’s even more motivation to run when it’s part of a social good effort. Forget that “I think I can” mantra — there are a ton of charitable causes worth running for, from fighting homelessness to raising money for cancer research. Join a team today and start training to run or walk the race.
9. Be a bro (or sis). If exercising for your own health isn’t good enough, try working out for someone else’s. The Big Brother/Big Sister Sports Buddies group partners adults and kids who bond over basketball, soccer, and other kinds of activities. Here’s one example of a Sports Buddies site — find one near you and help put a big smile on a kid’s face.
10. Do it for the dogs. One of the biggest benefits of having a dog is getting some exercise while walking them all over town. Plus it’s a way to pick up dates — er, meet new friends — in the neighborhood. Join a dog-walking group or volunteer to take a pooch for a stroll through an animal shelter.
11. Get workin’ at the car wash. Scrubbing, bending, and climbing to get those wheels squeaky clean might be just as much of a workout as hitting the treadmill for a few minutes. Get a group together and spend an afternoon taking turns washing each other’s cars. Just 30 minutes of suds-ing up can burn about 150 calories. Bikinis and water fights optional.
Mind and Body
12. Om out. Partner yoga is based on the importance of touch — and we’re talking the PG kind here. So bring a pal (or prepare to make some new ones) and find a class near you. If partner exercises aren’t your thing, locate some local yoga lessons or get a group of buds together to follow a podcast. Less stress, better balance, and a stronger bod are just too good to pass up.
13. Never let ’em see you sweat. Self-defense classes help prepare the mind and body against potential threats. Learn from the instructor and from classmates while getting a great workout. Muay Thai, Krav Maga, and Judo are just a few styles of self-defense that offer lessons all over the globe.
14. Find your chi. For a slower style of exercise, try Qi Gong. It’s an ancient Chinese meditation practice that focuses on breath and balance. (Qi Gong classes even include some athletes.) Or test out tai chi, a form of Chinese martial arts that involves a lot of gentle movement and stretching and helps relieve stress. Both types of exercise can strengthen bones and improve cardiopulmonary fitness[6].
15. Synch or swim. Is there anything that says “team effort” more than a group of people in identical outfits doing the same dance routine? Synchronized swimmingisn’t just for ladies in pink bathing caps — it’s an Olympic sport! Memorizing all those routines is intense exercise for the mind and repeating the movements means a big workout for the arms and legs. Some YMCAs offer synchronized swimming classes so find one near you.
Cultural Activities
16. Dance like everyone’s watching. Travel to Spain, India, or the mean streets with a dance workout like tango, bhangra, break dancing, or Zumba. Learning some new moves is a great way to get a glimpse of another culture and meet new buds, all while getting in some serious cardio[7][8].
17. Be a tourist, oui? Those double-decker buses may look fancy, but for the real workout, hop off and hoof it! Grab the friends, the fam, and any stragglers on the street and see the sights on foot. Walking may not be an intense workout like running, but it can still improve our cardiovascular fitness while busting stress. Check out some of these foot-friendly cities in the U.S.
18. Step up to Suzuki. This Japanese method of drama training isn’t as well-known as say, puppet shows, but some actors swear by it. The exercises focus on the whole body, so there’s lots of moving to music, shouting, and bonding with fellow confused classmates. Not for the faint of heart.
19. Make history. For history nerds (er, experts), reenacting the Civil War or the Oregon Trail is just about the coolest thing ever. But reenactment groups aren’t all about the brain. No one took cabs or trains back in the day, so be prepared for a lot of walking, running, and gallant galloping on horses. A reenactment group in thy town awaits thee.
Inner Child
20. What’s up, Wii? We’re not advising anyone to become a tech-lovin’ shut-in, but some Wii sports can make a big difference in cardiovascular fitness. The games are way more exciting with a friend, so grab a pal, get into some workout gear, and prepare to get pumped up. We love working up a sweat with tennis and boxing.
21. Roll out. All you need’s a scrunchie and some pogs and you’ll be traveling back to the 90s in no time. Roller blading may not be the latest craze anymore, but any kind of inline skating is a great workout for the arms and legs and an even better bonding activity. When winter hits, head to the ice skating rink for some chilly together time.
22. Be a baller. The shoes are cool, the pizza’s deliciously gross, and the arcade prizes are tempting. Bowling alleys are great for some laid-back hangout time that doesn’t involve vegging out in front of the tube. Plus, swinging those heavy balls strengthens arm muscles and helps improve balance and flexibility. Join a local league (Zog Sports has them in four cities) or compete against friends to see who really needs those bumpers.
23. Start a revolution. A Dance Dance Revolution, that is. There’s no better way to bond with friends than competing to see who’s got hotter moves. Shake it like a Polaroid picture in public with other gamers or forgo the potential humiliation and snag the Wii version.
24. Pick it up. For those who wish we still played stickball out on the street, here’s the answer. A bunch of different apps, like Sportaneous, show users where pick-up sports games are happening, so they can hit the baseball field, tennis court, or basketball hoops when the urge hits.

Mom’s Health Is Key to Family Health


Pregnancy is beautiful. Or is it? The reality is that for many women around the world, and even here in the United States, pregnancy can be a death sentence.

About 800 women worldwide die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. About 99 percent of the deaths occur in the developing world. A woman’s lifetime risk of dying during or after pregnancy is 1 in 3,800 in the United States, but 1 in 39 in Sub-Saharan Africa.

With Mother’s Day around the corner, Dr. Richard Besser, chief health and medical editor for ABC News, hosted a Twitter chat this week on maternal health. His goal was to shed light on this important global issue, and to honor the invaluable role that women play in communities around the world.

Participants included Mayo Clinic experts and passionate mom advocacy groups like Every Mom Counts and Save the Children.

Here are some of the highlights:

Why does maternal health matter?

Childbirth is the leading cause of death for young women in many countries. A mother’s medical status affects the whole family and, in turn, the community. Women play a central role in society; they raise future leaders and earners and are themselves a powerful force for health promotion, education and employment. Emphasizing women’s health has a ripple effect: Children stay in school longer, overall disease and death rates decrease and communities become stronger.

What are the leading health issues faced by women?

Globally, 80 percent of pregnancy-related deaths result from bleeding, infections, unsafe abortion and hypertension. Women in the United States are not immune from these preventable complications.  Two women die in this country every day from pregnancy-related causes. Maternal mortality is highest for adolescent girls younger than 15.

The recently released Save the Children’s 14th annual State of the World’s Mothers report ranks the United States in 30th place for maternal health. The five indicators they found most affecting women were education, income, women’s political representation and the chances a mother and her baby will survive.

What are the key steps to promoting maternal health?

Most maternal health-related deaths are avoidable, as methods to prevent or manage complications are well-established. The key is improving access to care in pregnancy, having skilled health professionals during childbirth to provide the crucial minute-to-minute care necessary, and support in the weeks after childbirth. Simple solutions like hygiene education can also have a major impact.

What are biggest gaps globally in maternal health?

In the United States, postpartum depression affects many new mothers, while infection and severe bleeding are the main concerns in Asia. It is necessary to understand the unique conditions prevalent in each country in order to invest properly and effectively.

How can I help?

Maternal health-related deaths decreased 47 percent worldwide between 1990 and 2005. But one of the World Health Organization’s development goals is to reduce the number of maternal deaths by the year 2015.

Some simple solutions included managing maternal anemia with iron, prenatal vitamins, preventing and managing postpartum hemorrhage and access to family planning to prevent repeat pregnancy in young children and adolescents.

By ABC News

By Dr. Meera Dalal

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio



Mothers Depression may result in shorter children

iStockphoto/Thinsktock(BALTIMORE) -- Mothers who report having symptoms of depression in the first year after giving birth may be likely to have shorter children, according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore, Md., looked at height data for more than 6,500 children during pre-school and kindergarten. They found that kids around age four with mothers who reported having mild or moderate depression during their child's infancy were more than 40 percent more likely to have children with short stature compared to mothers who did not report depressive symptoms.

The study suggests that a link between the mother's depression and the child's height persists several years after the mother's reported depression, according to Pamela Surkan, an assistant professor of public health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and lead author of the study.

However, for some kids the stunted growth didn't last. The short stature only persisted through age 5 in those with moderate depression, according to the study.

While the study does not indicate when the symptoms of depression began for the women or for how long the symptoms persisted, it's likely that in order for the depression to have affected the child, the mother may have been depressed for months, according to Dr. Kenneth Robbins, clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, who was not associated with the study.

While the study did not mention what may have caused the link between postpartum depression and stunted growth, Robbins listed a few theories. One reason may be that some children may also be depressed, which can affect the endocrine system and could disrupt the growth hormone, he said.

The study did not confirm that the women were clinically diagnosed with postpartum depression. However, Surkan said it's likely that the numbers may be similar for children whose mothers had a clinical diagnosis.

"There's already very good reasons that mothers who are depressed should seek treatment," said Surkan. "This is one more additional piece of evidence confirming that this is important."

The study also did not track whether the children of even moderately depressed mothers eventually catch up in height after age five.

Nearly 1 out of every 5 mothers in the U.S. has postpartum depression, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Previous studies suggest that postpartum depression is associated with poor fetal growth, language and cognitive delays, and behavioral problems in children, as well as difficulty in mother-child bonding.

"These children already start with a great disadvantage," said Robbins. "What we're seeing is that there's not simply a psychological effect, there's also a physical effect involved here."

Prevention, early detection, and treatment of a mother's depressive symptoms during the first year after giving birth may also prevent delayed growth as well as other developmental and behavioral problems in children, according to Dr. Deanna Robb, director of the parenting program at Beaumont Hospitals in Royal Oak, Mich.

"Because of research, we've learned so much more and we know the value of early identification to make sure we can identify as soon as possible," said Robb.

In some cases, mothers cannot identify symptoms of depression within themselves, so it is up to physicians to make sure women are properly screened. Even after depression is identified, the diagnosis itself makes it difficult for women to seek help, some experts said. But timely care is essential in protecting the family's health, according to experts.

"The hopelessness of depression often leads people not to seek the care that they need," said Robbins. "If [mothers] can make the connection that this is not just affecting them but also affecting their family, it may become motivation to get the proper treatment."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

It Might Harm your Heart too..

Women with breast cancer who are treated with the cancer drug Herceptin may have more long-term cardiac problems than experts have thought, new research suggests.
It has been known that women treated with anti-cancer drugs known as anthracyclines and Herceptin (trastuzumab) are at higher risk for heart failure and cardiomyopathy, a weakening of the heart muscle. But, that information on risks has come primarily from clinical trials, which typically exclude women aged 70 and older and those with co-existing chronic diseases, so it doesn't necessarily give a real-world picture, the researchers noted.
"The risk of heart failure associated with these drugs might be higher than what has been shown in clinical trials," explained study author Erin Aiello Bowles, an epidemiologist at Group Health Research Institute, in Seattle. Her report is published online Aug. 30 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Bowles and her colleagues evaluated 12,500 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer from 1999 through 2007 in eight different health systems. The patients' average age was 60. The follow-up time ranged from more than two years to nearly seven.The researchers used data from medical records and other sources to track type of cancer treatment and diagnoses of cardiac problems.
The risk of heart failure was 1.4 times higher in those treated only with an anthracycline at the five-year mark. That was about the same increase as those treated with other types of cancer drugs. However, those on Herceptin alone had more than four times the risk of heart problems compared to those who did not take the medication, the study stated.
And, the biggest increase in risk was seen in those on both anthracyclines and Herceptin. Those patients showed a sevenfold increased risk at the five-year mark, the researchers said.
The increased risk reported in clinical trials has been 2 percent with anthracyclines and 4 percent with anthracyclines and Herceptin.
"These drugs are important to take [if needed]," Bowles stressed. "They improve survival." However, she said, "women and providers need to be aware of the risk and what can be done to monitor [it]."
Dr. Joanne Mortimer, director of Women's Cancers Program at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif., said the study does give some "real-world" perspective, said
"We know that Herceptin and Adriamycin [an anthracycline] are associated with an increased risk of heart problems," Mortimer said. "We know that any exposure to Adriamycin increases your risk of heart failure in later years, especially in older women."
"Heart problems that occur on Adriamycin do not usually improve when you stop the drug, whereas changes in heart functioning with Herceptin often reverse when you stop Herceptin," she said. "The fact that the risk of these heart problems continues long after the Herceptin is stopped [as the new study found] is sobering."
Monitoring may help.
"The early effects of these drugs on the heart can sometimes be picked up on testing before they are felt by the patient as symptoms of heart failure," said study co-author Dr. Larry Allen, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center, in Aurora.
"Therefore, women exposed to these drugs are often asked to do a pre-therapy test of heart function followed by intermittent testing during [and sometimes after] chemotherapy," he said.
Typically, Allen said, a doctor measures the heart's left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), a test of how well the heart pumps with each beat. There are many ways to measure it. Often an echocardiogram, which uses sound waves to evaluate the heart, is done.
The cost for this varies greatly, from $150 to much more, and insurance coverage varies.
It's not clear, Allen said, why the drugs affect heart function.
"The mechanism by which different chemotherapies impair and damage the heart vary widely," he said, "and, in some cases, are not completely understood."
Women need to understand the benefits and risks of any treatment, said Ann Geiger, an associate professor of public health sciences at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, and author of an editorial that accompanied the study. "The study suggests the long-term risk for heart failure may be higher in women treated in the community than in clinical trials, particularly women who are older and/or have [other diseases besides the cancer]."
More information
To learn more about heart monitoring tests, visit the Cleveland Clinic.
Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Most Men Won't

Never mind the commercials with men talking freely to their doctor about their erectile dysfunction, taking a prescription for treatment to the pharmacy and settling in for a romantic evening.
Despite a wide range of treatment options, most men with erectile dysfunction (ED) don‘t get treated, according to a new study.
"ED treatments, overall, are underutilized," said Dr. Brian Helfand, an assistant clinical professor of urology at Northshore University Health System and the University of Chicago. "Only 25 percent of men are actually treated."
Helfand led the study, which looked at the medical records of more than 6 million men with an ED diagnosis. He is due to present his findings Monday at the American Urological Association annual meeting, in San Diego.
The study was funded by the Havana Day Dreamers Foundation (which promotes men‘s health), the Goldstein Fund in Male Pelvic Health and the SIU Urology Endowment Fund.
Helfand used an insurance claims database and looked for the medical code for erectile dysfunction from June 2010 through July 2011. He found 6.2 million men aged 30 and older who received a diagnosis of erectile dysfunction. ED is defined as an inability to maintain an erection satisfactory for sexual performance.
He then looked to see how many filled a prescription. Patients were considered treated if they filled a prescription for an erectile dysfunction drug such as Viagra (sildenafil) or Cialis (tadalafil), drugs called prostaglandins that are given by injection or urethral suppositories, or androgen (hormone) replacement.
He considered them untreated if they received a diagnosis of erectile dysfunction but did not fill a prescription.
He took into account, too, the men‘s ages and other health problems.
Even though erectile dysfunction is likely to become more common with age, he actually found older men the least likely to be treated. Only about 18 percent of men aged 65 and above were treated.
When Helfand looked to see what bearing other health conditions might have had on treatment, he found those with prostate cancer were least likely to be treated. Only 15 percent were.
The study didn‘t have information on why the men went untreated, he said. But he speculates there are probably several reasons.The undertreatment, Helfand said, is probably a result of doctors often not offering the prescription or patients getting a prescription but not filling it at the pharmacy.
"Men may not be bothered by it," he said. Or a doctor may not write a prescription because he may not think the man is a candidate, or perhaps they didn‘t respond to erectile dysfunction treatment in the past.
Other reasons, he said, could include costs and embarrassment.
For men, Helfand said, the message is: "There are available therapies out there. These can be useful if you have ED."
An expert who reviewed the study but was not involved said he isn‘t sure if it mirrors real life.
"To conclude from this study that three-fourths of the men who carry a diagnosis of ED are not treated doesn‘t fit with what we see in clinical practice," said Dr. Jacob Rajfer, a professor of urology with the David Geffen School of Medicine, at the University of California, Los Angeles.
"In order to determine how many men were treated or not treated, you need to interview the people," Rajfer said.
Men might get to the pharmacy, see the cost of the erectile dysfunction drug, and decide to go out of the country to get it and save money, or might get it by mail order, Rajfer said.
Another expert discussed possible barriers to men getting these drugs.
"Cost might be a big issue," said Dr. Ajay Nangia, an associate professor of urology at the University of Kansas Medical Center. He is familiar with the study findings.
Costs vary, but some erectile dysfunction drugs are about $4 a pill.
"It‘s becoming much more open to talk about this stuff," Nangia said. Even so, some men may still be embarrassed.
In an effort to combat sales of counterfeit Viagra online, drugmaker Pfizer will sell the drug directly to patients with prescriptions via its website, the Associated Pressreported Monday.
Because the new study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information
To learn more about erectile dysfunction, visit the American Urological Association.
Health News Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.