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Health: Tackling the obesity epidemic

Good, but not so healthy.

Mix of policy options needed to discourage junk food consumption and encourage healthy lifestyles

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With obesity rates still on the rise in North America, governments are under pressure to take stronger regulatory steps to curb rising health-care costs for maladies such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

A recently published series of papers from the University of Alberta examines some of the options available for policy makers seeking to promote healthier eating, including zoning restrictions on fast food restaurants, mandatory menu labels, higher taxes on junk food or even incentive-based approaches for pursuing a healthier lifestyle.

“Since eating and physical activity behavior are complex and influenced by many factors, a single policy measure on its own is not going to be the magic bullet,” said Nola Ries, of the university’s Faculty of Law’s Health Law and Science Policy Group. “Measures at multiple levels — directed at the food and beverage industry, at individuals, at those who educate and those who restrict — must work together to be effective.” Continue reading

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Health: More couch potatoes than ever in the USA

Backcountry golf, anyone?

Survey says 68 million people are ‘completely inactive’

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — You’d never know it living in in the Colorado high country, but there are more American couch potatoes than ever. According to the latest figures released by the Physical Activity Council, about 19 percent of all Americans don’t participate in any physical activities at all.

The coalition of leisure, spots and fitness trade groups last week released results from its latest national survey showing the number of “inactive” persons in the U.S. grew by 1 million, to 68.2 million in 2011. Inactivity levels are greatest in the South and lowest in the North and West, with a nationwide average of 18.8 percent.

One bright spot is that the number of inactive children (ages six to 12) fell slightly, suggesting that efforts engage youth in sports, recreation and other related physical activities are starting to have a slight impact on America’s youngest generation. Continue reading

Get outside — it’s good for you!

Exercise, spiritual rejuvenation and family fun in the great outdoors

Hiking in Colorado.

Nature is soothing.

By Erin McKinney

SUMMIT COUNTY —Whether gardening or walking through a forest, most of us love spending time in nature without really knowing why. It gives us a sense of peace and amazement. And something mysterious draws us to the great outdoors as well. One reason may be the numerous health benefits of spending time in nature, which have been proven in several scientific studies.

So what are those benefits?

Stress Reduction – Countless studies have found that spending time outdoors reduces stress. This may in part be due to the fact that it removes us from stressful environments. Taking a walk after a stressful day at work or going on a hiking trip as a weekend retreat helps us think more clearly and look at problems from a distance. Nature’s beauty can also provide a welcome distraction to staring at a computer screen or driving a car all day. Even when we are in stressful situations, a view of nature can be calming. Studies have found that a natural view out a window can improve work performance, speed up patient recovery in hospitals, and improve one’s sense of satisfaction. Continue reading

Summit County: Pilates explained

Marjorie Biggs challenges Summit to unite mind and body

Marjorie Biggs shows proper Pilates form at Body Essentials in Dillon.

By Jennifer Brancaccio

SUMMIT COUNTY — Walking into the Body Essentials Pilates studio in Dillon,  I was reminded of drawings of a medieval torture chamber. Rack-like apparatuses with straps were lined up in one area, while thick wooden chairs and medicine balls were stacked along another wall. It seemed pretty intimidating as I entered for a short class and interview with the instructor, Marjorie Biggs. What I didn’t know was that my first impressions would be far from accurate.

Joseph Pilates invented the practice in the early 1900s. His various exercises were originally called Contrology because he believed that his method allowed the mind to control the muscles. Through uniting body, mind and spirit, the benefits of Pilates included increased core strength, flexibility, balance, coordination and body awareness.

In 2005, 11 million people were practicing Pilates and there were more than 14 thousand instructors. Pilates focuses on breathing, engaging the core muscles of the abdomen, back, hips and buttocks. Concentrating on flowing movements during Pilates builds uniform development and strengthens instabilities. Continue reading

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