Walking seniors, sleeping juniors

Senior citizens in the Triad have helped in a key discovery about how they and their peers can retain their mobility: walk and lose weight.

A five-year study of 288 seniors (ages 60-79) in Davidson, Forsyth and Guilford counties found that those who walked regularly and lose weight improved their mobility by as much as 20 percent. The Wake Forest University study divided the seniors into three groups: a control group   that was lectured about healthy living but not directed to do so proactively, a group whose physical activity levels were upped and a group that walked and was put on a weight-loss program. The walkers/dieters should significant improvement in their mobility, increasing from 5 percent to 20 percent based on how long it took them to walk 400 meters. (The 400-meter walk is considered a gold standard in senior mobility: Those who can’t walk that far are significantly more likely to lose their independence.)

Wake partnered with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service and health care centers in the three counties to conduct the study. Read more here.

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Worried your child isn’t getting enough physical activity? You might try getting him to buddy up with the neighborhood jock. A study at the Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences in the University of Bristol’s School for Policy Study found that kids whose best friends were active tended to be more active themselves. The study focused on 10- and 11-year-olds.

A no-brainer, perhaps, and odds are that if your child’s best friend is active, your child is inclined to be active as well. Still, good to know. Read more here.

While we’re on the topic of making big kids smaller, you might be wise to resist the urge to wake your slumbering spawn on Saturday mornings. A study published in yesterday’s issue of the journal Pediatrics reports that getting sufficient sleep can help kids fight obesity. Among other things, the study found that kids whose BMI was in the “obese” range slept fewer hours every night, showed more significant variations in how long they slept on weeknights vs. the weekend and exhibited “inconsistent sleep patterns.” The study, which you can learn more about here, found that catching up on sleep over the weekend also reduced the likelihood of obesity.

So let ‘em sleep in this Saturday. They can clean their room in the afternoon.

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