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</P> Preventive Medicine recently published encouraging information for women at risk for diabete.

Steps to better health

Preventive Medicine recently published encouraging information for women at risk for diabetes. By taking a few thousand extra steps per day, sedentary individuals at risk can significantly improve their health and decrease their chances of developing diabetes.

Researchers indicated that most sedentary people log about 4,000 to 6,000 steps per day. Their goal of increasing this to 10,000 steps per day was based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine.

The participants in the study spent four "control" weeks walking 4, 972 steps per day. In the following eight weeks their steps increased to 9,213 per day. While no one lost weight during the study, there were great improvements in glucose tolerance and significant drops in blood pressure readings.

Most of the participants admitted that increasing their activity was not easy to do, but realized that all it took was parking at the far end of the parking lot or getting up to see a co-worker rather than emailing them. These little changes made all the difference for ordinarily sedentary individuals to almost double their walking distance each day.

Painful backs need work

For sufferers of low-back pain, the concept of "hurt doesn't mean harm" is difficult to fathom. Yet, researchers of a recent study published in the January 2004 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine have found this to be true. The six-month study of workers suffering from low-back pain focused on their number of missed workdays and the effects of a gradually increasing exercise program. Participants also learned how to change their responses to pain.

Many employees miss weeks of work due to back pain. Past research shows that exercise encouraging gradual resumption of normal activities may help such individuals return to work. Current researchers decided to put these findings to the test.

Airline company employees with low-back pain were randomly assigned to either a behaviour-oriented, gradually increasing activity program or ordinary treatment with an occupational therapist. The first group regularly participated in strength and endurance exercises and other exercises that mimicked their job duties.

On average, the participants in the activity- and behaviour-based group missed far fewer workdays than those in the conventional treatment group. According to the research team, further research is needed, but these findings are positive reinforcement that it is safe to work despite back pain.

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