Put Down the Crossword Puzzle, Pick Up Your Sneakers. It’s Time to Exercise Your Brain the Right Way.

Physical exercise can ease depression, slow memory loss, and prevent Parkinson-like symptoms, researchers said this week at the Society for Neuroscience conference, according to NPR. The research suggests that people may be making a mistake if they’re relying on brain-training games for mental wellness, instead of physical exercise. “We definitely have more evidence for exercise,” Teresa Liu-Ambrose of the University of British Columbia told conference-goers. In a study of rats, those that ran on a treadmill for at least four months scored higher on memory tests as they got older. The running rats also had more blood vessels and white matter in their… Full Story

Retail Health Clinic Boom Continues, But Still Just a Sliver of Overall Market

The percent of American families using retail clinics more than doubled between 2007 and 2010, a new study found, but overall use of the clinics remains moderately low. In 2010, an estimated 4.1 million American families reported using retail clinics in the previous 12 months, compared to 1.7 million families in 2007. When asked by researchers why they chose retail clinics over other setting, most clinic users cited convenience factors: longer hours, walk-in visits, and convenient locations. For uninsured and low-income families, lower costs and lack of a usual source of care were their top reasons. “Looking forward, with insurance expansions… Full Story

That Olive Oil May Not Be As Good For You As You Think

Olive oil: Better than butter, right? Well, that’s still true, but recent research and reports show that you better use that oil quickly. And that what you’re using might not even be extra-virgin. Olive oil is good for two reasons: It’s mostly unsaturated fat, and extra-virgin oil, which is the highest-grade and least-processed form of olive oil, contains a range of beneficial plant compounds. But it turns out much of the olive oil in the United States isn’t extra-virgin, despite the packaging. “The fact is, it’s quite often just very low-grade oil that doesn’t give you the taste of the… Full Story

Dallas Cowboys Losses Don’t Just Hurt Fans, They’re Bad For Their Health

Another Cowboys season has started, and it might be wise to keep your house free of junk food after a loss. A new study found that NFL fans eat more food and fattier food the day after their team’s loss, while backers of winning teams eat lighter, more moderate meals, NPR reports. After a defeat, the researchers found that saturated fat consumption went up by 16 percent, while after a victory it decreased by 9 percent. “After a victory, people eat better,” Pierre Chandon, a professor of marketing at France’s Insead business school told NPR. “After a defeat, people eat… Full Story

Preterm Birth Rate Falls for Sixth Straight Year

The U.S. preterm birth rate fell for the sixth consecutive year in 2012 to 11.54 percent of all births, the lowest it has been in 15 years, and a 10 percent decline since the 2006 peak of 12.8 percent, according to a National Center for Health Statics report released last week. Additionally, the birth rate for teenagers continued to fall, reaching 29.4 births per 1,000 teenagers, down 6 percent from 2011. The rate in 2012 was a historic low, and since 2007 the rate has dropped almost one-third. “This sustained improvement over these past six consecutive years shows that when infant health becomes a… Full Story

Cooper Institute Expands Global Reach

Dallas’ Cooper Institute has long been revered internationally. You have to look no further than the fact that jogging in Brazil is known as “Cooper” to prove that statement. Now the 43-year-old Dallas health landmark is expanding its reach even further. On Monday, the institute signed an agreement with Hungary to bring its fitness assessment tool, Fitnessgram, to the European nation, a move supported financially by the country and the European Union. “I think you’re about to change the world in Hungary, and I don’t think that’s a small thing,” said Cooper Institute CEO Blaine Nelson during an announcement ceremony, in… Full Story

Tobacco Use, Junk Food Intake Drop at School Districts Nationwide

U.S. school districts are seeing continued improvements in measures related to nutritional policies, physical education and tobacco policies, according to a study released last week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The findings are part of the 2012 School Health Policies and Practices Study, a national survey assessing school health policies and practices at the state, district, school, and classroom levels. “Schools play a critical role in the health and well-being of our youth,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “Good news for students and parents—more students have access to healthy food, better physical fitness activities… Full Story

Popularity of Circumcision Wanes Across U.S., Especially in the West

Overall rates of circumcision performed in United States hospitals have dropped about a tenth over the past three decades, the Centers for Disease Control reported this week. Fifty-eight percent of newborn boys were circumcised in the hospital in 2010, compared with around 65 percent in 1979. Newborn boys born in the West are more likely to skip circumcision than they are to have the once-common procedure; in 1979, about two-thirds of boys there were circumcised in the hospital, but by 2010, only 40 percent were. Rates in the Midwest are highest, with nearly 70 percent of newborn boys receiving the… Full Story

Put Down That Coffee. It Might Be Killing You.

Those under 55 who drink a lot of coffee—more than four cups per day—may be at greater risk of an early death, a new report in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found. The results: People under 55 who drank more than 28 cups per week were more like to die of almost any cause than people who drank less. Women were twice as likely to die from any cause and men were 56 percent more likely, compared to people who drank less. Even controlling for cigarette smoking, which is generally the big confounder in coffee studies, did not totally eliminate the link. Researchers tracked… Full Story

Former CMS Head Identifies 11 “Monsters” Facing Health Industry

The healthcare industry has a long way to go in improving care, and must battle multiple obstacles to pass the next wave in transforming the industry, former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Don Berwick said at the American Hospital Association’s Leadership Summit in San Diego last week. The “monsters” or challenges that currently face the industry span the industry’s culture, policy, and practice: – Instill confidence in science as a basis for action: Berwick says that some doctors are allowing “senseless unscientific variation” in their practices instead of relying on facts and medical science, making for a… Full Story