It’s important to keep abreast of new health research. (Photo: Liz Weston, StockSnap)

It’s hard to keep pace with the news these days. It can be difficult to find time to read up on the latest sports or health news. The best way to stay informed is to have someone make it easier on you. With that in mind, I thought I’d share some recent articles and research I find interesting.

Less sitting
A study by Finnish researchers set out to find if office workers who lived sedentary lifestyles could change their habits with counseling and assistance. In total, 133 office workers were studied for one year. They were separated into two groups, with one group serving as the control group, meaning they didn’t receive treatment by the researchers. The second group was given tailored counseling sessions in order to discuss strategies to reduce sitting at work and leisure time.

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Initially, the second group was able to decrease their leisure time by 21 minutes per day, and their active time and breaks in sedentary time increased. After a full year, this same group was down to eight fewer minutes sedentary leisure time, but the control group increased their own time slightly.

The cholesterol and cardiovascular disease biomarkers for the intervention group improved, and the leg muscle mass of this group was maintained. At the same time, the control group’s muscle mass decreased by half a percent.

Those changes might not seem like a lot, but over time, these differences can add up. I think of it the same way I think of weight gain. On average, people gain 1 to 2 pounds a year from early adulthood to middle age. It’s the sort of thing that sneaks up on us, and we don’t realize how much has changed until the change itself seems massive.

So, although this research is preliminary, it’s worth noting if for no other reason than as a reminder we should work to maintain our muscle mass. I, for one, would like to still be walking around in my old age.

Unusual treatments for depression
Anyone suffering from depression should go to their primary care doctor and explain their symptoms and feelings to them. That should always be the first option, because he or she can then refer you to a specialist (if needed) to help deal with the problems you’re facing. (Anytime I discuss improving depression symptoms, my suggestions are always a supplement to what your doctor prescribes.)

With that said, a recent article in U.S. News discussing unusual treatments for depression caught my attention. The author, David Levine, does a good job of explaining some techniques you may not have heard about, putting them into a context of claims versus actual results. Context with these options goes a long way. The treatments include cuddling, transcranial magnetic stimulation, bouldering, probiotics, ketamine, hallucinogens and lithium.

Thankfully, the drugs and medical procedures involved aren’t going to happen without your doctor’s approval, as there can be severe side effects related to their use. Most of these methods probably won’t be the secret cure you may be searching for, so it’s important to always be cautious before trying anything new.

The best way to improve your depression symptoms remains a combination of better diet, consistent exercise and following your doctor’s advice.

Consistency key for weight loss
If you’re looking to lose weight, you should first focus on getting your mind right and not ignoring the mental aspect of this process. However, a new study reminds us of what we may already know, even if we don’t want to believe it.

The study was published in the journal Obesity, and its conclusion is that the key to achieving your weight loss goals is consistency. Since we usually gain about 1 or 2 pounds a year, it’s a bit silly that when we try to lose weight, we hope to lose that same amount about once a week, isn’t it? Nobody likes to wait for the results we want, yet crash and fad diets almost never work.

Researchers followed 183 overweight or obese adults who participated in a weight loss program that provided counseling on their diet and exercise. Their weight was tracked and measured every week.

What they found was that the participants whose weight fluctuated the earliest in the program had the hardest time maintaining their weight by the end of the year. Essentially, the people who lost the most weight the fastest set themselves up for failure because they tried to do too much all at once.

The quick, early weight loss they experienced set them up for failure in the long term. The participants whose weight fluctuated less in the beginning were more likely to control their weight and lose more weight over the long term.

Moderate consumption of fats, carbohydrates
This new study tries to get at the heart of what a good diet really looks like.

The research involved more than 135,000 people across five continents, and while the results may not surprise you too much, such a large study needs to be paid attention to. Essentially, the best diet includes a moderate intake of fat, fruits and vegetables, and involves avoiding too many carbohydrates.

As I continue to stress, moderation remains the key. Not all fats are bad, and fruits and vegetables are an important part of any proper diet. However, a high consumption of carbohydrates and added sugar (more than 60 percent of your diet) is dangerous and linked to a higher risk of early death.

Jay McKenzie loves soccer, history and feeling great. He’s on a quest to eat better and exercise more, and he wants to share his experiences along the way. You can email him at [email protected] with comments or questions. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.

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