Roundup: Yoga Can Help Alleviate Back Pain; Teens as Physically Active as 60-year-olds

Research supports the many health benefits of yoga, including increasing strength and flexibility, improving lung function and lowering blood pressure. Now, add back pain to the list. Simple yoga poses have been found to be as effective as physical therapy to lessen back pain, according to new research published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

In the study, researchers followed 101 people who were between 20 and 64 years old and had visited a doctor in the last year for moderate-to-severe back pain. Study participants were assigned to one of three groups and instructed to: 1) do a weekly yoga class and practice at home; 2) perform exercises developed by a physical therapist; or 3) study an educational self-help book. People in both groups were allowed to take pain relief medication for their back pain.

After 12 weeks, the participants answered a questionnaire about their levels of pain and discomfort. The participants in the group that performed yoga had the lowest amount of back pain and most improved function. Participants in the yoga and exercise groups also took less pain medication at the end of the study.

Yoga is one of the most popular mind and body practices used by adults. The popularity of yoga has grown dramatically in recent years, with almost twice as many U.S. adults practicing yoga in 2012 as in 2002, according to the National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health at the National Institutes of Health.

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By 19, Teens as Physically Active as 60-year-olds, Study Finds

New findings published in the journal, Preventive Medicine, reinforce already heightened concern that the lack of exercise is contributing to the growing obesity epidemic, particularly among children and teens.

For teens reaching the age of 19, levels of regular exercise were on par with those of adults at the age of 60, researchers found.

More than 12,500 people of various ages were monitored as part of the study. More than 25 percent of boys and 50 percent of girls aged 6 to 11, and more than 50 percent of males and 75 percent of females aged 12 to 19, did not reach the exercised guidelines recognized by the Word Health Organization (WHO), according to the researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. Participants wore activity tracking devices for seven straight days as part of national surveys conducted between 2003 and 2006.

The WHO recommends at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity a day for children ages 5 to 17.

“Activity levels at the end of adolescence were alarmingly low, and by age 19, they were comparable to 60-year-olds,” says the study’s senior author, Vadim Zipunnikov, assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Biostatistics.

The study also found that the only increases in regular physical activity occurred among adults during their 20s. Exercise levels fell through midlife and older adulthood.

Researchers also examined the different times throughout the day when activity was highest and lowest among the different age groups. This information, they assert, could help boost physical activity by targeting times with the least activity, such as during the morning for children and teens.

For school-age children, the “primary window for activity” was the afternoon between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., said the study’s senior author, Zipunnikov.

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Most of Florida’s 84 Zika Cases This Year are ‘Travel-Related’

So far this year, Florida has 84 reported Zika infections, but the vast majority are “travel related,” according to the state’s health department.

Of the 84 cases, 65 were travel-related, meaning that people were infected elsewhere and brought the mosquito-borne disease into Florida. Four cases involved people infected locally. The remaining 15 involved those who were tested in 2017 after exposures to the disease last year, says the Department of Health.

Zika can be especially harmful to pregnant women because it can cause severe birth defects.

Florida health officials continue to advise people to drain standing water where mosquitoes can breed and protect themselves from mosquito bites.

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