Brawn matters: Stronger adolescents, teens have less risk of diabetes, heart disease

Adolescents with stronger muscles have a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes, according to a new study that examined the influence of muscle strength in sixth grade boys and girls.Stronger kids also have lower body mass index (weight to height ratio), lower percent body fat, smaller waist circumferences, and higher fitness levels, according to the study that appears in Pediatrics.Researchers analyzed health data for more than 1,400 children ages 10 to 12, including their percent body fat, glucose level, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and triglycerides (a type of fat, or lipid, which may increase risk of heart disease). Those with greater strength-to-body-mass ratios — or pound-for-pound strength capacities — had significantly lower risks of heart disease and diabetes.”It’s a widely-held belief that BMI, sedentary behaviors and low cardiovascular fitness levels are linked to diabetes, heart disease and stroke, but our findings suggest muscle strength possibly may play an equally important role in cardiometabolic health in children,” says lead author Mark D. Peterson, Ph.D, M.S., research assistant professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan Medical School.The study’s corresponding author was Paul M. Gordon, Ph.D., M.P.H, who is a Professor at Baylor University in Texas. Gordon suggests that strengthening activities may be equally important to physical activity participation.The research is based on data from the Cardiovascular Health Intervention Program (CHIP), a study of sixth graders from 17 mid-area Michigan schools between 2005 and 2008.Participants were tested for strength capacity using a standardized handgrip strength assessment, which is recently recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). Researchers also measured cardiorespiratory fitness — how well the body is able to transport oxygen to muscles during prolonged exercise, and how well muscles are able to absorb and use it.The study is believed to be the first to show a robust link between strength capacity and a lower chance of having diabetes, heart disease or stroke (cardiometabolic risk) in adolescents, even after controlling for the influence of BMI, physical activity participation, and cardiorespiratory fitness.”The stronger you are relative to your body mass, the healthier you are,” Peterson says. “Exercise, sports, and even recreational activity that supports early muscular strength acquisition, should complement traditional weight loss interventions among children and teens in order to reduce risks of serious diseases throughout adolescence.”Previous, large-scale studies have found low muscular strength in teen boys is a risk factor for several major causes of death in young adulthood, such as suicide and cardiovascular diseases.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Michigan Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Sleepless nights can turn lovers into fighters

July 9, 2013 — Relationship problems can keep us awake at night. But new research from UC Berkeley suggests that sleepless nights also can worsen lovers’ fights.UC Berkeley psychologists Amie Gordon and Serena Chen have found that people are much more likely to lash out at their romantic partners over relationship conflicts after a bad night’s sleep.”Couples who fight more are less happy and less healthy,” said Gordon, a doctoral student in psychology and lead author of the study published online in the journal, Social Psychological and Personality Science.”Our research helps illuminate one factor that leads couples to engage in unnecessary and harmful conflict by showing that couples experience more frequent and severe conflicts after sleepless nights,” she added.While previous studies indicate that poor sleep has a negative impact on romantic relationships, these new findings shed more light on how bad sleep compromises couples’ ability to avoid and manage conflict, researchers said.”For the first time, to our knowledge, we can see the process of how the nature, degree, and resolution of conflict are negatively impacted by poor sleep,” said Chen, a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley.Researchers collected data on the sleep habits of more than 100 couples who had been together, on average, for nearly two years. They gauged participants for depression, anxiety and other stressors in order to focus solely on the link between the couples’ sleep quality and relationship conflicts.In one experiment, 78 young adults in romantic relationships provided daily reports over a two-week period about their sleep quality and relationship stresses. Overall, participants reported more discord with their partners on the days following a bad night’s sleep.”Even among relatively good sleepers, a poor night of sleep was associated with more conflict with their romantic partner the next day,” Chen said.In a second experiment, 71 couples came into the laboratory, rated how they had slept the previous night, and then, while being videotaped, discussed with their partners a source of conflict in their relationship. Each partner then rated his or her own and his or her partner’s emotional interactions during the conflict conversation, and assessed whether they resolved the disagreement.The participants who had slept poorly and their partners reported feeling more negatively toward one another during the conflict discussion, according to observations and their reports. Their conflict-resolution skills and ability to accurately gauge their partners’ emotions also suffered after a bad night’s sleep.

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