Diet or exercise? ‘Energy balance’ real key to disease prevention

A majority of Americans are overweight or obese, a factor in the rapid rise in common diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and more. According to a paper published collaboratively in this month’s issues of the official journals of both the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, energy balance is a viable public health solution to address the obesity epidemic. The paper outlines steps to incorporate energy balance principles into public health outreach in the U.S.”It is time we collectively move beyond debating nutrition or exercise and focus on nutrition and exercise,” said co-author and ACSM member Melinda Manore, Ph.D., R.D., C.S.S.D., FACSM of Oregon State University. “Nutrition and exercise professionals working collaboratively, combined with effective public health messaging about the importance of energy balance, can help America shape up and become healthier.”The paper, published in the July edition of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise and in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, gives the following recommendations:• Integrate energy balance into curriculum and training for both exercise science and nutrition professionals and strengthen collaborative efforts between them • Develop competencies for school and physical education teachers and position them as energy balance advocates • Develop core standards for schools that integrate the dynamic energy balance approach • Work with federally-funded nutrition programs like the Cooperative Extension Service and school lunch programs to incorporate energy balance solutions • Develop messaging and promotional strategies about energy balance that American consumers can understand and apply to their lifestyle • Map out and support existing programs that emphasize energy balance”Our health professionals are currently working in silos and must work together to educate and promote energy balance as the key to better health” said Manore. “The obesity crisis is one of the greatest public health challenges of our generation. Energy balance can help us work toward a solution so our children aren’t saddled with the same health challenges we currently face. “The paper is an outcome of the October 2012 expert panel meeting titled “Energy Balance at the Crossroads: Translating the Science into Action” hosted by ACSM, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)/Agriculture Research Service.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Healthy habits pay off in long term

Can initial modes of behavior be used to predict how fit and healthy a person will be 18 years later? This question was in the focus of studies performed by researchers of KIT, Technische Universitt Mnchen, and the universities of Konstanz and Bayreuth. A basic survey covered about 500 adults over a longer term. The result: Initial habits determine physical fitness and health in the long term. The study is now reported by the scientists in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise.”The results of our study reveal how important it is to acquire health-promoting habits at early adult age already. This should also be in the focus of prevention measures,” Professor Alexander Woll, Head of the KIT Institute of Sports and Sport Science, explains. Initial habits concerning nutrition and physical exercise will influence physical fitness and health in a statistically significant way in the long term.In their study, the researchers used a four-stage biopsychosocial model to identify mutual interactions of health-relevant factors. On the first level, distal, environment-related factors, such as the migration background and socioeconomic status, can be found. The second level covers proximal, personal factors, such as social support, stress management strategies, and the coherence feeling. The third level includes behavioral factors, such as nutrition habits, smoking, and physical exercise. …

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How our brain networks: White matter ‘scaffold’ of human brain revealed

For the first time, neuroscientists have systematically identified the white matter “scaffold” of the human brain, the critical communications network that supports brain function.Their work, published Feb. 11 in the open-source journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, has major implications for understanding brain injury and disease. By detailing the connections that have the greatest influence over all other connections, the researchers offer not only a landmark first map of core white matter pathways, but also show which connections may be most vulnerable to damage.”We coined the term white matter ‘scaffold’ because this network defines the information architecture which supports brain function,” said senior author John Darrell Van Horn of the USC Institute for Neuroimaging and Informatics and the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at USC.”While all connections in the brain have their importance, there are particular links which are the major players,” Van Horn said.Using MRI data from a large sample of 110 individuals, lead author Andrei Irimia, also of the USC Institute for Neuroimaging and Informatics, and Van Horn systematically simulated the effects of damaging each white matter pathway.They found that the most important areas of white and gray matter don’t always overlap. Gray matter is the outermost portion of the brain containing the neurons where information is processed and stored. Past research has identified the areas of gray matter that are disproportionately affected by injury.But the current study shows that the most vulnerable white matter pathways — the core “scaffolding” — are not necessarily just the connections among the most vulnerable areas of gray matter, helping explain why seemingly small brain injuries may have such devastating effects.”Sometimes people experience a head injury which seems severe but from which they are able to recover. On the other hand, some people have a seemingly small injury which has very serious clinical effects,” says Van Horn, associate professor of neurology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “This research helps us to better address clinical challenges such as traumatic brain injury and to determine what makes certain white matter pathways particularly vulnerable and important.”The researchers compare their brain imaging analysis to models used for understanding social networks. To get a sense of how the brain works, Irimia and Van Horn did not focus only on the most prominent gray matter nodes — which are akin to the individuals within a social network. Nor did they merely look at how connected those nodes are.Rather, they also examined the strength of these white matter connections, i.e. which connections seemed to be particularly sensitive or to cause the greatest repercussions across the network when removed. …

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Rest can be best medicine but difficult for young athletes

Billy Kuhl, age 14, is no stranger to bumps and bruises having been involved in numerous sports, including football and hockey, for several years. But last fall on his way to football practice a bicycle accident made him realize how important it is to take injuries seriously. While biking to football practice, Kuhl’s football spikes caused him to lose his footing. He was thrust forward over the front of the bike. The handle bars were jammed into his upper thigh causing a deep muscle injury.”It blew up like a grapefruit, but I’ve had lots of bruises so I didn’t think anything about it. I thought I just needed to work through it, but the bruise just kept getting bigger and bigger,” said Kuhl.Though he didn’t take part in practices that week, he did play in the football game as well as three hockey games that weekend. Kuhl’s parents noticed that instead of getting better the bruise was getting worse and had become hard in the middle.”We realized it should’ve gone down by now, but it was just getting worse so we decided to take him in for an X-ray,” said William Kuhl, Billy’s father. Kuhl saw Jerold Stirling, MD, pediatric sports medicine expert at Loyola University Health System and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.”When a large muscle is injured by bruising, it may cause bleeding into the muscle itself. On occasion, as the body is healing itself from the bleeding it can calcify in the muscle causing bone to form inside the muscle. This is called myositis ossificans,” said Stirling. …

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Combating sports-related concussions: New device accurately and objectively diagnoses concussions from the sidelines

Aug. 28, 2013 — In the United States there are millions of sports-related concussions each year, but many go undiagnosed because for some athletes, the fear of being benched trumps the fear of permanent brain damage, and there is no objective test available to accurately diagnose concussions on the sidelines.Researchers at San Diego State University have set out to change that.A team led by Daniel Goble, an exercise and nutritional sciences professor at SDSU, have developed software and an inexpensive balance board that can measure balance with 99 percent accuracy on the field and in the clinic. They are testing the device on SDSU’s rugby team, with the hope of soon making it available worldwide to athletes of all ages and levels.Balance tests are a primary method used to detect concussion. The current means of scoring these tests relies on the skill of athletic trainers to visually determine whether or not a concussion has occurred.Trainers count “errors” while watching athletes stand in different foot configurations — such as on one foot or with feet heel to toe — when a concussion is suspected. Errors include stepping out of place or removing one’s hand from one’s hip and the total number is compared to a baseline test preformed preseason.This testing method can be both subjective and inaccurate, and can easily be skewed to return a concussed athlete to the field, said Goble.A better testWith help from the SDSU College of Engineering and the Zahn Innovation Center, Goble recently validated the balance tracking system, or B-TrackS, to assess balance before and after potential concussions.Currently force plates, which are small, square platforms used to quantify balance, gait and other biomechanics, are the primary tools to test balance. But they can cost $10,000 per plate, which the average high school or university can’t afford.Enter the B-TrackS.Using a low-cost balance board and custom software, Goble’s B-TrackS gives information on how much a person is swaying, which is an indicator of balance. The sway information is just as accurate as an expensive force plate and fully objective.In fact, Goble will soon publish a study in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine that shows the validity of the BTrackS system. In this study, the current method of scoring balance for concussions and the BTrackS were compared and the BTrackS was clearly more accurate than even the most experienced trainer.Objective data”There are athletes out there who are playing with concussions and not knowing it,” Goble said. “We’re taking the uncertainty out of the equation and giving hard data to quantify whether or not a concussion actually occurred.”The improved board works similarly to the current test — athletes stand on the board and conduct a series of movements based on balance control. Instead of an athletic trainer determining how many “errors” occur, the board will measure how much athletes sway, and give objective data determining their condition.”Anybody who runs the test will get the same number, and we can use these numbers and try and figure out what quantifies as a concussion,” Goble said.Put to the testGoble and his team have recently invited SDSU’s rugby team into the lab where researchers will administer tests on the players to get a baseline reading of their balance using the B-TrackS. …

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Sports medicine physician advises parents to not let their kids play football

July 22, 2013 — Prominent sports medicine physician Dr. Pietro Tonino of Loyola University Medical Center has some blunt advice for parents of high school athletes who want to play football this fall: Don’t let them do it.”When you have two human beings collide at a high rate of speed — especially if one of them is much bigger than the other — then significant injuries are quite possible,” Tonino said. “I don’t believe it is worth the risk. So I advise parents to try to steer their children to alternative sports. We are just beginning to understand the long-term consequences of injuries sustained at young ages.”The most common football injuries are knee injuries, especially to the anterior or posterior cruciate ligament (ACL/PCL). Other common injuries are ankle sprains, shoulder injuries and overuse injuries that cause back pain and patellar tendonitis (knee pain). Heat stroke is a significant risk during summer training camp.A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that injury rates were similar in football and baseball. But while only 3 percent of baseball injuries were considered serious (fracture, dislocation, concussion), 14 percent of football injuries were considered serious.But concussions are Tonino’s biggest concern. Tonino notes that a position statement from the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine says the developing brain differs physiologically from the adult brain. Young athletes may have a more prolonged recovery and are more susceptible to concussions accompanied by a catastrophic injury.While helmets can prevent injuries such as cuts and fractures, helmets have not been shown to reduce the incidence and severity of concussions. …

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Legal performance enhancer discovered in the nutrient betaine

July 5, 2013 — According to a study supervised by Ithaca College’s Exercise and Sport Sciences Chair Thomas Swensen, betaine — a nutrient found in shellfish and beets — boosts athletic performance by nearly six percent when added to a sports drink.Share This:Tips and Takeaways”Betaine may contribute to creatine synthesis, which improves, strength, power and short-term performance,” Swensen said. “Future research should elucidate the mechanism of how betaine supplementation improves performance.”To see results at the gym, researchers suggest: Dissolve 2.5 grams of betaine (either powder or tablet form) in a 20-ounce sports drink, and drink half in the morning and half in the afternoon.MethodologySixteen college-aged cyclists were tested three times in order to measure how the sports drink and betaine beverage affected performance variables such as average and maximum peak power. The first test established baseline performances. The subjects then consumed half of either the commercial drink or betaine beverage twice a day for seven days and were tested again. Three weeks later, the subjects repeated the process with the opposite beverage.The results showed that one week of betaine supplementation increased peak and mean anaerobic power by 5.5 percent compared to baseline measures in recreationally active college-age men and women.Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Ithaca College, via Newswise. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above. Journal Reference:J Luke Pryor, Stuart AS Craig, Thomas Swensen. Effect of betaine supplementation on cycling sprint performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2012; 9 (1): 12 DOI: 10.1186/1550-2783-9-12 Need to cite this story in your essay, paper, or report? …

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Passing the ball may also pass disease

July 2, 2013 — UC Irvine researchers have demonstrated that basketballs and volleyballs can spread potentially dangerous germs among players. Their findings may bring a new awareness to athletes, coaches, trainers and parents regarding safe sanitation practices for athletes.The undergraduate independent study project was supervised by Joshua A. Cotter, a postdoctoral fellow in orthopedic surgery, and led by Brandon Haghverdian, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and starts medical school at UC Irvine in the fall. The research was presented by graduating biological sciences student Nimesh Patel at the American College of Sports Medicine national conference in May, 2013.Staphylococcus aureus, a germ known for causing staph infections in athletes, was selected for the study. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly referred to as MRSA, is a kind of staph that is particularly worrisome because of its resistance to many antibiotics. Athletes with MRSA infections often must endure emergency room visits, costly outpatient follow-ups, and time away from games and practice. The NCAA has initiated a campaign to help identify and prevent diseases which can be spread among athletes.During the study, the researchers analyzed the germ threat on volleyballs and basketballs, the players’ hands and the gym floor. For each phase of the study, two of the three surfaces were sterilized, and the third was left in its native state. Germicidal Ultraviolet “C” (UVC) light was used to sterilize the ball and the floor tiles, whereas hands were sanitized by washing with antibacterial soap.Staph. aureus cultures were then sampled from all three surfaces. …

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Why are there so many youth baseball-throwing injuries?

June 14, 2013 — After three years of research, a multicenter, national research study led by Beaumont orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist, Joseph Guettler, M.D., may have some answers as to why youth baseball pitching injuries continue to rise despite the implementation of nationally recommended pitching limits. In fact, serious pitching injuries requiring surgery have skyrocketed with one estimate reporting serious throwing injuries are occurring 16 times more often today than just 30 years ago.”Our research team and colleagues from around the country, saw several recurring themes,” says Dr. Guettler. “It became very clear that dangerous pitching behavior is occurring among pitchers as young as little league all the way through their high school years. And, the blame doesn’t usually lie with the leagues or coaches. Most were found to be adhering to nationally recognized guidelines for pitch limits and rest. It seems much of the blame lies with behavior of parents and their kids.”Some of the findings concluded that contrary to national guidelines limiting pitches thrown, 13.3 percent of pitchers pitched competitively for more than 8 months of the year, 40 percent pitched in a league without pitch counts or limits, 56.6 percent pitched on back-to-back days, and 19 percent pitched more than one game in the same day. Nearly one-third of these pitchers pitched for more than one team during the same season; one-third played only baseball and 10 percent also played catcher on the same team, another high-volume throwing position.”The most prevalent reasons for arm pain and tiredness can be boiled down to five major issues,” Guettler adds. “The following behaviors can lead to arm pain and tiredness which can then lead to the most significant shoulder and elbow injuries.”Pitching for more than one team during the same season Pitching more than one game during the same day Pitching on back-to-back days Pitching in a league without pitch counts or playing year-round Throwing curve balls before high school A total of 754 pitchers between the ages of 9 and 18 participated in this national youth baseball study where all regions of the United States were represented. The average age of the pitchers was 14.1. …

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After an ACL tear: Research opens door to new treatments to improve recovery for athletes

June 13, 2013 — Striking the likes of Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose, L.A. Lakers’ Kobe Bryant and Detroit Tigers’ Victor Martinez, tears in the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are one of the most rampant and serious knee injuries among athletes.Now, researchers from the University of Michigan Health System have identified a new drug target that may prevent one of the most dreaded consequences of an ACL tear — the weakening or loss of muscle tissue (muscle atrophy) that can be a career-killer in sports and ultimately develop into osteoarthritis.A hormone called myostatin that blocks muscle growth appears to play a key role in causing muscle damage after ACL tears, according to a study that appears in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. The findings pave the way for potential treatment preventing muscle loss after an ACL tear and consequent knee replacement, which affects more than 250,000 people a year in the U.S.”We’ve had several advances in technology to improve the recovery process for an ACL tear, but most patients still experience 30-40 percent muscle weakness — and that weakness largely limits the ability to return to the same level of sports,” says lead author and athletic trainer Christopher L. Mendias, Ph.D., A.T.C, assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Molecular & Integrative Physiology at the U-M Medical School.”This is the first study in humans to open the door to a potential therapy to prevent muscle atrophy. We see this as an important step in restoring athletic and functional abilities in the short term, and in preventing osteoarthritis in the long term.”Often dubbed an athlete’s worst nightmare, ACL tears usually require surgical repairs and months of intense rehabilitation that force long breaks from playing any sports.Myostatin has shown promise as a potential drug target for treating other conditions such as muscular dystrophy and cancer, and blocking the protein has led to increased muscle mass and strength.”In the sports world, there’s great concern about the short-term and long-term affect of an ACL tear on not only an athlete’s physical skills and ability to return to play, but also the longevity and health of the knee joint,” says senior author Asheesh Bedi, M.D., assistant professor in orthopedic surgery.”This is the first study to look into the biology of muscle tissue involved in an ACL tear and to show how Myostatin affects the muscle damage we see following surgery. We need further studies to examine how these findings may aid in better recoveries following a common and often detrimental type of knee injury for athletes.”Additional authors: Evan B. Lynch, B.S.E.; Max E. Davis, B.A.; Elizabeth R. Sibilsky Enselman, ME.d.,A.T.C.; Julie A. Harning; Paul D. …

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Sport at competitive level improves the academic performance of secondary education students

June 12, 2013 — Academic performance is better if young people play sports competitively, as is clear from the findings of the thesis presented by Ana Capdevila Seder at the Universitat Jaume I. The thesis has been directed by the lecturer of Teaching Body Language and director of the UJI Sports Service Carlos Hernando Domingo.Academic performance in adolescence is a matter of concern for teachers, parents and researchers. Similarly, the sedentary lifestyle is affecting more and more children and young people, causing, among other, cardiorespiratory ailments and diseases specific to adulthood. In the adolescence, specifically among secondary education students, sports abandonment occurs massively and the main cause is focused on the lack of time to combine sport and studies.The main results of the research conducted by Ana Capdevila show that the profile with a better academic performance corresponds to female students studying in private schools or state-subsided schools who play sports (even competitively) and with parents who have higher education and practice sport. In addition, the findings show that athlete students have better study habits and spend less time on sedentary leisure activities than non-athlete students.Other remarkable results from the study of the assistant professor in the Department of Education at the UJI have been the positive influence that the practice of sport of parents has on children’s academic performance, and also in their sport practice, because if parents practice sport, almost 86 per cent of children do too. Similarly, the family plays a key role in facilitating that children can combine study tasks and sport. Their greater involvement in issues such as transport, food or rest increases performance.Young athletes have scored higher on the test on study habits; especially in areas such as attitude and time schedule to study (they are more motivated to study and the reasons why they do it are more clear to them). This fact suggests the importance of arranging the free time when this time is occupied, in large part, by training and racing, and how profitable it is to invest time in active leisure instead of sedentary leisure activities, thus showing that sport at competition level improves performance and does not interfere with studies during adolescence.The study involved 313 adolescents in the second cycle of compulsory secondary education in Castellón de la Plana, 124 of which were athletes (with a minimum commitment of 10 hours of sport per week) and 189 non-athletes. Students answered two questionnaires, the CHTE questionnaire on study habits and practice, and the PFYTL on physical activity and leisure. In addition, parents were administered a questionnaire and participants’ academic marks were also taken into account in the research.

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Formula for turning cement into ‘metal’

May 27, 2013 — In a move that would make the Alchemists of King Arthur’s time green with envy, scientists have unraveled the formula for turning liquid cement into liquid metal. This makes cement a semi-conductor and opens up its use in the profitable consumer electronics marketplace for thin films, protective coatings, and computer chips.

“This new material has lots of applications, including as thin-film resistors used in liquid-crystal displays, basically the flat panel computer monitor that you are probably reading this from at the moment,” said Chris Benmore, a physicist from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory who worked with a team of scientists from Japan, Finland and Germany to take the “magic” out of the cement-to-metal transformation. Benmore and Shinji Kohara from Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute/SPring-8 led the research effort.

This change demonstrates a unique way to make metallic-glass material, which has positive attributes including better resistance to corrosion than traditional metal, less brittleness than traditional glass, conductivity, low energy loss in magnetic fields, and fluidity for ease of processing and molding. Previously, only metals have been able to transition to a metallic-glass form. Cement does this by a process called electron trapping, a phenomena only previously seen in ammonia solutions. Understanding how cement joined this exclusive club opens the possibility of turning other solid normally insulating materials into room-temperature semiconductors.

“This phenomenon of trapping electrons and turning liquid cement into liquid metal was found recently, but not explained in detail until now,” Benmore said. “Now that we know the conditions needed to create trapped electrons in materials we can develop and test other materials to find out if we can make them conduct electricity in this way.”

The results were reported May 27 in the journal the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences in the article Network topology for the formation of solvated electrons in binary CaO-Al2O3 composition glasses.”

The team of scientists studied mayenite, a component of alumina cement made of calcium and aluminum oxides. They melted it at temperatures of 2,000 degrees Celsius using an aerodynamic levitator with carbon dioxide laser beam heating. The material was processed in different atmospheres to control the way that oxygen bonds in the resulting glass. The levitator keeps the hot liquid from touching any container surfaces and forming crystals. This let the liquid cool into glassy state that can trap electrons in the way needed for electronic conduction. The levitation method was developed specifically for in-situ measurement at Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source by a team led by Benmore.

The scientists discovered that the conductivity was created when the free electrons were “trapped” in the cage-like structures that form in the glass. The trapped of electrons provided a mechanism for conductivity similar to the mechanism that occurs in metals.

To uncover the details of this process, scientists combined several experimental techniques and analyzed them using a supercomputer. They confirmed the ideas in experiments using different X-ray techniques at Spring 8 in Japan combined with earlier measurements at the Intense Pulsed Neutron Source and the Advanced Photon Source.

Research was supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan, the Japan Science and Technology Agency, and the Academy of Finland.

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Study challenges notion that umpires call more strikes for pitchers of same race

May 22, 2013 — A University of Michigan study challenges previous research that suggests umpire discrimination exists in Major League Baseball.

The study, a collaboration between researchers at U-M and the universities of Illinois and Florida, looks deeper into the controversial argument over whether MLB umpires discriminate by calling more strikes for pitchers of the same race. It found little statistical evidence to support that claim, said Jason Winfree, associate professor of sport management at the U-M School of Kinesiology.

Winfree and co-authors Scott Tainsky of Illinois and Brian Mills of Florida, analyzed millions of pitches between 1997 and 2008 and ran the data through various statistical models. Their results suggest that findings of discrimination were questionable.

A draft of the earlier study that initially found evidence of discrimination was released in 2007 and published by the American Economic Review in 2011. National media reported on both the draft of the study and on its later publication.

In the U-M study, Winfree and his co-authors analyzed both their own data as well as that of the previously published study, but did not get consistent results when using different statistical methods and variables.

“Based on what we found, it’s(discrimination) certainly not conclusive, and we could make an argument that there’s actually reverse discrimination if you look only at averages,” Winfree said. “Our point is (that) with something like this you want to look at the data a lot of different ways and see if you get a consistent result each time with each method. It’s a pretty bold claim to say there is racial discrimination.”

Winfree and colleagues found that the only specifications that suggested discrimination were when the analysis treated pitchers as completely separate players when pitching in stadiums where umpires were monitored. This seemed to drive much of the findings in the earlier study, they said.

The U-M study and others that look at discrimination in sports are significant not only for sports fans and franchises, but because it’s very difficult to test for discrimination in most other occupations, Winfree said. However, because professional sports keep such detailed statistics, discrimination or lack of it is more quantifiable.

“This is a place where it’s easy to test for discrimination, and if you find it here, it might be present in other work scenarios where you can’t really test it,” Winfree said.

The issue of discrimination among referees and umpires has raised debate in other sports as well. For instance, in 2010 the Quarterly Journal of Economics published a study that suggested racial bias among referees in the NBA.

The U-M study, “Further examination of potential discrimination among MLB umpires,” appears online in the Journal of Sports Economics.

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Soccer training improves heart health of men with type 2 diabetes

May 30, 2013 — A new study from the Copenhagen Centre for Team Sport and Health at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, demonstrates that soccer training improves heart function, reduces blood pressure and elevates exercise capacity in patients with type 2 diabetes. Soccer training also reduces the need for medication.

The study, recently published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, investigated the effects of soccer training, consisting of small-sided games (5v5), on 21 men with type 2 diabetes, aged 37-60 years.

Soccer training makes the heart ten years younger

“We discovered that soccer training significantly improved the flexibility of the heart and furthermore, that the cardiac muscle tissue was able to work 29% faster. This means that after three months of training, the heart had become 10 years ‘younger’,” explains Medical Doctor, PhD Student, Jakob Friis Schmidt, who co-authored the study alongside with PhD student, Thomas Rostgaard Andersen. He adds:

“Many type 2 diabetes patients have less flexible heart muscles which is often one of the first signs of diabetes’ effect on cardiac function, increasing the risk of heart failure.”

Advanced ultrasound scanning of the heart also demonstrated that the heart’s contraction phase was improved and that the capacity of the heart to shorten was improved by 23% — a research result that had not been reported with other types of physical activity.

Blood pressure greatly reduced

At the start of the study, 60 percent of the participants had too high blood pressure and had been prescribed one or more pressure reducing medications. Soccer training reduced the systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 8 mmHg, which is greater than the achievements of prior training studies. These effects are as pronounced as those achieved by taking high blood pressure pills and the need for medication was significant reduced.

Great functional improvements

The study also showed that the participants’ maximal oxygen uptake was increased by 12% and that their intermittent exercise capacity was elevated by 42%. “An improved physical condition reduces the risk for other illnesses associated with type 2 diabetes and makes it easier to get along with daily tasks and maintain a physically active life” says Thomas Rostgaard.

Professor Jens Bangsbo, head of the Copenhagen Centre for Team Sport and Health at University of Copenhagen, adds that, “The results of the study, coupled with participants’ interest in continuing to play after the study, show that soccer has a great potential to help diabetic patients. This does not only gain the patients, but also contribute socio-economically.”

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