Hitting The Gym: Who Is Going The Most?

By studying exercise-related tweets from across the United States, researchers are learning regional and gender differences in exercise types and intensity levels, and how different populations feel about different kinds of exercise. Researchers with Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) led the study - published in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine. "In most cases, lower-income communities tend to lack access to resources that encourage a healthy lifestyle," says study senior author Dr. Elaine Nsoesie, assistant professor of global health at BUSPH. "By understanding differences in how people are exercising across different communities, we can design interventions that target the specific needs of those communities."

The researchers say that social media and other digital data could help create interventions and policies informed not just by the habits of these communities, but also by what they think of different physical activities. "We believe this work provides a step in the right direction," says study lead author Dr. Nina Cesare, a postdoctoral associate in global health at BUSPH. The researchers used a set of AI models to find and analyze 1,382,284 relevant tweets by 481,146 Twitter users in 2,900 US counties - and get rid of false positives, like references to The Walking Dead or watching sports, or using the expression "running late." They compared tweets by men and women, and from four different regions of the country: the Northeast, the South, the Midwest, and the West.

The top exercise terms were "walk," "dance," "golf," "workout," "run," "pool," "hike," "yoga," "swim," and "bowl." Walking was the most popular activity overall, but other activities varied by gender and region. Women in the West did more intensive exercise than in any other region, while the Midwest had the most intensive exercise among men. Men did slightly more intensive exercise than women overall, and South had the biggest gender gap in exercise intensity.

Is The Gym Too Expensive Or Time Consuming?

Government guidelines suggest that, in order to stay healthy, adults should perform at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week - exercise that gets your breathing and heart rate up. A new study - published in The Journal of Physiology -  investigated a home-based high-intensity interval training (Home-HIT) program and studied its benefits for clinically obese individuals with an elevated risk of heart disease. Previous research has demonstrated that under controlled laboratory conditions, you can get the same benefits from three 20-minute exercise sessions, as from the government-recommended 150 minutes. However, the question is whether data produced in highly-controlled laboratory environments can be translated to the real world. The research team at Liverpool John Moores University were interested in whether Home-HIT is a time-efficient strategy that helps to reduce other common exercise barriers such as difficultly with access to exercise facilities due travel time and cost.

Thirty-two obese people completed a 12-week program of either a supervised, lab-based cycling HIT program, the government-recommended 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or a home-based HIT program of simple body weight exercises suitable for people with low fitness and low mobility, and performed without equipment. For all of these regimens, the exercise was performed three times per week. The researchers measured a range of health markers in these participants, including body composition, cardiovascular disease risk, and the ability to regulate glucose. They found that the home-based HIT was as effective as both the government-recommended 150 minutes and the supervised, lab-based HIT program for improving fitness in obese individuals. "An exercise regimen, such as Home-HIT, that reduces barriers to exercise, such as time, cost, and access, and increases adherence in previously inactive individuals gives people a more attainable exercise goal and thus could help improve the health of countless individuals," added Sam Scott, first author of the study.

Do Exercise Incentives Work?

Only 21 percent of Americans get a recommended amount of weekly exercise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Getting paid to exercise does little to make the commitment stick, even among people who had just joined a gym and expected to visit regularly. The rewards also had no lasting effect and gym visits stabilized after the modest incentives ended. Despite timing incentives to when people were already more motivated to exercise, the approach proved ineffective in initiating a healthy behavior that continues to elude most Americans. "They wanted to exercise regularly, and yet their behavior did not match their intent, even with a reward," says Mariana Carrera, an assistant professor of economics at the Weatherhead School of Management. "People thought earning the incentive would be easy but were way overoptimistic about how often they'd go."

In the study - from Case Western Reserve University - new gym members intended to visit three times per week but ended up averaging one weekly visit by the end of the six-week study. Nearly 95 percent said they expected to visit the gym more than once per week, but by the end of the third month, only about a third had. For visiting the gym nine total times during the study - an average of 1.5 times per week - participants were promised one of three modest rewards: a $30 Amazon gift card, a prize item of equivalent value, or a $60 Amazon gift card. A control group received a $30 Amazon gift card regardless of how often they visited. The value of incentives was based on what gyms were likely to offer.

Fourteen percent did not visit the gym again after the first week. Incentivized participants showed a slight increase in gym visits in the sixth week - their last chance to make enough visits to earn their prize. Overall, those given incentives made only 0.14 more visits per week than those promised no reward at all. "Focusing on people when they're ready to make a change may be misguided," Carrera added. "Maybe the internal motivation that gets a person to start a gym membership is unrelated to what drives them to earn financial incentives. What's clear was there was no complementarity in lumping these two motivations together."

The group promised the $60 gift card also did not visit the gym more often than those given the $30 gift card or prize. Researchers thought that selecting the prize item at the outset might create a sense of ownership and prove to be a more powerful motivator, because failing to hit the target visit rate might feel like a loss. However, while the item induced slightly more visits, the difference was insignificant.

How To Neutralize Sweaty Gym Clothes

In recent years, scientists have developed smart fabrics that react to stimuli such as light, temperature or mechanical stress and respond in certain ways, such as by changing color or conducting an electrical signal. Researchers have also explored different methods to release fragrances from fabrics. Now, researchers have modified cotton fabric to emit a lemony citronella aroma upon contact with sweat. As reported in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, they wanted to develop and compare two new strategies for releasing a fragrance - β-citronellol, a lemongrass-derived scent used in some insect repellants - from cotton fabric in response to sweat.

The first approach involved an odorant-binding protein (OBP) found in pigs' noses that binds to β-citronellol and other scent molecules. To the OBP, the researchers attached a protein domain, called a carbohydrate-binding module (CBM) that binds to cotton. In their second strategy, the researchers packaged the fragrance in liposomes that displayed CBMs, which anchored the lipid carriers and their cargo to the fabric. The team exposed the modified cotton fabrics to an acidic sweat solution, and the low pH of the simulated perspiration caused the OBP and liposomes to release β-citronellol. Comparing the two strategies revealed that the OBP released a quick burst of scent, while the liposomes showed a slower, controlled release. The liposomes could also hold more fragrance than the other approach. The two strategies could prove useful for different clothing applications.

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 Reviewed By:

Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.


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