In 2008, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the first edition of the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines, which recommended at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity a week. A decade later, they updated it—removing the restriction that exercise had to occur in at least 10-minute increments to “count.”

All of this was done to help us understand how important it is to our health to just get moving.

Which made researchers think: Are these initiatives working? Are we heeding the advice to get move a little more?

Spoiler: not really.

Researchers examined physical activity trends for a block of time between the two guideline advisories. They used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, a series of questionnaires given to about 27,000 men and women aged 18 and older, and crunched the numbers for physical activity in the time between 2007 and 2016.

They looked at duration, frequency, and intensity of activities related to leisure, work, and transportation.

Aerobic activity didn’t significantly improve—inching up from 63 percent who met the guidelines to 65 percent—but the time spent on sedentary behavior did show a spike, increasing from 5.7 hours per day in 2007 to 6.4 hours in 2016.

If this trend continues, it’s likely that conditions like obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic disease—all considered major problems already—could get even more prevalent.

Source: Runners World

Business shutdowns impact financial and mental health, study finds

Researchers studying a Utah community with a high concentration of International Revenue Service employees found that the partial government shutdown that ended in January significantly affected the financial and mental well-being of federal workers.

Of the furloughed workers surveyed, more than 35 percent missed a rent or mortgage payment, 30 percent went to a food pantry, 72 percent experienced mental health issues, 42 percent wanted to make a career change and 65 percent were very or somewhat concerned about their finances post-shutdown.

Weber State University conducted the study on the impact of the shutdown, which occurred from Dec. 22, 2018, through Jan 25, to understand how it affected the approximately 5,000 IRS workers, local businesses and nonprofits in Ogden, Utah. They also want to determine how to better prepare for any future shutdowns.

“Furloughed employees, nonprofits, and businesses expressed gratitude at how the Northern Utah community rallied to support those affected by the shutdown. However, at the same time, many respondents noted that they felt more services were needed to meet financial, food, and health needs. In addition, information on how to access services could have been better communicated,” the researchers concluded. The 35-day shutdown, which was triggered when President Trump and Congress were unable to reach an agreement on border security funding, was the longest shutdown in U.S. history.  

Katherine French-Fuller, director of research at the Center for Community Engaged Learning at Weber State University, told Government Executive her main takeaway was that while the shutdown did have a financial impact in the community, “the mental health of the workers and the families suffered I think more than we thought about.”

She noted the morale of federal employees needs more attention going forward. “A lot of people articulated that they felt like they were pawns; that they didn’t feel respected by government officials, but also fellow citizens,” French-Fuller said.

Source: Government Executive

Eating seaweed can supercharge your health — and save our oceans


For centuries the world over, seaweed has been considered a healthy and accessible food for people living near the ocean.

The Indigenous people of south-central Chile – the Mapuche – have been using bull kelp (locally known as cochayuyo) as a food source for around 14,000 years.

In Japan, wakame (seaweed salad) and sushi are traditional staples. Meanwhile, in Korea, seaweed is considered a cornerstone of local cuisine. It’s often consumed as a snack after being salted and roasted in thin layers, added to soups and sprinkled over bibimbap.

The list of ancient cultures that recognize seaweed as a valued food source continues, ranging from New Zealand to Ireland, Greenland to Indigenous Australia and beyond.

And yet, seaweed is only just coming of age in western popular culture. Earlier this year, it was noted as an ‘on-trend’ food, with more people recognizing the health and sustainability benefits of the versatile sea vegetable.

The reason that seaweed confers so many health benefits to the person consuming it is simple: it grows in or near salty waters and as such, contains the many vitamins and minerals found in the sea and sea vegetables.

Seaweed in all its forms – no matter if it’s kelp, dulse, wakame, algae or nori – is a supercharged food that’s rich in protein, carbohydrates and polyunsaturated fats.

Seaweed contains omega-3 fatty acids, essential amino acids, antioxidants, iron and vitamins A, B, C and E. As it’s also high in dietary fibre, seaweed is good for gut health and the regulation of blood sugar levels.

The sea vegetable is abundant in iodine, which is beneficial in preventing the development of hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland). However, people with an overactive thyroid gland must be careful with the amount of iodine they consume in foods like seaweed and should be aware of the possibility of medicinal interactions.

Damon Gameau, the filmmaker behind the environmental documentary 2040, is a seaweed fan. He tells SBS that one of the biggest surprises that emerged when making the film was the importance of seaweed to the future survival of the planet.

“We know that a lot of the fish populations are on the verge of collapse,” says Gameau. “We are in a bit of a fish crisis in terms of how much overfishing has gone on. So if we grow more seaweed in the ocean, it will help fish to lay their eggs in the ecosystem [and regenerate fish populations in the ocean].

“Seaweeds also pulls out enormous amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, which is what we want to happen to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Source: SBS