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Mike Furci offers research, trends and other info to help with your fitness, health and nutritional needs.

…there may be a non-surgical way to treat back pain? It is estimated that 80% of Americans at some time in their life experience back pain and vertebral axial decompression therapy (VAX-D) may be a promising treatment. VAX-D is a relatively new, noninvasive form of traction-like therapy for low back pain. The patient lies face down on a computerized "split" table, a pelvic harness around the hips. The patient's arms extend forward, and his hands grasp two patient-operated handgrips. As treatment begins, the table literally separates in two, creating a stretch in the patient's lower back. This creates a vacuum that can retract herniated disks. If at any point in the session the patient experiences discomfort, releasing the handgrips immediately halts the treatment. It is recommended that patients undergo 20 treatments, with a single session typically lasting 45 minutes. (www.webmd.com, 6-20-05)

…you can figure out how old you actually are? Taking the RealAge test and comparing your biological age with your chronological age can be a priceless tool to extending your life. RealAge experts have identified 125 different factors by reviewing 25,000 medical studies which can influence the rate of aging. Based upon your answers, RealAge provides personalized “Grow Younger” strategies to improve your biological age. The RealAge test has received widespread consumer, medical and scientific acceptance. Curious about how old you really are and how to improve it? Go to RealAge.com. Best of all, it’s free.

…Body Mass Index (BMI) is used to determine whether people are under or over weight? BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared and multiplying that number by 703. The resulting number will place you into 1 of 4 categories: below 18.5 is underweight, 18.5-24.9 is normal, 25-29.9 is overweight, and 30 or above is obese. The drawback to BMI is that it doesn’t take muscle mass into consideration. I personally have a BMI of 33.7, which puts me into the obese category. I am 5’10” and weigh 235lbs with 10% body fat, give or take a percentage. If you are outside the norm like bodybuilders and powerlifters, it is important that other factors be included in your health profile like: waist circumference, smoking, physical activity and diet. It’s important to talk to your doctor about several risk factors when determining your health. (www.cdc.gov)

…waist circumference can predict heart disease risk? Men, as most of you know, deposit most of their fat in the abdominal area. The fat in the abdomen is called visceral fat and the fat outside the abdomen is known as subcutaneous fat. The more fat you accumulate around your waist, the greater the risk of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke and some cancers. For example, researchers have found that 50% of men with a waist size greater than 40 inches are insulin resistant, while men with smaller than 40 inch waist rarely have this condition. Brazilian researchers have found waist size to be a more accurate predictor of heart disease and related conditions than BMI.

…despite how fit you are, being overweight or obese exposes men to elevated risks of cardiovascular disease. A University of Colorado study measured 135 men ranging in age from 20-79 for body fatness and aerobic fitness. To predict the men’s risk of cardiovascular disease, the researchers used 18 risk factors, including: cholesterol levels, triglycerides, fasting insulin levels, blood pressure, BMI, waist circumference and percent of body fat. Researchers then looked at aerobic capacity. The study found that regardless of aerobic fitness or age, the fatter the man the higher the degree of all risk factors. What does this tell us? Being fit doesn’t mean it’s okay to be fat.

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