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Lifeline / News in brief

'Move Day' is tomorrow

America on the Move, a national grassroots initiative to promote healthy eating and active living, invites all Americans to take a pledge to commit for one day -- Wednesday -- to make two small changes that will enhance their overall health and prevent weight gain.

The two changes are: (1) Move more -- add extra steps, or minutes, to your current physical activity routines. (2) Eat smarter -- consume 100 fewer calories each day.

Local AOM "Move Day" festivities kick off at noon at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in front of Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Attendees can participate in 30-minute guided walks on the new Artwalk trails through Allentown, the medical campus and Fruit Belt neighborhoods.

"If we can help people make this change for one day, they'll see how easy it is and hopefully make it a habit," says Michael Ball, project manager of the medical campus.

> Fiber up, pressure down

Bulking up on high-fiber foods can ease elevated blood pressure, say Tulane University researchers. They analyzed 25 clinical trials involving 1,500 men and women. Among those with hypertension, getting an extra 7 to 19 grams of fiber a day cut systolic pressure -- the upper number -- by an average 5.95 points and diastolic pressure -- the lower number -- by 4.2 points in 8 weeks.

Why fiber? It reduces insulin resistance -- a suspected step in developing high blood pressure -- and inhibits weight gain -- a known hypertension risk factor. The researchers advise increasing both soluble fiber (in fruit and legumes) and insoluble (in vegetables) for blood pressure benefits. Ideal for all-over health: 22 to 34 grams of fiber a day.

> The Starbucks advantage

Java lovers, rejoice: Coffee can make spinning class feel easier. A British review of 21 different studies on caffeine found that the popular pick-me-up cut exercisers' ratings of perceived exertion by 5.6 percent. What's more, they were able to run, bike, and swim 11 percent faster and longer.
The optimum dosage is approximately 2.5 milligrams of caffeine per pound of body weight (more than that will make you jittery), or about two to three cups of strong brewed coffee for a 140-pound woman. Give it a try an hour before your next trip to the gym.

> Help baby get her sleep

The average infant gets only 12.7 of the 14 to 15 recommended daily hours of shuteye, reports a recent National Sleep Foundation survey. That not only leaves Mom ,2.8i sleepy, but increases a baby's irritability. Sleep expert Jodi Mindell offers the following tips:

Don't skip naps. More than 25 percent of infants seem overtired during the day, probably because family activities interfere with naps and bedtime. Clearest sign of a sleep-deprived baby: He always falls asleep in the car.
Banish bedtime TV. About 20 percent of babies have a set in their room. The noise -- and flickering light -- can keep them awake.
If your baby doesn't seem to get enough sleep, talk to your pediatrician about healthier sleep habits.

> Steroids and your daughter?

Up to 5 percent of middle-school and 7 percent of high-school girls admit they've used steroids at least once. Many say they're trying to get the sculpted, toned bodies of today's movie stars, say experts.

> Colon cancer prevention

Colorectal cancer strikes an astonishing 145,000 Americans every year. New research suggests two ways to resist it.

Women who consumed at least 800 milligrams of calcium had 25 percent less colorectal cancer risk than those who got no more than 400 milligrams, found an 8 1/2 -year University of Minnesota study of 45,300 women. Calcium may neutralize irritating bile acids.

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