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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

Don't tell kids why their veggies are good for them

Posted: 22 May 2014 05:50 PM PDT

Study suggests that children equate healthy food with food that isn't so tasty.

A recent study led by Dr. Ayelet Fishbach of the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business indicates that children who are told certain foods will make them stronger, smarter or taller are less likely to want to eat them.

"We propose that young children infer from messages on food instrumentality that if a certain food is good for one goal, it cannot be a good means to achieve another goal," Fishbach explains in an article slated for publication in the October 2014 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.

"As such, if food is presented as making them strong ... these children will conclude the food is not as tasty, and will therefore consume less of it."

In short, the study concludes that the best way to foster healthy eating habits in young children is to avoid telling them how fruits and vegetables will make them stronger, taller or smarter.

To reach these findings, researchers carried out five experiments on a sample population of 270 preschool-aged children (ages three to five). The study found that children ate more of a food when it was presented without commentary or when it was presented simply as tasty, without any indication of its "usefulness".

Meanwhile, a separate study published last year in the journal Psychological Science explored a different approach and found that teaching kids about nutrition through books could boost their vegetable intake. Scientists from Stanford University in the US found that even very young children, aged four and five, could benefit from a conceptual framework, built up over a period of three months, that encourages them to understand why eating a variety of foods is healthy, the researchers said. Over time, kids chose to eat more vegetables. – AFP Relaxnews

Two meals a day may be best for Type 2 diabetics: study

Posted: 22 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Good breakfast and lunch thought to be more beneficial than eating more smaller meals.

Eating a hearty breakfast and lunch might benefit people suffering from Type 2 diabetes who are now encouraged to go with up to six small portions a day, according to a new study.

"We compared the efficiency of the classic model with five or six small meals a day with that of two larger meals, breakfast and lunch, having more or less the same daily calorie count," Hana Kahleova, a researcher at Prague's IKEM institute, told AFP recently.

The research focused on a sample of 54 men and women aged 30 to 70 who suffer from obesity and Type 2 diabetes, which is not insulin dependent.

Within three months, those who ate larger meals twice a day lost 1.4kg more than those who followed the classic model, Kahleova said.

"Levels of sugar, insulin and glucagon on an empty stomach also fell more rapidly in patients who ate in the morning and at midday, and their sensibility to insulin also improved."

But she warned that "anyone taking insulin cannot start on this diet without consulting a doctor," saying it would require a significant adjustment of the insulin dosage.

She added that more extensive research was now needed to confirm the results of the study.

"We cannot draw general recommendations based on this single study," she told AFP. – AFP Relaxnews

Concentrating one's daily meals into a hearty breakfasst and lunch could benefit some individuals with Type 2 diabetes. – shutterstock/AFP

Girls get fit: For-women-only gyms

Posted: 22 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

An all-female gym gives some women the most comfortable space for sweating it out.

ZUBAIDAH Ahmad first stepped into a gym when she was 60 years old, and soon became a huge fitness enthusiast.

It was a surprising turnaround for the retired dentist who had always avoided exercising before that. She had only started going to the gym because she literally had to get moving or be debilitated by her injuries.

It started two years ago when Zubaidah had a nasty fall and fractured her hips.

"After my fall, I was immobile for several months and began gaining weight rapidly. In six months, I had gained 7kg and was miserable," she shares.

Zubaidah realised her health was deteriorating and she feared she was just wasting away. She did not like the idea of running on a treadmill and working out with her headscarf on, and in the presence of men. It was then that a friend suggested she join an all-women's gym.

A circuit workout takes 30 minutes and is designed specially for women's bodies.

A circuit workout takes 30 minutes and is designed specially for women's bodies.

"I was keen to try out the all-women's gym and was not disappointed. I could literally let my hair down while working out because there were only women present, and I did not feel shy.

"When I exercise, I want to be comfortable. Therefore, being able to wear whatever I want is definitely a plus. I could wear sleeveless t-shirts or shorts, and I never felt self-conscious," explains Zubaidah.

Zubaidah has been going regularly to the all-women's gym, Curves, for over a year now and has lost more than 10kg. Exercising regularly has also made her stronger and more energetic.

"Had it not been for a women-only gym, I doubt I would have come this far," she says.

Manager of the Taman Tun Dr Ismail Curves branch Carol Leong says that Zubaidah has been a role model to many of the women at the fitness centre.

"Many women who want to change their lifestyles are not comfortable working out at a regular gym. Many of our regulars are like Zubaidah; their motivation is comfort and safety in an environment that meets their physical and emotional needs," she says.

Zubaidah Ahmad regained her strength after working out regularly in a gym.

Zubaidah was recently named member of the month at her gym. Younger women seek advice from her and she has become a motivator to them.

"We have more women who are above 40 in our gym. But it's great because we advocate a healthy lifestyle no matter what age you are," says Curves (Malaysia and Singapore) CEO Alison Chin.

The establishment of all-women's gyms give women more options for working out, says Chin.

There are also women who choose to go to all-women's gym because they find it more comfortable seeking help from a female staff or fellow gym goer for help to use exercise machines.

Most women work out fine alongside men in gyms and generally enjoy the camaraderie of exercising in the same space.

However, personal assistant Shirley Chong had had some annoying encounters, such as unwanted attention and interrupted work-outs.

Carol Leong, branch manager of Curves TTDI, gives tips to a gym goer on how to use the exercise machines.

"There were times when other gym goers have commented on my workout. They decreased the weights on my machine because they told me I couldn't handle it because I am petite and they think I am weak.

"I am uncomfortable with the unwanted attention from male gym goers," says Chong, 40, who switched to an all-women's gym about two years ago.

In this new environment, Chong found she could work out with minimum interruption. She also appreciates her one-to-one sessions with the women trainers. She is also happier to do rigorous exercises like jumping, kicking, jogging and dancing without men around.

"I feel less stressed and am free to perform exercises that are within my capabilities without feeling pressured or shy," says Chong.

For housewife Renuga Thiyagu, her all-women's gym is now like a second home because she has formed a bond with her fellow gym members. They are all united by the common goal of keeping fit and leading healthy lifestyles.

Renuga has tried working out in a regular gym, but she gave up her membership after eight months.

Renuga Thiyagu enjoys the camaraderie she shares with fellow gym goers.

Renuga Thiyagu enjoys the camaraderie she shares with fellow gym goers.

"I even hired a personal trainer to meet my fitness goals. However, it still felt like I was missing something," says Renuga who became frustrated because she was not losing weight.

For Renuga, the missing link was peer support, which she found with her new gym members.

"After joining an all-women's fitness centre, I realised that working out with like-minded women with similar goals was what I needed to motivate myself. We all had common issues, and we would encourage each other.

"My new workout environment eventually became my new 'home' and I was delighted because I dropped a few dress sizes in just a few months," shares Renuga who enjoys sharing tips and advice with her new friends.

Tailored to women

Different all-women gyms offer different equipments and programmes, and there are some that are designed specifically to meet women's needs.

Renuga was able to lose weight at her all-women's gym partly because she took to her new programme more easily.

The workouts she did were quick; they could be completed in under 30 minutes and she could burn 500 calories.

Women do their routines in a circuit of machines, but these are not the usual cardio machines like treadmills and bicycles.

At Curves, the circuit workout consists of eight to 12 hydraulic resistant machines that work on two muscles at a time.

"As soon as the workout becomes comfortable, our machines will automatically adjust to your body's endurance level and challenge you further. This way you are achieving your maximum potential on every machine during every workout," says Chin.

Between each machine is a spot to "recover" or jog or run on the spot to keep the heart rate elevated.

Circuit workouts such as those offered at Curves are also available at another women-only fitness facility called Contours Express. The complete circuit here also takes approximately 30 minutes, tones the body, burns up to 600 calories and improves flexibility.

Because of its mini gym concept, it is easier for women to focus on their workouts with assistance from their personal trainers.

Chin adds that while workouts such as yoga, pilates or dance sessions are more popular with the ladies, high-impact activities such as kick boxing and body combat are enjoyed equally by men and women.

"Yet, these sessions are more enjoyable when the women are competing only amongst themselves," says Chin.

Women-only fitness centres in the Klang Valley

> Tropics Fitness – Runs classes; from aerobics to kickboxing. Address: 28-2 Jalan 1/4, Bandar Puteri, Puchong, Selangor. Tel: 03-8060 3497.

> Contours Express - Offers express workouts and circuit training. Address: 4B Jalan Plumbum P 7/P Pusat Komersial Seksyen 7, Shah Alam, Selangor. Tel: 03-5511 2328.

> Phillip Wain – The beauty and fitness club offer classes on yoga, belly dancing, cardio training, bootcamp, fat burner circuit, pilates, Latino jam and more. Address: Level 1-2 & 2-3, Millennium Tower 8, Jalan Damanlela, Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-2092 2200.

> Lola's Fitness Studio – Offers jazzercise dance fitness and strength training programmes. Address: G67-1, Jalan Teknologi 3/9, Bistari De Kota, Kota Damansara, Selangor. Tel: 018-255 8455.

> Curves – 30-minute circuit workout (curves.com.my/curvenearme/).

Related story:

Debunking women workout myths

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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