Healthy Choices

Walking, not sitting, in office meetings provide exercise boost

First it was standing desks. Now it’s the walking meeting.

In another boost to encourage healthier habits among desk-bound office workers, researchers have tallied the benefits of conducting at least one meeting while walking. By switching just one sit-down to a walk-and-talk meeting, white-collar workers can add 10 minutes of weekly exercise to a sedentary office job.

That may not sound like much, but it ties in with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that Americans get at least 150 minutes of weekly physical activity to stay healthy.

In the study, conducted by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, white-collar workers were fitted with accelerometers that tracked their physical activity for three weeks. As part of the study, they spent at least 30 minutes in a weekly on-foot meeting, along with getting tips on how to conduct meetings and take notes while walking.

“There are limited opportunities for physical activity at work,” said the study’s principal investigator, Alberto J. Caban-Martinez, assistant professor of public health sciences, in a statement. The study provides “early evidence that white-collar workers find it feasible and acceptable to convert a traditional seated meeting into a walking meeting.”

Doing so, he said, is one step “needed to counter the negative health effects of sedentary behavior.”

The study was published last month in the Preventing Chronic Disease journal by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Previous studies by researchers at Stanford University and other universities have shown that walking meetings help boost employee creativity, focus and mood, especially when done outdoors in good weather. Some business leaders, including the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, have been avid adherents of walking meetings.

3-step attack on pancreatic cancer

A three-pronged treatment on mice is showing promising results for pancreatic cancer, one of the most stubborn cancers to conquer.

Based on success in treating mouse tumors, researchers and doctors at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are conducting a clinical trial in human patients with advanced cases of pancreatic cancer.

“Pancreatic tumors are notoriously unresponsive to both conventional chemotherapy and newer forms of immunotherapeutics,” said senior author David G. DeNardo, an assistant professor of medicine, in a press release. Unlike other cancers, fibrous tumors – akin to scar tissue – act as protectors of pancreatic cancer cells, preventing immunotherapies and chemotherapy from blocking and penetrating cancer cells, the study noted.

A three-drug combination – protein inhibitors to break up the fibrous tissue, chemotherapy and immunotherapy – more than tripled survival times in some mice. Some were still alive without signs of progressing disease at six months and beyond, the study found.

“The advantage of our three-pronged approach is that we are attacking the cancer in multiple ways, breaking up the fibers of the tumor microenvironment so that more immune cells and more of the chemotherapy drug can attack the tumor,” said Dr. Andrea Wang-Gillam, an oncologist and associate professor of medicine, in a statement. “We hope to improve outcomes for these patients, especially since survival with metastatic pancreatic cancer is typically only six months to a year.”

1,000 extra steps a day help diabetic kids

For children with Type 1 diabetes, counting daily steps and getting more physicial activity can cut their risk of heart disease.

That’s according to a new Australian study, which found that adding 1,000 extra steps a day significantly reduced plaque buildup in arteries of children with diabetes. It also resulted in reduced weight, blood pressure and triglycerides, which also affect cardiovascular health.

The study, published in the Diabetes Care journal by the American Diabetes Association, tracked the physical activity of 90 pre- and early-teen children with Type 1 diabetes. About 55 percent took fewer than 10,000 steps a day, the amount recommended by many fitness experts.

Atherosclerosis – plaque in the arteries – and other adverse cardiovascular risks occur at an earlier age than usual for children with diabetes, according to researchers from Australia’s University of Adelaide and Women’s and Children’s Hospital. But more physical activity can reduce that tendency, they found.

“There were clear correlations between artery thickness and the average number of steps per day. With an increase of 1,000 steps each day, we saw a measurable decrease in this arterial thickness,” said Dr. Alexia Peña, lead author and a pediatric endocrinologist with the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, in a statement. “The more steps they do, the better.”

Peña said the study is the first to document a relationship between daily steps and early signs of cardiovascular risk in children with Type 1 diabetes.

Claudia Buck: 916-321-1968, @Claudia_Buck