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FitRep for Dec. 19

Dec. 15, 2011 - 12:31PM   |   Last Updated: Dec. 15, 2011 - 12:31PM  |  
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Functional fitness takes off

In the American College of Sports Medicine's survey of what's in and what's out for 2012 (which reports that Pilates is so last year), one of the trends to watch is functional fitness — exercises to improve strength and balance for regular activities. That's good news for the military community, which was into functional fitness before it was cool. If it catches on like CrossFit, that could mean more options at more local gyms, no matter where you're stationed.

Meditate for a better state of mind

A study from Yale University shows that experienced meditators are able to switch off areas of the brain associated with self-centered thoughts and daydreaming — states of mind that, in extreme cases, are linked to autism and schizophrenia, the school said in a release. According to MRIs of experienced meditators, they showed more activity in areas of the brain associated with self-monitoring and cognitive control. Their new default mode appears to be less self-centered, associated with increased happiness.

Hunger-suppressing gum

If you crave a cigarette, you can chew a stick of nicotine gum. But what if there was a similar product for an overactive appetite? Scientists at Syracuse University say that could be the next step, now that they've discovered that the hormone which helps people feel full after eating can be delivered into the bloodstream orally. Normally, the hormone, called PYY, is destroyed in the stomach if consumed. But when delivered with vitamin B12, researchers found the hormone can pass into the bloodstream.

Work out, sleep better

People sleep better and feel more alert during the day when they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week, according to a new study at Oregon State University. Those who exercised at least that much were 65 percent less likely to say they felt sleepy during the day, even after controlling for other health issues, the university said in a release. Studies increasingly show that "regular physical activity may serve as a non-pharmaceutical alternative to improve sleep," said Brad Cardinal, one of the study authors.

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