Health & Fitness


Twenty-Five NJ Residents Test Positive for Chikungunya Virus

iStock/Thinkstock(TRENTON, N.J.) -- The New Jersey State Health Department says 25 New Jersey residents have tested positive for the Chikungunya virus, which can be brought back to the United States by travelers from the Caribbean.

The first two cases in the U.S. were reported last week in Florida.

The infection is rarely fatal but it can cause severe joint pain, high fever, headache and muscle pain.

Dr. Greg Williams who heads the Hudson County Mosquito Control Division says his department is now testing mosquitoes caught in traps for the disease and is urging home owners to do what they can to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

"People are coming back with the disease and if the mosquito bites them while they're sick potentially they can carry that virus to other people," Williams said. "The mosquitoes that transmit this usually come from peoples' backyards so you want to monitor your yard to make sure that you eliminate all standing water."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Moderate Running Can Reduce Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study finds a little bit of activity goes a long way in promoting good health.

From weekend joggers to serious sprinters, a study from the University of lowa determined that even moderate running can profoundly reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The researchers found similar benefits from running as little five to 10 minutes a day to three times as long. According to the lead researcher, because, "time is one of the strongest barriers to physical activity, this study may motivate more people."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Exercise: Why 6 Seconds Can Be as Worthwhile as 90 Minutes

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When it comes to exercise, even a little can go a long way. A slew of new studies suggest that working out for just a few minutes -- seconds, even -- can be beneficial to your health.

Read on to find out how any amount of exercise is completely worthwhile. The amount you should do just depends on your goals.

6 Seconds:  For seniors, every second of exercise counts.  In a new Scottish study, retirement-age subjects were asked to do six six-second sprints on a stationary bicycle with one minute of rest in between. After six weeks, their blood pressure dropped by a respectable 9 percent.  It’s possible these results might translate to younger folks, said Michele Olson, an exercise science professor and researcher at Auburn University in Alabama.  “Even a little activity can increase the efficiency of your heart and lead to more energy overall, no matter what your age,” she said.

5 Minutes:  According to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, a five-minute daily run can cut the risk of death in middle-aged men and women by 30 percent and the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 45 percent compared to people who parked themselves on the couch all day.  But don’t cancel your gym membership just yet, Olson said.  “You have to push at a very high intensity to see improvements in heart function and reduce the dangerous, unhealthy visceral fat that collects around the organs,” she said.

10 Minutes:  Olson, who has led numerous investigations on the benefits of quick, intense exercise, said that bone health benefits begin to kick in around the ten minute mark.  “That’s about how much time you need to stress the bones and stimulate bone density to avoid osteoporosis,” she said.

30 Minutes:  Most major health groups, including the American Heart Association, recommend getting at least half an hour of activity daily -- and with good reason.  “Thirty minutes seems to be the tipping point where you begin to see not just health benefits but fitness benefits like reduced weight and increased stamina as well,” Olson said, adding that other advantages include cancer prevention, a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and a healthier cholesterol profile.  Thirty minutes of exercise is also where you’ll see improvements even if you slow down to a moderate pace, which Olson characterizes as brisk but sustainable. However, an International Journal of Obesity study published earlier this year found that pushing hard for the full half hour may lead to even greater weight loss by dulling your appetite.

60 Minutes:  One hour of exercise a day at a moderate pace appears to be the secret to substantial, long term weight loss, Olson said. This may be especially true for middle-aged and older women who are close to their ideal weight, a recent Harvard study revealed.  While sixty minutes of exercise may seem unrealistic, Olson said you don’t have to do it all at once.  “You can accumulate minutes throughout the day doing many different exercises and activities, including some resistance training,” she said. “And if you go at a higher intensity you can cut back to 45 minutes daily.”

90 Minutes:  People who are obese or have lost a lot of weight may have stubborn metabolisms that require up to 90 minutes a day of activity for weight loss or maintenance, studies suggest.  Longer exercise sessions should be done at lower intensity to prevent injury and burn out, Olson said, especially for someone who carries a lot of extra pounds. But here again, breaking up your workout into shorter, more manageable sessions should yield the same results as one marathon session.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Warm Water Sparks Flesh-Eating Disease Warning

iStock/Thinkstock(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) -- Florida health officials are warning beachgoers about a seawater bacterium that can invade cuts and scrapes to cause flesh-eating disease.

Vibrio vulnificus -- a cousin of the bacterium that causes Cholera -- thrives in warm saltwater, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If ingested, it can cause stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea. But it can also infect open wounds and lead to “skin breakdown and ulceration,” according to the CDC.

“Since it is naturally found in warm marine waters, people with open wounds can be exposed to Vibrio vulnificus through direct contact with seawater,” the Florida Department of Health said in a statement.

The infection can also be transmitted through eating or handling contaminated oysters and other shellfish, according to the CDC.

At least 11 Floridians have contracted Vibrio vulnificus so far this year and two have died, according to the most recent state data. In 2013, 41 people were infected and 11 died. The proportion of skin and gastrointestinal infections is unclear.

Florida isn’t the only state to report Vibrio vulnificus infections. Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi have also recorded cases, and a 2013 outbreak linked to contaminated shellfish sickened at least 104 people in 13 states, according to the CDC.

Most people who contract Vibrio vulnificus infection recover with the help of antibiotics, but severe skin infections may require surgery and amputation, according to the CDC. People with weakened immune systems are also at risk for blood infections, which are fatal about 50 percent of the time, the CDC notes.

The CDC recommends the following precautions to avoid Vibrio vulnificus infections:

  • Avoid exposing open wounds to warm saltwater, brackish water or to raw shellfish
  • Wear protective clothing when handling raw shellfish
  • Cook shellfish thoroughly and avoid food contamination with juices from raw seafood
  • Eat shellfish promptly after cooking and refrigerate leftovers

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Social Media Is Where Good News Gets Posted

iStock/Thinkstock(MADISON, Wis.) -- It’s a sign of the times: when people have good news that’s happened to themselves or others, they’ll more often share it on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter to reach the biggest possible audience in the least amount of time.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison arrived at that finding after having 300 undergrads keep a journal of their emotions and the form of media they used to convey these feelings to others.

Far and away, when there was positive news to report, the students generally posted messages on social media.

Interestingly, however, the participants went “old school” when they had to pass along bad news.

The preferred ways of spreading less joyous information was via the phone or even telling people face-to-face.

Study author Catalina Toma put it succinctly, “You often hear people say when the phone rings, its bad news," Toma said. "Our data supports that."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Your Soul Mate May Not Wind Up Being Your Sole Mate

iStock/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- Careful soul mates, you're probably deluding yourselves.

Although people who believe they’ve found the perfect mate who “completes” them, University of Toronto researchers say those in love are often surprised when things don’t work out as planned.

Essentially, it’s those couples who understand that a relationship can take some time to develop are the ones who are more successful in the long run, according to study authors Spike W. S. Lee and Norbert Schwarz.

They had participants fill out questionnaires about whether they considered if love meant two people were “made for each other” as soul mates do or if “love is a journey” filled with mistakes and forgiveness.

Not surprisingly, those who believe relationships take work reported fewer conflicts and tended to recall more celebrations with their partner.

Still, the soul mate concept is apparently the more accepted of the two, a Marist poll found, with 73 percent agreeing with it and 27 not believing it. Furthermore, it’s younger folks who are more likely to think that finding a soul mate is the essence of true love.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio