Put a Label On It

When considering the nutritional value of food, grocery shoppers look no further than the nutrition label. Many foods are shockingly unhealthy, and others are surprisingly not so bad. If snack food companies had it their way, there would surely be an absence of nutritional information on their packages, but thankfully, the 1990 Nutrition Labeling and […]

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Reducing Time Spent Sitting Could Lengthen Lifespan

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Telomeres sit on the end of chromosome and serve to stop DNA from fraying; they have been compared to the plastic tip at the end of a shoestring, which prevents the string from being frayed and destroyed. Therefore, telomeres play an important role in determining lifespan, as they keep DNA from fraying unnecessarily. As a result, researchers felt compelled to conduct a study to spell out the effect telomeres have on an individual’s longevity. The study was recently summarized in an article completed for Science Daily.

For the study, researchers analyzed the length of chromosomal telomeres in the blood cells of forty-nine sedentary and overweight participants. Levels of physical activity were assessed by a seven-day daily diary and through the use of a pedometer, to measure the daily number of steps taken. Alternatively, sedentary time was measured through a validated questionnaire. All those involved in the study were in their late sixties, and were observed on two separate occasions six months apart. The participants were also separated into two groups. The first was assigned a tailored exercise program that they were to stick to over the course of the six month long study. The second group was left to their own devices in terms of exercise.

Throughout the six-month period of observation, the amount of time spent sitting decreased for both groups. While the risk for heart disease and stroke also improved in each group, the amount of weight lost was significantly higher for the group involved in the physical activity programs. It was found that the number of steps taken did not affect the length of the telomeres. However, a significant reduction in the amount of time spent sitting down, as seen in the exercise group, was found to significantly lengthen the telomere. Therefore, the study found that simply exercising isn’t enough, as those who exercise will often choose to sit and rest afterward, defeating the purpose in regards to lengthening the telomere. Simply spending more time on the move is the key to lengthening the telomeres and, therefore, lengthening the individual’s potential lifespan.

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Starting with Physical Activity May Reduce ADHD Symptoms

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According to a recent study conducted by researchers with the Michigan State University and University of Vermont, starting the school day with a small segment of physical activity could be beneficial to young students who are deemed at risk for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The findings were first published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology and were recently summarized for an article completed by Science Daily.

Previous studies on the topic have shown that including physical activities in the morning for children labeled as at risk for ADHD symptoms can be beneficial. Allowing the children to start their day moving around increased brain function, as well as improving math and reading skills in the elementary aged students involved in the studies. As a result, Alan Smith, chairperson of Michigan State University’s Department of Kinesiology, felt that further studies on the benefits of physical activity could be very beneficial to children struggling with the onset of ADHD symptoms. Smith conducted the research with Betsy Hoza, lead author on the study and a psychologist from the University of Vermont.

For the study, researchers observed nearly two hundred early elementary aged students, ranging in age from kindergarten to second grade, over a twelve-week period. Participants either exhibited ADHD symptoms—such as inattentiveness, moodiness and difficulty working well with others—or did not. From this group of participants, students were randomly selected to be placed in one of two groups. One group started each school day with some small period of physical activity; the other group was given more sedentary classroom time.

The study found that all participants benefited from physical activity, but those specifically exhibiting symptoms of ADHD received the most benefits from the morning sessions of exercise; these participants especially saw benefits across a broader range of outcomes than those who were sentenced to sedentary activities. Smith says that for these findings to truly be put into effect, further studies are required, to reveal the ideal frequency and amount of physical activity needed to render the most benefit to children suffering from ADHD.

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The Future of Fitness Franchising

Inside Roger Wittenberns’ master plan to redefine the fitness franchising industry

Ft. Lauderdale – The past 25 years has been a roller coaster ride of club expansions, market segmenting, acquisitions and branding. Should it come as no surprise that the next 25 years may be defined by a company called Diversified Health and Fitness?

Diversified Health and Fitness is the brainchild of Roger Wittenberns. Since Roger’s first introduction to club management with the Jack LaLanne chain, he’s been a man with vision, always looking outside the box. He was one of the first to recognize that women would frequent a coed club, if there were special hours, areas and childcare to accommodate them. That idea led to his creation of the Lady of America franchise chain.

Selling LOA—the second largest women’s only franchise chain—in 2006 gave Roger a well earned break to enjoy his sprawling Miami manse and teenage children. The years in between have seen a major shift in women’s only health clubs and a surge in non-traditional health club offerings including Botox treatments and manicures to fight an overcrowded market.

It’s also seen hundreds of women’s franchise clubs fail either because of the competition, the lack of corporate sales support, the down-turned economy or a combination of all. Roger is betting that when the dust settles the competition will have thinned and creates the opportunity for a new franchise super-giant with a mix of brands: Diversified Health and Fitness.

Defining the Change

“The landscape will continue to change,” says Roger from his Ft. Lauderdale corporate offices. “Right now the recession is reality, and franchise sales have slowed because credit is hard to get and a lot of equity has evaporated. Real estate has taken a big turn. Back in the 80s during the savings and loan crisis they were offering a year free rent and free build outs. In just the last six months we’re starting to see some of those deals return to the negotiation tables, but it’s too early to say.

“Right now we know new sales are flat and by the time you fly someone in, go through the presentation, negotiate a lease and set up financing it just doesn’t make sense,” says Roger. “So we’re approaching it differently. We’re buying up existing locations that are already open and operating, but need to increase membership sales.”

As of this writing, Diversified Health and Fitness has purchased 12 brands that represent nearly 300 locations, mostly in the U.S. Negotiations are under way for the acquisition of two more brands. Fit Zone, Rejuvenate, and the Zoo Co-ed clubs are presently all under the umbrella of Diversified.

With his 35 years experience as a franchisor, and having developed one of the best sales support team in the business, Roger is confident he can increase those memberships, and capitalize on the clubs’ strengths while minimizing their weaknesses.

Does that mean there franchisees will be bought out and replaced?

“Not at all,” says Roger, “I’ve learned not to prejudge people. I had some of the best-looking, well-educated people who turn out to be the most difficult to educate of day-to-day operations, and I’ve met other folks that are all ears and eyes, not well capitalized, but willing to roll up their sleeves and do all that it takes.”

Will he eventually bring all his clubs under one brand name? “Not likely,” says the franchise leader. “Like our company name reflects, clubs will remain diversified. We have no problem juggling a variety of brands. It’s like Auto Nation, that company purchased 100s of different cars from Toyotas, to Lexus to Hummers and at the end of the day they’re still selling cars.

No matter what the club brand, it’s still the same business. Getting memberships and selling health. Helping people feel better and look better. If we can teach the franchisees to do that, they’ll all be successful.

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