Research

The FitHeads System is based on extensive research into how to make healthy habits permanent. In addition to significant primary research, this unique system leverages a wealth of learning from research in the areas of behavior change, motivational theory, exercise science, personal therapy, communications and learning styles.

People who follow the FitHeads System develop the mental skills and inner strength to follow the Centers for Disease Control activity guidelines that:
  • Reduce colon cancer risk 30 - 40%.
  • Reduce risk of developing breast cancer 15 - 20%, and reduce risk of dying from it 35 - 49%
  • Reduce diabetes risk 58% with a weight loss of 5 - 7% among people with pre-diabetes
  • Reduce coronary heart disease risk 18%
  • Reduce stroke risk 40%
  • Reduce risk of developing osteoarthritis 50% once a weight loss of 11 lbs is reached (women)
Published research findings support the significant value of a walking program in disease and disability risk reduction and management.

10,000 Steps

In numerous studies, 10,000 steps a day has been correlated with a reduced risk for an impressive list of serious health issues - heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, some cancers, osteoporosis and many more. A University of Tennessee study found walking 10,000 steps a day had a huge impact on body fat and waist and hip measurements.

Learn more about the 10,000 Steps approach.
Learn more about The Incredible Health Benefits of Walking.

Mortality

A significant study of more than 15,000 veterans (average age 60) published in the January 2008 Circulation (a journal of the American Heart Association) found that men who were "highly fit" had a 50 – 70% lower mortality risk than their "low-fit" counterparts. Lead author Peter Kokkinos stated that to attain the associated health benefits, it only takes "moderate levels of physical activity like 30 minutes a day, five days a week of brisk walking."

Maintaining Quality of Life

Results of a study of the impact of deterioration of aerobic fitness on independence as people age were published in the March 2008 British Journal of Sports Medicine. They found that a regular exercise program can slow or reverse the loss of aerobic fitness, reducing the individual's biological age and potentially delaying the loss of independence by as much as 10-12 years.

Numerous studies suggest that it's never too late to gain the benefits of exercise. Dr. Richard S. Rivlin, Director of the nutrition and cancer prevention career development program at Weill Cornell Medical College said in an interview that measures taken as late as ones 70s could help prevent "several important categories of disease, such as hypertension, heart disease, osteoporosis and even cancer."

Breast Cancer

The Nurses' Health Study has been tracking nearly 3000 participants diagnosed with breast cancer for up to 14 years. Researchers found that recurrence rates and deaths from breast cancer (and from all causes) was 26-40% lower among those who exercised most, compared with their sedentary peers. Brisk walking or equivalent exercise for about 30 minutes a day netted the biggest benefits.

Another study - sponsored by the Susan G. Korman for the Cure Breast Cancer Foundation - suggests the importance of developing and maintaining a moderate exercise regimen post-diagnosis. Women who gain weight after being diagnosed with breast cancer have significantly higher mortality rates. For every 11 pounds a woman gains, the chances of her breast cancer proving fatal go up 14%. Unfortunately this is a very common pattern. It's critical to help these women get back on the path to fitness.

Colon Cancer

People who get lots of exercise have a 30 to 40 percent lower risk of developing colon cancer, according a study by the Fox Chase Cancer Center. But their analysis of survey data found that only 15 percent said they used physical activity as a way of reducing their colon cancer risk. The findings were published in the August, 2008 issue of Patient Education and Counseling.

In a separate study researchers found that women who reported walking between 1 and 1.9 hours per week were 31 percent less likely to develop colon cancer than women who did not walk (International Journal of Cancer).

Diabetes

Patients vulnerable to type 2 diabetes can more than halve their risk of developing the disease by eating a low fat diet and taking half an hour of exercise a day, says research from the National Institutes of Health. The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is reduced by 58%. Participants took on average 30 minutes of physical activity a day—usually walking or other moderately intensive exercise—and lost 5-7% of their body weight.

Separately, a British Heart Foundation study found that insulin resistance in "high risk" women dropped by 22% after seven weeks of an exercise program. Insulin resistance is considered to be the most important biological risk factor for developing diabetes. Dr Jason Gill, who heads the team that carried out the study, said: "Not only is type 2 diabetes a very serious condition itself, but it can double or triple the risk of heart disease. In fact, more than two thirds of all people with diabetes will die from heart disease."

In addition to moderately intense activity such as walking protecting against diabetes in high-risk people, it can lower blood glucose and improve insulin action in people with diabetes. A 2003 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that the death rates of people with diabetes were 40 percent lower among those who walked at least two hours a week—and lower still for those who walked either more, or more vigorously.

Heart Disease

A sedentary lifestyle is one of the top risk factors for heart disease. A study published in Nov. 2008 in the Journal of the American Medical Association determined that patients who didn't exercise had a 44% higher risk of heart problems.

Middle-aged men and women at risk for heart disease who walk at a moderate pace for just 1.7 miles a day improve several important measures of their aerobic fitness. Exercise can also help if you have high blood pressure.

Separately, Health Professionals' Follow-Up Study data was used to determine potential coronary heart disease risk factors correlated to type and intensity of leisure time activity. Walking at a brisk pace for more than half an hour was associated with an 18 percent risk reduction compared to non-walkers' risk.

Also, aerobic exercise significantly decreased the chemical imbalances that can lead to heart disease and stroke in postmenopausal women, according to a study in the spring issue of the Journal of Women and Aging.

Estrogen is known to reduce the chemical imbalances that can lead to cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease and stroke in postmenopausal women. However, recent studies have reported detrimental effects of long-term use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or estrogen replacement therapy, including an increased risk of stroke, heart attack and breast cancer. Faced with these potential consequences, more women are turning to exercise as a natural way to combat postmenopausal effects.

  "Given the controversy with HRT, postmenopausal women can now use aerobic exercise training to lower chemical stress levels, thus reducing another risk factor for chronic disease," said Michael D. Brown, Ph.D., a co-author and associate professor of kinesiology at Temple University's College of Health Professions.

Stroke

According to a large, long-running study presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2008, a moderate level of aerobic fitness can significantly reduce stroke risk for men and women. Men in the top (25%) cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) level had a 40% lower relative risk of stroke compared to men in the lowest quartile. Among women, the improvement was slightly larger, at 43%.

"Fitness has a protective effect regardless of the presence or absence of other stroke risk factors, including family history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels and high body mass," said Steven Hooker, Ph.D., the study's lead author.

Aerobic exercise significantly decreased the chemical imbalances that can lead to stroke in postmenopausal women according to a study in the spring issue of the Journal of Women and Aging.

Arthritis

In the United States more than 46,000,000 adults live with arthritis. In 2008, the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) issued new physical activity guidelines. Strong evidence indicates that both endurance and resistance types of exercise provide considerable disease-specific benefits for persons with osteoarthritis (OA) and other rheumatic conditions. Adults with OA can expect significant improvements in pain, physical function, quality of life and mental health and delayed onset of disability by engaging in appropriate low-impact physical activity for approximately 150 minutes per week. Walking as little as 10 minutes three times a day can ease joint pain, improve mobility and reduce fatigue.

Alzheimer's

Increasingly, research shows that older adults who engage in a consistent exercise program reduce their risk of developing age-related dementia. In a six-year study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 1700 volunteers 65 years and older were given a battery of memory tests and their weekly exercise habits were monitored. Seniors who were physically active at least three times a week were 38 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease, which causes a slow, irreversible decline in brain function. "It says the decline the brain experiences late in life is not inevitable. It can be affected by things like habitual exercise," said lead study author Dr. Eric Larson of the Group Health Cooperative in Seattle. In the study, "exercise" was anything from simple aerobics to walking or hiking to 15 minutes of stretching.

Mental Health

There is a growing body of evidence that exercise promotes wellness and mental health.  Researchers at Duke University studied people suffering from depression for 4 months and found that 60% of the participants who exercised for 30 minutes three times a week overcame their depression without using antidepressant medication.  This is the same percentage rate as for those who only used medication in their treatment for depression.

You don't have to be suffering from a clinical mental Illness to get substantial mental health benefits from exercise and fitness.  One study found that short bouts of moderate exercise - 8 minutes in length - could help lower sadness, tension and anger along with improving resistance to disease in healthy people.  Moderate exercise such as walking can be viewed as a preventative or wellness activity that may actually help prevent physical and emotional conditions. 

Another study observed the physical activity and health of male Harvard graduates over 23-27 years. Men who reported exercising three or more hours per week were 27% less likely to report having been diagnosed with depression at the end of the study than men who reported no weekly exercise.

Researchers at LaTrobe University in Victoria, Australia, randomly assigned volunteers to practice meditation, tai chi, or brisk walking, and then screened an upsetting film and tested them on mental arithmetic problems to produce emotional stress. Brisk walking relieved stress as well as meditation or tai chi. "Walking," Dr. Cooper explains, "deepens your breathing, lowers your blood pressure, and stretches your arms and legs. In addition, changing your location helps change your perspective, which also helps reduce stress." No wonder it's the nation's most popular form of exercise.

Additional Research Sources

Ajzen, I. (1996). The directive influence of attitudes on behavior. In P. Gollwitzer & J. A. Bargh (Eds.), Psychology of action (pp. 385–403). New York: Guilford.

Baker G, Gray SR, Wright A, et al . (2008) The effect of a pedometer-based community walking intervention "Walking for Wellbeing in the West" on physical activity levels and health outcomes: a 12-week randomized controlled trial. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BEHAVIORAL NUTRITION AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY Volume: 5 Article Number: 44

Bassett DR, Strath SJ. (2002) Use of pedometers to assess physical activity. In: Welk J, editor. Physical Activity Assessments for Health-Related Research. Champaign (IL): Human Kinetic; p. 163–77.

Bravata, DM. Using pedometers to increase physical activity and improve health - A systematic review (2007) JAMA-JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, 298,19, p.2296-2304

Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. NY: Freeman.

Chan CB, Ryan DAJ, Tudor-Locke C. Health benefits of a pedometer-based physical activity intervention in sedentary workers. Prev Med. 2004;39(6):1215-1222.

Croteau KA. A preliminary study on the impact of a pedometer-based intervention on daily steps. Am J Health Promot. 2004;18(3):217-220.

Courneya, K. S., Nigg, C. R., & Estabrooks, P. A. (1998). Relationships among theory of planned behavior, stages of change, and exercise behavior in older persons over a three year period. Psychology and Health, 13, 355–367.

Godin, G., Valois, P., & Lepage, L. (1993). The pattern of influence of perceived behavioral control upon exercising behaviour: An application of Ajzen's theory of planned behavior. Journal of Behavioral Medicine,16, 81–102.

Gollwitzer, P. M. (1999). Implementation intentions: Strong effects of simple plans. American Psychologist, 54(7), 493–503.

Hollenbeck, J. R., & Williams, C. R. (1987). Goal importance, self focus, and the goal-setting process. Journal of Applied Psychology, 72, 204-211.

Kristeller, J. (2003). Mindfulness, wisdom, and eating: Applying a multi-domain model of meditation effects. Constructivism in the Human Sciences, 8 (2), 107-118.

Kristeller, Jean L. & Hallett, C. Brendan (1999).An Exploratory Study of a Meditation-based Intervention for Binge Eating Disorder. Journal of Health Psychology, Vol 4(3) 357-363: 00856

Leveille, S.G., C.C. Wee, and L.I. Iezzoni. "Trends in Obesity and Arthritis among Baby Boomers and Their Predecessors, 1971-2002." American Journal of Public Health 95, no. 9 (2005): 1607-1613.

Lippke and Ziegelmann (2006) Understanding and Modeling Health Behavior: The Multi-Stage Model of Health Behavior. Journal of Health Psychology 11: 37-50

Povey, R., Conner, M., Sparks, P., James, R., & Shepherd, R. (1999). The theory of planned behaviour and health eating: Examining additive and moderating effects of social influence variables. Psychology and Health, 14, 991–1006.

Ransdell LB, Robertson L, Ornes L, Moyer-Mileur L. Generations exercising together to improve fitness (GET FIT): a pilot study designed to increase physical activity and improve health-related fitness in three generations of women. Women Health. 2004; 40(3):77-94.

Tudor-Locke C, Bassett DR Jr. How many steps/day are enough? Preliminary pedometer indices for public health. Sports Med. 2004;34(1):1-8.

Van Sluijs E M F; Van Poppel M N M; Twisk J W R; Brug J; Van Mechelen W (2005)
The positive effect on determinants of physical activity of a tailored, general practice-based physical activity intervention. Health Education Research 2005;20(3):345-56.

Welk GJ. Use of accelerometry-based activity monitors to assess physical activity. In: Welk GJ, editor. Physical Activity Assessments for Health-Related Research. Champaign (IL): Human Kinetics; 2002. p. 125–40.

A prospective study of physical activity and cognitive decline in elderly women: women who walk. Yaffe, K., Barnes, D., Nevitt, M., Lui, L. Y., Covinsky, K., Archives of Internal Medicine 2001 Jul 23;161(14):1703–8.

A randomized controlled trial of the effect of exercise on sleep. Singh, N. A., Clements, K. M., Fiatarone, M. A., Sleep 1997 Feb;20(2):95–101.

Accumulating brisk walking for fitness, cardiovascular risk, and psychological health. Murphy, M., Nevill, A., Neville, C., Biddle, S., Hardman, A., Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2002 Sep;34(9):1468-74.

Agility and perturbation training for a physically active individual with knee osteoarthritis. Fitzgerald, G. K., Childs, J. D., Ridge, T. M., Irrgang, J. J., Physical Therapy 2002 Apr;82(4):372–82.

Association of physical activity and human sleep disorders. Sherrill, D. L., Kotchou, K., Quan, S. F., Archives of Internal Medicine 1998 Sep 28;158(17):1894–8.

Benefits of walking for obese women in the prevention of bone and joint disorders. Lange, R. M., Nies, M. A., Orthopedic Nursing 2004 May–Jun;23(3):211–5.

Commuting Physical Activity and Risk of Colon Cancer in Shanghai, China. Hou, L. Ji, B. T., Blair, A., Dai, Q., Gao, Y. T., Chow, W. H., American Journal of Epidemiology 2004 160(9):860-867.

Diabetes control with physical activity and exercise. Castaneda, C., Nutrition in Clinical Care 2003 May–Sep;6(2):89–96.

Energy, tiredness, and tension effects of a sugar snack versus moderate exercise. Thayer, R. E., Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1987 Jan;52(1):119–25.

Exercise: A healthy habit to start and keep. FamilyDoctor.org. October 2003.

Exercise and depressive symptoms: a comparison of aerobic and resistance exercise effects on emotional and physical function in older persons with high and low depressive symptomatology. Penninx, B. W., Rejeski, W. J., Pandya, J., Miller, M. E., Di Bari, M., Applegate, W. B., Pahor, M., Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 2002 Mar;57(2):P124-32.

Impact of the fit and strong intervention on older adults with osteoarthritis. Hughes, S. L., Seymour, R. B., Campbell, R., Pollak, N., Huber, G., Sharma, L., Gerontologist 2004 Apr;44(2):217–28.

Increasing daily walking improves glucose tolerance in overweight women. Swartz, A. M., Strath, S. J., Bassett, D. R., Moore, J. B., Redwine, B. A., Groer, M., Thompson, D. L., Preventive Medicine 2003 Oct;37(4):356–62.

Increasing daily walking lowers blood pressure in postmenopausal women. Moreau, K. L., Degarmo, R., Langley, J., McMahon, C., Howley, E. T., Bassett, D. R. Jr., Thompson, D. L., Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2001 Nov;33(11):1825–31.

Is knowing enough? Increasing physical activity by wearing a pedometer. Rooney, B., Smalley, K., Larson, J., Havens, S., Wisconsin Medical Journal 2003;102(4):31–6.

Moderate-intensity exercise and self-rated quality of sleep in older adults. A randomized controlled trial. King, A. C., Oman, R. F., Brassington, G. S., Bliwise, D. L., Haskell, W. L., Journal of the American Medical Association 1997 Jan 1;277(1):32-7.

Physical activity and postmenopausal health. Beitz, R., Doren, M., Journal of the British Menopause Society 2004 Jun;10(2):70–4.

Physical activity, including walking, and cognitive function in older women. Weuve, J., Kang, J. H., Manson, J. E., Breteler, M. M., Ware, J. H., Grodstein, F., Journal of the American Medical Association 2004 Sep 22;292(12):1454–61.

Promoting and prescribing exercise for the elderly. Nied, R. J., Franklin, B., American Family Physician 2002 Feb 1;65(3):419-26.

Relationship of walking to mortality among U.S. adults with diabetes. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2004 May 12.

Rest: A qualitative exploration of the phenomenon. Nurit, W., Michal, A. B., Occupational Therapy International 2003;10(4):227–38.

Updating the evidence that physical activity is good for health: an epidemiological review 2000-2003. Bauman, A. E., Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport2004 Apr;7(1 Suppl):6–19.

Walking and dementia in physically capable elderly men. Abbott, R. D., White, L. R., Ross, G. W., Masaki, K. H., Curb, J. D., Petrovitch, H., Journal of the American Medical Association 2004 Sep 22;292(12):1447–53.

Walking for health. Oneida County Health Department. 2003 May 1.

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