Article

Fitness apps, a Valid Alternative to the Gym: a pilot study

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Abstract

Background: Physical activity is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. There are multiple barriers to exercise in the modern world. This combined with poor dietary behavior is a principle driver of obesity. Given the prevalence of mobile technology, especially among young adults, public health initiatives utilising fitness applications on smartphones offer an exciting new frontier in tackling this problem. However, there is a lack of evidence regarding the effectiveness of this mobile technology as a substitute to other exercise modalities. Methods: In this pilot study, a search was performed using the Apple 4S smartphone’s ‘‘App Store’’ for relevant fitness applications (‘apps’). Three apps were found to fulfill the inclusion and exclusion criteria of the study: Nike Training Club, Instant Fitness and Gorilla Workout Free. Exercise was then performed as per each app’s guidance, and caloric expenditure was measured using a validated device. This caloric expenditure was then compared with the control exercises, which included slowspeed jogging, WiiFit Plus exercises, and RPM, an indoor gym cycling program. One subject performed three trials of each exercise modality. Results: Jogging was the best form of exercise in regards to caloric expenditure (mean 7.9 calories/ min), and was superior to all other groups. Nike Training Club was superior to Gorilla Workout Free app, however, there were no other significant differences between the apps. Nike Training Club and Instant Fitness apps were as effective as RPM and WiiFit Plus groups. Conclusion: This pilot study showed that fitness apps are as effective as a gym cycling group class with regards to caloric expenditure per unit of time. They offer a new paradigm for exercise for individuals with barriers to participating in organised fitness activity. Smartphone technology has the potential to be utilised as a new tool for public health initiatives to tackle the growing obesity epidemic.

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... In particular, physical inactivity has been recognized as the fourth leading risk factor for death globally [1]. Though persuasive technology has been identified as a potential tool for tackling physical inactivity and sedentary behaviors, very little attention has been paid to evaluating its effectiveness in the wild [2,3] and how culture can be leveraged in increasing its effectiveness in a personalized (tailored) context. According to Direito et al. [2], "the utilization of smartphone technologies, including apps, is still in its infancy" (p. ...
... We review a cross-section of them in this section. Padmasekara [3] investigated the effectiveness of using three mobile fitness apps in the Apple store (Nike Training Club, Instant Fitness and Gorilla Workout Free) as an alternative to the gym. In the pilot study, the author found that that the three fitness apps are as effective as a gym cycling group class in terms of caloric expenditure per unit of time. ...
Conference Paper
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Physical inactivity has been recognized as one of the leading causes of non-communicable diseases and mortality globally. Though persuasive technology has been identified as a potential tool for tackling physical inactivity and sedentary behaviors, very little attention has been paid to investigating the effectiveness of culture-tailored interventions in the wild. To bridge this gap, we designed and implemented two versions of a fitness app we called BEN’FIT [personal version (PV) and social version (SV)] targeted at encouraging regular bodyweight exercise behavior on the home front. The PV and SV versions are targeted at users from individualist and collectivist cultures, respectively. In this paper, we describe the empirical findings that inform the design and implementation of both versions of the BEN’FIT app, their features and how we intend to evaluate them in a pilot field study among our target audience once we complete the implementation of the app.
... Además, la evolución de las nuevas tecnologías va a velocidad vertiginosa6 . En este sentido, con el objetivo de poder utilizar las nuevas tecnologías en cualquier momento y desde cualquier lugar, las herramientas tecnológicas han pasado de ser sistemas fijos a sistemas móviles 4,17 , llegando así, a una mayor cantidad de usuarios18 .Este hecho ha beneficiado la incorporación de las nuevas tecnologías, aún más si cabe, en el ámbito deportivo, ya que existen aplicaciones para dispositivos móviles de fácil uso durante el entrenamiento deportivo, como pueden ser aquellas aplicaciones que ayudan a crear programas de acondicionamiento físico con imágenes y videos explicativos19 , o aquellas que permiten medir de forma rápida y sencilla, mediante un dispositivo móvil, el estado fisiológico del deportista 20 o medir el salto21 .En este sentido, algunos estudios se han preocupado por conocer la percepción de los usuarios sobre la utilidad de dichas herramientas tecnológicas, obteniendo una percepción positiva sobre las mismas22,10 . En nuestro caso, una de estas actividades en la que la tecnología puede ayudar al staff técnico es en la gestión e intercambio de información con sus equipos, debido a la gran cantidad de información que se maneja, en muchas ocasiones de forma poco eficiente y sistematizada. ...
Article
El objetivo del presente estudio fue conocer la percepción del staff técnico de un equipo de voleibol de alto nivel de la viabilidad, contextualización y utilidad, de una herramienta tecnológica, con posibilidad de acceso desde dispositivos móviles, empleada para almacenar e intercambiar información. La muestra estuvo formada por el staff técnico de un equipo de voleibol femenino que compite en alto nivel, compuesto por un entrenador y un entrenador asistente con funciones de preparador físico. El uso de la herramienta tecnológica, por el equipo, se realizó durante una temporada (siete meses). La herramienta tecnológica consta de una página web y su aplicación con acceso directo a la información desde dispositivos móviles. Como técnica de recogida de datos, se empleó la entrevista semiestructurada al terminar la temporada. El análisis de los datos se realizó a través de la Grounded Theory. Nuestros resultados indican que el staff técnico considera dicha herramienta tecnológica como viable, contextualizada y útil, permitiendo organizar, estructurar e intercambiar información de forma sencilla. Además, los resultados destacan que la posibilidad de acceso mediante un dispositivo móvil tiene grandes ventajas (acceso desde cualquier lugar y en cualquier momento), y alguna desventaja como la posible pérdida de contacto humano.
... It is, to some extent, the effect of consumerism, related not only to material goods, but also to services, immeasurable goods, as well as values and conceptions. It determinates the lifestyle by the idea of consumerismacquisition and the method of acquiring goods [1]. ...
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Introduction: The awareness of health needs, as well as the immense influence of mass media are the main reason of physical activity increase in people's choice of free time activities. One of the most popular form of physical recreation is exercising at the gym. Aim: It was decided to research the main motive of taking up exercises, whether there is any dependence upon biological features (age, BMI), behavioral features (commitment during training) and the significance of physical effort together with appearance, compared with sense of one's body. Materials and methods: There were examined 73 people who exercise regularly: 23 women and 50 men. There were used psychometric techniques such as: a survey made of copyright questions and a SES questionnaire. Results: The primary motive of taking up exercises among both sexes was the desire to improve their appearance. Among women a greater incentive is their friends' encouragement. As far as men are concerned, they aim at increasing their physical strength. (p<0.05). There was no difference reported – in terms of gender, the importance of physical effort, appearance, nor the SES point average. Amid women the significance of effort was highly correlated with SES, physical attractiveness and their pursuit of perfect body weight. Among men the training frequency correlated with their sense of strength and fitness, as well as their condition. Conclusion: The main motive of taking up any exercises is the desire to improve the appearance. People who practice at the gym have a high sense of their body. Among women, the importance of physical effort correlates with sexual attractiveness and their body weight. Whereas, among men, the frequency and time of training are connected with their strength, fitness and condition according to the SAS questionnaire.
... Because of their widespread use, exercise apps have the potential to dramatically improve health outcomes in the United States and around the world, and may thus play an increasingly important role in the public health effort to increase population-wide exercise levels. Empirical evidence is beginning to emerge that the use of exercise-related mobile health technology may be associated with increased exercise levels [10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18] (see [19] for review), and such devices are also beginning to be used in clinical settings [20]. However, the mechanisms by which exercise apps may impact behavior change and health outcomes have not been thoroughly explored. ...
Article
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Background There are currently over 1000 exercise apps for mobile devices on the market. These apps employ a range of features, from tracking exercise activity to providing motivational messages. However, virtually nothing is known about whether exercise apps improve exercise levels and health outcomes and, if so, the mechanisms of these effects. Objective Our aim was to examine whether the use of exercise apps is associated with increased levels of exercise and improved health outcomes. We also develop a framework within which to understand how exercise apps may affect health and test multiple models of possible mechanisms of action and boundary conditions of these relationships. Within this framework, app use may increase physical activity by influencing variables such as self-efficacy and may help to overcome exercise barriers, leading to improved health outcomes such as lower body mass index (BMI). Methods In this study, 726 participants with one of three backgrounds were surveyed about their use of exercise apps and health: (1) those who never used exercise apps, (2) those who used exercise apps but discontinued use, and (3) those who are currently using exercise apps. Participants were asked about their long-term levels of exercise and about their levels of exercise during the previous week with the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ). ResultsNearly three-quarters of current app users reported being more active compared to under half of non-users and past users. The IPAQ showed that current users had higher total leisure time metabolic equivalent of task (MET) expenditures (1169 METs), including walking and vigorous exercise, compared to those who stopped using their apps (612 METs) or who never used apps (577 METs). Importantly, physical activity levels in domains other than leisure time activity were similar across the groups. The results also showed that current users had lower BMI (25.16) than past users (26.8) and non-users (26.9) and that this association was mediated by exercise levels and self-efficacy. That relationship was also moderated by perceived barriers to exercise. Multiple serial mediation models were tested, which revealed that the association between app use and BMI is mediated by increased self-efficacy and increased exercise. Conclusions Exercise app users are more likely to exercise during their leisure time, compared to those who do not use exercise apps, essentially fulfilling the role that many of these apps were designed to accomplish. Data also suggest that one way that exercise apps may increase exercise levels and health outcomes such as BMI is by making it easier for users to overcome barriers to exercise, leading to increased self-efficacy. We discuss ways of improving the effectiveness of apps by incorporating theory-driven approaches. We conclude that exercise apps can be viewed as intervention delivery systems consisting of features that help users overcome specific barriers.
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By discovering the three most popular exercise apps and using their common gamification techniques, this study will examine possible correspondences with personality profiles. Previous research studied the effects of gamification techniques, however there is a noticeable gap between qualitative and quantitative research on this topic. This methodology uses the Big-Five Factor Markers from the International Personality Item Pool (IPIP) to identify the personalities of each participant which afterwards are interviewed for their opinions on fitness applications. Quantitative results indicate a minor correlation with past research papers that found a connection between personality types and in-app motivational techniques, and the interviews reveal participants’ conscious preferences for in-app gamification techniques and what they believe motivates them the most to exercise. The outcomes indicate further research is needed to support the correlation and to investigate possible causation.
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In physical education and sport, an important factor in order to achieve the goals set by the professionals is the evaluation of regular physical activity levels of children and adolescents. In order to achieve this objective, new and more technologically sophisticated monitors have been developed, which have the potential to replace older methods of recording physical activity in real time. These are consumer-based monitors, GPS devices and freeware smartphone applications. This study aimed to examine the criterion validity of consumer-based (wearable) activity monitors and free of charge smartphone applications in a sample of adolescent athletes. The devices tested were three activity monitors, Garmin Forerunner 310XT GPS, Garmin Vivofit and Medisana Vifit. Additionally, six free Android applications, which included three accelerometers (Walk Pedometer, Accupedo and Pedometer 2.0) and three GPS (Runkeeper, Runtastic and Sports Tracker), were examined for the accuracy of the activities’ recorded parameters. Finally, a previously validated multisensor monitor, SenseWear Armband, was used as a comparison activity tracker. The variables tested were steps count, distance travelled and energy expenditure during the activities. The sample consisted of 38 healthy well trained adolescents, 16 boys and 22 girls, with an average age 15.3±2.0 years and BMI 22.4±5.0. The research protocol included a cool down period in supine position, a walking test and a running test of submaximal intensity. The objective assessment of energy expenditure was evaluated with indirect calorimetry device in a laboratory setting, while the steps’ and distance’s calculation were recoreded by direct observation and objective measurement, respectively. Statistical analyses included correlations, repeated measures ANOVA, mean absolute percent errors (MAPE) and Bland-Altman plots. The correlations for the monitors and applications were low for the estimation of distance, moderate for step counting and moderate to high for energy expenditure. MAPE were low for GPS device and applications for distance estimation and significantly higher for accelerometer monitors and applications. Garmin Vivofit and Medisana Vifit accurately estimated the number of steps during walking, however only Garmin Vivofit was accurate during running. All applications had high MAPE for step counting. Regarding energy expenditure estimation, all monitors and applications had high MAPE over 10%. Some of the monitors and applications underestimated specific physical activity parameters, while others overestimated them. The validity of consumer-level activity monitors and smartphone applications for the estimation of adolescents’ physical activity differed according to the variable under examination. Larger differences were observed in the estimation of energy expenditure. The most valid monitors-applications were: for step count Garmin Vivofit, Medisana Vifit, SenseWear Armband and Accupedo; for distance Sports Tracker, Garmin Forerunner 310XT, Runkeeper and Runtastic; for energy expenditure Runtastic, SenseWear Armband, Garmin Forerunner 310XT and Accupedo. Lastly, the devices and applications for overall use which combinely meet the most criteria of validity are Runtastic, SenseWear Armband, Garmin Forerunner 310XT and Accupedo. Access online: http://thesis.ekt.gr/thesisBookReader/id/40460#page/1/mode/2up
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Conference Paper
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OPEN ACCESS: http://www.jmir.org/2013/4/e86/ BACKGROUND: There is increasing interest from academics and clinicians in harnessing smartphone applications (apps) as a means of delivering behavioral interventions for health. Despite the growing availability of a range of health-related apps on the market, academic research on the development and evaluation of such apps is in the relatively early stages. A few existing studies have explored the views of various populations on using mobile phones for health-related issues and some studies are beginning to report user feedback on specific apps. However, there remains little in depth research on users' (and potential users') experiences and views on a wide range of features and technologies that apps are, or will soon be, capable of. In particular, research on young adults is lacking, which is an unfortunate omission considering that this group comprises of a good number of mobile technology adoptors. OBJECTIVE: The current study sought to explore young adults' perspectives on apps related to health behavior change. It sought their experiences and views of features that might support health behavior change and issues that contribute to interest in and willingness to use such apps. METHODS: Four focus groups were conducted with 19 students and staff at a University in the United Kingdom. Participants included 13 females and 6 males with a mean age of 23.79 (SD 7.89). The focus group discussions centred on participants' experiences of using smartphone apps to support a healthy lifestyle, and their interest in and feelings about features and capabilities of such apps. The focus groups were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using inductive thematic analysis. RESULTS: Study findings suggested that young, currently healthy adults have some interest in apps that attempt to support health-related behavior change. Accuracy and legitimacy, security, effort required, and immediate effects on mood emerged as important influences on app usage. The ability to record and track behavior and goals and the ability to acquire advice and information "on the go" were valued. Context-sensing capabilities and social media features tended to be considered unnecessary and off-putting. CONCLUSIONS: This study provided insight into the opportunities and challenges involved in delivering health-related behavioral interventions through smartphone apps. The findings suggested a number of valued features and characteristics that app developers may wish to consider when creating health behavior apps. Findings also highlighted several major challenges that appeared to need further consideration and research to ensure the development of effective and well-accepted behavior change apps.
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Skeletal muscle tissue is tightly regulated throughout our bodies by balancing its synthesis and breakdown. Many factors are known to exist that cause profound changes on the overall status of skeletal muscle, some of which include exercise, nutrition, hormonal influences and disease. Muscle hypertrophy results when protein synthesis is greater than protein breakdown. Resistance training is a popular form of exercise that has been shown to increase muscular strength and muscular hypertrophy. In general, resistance training causes a stimulation of protein synthesis as well as an increase in protein breakdown, resulting in a negative balance of protein. Providing nutrients, specifically amino acids, helps to stimulate protein synthesis and improve the overall net balance of protein. Strategies to increase the concentration and availability of amino acids after resistance exercise are of great interest and have been shown to effectively increase overall protein synthesis. 123 After exercise, providing carbohydrate has been shown to mildly stimulate protein synthesis while addition of free amino acids prior to and after exercise, specifically essential amino acids, causes a rapid pronounced increase in protein synthesis as well as protein balance.13 Evidence exists for a dose-response relationship of infused amino acids while no specific regimen exists for optimal dosing upon ingestion. Ingestion of whole or intact protein sources (e.g., protein powders, meal-replacements) has been shown to cause similar improvements in protein balance after resistance exercise when compared to free amino acid supplements. Future research should seek to determine optimal dosing of ingested intact amino acids in addition to identifying the cellular mechanistic machinery (e.g. transcriptional and translational mechanisms) for causing the increase in protein synthesis.
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Mobile phones are becoming an increasingly important platform for the delivery of health interventions. In recent years, researchers have used mobile phones as tools for encouraging physical activity and healthy diets, for symptom monitoring in asthma and heart disease, for sending patients reminders about upcoming appointments, for supporting smoking cessation, and for a range of other health problems. This paper provides an overview of this rapidly growing body of work. We describe the features of mobile phones that make them a particularly promising platform for health interventions, and we identify five basic intervention strategies that have been used in mobile-phone health applications across different health conditions. Finally, we outline the directions for future research that could increase our understanding of functional and design requirements for the development of highly effective mobile-phone health interventions.
Article
Accelerometers offer considerable promise for improving estimates of physical activity (PA) and energy expenditure (EE) in free-living subjects. Differences in calibration equations and cut-off points have made it difficult to determine the most accurate way to process these data. The objective of this study was to compare the accuracy of various calibration equations and algorithms that are currently used with the MTI Actigraph (MTI) and the Sensewear Pro II (SP2) armband monitor. College-age participants (n=30) wore an MTI and an SP2 while participating in normal activities of daily living. Activity patterns were simultaneously monitored with the Intelligent Device for Estimating Energy Expenditure and Activity (IDEEA) monitor to provide an accurate estimate (criterion measure) of EE and PA for this field-based method comparison study. The EE estimates from various MTI equations varied considerably, with mean differences ranging from -1.10 to 0.46 METS. The EE estimates from the two SP2 equations were within 0.10 METS of the value from the IDEEA. Estimates of time spent in PA from the MTI and SP2 ranged from 34.3 to 107.1 minutes per day, while the IDEEA yielded estimates of 52 minutes per day. The lowest errors in estimation of time spent in PA and the highest correlations were found for the new SP2 equation and for the recently proposed MTI cut-off point of 760 counts/min (Matthews, 2005). The study indicates that the Matthews MTI cut-off point and the new SP2 equation provide the most accurate indicators of PA.
Article
To improve the energy expenditure algorithm of the activity monitor ActiReg, and to validate ActiReg and the activity monitor SenseWear in free-living children. The development of the ActiReg algorithm was performed in 20 healthy 11-13 years old children on treadmill walking and running with indirect calorimetry as reference. The original and new ActiReg algorithms and SenseWear using software versions InnerView 5.1 and 6.1 were validated in 20 healthy 14-15 years old children against doubly labelled water. The new ActiReg algorithm improved the assessment of energy expenditure during walking and running, but the response from the monitor levelled off after 7 km h(-1). The new algorithm and InnerView 6.1 decreased the mean (sd) difference to doubly labelled water from 11 (25) (P<0.05) to 0 (22) kJ kg(-1) d(-1) for ActiReg, and from 17 (20) (P<0.01) to -10 (21) (P<0.05) kJ kg(-1) d(-1) for SenseWear. However, the correlations between energy expenditure and the individual error for the new ActiReg algorithm and InnerView 6.1 were r= -0.50 (P<0.05) and r= -0.73 (P<0.01). The new ActiReg algorithm and InnerView 6.1 improved the activity monitors at group level, but the error was dependent on physical activity level. Both activity monitors need further developments for use in children.
Article
A consensus meeting was held in Bangkok, 21–23 May 2002, where experts and young scientists in the field of physical activity, energy expenditure and body-weight regulation discussed the different aspects of physical activity in relation to the emerging problem of obesity worldwide. The following consensus statement was accepted unanimously. ‘The current physical activity guideline for adults of 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity daily, preferably all days of the week, is of importance for limiting health risks for a number of chronic diseases including coronary heart disease and diabetes. However for preventing weight gain or regain this guideline is likely to be insufficient for many individuals in the current environment. There is compelling evidence that prevention of weight regain in formerly obese individuals requires 60–90 minutes of moderate intensity activity or lesser amounts of vigorous intensity activity. Although definitive data are lacking, it seems likely that moderate intensity activity of approximately 45 to 60 minutes per day, or 1.7 PAL (Physical Activity Level) is required to prevent the transition to overweight or obesity. For children, even more activity time is recommended. A good approach for many individuals to obtain the recommended level of physical activity is to reduce sedentary behaviour by incorporating more incidental and leisure-time activity into the daily routine. Political action is imperative to effect physical and social environmental changes to enable and encourage physical activity. Settings in which these environmental changes can be implemented include the urban and transportation infrastructure, schools, and workplaces.’
Article
The SenseWear Armband (SWA; BodyMedia, Inc.), using multiple sensors, was designed to estimate energy expenditure (EE) in free-living individuals. To examine the reliability and validity of the SWA during rest and exercise compared with indirect calorimetry (IC). EE was assessed with SWA and IC in 13 males during two resting and one cycle ergometry (40 min at 60% VO2peak) sessions. In a second experiment, 20 adults walked on a treadmill for 30 min at three intensities (80.5 m x min, 0% grade; 107.3 m x min, 0% grade; 107.3 m x min, 5% grade) while IC and SWA measured EE. At rest, no significant differences were found between EE measurements from the SWA (1.3 +/- 0.1 kcal x min) and IC (1.3 +/- 0.1 kcal x min), and the two methods were highly correlated (r = 0.76; P < 0.004). The SWA EE estimation was reliable when comparing the two resting visits (r = 0.93; P < 0.001). For the ergometer protocol, no significant differences were found between the SWA and IC measurements of EE early, mid, or late in exercise or for the total bout, although the measurements were poorly correlated (r = 0.03-0.12). The SWA EE estimate of walking increased with treadmill speed but not with incline. The SWA significantly overestimated (13-27%) the EE of walking with no grade (P < 0.02) and significantly underestimated (22%) EE on the 5% grade (P < 0.002). The SWA estimation of EE correlated moderately with IC (r = 0.47-0.69). The SWA provided valid and reliable estimates of EE at rest and generated similar mean estimates of EE as IC on the ergometer; however, individual error was large. The SWA overestimated the EE of flat walking and underestimated inclined walking EE.
Article
The prevalence of overweight and obesity is increasing worldwide.1 A comparison of data from 1976–802 with that from 1999–2000 shows that the prevalence of overweight (defined as body mass index, BMI, of 25–29.9 kg/m2) increased from 46% to 64.5%, and the prevalence of obesity (BMI ⩾ 30 kg/m2) doubled to 30.5%. The epidemic of obesity is not just isolated to the US, but is worldwide,3,,4 including less affluent countries.4 Obesity and overweight have many causes, including genetic, metabolic, behavioural and environmental. The rapid increase in prevalence suggests that behavioural and environmental influences predominate, rather than biological changes. We summarize data from many studies evaluating the impact of obesity on mortality and morbidity, discuss some controversies and provide practical guidelines for managing obese patients. Direct associations between obesity and several diseases, including diabetes mellitus, hypertension, dyslipidaemia and ischaemic heart disease, are well recognized. Despite this, the relationship between body weight and all-cause mortality is more controversial. A very high degree of obesity (BMI ⩾35 kg/m2) seems to be linked to higher mortality rates,5 but the relationship between more modest degrees of overweight and mortality is unclear. Initial data from actuarial studies of more than 4 million men and women showed a direct positive association between body weight and overall mortality rates.6 Subsequent studies confirmed increased mortality risk above a certain threshold, but found a U-shaped association between weight and mortality.7,,8 In the Build study,9 there was a higher mortality in lean subjects, but there was no adjustment for smoking. The American Cancer Society found a much stronger association between leanness and mortality, specifically cancer mortality, in the group of smokers compared to non-smokers.10 The Harvard Alumni Study11 was a prospective cohort study of more than 19 000 middle-aged … Address correspondence to Dr S.D.H. Malnick, Department of Internal Medicine C, Kaplan Medical Centre, Rehovot 76100, Israel. email: stevash{at}trendline.co.il
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