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Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.
Category: Black Men Rock!
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Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. is remembered for many things: Being the first Black Air Force General, leading the Tuskegee Airmen flight squadron and standing up to the military establishment in advancing the cause of Black soldiers.

More than that, he is a symbol of the ability of a Black man to persevere through obstacles on the path towards excellence.

Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. was born in Washington. D.C.  on December 18, 1912, the son of Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. and Elnora Dickerson Davis. His father was a renowned military officer, the first Black General in the United States Army. Benjamin, Sr. served in various capacities (beginning in the Spanish-American war) including serving in one of the original Buffalo Soldier regiments. Unfortunately, Elnora died from complications from childbirth in 1916 when Benjamin, Jr. was four years old.

When Benjamin, Jr. (hereinafter just Davis) was 13 years old, he attended a barnstorming exhibition at Bolling Field in Washington, D.C. (now Bolling Air Force base). One of the pilots offered him the opportunity to accompany him on a ride in his plane. Benjamin enjoyed it so much that he became determined to pilot a plane himself one day.

Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. and Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.

With his father moving around in his military duties, he attended Central High School in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated in 1929. He enrolled Western Reserve University  (1929-1930) and later moved on to the University of Chicago (1930-1932). Still desiring to serve as a military pilot he contacted Illinois Representative Oscar De Priest (the first Black alderman in Chicago, and at the time, the only Black serving in Congress). De Priest sponsored him for a spot in the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. His time in the Academy was harsh, hostile and relentless in the challenges and obstacles it put in his way. Throughout his four years, none of his classmates would speak to him outside the line of duty. None would be his roommate and none would sit with him to eat. Nonetheless, he graduated in 1936, finishing 35th in his class of 278. When he received his commission as a second lieutenant in the infantry he became one of only two Black combat officers in the United States Army – the other being his father Benjamin O. Davis, Sr.

"The courage, tenacity, and intelligence with which he conquered a problem incomparably more difficult than plebe year won for him the sincere admiration of his classmates, and his single-minded determination to continue in his chosen career cannot fail to inspire respect wherever fortune may lead him."

Howitzer, the 1936 West Point yearbook

Upon graduation, he married Agatha Scot, a young lady whom he had dated while attending the Academy.

Because of his high standing in his graduating class, Davis should have had his choice of assignments, but when he opted to apply for the Army Air Corps he was denied because the Air Corps did not have a Black squadron. He was instead assigned to the 24th Infantry Regiment, an all-Black division located in Fort Benning, Georgia. Although an officer, he was not permitted to enter the officers club on the base. After attending the U.S. Army Infantry School, he followed in his father’s footsteps and traveled to Tuskegee, Alabama to teach a military tactics course at the Tuskegee Institute. On June 19, 1939 he was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant and subsequently up to Captain, Major and then temporarily to Lieutenant Colonel (a rank he would hold permanently in June 1948).

Despite the prestige of being an instructor, Davis still wanted to fly. Fortunately, others had the same desire and pressure was mounted on the Roosevelt administration to allow for greater participation by Blacks as the country was moving towards war. The administration, therefore, directed the War Department to create a Black flying unit. To his delight, Davis was assigned to undergo training in the first class at the Tuskegee Army Air Field. In 1942 he finished his training and was one of only five Blacks to complete the course and then became the first Black Officer to make a solo flight in an Army Air Corps plane. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and in July 1942 he was assigned as the commander of the 99th Pursuit Squadron, known by history as the Tuskegee Airmen.

In 1943, the 99th Pursuit Squadron was assigned first to Tunisia, then to a combat mission in the German-held Island of Pantelleria and finally took part in the allied invasion of Sicily. In September, Davis was recalled to to Tuskegee to take over a larger all-black unit preparing for combat in Europe, the 332nd Fighter Group.

Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. and Edward Gleed

Almost immediately, however, problems arose for Davis.  A number of Senior Army Air Corps officers complained to Army Chief of Staff George Marshall that the 99th Fighter Squadron had under-performed and should thereafter be taken out of combat. Major General Edwin House, Commander of the XII Air Support Command wrote in September 1943 that “the Negro type has not the proper reflexes to make a first-class fighter pilot.” A furious Davis argued that no information had been presented to him that showed anything to suggest that the Black fighter pilots had performed unsatisfactorily. He presented his case to the War Department and held a press conference at the Pentagon. General Marshall did call for an inquiry but allowed the 99th Squadron to continue to fight while the investigation continued. When the results of the inquiry came back, the 99th Squadron was vindicated and found to have performed similarly to other fighter squadrons. Any continuing arguments ceased in January 1944 when the 99th shot down 12 German fighters in a two day period.

Soon thereafter Colonel Davis and the 332nd Fighter Group arrived in Italy where they were based at Ramitelli Airfield. The 332nd, called the Red Tails because of the distinctive paint scheme on the tails of their planes, performed well as bomber escorts, often being requested by bomber pilots because of their insistence on not abandoning the bombers. The group would eventually move into the use of state of the art P-47 Thunderbolts.

Davis participated in numerous missions, flying in P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs. He was awarded the Silver Star for a mission in Austria and won the Distinguished Flying Cross for a bomber-escort mission to Munich, Germany in June, 1944.

In 1945, Colonel Davis was placed in charge of  477th Bombardment Group, the group being comprised entirely of Blacks, stationed at Godman Field in Kentucky.

After the end of World War II, the new President Harry Truman dispatched an order to fully integrate the military branches. Colonel Davis was called upon to help draft the new “Air Force” plan for carrying out this order. For the next few years he was assigned to the Pentagon and to posts overseas. When the Korean War broke out, he once again participated in the fighting, manning a  F-86 fighter jet and leading the  51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing.

In the summer of 1949, Davis was assigned to attend the Air War College. He was the first Black permitted to attend the college and it was significant because further promotion was dependent upon successful graduation. Despite dealing with the racial climate in place in Montgomery, Alabama, where the war college took place, he persevered and excelled and upon graduation received an assignment to serve at the United States Air Force Headwaters at the Pentagon.

He next served as Director of Operations and Training at Far East Air Forces Headquarters, Tokyo and then was assigned the position of Vice Commander, Thirteenth Air Force and was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General, a rank not made permanent until after his temporary promotion to Major General. His assignments around the world became almost too numerous to list but included:

  • Assigned command of the 477th Composite Group at Godman Field, Kentucky
  • Assigned command of Lockbourne Army Air Base, Ohio
  • Assigned command of of the 332nd Fighter Wing.
  • Named Chief of the Air Defense Branch of Air Force operations
  • Named Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
  • Named Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
  • Assigned command of the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing, Far East Air Forces, Korea.
  • Named as Director of Operations and Training at Far East Air Forces Headquarters, Tokyo
  • Named Vice Commander, Thirteenth Air Force, with additional duty as commander, Air Task Force 13 (Provisional), Taipei, Formosa.
  • Named Chief of Staff, Twelfth Air Force, U.S. Air Forces in Europeat Ramstein, Germany.
  • Named Deputy Chief of Staff for operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Wiesbaden, Germany.
  • Named Director of Manpower and Organization, United States and Headquarters U.S. Air Force and Deputy Chief of Staff for Programs and Requirements.
  • Named Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, Programs and Requirements.
  • Assigned as Chief of Staff for the United Nations Command and U.S. Forces in Korea.
  • Assigned command of the Thirteenth Air Force at Clark Air Base in the Republic of the Philippines.
  • Named Deputy Commander in Chief, U.S. Strike Command, with headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.
  • Named Commander in Chief, Middle-East, Southern Asia and Africa.

President Bill Clinton pinning the four-star insignia on General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. - Great Black Heroes

President Bill Clinton pinning the four-star insignia on General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.

He was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in May 1960 and to Major General in January 1962. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General in April 1965 and retired from active duty on February 1, 1970 after more than 33 years of military service. Finally, on December 9, 1998, President Bill Clinton decorated him with a four-star insignia, advancing him to the rank of General, U.S. Air Force (Retired).

He did not slow down upon his retirement, instead moving on to other ways to serve. I 1970 he was put in charge of the Federal Sky Marshall Program and in 1971 was named Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Environment, Safety, and Consumer Affairs. In this role, he oversaw the creation and implementation of airport security and highway safety programs and procedures (this included the establishment of the 55 mile per hour speed limit to improve gas efficiency and to promote driver safety). After retiring from the Department of Transportation in 1975, he followed in his father’s footsteps again by serving on the American Battle Monuments Commission. Finally, in 1991 Davis wrote his memoirs, relating his challenges and achievements over the years in his book Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.: American.

General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. passed away on July 4, 2002 and was buried with full military honors on July 17, 2002 at Arlington National Cemetery (his wife Agatha had died earlier in the year). In addition to the honor of being buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Davis received many accolades over the years included having a number of schools named after him. His military decorations include:

 

    Air Force Distinguished Service Medal

    Army Distinguished Service Medal

    Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters

    Philippine Legion of Honor

    Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters

    Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters

    Silver Star

    Distinguished Flying Cross

 

Whether it was in the skies or the classroom, whether training pilots or advising presidents, Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. led of life of professionalism, dignity and achievement, never allowing racism and other obstacles to slow him down. In doing so, he opened avenues within the military for generations of soldiers and pilots who followed in his enormous footsteps.

Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. - Great Black Heroes

"General Davis is here today as living proof that a person can overcome adversity and discrimination, achieve great things, turn skeptics into believers; and through example and perseverance, one person can bring truly extraordinary change"

— President Bill Clinton

Source: Great Black Heros

 

Staying Active: The Benefits of Physical Activity Tags: benefits physical activity staying alive health mental wellness word life production new quality entertainment

Although there are no sure-fire recipes for good health, the mixture of healthy eating and regular exercise comes awfully close. Most of The Nutrition Source is dedicated to singing the praises of a good diet. This is where physical activity gets its due.

 

Regular exercise or physical activity helps many of the body’s systems function better, keeps heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other diseases at bay, and is a key ingredient for losing weight. According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, (1) being physically active on a regular basis

Improves your chances of living longer and living healthier

Helps protect you from developing heart disease and stroke or its precursors, high blood pressure and undesirable blood lipid patterns

Helps protect you from developing certain cancers, including colon and breast cancer, and possibly lung and endometrial (uterine lining) cancer

Helps prevent type 2 diabetes (what was once called adult-onset diabetes) and metabolic syndrome (a constellation of risk factors that increases the chances of developing heart disease and diabetes; read more about simple steps to prevent diabetes)

Helps prevent the insidious loss of bone known as osteoporosis

Reduces the risk of falling and improves cognitive function among older adults

Relieves symptoms of depression and anxiety and improves mood

Prevents weight gain, promotes weight loss (when combined with a lower-calorie diet), and helps keep weight off after weight loss

Improves heart-lung and muscle fitness

Improves sleep

The Cost of Inactivity

If exercise and regular physical activity benefit the body, a sedentary lifestyle does the opposite, increasing the chances of becoming overweight and developing a number of chronic diseases. Despite all the good things going for it, only about 30 percent of adult Americans report they get regular physical activity during their leisure time—and about 40 percent of Americans say they get no leisure-time physical activity at all. (25) Studies  that measure people’s physical activity using special motion sensors (called accelerometers) suggest that self-reports of physical activity probably are over-estimated. (26). According to analyses by a team from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, inactivity was associated with more than 9 million cases of cardiovascular disease in 2001, at an estimated direct medical cost of nearly $24 billion. (2) Another CDC analysis suggests that because individuals who are physically active have significantly lower annual direct medical costs than those who are inactive, getting people to become more active could cut yearly medical costs in the U.S. by more than $70 billion. (3)

Being a “couch potato” may be harmful even for people who get regular exercise. (4) The Nurses’ Health Study, for example, is one of many, many studies to find a strong link between television watching and obesity. (5) Researchers followed more than 50,000 middle-aged women for six years, surveying their diet and activity habits. They found that for every two hours the women spent watching television each day, they had a 23 percent higher risk of becoming obese and 14 percent higher risk of developing diabetes. Interestingly, it didn’t matter if the women were avid exercisers: The more television they watched, the more likely they were to gain weight or develop diabetes, regardless of how much leisure-time activity and walking they did. Long hours of sitting at work also increased the risk of obesity and diabetes.

More recently, studies have found that people who spend more time each day watching television, sitting, or riding in cars  have a greater chance of dying early than people who spend less time on their duffs. (6-8) Researchers speculate that sitting for hours on end may change peoples’ metabolism in ways that promote obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. (4, 7) It is also possible that sitting is a marker for a broader sedentary lifestyle.

In sum, a morning jog or brisk lunchtime walk brings many health benefits—but these may not entirely make up for a day spent in front of the computer or an evening in front of the television set. So as you plan your daily activity routine, remember that cutting down on “sit time” may be just as important as increasing “fit time.”

Physical Activity Guidelines: How Much Exercise Do You Need?

Jump Rope (jump-rope.jpg)If you don’t currently exercise and aren’t very active during the day, any increase in exercise or physical activity is good for you. Aerobic physical activity—any activity that causes a noticeable increase in your heart rate—is especially beneficial for disease prevention. Some studies show that walking briskly for even one to two hours a week (15 to 20 minutes a day) starts to decrease the chances of having a heart attack or stroke, developing diabetes, or dying prematurely. (Brisk is a relative term; read more about exercise intensity.)

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that healthy adults get a minimum of 2-1/2 hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or get a minimum of 1-1/4 hours per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or a combination of the two. (1) To lower your risk of injury, it’s best to spread out your activity over a few days in of the week. (Read more about how to exercise safely.)

You can combine moderate and vigorous exercise over the course of the week—say, by doing 20 to 25 minutes of more vigorous intensity activity on two days, and then doing 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity on two days. It’s fine to break up your activity into smaller bursts, as long as you sustain the activity for at least 10 minutes. Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities on at least two days for the week. Children should get at least 1 hour or more a day of physical activity in age-appropriate activities. Healthy older adults should follow the guidelines for adults. 

Exercise Intensity: What’s Moderate, What’s Vigorous?

Soccer Ball (soccer-ball.jpg)Moderate-intensity aerobic activity is any activity that causes a slight but noticeable increase in breathing and heart rate. One way to gauge moderate activity is with the “talk test”—exercising hard enough to break a sweat but not so hard you can’t comfortably carry on a conversation. Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity causes more rapid breathing and a greater increase in heart rate, but you should still be able to carry on a conversation—with shorter sentences.

Keep in mind that what feels like moderate activity for one person may actually be very vigorous activity for another: A typical young marathon runner, for example, could walk at a 4-mile-per-hour pace without breaking a sweat. But this same pace would likely feel very vigorous for the typical 90-year-old person.

One way to gauge how hard you are exercising is to use the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion. It’s a relative scale that matches how hard you feel you are working with numbers from 6 to 20 (Read more about using the Borg Scale to tell how hard you are exercising). Exercise experts measure activity in a different way, using metabolic equivalents, or METs. For more info on exercise intensity, check out this list of light-, moderate-, and vigorous-intensity activities.

Walking—and Bicycling—Your Way to Health

Green Bicycle Traffic Light (bicycle-traffic-light.jpg)Walking is an ideal exercise for many people—it doesn’t require any special equipment, can be done any time, any place, and is generally very safe. What’s more, studies such as the Nurses’ Health Study, (9, 10) Health Professionals Follow-up Study, (11) Women’s Health Study, (12)  Harvard Alumni Health Study, (13) National Health Interview Survey, (14) Women’s Health Initiative, (15) Honolulu Heart Program, (16) Black Women’s Health Study, (17) and others (18, 19) have demonstrated that this simple form of exercise substantially reduces the chances of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes in different populations.

Though walking has health benefits at any pace, brisk walking (at least 3 miles per hour) is more beneficial than slow walking for weight control (20-22). And a recent report from the Nurses’ Health Study II suggests that bicycling offers similar benefits to brisk walking: (22) Researchers followed more than 18,000 women for 16 years to study the relationship between changes in physical activity and weight. On average, women gained about 20 pounds over the course of the study. Women who increased their physical activity by 30 minutes per day gained less weight than women whose activity levels stayed steady. But the type of activity made a difference: Women who added bicycling or brisk walking to their activity regimens were able to curb their weight gain, but women who added slow walking were not.

Brisk walking may be challenging for some people, and bicycling (even on an exercise bike) may be a more comfortable option. (22) In the Nurses’ Health Study II, for example, overweight women spent far less time walking briskly than normal weight women, but they spent about the same amount of time cycling.  If you don’t like brisk walking or bicycling, any activity that makes your heart work harder will help you meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, as long as you do it long enough and often enough. Walking and biking are also green ways to commute to work—good for the environment, and good for you.

Watch a video discussion on the importance of bicycling and walking in preventing and alleviating hypertension.

More Activity Equals More Benefit

Keep in mind that 2-1/2 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week is an excellent starting point, not an upper limit. Exercising longer, harder, or both can bring even greater health benefits. (1)  Also bear in mind that your 2-1/2 hours of activity should be in addition to the light activity that is part of everyday living. But moderate and vigorous lifestyle activities—dancing, mowing the lawn with a push mower, chopping wood, and so on—can count toward your weekly total, if they are sustained for at least 10 minutes.

Exercise for Weight Loss and Maintenance

If you’re looking to avoid “middle-aged spread,” physical activity is important, as is watching what you eat. But there’s no hard and fast rule as to how much activity you will need to keep your weight steady. Many people may need more than 2-1/2 hours of moderate intensity activity a week to stay at a stable weight, as well as to lose weight or keep off weight they have lost. (1)

Read more about exercise and weight control.

Start Slow, Increase as Your Fitness Grows

Rollerblades (rollerblades.jpg)

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans are general recommendations aimed at the general population. The problem with guidelines is that they try to cover as many people as possible. In other words, they aren’t right for everyone. How much exercise you need depends on your genes, your diet, how much muscle and fat you carry on your frame, how fit you are, and your capacity for exercise.

A study of more 7,000 men who graduated from Harvard before 1950 suggests that older people, those who are out of shape, or those with disabilities may get as much benefit from 30 minutes of slower walking or other exercise as younger, more fit people get from the same amount of more-intense activity. (23)

In other words, if an exercise or physical activity feels hard, then it is probably doing your heart—and the rest of you—some good, even if it doesn’t fall into the “moderate” category. If you are currently not active at all, it may be daunting to start out with 30 minutes a day of activity, five days a week. So start with a shorter, less-intense bout of activity, and gradually increase over time until you can reach or exceed this goal. (1) This “start slow, build up over time” advice for physical activity applies to everyone, but it’s especially true for older adults, (24) since starting slowly can help lower the risk of injury—and can make exercise more enjoyable.

Read more about exercise safety.

Don’t get stuck in a rut, though. As your body adapts to exercise, you’ll need to push yourself more and more to get the same cardiovascular workout. Another way to know that it’s time to pick up the pace is if you see your weight or waist size start creeping up on you.

The Bottom Line: Move More, Sit Less

Exercise is one of those rare things where the hype actually meets reality. Next to not smoking, getting regular physical activity is arguably the best thing you can do for your health. Any amount of exercise is better than none. The more you get, though, the better. And remember: Cutting back on television-watching and other sedentary pastimes is just as important as becoming more active.

References

1. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. 2008.

2. Wang G, Pratt M, Macera CA, Zheng ZJ, Heath G. Physical activity, cardiovascular disease, and medical expenditures in U.S. adults. Ann Behav Med. 2004; 28:88-94.

3. Pratt M, Macera CA, Wang GJ. Higher direct medical costs associated with physical inactivity. Physician and Sportsmedicine. 2000; 28:63-70.

4. Owen N, Healy GN, Matthews CE, Dunstan DW. Too much sitting: the population health science of sedentary behavior. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2010; 38:105-13.

5. Hu FB, Li TY, Colditz GA, Willett WC, Manson JE. Television watching and other sedentary behaviors in relation to risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus in women. JAMA. 2003; 289:1785-91.

6. Dunstan DW, Barr EL, Healy GN, et al. Television viewing time and mortality: the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab). Circulation. 2010; 121:384-91.

7. Patel AV, Bernstein L, Deka A, et al. Leisure Time Spent Sitting in Relation to Total Mortality in a Prospective Cohort of US Adults. Am J Epidemiol. 2010.

8. Warren TY, Barry V, Hooker SP, Sui X, Church TS, Blair SN. Sedentary behaviors increase risk of cardiovascular disease mortality in men. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010; 42:879-85.

9. Manson JE, Hu FB, Rich-Edwards JW, et al. A prospective study of walking as compared with vigorous exercise in the prevention of coronary heart disease in women. N Engl J Med. 1999; 341:650-8.

10. Hu FB, Sigal RJ, Rich-Edwards JW, et al. Walking compared with vigorous physical activity and risk of type 2 diabetes in women: a prospective study. JAMA. 1999; 282:1433-9.

11. Tanasescu M, Leitzmann MF, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Hu FB. Exercise type and intensity in relation to coronary heart disease in men. JAMA. 2002; 288:1994-2000.

12. Lee IM, Rexrode KM, Cook NR, Manson JE, Buring JE. Physical activity and coronary heart disease in women: is “no pain, no gain” passé? JAMA. 2001; 285:1447-54.

13. Sesso HD, Paffenbarger RS, Jr., Lee IM. Physical activity and coronary heart disease in men: The Harvard Alumni Health Study. Circulation. 2000; 102:975-80.

14. Gregg EW, Gerzoff RB, Caspersen CJ, Williamson DF, Narayan KM. Relationship of walking to mortality among US adults with diabetes. Arch Intern Med. 2003; 163:1440-7.

15. Manson JE, Greenland P, LaCroix AZ, et al. Walking compared with vigorous exercise for the prevention of cardiovascular events in women. N Engl J Med. 2002; 347:716-25.

16. Hakim AA, Curb JD, Petrovitch H, et al. Effects of walking on coronary heart disease in elderly men: the Honolulu Heart Program. Circulation. 1999; 100:9-13.

17. Krishnan S, Rosenberg L, Palmer JR. Physical activity and television watching in relation to risk of type 2 diabetes: the Black Women’s Health Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2009; 169:428-34.

18. Oguma Y, Shinoda-Tagawa T. Physical activity decreases cardiovascular disease risk in women: review and meta-analysis. Am J Prev Med. 2004; 26:407-18.

19. Jeon CY, Lokken RP, Hu FB, van Dam RM. Physical activity of moderate intensity and risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review. Diabetes Care. 2007; 30:744-52.

20. Mekary RA, Feskanich D, Malspeis S, Hu FB, Willett WC, Field AE. Physical activity patterns and prevention of weight gain in premenopausal women. Int J Obes (Lond). 2009; 33:1039-47.

21. Mekary RA, Feskanich D, Hu FB, Willett WC, Field AE. Physical activity in relation to long-term weight maintenance after intentional weight loss in premenopausal women. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010; 18:167-74.

22. Lusk AC, Mekary RA, Feskanich D, Willett WC. Bicycle riding, walking, and weight gain in premenopausal women. Arch Intern Med. 2010; 170:1050-6.

23. Lee IM, Sesso HD, Oguma Y, Paffenbarger RS, Jr. Relative intensity of physical activity and risk of coronary heart disease. Circulation. 2003; 107:1110-6.

24. Nelson ME, Rejeski WJ, Blair SN, et al. Physical activity and public health in older adults: recommendation from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2007; 116:1094-105.

25. National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2009: With Chartbook on Trends in the Health of Americans. Hyattsville, MD, 2009.

26. Troiano RP, Berrigan D, Dodd KW, Masse LC, Tilert T, McDowell M. Physical activity in the United States measured by accelerometer. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008; 40:181-8.

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The aim of the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source is to provide timely information on diet and nutrition for clinicians, allied health professionals, and the public. The contents of this Web site are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Web site. The information does not mention brand names, nor does it endorse any particular products.

Source: Harvard School of Public Health

7 benefits of regular physical activity Tags: benefits regular physical activity health mental wellness healthy hearts word life production feature weekly

You know exercise is good for you, but do you know how good? From boosting your mood to improving your sex life, find out how exercise can improve your life.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Want to feel better, have more energy and perhaps even live longer? Look no further than exercise. The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. And the benefits of exercise are yours for the taking, regardless of your age, sex or physical ability. Need more convincing to exercise? Check out these seven ways exercise can improve your life.

No. 1: Exercise controls weight

Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. You don't need to set aside large chunks of time for exercise to reap weight-loss benefits. If you can't do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day in simple ways — by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or revving up your household chores.

No. 2: Exercise combats health conditions and diseases

Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good," cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.

No. 3: Exercise improves mood

 

Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A workout at the gym or a brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.

No. 4: Exercise boosts energy

Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your daily chores.

Source: Mayo Clinic

In honor of those we've lost, let's celebrate the life of Ben Wilson Tags: honor lost loved ones ben wilson high school basketball legend word life production feature

At the start of the 1983-84 basketball season one thing was clear - Lowell Hamilton was not only Chicago’s top player but one of the nation's top 20 prospects in the 1985 recruiting class. But Ben Wilson would soon surpass Hamilton's glory by becoming Chicago's first to be named the nation’s top recruit.

You can't really blame anyone for sleeping on Wilson. It was only two years prior when he played junior varsity as a freshman, and while he had a solid sophomore year his numbers were modest. Yet it was during this time that things began to take shape for the 6-8 small forward. He adjusted into his quickly growing body while retaining passing and ball handling ability from his days as a guard. Word soon got out about the budding talent and the crazed basketball city of Chicago quickly embraced its newfound native son.

Wilson did not disappoint as he led Simeon High to the state championship with a 30-1 record and success did not stop there. He was invited to attend the prestigious Nike All-American camp where his versatility and feel for the game led many recruiting observers and head coaches to label Wilson the top player in the nation.

Heading into his senior year Wilson was on top of the basketball world. Simeon was a lock to repeat as State champs with Wilson, which became even more assured when he convinced his childhood friend and future NBA player, Nick Anderson, to transfer from Prosser High School.

Illinois, DePaul, and Indiana waited with baited breath to hear if Wilson would select their program. At 17 years-old he was also a new father to a baby boy. His future seemed all but set - just a few years in college before cashing in on the NBA.

The Problem

It was a warm November day; the kind that reminds you of spring. Wilson was just a few days from playing the first game of his much anticipated senior year. He and his high school sweetheart, Jetun Rush, decided to take a walk a few blocks from Simeon's campus. No one would have guessed that the events to unfold on this beautiful day would result in Wilson's murder.

Billy Moore and Omar Dixon were freshmen at Calumet High School looking for someone to pick a fight with. On the streets many youth look for ways to build up their reputation - a means of solidifying their "credentials" to intimidate enemies or strengthen alliances. The pair deliberately took up the entire sidewalk as Wilson and his girlfriend approached. He walked between them and accidentally bumped one of the boys. Wilson immediately excused himself but his so-called act of disrespect angered the two youths. Moore brandished a .22 caliber gun and attempted to rob Wilson but, encouraged by Dixon, went on to shoot Wilson in the chest after he refused to hand over his money.

The thugs ran off leaving their victim slumped against a metal fence. Wilson was rushed to St. Bernard Hospital where it was determined that the small bullet did a huge amount of damage as it pierced his liver and aorta. The next day doctors advised Wilson's parents of his grave condition. He was removed from life support and passed away.

Conclusion

The explosion of publicity and public anger over the event made gang arrests more frequent. Billy Moore was sentenced to 40 years for the murder of Ben Wilson while his accomplice, Omar Dixon, was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

It was not only Wilson's athletic ability that caused him to be liked by his peers. Everyone enjoyed his humble and charismatic spark. His wake lasted 12 hours and was attended by more than 10,000 people.

Wilson left behind a legacy as his life became a symbol of hope among Chicago youth. After graduation his best friend, Nick Anderson, wore Wilson's number 25 at Illinois in his honor. Simeon head coach Bob Hambric decided to follow Anderson’s lead and brought Wilson's number out of retirement with the opening the school’s new gym named after its slain star. Since then only the program’s top players have had the privilege of wearing the #25 jersey. This honor has been held by fellow draftees and Simeon alums Deon Thomas and Derrick Rose.

How good was Ben Wilson? It’s hard to project how far his talent would have taken him but former Chicago players and respected coaches from across the country spoke highly of the former prospect. The comparisons may be hard to grasp but have withstood the test of time. Wilson has been described as Magic Johnson with a jumpshot and Kevin Garnett with a better handle and perimeter game. In his 1985 recruiting class he was perceived to be better than Glen Rice, Danny Ferry, Sean Elliott, Pervis Ellison, Rod Strickland and Roy Marble - all who went on to have NBA careers.

The Draft Review honors Ben Wilson for his high school accomplishments and recognizes him as a 1989 Honorable Draftee.

Source: The Draft Review

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