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Health (209 posts)
Over at Grantland, Anna Clark has compiled the best films featuring women in sports from the 1930s to the present, revealing how our cinema reflects the status of women's sports today, which is "at once prominent and on shaky ground." Clark provides a good guide for your next trip to your Netflix queue, and a thoughtful take on female athletics, both the athletes themselves (accomplished and talented) and their fanbase (sometimes reluctant-to-nonexistent). I know, it's a little sad. Wait, are you crying? There's no crying in baseball! ("A League of Their Own?" Eh? Anyone?)
Talking to Tennis Legend Billie Jean King
The Rise and Fall of Marion Jones
Singapore has one of the longest life expectancy rates in the world (84.96 for women and 79.53 for men), and this video from the Singapore Sports Council shows how some of the country's older citizens are spending their twilight years (keep watching: this tea tête-a-tête is just the beginning).
We love these guys--we're calling them the Singapore Globeshufflers--for reminding us that's it's not about how many miles you can travel throughout your life, but how many three-point shots you can sink along the way.
Find out Singapore's other secret to staying in shape...as well as fitness advice you can steal from four other countries.
You'd think so, considering sea salt, which is harvested from evaporated seawater, is more natural and less processed than table salt, which comes from underground mines and is refined and fortified with iodine and anti-caking agents before it reaches us. But we found out that when it comes to sodium, which can lead to hypertension, cardiovascular disease and strokes, the two are identical. The maximum recommended daily sodium allowance is 2,300 milligrams (1,500 milligrams if you're over 50, if you're black, or if you have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease), and it sounds like the only way to cut back on sodium is to cut back on salt, period. The good news? In our un-scientific experience, we've noticed that when sprinkling on salt at home, the intense flavor of sea salt does cause us to use less of it.
More surprising health facts
In her new book, The First 20 Minutes: The Myth-Busting Science that Shows How We Can Walk Farther, Run Faster, and Live Longer, Reynolds pulls together tons of health and fitness studies, correcting misconceptions and turning new research into useful advice (she shares some her favorite ideas in this month's O magazine). Among the many insights in this book, one relatively small factoid especially intrigued me. Reynolds writes about Danish experiments that showed that after both men and women reduced or stopped their workouts, the women didn't lose their training benefits as quickly as the men. The explanation has to do with hormones (doesn't it always, especially when it comes to gender differences?). The study author told Reynolds that estrogen was protecting the women "against fast muscle and collagen loss when she is inactive"--like during pregnancy.
I now have a secret weapon that may help me outrun my husband (once we're both back in race shape): I'm going to challenge him to a sprint after we go on vacation together. Perhaps the R&R will cause him to peter out just a tiny bit--which will be enough to give me the competitive advantage I've been looking for. And honestly, even if he still zooms by me, my new understanding about the female ability to bounce back will ease my guilt about taking a break from exercise.
More surprising ways that women have an edge
The United States Preventive Services Task Force determined that there isn't any evidence to support that more frequent screenings help catch cervical cancer. The government isn't the first group to change its recommendations--in fact, it's one of the last: Cancer groups and others have been urging for less frequent screenings for the past few years. But this basically means the annual Pap will be RIP (of course, these recommendations apply only to healthy women, not those who have puzzling symptoms, an unusual Pap test result or a history of dysplasia, cervical cancer, H.I.V. or other issues).
Just because you no longer need a Pap smear every year doesn't mean you should schedule your next ob/gyn appointment for 2015. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) gave us four more great reasons to keep up the yearly visits:
1. To assess your lady parts (and other parts). At a typical exam, ob/gyns perform abdominal exams (to make sure the ovaries and uterus feel normal), breast exams and pelvic exams. Beyond your reproductive organs, they also usually check your blood pressure, weight, BMI and pulse. Good ob/gyns have been known to help women with weight problems, bloating, acne and skin discoloration related to hormonal fluctuations.
They found that regular walking can change the way our genes work--specifically, our fat genes, reports Time magazine. The researchers observed people who had the type of genes that had been linked to high body mass index, and found that this type of daily exercise was able to tamper the effect of the genes by 50 percent. You'll have to put in some effort: the participants walked briskly for an hour a day. But isn't that worth it to change your obesity destiny? As an added motivation to get up and get outside--like we need one--the researchers noted that sitting in front of the TV can actually trigger those sneaky fat genes to promote weight gain.
We'd just like to thank the good people at the Harvard School of Public Health for sharing this news now, when we can enjoy the delights of spring, instead of telling us to get outside in the middle of a cold, dreary winter.
How your gait can predict how long you'll live
Walking uphill: 7 common hiking mistakes to avoid
I thought of this when I read this article about helping the Japanese people to heal, one year after the tsunami destroyed so many people's homes and killed 19,000 people. According to the New York Daily News, "furry, robotic seals that respond to human touch are being used in Japan to treat depression among survivors of last year’s tsunami disaster. 'Paro' is being offered to people made homeless by the disaster and is offering a much-needed bit of affection with his burbling noises and the appreciative flapping of fins when he comes into contact with people."
How fascinating that just touching something can have such healing powers. For people living in temporary housing in Kesennuma, an area badly hit by the tsunami, the trauma of last spring's storm is still a very present part of everyday reality, and as one woman told the Daily News, "Many of my neighbours don't want to have new pets because they don't want to remember." Enter the adorable robots.
But you don't have to recovering from a life-shattering trauma to experiment with non-traditional healing. We all have days pocked with small-scale wounds—the unsettled aftermath of a friend's unkind words, the lingering adrenaline from a near-fender-bender. Whatever your hurt, try a touch—hugging a friend, stroking a foster kitty, cozying up to an animatronic seal should you find yourself near one—and see, er feel, what happens next.
The Power of Therapeutic Touch
Yes, there is finally a name for that strange feeling when you are driving on an icy overpass or walking along a high bridge and feel an urge to jump (or in my case -- disastrously for the myopic -- to throw your glasses). As the Body Odd blog on MSNBC reports, a team from Florida State University’s psychology department investigated this feeling and termed it "high-place phenomenon."
According to the Body Odd, the researchers thought their study might "shine light on one of Freud’s ideas, that some people have a 'death wish,' and that some suicides are purely impulsive, absent any sign of depression or even sadness." The post describes how the researchers went about gathering data, and explains why peoples' reactions to anxiety are sometimes more significant than their actual anxiety levels. Their conclusion? Essentially, it's all a miscommunication. When someone with high anxiety sensitivity stands at the precipice of something, she may experience a moment of fear and step back. She then wonders why she stepped back if there wasn't any danger, and her brain concludes there must have been a danger of her jumping.
What a wonderful thing, that brain! And always good to remember how the urge to live carries us along throughout our days—even when we eat what we know we shouldn't, even when we don't sleep enough, even when we push ourselves to the limit, even when we sway for a moment on whatever precipice we find ourselves on—how our brains move us through our lives, whispering "Live! Live! Live!"
Simple Ways to Affirm Life
10 Tips for Living Happy