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Health (209 posts)
What's the single best thing you can do for your health? Eat more greens? Take a multi-vitamin? Donate liberal amounts of money to my personal bank account? According to Dr. Mike Evan, a professor at the University of Toronto, the answer is quite simple, and it only takes a half an hour a day. Even better, his message comes in a cute and comprehensive animation. Observe:
Ah, my favorite kind of exercise advice. I happen to love long walks! If only he would also suggest the consuming of at least three baked goods a day, I could be the healthiest woman in the world.
Ways to Get Moving:
Motivation from the Male Baboon
The Right Exercise for Your Age
5 Do-Anywhere Muscle Builders
This new product was just introduced at TED, and it really is brilliant: a combination pack of adhesive bandages and a bone marrow registry kit. People with diseases like leukemia need bone marrow transplants to save their lives, but the lack of donors to the National Marrow Donor Program makes finding a match unlikely, especially for people of non-white ethnicities. Registering to be a match only takes a few seconds and a drop of blood. Admit it: the joy of saving a life may even make you look forward to those paper cuts.
Read about the origin story of this genius product, and about how you can obtain one yourself, at co.EXIST.
The 60-Person Kidney Donation Chain
High-Tech Ways to Live Longer
So imagine my delight when we discovered a free app for caffeine addicts that's less of a monitor, and more of an enabler—in a fun, functional way. With Caffeine Zone 2 Lite, you input the size of your beverage, the time you drank it, and how fast you sipped it. The simple-looking app, which was designed by two Penn State University professors (a cognitive scientist and a computer scientist), uses predictive modeling to figure out how much caffeine your body has absorbed and how much more you need to remain in your optimal alertness zone. You can also fill in details like your weight and bedtime to find out when the effects will wear off, when another cup will push you into the jitter zone, and whether that afternoon espresso will be likely to keep you up all night. You can even set alarms that will suggest when you need another dose. One of the app's designers told BusinessWeek that they hadn't received any funding from coffee- or soda-makers (although they wouldn't turn it down), so for now, he's just helping the caffeine-lovers of the world find their perfect happy place, one cup at a time.
How your lattes affect your health
If you have a question, send it to us!
You know your gym is germy, and that's why you always bring your own water bottle, towel, yoga mat and shower shoes. You haven’t let your bare skin touch the stretching mats since you first joined, and no one needs to tell you to wipe down the treadmill control panel before you press "GO." But you may not realize where else viruses and bacteria may be hiding, says Michelle Kennedy, MS, a Best Life fitness expert. Take these extra precautions, especially with the CDC's recent announcement that flu season, significantly delayed this year, is just getting started.
Disinfect the disinfectant containers: Think about it: you see people spraying and wiping everything in the gym—except for the spray bottles and wet wipe receptacles. Wipe them off before you put them down for the next germaphobe to use.
Store your gear high: Even fastidious gyms don't get around to cleaning every single locker every single night. The bottoms of the lockers tend to be the dirtiest because that's where people tuck away their outside shoes, says Kennedy. She always hangs her clothes and gear from hooks so that they come in contact with as few grimy surfaces as possible.
Don't co-mingle your clothing: Kennedy points out that most people don't think twice about taking off the shorts that just spent an hour on the stationery bike (one microbiologist found the fungus Candida albicans, which causes yeast infections, on exercise bike seats all over New York City) and tossing them into a bag with clean clothes, books and other items. She suggests a sports duffel with separate pockets for shoes and sweaty gear, like this one.
A primer for good gym hygiene
Foods that can boost your immunity to colds
How healthy is your gym?
1. Tingling, burning or numbness in your outer thighs. Too-tight bike shorts can compress nerves that run from the groin to the thigh, leading to a chronic condition called meralgia paresthetica, says Orly Avitzur, MD, a New York-based neurologist and medical adviser to Consumer Reports. When she sees patients with this problem (it's also caused by too-skinny jeans), she advises them to cast off the "offending garment," and exchange it for underwear that doesn't have tight elastic openings around the legs. The irritation can take a while to subside, but usually disappears within a few weeks.
The new test, which is free, involves four components: aerobic fitness (a 1 mile walk or 1.5 mile run), muscular strength and endurance (crunches and push-ups), flexibility (the good ol' sit-and-reach) and body composition (your BMI and waist circumference). You don't have to do any of these in front of giggling, gossiping, preteen witnesses, but the test-makers suggest they're more fun with a partner. When you're done, you can enter your data online to see how you measure up to other fit Americans.
We're pretty excited about this. Back in school, the tests seemed like pop quizzes that we didn't have a chance to study or prepare for. Worse, we had to execute all of the moves in front of our friends. But in the past tentwenty-odd years (who's counting?), we've been taking our health more seriously. In the immortal words of LMFAO, we're sexy and we know it--we work out. Even if we don't smoke the test this time, we know can take it again in the future, which means--keep doing those push-ups. It's also fun to know that no matter how we score, we can still buy one of these nifty, nostalgic patches and a completion certificate--just like the one we got many years ago.
Duhigg knew he needed to break the cookie cycle, but leaving himself chastising notes didn't seem to help (it never does). He happened to be writing a book on habit formation and how companies exploit our routines to sell us stuff, so he took what he heard from the experts and applied it to his own vice. He asked himself five questions the moment the urge hit and discovered that he wasn't hungry; just bored.
This is where most of us would have tried to create a healthy new habit--instead of snacking, we'd tell ourselves, we'll go for a brisk walk. But Duhigg knew that he needed to go one step further to make the new habit stickier than the "No More Cookies!" notes that kept falling off his computer. So he went back to the principle Proctor & Gamble used in marketing Febreze: "To shift the routine--to socialize, rather than eat a cookie--I needed to piggyback on an existing habit," he wrote. At cookie o'clock every day, he stood up and scanned the room for coworkers to talk to, then spent 10 minutes gossiping with them. He responded to the same cues, looked for the same rewards, but tried a different routine. It worked; he's happy, caught up on the office gossip, and 12 pounds lighter. Read the article to find out exactly how Duhigg did this, and how you can you can apply the Febreze method to your own bad snack habits.
You know how sometimes you just don't know what to say? It's bad enough on an awkward blind date or nerve-wracking job interview, but what about when you really need to say just exactly the right thing and somehow...really...can't? To wit, my friend's toddler was recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Whenever I am around them I find myself avoiding the subject with cheery ferocity or else saying things like, "Wow, that sucks." Or, equally idiotically, "How are things going? What can I do?" I mean, it does suck. And I do wish there were something I could do. But really what they want is for their kid to not have cancer, and although I am quite powerful in many, largely imaginary ways, I can't seem to do anything about that.
Then I happened upon the site Jokes 4 Miles, and it occurred to me that perhaps there is a tiny thing I can do, a small way I can offer a touch of light into the terrible darkness of this illness. Here goes...Knock, knock. That's right, according to this guy, (aka Miles' dad, aka the father of a boy battling brain cancer), telling a joke--or singing a song or sharing a trick--is something we can all do to help out.
I love Miles' dad's retro TV host sensibilities, but what really gets me here is when Miles himself speaks up. Seeing this good-natured teenager tangled up in IV wires and hospital bed business, makes the whole thing very, well, real. While most of us can't imagine what this family is going through, or what we could say or do to help, everyone can record a joke. It just might help Miles to smile on a down day, and it definitely reminds all of us how to deal with adversity—with humor, song, and stupid puppy tricks.
Visit Jokes4Miles for more information, and to see some of the jokes people have sent in already.
I don't think it's just the relocation exhaustion that made me get weepy when I read this New York Times story of Chain 124, "the longest chain of kidney transplants ever constructed, linking 30 people who were willing to give up an organ with 30 who might have died without one." The chain began with a Good Samaritan named Rick Ruzzamenti, who decided rather impulsively that he wanted to donate his kidney to someone in need. As the article reports, the donation chain's "momentum was then fueled by a mix of selflessness and self-interest among donors who gave a kidney to a stranger after learning they could not donate to a loved one because of incompatible blood types or antibodies. Their loved ones, in turn, were offered compatible kidneys as part of the exchange."
In other words, a wife who wanted to donate a kidney to her husband but couldn't because they were incompatible for whatever reason, donated a kidney to someone, and in return, her husband eventually would get a compatible kidney from someone else. The organization needed to make this whole thing work makes my head spin, but the Times site has a great interactive feature that helps explain how the swapping worked. And the article is a must-read for the story of the National Kidney Registry, which makes donation chains possible, as well as a detailed description of how the transplants happen.
I love this story for the super-charged Pay-It-Forward mentality, and for the reminder that there are people who will be this generous. But I also love it for the reminder of how interconnected our lives are. Aren't we all links in a chain of sorts? Whether it's donating a kidney or something smaller, like sharing a smile or lending a laundry card, we can all do something today to inspire someone else to be kind, too.
The last link in the chain of the 30 interconnected transplants, organ recipient Donald C. Terry said to his doctor, “'Is it going to continue? I don’t want to be the reason to stop anything.' 'No, no, no,' the doctor reassured him. 'This chain ends, but another one begins.'"
4 Small Acts of Kindness To Try Today
Stories from Oprah's Pay-It-Forward Challenge