Category Archives: Books

Immediate Rewards Keep People Exercising

ExercisingNoSweat-237x300 to lose weight? Nice idea, unlikely reality. Exercising because it makes you feel good? Nicer idea, and one with a pretty good chance that you’ll actually follow through with it. That’s the thesis put forth by New York Times health columnist Jane Brody, who backs it up with personal experience and the wisdom of Michelle Segar, director of the Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center at the University of Michigan. Segar, who is also the author of “No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness,” suggests that we focus on the idea that “everything counts” — taking the stairs instead of the elevator, weeding the garden, dancing, even walking to the water cooler,” writes Brody.  Brody cites Segar’s advice that “the more energy you give to caring for yourself, the more energy you have for everything else.” Wait, there’s more: Segar wants us to know that it’s OK to make self-care through physical activity a priority. “When we do not prioritize our own self-care because we are busy serving others, our energy is not replenished,” Segar writes. “Instead, we are exhausted, and our ability to be there for anyone or anything else is compromised.”



How To Talk To Your Spouse About Losing Weight

Among the 71H7elk+KbL._SL1500_many minefields of marriage, few have a higher mortality rate than conversations about losing weight, as is “you need to lose some, honey” Wrong again. Now come researchers from something called The Relationship Institute at UCLA who have applied their research –watching thousands of hours of video recordings of married couples talking with each other about their health–, to a how-to book on expeditions to that perilous domain.  “Love Me Slender: How Smart Couples Team Up to Lose Weight, Exercise More, and Stay Healthy Together” (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster), by Thomas Bradbury and Benjamin Karney, describes the behaviors of couples who managed to have “the conversation” without damage.  Or at least with minimal damage. A UCLA news release quotes Bradbury reporting that the surviving couples say thing like “I love you and that’s not going to change, but I’m going to help you stay healthy and lose weight. We’ll work on this together.” If you can’t remember that, it’s in the book.

Advice for Retiring (Literally) Women

First the bad news: boomers suffer from depression more than any other age group. Now the other bad news: women suffer from depression more often than men. The Atlantic reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that between 1999 and 2004, rates of suicide increased by 20 percent for 45-to-54-year-olds, a far greater increase than that experienced in nearly every other age groug, and among women who were 45-to-54-year-olds, the increase was 31 percent. Now comes help, perhaps, in the form of book called Retiring But Not Shy. Edited by Ellen Cole and Mary Gergen, it presents advice and narratives from 23 professional, issue-driven women who recently left their careers behind. The essays explore what, exactly, is happy old age, and how does one get there from a rewarding professional life that is now barely visible in the rear view mirror.

Too Much Of A Good Thing: Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder

One thing you can say about Dave Barter’s book, Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder (Phased Publications, 2012) is that it is clearly titled. Another is that it clearly describes in humorous anecdotes why too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Sadly, Barter didn’t apply that axiom when elected to include 30 essays in the book, many of which are almost as funny as they were intended to be. Worried about worrying that you won’t be able to ride next weekend? Maybe you should be. Many, if not all of the essays have been published on Barter’s blog, which will please readers suffering from obsessive compulsive reading about cycling disorder.

Can Running Keep You Sober?

How far is it from way too much alcohol to clear-headed fitness? About 26.2 miles, but that’s the short answer. The complete answer is several miles a day for several years, and plenty of time to think. In Running Ransom Road: Confronting the Past, One Marathon at a Time (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012), Caleb Daniloff’puts his thoughts on paper, and they are unsparingly honest and revelatory. Daniloff flashes back and forward from days of drug and alcohol abuse, deceit, and failure, to marathons run in the present in cities where he once wallowed in depravity. In this interview with BU Today, Daniloff answers the question: did running help you stay sober? “To a large extent, yes,” he says. “After I quit drinking, there was a huge void in my life. Sobriety can be a very difficult time—a swirl of depression, shame, anxiety, regret, boredom, anger. Running allowed me to start filling in the hole. It gave my days, my life, a new central rhythm. Over time, the physical sensation of forward motion, of progress, became emotional, psychological, literal.” Read more here.


How To Run With Your Dog

Readers can thank Runner’s World for a special section on running with dogs, one that includes advice from experts on How to Turn Your Pooch Into an Endurance Machine. Robert Gillette, D.V.M., director of Auburn University’s Veterinary Sports Medicine program, recommends always keeping the dog on a leash, and keeping the dog within three feet of you. One goal, says Gillette, is to have the dog understand that this is not playtime– it’s exercise time, and that you are the leader. JT Clough,  coauthor of 5K Training Guide: Running with Dogs, advises hopeful pet owners to start slowly, three times a week for 15 or 20 minutes, and build up from there, adding five minutes each week—for the dog’s sake, not yours. Always keep a lookout for signs of fatigue—flattened ears, tail down, or heavy panting.. Read more at Runner’s World or from Men’s Fitness.

Wall Street Journal’s Five Top Health Books of 2010

And the winners are:

"After the Diagnosis: Transcending Chronic Illness," by Julian Seifter with Betsy Seifter. What to do when you've been told you have chronic illness.

"Back to Life After a Heart Crisis: A Doctor and His Wife Share Their 8-Step Cardiac Comeback Plan," by Marc Wallack and Jamie Colby. It is what it says it is.

"Stress Less: The New Science That Shows Women How to Rejuvenate the Body and the Mind," by Thea Singer. How to relax more and age less.

"The Decision Tree: Taking Control of Your Health in the New Era of Personalized Medicine," by Tom Goetz. How to use data, the Web and technology to make better medical decisions and manage their own care.

"Stay Healthy at Every Age: What Your Doctor Wants You to Know," by Shantanu Nundy. Provides handy checklists and provides easy-to-understand explanations of the evidence behind such recommendations as taking aspirin to prevent cardiovascular disease or getting a screening test for an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Read more in the Wall Street Journal.

SportsGeezer’s Best-Read Stories of 2010

1. Men: Regular Sex Cuts Heart Risks in Half

Every so often, research results at some reputable institute suggest that there is a god. First, it was the widely appreciated benefits of red wine.  Now, from the New England Research Institute, comes evidence that regular sex is good for your heart, at least if you’re a man. The researchers, who followed more than 1,100 men for more than 16 years, found that men who had sex twice a week were as much as 45 percent less likely to suffer a dangerous cardiovascular event than those who had sex once a month or less.Read an abstract of their research in the American Journal of Cardiology.


2. Ten Risk Factors That Cause 9 Out of 10 Strokes

OK, the risks per se are not going to surprise many readers, but the realization that nine out of ten strokes may be avoidable may persuade a few readers to change their behavior. The Lancet publishes the findings of a study conducted by INTERSTROKE, which concluded that ten easily measurable and modifiable risk factors could explain over 90 per cent of the risk of a heart attack globally and in all regions and major ethnic groups of the world. And the winning risks are: history of hypertension, smoking, waist to hip ratio, diet, lack of exercise, diabetes, alcohol, stress, depression, and a history of heart problems.

Read more in the Lancet.


3. Five Tips to Avoid Hip or Knee Replacement

For readers who need them, here, from the New York Times, are two reasons you don’t want to have hips or knees replaced: 1. It’s expensive. The cost of a new hip or knee is $30,000 to $40,000, and while insurance covers most of that, your out-of-pocket costs may be $3,000 to $4,000. 2. It hurts.

In this piece in the Times, Dr. David Felson, a rheumatologist and arthritis prevention specialist at Boston University School of Medicine, offers five tips to saving the hips and knees you were born with.

1.CONTROL YOUR WEIGHT The more you weigh, the more pressure on your joints, which can lead to joint damage.

2.GO LOW-IMPACT Although there is no definitive link between osteoarthritis of the knee and running (or any other sport), sports medicine doctors discourage their patients from running on hard pavement, playing tennis on concrete or activities like skiing over lots of moguls.

3.AVOID INJURY  Major injuries, typically the type that require surgery, greatly increase your risk for osteoarthritis.

4.GET FIT The better toned your muscles are, the less likely you are to injure yourself .

5.BE SKEPTICAL Don’t waste your money on specialized nutrients. Shark cartilage, glucosamine and chondroitin — popular supplements marketed for healthy joints — can be expensive and are of limited benefit.

Read more in the New York Times.


4. Finally: How Vitamin D Works

For years, scientists have been asking two big questions about vitamin D: Is there anything it isn’t good for?  and How does it work? Now, it seems, one of those questions has been answered, kind of. The Scientific American reports that researchers at the University of Copenhagen have learned that in order for T cells to do their magic in the immune system, they must change from so-called “naive” T cells into either killer cells or helper cells. It turns out, the Danish scientists learned, that if vitamin D is in short supply, that transition doesn’t happen. Why would the body make it hard to jump start its immune system? Sciam reports that while the vitamin requirement might seem like a handicap, the extra step might actually be a live saver: keeping T cells from ravaging healthy tissue.

Read more in the Scientific American.


5. Why Exercise Will Not Take the Pounds Off, And What Will

Exercise alone, the New York Times quotes one health expert saying, “is pretty useless for weight loss.” One reason for that is the likelihood that people who exercise will end up eating more calories. The mathematics of weight loss, the Times tells us, is quite simple, involving only subtraction. Take in fewer calories than you burn, put yourself in negative energy balance, and you will lose weight. The deficit in calories can result from cutting back your food intake or from increasing your energy output — the amount of exercise you complete — or both.

Read more in the New York Times.


6. Rye Bread More Healthful Than Whole Wheat

In addition to tasting better (or tasting like anything at all) than whole wheat bread, rye bread is better for you. That news comes from Lund University in Sweden, where researchers measured insulin and blood sugar levels in people who ate rye bread and porridge for breakfast and in those who ate porridge and bread made with wheat. The big difference? Those who ate rye had a much more “stable blood sugar curve.” AlphaGalileo reports that the researchers also found that people who ate boiled rye kernels for breakfast were fuller and ate 16 percent fewer calories for lunch.

Read more from AlphaGalileo.

7. 10 Worst Fast Foods, from Men’s Health

Men’s Health, a veritable monthly book of lists, entertains us with its annual presentation of the 10 worst fast foods that fast money can buy, as well as a more healthful alternative for each listing. Presented in no particular order, the list includes:

Domino’s Chicken Carbonara Breadbowl Pasta

KFC Half Spicey Crispy Chicken Meal with Macaroni and Cheese

Burger King Large Triple Whopper with Cheese Value Meal

and much much more.



8. For Heart Health, Try Orgasms First, Chocolate Second

Instead of doing the Chocolate is Good For Your Heart thing that seems irresistible to health writers at this time of year, Geezer chooses to point out the health benefits of something that is more fun, and yes, less expensive:orgasms. The Los Angeles Times has two things to say about that. First there is some evidence that DHEA, a hormone released into the bloodstream during arousal and orgasm, helps keeps arteries clear and hearts strong, and second, a 10-year study of Welsh men found that those who had two or more orgasms per week had half the risk of dying compared with their less sexually active neighbors.

Read more in the Los Angeles Times

9. Fish Oil Slows Aging

Loyal readers no doubt recall that telomeres, the strings of repeating DNA sequences at the end of chromosomes, are a surpringly reliable measure of aging. The shorter your telomeres, Geezer regrets to inform you, the sooner you will die. Hence, it makes good sense to find a way to keep telomeres long, and as it hapMackerelpens, scientists at the University of San Francisco have done just that. Science News
reports that researchers there recorded telomere length in white blood cells of 608 people with heart disease and an average age in their mid-60sThe researchers also noted how much omega-3 fatty acid was in the bloodstream of each participant. Science News reports that although some people had higher omega-3 levels than others at the outset, telomere length wasn’t markedly different, but after five years, those who started out with higher levels of omega-3s had substantially less telomere shortening than the others. Skeptical? Read an abstract from the study in JAMA.

Read more about it in Science News.


10. Blood Pressure Drugs May Be Best Taken at Night

When it comes to taking blood pressure meds, it may be better to be night person than a morning person. HealthDay reports that researchers at the bioengineering and chronobiology laboratories at the University of Vigo, Spain randomly assigned 2,156 men and women with high blood pressure (average age 56) to one of two treatment groups. One group took their blood-pressure medications at bedtime, and the other took it in the morning. The researchers monitored the volunteers’ blood pressure at 20- and 30-minute intervals, depending on time of day, for 48 hours at least once a year for five years. They found that, of those who took at least one of their blood-pressure pills at night, 62 percent had controlled blood pressure over the 24-hour period, compared to 53 percent of those who took all their pills in the morning. Wait, there’s more: Those who routinely took at least one of their blood-pressure medicines at night experienced only one-third of the cardiovascular events — including angina, stroke and heart attack — as the morning people.

Read more in HealthDay.


Three Winners from the WSJ’s Best Health Books of 2009

No, it’s not too late to order these books for holiday gifts, but the clock is ticking.

Medicine for the Outdoors, by Paul S. Auerbach ($24.95)

Says the Wall Street Journal: “The ultimate handbook for anyone participating in outdoor activities or
eco-tourism far from medical care, and it was written by an emergency
surgeon and authority in wilderness medicine.”

CDC Health Information for International Travel 2010: The Yellow Book ($29.95)

Says the Journal: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guide for
international travel details diseases and infections you may be at risk
of in foreign destinations, and preventive measures to consider.”

Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall ($24.95)

Declares the Journal: “In a quest to become an ultra-marathoner, the author immerses himself
in the ways of the Tarahumara, a Mexican tribe known for the ability to
run extreme distances, and unspools a dramatic tale of his own training
and ultimate participation in a 50-mile race in the tribe’s remote
wilderness terrain.”

Read about more of the best health books of 2009 in the Wall Street Journal.