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