The Feel-Good Report
Athletes have long enjoyed the benefits that advanced technology offer. Golfers swing drivers the size of small, two-bedroom homes. The only place you’ll find a wooden tennis racket is on ESPN Classic. And aluminum bats enable 10-year-olds to crack Mantle-esque home runs. Now, however, technological advances are increasing athletes’ actual biomechanics. According to The Wall Street Journal, Dr. Darren Stefanyshyn of the University of Calgary, Canada, has developed polyurethane bands that attach to Adidas’ clothing. These bands provide pressure and guidance, forcing muscles into the best possible positions for performance.
Adidas will use this technology—what the company calls its TechFit PowerWeb line—in its NBA uniforms, but it’s also available for those of us just looking to dominate our neighbors on the tennis/racquetball/shuffleboard court. But you don’t have to be a professional jock to take advantage of performance-enhancing threads. Vestagen, out of Orlando, makes scrubs that repel infectious diseases, good for high school reunions, while Cintas, the uniform maker, recycles water bottles into yarn, makes a washable tuxedo for the socially active and offers a golf shirt that eliminates odor (which my father will find under the tree next Christmas).
Full-court press on stress
Many of us moved to Southwest Florida in an attempt to rid ourselves, once and for all, of stress. Most of us subsequently discovered that totally eradicating stress from our lives isn’t going to happen. However, we can still manage it. Thanks to Shape.com, here are some stress reduction techniques that could work for you.
• “Try a Repeat Performance”: Doing anything that requires repetitive movements can help lower tension, even vacuuming. This includes reciting words like “calm” or “relax.” Words with spiritual meanings are especially helpful.
• “Hit the Pool” (or Gulf): A Journal of Stress Management study reported that “floating in water triggers the body’s relaxation response.” This means that the next time someone calls you lazy for chilling in the Gulf, kindly reply that you’re following the advice of noted scientists.
• “Give your Thumbs a Rest”: iPhone-ing and Facebook-ing are part of the culture but they’re also a part of stress, as researchers have found a link between increases in stress and increases in cell phone use.
• “Write It Out”: A study of rheumatoid arthritis and asthma sufferers (a group whose symptoms are notoriously “stress-sensitive”) reveals that pain decreased when patients wrote daily about their diseases.
• “Speak a Stress-free Language”: Optimism isn’t only for the deluded. “Optimistic explanatory style” of language takes failure off your shoulders.
For instance, “Rather than saying, ‘I really blew that presentation,’ it’s, ‘That was a tough group to engage.’” OK, let’s call it controlled delusion.
Taking milk with that? Maybe, maybe not …
Milk has always been a contentious subject in my life. For example, my mother wanted me to pour milk on my cereal. I wanted to use Coke. She typically got her way. I figured my family wasn’t the only one warring over dairy, and the calcium and vitamin D it delivers, but I had no idea the conflict had gone international. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), “since 2000, the public has heard conflicting messages about other benefits of these nutrients—especially vitamin D—and also about how much calcium and vitamin D they need to be healthy.” Canada and the United States, the IOM goes on to say, asked the organization to settle the debate—before we were all engulfed in a global calcium war—and in November it published Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Here’s a quick daily requirement guide taken from the IOM report:
• Ages 9-18: 1,100 milligrams calcium; 400 international units vitamin D
• 19-50: 800 mg calcium; 400 IU vitamin D
• 51-70 males: 800 mg calcium;
400 IU vitamin D
• 51-70 females: 1,000 mg calcium; 400 IU vitamin D
• 70 and older: 1,000 mg calcium; 400 IU vitamin D
The IOM also notes that too much of each can cause harm. Too much vitamin D can lead to kidney and tissue damage, and overuse of calcium can cause kidney stones. For adults, too much vitamin D is 4,000 daily IUs, while too much calcium for adults varies between 3,000 and 2,000 mg, declining as you age.
Scientifically proven: Men are dumb, insensitive
Two recent studies are giving women much too much ammunition in the battle of the sexes. The first, conducted by Indiana University’s Maria Elizabeth Grabe and Lelia Samson, had men watch a short news report hosted by a woman. In one group, the woman was dressed in a shiftless, baggy outfit. In the other, she was dressed to accentuate her “waist-to-hips ratio.” Men, unsurprisingly, found the sexily dressed newscaster less credible. More important, however, is the fact that men had a harder time remembering what the sexy one said. Gee, what were they thinking about? The second study, published by researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Institute in Science Express, proves that women’s tears negatively affect men’s sexual stimulation. Evidently, women’s tears don’t make men more empathetic or sad. It does, however, make them think women are less attractive. The tears also drained testosterone levels, which are connected to sexual arousal. In short, men act stupid around pretty women, and are insensitive. For further evidence, see every chick flick ever made.
Avoiding heart disease as easy as taking a break
This item is for all the heartless, bottom-line bosses out there who lord over their employees’ harmless breaks. A study in The European Heart Journaland reported on in The Wall Street Journal, shows that interruptions in one’s workday—and by that we mean a workday spent chained to a desk—can dramatically reduce C-reactive protein, which is a strong indicator for heart problems. Featuring 4,757 people wearing accelerometers, the results revealed that people who took the most breaks had a 4.1 centimeter smaller waistline than those who were highly sedentary. (It also helps make you feel better about yourself to know that one subject was sedentary for 21.2 hours a day. Suddenly, I don’t seem so lazy.) Researchers concluded that “sedentary time” should be considered a health risk, not unlike smoking or eating Cheez Whiz from the can. Management, take note: More breaks mean better health. Better health means fewer medical expenses. Fewer medical expenses mean more money. More money means more money.