Benefits of barefoot running described
Recently, scientists writing in the American Academy
of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation's journal concluded that running
in shoes exerts more stress on the knee, hip and ankle than running
barefoot or walking in high heels.
Mexico's Tarahumara Indians are a good example. They
run marathons wearing thin rubber sandals or no shoes at all. During the
1960 Olympic games, Abebe Bikila, an Ethiopian, thought none of the
available running shoes fit him well and decided to run barefoot as he
had trained in his home country. He won in record time.
Interest in running without shoes has increased more
recently with Christopher McDougall's best seller, Born to Run. But many
podiatrists say there is little data on going barefoot, so runners
should be careful when trying it.
One runner, quoted in Time, found that his stride
changed back to a natural form when he was wearing Vibram Five Fingers
($75) that protected the soles of his feet from debris while he was
He said it put more stress on his calves, which led
to some temporary soreness. Eventually, however, his knees and back felt
Balance problems may benefit from tai chi
In some patients suffering from dizziness and balance
disorders, tai chi exercise works when medications don't, according to
one study. It is estimated that about half of Americans experience
balance difficulties with everyday tasks and have fear of falling.
Tai chi is characterized by coordination and
relaxation of the joints rather than muscular tension. It has been used
for centuries to promote health and well-being.
A study by the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary and
colleagues showed that after an eight-week course of tai chi, 45 minutes
per week, patients who suffered from imbalance, dizziness and vertigo
showed marked improvement as measured on the Activities-Specific Balance
Decrease heart risk, move around while watching television
New studies show that the amount of time you spend not moving at all has
been linked to a higher risk of death from heart problems or from any
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health
report the risk of death from any cause increased by 11 percent for each
hour a day of reported TV watching or total inactivity. For death by
heart problems, the risk increased significantly more.
The benefits of getting 30 to 60 minutes of exercise
on most days are still important. But if you sleep for eight hours and
exercise for an hour, that leaves about 15 hours for either sitting
still or moving.
The new findings show that after sitting for a few hours, the enzyme
that pulls fat from the blood shuts down. Instead of fat being
transported to muscle tissue where it is burned as fuel, it accumulates
in the blood stream. Over time, it can damage arteries and lead to
What you can do
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla., say
adding almost any kind of movement to break up a period of sitting can
help. When you are at the computer, driving, reading a book or watching
TV, always add movement.
Stretch and flex muscles, fold some laundry, stand up
and walk about from time to time, or just get up to change the channel
instead of using the remote. When you just stand up, you use muscles not
required when you're sitting or lying down.
Part-time smokers need a new strategy to quit
Because smoking isn't allowed in many workplaces,
bars and restaurants, and often people don't allow it in their homes,
many smokers have quit, or almost quit. The high price of cigarettes is
But some quitters still light up on occasion. They do
it for emotional reasons, anger management or because they are feeling
depressed or anxious. A Harvard Medical School study shows that 44
percent of smokers suffer from symptoms including depression, anxiety or
Some quitters smoke only in social situations where
others are smoking, or they reward themselves when they want to unwind.
Others smoke instead of snacking so they can be thin. And still others
claim to have quit, but hide their smoking from family and friends.
The health risks are still huge. Just three
cigarettes a day can increase the likelihood of a heart attack or
There are plenty of tips on how to quit, but learning
to live without cigarettes can be harder than quitting itself, say the
That's why the more you can understand your own
behavior and find other means of coping, the more successful you'll be
in the long run.
Low-calorie sweeteners for cooking
Some sweeteners work fine for popping into your
coffee or sweetening cold cereal, but they lose their sweetening power
when exposed to the heat of cooking. These include Equal and Nutrasweet,
which are made with aspartame and, to a certain extent, Sweet'N Low made
Sweeteners made with sucralose hold their sweetening
power when used in cookies, cakes and the like. They include Splenda,
Nevella and Natrataste Gold, according to Environmental Nutrition.
Those made with stevia also work for cooking and include Purevia, Stevia
in the Raw, Sweetleaf and Truvia.