Stories tagged health benefits

Jan
02
2012

A brisk walk in the fresh air: Sure it's cold and miserable but it's inexpensive and easy to do (once you get off the couch). It also has nothing on Ernest Shackleton.
A brisk walk in the fresh air: Sure it's cold and miserable but it's inexpensive and easy to do (once you get off the couch). It also has nothing on Ernest Shackleton.Courtesy Mark Ryan
Okay. It’s 2012! The beginning of a brand new year. A time for making resolutions, a time for change. That special new era that began with a magical tick past midnight on December 31st when you suddenly emerged from a decades-long thick-skinned cocoon of self-destructive behavior, and miraculously transformed into a brand new person of action, rebirth, and eventual six-pack abs.

Okay, maybe not suddenly, but let’s say 12 to 15 hours after midnight when you finally came out of the bacchanalian stupor you’d plunged yourself into the night before.

But the point is you can now become that perfect human being you (and mainly your mother) always suspected was hiding beneath that sweatpants ensemble. Imagine what you can do now when you replace your mantra of instant gratification with one of self-control. Nicotine’s mastery over your soul will dissipate like a smoke-ring in the breeze. Inappropriate outbursts at dinner parties will be a thing of the past as you’re transformed into the designated driver instead of driving the host’s porcelain bus. Oatmeal will substitute for Twinkies for breakfast, and broccoli will become your new BFF.

The possibilities for improvement seem limitless, don’t they? It just takes a little effort.

You know, with obesity plaguing the US, this would be a perfect time to let go of the game controller, drag your ample hinderbutt off the couch, and get some of that exercise you’ve been promising to do since 1988. It doesn’t mean you have to join a high-priced health club, or spend hours contorted into a pretzel at a local yoga class. The easiest thing to do is just head outside for a good old fashion walk, a nice long stroll in the bracing winter air. It’s not going to cost you a cent to do it (unless you live here in Minnesota and the legislature decides to tax it to help pay for a brand new stadium for the Vikings).

What’s that you say? You’d like to lose those extra 65 lbs but you just can’t seem to get motivated? What? You think it sounds like a nice idea but it’s only 25° above zero? Yes, yes, I know. Getting all bundled up in long underwear, winter coat, and boots to face the elements is a real drag.

Well, poooooooooooor you. WAH, WAH, WAH, WAH, WAH! You are unbelievable. What a sniveling crybaby! Is that all you can do is whine? You think it’s too cold? You crave motivation?! Well, here’s some motivation for you: Starting next weekend, have your mommy drive you to the Science Museum of Minnesota and buy you a ticket for the Omni Theater so you can watch the magnificent Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure, one of five large format films that are part of the museum’s annual OmniFest 2012.

Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure is an amazing - no! – an astounding story of man against nature. It details the struggles of the fearless and eternally optimistic Ernest Shackleton and his crew of 27 men who set sail on the ship Endurance headed for Antarctica. I don’t want to give away the story but let’s just say after you see what these courageous guys endured over a period of seventeen months, I guarantee you’ll feel deeply ashamed for driving to work in your heated car and living inside four walls.

OmniFest 2012 runs from January 6 – February 17, 2012 at the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Omni Theater, and features five big-screen films: Amazing Caves, Amazon, Wolves, Search for the Great Sharks, and of course Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure. The films rotate throughout the day, so check the OmniFest 2012 website to make sure you have the correct times for the shows you want to see. Of course, if you were anything like Shackleton, you'd just show up after a 20 mile trek in the blinding snow and expect things to work out your way. Wimp!

Aug
17
2007

Yum, yum, eat 'em up!: Photo by jaboobie at Flickr.
Yum, yum, eat 'em up!: Photo by jaboobie at Flickr.
When my mother was pregnant with me she must have been eating a whole lot of junk food according to a new study published by the British Journal of Nutrition.

Researchers at the Royal Veterinary College in Great Britain discovered that pregnant rats that overindulge candy bars, potato chips and other junk food seem to pass those cravings on to their innocent and unsuspecting offspring.

So far, the study only involved rats, but I’m certain my mother is the reason I really crave Lorna Doones® and chocolate donuts.

The female rats in the study were fed either a bland yet nutritious sort of rat chow, or given access to as much tasty junk food as they wanted. The diets were continued in some rats up to birth, and through the breastfeeding period.

When the offspring were divided up, some of the group from the rat chow-only mothers was offered just rat chow to eat; the remainder of that group was mixed in with the offspring from junk food-fed mothers and given the choice of boring rat chow or delicious junk food.

The rat chow-only offspring ate the least amount of food, but for the offspring given a choice evidently too much junk food isn’t enough, especially the babies whose mothers had been fed only junk food. Their offspring preferred the empty-calorie treats and consumed twice as much food as the offspring of chow-only group.

The reason for this, the scientists think, is that the “pleasure chemicals” unleashed by the rat mother when eating high-fat foods may have some sort of effect on the brain of the fetus.

It should be reiterated that the study only has to do with rats. No such study has been done on humans, but I’ll tell, I’d probably be a good study subject. My mom still loves to ingest lots of sweets and I’m not far behind her.

Not good for one's heart: Photo by &y at Flickr Creative Commons.
Not good for one's heart: Photo by &y at Flickr Creative Commons.
Which brings me to another disturbing study, which, in my case, could also be connected to junk food.

University of Texas researchers have determined that having a pot belly –even a fairly small one- increases your risk of heart disease.

"Fat that accumulates around your waist seems to be more biologically active as it secretes inflammatory proteins that contribute to atherosclerotic plaque build-up, whereas fat around your hips doesn't appear to increase risk for cardiovascular disease at all,” according to Professor James de Lemos, the research lead. “Even a small pot belly puts us at higher risk when compared to a flat tummy."

I guess that means I either have to cut down on my junk food intake or ratchet up my exercise regimen.

"What's important is that people consider their body shape as well as their weight,” said June Davison, a cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation. “Controlling both by eating less and being more active is an effective way to reduce your risk of heart and circulatory disease”

Well, I suppose, but even exercise has some controversy attached to it.

Last week a study stated that even light exercise was beneficial.

But then this week a new study proclaims that workouts must be “tough” to be of any benefit.

Oh, the heck with it. I'm going back to the couch with a bag of donuts on my pot belly and wait for some more agreeable studies to come out.

LINKS

Cravings story
Pot belly story