Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Fit toilets: The world's poshest spots to take a seat

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I know that many of you out there abhor the thought of public toilets and would prefer to hold it in to the point of personal injury rather than violate your body in a bathroom used by hundreds or even thousands of strangers. I've always considered public washrooms a necessary evil and done my best to find ones that are clean (or at least not offensively dirty). At best, they're a great exercise for your thighs if you choose to hover above the seat.

No matter how much you dislike 'going' in public, rest assured that there are commodes out there that will impress even the move devoted public toilet hater. Check out this list of stunning bathrooms, located in various spots across the world. You'll find 13 bathrooms located everywhere from London to Tokyo to New York to Milan and even Wisconsin, that range from hilariously hip -- take the Stones-inspired giant red lip urinals at a Brighton nightspot-- to downright decadant (who would balk at making a pitstop at a 14 karat gold toilet?).

So the next time you're on holiday in any of these spots, make a search for fancy toilets a part of your tour. It'll help give you hope for a cleaner and fancier toilet-future the next time you're holding your nose on your way into a festival port-o-potty.

81-year-old rides 2,000 miles for charity

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Stories like these seriously shame me into working out. Bill Anderson of Yuma, Arizona is raising money for the homeless by taking a bike trip...around the state of Arizona. Last year, Bill rose money by biking from the Mexican border to Canada, and the year before he rode from Canada to Mexico and from Florida to San Diego.

Did I mention that Bill is 81-years-old?

Why is it that Bill -- in his eighth decade -- can manage a two-week, 2,000 mile bicycle trip and I didn't manage to get in my 3-mile walk today? I'm not sure (though I think the answer lies in determination and priorities), but I know I'll be thinking of Bill when I get out of bed early tomorrow to make sure I get my workout in.

All joking aside, good for you Bill; you're in awesome shape and putting your time and energy toward a good cause.

Best and worst seafood choices

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Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and generally low in fat and calories, seafood is a healthy choice. (As long as it isn't deep-fried or drenched in butter!) But it's important to be a wise consumer. As we've posted about before, some fish can be high in mercury or other contaminants. In addition, over-fishing has taxed the natural supplies of many varieties. It's a case of too many fisherman chasing too few fish and stocks are being rapidly depleted. The obvious conclusion would be to select farm-raised fish which are more easily replenished, right? Unfortunately, it's not as easy as that. Some fish farming methods may actually harm the environment -- heavy nets are dragged across the ocean floor destroying natural sea life and some unethical fish farms pollute surrounding waters.

Keeping track of which seafoods are the most health-promoting and weighing those facts against wild catch and ethical farming can make your head spin. Ocean's Alive has done the homework for us. Their list of Best and Worst Seafood Choices weighs both health benefits and environmental responsibility.

  • The Best: Farmed abalone, anchovies, farmed Arctic char, farmed caviar, farmed clams, crab (Dungeness, snow, and stone), crawfish, Pacific halibut, herring, mackerel, mahimahi, farmed mussels, farmed oysters, sablefish, wild Alaskan salmon, shrimp (northern, Oregon pink, and U.S. farmed), spot prawns, farmed striped bass, farmed sturgeon, and tilapia.
  • The Worst: Wild caviar, Chilean seabass, Atlantic cod, grouper, Atlantic halibut, marlin, monkfish, orange roughy, Pacific rockfish, Atlantic salmon, shark, imported shrimp, skate, snapper, wild sturgeon, imported swordfish, tilefish, and bluefin tuna.

What to do about germs in the gym

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Exercise is great for your immune system, but the gym may not be if you don't pay attention. Bacteria and other microbes love the moisture of sweat and shower stalls, and although gyms do what they can to make the environment as clean as possible (i.e. by making hand sanitizer and clean towels available) it's ultimately up to you to protect yourself. Wash your hands frequently, wipe seats and handles with a clean towel (not the one you've been carrying around with you from machine to machine) or a disposable wipe, and bring your own mat for stretching and yoga sessions. There are even handy gadgets out there like these HandleBuddies, designed to stand between you and the germs.

It might seem like a hassle, but it's worth it. You can catch more than just a cold if you're not careful -- even bacteria like MRSA and E.coli have been found on gym machine handle bars.

Alzheimer's detected by new testing processes

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Alzheimer's disease is something that is getting quite a bit of attention lately in the media. Genetics predispositions, prescription drugs and battle strategies are all being focused on these days as tens of millions of baby boomers head for that age where Alzheimer's really begins to show itself.

Small tests that involved real-life functioning and testing involving blood and brain scans are being wielded as predictors of the memory disease, according to research. While this seems like it's really not news, it is -- as Alzheimer's is literally under a full-fledged attack. I doubt efforts cease until there is a full prevention methodology in place (if that is possible).

These new tests are critical, according to the research -- since more than 26 million people now have the disease and the explosion of more cases is expected in the next 40 years (to more than 100 million). Unless we want a good portion of the nation to have Alzheimer's in the next 40 years or so, efforts now need to be a top priority in the mental health field.

Skateboarding safety

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My nephew is an avid skateboarder. I have to admit he's pretty good. He's in college now, but he stills visits the skate park and does all sorts of crazy stunts. A few years back, though, he was skating on the sidewalk, hit a small pebble, and flew through the air. The result? Two clean breaks through his lower left arm (radius and ulna). After a pretty serious surgery inserting metal rods and screws to fix the bones, he was left with what we fondly call his "robo-arm." He wears his massive 8-inch scars like some sick badge of honor, but he never tells the details of his accident. I guess, in skater circles, it's pretty lame to be injured by a tiny, little pebble.

My son recently bought a skateboard with his allowance money. He was envisioning flips and tricks and daredevil stunts while I was envisioning broken limbs and trips to the emergency room. I made him promise to wear his helmet, knee pads, wrist pads, and elbow pads -- he agreed. But my request to surround him with bubble wrap was met with a roll of his eyes and an exasperated "ooohh, mom." Despite my concerns, I'm not about to discourage my son from a physical activity he's excited about. But I do want to make sure he's as safe as possible while he's out getting fit and having fun.

The National Safety Council offers skateboarding safety tips. Tips include buying the right type of board (I found that a short board is best for beginners), and wearing proper safety gear. It's also important for kids to learn how to fall properly (crouch low, try to land on the fleshy parts of the body, and try to roll).

Teen discovers cleaner water in toilet than fountain

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Here's an eye opener for your local school district. After a middle school in Oregon banned students from bringing water bottles, Kyleray Katherman decided to do a little experiment. He had a thought that the water fountains they were forced to use weren't the cleanest sources of water on campus. Kyleray's experiment was to take samples from four water fountains and a toilet and then measure the bacteria content in each one.

Turns out the water fountains were crawling with germs, and the toilet water was clean. What's amazing is that the 13-year-old used cotton to swab the entire rim of the toilet bowl! And he took samples from the water fountains by swabbing the spigots where most kids get the closest with their mouths.

Kyleray proved his point. The water fountains were in need of a robust cleaning, but the school didn't budge on their "no water bottles" policy. However, spigots and casting were replaced at a few fountains and teachers are beginning to offer water in the classroom. More districts could learn a lesson from North Bend Middle School, or even find a new alternative like water coolers.

More bad news for smokers: Your daily fix could be making you go bald

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If there's one thing that the bloggers here at That's Fit have discovered, it's that few things get our readers' backs up as much as a blog about smoking. Whether we're commenting on a report about the cons, or very rarely the pros, of smoking, the responses that we get both from readers who smoke and those who don't can get pretty passionate.

As a result, I'm pretty curious to see what people have to say about this report that claims smoking wrecks your hair. Apparently, the doctor who created the study did so after he noticed that his cigarette-smoking patients tended to look older, have more grey hair or less hair in general than non-smoking patients. This observation led to the study and the results supported the observation. Both female and male participants of all ages who smoke had a higher instance of premature grey hair, while male participants who smoke also had a greater incidence of premature balding.

Sure, declining hair quality isn't exactly as big a motivator to quit as something deadly like cancer or emphysema, but it may not be welcome news for smokers out there who take pride in their mane. So what do all of you cigarette-lovers and-haters out there think about the report? Do you believe it makes sense or do you feel it's all a bunch of hooey?

Strenuous workout? Bounce back better than ever

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When it comes to fitness one of the hardest things about getting started with something new is the inevitable sore and achy muscles the day after. Beginning fitness habits are delicate enough in terms of keeping them going without being unable to get back out there no matter how much you want to because you hurt too much. But there are things you can do to make sure you don't overdo it and inadvertently throw a kink in your own plans: try these simple tips to help you bounce back better than ever after a strenuous workout:
  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids
  • Stretch!
  • Don't skip the cool down
  • Refuel with carbs and protein within 30 minutes of finishing exercising

How to choose the best baby formula

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Are you not into breast feeding? While I'm a firm believer in the natural goodness of mother's milk, there are reasons why some moms may not decide to breast feed their children. But if you don't, what is the best way to get that baby fed?

Formula? Sure -- but there are many variables to consider when choosing a good baby formula. Since it's not really a natural product (but sometimes contains natural components), investigating what is being fed to a newborn should be a top priority as those infants develop and form.

For example, if these questions throw you for a loop, there may be some more research needed on which kind of baby formula is needed by your child. As the saying goes, "one size does not fit all."

Crocs: Good for your feet, or just plain ugly?

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Ok, I'm going to catch a lot of flack for this, but I just don't get what's so cool about Crocs. When they first came out, I was puzzled. When they became a phenomenon, I just figured I was out of the pop culture loop. Then my toddler saw a pair (well, a cheap imitation of a pair) in a department store and could not be dissuaded. I bought them for her, and -- with the exception of nap time -- they've barely left her feet.

After reading this article, it appears I may have been judging the shoe by it's cover. Not only are Crocs comfy, they're certified by the American Podiatric Medical Association and the U.S. Ergonomics Council. Many foot doctors wearing them, and some are recommending them to their patients as well. So what's do foot experts love about Crocs? Great arch support, a large toe box, more protective than a flip-flop, lightweight, and stable are just a few of the words used to describe the shoe.

Despite the love many people and doctors feel for Crocs, there are skeptics. Dr. Bob Baravarian, chief of foot and ankle surgery at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center says that Crocs are a decent shoe, but not a substitute for proper footwear and shouldn't be worn in situations where you'll be walking long distances.

So let's hear it: Croc lovers and haters alike...what do you think of this popular summer shoe?

New drug aims to help migraine sufferers

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Migraines are a nasty thing. The lingering and often painful headaches can be a source of job and even martial strife in many cases. Sure, there are over-the-counter and even prescription drugs that can alleviate symptoms, but do they work for all migraine suffers?

A new drug shows better promise than the existing grab bag of possible solutions, at least according to new findings. Although there is a lack of detail on this new drug -- codenamed MK-0974 -- the silence won't last for long most likely. A study that focused on the drug found that is part of a class of drugs which can block a brain chemical that helps send pain signals.

Hence, migraine pain signal blocking using chemical means inside the body could become a reality. When it does, migraine sufferers the world over will have a clear head -- permanently.

The best of the best: 5 fabulous cookbooks for vegetarians

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People become vegetarian for a variety of reasons. Whether you're a veggie (or considering becoming one) because of ethical reasons, religious views, health concerns, a general dislike of meat or any combination of these, being vegetarian isn't always easily. If you're a vegan, it can be downright impossible to find local places to eat out, as well as to find ingredients and recipes to cook on your own.

If you're a vegetarian or vegan -- or even if you're a meat-eater aiming to add more vegetables into your diet -- this article could make your life a whole lot easier. It lists five of the greatest veggie cookbooks around. You'll find information about a cookbook for gourmets who are out to take their time and impress a group of dinner guests, as well as a book that offers an inventory of recipes organized by ingredient in case there is a specific food item or flavor you've been hoping to try. There is even a cookbook loaded with recipes that are perfect for a vegan family. While it isn't always easy to avoid meat, these cookbooks and others like them are definitely making things just a little bit easier.

The best of the brown bags: Healthifying your lunch

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Bringing your own lunch to work is a great way to cut those extra calories that come from dining out. That is, if your lunch is healthy. All too often, lunches are full of refined, processed foods, sugar and not enough healthy stuff. So how can you make your lunch healthier -- and better for your waistline?

If your packing a sandwich, the first step is looking at the bread you're using. White bread is out in favour of whole grain bread that's low in a fat and full of satisfying fibre. Lean meats, low-fat cheeses, veggies and some sort of healthy spread (think mustard) round off the sandwich, and a small of salad or fruit is a great addition. If you're not in to sandwiches, try cooking something the night before, such as some grilled chicken and veggies. eDiets has more suggestions here.

What's your ideal lunch? For me, it's smoked salmon on whole wheat with some low-fat cream cheese and veggies, plus a side of a fruit.

Electronic records does not mean better diabetes care

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Although there are many benefits for doctor offices and other medical establishments to use electronic tools and computers to track patient information and hopefully provide better care, a new study finds that diabetes parents are not helped by all this new technology.

The study determined what I consider to be a pretty obvious conclusion: just changing the tools won't end up providing better care; the context in which those tools are used must change and evolve as well.

This study has a pretty decent amount of data behind it -- as the research included data on the care of 927 diabetic patients in 50 doctor's offices. Interestingly enough, those medical offices that offered electronic medical records actually offered a lower quality of care than those offices that did not offer electronic medical records.

Kids FitDeck cards: A super way to get moving

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Kids are more obese than ever and Superman is super cool. So I can't help but absolutely love the idea of these FitDeck exercise flash cards for kids ... more importantly, for my kids!

They are a colorfully packaged card deck that includes 50 exercise cards, four instructional and two stretching flashcards, accompanied by a game and activities workbook. Each flashcard features illustrations and instructions describing a different exercise. You don't need any equipment and you use your own body weight to do the exercises. It's a novel product, targeted towards children ages 4 to 16 (in my opinion 4 to 10 would be more appropriate) . After all, what young kid wouldn't want to work out with the big guy sporting the "S" on his chest?

"Superman's greatest enemy is no longer Lex Luthor. It's childhood obesity," says FitDeck creator, Phil Black.

Continue reading Kids FitDeck cards: A super way to get moving

Ultraviolet air purifiers better for most allergy sufferers

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Allergic? If so, the causes run the gamut of seasons across the U.S., as cold and wet months can cause mold sufferers to go nuts while pollen and ragweed in the sprint and early summer can cause yet others to sniffle and snort for months on end.

Although the local weather has a big effect on the effect of allergies to many sufferers, and all the allergy shots and medications in the world sometimes is not enough for the witch's brew of variables that can constantly keep allergy sufferers at bay.

What about air purifiers? These devices, which can be mechanical, electrostatic or ultraviolet in nature (or all three) are incredible devices if you find yourself in your home or place of business suffering from allergies all the time. One of the better air purifier designs by many accounts are ultraviolet models, but even within that category there are many options available. Finding the right one to kick your allergies to the curb would be the best blessing for many.

Natural Nutrition settles lawsuit, gets back to business

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Since I'm familiar with the company called Natural Nutrition, it was interesting to see that the company recently ended a two-year battle with a controversy over the "Interactive Nutrition" brand, maker of several sports nutrition products.

While I'm no fan of every "natural" company calling themselves "nutraceutical" product makers (an often overused term), Natural Nutrition was from my point of view. The Canadian company's products are very decent and does business globally, and after having used its products before, I'm a believer in them (although I am not a daily user).

The point of this post *yes, it has one!) is to put under the microscope any company that labels any of its products as "nutraceuticals." Nutrition and pharmaceuticals are the two terms being blended here, and I for one am glad that Natural Nutrition can go back to business making them.

Children who take antibiotics more likely to develop asthma

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If your child has had infections and illnesses that required the use of antibiotics, he or she may have a higher chance of developing asthma by age seven, according to new research from earlier this week. Surprising? I'll say.

Almost every child I know have had to take antibiotics even under age one, and many kids have had several doses of antibiotics before age four. Does your child suffer from asthma now that he or she is about age six or seven? These two events seem a little disconnected.

The research showed that the risk for asthma before age seven doubled compared to babies who got no antibiotics before age one. While asthma can be attributed to several causes, could the early use of antibiotics be one of them.

Physicians need to make a good first impression also

If you've been accepted by a new physician recently (a GP or specialist), what was your impression of the new doctor? Although many doctors "choose"patients based on business and care need, there are just as many informed patients that "choose" a doctor. In fact, when a new patient "interviews" a doctor, that medical professional should hopefully make the best fist impression. Wouldn't you agree?

In fact, just the act of being called by a first name and being able to shake hands with a new physician makes a world of difference in the case of many patients. A little courtesy can go a long way in setting a foundation for trust in this kind of relationship.

What do you think? Have you even had a doctor that was well-known as an expert in his or her field but had the bedside manner of a slice of burnt toast? How comfortable were you about the relationship?