Thursday, 26 July 2007

Get your kids eating better this summer

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If you're thinking of trying to use the in-progress summer vacation to get your kids eating healthier -- and hopefully making newer and better habits -- there is a great list of what to do over at The Diet Channel on this subject.

This list seems like common sense to many of us, but in practice it can be hard in the average (busy) home. Never hurts to try and make a full-fledged effort, though.

Here is the short list -- click over for more detail on each one.

1. Make breakfast a must.
2. Plan a fruit-filled activity.
3. Stock up on healthful snacks.
4. Think outside the kitchen.
5. Don't let good food go bad.

Not getting enough Vitamin D? Check that blood pressure

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According to a new piece of research from Canada, blood pressure increases when the body does not get the needed amount of Vitamin D from whatever source, every day.

It's known that high blood pressure is correlated with a propensity of heart disease and hypertension, and getting enough Vitamin D is a great way to help normalize that pressure daily. Of course, there are plenty of other activities that need to go along with it.

If possible, try getting some sunlight every day. Contrary to what sunscreen manufacturers like to say, a small dose (as little as 10 minutes per day) of sun exposure to the skin promotes internal Vitamin D production every day -- and it's free. Just don't overexpose (and burn) yourself. That is definitely not good.

The healthiest backpacks for back to school

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It seems like summer just got started, yet already we're starting to hear echoes and whispers of "back to school." Of course back to school is the biggest season for the backpack industry, but year round people who have active outdoor lifestyles find themselves in need of a sturdy and comfortable way to carry stuff around. But unfortunately all too often backpacks are responsible for back, shoulder, and neck pain when they get overstuffed and all their design flaws become painfully obvious.

So this year before you go shopping check out these 4 ergonomically designed backpacks suggested by Natural Health -- ranging in price from $10 to $90 there's something for every taste and budget.

Once and for all: Is standing near the microwave dangerous?

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Microwaves have been around forever, so why are we still wondering whether or not it's safe to stand near them when they're cooking something? According to research there's little to no safety risk in standing near an operating microwave oven based on safety standards and radiation levels. The radiation that may escape or leak out of a microwave is very small, and it's no greater than other appliances and gadgets in our homes (i.e. cellphones) that have been found to be harmless.

I understand that the evidence says the danger is extremely low (if not nonexistent) but there's just something about it -- I'll still be keeping my distance!

Outdoor smoking ban coming to Western Australia?

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With smoking bans inside public facilities and even around them being instituted worldwide, smoking in outdoor dining areas may be the next step some municipalities and countries look at.

Australia is already there though, as smoking in outdoor dining areas looks to be banned in the near future according to government officials there. Specifically, Western Australia was referenced (not the entire country(.

Although smoking outside generally relieves non-smokers from second-hand smoke, officials apparently believe smoking in an outdoor vicinity is still harmful (like outside a building entrance, where smoking is permitted in many countries).

Be positive about you

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If anything is critical to success in the physical health and fitness area of your life it's being healthy and fit spiritually -- especially in the self-esteem department. You have to love and accept yourself the way you are, and then if you choose to make changes they're for you, and not for anybody else. And although it's true that our identities and self-esteem are largely established as children when we have little control, as an adult you have more power than you realize to change your outlook and thoughts about yourself. Praising yourself and being flexible in your thinking is the key! Do you catch yourself nagging or being negative in your thoughts? Change that, and you'll change a lot.

Celebrity Fitzness Report: Jeff Fatt of The Wiggles

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Curious to know how celebrities squeeze fitness into their daily lives? Want to know the secrets of the stars? Bi-weekly our That's Fit fitness expert Fitz sits down with the celebs we want to know more about, and digs out their great and not-so-great methods to staying healthy.

Jeff Fatt is part of the Australian children's musical group The Wiggles. Just in case your've never heard of The Wiggles...they're the kiddie equivilent of The Beatles. They've sold a bazillion CD's and DVD's, and also have sold out yearly tours around the world. Their hit TV show appears daily on Playhouse Disney, and they're probably the healthiest thing Disney has going for them. The Wiggles sing about fruit salad, not cookies. They're shows and songs get kids up to move like a Crunch workout tape makes their Mom. Jeff is the Purple Wiggle and his silly shtick is that he loves to sleep. The kids go bonkers for it, especially mine. "Wake up Jeff!" is a classic of tomorrow.

Fitz: Tell me about your fitness routine.

Jeff: I don't really have any fitness routine, but would consider the concerts we do to be a routine in themselves. Apart from that, I really enjoy riding around on a bicycle. Not for the purpose of trying to get fitter, but just for the enjoyment of it. I will nearly always ride down to my local area to do the grocery shopping or for a meal. I also enjoy swimming.

Fitz: What's on your MP3 player?

Jeff: My iPod has just about my whole music collection. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Booker T, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Ray Charles, Beach Boys, BB King, Jazz/Blues albums featuring the Hammond Organ and lots of stuff from the 60's. I'm not up with most of today's contemporary pop music.

Fitz: Since you're the Wiggle who loves to sleep, I have to ask. How much do you get per night? Are you really a napper?

Jeff: I'm a very light sleeper, particularly on the tour bus. I usually get 6-7 hours per night. At my age, it's not that easy to sleep much more than this, so therefore I am a day napper. This really suits my job!

Fitz: Do you have a fall-back healthy meal? Something you eat when trying to progress physically?

Jeff: I don't have a fall back healthy meal, because I'm generally a healthy eater.

Fitz: What's your favorite sin food?

Jeff: It used to be Krispy Kreme donuts, but now I don't even touch them (they're too evil)! I can't get over the amount of saturated fats and high fructose corn syrup (well that's what I believe is in them). Some of my favorite sin foods would be Pavlova (an Aussie desert), kettle chips and Lindy's cheesecake in NYC. In very small amounts of course!

Fitz: Your shows are so high energy! How do you get up for it, when you're not in the mood?

Jeff: You can usually get the extra push from the audience. Everyone is just so vibed that you can't help but be in the mood.

Fitz: How many push-ups can you do?

Jeff: I haven't really tried....hang on, I'll do it now......I just did 20!

Continue reading Celebrity Fitzness Report: Jeff Fatt of The Wiggles

Tough depression helped with exercise

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A new study shows that the best treatment for depression patients that aren't responding to medication is exercise. It's been previously shown that physically active people are less likely to suffer from symptoms of depression, and also that exercise can be used as an effective part of an overall depression treatment program, but this is the first time exercise has been looked at in regards to helping people whose symptoms are resistant to medications.

This strengthens the evidence that although exercise should always be part of an effective depression treatment regimen, it should be especially focused on in difficult cases.

Bring your fitness routine home with the right fitness equipment

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Now more than ever we're time pressed and looking for easier ways to squeeze in a workout. For some of you (including myself), that means moving from the gym to your living room, bedroom or basement.

While working out at home might be the answer for your busy schedule, first make sure you know what fitness equipment you'll need and more importantly, make sure you get what you really want. Remember: You want to stick with your workouts, so keep these 4 tips in mind before you plunk down the big bucks for your home-gym equipment.

Continue reading Bring your fitness routine home with the right fitness equipment

Sweeping changes needed for U.S. veteran care

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It's a forgone conclusion that treatment for U.S. veterans in the U.S. is not where it needs to be, and many improvements could be made.

A presidential commission finally admitted to just that this week, as it referenced support for the family members of wounded U.S. soldiers and vets as well as the changes needed in the way disability pay is formulated and distributed.

Those that protect this country deserve no less, so it's great to see more and more focus on taking care of those putting their lives on the line once why return back home. Let's hope this is not just lip service and is backed by actions, though.

That water bottle might be dangerous for your health

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I saw something on my local morning show that kind of got me worried this morning -- it was about how drinking from plastic bottles can be dangerous because the type of plastic used in them can emit toxins. Now, I am a water-aholic and I am rarely seen without my Nalgene bottle. It's my way of ensuring that I get my 64-oz of water a day.

The ingredient in plastic that's dangerous is called polycarbonate and most plastics have it -- even tin cans and baby bottles have polycarbonate. Poly carbonates have been linked to infertility problems and miscarriages, as well as other problems. You can tell if your bottle has polycarbonate by checking the bottom -- if it read PC near the recycle symbol, it's in there. So what can you do? Drink from glass or stainless steel bottles. And if this isn't an option because of kids, many stores carry polycarbonate-free plastics.

What do you think -- is this paranoid mumbo-jumbo, or should I be afraid?

Good things about sugar (yes, there are some)

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In the healthy living community, sugar is on an equal plane with ... well, Satan. It's considered pure evil -- completely lacking in nutritional value and made up of nothing but empty calories. It's been associated with a slew of health problems, from obesity to diabetes. But sometimes we forget that our body is fueled by sugar, and if we watch how much we eat, it's not always bad for us. Here are some good things about sugar:
  • A teaspoon of sugar only has 15 calories. That's not bad if you don't overdo it.
  • Sugar is converted to glucose, which fuels your brain
  • Sugar makes otherwise bland things tasty enough to eat. Like? Grapefruit
  • Sugar help heal wounds by drying them
  • Sugar stops mold and yeast growth

So I guess sugar itself isn't evil -- but sugar in the hands of inactive people with not enough willpower to refuse the extra-large slice of chocolate cake is. Use with caution, folks, and you can have your sugar and eat it too.

Couple loses combined 580 pounds

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It's quite a sight to see an obese couple lose a combined 580 pounds, but it is also exciting to hear that when the going gets tough for some, they fight back in order to try and live a healthy life and not die before their time.

Maggie and Andy Sorrels weighed 440 and 505 pounds respectively and were living with emotional and physical pains every day. The couple could have sat alone in depressed states and given up. They didn't.

Both found "The Weigh Down Workshop" that taught both to conquer their collective addiction to food. Food addiction is just as destructive as illicit drug addiction in the U.S. in my opinion, although I'm sure some will disagree. But when a couple like this can conquer it with hard effort, it gives all those who are obese hope. As in, yes -- you can do it.

Fitness myths debunked

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I admit that I've been busted for assuming that just because someone is thin, they're more fit than another, heavier person. Of course, the truth is that a naturally skinny junk-food addict/perennial couch surfer is likely in way worse shape than someone with a bit of extra baggage who exercises regularly and makes a commitment to eat well.

This is just one of the 10 common myths about fitness that are addressed and explained in this piece. Based on the article, a lot of us are pretty misinformed about a bunch of work-out related issues. Other truths revealed include that you can't just use aerobic exercise as a way to lose weight. Building muscle is essential because the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at any given time

The piece also talks about whether women who lift weights will build bulky man-muscles, if daily exercise is the only way to get results and whether supplements will help you shed pounds quicker. To find out the truth about these and a number of other common myths, take a look here.

Nursing home cat senses death

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I've never been a big cat person. They've always creeped me out just a little bit -- like they know something that I don't.

And given this news, it appears that my fears aren't completely unfounded.

Oscar the Cat, who lives at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island, can sense -- within hours -- when someone is about to die. Oscar's sense is so accurate, in fact, that when he curls up for an extended visit with a resident, Steere House staff make begin making preparations to call the family and take care of the body.

Though no one knows exactly why Oscar can tell when someone is about die, most suspect there's some biochemical explanation. Regardless, the fact that he's there is a comfort to patients and their families.

So maybe cats aren't that creepy after all.

The top 10 craziest diet ideas

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Celebrities are under pressure to be super-thin for movie roles, appearances and more. They try some pretty crazy weight-loss gimmicks to lose weight, while all seem either unhealthy, unnatural or downright uncomfortable. AOL Body has put together this list of the wackiest diet ideas:
Come on, fess up -- have you tried any of these? Most of us have

Texas first in U.S. when it comes to teen birth rate

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According to a new study, teenage girls between the ages of 15 and 19 in Texas had the highest birth rate of all U.S. states. The "Kids Count" published a study this week from 2004 with the figures.

While Texas tied with Mississippi and New Mexico in 2003 figures, the state did not see the increase the other two southern states say, and as such was placed in first for 2004.

An alarming sidenote from the study was that hispanic teens were seen to have over 350% the teenage birth rate compared to white teens, while black teens saw an increase of 200% as well. Is Texas' strict abstinence policy to blame for more teenage births? That correlation surely will be debated, if not already.

What did you NOT eat this week?

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When you eat something 'bad', do you feel horrible and beat yourself up over it for hours, sometimes days? You're not alone -- I do too sometimes. We're always punishing ourselves, and self-punishment leads to shame, and shame leads to a lack of self-confidence and perhaps even to a food binge to make yourself feel better. Yikes! You don't want that, do you?

Here's an idea that I heard on a Canadian talk show this morning: Instead of thinking of yourself in terms of what you've done wrong, think of things you did right. What bad foods did you resist lately? Did you turn down a slice of birthday cake even though you wanted it soooooooooo badly? Did you just have one slice of pizza and not 3 like your stomach was telling you to? These are all actions that deserve to be rewarded.

What have you resisted lately?

Is Alli especially attractive to people with eating disorders?

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So what's your opinion on Alli? After all the hype leading up to it people have finally had a chance to buy it and try it for themselves -- nasty side-effects and all. But because it's over-the-counter and anybody can buy it, does that lead to a greater chance that people will abuse it? A psychologist from the St Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute thinks so, and he thinks the greatest danger is for people who suffer from eating disorders. Although Alli has been proven safe for those who are overweight, it may not be for people who do not need to lose weight or are already underweight. And since it's so readily available it may be particularly attractive to people with eating disorders -- even the side-effects (like diarrhea) may not deter them as they may be used to dealing with them already.

Forgetful? Try these tips on for size

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At one time or another, many of us forget important things that cause us major or minor grief. It seems like we believe we'll always remember everything, but that is not the case. Or, at least, our minds can't instantly recall everything we thing we're memorizing.

Want some tips to get through the day without having to remember so many tasks? Keeping a "To Do" list seems like common sense, but there are few people I know using a tool like this outside of their professional lives.

Even a small, portable calendar can do the trick. I use the calendar function in my cellphone to do the trick, and it works great. In fact, my guess is that almost all of us take those phones everywhere we go. This makes them the perfect tool for all those events and reminders, eh?

Skin-care beverages: helpful, or just a scam?

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You probably won't find them at your local drug store, but those of you who shop in high-end beauty boutiques might have noticed drinkable and edible skin-care products. These products -- that retail anywhere from $30 for a 12-pack of drinks or $25 for "skin-enhancing" gummi bears -- are becoming increasingly popular as they blur the line between cosmetics and food.

But do they work?

Dermatologists aren't so sure -- noting that, while it's certainly possible that certain foods can benefit the skin -- companies that claim a product "contains a revolutionary cultivated bio-vitamin complex which helps the skin regenerate its natural support system, remove toxins and improve the clarity of the dermis" are stretching the truth.

However, Borba (one of the primary producers of edible and drinkable "skin-enhancing" products) claim they've conducted studies that prove their drinks and candies get results.

Have you ever tried to drink or eat something you thought would clear up acne or give you younger looking skin? Did you see results?

Obesity over the years (it's not a pretty picture!)

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This isn't so much a news story or new research as it's just a link to something cool. A friend sent me this map from CNN that shows how obesity has spread in this country across the years, and it's a little scary! And considering experts predict that 75% of us will be overweight or obese by 2015 that scariness is just going to get worse unless we all start doing something about it now.

What state do you live in? How has it been doing in comparison with the rest of the country? It looks like they need more colors for the map -- all but 4 states are in the top 2 highest levels as of 2004!

Heart patient care in the U.S. is getting better

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How is heart patient care in the U.S.? Well, according to recent research, it is improving due to a national program designed to do just that.

The condition whereby the heart can't pump enough blood needed for the human body to function affects over five million Americans, with about 3.6 million Americans hospitalized each year for heart failure.

Although this national program was sponsored by pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (immediately causing suspect caution, from me anyway), the "OPTIMIZE-HF" does seem well-intentioned, as it provides hospitals with tools to help improve the reliability of care, including standardized admission orders. Standardization anywhere in the medical field is cause for celebration.

How to give a great back massage

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There are some things in life that are strangely difficult to do considering how commonplace they are in our everyday lives: massages for example. Given how wonderful they are to receive, and the fact that they have great health benefits like stress relief and improved circulation, it's amazing so many of us are so uncomfortable giving them. Think about it: if you and your spouse each learned how to give good massages you could each get one every day for free! That's how it works in theory anyway...

Here's an online step-by-step set of instructions, complete with a video to help make learning the process easier. I think this is an awesome thing to know how to do well, but I'd like to see something on "how to give a great back massage in 5 minutes or less," because my big problem is that my arms and hands just get so tired!


Via Lifehacker

Walkscore.com: How does your neighborhood rate?

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Here at That's Fit we give out a lot of advice on incorporating exercise and physical activity into your everyday activities to save time and make it less of a conscious effort. A big part of that is walking more often when you may have driven before, i.e. parking at the far end of the parking lot and walking to a nearby cafe for lunch instead of driving to the restaurant across town. So how walk-friendly is your neighborhood? Walkscore.com will give your address a score based on the proximity of businesses like restaurants, post offices, parks, schools, theaters, you name it. It even lists everything on a map so you can get a clear picture of what's where.

My neighborhood didn't do so well, scoring only a 34, because I'm right smack in the middle of a large residential area with hardly any businesses. Great for walking the dog, but not so great for walking errands.


Via Lifehacker