Friday: Health Points

Uncontrolled diabetes wreaks havoc on the body, often leading to kidney failure, blindness and death. A new study shows that the nation's unchecked diabetes epidemic exacts a heavy financial toll as well: $174 billion a year.

That's about as much as the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and the global war on terrorism combined. It's more than the $150 billion in damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.

The incidence of diabetes has ballooned — there are 1 million new cases a year — as more Americans become overweight or obese, according to the study, released Wednesday by the American Diabetes Association. The cost of diabetes — both in direct medical care and lost productivity — has swelled 32% since 2002, the report shows.

Diabetes killed more than 284,000 Americans last year, according to the diabetes association.
  • Much to my personal delight, Yoga is growing in popularity. Katie Zezima of The New York Times investigates a boot camp for Yoga teachers. Check it out:
In May 2006, Sue Jones started YogaHope, an organization that teaches yoga at eight Boston-area women’s homeless shelters, substance-abuse treatment programs and domestic-violence safe houses, as well as two programs in Seattle. The focus is on teaching restorative yoga, and though many teachers have completed at least 200 hours of training, it is not a requirement.


Driven by a sometimes missionary zeal and a sense that yoga has become an exclusive pursuit, a small but growing number of yoga practitioners are forming organizations that teach yoga in prisons and juvenile detention centers in Oakland, Calif.; Los Angeles, Seattle and Indianapolis. They are working with the addicted and the homeless in Portland, Ore., and with public-school students in New York City.

Though concern about the cost of yoga is an issue (studio classes can cost $20 for a drop-in session, though some offer free or low-cost classes taught by less experienced teachers), most of the practitioners are motived by a desire to introduce yoga to those who might need it most, but wouldn’t think to do it on their own.
Stop-and-go pushup
Assume a pushup position. Brace your core and lower your chest to the floor. When you’re halfway down, pause 2 seconds before continuing. Then, when your chest is 2 inches from the floor, pause again for 2 seconds before pushing halfway back up. Hold for 2 more seconds, then straighten your arms. Do eight reps.


Stop-and-go split squat
Stand with one foot 3 feet forward and hold a barbell across your shoulders. Rise on the ball of your back foot, then bend at the knees. When halfway down, pause for 2 seconds. Pause again when your back knee is just off the floor. Push halfway up, pause again, and return to the starting position. Do six reps with each leg.
The campaign, to be launched in the summer, will form part of a wider strategy including aspects like food labelling, urban design and the promotion of exercise.


Department of Health officials said it will use simple messages -- such as the "five pieces of fruit and veg a day" slogan -- and be based on research into what actually works to make people change from unhealthy lifestyles.

"Tackling obesity is the most significant public and personal health challenge facing our society," said Health Secretary Alan Johnson as he launched the 372 million pound cross-government strategy.
"A didgeri-what?" you ask. While aborigines in Australia have been playing this long wooden trumpet for centuries, it's just recently been redefined as a modern-day medical device. Researchers reporting in the British Medical Journal evaluated 25 people with sleep apnea--a breath-stealing condition caused by flabby throat muscles--and found that those who took 4 months of didgeridoo (DIH-jeh-ree-doo) lessons had about 31/2 times less daytime sleepiness than the folks who didn't blow their own horns. The newly minted musicians also snored significantly less. Credit this uncommon cure to vibrations that exercise tissue in the mouth and throat, says researcher Milo Puhan, Ph.D. "When these muscles are strengthened, the tongue has less tendency to obstruct the airway."


If huffing on a wooden tube to treat your sleep apnea sounds a tad too weird, then you probably aren't familiar with the alternatives. The most commonly prescribed option is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which involves spending every night hooked up to a machine that pumps air down your throat to keep it from collapsing. The other approach is surgery, and that's only 30 to 60 percent effective. Now are you ready to toot the didgeridoo? You can pick up a beginner-friendly model for about $80 at L.A. Outback (laoutback.com). And don't worry; it's intuitive to learn, says co-owner Barry Martin. You purse your lips and blow into it with the beat.
  • Diet Blog hardly has a glowing endorsement for “Slim Coffee.” Jim Foster thinks it’s nothing but a big scam:
It must be so tempting for unscrupulous entrepreneurs:


Find an obscure weight loss product from somewhere overseas. Re-brand it. Hype it up. Create an infomercial. Make millions.

This time it's Slim Coffee. The claims are impressive: "Reduce appetite. Clinically tested. Lose 5 pounds per week". All from drinking coffee with a few supplements added (or so they say).

The makers of Slim Coffee have been pursued by the FTC - resulting in a $923,000 settlement.
Previous studies had suggested that people living in polluted areas are more at risk of heart disease. For example, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine last year showed that women in 36 American cities were more likely to develop heart disease if the air they breathed was rich in particles measuring 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter - known as PM2.5s - which are present in car exhaust fumes.


It now seems that a greater hazard may be posed by so-called "ultrafine" particles, about a dozen times smaller at 0.18 micrometres wide. The latest study in mice has shown that they clog up arteries with fatty atherosclerotic deposits, and chemically alter "good" cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, reducing its beneficial effects.
How does yoga help a professional athlete's game?
Yoga improves balance in the body and works the smaller muscles that normally wouldn't get worked. It also improves range of motion, whether that means swinging a golf club, throwing a baseball or shooting a basketball. It builds stamina through breath control and teaches techniques for relaxing in tense moments. Most important, yoga gives you confidence that your body will do what you want it to do when you need it to.
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Comments (2) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Scott - January 26, 2008 1:59 AM

Thanks for the link and checking out health and men!

Gerry Pugliese - January 26, 2008 10:32 AM

Hey Scott-

You're welcome. I'll be watching...

LOL.

Peace.
-Gerry

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