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Thrill of Travel Should Start Well Before You Go

by Bob Curley on August 21, 2014

DisneyWorldChrisHarrisonFlickrAnyone who has ever dragged tired children around Disney World in the summer heat can tell you that it’s easy to be unhappy even in the ‘Happiest Place on Earth.” Vacations are supposed to be fun and relaxing, but as Yahoo Travel recently reported, you’ll need to start planning early to ensure happy travels, including:

  • familiarizing yourself with your destination
  • have at least a general itinerary
  • figure out how you’ll get from place to place

Not only does planning reduce stress once you arrive at your destination, it also builds excitement during the months leading up to the trip. To build up anticipation:

  • research your trip with your traveling companions
  • talk to friends about your plans
  • watch movies or read a book about your destination

(Photo © Chris Harrison via Flickr)

Accuracy of Fitness Devices Varies

by Bob Curley on August 29, 2014

Jawbone Up fitness device

Jawbone Up fitness device

How accurately does your fitness device measure your workout? There’s typically a decent margin of error, although some perform better than others.

Details reported Aug. 28 that researchers found a 10-15 percent average variance between clinically measured activity and that recorded by personal fitness devices. Specifically, the most accurate devices were BodyMedia FIT, Fitbit Zip, and Fitbit One; the Jawbone Up, Actigraph, Directlife, Nike Fuel Band, and Basis Band were among the least accurate.

“These fitness trackers may not be accurate in counting calories, but their results are repeatable,” noted researcher Ray Browning, Ph.D., director of the Physical Activity Energetics/Mechanics Lab at Colorado State University. In other words, as long as you use the same device day to day to track your progress, what’s showing up is still real.

(Photo © Kazuhiro Keino via Flickr)

The Six Day Work Week is Already Here

by Bob Curley on August 29, 2014

The average American works 47 hours per week, not the classic “40 hour work week,” meaning that most of us are on the job the equivalent of six days a week, Gallup reports.

clockdavestokesflickrA new poll finds that while 42 percent of American full-time employees still work 40 hours a week:

  • 11 percent work 41-49 hours weekly
  • 21 percent work 50-59 hours; and
  • 18 percent work 60-plus hours

(8 percent report working less than 40 hours weekly)

Not surprisingly, people paid hourly were far more likely (56 percent) to work 40 hours a week than those on salary (37 percent). Among salaried workers, 25 percent reported working 50-59 hours a week, and 25 percent worked 60 hours a week or more.

“But this doesn’t necessarily mean that workers logging long hours are suffering,” Gallup researchers noted. “Highly engaged workers who log well over 40 hours will still have better overall well-being than actively disengaged workers who clock out at 40 hours.”

“In other words, hours worked matters, but it’s not all that matters.”

(Photo © Dave Stokes via Flickr)



Mercury Levels in Fish Vary by Region

by Bob Curley on August 29, 2014


Chilean sea bass dish

The same species of fish can contain widely different levels of mercury depending on where it comes from, Reuters reported Aug. 28.

Researchers found, for example, that Chilean sea bass certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)  had less than half the mercury (0.35 ppm) of that found in samples of uncertified fish (0.89 ppm). Chilean sea bass is known to have high levels of mercury; the average amount is about 0.35 ppm, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Experts say that sea bass from the waters off South America generally have much higher mercury levels than those from the Arctic, for example. But fish from one region was found to be commonly substituted for the other.

Shark, tilefish, swordfish and King Mackerel have a mean mercury level of 0.73 to 1.45 ppm; the FDA limit for mercury in fish for human consumption is 1.0 ppm.

The research was published in the journal PLOS One.

(Photo © e_chaya via Flickr)


Study Finds Trans Fats in Supposedly Fat-Free Foods

by Bob Curley on August 29, 2014

crackerjeffreywNearly one in 10 types of popular packaged foods contains artery-clogging trans fats, and that includes the 84 percent of products that are labeled trans-fat free, according to a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Researchers found that 9 percent of the 4,340 products studied contained partially hydrogenated oils. “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has tentatively determined that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the main dietary source of industrial trans-fat, are not ‘generally recognized as safe’ for consumption,” said Jenifer Clapp of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Cookies were the products most commonly containing trans fats, followed by crackers and frozen entrees and side dishes.

The findings were published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

(Photo © jeffreyw via Flickr)


How to Make Your Summer BBQ a Bit Healthier

by Bob Curley on August 28, 2014

P1000027Planning a big bash for the Labor Day weekend? Fox News has some tips on how to serve up delicious dishes at your summer barbecue without busting your diet, including:

  • grill leaner pork or chicken rather than fat-marbled beef
  • make your own spice mixes and marinades so that you can control the ingredients
  • graze on small portions of food throughout the day to regulate your calorie consumption
  • replace rich sides like potato salad with dishes made with whole grains and vegetables
  • make homemade iced tea — unsweetened or flavored with fruit juice, alcoholic or not — rather than serving sugary sodas and beer


(Photo © Lori L. Stalteri via Flickr)


Memory Problems Can Have Many Causes

Having memory problems? It may not be a case of inattention or a byproduct of aging. Health magazine reported Aug. 28 that memory loss can also be caused by a variety of other conditions, including: a dysfunctional thyroid hot flashes lack of sleep anxiety and depression prescription drugs like anti-anxiety, antidepressant, and heart medications smoking […]

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Eat Tomatoes for Prostate Health

Eating 10 or more servings of tomatoes each week could reduce risk of prostate cancer by 18 percent among men, according to a new study. Fox News reported Aug. 27 that British researchers drew their conclusions from a comparison of men ages 50-65 with prostate cancer and those who were cancer-free. The reasons for the […]

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Fewer Parents See Kids as Overweight

Cultural norms regarding weight have shifted in recent decades, and that may be reflected in a recent survey. Reuters reported Aug. 27 that in 2010 fewer parents correctly identified their children as overweight or obese compared to 1988. In the earlier survey, 78 percent of parents of overweight boys and 61 percent of parents of overweight […]

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Pediatricians Say Start Using Fluoride Toothpaste Early

Parents should start brushing their children’s teeth with toothpaste containing fluoride as soon as they come in, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says. WebMD reported Aug. 25 that the AAP recommends using an amount of toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice until children reach age 3; after that, use a pea-sized […]

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Call for Ban on Indoor E-Cigarette Use

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that use of e-cigarettes should be banned in indoor public spaces just like regular smoking, saying the devices spew toxins into the air. CNN reported Aug. 26 that the leading health group of the United Nations also called for stricter advertising regulations on e-cigarettes and steps to prevent manufacturers from […]

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