healthy news?

According to last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine (April 17, 2011):

  • cell phones have not been proven to cause cancer
  • cognitive performance of most individuals declines significantly after only a few nights of less-than-8-hours of sleep
  • sitting more 4 hours a day is bad for you
  • sugar may be toxic, as the effects of processing it on your liver and pancreas cause cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, and may lead to several common cancers,
  • and working out in a few short bursts of intensity followed by several minutes of rest is as beneficial of a long, endurance-based workout.

I have mixed reactions to the above news.

  • A link between cell phone usage and brain cancer may not have been yet definitively proven, but I can’t imagine holding something that emits radio waves right next to my head can be a good thing. I’m still going to use an earpiece.
  • I know this, and know that I am one of “most individuals,” but I hardly ever get 8 hours of sleep. I’ll admit that on the rare occasion that I do, I feel like a completely different person. The article offers little comfort, as it says that trying to split the difference between 8 hours (better cognition, focus, fewer mistakes) and 6 hours (decline in performance, inability to sustain attention) by getting 7 usually leads to results more similar to the 6 hours than the 8. Alas.
  • I sit for hours, both at my computer and at the piano. The good news is I have some form of physical ADD which drives me to get up and wander around my house every 15 or 20 minutes, even when I’m in the middle of something particularly interesting or challenging, and this tendency to move around, even for a little bit, triggers electrical signals from my muscles and a somewhat prolonged increase in metabolism. Am realizing as I write this that this tendency may be a result of the lack of focus which results from not getting enough sleep, so maybe I should just “decide” that these 2 things balance each other out and accept the fact that I while I may look and feel somewhat bleary for the rest of my life, at least I’m doing my muscles and my metabolism some good. Who knows, maybe the wandering around is actually aiding the cognitive process — haven’t there been studies done about the benefits of learning simultaneously with physical exertion?
  • Yeah, I know. I can actually keep my weight where it should be much easier by cutting out simple carbs than by any kind of sustained diet-end-exercise program. I also have a good friend who had astronomical triglyceride numbers until he stopped drinking 4 liters of Pepsi a day. I will be interested in following this subject, as my husband’s family has a history of cardiovascular disease, and everything we can know about what might cause it can only help. The book Good Calories, Bad Calories, by Gary Taubes, actually addresses many of the fallacies of the cardiovascular medical establishment, including evidence that low-fat diets may lower the symptoms of heart disease, they don’t actually seem to affect the incidences of heart attacks. He draws many of the same conclusions regarding the negative impact of white flours, easily digested starches, and sugar.
  • This is definitely good news. The recommendations are to go (bike, run) with as much intensity as you can for 30 seconds, rest (I would imagine walking slowly would count) for 4 minutes, and then repeat a few times. This gets an intense interval workout into about 15 minutes. THAT I can do (see bullet 2).

So, in a nut shell:

Talk on your cell phone as much as you like, sleep more, sit less/wander more, eat as little sugar as you can possibly manage, and count running for the tea kettle as one interval in a healthy and effective workout regimen.

Sound like a plan?

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