Cutting fat makes you... fat!?

Glass of fresh milk isolated on a white backgroundIn a recent paper in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Healthcare, "middle-aged men who consumed high-fat milk, butter and cream were significantly less likely to become obese over a period of 12 years compared to men who never or rarely ate high-fat dairy." It seems that the skim-milk-is-better mantra no longer is true, although no one's certain why. Perhaps it's because full-fat milk makes us fuller quicker. Perhaps it's because there are substances in full-fat milk that help our metabolism.

It's rare that a health study gives a result that you actually want to hear. Of course, if you need to cut down on cholesterol, you're not allowed to take advantage of this good news. Barring that, however, it's looking like you can (and should) indulge a little more when it comes to dairy.

Bash your bones

exerciseCycling and swimming are not without their benefits, but if you want to increase your bone density, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Vonda Wright says you need to "bash your bones." In other words, strengthening your muscles simply isn't enough. You need to expose your body to "dynamic impact," i.e. the kind of exertion from walking uphill, jumping rope, climbing stairs, or weight training. With regard to weight training in particular, the exercises that give the most benefit to one's bones are those that mimic everyday movements. That means using one's body weight with free weights is far preferable to machines like the leg press.

Hmm... I wonder what other dynamic impact exercises exist that are like climbing stairs?

Thanks to Pat Stanley for the link.

Are Citibikes a good idea or a pain in the ass?

You can hate the Citibike program because the docking stations are eyesores, but you also have to admit that there's an upside as well. Anything that makes the subways and roads less congested while giving New Yorkers a chance to be more active can't be all that bad. Will using a shared bike save you money and make your life easier? Filmmaker Casey Neistat attempts to answer the question in this unscientific, slightly tongue-in-cheek video. His overall impression: although not perfect, it's the best way to get around the city.

Flu season... it's gettin' ugly

shotIf you've been noticing fewer people at work or at the gym, it's not your imagination. We're getting nailed with a particularly bad flu season this winter. (If you want to see how scary it is, go here and see how the map changes in the past two months.) It's gotten so bad that Boston has declared a public health emergency. There are several theories as to why the spread of the virus is so severe. Many are not getting vaccinated, either due to unfounded fears that it's toxic or simply due to complacency from a mild flu season last year. Furthermore, each season's vaccine only immunizes against a handful of strains, and it appears the strains that were chosen are not matching up well with the strains currently infecting people in huge numbers.

So you can eat healthy, get exercise, and get plenty of rest, but if a booger-covered child sneezes on your subway car, you're getting sick. The single best thing you can do to protect yourself is to get vaccinated, even if the vaccine isn't perfect. Remember, it isn't a decision that only affects you. It's a decision that affects your community, especially in a city as tightly packed as New York.

Yet Another Drink Banned

plastic-bottled-waterNew York City isn't the only place banning certain kinds of drinks. Concord, Massachusetts has just enacted a similar ban, but on an entirely different beverage. Water! That's right. You can't buy water in Concord any more. To be more specific, you can't buy single-serving bottled water in Concord. The reasons cited for the ban is the excessive use of fossil fuel to create these plastic bottles, many of which end up in landfills -- a completely unnecessary price to pay when tap water is readily available and perfectly healthy.

A heartfelt, nonsarcastic BRAVO to the Town of Concord for having the guts to pass such a law! New York, are you next?

Well done, NYSC.

From the NYSC website: "Our doors are open to help anyone impacted by Hurricane Sandy. All of our clubs are opening their doors to Hurricane Sandy victims allowing full use of our facilities. If you need to take a hot shower, charge your cell phone, or recharge your body with a stress-reducing workout, our club is your club. All we ask is that nonmembers bring a towel."

Not sure if other clubs in the city are offering this service, but either way, kudos to NYSC for opening their doors to those in need. Spread the word to your non-member friends without power.



It's looking like the city is going to get hit with some nasty weather in the coming days, and the clubs are anticipating possible closures. At this point, nothing is certain, but as soon as I find out for sure (presumably Monday morning), I'll post what I know.

UPDATE (Sunday evening): With the closure of the subways and the evacuation of low-lying areas, it's almost certain that classes on Monday evening are canceled. The way things are looking, classes might even be canceled on Tuesday.

UPDATE (Monday morning): Just got the official word from the club. All classes are canceled for Monday, 10/29.

UPDATE (Tuesday morning): From TSI: "ALL NYSC locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Long Island, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx are closed until further notice. We will know more about a plan for tomorrow after 4pm this afternoon. We will continue to update you with any changes as decisions are made. There is no need to start seeking subs for any classes at this point in time."

UPDATE (Tuesday evening): 49th & Broadway will be open tomorrow morning, so that means class on Thursday is definitely ON. Not sure who will be there or how I'll get there, but I'll be there. 36th & Madison will still be closed tomorrow, but if it opens before Saturday, I'll be teaching my Saturday morning classes as well.

When bottled isn't good enough....

If you find yourself thirsty in the East Village and you have $2.50 burning a hole in your pocket , stop in to Molecule for a to-go cup of... water. New York city water, which is some of the best you can get when it comes to tap water, is simply not good enough for the folks at Molecule. They run it through a huge, expensive filtration system and serve the final product to its customers.

"It's about treating water a little more consciously, mindfully and respectfully," says a co-owner of the "water cafe." If only they treated their customers the same way.

Nanny Bloomberg

Bloomberg is at it again. He is hellbent on making New Yorkers healthier, first by going after smoking and then after trans fats. (He even tried to go after salt in restaurants. Much to the relief of city chefs, he was unsuccessful.) Now large sugary drinks are in the crosshairs. In particular, he wants to make it illegal for food establishments to serve drinks larger than 16 ounces.

Needless to say, the soft drink industry is none too pleased. To quote an ad they placed in the New York Times, "Nanny Bloomberg has taken his strange obsession with what you eat one step further.... What’s next? Limits on the width of a pizza slice, size of a hamburger or amount of cream cheese on your bagel?"

In Bloomberg's defense, you can still order 32 ounces of soda at a restaurant. You just have to order two 16 ounce drinks. (The hope is that by doing so, people will better realize just how much they are consuming.)

The evils of... sitting

You workout on a regular basis, you watch what you eat, you don't smoke, you don't drink excessively.... You know what, you are so good to your body that you should kick back and relax a little bit. Why not have a seat? A-HA! You fell for it. (I knew you treated your body like garbage.) Sitting is horrible for you! Get your ass off that couch. You're killing yourself... literally!

A recent Australian study found that "those who reported sitting for at least 11 hours a day had a 40% higher risk of dying within the next three years than people who sat for less than four hours a day."

And no, exercise does not absolve you. Regardless of how active you are during your non-sitting hours, sitting too much is still horrible for your health.

The upside of all this is that the next time someone steals a seat from you on the subway, you'll know they're going to an early grave.