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Fitness 101: Ready, Set, Think!: Energy Express

By Marilynn Preston

Welcome to the Energy Express 2007 Pop Quiz. Don't panic. OK, you haven't studied. And your grade will become part of your permanent record. But living a healthy lifestyle means you are a perpetual student, always learning and up for a challenge. So answer these four questions (no peeking, answers below), and learn from your mistakes:

THE QUESTIONS
1. The sun's rays are destructive. You should never go out in the sun without wearing sunscreen. TRUE or FALSE?

By Marilynn Preston

Welcome to the Energy Express 2007 Pop Quiz. Don't panic. OK, you haven't studied. And your grade will become part of your permanent record. But living a healthy lifestyle means you are a perpetual student, always learning and up for a challenge. So answer these four questions (no peeking, answers below), and learn from your mistakes:

THE QUESTIONS
1. The sun's rays are destructive. You should never go out in the sun without wearing sunscreen. TRUE or FALSE?

2. Portion control is vital to successful weight loss. The ideal 3 oz. portion of meat is as big as:
a. your thumb
b. your ear
c. your palm

3. Cyclists who ride on city streets are more likely to be hit by a car if they are wearing a bicycle helmet. TRUE or FALSE?

4. Recently, researchers studying longevity made a startling discovery. What is now considered the most important factor in living longer?
a. Your genes
b. A positive mental attitude
c. Staying in school
d. Your income level

THE ANSWERS
1. FALSE. Sunscreen makers are frying our brains. We're being taught to fear the sun, when, in fact, our bodies need some amount of direct sunlight to be healthy and strong. Too much exposure may cause wrinkles and skin damage, but it turns out that too little exposure is causing an even bigger problem: vitamin D deficiency.

It's on the rise to an alarming degree -- thanks in part, to the wide use of sunscreen -- and is causing a significant increase in diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and certain kinds of cancers. Sunscreen interferes with your body's natural ability to make the vitamin D it needs. Funny they don't mention that in the ads. And the vitamin D you get in pills is no substitute for direct sunlight.

Moderation is the key, as usual. If your skin is fair, spend five to 10 minutes in the sun -- no sunscreen, exposing face, arms and hands -- two or three times a week. If your skin is dark, make that 15 to 30 minutes. More is not better. Then if you want to lather on the sunscreen, find a kind that is chemical-free.

2. C. It's so easy to overeat. What you think is a serving can feed a family of four. To lose weight and eat well, learn this handy system: A proper (3 oz) portion of meat is as big as your palm; a cup of rice, pasta, fruit or veggies is equal to your fist; a 1-ounce serving of nuts or raisins is a handful; a 1-ounce serving of peanut butter or hard cheese is as big as your thumb; and one teaspoon of cooking oil, butter or sugar is as big as your thumb nail. Now use your other hand to pat yourself on the back.

3. TRUE. Don't take this as an excuse to stop wearing a bike helmet. It's still the smart thing to do. But a recent study by Ian Walker, a bicycle-riding psychologist, showed that riding in city traffic with a helmet put him at greater risk than not wearing one. When his head was bare, cars and trucks gave him more room. When he rode with a helmet, they drove much closer. Twice, wearing a helmet, Walker was hit by a vehicle. Was he taking more risks? No. Walker reasons that helmets change drivers' behavior. When they see a helmet, they are less cautious. The moral of the study? A helmet can't protect you against stupid drivers. Always ride with awareness.

4. C. Surprised? So were longevity experts around the world. Researchers have known for years that certain factors contribute to a long life. Not smoking is one. Staying connected to a loving network of family and friends is another. Being financially secure, lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol, and thinking optimistically all matter when it comes to longevity. But it turns out that the one factor that matters most is how long you stay in school. Extra years in school mean extra years of life and a much healthier old age. Want another shockeroo? When it comes to living longer, your genes count for very little.

ENERGY EXPRESS-O! WHY WE LOVE THE POP QUIZ
"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." --Benjamin Franklin

Marilynn Preston -- fitness expert, personal trainer and speaker on healthy lifestyle issues -- is the creator of Energy Express, the longest-running syndicated fitness column in the country. She welcomes reader questions, which can be sent to MyEnergyExpress@aol.com.
COPYRIGHT 2007 ENERGY EXPRESS, LTD.



Categories: Health & Wellness, Women's Health,


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