A mask won’t dim your workout superpowers
Spider-Man has superhuman strength, speed, agility, stamina, coordination and endurance — all while wearing a mask that completely covers his nose and mouth. Now, that may seem to confirm his unique superpower abilities, but researchers from the University of Saskatchewan would disagree.
They were interested in seeing if wearing a COVID-protective, three-layer face mask while doing vigorous exercise compromised oxygen uptake or increased the rebreathing of carbon dioxide, depriving blood and muscles of needed oxygen and making it difficult to perform well. Their findings, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: nope.
Measurements of study participants who were wearing a surgical mask, a cloth mask or no mask revealed no differences for arterial oxygen saturation, tissue oxygenation, rating of perceived exertion or heart rate at any time during the exercise tests.
The researchers stress that these findings are especially important for folks who worry about doing themselves harm while working out with a mask, those who are moving their workouts inside to gyms during cold weather, and anyone playing sports (they mention hockey, which they say seems particularly risky for transmission of the virus without masks). But if you’re still uncomfortable exercising while wearing a mask, our suggestion: Try out new mask styles, fabrics and degree of adjustability.
Getting through the winter months without contracting COVID and getting regular exercise is essential for a happy new year and a healthy you. And you have a great chance of doing both if you wear a mask!
The power of moms to help their children stay heart-healthy
Meg Tilly (“The Big Chill”) opted out of the limelight while raising her children. As she told People magazine, she wanted to “make sure they had a hot breakfast every morning.” That protected her kids from the often-harmful glare of celebrity and long-distance parenting.
But moms like YOU can make an even greater difference in your children’s future. A study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology shows that grown children of moms who followed a truly heart-healthy lifestyle are free of cardiovascular disease for nine to 10 years longer than offspring whose moms had moderately or very unhealthy habits.
A child’s premature heart risk may start in utero from genetic factors or exposure to mom’s obesity, smoking, poor nutrition, etc. But even if you made mistakes while pregnant or have a familial risk for heart woes, healthy choices you make for yourself while your children are young translate into their improved heart health when they’re grown up.
Rate your lifestyle. How many of these goals have you achieved: not smoking; healthy diet; physically active; a normal body mass index; and healthy blood pressure, LDL cholesterol and blood glucose levels? None to two — your grown offspring are most at risk for early heart disease. Three to four puts your adult children at intermediate risk. Hit four or five? You’re what the researchers call ideal — and so are the chances for your children’s long-term heart health! So if you aren’t motivated to upgrade your lifestyle for your own well-being, do it for your growing children!
Foods that can help soothe anxiety (without causing weight gain)
If you’re like most people, your anxiety level has gone up lately — perhaps way up. And chances are, you’ve seen what social media is advocating as a solution: #stressbaking — with thousands of pictures and recipes for cakes, cookies, pies and other sugar-filled treats.
Although lab studies indicate that sugar does temporarily cool your body’s stress response by suppressing your ability to crank out adrenalin in the long run, sweet treats interfere with self-regulation of emotions, and increase chronic inflammation and boost your risk for many physical and mental health conditions (which can make you very nervous). Plus, a typical Western diet, with lots of added sugars, leads to a 25 percent to 35 percent greater risk of depression (anxiety’s kissin’ cousin) than a Mediterranean or Japanese diet does.
So if you want to eat your way to true calmness, we’ve got some foods and spices that’ll do the trick.
■ Probiotic foods, such as sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt and kimchi, may quiet social anxiety, according to a study in the journal Psychiatric Research.
■ Omega-3-rich foods like salmon and sardines also may help. A 12-week study that administered 2.5g a day of the omega-3s DHA and EPA to med students found it reduced their anxiety by 20 percent.
■ Foods loaded with specific polyphenols are thought to help relieve anxiety by helping protect brain neurons. Beans, nuts (especially walnuts), vegetables and berries deliver substantial doses.
■ And then there’s dark chocolate. A study in the International Journal of Health Sciences found it lowers perceived stress significantly. Ommm my, that’s tasty.
There is no safe level for smoking cigarettes
The list of rockers who have lost their hearing includes The Who’s Pete Townshend, AC/DC’s Brian Johnson and Ozzy Osbourne. Not surprising. When the music cranks up to 120 decibels, damage to the inner ear is instantaneous, and cumulative exposure to lower but still loud levels eventually does serious harm!
The same is true for smoking cigarettes. A couple of smokes a day or a week may seem pretty harmless, but that’s not true. Whether you puff 20 a day or five a month, you’re increasing your risk for disability and cutting your life short.
A study in JAMA Open Network looked at data on more than half a million Americans to see the outcomes for daily and non-daily smokers compared with never-smokers. It showed that folks who smoked one to six cigs a day had an 82 percent higher risk of dying over about 20 years than never-smokers. And even folks who smoked fewer than five cigs a month had an 18 percent jump in all-cause death.
Another study in The BMJ found going from 20 to around one cigarette a day only cut your very elevated risk of cardiovascular disease in half — not a big reward for a big reduction. Other data reviewed in the RealAge program (see Sharecare.com) indicates that a pack a day makes you function as if you were 10 years older. So if you’ve cut down, make it a short stop on your way to quitting completely. For help stopping, visit www.cdc.gov and search for “How to Quit Smoking.”
Edible cannabis alert
Martha Stewart is now selling gourmet, hemp-derived CBD edibles. “I can pop 20 of them and just feel OK,” she told a journalist. “But some of my friends do two and feel high. I don’t know why.”
Reactions to edibles made with CBD or THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) can be unpredictable — and have negative health effects. A study, published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, looked at cases of cannabis toxicity from baked goods, candy, gum and beverages at seven Michigan hospitals from November 2018, when marijuana became legal there, to July 2020. In those years, the number of patients, ages 1 to 82, seen in ERs for adverse reactions to cannabis-laced edibles rose from zero to over 10 a month. And we suspect a lot more folks have adverse reactions but don’t seek medical help.
What causes problems? The active drug in edibles takes up to an hour to kick in. Folks get impatient, eat more and end up with a fast heart rate, seizures, unresponsiveness, high blood pressure and extreme emotional distress. And kids mistakenly “snack” on edibles left lying around. Several in the Michigan study had to be intubated because of slowed heart rates and breathing problems.
These acute effects are on top of the long-term inhibition of brain development in males younger than 21 and females younger than 18 that’s been proven. So if you’re trying edibles, get clear instructions on dosing from a licensed dispensary, and follow them — and keep edibles locked up, away from children.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.