More pedestrians landing in ER after walking while texting

02/15/2014 2:45 PM

08/08/2014 10:22 AM

Two of our favorite cartoons: One depicts a man walking across the street, texting. As he passes a “Men at Work” sign, he steps right into an open manhole. The caption below reads, “Natural selection at work.”

The other shows an illustration of an anthropological chart. They usually depict man’s evolution into an upright, walking being. But the caption on this one, instead of saying “The Ascent of Man,” reads “The Descent of Man,” and the last image is of a hunched-over human form, texting.

According to some reports, in the past seven years the number of pedestrians who have gotten hit and landed in the emergency room while crossing the street because of “distracted walking” has quadrupled. Some estimates put the actual number at more than twice that, because many incidents go unreported. We do know that there’s been a spike in the number of pedestrian fatalities.

Now, we could suggest that you pay more attention while you cross the street; you have to take responsibility for keeping your chin up and being alert. We’ll also point out that the neck-bent, shoulders-slumped posture that goes along with texting and walking is a trigger for headaches, shallow breathing, and shoulder and neck pain. What’s more, your entire balance system is compromised, and you’re likely to injure yourself in a stumble. So the next time you start to walk and text, stop. Just pull over, look up and find a place where it’s safe for everyone to communicate.

Healthy couples

They say that opposites attract, but if you scan a newspaper’s photos of couples celebrating silver and golden anniversaries, you’d swear the secret to a long and happy marriage is to wed someone who looks just like you. That’s because shared habits and experiences shape facial expressions, wrinkles and folds, creating similarities between a husband and wife.

But superficial worry lines aren’t all that can develop as years go by. Research shows that some couples become similarly unhealthy: If one person in a couple is obese, there’s a 37 percent chance the other will become obese too. And if one person has Type 2 diabetes, the other has a 26 percent increased risk of developing it.

But what we noticed about these studies was that many more of you do not become obese or develop diabetes when your partner does. And we’re interested in supporting you to become “The Influencer” in your house by making better health fun.

1. Make a walking date: Take a daily stroll for 10 days running (it’ll set the habit). Then get his and hers pedometers; set goals for the next four months, heading for 10,000 steps a day.

2. Together, start your own cooking show – “Chopped” meets “Your Kitchen Makeover.” What’s chopped? Anything with added sugar or syrup and trans fats, any grain that’s not 100 percent whole, and red meat. Your kitchen makeover? A week’s menu featuring ingredients and dishes you’ve never tried before.

3. Remember – share hugs and laughter.

Not a dry eye in the house

When Walt Disney decided to follow the original story line in “Bambi” and keep the scene in which the fawn’s mother is killed by a hunter, he took a lot of heat for it, reportedly even from his daughter. But the result was a movie classic, and whenever it’s shown, there’s not a dry eye in the house.

But watching “Bambi” won’t help the 40 million North Americans who struggle with burning, itchy, sensitive eyes. This irritation is caused by a lack of or poor-quality tears. Tears are made up of water, oil and mucus. Water creates the tears. Oil prevents evaporation. The mucous layer spreads tears across the eye. If there’s not enough oil or mucus, you get what’s called dry eye. Not enough water? Then you have keratoconjunctivitis sicca – or dry eye syndrome.

Dry eye can be triggered by certain medications, medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, eyelid inflammation, blockage of the oil-producing glands, pollution or even LASIK surgery.

Preservative-free artificial tears can ease the discomfort. But chronic dry eye can lead to corneal damage. Cyclosporine, an anti-inflammatory, is the only available prescription medicine. It increases tear production but takes up to six months, used twice daily, to get results. Other ways to ease discomfort include keeping indoor humidity above 30 percent, wearing sunglasses and making sure your diet includes plenty of omega-3 fats from salmon, walnuts and avocados. And consider taking 900 IU of DHA omega-3 supplements daily; they can ease inflammation in your tear glands to help relieve dryness.

Body-bashing routines

In the latest craze for super-extreme workouts, the folks in the testimonials say, “The first time I tried it, I thought I would die!” as if that were a virtue.

Well, they’re closer to the truth than they know. Seems these body-bashing routines destroy muscles and threaten kidney health. They can trigger a condition called rhabdomyolysis – the breakdown of muscle cells that causes the release of a protein, myoglobin, into your bloodstream. Your kidneys aren’t equipped to process it, and they shut down. Muscles are left depleted and dying. You can cause long-term damage to joints and tendons too.

If you want to stay fit for the long run, exercise regularly, but not extremely: 30-60 minutes of aerobics daily, plus two to three 30-minute strength-building sessions a week.

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