Dr. Prescott's journal
Last week, I offered my prognostications for health and medicine in 2014. But you're the guy who considers heading somewhere to run 26.2 miles a dream vacation. What do you foresee as fitness trends for the new year?
I've never worked out in a “box,” as CrossFit gyms are known to their adherents. But these days, I think I'm the only one who's not taking part in this or other forms of high-intensity interval training (or HIIT) that combine disciplines like weight lifting, gymnastics and endurance training.
9.Live free or die.
Gluten-free. GMO-free. Cruelty-free. Seems as if every food with an eye toward healthy eaters now advertises itself as being rid of some culinary bogeyman that needs to be avoided at all costs. Yet, how do we explain the parallel rise of the maple bacon doughnut (aka the “flying pig”)?
8.Time to dump those vitamins and supplements?
One in two adults takes a daily vitamin pill, and Americans spend tens of billions of dollars each year on supplements. But a December editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine has urged people to “stop wasting money” on vitamin and mineral pills. The rationale? “Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided.”
7.Goodbye, minimalist shoes.
Sales of Vibram Five Fingers and other minimalist running shoes have plummeted, while traditional fat-soled models have regained market share and then some. A new study now shows fewer injuries in runners using conventional kicks, which boast a healthy amount of cushioning in the midsoles. So it looks like maximal may be the new minimal.
6.Goodbye, trans fats.
In November, the Food and Drug Administration took the first step toward banning trans fats. Created by bubbling hydrogen gas through oils to turn them solid and make them less likely to spoil, these “partially hydrogenated” fats have been linked to heart disease. If the FDA continues down this path, your doughnut (and french fries, cookies and cakes) will get a little bit healthier. Emphasis on “little bit.”
5.Hot yoga gets hotter.
In 2013, gyms and studios turned up the heat in hopes that folks would embrace schvitzing and stretching in triple-digit temps. They did. Expect more of the same in 2014.
4.Well, well, well.
Nearly 90 percent of employers (including my very own Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation) now offer wellness incentives or financial rewards to workers who take steps toward getting healthier. That's up from 57 percent five years ago. With healthy staffs meaning fewer sick days, more productive employees and lower insurance premiums — in other words, a better bottom line — wellness programs will only continue to grow.
Are electronic cigarettes a lifesaving innovation that helps wean smokers from a deadly product that kills 400,000 Americans each year? Or do they endanger both users and bystanders with their vapors while also serving as a gateway to conventional smoking for children and teens? Stay tuned as this developing health debate plays out in bars, restaurants, workplaces and legislatures around the country.
2.Beware the chair.
A raft of new studies indicates the only thing more detrimental to your health than failing to exercise and eat right may be regularly sitting on your rear for long periods of time. Of course, that's not you or me. We don't spend our days plopped down in front of screens, right?
Trying to avoid developing a terminal case of sit-itis? (See 2 above.) Then join the legions of wearable technologists who are using bracelets like the FitBit, Nike's FuelBand and Jawbone's Up to count steps and otherwise monitor — and, hopefully, motivate — beneficial daily physical activities.
Prescott, a physician and medical researcher, is Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation president. Cohen is a marathoner and OMRF's senior vice president and general counsel.