Diigo Links

The Healthy Flap: February 19, 2013

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Cigarette Warning Graphic

These are my healthy links for February 19th:

  • California’s Tobacco Control Program generates huge health care savings, study shows -Over a span of nearly 20 years, California’s tobacco control program cost $2.4 billion and reduced health care costs by $134 billion, according to a new study by UC San Francisco (UCSF).Additionally, the study — covering the beginning of the program in 1989 to 2008 — found that the state program helped lead to some 6.8 billion fewer packs of cigarettes being sold that would have been worth $28.5 billion in sales to cigarette companies.
  • When to Retire a Running Shoe -Ryan Hall, one of the world’s best distance runners, used to pride himself on wearing his running shoes into nubs. No more. Now he assiduously replaces his shoes after running about 200 miles in them. He goes through two pairs a month.“I know that my shoes could probably handle a couple of hundred more miles before they are worn out, but my health is so important to me that I like to always make sure my equipment is fresh,” he said.Of course Mr. Hall, sponsored by Asics, does not have to pay for his shoes. Most of the rest of us do, and at around $100 a pair they aren’t cheap. Yet we are warned constantly to replace them often, because running in threadbare shoes may lead to injuries that can take months to heal.

    So here’s a simple question: How do you know when your shoes are ready for those discard bins in gyms? And if you do get injured, is it fair to blame your shoes?

  • States worry about rate shock during shift to new health law -Less than a year before Americans will be required to have insurance under President Obama’s healthcare law, many of its backers are growing increasingly anxious that premiums could jump, driven up by the legislation itself.Higher premiums could undermine a core promise of the Affordable Care Act: to make basic health protections available to all Americans for the first time. Major rate increases also threaten to cause a backlash just as the law is supposed to deliver many key benefits Obama promised when he signed it in 2010.”The single biggest issue we face now is affordability,” said Jill Zorn, senior program officer at the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, a consumer advocacy group that championed the new law.
  • It’s official: The feds will run most Obamacare exchanges -Friday was a very important day for health policy days. It was the last day for states to tell the federal government whether they wanted any part in running the Affordable Care Act  health exchanges come 2014.
    The federal government did not get many takers. Some of the most closely watched states, including Florida and New Jersey, decided to leave the entire task to the federal government. All told, the federal government will run 26 of the state health exchanges. It  also will partner with seven states, where state and federal officials take joint responsibility for the marketplace. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia will take on the task themselves. Here’s what that looks like in map form, via the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

Is Running Better than Lifting Weights to Lose Weight?

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Runners at 2012 Las Vegas Marathon

Runners on “The Strip” during the 2012 Las Vegas Marathon

The answer is YES, according to a new study.

People who want to lose weight are better off running than lifting weights — or even than doing both, researchers at Duke University say.

The researchers compared people who did aerobic exercise — running, swimming, walking, for instance — with those who did resistance training such as weightlifting and with people who did both kinds of exercise. Those who got up and moved burned the most fat, they said in the Dec. 15 Journal of Applied Physiology.

“Given that approximately two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight due to excess body fat, we want to offer clear, evidence-based exercise recommendations that will truly help people lose weight and body fat,” Leslie H. Willis, an exercise physiologist at Duke Medicine and the study’s lead author, said in a statement.

I can attest to the findings, since I have lost considerable amounts of body weight while walking and running.

I still have more to lose, but my health and energy have improved.

So, if in doubt, walk and then run!


Bananas As Good As Sports Drinks During Exercise?

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Yes, according to a new study.

Bananas have long been a favorite source of energy for endurance and recreational athletes. Bananas are a rich source of potassium and other nutrients, and are easy for cyclists, runners or hikers to carry.

Research conducted at Appalachian State University’s Human Performance Lab in the Kannapolis-based North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) has revealed additional benefits.

“We wanted to see which was more beneficial when consumed during intense cycling — bananas or a carbohydrate sports drink,” said Dr. David C. Nieman, director of the human performance lab and a member of the College of Health Sciences faculty at Appalachian.

“We found that not only was performance the same whether bananas or sports drinks were consumed, there were several advantages to consuming bananas,” he said.

The bananas provided the cyclists with antioxidants not found in sports drinks as well as a greater nutritional boost, including fiber, potassium and Vitamin B6, the study showed. In addition, bananas have a healthier blend of sugars than sports drinks.

I know by running friend, Mary, always carries her banana on a weekly long run. She likes it and says it is easy on her stomach.

Around 100 calories or so, a banana is certainly just as good nutritionally and better tasting than a heavily sugar-laden running gel. But, I don’t know if your digestive system would like to break down the bulk during a very long run, such as a marathon though.

I would think for any run less than 10 miles or so, you should be fine.

I will give it a try and let you know.

Locum Tenens Dentistry

Is Running a Marathon Bad for Your Heart?

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My 2012 Los Angeles Marathon Bib and Finisher’s Medal

The answer is NO, despite the fact there have been some deaths during marathon races.

What the researchers found was that, even as participation in marathon racing almost doubled during the past decade, to more than 473,000 finishers in 2009 from about 299,000 in 2000, the death rate remained unchanged, and vanishingly small. A total of 28 people died during or in the 24 hours immediately after a marathon, most of them men, and primarily from heart problems. (A few of the deaths were due to hyponatremia, or low blood sodium, in those who drank excessive amounts of fluid.) Those numbers translate into less than one death per 100,000 racers.

“Our data shows, quite strongly, that marathon running is safe for the vast majority of runners,” Dr. Pham says, “and I suspect that, for many of the runners,” the activity saved them from suffering a heart attack that might otherwise have been brought on by a sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle.

A similar epidemiological study, published in January in The New England Journal of Medicine, reached the same conclusion as Dr. Pham’s report, even as its authors looked more widely at data involving fatal and nonfatal cardiac arrests in half and full marathons over the past decade. The researchers found 59 cases of cardiac arrest during a half or full marathon, 51 of them in men, and 42 of them fatal. The average age of the affected racers was 42, and an overwhelming majority of them were approaching the finish line — within the last six miles for the marathon and the final three for the half — when they fell.

“The findings reinforce what we really already knew,” says Dr. Paul Thompson, the chief of cardiology at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, an author of the study and a longtime marathon runner, “which is that you are at slightly higher risk of suffering a heart attack during a marathon” than if you were merely sitting or walking sedately during those same hours. “But over all, running decreases the risk of heart disease” and therefore the likelihood of your suffering cardiac arrest at all.

But, Dr. Thompson continues, running does not absolutely inoculate anyone against heart disease. “Genetics, viruses, bad habits from the past, bad diet or plain bad luck” can contribute to the development of plaques within the arteries or of heart damage like cardiomyopathy, an unnatural enlargement of the heart muscle, which running simply cannot prevent.

So, have regular physical exams by your physician and if you have a family history of heart problems see a cardiologist before you run a marathon.

The activity of training and running a marathon can be greatly rewarding and beneficial for your heart.

Los Angeles Marathon

Los Angeles Marathon 2012: Race Report

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At the end of the last post, my wife, Alice, and I had just returned from San Diego after visiting my daughter, Allison, her husband, Nathan and my new baby grandson, James Phillip. Here is another photo of him:

As you can tell, I am a delighted grandfather.

Alice and I did not eat our regular dinner because of the lateness of the travel. We normally have turkey burgers and this fits real well into bathroom voiding in the early AM. But, we did not get home in time and went to bed.

The weather report was 40% chance of showers with wind. Temperatures were to be in the low 40’s to start at Los Angeles Dodger Stadium in Elysian Park and mid-50’s by the finish in Santa Monica.

We arose around 2 AM, showered, dressed, gathered our gear and drove to Santa Monica. In Santa Monica, there are the shuttle buses that ferry us to Dodger Stadium. We parked in the Santa Monica Civic Parking Structure, went to the porta potties and were bussed to the stadium. I never ususally get car sick, but the bus was very stuffy and full of runners. I was a little nauseated and wondered.

After arriving around 5:20 AM, we walked up the long flights of stairs to the special Los Angeles Roadrunner section at the Club Level. We took our seats and waited for the marathon start at 7:30 AM.

The Run/Walk 5 gang was there:

Maria Elena and Tara

The time passed quickly and after a few trips to the bathrooms, we lined up and Walt our Run/Walk 5 leader led a pep talk and a prayer. We headed out to our starting corrals:

Walt is in the center and the sun had not yet risen at 6:30 AM or so

One last view of Dodger Stadium

After the usual pushing and shoving in the crowds of runners, we found the corral and proudly displayed our wrist band. We went in behind the gates:

The sun was now up and there was NO rain. It was a miracle. Everyone checked their phonez for the weather report and looked West. There were clouds but the weather did not look ominous, like last year. Although I had placed my rain pancho, I was too soon find out that it was not needed and soon removed after a few miles of the race.

The Run/Walk 5 running gang was set to go:

Maria Elena, Alice, Nancy, Tara and Mary

I was ready to go as well:

Walt had us line up, but Tara and I went far to the right since we would be running at a different pace and run/walk interval than the group. We did not wish to be trampled by the eager fast runners that were behind us in the open runner area.

I took off my spiffy, Canuck jacket and hung it on the wall next to the corral. I reached for my Bloggie Video camera and discovered that when starting to video the beginning of the marathon I had run out of storage space. Good job, Greg!

Making our way to the start line

I did capture this brief video before the camera shut down:

The race started uneventfully. The rest of run/Walk 5 went at their 15 minute per mile pace and soon became a distant image.

Tara and I stuck to our 30 second run and 45 second walk interval. Our early pace was to be around 17 minutes per mile which would be re-evaluated after the first 20 miles. The first four miles went well and we were a little fast. then we came upon First Street.

We had decided in training that we would walk up the early, steep hills and we did. Our time was not affected that much and we saved a whole lot of glycogen. First Street actually seemed shorter this year. I suppose all of that training pays off!

Tara and I had long discarded our rain panchos and there was NO rain. The sun came out and I think I swore a little about the heat. This was funny, since we both thought that we would have to endure torrential rains like we did last year.

I wished I had my sunglasses and my visor since I was now carrying my hat. Oh well, the best laid plans…

Around mile ten, I could hold it no longer and went to pee. I thought I felt something else, but nooooo that could not be happening.

Remember how the previous night, I did not have my usual meal because of our visit to see my grandson in San Diego. I thought everything was fine and that a race dilemma was not going to happen.


By mile 12, I was looking for a toilet. Unfortunately, along this stretch of the course, there were none for about 3 miles. Finally, at mile 13, relief was obtained.

Of course, there was no toilet paper in the porta potty. But, I was prepared! Thanks to Walt, who had a similar occurrence at the Chicago Marathon in a past year. Now, I always carry Wet Ones with me and I used them!

5 and one half minutes lost to my dilemma. But, at least my hands were clean. Thanks again, Walt!

I called Tara and raced ahead to catch up to her.

I caught up to her in a few miles and then came the biggest disappointment of the race.

In West Hollywood at the 4 and one half hour mark (around noon), they started closing the streets and ushered us off onto small, crowded sidewalks. The race rules said at the 6 hour mark and the two previous years, these streets were never closed. This slowed us down measurably and really pissed me off.

The street closures in Beverly Hills continued and the cops were down right rude. I was going to say something, but I figured that they would make my marathon race shorter by placing my in handcuffs and escorting me to a holding cell, before escorting to the Los Angeles County Lock-Up. The LA County jail is not in Santa Monica.

I, also, knew that Alice would not bail me out and that the vaseline that was being distributed by volunteers along the marathon course would be put to good use by Bubba, if I bent over or otherwise. I kept my mouth shut, except to fellow runners who I harassed unmercifully until we exited Beverly Hills and the streets were open again. I, especially bothered a Legacy Runner who kept repeating what I said, that I would write about the closures. He would say “write about it”. Well, sir, here it is!

Tara and I were walking by about mile 17 or so. Run/Walking was difficult on cramped sidewalks and by the time we reached Santa Monica Blvd and Century City, her hip was bothering her. I just kept walking, turned off the timer and figured I would just finish the race with Tara and forget about the time.

We reached mile 20 at Sepulveda and then right into the Veterans Administration. The course now is a slow uphill grade and so we slowed down some. I knew that Santa Monica and a long downhill beckoned.

The last 6.2 miles were fairly uneventful. I was a little nauseated around 26th Street, but drank tons of water. I got better.

Yes, the streets and water stations were open in Santa Monica! Thanks a lot Beverly Hills.

Soon, we made it on to Ocean Avenue and we saw the finish. I teared up a little, but it was probably due to the torrential wind that we endured since San Vicente and 26th Street. The wind, someone told me, was about 60 miles per hour. Sometimes, I felt I was going backwards. In fact, the 24 mile marker almost collapsed and blew down on us.


I asked Tara if she had anything left after passing 26 miles and she said NO, but that she would now run across the finish line.


We finished, received our medals, I gathered up a bagel and banana.

Alice met us about one half of a mile down Ocean and we walked back to our cars.

Another Los Angeles Marathon was finished.

Here is my Garmin data:

And, the official finish:

Will I run the Los Angeles Marathon next year?

Of course, and I will be in Los Angeles Roadrunners, as well.

Next on the agenda is the spring/summer Los Angeles Running Club season and training for the Disneyland Half Marathon in September.