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Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014
Health & Fitness

For safer schlepping, lighten the load


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In 1902, the U.S. Cavalry recommended that a horse never carry more than 20 percent of its weight into battle, and current studies confirm that the percentage puts the least strain on the animal’s heart, respiration, muscles and bones. Use that rule of thumb for what you and your children carry, too.

Kids regularly tote backpacks that weigh 22 percent of their body weight or more! A lot of you throw portable computers over your shoulders, haul a week’s worth of veggies home from the farmer’s market or strap on a baby carrier to tote around a 30- to 40-pound child. Plus, many of you double or triple up. A purse weighing three to seven pounds shares a shoulder with a shopping bag overflowing with groceries and a gym bag with workout clothes. Then there’s schlepping 40-pound carry-on bags through airports. Ouch! You’re risking chronic lower back pain, shoulder (rotator cuff) injury, neck strain, headaches and poor posture. Kids can injure their spine in ways that may cause life-long problems.

Here’s how to make whatever you’re toting safer:

1. Weigh backpacks and purses; lighten the load if they’re too heavy. Always use BOTH backpack shoulder straps. One-shoulder carrying amplifies the risk of lower-back and shoulder pain and restricts blood flow to the arm.

2. Get rolling! Computer cases, kids’ backpacks, carry-on luggage, shopping carts and gym bags come with a great invention called wheels. Use ‘em!

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The Brooklyn Dodgers got their name in 1911 because in those days, Brooklynites had to dodge life-threatening street cars to get across town in one piece. Today, if you want to dodge the risk of stroke, cardiovascular problems and a host of other life-threatening ailments, we suggest you dodge the fast-food chains that threaten to lay you low more effectively than the cross-town trolleys once did. We say, “Cross over to the low-red-meat, plant-based, healthy-fat Mediterranean diet!”

We’ve been big fans of this way of eating for years (it protects your vital organs, your skin and your love life). And the latest news about its powers just makes us even more enthusiastic. Seems the Mediterranean diet actually can turn off a risky gene variant (in gene TCF7L2) that runs in families and increases the risk of disabling strokes or heart attacks. So if heart disease runs in your family, or if insulin resistance, high blood pressure, high lousy LDL cholesterol and/or excess body fat in the midsection shows up in you, your folks and kids — well, this diet is gonna turn your life around.

Let meat become a side dish. Use extra-virgin olive oil on veggies and salads; don’t use it in high-heat cooking, opt for peanut or canola oil. Enjoy a glass of wine (one for women, two for men) a day if your doc says OK. Want a tasty, day-by-day Mediterranean meal plan and recipes? Check out sharecare.com and “YOU: On a Diet” Revised Edition. !Salud!

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com.

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