Here's a quick wrap-up of the latest fitness and diet buzz:
Stat Junkies, Unite!
Wired's latest issue includes an article about how Nike has gotten a lot of people hooked on data through its Nike+ sensor system. The 1.2 million info-junkie runners who've used the shoe- and-iPod system—one woman calls herself a "stat whore"—can get immediate feedback on time, distance, and speed. Whether you enjoy it hinges on your personality. If you like to run for the sake of running, more to escape than to pursue a goal, you're probably not going to enjoy the data dump. But if you're a Type A—and a lot of runners, including this one, are—it can help you set goals and stay motivated. One tidbit: the most popular song used to get people motivated is the Black Eyed Peas' "Pump It."
Here are other ways that technology can get you moving. And see how music can put a spring in your exercise routine.
Picking the Right Shoes
Nikes, however, may not be the best shoe for everyone. Bill Rodgers, marathon champion extraordinaire, discusses how to find the perfect pair of running kicks in a Q&A on the New York Times' Well blog. One of his tips is to ask yourself, "Do you feel biomechanically like you're moving barefoot? That's what you want. There is a trend now for simpler shoes. For 30 years I've thought they've had too many gimmicks on the running shoes. Various companies copying each other and trying to outdo each other and adding roll bars and computers on the shoes. It was unnecessary and made things more complicated than it should be."
There's indeed a growing awareness that some of our running aches and pains may be the result of moving our bodies unnaturally. That's what author Christopher McDougall said when I interviewed him about his recent book, Born to Run. At the extreme end of things, some folks are shucking their shoes entirely and running barefoot, or close to it.
Pumping Iron (Without the Iron)
If you want to strength-train but are on the road and or simply don't have access to weights, you're in luck. Trainer Alwyn Cosgrove has created two full-body training plans for Women's Health, and the only piece of equipment you'll need is some kind of bench.
Cosgrove spoke with me last year and gave me 8 great strength-training tips for women. He's also a big fan of interval training. See whether you can really get a great workout in 3 minutes.
The Mediterranean Diet, Deconstructed
It's no secret that the Mediterranean diet has been associated with better health and a longer life. And while the diet works best when followed comprehensively, researchers recently said they've pinpointed which elements may be most helpful: moderate amounts of alcohol, reduced meat consumption, use of olive oil, lots of vegetables, and fruits and nuts. By contrast, researchers said, eating cereal products, eating fish, and consuming few dairy products contributed much less to longevity.
But don't expect to see a Mediterranean diet supplement any time soon; the synergistic effects, many of them unknown, of various foods probably contribute to the eating pattern's apparent effects. Read about the Mediterranean diet and other diets that promote health, and always have.