The Cost of Being Obese: More Expensive for Women Than Men
Obesity takes a toll on your wallet and your health: The annual cost of being obese is $4,879 for a woman and $2,646 for a man, according to a report released Tuesday by George Washington University researchers. Being overweight, meanwhile, costs $524 for women and $432 for men. Driving up the price-tag are employee sick days, lost productivity, short-term disability, emergency room care, and even the need for extra gasoline. One possible reason the costs are higher for a woman? Past research suggests larger women earn less than skinnier women, while men's wages don't vary based on their weight, the study authors say. The report also averages in the economic value of lost life, since obesity can lead to earlier death—which brings the annual costs up further to $8,365 for women and $6,518 for men. In the study, obesity is defined as a Body Mass Index of 30 or greater; a BMI between 25 and 29 means a person is overweight.
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Does Trusting Your Instincts Make Sense?
Think twice before you trust your gut, says Wray Herbert, author of the just-published On Second Thought: Outsmarting Your Mind's Hard-Wired Habits (Crown, $25). Herbert, director of science communication at the Association for Psychological Science and former health and science editor of U.S. News, uses real-world examples and cutting-edge research to show how heuristics—hardwired mental shortcuts we think of as intuition—can both help and hinder the decisions we make every day. The trick, he says, is knowing when and when not to follow our instincts. He shared his insights with U.S. News's Hanna Dubansky.
Herbert says he used the jargon "heuristics" in a popular psychology book because there really is no good synonym. Heuristics are mental habits that have been deep-wired into our brains and govern every decision that we make, from which brand of yogurt to buy at the grocery store to whom we decide to marry. Most of the heuristics discussed have ancient evolutionary origins and were once helpful—essential to survival, even—but when applied to modern situations can lead us astray. On Second Thought tells the story of an experienced backcountry skier who was killed in an avalanche. He was swayed by the "familiarity" heuristic, which basically says that humans trust what is familiar. During ancient times this instinct was a survival mechanism. It helped us find recognizable plants that were suitable to eat, for instance. But for the seasoned backcountry skier who had traversed the same route hundreds of times, it was a trap. It led him to ignore the warning signs that consequently caused his death. [Read more: Does Trusting Your Instincts Make Sense?]
Barefoot Running: 5 Ways to Do It Right
Barefoot running has been on everyone's radar since recent studies have shown it may help prevent running injuries. "Barefoot running allows the muscles and bone structure of the feet, ankle, and lower legs to work in a more natural way," explains Kyle Kepler, head coach of the University of Utah's Women's Cross Country and Track and Field programs. While running in sneakers usually causes your heel to strike the pavement first, barefoot running causes your mid- or fore-foot to land first, which Harvard researchers believe causes a less abrupt impact than landing heel first. A January study published in Nature found that heel-strikers have a higher risk of impact-related foot injuries like plantar fasciitis, fitness blogger Chelsea Bush writes for U.S. News.
If you'd like to try barefoot running or stripped-down barefoot-like shoes, you'll have to make a few adjustments to your normal workout routine to help you get used to running without the solid cushioning of a traditional running sneaker. Kepler recommends the following tips.
First, learn proper form. The aim is to land on your forefoot or ball of your foot, before gently bringing your heel down. The landing should feel springy and natural. Watch out for tightness, pain, injury, swelling or bruising—all warning signs, Kepler says, that you might not be using proper form. [Read more: Barefoot Running: 5 Ways to Do It Right.]
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