Grannies being recruited for Uber Eats in Japan

❝ Uber Technologies Inc.’s strategy for Japan, where ride-sharing is banned, is as unique as the country itself — think grandma in running shoes delivering ramen noodles.

❝ “The elderly are actually signing up for Eats couriers,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told Bloomberg News. “Eats has been a huge success for us in Japan. It is going to be a very effective introduction to the Uber brand.”

❝ While most workers deliver using a bicycle or scooter, seniors in search of exercise are doing it on foot, Khosrowshahi said. “This is one area unique to Japan, and we are looking if we can expand to the rest of the world,” the CEO said.

Way cool. I absolutely can see this as a positive for retirees who want to combine an income with exercise.

Not exercising kills you sooner than smoking, diabetes or heart disease

We’ve all heard exercise helps you live longer. But a new study goes one step further, finding that a sedentary lifestyle is worse for your health than smoking, diabetes and heart disease.

Dr. Wael Jaber, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic and senior author of the study, called the results “extremely surprising.”

“Being unfit on a treadmill or in an exercise stress test has a worse prognosis, as far as death, than being hypertensive, being diabetic or being a current smoker,” Jaber told CNN. “We’ve never seen something as pronounced as this and as objective as this.”

Jaber said researchers must now convey the risks to the general population that “being unfit should be considered as strong of a risk factor as hypertension, diabetes and smoking — if not stronger than all of them…It should be treated almost as a disease that has a prescription, which is called exercise…”

Jogging, walking at a good pace, cripes just walking steadily is better than sitting on your butt. Get your heart working faster than a leaky faucet.

Country roads, West Jamaica

❝ For the first time in years, I’ve taken to wearing a headset, listening to music, on part of my morning walks.

❝ The first set is usually the Amazon Music All Jazz playlist – tailored by my thumbs up-and-down. Folks like Miles and Monk and Mingus back from the era when I could hop the train down to NYC for the weekend and cruise jazz clubs, sleep in Washington Square Park without either being arrested or mugged.

The second playlist I named Groundation after my favorite contemporary Reggae group – though much of what I listen to is as old as my jazz favorites. This morning’s second set of walking our fenceline ended with Toots and the Maytals – and the best thing that ever happened to West Virginia.

Why are these countries obese? Let’s start with walking

❝ A recent study found that more than 2 billion adults and children globally are overweight or obese and suffer health problems because of that — but this is nothing new.

There are, however, pockets of the global population who remain somewhat unaware of this public health crisis, despite the growth of waistlines all around them, and this lack of awareness is just one of the underlying problems, according to Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard…

Different countries have different issues,” Hu said. “You need to mobilize (their) whole society to tackle the problem. … it’s not just a medical problem.”

❝ The Pacific Islands, Middle East and Americas lead the way in terms of regions with the greatest obesity rates. In 2014, more than 48% of the population of the Cook Islands was classified as obese. Qatar led the way in the Middle East with 34%, followed closely by the United States at 33%, according to the World Health Organization…

❝ When assigning blame, two factors are common: diet and physical activity, namely poor diets and a lack of physical activity. But a number of smaller factors combine to fill these two large umbrellas, and those need to be understood to truly tackle the problem, Hu believes.

RTFA. Pretty halpful analysis, methods of analysis that can be appreciated by pretty much anyone.

I’m not making recommendations. I can only speak to what works for me – and it’s exactly what I’ve known all my life. Good nutrition reducing sugars, easily accessible exercise – and for me, tracking meal-by-meal, day-by-day. The health app built into the operating system of Apple iPhones works fine for me. I combine it with a daily calorie tracker that has a ginormous database.

Taking a look, right now, year over year, I’ve averaged 3.1 miles per day walking, 9146 steps per day. That’s every day – averaging in high summer temperatures or the occasional blizzard mid-winter. Not too many of either at our altitude in northern New Mexico. Being an ancient creaky old Leftie is no copout.

I’m happy about weighing what I weighed in 1956 – and aiming for less.

Pokémon Go got you to walk 25 percent more than you used to


Ina Fried/ReCode

Pokémon Go’s creators want the hit mobile game to get people out of the house and exploring their neighborhoods. A new study confirms that’s really happening.

In “Influence of Pokémon Go on Physical Activity,” researchers from Microsoft Research and Stanford University studied, over the course of a month, how many steps were recorded by the Microsoft Bands — wearable activity trackers — belonging to Pokémon Go fans. The most engaged fans of the game walked 25 percent more than they did before Pokémon Go’s release…

All told, the study estimates that Pokémon Go players across the U.S. walked an additional 144 billion steps in the game’s first month in the wild. It says that if those players were to keep up the same level of increased activity over a longer period of time, they could add nearly three billion years, collectively, to their lifespans.

I’m a lifetime walking addict. Count in miles spent backpacking, hillwalking, hiking, walking because because I found an interesting place to walk, etc…I’ve spent a good piece of my waking hours walking. It all helps.

When money talks, people walk

It was a controversial move when a health insurer began requiring people who were obese to literally pay the price of not doing anything about their weight – but it worked, a new study finds.

When people had to choose between paying up to 20 percent more for health insurance or exercising more, the majority of enrollees met fitness goals one step at a time via an Internet-tracked walking program, according to a joint study by the University of Michigan Health System and Stanford University.

Researchers evaluated a group of people insured by Blue Care Network who were enrolled in a pedometer-based program as a requirement to receive insurance discounts. After one year, nearly 97 percent of the enrollees had met or exceeded the average goal of 5,000 steps a day – including the most resistant participants who disagreed with the financial incentives and found the program “coercive.”

“There are ethical debates around the idea of forcing someone to be personally responsible for health care costs related to not exercising, but we expect to see more of these approaches to financially motivate healthier behaviors,” says senior author Caroline R. Richardson, M.D…

“Our evaluation of Blue Care’s incentivized program showed a surprisingly high rate of people who enrolled in the Internet-mediated walking program and stuck with it – even among those who were initially hostile to the idea. Wellness interventions like this clearly hold significant promise for encouraging physical activity among adults who are obese…”

For some families, the out-of-pocket cost of failing to meet the new criteria in one of the wellness programs was nearly $2,000 more per year. Those with medical conditions were exempt if they had waivers from their doctors.

Nearly half of the 12,102 enrollees who met criteria for a wellness program picked pedometer-based WalkingSpree, and the study’s authors evaluated their success. The 6,548 participants were required to reach an average of 5,000 daily steps in each three month period, or 450,000 steps a quarter, to remain eligible for enhanced benefits. Just 3 percent failed to do so.

Among users who responded to a satisfaction survey about the program, a third were unhappy with the financial incentives because they felt the incentives were coercive. The remaining two-thirds of respondents, however, liked the program…

“Our findings suggest that incentivized wellness programs are acceptable to many individuals and that these programs encourage healthy behaviors,” says lead author Donna Zulman, M.D…

May as well consider this, folks. If such plans continue to produce successes – better health and reduced expenses – it is going to be coming to wherever you work. I have kin who are already in such a program and they love it. They save money and get healthier.

Having a dog companion reduces heart risk

The nation’s largest cardiovascular health organization has a new message for Americans: Owning a dog may protect you from heart disease.

The unusual message was contained in a scientific statement published on Thursday by the American Heart Association, which convened a panel of experts to review years of data on the cardiovascular benefits of owning a pet. The group concluded that owning a dog, in particular, was “probably associated” with a reduced risk of heart disease.

People who own dogs certainly have more reason to get outside and take walks, and studies show that most owners form such close bonds with their pets that being in their presence blunts the owners’ reactions to stress and lowers their heart rate, said Dr. Glenn N. Levine, the head of the committee that wrote the statement.

But most of the evidence is observational, which makes it impossible to rule out the prospect that people who are healthier and more active in the first place are simply more likely to bring a dog or cat into their home.

“We didn’t want to make this too strong of a statement,” said Dr. Levine, a professor at the Baylor College of Medicine. “But there are plausible psychological, sociological and physiological reasons to believe that pet ownership might actually have a causal role in decreasing cardiovascular risk…”

The new report reviewed dozens of studies, and over all it seemed clear that pet owners, especially those with dogs, the focus of most of the studies, were in better health than people without pets.

“Several studies showed that dogs decreased the body’s reaction to stress, with a decrease in heart rate, blood pressure and adrenaline-like hormone release when a pet is present as opposed to when a pet is not present,” Dr. Levine said.

Pet owners also tended to report greater amounts of physical activity, and modestly lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Some research showed that people who had pets of any kind were also more likely to survive heart attacks…

Dr. Levine said that he and his colleagues were not recommending that people adopt pets for any reason other than to give them a good home.

“If someone adopts a pet, but still sits on the couch and smokes and eats whatever they want and doesn’t control their blood pressure,” he said, “that’s not a prudent strategy to decrease their cardiovascular risk.”

Walking the dog is always a shared experience in our family. Neither side of the equation seems to think they’re doing the other a special favor. It’s just fun for us to be together outdoors, sharing a walk.

Artist creates geometric designs by walking in the snow. A lot!

While walking amidst white mountaintops and cozy ski lodges, Simon Beck creates enormous works of snow art that look like giant wintry crop circles. Believe it or not, the immense snow patterns are made entirely by foot – Beck creates them while he walks across the terrain in briquette snow shoes. The ephemeral art installations last only until the mountain winds blow them away across the valleys.

I’ve done this kind of art – on a much smaller scale, less disciplined, but just as much fun.

Click the link to see more.