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Remember to hit the ground running!

By Nathan Mallett
| www.cos-mag.com

You’d think a fall from the top of a skyscraper would mean certain death, but not always. After a 37-year-old New York City window washer survived a 50-story plunge late in 2007, the online news portal Slate.com offered a series of safety tips that may save your life if you ever find yourself plummeting from the top of a very tall building. The most important bit of advice: land on your feet...

More Health Page tidbits

  • …and hold the mayo
  • Can E. coli save the planet?
  • Go ahead, get mad!
  • Workplace workouts

Remember to hit the ground running!

You’d think a fall from the top of a skyscraper would mean certain death, but not always. After a 37-year-old New York City window washer survived a 50-story plunge late in 2007, the online news portal Slate.com offered a series of safety tips that may save your life if you ever find yourself plummeting from the top of a very tall building. The most important bit of advice: land on your feet.The author of the article points to research from the journal Injury that says fall victims who avoid landing on their heads (and instead hit the ground feet first) increase their chances of survival greatly, even when falling the equivalent of several stories. On the other hand a head first fall from even two stories or less is usually fatal. Although you are guaranteed to suffer broken legs and/or a shattered pelvis as well as a damaged spine, and internal bleeding in a foot-first landing from high up, these injuries are not necessarily deadly. Also remember, anything you can do to slow your descent can help reduce the force of an impact. If a fall is unavoidable, grab any object that creates drag before you drop. The wind resistance can shave speed off your fall. Even laying flat with your arms and legs splayed can help slow you down. Just remember to try to reorient yourself into the feet first position before you hit the ground.

Go ahead, get mad!

Maybe a little bit of fireworks in a marriage from time to time isn’t always a bad thing. According to health researchers from the University of Michigan, couples who experience the ocassional lovers’ spat tend to outlive those who suppress their anger and try too hard to turn their relationship into a de-militarized zone. “If you bury your anger, and you brood on it... and you don’t try to resolve the problem, then you’re in trouble,” says Dr. Ernest Harburg of the U of M’s School of Public Health. Researchers studied 192 middle aged couples for 17 years and monitored how subjects resolved disputes. In 14 per cent of the couples studied, both spouses regularly suppressed their anger with each other. Those couples’ death rates were almost twice as high compared to the other subjects, say authors. The research will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Family Communication.

...and hold the mayo

Many dieters are loath to give up the mayonnaise-based condiments that give their otherwise low-fat, low-cal (and often bland) healthy food choices that little extra bit of flavour. But according to a University of Arkansas nutrition expert Marjorie Fitch-Hilgenberg, there’s a smorgasbord of tasty alternative sauces and spreads that are less fatty, less salty and have fewer calories, but that can still bring a flavourless salad, wrap or sandwich to life. “You don’t have to use mayo on a sandwich,” Fitch-Hilgenberg says. “You can spread some salsa, cranberry sauce, mango chutney or sauerkraut. They all add great taste and some extra nutrients without adding fat.” Low-fat yogurt mixed with coarse mustard and dill is also a great mayo alternative, she says. Or sub in dijon, coarse-ground, spicy brown and wasabi mustards. All are low-calorie, high-flavour condiments. Marinades are another good way to flavor foods instead of spreading fatty sauces. “Condiments give you a chance to be adventurous and to taste other cuisines,” Fitch-Hilgenberg says. “Chicken can be marinated in tandoori sauce, barbeque sauce or spicy brown mustard to take your meal to India, Texas or Germany.”

Can E. coli save the planet?

It seems that what doesn’t kill you can make you greener. Researchers at Texas A&M University are experimenting with the infamous food-borne bacteria E. coli to see if it can be used as a new renewable energy source. Thomas Wood, a professor of chemistry at the school, says that specially modified E. coli bacteria can actually produce substantial amounts of hydrogen, something the organisms already produce in trace amounts when they feed upon sugars. Wood’s specially-bred E. coli pump out more than 140 times the regular amount of hydrogen, which is the key ingredient of fuel cells – an emerging technology that many hope will soon produce the world’s energy without causing pollution. Currently, most fuel cell technology relies on water for its hydrogen. The problem is the process of “cracking” hydrogen from water is expensive, thus preventing the widespread adoption of fuel cell technology. Wood admits that more research is needed to see how viable E. coli can be as a fuel source, but he hopes that one day the bacteria could power appliances, electronics, entire homes and even cars – just make sure you wash your hands after filling up.

Workplace workouts

Does that never-ending pile of work on your desk make you feel like you’re on a bit of a hamster wheel at the office? Now a maker of next-generation workplace furniture is using that notion as the inspiration for a line of new get-fit workstations that combine conventional office desks with treadmills. Steelcase, the Michigan-based manufacturer of the FitWork Walkstation, says their technology will help sedentary office workers get in shape. Even by walking at the desk at a leisurely 1 mph, an office worker can burn as many as 100 calories per hour without even breaking a sweat, all the while talking on the phone, answering e-mails and poring over spread sheets. “For office workers, the majority of the workday is spent sitting in front of a computer,” says Dr. James Levine, a Mayo Clinic MD who helped develop the technology. “The premise is simply to increase movement while working, and for users to enjoy the health benefits of that movement.” According to The Globe and Mail, Steelcase has already sold 200 of the $4,500 contraptions to Canadian buyers.

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