Is it really possible to turn running into a low-impact — or even no-impact — activity?
And is it possible to turn a typical backyard pool into a no-sweat gym?
That's the promise of AquaJogger, a Eugene, Ore., company that makes gear (in the USA!) designed to keep your head above water while you pump your arms and legs as if you were running on dry land. Or you can glide as if cross country skiing, do crunches, sumo squats, whatever you like. In shallow water where your feet hit bottom, you get a low-impact workout; go deep and it's no-impact.
This being July in Florida, we are game to try anything that promises fitness without heat exhaustion. So we strapped on the big blue AquaJogger buoyancy belt, slipped on the big blue AquaRunners RX footwear, gripped the big blue DeltaBells water resistance dumbells and jumped in.
All that blue had us looking downright Smurfy. But once in the water, it all made sense. The belt does keep your body up and your head out of the water, while forcing you to keep abdominals tight so as not to pitch too far forward. The funny footwear and dumbbells help increase water resistance. The faster you move, the harder it gets.
And it's fun. A little goofy, but fun.
No, AquaJogging isn't as tough a workout as LandJogging. But it might be just the thing if you're rehabbing from an injury, need to be careful with your joints, or hate the heat.
The set we tried retails for $92.95 and comes with an instructional booklet and video. Get details at AquaJogger.com.
Charlotte Sutton, Personal Best editor
STUDIES SHOW PETS HELP BABIES STAY HEALTHIER
A new study finds that children who lived with dogs or cats during their first year of life got sick less frequently than kids from pet-free zones. The study, published in Monday's edition of the journal Pediatrics, provides fresh evidence for the counterintuitive notion that an overly clean environment may not be ideal for babies.
Sharing a home with a pet may be an early form of cross-training for the body's defense systems. Previous research has shown that owning a cat or dog was associated with less risk of gastroenteritis in young children.
Studies also suggest that the dirt — and microbes — brought indoors by pets could bolster the communities of helpful bacteria, yeast and other microscopic creatures that live in a developing child's body.
"What I always tell (parents) is this: It's actually very helpful to have a cat or dog around because we tend to see less allergies," said Dr. Danelle Fisher, a Santa Monica, Calif., pediatrician. "And now I can tell them we've even seen less chance of upper respiratory infection in the first year of life."
Los Angeles Times
SUPPLEMENTAL SAFETY CHECK
Unlike drugs, nutritional supplements are not regulated by the government. But there are steps consumers can take to minimize the risk of supplements that don't deliver what their labels promise:
• Check to see if the brand has been involved in a recall or has received a warning letter by searching the FDA website, www.fda.gov. Note that many brands do not do their own manufacturing, so it's not always clear which companies to check.
• ConsumerLab.com, an independent group that tests dietary supplements, has a wealth of information on its website. Membership is available for less than $3 a month.
• Several groups certify dietary supplement firms in good manufacturing practices, including the Natural Products Association, one of the industry's largest trade groups. Visit the group's website at npainfo.org.
• Consider the scientific evidence for taking the supplement in the first place. Are there large, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials showing the supplement is safe and effective? Search on pubmed.gov, which lists published medical research, and cochrane.org, which offers reviews of published research.
BE THE MATCH
Among the 10,000 people in the United States diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma or other life-threatening blood illnesses each year, black people have the lowest chance of finding a donor for a bone marrow transplant.
To increase the pool of black donors, Be the Match has declared July African-American Bone Marrow Awareness Month. It's holding donor drives to collect cheek swabs (go to bethematch.org/join to see where) and has launched a website, swabplusdna.org, to educate people about the donation process and dispel fears that might keep people from signing up.
Medical advances mean that most donations are no more invasive than donating blood. Afterward, marrow and stem cells regenerate in the donor.
FUN FOOD FACT
Unless you're really into seed-spitting contests, seedless watermelons are one of the best summer produce innovations ever. Where do they come from? Breeders cross varieties with a differing number of chromosomes to produce a sterile fruit, which has small, white, fully edible "seed coats'' instead of mature black seeds. So now you know.