Science Wednesday: Empower yourself.

Yes, I am a Science Type. I like facts, figures, and data when it comes to deciding what works best for me for taking care of my health. And all those scientists would be thrilled that you actually want to read their papers, too. Promise. (Image courtesy of posterize / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Yes, I am a Science Type. I like facts, figures, and data when it comes to deciding what works best for me for taking care of my health. And all those scientists would be thrilled that you actually want to read their papers, too. Promise. (Image courtesy of posterize / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

You may have noticed by now that I am a Science Type. (I tried writing Science Girl, Science Chick, and Science Nerd there, but none of those monikers felt right. I’m a woman, not a girl; I don’t think women and birds have a ton in common; and “nerd” just reminds me of, oh, I don’t know, Revenge of the Nerds or something. Though I have to say that every single cool person I know in my adult years definitely self-identified as a nerd back in high school.)

Anyway. So I’ve taken to actually reading the scientific studies that come out every so often that are reported in the media. I usually see a headline that piques my interest (or seriously makes me mad), dig out the real deal of a study, and dive in. Sometimes I even email the head honcho in charge of said study, because I want to know what scientists really did to conclude whatever it is they’re concluding about health. And whether the journalist who wrote about it is getting the story right.

(Finding these things is usually ridiculously simple: just search for the title of the journal where the study was published. Often, you can get the whole paper online for free; sometimes just the abstract and summary. Good general medical journals to check out include The Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, and for exercise-specific material, the journals published by the American College of Sports Medicine.)

Sometimes I feel like the findings are sort of obvious. Yes, better sleep leads to less impaired judgment. Exercise leads to more energy and confidence. Workplace wellness programs don’t work if the leadership isn’t taking care of workers’ basic economic needs first. And on and on.

What I’m getting at on today’s Science Wednesday installment at Every48 is that the critical thinking skills that all of us need to get through our days can be pretty helpful when we’re trying to decipher what’s actually out there when it comes to good information that can actually help us stay healthy in an unhealthy world. We have to own our intellect, our curiosity, and our confidence to pull it off – but that’s really not that hard. This is how I realized that most studies that claim long-term weight loss is impossible just aren’t well-designed – and why I decided, even after being told that just a few minutes of intense exercise a day was “enough” to see a result, that I still really like getting in an hour of solid cardiovascular exercise most days – because I think better afterwards. Four minutes of sprinting does not offer me that result.

Empower yourself. Look up real studies. Don’t count on others to decipher them through attention-grabbing (or worse, click-grabbing) headlines. Check ’em out. And then plan your course of action – the one that works best for you, of course.

Recent #Every48 workouts: Monday – a one-hour SPIN class with my favorite, favorite instructor. Nobody else comes close.  Tuesday – 40 minutes of solid STRENGTH TRAINING followed by 15 minutes on the BIKE at a good 90 RPM pace, with good resistance.

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