Simple Exercises for Staying Fit During the Coronavirus Era

Many people have lots of time and need to stay fit. Some are walking every day. But they also need to do things to maintain their strength and flexibility. Pushups and situps are ideal because they don’t take much space or time. How effective they are depends on how many repetitions they do and how they do them. Pushups are simpler and the main technique consideration is how wide apart their hands are. How many one should do depends on their age and gender.  Situps use different muscles and there is a wider range of positions of one’s arms. How difficult it depends on where you put your arms. It’s basic engineering. Your body is like a bunch of chunks of meat: head, arms, torso, abdomen, legs. If you extend your arms over your head your situps will be a lot more difficult than if you keep them along your legs. Some people are fans of “crunches”, which are shorter and harder motions. Your choice is like choosing a religion.


Could Stay-at-Home Orders Cause an Increase in Alcoholism?

There are multiple reasons that people may increase the number of alcoholic drinks they consume. The overall stress of the current pandemic leads people to turn to alcohol for relief. The absence of one’s numerous healthy alternatives, especially social ones that have been discontinued because of the pandemic can result in drinking with your spouse or other members of the household. And sitting in front of a TV set longer than in the pre-pandemic days expands the opportunity to drink. Examples are numerous.

Staying Fit Carefully in the CoronaVirus Era

The millions of people with time on their hands can use that extra time to stay fit. We have noticed a big increase of runners and walkers in our neighborhood. We are fortunate to live in California, where the weather is usually good, whereas people living in areas with poor weather need to do their exercise indoors. Those who are already disciplined to do exercises like Pilates or Yoga may not need any extra gear, but others need equipment such as stationary bicycles. Whether or not you use such equipment, you need to be careful.

Being Overweight or Obese Makes You More Likely to Get Covid-19

Elderly individuals are more susceptible to dying from a variety of causes. These days it has become common knowledge that they are more likely than younger people to die from the Covid-19. But people of all ages who are overweight or obese have a greater chance of getting ill, and dying, from Covid-19.

Restaurant Meals Can Make You Fat

Even if you eat in upscale restaurants in the U.S. or most other high-income countries, you normally are served meals with considerably more calories than you need. If you want to maintain a “Normal” BMI (Body Mass Index) you need to eat only a portion of the meal and take the rest home. It is even worse if you either (1) eat in downscale restaurants or (2) eat at fancy restaurants with 10-course “tasting menus. And if you eat enough to weigh 100 pounds or more too much you can expect to die 14 years younger than a person with normal BMI.

Alzheimer’s Disease Drug Research Proceeds; Diabetes Drugs, Vitamin B1, and Flossing May Work

With millions of people affected by Alzheimer’s disease, there is a lot of interest by drug companies to come up with a cure. But that interest has thus far not translated into drugs that work. Two companies—Pfizer, Inc. and Axovant Sciences Ltd.—have recently exited the business, but others are continuing their research, and new ones are starting. Curiously, new research indicates that drugs used to treat diabetes may work for Alzheimer’s too … at least in mice.

The brain needs vitamin B1 (thiamine) to make acetylcholine as Alzheimer’s sufferers are deficient in it.

And another possible way to avoid, or at least delay, Alzheimer’s is to floss your teeth religiously.

Taller Men May be Happier … But Shorter Men Live Longer

According to a number of research studies, including one conducted at Stanford University, men often exaggerate their height and strength. We ran across this after reading a couple of Lee Child’s novels, whose hero is six-foot-five Jack Reacher, that have been made into movies starring five-foot-seven (or five-foot-eight) Tom Cruise. Personally, we have a lot more issues with what Hollywood has done to the plots than the differences in sizes of the fictious hero and the movie one, because Tom Cruise has a lot of derring-do and his own attitude (plus a lot of acting skill) that comes through loud and clear.

Shorter men may not be as happy as their taller male friends or idols, but research studies in Hawaii among Japanese-American men and in San Diego among American veterans has shown that they live longer.

Music Training May Increase Longevity … and Hearing

It may be that “Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast”, but it also may reward musicians with longer lives and better hearing, depending on when and how long those musicians were engaged in music training. Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory has studied how music affects the human brain for some years, and released their latest study in late 2011.

These results have not apparently led to a big increase in sales of instruments nor music lessons during the last five years, but should have been motivating, or at least interesting to those who contemplate their own mortality. But there are some caveats. Apparently it is best if one has learned music in childhood and continued to play an instrument for at least 10 years, even if there has been a gap of several decades between then and when s/he starts to play again. Another caveat is that the modest number of research studies, none with sample sizes exceeding 100, may not be statistically significant.

On the positive side, however, a musician’s being able to pick out other musicians’ notes helps him/her hear better because of being able to hear a conversation in a noisy environment. Better hearing means that one is less isolated from society, which helps one age more gracefully. And musical activity improves memory, again a defense against aging.

Most of the research focuses on instrumentalists, but an elusive Harvard/Yale study found that vocalists benefit similarly, apparently even more so if they sing with a group.

One simple aspect that seems to have been mostly ignored is the cardiovascular exercise that accompanies musical efforts. This has been most noted in the case of conductors, but some instrumentalists like drummers and all members of marching bands get considerable exercise.

In Praise of “A Long Bright Future”, by Dr. Laura Carstensen


Our highest praise for a book is to say, “I wish I had written a book that good.” This is such a book. You get a lot for your money, because it is so densely filled with both verifiable scientific facts and advice to increase the quantity and quality of one’s own life. An optimistic tone pervades the whole book, though Dr. Carstensen—Founding Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity—spends a whole chapter on “What Might Go Wrong?” She includes an extensive bibliography (called Notes) with numerous ideas—both from her and from others—skillfully woven into the basic fabric. Here are a few. Having more education is the most important factor in ensuring longer lives, and it likely delays the onset of dementia. Bilingual people may have a lower incidence of dementia. Financial problems (which can lower quality of life) in later life can result from the mistaken belief that one needs less money as one ages. Among the most significant health problems as one ages are arthritis, hearing, and obesity, with future obesity levels’ threatening to undo most of the recent advances in health.

Of greatest interest to our TechnologyBloopers persona is our observation that in the few short years between the book’s first copyright in 2009 and today (2016), many technologies have emerged or changed dramatically. Unfortunately, some of them may have progressed so far that older people can be disenfranchised if they don’t know about them, if they don’t know how to use them (even if they ARE user-friendly), or if they don’t have children or grandchildren to show them how. Of course, some of the new Apps (“Applications”, i.e., software programs that run on mobile devices to accomplish certain functions) are far more used by teens than retirees, and may not have value to older people except for the most extreme of passive watchers or gossipers. But developments such as self-driving cars, which are only vaguely hinted about in the book, will allow older folks to avoid being isolated, so will be hugely important in the very near future.