Sometimes it's comforting to learn about things that are good for you. There are many simple strategies we can all use that have the potential to make life better. More complicated does not necessarily mean a certainty of positive results. 


Take those ads on television for medications with convoluted instructions. You know the ones. “Before taking Zipzapistan tell your doctor if you've misplaced your noggin. Stop taking Zipzapistan if it causes you to have an uncontrollable urge to trim your toenails with a weed whacker.” Potentially this is good advice although not real useful for a vast majority of the population. 


A pretty simple activity to improve your health is walking. New research indicates we can improve on that. “To maximize your workout you may want to give Nordic walking a try.” 


The benefits of using fitness poles are impressive. “This low-impact, whole-body workout that originated in Finland can be performed at different intensity levels. It incorporates the use of specially designed poles that you work in opposition to your legs. Nordic walking exercises eighty to ninety percent of your muscles when done properly, while walking and running only recruit forty percent.” (


Be advised that there is a basic technique to walking with poles. A good video illustrating this is at:


For those in the more “experienced” stage of life, additional data about walking is enlightening. “Emerging research in groups of elderly subjects has found that a slower gait from year to year may be an early sign of cognitive decline. People who walk about five percent slower or more each year while also exhibiting signs of slower mental processing were most likely to develop dementia.” 


Here is where walking briskly comes into play. “Aerobic exercise increases the size of the hippocampus, increasing some aspects of memory. Aerobic exercise training increased the volume of the right anterior hippocampus by two percent, thus reversing age-related loss in the organ by one to two years.” (


After that brisk walk, many of us take a relaxing shower. This raises two questions. “Does bathing frequency have an impact on one’s health? How often should you really shower?” 


Well, here's the bottom line says a leading dermatologist. “Three is no standard for how often a person should shower. In other words, this is not a medical issue. Bathing frequency really boils down to what your skin can tolerate and how quickly your body starts to get funky.” 


Just for reference, about two-thirds of the American population opt for daily showers. “According to research published in Skin Appendage Disorders, five to six times per week is the sweet spot when it comes to hair washing.”



Now that you've had a nice walk and an invigorating shower, it's time to treat yourself to a reward. says chocolate may be the perfect option. 


They note that there are health benefits of chocolate. “Chocolate is packed with disease-fighting properties. Chocolate can play a key role in reducing your risk of heart disease. Chocolate’s antioxidants seem to protect against plaque buildup on your artery walls. Eating a small square of chocolate that contains fifty to seventy percent cocoa on a daily basis can help lower your blood pressure. Drinking two cups of hot chocolate each day can improve brain health and prevent memory decline. And regularly eating chocolate can actually help you make healthy diet choices.” The key is “small amounts,” which probably rules out a bag of family-size M&Ms per day. (


Chocolate is fine, but all that walking could make you thirsty. Luckily, there's good news on that front. When you get your copy of the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry,” in the mail, check out this article: “There May Be One Benefit to Drinking a Beer Every Day, Science Says.” 


The article observes: “A new study indicates that drinking one alcoholic beverage every day, in particular, may help in keeping your gut flora healthy: beer. Researchers had healthy men drink around twelve ounces of lager beer daily for four weeks. At the end of the study, twenty-two men had greater bacterial diversity in their gut and better markers of intestinal health than they did before the study began. Researchers also said that a single daily beer did not appear to increase body weight or body fat mass.” (


As with chocolate, portion control comes into play. One beer a day doesn't mean that a six-pack will make you six times healthier. So, if you can have only one beer what would that one beer be? I'm not sure what your choice would be, but I'm going to venture a guess that it would not be NEWBrew from Singapore. 


“NEWBrew is no ordinary beer. The new Singapore blond ale is made with recycled sewage. NEWBrew uses NEWater, Singapore’s brand of drinking water recycled from sewage. NEWater is made by disinfecting sewage with ultraviolet light and passing the liquid through advanced membranes to remove contaminant particles.” 


I'm sure this water and beer are perfectly fine, given modern technology. One tester said: “It tastes just like beer.” I may be old school, but it's the “just like” part that makes it difficult for me to get paste the sewage thought. You too? (


Not to alarm you, but experiments in this brewing trend are ongoing in Europe, Canada, and the United States. Ponder that on your next walk. 


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and