Live a Little! Breaking the Rules Won't Break Your Health by Susan M. Love: Health Book Review
by Susan M. Love and Alice D. Domar
The back cover says, "Taking the HELL out of Healthy."
When I saw this book come upstairs from Cataloging, I snatched it up. (Okay, first I checked to make sure there weren't any patron holds on it.) It's full of common sense and reassurance about what it takes to be "Pretty Healthy"--which is the term the authors use to describe a state of health that is more than adequate for living our daily lives, and for longevity. It's divided into eight chapters that cover such things as the Myth of Perfect Health, Sleep, Stress, Health Screenings, Exercise, Nutrition, Relationships, and a "Pretty Healthy" life, decade by decade.
For me, it was good news to hear that my sleep patterns are pretty normal, or otherwise Pretty Healthy, for my age. There are quizzes to help you understand where you fall within Pretty Healthy parameters for sleep, stress, exercise and so on.
Regarding exercise, the authors say that most young, active women don't really need to exercise at all. They're already getting plenty of stamina and strength training by running after, and toting, young ones. But exercise does become more important with each decade of our lives. For women in their forties and beyond, Pretty Healthy means that you can walk a mile in 20 minutes or less, followed by jogging a mile without stopping. It also means you can carry your grocery sacks in from the car.
How much time should you spend on exercise? Pretty Healthy means that if you walk a mile in 20 minutes, then you need to exercise a total of four hours each week. If you jog a mile in 12 minutes or less, then you need to exercise for 2.5 hours each week. But no more than that! Exercise isn't religion, they say. It's just exercise.
The authors debunk the need for a variety of health screenings and set up new guidelines, based on the most current medical information about them.
Regarding weight, the authors emphasized that we've all been given a certain type of body. Some bodies will never be sleek and slim, no matter how few calories consumed. It's a scientific fact that some people can eat twice the calories of others, and still manage to weigh far less.
The authors suggest that everyone's body has a lower and a higher weight range, and it will naturally fall between one end and the other. They don't advocate obesity, of course, but they do advocate tossing out the BMI as a criteria for the perfect weight. They cited a study that showed that people who were overweight by BMI standards tended to live longer than those in the BMI's obese or even normal categories.
The authors suggested that most of the population is in the overweight class for BMI, and if being overweight can lead to a longer life, "isn't it time to find a less pejorative name for this category? How about "average" ... or "Pretty Healthy"?"