Healthy ideas for a vacation at sea

Over 10 million people will select a cruise as a preferred means of vacation travel.  Most cruise lines provide all-inclusive packages with meals, entertainment and lodging.  Maintaining a healthy weight and following a prescribed diet can be a difficult task.

There is no magic formula for maintaining a healthy weight.  The human body is an efficient machine, calories are taken in to provide energy and calories are expended with effort.  Often, a cruise provides many opportunities to take in more food with fewer opportunities to work out.

Fortunately, many cruises now present healthy options for fitness and dining.  Some healthy cruising tips include:

•  Fitness center.  Locate the fitness center and become familiar with the equipment available.  Modern cruise ships have an extensive assortment of workout gear.  Treadmills, ellipticals and stationary bicycles are among the most popular. A television set mounted to the apparatus also makes the time go by faster.
•  Fitness classes.  A cruise is a good occasion to try something new.  Personal trainers direct spinning, yoga, Zumba and TRX sessions.  A personal trainer on board may be able to put together an effective exercise program for year-round use.
•  Jogging track.  Ships now map out an area designated for guests who wish to jog or walk.  This area is typically located on the upper deck allowing for great views and a chance to enjoy some time outdoors.
•  Stairs.  Passengers who wish keep off some pounds should pass the elevators and opt for the stairs whenever possible. 
•  Pool. The swimming pools on board are typically very busy during the day but early morning is a perfect time to swim laps or perform a water aerobics program.

The most effective way to enjoy a cruise without gaining weight is to find a like-minded partner to support you at the gym and at the buffet.

Local approach to the concussion crisis

The sport of football is facing a growing problem regarding the health and safety of its athletes.  Approximately 3.8 million athletes in the United States will suffer a concussion this year.  Many of these may be the result of high velocity collision sports like football and hockey.  Since last season, four NFL players have committed suicide and autopsies revealed chronic brain damage associated with multiple brain injuries.

Concussion is best defined as “a syndrome of immediate and transient alteration of neurologic function as a result of a biomechanical force.”  The biomechanical force is generally a blow to the head.  Athletes have become bigger, stronger and faster over the past twenty years and protective equipment has not been able to keep up.

Many experts in the field of sports medicine have focused their efforts on reducing brain damage from repeated concussion.  Recommendations include modification of rules, teaching proper playing skills, providing appropriate, well-fit equipment and assuring the presence of trained medical personnel at sporting events.

Education is crucial to the success of any far-reaching public health effort.  Locally, Backus Hospital has partnered with the NFL Players’ Association and St. Louis Rams Super Bowl champion Ernie Conwell to produce an eight-minute video educating coaches, parents and athletes on the signs and symptoms of concussion.

Six local high schools have already agreed to show the video to every athlete involved in a high-velocity collision sport.  The goal of this program, titled, Concussion: Recognition, Rest, Recovery, is to increase early awareness and reporting of concussions.

The video is available online at  Copies of the CD can be obtained free by sending an e-mail to 

Concussion is a serious consequence for all athletes regardless of gender and level of competition.  The widespread dissemination of accurate information can be lifesaving.