Sunday, April 29, 2012

Easter In New York City

We recently spent a long weekend in New York visiting our son.  It was over the Easter holiday. We did quite a bit of sightseeing and dining. One of the most spectacular buildings we saw on that trip was the Empire State Building decorated for Easter. The photographs above show the Empire State Building as seen through the arch at Washington Square.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Coffee: Just What the Doctor Ordered

Last time I wrote about the many potential health benefits of high intensity interval training or HIIT. In as little as two ten minute sessions of cycling a week, the same results can be achieved as with multiple longer, less intense sessions. Today, I want to report on two other shortcuts to healthier living that you might want to consider.

First, Prevention Magazine recently reported on a British study that showed that cutting back on carbohydrates such as pasta, breads, etc, just twice a week had as much effect on weight loss as full-time dieters. Definitely worth looking into and trying if, like me, you hate counting calories.

Another recent study has appeared to confirm what we thought all along--coffee is good for you! In a recent study by the University of Madrid and Harvard University, dramatic reductions in mortality were found among coffee drinkers. According to the study, womenn who drank two to three cups of java had as much as an 18% reduction in death from all causes. The reduction for women who drank four or five cups was even more dramatic---up to a 26% reduction. The reduction for men was smaller but still not insignificant. So. drink up!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

High Intensity Interval Training for Better Health

Each month we will rotate the focus of  our posts.  In May we will stress health and fitness issues. Here is a preview of the type of post you can expect

It seems like every time I turn around, I see an article on the advantages of interval training, particularly cycling. You know what that is. You go flat out for a given time period, usually a minute or so, then cut back to a relaxed cadence. You've seen those guys at the track, running sprints and then stopping or just slowing to a jog or a trot. What I didn't know was those types of actions can be good for us ordinary exercisers. The New York Times recently reported that as little as a series of one minute intervals of cycling at 90 percent of the person's maximum heart rate followed by a minute of relaxed training repeated just 10 times each could have a significant impact on their fitness. And more, it actually lowered the risk of Type 2 diabetes by regulating the blood sugar. "How 1-Miinute Inervals Can Improve Your Health", February 15, 2012. IIt seems like it is a valuable means of shortening your workouts and reducing the chance of becoming diabetic.

That's not all. The Norwegian University of Science and Technology in January 2010 also reported on a study that showed that persons with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD improved their oxygen intake up to 20% after several weeks of one legged high intensity cycling sessions. "Cycling to better health, one leg at a time", press release, NTNU, January 20, 2010. Cycling one legged apparently causes the lungs to work harder. I tried to do this just to see how hard it would be and found it impossible to even turn the pedals with only one leg at a time. If you have better luck, let me know.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Niagara-on-the Lake: A Hidden Jewel

Located about  a 20 minute drive  from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada is a hidden jewel, Niagara-on-the-Lake. A scenic drive along the Niagara Parkway past Queenston Heights and stately homes overlooking the river, it is well worth a side trip if you plan on visiting Niagara Falls. I recommend that you go when the Shaw Festival is open. From April to October, each year, the professional actors of the festival present a number of fine shows, some of which are George Bernard Shaw's (his statute is in the center of town) plays but other playwrights such as Noel Coward are also represented  This year they are presenting Ragtime, Come Back Little Sheba and nine other plays in the various theaters in town. For more information, see

  Along the road into town you will pass a number of large wineries. We recommend the Reif winery. In our view they have the best Chardonnay.You should also buy a bottle of icewine made from frozen grapes each winter. It is a sweet ending to any meal. In the summer you will find numerous fruit stands where you can buy cherries and other fruits in season. Also along the way into town you will pass the Whirlpool golf courrse (a fairly flat course with a restaurant) and the well-known Floral Clock. In addition, there is a Butterfly Garden and on the very edge of town, Fort George, which is well worth seeing.

The town is a Victorian mixture of new and old. In the center of town is a clock tower. The main street has both modern shops (we particularly like the Irish shop) and old hotels such as the Prince of Wales. You have got to stop there for afternoon tea. Although expensive, it is well worth the price. Dinner there is also recommended. If you have the chance you should also stay there or in one of the nearby Bed and Breakfasts. Right outside the hotel are several horse drawn carriages ready to take you around town. A walk down to the lake front is a must. Be prepared though for the wind off the lake.  It can make even a spring day very cold so bring along your woolies.

For a weekend or a week, Niagara-on-the Lake is the place to be for fine acting, food and wine. Have a great time there.