Thursday, July 21, 2005

Tools I Use:

I'm going to occasionally write about tools I use that do their job well. These can range from software to garden tools to tips and tricks that I think will be new to other people. Most often, they'll be software of one kind or another. Today's tool falls in the category of and .

I have several sources that I rely on for health advice: Janet (my S.O.), Health Magazine, and are the primary ones. Health Magazine used to be aimed at a wide audience, but now is more focused on women. It still has a fairly high standard for articles on health-related issues. All I have to do is skip over the beauty tips, and the rest is fairly useful. (Their main sections are Body, Mind, Food, Beauty, and Fitness.) There's more relationship advice than I need, but it's about getting along with your boss as often as about getting along with your mate, and they don't have silly articles about how to attract the perfect man, so I don't object to it. As I said, their standards are fairly high in terms of insisting that their writers cover subjects where there's research behind the advice. They don't alays give sources, but often do refer to the scientists behind the findings, or even interview them.

The other source I go to is Their schtick is to ask you a bunch of health, lifestyle, exercise and dietary questions, and then tell you your "real age", reflecting your life expectancy as a comparative age. They tell me I'm doing many things right, so my "real age" is about 39, while I'm chronologically 46.

They also have plenty of advice about what you might change about your lifestyle to decrease your real age. The feedback and memetics on this are really good for those with a little ability for delayed gratification. The things you change about your life are reflected immediately in your expected lifespan, and apparent youth! If you backslide, you know it's increasing your real age *now*, not eventually.

I was initially attracted to this site by an article in "Health" Magazine that said that the people running the site are doing a good job of relying on and referring to the best scientific research on what changes make an actual difference in longevity. They provide references to the review papers that establish the efficacy of their advice when I've dived deeper into particular recommendations. Their policy is to only rely on results that are stable across repeated clinical trials. Their "real age" metric gives a very good feel for the effectiveness of lifestyle changes. You can easily decide whether you're willing to make different changes in your life when the benefits are expressed in a commonsense unit like an extra 6 months or 3 years of expected lifespan.

I currently take Vitamins C and E, Folic acid, and Calcium on the basis of the advice from I'm slowing down to closer to the speed limit when I drive, because this makes almost a year's difference in my RealAge. I occasionally revisit the site and update my answers when something changes in my life to find out how I'm doing. I changed jobs recently, and so I'm riding my bike more often than I have in 15 years, for example.

I recommend the site.

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