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Say 'Aaah' | Booster Shots

Feeling Shrunken and a Little Off Balance

May 15, 2000|Rosie Mestel

Did you know that if you want to keep track of your height--to watch for signs of osteoporosis, for instance--you should do your measuring at the same time of day? The force of gravity shortens our height by a whole half-inch between morning and evening.

As someone who often stays up for long stretches, this fascinates me. Is the effect cumulative? How short do I end up getting? Why hasn't anyone commented: "Looking short, Rosie. File that story yet?"

This factoid is found in the May issue of the Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter, a consumer publication filled with useful information.

The latest issue has articles not just on shrinking, but also expanding. One article informs us of a study that concluded that we didn't put on as many pounds as we'd imagined over the holidays--probably, on average, just one pound instead of the oft-quoted five.

That's encouraging, but the newsletter article also informs us that the study, conducted by the National Institutes of Health, also found that we probably haven't lost that pound yet.

Back to osteoporosis. To monitor for signs, the newsletter recommends you measure your height once a year, first thing in the morning. If you've shrunk more than half an inch, talk to your doc. It offers tips for osteoporosis prevention and management. But it also points out that one way to avoid the worst effects of the disease is to avoid taking tumbles that could break a fragile bone.

One's sense of balance, we read, starts deteriorating when a woman reaches her mid-40s. Although nowhere near that age, I decided to try out the newsletter's balance test.

The first step was to find a spotter. (Part of the test involves teetering around on one leg with one's eyes closed.) A lot of the folks in the newsroom seemed to be busy writing things, but eventually I found someone.

The test began.

We stood, in turn, with one foot placed behind the other. Then we balanced on one leg. Sometimes we were instructed to shut our eyes, other times keep them open. We timed each other with a stopwatch. A few passersby stared in puzzlement.

My friend scored "excellent," performing all five tests flawlessly with barely a reel or a flail. My score wasn't as good: "poor" with my shoes on and "fair" in bare feet. So now I'm in balance-training. If you see me standing like a one-legged stork with its wings in the air, don't stare.

Out of the Bunch, We'll Take Brunch

Finally, moms out there, we hope you had a good Mother's Day. Heaven knows, moms need it. We recently received a press release from the maker of Post Grape-Nuts cereal with this shocking finding from a survey conducted on 1,010 adults: "Moms Identified as Group that Needs the Most Energy." (Someone--I can't swear as to who--scribbled "Duh!" on the release.)

We hope news of this study did not encourage dutiful sons or daughters to buy Mom ribbon-wrapped cartons of Grape-Nuts--which are "full of carbohydrate energy," as the cereal maker carefully pointed out--in lieu of bunches of flowers or scrumptious Sunday brunches.

We also had doubts about a publicist's other suggestion for a Mother's Day treat: Skip the yummy brunch and instead take Mom to have a medical scan of her inner organs (at a cost of up to $1,325).

Thanks, but for Mother's Day, I'll take the brunch.

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