The Pulse

First Aid & Nutrition


In the near future, expeditions to remote destinations (where emergency help can be days away) will most likely carry the new SUPERBANDAGE from Oregon-based HemCon. Developed for the U.S. Army, these large adhesive bandages are coated with a mixture of vinegar and chitosan, a product culled from shrimp shells, to produce a positive electrical charge that bonds to the negative charge of red blood cells. What happens next sounds like sci-fi: Within a minute, the concoction stimulates clotting effective enough to stop a gushing artery. So, with these babies, there's no need for Ramboesque self-stitching in the field. Given the $139 price tag, however, finances may dictate that you not get hurt in the first place. (503-245-0459,

It might sound blasphemous to our "low salt, no fat" mindset, but a small order of salted potato chips or French fries qualifies as a legit rehydration strategy after strenuous exercise, especially during the hot and humid days to come. "In the summer, the most important first step to take after vigorous exercise is to DOWN A TALL GLASS OF WATER AND EAT SOME SALTY FOODS," says Ed Ryan, director of sports medicine for the U.S. Olympic Committee. "I don't care where it comes from, just get some salt." Ryan says that until you replenish the sodium and chloride electrolytes (a.k.a. salt) lost through sweat, your body can't rehydrate properly, and liquids quickly exit in the form of urine. Granted, he's not endorsing a fast-food habit—low-fat pretzels work just as well—but he's adamant about your body's need for an ounce or two of salty food (say, ten to 12 potato chips, typically about 200 mg of sodium) following a hard workout. Proper hydration should outweigh any concern you might have over the fat content of a few fries.

Health & Fitness

If Professor James Collins of Boston University's Department of Biomedical Engineering has his way, we may end up with tweeters in our sneakers and, as a result, better balance. Since 2002, Collins has been focusing vibrations from SUBSENSORY NOISE on the feet of 20-year-olds and senior citizens alike in an effort to amp up equilibrium and put some flair in folks' crossover dribble or salsa technique. "The noise essentially tickles the neurons' membranes," explains Collins, thus making your nervous system more responsive when you're suddenly thrown off-kilter. The result? Balance can improve by up to 20 percent. Next, Collins wants to plant tiny noisemakers inside sport shoes in order to hone athletes' precision and efficiency. Memo to Michael Jordan: Call Jim.

In her new book Ultimate Fitness (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $24), New York Times health reporter Gina Kolata takes a sledgehammer to the shaky foundations supporting many of the overhyped HEALTH REGIMENS TOUTED AS GOSPEL today. "If I learned anything from investigating the exercise field," she writes in the epilogue, "it is that good research often gets lost amidst marketing claims and exaggerations and the sale of dubious programs." A prime example is the multimillion-dollar business that sprang up around the well-known formula for max heart rate: 220 minus age. Considering that it was extrapolated from a 1971 survey of only ten studies involving white males under the age of 65, even the formula's creator, William Haskell, is dumbfounded by the way his untested calculation has become a commercial juggernaut and, as a perverse consequence, is now viewed as physical law. According to Kolata, we should all be so dumbfounded.

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