How to help avoid this year’s flu

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

Published: January 24, 2018

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, recent news stories have been warning us that this season’s flu may be more deadly than most.  Any advice on how to avoid becoming one of the statistics?

A:  Speaking as one who has already experienced the unpleasantness of this current flu — despite having gotten my flu shot – I can share some of the tips I should have paid more attention to.  The online Money Talks News listed the following:

  • GET THAT FLU SHOT! I’m told my recent illness would have been worse, and likely lasted longer, if I had not had my flu shot.  If your health insurance does not cover it, the cost is usually $20-$40 – and I can tell you that’s a worthwhile investment, to avoid the misery!  The article by Melissa Neiman says some places are offering “bonuses” for getting the shots at their stores:  Target gives a $5 coupon; CVS offers $5 off the next purchase of $25, and Safeway offers 10% off of groceries purchased that day.
  • WASH YOUR HANDS THOROUGHLY (AND OFTEN). The article says you should lather up for at least 20 seconds, which the author claims is how long it takes to sing or hum “Happy Birthday.” (Mr. Pedometer does not recommend singing aloud in public restrooms  (-;  )
  • AVOID TOUCHING YOUR NOSE OR EYES. This might not be as easy as it sounds. A 2012 survey observed that people touched surfaces in public places an average of 3.3 times per hour…and they touched their faces 3.6 times per hour.
  • GET MORE SLEEP. This may have been Mr. Pedometer’s  downfall since I was keeping long hours at multiple business conferences before becoming ill. It turns out that sleep deprivation can weaken one’s immune system.
  • EXERCISE REGULARLY. Those who manage 2.5 hours of exercise per week reduce their chances of getting the flu by 10%.  (Walking on Saturday mornings is a great start!)

I sincerely hope that none of our readers will experience the flu that is going around.  Take it from me:  it’s no fun!





Is it safe to donate blood?

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, is it safe to be a blood donor?

A:  Good question, since January is National Volunteer Blood Donor Month.  Donating is a safe, pain-free (except for a needle prick) process that takes about an hour.  Most of that is spent filling out a questionnaire and having blood pressure and blood iron level checked. According to the American Red Cross (which provides about 40% of the blood needed in the USA), if you are at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, and are in generally good health, you likely will be eligible to donate blood.  The questionnaire will ask about your health history and medications to ensure that your blood is safe for a recipient.

All blood types are needed, but Stanford Hospital recently notified the news media that they are particularly in need of Type O negative.

Good news: Blood donors now can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, prior to arriving at the blood drive or donor location.  To get started, and learn more, visit and follow the instructions at that site.

You need to bring your driver’s license (or blood donor card, or two other types of identification) when you check in to donate blood.  You also can call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or to get more information.

The reason this is the month of a national blood donor drive is that winter weather tends to decrease the number of donors making appointments or dropping in to donate, right at a time when there continues to be a great need for these life-saving contributions.

Can you spare one hour to possibly save someone’s life?





Am I the only adult who never makes New Year’s Resolutions?  


Q:  Mr. Pedometer, am I the only adult who never makes New Year’s Resolutions?  Why bother?

A:  New Year’s Resolutions are just another name for goals.  Some people say failing to set goals is like starting to drive your car with no destination in mind:  How will you know when you arrive?

Having said that, I will acknowledge that you certainly are not alone in passing up January as goal-setting time.  The East Bay News devoted an entire page to the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions.  I was surprised to read that, according to a poll conducted by the Marist College Institute of Public Opinion, “The majority of Americans (56%) did not make New Year’s Resolutions.”

Of those who did, the survey found these to be the top four:

  • Be a better person (12%)
  • Lose weight (12%)
  • Exercise more (9%)
  • Eat Healthier (9%)

Mr. Pedometer would note that if you carry out the last two, you likely will have accomplished the first one.  (-;


Staying Warm while in Freezing Temperatures

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends

Published December 13, 2017

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, my family’s winter gathering for the holidays will be in snow country.  I’m always cold, even in milder climates. Any advice on staying warm while in freezing temperatures?

A:  The older you are, the harder it is to stay warm.  That’s because our metabolism slows, and the fat layer under our skin thins.  The current edition of Consumer Reports on Health offers these tips:

  • DRESS RIGHT – Wear loose layers of clothing, since tight garments can impair your circulation. Wool or silk will hold heat better than cotton and won’t absorb moisture.  For outdoors, wear a winter coat, plus a hat scarf, and gloves, since extremities get coldest first.
  • AVOID ALCOHOL – “Alcohol can feel warming, but it actually has the opposite effect: It lowers your core body temperature and can cause you to lose body heat more quickly.  So opt for hot beverages like cider, but skip the brandy.”
  • WATCH FOR DANGER SIGNS – “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cold causes a higher proportion of deaths among older adults, who are especially susceptible to hypothermia (when the body’s temperature falls to dangerous levels).”
  • Have your phone with you at all times so that you can call for help if you fall on ice or get stuck in snow while driving.
  • Keep your home thermostat set at 68 degrees or higher.
  • Be aware of the symptoms of hypothermia, which include confusion, slurred speech, shivering, arm and leg stiffness, and slow reaction times. Call 911 or go to an emergency room if you suspect you have it.

I hope you can enjoy your holiday by staying warm while you take in the beauty of snowy surroundings.

Especially between Thanksgiving and, say, Groundhogs Day, Mr. Pedometer advises…


How to Navigate Holiday Eating

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, ‘tis the season for over-eating.  Any advice on how we can keep from adding pounds during the holidays, with all the delicious, once-a-year treats tempting us?

A:  The simplest strategy is to follow the advice of Julia Child: Enjoy everything, but in moderation.

For more specific advice, here’s what last month’s AARP Bulletin suggested for “Navigating the Holiday Buffet”:


  • Pigs in a blanket: High in fat, salt, and carbs.
  • Fried cheese balls: High fat and small (easy to overeat).
  • Baked brie: Fatty and addictive, plus you have to slather it onto some carb calories.
  • Chips: They don’t have any nutritional value.


  • Cheese & crackers: They are calorically dense and too easy to eat.  Plus, they’re not special.  Spend your holiday calories on something more festive.
  • Once-a-year-favorites: You only eat stuffing, latkes, and eggnog once or twice a year.  If you’ve been coveting your cousin’s pecan pie or your neighbor’s roast goose, enjoy in moderation.
  • Dessert: If there is an array to choose from, pick out your ONE favorite and allow yourself a reasonably sized portion.


  • Crispy, crunchy crudite’s: Your first stop should be the brightly colored vegetable arrangement.  Add hummus to slow digestion.
  • Pork tenderloin, ham, or turkey: Protein will suppress your appetite because it is slow-digesting and triggers the release of several hormones that make you feel full.
  • Shrimp cocktail: Low in fat, high in protein, and a perfect first course for a low-calorie tour of the buffet.
  • Swedish meatballs: Another protein-packed option that stands out amid a carbohydrate-heavy table.
  • Prosciutto-wrapped asparagus: A great choice to fuel your body while keeping your appetite in check.

According to the article (by Kimberly Rae Miller), “the average American gains more than a pound each holiday season…and half of that weight will still be around come summertime” (based on a study in the New England Journal of Medicine). She wryly notes, “Over a decade, that’s one pant size of holiday cookies added to your belly.”

Especially between Halloween and, say, Groundhogs Day, Mr. Pedometer advises…


T2D and Eating


Q:  Mr. Pedometer, you have provided lots of valuable advice on how to avoid getting Type 2 diabetes.  If one gets that dreaded diagnosis, is there any way to reverse the disease?

A:  Spry Living newspaper insert ( listed suggested ways you can work to get rid of the disease (or at least to reduce the amount of medication you need to take).  Even if you cannot completely reverse the disease, you CAN reduce your

  • Weight
  • Blood-sugar
  • Cholesterol level
  • Blood pressure level

The article suggests the following strategies:

  • DON’T CUT CARBS COMPLETELY – consider trying the “rural Asian diet,” recommends Dr. George King, Jr., of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. That diet includes rice, quinoa, lentils, spinach, broccoli, fish, oatmeal, tomatoes, bean sprouts, and eggplant.  Such a diet can help people with diabetes safely and effectively lose weight, says King.
  • TAKE A BREAK FROM MEAT AND DAIRY – Switching to a plant-based diet works for those who don’t want to watch portions closely or count calories, according to Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. However, he warns that one should first check with one’s doctor before dramatically switching one’s diet.
  • EXERCISE AT LEAST EVERY OTHER DAY – “Insulin resistance primarily occurs when muscles fail to absorb glucose from your bloodstream. After a workout, your muscles take in more glucose so your body doesn’t have to work as hard to produce insulin.  This effect lasts about 48 hours.…”
  • TURN DOWN THE HEAT – “Try keeping your house in the mid-60s for at least a few hours a day, and don’t pile on sweaters and blankets to combat the cold.” Dr. King says this may help burn calories and may also help control glucose and reduce insulin resistance.

Mr. Pedometer repeats…