Don’t be a distracted walker: Stop and text 

Two of our favorite cartoons: One depicts a man walking across the street, texting. As he passes a sign that says “Men at work,” he steps right into an open manhole. The caption below reads, “Natural selection at work.” The other shows an illustration of an anthropological chart. They usually depict man’s evolution into an upright, walking being. But the caption on this one, instead of saying “The ascent of man,” reads “The descent of man,” and the last image is of a hunched-over human form, texting.

According to some reports, in the past seven years, the number of pedestrians who have gotten hit and landed in the emergency room while crossing the street because of distracted walking has quadrupled. And some estimates put the actual number at more than twice that because many incidents go unreported. We do know that there’s been a spike in the number of pedestrian fatalities.

Now, we could suggest that you pay more attention while you cross the street, but you have to take responsibility for keeping your chin up and being alert. What we can do point out that the neck-bent, shoulders-slumped posture that goes along with texting and walking is a trigger for headaches, shallow breathing, and shoulder and neck pain. What’s more, your entire balance system is compromised, and you’re likely to injure yourself in a stumble. So the next time you start to walk and text, stop. Just pull over, look up and find a place where it’s safe for everyone to communicate.

WARDING OFF JUNK-FOOD DEMONS

By the time he graduated from Hogwarts, Harry Potter had battled a never-ending array of evil forces. But those confrontations are nothing compared with the evil foods that kids in elementary, middle and high schools have to deal with day in and day out.

Food and beverage companies spent $149 million on in-school marketing campaigns in 2009. Three years later, 51 percent of high schools had company-sponsored vending machines. And almost 66 percent of elementary schools now offer kids coupons for life-shortening, brain-fogging fast-food discounts. Even worse, 19 percent of high schools actually serve branded fast food in their cafeteria daily.

If you’re a parent who is vigilant about protecting your children from the hazards of fast food, you still can’t prevent them from being bombarded with “Eat this junk now!” messages 200 days a year! So how can you shield your kids from the food menace at their school?

Lobby school administrators for changes. Work to create other avenues for fundraising, like a family sports day in conjunction with sport shoe manufacturers (hey, it’s worth a phone call). And empower your kids to make smart choices. One study found that kids who pay cash for meals order fewer sweets, more healthy foods and consume 10 percent fewer calories than kids who don’t need to do the math.

HOW TO BE HEALTH INFLUENCER

They say that opposites attract, but if you scan a newspaper’s photos of couples celebrating silver and golden anniversaries, you’d swear the secret to a long and happy marriage is to wed someone who looks just like you. That’s because shared habits and experiences shape facial expressions, wrinkles and folds, creating similarities between a husband and wife that weren’t there when they were younger.

But superficial worry lines aren’t all that can develop as years go by. Research shows that some couples become similarly unhealthy.

But what we noticed about these studies was that many more of you do not become obese or develop diabetes when your partner does. And we’re interested in supporting YOU to become the influencer in your house by making better health fun — even seductive.

1. Make a walking date: Take a daily stroll for 10 days running (it’ll set the habit).

2. Together, start your own cooking show. Eliminate anything with added sugar or syrup and transfats, any grain that’s not 100 percent whole, and red meat.

3. Remember — share hugs and laughter!

Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Michael Roizen is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.sharecare.com.

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