SI Vault
Edited by Craig Neff
November 13, 1989
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November 13, 1989


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Scientists keep finding truth in folk wisdom. Recent studies on the relationship of dietary fiber and heart disease suggest that eating an apple a day—or, really, an apple plus plenty of vegetables and oat bran—can help keep the doctor away. And last week researchers from Dallas released the results of a study that provide conclusive evidence that being physically fit can prolong your life.

Using data accumulated over 15 years from 13,000 men and women, a team from the Institute for Aerobics Research and the Cooper Clinic found that even becoming modestly fit—through, say, a half-hour walk each day—can dramatically reduce one's chances of dying from cancer, heart disease and other afflictions. 'The high level of fitness you'd expect to find in a well-trained athlete isn't required," says the study's director, Dr. Steven Blair. "Just getting out of the least-fit category into the moderate-fitness category provides substantial benefits."

Indeed, the mortality rate of the unfit group in Blair's study was twice as high as that of the slightly more fit group. Highly fit people were found to have an even lower mortality rate, though the additional benefit was less dramatic. Sadly, only 10% to 20% of U.S. adults work out vigorously and often; by contrast, 20% to 30% are pure couch potatoes. "I'm not telling runners to slow down," says Blair. "I'm saying to others. Turn off the TV, get up and move around a little bit.' "

To publicize its double-decker cheeseburgers, the BK DOUBLE line, Burger King thought it would be clever to do a promotion with this season's major league leader in doubles. Surprisingly, the fast-food chain followed through on the idea, even though the doubles leader was the Boston Red Sox's Wade Boggs, who eats chicken before every game.


A funny thing happened to Brian Bergstrom at the Nebraska state high school cross-country meet in Kearney. An instant before the crack of the pistol, as he toed the line with the 125 other entrants in the 3.1-mile race, Bergstrom, who's the No. 1 runner for Holdrege High, was stung on the back by a bee. He took off in pain and panic, afraid of being stung again. Meanwhile, the starter fired his gun twice—once to start the race and a second time to call back the runners because Bergstrom had false-started.

Bergstrom, a junior, was stunned when the starter told him he had been disqualified for jumping the gun. Bergstrom ended up in tears, with a three-inch welt on his back, and his teammates, trying to take up the slack, went out too fast in the race and then faded. Holdrege finished a disappointing ninth among the 18 teams that were entered.


Shortly after the Texas football team beat bitter rival Arkansas 24-20 three weeks ago in Fayetteville, Ark., Chester Cunningham, 58, whose son, Ed, plays offensive tackle for the Long-horns, suffered a massive heart attack just outside Razorback Stadium. "One minute we were all chanting ' Cotton Bowl!" in the dressing room," says Ed. "The next thing I know, I'm holding my mother—crying."

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