Note to guys: Take the load off your back!

Message for men: If your go-to cargo carrier (gym bag, laptop case, toss-it-all-in tote) goes everywhere you do, you have joined the male fashion forefront. Also, the bad-back crowd. Women (whose purses now often tip the scales at seven to 15 pounds!) are not the only ones hauling too much stuff around by a set of skinny, shoulder-punishing straps. Guys are catching up. And Dr. Mike’s suffering, too.

Thanks to the rise of the “man purse,” and to our nonstop lives, it’s a good bet you’re lugging around your lunch, water bottle, sneakers, shorts, laptop, smartphone and reading materials (like this newspaper!). The average guy’s bag now weighs 13.6 pounds. We feel your pain. Slinging that weight over one shoulder, or always carrying it in the same hand, throws off your balance, straining back and shoulder muscles.

But being fashionable (or just prepared) doesn’t have to hurt. Here’s how to prevent or fix this common cause of back pain:

  • Redistribute the weight. Get a backpack and use both shoulder straps. Or try a messenger bag, which balances you somewhat better by keeping the contents on one side of your body and the strap over the opposite shoulder. Just switch sides often.
  • Lighten your load. Don’t really need the laptop today? Leave it home. Stash extra gym gear in your office or car.
  • Trade up. Been looking for an excuse to upgrade to smaller, lighter electronics? You’ve got one, guilt-free!

Women are ahead of us: British purse researchers say female handbags are slimming down, thanks to smaller phones, lighter laptops and electronic book readers.

SEND THIS TO YOUR BOSS!

Hey, sleepyhead, want a raise? Go tell your boss you will be back in an hour … after your nap!

Really, it could happen if your boss understands how much more productive and heart-healthy a nap can make you. After just 45 to 60 minutes of daytime ZZZ’s, you bounce back to work like a Zen master and reduce your blood pressure, too.

It’s not surprising you could use a little nap. Between late-night Tweeting and channel surfing, most of us sleep almost 2 hours less per night than folks did 50 years ago. That snooze deficit is costing a fortune: more than $100 billion annually in lost productivity, sick leave and medical costs in the U.S. alone! Yep, serious money. Poor sleep makes you eat more and gain weight; it also kicks up your risk of heart disease, diabetes and more.

Can’t take a nap break? Then use that midday time to set yourself up for great sleep at night:

  • Take an afternoon walk (outdoors if possible, around the hallways if not) or, if there’s an office gym, use it at siesta time.
  • Do a daytime text-and-email blitz so you can ignore all that at night. The light from the screens of computers and cell phones (TVs, too) keeps your brain in wake-up mode.

Bonus: You’ll wake up smarter, too. A good night’s sleep does great things for your ability to store and recall what you learned during the day. Your boss has gotta like that!

NATURAL WAYS TO SLOW HAIR LOSS FOR MEN AND WOMEN

Guys, as you eye your hairline in the mirror, do you worry that the Bruce Willis look may not be quite so adorable on you?

Don’t panic. Men (women, too, who often see thinning around menopause) can take healthy steps to help reverse sudden hair loss. It’s often caused by diet, illness and overdoing your hair grooming. You even can slow the gradual hair loss that’s a result of genes (80 million men and women have hereditary hair loss). Here’s how:

1. Sip a little caffeine. Yep, caffeine helps slow baldness. It decreases a follicle-damaging hormone known as DHT (a friendlier way of saying dihydrotestosterone). It comes from testosterone, the hormone that makes men and women want to get friendlier with each other. The easiest place to get your supply: tea or coffee.

2. Be gentle. Vigorous brushing and high heat can break strands, leaving even relatively thick manes looking frayed and thin. Avoid rough toweling, too; wet hair is more elastic and vulnerable to damage than dry hair.

3. Eat lean protein. Hair, which is made mostly of the protein keratin, needs protein to grow. Low-fat, heart-healthy, skinless poultry breasts are particularly good because they’re also rich in iron and zinc, and deficiencies in either trigger hair loss.

4. Vary your veggies. Add peas, carrots, cauliflower and soybeans to salads and sides. All are good sources of vitamins B-6, biotin and folate, which help slow hair loss and encourage growth.
That should help keep your hair on your head, where it belongs.

The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen, are authors of “YOU: On a Diet.” Want more? See “The Dr. Oz Show” on TV (check local listings). To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com.

SF Examiner
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