Popular conceptions about health aren’t always right

July 22, 2013
Yoga pants cause obesity?

Sitting all day may shorten your life” [July 16] is a wonderful example of the importance of asking fundamental questions about current thinking.

Simple mantras that drive popular conceptions about exercise, health, diet and medical practices are ripe for re-exploration. Is it one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise five days a week? Is it four cups of vegetables a day? Do yoga pants cause obesity?

Your article says, “We know that if you exercise 40 to 60 minutes a day, you’re going to have a health benefit.” Not 30 minutes a day, five days a week, as we often hear? The answer is important: After all, there is much at stake.

But the article helps. It reports and confirms: Do something, as opposed to nothing, and do it often.

David M. Siegler, Oakton

Hazing young doctors

Regarding “More work, but less time” [July 9]:

When I was young, I didn’t think I was smart enough to be doctor. Many years and many doctors later, I’ve found that some doctors are smarter than I am, some are as smart, and some are less smart than I am. An example of this last group are the doctors in your article who argue that “doctors were different from other humans in their ability to transcend fatigue.” How did they pass their physiology and psychology exams in medical school thinking that?

Doctors do not have superhuman abilities, and if they did, it would be best for that power to be in diagnosing and treating our diseases, not the ability to stay awake for 36 hours at a time. I think the 120-hour workweeks and 36-hour shifts were a form of hazing, no different from a college fraternity’s, and there is nothing different or superior in doing that.

Melissa Yorks, Gaithersburg

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