Penguins, widow’s work and solo exercising: The week in Well+Being

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Happy World Penguin Day! We’re celebrating with beautiful illustrations from illustrator Abbey Lossing and an all-penguin “cheer snack” later in this newsletter. This week we also write about “widow work” and solo exercises. But before that …

This week’s must-reads:

  • Arthritis medication helps old dogs, but some owners worry Side effects
  • What is oil pulling and is it good for your teeth?
  • How do chemical cleaning products called “quats” can affect the brain
  • Do women who live together menstruate together? or is it a myth?
  • Can Dogs “Catch” Yawns humans ?

The arduous task of “widow’s work”

This week, I was moved by an essay by a 92-year-old writer, Barbara Morris, who shared the emotional and logistical challenges of widowhood. She lost her husband, Ward, after 56 years of marriage.

Readers and I were struck by her description of “widow’s work”—the financial, insurance, medical, and legal paperwork that those left behind must go through after someone dies.

To help people prepare for these events – and hopefully minimize the strain of widow work – AARP offers a number of helpful guides. Here are four simple steps to take now to make life easier for you or your loved ones if one of you dies.

  1. Prepare an end-of-life notebook: This AARP worksheet will help you start compiling all the documents—medical, legal, financial, and end-of-life—you need. This will take some time, but the worksheet is a great way to keep track of what you still need to do.
  2. Write your advance directives: Go to the AARP website to find the right forms for your state. This step is the one that most directly benefits you and will help your family make medical decisions on your behalf. The Five Wishes website is also a popular resource, with easy-to-follow instructions for creating an advanced directive.
  3. Make a will: Gallup reports that fewer than half of Americans have a will. Without a will, state laws will decide how your assets will be distributed. Services like Nolo or LegalZoom can help you for a fee.
  4. Create a digital estate plan: This guide from AARP will help you manage utility accounts, credit cards, and social media passwords.

Solo Exercise and How to Stay Safe

There are many good tips for staying safe while hiking or running outside when you are alone. These tips could really apply to anyone venturing out on a trail or long hike. Weather, falls and injuries are the biggest threats, according to our story.

It included a number of useful resources, including, which offers regional tips and a quiz to test your safety knowledge. The Emily M. Sotelo Charitable Foundation for Safety and Persistence is named after a young woman who died hiking in New Hampshire’s White Mountains in November 2022. The foundation offers six pillars of hiking preparedness and a packing list essential elements of hiking. The American Hiking Society offers a list of 10 essential items to bring on every hike. The Fowler-O’Sullivan Foundation, established in honor of missing Pacific Crest Trail hikers Kris Fowler and David O’Sullivan, provides free Garmin inReach devices to PCT hikers each year as part of its mission to ensure hiker safety.

Read the full story for more great tips.

Why people without diabetes use glucometers

Why do healthy people who do not have diabetes use continuous glucose monitors? Should I take one?

Continuous blood sugar monitoring has become a major health fad among those who do not have diabetes but want to use the data to inform their lifestyle choices. Daily factors such as diet, exercise and stress affect your blood sugar.

The monitors, which are usually worn on the upper arm or stomach, contain a specialized enzyme that reacts with glucose molecules in your body, generating a tiny electrical current. Its voltage is proportional to your blood glucose concentration, which the device calculates several times per hour.

People are often fascinated by the results because everyone reacts differently to food. In a study of more than 45,000 meals of 800 people, researchers found high variability in glucose levels even after eating the same foods, such as bread with butter.

I normally do not recommend continuous glucose monitors to my healthy patients. But I appreciate that some people – especially those who feel they’ve already made great efforts to better control their blood sugar – will find seeing this data displayed in real time to be informative and motivating.

To find out more, read the complete column by Harvard physician Trisha S. Pasricha.

World Penguin Day is celebrated every year on April 25 to raise awareness about these charming birds. For your snack of joy this week, I thought it would be fun to share our best penguin content from the archives.

  • These penguins found a camera in Antarctica and took a surprisingly good ‘selfie’
  • A king penguin and a wedding anniversary inspired a couple to see all 18 species
  • Meet the adorable penguins this photographer discovered during a trip to Antarctica
  • Pair of male penguins do a ‘great job’ raising a baby chick
  • A penguin love story: she is 43 years old. He is 13.

Want to know more about “joy” snacks? Our Brain Matters columnist Richard Sima explains. Yesyou can also read this story like a comic strip.

Please let us know how we are doing. Send me an email to You can also find us on

News Source :
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