This time of year, with the furnaces fired up and people stuck indoors, we choose (sometimes against our better judgment) to travel across the country and close ourselves up with other travelers. Apparently the purpose of this exercise is to share germs. Even if everyone in your family is completely healthy, there is always that one outlier who acts as a host for some bacterial or viral plague. If you want to know who, just listen for the child with the loose cough and the stuffy nose. Odds are, the old and the infirm and the unlucky will sound like that within the week.
Wash your hands until they bleed and be afraid, be very afraid.
Even though we traveled through two homes in two states with probably two dozen different people in attendance, I think we have made it through the holidays without bringing any unwanted cooties to our home. I, on the other hand, have been the host for a different kind of contagious disorder, and I encourage you to be contagious as well.
This summer, you may have noticed news articles about a Harvard study appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study purports to establish that obesity is socially contagious. The study -- the first to examine this phenomenon -- finds that if one person becomes obese, those closely connected to them have a greater chance of becoming obese themselves. If a person you consider a friend becomes obese, your own chances of becoming obese go up 57 percent. Among mutual friends, the effect is even stronger, with chances increasing 171 percent.
But that's only the bad news. The good news is that conquering obesity is also contagious. If you take on healthy habits and maintain a healthy weight, or if you help someone else do it, the effect extends beyond (perhaps far beyond) that one person.
Hopefully, I am becoming contagious in a good way. I mentioned that Mrs. Greyhound, having made friends of my triathlon friends, has caught the disease. My brother has gained a gym membership and lost some lbs. My secretary just joined the greatest health club on the planet for which I am a part time model. And this Christmas, I went to the gym with my dad--to his gym--for the first time ever.
Mom just rolled her eyes at us and generally bitched. She seems immune to the virus.
Who infected you? Who have you infected? Who are you going to infect this year?