With Memorial Day weekend approaching, the 2011 summer movie season is officially upon us. Big summer blockbusters are kind of like that scrumptious piece of eye candy you used to stare at in high school: fun to look at, but ultimately lacking substance. Don’t get us wrong, audiences love being whisked away on fantastical adventures, but we also crave characters that are real. We want to be able to relate to our superheroes and big screen comedy legends, and to see their humanity. So this got us thinking- how is this summer’s crop of leading men and women doing when it comes to wellness and physical fitness? Hollywood, we hope you’re taking notes.
1. The Hangover II: Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
It’s great to see that the gang’s back, as we all thoroughly enjoyed their original misadventures on the Vegas Strip. And judging by the few trailers that we’ve seen, they’re up to their old tricks, namely drinking in excess, blacking out, and having to pick up the pieces the next morning. What the “wolf pack” must not be grasping is that a little H2O can go a long way. One of the primary causes of a hangover is dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it stimulates your kidneys to filter water out of the blood, causing you to urinate more frequently. This accounts for the dry mouth, head and body aches, and sensitivity to light that your average weekend warrior feels on a Sunday morning (or afternoon). By consuming water before, during and after drinking, the body is given more time to break down the toxins in alcohol. Your drinking pace is also slowed if you choose to sip H2O in between drinks. Try pounding some Aquafina next time boys: you might just wake up with your whole group intact and no tattoos on your faces.
2. Bridesmaids: Hit the treadmill!
In this new comedy, Kristen Wiig’s character Annie is feeling blue because of intense competition to be the “best” bridesmaid in her best friend’s wedding. According to recent studies, Annie might be best served by simply going for a run. Running while angry or frustrated can have a variety of mental health benefits, including burning off extra negative energy, fighting anxiety, and increasing feelings of empowerment and self esteem. Running releases endorphins, which contribute to a general sense of well being and mood elevation. Looks like it’s time to lace up those Nikes, Annie!
3. Captain America: Bulk up!
In Captain America, Chris Evans’ character Steve Rogers starts out the film as a skinny, frail, anxious young man who is being denied the chance to fight for his country through military service due to his delicate physique. He ends up becoming Captain America, the Super-Soldier, through a risky, untested scientific procedure. But Steve, what if there was a better way? In reality, gaining weight is as simple as taking in more calories than you burn in a given day. Even those with the highest metabolism can put on the lb’s by going big on lean meats, whole grains and vegetables. Combine this with a vigorous weight training program and Boom! You’ve got Captain America- sans the radiation.
4. Bad Teacher: Check your Blood Sugar!
Cameron Diaz’s character in Bad Teacher is just that: a nasty, irritable instructor who has little patience for her students or her coworkers. She self medicates with alcohol and drugs, but we feel that she should instead be taking a closer look at her diet. Hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar, can cause irritability and agitation even in non-diabetics. It occurs when the level of glucose in the blood drops below a certain point, usually about 2.5mmol/l. If Diaz’s character wanted to improve her mood and relieve her symptoms, it would be wise for her to snack throughout the day, as symptoms of low blood sugar usually disappear 10 to 15 minutes after consuming sugar. Nibble on a cracker when you’re feeling low- your students will thank you.
5. Mr. Popper’s Penguins: Socialize!
A remake of the old classic, in this flick Jim Carrey’s character inherits six penguins and starts spending, well…a lot of time with them. Needless to say, his personal life suffers as he begins to devote his days to his flock of flightless birds. If you ask us, Mr. Popper needs to have some more human contact. Socialization is good for you: it helps relieve stress, boosts your immune system, and helps you to cultivate a more positive outlook on life. It also may be a key to longevity. “Social engagement was as strong as anything we found in determining longevity,” says assistant Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health Thomas Glass, referring to a recent scientific study. “It was stronger than things like blood pressure, cholesterol, or other measures of health.” Take note, Poppers: Penguins are good, but people are better.