Could Rolling Downhill Be The Next Health Craze?

It can't hurt.

Image courtesy of Corbis.

Forget elimination diets, chemical IVs or, um, naked yoga. the latest health craze to try is rolling downhill—like a log, just like you did when you were a kid.

At least that's the view of a few dozen senior citizens in Singapore, who say rolling is more than just dizzying fun. For them, it's a therapeutic activity that has the power to cure all sorts of health problems, including cancer and Parkinson's disease.

Every weekday morning the group, led by 71-year-old Lew Keh Lam, meet in a park to roll down a grassy slope next to the city's Bedok Reservoir. To the strains of Chinese erhu music, they twirl around several times, gently drop to the ground, and fall, surprisingly elegantly, until they hit the bottom of the hill.

Lew, whom the other rollers refer to as "Master," told the Singapore Straits Times he's been rolling for seven years. The pastime improves health because it helps the body absorb much-needed energy from the turf, he said: "Our body is short of negative ions. In the morning, before the sun shines, there are a lot of negative ions in the grass. If your body requires the negative ions, it will allow you to roll, and when you don't need it, it won't let you roll."

The idea that some grass-fed force defies the law of gravity and prevents you from rolling down a hill still needs, ahem, some supporting studies, but Lew isn't completely off about the power of ions. Negative ions, which are abundant in outdoor settings (even WebMD has discussed the topic), have been linked to improvements in mood and stress relief, which in turn can help your overall health (although curing cancer is a stretch). Of course you don't have to roll downhill to reap the benefits of negative-ion-rich nature—but it might be more fun than just a walk in the park.


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