Tag Archives: exercise and disease

aRE yOU bALD?

Standard

stress

Or just stressed and pulling your hair out?

A new study from UC San Francisco is the first to show that while the impact of life’s stressors accumulate overtime and accelerate cellular aging, these negative effects may be reduced by maintaining a healthy diet, exercising and sleeping well.

“The study participants who exercised, slept well and ate well had less telomere (the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes that affect how quickly cells age) shortening than the ones who didn’t maintain healthy lifestyles, even when they had similar levels of stress,” said lead author Eli Puterman, PhD, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at UCSF. “It’s very important that we promote healthy living, especially under circumstances of typical experiences of life stressors like death, caregiving and job loss.”

Shorter telomeres have become associated with a broad range of aging-related diseases, including stroke, vascular dementia, cardiovascular disease, obesity, osteoporosis diabetes, and many forms of cancer.

“This is the first study that supports the idea, at least observationally, that stressful events can accelerate immune cell aging in adults, even in the short period of one year. Exciting, though, is that these results further suggest that keeping active, and eating and sleeping well during periods of high stress are particularly important to attenuate the accelerated aging of our immune cells,” said Puterman.

 

Advertisements

The Ins and Outs of Exercise

Standard

The best way to keep your body and mind in top shape is to be physically active. Almost everyone, no matter what his or her physical condition, can engage in at least some form of bodily exercise. To be most efficient, your exercise regime should follow the guidelines for your age and overall health status.

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. This includes exercising. Some of the benefits of exercising include:

Builds aerobic power

Reduces blood pressure.

Lowers Type 2 diabetes risk.

Maintains immune functioning.

Keeps bones strong.

Builds muscle mass.

Improves breathing. 

Boosts your energy. 

Reduces the risk of arthritis.

Improves sex life

Brings about better sleep

Improves mood.

Lowers anxiety.

Boosts memory

Lowers dementia risk.

There is a downside.  You can exercise TOO much and this is not at all beneficial. Certain activities carry increased risks for heart attack, especially among habitually sedentary persons with known or hidden heart disease who engage in unaccustomed vigorous physical activity.  Some other dangers that can occur with over-exercising include:

Increased heart issues

Increased gastrointestinal distress such as heartburn or diarrhea

May develop gastrointestinal bleeding

Musculoskeletal injury

Exacerbation of Arrhythmia

Sudden cardiac death

Myocardial infarction

Rhabdomyolysis

Bronchoconstriction

Exercise is vital for good health. Be smart and be safe while exercising.  Follow these 11 guidelines for any exercise regime or event.

  1. Take five to 10 minutes to warm up and cool down properly.
  2. Plan to start slowly and boost your activity level gradually unless you are already exercising frequently and vigorously.
  3. Be aware that training too hard or too often can cause overuse injuries like stress fractures, stiff or sore joints and muscles, and inflamed tendons and ligaments. Sports prompting repetitive wear and tear on certain parts of your body — such as swimming (shoulders), jogging (knees, ankles, and feet), tennis (elbows) — are often overuse culprits, too. A mix of different kinds of activities and sufficient rest is safer.
  4. Listen to your body. Hold off on exercise when you’re sick or feeling very fatigued. Cut back if you cannot finish an exercise session, feel faint after exercise or fatigued during the day, or suffer persistent aches and pains in joints after exercising. These are indications that you are over-exercising and are in danger of developing an exercise injury or health condition.
  5. If you stop exercising for a while, drop back to a lower level of exercise initially. If you’re doing strength training, for example, lift lighter weights or do fewer reps or sets.
  6. For most people, simply drinking plenty of water is sufficient. But if you’re working out especially hard or doing a marathon or triathlon, choose drinks that replace fluids plus essential electrolytes.
  7. Choose clothes and shoes designed for your type of exercise. Replace shoes every six months as cushioning wears out.
  8. For strength training, good form is essential. Initially use no weight, or very light weights, when learning the exercises. Never sacrifice good form by hurrying to finish reps or sets, or struggling to lift heavier weights.
  9. Exercising vigorously in hot, humid conditions can lead to serious overheating and dehydration. Slow your pace when the temperature rises above 70°F. On days when the thermometer is expected to reach 80°F, exercise during cooler morning or evening hours or at an air-conditioned gym. Watch for signs of overheating, such as headache, dizziness, nausea, faintness, cramps, or palpitations.
  10. Dress properly for cold-weather workouts to avoid hypothermia. Depending on the temperature, wear layers you can peel off as you warm up. Don’t forget gloves.
  11. Exercise with your gender, age, health issues, and physical capacity in mind.  A child can run for hours and not tire. A 50 year old man cannot. A mature male body can jog 10 miles and not tear chest muscle. A mature female body cannot. Be aware and exercise accordingly.

safeexercise

 

From Coach Potato to Active Living

Standard

Most of us know we need to be physically active to be healthy. It’s not new information, but it leaves us with many questions and many opinions. There’s plenty of information about physical activity, but sorting through it and figuring out what to do can be challenging, especially if you are what we call a “coach potato”, someone who’s physical exertion is very low.

coachpotatoHere are some important questions:

What exactly does being physically active mean?

Is this physical activity or ‘exercise’?

How much do we need versus what can we do to get by?

Do we need to do it all at once?

Is there an easy way to fit it into our day, because life is pretty hectic already?

So many questions…

Here’s what we can agree on—I’ll give it to you straight: The basic, scientifically grounded information on physical activity. Then, we’ll begin to figure out how to balance this with your day and your lifestyle. Whether you are trying to gain, lose, or maintain your weight, physical activity goes hand in hand with good nutrition and overall health.

The basics

Science tells us that when it comes down to our overall health, adults, regardless of age, need to do two key types of physical activities:

  • Cardio or Aerobic?1 At a minimum, do moderately intense cardio activity for at least 30 minutes per day, most days of the week.
    AND
  • Strength Training! At a minimum, 2 days per week.

I am going to introduce a couple of terms that you may be less familiar with in this context—moderately intense and vigorously intense. By understanding how much effort you need to exert, you can begin to choose what kind of activity fits your available time, life, and needs. Here are some tips and examples to help identify whether physical activity is moderately or vigorously intense.

Cardio—What’s Your Intensity?

Moderate: While performing the physical activity, if your heart is beating noticeably faster—it’s probably moderately intense: We need to do this level of activity for at least 30 minutes, most days of the week.

Examples include:

  • walking briskly (a 15-minute mile)
  • light yard work (raking/bagging leaves or using a lawn mower)
  • light snow shoveling
  • actively playing with children
  • biking at a casual pace.

Vigorous: If you are breathing hard and fast and your heart rate is increased substantially during physical activity, it’s probably vigorously intense.

Examples include:

  • jogging/running
  • swimming laps
  • rollerblading/inline skating at a brisk pace
  • cross-country skiing
  • most competitive sports (football, basketball, or soccer)
  • jumping rope.

You don’t have to do 30 minutes all at once…

To meet the goal of 30 minutes a day of moderately intense physical activity, you don’t have to do all 30 minutes at once. Scientific evidence shows you get the same health benefits from breaking 30 minutes up into three 10-minute or two 15-minute intervals throughout the day, if this better fits your lifestyle. Daily activities like climbing several flights of stairs or parking farther away from store entrances are a good start. But if you don’t do that activity for at least 10 minutes at a time, it doesn’t help you meet the recommendation for 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity. In addition, for most people, greater health benefits can be obtained by engaging in physical activity of more vigorous intensity or of longer duration.

What’s in it for me?

Part of it comes down to: Feeling better! Looking better! Not so bad, right? In the big picture, it also comes down to good physical health. If that’s not enough, there’s also that sense of well-being you get from regular physical activity—a constructive way to deal with the demands of the day, relieve stress, and simply feel better about yourself. Many people say that exercising regularly helps them have more energy, sleep better, and they enjoy taking time to do something good for themselves.With most everything, extra work really does pay off! Physical activity is no exception, and the more active you are, the more you benefit. For example, you can further reduce your risk for many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancers, and osteoporosis, by doing more than the minimum 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week. Incorporating up to 60 minutes of cardio activity may also help you to prevent unhealthy weight gain or to manage your weight, if that is your goal.

Different intensities and types of exercise offer different benefits. Cardio or aerobic activities exercise your heart and increase your ability to be physically active for a longer period of time. This type of endurance makes it easier to carry out harder tasks for longer periods of time—whether it’s keeping up with your kids or grandchildren, or playing basketball with your co-workers. Strength training or resistance exercises also contribute to muscular endurance. Strength training is especially beneficial as we get older. As we age, we tend to lose bone and muscle mass, making it difficult to carry out everyday activities: getting in and out of a chair, carrying groceries or laundry, or just walking. Together, cardio and strength training work your whole body. Vigorous physical activity (for example, jogging or other aerobic exercises) provides greater health benefits for physical fitness than does moderate physical activity and burns more calories per unit of time. Aside from all the health benefits, what a bonus that it also seems to make us feel better about ourselves.

How do we fit this into our life?

A lot of people have shared their thoughts with me. Here’s some of their feedback on what works.

Buddy System: Some days it’s hard to talk yourself into an activity. Working with others who are going through the same thing can be motivating, especially when you promised that you would meet for a walk in the park, or a tennis match, or signed up to take a yoga class together.

The Great Outdoors: Opportunities for physical activity may be closer than you think. Take advantage of public parks and pools. There are millions of acres to explore—walk, hike, swim, kayak, canoe, and bike.

Enjoy What You Do: If aerobicizing in a room full of people isn’t your thing, why do it? There are hundreds of activities to choose from. Find something you like and chances are you will stick with it. The key is not to limit yourself. Don’t get discouraged. Pick a few activities to try out, rotate them, and slowly you will figure out what works best for you. Trying something new can be fun and give you more confidence to pursue other activities.

Best of all, no matter what your age, physical ability or limitations, or physical activity level, it’s never too late to start! Some form of physical activity is right for everyone. physically_active

  Summing it up

Let’s summarize what we’ve learned about making     physical activity part of a Healthier You:

  •   Be physically active for at least 30 minutes per day, most days of the week.
  •   All adults, regardless of age, need both cardio or aerobic, and strength training, for overall health.
  •   Cardio or Aerobic Activities: At a minimum, do at least 30 minutes of cardio or aerobic moderately intense activities (which can be performed in 10-minute intervals), most days of the week.
  •   Strength Training: Recommended at least 2 days per week. A goal, for example, might be 8 to 12 repetitions of 6 to 8 strength-training exercises.
  •   Increasing the intensity or the amount of time that you are physically active can have greater health benefits and may be needed to control body weight. About 60 minutes a day may be needed to prevent weight gain.
  •   At least 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity most days may be needed to prevent regaining weight for the formerly overweight or obese.

Walking Does A Body GOOD!

Standard
walkingcoupleWalking is simple, natural and a great way to get the 30 minutes or more of daily moderate exercise recommended by the National Institutes of Health. It’s also easy, low-impact, convenient, burns calories and helps your heart. Find out how to start your own walking workout program to get healthy and get in shape… 

Why Walk?
It may be hard to believe that something you’ve been doing since your first birthday is so good for you. But it’s true: Walking is the ideal low-impact, moderate-intensity exercise.Studies have shown that a regular walking workout has many benefits. It:

  • Lowers blood pressure. Healthy but sedentary volunteers reduced their blood pressure significantly by walking briskly for 30 minutes a day, three days a week, according to a 2007 Irish study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
  • Reduces risk of type 2 diabetes. People who walked more daily had better insulin sensitivity than those who walked less, according to a 2011 Australian study.
  • Reduces risk of breast cancer. Women who walked briskly for just 1.25-2.5 hours per week were 18% less likely to develop the cancer than those who were sedentary, according to a 2003 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
  • Lowers risk of premature death. Mortality risk was 1.54 times higher for people who sat most of the day compared to those who walked briskly for 30 minutes five times a week, according to a 2009 Canadian study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
  • Improves cholesterol. Men who walked briskly regularly for 12 weeks had lower total cholesterol and higher HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels than those who didn’t, a 2008 British study published in Preventive Medicine found.
  • Boosts energy. The more people walk, the more energetic they feel throughout the day, according to a 2003 study at California State University, Long Beach.
  • Improves body composition. Walking 12 miles a week significantly decreased abdominal, waist and hip measurements, according to a 2004 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Get Equipped.
Fortunately, a walking workout requires little gear. But before you venture out, get comfortable clothing and supportive shoes.

Select good footwear.Office shoes – even flats – won’t work for a walking workout. Leave the heels at home. Athletic shoes designed for walking or running are best.

Ask a knowledgeable salesperson for models that work for your foot type. For example, people with high-arched feet usually require greater shock absorption.

Those with low arches or “flat” feet often need shoes with less cushioning, but more support in the mid-foot region and greater heel control.

Proper fit is essential. Make sure you have a little wiggle room between your longest toe and the top of the shoe (about ½ inch, or the width of your index finger).

And check that shoes don’t rub or pinch any area of your foot or ankle.

Generally, athletic shoes lose their cushioning after about 3-6 months of regular use. Be aware of when your shoes need to be replaced, especially if you notice they’re wearing down unevenly.

Choose the right clothes. Wear comfortable clothing suitable for the day’s weather conditions.

A walking exercise program elevates body temperature, so if you’re heading outdoors in cold weather, don layers that you can remove or replace as needed.

Cotton socks tend to retain moisture, so choose synthetic fibers, such as polyester, acrylic or Coolmax, for better blister prevention.

Get Started.
If you’re new to a walking exercise program, start slowly and keep the following tips in mind:

Warm up.Every walking workout should begin with a brief warm-up, including a few simple dynamic stretches that prepare the body for activity. Although walking primarily works the major muscles of the legs, don’t forget to stretch your back, shoulders and arms.

Dynamic stretching involves active range-of-motion movements, such as arm circles and leg swings. They’re a safe, effective way to increase body temperature, enhance joint flexibility and increase muscle elasticity.

Begin with short distances. Your first time out, move at a leisurely pace that feels comfortable, and walk for 5-15 minutes.

Each subsequent week, gradually increase your time or distance by 10%-20%, working up to 30-40 minutes per day.

If it’s easier on your schedule or you suffer from joint pain, take a couple of shorter walks of 10-20 minutes instead of one long walk of 30-40 minutes.

Smaller periods of exercise throughout the day also may provide many of the same benefits of walking as one long continuous session – including improvements in aerobic fitness and even weight loss and maintenance, according to research.

People who exercised for just 10 minutes experienced positive metabolic changes that lasted more than an hour, according to a 2010 study by Harvard and MIT.

Focus on posture. Keep your head lifted, engage (tense) abdominal muscles and relax shoulders, allowing arms to swing naturally.

Don’t overstride (take too-long steps), which is tempting when you speed up but can hurt your shins and feet. Instead, select a comfortable, natural step length. To move faster, pull your back leg forward more quickly.

Select the right pace. Forget about walking speed at first. Consistency is the most important factor. If your pace feels like a leisurely stroll, you’re moving too slowly. But if you can’t talk or catch your breath, slow down.

Walking on a treadmill isn’t as beneficial (or as much fun) as going outdoors, because the machine reduces the amount of effort and balance required. But it can be convenient and a useful alternative in bad weather.

On a treadmill, start walking slowly, then increase the machine’s speed until you’re walking briskly but comfortably. Unless you have balance issues, swing your arms naturally – if you have to hold onto the handrails, you’re probably going too fast.

Stretch again. Immediately after your walking workout, perform static stretches. That’s when it’s safer and more effective to stretch muscles that are properly warmed and, therefore, more pliable. (Foam roller stretches are ideal.)

This type of stretching done after a walking exercise program can improve posture and flexibility and reduce stress. Stretch your hamstrings and calves (important walking muscles) as well as your chest, shoulders and back. Hold each stretch for at least 20-30 seconds.

Don’t ignore pain. If you experience foot, knee, hip or back pain during a walking workout, stop and then see your doctor to find out the cause. You may need special exercises or better shoes.

If you have osteoarthritis and have more joint pain lasting an hour or two after walking, you may need to consider an alternate activity, such as stationary cycling or water exercise. But don’t stop exercising altogether.

Safe physical activity reduces OA pain and disability, according to a 1999 study published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Stay hydrated. Your body can lose more than a quart of water in an hour of exercise, depending on air temperature and intensity of the workout. That’s why adequate hydration is a key part of ensuring optimal performance and health.

Drink 17-20 ounces (or 2-2½ cups) of water 2-3 hours before your workout. That’ll allow for proper hydration and time to go to the restroom before your walk, so you’re less likely to need to stop on the way.

Once you begin exercising, consume 7-10 ounces of fluid every 10-20 minutes. If you’re walking at a moderate pace for less than 60 minutes, water should be all you need to adequately rehydrate.

For a long, hard workout, or if you’re exercising in hot or humid weather, you may need a sports drink with added electrolytes – important minerals that are lost when you sweat.

Pick Up the Pace.
Add intervals. When you find that you’re able to walk for 30-40 minutes with ease, try incorporating brisk intervals into your routine. They’ll increase fat-burning and cardiovascular health benefits.

Walk as fast as you can for 30 seconds, really pushing yourself; then walk slowly for one minute as you recover. Repeat this pattern several times. Gradually add longer intervals with shorter recovery periods to raise your fitness level.

Get your ups and downs. Another way to increase intensity: hills. Incline walking strengthens and tones your legs and butt while also building overall endurance and increasing calories burned.

Just walk on hilly terrain outdoors, or raise the incline settings on a treadmill. You may be able to set an entire hill routine that replicates walking outdoors.

Don’t get too heavy. Forget hand weights; they don’t add much benefit, research has shown. In fact, incorporating weights in a walking workout can place undue stress on shoulders, elbows and wrists.

You’re better off wearing a weighted vest, as long as you don’t suffer from joint or foot pain.

If you want to hold something in your hands, consider Nordic walking poles. They can boost the calorie-burning value of your walk while promoting good posture and muscular endurance.

Spice Up Your Walk.
To make your walking routine more interesting, try these tips:

Listen to music. Lively, energizing music on a portable player can keep you motivated and help you set a quicker pace. But be careful when wearing headphones outdoors, because loud music may make you miss oncoming traffic or other potential hazards.

Track your progress. Use a pedometer – a small, inexpensive device that tracks your distance or the number of steps you take. The U.S. Surgeon General and other health experts say that 10,000 steps per day (about 5 miles) provide maximum health benefits.

If you want to go high-tech, portable electronic units or cell phones equipped with GPS (satellite tracking) can tell you how far you’ve walked. Some also keep a computer record of your daily progress.

Get social. Involving others can help keep you motivated and make things more fun. So get your coworkers to join a workplace walking group.

Midday exercise can bring improved mental sharpness, better time management and increased productivity among employees, so it’s a win-win for both the participants and management.

Implementing “walking meetings” is another fun way to get more active. The increased blood flow and change of scenery can actually make employees more creative. It can also enhance camaraderie and build stronger team relationships.

Outside of work, grab your kids or dog for an after-dinner stroll each evening. It’s a great way to have extra family time while staying active.

Walking “dates” are another great option with a friend, coworker or significant other