Wednesday, November 7, 2012

6 Fun Fitness Activities

Exercising and staying fit doesn't have to mean hard work. Simply being active will help you get or stay in good shape. So with that said, here are some enjoyable activities that can help with your fitness goals too.
When you ask many adults when the last time they rode a bike is, they cannot answer. Although bicycling is a favorite pastime, many adults do not take advantage of this great option for exercise. Not only does bike riding exercise the body and build a stronger cardiovascular system, it allows you to get out and enjoy nature, fresh air, and see new sites.
Jogging or Walking
Both jogging and walking are GREAT ways to get fit. Not only do they tone the muscles, relieve stress, create a healthier heart, and improve lung capability, they make you look wonderful, which in turns helps you get excited about doing other exercise for fitness activities.
Swimming is an excellent way to get into and stay in shape. If you do not own a pool, many high schools have aquatic centers, or there is always the YWCA or YMCA, or your local gym. Many offer water aerobic classes that will help you tighten your body, lose weight, and get a good overall workout.
Tennis Anyone?
Tennis is not only a fun sport, but also a great way to exercise. You do not have to be a Venice Williams to play; in fact, you do not even have to be good. Just running after the ball alone will help get you into shape. This is a great way to strengthen your cardiovascular system and lose weight. You can find tennis courts in just about every city and if you would like to play but have no idea how, lessons are reasonable.
Tip: Raquetball is sort of a "one person tennis". If you don't have someone to play tennis with, or you aren't feeling sociable, try raquetball instead.
Dancing is so much fun and whether you enjoy a slow, Ballroom dance or a nightclub packed with people all moving to heart-pumping techno, as long as you are moving, it really does not matter what type of dance or music. The whole idea is to move your body. Dancing has long been recommended as an avenue to fitness.
Tip: Belly Dancing is an excellent workout for your stomach, waist and hips ladies!
If you have a VCR or DVD, rather than just using it for your favorite comedy or action-packed movie, try sticking in some good workout tapes. Even taking 15 minutes every day to work out will get you started. Try that for two weeks and you will be surprised at the results. Once you see that 15 minutes a day makes a difference, you will be encouraged to increase the time spent.
And one of my personal favorites... Yardwork!
Whether you're pulling weeds, planting flowers, mowing the grass or chopping wood: All of these activities can help you get into better shape. Don't cheat yourself though. Using a riding mower to cut the grass won't help you use the muscles or get your blood pumping ;)
So go out and get active, have fun, and work on getting or staying fit too!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fitness Training Goals

Under the surface, every body is built the same. Each of us has an athlete's body buried down there somewhere -- and we all have the ability to move like athletes. Some of us are just ahead of others in terms of our fitness progress. However, with appropriate nutrition, sleep and exercise, everyone can jump and move just like athletes do. This is how life is meant to be played, and our bodies are built for exactly this kind of movement!
Before you begin a training regimen, it is important to determine your specific training goals. Are you a professional athlete training to increase your level of performance? Are you a general health-and-fitness enthusiast who wants to slim down and feel great? Are you a physical laborer who wants a permanent solution for your back pain so you can start feeling strong and healthy again? Are you seriously overweight, and ready to make and stick to a life-changing commitment?
Only after you have determined your major health and/or fitness concern can you begin working toward that goal. For example, it wouldn't be very productive to train like a bodybuilder and put on a lot of nonfunctional muscle that weighs a ton if you had a goal to compete as a professional boxer. It is essential to identify your primary goal and remain focused on it without getting sidetracked into a training agenda that will only detour your success.
You must be specific when you design your training program, ensuring that it will accomplish the specific things you desire from it. Be clear and precise with your goals. Have a realistic timeframe. How much time are you willing to commit to this exercise program -- per day, per week, per month? What is the best time of day to fit exercise into your busy schedule? Determine a time that will work, and adhere to it -- no excuses. Admit honestly how far you are from achieving this goal, so you can gauge how long it's going to take to get from your starting point to that goal.
The most important thing is to design a program that is specifically tailored to your needs. A general one-size-fits-all plan, or one created for another individual, will not necessarily work for you. Your level and ability are different from others', as are your goals. So don't look to train like anyone else, and don't expect others to train like you.
Once you've identified your goals and designed a program to help you accomplish them, all that's left is to begin!
This article introduces ways to set attainable fitness training goals. It lays out realistic steps for designing a personal program tailored to one's particular goals.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Helping Friends and Family to Understand

Trying to explain a chronic illness to friends and family can result in glazed eyes and that familiar distracted look. With acquaintances it is usually best to keep the explanation short and to the point. After all, it doesn't affect you much if they don't understand. When family and friends don't understand what you are living with, their reactions can take a toll on your self-esteem and add more stress to your life.
After 14 years of trying to explain my health problems (polycystic ovarian syndrome and hypothyroidism) to my family and friends, I know that some of them still think I am lazy, a hypochondriac, a drama queen, or simply nuts. I am keenly aware that what I eat, how much sleep I get, whether I exercise, and a myriad of other decisions influence how I will feel today and how my body will function tomorrow. I can't count on having a certain amount of energy or plan how I will feel at any given time in the future. For healthy people who don't need to think about these things it can look like a self-centered obsession.
Loved ones and friends may feel you are lazy when you are suffering from fatigue. They may be angry when your lifestyle changes interfere with their needs. They may feel that you focus too much on your illness. They may want to understand-but they have no frame of reference. To explain snow to a desert dweller is nearly impossible unless you can show them the frost in your freezer.
The following ideas will help you to explain chronic illnesses:
* Understand that these concepts are probably new to this person. Remain calm and avoid acting defensive.
* You may find it helpful to have your family read the "Spoon Theory" at It is an excellent explanation of how an illness limits your resources. Healthy people do not have to make choices about how to spend their energy. They have more freedom to make personal and financial decisions.
* You may need to explain both large and small concepts. Try to keep the explanations simple. Having a chronic illness has likely forced you to learn more about your body than most people understand. Use simple language instead of medical terms. Try to compare symptoms to things everyone is familiar with, for instance, the fatigue that comes with the flu, nausea that comes with motion sickness, etc. Let them know it is OK to ask questions.
* Explain that you don't show your worst symptoms to the world, when they see you it is usually when you are feeling well enough to go out, not when you are feeling lousy and need to stay home. You may not seem to be sick because usually see you when you are feeling well.
* Clarify that your illness takes an emotional and financial toll as well as a physical toll. Explain that it takes time from your schedule to deal with symptoms, medical appointments, lifestyle adjustments, etc. Let them know that support makes it easier to deal with the symptoms, but that there may still be times when you are depressed.
* Let them know that you have good days and bad days. Help them to understand that sometimes planning ahead is difficult.
* Make it clear that your illness does not define you, even when it influences the choices you make.
* If after doing your very best to explain your illness to your friends and family they still aren't supportive, accept that not everyone can understand what you're going through. Be patient.
* Finally, if you can not find the support you need within your circle of friends, join a support group or find other forms of support such as a life coach who specializes in coaching those with chronic illnesses. Social support is important in helping you manage your illness and in maintaining your emotional health.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Listen To Your Body

As a sometime Masters Athlete, I have learned that my body lets me know when its a bit 'down'- a touch of tinea; the tickle of a possible cold sore; the feeling of being 'run down'. These are signs that my immune system is depressed, and that putting in a hard session today will lead to a cold or sore throat tomorrow. The body's talking, and I've learned to listen. If I'm sensible, I'll also try for an early night, eat some good food, and take some extra vitamins- especially C.
As I've learned about health and nutrition, I've not only learned to listen to my body, but I've come more and more to respect traditional remedies and wisdom. Many traditional sayings are proving to have a scientific basis. Take these few examples;
- "Eat up your carrots" -it really DOES help you see in the dark.
- "Fish is brain food" -takes on new credibility as we learn about Essential Fatty Acids.
- "Drink tea with lemon for a cold"- works, although it's probably the bioflavonoids in the tea, not the vitamin C in the lemon!
Not only do many old sayings have validity, but so do many old remedies. Numerous traditional herbs have 'given birth' to modern drugs. To name just a couple...
- Valerian led to Valium
- Willow Bark led to Asprin
In fact, Nuturopath Chris Wainwright tells me that about half of the pharmaceutical drugs around are derived from natural sources. So we invented drugs thousands of years before we invented pharmaceutical companies! Grandma and natives in the Amazon DID have some idea of what they were saying and doing!
As well as a tendency to disregard 'old-fashioned' knowledge, we have an unfortunate tendency to react to symptoms, rather than trying to understand why we are feeling the way we do. Today, happily, modern science is catching up with the fact that we shouldn't always resort to modern science when the body does something different!
Coughing, pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, fatigue, sneezing and inflammation are standard defences used by the body. We mask them at our peril. Here are a few examples.
- Coughing clears the airways.
- Fever raises the body's temperature to help destroy pathogens.
- Pain is there for good reason. As someone pointed out, "Pain
isn't nature's way of telling us that we have an asprin deficiency"!
While I'm not suggesting that every occurrence of these symptoms should be ignored, and assumed to be no risk to our health, we have a pathetic tendency to rush out for the latest product advertised on TV to cure the symptom. Or to ask the Doctor to prescribe antibiotics!
A new field of study in medical science has developed in recent years. This field, of understanding how the body evolved the way in which it operates, is called Darwinian Medicine.
Having respect for a couple of thousand years of accumulated wisdom, can help us enhance our body's ability to maintain good health.
A greater understanding of why our body is acting the way it is, will help all of us to respond more appropriately to the symptoms our body develops from time to time.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

HEALTHY HABITS in your life

1. Never skip your breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Still, many of us skip it thinking that it will help us shed pounds. When you skip breakfast your blood sugar levels, as well as other nutrient levels drop, depriving you of the required nutrition and energy for the rest of the day. Breakfast eaters have a more positive attitude toward school and work, and they perform better.
2. Bite into something good. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Fruits are cool and juicy, so they get you the water you need to stay hydrated and they also provide the vitamins and nutrients that fat-free snack foods don't. They're good and they taste sweet - and some contain antioxidants that help prevent aging. Healthy habits include eating a lot of fruits.
3. Eat regular meals. Skipping meals can lead to out-of-control hunger, often resulting in overeating. When you're very hungry, it's also tempting to forget about good nutrition. Snacking between meals can help curb hunger, but don't eat so much that your snack becomes an entire meal.
4. Quit smoking. Now, studies show that quitting smoking, you can restore your heart function back to that of a non-smoker within a few years. You'll breathe easier, cut down your chances for heart disease, cancer, and more. But you knew that, right? Also, if you're not a smoker, stay away from those who do. Secondhand smoke is a major killer - don't be afraid to tell people gently that you'd prefer it if they didn't smoke around you.
5. Exercise Daily! You don't have to be a professional athlete - just make time for 15-20 minutes of exercise daily. Take a walk, dance crazily to music, go for a jog, play volleyball on the beach, whatever it takes to get your heart pumping for a little while.
6. Get your sleep. Getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night can extend your life. Your body has time to recharge every night so it's fresh and ready to face the onslaught of the next day.
7. Every day, devote a little time for yourserlf. Take some time out of your "busy" schedule. First, eliminate all forms of intrusion. Then close your eyes, breathe deeply and let your thoughts float downstream like a log carried by the river. You can practice meditation or relax in a hot bath with aromatherapy. When a thought comes up, just watch it float away.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bextra's Safety Questioned

An increasing number of Americans are relieved to learn there are non-drug ways to ease pain now that safety questions have been raised about another well-known and widely used painkiller, Bextra.
Recent meetings of the FDA were preceded by a petition from a leading consumer group, Public Citizen, asking that the drug be taken off the market. Both the FDA and Public Citizen raised concerns about the safety of Bextra, one of the so-called Cox-2 inhibitors. The Cox-2 drugs Vioxx and Bextra were once viewed as “wonder drugs” for arthritis and painful menstrual cycles.
Bextra has moved into the spotlight while the maker of Vioxx is being investigated. Vioxx was one of the nation’s most popular ways to treat pain and arthritis and was taken by an estimated 20 million people before it was withdrawn from the market. That happened after studies linked it to a heightened risk of heart attack and stroke – information that may not have been fully understood when the drugs received FDA approval.
Researchers released information indicating that the chances for heart attack following prolonged use of Vioxx were four times greater than with older over-the-counter pain relievers. It has also been linked to angina and stroke. A University of Pennsylvania study released at a meeting of the American Cardiology Association indicated that those taking Bextra had a 2.19 times greater chance of heart attack, stroke, sudden death and Stevens Johnson Syndrome, a life threatening disorder in which blisters occur on the patient’s body.
The result is many people are now seeking alternative non-drug therapies. They are also investigating legal remedies.
Those seeking non-drug alternatives to relieve chronic pain should discuss their plans with a physician. Known alternative remedies include:
MSM (Methyl Sulfonyl Methane), a compound normally found in foods. It’s used to relieve the pain of osteoarthritis and help strengthen collagen in the joints.
Glucosamine, primarily used to treat osteoarthritis. Research indicates that glucosamine is as effective as low doses of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen. It appears to relieve pain and improve movement, slow the progression of the disease and protect joints from further damage.
Wobenzym, an enzyme combination and a top-selling supplement in Europe, now available in North America.
Bromelain, an anti-inflammatory and digestive aid used primarily in Japan, Hawaii and Taiwan.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Frozen Shoulder Treatment

If you've read my other frozen shoulder articles or visited my frozen shoulder website (details below) then you now know a great deal about frozen shoulder and about the options for frozen shoulder treatment.
I'm sure that the knowledge you've gained is already helping you to cope with your frozen shoulder symptoms and I truly hope that you've found a doctor or therapist who has helped you find some pain relief.
But what if you haven't - or if you've gained only partial relief from your frozen shoulder treatment? What follows are my top tips for surviving with your shoulder symptoms until nature works her magic. Remember - stay positive - you will get through this and you will soon return to full normal function without pain or discomfort.
First tip for frozen shoulder treatment: Keep your shoulder warm!
I know that it almost sounds too obvious but it works! Use warm or hot compresses (or buy a heating pad) and use it over your shoulder four or five times a day for fifteen minutes at a time. It also works well applied in your armpit - the warmth travels up into the shoulder.
Many of my frozen shoulder patients have also found great relief - particularly at night - by using a heated pad or thermal blanket. There are a variety of moderately sophisticated products available, and a range of other inexpensive options, some of which you simply heat in the microwave before use. You can find details of these products on the website links below.
Second tip for frozen shoulder treatment: Sleep with an extra pillow!
No - not a pillow for your head, but a pillow under your shoulder on the affected side. Loss of sleep at night makes it much harder to cope with shoulder pain during the day and if you roll onto the painful shoulder when asleep you will wake up in pain. Sleep on your back with the extra pillow under your sore shoulder.
Frozen shoulder treatment tip number three: Massage helps your shoulder pain!
The pain of frozen shoulder comes from the joint but the surrounding muscles can become very tired and tense. Massage can produce good short-term relief of pain. A family member, a friend or professional masseur could help with this. As with heated pads, there are a number of self massaging devices available and you can find more details on my website by following the links below.
Fourth tip for frozen shoulder treatment: Try dietary supplements!
Natural products like glucosamine or fish oils have been shown to ease joint pains and stiffness. Some herbal remedies have pain-relieving properties. This does not work for everyone but might be worth a try for your frozen shoulder pain.
I've had particular success recently with products based on honeybee venom. The use of honeybee venom is based on the long-known fact that bee keepers (who often get stung) very rarely develop arthritis or problems with their joints and muscles.
Now - the braver amongst you (not including me I hasten to add) might volunteer for traditional "bee sting therapy" where you are subjected to repeated stings from a succession of bees held in tweezers!
Most of us would feel more comfortable simply applying the bee sting venom in the form of a balm to be rubbed into the painful or stiff area. In truth, I was a bit sceptical about all of this at first, but a large number of my patients have had great benefit from its use and I recommend you give it a try if you are interested. It's certainly a very natural way to obtain pain relief.
Fifth tip for frozen shoulder treatment: Buy or borrow a TENS machine!
TENS - or trans cutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is a good and safe way to induce pain relief and some muscle relaxation. It works by stimulating the skin nerves and thus encourages the brain to pay less attention to the incoming pain signals from the joint. It doesn't seem to work for everyone but may be well worth a try.
Frozen shoulder treatment tip number six: Strap or support the arm from time to time!
If your shoulder is in the frozen stage then support from a simple strap can be of great value. Be careful of strapping too much in the other phases of the condition. You may simply encourage the shoulder to stay stiff for longer. As before, the website links below give details of strapping and support products.
Final tip for frozen shoulder treatment: Consider short term medication to improve sleep
People are naturally concerned about becoming dependent on sleeping medication - justifiably so. But for short term use there is no risk of dependency or addiction. Consider asking your doctor for a sedative medication if your frozen shoulder is stopping you from sleeping.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My High Blood Pressure

I have probably had high blood pressure for a long time. This is the story of how I found out.
In hindsight, I can identify many symptoms of high blood pressure, but I either ignored them or thought they were related to other things.
The major symptom I had was headaches. Most days I would either wake up with a headache or develop one. Some of them were real "head splitters" ... occasionally I would have to lie down to stop the nausea. I remember often working in front of my computer and trying very hard not to move my head to avoid feeling sharp pains.
Since being diagnosed with high blood pressure and starting medication, I have not had one headache (around nine months now). My headaches were definitely due to my high blood pressure, but back then I thought they were due to stress, or poor posture due to sitting at a computer all day ... or any number of things.
I had been told for years by doctors that my blood pressure was high, but that it was probably due to the "white coat"effect. Turns out it wasn't. I went to a new doctor, and as she took my blood pressure, she had a very worried look on her face.
My systolic blood pressure reading was over 200.
She told me to go to hospital immediately and made me promise I would not ignore her warning. At the time I did think she was over-reacting, and I pictured myself sitting in the hospital emergency waiting room for a couple of hours, waiting for a doctor to see me, giving me a couple of pills to take, and heading home.
The actual story was very different.
I arrived at emergency and was given the standard "patient detail" form to fill out. Before I was 1/3 of the way through, a nurse turned up to take my blood pressure. She also got a worried look on her face, and took me straight to one of the emergency beds. This is in a hospital system famous for making people wait hours in emergency.
I had doctors all over me ... injecting things, taking blood, scanning me and god knows what else.
My clearest memory of that day was suddenly feeling very light headed.
The doctor later told me that I "liked" a drug (I think it was hydralazine) he injected into me. I say "liked" because only a doctor could think I "liked" it. In about 30 seconds I went from feeling what I then considered normal, to being drenched in sweat, head spinning and throwing up my lunch. The nurses told me later that I was as white as a ghost.
I remember asking one of the emergency nurses if she thought I would be able to go home that night. She laughed.
I ended up spending 4 days in intensive care, and 6 days in the general hospital before they let me go home.
The quality of the care, the doctors and the nurses were all amazing. We have a free hospital system in Australia which sometimes gets a bad rap, but my experience was very positive.
They never found a cause ... I just have high blood pressure. I take a fair bit of medication, and my blood pressure is now at normal levels.
My doctor told me to buy a blood pressure monitor and record my readings each day. Because I kept forgetting to take my readings, I wrote a software program to remind me. The software also charts the readings from my home monitor, and it is clear that my readings have been dropping over the last six months.
My readings are now around 110-120 over 70-80. Much better, but more importantly, I feel a lot better ... I had no idea that high blood pressure could make you feel so unwell.
If you also have high blood pressure I wish you well! If you have not seen a doctor about it, I highly recommend it ... don't leave it as late as I did, they can help you to feel a lot better!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Never Too Old

At age 47, Martina Navratilova returned to Wimbledon and represented the United States at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
In September, seventy-three year old Ed Whitlock shattered his own world age class marathon record by completing a marathon in under 3 hours. Ed is the first 70+ human in history to attain this goal and he has done it twice!
September 26th was Jack LaLanne's birthday. The Godfather of Fitness turned 90! Still sporting his trademark jumpsuit, LaLanne is trim and strong. He's living proof that diet and exercise are the keys to a long, healthy life.
Why is exercise so important as we age? After 50, we begin to loose muscle mass at the rate of 6 percent every decade (about 5 pounds) and we gain 15 pounds of fat every ten years to replace it. Less muscle and more fat stores in the body, combined with inactivity and poor diet, can contribute to a wide array of degenerative conditions and disabilities, among them: osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and osteoarthritis. Researchers speculate that Alzheimer's disease and certain cancers can also be linked to a lack of activity as we age.
The Stanford University Medical Center has conducted several long-term studies on active individuals over 50, particularly runners. They found that runners had a lower death rate and dramatically less disabilities compared to non-runners. They observed that running regularly was associated with an increase of HDL (good) cholesterol, plus a positive effect on muscle mass, as well as heart and lung health.
Other studies have concluded that regular exercise increases bone strength, controls weight gain, and keeps diabetes in check. Active seniors are better able to take care of themselves, perform common household tasks, and remain mentally sharp.
5 Parts of a Healthy-Aging Workout:
  1. Endurance Exercise: running, brisk walking, biking, aerobics, tennis, (a minimum recommendation of 25-30 minutes a day)
  2. Strength Training Exercise: weight lifting, uphill training (walking, running, hiking up an incline).
  3. Stretching Exercise: pre- and after workout stretches retain flexibility. Try yoga and pilates.
  4. Balance Exercise: use a balance ball for core exercises or stand on one foot without support.
  5. Meditative Exercise: reduce stress with yoga and tai chi.
5 Keys to Exercise Success:
  1. Dream big and set realistic goals. If you're not use to exercise don't try to run a marathon right away. Create a step-by-step plan to increase your stamina, strength and stability. Too much, too soon can end up causing injuries. Gradually work up to your dream achievement, such as participating in the Senior Olympics or climbing Pikes Peak.
  2. Exercise daily. Create your own special time for exercise every day. Whether it's a morning jog through the neighborhood, a mid-day walk with the dog or an afternoon swim at your local gym, daily exercise is much more effective at reaping healthy benefits than the "weekend warrior" approach. Exports recommend 25-30 minutes of moderate to strenuous exercise every day just to maintain your current weight. If you are trying to loose weight, extend your workout time to 60 minutes.
  3. Be aware of your body. If you feel soreness or a slight achy feeling in your muscles, that's OK. Your body is responding to a good workout. Use ice therapy to ease small aches and pains, and to reduce inflammation. A few 20-minute sessions with a cold pack and you should be ready for your next daily workout. Never use heat on stressed or strained muscles, as it will increase pain and swelling, slowing recovery time. Heat is appropriate to relax tight muscles. If you experience serious problems such as extreme pain, fainting, numbness in arms or legs, or chest pain, seek medical attention immediately.
  4. Stay well hydrated. Always a consideration for any athlete, dehydration can pose a serious problem in older athletes as aging bodies contain less body water. Sweating and exposure to heat can easily deplete the body of fluids. Drink plenty of liquids before, during and after your workout.
  5. Be a health leader! Encourage others through example and participation. Be positive and motivated. An enthusiastic attitude is contagious! It will also keep you going running through puddles on a rainy day; surviving aching legs on a downhill descent; or arriving at the finish line of your first race!
Keep in mind the words of 90-year old Jack LaLanne, "I work at living, not dying".
Disclaimer: This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical treatment or consultation. Always consult with your physician in the event of a serious injury.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ill Effects of Environment

As I write this, I am less than two weeks away from my highly anticipated family vacation. We will be going with two other families, so the usual abundant memories should be double. However, being the fitness enthusiast that I am, there is a bit of anxiety about visiting the "Happiest Place On Earth". This is due to the fact that the Los Angeles metropolitan area has placed #1 on the list for most ozone pollution for the fifth consecutive year. As well, it has a detrimental amount of particle matter (soot, among other things) and is also the smoggiest city in the U.S., according to the American Lung Association. With this information I am betting that the fit folks of Los Angeles either seek shelter while working up a sweat or they endure burning lungs and reel from inadequate amounts of oxygen while exercising outdoors.
Air pollution can greatly impact an individual's cardiovascular efficiency in many ways. This is due to the pollutant's (e.g., carbon monoxide, ozone, etc.) ability to infiltrate the respiratory system. During normal breathing, most people will use their nose to channel oxygen to their lungs. This route serves as a filtering vessel utilizing your mucous membranes to snag particle matter as well as soluble gases before they can penetrate through to your lungs. When someone is performing a higher impact activity (e.g., running), there is an inclination to begin mouth breathing. This act bypasses your body's natural filtration process and more pollutants are received into the lungs. From the lungs, the pollutants will circulate throughout the body via the bloodstream. The results include bronchial vasoconstriction (airway opening becomes smaller), lung tissue can be compromised from alveoli damage and the capacity for oxygen transport is decreased. The exercising individual will experience less oxygen entering the bloodstream, which will result in an inadequate supply of oxygenated blood to the muscles. End game is that the physical performance of that individual will be substantially compromised.
If you find yourself visiting a city with poor environmental conditions, your best bet is to pay the drop-in fee at the nearest gym; this fee can range from $7.00 - $15.00 per day. While the average healthy adult can withstand up to a 15% increase in carbon monoxide, cardiac and pulmonary patients can be adversely affected by as little as a 5% increase. Children are also more susceptible to ill effects. And, exposure to these pollutants can stay in the bloodstream for hours. That means if you were around an unusual amount of toxins in the morning (commute traffic, cigarettes), your afternoon workout could be more labored than usual.
While every city or even small towns can have their own form of contaminants, it is up to you to make wise decisions when choosing a safe environment in which you perform your exercise.
Cleanest U.S. Cities (Ozone%)
  1. Ames-Boone, IA
  2. Bellingham, WA
  3. Brownsville-Harlingen-Raymondville, TX
  4. Colorado Springs, CO
  5. Duluth, MN
Cleanest U.S. Cities (Particle Matter)
  1. Santa Fe-Espanola, NM
  2. Honolulu, HI
  3. Cheyenne, WY
  4. Great Falls, MT
  5. Farmington, NM
  1. Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County, CA
  2. Fresno, CA
  3. Bakersfield, CA
  4. Visalia-Porterville, CA
  5. Houston-Baytown-Huntsville, TX
  6. Merced, CA
  7. Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Truckee, CA
  8. Hanford-Corcoran, CA
  9. Knoxville-Sevierville-La Follette, TN
  10. Dallas-Fort Worth, TX

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Disease and Stress

It was so tough in those early years. Not knowing what was wrong. I didn't know what to think. Was I going crazy? The doctor said I have a nervous stomach. I'm not a nervous person.
Then I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. Even though it's a chronic disease without a cure, it was a relief to know what was wrong. But then the reality set in. How was my life going to change?
And change it did. In 1985 I was admitted into a hospital suffering from a stomach obstruction. A surgeon had to remove a foot and a half from my small intestines. The pain was terrible. I never, repeat never , want to go through that pain again. Ever.
After going through the pain of an operation, knowing that people with Crohn's Disease can have more than one operation, I couldn't help but wonder what I could do to help my situation? It occurred to me that, in the least, I could learn to handle the stress from the disease and the stress from life itself. I knew that stress, in and of itself, could cause my symptoms to worsen.
No, the stress didn't cause Crohn's Disease, but it sure could affect the amount of pain I would experience. I knew it was possible for me to deal with my stress better than I had dealt with it in the past. Before the operation, I was fairly motivated to work at controlling my stress. After the operation, I was highly motivated. I was determined to do everything in my power to improve my situation.
So how could I handle life's stress better? I had to learn what I could about dealing with stress and to then develop the necessary skills to make it happen. I learned about the close relationship between relaxation and stress relief. I learned to meditate, I learned to set reasonable expectations about my life and desires, and I learned to be more objective about what was happening to me physically and mentally.
I've come to the conclusion that people with Crohn's Diseases can do a lot to help themselves with the stress in their life. Not only can we do a lot to help ourselves, but we can also get support from loved ones as well as others going through the same circumstances.
I have three steps to offer others to help them control the stress in their lives. The first is to learn to meditate, the second is to learn visualization and the third is to get support.
By watching my emotions closely, I could know quickly when the stress in my life was building up too fast. I could then take a little time to meditate. I learned the different strategies of meditation and found one that worked good for me.
In addition to meditation, I learned visualization. Whenever I felt myself getting stressed out, I could visualize myself at St. Simon Island, a place I love and go to once a year. Just thinking of the different locations on the Island, I could feel myself relax. And with practice I've got quite good at visualization.
Finally, there's the Crohn's Disease message boards on the internet. What a wonderful resource they are. To be able to talk with people who are going through the same situation. You can't put a price on that. It's invaluable. I highly recommend everyone with Crohn's Disease to use this resource.
I believe that anyone with Crohn's Disease (or any chronic disease) can improve their life by taking the time to learn and implement the three part strategy I've outlined above. It's has worked wonderfully for me and I believe it can work for others as well.
Ed Kalski has had Crohn's Disease for over 25 years. He has created a website for people with Crohn's Disease that provides a lot of valuable information and links to many resources.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Before You Get Contact Lenses

There are a number of reasons why so many people around the world suffer from vision deterioration old age, disease of the retina, cornea to name but a few. To help with vision around 1284 in Italy, Salvino D'Armate inventing the first wearable eyeglasses but vision aids where around much longer D'Armate design was very similar to what is still available today.
Who invented Contact Lenses?
Leonardo da Vinci sketched and described several forms of contact lenses in 1508, and in 1632 Rene Descartes suggested the possibility of a corneal contact lens. Adolph Fick first thought of making glass contact lenses in 1888, but it took until 1948 when Kevin Tuohy invented the soft plastic lens for contacts to become a reality.
What If I Want To Use Contacts
If you've been wearing spectacles and have never used contact lenses there are a number of things you need to do.
1. Make an appointment with your eye care specialised, a regular eye test can help detect eye diseases before you notice the effect on your sight. Early treatment can often prevent your sight form getting worse
2. When you go for your eye test you should take with you any glasses that you wear, the names of any medicine you are taking and the name of your doctor if needed.
3. Your eye care specialised should discuss your eye test results and your eye health with you. Don't be afraid to ask questions about any aspect of your eye test.
So What Types Are Available?
Soft Contact lenses: Are made from oxygen permeable, which is a water-loving plastic. They contain between 30 and 80 per-cent water, depending on the type of lens. Many people enjoy the comfort of soft lenses they are easy to adapt to and fit both comfortably and securely.
Toric lenses: Patients who are diagnosed with astigmatism are normally prescribed toric contact lenses.
Disposable Contact lenses: These are good as they decrease the possibilities of a contact lens wearer getting infected, after a prescribed period of time, the lenses are thrown away and replaced with a new pair.
Gas Permeable lenses: Made of special firmer plastics, which are permeable to oxygen, these lenses are very durable and usually have a longer life span than soft lenses. Many people prefer them and find them easier to handle than soft lenses.
Safety Practices
There are safety measures for choosing, applying, and wearing contacts which you can follow to protect your eyes and provide for long-term, problem-free contact lens wear, including:
There are a number of safety measures to remember when using contact lenses
1. Make sure you wash your hands before inserting or removing your contact lenses.
2. Never borrow or lend your contact lenses to anybody else.
3. Always clean the contact lenses with the solution provided to ward off infection and to cleanse it of protein enzyme deposits.
4. If your contact lens gets torn or damaged, replace it immediately.
Not everybody can wear contact lenses if your prone to eye infection you may not be able to wear them, if your eyes sting, burn or itch you may be experiencing the common signs of "dry eye." A feeling of something foreign within the eye or general discomfort may also signal dry eye. This may require a visit to your eye care specialised.
If I have problem like dry-eye can I wear contact lenses?
You're may not have success with contact lenses than someone who does not have this condition. This of course does not mean that you cannot wear contact lenses at all. It basically means you may have a shorter contact lens wearing period than normal or you may have to wear your lenses only occasionally.
There is help available if needed you can make wearing contacts more comfortable by inserting eye lubrication drops. But, make sure you consult you eye care specialised beforehand to get advise.