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.