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February 22, 2012

Exergames: Exercises for Older Adults

Filed under: health — mjones @ 10:10 pm

Exercise is particularly important for older adults. Exercise is typically divided into four types: those that work on strength and muscle, those that work on cardiovascular endurance, those that work on flexibility, and those that work on balance. In regards to strength and muscle exercises, muscle mass starts to decline after age thirty, so it is very important to keep up your strength and quality of tissue. As we age, we also lose aerobic fitness ability, which contributes to reduced mobility in daily life. It is equally as important to keep up one’s flexibility, because joints change with age and this can lead to stiffness, decreased range of motion, and more injuries. Lastly, seniors should focus on their balance. Balance exercises can help seniors avoid injuries from falls and keep one independent and mobile.

A new study suggests that interactive exercise, which tests a senior’s cognitive abilities, has more benefits than traditional exercise for adults between 59 and 99. These cognitive challenging exercises are called exergames. As Dr. Cay Anderson-Hanley, from the Healthy Aging and Neuropsychology Lab and Department of Psychology at Union College in NY, stated, “we found that for older adults, virtual-reality enhanced interactive exercise, or cybercyling two to three times per week for 3 months, yielded greater cognitive benefit, and perhaps added protection against mild cognitive impairment (MCI), than a similar dose of traditional exercise.”

The exergames consisted of adults riding recumbent stationary bikes; however, they were experiencing 3D competition racing against a virtual bike rider based on their last best ride. While engulfed in the cyber exergames, not only did the adults experience exercise, they also were required to plan, work their memory, use their attention, and problem solve. Further, there was no difference in exercise frequency, intensity, or duration found between the adults riding a regular recumbent stationary bike and the adults involved in the exergames, indicating that factors other than effort and fitness were responsible for the cognitive benefit.

The results of this study are important. Not only are will exercise help keep cholesterol and cardiovascular health in check for older adults, but interactive exercise has significant positive cognitive results as well!

January 4, 2012

High Cortisol Levels: Why Late-to-Sleep and Early-to-Rise May Be Hurting You. Badly.

high cortisol levelsWe all know it: going to bed late and getting up early, while maybe productive in the short-term, is not healthy in the long-term. The trend of popping an energy drink or guzzling a venti coffee first thing in the morning to deal with the hardships of being perpetually tired can lead to some undesirable health issues.  If you are among those suffering from constant fatigue or chronic stress, then you may have elevated levels of cortisol.  Want to know how you can align the physical, emotional, and mental back to the precision point psychiatrists call vigor—you know, that state of sublime energy we all have at some point or another? Well, read on.

What is Cortisol?

The cortisol hormone is a steroid which is produced by the adrenal gland in response to stress. Ordinarily coritsol is highest in the morning, around 8am, and then gradually lowers throughout the day, especially after exercise, reaching a low around 4am, or a few hours after the onset of sleep. The problem with the stress-filled, no-sleep lifestyles of many people is that they don’t get a chance to deplete their levels; in other words, the cortisol stays elevated through the night. This leads to a hormonal imbalance in the body.

With high cortisol levels, the production of testosterone and DHEA are suppressed, the latter two being responsible for many important anti-inflammatory and oxidative functions.

(Since women, however, have less testosterone, a high cortisol-induced drop in their testosterone is normally going to affect women more than men. For women who want to stay young, lean, energetic, and otherwise active, a healthy level of testosterone is very important.)

High Cortisol Symptoms

Prolonged high cortisol levels can enact significant physiological changes in both men and women. The symptoms include, but are not limited to the following:
Exhaustion (reduced physical/mental energy = low vigor)
• Low sex drive
• Decreased muscle mass
• Reduced calorie/fat-burning
• Increased abdominal fat

How to Lower Cortisol levels

So, you checked off some, or maybe every symptom on the above list. Do not worry (further.) Reducing cortisol and restoring a balance in the body is relatively easy. Use any or all of these approaches to help bring your cortisol levels down, and your testosterone up.

Exercise: Virtually all forms of exercise help to reduce cortisol levels. So get to it! Find a sport that you enjoy and try to get the blood pumping as much as possible each day.

Diet: Fatty of overly sugary, processed foods can affect the adrenal gland in negative ways. Stick to brightly colored fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and unrefined/whole carbohydrates.

Stress Management: One of the aforementioned operative variables in this equation is stress—and it just happens. Stress is a part of life, but how we deal with those stressors at a psychological level will determine our hormonal response, as stress researchers from around the world have determined. In other words, if you acknowledge stress too much, or with too much intensity, your body will respond in tune with your emotional change.

Dietary Supplements: In addition to, or as part of a balanced diet, certain supplements can be beneficial to maintaining a proper physiological equilibrium.  The Malaysian herb Eurycoma longifolia (Tongkat ali) is a potent option for energy, and among the many other supplements which can be used as a natural method to help to safely restore the body’s hormonal equilibrium.

High cortisol levels fall under the scope of adrenal disease, a category which can be somewhat hard to diagnose; furthermore, if left untreated these deficiencies (or, in the opposite case, surplus’) can lead to serious, sometimes life-threatening complications. If you feel that any of your hormones are out of balance it is best to talk to a doctor immediately.

December 8, 2011

Early Onset Alzheimer’s Patients Are Determined To Remain Active

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — mjones @ 8:16 pm

While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, early onset Alzheimer’s patients are proving that the best treatment for the disease is to stay as active as possible for as long as possible. Early onset Alzheimer’s is defined as those cases diagnosed in people younger than 65 years. While a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is depressing at any age, an early onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis is particularly devastating. Furthermore, it is quite difficult to diagnose early onset Alzheimer’s, even if the patient displays clear signs of Alzheimer’s. Doctors first assume other diagnosis, and it is only through a process of elimination that Alzheimer’s is eventually diagnosed.

So how are early onset Alzheimer’s patients staying active? Cindy Kolick, a professional theater actor, first presented signs of Alzheimer’s at the early age of 42, and was later diagnosed with the Alzheimer’s disease at aged 52. Alzheimer’s disease forced her to resign from her profession; nonetheless, she remains as active as possible. She sings in the chorus at the residential complex she lives in, exercises, and participates in online Alzheimer’s drug studies on a daily basis. Another early onset Alzheimer’s case is that of Pati Hoffman. Hoffman used to have a corporate marketing job, but was forced to leave it with the early diagnosis at aged 55. Hoffman now speaks about her struggles at events and continues to stay active by volunteering at the local food bank and walking.

Doctors and nurses also recommend that early onset Alzheimer’s patients join support groups. As Danielle Arends, a nurse practitioner stresses, Alzheimer’s disease “can be an isolating disease.” A peer support group, staying active, and medication to treat dementia, will aid in the fight against the onset of Alzheimer symptoms.

With all this in mind, here is the Prescription Point checklist for ways to stay active when diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s:

  • 1.   Daily exercise is an essential for promoting both mental and physical health. Chose something therapeutic and repetitive. If you enjoy yoga, make yoga a daily excursion. If you enjoy swimming, take up swimming. If you enjoy walking, go on walks with your dogs or your friends!
  • 2.   Continue doing what you are passionate about, just do it on a smaller scale. In Kolick’s case, this meant continuing singing, just not at the professional level; while in Arends’ case, she continues to fulfill a leadership role by speaking at conferences and events about her personal struggles.
  • 3.   It goes without saying that this illness requires medical treatment – both with therapy and medicine. Follow the directions of your doctor and take whatever dementia medication prescribed. Attend personal counseling sessions and peer support groups.

October 28, 2011

Exposed Health Myths

Filed under: health — Tags: , , , , , — Kcondon @ 4:49 pm

It’s not uncommon for people to believe certain health myths. Those myths could lead to a healthy lifestyle while others just raise questions about their authenticity.  Whether they are true or not, most myths will cause you to re-evaluate your own health choices.

Health Myth One: Milk Does Wonders.

Dr. T. Colin Campbell PhD., a respected nutrition and health researcher, has discovered the truth about the effects of protein in our milk. According to his research in ‘The China Study,’ Dr. Campbell found that the main protein found in milk, Casein, (found in 87% of cow’s milk) “…promoted all stages of the Cancer process.”  Results indicated that abstaining from consuming milk and any form of animal protein halted the growth of cancerous tumors.

Health Myth Two: Herbs are the way to go!

Some herbs are great and many people think that because a product contains herbs it is harmless.  However, don’t be fooled by this idea. Only recently have problems with herbs started to arise. Kava, known to reduce anxiety, has been shown to be toxic to the liver.  Other herbs, such as Ginkgo Leaf Extracts, are known to cause headaches rather than improve mental clarity, or working to treat dementia and peripheral vascular disease. St John’s Wart, Echinacea, German Chamoile and Ginkgo biloba have been reported to cause allergic reactions. It would be smart to consult your physician on natural products or supplements to see if they fit your health needs.

Health Myth Three: Constricting Calories will help weight loss.

Though it is important to moderate your calorie intake, it is much more essential to watch your sugar intake. Minimizing your glucose intake will significantly aid in your weight loss battle. An excess of glucose is the major cause of fat storage. By moderating your glucose levels, weight loss will be a breeze. Make sure to also engage in weight training and moderate periods of cardio. This is an effective way to burn fat.

Health Myth Four: Fresh fruits and vegetables are more nutritious than canned or frozen.

This depends on two different factors: how long the fruit or vegetables have been in th fridge, and how long they’ve been cut and out on the counter.  Leaving fruits and vegetables in the fridge for long periods of time causes them to lose vitamins.  In this case, fresh produce might not have the same nutritional value as canned or frozen. Also, leaving cut up fruits or vegetables out on the kitchen counter for more than 20 minutes results in vitamin loss due to air exposure.  As a result, canned or frozen fruits can be just as vitamin-rich as fresh fruits.

Health Myth Five: The road to perfect skin is through washing and moisturizing!

Taking care of your skin is important however, there is a direct connection between the food you digest and the condition of your skin.  An unhealthy lifestyle will cause more of a strain on your liver and kidney. Because the skin is also an organ used to eliminate waste, these results will be apparent on your skin.  Cleaning regimes are not always as important as the food which is consumed; the food can later cause blemishes on your face.

August 26, 2011

Understanding Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction; two words you never want beside each other. When it’s mentioned we become silent and get awkward. The truth is about 30 million Americans suffer from erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction is a topic that we try to avoid even when talking about it to doctors. So let’s talk about erectile dysfunction because what erectile dysfunction really means is in the back of every guys mind.

Basically erectile dysfunction is impotence; this is the failure to achieve or sustain an erection for satisfactory sexual intercourse. Try not to get confused with decreased libido and problems with orgasms and ejaculation because that is not part of erectile dysfunction.

If a man does bring up erectile dysfunction the common reply is “don’t worry it’s all in your head, it will go away over time.” If you’re wondering what causes erectile dysfunction doctors would say if it isn’t temporary then it’s a physiological issue. For an erection to occur it requires the interaction of your brain, nerves, hormones, and blood vessels. So anything that can affect any of those is a problem. The common issues that men face are diabetes, high blood pressure, poor blood flow, depression neurological disorders, certain medication like sleeping pills, antidepressants, nerve damage, nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, stress, fear and bad communication between your partner.

So now that you know more about erectile dysfunction and what it really is, the next step is figuring out what you can do about it. The first step to treat erectile dysfunction of course is to see a doctor and get an expert opinion. Generally if you are facing erectile dysfunction then try and make some life style changes first such as exercising more, having a better diet, and getting more sleep. Then move on to tackling those mental problems like what mentally could be causing your dysfunction and if you have a partner, finding better ways to communicate between the two of you. The next step would be taking erectile dysfunction medication such as phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra or prostaglandin E1 analogues like Caverject and Muse. There are other erectile dysfunction treatment options if taking pills aren’t your thing then you could using a penile implant, vacuum pump devices, or surgery.

The topic of erectile dysfunction is either on the down low or used as a joke. If you do suffer from erectile dysfunction and you’re confused, scared, and stressed you are not alone. Don’t let that deter you; summon the courage to talk to your doctor and educate yourself.

July 26, 2011

Obama Care – A Failed Attempt?

Filed under: obama care — Tags: , , — Kcondon @ 10:26 pm

It has now been a year since the infamous Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obama Care, has been in effect. The bill was passed on March 23, 2010. A year later, Obama Care is still a very controversial topic and largely debated.

When the bill was first passed Democrats believed that over time Obama Care would become more and more popular. Their prediction has proven to be incorrect. In fact, opposition has increased over the course of the year. More than 50% of Americans are not in favor of Obama Care.

Many people want Obama Care to be repealed. You can bet the Republicans feel most strongly about this! Another outcome that could occur is Obama Care being deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. It could be declared unconstitutional because the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act states that everyone must have health insurance.

Moreover, the American health care system has been in need of reform for many years. Despite something being done about it, the whole Obama Care issue has been incredibly criticized by Americans. However, various surveys demonstrate that most Americans know little about their health care system or even how it compares to the Canadian health care system.

The purpose of Obama Care is to provide more people with help. It has the potential of saving many lives. One serious example is a person not receiving coverage because he/ she had a pre-existing condition. Obama Care would make sure that the person is covered and that families are not as financially devastated as seen in such situations.

Americans worry that the quality of care they receive in the United States will decrease significantly because of Obama Care. Will a situation such as quantity over quality arise? This state is often compared to Canada as Canada is known to have long waiting lists for medical procedures.

Obama’s attempt to reform the American health care system may hurt him incredibly. The next election is in 2012 and many predict that Obama will be a one term president. Obama Care is meant to reduce the costs of meds and help people afford health care. It ensures that everyone can get the help they need, when they need it.

June 13, 2011

Lowering Triglycerides Levels

Recent studies have shown that borderline patients with high levels of triglyceride can lower triglycerides with a change in lifestyle and a change in diet. Triglycerides are a form of fat in the bloodstream that can rise if someone is overweight, inactive, a smoker, consumes too much alcohol, or eats a diet high in carbohydrates.

Experts from a screening study demonstrated that people who have less than a 100mg/dL of triglycerides are the healthiest and that these levels are optimal. Borderline triglyceride patients have levels between 150-199mg/dL. Borderline patients should consider losing 5% of their body weight and limit their calorie intake as well as limiting sugars to less than 10% of their total intake. Weight loss has shown valuable changes on lipids and lipoproteins. With 5-10% loss of body weight comes with positive benefits such as a 20% reduction of triglycerides along with a 15% decrease in LDL cholesterol and 8-10% decrease in HDL cholesterol.

There has been a lot of confusion with how triglycerides can be controlled and how much it actually affects the cardiovascular system. Borderline patients are recommended to consume no more than 100g of fructose from processed foods. Fruits and vegetables that are low in fructose, such as strawberries, grapefruit, bananas, and peaches, should be eaten. A diet that consists of high fiber whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats such as omega-3 fatty acids is also strongly encouraged. As for exercise, at least 150 minutes per week should to help reduce triglycerides.

May 16, 2011

Dealing with Seasonal Allergies

Filed under: allergies — Tags: , , — Kcondon @ 4:56 pm

Woman sneezing in fieldIf the warmer temperatures and the blooming flowers haven’t clued you in, the arrival of seasonal allergies is sure to let you know that spring is here. If the symptoms have notoriously let loose upon you, don’t lose hope; you’re not the only one. Patients experience seasonal allergy symptoms such as runny nose, irritated eyes, and congestion. To prevent or reduce the occurrence of seasonal allergies with the additional aid of allergy medication , there are a number of simple “at home” measures one can put to the test.

Looking out for high pollen counts : Before heading outside, plan ahead and check the local pollen count. Avoiding the outdoors when the pollen count is high is a definite way to greatly reduce the severity of seasonal allergies especially if pollen is an allergen for you. Pollen counts are usually higher during mid day, 10 am to 2 pm, although factors including humidity and location affect the pollen count as well. When the pollen count is higher avoid going outside. Planning outdoor activities when the pollen count is low will help you enjoy your day without the interference of allergies.

Keeping Clean : After being outside, change your clothes, and take a shower. This will minimize your exposure to outdoor allergens. This is most beneficial if you happen to step out when the pollen count is high

Use the Dryer: If you don’t suffer from seasonal allergies, hanging your clothes outside to dry is a commendable method of saving energy. For the rest of you, it is best if you use the dryer because hanging laundry outside will cause a large build up of allergens on your clothes.

Good Housekeeping : If you also suffer from year-round allergies, then it is best to prevent them from occurring as well because when it comes to allergies, the more is not the merrier. Typical year-round allergies, often caused by allergens such as dust and mold, are best avoided when there is no place for accumulation of said allergens. Mold typically accumulates in the bathroom; thus, to avoid mold growth, leave the fan running up to thirty minutes after a shower or baths. Reduce clutter in your home lest the amount of objects that dust can settle on.

The Benefits of Music

Music is part of our everyday lives. We hear it in the elevator, in the malls, and while we drive. We think of music as something to dance or relax to when it is actually much more than that. A study done by Michael Miller, M.D., director of the preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, shows that music has many more health benefits that you think.

Music can help to lower blood pressure naturally. A recent study indicates that listening to music such as classical or Celtic music can assist in lowering blood pressure as much as cutting salt out of your diet or losing a few pounds can. Music can lower the risk of heart disease from 5-15%. Although music should not replace any blood pressure medication or exercise, it can always help! It is not known if music has long term effects.

Music that has a strong beat can sync your brainwaves which can increase alertness and sharpen concentration. The change in brainwave activity allows the brain to shift speeds when necessary. Music with a slower tempo brings upon a calm state of mind and improves the ability to focus long after listening to music.

Music can also slow down our breathing and our heart rate. This causes your body to relax, which prevents chronic stress from occurring. Music can result in a positive state of mind which can help to overcome depression and anxiety. People who have suffered depression felt like they could control the pain with music. Music naturally releases endorphins which act like a natural pain killer. Music distracts someone from pain which encourages relaxation.

Listening to soothing music for at least half an hour a day can help reduce stress. Moreover, listening to music while falling asleep can ensure that we get the sleep we need by taking away stress, depression, and anxiety that we might take to our beds from a tough day. Music can also boost exercise performance and can increase energy.

It is now easy to see that music is not just here to keep us entertained while driving to work; it is so much more than that. With so many benefits for our health and mind, it’s no wonder there’s music everywhere we go.

May 10, 2011

Soap-and-Water Cleanser Can Reduce Skin Infections in Wrestlers

Filed under: skin care — Tags: , , , — sgordon @ 7:00 pm

According to researchers at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, 97% of university wrestlers can reduce their risk of skin infection by using soap-and- water cleansing wipes.

Dr. Anderson, a family physian, came up with a theory that if athletes were to use medicated skin wipes after each match, the number of skin infections could be reduced.  Dr Anderson, also a team physician for Gopher wrestling team, studied 151 high school athletes who engaged in two weekend tournaments in January and February(up to 5 matches per day). The athletes were asked to use 75% isopropyl alcohol wipe, a soap-and water- based cleansing body wipe, or nothing at all.

The results concluded that without the skin wipe, 15.7% of all athletes developed a skin infection or a rate of 512.8 to exposure. Of the boys who were asked to use the alcohol wipes, 8.9% developed an infection. For those who used the soap-and-water wipe, 1.8% became infected. Infections are very common during wrestling season. Athletes only shower at the end of the day; therefore pathogens transfer between the matches and remain on their skin for 10 to 12 hours. This can cause problems, especially if over time the rises of matches increase further. Over the past 30 years, the numbers of matches for high school wrestlers have increased by 50% to 60%. The more matches there are, the more likely athletes will develop infections.

Infections seen in wrestlers include: herpes gladiatorum, and Staphylococcus.

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