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Archive for July, 2015

Exercise

The benefits of exercise are no longer theoretical. All recent studies concerning exercise and its effect on people conclusively state that exercise will help most people live longer and healthier lives. Whether you are young or old, overweight or underweight, or even if you have a disability, exercise will benefit you.

Most of us at any age wish we were more fit. Becoming older doesn’t mean we have to become weaker and more fragile. Most physical changes of aging are due to inactivity and lifestyles that do not include regular exercise. Becoming and staying physically fit is the most important thing we can do to maintain our ability to continue doing the activities we now enjoy. The more fit one is, the more independent one may remain, as well as being happier and more satisfied with life.

It’s truly never too late to begin a fitness program of regular exercise. In this article I would like to list the beneficial reasons of exercising and also give valid reasons for not putting it off any longer.

Reasons to exercise:

  • Live longer. Those who exercise regularly have been proven to add years to their lives.
  • Help to lose weight. Combined with proper diet one will lose weight.
  • Strengthen your heart. A stronger heart pumps blood more efficiently and doesn’t have to beat as fast.
  • Lift your mood. People who exercise tend to be happier and less depressed.
  • Improve chronic conditions. Exercise has been found to lower blood pressure and to improve diabetes and arthritis.
  • Defend against illness. Exercise can boost the immune system and help fight off illness, especially flu and colds.
  • Improve stamina. Exercise can provide more pep and energy and less fatigue.
  • Improve circulation. Exercise can improve our blood cholesterol and help keep our arteries clear.
  • I say so. Just wanted to see if you’re paying attention. I really do exercise, bicycling and swimming, and I feel so much better for doing so.

Overcoming excuses for not exercising:

  • Not enough time. Wake up earlier. Do several shorter periods of exercise throughout the day. Drive less, walk more.
  • Tried it before didn’t work. Set realistic goals. Pace yourself. Reinforce in your mind the benefits of exercise.
  • I might injure myself by exercising. Start with a beginning exercise group. Pace yourself. Consider working with a trainer.
  • It’s too expensive. Joining a gym or having expensive equipment at home would be nice, but are not necessary. Watch an exercise video at home. Try just plain walking or climbing stairs.
  • I’m not athletic. Most people are not particularly athletic. It is not a prerequisite for routine exercise. Anyone can and should exercise.
  • It’s just too much work. If exercise is just too much to do for your own good, then do it for those who love you. They will have you around longer, and will enjoy your health and happiness.

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Sunscreen

I’d like to make my annual plea for the liberal use of sunscreen to protect all of us — young and old — from the damaging effects of the sun.  Please understand that the “healthy” bronze tan color that many people seek is actually how the skin demonstrates that it has been damaged by the sun.

The sun produces two types of invisible light. One is ultraviolet A (UVA), which is the ray that produces a tan but causes skin damage and aging, (think wrinkles and “old age” skin spots). The other is ultraviolet B (UVB), which causes the uncomfortable sunburn.

Both types can cause skin cancer, especially the deadly melanoma. This year in the U.S. there will be approximately 76,000 new cases of melanoma with some 9,000 deaths. These statistics can be reduced significantly by protecting our skin from the sun.

The damaging rays from the sun are most intense between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM.

These are my suggestions:

  • Always start the summer season with a new fresh tube of sunscreen; price has nothing to do with performance.
  • Use a sunscreen with an SFP rating of at least 30. Higher than 50 is probably not necessary.
  • A sunscreen should be labeled “broad spectrum” protecting against both UVA and UVB and be water/sweat resistant.
  • Use at least 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) for your entire body, and apply liberally to the face, ears, and neck.
  • Don’t overlook applying to feet, back of neck, and bald spots.
  •  Apply at least 20 minutes before sun exposure and every 2 hours thereafter and more frequently if swimming or sweating profusely.
  • Avoid using sunscreen sprays on children as they can inhale the chemical ingredients. Use the lotion form only.
  • Whenever possible, wear light colored tight knit clothing and brimmed hats while in the sun.
  • Avoid tanning salons where damage — similar to the effects of the sun — can be done to the skin.

A sunscreen that has always been a favorite of mine, and one just recently highly recommended by Consumer Reports Magazine, is a brand called “NO-AD.” This product comes with an SPF of either 30 or 45, and is one of the cheapest sun screen products on the shelves.

Enjoy your outdoor summer activities, but do yourselves and especially your children a favor, and protect your/their skin from both damage and cancer by properly using a good sunscreen product.

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heart-stethoscope

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular often rapid heart rate, causing the heart’s two upper chambers to quiver instead of beating regularly. Fortunately, the lower two chambers still work normally and are able to pump the blood out of the heart, although not as efficiently.

It is this inefficient pumping that can cause the frequent symptoms of palpitations, shortness of breath, weakness, and lightheadedness, to name a few.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart arrhythmia. It is found in over 6 million Americans and accounts for some 90,000 deaths annually. It occurs in about 1-percent of individuals in their 60s, and increases to 12-percent for adults who are in their 80s. Some 30-percent of people with atrial fibrillation are unaware of their condition.

Atrial fibrillation can be brought on by increasing age, prior coexisting heart disease, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, and drinking alcohol. It can come and go, or it can be chronic and permanent. It is usually not life threatening, but it is a serious condition and needs to be treated.

There are two main goals in the treatment of atrial fibrillation. First is to attempt to control the rhythm, that is, get the rhythm back to the normal beating pattern. If a normal rhythm cannot be obtained, then the second goal is to control the heart rate. Ideally one would want to have the rate 80 beats per minute or below. Both of these goals can be accomplished with medication.

If one is very symptomatic or has relatively new onset atrial fibrillation, the heart can be electrically treated with a small electrical shock while under brief anesthesia. This treatment however, is rarely a permanent solution.

One of the main problems with atrial fibrillation is the chance of having a stroke. Blood clots can form in the quivering upper chambers. If a clot breaks loose it can go to the brain, causing a stoke.

This can be prevented by taking a blood thinning medication. Another complication is heart failure due to a weakening of the heart muscle.

There is a new advanced procedure called ablation. In this case a catheter is inserted in a large blood vessel in the groin and threaded up into the heart. Through highly technical computerized imaging, the trigger area for the fibrillation in the upper chamber is identified and lightly burned with high frequency radio waves. This destroys the area where the abnormal impulses of atrial fibrillation are generated. The success rate for this procedure is around 70-percent initially, and up to 90-percent if a second procedure is necessary.

Many people with atrial fibrillation are living relatively normal lives today when properly managed. It is a condition not to be feared, but to be monitored closely and treated appropriately by your doctor.

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