As we prepare to leave the old year behind us and greet the New Year, I would like to propose the following health related resolutions:
- If you smoke – quit.
- If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation and do not drink and drive.
- Develop a routine exercise program and stick with it.
- Improve your diet – increase fruits and vegetables and decrease fats and carbohydrates.
- Buckle up every time you enter your car.
- Don’t talk on your cell phone while driving – not only very dangerous, but now also illegal.
- Don’t climb ladders alone, have someone with you, (personal experience speaking).
- Get regular dental checkups and eye exams.
- If you are overweight try to lose weight, but if you can’t at least remain physically fit.
- Use sun screen when outside during the sunny months.
- Routinely exam your skin for any unusual changes.
- Keep your immunizations up to date including all the usual ones that babies and children receive, as well as a diphtheria-tetanus booster every ten years for adults and a yearly influenza vaccine.
- Have your blood pressure checked at every health care visit.
- Routine health maintenance screening exams to be discussed with your doctor and should include:
- Pap test for women beginning at age 21.
- Cholesterol level test starting at age 20.
- Mammogram for women beginning at age 40.
- Blood sugar test starting at age 45.
- Colon screening (colonoscopy) beginning at age 50.
- Prostate exam for men starting at age 50.
- See your doctor sooner rather than later if you have a strong family history of any significant medical problems such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure etc.
- Avoid stress, relax, and do your best to try to enjoy your life whatever your circumstances.
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Most of us have at one time or another had a nocturnal leg cramp. Some individuals suffer frequently from them. Almost anyone can experience cramps, but they are more common in the elderly. Although they are technically harmless, they can be quite debilitating sometimes lasting 15 minutes or more. Most cramps have no obvious underlying cause.
It is believed that cramps may be associated with dehydration, prolonged sitting or a deficiency of certain electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium or calcium. Some medications have also been implicated, including diuretics, oral contraceptives, and beta blockers. Cramps have also been related to conditions such as pregnancy, diabetes and thyroid disorders.
There is weak evidence that B complex vitamins and magnesium supplements may help to prevent cramps. Most food and natural supplements have not been found to be helpful.
What to do for a leg cramp? First try massaging the cramped muscle. Next, try flexing your feet by bringing your toes up toward your knees. Try applying either hot or cold compresses directly to the painful muscle. Lastly, if you’re not in too much pain try to get up and walk around.
Here are some suggestions for reducing the frequency of cramps:
- Maintain adequate hydration by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. This is especially important if you’ve been working out and/or sweating.
- Massage and stretch your calf muscles before retiring. For stretching, try standing two or three feet from a wall with one foot forward. Lean forward with forearms up against the wall, keeping rear knee straight with the rear heel flat on the floor. Hold for 20-30 seconds then switch legs and repeat.
- Loosen or un-tuck bedcovers and sheets at foot of bed in order to give your feet plenty of room.
- Avoid high heels as well as completely flat shoes. Wear shoes with good support.
In the past, quinine was traditionally used as a treatment for leg cramps, but due to its dangerous side effects, it is no longer recommended. In fact quinine products are no longer sold over the counter.
If you have tried all the above suggestions and still suffer from nocturnal leg cramps, see your doctor.
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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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