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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Posted in Interesting Medical Facts, tagged Alcohol, ankles, back pain, Cancer, chocolate, cholesterol, cramps, depression, diabetes, exercise, feet, hearing, heart, Interesting Medical Facts, medical literature, outlook, Pneumonia, stroke on April 12, 2009|
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Interesting facts from medical literature
Beginning today, I will occasionally share with you some interesting facts from articles I have read during my review of current medical literature.
Did you know:
- Skin cancer on the head or neck is more deadly than on other parts of the body.
- 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five days a week can reduce blood pressure between 5 and 8 points
- Extensive use of flip-flop shoes can cause pain in the heel, ankle, lower leg and toes.
- Pessimistic heart patients are almost twice as likely to die within six to 10 years as heart patients with an optimistic outlook.
- Trans fats, found in many processed foods, not only increase the risk of heart disease but also increase the risk of breast cancer.
- If you think you’re having a heart attack, call 9-1-1, then chew and swallow one 325 mg. aspirin
- Exercising in water burns more calories than doing the same exercise on land.
- People, who engage in vigorous cardiovascular activities regardless of their size, are healthier and live longer than their sedentary counterparts.
- Fish oil may help to ease depression.
- To halt a lower leg calf cramp, flex your foot by pointing it up toward your shin. You can grab and pull the toes and ball of your foot to help flex it.
- Sixteen percent of people between the ages of 20 to 69 suffer significant hearing loss.
- Memory loss is linked to low levels of “good” (HDL) cholesterol
- The spread of flu is linked to airline travel. The fewer people who travel by airline over the Thanksgiving holiday, in particular, the slower the flu moves across the country.
- Vitamin C may fight wrinkles.
- Excessive drinking of alcohol leads to increased risk of pre-diabetes.
- Eating or drinking food high in cocoa improves blood flow to the brain and may help prevent stroke and dementia.
- People with type 2 adult onset diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease, mostly because of increasing cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Those who receive the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine may be at a lesser risk of heart attacks.
- Adult muscle mass decreases by 1 percent a year after the age of 30.
- Drinking up to three cups a day of black or green tea reduced stroke risk by 21 percent.
- Symptoms of depression can be improved by eating less processed sugary foods and increasing foods such as grains and vegetables.
- For acute low back pain, a day or two of bed rest may be helpful. For more rapid healing, it is best to get out of bed and move around as soon as possible.
- Newer cooking recipes have larger portion sizes. Stay conscious of portion size when eating.
- Drowsy driving is linked to 100,000 motor vehicle accidents causing 1,000 deaths and 40,000 injuries.
- Accidents with dogs and cats cause 80,000 emergency room visits annually for their owners in the United States.
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