Exercise Archives

Arthroscopic Knee Surgery

A couple of weeks ago, I had arthroscopic knee surgery because of a fall more than a dozen years ago. It was partially exploratory to determine the next step as well as to “clean it up.” The next two weeks will determine my options, but total knee replacement is not necessary.

In order to go through this surgery, I had to get a second opinion and while the second doctor determined that surgery is necessary, it was his opinion that a total knee replacement should be considered “just in case” I might need one down the road. On the other hand, my world-renowned knee specialist said you never replace anything that’s in good condition and basically, other than my knee cap, my knee is in very good condition. But the most important lesson in this is to prevent falls in the first place and to prevent arthritis from creeping in.

Fitness expert Sonia Gow, in a previous post, shared her expertise about why people fall. She mentioned that falls are not a normal part of aging.

Did you know that falls are a leading cause of hospital admissions for people over 65? For those over 65, one in three will experience a fall each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 to 30 percent of the falls result in injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures, and head traumas with hospital bills averaging nearly $18,000 per patient.

According to Mary Tinetti, M.D., professor of internal medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, the more chronic health conditions you have, the more likely you are to suffer a fall.

  • Diabetes can worsen vision and desensitize nerves in the feet.
  • Depression can increase risk of falling.
  • Many medications cause dizziness and affect balance, especially sleep aids.

Other diseases causing a higher rate of falls include:

  • Circulatory disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Arthritis

Yoga and tai chi which has slow, rhythmic movements can help you with your balance. Don’t forget to strengthen your arms too since you can use them to steady yourself. Find a personal trainer or borrow/buy a DVD to help you.

Virginia Tech and Cascades Recreation Area

It was time for an out-of-town adventure and time to check off Virginia Tech from my bucket list. But a 4+ hour overnight trip would not be filled with just a visit to a university campus. In researching things to do in Blacksburg, Va, the Cascades Recreation Area in the Jefferson National Forest seemed like a worthwhile and fun place to visit. What seemed enticing was not only the hike, but the reward of seeing a magnificent 69 foot waterfall. (Seniors, you can get in free with your National Park Pass).

To get to the falls required a round trip four-mile hike which I thought would be a piece of cake considering I had done an 8.15 mile walk in the Great Aloha Run. Studying the map at the beginning of the hike, it appeared that the lower trail would be more scenic and “easier” because the upper trail was described as being more challenging because of the hill. Hence, we chose the lower trail and began our hike along the lovely Little Stoney Creek.

“Easier” is a relative term — easier if you’re younger and “grueling” in my book with having to step over all shapes and heights of rocks, twisted roots, numerous steps, and narrow pathways. Knowing what was at the end of the trail, I could not give up. Truthfully, I could not have done it without my husband. Well, maybe I could’ve, but it would’ve taken all day and there were dark clouds above and a thunderstorm looming. As we passed people coming down, they kept saying we were almost there and it was worth it.

There comes a point where the lower trail and upper trail meet and it becomes just one path to the falls. I asked a group if they had taken the upper trail (the one we had not chosen) and they said yes and a gentleman explained that it was a road that the park uses for maintenance. Therefore, it was wide and smooth. What a relief that we had an easier way back, but it was raining so the mud road was a little slippery. But, we could still walk much faster and get back to our car.

It took about 1.5 hours to get to the top and it was definitely worthwhile. I was drenched in perspiration on a cool day, but what an awesome view and an exhilarating feeling of accomplishment. I had an apple for nourishment which my body really needed. Unfortunately, it started to rain so we did not have much time to enjoy the view and had to start our descent on some slippery rocks and steps. However, once we got to the maintenance road, it felt as though we were home free.

It was a wonderful trip in every way — one of the best front desk people I’ve ever encountered (Ritz Carlton quality at a Hampton Inn), excellent service and food at Sal’s Italian Restaurant, and on the way home we stopped at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum in Staunton, Va where we had an excellent tour guide. That was the icing on the cake. Oh, and yes, the visit to Virginia Tech and their hokie stone buildings was also awesome. Now I know why they’re called Hokies.

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Last year The Canadian Press reported, “The prevalence of cognitive impairment was significantly lower in women aged 65 and older who reported they were physically active as teens than in those who were inactive in their teen years,” according to a study at the Heart and Stroke Foundation Centre for Stroke Recovery at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. Principal investigator Laura Middleton said, “If we want to optimally prevent dementia, it’s important to start physical activity as early in life as possible.”

There have been a number of studies showing the benefits of exercise to stave off dementia and cognitive impairment in our middle age years and later, but this study adds the dimension of the earlier in life the better. Hence, as seniors, we need to encourage our grandchildren to remain active.

Middleton worked on the project while she was at the University of California in San Francisco, and used data from the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures. She analyzed the responses of 9,704 women in four U.S. cities: Baltimore, Minneapolis, Portland, Ore., and Monongahela Valley, Pa. The study was published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Highlights include the following:

  • Women reported on their physical activity as teens, ages 30, 50, and late life.
  • People who were active as teenagers had a greater reduction in their risk of cognitive impairment compared to any of the other ages.
  • Prevalence of cognitive impairment in the women who’d been physically active in their teen years was 8.5 per cent, compared to 16.7 per cent among those who weren’t physically active as teens.
  • For those active versus inactive at age 30, prevalence of cognitive impairment at age 65 or older was 8.9 per cent compared to 12 per cent, and at age 50, 8.5 per cent versus 13.1 per cent.
  • Women who were inactive as teenagers and became active in later life still had a lower risk of cognitive impairment than those who remained inactive.

Louis Bherer, director of clinical research at the Montreal University Geriatric Institute, said most people in the field agree that physical activity is probably the most promising strategy to protect against cognitive decline, but he added that there are limitations to this study.

When a door is always in use, the hinges will never rust. ~Chinese Proverb. Let’s get moving to increase our gray matter.

 

 

 

Great Aloha Run and Commitment

Before leaving for Hawaii a couple of weeks ago, I made a commitment to walk the Great Aloha Run. My sister was running in it so I told her I’d cheer her on. Then she said a lot of people walk it. It never crossed my mind to do anything like it, but I wanted the “Finisher” t-shirt to demonstrate something that I’d never done in my life. It was amazing that just making a decision was the greatest hurdle to overcome. Once I made the decision, the practice and training fell into place.

When we find that we have something that we have difficulty getting started … could it be that we simply have not made the decision to do whatever we need to do? For example, as seniors, we all know that death is a greater reality than it was when we were younger. We have many decisions to make, one of which is where to live out our life. Older seniors are advising us to pack up and move now. Move closer to family. Sage advice, but we haven’t made the decision.

I look at my neighbor in his early 80’s. He’s not made the decision either, although he’s on a wait list at a senior facility and has been called about an opening. And because he’s not yet made a decision or commitment, he is having trouble getting started on the project to move. Unfortunately, as seniors, we have to face the reality that the longer we wait, our bodies may not be in any condition to handle such a huge project.

Going back to the Great Aloha Run … it was an 8.15-mile run (walk). I was advised to soak in the tub, preferably in Epsom salt, after the race because I was catching a flight that afternoon. I also wore compression socks on the plane and was fortunate to get a seat where I could get up and walk around on the new Airbus 330. That night in my hotel room my legs felt really heavy, but I rubbed a generous amount of Sunjing, the only all-natural analgesic that I know of, and the next morning I was up early in almost perfect condition to continue the journey back to the East Coast.

Sadly, we were actually in Hawaii for my husband’s mother’s funeral. She died suddenly at age 93 of a massive heart attack. She enjoyed the outdoors and in her later life did a lot of walking. So we took her spirit along with us and I’m sure she helped us complete the Great Aloha Run.

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Whole Grains and Blood Pressure

Wheat

For many seniors, as we age, our blood pressure seems to creep up as well. Here’s one solution to lower blood pressure naturally. Refrain from reaching for any white grain such as white rice or white bread. Instead, replace it with brown rice and whole grain bread. In a study of overweight adults in their 50’s, those that replaced refined grains (rice, cereal, bread) with whole grains lost weight as well as a drop in their systolic blood pressure (top number) of five to six points.

High blood pressure can raise your risk for a heart attack, congestive heart failure, kidney disease and blindness among the many problems. Other diseases such as diabetes can raise your risk even further.

The study suggested that lowering blood pressure by eating three servings of whole-grain foods daily could reduce the risk of coronary artery disease by at least 15 percent and stroke by 25 percent or more.  Generally, refined or processed foods have more sodium which is known to contribute to high blood pressure. However, the study did not define exactly how whole grains might contribute to the lowering of blood pressure.

Check this Web site of the Harvard School of Public Health for more information on the benefits of whole grains.

With all of the known side effects of blood pressure medication which even includes heart failure, taking prescription medication should be your last option.  Pre-hypertension or even hypertension can often be controlled with diet and exercise.

February is American Heart Month. On the Web site of the American Heart Association, you will see some staggering figures: 2,200 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, it is the number one cause of death of women 20 and older, more women die of heart disease than the next four causes of death combined, including cancer. It is the number one killer in America, also known as the “silent killer.”Enhanced by Zemanta

Get Fit in Just a Few Minutes

A few months ago,  bottomlinesecrets.com ran an article on how to “Get Fit in Just a Few Minutes” by fitness expert Joan Price, author of six books including, The Anytime, Anywhere Exercise Book. Price is a fitness speaker, writer, and instructor whose specialty is helping beginning exercisers start and stick to an exercise program. It’s all about moving just as my new Gracefully Age Program (GAP) is designed to get you to do. Her passion is line dancing and she calls it the most fun you can have without a partner. I love it, too, as described in this post. So I share some of her suggestions to get fit in just a few minutes.

Joan Price says: Lack of time is a primary reason people give for failing to get the recommended 30 to 60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days of the week. Admittedly, it can be tough to find such a big chunk of time in your busy schedule.

Here are a few of her suggestions that I like when you’re out and about:

At the gas station — instead of sitting in your car as the gas flows, clean all your windows, alternating the hand that holds

When parking — instead of finding a spot close to your destination, get one a few blocks away.

Upon entering a store — if all the items you need will fit in a shopping basket, choose a basket instead of a cart.

As you shop — if you need a cart, do 10 bicep curls with weightier items — soup cans, juice jugs — before placing them in your cart. (If you feel silly doing this in public, do your bicep curls at home as you put the items in the pantry.)

While waiting in line — work your abdominal muscles. Suck in your belly and tighten your abs… hold for 10 seconds… relax. Repeat five to 10 times. And if that’s not enough, I would add, stand on one leg for a few seconds, then the other to hone your balance skills.

At the end of the day, close your eyes, breathe in and out deeply 10 times, feeling grateful for all that your body was capable of doing during the day. If you had worn a pedometer (which I always do) all day, you would also have an idea of how many steps you walked. Experts recommend 10K steps a day. Here’s a simple pedometer I love.

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Happy New Year 2011!

It’s been just over two years since I started this blog and what an enlightening journey it’s been. When I started it, I was writing two times a week and then cut down to once a week when I started aboutalz.com. Now, as the new year begins, I am in the process of developing a new program, Gracefully Age Program  (GAP), where I work with seniors and baby boomers who struggle to find enough time to take care of their aging bodies, but would like to feel like they are in their 20’s again … except with better judgment.

My clients and I work together on the goals to be accomplished. Currently, we are in a three-month pilot program, but the actual program starts this spring and will run for six months. I am developing resources for the program as well as joint ventures. My program will be unique in that as a Cellular Response energy healer, I will incorporate energy exercises which I find totally intriguing.

As my blog has pointed out for the past couple of years, we seniors need to take care of our bodies if we want to have a good quality of life ahead of us. As I observe seniors around me, so many of them have let their bodies deteriorate. They have no energy. They have no sparkle in their faces. They are in pain. Diseases are rampant. I felt a program like GAP could help people even more than what I am doing in my Cellular Response practice. But only people who are committed to do anything to have optimal health will succeed in such a program. We all know people who could benefit from such a program, but they are going to have to want it for themselves. I will be the link that will help them achieve their goals.

So, I need more time to spend on the next chapter of my retirement career of helping more people and therefore, I will be adding to my blog every other Wednesday instead of weekly. I’ll be back in two weeks.

I appreciate your friendship. Make 2011 the best year ever!

How to Keep your Body Alkaline

As 2010 comes to a close, I hope it was a healthy year and you are looking forward to an exciting year ahead. I know I have so much to be thankful for and so much to look forward to in 2011.

Each of us has a path we can take — the illness path or the wellness path. The choices we make determine whether we’re headed for illness or for wellness. We are in charge of our own body. We determine what to consume. We decide if we are going to challenge our bodies by exercising. We are constantly making choices — one choice is just as easy to make as another choice. Still, over a period of time, one will lead to better health and one will lead to your doctor’s office. Which will it be for you?

One of the ways to keep your body free of diseases is to keep it in an alkaline state. I’ve heard it many times — diseases cannot live in an alkaline body. How do you keep your body in an alkaline state? By consuming more alkaline foods than acidic ones. Approximately 75 percent of your food intake should be alkaline and about 25 percent should be acidic. So, a lot more alkaline foods than acidic ones. This helpful chart at betterbones.com puts the alkaline-forming foods on a scale from low to high.

There are various places where you can buy pH paper such as a garden center or pet shop or even one that sells swimming pool supplies. If you want one that covers a wider gamut, you may need to find a lab supply store.
Personally, to keep my body alkaline, I take a “greens” supplement with every meal. What I like about this company is that their multi-vitamin is also packed with a “greens” caplet. I also drink alkaline water. I was recently tested by a health practitioner and my body was in an alkaline state. This is not to say that I leave the job to the supplements. I do try to make smart choices about what I eat.

I wish all of you the best of health. Take care and see you next year.

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Brain Rules: Part I

Brain Rules by John J. Medina, PhD, is an intriguing and interesting book published in 2008. Dr. Medina is a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant. He is the director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University. He also teaches at the University of Washington School of Medicine, in it Department of Bioengineering. In Brain Rules he talks about 12 principles of surviving and thriving at work, home, and school.

  1. Exercise: Exercise boots brain power.
  2. Survival: The human brain evolved, too.
  3. Wiring: Every brain is wired differently.
  4. Attention: We don’t pay attention to boring things.
  5. Short-term Memory: Repeat to remember.
  6. Long-term memory: Remember to repeat.
  7. Sleep: Sleep well, think well.
  8. Stress: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way.
  9. Sensory Integration: Stimulate more of the senses.
  10. Vision: Vision trumps all other senses.
  11. Gender: Male and female brains are different.
  12. Exploration: We are powerful and natural explorers.

Chapter 1 immediately caught my attention with exercise boosts brain power. So all of my writing about “moving” and all of the hours I spend in various forms of exercise should pay off. He answers the question: Is there one factor that predicts how well you will age? Before answering the question, he profiles two people he met on television — Jim and Frank.

Jim is in a nursing home — picture him in a nursing home, in a wheelchair, his eyes vacant, lonely, friendless staring into space. Most people would not want to spend their last years of life in this way. On another channel, the author meets Frank … Frank Lloyd Wright, that is. He was amazed at his use of language and the clarity of his mind. Wright completed the designs for the Guggenheim Museum (his last work) when he was 90 years old in 1957.

Jim or Frank — which lifestyle are you headed for? Medina says:

Put simply, if  you are a couch potato, you are more likely to age like Jim, if you make it to your 80s at all. If you have an active lifestyle, you are more likely to age like Frank Lloyd Wright and much more likely to make it to your 90s.The chief reason for the difference seemed to be that exercise imporved cardiovascular fitness, which in turn reduced the risk for diseases such as heart attacks and stroke.

He goes on to say that a lifetime of exercises can also do amazing things for cognitive performance in areas like long-term memory, reasoning, and problem-solving, but the area that’s not improved by exercise is short-term memory and certain types of reaction times. Also, over-exertion and exhaustion can also hurt cognition. So, folks, we continue with our “senior moments.”

Medina says, “Your lifetime risk for general dementia is literally cut in half if you participate in leisure-time physical activity. Aerobic exercise seems to be the key. With Alzheimer’s, the effect is even greater: Such exercise lowers your odds of getting the disease by more than 60 percent.” Now this is amazing — “… a 20-minute walk each day, and you can cut your risk of having a stroke — one of the leading causes of mental disability in the elderly — by 57 percent.”

Exercise opens up your blood vessels so it can feed your brain. In addition as the blood flows more freely, the body makes new blood vessels, which penetrate deeper into the tissues of the body.

He concludes the chapter by saying, “Our brains were built for walking — 12 miles a day! To improve your thinking skills, move.”

In order to have enough energy to exercise, we must get enough sleep. In Brain Rules: Part II, I talk about sleep.

Lake Anna State Park

Lake Anna is the second largest lake in Virginia located entirely in Virginia. Lake Anna State Park is located in Spotsylvania, Virginia. My husband and I had attempted to look for it in the pre-GPS, pre-Mapquest days and never found it. So Lake Anna State Park has remained on my local bucket list … until last Saturday when we found the park!

Old Pond, Lake Anna State Park

Since it is my goal to walk at least 7K steps a day, 50K steps a week, I like to look for interesting places to walk. Lake Anna State Park also gave my husband a chance to check out a potential fishing hole. Unfortunately, no one was catching anything in the Old Pond or Lake Anna itself, but they certainly make it comfortable for fishermen by providing a wooden platform and stool. In the upper left of the picture on the right, you can also see shelter provided for the fishermen. The building on the right is the Visitor Center.

There are 11 trails at the park and they are all marked as “easy,” except for three of them.     We took the Railroad Ford Trail (1.5 miles) and the Old Pond Trail (0.3 miles).  The latter is very easy — a totally paved path and excellent for a wheelchair. Over half of the Railroad Ford Trail bordered Lake Anna. It was a lovely walk and it reminded me of Eckhart Tolle and being in the moment.

Being aware of each moment sharpened the senses. The sound of the little waves on the shore, jet skis and motor boats, crickets, birds, children having fun, and other sounds I could not identify. Scenes of fishermen along the shoreline, people sitting and enjoying the peace of the lake, gnats coming up to annoy me and spiderwebs in my way were some of my views in the forest. It was a hot and humid summer day, but not overly so.

Although it was a relatively easy trail, there were still several inclines and many roots of trees to walk over. It was a great senior activity, but I was still thankful that being in good shape paid off and could really enjoy the walk. (Several previous posts talk about the benefits of being in shape. Click here for Exercise is a 4 Letter Word, click here for Fitness Required, click here for Heart Palpitations and Stroke).

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