(ARA) – Summer is here and the time is right for achieving your personal health and fitness goals. Whether you are looking to tone up for the last bit of bikini season or are looking to increase your overall fitness to enjoy the wealth of outdoor recreation available in the sunny summer months and coming fall, making choices that improve your overall health are key.
“Exercise is by far the overall best thing people can do to enhance their physical and psychological well-being,” says Dr. Kevin Sverduk, associate professor and chair of the Sport-Exercise Psychology program at Argosy University, Southern California. “Regular exercise will boost your mood, sharpen your mind, give you greater self-confidence, reduce your chances of getting sick, and expand your energy.”
“We have a unique opportunity to exercise more in summer,” says Dr. Suzanne Forbes-Vierling, a fitness/cardio instructor and chair of the College of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences at Argosy University, San Diego. “Whether it’s biking, power-walking with friends, trying out a new cardio routine, dance classes such as African dance, Afro-Cuban, Latin, belly-dance – try something different and exciting to shake up an old routine.”
Remember, however, that you should consult your doctor prior to starting any physical activity.
Fitness is about more than what we do physically with our bodies – it’s also about what we put into our bodies. “It’s important to consider a permanent lifestyle shift in how we manage food – and eliminate diets,” says Forbes-Vierling. Niki Wray, registered dietitian and nutrition instructor at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Phoenix agrees. “For a nutritionist, ‘diet’ is the food and beverages that we consume. For most of the public, however, it’s a loaded word that implies something we do for a short time.”
So how do you find the right eating plan to suit your needs? “The government has new Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” says Wray. Designed to remind Americans to adopt healthier eating habits, “MyPlate” has replaced the food pyramid as the go-to source for nutrition. “As an improved visual of a healthier diet, we’re very excited with the new food plate recently released,” Wray says. For the complete guidelines, visit http://www.choosemyplate.gov.
“The site allows you to plug in your age, weight, height and activity level to determine a customized food plan,” says Wray. “The goals include eating less, drinking more water instead of beverages with many calories, switching to low-fat dairy options and reducing your sodium intake.”
Sverduk also encourages an understanding of the glycemic index when eating. “The glycemic index of foods is a number that correlates to the rate at which food you eat will be digested and converted into sugar. Foods that have higher GI such as breads, rice and sweets, raise the blood sugar level very quickly. When one’s blood sugar level is high, the body is stimulated to store the excess sugar as fat. Foods that have a lower GI such as chicken, beef and nuts, are digested much slower and do not raise the blood sugar level as high and as quickly. When the blood sugar level is normal or slightly low, the body will be stimulated to burn stored fat,” he says.
Blood sugar levels can also be regulated through exercise. Thus eating a reasonable diet with low GI foods and regular bouts of exercise will help burn excess fat. You can learn more about the glycemic index of foods and find the GI for the foods you eat at www.glycemicindex.com.
“Every day is a new day and an opportunity to make healthy choices,” says Sverduk. “If you fall off the program, just get back on. Be realistic, consistency and patience are the keys to successful lifestyle change.”
San Diego Fitness Psychology – It’s “Herbal/Prescription Awareness Month” during the month of July so, here’s a quick test.
by: Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
Do you take any of the following herbal supplements?:
• Black Cohosh for alleviating menopausal conditions, painful menstruation • Dong quai to lessen menopausal conditions and improve menstrual ailments • Echinacea to strengthen the body’s immune system and prevent colds and flu • Evening Primrose Oil to reduce symptoms of arthritis, PMS, and hyperactivity • Feverfew to alleviate migraine headaches and menstrual cramps • Garlic for cardiovascular conditions, high cholesterol and atherosclerosis • Ginger for cardiovascular conditions and arthritic ailments • Ginkgo for poor circulation and memory • Ginseng to increase overall body tone and elevating energy levels • Goldenseal for healing, antiseptic and germ-stopping especially with colds/flu • Hawthorne for several heart-related conditions • Kava-kava for relaxation, anxiety reduction, and general calming • Licorice for spleen, liver and kidney ailments, most widely used for upper espiratory symptoms • Milk Thistle is often used for cirrhosis, hepatitis, necroses • Pycnogenol aids in preventing deseased blood vessels associated with varicose veins, peripheral hemorrhage, diabetic retinopathy and hypertension • Saw Palmetto for enlarged prostate • St. John’s Wart for mild to moderate depression • Valerian for insomnia and anxiety reduction
Well, according to a recent study at Harvard University, the use of herbal supplements has increased a whopping 50% in recent years. Include the following popular supplements and your home pharmacy is overflowing:
• Glucosamine/chondroitin • CoQ-10 or Ubiquinol • Melatonin • Amino Acids • BCAAs • Krill or Fish oils/Omega fatty acids • DHEA • Acidophilus • Lecithin • Glucose • Shark cartilage • Resveratrol
The problem is that many people saying yes to several or more of the above common herbal supplements don’t realize that taking alternative medicines in conjunction with Big Pharma’s prescriptions can be a dangerous, if not deadly, practice.
I want to be sure each of you is aware of potentially negative interactions that can result from mixing the trendy and growing list of herbal remedies with prescription medicines.
With some databases reporting that nearly 50% of Americans using at least one prescription drug per month, and over 1.9 billion different kinds of medicines are ordered or provided in doctor’s office visits per year, excluding hospital outpatient department or emergency room visits, that’s a lot of medicine out there.
In conjunction with reports that about 40% of Americans take one or more herbal supplements, and the Journal of American Medical Association estimating that 40% of consumers do not inform their doctor or nurse practitioner that they are using such products, you can face a very unhealthy situation unless you are properly informed.
It seems that herbal remedies can treat every illness from simple headache to prostate ailment, libido issues, emotional distress and memory deficits. While these over-the-counter supplements may have an positive impact on these difficulties and others, they should be treated with the same seriousness as prescription medicines.
For example, did you know that Black Cohosh, primarily used to help alleviate menopausal symptoms interacts with lipid lowering drugs, hormone replacement therapies and estrogens?
• Did you know that ginkgo may interact with aspirin, anticonvulsants, diuretics, antidepressants and blood thinners?
• Did you know that Echinacea may interact with certain chemotherapy agents?
• Did you know that Saw Palmetto may interact with birth control medication, estrogens, and anticoagulant/antiplatelet medications?
• Did you know that fish oils may interact with birth control pills, medication for hypertension, Xenical, Alli, and some anticoagulant/antiplatelet medications?
• Did you know that Co-Q10 may interact with chemotherapy medications, anti-hypertensive medication and blood thinner medications?
Commonly taken D3, Resveratrol, Krill oil, Ubiquinol, saw palmetto, and Echinacea may seem harmless and safe. For the most part, taken without medications known to create potential harmful interactions, they are considered safe for many adults to take as recommended. Outside of those parameters, and you are about to experiment with your life.
(ARA) – Despite perceptions that young adults consider themselves young and invincible, the majority of Americans aged 18 to 26 are taking an active role in maintaining their health.
Two out of three young adults have a usual source of health care, and most are seeing a physician at least once a year for wellness exams and other preventive services, according to a nationwide poll conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).
“Young adults seem to understand the correlation between having an ongoing relationship with a primary care physician and creating a healthy future,” says Dr. Roland Goertz, president of the AAFP. “But unfortunately, when it comes to managing their health, they, like many others, often lack the experience or desire to navigate the complex health care system.”
The health care reform law now enables young adults, up to age 26, to be covered under their parent or guardian’s insurance plan.
“As more provisions of health care reform become effective, such as when restrictions related to pre-existing conditions are lifted, even more young adults will have access to health care,” Goertz says. “Family physicians stand ready to provide the care they need, when and where they need it.”
As more young people take advantage of this benefit, the AAFP offers the following tips to help them make the most of their health care interactions.
* Establish a relationship with a family physician who will know you and your health history. Family physicians provide comprehensive care to people of all ages – ranging from preventive services to the diagnosis and treatment of acute illness and chronic conditions. They also treat depression and other mental health conditions. Most importantly, family physicians make it convenient for patients to get the care they need. Seventy-three percent offer same-day appointments, nearly half offer early morning and evening appointments, and 27 percent communicate with patients via email.
These services are all parts of the patient-centered medical home model of care. Under this model, family physicians coordinate care across all settings, including doctors’ offices, hospitals and many other services that make up our complex and confusing health care system. Key medical home technologies, such as electronic health records, enable health care professionals to communicate with one another and stay updated on mutual patients’ medical conditions and courses of treatment. This eliminates duplication, lowers costs and improves quality and patient satisfaction.
* Be open and honest with your doctor. Taking an active role in your health care can help you get the best care possible. Be sure to disclose any current and past health care issues or concerns. It’s important to share any information you have, even if you’re embarrassed.
* Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you have questions or concerns. It’s important to let your doctor know if you don’t understand something. If you have questions before your appointment, write them down and ask them during the exam. Be sure to write down the most important questions first to make sure they get answered, and tell your doctor when you need more time to talk.
* Play an active role in your medical decision making. Research shows that patients who are more involved with their care tend to get better results. You have a say in your medical treatment. If you aren’t comfortable with a prescribed course of treatment – like taking medicine, scheduling a test or scheduling an appointment with a specialist – let your doctor know. Patients and doctors who share decision making are more likely to identify treatment plans they can both agree on.
* Make sure your personal doctor is in charge of your care. This is especially important if you have many health problems or are in a hospital. Make sure that all members of your health care team know about all prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines you are taking, including dietary supplements such as vitamins and herbs. Also, make sure your doctor knows about any allergies and adverse reactions you’ve had.
Understand your medical bills and keep medical paperwork organized. Learn to read and understand medical bills and explanations of benefits to know what’s covered, what not covered, and why. Consolidate your medical care, health history and medical records, and organize your medical paperwork so you can review it easily if questions arise. Keep your medical receipts if you have a health savings account; you may be need to show them for tax purposes.
For more information about family physicians and tips for managing your health care, visit www.familydoctor.org/smartpatientguide.
by: Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
Who wouldn’t seriously welcome relief from life’s daily stressors? We spend nearly $300 Billion every year on stress-related health issues. If affects children, teens, and adults. Yes, it even affects members of The Sporting Club.
Simply put, stress is based on predicting extremely negative events and then living as though these predictions are “for certain going to” happen. As a result, stress creators suffer with often debilitating physical and emotional symptoms. Remember this: all stress is created through your predictions and interpretations of events in unusually harsh ways, not by the reality of these events alone.
Hans Selye coined the term “stress” in 1936. He defined it as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.” Today we understand that predicting or interpreting events in a harsh, severe and irrationally negative way create stress.
Sure, there are some events that will lead most healthy people to react with tension and concern. It’s the unusually harsh interpretation of these commonly “bad” events that lead us to react with increased intensity, often as if the events are “worse than bad”—awful, terrible and horrible. Can something be worse than 100% bad?
Here are three examples from the literature on irrational thinking patterns that can create stress:
Magnification or Minimization
Trap: You exaggerate or downplay the significance of an event rather than seeing it realistically.
Example: I absolutely have to get this project finished today or my career is over. Even though it went well this time it’s not good enough.
Escape: Put it in perspective. Ask yourself how you’ll look back on this in 1 or 5 years from now.
Trap: You expect that a certain future event will be negative and you act as if it’s already true even though there is no evidence to support it.
Example: Before starting a new activity you think that it will be too hard so you don’t even try it.
Escape: Tell yourself that your negative expectation is just one possibility and then think of other possible outcomes. Remind yourself of a time in your life when things turned out better than you expected. Keep a record of your forecasts and see how accurate you are.
Trap: You think the very worst of a situation even when there are other possibilities. You overreact.
Example: “My heart is beating fast! I’m having a heart attack!”
Escape: Look at the real probabilities. Focus on evidence that the worst did not happen, that things might not be as bad as they seem. Sometimes a headache is all in your head.
While I often help people deal with their created stress using psychological tools—(including police officers, firefighters, and military veterans, CEOs facing financial challenges, news teams covering gruesome stories, students dealing with bullying and finals, as well as couples in distressed relationships, baby boomers facing health and financial concerns, victims of serious crimes and athletes facing high level competition)—it is clear to me that physical exercise is just as essential an ingredient as are psychological tools in fully reducing, and often completely preventing, stress.
Yet, there is an irony. How can one form of stress, the stress of physical exercise, relieve another form of stress, which is mental? It’s really very straightforward: exercise is relaxing, and healthy for you.
Exercise reduces stress both directly as well as indirectly by preventing illnesses. Consistent moderate to vigorous exercise can lower your blood pressure, cut the risk of stroke-heart disease-diabetes-obesity- memory loss-depression-anxiety, improve your sleep, lower your cholesterol, create more endorphins (the feel good neurotransmitters), reduce the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, and melt daily tensions. Consistent exercise, healthy nutrition and rational thinking can add years to your life and life to your years.
So what physical exercises help reduce or prevent stress? After healthy stretching and proper warm-up, aerobic exercises, resistance training and plyometrics all help relieve physical and mental stress.
Intervals on the treadmill, burpees, power pushes, mirror sparring, lunges to bicep curls, bench jumping, planks, squats, push ups, walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, working on the GRAVITY machines, Yoga, Pilates, Zumba or other vigorous dance, are just some of the exercises that will melt your tensions.
You can walk away from your problems, meaning a 30 minute walk, about 100 steps a minute or so, several times a week, will also help you physically and mentally. Think of it as meditation in motion.
Consistent aerobic exercise, with strength training, brings healthy changes to your body. Your heart and your spirits will thank you. While at once exhilarating and calming, not only anxiety and stress can melt, but depression also has been shown to fade.
Adrenaline and cortisol are reduced with aerobic exercise and strength training, while endorphins increase. The former two are the body’s “stress chemicals while endorphins are the body’s natural mood elevators and painkillers. Don’t forget that with increased stamina, strength and even some weight loss, your self-esteem will likely increase too leading to more positive behaviors in your personal and work life.
If you are already a member of The Sporting Club, then you understand the role that exercise plays in preventing or reducing stress. You already think of the club as your personal health center. If you are thinking of becoming a member, or already belong but aren’t taking full advantage of the vast health oriented offerings, consider this plan:
- Establish a 5-30 plan. Five times a week, for 30 minutes, assuming you are healthy enough to do so, jog, walk, bike, go on the elliptical, for 30 minutes (interval training is best).
- Start with small daily goals—it’s about progress not perfection. Frequency is more important than anything else.
- Follow your personal style: solo or group classes, as along as its fun for you—yes, having fun is an important part of this plan.
- Got an iPod or other music player? Use it. It’ll help distract you and give you a beat to follow.
- Bring a friend with you—not a virtual one—a real one. Exercise buddies abound in The Sporting Club because people find exercising with others motivating.
- Give yourself one to two months of consistent exercise to feel comfortable with the exercise routine, meeting new friends at the club, and seeing/feeling the stress reduction benefits.
(ARA) – Anyone who has ever experienced a migraine knows how debilitating it can be. When you’re suffering from a migraine, it’s likely that you have a hard time focusing on anything else besides the pain you’re enduring.
If migraines are interfering with your daily life, it’s a good idea to visit a doctor who can suggest the best ways to combat your headaches. But there are also some practical steps you can take to avoid migraines. Here are a few ways you can minimize the onset of migraines and ease your pain and nausea during a migraine episode:
* Get good and regular sleep. Migraines often follow sleepless nights. Do what you can to establish a consistent sleep schedule. If you’re having trouble sleeping, remove distractions such as a TV or radio, which can prevent you from entering a deep sleep when left on all night.
* Try acupressure therapy. Similar to acupuncture, but without the needles, acupressure can provide natural pain relief by applying pressure to certain points in your body. This can be done with your hands, or through a device you can wear, such as Sea-Bands, which can be worn to apply pressure to a point just below your wrist. A recent study conducted by Berolina Clinic in Germany concluded that 83 percent of its participants – all chronic migraine sufferers – experienced a reduction in nausea when wearing Sea-Bands.
* Establishing consistency in your diet can also help reduce the frequency of migraine attacks, according to the medical experts. Also, if you suspect a certain food is causing your migraines, try eliminating it from your diet and see if it helps. Eating at different times each day or skipping meals can also trigger migraines.
* Try relaxation techniques. Stress is a major cause of migraines, so anything you can do to eliminate stress from your life will help. In addition, you may want to try deep-breathing exercises and muscle-relaxing routines designed to help your body deal better with stress and tension. If you are looking for a place to get started, ask your doctor which types of exercises he or she recommends.
* Get regular exercise. Perhaps nothing reduces stress and promotes good sleeping habits more than getting a good workout on a regular basis. Being physically active for at least a half hour a day can go a long way toward reducing your headaches.
* If you do experience a migraine attack, try to get to a dark, calm place. Lie down and sleep if your pain and schedule allows you to. Applying hot or cold packs to the affected area or the back of your neck may also help relieve your pain.
The pain caused by migraines can be extremely unpleasant and affect your ability to participate in normal daily activities. By doing what you can to avoid migraine attacks, you’ll help ensure that the disruption they cause is kept to a minimum. For more information on migraine relief, visit www.sea-band.com/blog.
(ARA) – If our teeth ache, most of us will quickly head to the dentist for treatment. But if your feet hurt, do you just chalk up the pain as a discomfort of modern life? Sadly, most of us do.
Most Americans say they have foot pain at least some of the time, and more of us have pain in our feet than in any other part of our bodies we consider vital to health, such as skin, teeth or even the heart, according to a recent survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association. Yet feet rank lowest on the list of body parts and functions that Americans consider important to their health, the APMA study shows. Additionally, many Americans don’t seek foot care from a podiatrist – a doctor specially trained to care for feet.
Foot health directly affects the quality of our lives. When our feet are healthy, feeling good and working well, they can enable us to go about our normal routines. But injured, ill or just plain old sore feet can undermine the foundation of our good health. Feet are often indicators of our overall health; signs of arthritis, diabetes, and nerve and circulatory problems can all be detected in the feet. People suffering from foot pain are also more likely to suffer from a variety of other health issues, including back, knee and joint pain, and weight and heart problems.
So how do you know if your foot pain is just annoying, or serious enough to merit a visit to a podiatrist? Persistent pain or sudden severe pain should definitely raise warning bells, experts agree. Beyond that, keep in mind that there are many sources of foot pain, and many foot ailments that can be treated best by a podiatrist, including:
* Arthritis * Athlete’s foot * Bunions – an enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe * Wounds or nerve damage due to diabetes * Foot and ankle injuries * Heel pain, especially if it is chronic * Nail problems, including nail fungus * Pinched nerves * Peripheral arterial disease – a blockage or narrowing of the arteries in the legs * Skin cancer * Warts
Today’s podiatrist is a true expert, trained to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the foot, ankle and related structures of the leg. The country’s 15,000 practicing podiatrists work in a variety of disciplines, from sports medicine and pediatrics, to dermatology and diabetes. Podiatrists can:
* Perform surgery * Provide complete medical histories and physical exams * Prescribe medicine * Set breaks and treat sports-related injuries * Prescribe and fit appliances, insoles and custom-made shoes * Order and provide physical therapy * Order and interpret X-rays and other imaging scans * Work as a member of your health care team
To find a podiatrist near you, log on to www.todayspodiatrist.com.