Archive for July, 2010

Exercise and Arthritis

July 26, 2010

Nearly 27 million Americans are affected by arthritis. So what is arthritis and where does exercise come into the picture?

When the cartilage, which is the cushion at the ends of your bones breaks down. It causes the bones to rub up against each other. This can cause stiffness, pain and loss of movement in the joint. This is known as osteoarthritis.

Although arthritis is seen as something that happens in the normal course of aging, there are ways to manage this disease. One way this is done, yes you guessed it, is through exercise.

The John Hopkins Arthritis Center states that “Regular physical activity can keep the muscles around affected joints strong, decrease bone loss and may help control joint swelling and pain. Regular activity replenishes lubrication to the cartilage of the joint and reduces stiffness and pain. Exercise can enhance weight loss in those with arthritis who are overweight.”

The Arthritis Foundation says that –

  • For every one pound of weight loss, there is a four pound reduction in the load exerted on the knee for each step taken
  • Losing as few as 11 pounds can cut the risk of developing knee osteoarthritis by 50 percent for some women
  • Physical activity keeps joints flexible and maintains or improves muscle strength.

That information was directed towards the knee. But the same can be said for your ankles, hips, shoulders and elbows. If you keep the muscles that support your joints strong then they can support these joints while they are going through their range of motion.

So what about you? Has arthritis showed up in one or more of your joints? How has it affected your daily life? For me I can feel it in my hands, so I do exercises that help me with my grip. If you want ideas as far as what exercises will help with certain joints please feel free to ask me here or email me.

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When Should I Get My Next Physical Exam?

July 12, 2010

Many years ago a very good female friend of mine informed me that she hadn’t been to her gynecologist in years for a check up because she was afraid to be weighed. I almost fell off of my chair. This woman is someone who is very lean and works out quite a bit. In fact her appearance is of someone who could use to gain a few pounds.

When I turned 40 I began to have annual physical exams. It was because of a routine blood test that it was found that I had an elevated enzyme count that then led to the finding of a “pre-existing” condition that now has to be monitored every 6 months. I’m fine and if anything I’m in better shape now than I was 20 yrs ago.

What is bothersome is that I know that there are a lot of people out there like my friend who are not being checked for frivolous reasons.

The Penn State Hershey Medical Center states that the purpose of regular physical exams include

  • Screen for diseases
  • Assess risk of future medical problems
  • Encourage a healthy lifestyle
  • Update vaccinations

It is recommended that everyone has two physical exams in their 20’s. For women a complete breast exam should be done every 3 years between the ages of 20-40. And pelvic exams and pap smears should be done every 1-2 years.

In our 40’s it is recommended that we have physicals every 1 to 5 years depending on what your doctor recommends and what the previous findings were. For women breast exams should be done annually.

And after the age of 65 even more extensive testing should take place.

There are many “silent killers” out there, diagnosis that you might have but don’t realize until they rear their ugly heads and then it may be too late.

So, how about you? When was the last time you were in your doctor’s office for a check up? if you haven’t been to your doctor in too many years, pick up the phone. If not for you, how about for those that are depending on you to live a healthy and fulfilled life.

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Affects of Alcohol on Exercise

July 1, 2010

With alcohol being the most common drug of choice one has to wonder what effects it has on your athletic performance.

Sorry folks but this blog has to be written.

For the most part the people that I run into in the gym seem to have their acts together as far as their alcohol consumption is involved. But every once in a while during an early morning workout I’ll catch a whiff of someone’s partying the night before.

Now far be it for me to judge anyone on how they use their down time to kick back and relax. But if your goals include chasing your PR’s and pushing your body as far as it can go then realize that your nutritional intake includes EVERYTHING you digest including what you drink.

In a position statement issued by the American College of Sports Medicine, the ACSM states that “alcohol appears to have little or no beneficial effect on the metabolic and physiological responses to exercise. Further, in those studies reporting significant effects, the change appears to be detrimental to performance.”

Research at the University of Georgia states that-

Alcohol will not improve muscular work capacity and results in:

  • Decrease in overall performance levels
  • Slowed running and cycling times
  • Faster fatigue during high-intensity exercise

Adequate hydration is crucial to optimal performance. The diuretic property of alcohol can result in:

  • Dehydration and significantly reduced aerobic performance
  • Impaired 800 and 1500 meter run times
  • Increased health risks during prolonged exercise in hot environments

Ok so you don’t drink before you go to the gym or before your run. What about the day after. The same research as above showed that “drinking on the day or night before athletic activity hinders physical conditioning progress, and exercising with a hangover has been shown to significantly decrease performance capacity by as much as 11%”

So, ok I hear it now. “Hey I drink and I’m doing just great”. Well think about how much better you would be doing if you didn’t.

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