Fit After Fifty
Pelosi's Notorious Quote
Socialized Medicine at its "Best"
A personal experience in a foreign country
Doctors Know Exercise Key to Good Health
Buttonwood West Yoga Class
Getting Back on Track in 2011
for Muscle Toning and Strengthening ~
Health and Fitness Articles ~
A Beautiful Mind
Stroke symptoms different for women; Smoking alters body's
Focal Dystonia ... Involuntary Nerve Impulses
Deep Fat Changes Testosterone to Estrogen in Men ...
November 22, 2013
heard about the controversies within the bill, the process about
the bill, one or the other. But I donít know if you have heard
that it is legislation for the future, not just about health care
for America, but about a healthier America, where preventive care
is not something that you have to pay a deductible for or out of
pocket. Prevention, prevention, preventionóitís about diet,
not diabetes. Itís going to be very, very exciting. But we
have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away
from the fog of the controversy."
Nancy Pelosi, as Speaker of the House, March 9,
2010, referring to Obamacare, otherwise known as the Affordable
Medicine at its "Best"
A personal experience in a foreign country
years ago this month, I made a long-awaited trip to visit my
"former" in-laws in Greece. I had not seen them since
1981. They had spent many years off and on with me and my then
husband, their son, at our home in Maryland. They watched our
children grow from birth to teen and preteen ages. I learned the
language from my mother-in-law. She was diabetic, so I was her
link to health care in this country, as she and my father-in-law
spoke no English. She and I spent most of every day together,
shopping, cooking, taking care of kids, etc. Father-in-law was the
robust, soft-hearted, barrel chested "Walrus" of a man
who was content to finger his worry beads when he wasnít out
tending to our vegetable garden or helping to move our 7 tons of
Delaware River rocks we had ordered to be placed around our new
swimming pool. For most of some 15 years, they were an integral
part of our household.
in 1981, they returned to Greece (they would normally spend a year
or more with us, then a year there). It was then that our marriage
also was on the downturn. It ended and I moved to be closer to my
mother who had recently come to Florida. I had not only lost my
marriage, but these two wonderful people who were my in-laws.
began to fear that I would not see them before they died -- he had
turned 90 and she was 6 years younger. I began to express my
concern to my ex and my sons. My oldest son, Dimitri, and his wife
and three children had just returned from Greece that summer. My
youngest son had visited many times with his father and his fatherís
wife, but my daughter-in-law had not made the trip yet. And, there
was a new baby.
finally, Tony, Jennifer, Alyssa (the baby) and I planned our trip.
This was a good arrangement since I speak the language much better
than Tony. I was finally going to see my dear in-laws again.
and Dimitri Tzoumas (my in-laws in Greece), my son Tony
with granddaughter Alyssa, and Jennifer, daughter-in-law
on the balcony of my in-laws' apartment in Athens, Greece.
This is the last photo taken of them before my
father-in-law's death and before my mother-in-law's death
3 months later.
by Betty Thomas (Tzoumas)
reunion was fantastic, with hugs, tears, smiles, pictures, and
more. We arrived Friday afternoon. Then, on Sunday evening, my
father-in-law took suddenly ill, unable to breathe (I could hear
fluid), and his heart was racing. He only wanted to go to bed,
insisting it would pass. But, later that night, I summoned the
housekeeper from her home and we called the "ambulance."
a shock. The "ambulance" was only a
"transporter", with two men who could do nothing but
transport our patient to the hospital (not the one of his choice,
but the one that the transporter goes to). You have to take a taxi
to go to the other one. These men did not have anything to cover
him with, did not perform any paramedical tests such as taking
blood pressure or listening to the heart!
much persuasion, my still-unable-to-breathe father-in-law was
positioned on the bare, orange plastic transporter. We were to
provide a blanket or something to cover him with. He was in a
sitting position due to the small space of the elevator
son and the maid accompanied them to the Emergency Room. It was
difficult to get any information from the doctors who would only
say he wasnít getting enough oxygen and they suspected
pneumonia. They were all night at the ER waiting for a room for
in the room, the nieces and nephews congregated at the hospital.
There was much to do. One asked the women at the desk if there was
a doctor there? "Well, this is a hospital, what do you
think?" "Might one be sent up to see my uncle?" she
asked. "I canít do that, you need to get a nurse to send a
doctor to him," was the terse retort. "And where might I
find a nurse," she queried. "Try downstairs in the
cardiac unit." Finally a nurse was found. Then more upstairs,
Papou was still laboring to breathe, fitted with only an oxygen
mask and a drip of some fluid (I suspect saline solution) to keep
him hydrated. He would ask us to open the window because he couldnít
breathe. An x-ray had been taken, probably down in the ER, and an
EKG. They saw fluid in the lungs. Then, in the afternoon, another
EKG was taken and the team of four studied the two tapes for some
15 minutes. When the family asked what the doctors found, the
answer was, "He is not good. He is old. He has
pneumonia." We were told to hire nurses to stay with him in
the evening and night. Also, we were instructed to bring in adult
diapers for him. These were not provided (nothing was). Iím sure
thereís more. I donít know if he was fed.
frankly, I believe he had congestive heart failure. His attack was
sudden, with fluid suddenly filling up the lungs. Yes, he was 94,
but he might have been saved with some simple procedures. Weíll
never know. They never even tried.
next day, he was moved down to cardiac care where he was (finally,
but too late) intubated. The next morning (Wed.) at 1:10am, I
received a call from the hospital that he had died. Finally, my ex
arrived from the U.S. Wed. evening the hospital called to ask us
to have the body taken to the refrigerator by the "funeralists"
because he would begin to smell. It never occurred to us that he
would not have been moved to the coroner (if they have one).
understand that Greece has socialized health care. Is this what
the future of Obamacare holds for us? Think about
Know Exercise Key to Good Health
and story by Jimmy Shirley
Benedicto San Pedro, M.D. (pictured left) has had a family medical
practice in Lake Worth for thirty-three years. About three years
ago, the now sixty-four year old doctor began to notice he was
feeling sluggish, unhealthy. Age happens to us all. So after some
amount of research, he decided to join a fitness gym in Boynton
Beach. Enlisting the aid of a trainer, he learned about physical
fitness and how it is helped along by a good mental attitude.
then, combining proper nutrition and a smart work-out regimen, his
body fat index dropped from 28% down to 15% and his
"feel-good index" more than doubled. Judge for
yourselves how fit the good doctor looks.
Married for thirty-six years with two grown sons, his wife also
works out. He is the doctor of Betty Thomas, publisher of the
Condo News, as well as her motherís.
West Yoga Class
by Murph Stone
Ann Edmundson's Yoga Class in the Buttonwood West Clubhouse ...
Ann's composure is so serene, so in line with the perfect
spiritual insight required of Yoga. This disciplining and training
of the mind can lead us to the perfect tranquility constantly
eluding us. Pictured l-r are: Lorraine Betz; Helen Dickey; Eileen
and Richard Baisley; Rita Carr.
pictured is Jo McDonald.
Back on Track in 2011
that time of year again for those well-meant New Yearís
Resolutions. I know, we make them, we break them. But, practice
makes perfect. Make them again, this time with conviction,
especially where your health is concerned. Of course, you go to
the doctors, take your meds, bundle up in the cold, and watch your
diet. But, keeping those fitness resolutions can be tricky. I
know. I make Ďem and break Ďem just like everyone else. Why?
Sometimes Life gets in the way. But, there are so many things that
Life throws at us, there are some things that we do
have control over and one of those is our commitment to exercise.
column is about Fitness. If you have been faithful to a fitness
regimen, great. If you have been doing the same-ole-same-ole
"forever", maybe itís time to mix it up. You can fall
into a rut and then your body adjusts and doesnít progress. You
reach a plateau, as they say.
first thing you want to do when making a resolution is to scale it
to a level you are confident you will be able to keep. That would
be at least a step above to what you are doing now. If you are a
couch potato (sedentary), you must get moving -- walking is a good
start. Not strolling, but really walking, until you feel your
heart rate increase. Then add on from there. If you are already
active on the fitness scene, add variations to your routine. If
you walk, you can add intermittent in-place exercises along your
is the key to any resolution. This is especially so where exercise
and/or diet are concerned. Life-style changes are difficult to
instill ó this is not a temporary move, this is for the rest of
your life. It means that you must view the modifications as a
permanent part of your life.
an appointment with yourself ó the day, time, duration ó mark
it on your calendar, and stick to it. Give yourself a penalty if
you break the appointment. What happens if you break appointments
with your doctors, hairdresser, dentist? Do that too often with
your health care professionals and you will pay for that time slot
in dollars. Be that fair to yourself. Consider the penalty ó
maybe it will be two sessions extra for the missed one.
goals ó short-term and long-term. What are you trying to
accomplish? Is it to feel better, lose weight, look better? All of
the above? Actually, if you stick to it, you will accomplish all
of the above.
your clubhouse or building has a fitness room or a gym, take
advantage of it. (You are paying for it, after all.) Some of the
Medicare HMOs are including fitness centers in their coverage such
as Silver Sneakers programs. This, to me, is one of the most
rational "health maintenance" coverages for senior
citizens I can think of. Check it out to see if you are eligible.
your friends and family members about your resolution. Let them
know what your plan is, and what goals you expect to achieve. This
will set up a sort of network to they can offer their support and
encouragement. Set up some kind of reward for each level of your
goal that you achieve (a healthy reward, of course).
to your body. If something hurts, donít do it. Donít overdo.
And, of course, before you begin any activity for the first time,
consult your health care provider.
of all, enjoy your new, or extended activity. Make 2011 a year
that is full of health. Happy New Year!
the article below for tips on exercising for muscle toning and
for Muscle Toning and Strengthening
Here are some easy weight training exercises you can do to. You'll need to use
weights that are heavy enough to challenge your muscles. You can get small dumbbells -- 2, 3, 5,
and 8 pounders are good -- at most discount department stores, and of course at sporting good
stores. You can also use tubing, but for this article, we'll talk about the dumbbells.
You should warm up by walking or jogging in place for 5 minutes or so.
For each exercise, do sets of 10 to 12, resting one minute between sets. I like to do 3 sets as a rule.
If you are new to exercising, use the lightest weights and build up to heavier ones over the weeks.
Start out twice a week and, as you begin to feel stronger, try at least three times a week. Each
exercise will need the right weight and you will have to determine that. Make your movements slow
and controlled. That works the muscle best.
are some basic muscle toning exercises ...
|Bent Over Row: Using a bench or the side of the bed, one knee and hand on the bed, keeping back
straight, let your arm hand straight down toward the floor holding the weight in that hand. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, bend your elbow lifting the weight until it's close to your underarm,
pause and lower. This will work your back, rear of shoulders and front of your upper arm. Now
switch and do the other arm.
|Arm Curl: While seated, feet flat on the floor, spread out wider than shoulder width, place your left
elbow against your left thigh. Hold a weight in your left hand and, starting with the arm straight, hand down toward the floor, palm facing forward, slowly bend your left elbow, bringing the weight
toward your shoulder, squeezing your biceps at the top of the movement, then slowly lower the
weight. Do reps. This works the front of the upper arm (biceps). Switch and do the other side.
|Shoulder Press: Standing, feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, hold the dumbbells at
shoulder height with palms forward and elbows bent and pointing down. Straighten your arms and press the dumbbells over your head toward the ceiling. Pause, return to starting position. This works
your shoulders and back of upper arms.
|Chest Press: Lying on the bench, floor or bed, elbows bent at a 90-degree
angle, upper arms
parallel to floor, holding dumbbells, press up toward the ceiling until your arms are straight, not locked. Pause and lower to starting position. Do reps. Works chest, front of shoulders and back of
Triceps Extension: Lie on your back on a
firm surface such as the floor (on a pad or thick carpet) or a
workout bench (for those who go to the gym). Place a rolled up
towel under your neck for support. Have your knees bent and feet
flat on the floor (or heels on the bench). Now, as always when you
are going to perform a workout movement, contract those abdominal
muscles to stabilize your torso and support your back. Bring your
full back in contact with the bench (or floor). You don't want to
arch the back. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms
straight above your
in line with your shoulders, and your palms facing each other.
Keeping your upper arms and shoulders in this position, bend your
elbows lowering the dumbbells toward your shoulders. They should
be on either side of your face at cheek level. Now straighten your
arms to return to starting position. Don't lock your elbows. It's
the pushing movement back up to the starting position that works
the muscle, and always remember to move the weights up and down
|Triceps Kickback: One knee and hand on the bench or bed, back straight, shoulder blades together,
upper arm parallel to the floor, palm in, hand with weight pointing toward the floor at a right angle to
upper arm. Slowly raise the dumbbell behind you by straightening your arm. Keep your upper arm
still and parallel to the floor. When your arm is straight, squeeze the muscle on the back of your
upper arm (triceps), pause and return to starting position. Be sure to keep your upper arm still. This
works your triceps at the back of the upper arm. It's a great exercise to firm up that flab we mentioned at the beginning of this column. Do reps. Switch and do the other side.
dumbbell press: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees
straight but not locked, torso straight and abdominal muscles
tight. Hold a lightweight dumbbell (3-5 lbs. to start) in each
hand, palms facing in toward each other, hands at shoulder height
and elbows pointing down. Keep your body aligned from your head
down through your feet and do not sway front to back as you do the
move. Do not look down. Keep looking straight ahead. Now press
upward toward the ceiling with the weights, and as you press
|upward, bring the weights gradually closer, but
not touching. You will form a near-triangle. The weights should
end up overhead and slightly in front of your body. (Refer to
illustrations.) Do 8 to 12 repetitions (reps) 3 times (sets) 2
times a week. Do the move slowly. Don't lean backwards -- this
will put pressure on your lower back. Make sure you are on solid
ground and keep feet at hip width. If you can't do the move with
dumbbells, start out with empty hands and just work on flexibility
for starters. When the movement is comfortable, add a very light
weight (1-2 lbs.) and work with that until the move is
comfortable. This move, if done properly, can help stabilization
and balance because it enlists the aid of many muscles to maintain
the correct alignment. It is always better to do your exercises in
front of a mirror so you can keep your form in check. Remember -- Form
|Squat: Standing with feet at shoulder-width, buttocks
tucked in, back straight, abdomen tight, extend both arms straight
out in front of you, palms down. Now, bend at the knees as though
you were about to sit down. (See illustrations) You may want a
|you in case you do sit down, except that is not the aim. You
want to get as close to the chair as you can without actually
sitting on it. Now, return slowly to the standing position and
repeat the move. If your legs are very weak, do sit, then raise
up. Or do partial squats (just a few inches) while standing in
place until you become stronger. While doing the move, try not to
bend forward as you lower yourself toward the chair, at the same
time keeping your back straight, abdominals tight and arms
extended. Don't go lower than the chair height. Your thighs should
be parallel to the floor, no lower, and your knees at right angle.
Inhale as you lower yourself and exhale as you begin the upward
movement. Works gluteals and thighs.
|Here is a simple hip stretch move that can improve strength,
movement and balance (see illustrations): Using a straight back
chair, table or kitchen counter, to brace yourself, stand holding
onto the chair with your right hand, bring your left knee up until
it is at hip level, then lower it and, without letting your foot touch the
|floor, sweep your leg backwards. Repeat the move 3 to 10 (or more)
times. Now switch and repeat the move with the other side. Do
daily. Try this variation. Lift the knee as high as you can and
lower it and repeat the lift then do the sweep back. Keep the move
going for the repetitions, repeating the double knee lift at the
start of each move. When you sweep back, tighten the buttocks and
go for the stretch as far back as you can. Hold that for a few
seconds before returning tot he knee lift.
(Strengthens the thigh, buttocks, calf and hip muscles.) Stand
next to the counter holding on with your left hand, torso
straight, shoulders back, feet together. Now step forward with
your right foot, keeping the left foot in place but rolling onto
the toes as though you were taking a walking stride. Bend your
knees into the "lunge" position , hold for a count (1)
and push back to return to the starting position. Repeat the move
5 to 15 times. Switch sides
|and repeat with the other foot. Note: the length
of your step will tell you how far to bend your knees. You want
your forward knee to stay over your ankle, not further forward
than your ankle. (See illustration)
|Side Lunge: (Strengthens
thighs, inner thighs, upper hips, buttocks and hamstrings.)
Stand facing the counter holding on with both hands for stability.
Keep spine straight (always) and abdominals tight (always). Take a
step sideways with the right foot, this time bending only the
right knee and keeping it in line with the ankle. Your torso
should be centered between the legs and your left leg straight, left foot in original spot. Hold
for a count (1).
| Now push off with the right foot to return to the
starting position. Repeat the move 5 to 15 times. Now switch and
do the move with the left foot keeping the right foot stationary.
Again, it is up to you how large a step you want to take. Ideally
the steps in the lunges are long strides, but if you have strength
or balance issues, you want to start out with smaller steps. Wear
good fitting shoes with non-slip soles.
Squat: (Strengthens thighs and buttocks) This
move can be done without any resistance, or with rubber
tubing, or even holding light weights. Stand with feet wide apart,
toes pointed outward, back straight, abdominal muscles contracted.
Bend knees and lower your torso, keeping back straight, as far as
you can without changing the position of the
pelvis. Now, as you elevate back to the starting position, squeeze
your buttocks and leg
muscles, which will make those muscles
perform the move. You will feel it in your front and back thighs
(quadriceps and hamstrings), inner and outer thighs and buttocks.
If you are using the tube, you will stand with the arch of your
foot (wear shoes) over the tube and a tube end in each hand
crossed over from the opposite foot. Do 8 to 12 reps, 1 to 3 sets.
|Pelvic Lift Bridge (Strengthens
the hamstrings and buttocks). Lie on your back with
your knees bent and your heels on the floor,
at sides with palms down. Now, lift your pelvis (hips) up
until you form a "bridge" in a straight line from your
knees to your shoulders. You should be using only your heels to do
the lift, not your whole foot. Lower yourself down to the starting
position slowly and do repetitions. You should feel a tightening
throughout your hamstrings, buttocks and torso muscles. If you are
physically fit, try doing this move with one foot on the floor and
the other a few inches off the floor, then switch feet. If you
have problems with your back, advanced osteoporosis, or other
health issues that might be aggravated by this move, donít do
it. If you feel pain while doing this move, stop. This move will
help to improve balance and stability.
and Fitness Issues
you ever pondered what a beautiful thing your mind is? Just think
about it. In one glance, your brain makes thousands of
calculations about everything around it -- area, shapes, colors,
density, material makeup, depth perception, proximity, purpose,
smell, texture, as well as your own body and its relationship to
its environment. Computers, even the fastest ones, haven't begun
to compete with the human brain in all its complexities. But, your
brain is subject to damage from a multitude of sources, including
what you put into your body, how you use or don't use it, disease,
age and so on. It behooves you to do whatever is in your power to
protect your brain, thus your mind, in every way you can.
Life-style is probably the most important aspect in protecting
your brain's health.
it or lose it. Keep your brain active.
TV is not a good source for mind games -- it can deactivate the
brain's transmitters. Rather, engage in hobbies, read books and
newspapers, play cards, play an instrument, etc.
with friends. Socializing is one of the
most healthful aspects of a good life-style one can engage in. It
provides a mental stimulation as you make plans for social events,
share ideas, support each other in times of grief, rejoice
together in times of joy, and in effect, connect with each other.
It is also good for emotional health which is, after all, in the
stress and anxiety in your life. I hate
the feeling of anxiety more than anything I can imagine. Stress
elevates the levels of cortisol in the brain. That's where the
"fight-or-flight" response comes in. Another name for
that is angst -- anger and stress. Besides being bad for
the brain, angst is also bad for the heart. It stimulates the body
to move fat to the abdomen where, as "deep fat", it
causes an elevation in the bad cholesterol in the blood (LDL).
Stress reducing activities include some of the above such as
reading, playing an instrument, deep breathing and exercising.
Prayer is a powerful tool.
exercise is a must. Walking briskly
increases the flow of blood in the body and the brain. The brain
needs oxygen and nutrition to do its job, just like the muscles.
Walk a mile a day or do other aerobic activities such as swimming,
tennis and golf (if you walk the course), are recommended.
enough sleep. Too many of us are
"night owls." People in their 60s, 70s, 80s, etc. have
trouble sleeping. Watch what you eat and drink before bedtime.
you are over 60, you may need to take vitamin B12
supplements containing at least 2.4 mcg of B12.
About 20% of people over 60 and 40% of people over 80 can't absorb
the vitamin very well. Vitamin B12 is important for the nerves to
you have chronic pain, get help. Vital
signs are listed thusly: 1) Heart rate; 2) Blood pressure; 3)
Temperature; 4) Respiration; and now, 5) Pain is rapidly being
referred to as the fifth vital sign. Tell your doctor if you have
pain. Life-style changes can reduce pain such as weight reduction,
exercise, relaxation, meditation, and so forth.
is being recognized as an important factor in mental health, and
can be beneficial to people suffering from chronic pain. It helps
take the mind off the pain like a good movie does.
mind is a terrible thing to waste. Keep yours beautiful for as
long as you can. It is, after all, your essence, your being.
symptoms different for women; Smoking alters body's
are from Mars and Women are from Venus. Well, now that that's been
established and we understand the basis of our communication
problems, here's news that may make that language barrier more of
a problem. Stroke symptoms are reported differently by women than
by men. Most studies have been done using male participants. Most
doctors are men. Most text books have been written by men (or is
it all text books?). A study conducted at the University of
Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor found marked differences in
the way women reported their symptoms of stroke. The researchers
aren't even sure whether the women experienced differences because
of biological reasons or because they explain their symptoms
differently than men. Stroke symptoms reported by most patients
include dizziness, slurred or broken speech, facial paralysis, and
sensory problems. But, in the study, women reported other symptoms
such as fluctuations in consciousness and disorientation as well
as limb pain in about 60% of the cases. Women also had more
bleeding strokes than men, who are more likely to suffer stroke
due to a blockage. These differences are probably due to
differences in the cause of the strokes in the first place.
Women's general cardiovascular disease has different signs as
well. But the difference in describing symptoms to the emergency
responders and doctors is delaying treatment for some women.
Doctors often don't diagnose women's symptoms as being those of
stroke, delaying the use of clot busters for women who are not
suffering bleeding strokes, but rather blockage strokes.
smoking? Consider this ... We know that it's the nicotine in the
cigarette smoke that causes the addiction to the habit. We thought
it was the tar in the tobacco that caused all the harm. Well,
researchers have discovered that a product of the breakdown of
nicotine -- nornicotine -- may cause big problems. See,
this nornicotine hooks up with glucose, generating "advanced
glycation end-products (AGEs)", and binds to proteins causing
them to change their function. Is this bad? Could be. Proteins are
enzymes that stimulate chemical reactions in our bodies. They all
have different shapes. Their shape (structure) gives the enzymes
the ability to perform their jobs. They specialize. Alter the
shape and you render the enzyme either useless or harmful. For
example, nornicotine changes the structure of prednisone, (a
steroid that is very similar to glucose). There is a possibility
that nornicotine may hinder the effectiveness of other drugs.
Researchers described nornicotine in this way ... they said that
it "sears proteins much the way foods brown, leading to
potentially harmful changes that could cause disease." AGEs
are linked to vessel disease, diabetes and other ailments. More
AGEs have been found in smokers than non smokers. Kim Janda, of
Scripps Research Institute in California, and leader of the study,
said, "You can (also) get this (AGEs) from the (nicotine)
patch or gum." A Scripps tobacco expert, George Koob, says
that more studies are needed to determine if "the effects of
AGEs from nicotine are 'good, bad or indifferent'."
has been shown to slow the healing of bone fractures predisposing
nicotine-users (smokers, chewers [gum or tobacco] or patchers) to
increased risk of hip fracture. It alters the effectiveness of
estrogen and counters the effectiveness of antioxidants such as
Vitamins C and E. Cigarette smoking is implicated in a myriad of
health problems including severe disc degeneration, weakened
spinal ligaments; slowed production of bone cells; rotator cuff
problems; reduced delivery of oxygen to the tissues resulting in
slow healing following surgery and fractures; and more. Lower back
pain and sciatica are more common in both men and women smokers --
especially those who have smoker's cough. Smokers have more
disabling leg cramps. There are hundreds of thousands of toxins in
cigarette smoke and some toxins directly effect cells that are
trying to heal. Hardening of the arteries caused by smoking may
not reverse after smoking is stopped, but many other smoke-related
issues will -- including speeding up the healing process.
another issue here. "Smoking is a major risk factor for
bladder cancer," says Dr. Arie Belldegrun, chief of UCLA's
Jonsson Cancer Center's urologic oncology division. It is
predicted that some 70,530 cases of bladder cancer will be
diagnosed in the U.S. this year and nearly 14,680 will die from
it. Smokers and former smokers are at risk.
dystonia or involuntary contractions (spasms) of a single
muscle area, can affect any muscle area, but most common are the
neck, eyelids, jaw, vocal cords and lower arm. These spasms in the
lower arm may be characterized as writer's cramp or even the
"Yips" familiar to some golfers who experience the
twitch while putting. The spasm is often more pronounced when
there is emotional or physical stress. The cause is not known but
focal dystonia seems to occur in folks who are engaged in a
profession or hobby which requires a sustained, abnormal posture.
Then some occur during certain activities such as writing or using
a putter on the golf course. Tests to rule out Parkinson's disease
as well as seizure disorders are necessary before diagnosis of
focal dystonia can be made. Treatment may be in the form of oral
or injected medications or surgery. Botox and Myoblock injected
into the offending muscle to block the nerve causing the spasm
have proven to be the most effective.
heard of Sarcopenia? No? Well, you probably have it. It
usually starts in 'middle age' around 45. It's when your body
seems to get the 'dropsy' and your fat ratio out does your muscle
ratio ó or muscle mass decline. That can lead to frailty
in old age (excuse the term, but we need to 'cut to the chase').
We lose our muscle mass at the rate of about one percent a year
after age 45, so let's see, how much is that? With that loss goes
strength and your quality of life declines, too. No one is exempt,
even top athletes, but the more muscle mass you have to start
with, the longer it takes for frailty to set in. The problem in
the first place is with loss of nerve cells and the chemicals that
connect them with the brain. Additionally, a weakened immune
system, possible increases other substances that break down
muscle, as well as lowered levels of hormones due to age, mean
that muscles are not stimulated to grow. Disuse accelerates the
loss of muscle and so the cycle ensues.
remedy, and there is one, requires effort on our part ó strength
training. The muscles are still there ... it just takes some
effort to wake them up. The key to exercise for older people is
finding the right intensity. In previous programs, very light
weights were being used and the muscles weren't getting bigger. In
a Tufts University study of nursing home patients, high-intensity
workouts were done. The participants were men from 60 to 72. They
did leg lifts using heavier weights. In a mere 3 month, the men
increased their leg strength by more than double. Other
weight-lifting studies in nursing homes have also shown similar
results. For example, nursing home residents in their 90s went
from needing a cane to walking without one after only 2 months in
you lift weights in a high-intensity program, the cells of the
muscles actually tear. Then, as the muscle cells repair
themselves, they effectively have divided and the result is more
muscle cells and, of course, bigger muscles. So, what constitutes
'high-intensity'? Well, it depends on your 'maximum capacity'.
That is, the maximum weight you can lift only one time. In a gym,
the personal trainer will have you lift a very heavy weight and
watch your muscle. As you lift the weight amount that is your
maximum, your muscle will quiver as it strains against the weight.
Then you will use a weight half that heavy to do your exercise for
that particular muscle. An older person may start out with only 2
or 3 pounds, but must build that weight up to a more 'respectable'
number, for example 10 or even 20 pounds. You are working arms,
legs, thighs, shoulders, back, abdominals, etc. But, first start
with the legs and arms.
exercise the same muscle group two days in a row. Remember, the
muscle cells need to repair themselves so they will be ready for
the next session. They are more than willing, even anxious to get
on with a program.
about other exercise forms? What about walking and swimming? Well,
studies have shown that these forms of exercise did not prevent or
reverse sarcopenia. Only weight training accomplished that.
There's just no way around it, folks. Pumping iron is your ticket
to younger muscles.
don't notice much in the first month or so. I remember when I
first joined the gym, they told me that for the first month
internal things were going on the cellular level and with hormones
in the muscles. Then, after that I would start noticing changes. I
found that, even turning the pages of the newspaper and the
steering wheel felt different! Geez. What a hoot, I thought.
muscles also has other benefits. For one, your metabolism steps up
because a muscle has faster molecules than fat, so it 'burns'
hotter, spending more calories in the process. Also, muscles tug
on the bones, and in doing so, cause the bones to absorb more
calcium, protecting or reinforcing against osteoporosis. Balance
is improved. You feel like you can do more, so you do more, and
the more you do, the stronger your muscles are, and on, and on.
is another factor in staving off sarcopenia. Older people tend to
eat less protein. In fact, they have been found to consume less
than half the recommended amount of protein. Muscles need protein.
If you don't eat enough protein, your body will take it out of
your muscles. In the same way, if you don't replace your calcium
in sufficient quantities daily, your body will take calcium from
your bones. All cells use calcium to function. All these are
called building materials.
Tufts study found that folks over age 55 should eat almost 1/2
gram of protein for each pound of their weight, so a person
weighing in at 150 pounds should eat about 68 grams of protein a
day. Your best source for protein, of course, is meat, poultry or
fish. A 3 ounce piece has 21 grams of protein. Other sources of
protein are tofu, peanut butter (2 tablespoons have 9 grams),
milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, and so forth.
D also seems to play a role in maintaining muscle strength. We
also know that the vitamin is important in the absorption of
calcium. It is the lack of vitamin D that affects the muscles, not
supplementing it. You need to get what you need from foods and
some sunshine. (We don't have a problem here in Florida in the
sunshine department, it's the folks who live in the far northern
parts such as Chicago, Seattle and Boston.)
now back to the weights. Outside of joining a health club, there
are several forms of equipment that are available for the home.
Besides the obvious (benches, bars, weight plates), there are
stretch tubes, elastic bands, strap-on leg weights, cable machines
for the home, and so forth. Research your options. Get back into
the 'swing' of things.
ó This just in:
Fat Changes Testosterone to Estrogen in Men, Leads to Estrogen
fat, also known as deep fat , to the fat that collects UNDER you
abdominal muscles all around your organs. You canít
"pinch" it. It makes your waist big and your belly
bulges. It happens in both men and women, although menís bellies
are more evident than womenís because women wear loose clothing
to hide it. Men just tend to move their belts down under the belly
and let it all hang out. Women are interested in appearance and
men interested in what they put into the belly. They donít call
it a "beer belly" for nothing. Also, men often say their
waist is still the same size because they drop their belt below
the belly. Your waist is located just above the belly button,
midway between the highest point of the pelvis at the side and the
lowest rib margin, not around your pelvic area below that belly.
fat in there is called visceral fat, as opposed to the fat
just under the skin that you can pinch called subcutaneous fat.
whatís all the fuss about? Well, that visceral fat is
responsible for the onset of metabolic syndrome which can lead to
a much greater risk of heart disease and diabetes, stokes, cancer,
high blood pressure, among other things.
I am sure you have heard all that before. But, you still have that
belly. Some men (weíre talking about men today) even boast about
their big bellies.
there is something else you fellas ought to be thinking about. Male
menopause. Huh? Whatís belly fat got to do with that? Well,
hereís the thing. That belly fat exacerbates the reduced
production of testosterone that is associated with aging.
The more belly fat you are sporting, the more it converts
testosterone into estrogen. Fat cells contain the aromatase
enzyme which is responsible for that conversion. (Yeah, you
read right.) And, fellas, the fact is that estrogen dominance can
lead to erectile dysfunction (ED). It is also the main
cause of prostate enlargement and prostate cancer.
it can be said that male menopause, or andropause, if you
prefer, is actually estrogen overload. And, fellas, pay
attention, this is a real serious health hazard. You can count on
that. Also, fat in the belly puts pressure on the kidneys which
leads to high blood pressure. Besides, when was the last time you
were able to comfortably cut you own toenails or tie your shoe
there is just no good thing to say about that belly fat. Itís
got to go.
what can you do about it. Well, itís obvious that you must get
rid of that belly -- NOW. First, go to the doctor and have your
hormone levels checked. Also, start a serious life-style change
which must include proper nutrition and plenty of exercise.
Work on your cardiovascular exercise at least 3 times a week. Cut
calories. Eat healthier foods. Eliminate unhealthy fats and stick
to healthy oils such as extra virgin olive oil. Use that instead
of butter or margarine. Eat more vegetables, fruits and beans. Cut
out desserts. Reduce drastically your sugar intake. Let
your sugars come from healthy foods. Reduce your sodium intake.
Eat a healthy breakfast every day. That will jump start your
metabolism. During the day, plan out what you are going to eat
carefully. Forget about fast food and grand slam breakfasts. If
you like pizza, choose thin crust, and toppings like chicken
instead of pepperoni, and low fat cheese. You may have to make it
yourself. Actually, I remember one fella used to bring low fat
cheese to his favorite Italian restaurant and they would use that
for his pizza. Now, thatís taking care of your customer. Ask
your favorite pizza place if they will do that for you.
for your goals. Your waist (location of your waist is mentioned
above) should not be over 40 inches if youíre a man or 35 inches
for a woman.
your Body Mass Index (BMI): Divide your body weight by the square
of your height (your height in inches multiplied by itself), then
multiply that by 703. The result is your BMI. In general, a result
between 18.5 and 25 is optimal, while a number significantly
higher or lower is cause for concern.
figure your waist-to-hip ratio. (Hip circumference is measured at
the widest measure over the buttocks and below the highest point
of the hip.) 1. Measure your waist (waist is defined above) and
write down that measurement in inches. 2. Now measure your hip at
the widest point of your hips and buttocks. Write down that
measurement in inches. Divide the waist measurement by the hip
measurement. This is your waist-to-hip ratio. If your ratio is
below .80 for a woman and .95 for a man, your at low risk. If your
ratio is .81 to .85 for a woman or .96 to 1.0 for a man, you are
at moderate risk. Over .85 for a woman or .96 for a man, you are
at high risk for disease.
these numbers be a tool for you to understand the state of your
health and do something about it.
Aspirin for Heart Attack; Exercise & Osteoporosis; Big Gut;
and Water Exercise.
You've seen the PSAs on television advising people having a heart
attack to take aspirin immediately. That's strong advice and
should be taken seriously. In fact, researchers at the University
of Texas Southwestern Medical School studied just how long it took
aspirin to get into the bloodstream where it could do its life
saving deed. They found that swallowing an aspirin whole took 12
minutes to get into the blood stream; drinking a liquid
aspirin-containing substance took 7 minutes; and chewing a regular
aspirin tablet delivered the benefits in just 5 minutes. The
benefits are, of course, inhibiting blood clotting, which is why
you would take aspirin during a heart attack. Remember those
little tins that had a few aspirin tablets meant for carrying in
one's purse or pocket? Time to get one if you are at risk for a
Exercise is necessary for bone health -- we know that. But, if you
have advanced osteoporosis or low bone density, be wary of those
exercises that require bending the spine, such as abdominal
crunches, sit-ups, toe touches and the like. Spinal vertebrae that
are weakened from osteoporosis or bone loss can break or crush
easily. It is important that folks with osteoporosis or other low
bone density causing diseases or conditions choose exercises
carefully to avoid injury. Ask your doctor or therapist for
exercise advice, and follow it.
Got a gut? You might blame cortisol. That gut is probably
due to visceral fat. That's the kind that packs itself in with
your organs, under the muscles. You find it in the abdomen and it
causes the belly to look bloated. Cortisol is a stress hormone
that circulates in your body. When we experience danger or anger
-- especially stress related anger, or angst -- that
hormone gets to work to release fat into the blood stream for fuel
that will be needed for the reaction to the danger or threat --
the flight or fight instinct. But, we modern models of
humanity aren't doing much of either in our lifestyles. So, the
body stores that fat as visceral fat where we can get to it
fast -- in the abdomen around the organs. Problem? You bet! High
cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and heart disease can be
blamed at least in part to that bulging belly. To "get to
that fat", we need to burn it off in the form of exercise.
Regular, daily exercise is essential. It is also thought that
sleep deprivation causes stress that increases cortisol output
which leads to visceral fat. Consult your health or fitness
professional for proper exercise programs and ask your doctor to
explore the possibility of a sleep disorder.
Now that the snow birds are coming back, I suspect that those
water aerobics classes at the clubhouse pools will get back into
full swing. If you've never tried water exercise, give it a whirl,
folks. There's a benefit you'll never experience on land. The
water, while it keeps you buoyant, gives every part of your body
some resistance. The amount of resistance depends on you and on
how fast you push against the water. You get both aerobic exercise
for cardiovascular benefits and resistance for those muscles. It's
great for anyone -- and particularly good for arthritis sufferers
and folks with osteoporosis (be careful getting into and out of
the pool, though.) In past years we did some articles and photos
of the various water-aerobics classes in our readership, and it
was evident that those who were in the program longer showed the
benefits -- a youthful, vigorous appearance. If your community has
such an activity, join them; if not, why not start a group
|The subject matter covered in the Fit After
Fifty column is not intended to provide personal medical advice, which should be obtained
from a qualified health professional. Persons are urged to see their physician before
beginning an exercise program for the first time or if they have had a heart attack, are
at risk for heart disease, have experienced dizziness recently, have broken a bone
recently, or have diabetes.
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