Harvard on resuming bike riding

I know that we are late in September and a lot of folks will be putting away their bikes ‘for the season.’ I ride year ’round here in Chicago and enjoy it. If you are one of those who haven’t ridden in a while and would like to take up a super form of exercise, I hope you will consider cycling. There are still a few good weeks left before the cold sets in. You can get started now.

The Harvard Health Publications has a nice positive blog post on starting cycling again presumably as a senior.

Heidi Godman, Executive Editor of the Harvard Health Letter, states that she loved riding as a kid, but now only rides occasionally.

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“It’s fun, it’s socially oriented, and it gets you outside and exercising,” says Dr. Clare Safran-Norton, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Plus, cycling is an aerobic activity, it’s easy on the joints, and it helps build muscle and bone. Continue reading

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Filed under aging, biking, Exercise, exercise benefits, Harvard Health Publications, safe biking, successful aging

Weekend funnies …

Hope you have super plans for this coming weekend. Here are some little fun items I ran across in the past week.

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Tony

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8 Tips to curb overeating – Tufts

No matter how much you exercise, you can’t outrun your fork. If you are eating too much, you may be doing serious damage to yourself. Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter offers the following ideas.

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These tips may help to curb overeating:

Focus on NUTRITIONAL quality of food. Highly-processed foods may be more likely to trigger craving and overeating.

Avoid distractions. Focus on the food you’re eating and slow down to increase odds of recognizing when you’ve had enough.

Don’t get too hungry. It may be harder to control food intake and choices when the body’s systems are all screaming for food.

Address stress. Look for ways to cut down on exposure to stressful situations. Try stress-reducing techniques such as meditation and exercise to cut down on stress eating.

Avoid temptation. Fill your pantry with healthy choices that you enjoy, not highly-palatable highly-processed junk food.

Listen to your body. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied.

Get enough Sleep. Ensure you get at least seven hours a night.

Support policy change. Government and industry policy changes can improve access to healthy choices and make portions smaller.

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Time Outside May Benefit Health – Study

According to a recent British study published in the journal Scientific Reports, spending at least two hours a week outside may be good for one’s health. Nearly 20,000 English people were asked how many hours they spent in natural environments like parks, forests, and beaches in the last seven days; whether they considered their health to be good or poor; and if they felt their well-being was high or low. Those reporting nature contact of at least two hours per week were significantly more likely to report ‘good’ health and ‘high’ well-being compared to those reporting zero. (No additional benefit was seen from spending over 3.5 to 5 hours in nature.)

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I shot this on a bike ride earlier this week. I love the reflections of the lights on Lake Michigan

While this association was seen even in people who did not meet current physical activity guidelines, the authors were unable to fully untangle time spent outside from time spent being active. It is possible that healthier, happier people are simply more likely to spend more time in nature or live in areas with more open space, but the association was seen even for those with long-term illness or disability. In this study, even people who needed to travel outside of their neighborhoods to reach a park or other natural area benefited from regularly spending time in nature.

As regular readers know, I am a nature lover. Here are a couple of my posts on being outside:

Urban greenspace boosts mental health

Tips on enjoying the outdoors safely

Benefits of exercising outdoors

Tony

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Filed under exercise outdoors, good health, happiness, nature, outdoors, Uncategorized

Study finds human hearts evolved for endurance

This blog has evolved  over the nine years I have been writing it.  Starting as a men’s weight-loss helper, it has developed into a general good health and long life messenger. I have also learned along the way about certain physical dangers that are not at once obvious. I think I am most concerned with the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. It’s possibly that being sedentary does a person more damage than smoking. This seems particularly insidious to me as when folks retire, they think about ‘taking it easy.’ Big mistake. One specific aspect of that is prolonged sitting. Check out my Page – The dangers of too much sitting for more details.

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Major physical changes occurred in the human heart as people shifted from hunting and foraging to farming and modern life. As a result, human hearts are now less “ape-like” and better suited to endurance types of activity. But that also means those who lead sedentary lives are at greater risk for heart disease. Those are the main conclusions from a unique study led by Aaron L. Baggish, MD, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cardiovascular Performance Program. Baggish and his collaborators examined how ape hearts differ from those of humans, why those differences exist and what that means to human health. Continue reading

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Obesity linked to a nearly 6-fold increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, with genetics and lifestyle also raising risk

Eat less; move more; live longer wins the day. Eating less and moving more also help to fight against type 2 diabetes it seems.

Genetic predisposition, obesity, and unfavorable lifestyle have an important role in the development of type 2 diabetes, an increasingly common disorder that contributes majorly to the global burden of disease. According to the International Diabetes Federation, approximately 425 million adults (20-79 years) were living with diabetes in 2017; by 2045 this is expected rise above 600 million.

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The current strategy to prevent T2D is underlined by the maintenance of normal body weight and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle. Lifestyle interventions designed for weight loss have been shown to delay the onset of T2D among high-risk subjects. However, the effects of lifestyle factors and obesity on T2D risk may vary between individuals depending on genetic variation. Thus, it is important to understand the interplay between genetic predisposition, obesity, and unfavorable lifestyle in the development of T2D. In this new research, the authors aimed to study whether the genetic risk for T2D is accentuated by obesity and unfavorable lifestyle.

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Writing into old age!

I have written repeatedly about how exercise benefits the brain as well as the body. Here is a wonderful post about exercising the ‘old noodle’ and how it has direct benefits on the brain.

Learning from Dogs

Thank goodness for this!

It’s not exactly a ball of fun growing old. But while somethings inevitable decline writing isn’t one of them. This is a fascinating article from The Conversation.

ooOOoo

One skill that doesn’t deteriorate with age

Reading and writing can prevent cognitive decline.
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Roger J. Kreuz, University of Memphis

When Toni Morrison died on Aug. 5, the world lost one of its most influential literary voices.

But Morrison wasn’t a literary wunderkind. “The Bluest Eye,” Morrison’s first novel, wasn’t published until she was 39. And her last, “God Help the Child,” appeared when she was 84. Morrison published four novels, four children’s books, many essays and other works of nonfiction after the age of 70.

Morrison isn’t unique in this regard. Numerous writers produce significant work well into their 70s, 80s and even their 90s. Herman Wouk, for example, was 97…

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Weekend funnies …

Here we are again with some items that stuck in my head over the past week. Hoping you are amused as well ….

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Tony

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How to handle Triskaidekaphobia

Herewith my annual Friday the 13th post.

Feeling blue on Friday the 13th? Perhaps you are triskaidecaphobic, which is to say, fearful of Friday the 13th.

Wikipedia says, “Triskaidekaphobia (from Greek tris meaning “3”, kai meaning “and”, deka meaning “10” and phobos meaning “fear” or “morbid fear”) is fear of the number 13 and avoidance to use it; it is a superstition and related to the specific fear of the 13th person at the Last Supper being Judas, who was said to have stabbed Jesus Christ in the back (metaphorically). It is also a reason for the fear of Friday the 13th.”

The publication Environmental Nutrition offers the following 5 foods that are super nutritious and might bring you good luck at least in terms of your general health.

Amazing avocados, is their first offering. “Ounce for ounce, they contain more blood-pressure lowering potassium than bananas. Avocados are rich in good-for-you monounsaturated fats, and cholesterole-lowering beta-sitosterol and cancer-protective glutathione, along with Vitamin E, folate, vitamin B6 and fiber.”

Brain-boosting blueberries come in second. “These little blue marvels are the antioxidant leaders, plump and nearly 4 grams of fiber per cup and a good dose of vitamin C. They also have cancer-protective ellagic acid, and may boost your brain health and vision.”

Anti-cancer Brazil nuts come in third. “This hearty tree nut is a ‘trigger food’ that may cause cancer cells to self-destruct. It’s a super source of selenium, a promising anti-cancer trace mineral that also promotes DNA repair and boosts immunity. Just two medium nuts contain enough selenium to perhaps reduce the incidence of prostate, colon and lung cancers.”

Good old Broccoli is number four. “Here’s an easy way to get two cancer-blockers that modify natural estrogens into less damaging forms and increase the activity of enzymes that fight carcinogens. Aim for three servings a week of broccoli or its cruciferous cousins.”

Number five is Butternut Squash. “This tasty fruit (yes, fruit) is an exceptional source of beta-carotene, the antiooxidant your body converts to vitamin A. But it’s also an overlooked source of bone-building calcium.”

So, look on the bright side and focus on the great nutritional benefits you can derive from these five super foods and forget about the fact that today is Friday the 13th. Just don’t walk under any ladders.

Tony

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Filed under Friday the 13th, luck, Triskaidekaphobia

Exercising while restricting calories could be bad for bone health – Study

A new study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research shows how bones in mammals are negatively impacted by calorie restriction, and particularly by the combination of exercise and calorie restriction. Maya Styner, MD, associate professor of medicine at the UNC School of Medicine, is the senior author on the study.

“These findings were somewhat of a surprise for us,” Styner said. “Past studies in mice have shown us that exercise paired with a normal calorie diet, and even a high calorie diet, is good for bone health. Now we’re learning this isn’t true for exercise along with a calorie-restricted diet.”

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Styner’s research focuses on the fat in bone marrow of mice. Although fat in the bone is poorly understood, to date it is thought to be harmful to bones of mammals, including humans, because it makes bone weaker. Less fat is usually an indication of better bone health. Styner’s past studies have looked at the effects of calorie consumption on bone marrow fat, along with the role exercise plays. She’s found that in obesity caused by excess calories, the amount of bone marrow fat is increased. Exercise in both obese and normal weight mice decreased bone marrow fat and improved the density of bones. Continue reading

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Stress can weaken defenses – Study

Research from the lab of Mark Alkema, PhD, professor of neurobiology, sheds light on how the “flight-or-flight” response impairs long-term organism health. The study, conducted in the nematode worm, C. elegans, a common research model, was published in Nature.

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When humans perceive a dangerous or stressful situation, the body releases stress hormones such as adrenalin. Adrenaline makes the heart beat faster, increases blood flow to the brain and muscles, and stimulates the body to make sugar to use for fuel. The rush of adrenaline triggers the “fight-or-flight” response which gives the person the ability to escape a predator or respond to a threat. Continue reading

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Foods that promote brain function – Tufts

Eat less; move more; live longer is still the mantra here. We want to live as long as possible and also have a fully functioning brain all the way. I consider exercise to be one of the keys, but certainly diet plays a part, too.

Tufts Food & Nutrition Letter says that the science of whether some dietary choices can be considered brain food or not continues to unfold.

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Given long time-frames of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, it’s challenging to prove any cause and effect relationship between specific foods and brain health. Most such associations are drawn from observational studies, in which people who eat more or less of a certain food are assessed over time for cognitive changes.

It’s obviously difficult to feed a group of study participants lots of, say, blueberries for several years in order to test their brain health at the end; that’s why clinical trials of so-called brain foods have largely depended on animal tests.

Nonetheless, some foods tend to stand out from the pages and pages of research results as most likely being protective for brain health.

Foods That Promote Brain Function

Brain foods typically contain one or more nutrients that scientists believe have positive effects on the brain and/or the cardiovascular system, which in turn affects the brain. These foods include: Continue reading

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Native Hawaiians lowered blood pressure with hula dancing

If this sounds like a one-off technique that may work for a small sample of people but does not have relevance to the majority, read on. It is not so simple. The key is to “move more and move often. Being active with friends and family can help sustain the healthy fun over time.”

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Native Hawaiians who participated in a blood-pressure-lowering program incorporating their cultural dance of hula lowered their blood pressure more than those who received standard education on diet and exercise, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Hypertension 2019 Scientific Sessions. Continue reading

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Filed under American Heart Association, Exercise, exercise benefits, Hawaiians, hula dancing, hypertension

Weekend funnies …

Football season started last night, so I have something to smile about this weekend. I hope you do, too. Thought you might enjoy a couple of oldies, but goodies, here.

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Ad from 1910.

 

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Nothing like an air conditioned lawn mower …

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Tony

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Vitamin D: How much is too much of a good thing? – Study

When bare skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes Vitamin D, which is needed by our bodies to absorb calcium and ensure strong, healthy bones. With bathing suit skin exposure, it only takes about 10-15 minutes of sun exposure during the summer to generate all the vitamin D your body needs for the day.  Exposure to sunlight is diminished during the long winter months. This results in many turning to supplements to get the required vitamin D, according to the University of Calgary.

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For normal, healthy adults, Health Canada recommends a total daily intake of 600 international units (IU) up to age 70, and 800 IU after age 70. Other sources, like Osteoporosis Canada, suggest adults at risk of osteoporosis, a condition characterized by bone loss, should take 400 – 2,000 IU of Vitamin D. However, some people may be taking up to 20 times the recommended daily dose to prevent or treat a variety of medical conditions that might be related to having not enough vitamin D. So, what is the correct dose? And, how much is too much? Continue reading

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Tips from Tufts on eating eggs …

I count myself as one of those confused about whether and to what extent eggs are a healthy addition to my diet. Love the protein, not so thrilled with the fats… Here is what the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter has to say about it.

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Filed under American Heart Association, cholesterol, diabetes, eggs, HDL Cholesterol, heart attack, LDL Cholesterol