Category Archives: Wall Street Journal

How do you feel about aging?

Asking your opinion on aging is not just an idle query. Does aging mean decline and disability to you? Or do you consider aging to be a time of opportunity and growth?

According to the Wall Street Journal, your attitude about aging plays a key role in how well you actually experience getting older.

“In test after test, researchers are finding that if we think about getting older in terms of decline or disability, our health likely will suffer. If, on the other hand, we see aging in terms of opportunity and growth, our bodies respond in kind,” Anne Tergesen wrote in the WSJ.

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The good news is that there is a real physical and mental upside to aging with positive attitudes. On the other hand, negative stereotypes which are pervasive in America can do serious harm to all concerned. Continue reading

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Are you guilty of information avoidance?

Next month I will complete my seventh year of writing this blog. What started out as a ‘weight loss’ blog has developed into a total mental and physical health resource and I am grateful for the following it has developed. I can honestly say that within six months of starting the blog, I began to feel conversant with various aspects of my own personal health. I had learned and paid attention to how much I was consuming at and away from the table. What’s more I kept my exercising activities in focus also. I believe that as a result of that experience I have not only lost over 10 more pounds since starting, but have maintained that healthy weight with nearly no fluctuations outside of five pounds, plus or minus. One of the aspects of that experience is that I am willing to confront anything that looks like a developing problem when it appears on my radar.

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I wanted to discuss that because before starting the blog for the majority of my life I had struggled with a weight problem. Because I have an athletic background, my activities disguised my poor eating habits for years. Hitting my late 20’s, however, the chickens started coming home to roost and I gained weight and declined in health for years afterward. One of the features of that period was a reluctance to truly face the problem. I wouldn’t weigh myself as regularly. I wouldn’t admit that I was tiring a lot earlier than previously. Continue reading

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World chess champion on exercise – WSJ

I have written it previously and I will repeat it: I love it when the news meets my bias. This week Jen Murphy wrote in the Wall Street Journal about three time world chess champion Magnus Carlsen and his training. Think about it, nothing is less physical and more cerebral than a game of chess, right? Yet, Mr. Carlsen says, “… he believes a healthy diet and physical training are crucial for a chess master to remain at peak, just as they are for other types of athletes. “I get bored very easily, so I don’t do well in the gym,” Mr. Carlsen says. “Luckily for me, I have a real love of sport.”

Isn’t that wonderful?! He considers a healthy diet and physical training to be ‘crucial’ for success in chess.

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World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen became a Grand master at the age of 13, one of the youngest in history.

How does he work out? “When Mr. Carlsen is on the road for a tournament, he depends on his workouts to help him relieve tension and relax. He might run intervals on the treadmill at a hotel gym, adjusting the incline and intensity for 30 to 60 minutes. “Running is a time where I can go through game strategies,” he says.
After he gets his heart rate up, he winds down with a series of stretches, or he will flow through yoga sequences for 20 minutes. “Much of my core work comes from yoga,” he says. “I’m not the type to go to the gym and run through reps and sets of exercise. I need something more fluid and fun.” If he can find a hot yoga studio, he’ll attend a class.”

I love that a chess grand master includes healthy food and good exercise in his training regimen. Keep in mind that he is just practicing what I have been preaching here for some years. Although the rest of us aren’t grand masters and maybe don’t even play chess, the same principles apply. Eat intelligently and exercise regularly to succeed in living a healthy life.

You can check out my Page – Important facts about your brain – (and exercise benefits) for more info on this critical subject.

Tony

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Filed under brain exercise, Exercise, exercise and brain health, Wall Street Journal

Are you fit enough for surgery?

I have written a lot of words on the benefits of living a healthy life by eating intelligently and exercising regularly. We have the opportunity to live long healthy lives with our mental abilities functioning as well as our bodies do. We need only follow a few simple rules of good health. Our bodies are organic machines that need proper care and maintenance or they will fall into disrepair just like our inorganic machines, autos, refrigerators, etc., do.

Now the Wall Street Journal illuminates another aspect of fitness. The other side of good health, namely hospitalization and surgery.

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“In health care, we often bring patients into surgery without fully addressing their chronic medical conditions,” says Dr. Solomon Aronson, executive vice chair in the anesthesiology department at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C. By improving their health before surgery, he says, “we can significantly diminish the risk of complications.”

The item cites a seriously overweight man who had a knee replacement in 2013, but the hardware began to come apart leaving him hobbled and in pain. The failed knee had to be removed. The patient was warned about the dangers of his being overweight. “No one had ever mentioned to me that this might be a problem…”

“The reason many patients don’t do well is because they are already deconditioned as couch potatoes, and then they get a big operation which makes them even more frail,” says Michael Englesbe, a University of Michigan transplant surgeon and associate professor who led the study and directs the Michigan Surgical and Health Optimization Program. Dr. Englesbe says that the program “empowers patients to have control over their outcome,” and recommends all patients train for elective surgery, much as they would before athletic competition.

Maybe this will be the final reminder for folks who are currently letting themselves go physically. There is always hope. It is never too late to improve your physical condition. Your body will respond to good behavior and nutrition and you can begin to flourish again on your own and before you need medical intervention. The choice is still yours.

Tony

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There is a Physical Price for Too Much Sitting – Wall Street Journal

I learned about the dangers of prolonged sitting a while back and have posted several times on it as well as created a Page – Do You Know the Dangers of Too Much Sitting? which you can check out at your leisure to learn more about this fascinating subject.

It’s nice to see the Wall Street Journal take up the issue, “Studies have found that sedentary behavior, including sitting for extended periods, increases the risk for developing dozens of chronic conditions, from cancer and diabetes to cardiovascular disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Some ergonomics experts warn that too much standing also can have negative effects on health, including a greater risk for varicose veins, back and foot problems, and carotid artery disease.”

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I was interested to see that prolonged standing is also a no-no.

It seems our bodies were created to move and that is all there is to it.

I find this fascinating. I would have thought that regular exercise would solve the problem, but no. The Journal notes that, “Various studies have shown that even regular exercise won’t compensate for the negative effects from sitting too much during the day. Sitting causes physiological changes in the body, and may trigger some genetic factors that are linked to inflammation and chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, said Dr. Buckley, of the University of Chester. In contrast, standing activates muscles so excess amounts of blood glucose don’t hang around in the bloodstream and are instead absorbed in the muscles, he said.”

While the danger of prolonged sitting may seem too subtle for some to take very seriously, I think it is very worthwhile information. So many people feel they suffer from mysterious maladies. This is clear cut science that removes a layer of the mystery from some of those maladies.

I am thrilled that my Apple Watch reminds me every hour with a Time to Stand reminder. You can achieve the same thing with a timer at your desk. (I put together a page on How My Apple Watch is Good for Your Health) with lots more aspects of healthy living.

The Journal also mentioned wearing a headset and walking in the office while talking on the phone rather than just sitting at your desk. Likewise, small meetings can be held while walking rather than cooped up in an office.

Clearly folks with desk jobs have some thinking to do on the subject.

Tony

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How Risky is Exercise if Over 50?

A recent Wall Street Journal had a very informative story by Ron Winslow about men over 50 having a heart attack while exercising.

Also James B. Lee Jr., the 62-year-old vice chairman of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., who regularly exercised, became short of breath while exercising and went to a hospital, where he died, his company has said.

exercise-physiology1This is tragic news and particularly nerve wracking for us men over 50 who work out.

The Journal story makes some excellent points that I want to pass on to you.

I am over 70 years old, retired and I exercise daily. As I have said repeatedly, the mantra of this blog is eat less; move more; live longer. I don’t want to think for a minute that my exercise routine is somehow threatening my life. To the contrary, I am certain that it is extending my days.

“Exercise is not a vaccine against heart disease,” says Michael Joyner, an exercise physiologist at Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn. While not specifically addressing Mr. Lee’s case, Dr. Joyner noted that risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol are increasingly common as people age. Continue reading

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How You Can Benefit from a Positive View on Your Life – WSJ

Regular readers know that I have embraced the theory of positive psychology. I have written a number of posts on the benefits of a positive point of view. You can find an index of them at the end of this post.

Meanwhile, I was thrilled to see Elizabeth Bernstein’s piece in the Personal Journal of Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal entitled “It’s Healthy to Put a Good Spin on Your Life.”

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In a study of a large number of adults in their mid to late 50’s researchers found that “when people displayed higher levels of agency, communion and redemption and lower levels of contamination, their mental health improved. They consider good mental health to be low levels of depression and high levels of life satisfaction and psychological and social well-being.”

They explained the four keys to good mental health as follows:

• Agency—Did the subjects feel able to influence and respond to events in life, or did they feel battered around by the whims of external forces?

• Communion—Are the people connected to others or disconnected?
• Redemption—Did the subjects take a negative experience and find some positive outcome?
• Contamination—Did they tell narratives of good things turning bad?”

I would like to point you to a post I wrote in May of 2011 called Super Tools for Handling Stress.

In it I quoted Maggie Crowley, Psy.D., a Health Psychologist at the center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness at Northwestern Memorial Physicians Group.

Dr. Crowley listed the following as maladaptive coping strategies:

*Demand our circumstances be different
*Devalue ourselves and others
*Demean/blame ourselves and others
*When the above fail to work, do we choose another strategy?
*Or, do we double our ill-conceived efforts and feed our downward spiral.

She said that we needed something to shift our mental gears out of the stressful/fearful response that triggers that damaging cascade of negative emotion. She suggested the following activities that set off the parasympathetic approach:

*Practicing appreciation
*Making choices that are positive
*Using constructive language
*Employing our strengths and personal power.

I think there is a great similarity between the four keys to good mental health mentioned in the Journal and the points made by Dr. Crowley in dealing with stressors.

Regarding positive psychology, I have found it answered a lot of questions for me. If you are interested you can explore it in the following posts:
What is Positive Psychology?
How to Harness Positive Psychology for You – Harvard
Breaking down 8 Barriers to Positive Thinking – Infographic
11 Ways to Become a Better, More Positive You
How to Become a Positive Thinker
7 Exercises That Train Your Brain to Stay Positive
Positive, Happy People Suffer Less Pain

Tony

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Doctors Prescribing Exercise as Medicine – Wall Street Journal

“The older I get the more medicines I find myself taking,” a Senior Citizen.

This is a common lament among seniors. But the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has a new and better idea. They declared May of 2014 as Exercise is Medicine month.

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“Everyone should start or renew an exercise program now as an investment in life-long health,” said Robert E. Sallis, M.D., FACSM, chair of the Exercise is Medicine. “Every person, regardless of age and health, is responsible for his or her own physical activity. There are far more reasons to exercise than excuses not to.”

Research shows that exercise has a role in the treatment and prevention of more than 40 chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and hypertension, an ACSM press release pointed out.

“While there are numerous reasons for soaring health care costs, one undeniable explanation is the poor physical health of so many Americans,” Sallis said. “Exercise is something every person can do to control the rising cost of health care and improve quality of life.”

Eat less; move more has long been the mantra of this blog. It is nice to see the mainstream moving ahead in the same vein.

Today’s Wall Street Journal ran a feature by Laura Landro entitled Doctors Dole Out Prescriptions for Exercise!

This is a direct result of the ACSM program.

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“Although the benefits of exercise in preventing and controlling a number of diseases are well-known, studies show that doctors don’t always counsel patients on adding more physical activity. About half of Americans report that they meet federal guidelines to engage in at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, but not everyone owns up to how little exercise they get, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A 2011 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found only about 10% of adults actually met recommended levels, though 62% reported they did.

Regular readers know that I am a senior citizen and instead of medicines, I ride my bike regularly and walk whenever I can. Last year, I pedaled over 7000 miles on my bike and as a a result of that and careful eating, I generally find myself in the best health of my life. I wrote about my aversion to taking statin drugs in Do I Have to go on Statin Drugs for the Rest of my Life to Fight High Cholesterol?

The Journal reported, “So many people look at exercise with fear and trepidation as if it’s something to be endured or swallowed like a bad-tasting medicine. But the reality is once people begin to move and gain strength and fitness they realize what a gift it is to feel agile and healthy,” says Susanna Carter, a Birmingham, Ala., obstetrician and gynecologist who left her medical practice last year to start Project 150, using Skype and email to counsel patients on exercise and nutrition.”

The Journal piece cites numerous examples of folks who took up exercise instead of medication and experienced very positive results.

The ACSM program “Exercise is Medicine” has training for doctors in more than 40 countries.

If you, like a lot of us, are concerned about your medical care going forward as Obamacare becomes the law of the land, it seems a good time to rethink previous sedentary ways and take a positive step toward maintaining your health without having to resort to doctor’s prescriptions.

I hope my excitement about this news and program is understandable, especially to regular readers. I have said from the beginning that we need to get out and move. Check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise) for more.

Tony

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Is Your Personality Making You Put on Pounds? Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal asks the question in our headline. Melinda Beck follows up with a number of personality anomalies including neuroticism, stress, multi-tasking, being a giver and finally a perfectionist that contribute to overeating.

“The link between emotions, food and weight control starts at a very early age. Toddlers who had low-quality emotional relationships with their mothers are more than twice as likely to be obese at age 15 as those who have closer bonds, according to a study of 977 children funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and published in the journal Pediatrics this month,” Beck wrote.

One example is Night owls who are often sleep-deprived which reduces a hormone that signals fullness and also increases one that drives up the appetite.
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Filed under body fat, Exercise, happiness, healthy eating, men and healthy eating, stress, Wall Street Journal, Weight

Rules of Conquering the Gym – Wall Street Journal

I laughed out loud reading the Wall Street Journal this morning. I read the Journal on my iPad every morning, but don’t often laugh out loud. What tickled me was Jason Gay’s piece entitled The 27 Rules of Conquering the Gym. You can read the entire article for yourself at the link, but I wanted to share some of Gay’s no nonsense Rules.

1. A gym is not designed to make you feel instantly better about yourself. If a gym wanted to make you feel instantly better about yourself, it would be a bar.

A down to earth fact. The first four letters in workout are W-O-R-K.

4. No one in the history of gyms has ever lost a pound while reading The New Yorker and slowly pedaling a recumbent bicycle. No one.

Amen.

11. Gyms have two types of members: Members who wipe down the machines after using them, and the worst people in the universe.

Must confess I share his sentiments. In my health club we have a third variation – many of the women wipe down the machines before working out on them.

14. You can take 10 Minute Abs, 20 Minute Abs, and 30 Minute Abs. There is also Stop Eating Pizza and Eating Sheet Cake Abs—but that’s super tough!

A little bit of irony gets the message across. Quickie cures don’t work. If you want to get control of your weight you really need to focus on what you are eating.

15. If you’re motivated to buy an expensive home exercise machine, consider a “wooden coat rack.” It costs $40, uses no electricity and does the exact same thing.

Ain’t it the truth.

19. If a gym class is going to be effective, it’s hard. If you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself, you’re at brunch.

See comment on Rule 1.

25. Fact: Thinking about going to the gym burns between 0 and 0 calories.

26. A successful gym membership is like a marriage: If it’s good, you show up committed and ready for hard work. If it’s not good, you show up in sweatpants and watch a lot of bad TV.

Sounds good to me. I haven’t managed to achieve either one.

27. There is no secret. Exercise and lay off the fries. The end.

Words to live by. As we have said time and time again here, eat less; move more; live longer.

Tony

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Arthritis Sufferer Loses 56 Pounds Through Exercise – Wall Street Journal

In what should be a familiar theme to our readers by now, yesterday’s Wall Street Journal reported on a senior citizen nearly crippled by arthritis and other medical conditions who started an exercise program (emphasis mine) and two years later, had dropped 56 pounds.

“Jan Craig, 64, of Columbia, S.C., says she had been unable to walk easily since the early 1990s because of osteoarthritis and other medical conditions. “I was sitting around my house medicated and gaining weight,” she says. Two years ago, Ms. Craig responded to an ad in a local paper for an exercise class sponsored the local chapter of the Arthritis Foundation a partner in the state’s CDC-sponsored arthritis program. At first, she says the exercises, mainly slow stretching and strengthening movements, made her joints hurt so much she would soak in the tub and cry afterward. But she continued to go back, encouraged by staffers who assured her things would get easier.

The program has helped her lose 56 pounds, Ms. Craig says. She now takes low-impact aerobics classes, as well as yoga and Pilates. She also does Tai chi, the Chinese movement regimen that is recommended for arthritis patients because it has been found to help musculoskeletal pain. “Getting the fat off my joints has helped me walk better,” Ms. Craig says.
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