Fitness fun …

I am expanding the scope of these ‘funnies’ somewhat today as I found some awesome GIFs that I thought you would enjoy. Also, I confess, I love the animal ones. What is it with cats and dogs and yoga?

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Some amazing boarding …

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Tony

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Strength Training Benefits More Than Muscles – Harvard

While eat less; move more; live longer is the mantra of this blog, I hasten to add that strength training should be an integral part of that move more aspect. Harvard HEALTHbeat has come out with a new publication on strength and power training.

Here’s what Harvard has to say on the subject: “Most of us know that strength training (with free weights, weight machines, or resistance bands) can help build and maintain muscle mass and strength. What many of us don’t know is that strong muscles lead to strong bones. And strong bones can help minimize the risk of fracture due to osteoporosis.

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“A combination of age-related changes, inactivity, and poor nutrition conspire to steal bone mass at the rate of 1% per year after age 40. As bones grow more fragile and susceptible to fracture, they are more likely to break after even a minor fall or a far less obvious stress, such as bending over to tie a shoelace.

“Osteoporosis should be a concern for all of us. Eight million women and two million men in the United States have osteoporosis. It is now responsible for more than two million fractures a year, and experts expect that number will rise. Hip fractures are usually the most serious. Six out of 10 people who break a hip never fully regain their former level of independence. Even walking across a room without help may be impossible.”

I have written several posts on osteoporosis. You can read further on the subject here: What Can I do to Prevent Osteoporosis? An Early Sign of Osteoporosis? Are Men Vulnerable to Osteoporosis as Well as Women? Continue reading

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I battle a head cold …

SPOILER ALERT! I lose.

I flew back from Las Vegas about two weeks ago. As a Chicagoan, that means I had about a four hour flight. Because of the atmospheric change between Chicago and Las Vegas, ie., the increase in humidity and the fact that Las Vegas is about a half mile above sea level, I usually ease into my bike riding exercise upon return. So, the first day back I rode 10 miles and the second 15. During the rides and afterwards, I was vaguely aware of a tickle in my throat and my nose got kind of sniffle-y. I didn’t pay much attention to it. So, the first round went to the cold. I should have started eating 500 MG Vitamin C tablets at the first sign. You can blast a cold out of your system if you catch it early enough.  I foolishly attributed the sniffles and sore throat to jet lag, etc. I was wrong.

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By the fourth day, I was coughing, sneezing and my throat was killing me. I had a hard time sleeping. The cold flourished like this for several days. Continue reading

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Dancing can reverse the signs of aging in the brain – Study

Use it or lose it continues to reverberate as I learn about work done trying to understand aging and its effect on the human brain. Here is a study published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

“Exercise has the beneficial effect of slowing down or even counteracting age-related decline in mental and physical capacity,” says Dr Kathrin Rehfeld, lead author of the study, based at the German center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Magdeburg, Germany.

From animal research, it is known that combining physical activity with sensory enrichment has stronger and longer-lasting effects on the brain than either treatment alone. For humans dancing has been suggested to be analogous to such combined training. Here we assessed whether a newly designed dance training program that stresses the constant learning of new movement patterns is superior in terms of neuroplasticity to conventional fitness activities with repetitive exercises and whether extending the training duration has additional benefits.

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The study was designed as an 18-month controlled intervention. It was approved by the ethics committee of Otto-von-Guericke University, Magdeburg. Some 52 healthy elderly individuals (63–80 years) recruited via announcements in local newspapers were screened for the study. They were then randomly assigned to either the dance or the sport group. Assessments were performed at baseline, after 6 and after 18 months of training. Continue reading

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Some possibly good news on Alzheimer’s Disease – TED talk

Regular readers know that I have lost three family members to Alzheimer’s Disease and/or dementia. So, anything having to do with those afflictions I find relevant.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.

Brain scientist Owen Carmichael is preparing for his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. And for his children’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. And he’s asking an important question: Can we use basic health tools to train our brain to resist the effects of the disease?

DR. OWEN CARMICHAEL has a Ph.D. in robotics and a passion for brain science. Owen is an associate professor and the Director of Biomedical Imaging at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. He uses technology not only to better understand how the wiring of your brain affects your ability to think, but also how your actions and your environment can affect the wiring of the brain. In other words: are we able to set ourselves up to be mentally healthy throughout our lives, or are we destined for our brains to turn our lives one way or another? Owen has been studying these questions for years.

Tony

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Keeping your weight in check as you age

I am aging along with everybody else on this earth. That has important aspects and implications. Me at 30 is not the same as me at 50 nor me at plus 70. It helps to know what to expect.

Most of our lives we hear that thinner is better. That is true, but for older folks activity becomes a more important factor. We have to be able to continue to do all our activities. As WebMD says, “It’s less about what you weigh and more about how much of your weight is muscle instead of fat. Your doctor can tell you if your weight is on track, in light of your age and overall health.”

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Don’t cop out. “My metabolism is slowing” is a fact from our 20’s onward. It’s not a reason to stop working on your weight and health. If you stop being active, your body will shift to more fat and less muscle. Fat doesn’t burn calories, so an inactive person will gain weight. Eat less, move more is the mantra of this blog and should be of every person.

Being active works muscles and allows you to consume more calories. Sedentary oldsters are the ones with weight and health problems. You can have some cake and eat it, too, just choose a reasonable amount.

WebMd makes a good point about aging and eating, “Those corners you cut when you were younger (huge portions, happy hours, little to no exercise) You can’t get away with that any more. But age does not have to equal weight gain.”

Check out my previous post on strength training. Even if your muscles have slacked off with you, you can revive them and revitalize yourself. Muscle loss isn’t permanent. Health clubs have free weights, weight machines and there are numerous exercises you can do just using your own body weight including yoga that will build muscle.

Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle due to aging. This results from lack of activity, hormonal changes and poor nutrition. Eat less and move more. Sarcopenia does not have to be a permanent condition.

The bottom line is that your health doesn’t have to shrink and your waistline doesn’t have to bulge as you age. But, you do have to take an active part in the process. As you age, your margin of error does shrink. So, pay close attention to what and how much you eat. Get out there and get some exercise. Walking is a very good way to start. It works your muscles and clears your mind as well as burning the odd calorie.

Check out my Page – How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off for more guidelines.

No one likes folks who don’t practice what they preach. About 10 years ago my weight got out of control and I ballooned over 220 pounds. I took off 50 pounds in a year, but that only got me down to the mid-170’s. You can read How I lost 50 pounds in 52 weeks.

I am now 77 years old and wear the same size pants I wore in high school. I ride my bike around 6000 miles a year here in Chicago. My resting heart rate is below 50 beats per minute. I have weighed in the low 150s for six years. If I can reach this level of health, there is no reason you can’t, too. Just decide to do it.

Tony

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Brain activity may predict stress-related cardiovascular risk – AHA

I have written numerous posts on the brain, stress and relaxation. This study seems to be an amalgam of them all. If you want to read further on any of them, punch the word into the S E A R C H box at the right and have at it. There is a lot of information available.

  • A pattern of brain activity that occurs during psychological stress may predict bodily reactions, such as surges in our blood pressure, that increase risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • People who have exaggerated responses to stressors, like large rises in blood pressure or heart rate, are at greater risk of developing hypertension and premature death from cardiovascular disease, researchers say.

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The brain may have a distinctive activity pattern during stressful events that predicts bodily reactions, such as rises in blood pressure that increase risk for cardiovascular disease, according to new proof-of-concept research in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Continue reading

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Sounds of nature help us to relax – Study

I am a great believer in enjoying the outdoors. I ride my bike outdoors instead of opting for the exercise bike at the health club. Ditto, walking. I walk a lot outside rather than on the treadmill. So, I was very happy to run across this study from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS).

The gentle burbling of a brook, or the sound of the wind in the trees can physically change our mind and bodily systems, helping us to relax. New research explains how, for the first time.

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Researchers at BSMS found that playing ‘natural sounds’ affected the bodily systems that control the flight-or-fright and rest-digest autonomic nervous systems, with associated effects in the resting activity of the brain. While naturalistic sounds and ‘green’ environments have frequently been linked with promoting relaxation and well being, until now there has been no scientific consensus as to how these effects come about. The study has been published in Scientific Reports. Continue reading

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Happy National Dog Day!

First of all, I want to salute my little canine companion, Gabi. She is 11-1/2 years young and has brightened my life ever since I adopted her. For details on how that unlikely event occurred, check out my post Anatomy of an act of kindness.

Meanwhile, “National Dog Day is celebrated August 26th annually and was founded in 2004 by Pet & Family Lifestyle Expert and Animal Advocate, Colleen Paige, also the founder of National Puppy Day, National Mutt Day and National Cat Day and many more philanthropic days to bring attention to the plight of animals and encourage adoption. The date of August 26th is significant, as it’s the date that Colleen’s family adopted her first dog “Sheltie” when Colleen was 10 years old.

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Here is my canine companion, Gabi, whom I adopted 11 years ago. She clocks about 4,000 miles a year in her basket on my bike.

“National Dog Day celebrates all dogs, mixed breed and pure. Our mission is to help galvanize the public to recognize the number of dogs that need to be rescued each year and acknowledges family dogs and dogs that work selflessly each day to save lives, keep us safe and bring comfort. Dogs put their lives on the line every day… for personal protection, for law enforcement, for the disabled, for our freedom and safety by detecting bombs and drugs and pulling victims of tragedy from wreckage, now they’re detecting cancer and seizures…things even humans cannot do. NDD was adopted into New York State Legislation in 2013. Read more about it here.

Tony

 

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Fitness fun in the comics

I grew up on the comics, before the internet and TV, we had the Sunday funnies. Thought you might enjoy some of these oldies but goodies in comic art.

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Tony

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When writing interferes with hearing – Study

This is a little off the beaten path for me, but I thought any information on brain function is useful information. The following is from Science Daily.

A cochlear implant is an electronic device capable of restoring hearing in a profoundly deaf person by directly stimulating the nerve endings in the inner ear. This technology enables people who have become deaf to be able to communicate orally again, even by telephone, and children born deaf to learn to speak and to benefit from normal schooling. However, results can be extremely variable, with implants having only little benefit for some patients, without any means of predicting failure based only on purely clinical factors. Using data from brain imaging techniques that enable visualizing the brain’s activity, a neuroscientist at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and a Parisian ENT surgeon have managed to decipher brain reorganization processes at work when people start to lose their hearing, and thus predict the success or failure of a cochlear implant among people who have become profoundly deaf in their adult life. The results of this research may be found in Nature Communications.

Up, red: right occipito-temporal coupling during deafness, indicating a poor cochlear implant prognosis. Below, blue: right occipito-tempora uncoupling after deafness, indicating a good cochlear implant outcome (adapted from Strelnikov et al. 2013).
Credit: © UNIGE – Institut Vernes, Paris

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Your brain on chocolate – Harvard

At the risk of repeating myself yet again, my family has a history of Alzheimer’s and dementia, so any info on brain health resonates deeply with me.

Here is Dr. Robert H. Shmerling, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications on chocolate and your brain.

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Did you know that places where chocolate consumption is highest have the most Nobel Prize recipients? It’s true, at least according to a 2012 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Of course, that could be a coincidence. But is it possible that intelligence or other measures of high brain function are actually improved by the consumption of chocolate? A new review summarizes the evidence and concludes with a resounding “maybe.”

Keeping your brain healthy

When it comes to preserving and improving brain function, let’s face it: we need all the help we can get. With age, diseases that cause dementia, such as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, become more common. And since we have an aging population, predictions are that dementia will become much more common in the near future. Yet despite decades of research, there are no highly effective treatments for dementia. Continue reading

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Walnuts Activate Brain Region Involved in Appetite Control – Study

Eat less; move more; live longer remains the mantra of this blog. So, it is always  useful to learn more about how various inputs like food and exercise impact the brain. Here is some fresh info on walnuts from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

  • Double-blind test bolsters observational data that walnuts promote feelings of fullness.
  • Results provide a quantitative measure for testing other compounds’ ability to control appetite, including potential medications for the treatment of obesity.
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Fascinating how walnuts also suggest the shape of the brain.

Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are also thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. Now, in a new brain imaging study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have demonstrated that consuming walnuts activates an area in the brain associated with regulating hunger and cravings. The findings, published online in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, reveal for the first time the neurocognitive impact these nuts have on the brain. Continue reading

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30 Weirdly fascinating health and body facts – Infographic

Thought you might enjoy this. I certainly did.

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Infographic created by Vapester .

Tony

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What about football and the athlete’s brain?

Regular readers know that I have lost three family members to dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease, so I am totally interested in any new information on the subject. I am also a passionate fan of the National Football League.

The following is from the Alzheimer’s Prevention Bulletin.

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Most fans will track first downs and touchdowns on Sept. 7, the opening game of the National Football League’s (NFL’s) 2017 season. If he tunes in, Robert Stern, PhD, no doubt will focus on any traumatic brain injuries (TBI) that occur during the game. These can range from mild TBI – as in a concussion – to severe TBI.

Dr. Stern also will watch for those more common head impacts that do not result in symptoms of concussion or draw the attention of the television cameras.  Called “subconcussive” trauma, those hits are associated with a brain disease that is the focus of Dr. Stern’s research.

Dr. Stern is the Director of Clinical Research for the Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Center and Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center Clinical Core, both at Boston University.

“Alzheimer’s disease is my primary focus professionally,” Dr. Stern said. “But some years ago, I started to learn more about another neurodegenerative disease called CTE. I soon realized that CTE had the potential to become a major public health issue. That’s when CTE research became a passion.”

CTE is a progressive, degenerative brain disease, similar to Alzheimer’s disease, found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma. That brain trauma could include concussions as well as those subconcussive hits to the head that do not have symptoms. The trauma can trigger a series of events in the brain that progressively destroy its tissue, resulting in CTE. The symptoms that accompany CTE are similar to Alzheimer’s disease: changes in memory and cognition as well as changes in mood and behavior. Eventually, it can lead to dementia.

TBI, CTE & Alzheimer’s: Are they Connected? 

Is there a connection between TBI, CTE and Alzheimer’s?

“I used to refer to TBI as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, because early research suggested that,” said Dr. Stern. “However, more recent research suggests that the relationship between the two is not very clear.”

That means people who experience TBI at any age – a hit on the football field as a youth or a fall on the stairs as an older adult – do not appear to increase their chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Concussion Controversies in Sports

Now let’s head back to the football field.

A 2016 Harris Poll showed pro football is continuing its reign as America’s favorite sport. Its popularity persists in spite of concern about the sport’s long-term impact on players’ brain health that began in the early 2000s. At that time, autopsies of deceased American football players revealed evidence of CTE. Years later, research from the BU center published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 110 out of 111 deceased former NFL players had CTE.

Dr. Stern estimates that in some contact sports like football, there can be 1,000 or more subconcussive hits per season of play. And these impacts can leave their mark on an athlete and eventually lead to CTE.

“There’s research that indicates even after one season of youth football, children ages 8-10 years old,  had structural changes to their brains that were directly associated with the number of hits to the head they received,” Dr. Stern said. “Research from my team at BU has shown a dose-response relationship between the total estimated number of those repetitive head impacts a football player receives through youth, high school, and college football, and later life cognitive impairments and problems with depression and behavior. We have to take these repetitive head impacts seriously.”

And thanks to Dr. Stern, that message is getting out.

Want to learn more about head injury and CTE? Join Dr. Robert A. Stern, PhD, Clinical Core Director of the BU Alzheimer’s Disease Center online as he discusses the role of head injury in developing dementia later in life. 

  • Thursday, August 24th, 2-3 PM Eastern (11 AM-12 PM Pacific / Arizona, 12-1 PM Mountain, 1-2 PM Central)
  • Can’t make it to the live webinar? Don’t worry! Just register as if you will attend and we will send you a recording that you can view at your convenience,
  • Sign up now.

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Plant-based diet yields cardiometabolic health benefits -MNT

I was a vegetarian in my younger days. I lasted for about five years. In those days, there wasn’t the same level of consciousness or acceptance of this kind of diet that there is now. Although I left vegetarianism, I have continued to limit the amount of red meat I consume. I also eat a lot of fish and seeds and nuts for protein sources.

Medical News Today reports that plant-based eating patterns continue to soar in popularity and a group of nutrition researchers outline the science behind this sustainable trend in a review paper, entitled “Cardiometabolic benefits of plant-based diets,” which appears as an online advance in Nutrients. The review will publish in a future special edition, entitled “The Science of Vegetarian Nutrition and Health.”

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The review outlines how a plant-based diet, which is naturally low in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol, and rich in nutrients, like fiber and antioxidants, could be one tool, in addition to adopting a healthful lifestyle, used to improve nutrition intake and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

 

The authors, Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., and Neal Barnard, M.D., F.A.C.C., analyzed clinical research studies and reviews published until May 2017. Their research finds a plant-based diet, built around vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes, can improve nutrient intake and help manage body weight and glycemic control, improve cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and reverse atherosclerosis, or the narrowing of the arteries caused by the accumulation of arterial plaque.

“The future of health care starts on our plates,” says Dr. Kahleova, the lead study author and the director of clinical research at the nonprofit Physicians Committee. “The science clearly shows food is medicine, which is a powerful message for physicians to pass on to their patients and for policymakers to consider as they propose modifications for health care reform and discuss potential amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill.”

To understand the health benefits of a plant-based diet, the researchers analyze its structure:

Fiber

Fiber contributes to bulk in the diet without adding digestible calories, thus leading to satiety and weight loss. Additionally, soluble fiber binds with bile acids in the small intestines, which helps reduce cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar.

Plant-Based Rx: Aim to eat at least 35 grams of dietary fiber a day. The average American consumes 16 grams of dietary fiber each day.

Fats

Plant-based diets are lower in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. Replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can increase insulin sensitivity, a risk factor for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Plant-Based Rx: Swap meat and dairy products, oils, and high-fat processed foods for smaller portions of plant staples, like a few avocado slices or a small handful of nuts and seeds, which are rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

Plant Protein

Vegetable proteins reduce the concentrations of blood lipids, reduce the risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease, and may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.

Plant-Based Rx: Legumes, or lentils, beans, and peas, are naturally rich in protein and fiber. Try topping leafy green salads with lentils, black beans, edamame, or chickpeas.

Plant Sterols

Plant sterols that have a structure similar to that of cholesterol reduce cardiovascular disease risk and mortality, have anti-inflammatory effects, and positively affect coagulation, platelet function and endothelial function, which helps reduce blood clots, increases blood flow, and stabilizes glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Plant-Based Rx: Consume a high intake of antioxidants and micronutrients, including plant sterols, from whole plant foods, like vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, beans, and seeds. A plant-based diet supports cardio-metabolic benefits through several independent mechanisms. The synergistic effect of whole plant foods may be greater than a mere additional effect of eating isolated nutrients.

“To make significant health changes, we have to make significant diet changes,” concludes Dr. Kahleova. “A colorful plant-based diet works well for anyone, whether you’re an athlete looking to boost energy, performance, and recovery by enabling a higher efficiency of blood flow, which equates to oxygen conversion, or if you’re a physician who wants to help patients lose extra weight, lower blood pressure, and improve their cholesterol.”

Dr. Kahleova and the study authors recommend using a plant-based diet as an effective tool to treat and prevent cardiometaoblic disease, which they would like to see promoted through future dietary guidelines and nutrition policy recommendations.

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