Tag Archives: harvard medical school

What about Alzheimer’s in the family? Harvard

Regular readers know that my family has suffered at least one case of Alzheimer’s and one or two of general dementia. I think it is fair to say that mental illness damages the entire family either directly or indirectly. It also has implications on individuals’ future mental health.

Harvard Medical School offers some fine counseling on the subject.

Alzheimer’s disease represents a personal health crisis, but it’s also a family concern. What does it mean for your children or siblings if you are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? What does it mean for you if a close relative develops the condition?

100915_fobette-main

“People think that if their dad or aunt or uncle had Alzheimer’s disease, they are doomed. But, no, that’s not true,” says Dr. Gad Marshall, assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. “Even though family history adds to the overall risk, age still usually trumps it quite a bit. It means your risk is higher, but it’s not that much higher, if you consider the absolute numbers.”

Family history by the numbers

Studies of family history say that if you have a close relative who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease—the most common form of dementia in older adults—your risk increases by about 30%. This is a relative risk increase, meaning a 30% hike in your existing risk.

Continue reading

Advertisements

5 Comments

Filed under aging, aging brain, Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's disease, Alzheimer's risk, dementia, successful aging

Exercise can boost your memory and thinking skills – Harvard

Moderate-intensity exercise can help improve your thinking and memory in just six months.

Happy days! More positive information on the benefits to the brain garnered from physical exercise! This time from Harvard Medical School.

brainexercise

You probably already know that exercising is necessary to preserve muscle strength, keep your heart strong, maintain a healthy body weight, and stave off chronic diseases such as diabetes. But exercise can also help boost your thinking skills. “There’s a lot of science behind this,” says Dr. Scott McGinnis, an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under aging brain, brain, brain exercise, brain function, brain health, exercise and brain health, Harvard, Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School

Exercise – An effective Rx for joint pain – Harvard

I don’t know how many times I have run across this kind of information, but it never ceases to amaze me – to a large extent – whatever the physical problem –  exercise is often the answer. Eat less; move more; live longer really works. Here is what Harvard has to say about exercise in relation to joint pain.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends:
2.5 hours/wk of moderate intensity exercise.
OR 1.25 hours a week of vigorous aerobic physical activity
Or Some combination of the above – equivalent episodes of at least 10 minutes spread throughout the week. That really isn’t very much when you break it down.

gif-animc3a9-animaux-drc3b4les-131

I just love this cat doing chin ups.

Joint pain can rob you of life’s simple pleasures — you may no longer look forward to walking your dog, gardening, or chasing a tennis ball across the court. Even the basics of getting through your day, like getting into the car or carrying laundry to the basement, can become sharp reminders of your limitations.

But the right exercises performed properly can be a long-lasting way to subdue ankle, knee, hip, or shoulder pain. Although it might seem that exercise would aggravate aching joints, this is simply not the case. Exercise can actually help to relieve joint pain in multiple ways:

It increases the strength and flexibility of the muscles and connective tissue surrounding the joints. When thigh muscles are stronger, for example, they can help support the knee, thus relieving some of the pressure on that joint.

Exercise relieves stiffness, which itself can be painful. The body is made to move. When not exercised, the tendons, muscles, and ligaments quickly shorten and tense up. But exercise — and stretching afterward — can help reduce stiffness and preserve or extend your range of motion.

It boosts production of synovial fluid, the lubricant inside the joints. Synovial fluid helps to bring oxygen and nutrients into joints. Thus, exercise helps keep your joints “well-oiled.”

It increases production of natural compounds in the body that help tamp down pain. In other words, without exercise, you are more sensitive to every twinge. With it, you have a measure of natural pain protection.

It helps you keep your weight under control, which can help relieve pressure in weight-bearing joints, such as your hips, knees, and ankles.

If all this isn’t enough, consider the following: exercise also enhances the production of natural chemicals in the brain that help boost your mood. You’ll feel happier — in addition to feeling better.

For more on developing and mastering an exercise plan to combat joint pain, order The Joint Pain Relief Workout, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Tony

5 Comments

Filed under Exercise, exercise benefits, how much exercise, joint pain

7 Tips for successful weight training – Harvard

Although I don’t consider it fun, I realize that weight training is a necessity for living a healthy life and keeping my body working.

Here are seven tips from Harvard Medical School that my brother passed along to me.

468769-weights.jpg

“Strength or resistance training challenges your muscles with a stronger-than-usual counterforce, such as pushing against a wall or lifting a dumbbell or pulling on a resistance band. Using progressively heavier weights or increasing resistance makes muscles stronger. This kind of exercise increases muscle mass, tones muscles, and strengthens bones. It also helps you maintain the strength you need for everyday activities — lifting groceries, climbing stairs, rising from a chair, or rushing for the bus.

“The current national guidelines for physical activity recommend strengthening exercises for all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms) at least twice a week. One set — usually 8 to 12 repetitions of the same movement — per session is effective, though some evidence suggests that two to three sets may be better. Your muscles need at least 48 hours to recover between strength training sessions.

These seven tips can keep your strength training safe and effective.

1    Warm up and cool down for five to 10 minutes. Walking is a fine way to warm up; stretching is an excellent way to cool down. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Harvard, Harvard Medical School, weight-bearing exercise, weight-training

Female doctors may be better – Harvard

About five years ago, I switched to a female doctor and I think she is great. I dropped the male doctor who had been treating me because I got the feeling he didn’t really care about me. In fact, sometimes he gave me the impression that I was a bother. Obviously, my experience is totally anecdotal and may have no relevance to anyone else. After all, for years there were only male doctors and that worked fine.  Regarding my doctor, I think that she genuinely cares about my well being and keeping it up is a priority with her. I trust her and like confiding in her. I did not feel that way with the man who had been treating me.

Here is the latest from Harvard.

iStock_000003709313Small.jpg

Elderly hospitalized patients treated by female physicians are less likely to die within 30 days of admission, or to be readmitted within 30 days of discharge, than those cared for by male physicians, according to a new study led by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It is the first research to document differences in how male and female physicians treat patients result in different outcomes for hospitalized patients in the U.S. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under doctors, female doctors

Harvard on Simple Weight Loss Principles

Seconds on the lips; a lifetime on the hips.

We have all heard that old cliche and nodded knowingly. But the fact that two-thirds of us are overweight and half of the heavies are actually obese demonstrates that not enough of us are acting as if we believed it.
200146535-002
I have written an entire page entitled How to lose weight – and keep it off breaking down the principles and techniques I have used for the past several years to reach my ideal weight and maintain it. I am a regular guy not a saint or superhuman. You can do it, too.

Now comes Harvard Medical School with an item echoing and elucidating my sentiments on weight loss and weight maintenance.

“The pleasure of eating a candy bar lasts but a few minutes. Burning off the calories it delivers can take nearly three-quarters of an hour. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Harvard Medical School, weight loss

Harvard on Understanding Blood pressure

As a senior citizen, I know that high blood pressure is very widespread. I used to think it was about the same as having grey hair. But, I was wrong.

Harvard Medical School reports “Blood pressure has long been one of the best markers of your health. It is a number you can remember and monitor. High blood pressure (hypertension) is linked to a greater risk of heart attacks and strokes.

“About one out of three adults has high blood pressure, which is usually defined as a reading of 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or higher.

072423-blood-pressure.jpg

“The first, or upper, number (systolic pressure) represents the pressure inside the arteries when the heart beats, and the second, or lower, number (diastolic pressure) is the pressure between beats when the heart rests.

“Blood pressure rises with age because of increasing stiffness of large arteries, long-term buildup of plaque, and the effects of other diseases involving the heart and blood vessels. Typically, more attention is given to the diastolic reading as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under blood pressure, high blood pressure

How to Reduce Your Chances of Alzheimer’s – Harvard

I have mentioned numerous times how much concern I have regarding dementia and Alzheimer’s disease because three of my close family members suffered from one or the other of them. To clarify: Dementia is not a disease but a group of different diseases characterized by the gradual worsening of cognitive abilities. Dementia is seen across all ethnic groups and increasingly so with advancing age. Among 65–69-year-olds, about 2 percent are afflicted, with this figure doubling for every five years of age. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia.

Alzheimer’s accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases. In fact, Alzheimer’s is the second most feared disease, behind only cancer. So, I am not alone in my concern. Although it is said a person with Alzheimer’s can live from two to 20 years, my understanding is that few make it beyond 7 years. Harvard Medical School has released a new study on it.

They point to age, gender and family history as factors outside our control regarding the disease. On a positive note, everything I support in this blog works to lower Alzheimer’s risk – exercise, watching your weight and eating right.

Harvard said, “While there are no surefire ways to prevent Alzheimer’s, by following the five steps below you may lower your risk for this disease — and enhance your overall health as well.

1. Maintain a healthy weight. Cut back on calories and increase physical activity if you need to shed some pounds.

2. Check your waistline. To accurately measure your waistline, use a tape measure around the narrowest portion of your waist (usually at the height of the navel and lowest rib). A National Institutes of Health panel recommends waist measurements of no more than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men.

3. Eat mindfully. Emphasize colorful, vitamin-packed vegetables and fruits; whole grains; fish, lean poultry, tofu, and beans and other legumes as protein sources; plus healthy fats. Cut down on unnecessary calories from sweets, sodas, refined grains like white bread or white rice, unhealthy fats, fried and fast foods, and mindless snacking. Keep a close eye on portion sizes, too.

4. Exercise regularly. This simple step does great things for your body. Regular physical activity helps control weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. Moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise (walking, swimming, biking, rowing), can also help chip away total body fat and abdominal fat over time. Aim for 2 1/2 to 5 hours weekly of brisk walking (at 4 mph). Or try a vigorous exercise like jogging (at 6 mph) for half that time.

5. Keep an eye on important health numbers. In addition to watching your weight and waistline, ask your doctor whether your cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood sugar are within healthy ranges. Exercise, weight loss if needed, and medications (if necessary) can help keep these numbers on target.” For more on ways to prevent Alzheimer’s you can order A Guide to Alzheimer’s Disease from Harvard.

Tony

Leave a comment

Filed under Alzheimer's disease, Alzheimer's risk, Uncategorized

How Do I Benefit From Core Exercises? – Harvard

We hear a lot about ‘working the core’ these days. Pilates and yoga are ones that I remember, but how do I benefit from core exercises?

Harvard Medical School offers the following in answer: “Who will notice first? That golf partner who can no longer beat your drives off the tee? The co-worker who wishes that she had as much energy as you at the end of the day? Or will it be the friend who, with more than slight envy, congratulates you on looking so “fit?”

core-exercise-videos

“The fact is, after beginning a core exercise program, you will notice the difference. You will have greater strength and flexibility for doing everyday tasks. You will have added power for athletic activities. You’ll have less pain and stiffness. And your slimmer waistline and better defined ab muscles will be hard to ignore.

“Core muscles form the central link between your upper and lower body. A strong core underpins almost everything you do. Building up core muscles is key to improving performance in almost any sport by extending your range of motion to lift, bend, turn and reach. It also trims your silhouette and tones your abs and glutes.

Core Exercises is a Special Health Report prepared by Harvard Medical School physicians and Master Trainers. It will show you how you can strengthen your core with workouts that take no more than 20-40 minutes and do not require fancy equipment. They are exercises that will keep you motivated and continue to challenge you as you make progress.

“Six of the workouts consist of 9-10 exercises each that combine classic core moves — planks, squats, and lunges — with exercises that work the full range of core muscles. Each exercise is illustrated and accompanied by tips and techniques, instructions for tempo and movement, and options for making the exercise easier or taking it up a notch.

“The report also gives you four short workouts for busy days or when you need a change. You’ll get tips for exercising safely and effectively. Plus, a handy chart tells you which exercises and stretches are best for your favorite sport.”

Tony

Leave a comment

Filed under core exercises, Exercise, Harvard

Why and How You Can Improve Your Sleep Habits – Harvard

I have been writing about the importance of a good night’s sleep for some years. It restores the brain, recharges the body and often clears up conflicts overnight. Now comes Harvard with further guidance on this critical life experience. With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day, sleep habits are very relevant.

Unknown

Dr. Anthony Komaroff, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Publications, writes, “A good night’s sleep is essential for your health and well-being. Getting too little sleep can cause numerous problems. Lack of sleep not only affects alertness and energy, but it weakens your body’s defenses against infection, increases anxiety, and boosts your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. It’s also a safety issue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that 1 in 24 adults say they have recently fallen asleep while driving.

“Sleep-related problems affect 50 to 70 million Americans of all ages. If you are one of them, Improving Sleep is an instructive and fact-filled report from Harvard Medical School that explains why sleep often eludes us as adults. You’ll read about the habits and conditions that get in the way of peaceful slumber. Most important, you’ll learn what you can do to again enjoy the satisfaction of a restful night’s sleep.

“The report details what triggers insomnia and how new techniques and therapies are helping men and women get to sleep more quickly — without the use of medications. The report will tell you how to overcome the “early-to-bed-early-to-rise” syndrome, how to control the need to urinate at night, how to tame restless leg syndrome, and seven things you should do — and not do — before going to bed.

“Do you or your spouse snore? There are hundreds of devices marketed as aids to stop snoring. But do any work? The report sorts them out and updates you on new procedures that can restore quiet to the bedroom. Could your snoring be sleep apnea? The report includes a six-question test that will help you determine if you need to be tested for this health-threatening condition.

“Ever wondered why we remember so little of our dreams? Why “night owls” are the way they are? Or what’s the best time for a nap — and how long should it be? The report answers these questions and many others. Plus, you’ll read the truth about the connection between Ambien and sleep walking (and sleep eating!), which over-the-counter sleeping aids are safest, five ways to avoid jet lag, and more.”

Tony

Leave a comment

Filed under aging, baby boomers, Centers for Disease Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, circadian cycles, happiness, Harvard, harvard health letter, healthy living, sleep, sleep deprivation

Harvard on Simple Weight Loss Principles

Seconds on the lips; a lifetime on the hips.

We have all heard that old cliche and nodded knowingly. But the fact that two-thirds of us are overweight and half of the heavies are actually obese demonstrates that not enough of us are acting as if we believed it.
200146535-002
I have written an entire page entitled How to lose weight – and keep it off breaking down the principles and techniques I have used for the past several years to reach my ideal weight and maintain it. I am a regular guy not a saint or superhuman. You can do it, too.

Now comes Harvard Medical School with an item echoing and elucidating my sentiments on weight loss and weight maintenance.

“The pleasure of eating a candy bar lasts but a few minutes. Burning off the calories it delivers can take nearly three-quarters of an hour. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under calories, walking, Weight

Two Super Diet Tips from Harvard

I write about healthy eating all the time. Also, most folks think about what they are eating – to some extent. But, we have 60 percent of us overweight and 30 percent obese. Another 10 percent has Type 2 diabetes, a preventable and ruinous disease that stems from inactivity and poor nutrition. Obviously, we need help with our eating, whether routine or on a special diet.harvardlogo

Harvard Medical School offered the following two tips:

“To really optimize your diet, keep these two additional tips in mind.
1.    Limit liquid sugars. Soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, and other sugar-sweetened beverages can deliver up to 12 teaspoons of sugar in a single serving, with no other useful nutrients. These beverages offer no health or nutritional benefits. Worse, regular consumption of these drinks can increase your chances of becoming obese or developing diabetes — both of which raise your risk for heart disease and other chronic conditions. Unsweetened coffee or tea or sparkling water are better choices.”

I have written repeatedly about the dangers of sugary as well as diet sodas. Love hearing it backed up by Harvard. Also, regarding the 12 teaspoons of sugar mentioned above. Remember, a teaspoon of sugar amounts to just over four grams. I offer that conversion because the amount of sugar is usually listed  in grams and if you don’t know how many grams in a teaspoon, you might not realize how much sugar you are getting.

That teaspoon of sugar weighs just over 4 grams.

That teaspoon of sugar weighs just over 4 grams.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under sugar, sugary soft drinks, Weight

How Much is Too Much Salt?

A recent study by the Institute of Medicine questioned the current guidellnes on salt intake saying they were too high.

The guidelines issued by the government say that adults should reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2300 mg. For those over age 51, or with a medical condition like diabetes or hypertension, salt intake should fall below 1500 mg.
Unknown
The American Heart Association puts the limit at 1500 mg per day for the entire population.

Dr. Marc Seigel, associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, said on Fox News today that he doesn’t know anyone who consumes less than 3000 mg per day and they all consume too much salt. In addition, most people get the majority of their salt from processed and restaurant food. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under American Heart Association, salt, sodium

How to Improve Your Memory – Harvard

The relationship between physical and mental health is very important and one of my favorite topics. I have posted about it numerous times. I have a history of  Alzheimer’s and dementia in my family and want very much to escape the ravages of a brain aging in an unhealthy manner.

Now comes Harvard Medical School with a new study on using everyday habits to keep your memory in good shape.


“A growing body of research indicates that regular exercise and a healthful diet can help protect your memory from aging-related decline.”

Music to my ears.

Harvard Healthbeat says:
“Physical fitness and mental fitness go together. People who exercise regularly tend to stay mentally sharp into their 70s, 80s, and beyond. Although the precise “dose” of exercise isn’t known, research suggests that the exercise should be moderate to vigorous and regular. Examples of moderate exercise include brisk walking, stationary bicycling, water aerobics, and competitive table tennis. Vigorous activities include jogging, high impact aerobic dancing, square dancing, and tennis.
Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under aging, Alzheimer's, brain, Exercise, memory

What Are Two of the Best Physical Workouts? – Harvard

No matter what your level of fitness or age, these activities can help you get in shape and lower your risk of disease, so says Harvard Healthbeat from Harvard Medical School.

In their latest publication, Exercise, they write that you don’t have to be an athlete or serious exerciser to get into shape.

“…some of the best physical activities for your body don’t require the gym or that you get fit enough to run a marathon. These ‘workouts’ can do wonders for your health. They’ll help keep your weight under control, improve your balance and range of motion, strengthen your bones, protect your joints, prevent bladder control problems, and even ward off memory loss.

“No matter your age or fitness level, these activities can help you get in shape and lower your risk for disease:

“1.Swimming. You might call swimming the perfect workout. The buoyancy of the water supports your body and takes the strain off painful joints so you can move them more fluidly. “Swimming is good for individuals with arthritis because it’s less weight bearing,” explains Dr. I-Min Lee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under aging, arthritis, biking, brain, Exercise, happiness, tai chi, Weight

Why Should I Start Strength Training? – Harvard

One of the challenges of aging is the gradual diminishing of our physical powers. Our muscles still do the same thing, but muscle mass shrinks with age as does actual strength. Beginning at age 30, sarcopenia, decline in muscle tissue, sets in.

According to the Harvard Medical School’s Strength and Power Training: A guide for adults of all ages, “The average 30-year-old can expect to lose about 25% of muscle mass and strength by age 70 and another 25% by age 90.”

man-lifting-weightsWhile aging accounts for some of this loss, disuse is another major culprit. Harvard said, “Studies of older adults consistently prove that a good deal of the decline in strength can be recouped with strength training.

“Likewise, power can be regained. With age and disuse, the nerve-signaling system that recruits muscle fibers for tasks deteriorates. Fast-twitch fibers, which provide bursts of power, are lost at a greater rate than slow-twitch fibers. You might think of a nerve pathway as a set of paving stones leading to a destination. As the years pass, the path may become overgrown and disappear in spots rather than remain well traveled and clearly marked. Preliminary power training studies suggest that movements designed to restore neural pathways can reverse this effect.  Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under aging, Exercise, strength training