As you get older, are you having more and more ”senior moments?” Although forgetfulness seems to come hand-in-hand with aging, could it be that that something as simple as exercise could help enhance your memory?
Exercise may be the best wonder drug of them all – maintaining not just your body, but your mind as well.
Scientists are finding that exercise actually may help prevent mental decline as we age. Regular exercise may enhance memory, planning and organization skills, as well as the ability to juggle mental tasks.
Researchers believe regular exercise – for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week – can help keep your brain sharp. Exercise improves how well the body can pump blood to the brain, helping it perform better. Scientists speculate that activity stimulates the growth of nerve cells in the hippocampus, the region of the brain involved in memory.
Another positive effect deals with lowering blood pressure. This is important to most adults, particularly as they age. In fact, most elderly people do have high blood pressure. Those with uncontrolled high blood pressure are more likely to have trouble thinking, remembering and learning.
Activity can also help with depression, a common problem among the elderly. Depression can affect memory and concentration. Exercise helps relieve feelings of depression by increasing blood flow and improving how the brain handles the chemicals that are responsible for mood.
You can’t beat exercise. Not only can it help your brain, it can also keep your muscles and joints strong – all important for helping prevent falls, dealing with arthritis, strengthening your heart, improving your energy levels, and warding off health problems such as diabetes and certain cancers. Even if you have lived a sedentary life up until now, you can still limber up to help keep your brain – and your body – in shape.
First, be sure to check with your doctor before starting any exercise. Together, you can choose a routine that is safe for you.
- Get at least 30 minutes of activity – most or all days of the week – that makes you breathe harder. You can break up those 30 minutes throughout your day by taking a 10- or 15-minute walk in the morning, another at lunch and a third in the evening. To tell if you aren’t working hard enough, give yourself the “talk test.” If you can talk without any effort, you aren’t working out hard enough. If you can’t talk at all, you are pushing too hard.
- Don’t neglect your muscles. If you don’t use them, you’ll lose them. Strong muscles help you with numerous everyday tasks such as grocery-carrying and having the ability to get out of your chair on your own.
- Work on your balance. Stand on one foot, then the other. If you’re able, try not to hold onto anything for support. Stand up from sitting in a chair without using your hands or arms. Every now and then, walk heel-to-toe.
- Be sure to stretch as part of a well rounded routine of strength and conditioning exercises. This can help prevent back pain and helps you remain limber. Never stretch so far that it hurts.
Map out a healthy-food plan before leaving on vacation, nutritionist advises
Don’t let the road to a summer vacation put you on a crash course with an unhealthy, fast-food diet.
‘Nowadays, you can eat a healthy, balanced, calorie-appropriate meal no matter where you travel,’ Duke University’s Elisabetta Politi, nutrition director of the North Carolina school’s diet and fitness center, said in a news release.
To eat better on the road, Politi suggests:
- Take healthy snacks with you. Stock a cooler with cheese, pre-cut vegetables, yogurt and other good foods to munch on while in transit. Pack a bag with individual portions of low-fat popcorn, trail mix, energy bars, nuts or dried fruit.
- Drink more water. Avoid the sugar of soda and other soft drinks that add empty calories. Don’t think that diet sodas and artificial sweeteners are any better because some studies find they may actually increase appetite. If you crave a sweet drink, try a little low-fat chocolate milk.
- Pick healthy menu items. Opt for lighter fare like salads, grilled sandwiches and wraps when possible, an option easier to do now that many restaurants either post or can provide their food’s nutritional information. If you must indulge, choose small portions or share larger ones to help limit intake.
- Eat a good breakfast. Always start a travel day with a healthy meal to help balance out what may come later. If your overnight hotel room has a refrigerator, load it the night before with cereal, low-fat milk, yogurt and fruit so you can start the day right.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about choosing healthy fast foods.
||Kids and the elderly are at highest risk for heat related illnesses.
How hot is it? It’s so hot that your antiperspirant is on strike. Your clothes stick to you. The air conditioner and water cooler are your best friends.
With hot summer weather, you probably feel lethargic and sweaty, but still cope. Yet, when a heat wave hits, it’s harder to cool off.
Overheating is a serious danger, and soaring temperatures take their toll.
Who’s at risk?
The bottom line is this: Prolonged exposure to high temperatures or problems with your your body’s cooling system raises your risk for a heat-related illness such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
How our natural cooling system works
Tips to stay cool in extreme heat
How to Rev up Your Metabolism
Can the way you eat have an effect on your metabolism? Read on to learn what strategies really work.
Can the way you eat really have an effect on your metabolic rate? Are there types of foods that will burn fat more efficiently than others? The answer to both questions is yes.
Beyond the calorie in-calorie out theory, you can help control the timing of your eating and how your body responds to food. Check out the following guidelines to see if you are practicing any of these healthy eating habits. If you’re not, it’s time to start.
Eat lots of small meals
Don’t skip breakfast
Never starve yourself
Don’t eat late at night
Eat protein with almost every meal/snack
Balance your other nutrients
|Feeling stressed out? Learn ways to calm the stress in your life.
Feeling stressed out? Most Americans do.
Not all stress is bad. A certain amount of stress enables executives to perform at their peak.But too much stress can be harmful. Stress is linked to such chronic conditions such as heart disease and depression.
The trick is to manage or control stress to keep it within healthy limits. If your stress meter is soaring, learn to relax. Here are some soothing ways to handle the stress in your life.
Most people take shallow breaths that fill only part of the lungs. Deep breathing gets more oxygen into the lungs and can help calm the brain. Try these steps:
This simple but powerful exercise can be done almost anywhere. It can be combined with meditation or muscle relaxation.
2. Relax your muscles
3. Say yes to yoga
Yoga is gentle form of exercise that is safe for most people when it’s practiced correctly. Consult a trained yoga teacher. Make sure you ask your doctor before you start any new activity.
4. Try tai chi
Tai chi is a low-impact aerobic activity, so you can chill out and burn some calories at the same time. Another advantage to tai chi is its low risk of injury.
Take a tai chi class or buy a book or instructional video. Once you learn how to do tai chi, you can practice almost anywhere.
There are many different types of meditation. One type is mindfulness meditation. You can practice mindfulness while sitting in a quiet place or while walking. The key is to keep bringing your focus back to your breathing or your steps. When distractions come into your mind, observe them without judging and let them go. The technique is simple, but achieving the desired result takes practice.
6. Get a massage
If you can’t fit in or afford a visit to a spa, ask your partner or friend for a neck, back or foot rub. Trading massages can be a relaxing way to reconnect after a stressful day.
Sunburn doesn’t just cause pain and redness. It can also have immediate dangers and long-term effects. Learn the risks and find out how to protect yourself.
Between the beach, the pool and the weekend cookouts, you may be having too much fun to worry about sunburn – until that telltale stinging and redness set in. Sunburn isn’t just painful – it’s also bad for your health.
The dangers of sunburn
The sun’s rays contain two types of ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet A (UVA) causes tanning, aging skin and wrinkles. Ultraviolet B (UVB) causes sunburn. Both can cause skin cancer. You can burn on sunny days, cloudy days and cold days. The white sand on the beach and the white snow of winter both reflect the sun’s rays. You can burn whether you’re skiing on water or snow.
Signs of sunburn are redness and pain. You may also have swelling and blistering. Get medical attention right away if you have a severe burn that covers your body, or if you have chills, vomiting, an upset stomach or confusion.
Every time you tan or burn, DNA damage builds up in the deeper levels of your skin. Having five or more burns over a lifetime – even in childhood – doubles your chances of getting skin cancer.
Other side effects of tanning and burning include premature wrinkles and age (pigment) spots. Over time the sun can age your skin, making it tough and leathery.
Remember that your eyes can burn, too. Too much sun can burn your corneas and lead to various eye diseases, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. It can even cause blindness.
The truth about sunscreen
Wearing sunscreen doesn’t always keep you from burning. No sunscreen can completely protect you from UV rays.
A sunscreen labeled “waterproof” or “water resistant” will not protect you all day. When you swim or sweat, reapply your sunscreen. Waterproof sunscreens last about 80 minutes in the water. Those labeled “water resistant” last about 40 minutes.
The UV index
Your local news may broadcast daily heat index reports. The higher the index, the less time it will take to burn. Here is your risk for overexposure to the damaging UV rays. The number indicates the daily UV index, followed by the degree of risk. The higher the index on a given day, the greater the need to protect yourself.
- 0-2: low
- 3-4: moderate
- 5-6: high
- 7-10: very high
- 11+: extreme
Follow these prevention tips:
- Use only water-resistant or waterproof sunscreen. It should protect against both UVA and UVB rays and have an SPF of at least 15. Reapply every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
- Wear protective clothing when possible. Always include a hat and sunglasses.
- Limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is when UV rays are strongest. If your shadow is shorter than you are, get out of the sun.
- Keep children in the shade and in protective clothing. If shade or protective clothing are not available, apply a minimal amount of sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15 to small areas like the cheeks and backs of the hands. If a child under age 1 gets sunburn, apply cool compresses and call your pediatrician right away. Also call if an older child has a sunburn with fever, blistering, severe pain or lethargy.
- Be aware that water, snow and sand all reflect UV raysand increase your chances for sunburn.
Cool wet compresses, lotions and baths may help relieve sunburn pain. For serious burns, call your doctor. Medication may prevent infection and help with the swelling and pain.
Back pain robs workdays and keeps people on the sidelines. Learn how your back works and why certain motions can raise your risk for injuries.
Back pain is one of the most common conditions in the United States. Over the course of a lifetime, eight in 10 Americans will have at least one episode of back pain.
The problem results in over 100 million lost work days per year. And over 41 million people visited a doctor for back pain in one year.
Back injuries – common causes
Many back injuries are the result of cumulative damage. But certain motions and movements can contribute to back injuries more than others. These include:
- Heavy lifting
- Twisting at the waist while lifting or holding a heavy load
- Reaching and lifting
- Lifting or carrying objects with awkward or odd shapes
- Working in awkward positions
- Sitting or standing too long in one position
- Poor posture
How the back works
A spine consists of small bones called vertebrae. They are stacked to form a column. Vertebrae are held together by ligaments, and muscles are attached to the vertebrae by tendons. A cushion, or disc, sits between each vertebra. The spinal cord runs through the column and nerves branch out through spaces between the vertebrae.
The lower back holds most of the body’s weight. Stress is placed on your back every time you bend over, lift something heavy or sit leaning forward. While standing, bending or moving, even minor problems with bones, muscles, ligaments or tendons can cause lower back pain. Discs may then irritate nerves from the spinal cord and cause pain.
Sudden back injuries can be due to a tear or strain in ligaments and muscles. Back pain may also come from injuries that break down discs or by muscles that have involuntary contractions (spasm). Stress or tension can bring on back spasms, too.
What can you do to avoid back problems?
Three practices may help avoid serious problems: Lift safely, sleep correctly and keep up with core conditioning.
Lift safely. When possible, use lift-assist devices for heavier objects. When you can’t avoid lifting, remember to reduce the amount of pressure placed on the back. Bending the knees keeps your spine in better alignment and allows legs to do the work
- Keep feet apart for better stability and lifting power.
- Keep your back straight so spine, back muscles and organs align right.
- Tuck your chin to keep the neck, head and spine straight.
- Grip an object with your whole hand for more lifting power.
- Keep arms and elbows tucked in for more gripping power.
- Center your body over your feet for better balance and lift.
- Bend your legs and then lift by straightening the legs. The leg muscles will carry the load instead of your back.
Sleep better. A poor sleeping position can create back stress. The best sleeping positions are:
- On your side with knees slightly bent
- On your back with a pillow under knees
Conditioning. Regular exercise can improve overall fitness and lower the likelihood of back problems and injury. Exercises for strength, flexibility and aerobics are best.
Get into a daily flexibility routine and do strength training for your core muscles. The core muscles surround your midsection, support spine and torso movement, and coordinate limb motion. Strong core muscles improve posture, balance and stability. They can also reduce back and neck pain.
Yoga and Pilates classes offer good core workouts. Each uses the body as its own form of resistance. If you have trouble doing certain exercises, swimming, walking, or bike riding may be good options. Always check with your doctor before you increase your activity level.