Should middle aged people avoid vigorous exercise?

Should you avoid vigorous exercise in middle age?

Should you lay down your tennis racket when you approach middle age? Should you avoid a vigorous run? What are the chances that you might suffer a heart attack while exercising when you are in your 50's and 60's?

Researchers, whose study is published in Circulation, studied individuals aged 35-65 to find out the risk of cardiac arrest when the, ahem, older set engages in physical activity.

The findings reveal good news for those looking to live an active life in their later years. Of 1,247 cardiac arrest cases, only 5% occurred during physical activity, and of that 5%, survival rates were much higher than they were among individuals who suffered heart attacks that were not associated with sports activity.

The take home message? Sports activity is low risk and benefits your health. Lace up those shoes, people.


Exercise the easy way

We're halfway through summer now. How are you doing?

I know you are enjoying the sunshine. I know you appreciate the relaxed schedule. I know the vacation with the family has been memorable.

Are you fulfilling your healthy living goals, though? With the kids home life can be hectic, which means it can be difficult to prioritize your own health and get the exercise you need. I know. I struggle with it just as much as you do.

Remember, though, that exercise doesn't have to take place in a gym. It doesn't have to involve fancy equipment and dumbbells.

Last weekend, I took my kids to Cedar Point, the self-proclaimed roller coaster capital of the world. We logged 24,375 steps, or just over 10 miles, in one day! This was hardcore exercise which involved roller coaster hair, selfie snapping, and memory making with the extended family. It's a fantastic way to stay fit, don't you think?

Get yourself out there. Organize activities with the kids that will get you moving. Have fun AND exercise. Prove to yourself that living healthy really is living well.

Here are some additional ideas:

  1. Organize a trip to the zoo
  2. Take a walk around the public gardens in your area
  3. Visit any museum (art, science, natural history). Hint: the bigger the better!
  4. Bike to the duck pond, the farmer's market, the library, etc.
  5. Take the kids to the pool AND play with them. (They'll never forget it).
  6. Make a walk after dinner a family affair
  7. Go shopping at an outside mall and take the long way to get to the various stores
  8. Find a beach to stroll
  9. Hike in the woods
  10. Rent a canoe or kayak
  11. Rent space in a community garden and grow your kids' favorite fresh vegetables
You still have about 5 weeks of summer to enjoy. Make them good!


Pilates and your cholesterol numbers

You already know Pilates strengthens and lengthens muscles. You already know it promotes balanced posture, builds muscle, and benefits the low-back.

But that's not all.

Researchers say a consistent Pilates practice also increases HDL cholesterol levels not just a little, but "significantly." Their study, published in the Journal of Exercise, Nutrition & Biochemistry, outlines how a Pilates based sweat session that lasts 70-80 minutes and is repeated 3 times a week can improve blood lipid levels.

Now you have just one more reason to get on the reformer. It's a good one.


The fish oil myth

Studies indicate fish oil supplements don't decrease risk of heart disease

Even though 10% of Americans take fish oil supplements to decrease the risk of heart disease, an in-depth analysis of the studies on fish oil indicate it is no more effective than a placebo. The study authors, whose work was published in JAMA Internal Medecine, analyzed 18 randomized clinical studies and 6 meta-analyses of randomized clinical trials conducted between 2005 and 2012. Only two studies found that fish oil supplements were effective.

Somehow, though, the word hasn't gotten out. Despite this contrary evidence, we continue to dump our hard earned dollars into these supplements. If you jumped on the band wagon, stop, as it's best to stick to the tried and true recommendations if you want to protect your ticker. Exercise regularly, limit salt and sugar intake, and keep your weight under control.

Then, of course, you can save those dollars for a night out with friends, a fun way to ensure physical and emotional health.


Why you need a vacation with nature

Natural environments promote relaxation and rejuvenation

Do you need to decompress? Are your tense shoulders permanently elevated up by your ears? Does someone need to pry that cellphone out of your hands? If so, a vacation with nature may be in order, even if you prefer stilettos to sneakers.

According to a study published in The Journal of Environmental Psychology, people quickly report feelings of relaxation and restoration after visiting natural environments like the ocean, the woods, and the mountains. Not surprisingly, longer durations surrounded by nature created greater feelings of rejuvenation, and urban play areas didn't elicit feelings of relaxation.

This summer give your body and your mind a chance to draw on the healing properties of nature. Rent a house on Lake Michigan. Visit the mountains in Colorado. Camp in Joshua Tree National Park. Drive to a small ocean town in the Carolinas and watch the waves roll in and out. Or, if you can only spare a few hours, rent a canoe or kayak and find a secluded place to paddle. Find a spot to hike deep in the woods.

Remember that you cannot give if you have nothing inside to give. Take care of yourself this summer and your body will reward you with a calm and relaxed mind.


Low back pain and the S-curve

the shape of your spine may determine if you have back pain

Can you blame your low back pain on the shape of your spine?

According to Ester Gokhale, a former back pain sufferer, the answer is yes.

When traditional therapies failed for this California-based acupuncturist, she began a search for answers. This search took her across the globe, to indigenous people who suffer little or no back pain.

What's their secret? Gokhale believes their good fortune is linked to the shape of their spines, which look more like the letter "J" than the letter "S."

So, she returned to the States and developed a method of exercises to pull her spine into a shape that resembled a J. Then her pain went away.

Could this method help you? Perhaps. Remember that the American lifestyle, which tends to be sedentary, leads to deconditioned muscles. Without strong muscles, especially core muscles, there is little to support our upright posture. This, of course, leads to back pain. So, check out Gokhale's ideas, which were recently outlined on NPR.

Then get thee to a gym. Strengthening your postural muscles just might lessen your "S" curve and bring you the relief you are looking for.


Why you failed to reach your fitness goals

Humans underestimate the effects of setbacks
How many calories did you really
burn when you took that walk with the kids?

It turns out humans are optimists to the core.

Researchers, whose study is published in the Journal of Consumer Research, say people overestimate the impact of their successes and underestimate the effects of their shortfalls or setbacks.

When it comes to healthy living, this means we overestimate how much energy we expend when we bike or walk and underestimate the impact of eating those irresistible cupcakes or lattes later in the day. We overestimate the positive effects of eating a kale salad for lunch and underestimate the negative impact of sitting at our desks all day.

Let's stop doing that! Take a look at these sobering statistics: If you are a 140-pound woman and you walk a 15 minute mile, you will burn 168 calories in 30 minutes. If you play golf without a cart, you'll burn 150 calories in the same time. Meanwhile, if you down a Starbucks Iced Caffe Mocha, you'll take in 140 calories, and if you decide to indulge in a cupcake you'll consume at least 295 calories.

What should the eternal optimist do? Make sure you approach your fitness goals with accurate information that will help you attain your goals. Since humans suffer from "progress bias," it may make sense to invest in an activity tracker that will help you accurately monitor calories in and out.

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