How would you like to live longer without changing your diet or
exercising more? Sounds like a commercial for some crazy new gimmick,
doesn't it? But a study conducted over 16 years by the Harvard School
of Public Health in Boston proves that women who attend church
regularly live longer than those who don't.
The study followed
thousands of women. About 14,000 of them attended religious services
more than once a week, about 30,400 once a week, 12,000 less than
once a week, and 18,000 never attended.
The women who
went to church regularly were 33 percent less likely to die during
the study period compared with those who never went. Frequent
religious attendance was associated with a 27 percent lower risk of
dying from heart disease and a 21 percent lower risk of death from
Observational studies like this one cannot prove cause and effect nor
were any men included in this study, but Dr. Dan Blazer of Duke
University Medical Center in Raleigh said this in an accompanying
commentary to the study, "Though we do not know the mechanisms,
research and especially this study, emphasize the importance of
religious service attendance to health."
Falling is a major problem with our older population. It is estimated
that between 20 and 40 percent of adults over 65 years old fall every
year, costing in excess of $3 billion.
Vision, the vestibular system which is the balance system of the
inner ear, nerves carrying sensory information to and from the brain,
and muscles and joints all work together to provide good balance.
When any of these interdependent systems declines, balance suffers.
Diseases of the eyes, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular
degeneration; problems with the vestibular system caused by drug side
effects; and joint diseases, such as osteoporosis and arthritis,
along with deteriorating muscles, all combine to wreak havoc on
There are many things you can do to decrease the likelihood of falling.
As you age, have your vision and hearing checked periodically. Faulty
vision and hearing are major causes of falls.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to maintain good balance
is to exercise regularly. Consistent exercise, especially weight
bearing exercise, strengthens bones and muscles. Strong muscles and
bones prevent most falls. They also help reduce injury in case you do
Balance-specific exercises are also good. A balance-specific exercise
is an exercise that requires good balance to perform. Standing on one
leg at a time for thirty seconds (or as long as you can) is one such
exercise. Walking on balance beams is another. I include at least one
balance-specific exercise in every workout, whether for myself or my
clients. It is a good idea to begin doing these types of exercises
long before your balance starts to go. Obviously, you don't wait
until you need a walker to start walking on balance beams.
If you are elderly and living at home, there are some other
precautions you should take. Clear walkways of anything that could
trip you up such as electrical cords or rugs that turn up or scrunch
up. Don't climb on stools or chairs for any reason. Use night lights
wherever you might be walking at night, and install grab handles and
nonskid mats in showers and tubs.
I have never written an article for this newsletter that dealt with
an individual client, but this article is about Joe. Joe is a special
needs client of mine and a very special person. I've been working
with Joe since 2008, and over that time we have become good friends.
We've been to maybe a dozen Carolina football games together over the
years, even though he's a Clemson fan. My only rule is he can't pull
against the Gamecocks when he's with me. In addition we've been to a
few baseball games together, and many weekends during the baseball
season will find him at my house watching the Pirates on TV with me.
He's great company.
In all the years, I've worked with Joe, he's never complained about
anything I've asked him to do in the gym. His work ethic is amazing.
After every workout, he walks on his own for an additional 30 to 45
minutes. He does every exercise any of my other clients do, including
pushups, squats, and lunges, and he does most of the exercises with
as much weight as I can lift -- in some cases, more. And he never
misses a workout unless he's out of town with his parents who are
also my clients and good friends.
Joe is also a sports sponge. He can tell you the names of coaches and
assistant coaches of almost every major college football team, and he
understands many of the intricacies of football and baseball.
One thing I've learned working with Joe and meeting many of his
special needs friends: They really are special people. Never
underestimate their capabilities. I know I'm a richer person for
having known Joe.
Sometimes I run across articles chronicling feats which are amazing.
I found such an article in a recent issue of Runners's World.
On May 28, Dave Proctor, a 35 year old massage therapist, ran 162
miles in 24 hours on a treadmill. He averaged under 9 minutes per
mile and that included bathroom breaks.
The event which was a fundraising run for MitoCanada, an organization
that raises awareness of mitochondrial disorders, was held at an expo
center in Calgary.
Proctor is a veteran ultra-marathoner, but he said he hadn't
accounted for the toll running on a treadmill for so long takes on
your mind. "The sun doesn't go down and you don't move," he
said. All he could do was glare with growing annoyance at a crooked
poster on the wall ahead of him. He wanted to straighten it.
At first he said it was all fun, but after 8 pm, the air conditioning
in the building shut down and didn't come back on until 8 am. With
two hours to go, he couldn't see straight, his ears were ringing, his
toes were numb, and his stomach was upset. But when it was all over,
he said it was worth the pain.
Proctor's 7 year old son Sam suffers from a mitochondrial disease
which effects his muscular coordination. Sam needs a walker to get
around, so the event had special significance for Proctor. It raised
over $75,000 for the fight against mitochondrial diseases.
We're about one-third of the way into the Major League Baseball
season, and I've got to rant. Indulge me if you will. (Note: If
you're not an MLB fan, you may skip to the next article.)
Baseball, and by this I mean the Major Leagues, is destroying itself
incrementally, and it makes me angry - really angry! Baseball is the
most perfect game ever invented, but the bone-head executives who run
the game have implemented more stupid changes in the last few years
than were made in the first hundred. And every one of the changes has
weakened the game. It all started way back in 1973 when the American
League allowed the designated hitter. Thankfully, the National League
chose not to do so. I won't even start on how that rule changed the
game for the worse, but since it didn't affect the National League
which is the league that really matters, I put up with it. Then in
1977, interleague play began, but since each team only played a
handful of games a year, I tolerated it. But in 2002, they expanded
interleague play to its current system where each team plays about 40
interleague games. That means that in 20 games a year, the NL has to
have a designated hitter. Now the talk is that the designated hitter
needs to be in both leagues, because it's not fair to the poor AL
when they have to play in a NL park without their designated hitter.
It's coming. You can't stop stupidity.
Then baseball implemented reviews to make sure they got all the calls
correct. This is so unnecessary. Let the umpires make the calls on
the field. They're going to make mistakes, but over the course of 162
games, the calls will even out, and reviews take anywhere from 30
seconds to five minutes. Plus I miss the arguments between umpires
and players and coaches. Next is automated balls and strikes, no
doubt. Technology is ruining the game I love.
Last year, they said catchers can no longer block the plate, thus
eliminating collisions at home, and this year, a player can't
deliberately slide into a fielder who is attempting to complete a
double play. And next year, they are shrinking the strike zone and
eliminating the need to throw four balls on an intentional walk. Each
rule change diminishes the great game of baseball. And each rule
change makes me a little more crazy. And my wife is getting more and
more fed up with me. Can you imagine? So that's my rant. Thanks for
listening - or not.
Recently, a friend of mine told me that a slice of bread has fewer
calories after it has been toasted. Or maybe they said toast has more
calories. I don't remember. Either way, it just didn't seem right to
me. Why would toasting a slice of bread alter its calorie content?
Fortunately in the world of the internet, it's easy to verify such
things, and a simple search turned up several websites that answer
the question of toast versus regular bread. Alas, bread and toast
have the same calories. Toast has less water, so it is slightly
lighter, but the calorie content is the same in both. Another myth
Walking, even at a slow pace, improves cardiovascular fitness. But
the more you walk and the higher the intensity of your walk, the more
your fitness will improve. The simplest way to increase intensity is
to walk faster. Another way is to add elevation. If you like to walk
outdoors, add some hills. If you prefer a treadmill, simply increase
the elevation by one or two degrees.
conversation is absolutely true. It took place last week:
Client: I got a massage yesterday.
Client: No, she was Chinese.
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
Certified Nutrition Specialist