When you think about exercise, you most likely think about your muscles. Your muscles generate the force to push, pull, jump, lift, or propel yourself through space. Along with your muscles, exercise also strengthens your heart and lungs, which are needed to keep those muscles pumping.
But your muscles, heart, and lungs are only half the picture. They’re useless unless they’re enacting a coordinated action plan.
Along with other body functions, your brain activity slows down as you age. A seventy year old, even if she has a huge storehouse of knowledge, has zero chance of beating a 35 year old at Jeopardy, simply because she won’t be able to process the information in her brain and punch the buzzer quickly enough.
But is there a compensating factor for this slowing of processing speed in the brain? Do we gain wisdom as we age?’ Read the rest of this entry »
“Chronic pain is a significant public health problem, affecting millions of Americans and incurring substantial economic costs to society.”
That’s a quote from Karen B. DeSalvo, MD, HHS acting assistant secretary for health at a recent scientific conference on pain.
The solution to chronic pain can’t focus entirely on trying to fix the original source of pain – whether it be from an auto accident, sports injury, a medical procedure gone awry, or anything else.
Researchers have yet to develop a really good solution to the epidemic of bone loss that plagues older Americans.
Thinning bones are a major health issue. When bone loss is combined with a general decline of balance, muscle strength, and movement skill, seniors have an increased risk of falling and breaking something.
Adding extra calcium to your diet seems like good common sense, along with extra vitamin D and other trace minerals. But unfortunately there’s little research to show that these strategies help build a significant amount of bone.
Pharmaceutical options have their limits, too, and introduce possible side-effects.
That’s why I was surprised to encounter an article from 2011 that tested an entirely novel strategy to combat potential bone loss – eating 10 prunes each day.
The latest research from Sweden evaluated the use of different types of surgery for patients with spinal stenosis. Some of the patients also had degenerative spondylolisthesis.
One group of patients had decompression surgery to alleviate the pressure on the spinal cord from the stenosis. The second group also had decompression surgery, and in addition had the affected spinal segments fused.
You have pain in your elbow, knee or shoulder, but part of the problem is in your brain, too.
Chronic tendon issues include rotator cuff problems, patellar tendinitis, lateral epicondylitis (popularly known as tennis elbow), Achilles tendinitis, and more. If you’re physically active, sooner or later you’re likely to encounter one or more of these problems. And if you’re sedentary, you may be at even greater risk.
The step you need to take today to improve your health is practicing self-acceptance.
You’ve got to do it.
Self-acceptance doesn’t mean knocking yourself down a peg or two. That would backfire: most people manage to combine lack of self-acceptance with low self-esteem.
But for me self-acceptance does require understanding the almost impossibly high standards of behavior I’ve set for myself. Here’s how my psyche ties me up in knots:
This is the third part of an article on low back pain.
Need to catch up on your reading? Here’s a link to the first section of the article.
The lifecycle of low back pain
Many people have incidents of low back pain from time to time. Fortunately, most episodes of low back pain go away as long as you remain physically active.
But in many cases, back pain can become a long-term, recurring problem. That’s because when back pain attacks, some damage is done to the structures of the low back. Even though the pain can temporarily go away, those structures haven’t truly been healed. Your back doesn’t quite regain its previous ability to support your body weight day-in, day-out. It’s all too easy for the pain to come back.
Read the rest of this entry »