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The “first Thanksgiving” was in 1621 between the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony and the Wampanoag tribe in present day Massachusetts to celebrate the harvest and other blessings of the previous year. In 1789, President George Washington, at the request of Congress, proclaimed Thursday, November 26, as a day of national thanksgiving. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the national holiday of Thanksgiving to be the last Thursday of November.

Americans and Canadians continue to celebrate this holiday as a time for family and friends to gather, feast, and reflect upon their many blessings. Like most, I am very grateful for the simple things; family, good friends, food, shelter, and health. This year, I am also thankful for the dedicated scientists who developed the COVID 19 vaccination so we can safely enjoy Thanksgiving with our families. It turns out that being grateful is, not only reflective and cleansing; it is also good for your health!

Grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, even when it is not reciprocated. A study by the University of Kentucky found those ranking higher on gratitude scales were less likely to retaliate against others, even when others were less kind. Emmons and McCullough conducted one of the most detailed studies on thankfulness. They monitored the happiness of a group of people after they performed the following exercise:

There are many things in our lives, both large and small, that we might be grateful about. Think back over the past week and write down on the lines below up to five things in your life that you are grateful or thankful for.” The study showed that people who are encouraged to think of things they’re grateful for are approximately 10% happier than those who are not.

7 Proven Health Benefits of Being Grateful     

  1. Being Grateful is Contagious: Studies show that something as simple as saying “thank you” to a stranger holding a door open for you or sending a co-worker a thank you note for helping you with a project makes them more likely to continue the relationship. Showing gratitude can improve your life by fostering solid friendships.
  2. Being Grateful Improves Physical Health: Research has found that those who are grateful experience fewer aches and pains and tend to report that they feel healthier than most people. Moreover, grateful people are more likely to be health conscious and live healthier lifestyles.
  3. Being Grateful Improves Psychological Health: Multiple studies have demonstrated that gratitude reduces many negative emotions. Grateful people have less anger, envy, resentment, frustration or regret. Gratitude increases happiness and reduces depression.
  4. Being Grateful Fosters Empathy and Reduces Aggression: Participants in a study by the University of Kentucky found that those who scored higher on gratitude scales were less likely to retaliate against others and were more sensitive and empathetic when compared to low gratitude scorers.
  5. Being Grateful Promotes Better Sleep: A study published in Applied Psychology, found that 15 minutes of writing down a gratitude list before bed led to better and longer sleep.
  6. Being Grateful Improves Self-Esteem: When studying athletes, it was determined that those who scored high on gratitude scales demonstrated improved self-esteem which led to optimal performance. Conversely, those athletes who were not grateful and resented contemporaries making more money, for example, had lower self-esteem and negative performance outcomes.
  7. Being Grateful Improves Mental Strength: Research has repeatedly shown that gratitude not only reduces stress, but also improves one’s ability to overcome trauma. For example, Vietnam veterans who scored higher on gratitude scales experienced lower incidences of post-traumatic stress disorder. Recognizing all you have to be thankful for, even during the worst times of your life, fosters resilience.

Conclusion: Amy Morin, psychotherapist, mental health trainer and bestselling author offers this advice: “Developing an “attitude of gratitude” is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life. We all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate gratitude. Simply take a few moments to focus on all that you have, rather than complain about all the things you think you deserve.” So…be grateful and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Source: NIH, Forbes, Amy Morin “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.”

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

For all of Dr. Mackarey's

Part II of II

November is National Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) month. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This problem refers to a group of lung diseases that causes damage to the airways and air sacs in the lungs.  People with COPD suffer from diminished airflow and difficulty breathing. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are two of the most common types of COPD. The damage can't be reversed, so treatment includes medications and lifestyle changes designed to control symptoms and minimize further damage, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Exercise is an important part of life for those with COPD because it improves the overall strength and endurance of respiratory muscles. When you exercise, muscles adapt and use oxygen more efficiently so your lungs don't have to work so hard. Also, in addition to improvement in breathing, exercise boosts mental health, helps maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure, and improves circulation. Most importantly, exercise will improve your quality of life with COPD. Before you begin an exercise program, see your family physician or pulmonologist for approval. Then, see a physical therapist to design a program specific to you needs. Always begin slowly and rest if you get short of breath, have chest pain, feel dizzy or sick to your stomach.

TOP EXERCISES FOR THOSE WITH LUNG DISEASE

1. Endurance Exercises

While not all of these endurance exercises may be appropriate for you, one or two of these may offer a good starting point.

Walk Around the House – Start walking around the house for 1-2 minutes nonstop. Every 1-2 hours. Then, add 1-2 minutes every week.

Static Marching – hold onto the countertop or back of chair and march in place for 30 seconds. Rest 1-2 minutes and repeat. Do 5 cycles. Add 5-10 seconds every week.

Climb the Steps – If you can do so safely, use the steps for exercise 1-2 times per day. Then, add 1-2 times per day.

Walk the Mall/Treadmill – If you are able to get out of the house and can tolerate more extensive endurance exercises, get out and walk the malls or use a treadmill.

Recumbent Bike – If balance is a problem, but you can tolerate more extensive. Endurance exercise, use a recumbent bike (a bike with a backrest)

Walking is free exercise and can be done in some form by almost everyone…even with an assistive device such as a cane or walker. For those with COPD who are active and fit – walk 4-5 days per week for 30 to 45 minutes. Less fit individuals can walk for 15 to 20 minutes. For those with COPD who are in poor condition and have significant SOB – walk for 2-3 minutes (to the bathroom or around the house) every 30 to 45 minutes. Try not to sit for 60 minutes without getting up and walking around.

2. Posture Exercises

Posture exercises are designed to keep your body more upright and prevent rounded shoulders and forward head/neck. More erect posture promotes better breathing. Perform 5 repetitions each 3 -5 times per day

Row-The-Boat - Pinch shoulder blades together as if you are rowing a boat.

I-Don’t-Know – Shrug shoulders up toward the ears as you do when you say “I don’t know.”

Chin Tucks – Bring your head back over your shoulders and tuck your chin in

3. Arm Exercises

Bicep Curls – sit in chair and bend your elbows up and down with a can of peas in your hands

Wrist Curls – as above but bend your wrists up and down

Chair Push-ups – Push up with your arms to get out of a chair

Saw Wood – pull a light resistance band (yellow) back from a door knob as if you were sawing wood.

4. Leg Exercises

Hip Hikes – Sit in chair and march by hiking your hip and lifting up your heel 4-6 inches off the floor

Leg Kicks – Sit in chair and kick your knee out straight – then bend it down to the floor

Hips Out and In – Sit in chair and bring your knees in and out against a resistance band

Toe Raise/Heel Raise – Sit in chair and raise your toes up – then raise your heels up

5. Breathing Exercises

Diaphragmatic Breathing - The diaphragm muscle is essential for breathing. While sitting or lying down, put one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. Slowly inhale through your nose and try to separate the hand your stomach from the hand on your chest. Then, slowly exhale through pursed lips.

Pursed Lipped Breathing - breathe in through your nose slowly for 3- 5 seconds. Then, purse your lips as though you're going to whistle. Lastly, exhale slowing through the pursed lips over 5 to 10 seconds.

More Info

“Better Breathers Club,” in conjunction with the American Lung Association, offers a free local support group to help patients and their families suffering from COPD and chronic lung disease. For more information contact the American Lung Association at www.lung.org

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”  

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice in downtown Scranton, PA and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

According to the World Health Organization about half of the world’s adult population has had a headache at least once in the past year. Prolonged use of electronic devices has greatly contributed to this problem. For many people, these headaches are infrequent and do not often affect daily life.  But what about when your headache occurs frequently or is so severe it prevents you from going about your day to day activities? Some types of headaches are more easily treated and managed than others.

There are two types of headaches: primary and secondary. Primary headaches occur without an underlying disease and include migraines and tension-type headaches.  Secondary headaches can be associated with serious disease, requiring emergency care, or can be referred from other structures of the body such as the cervical spine (neck). 

Headaches symptoms that may constitute a medical emergency are: vomiting, seizures, fever, muscle pain, night sweat, weight loss, and neurologic symptoms such as blurred vision.  If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, if your headache worsens, or your symptoms change it is recommended that you seek medical attention. Any headache that is unusual for you and does not resolve itself in a reasonable time should be brought to your primary care physician’s attention.

Primary Headaches:

Migraines: Migraines are a primary form of headache that typically lasts from four to seventy two hours, can range from moderate to severe pain, and typically are located on only one side of the head.  Often they can be accompanied by an aura, nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to sound, or light sensitivity.  Migraines can be aggravated by routine physical activity such as going up stairs. This type of headache is thought to occur in the central nervous system and is related to blood vessels.

Tension-type: Tension-type headaches are the most common primary headache disorder and can last anywhere from thirty minutes to seven days.  These can often have a pressing or tightening quality that occurs on both sides of the head.  Here there is no nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, or aggravation with physical activity. This type of headache is thought to occur in the central nervous system but can have a hereditary component and is usually associated with muscle tender points. Tension – type headaches can be treated with relaxation techniques such as Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR), medications, and physical therapy.

Secondary Headaches:

The most common secondary headache that is not related to a serious medical condition is a cervicogenic headache (originating from the neck).

Cervicogenic Headache: The length of time a cervicogenic headache can last varies.  Here the pain is on one side and usually starts in the neck.  This type of headache is aggravated or preceded by head postures or movements of the neck.  Due to the nerves of the neck and face sharing common connections, pain signals sent from one region can lead to discomfort in the other.  Physical therapy can be an effective treatment to help relieve symptoms. For example: posture, exercise, ergonomics, massage, manual techniques, traction, trigger point, and acupressure.

A cervicogenic headache can be caused by an accident or trauma or can stem from neck movement or sustained postures.  Sustained postures could mean sitting in front of a computer at work or looking down at your phone.  Changing these postures throughout the day could help reduce symptoms.  Changing postures could mean bringing your phone closer to you using pillows or another supportive surface when reading or checking social media.  If you are someone who works at a desk, it could involve taking breaks or getting a standing desk.  However your life requires you to move, there are some simple and effective exercises you can perform throughout the day to help cervicogenic headache symptoms.

5 TIPS FOR TENSION HEADACHES

Progressive Muscle Relaxation: PMR is an effective method for reducing tension throughout the body.  With this method you first tense a muscle group, such as at the neck or shoulder, and then relax the muscles noting the difference between the two.  This helps reduce both stress and tension. For more information or to learn how to do PMR, refer to podcast at: https://www.psychologies.co.uk/try-progressive-muscle-relaxation

Manage your stress level: While stressors vary from person to person, one method for managing stress is with exercise.  Any form of exercise can help reduce stress, but a cost free method is aerobic exercise such as walking or running.  A less time consuming method could be to perform deep breathing exercises throughout the day.

Heat or cold: When feeling sore or stiff, applying a hot or cold pack or taking a hot shower can help ease a tension headache. 

Posture: Some tips for posture are to make sure your head is over your shoulders rather than sitting forward and making sure you are sitting or standing up straight with your shoulders back. 

Over the counter medications: Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for additional information.

5 TIPS FOR CERVICAL HEADACHES

Posture: See tips listed under tension headaches.

Ergonomics: If your job or hobbies require you to sit for extended periods it may be beneficial to change positions throughout the day or consider getting a standing desk. Also, limit time on electronic devices. When sitting make sure the monitor is at eye level, your legs are able to fit under your desk, and you are close to the keyboard and monitor.  If you are working with a laptop or phone, avoid putting it on your lap. Instead, bring your laptop closer to you by putting pillows on your lap.

Exercise: Some exercises to help relieve symptoms are chin tucks, shoulder blade pinches, and back extension.  These exercises can be performed multiple times throughout the day in sitting or standing.

Physical Therapy: Physical therapy may include massage, manual techniques, stretching, traction/ decompression and exercise.  A physical therapist can assess your posture and provide strategies specific to you.

Over the counter medications: While medication may not cure cervicogenic headaches, they may help relieve pain. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for additional information.

Contibutor: Alexa Rzucidlo, PT, DPT

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (formerly The Commonwealth Medical College).

As more of us become more comfortable living with COVID 19, travel plans have exploded. For 2 ½ years many have put air travel for family vacations on hold and we are eager to get back to air travel. As you may have gathered from my previous columns, travel is one of my passions. My family and I have been fortunate to have visited many spiritual places of natural wonder and beauty that we call our National Parks. Many of the parks are on the west coast and require some preparation to endure the many hours of travel by airplane through different time zones. Moreover, travel to other countries and continents, often requiring 8, 10, 16 or more non-stop hours on a plane can really take a toll on your mind and body and gave new meaning to the term “jet lag.”  

WHAT IS JET LAG?

According to the Mayo Clinic, jet lag, also known as jet lag disorder, is a sleep disorder that can occur in people who travel through different time zones in a short period of time, such as a flight from New York City to Los Angeles. Obviously, the further the distance traveled and the more time zones entered, the more significant and drastic the symptoms, as found, for example, in those traveling from the United States to Asia.

Sunlight has a direct impact on our internal clock by regulating melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and wake cycles in the body. Travel through different time zones can affect the amount and duration of sunlight and therefore, impact the regulation of these cycles. The inability to regulate the cycles results in many symptoms.

SYMPTOMS OF JET LAG

PREVENTION OF JET LAG

EXERCISES FOR JET LAG

Posture Exercises

Posture exercises are designed to keep your body more upright and prevent rounded shoulders and forward head/neck.

Arm Exercises

Leg Exercises

Breathing Exercises

Read Dr. Mackarey’s Health & Exercise Forum – every Monday

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor  in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

Covid-19 has certainly redefined the workplace as many employees continue to work from home. Prolonged hours sitting at a workstation that may not be optimal has also changed the way we define workplace health and safety. It may be more important than ever to pay close attention to designing an ergonomic workstation, changing position, and stretching regularly to prevent injury.

Since 1894 Labor Day has been designated as the national holiday that pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. Research supports the notion that healthier employees are happier and more productive. When employers encourage healthy behavior and safety at work, they benefit in many ways. For example, in addition to improving job satisfaction and productivity, healthy employees save money by using less sick time, worker’s compensation benefits and health benefits. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 75 percent of employers” health care costs are related to chronic medical problems such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Deconditioned, overweight employees are more likely to suffer from these preventable conditions and are at greater risk for injury. Employers, please consider using this holiday as an opportunity to start a health promotion program at your workplace…have a health fair, offer healthy snacks, encourage walking, smoking cessation, exercising at lunch, and offer fitness club stipends.   

Lower back pain, one of the costliest illnesses to employers, is one example of a problem which can be prevented with a good health and safety program. It is widely accepted in the medical community that the best treatment for lower back pain (LBP) is prevention. Keeping fit, (flexible and strong), practicing good posture, and using proper body mechanics are essential in the prevention of LBP. At our clinic, significant time and effort is spent emphasizing the importance of these concepts to our patients, employees, and the businesses we work with through industrial medicine programs. A comprehensive approach can produce significant reductions in LBP injuries through an onsite safety program which promotes education, wellness, body mechanics, lifting techniques, postural and stretching exercises and ergonomics. 

Prevention of Lower Back Pain

When bending to lift an object think about safety:

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.     

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles visit: mackareyphysicaltherapy.com

PREVENTION OF RUNNING INJURIES

It is two months away from the 25th Steamtown Marathon. This column is dedicated to those dedicated runners preparing for the big day, Sunday, October 9, 2022.

Congratulations and thank you to Bill King, founder and race director, and his band of brothers, for their tireless efforts organizing and sustaining a great race that instills pride for all people of NEPA. It has inspired many people, including me, to transfer the discipline and determination required to complete a marathon by overcoming challenges one mile at a time.

Now, a little marathon history: In 490 B.C. Phedippides, ran 25 miles from Marathon to Athens to deliver an important military message and died immediately. Ironically, the first marathon of the modern Olympic Games in 1896 in Athens was won by Spiridon Louis, a humble Greek peasant, who stopped along the way for a glass of wine and told the owner of the tavern that he would win the race. He was determined to pace himself properly, as he knew the dusty, hilly path better than anyone in the field. He was greeted with jubilation and become a hero and legend.

HOW TO PREVENT RUNNING INJURIES

Avoid the “terrible too’s”

Only run miles needed to meet your goals

Avoid inconsistent training

Avoid repeating hard workouts without any easy workouts in between

Consider cross training to avoid overtraining without compromising fitness level

Treat your feet right

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body. 

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”  

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles visit: www.mackareyphysicaltherapy.com/forum

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

Part 2 of 2

I have a vested interest in this column…I just had a big birthday! It is a BIG birthday because it is the one before I get health care insurance from Uncle Sam! Consequently, the “aging process” is very much on my mind!

In the book, “Being Mortal,” Atul Gawande discusses the role of medical care placing emphasis on “well-being” rather than survival, especially as it relates to end-of-life care. It is a “must read” for health care providers as well as the general public. The book also describes, in great detail, the process of aging; the physiology of bone and muscle mass loss, factors affecting balance and coordination, changes in mental acuity, memory, and mood. As depressing as it sounds (many of the changes begin as early as mid to late thirties), it is also a “call to arms!”

To prepare for the inevitable aging process one must be proactive, not reactive. From an early age, challenge yourself mentally by taking classes and learning things for which you may not have an interest. Try new physical activities and sports even if you feel unable to excel. Find balance in your diet by trying to eat fruits and vegetables that you don’t find appealing. Engage in daily exercise and physical activities even if you would rather be indoors playing video games. Lastly, get professional advice on matters beyond your scope. See your physician regularly for routine care and diagnostic tests, find a mental health professional if you are not at peace, consult with a physical therapist to help you design an exercise routine appropriate for your individual needs.

While it is never too late, remember, slowing down the aging process should not begin at 60, it begins at 30!

Memory Loss

Minor word or memory loss is a normal part of aging as the brain changes and affects how you remember things. Don’t hesitate to use technology or other tricks to assist you. For example, consider using alerts, reminders and lists on your smart phone. Also, you may want to organize certain items in a set location, use post it notes or a white board. However, these reminders are not a substitute for keeping your mind sharp. Studies show that being social, exercising regularly, eating well and learning a new skill can go a long way to maintain a healthy brain.

Weight Gain

According to several studies on aging, unfortunately, most people gain 1-2 pounds per year (10 to 20 pounds over 10 years). The aging body does not burn calories like you used to. But there are some simple steps you can implement to offset this pattern of weight gain. Obviously, eat less (less calories) and exercise more (stimulate your metabolism). Consider fruits, vegetables, and leaner protein instead of foods high in sugar/carbs and saturated fats and don’t forget portion control. Be active and take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Sexual Performance Challenges

Aging can also affect sexual performance. According to the Mayo Clinic, lower testosterone levels in men can lead to erectile dysfunction and hormonal changes in women can cause vaginal dryness. Stiff and painful joints add to the challenge. However, with a little effort, most healthy people can continue to be sexually active well into their 70’s and 80’s. Communication with your partner is important. Try new positions. Discuss hormone supplements and ED medications with your doctor. Try over-the-counter lubricants. Remember, exercise improves blood flow and stimulates sex hormones!

Urinary Frequency

Like the other muscles in your body, pelvic and bladder muscles also weaken with age. This problem can be worsened for men by an enlarged prostate and for women following multiple births. However, the muscles can be strengthened by performing specific exercises that target the area called Kegel exercises. These exercises involve squeezing the muscles that control urine flow. For example, while urinating try to stop midstream and hold your urine flow for a few seconds. Repeat 10 times and do this 3-5 times a day.  Other recommendations include eating foods high in fiber, avoiding carbonated drinks and limiting caffeine.

Boredom

People often fall into a rigid routine with age. While this predictable pattern often provides comfort, it can also lead to boredom. Try changing your routine or schedule. Learn a new skill (baking, painting, golf) or visit a new place (museums, libraries, community centers). Getting a part-time job or volunteering can be rewarding and stimulating.

Loneliness and Isolation

There are a number of reasons for one to feel lonely with age…children relocate, loss of a spouse, divorce. Experts say that it is important to take control by initiating contact with others. Call upon neighbors, friends, relatives, and former coworkers to chat or get together. Volunteer for a charity; join a book club or fitness group. Take classes at a local college and consider getting a pet.

Take Care of Your Health

Most health problems associated with aging can be treated. Regular checkups and routine diagnostic tests (blood work, colonoscopy, cardiac tests) will assure that health issues do not get out of control. Be sure to organize your medications and take them as directed. Keep a health journal or use and app on your phone to list meds, allergies and record tests and doctor visits.

SOURCES: National Institutes of Health; Mayo Clinic, WebMD

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”   This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician.

For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles visit: www.mackareyphysicaltherapy.com/forum

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

Part 1 of 2

I have a vested interest in this column…I just had a big birthday! It is a BIG birthday because it is the one before I get health care insurance from Uncle Sam! Consequently, the “aging process” is very much on my mind!

In the book, “Being Mortal,” Atul Gawande discusses the role of medical care placing emphasis on “well-being” rather than survival, especially as it relates to end-of-life care. It is a “must read” for health care providers as well as the general public. The book also describes, in great detail, the process of aging; the physiology of bone and muscle mass loss, factors affecting balance and coordination, changes in mental acuity, memory, and mood. As depressing as it sounds (many of the changes begin as early as mid to late thirties), it is also a “call to arms!”

To prepare for the inevitable aging process one must be proactive, not reactive. From an early age, challenge yourself mentally by taking classes and learning things for which you may not have an interest. Try new physical activities and sports even if you feel unable to excel. Find balance in your diet by trying to eat fruits and vegetables that you don’t find appealing. Engage in daily exercise and physical activities even if you would rather be indoors playing video games. Lastly, get professional advice on matters beyond your scope. See your physician regularly for routine care and diagnostic tests, find a mental health professional if you are not at peace, consult with a physical therapist to help you design an exercise routine appropriate for your individual needs.

While it is never too late, remember, slowing down the aging process should not begin at 60, it begins at 30!

Joint Aches and Pains

While aching joints are expected with age, inactivity is not the cure. Controlled movement, exercise and sport modification, supportive devices, and non-prescription supplements and medicines can go a long way.

Controlled movement may include lifting lighter weights or doing squats at ½ or ¾ through your available range of motion. Sport modification includes playing pickle ball instead of tennis or brisk walking or biking instead of running. Supportive devices can be wrist or knee supports or enlarging your racket or golf club grips to lessen the impact on your hands. Over-the-counter treatments include; hot and cold packs, paraffin wax, topical ointments or medications, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). When all else fails, see a physical therapist for professional advice and treatment and discuss other more aggressive options with your family physician.

Wrinkles

Unfortunately, your skin also suffers from the aging process by getting thinner, drier, and less elastic. Avoid the things that can make them worse such as; smoking and ultraviolet rays from the sun or a tanning bed. Protect your skin from the sun, and if you smoke, quit. Consider skin products like moisturizers or prescription retinoids that might make wrinkles less noticeable over time. However, if it is really an issue for you, see a dermatologist.

Dry Skin

Aging also makes your skin more vulnerable to drying but there are some things you can do. Use sun screen and wear sun resistant clothing and quitting smoking will go a long way. Drink alcohol in moderation because it can dehydrate you. Also, keep showers or baths to less than 10 minutes and use warm water instead of hot followed by applying oil-based moisturizer.

Loss of Muscle Mass and Bone Density

Loss of strength and endurance is common in seniors. The loss of bone density in women (and men) is also expected. The aging process is only partially responsible. Lack of exercise and activity can also contribute to the problem. Make time to exercise daily (or every other day). Weight training for your arms and legs can be easily performed using light to medium dumbbells or resistance bands. Aerobic exercise can include biking, walking, or swimming, gardening, or swimming for at least 30 minutes a day (or 15-minutes twice a day).

Loss of Balance

The loss of balance and coordination with age is a serious matter because it can lead to falls that impact long term health and independence. Studies show that those who continue to challenge themselves by riding a bike, dancing, or engage in traditional exercise are much less likely to suffer from early balance problems and are less likely to fall…so get to it! If you can’t do these activities safely, try holding onto your countertop and walk forwards, backwards and sideways, preferably when someone is home with you. See your doctor to be sure that you don’t have a medical condition or taking a medication that contributes to this problem.

Sleep Problems

Sleep problems are part of aging in many ways; difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, lack of deep sleep, waking up and not being able to return to sleep, etc. Sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on physical and mental performance. There are some things you can do to improve your sleep such as avoiding coffee and alcohol. Also, try to avoid napping during the day. Talk to your doctor to keep problems that can impact sleeping like high blood pressure or GERD, under control and ask about melatonin supplements.

SOURCES: National Institutes of Health; Mayo Clinic, WebMD

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”   Next Week: Part 2 of 2 on Slowing the Aging Process. This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician.

For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles visit: http://www.mackareyphysicaltherapy.com/forum

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

Have Fun and Get in Shape!

Happy Independence Day! This summer try to think of your pleasure puddle in different light…a health spa! It may very well be the exercise of choice for many people. Many have discovered the benefits of moving their limbs in the warm water of a home pool following knee or shoulder surgery. Also, long distance runners who often look for cross training methods without joint compression and arthritis sufferers who are often limited in exercise choices by joint pain from compressive forces when bearing weight, can enjoy the buoyancy effects of  water. These are good examples of the benefits or water exercise…aerobic and resistive exercise without joint compression.  

Exercise and Arthritis

Most doctors recommend some form of exercise with arthritis. Pain and fatigue are the most limiting factors for the person with arthritis. Pool exercise may be the answer. With proper technique, adequate rest periods, appropriate resistance and repetitions, water exercise can be very effective.

Benefits of Water Exercise:

Getting Started

  1. Start Slowly – Don’t Overdo it
    • 5-10 minutes and repetitions first time and add 2-3 minutes/repetitions each week
    • Long Term Goal: 20 – 40 minutes per session / 3-4 times per week
  2. Submerge The Body Part
    • That you want to exercise into the water and move it slowly
  3. Complete The Range of Motion
    • Initially 5 times, then 10-15-20-30 times
  4. Assess
    • Determine if you have pain 3-4 hours after you exercise or into the next day. If so, you overdid it and make adjustments next time by decreasing repetitions, speed, amount and intensity of exercise.
  5. Warm-Up
    • Make sure you warm up slowly before the exercise with slow and easy movements
  6. Advance Slowly
    • By adding webbed gloves, weighted boots, and buoyant barbells to increase the resistance.
  7. Exercises – standing in shallow end of pool
    • Heel Raises – push toes down and heel up
    • Toe Raises – lift toes up and heel down
    • Leg Kicks – extend leg up and down
    • Hip Hike – raise knee up 4-6 inches and down
    • Leg Squeeze – squeeze knees together and apart
    • Leg Curl – bend knee
    • Torso Twist – slowly turn arms/torso to right, then to left
    • Shoulder Forward and Backward – like paddling a boat
    • Shoulder Out and In – like a bird flying
    • Bend Elbow Up and Down

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.     

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”  

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles visit: www.mackareyphysicaltherapy.com/forum

Despite a recent surge in Covid cases from the new variant, more than 70 percent of Americans anticipate high levels of enthusiasm for travel this summer. Moreover, travel abroad in 2022 is expected to exceed pre-pandemic levels, as isolation weary Americans take to the air!

Confession; I recently was on a long trip that required sitting on an airplane for more than six hours…and I wore compression stockings … guess I’m getting older (and wiser)!

Have you noticed that being in a car or on an airplane for more than three hours leads to neck and back pain? Soreness, stiffness and swelling in your legs? With a little planning preventing or limiting these problems on long trips, is possible. Also, as people age and/or develop other health problems, they are more vulnerable to develop a more serious problem associated with long trips; deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots. But problems from long-distance travel can be avoided. The following tips, based research and personal experience, can prevent neck, back and leg pain and stiffness and DVT.

Deep Vein Thrombosis  (DVT)

A DVT is a blood clot that forms in a deep vein. The deep veins pass through the muscles and cannot be seen like the veins just under your skin. While it may occur in your arms, it is much more common in the legs, especially the calf muscle when traveling. When a blood clot forms in a leg vein it usually sticks to the vein wall. Often, pain and swelling lead you to the doctor and treatment is rendered before serious complications develop. However, there are two possible complications. One, a pulmonary embolus, occurs when a part of the clot logged in your deep vein of the calf breaks off and gets lodged in the lung. This is a very serious problem that can be fatal. Two, post-thrombotic syndrome, occurs when you have pain and swelling in the calf after a DVT.

Risk Factors for Travel Related DVT?

The following risk factors for DVT significantly increase the potential for problems when traveling on long trips by air more than 5 hours. Trains, cars and buses also create a risk, but air travel creates a greater risk for the following reasons: reduced cabin pressure, reduced cabin oxygen levels, dehydration and alcoholic drinks, which may increase dehydration and immobility.

health

Risk Factors For Travel Related Neck and Back Pain

Prevention of Travel Related DVT and Leg Pain/Stiffness

Prevention of Travel Related Neck and Back Pain

Airplane seats are “C” shaped and force you to round your neck and back forwards. These exercises are designed to stretch and extend your back in the opposite direction. Please perform slowly, hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat 10 times each hour.

Sitting

When sitting in an airplane seat, take the neck pillow in the overhead compartment and place it in the small of your lower back. While sitting or standing up, perform postural exercises every 30-45 minutes.

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”  

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.