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There are Many Positives About Aging!

Ageism is prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age…

While I hesitate to discuss politics, as an aging physical therapist, I feel that it is incumbent upon me to speak out against ageism, especially with so much attention being paid to the age of the candidates in the upcoming US presidential election. Interestingly enough, age seems to be of more concern for President Biden (age 81), than his opponent, former President Trump (age 78), even though there is only 4 years between them. By the way, “Corporate Sages,” Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway is 93 years old and Rupert Murdock, CEO of News Corp is 86 years old and their stock holders seem very satisfied! Two local examples of aging with an “A Game” are my 92 year old mentor, Dr. Gino Mori, founder of Delta Medix, who took college classes for enrichment until the age of 90 and Fr. Bernard Mcllhenny, SJ, retired dean of admissions at the University of Scranton, who plays golf (competitively) at least once a week at the age of 98.

It is low hanging fruit to list all the problems associated with age; muscle and bone loss, balance deficits, delayed mental processing, and memory loss to name a few. However, the purpose of this column is to present the positive qualities of the “golden years!”

Wisdom, Wisdom, Wisdom

There are no shortcuts for the assimilation and accumulation of knowledge and wisdom that one acquires over a lifetime and it cannot be taught…only experienced! Not only do older adults know what they know, more importantly, they know what they DON’T know! Moreover, they know how to use this knowledge efficiently and effectively. This is referred to as “crystallized intelligence” and it keeps improving with age…even at 65-75 and more.

Steady Eddie

While the term “Grumpy Old Men/Women” makes for good TV, the reality is that most of us get more agreeable, likable and consistent with age. Older people are less volatile, control their emotions and tend to focus more on the important things in life.

Collegiality

With age, people tend to be less egocentric and more in tune with the feelings and emotions of others. Using this acquired insight, one can foster a more cooperative and productive solution to problems with friends, family and coworkers.

Improved Sex Life

Quality over quantity with age! Studies show that women over 40 and much older have improved sexual satisfaction when compared to their youth. Moreover, women over 80 were more satisfied with sex than those between 55 and 75! Go figure!

Enjoy the Sunrise

Whether you like it or not, there is a good chance that you will become a “morning person” with age. As sleeping patterns change, including sleep interruptions, we tend to go to bed earlier and rise and shine with the sun. The good news is that you can start your day early to “suck the marrow” out of the day.

Headaches Are Over

Most migraine sufferers report little to no headaches after age 70. And, for older adults who experience headaches, they tend to be less painful and debilitating.

Have a Purpose

Studies show that early retirement may not be good for your health. The Longevity Project that people who continue to be productive, have purpose, and enjoy their work, live the longest. So maybe, Biden and Trump want the POTUS job in order to stay healthy!

Fear Not

While older adults may fear falling and breaking a bone, they don’t have the same fears and concerns that distract many younger people. With age, self-esteem and confidence improves and with wealth, education, good health and a sense of purpose, these qualities increase exponentially. According to the American Psychological Association, while more young people report high stress levels, older Americans report less. And, even when encountering a stressful situation, older people have learned coping methods to manage it better than younger people. 

Productivity

We can waste our time debating the potential problems with an aging POTUS, however, we must decide between two candidates that will be octogenarians while in office. With that in mind, we must focus on the potential for solid, honest, dedicated, effective and productive leadership to guide us through the next four years. Research has shown that the workforce is aging worldwide and older workers are a critical component to overall productivity in an age of worker shortages. A thorough assessment of the literature related to the productivity of an aging workforce shows that older workers are at least as productive and in some cases (that does not require heavy labor), are more productive than their younger coworkers. In great part, this is attributed to the aforementioned positive aspects of aging such as “crystallized intelligence”. In view of this, ageism has no place in the workplace because older workers can and do keep up.

SOURCES: National Institutes of Health; Mayo Clinic, WebMD

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

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 in Scranton and Clarks Summit. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!

JUNE IS GREAT OUTDOORS MONTH! AS WE KICK OFF SUMMER AND CELEBRATE THE FOUR OF JULY, MAKE TIME TO GET THE HECK OUTSIDE! Research shows that spending time outdoors has many positive effects on your health. While there are many year-round activity options, in Northeastern Pennsylvania our short-lived summer is the inspiration to “suck the marrow out of a sunny day!”  Summer in NEPA is enjoyed in many ways such as walking, running, hiking, biking, horseback riding, boating, kayaking, and swimming. Studies show that even less vigorous activities such as fishing, picnicking camping, barbequing, or reading a good book on the porch are healthier than being indoors.

It is reported that Americans spend 90% of their lives indoors and that number increases with age. Worse yet, for some, venturing outdoors is considered risky behavior with fear of the sun, ticks, wind, mosquitoes, and other creatures of God. Well, the truth of the matter is the risk of being one with nature is far less than the ill effects of a life stuck indoors. Please consider the following benefits of spending time outdoors.

Benefits of being Outdoors:

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

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 in Scranton and Clarks Summit. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!

I have been advising my patients to exercise, keep active, and walk as long as they can in order to stay mobile and healthy. However, seniors often tell me activities that require prolonged walking is limited by ankle pain from arthritis. They often ask, “What is arthritis of the ankle?” How does it happen? What can I do about it?

Three Most Common Forms of Arthritis of the Ankle

Symptoms of Arthritis

Diagnosis

Your family physician will examine your ankle to determine if you have arthritis. In more advanced cases you may be referred to a specialist such as a podiatrist,  orthopaedic surgeon or rheumatologist for further examination and treatment. X-rays will show if the joint space between the bones in the ankle is getting narrow from wear and tear arthritis. If rheumatoid arthritis is suspected, blood tests and an MRI may be ordered. The diagnosis will determine if you problem if minor, moderate or severe.

Treatment

Conservative Treatment

In the early stages your treatment will be a conservative, nonsurgical approach, which may include; anti-inflammatory medication, orthopedic physical therapy, exercise, activity modifications, supplements, bracing, etc. You and your family physician, podiatrist, orthopedic surgeon or rheumatologist will decide which choices are best.

Conservative But More Aggressive Treatment

Surgical Treatment

When conservative measures no longer succeed in controlling pain and deformity, improving strength and function then more aggressive treatment may be necessary.

SOURCES: Rothman Institute, Philadelphia, PA and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.     

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

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 in Scranton and Clarks Summit. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!

Human beings were designed to move…walk, run, climb, lift, hunt, and gather. Contemporary man has suffered greatly from a technologically driven inactive and sedentary lifestyle. Inactivity is associated with many health problems; obesity, adult-onset diabetes, high blood pressure to name a few. The problems associated with lack of movement are many:

Constipation

The more you move your body, the more you colon moves!  A regular and consistent exercise and activity regime, results in a more consistent bowel schedule, especially with age. Healthy muscle tone in your abdominal muscles and diaphragm is also the key to moving waste through your digestive tract.

Stiff Joints

Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and many inflammatory or auto-immune diseases can cause achy and stiff joints. However, even healthy joints can also stiffen when you don’t use them enough. Put them to work so they don't get tight and cause pain.

Shortness of Breath

All muscles get weak from lack of use, including the muscles that help your lungs expand and contract as you breathe if you don’t work them out regularly. The less exercise or activity you do, the more you experience shortness of breath, even during easy daily tasks.

Depression or Moody

Physical problems are not the only complication of inactivity. A lack of movement can also increase feelings of anxiety and depression. Aerobic exercises like walking, biking, swimming, or running, have been proven to stimulate endorphins to boost and steady your mood, and even improve your self-esteem.

Lack of Energy

Many studies have found that regular movement improves energy. Exercise helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. When you sit or are inactive, tissues are not getting the same amount of fuel they need to keep you going.

Slow Metabolism

Movement stimulates your metabolism. Hyperactive people burn more calories…just by fidgeting! Even if you are not hyperactive, the more active you are, the more calories you burn each time you move.

Difficulty Sleeping

One of the first recommendations sleep doctors make to their patients suffering from insomnia is exercise. When you keep a regular exercise routine, you fall asleep faster, and you sleep deeper once you drift off.

Brain Fog

Regular exercise tells your body to make more chemicals called growth factors. They boost blood vessel production in your brain. The more blood that gets to your brain, the better you can think, remember, and make decisions.

High Blood Pressure

Spending most of your time sitting raises your risk of heart disease, in great part due to the fact that partly you’re more likely to have high blood pressure. This is a big risk factor for heart issues like coronary artery disease and heart attack.

High Blood Glucose

When physical activity is a regular part of your life, your body has an easier time keeping your blood glucose under control. Exercise can stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you out of the type 2 diabetes danger zone.

Lower Back Pain

When your core muscles are weak from lack of use, they can’t support your back the way they should. This makes it much easier to tweak your back muscles during everyday movements like standing or reaching. Pilates, yoga, and other exercises that use stretching are good for building a stronger back. Schedule an appointment with a good orthopedic and sports PT.

Hunger Pains … “Hangry”

Logically, one might think that you’d be hungry more often if you exercised more, but the opposite is usually true. Aerobic exercise like biking, swimming, walking, and running can actually decrease your appetite because it changes the levels of certain “hunger hormones” in your body.

Sick Often

Studies show the more moderate activity you get, the lower your chance of catching a cold or other germs. When you make exercise a habit, your immune system gets stronger.

Dull and Pasty Skin

If your skin looks duller than usual, a lack of movement may be to blame. Some studies show that moderate exercise boosts your circulation and your immune system, which helps your skin keep that youthful glow.

SOURCE: WebMD

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

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 in Scranton and Clarks Summit. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!

June is migraine and headache awareness month! 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.

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.  Typically, there is no nausea, vomiting, or aggravation with physical activity, however, light or sound sensitivity can occur. 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.

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 or using an ergonomic desktop. See photo below.

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.

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.

Dr. Chua is a neurologist and headache specialist at Geisinger Health System in Northeast Pennsylvania. In addition to caring for people with headache and facial pain disorders, Dr. Chua also serves as: Director of Headache Medicine at Geisinger, Clinical Director of Neurology at Geisinger Wyoming Valley, faculty at Thomas Jefferson University’s Advanced Headache Diagnosis and Management Post-Graduate Certificate Program, and Treasurer and Executive Board Member of the Association of Migraine Disorders. In her spare time, she enjoys going on adventures with her husband and toddler, learning new skills (she is now certified in battlefield acupuncture), and buying great books she will never have time to read!

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

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 in Scranton and Clarks Summit. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!

We’ve all heard it before – encouragement to exercise to trim our waistline or to speed up our metabolism.  However, there may be more benefit to lacing up those sneakers than you’d think.  Recent studies have established a link between exercise and cognition, making physical activity even more important.

The Benefits:

Exercise has been shown to improve sleep and mood, decrease stress, and even increase libido.  It also can bolster our self-esteem and ability to problem-solve and to remember details.  In fact, strength training has even been shown to reverse cognitive decline to a degree in aging adults with mild impairment. Though the medical community is still trying to elucidate exactly how exercise boosts our brains physiologically, increased circulation to the brain and modulation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis that regulates the body’s response to stress have been implicated as the bearers of benefit. While exercise can be advantageous for everyone, it perhaps is even more valuable to those struggling with mood disorders.  Exercise can help combat anxiety and depression and quell the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as it helps the brain to pump out neurotransmitters and pain-fighting endorphins. Exercise makes addiction management easier, as well, and has recently been shown to help alcoholics lessen consumption.

How Much is Enough?

So, how much exercise exactly is enough to illicit tangible cognitive benefit, you ask?  Any amount of weight lifting, running, walking, or yoga helps, but habitual activity helps the most.  Studies cite that a few consecutive weeks of participation in a fitness regimen yielded notable, positive results in subjects.  Try to make exercise part of your daily routine to encourage good fitness habits.  If you find the idea of adopting a strenuous new fitness program intimidating or off-putting, have no fear.  Moderate exercise is enough to do the trick.  The Mayo Clinic cites both brisk walking and mowing the lawn as examples of moderate activity, so an average fitness level is adequate for yielding positive mental results. 

How To Begin:

If you’re thinking about beginning an exercise program for the first time, start gradually.  Begin with walking for 10 to 15 minutes twice daily, and add 1 or 2 minutes to your session every time you walk until you can walk continuously for 45 to 60 minutes.  The same principle can be used when beginning other fitness routines involving biking, swimming, running, etc.  Begin a weight training program to strengthen bones and tendons using 3 to 5 pound dumbbells, and increase the weight you use by a pound once you can easily perform 30 consecutive repetitions.  Be careful to pay close attention to posture and form. Contact your physical therapist or a personal trainer for assistance with designing an appropriate exercise program.  Don’t hesitate to contact your physician, either, if you have questions about whether a particular exercise program is safe and suitable for your age group or current fitness level. Consider these tips to make the most of your workout:

Guest Contributor: Leanne Woiewodski, MD, graduate, GCSOM

Sources:

US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Helpguide.org, IDEA Health & Fitness Association, Mayo Clinic, Public Library of Science

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

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 in Scranton and Clarks Summit. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!

Spring is here! So, too, is allergy season and spring sports! It seems this every year at this time a young little league baseball player wheezes as they cross home plate and desperately tries to catch their breath. Players, coaches, umpires, parents watch in dismay, deciding whether they need to call an ambulance. Minutes later the player recovers from this scary situation…until the next time. Could this be an example of exercised-induced asthma (EIA)?

What is EIA?

Dr. Gregory Cali, a local pulmonologist, (lung doctor) was gracious enough to participate in an interview about this problem…exercise-induced asthma (EIA). The topic was chosen in response to an email question from a concerned mother of an athlete with asthma.  Dr. Cali informed me that the first thing to know about exercise induced asthma (EIA) is that EIA is not a distinct disease in itself-but is one manifestation or presentation of asthma. Putting it simply, EIA occurs in patients who have develop narrowing of the bronchial tubes ( bronchoconstriction) when they exercise.  Some experts would rather we use the phrase exercise induced bronchoconstriction which is what happens when someone has an asthma attack.  This bronchoconstriction occurs because of spasm of the tiny muscles of the airways, plugging of the airways with thick mucous, and swelling or edema of the cells lining the airways. 

In fact, it is inflammation of the airways, mostly due to allergies, that is at the root of most cases of asthma. This inflammation causes the bronchial tubes to become over-reactive-and predisposed to narrowing- when exposed to certain triggers.  Exercise is one of those triggers in susceptible people. The patient with EIA complains of chest tightness, wheezing, and shortness of breath when exercising.  Some patients only experience coughing with exercise.  Symptoms are usually worse in cold, dry air. This is believed to be due to the drying and cooling of the airways, which occurs with exercise, especially if the patient opens his or her mouth while exercising.  Nasal breathing is much better at warming and humidifying air and may help to reduce EIA.  

Diagnosing EIA

Dr. Cali feels that the most important point about EIA is to make sure a specific diagnosis is made.  It is difficult at times to differentiate asthma from the normal breathlessness, which occurs with exercise.  The feature of EIA that distinguishes it from normal breathing, or being "out of shape" is the fact that EIA is ALWAYS associated with a decrease in airflow.  This can be measured with either a peak flow meter or a spirometer.  It is also important that a specific diagnosis be made so that a person will not be labeled as asthmatic when they may be "normal" or have other conditions such as heart problems or anemia. 

Dr. Cali also recommends before a person is labeled asthmatic, they have spirometric testing.  An improvement in airflow after inhaling. A bronchodilator is an important indicator of asthma.  Sometimes a bronchial challenge test is needed to diagnose asthma.  In this test, the subject breathes in a known bronchoconstrictor in small quantities and the response is noted.  Patients with asthma almost always respond to the inhaled agent by a reduction in airflow. 

PREVENTION AND MANAGEMENT OF EIA

Inform Coaches – If coaches are made aware, than they can be prepared for the onset of EIA. Provide emergency contacts and medications with instructions, such as inhalers, should be available.

Warm and Moisten Air - Whatever the patient can do to warm and moisten the inhaled air can help prevent EIA.  Nose breathing during exercise or wearing a loose covering over the mouth in cold weather may help.  Sometimes, in severe cases, switching to an indoor sport like swimming may be necessary.

Start Out Slowly - It is important to start out slowly and warm up first before exercising at full tilt. Slowly jog around the track or field before practice or a game to prepare your lungs for full-speed.

Medications – are often necessary.  Quick- acting bronchodilators like Albuterol, used 15-20 minutes before planned exercise, is recommended.  This can be repeated once more during the exercise, but if tightness or wheezing occurs, the exercise should be stopped. Many patients with asthma require preventative treatment with anti-inflammatory medications.  Inhaled steroids and/or leukotriene inhibitors may have to be added if the asthma is not controlled with Albuterol alone.  In fact, some patients with asthma who are overly reliant on quick acting bronchodilator medications can get into serious trouble if they do not use inhaled steroids. Be sure to communicate your needs with your coaches.

Play Smart - In conclusion, people with asthma should not shy away from exercise.  With proper precautions, people with asthma should be able to participate in all kinds of sports activities: baseball, football, soccer, swimming, tennis and running (even a marathon)! The key point is that the asthma needs to be under control and monitored by the patient, parents, coaches and doctor as a team. 

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.     

Medical Contributor: Gregory Cali, DO, pulmonary specialist, Dunmore, PA

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

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 in Scranton and Clarks Summit. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!

Most would agree that this spring has a little cloudy, rainy and cool in NEPA. However, warm sunny days are soon to come. While protection from the sun is very important, too much time indoors playing computer games and watching television, can lead to potential problems from lack of exposure to the sun. One must use good judgment and have balance as the potential exists for Vitamin D deficiency due to lack of sun exposure. This problem may be true for individuals who use too much protection or spend most of their day indoors due to occupation or poor health. Therefore, it will be the purpose of this column to discuss the importance of Vitamin D for health and wellness.

Vitamin D, a fat soluble vitamin, is found in food and can be made by your body after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. The liver and kidney help convert it to its active form. Therefore, vitamin D assists calcium absorption, which is essential for normal development and in forming and maintaining strong bones and teeth. Without it, bones can become thin, brittle and soft. The classic Vitamin D deficiency diseases are rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Rickets results in skeletal deformities. Osteomalacia is the softening of bones. Therefore, it is essential for normal bone health and may diminish or prevent the onset of osteoporosis in the elderly.

The requirement for Vitamin D is dependent on age, sex, degree of sun exposure and the amount of pigmentation in the skin. Since it can be produced by the body and retained for long periods of time by the body’s tissues, the precise daily requirement has been difficult to determine. Instead, an Adequate Intake (AI) level has been established. AI is a level of intake sufficient to maintain healthy blood levels of an active form of Vitamin D.

AIs are similar for males and females but increase with age:

Sources of Vitamin D:

Vitamin D Deficiency:

Vitamin D deficiency can occur when dietary intake is inadequate, when there is limited sunlight exposure, when the kidney cannot convert Vitamin D to its active form or when Vitamin D is inadequately absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. Season, geographic location, time of day, cloud cover, air pollution, sunscreens, living indoors and living in cities where tall buildings block adequate sunlight from reaching the ground affect UV ray exposure. Therefore, individuals with limited sun exposure are at risk of this deficiency. Homebound individuals, people living in northern latitudes (e.g. New England, Alaska), individuals who cover their bodies for religious reasons and people whose occupations prevent exposure to sunlight may need to supplement in other forms.

Sunscreens with a sun protection factor of 8 or greater will block UV rays that produce Vitamin D. Older adults have a higher risk for this deficiency because the skin’s ability to convert Vitamin D to its active form decreases with age and the kidneys, which help convert Vitamin D to its active form, do not work as well when people age. Individuals with pancreatic enzyme deficiency, Chron’s disease, cystic fibrosis, sprue, liver disease, surgical removal of part or all of the stomach or small bowel disease may need extra intake because Vitamin D is a fat soluble and they have reduced ability to absorb dietary fat. Supplements are often recommended for exclusively breast-fed infants because human milk may not contain adequate Vitamin D. Consult with your pediatrician on this issue.

SOURCES: The National Institutes of Health; CDC

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

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 in Scranton and Clarks Summit. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!

It is four months since many people have made their health and fitness resolutions and hopefully some have stayed the course.  If you are looking for another reason to stick to your New Year’s Resolution to get fit and lose weight in 2024 try this…to improve or prevent hip and knee pain!

There are three major weight-bearing joints in the body, the hip, knee and ankle/foot. Consequently, wear and tear and arthritis are common among these joints. There are almost 800,000 knee replacements and 450,000 hip replacements annually in the United States alone. While there are many recommended methods to avoid or delay joint replacement, only a few are within our control. Genetics, trauma, degenerative diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are difficult to control. However, body weight, aggressive weight bearing sports and overdoing exercises as you age like excessive running, jumping, lifting and squatting can be modified or eliminated to limit the progression of joint damage.  According to WebMD, “your knees are powerhouses. They’re the biggest, strongest, joints in your body, and most people use them throughout the day to sit, stand, walk, jump, and bend. They bear 80% of your body weight when you stand still and 150% or more when you walk across the room. In a 160-pound person, that’s 240 pounds of force!”

Body Weight and Hip & Knee Pain

According to the National Institutes of Health, body weight or body mass index (BMI) has a direct impact on hip and knee degeneration, pain and dysfunction. In fact, one study found that people with or at risk of significant hip/knee osteoarthritis had a 2-3% reduction in risk of hip or knee replacement for every 1% reduction in weight, regardless of the baseline BMI.

It is commonly known that the primary cause of osteoarthritis is normal wear and tear, especially for those over 50. However, extra body weight can accelerate this process. As the joint degenerates, the cartilage at the end and in between your joints gets compressed and dehydrated which leads to deterioration. Eventually, the bones rub directly on each other as the cushion wears away, leading to pain, swelling, and stiffness, loss of motion, strength and function.   

While it may seem obvious that extra weight will put more strain and stress on the hip and knee joints; another mechanism involved in this degenerative process. Excess body fat can increase chemicals in your blood stream that can cause inflammation in your joints.

How to Maintain a Healthy Body Weight

If you need a goal and a motive, how about this: losing even 10 pounds will equate to 40 pounds less force compressing and stressing your hips and knees. Moreover, reducing body fat will limit the hormones that cause inflammation in your joints. Talk to your primary care physician or visit www.cdc .gov to find a BMI calculator. Just plug in your height and weight and it calculates it for you. For example, a 155-pound male at 5 feet 8 inches tall has a BMI of 23.6. (A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered a healthy weight for this person).

Diet

The Mediterranean Diet is a solid start to eating healthy. It is less of a diet and more of a lifestyle. The foundation of this diet is plant foods built around vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, beans and whole grains. Moderate amounts of fish, dairy, poultry and eggs with limited consumption of red meat are paramount. The Mediterranean lifestyle also includes shared meals with family and friends, small portions, regular exercise, and wine in moderation with food and friends.

Exercise

Exercise has many more benefits than just losing weight. Physical activity is one of the most important factors in improving a lifestyle in a positive way. A minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity, 5 days per week can greatly contribute to weight loss and longevity.  

Researchers have found that the benefits of regular physical activity are numerous. Some of the more important benefits are:

Some simple suggestions for beginning an exercise program are:

 Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.     

  Keep moving, eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, and live long and well

SOURCES: WebMD, National Institutes of Health; CDC, American Council on Exercise

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

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 in Scranton and Clarks Summit. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!

In addition to lowering blood pressure, this gentle form of exercise can help maintain strength, balance, flexibility and mental health and is an ideal activity for all ages!

This research was brought to my attention by my friend and mentor from Dalton, Peter Frieder, Chairman,Gentex Corporation and current Board Chair at WVIA. Peter is celebrating his birthday today with a number of years that clearly does not represent his physiological age, in great part due to his dedication to health and wellness. Happy Birthday and thank you!

According to a new study by the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences (CACMS), the ancient martial art practice of Tai Chi is effective in lowering blood pressure as much, if not more, than traditional aerobic exercise. For those with prehypertension or hypertension and are unable to tolerate the repetitive and prolonged weight bearing stresses of running, walking or cycling, these results have tremendous implications. The slow, gentle and controlled movements and positions of Tai Chi coupled with controlled breathing and meditation may be a valuable alternative, especially for those with aging muscles and joints. Improved strength, flexibility balance, posture and mental health are additional bonuses.

WHAT IS TAI CHI?

Tai Chi is multifaceted in that it combines martial arts, slow gentle and controlled movements, sustained postures, a focused and meditative mind, and controlled breathing. It is considered by many to be “meditation or medication in motion.”

Tai Chi involves slow-motion movements transitioning with control from one position to another. The positions have historically been named for the actions of animals, for example:

“White Crane Spreads its Wings”

Deep and purposeful breathing, mental focus, body awareness and meditation are integral components of the exercise. The beauty of Tai Chi is not only in the physical form, but also in its safety for all levels of fitness. It is helpful for individuals from high level athletes to those with physical disabilities. The movements are natural and gentle without forcing the muscles and joints to extreme or uncomfortable positions. It is often used as an adjunct therapy in the wellness as well as rehabilitation of a variety of athletic (ACL surgery, joint replacements) and neurological conditions (Parkinson’s, MS, head trauma), to name a few. Based on the aforementioned Chinese study, Tia Chi can be applied as a technique to control or lower blood pressure, especially for those who cannot utilize traditional aerobic exercise.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF TAI CHI

Tai Chi has been found to offer many physical and mental benefits. Some of these include:

Muscle Strength – upper and lower body, trunk and core strength

Flexibility – participants report improved range of motion and flexibility of the spine and extremities

Balance and Proprioception – some studies report a reduction of falls due to a variety of sustained positionsand improved awareness of one’s body in space

Aerobic Conditioning  -  recent studies have found that participants have lower heart rate and blood pressure

Mental Health – through improved balance, strength, and flexibility, studies show participants have gained confidence and control as well as lower blood pressure and stress reduction.

HOW TO BEGIN TAI CHI

All Tai Chi classes begin with four basic principles: warm-up, instruction, practice and breathing.

Warm-up- gentle easy motions to warm-up and loosen the joints and muscles to prevent injury.

Tai Chi Forms – “Short Forms” are beginner movements which are gentle, slow, and short in duration while “Long Forms” are more advanced.

Breath Work – gentle breathing combined with movement to relax the mind and focus energy

GETTING STARTED (HarvardHealth):

Don’t be intimidated by the language or history – Yang, Wu, Cheng are only brands of movements with a history of martial arts but this in no way impacts participation.

Get medical clearance – check with your physician to see if Tai Chi is safe for you. Some orthopedic or vestibular problems might require special attention.

Observe or take a beginner class – often available at local fitness clubs or senior centers. Research options in your area and find a friend to join you. Consider an introductory instructional video to get a feel for Tai Chi. (See local Tia Chi classes below)

Meet with an instructor – if it makes you more comfortable, make time to talk to an instructor before enrolling in a class.

Dress for success – wear loose-fitting clothes that allow for range of motion and comfortable shoes for balance and support.

Track your progress – use an app or keep a journal of your progress. Heart rate, blood pressure and endurance (the time you can hold a pose or tolerate a class) are easy to monitor.

Model: Lily Smith, University of Scranton Physical Therapy Student and PT aide at Mackarey Physical Therapy.

Sources: HarvardHealthPublishing; New Atlas; China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences (CACMS); National Institutes of Health

Local Tai Chi Classes: Steamtown Yoga, Scranton, PA; Mission Yoga, Scranton, PA;Dragon’s Heart Tai Chi & Kung Fu, Clarks Summit, PA; Rothrocks Kung Fu & Tai Chi, Duryea, PA

For more information: HarvardHealth; www.taichihealth.com; www.treeoflifetaichi.com

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

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 in Scranton and Clarks Summit. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!