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February is National Cancer Prevention Month and March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Unfortunately, according to a study conducted by Northeast Regional Cancer Institute (NRCI), our area has a higher rate of cancer compared to the rest of the United States. Residents of NEPA must be vigilant! While there is no fool-proof method for cancer prevention, scientific research does support the fact that healthy lifestyle choices are essential.

Important Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer:

  1. AVOID SMOKE AND SMOKING! - Perhaps the most important thing one can do to prevent cancer is to avoid smoking…first hand or second hand. It has been directly linked to cancer of the lung, head and neck, bladder and pancreas and others. Smoking increases the risk of lung cancer by 20 to 30 times.
  2. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise - 30 -45 Minutes of moderate exercise or physical activity 4-5 days per week is recommended to reduce the risk of cancer. Walk, ride a bike, swim, or join a gym, just do something! However, individuals exercising for longer durations at higher intensities were shown to experience the greatest reduction in their risk cancer.
    • Why Exercise Works - Various biological mechanisms including hormonal changes have been suggested as possible reasons for the reduction in cancer through exercise. However, current research has demonstrated a strong link between cancer and stress. Stress, which reduces our body’s natural defense mechanisms, such as adrenal cortical or stress hormones, increases our susceptibility to disease including cancer. Exercise and physical activity has been shown to not only reduce stress, anxiety, and depression but also to elevate mood. These psychological improvements may be the reason why exercise and physical activity are effective in preventing cancer.
      • Obesity as a risk factor for cancer has been demonstrated in the scientific literature for years. Individuals that are more physically active are usually not overweight. Exercise increases basal metabolic rate, expends calories, and burns fat to help control your weight and to help maintain a more normal lean body mass. Physical activity and exercise prevent obesity.
    • Colorectal Cancer - Physical activity and exercise has been shown to have the greatest prevention against colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among American men and women combined. Physical activity reduced the risk of colorectal cancer up to 70% for both men and women.
    • Breast Cancer - Research has been able to establish a similar relationship between physical activity and breast cancer. Approximately one out of every eight women in the United States can develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. Exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer up to 40%.
    • Prostate Cancer - Prostate cancer, the second most common cause of male death, will affect one in every five American males. However, the risk of prostate cancer can be reduced up to 30% through physical activity and exercise. Researchers hypothesize that exercise may have its greatest protective effect against prostate cancer when initiated early in a man’s life.
    • Cancer of the Lung/Uterus/Cervix - Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Cancers of the uterus and cervix will accounts for 7,400 deaths annually in the United States. Exercise and physical activity can reduce the risk of lung and uterine/cervical cancer up to 40% and 90%, respectively.
  3. Avoid Obesity and Stress - Both obesity and stress, as mentioned above, have been linked with cancer of various types. A healthy low-fat diet, limited in red meat, with moderate amounts of fish, rich in fruits, vegetables and nuts along with and regular exercise are essential components for prevention , especially for colorectal and prostate cancer.
  4. Use a Water Filter - The use of a good home water filter has many healthy benefits. It may reduce your exposure to carcinogens and other harmful chemicals. Also, using a steel or glass container to store drinking water is important to avoid chemicals such as BPA found in plastic bottles.
  5. Drink Plenty of Water - The American Cancer Society recommends drinking more than 8 cups of water per day to prevent bladder cancer by diluting the concentration of urine in the bladder. 
  6. Limit Consumption of Meat - Processed, charred, blackened, and well-done meats are associated with heterocyclic amines, which are cancer causing and formed when charcoal broiling meat. Marinating meat for an extended time prior to grilling has been recommended to improve safety according to some studies.
  7. Eat Green Vegetables - Some studies suggest that the really dark greens such as spinach, kale, collards and broccoli are valuable in cancer preventions. Endive, arugula, and romaine must be added to this list.
  8. Eat Nuts - Some studies show that snacking on Brazil nuts and other nuts high in antioxidants, lowers the risk of some cancers such as bladder, lung and colorectal.
  9. Limit Sun Exposure - Take time to use adequate sun block and proper clothing to protect your skin from the sun to prevent skin cancer, especially if you are light skinned. At all costs, avoid sunburn!
  10. Eat Organic and Natural Foods - When possible, buy fresh foods and meats free of antibiotic and hormones. Choose organic produce grown free of pesticides. Eat farm-raised fish and limit consumption of fish from waters high in mercury concentration
  11.  Visit Your Physician Regularly - Regular check-ups by your physician is essential to stay healthy and have early detection of disease. Many tests and vaccinations offer life saving information such as: PAP tests, mammograms, colonoscopies, PSA blood tests and others. Ask your physician about new vaccinations such as HPV, Human Papillomavirus. These are important for the prevention of cervical cancer in women and head and neck cancer in men.

Source: American Cancer Society

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!

Last week we discussed the healthiest New Year’s Resolutions, however, given the fact that 80% of those who made resolutions will have failed by January 19th, this week I will recommend the use of technology to improve the odds…there is an App for that!

While some apps can be a waste of time, when you find the right app for you most polls show that it can be extremely helpful. They can be used for learning, socializing, calculating, writing, graphing, news, weather, music, school, money AND HELPING YOU KEEP YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS!

According to “Per Statista,” the most common resolutions are as follows: save money (59%), exercise more (50%), more time with family and friends (40%), lose weight (35%), spend less money (26%), less time on social media (19%), and less job stress.

Apps for Saving Money

Goodbudget, YNAB (You Need A Budget), PocketGuard, and Quapital are some of the better budget Apps. Some of these Apps are free, while others require a nominal fee. In addition to tracking spending and saving, most allow you to set you own parameters and goals. Some helpful features are: moving money from checking into savings every time you buy a coffee.

Apps for Tracking Exercise

In addition to wrist trackers like Fitbit and Smart Watches, there are exercise equipment options with programs and tracking like Peleton, Norditrack and exercise mirrors like Tonal. However,  there are also specific Apps that help you set goals and see your progress. Some of these include: Fitness22, FitNotes, MyFitbnessPal and Strong. Some of these allow you to input your exercises and create graphs showing progress in body weight, fat percentage and more.  These Apps are especially useful for those who dislike going to the gym.

Apps for Prioritizing Time with Family and Friends

While distance-base technology such as Skype, WhatsApp, and Zoom worked well to keep connected during the pandemic and after, there are other Apps that offer more personal ways. Cozi is one of the best as it offers a simple organizer that displays the schedule of the entire family to assist you in planning a get together. Cozi is a great option as a simple organizer that offers a clear visual representation of the entire family’s schedule. It not only shows when people are free but also tracks the amount of time you spend (or don’t spend) with these special people.   

Apps for Losing Weight

There are so many weight loss apps available that it is easy to get confused or overwhelmed. Some of the most popular with the best reviews are: Noom, Reverse Health, Perfect Body, WeightWatchers and MyFitnessPal. MyFitnessPal has the added benefit of tracking exercise and activity with a calorie expenditure report. Simply set a goal, enter food intake and exercise/activity output and the app calculates the rest. A bar-code scanner makes it even easier!

App for Bill-Tracking

Keeping a better eye on finances and expenses is a common resolution, especially as the holiday bills come in. Stax Bill, NetSuite, Paystand and Rocket Money are highly rated. These apps help you budget, save, provide an income analysis and credit scores, and disclose recurring fees.

App for Reducing Stress at Work and Home

Reducing stress is another common resolution and learning stress management techniques and incorporating them into our daily lives is vital. Some of the highly rated apps are: Personal Zen, Sanvello, The Mindfulness App, Headspace and Moodfit. These apps not only give you the tools for managing stress but also provide insights into your mood patterns and stressors. In addition to a “blue mood” you can also track gratitude and other feelings. Also, nutrition, sleep, and medications, which can affect your mood, can also be tracked. Once a pattern is established, tools can be applied to reduce and manage stress.

App for Reducing Time on Social Media

While at first glance it may seem odd that one might use an app to stop using another app but…don’t rule it out! OneSec is an app that creates a 10 second delay after you open an app to allow you time to pause and take a deep breath before you indulge. It will also tell you how many times you have opened the app in the last 24 hours…you might be shocked!

SOURCE: LIFEHACKER

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: mmptc@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 Scranton and Clarks Summit and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!

Holiday Spirit Requires a Healthy Mind, Body, Spirit!

Happy Holidays! It is at this time of year that we celebrate life with great hope and faith. People of many faiths take time to reflect, respect, and resolve. Christians celebrate Christmas, the miraculous birth of Christ, the Son of God, and the Messiah. Jews celebrate Chanukah, the miraculous festival of lights, when one night’s oil provided enough light and safety for 8 nights. Both major faiths promote healthy lifestyles for the mind, body and spirit. These faiths are grounded in hope, faith, love and peace. It is no surprise that studies repeatedly demonstrate that faithful and spiritual people live longer and healthier lives! At this turbulent time in the world, it is important to note that people of all faiths benefited equally!

With this in mind, I purport, that to be truly healthy, one must have faith because complete health is multidimensional. Socrates preached this message to his students thousands of years before Christ. One must have a healthy mind, which requires intellectual stimulation with attainable goals related to education and intellect. One must have a healthy body by eating well, engaging in physical activity and have attainable goals related to his/her body. Likewise, one must have a healthy spirit with faith, hope, prayer and meditation, comrades and counsel, and set attainable spiritual goals.

5 Health Benefits of Religion and Spirituality….(health.com)

How being religious or spiritual has been shown to benefit your mind, body and spirit.

1. Healthy Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) can lead to heart disease and stroke, which are the leading causes of death in the United States, according to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC). It affects 1 in every 3 adults and only half of these people have their blood pressure under control. Well, religion and spiritually may help …

The health benefits of religion or spirituality are well documented.  One study conducted at Duke University Medical Center on 4,000 subjects, older adults who described themselves as religiously active were 40% less likely to have high blood pressure when compared to those less active. Moreover, they were surprised to find that those who described themselves as spiritual rather than religious also were less likely to develop high blood pressure.

2. Greater Sense of Satisfaction

Research also indicates that religious people are more satisfied with their lives than those without faith. A sociology study determined that high satisfaction among church goers may be due to the strong social bonds that are developed within a religious congregation. Regular church attendees see the same people weekly and often more often, when participating in rewarding and gratifying church-related volunteer work.

3. Greater Tolerance for Adversity

In an impressive study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers interviewed 345 late-stage cancer patients to assess their spirituality as it related to their illness. 88% stated that they were religious as it related to their coping mechanisms. It was determined that those using religion for coping demonstrated a 7.4% rate of resuscitation as compared to 1.8% for those not using religion as a coping mechanism.   

4. Stronger Immune System

According to a Duke University study of 1,718 older adult participants, those described as “highly spiritual” were 50% less likely to have high levels of anti-inflammatory proteins that weaken the immune system and have been linked to some cancers, viral infections and autoimmune diseases. The outcome was similar for those who attend religious services at least once a week.  

5. Greater Longevity

Those who attend religious services more than once per week are found to live and additional 7 years when compared to those who never attend services. Again, researchers feel that the social benefits of a belonging to a strong religious community may be a large part of the associated longevity. Additionally, the lifestyle of religious people is often healthier: members of these communities rarely engage in risky and unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, excessive drinking, indiscriminate, unprotected sex, etc. 

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

The “First Thanksgiving” was in 1621 between the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony and the Wampanoag tribe in present day Massachusetts to celebrate be grateful for 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.”

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.     

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

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. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!

Fall in NEPA is one of my favorite times of year. For outdoor enthusiasts, there is nothing more refreshing than activities in the bright sunshine and crisp, clean air. The hot humid summer weather can be a deterrent to outdoor activities and this time of year provides an opportunity to get fit by beginning a walking program. For many who have not maintained an active lifestyle or have health issues, it is challenging to know where to begin. Moreover, beginning without a good plan can lead to injury and leave you discouraged. For example, those overweight and de-conditioned should not start a walking program too aggressively. Walking at a fast pace and long distance without gradually weaning into it will most likely lead to problems.

WALKING FOR HEALTH

There is probably nothing more natural to human beings than walking. Ever since Australopithecus, an early hominin (human ancestor) who evolved in Southern and Eastern Africa between 4 and 2 million years ago, that our ancestors took their first steps as committed bipeds. With free hands, humans advanced in hunting, gathering, making tools etc. while modern man uses walking as, not only a form of locomotion, but also as a form of exercise and fitness. It is natural, easy and free...no equipment or fitness club membership required!

BENEFITS OF WALKING

“There’s no question that increasing exercise, even moderately, reduces the risks of many diseases, including coronary heart disease, breast and colon cancer, and Type 2 diabetes,” said Dr. Jennifer Joyce, MD, professor of family medicine at GCSOM. “Research has even shown that you could gain two hours of life for each hour that you exercise regularly.” According to the American Heart Association, walking as little as 30 minutes a day can provide the following benefits:

PLAN AHEAD

SET REALISTIC GOALS

Anything is better than nothing! However, for most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity. The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week. Also aim to do strength training exercises of all major muscle groups at least two times a week.

As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. If you can't set aside that much time, try several short sessions of activity throughout the day (3 ten or 2 fifteen minute sessions). Even small amounts of physical activity are helpful, and accumulated activity throughout the day adds up to provide health benefit.

Remember it's OK to start slowly — especially if you haven't been exercising regularly. You might start with five minutes a day the first week, and then increase your time by five minutes each week until you reach at least 30 minutes.

For even more health benefits, aim for at least 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Once you are ready for a challenge, add hills, increase speed and distance.

TRACK YOUR PROGRESS

Keeping a record of how many steps you take, the distance you walk and how long it takes can help you see where you started from and serve as a source of inspiration. Record these numbers in a walking journal or log them in a spreadsheet or a physical activity app. Another option is to use an electronic device such as a smart watch, pedometer or fitness tracker to calculate steps and distance.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Make walking part of your daily routine. Pick a time that works best for you. Some prefer early morning, others lunchtime or after work. Enter it in your smart phone with a reminder and get to it!

FIND A WALKING PARTNER

 Studies show that compliance with an exercise program is significantly improved when an exercise buddy is part of the equation. It is hard to let someone down or break plans when you commit to someone. Keep in mind that your exercise buddy can also include your dog!

USE EFFICIENT WALKING TECHNIQUE

Like everything, there is a right way of doing something, even walking. For efficiency and safety, walking with proper stride is important. A fitness stride requires good posture and purposeful movements. Ideally, here's how you'll look when you're walking:

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.     

Sources : Sapiens.org; WebMD; Mayo Clinic 

NEXT MONDAY BLOG and in print in THE SUNDAY TIMES TRIBUNE – 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. For all of Dr. Paul Mackarey's articles, check out our exercise forum!

STAY ACTIVE & HAVE FUN IN THE SUN!

Can you believe that the 4th of July holiday was more than one month ago? Do not despair! There is still plenty of time to be outdoors in NEPA and experience so many activities such as: biking, hiking, running, walking, swimming, boating, golfing, and playing tennis to name a few. Late summer and early fall tend to be beautiful and is also a wonderful opportunity to discover your inner child, mix it up and try something new! Below are some new and exciting ways to stay active and have fun in the sun:

Sunset or Moonlight Kayaking

Spending time on any of the beautiful lakes in NEPA is time well spent. From an exercise standpoint, rowing, canoeing and kayaking offer a very special experience. Most kayaks are light weight, easy to use and maneuverable on a lake. Sitting low on the water offers a unique perspective as you feel yourself gliding across the lake. The Countryside Conservancy, in partnership with Lackawanna State Park, sponsors moonlight kayak events on the lake at the park. With a bright full moon, you can begin at 8 pm and return at 10 pm. Bring bug spray and headlights to enjoy the sunset and moon rise on the lake. You will feel like a kid breaking the rules of the park by being on the water after dark!

NOTE: Try kayaking in the daytime first and then advance to sunset trips before staying on the water for the moonlight. Rentals are available at the park.

Gear:

Website: www.countrysideconservancy.org; www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks.org  

Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is becoming a fast-growing sport among water enthusiasts. It is a fun way to exercise your core, improve balance, and tone your upper body. It requires minimal equipment; a board that is essentially a long and wide surfboard and a long paddle to use while standing on the board. It can be done in the ocean surf, bay, lakes, or rivers; however, beginners would be wise to stay in calm water. Rentals are available at most beaches.

Check out the video for more information: REI paddleboard basics

Elliptical Peddle Boarding

What is it? Imagine a standup paddle board with a handlebar and pedals like a exercise stepper machine. Instead of using a paddle, you step up and down on the pedals and fins under the board propel you through the water.  Check it out…Hobie Mirage Eclipse Stand Up Peddle Board; Dick’s Sporting Goods

Aqua Zumba

Zumba is a very popular form of dance aerobics spiced up with Latin music. When adding water and sun to this already cool activity, you are assured to have fun while exercising. As with any aquatic exercise, the added resistance from the water gives arm rows and leg kicks more challenge. Female participants report an additional benefit; they are uninhibited to “shake that thing” to the music under the cover of the water. So, beat the heat, let loose and get some fun in the sun while you exercise.

NOTE: Consider trying regular Zumba first to get the hang of it. Amy Sekol is a local certified Zumba instructor and also offers Aqua Zumba. (amys.zumba.com)

Website: www.zumba.com

Elliptical Biking

I love this idea…why didn’t I think of it first! In the gym I enjoy the elliptical machine because it simulates running without the impact on my joints but of course, I would rather be outdoors. Well, this is the answer to my prayers…an elliptical machine that is attached to a bike with handle bars and brakes included. I think it will probably be difficult on steep hills but it is something I MUST TRY!

Website: www.elliptigo.com;  www.mywingflyer.com

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, check out our exercise forum!

 

Part II of II

According to the National Institutes of Health, an estimated 19.1% of U.S. adults 18 and older had an anxiety disorder in the past year. Anxiety disorders were higher for females (23.4%) than for males (14.3%). An estimated 31.1% of U.S. adults experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives.

There are a wide variety of anxiety disorders and will vary by the objects or situations that induce them. However, the features of excessive anxiety and related behavioral disturbances are similar. Anxiety disorders can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships. Symptoms include: distress, nausea, shortness of breath, bowel pattern changes, excessive perspiration, frequent laughing or crying, restlessness, and is often associated with depression. While there are many types and degrees of anxiety and there is no substitute for medical and psychological care, there are some simple and basic tools to help manage the problem…daily exercise is one easy, affordable and accessible suggestion for most. Multiple studies have discussed the incidence of unhealthy self management of anxiety, including the use of alcohol and recreational drugs.

Last week, I presented coping tips for the management of anxiety. In this column, I will discuss one of the most understated benefits of exercise – mental health! Specifically, aerobic exercise (exercise that increases your heart rate for 30 minutes or more) such as walking, biking, running, swimming, hiking, elliptical & stepper machines to name a few, is the secret to “runner’s high.” This exercise euphoria is not limited to runners alone, but all who engage in aerobic exercise are more likely to experience high energy, positive attitude and mental wellness.

Physical activity, specifically aerobic exercise, is a scientifically proven useful tool for preventing and easing anxiety and depression symptoms. Studies in the British Journal of Medicine and the Journal of Exercise and Sports Science found that anxiety and depression scores were significantly reduced in groups that engaged in aerobic running, jogging or walking programs, 30-45 minutes 3-5 days per week for 10-12 weeks, when compared to a control group and a psychotherapy counseling group.

HOW EXERCISE REDUCES ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION:

According to research reported in sports medicine journals, exercise reduces anxiety and depression in two ways, psychologically (mentally) and physiological (physically). 

Psychological or Mental Benefits of Exercise on Anxiety and Depression:

Physiological or Physical Benefits of Exercise on Anxiety and Depression:

HOW TO BEGIN EXERCISE FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION:

Work hard to recognize and overcome these symptoms to begin an exercise program. An aerobic exercise routine should eventually lessen these symptoms.

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.     

SOURCES: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC); National Institutes of Health (NIH); The American Journal of Sports Medicine

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. Paul's articles, check out our exercise forum!

Part I of II

According to the National Institutes of Health, an estimated 19.1% of U.S. adults 18 and older had an anxiety disorder in the past year. Anxiety disorders were higher for females (23.4%) than for males (14.3%). An estimated 31.1% of U.S. adults experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives.

There are a wide variety of anxiety disorders and will vary by the objects or situations that induce them. However, the features of excessive anxiety and related behavioral disturbances are similar. Anxiety disorders can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships. Symptoms include: distress, nausea, shortness of breath, bowel pattern changes, excessive perspiration, frequent laughing or crying, restlessness, and is often associated with depression. While there are many types and degrees of anxiety and there is no substitute for medical and psychological care, there are some simple and basic tools to help manage the problem…daily exercise is one easy, affordable and accessible suggestion for most. 

Multiple studies have discussed the incidence of unhealthy self management of anxiety, including the use of alcohol and recreational drugs. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) recommends the following healthy tips for coping with anxiety:

Healthy Coping Tips

1. Get Enough Sleep 
Adequate sleep is critical for mental health. Unfortunately, anxiety can lead to sleeping problems and, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) inadequate sleep can worsen anxiety.

Seven to nine hours of sleep each night is recommended for most adults. The National Sleep Foundation recommends maintaining a regular schedule that includes going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning.

2. Practice Mindfulness Meditation 
Incorporating meditation into your life can help you cope with anxiety, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Research shows mindfulness meditation programs are effective in reducing anxiety and depression. UPMC offers a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Course and a Beginners Guide to Meditation that have been proven to be very effective. Another option for reduction of anxiety and stress is Progressive Muscle Relaxation. This mind-body technique can be found in 5, 10, 15 or 20 minute videos.

3. Spend Time in Nature 
How you deal with anxiety should include a walk in the forest or even a tree-lined park. In NEPA we are very fortunate to have access to beautiful walking and biking trails and state parks. Make time to enjoy them.

Research shows that “forest bathing,” long, slow walks in nature for health purposes, can lower blood pressure and relieve anxiety. A review of clinical trials published in the International Journal of Biometeorology found that salivary cortisol levels, biomarkers for stress, were significantly lower in groups who participated in forest bathing versus the control group.

4. Take up Yoga or Tai Chi 
Yoga does more than increase your flexibility. It incorporates exercise, deep breathing, and meditation. Yoga is an all-in-one anti-anxiety activity, as shown in a review of body-centered interventions published in Frontiers in Psychology. Tai chi, a mix of meditation and martial arts, works much the same way.

5. Dance Therapy 
That same research found that dance therapy, also known as movement therapy, reduces anxiety by engaging the body’s nervous system, which regulates how the body reacts to stress. In addition, dance/movement therapy increases production of serotonin, a chemical produced by the cells that’s responsible for mood.

6. Breathe Through It 
When you begin to feel anxiety or a panic attack with symptoms such as: sweating, trembling, dizziness, rapid heartbeat and nausea, start to come on, “take a deep breath.” Research shows that slow deep breaths can calm you down and lower your heart rate while quick, shallow breaths  can induce or worsen anxiety.

One breathing technique shown to reduce anxiety is diaphragmatic breathing. Using your diaphragm for deep breathing requires you to fill your lungs to capacity.

Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach rises. Then, tighten the stomach muscles and exhale slowly through pursed lips. Repeat several times.

7. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol 
Too much caffeine restricts blood vessels, which can increase blood pressure and contribute to anxiety. Coping with anxiety also doesn’t mean masking it with alcohol. Studies show that there is a complex relationship between alcohol and anxiety. While some may use alcohol and recreational drugs to mask the symptoms of anxiety (often leading to substance abuse disorder), some studies show that alcohol can interfere with the neurotransmitters that manage anxiety and prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Drinking to cope creates a sort of feedback loop, which makes the anxiety worse and can lead to alcohol dependence.

8. Check Your Medicine 
Certain medicines, such as corticosteroids, asthma drugs, and others, can cause anxiety. Ask your doctor if any medicines you take may be a contributing factor.

9. Eat Healthy Foods 
Keeping the body nourished is essential for all functions of life. New research shows that a healthy diet may affect more than just weight and energy levels. One example is a Mediterranean Diet, with lots of vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, nuts, whole grains, extra virgin olive oil and a moderate amount of fish (especially those rich in omega-3 fatty acids), with limited use of red meat.

10. Keep a Journal 
Keeping a journal can be a great way to keep track of your progress with anxiety and how your body responds to such situations. Tracing the triggers of anxiety can help you develop the skills to properly respond when put in anxious conditions.

11. Exercise Regularly 
Exercise promotes the release of endorphins. These brain chemicals reduce the body’s reaction to pain and stress. They also produce a feeling of euphoria, or happiness, that’s comparable to morphine. Just five minutes of aerobic exercise can kick start these anti-anxiety effects, according to some studies.  Next week in “Health & Exercise Forum” specific details about exercise for anxiety will be presented.

Talk to a Mental Health Professional

Chronic anxiety also can point to an underlying mental health issue. When your anxiety causes extreme distress or interrupts your ability to function on a daily basis, or when panic attacks are frequent and debilitating, it’s important to talk to your physician and ask for a referral to a mental health professional. They can provide a treatment plan, which may include specialized anti-anxiety medicine, psychotherapy, or both.

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.     

SOURCES: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC); National Institutes of Health (NIH);

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” Next week: Coping with Anxiety Part II 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. Paul's articles, check out our exercise forum!

Last week in Health & Exercise Forum, we discussed dehydration as a potentially life-threatening problem, especially in those over 60. Summer heat and humidity are here and the risk of heat related illnesses are greater than normal. Age, diet, illness and medications are some of the many reasons why elders suffer from dehydration not only in the summer heat, but year round. Furthermore, age related changes in 50-60 year olds can also make one vulnerable to dehydration, especially if they are active and exercise in the heat.

It is widely accepted that the best treatment for dehydration is prevention.  One must take a proactive approach to ensure and/or encourage adequate fluid intake, especially with age and in high temperatures. Consider some of the following practical tips to promote optimal hydration.

Remember, knowledge and awareness of the symptoms of and the prevention of dehydration can reduce unnecessary hospitalizations and maximize health and well-being for the elderly and not-so-elderly individual. 

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.     

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

Contributor: Janet M. Caputo, DPT, OCS

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, check out our exercise forum!

Have Fun and Get in Shape!

Memorial Day is the unofficial kickoff to summer…outdoor furniture is out, the grill is fired up and the pool is open! 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

The following are some of the 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 our Health and Exercise Forum!