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6 Weeks into the New Year…Are You Holding on to Your Resolutions!

I am sure that many of you feel as I do…it is hard to believe that I am living in the year two thousand and TWENTY-TWO! Moreover, I hope you share my sentiments that each year, despite the trials and challenges of the pandemic, each month, week, day, and minute is a gift, not to be taken for granted. And that is why we resolve at this time each year to make a concerted effort to improve ourselves; mentally, physically and spiritually, so that we may live a longer and healthier life, in order to spend more time with the friends and family we love.  

Not surprisingly, getting physically fit and losing weight are the top resolutions to begin each New Year. According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 10 million Americans choose to join one of the 45,000 health clubs and hope to get fit and healthy for life (in non pandemic years). Unfortunately, if starting an exercise program is the hard part, than sticking to it is the hardest part. And, with the Omicron surge limiting access to indoor gyms and fitness centers, compliance may be even more challenging this year.

Once the initial excitement and enthusiasm wears off, so too does the discipline and determination necessary to overcome the many distractions in our lives to make exercise a priority for life. Diane Klein, PhD polled long-term exercisers (those exercising at least 3 times per week for more than 13 years) what motivated them to “stick with the program.” The answers are in order of importance. Please note that “appearance” was NOT at the top of the list.

10 Motivators to Stick to an Exercise Program

Tips to Stick to an Exercise Program

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

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

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

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

AFTER VACCINATION…MAINTAIN A HEALTHY IMMUNE SYSTEM

Every January, people make numerous resolutions related to health and wellness such as eating less and exercising more. As we enter our second new year living (or dying) with the COVID virus, it may be that the best health and wellness resolution is to GET FULLY VACCINATED!

The Omicron variant

The Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 is spreading throughout the United States like a wildfire. Consequently, a critically important New Year’s resolution is take action and seek the best protection possible. First and foremost, getting fully vaccinated offers the best protection considering the fact that the efficacy of the vaccination to prevent serious illness, hospitalizations and death is well-documented. Once vaccinated, taking care of your health and wellness is also important. The human body is designed to defend against some (but not all) foreign bodies such as germs, bacteria, and viruses. A healthy immune system may foster a speedier recovery from illness. While you may not be able to improve an otherwise healthy immune system, you can take steps to maintain its health and integrity.

A Healthy Immune System

A healthy immune system protects us by creating a barrier that stops invaders or antigens, from entering the body. When an unwelcome invader slips through the barricade, the immune system responds by producing white blood cells and other chemicals and proteins that attack the foreign substances.

10 TIPS TO MAINTAIN A HEALTHY IMMUNE SYSTEM:

  1. GET FULLY VACCINATED!
  2. Don’t Smoke – it is obvious why this tip is critically important
  3. Eat a Mediterranean Diet – high in fruits and vegetables, fish/seafood, nuts, seeds, legumes, extra virgin olive oil and minimal amounts of red meat and Drink Plenty of Water … and drink alcohol in moderation
  4. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight – body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9 is healthy. To calculate your BMI: www.nhlbi.nih.gov
  5. Get Adequate Sleep – 8 hours is a good goal but if not possible, supplement with a daytime nap
  6. Practice Good Hygiene – Avoid infection by washing hands often and thoroughly. Flossing and brushing your teeth is also important.
  7. Prepare Foods Properly - clean meat/fish cutting surfaces and cook food thoroughly
  8. Limit stress and Be Positive - make time to reflect and meditate and, when possible, avoid people who “suck the oxygen out of the room!” YouTube “Progressive Muscle Relaxation” for easy to use relaxation techniques
  9. Be Active – physically and mentally – keep your body and mind moving and when possible spend time outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty of NEPA
  10. Exercise – BUT DO NOT OVER EXERCISE! While exercise is an essential part of a healthy immune system, over exercise can weaken your immune system. In fact, many marathoners report a mild fever and flu-like symptoms after running the 26.2 mile race. 

Maintain a Healthy Immune System

To maintain a healthy immune system, 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 longevity. Most experts agree that moderation is important. If you overindulge in exercise you will be at greater risk for musculoskeletal injuries and may weaken your immune system. This is especially true for those who are newcomers. The goal is to gradually work into a fitness program and maintain it for life. 

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

Sources: WebMD;

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!”

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 orthopedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

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

While Living With COVID-19

New Year’s Resolutions are very predictable. While most are health oriented, I purport that a healthy mind, body and spirit requires a healthy lifestyle. Interestingly, the ten most popular resolutions listed below, all have an impact on a healthy life. Moreover, after living with the COVID-19 virus in 2020, perspectives and priorities may have changed for all of us and forever. As such, before any other health tip can be followed, the number one, two and three health tips for 2021 are:

Wear a MASK, Wash your HANDS, Remain Socially DISTANT!

1. More Time With Family And Friends:

Polls repeatedly show that one of the most consistent resolutions for the New Year is to make more time to spend with family and friends. Moreover, research shows that the comfort and camaraderie of these people whom we love is important to our health and well-being. However, until we are all vaccinated we must do so with great care and precaution; Zoom, FaceTime, phone calls, drive-by visits, outdoor visits or activities, etc. Be Creative and be careful!

2. Begin or Improve a Fitness Program

The benefits of regular exercise is no longer anecdotal, it is factual. Daily exercise, even in small doses, has been associated with more health benefits than anything else known to man. Studies clearly demonstrate that it reduces cholesterol and coronary artery disease and the risk of some cancers. Also, it increases longevity, helps achieve and maintain weight loss, enhances mood, lowers blood pressure, and even improves arthritis. In short, exercise keeps you healthy and makes you look and feel better. If done properly, there is no down side. So, make this year the year to do it! While a gym may not be the best option for those at risk, buy indoor home equipment or dress appropriately and use Mother Nature for healthy and inspirational walks.

3. Adhere to a Weight Loss Plan

Recent studies report that more than 66 percent of adult Americans are considered overweight or obese. As a result, weight loss is one of the most popular New Year's resolutions. However, adhering to a weight loss program is not easy. It requires many things, including, setting reasonable goals and staying focused. Often, professional help is required. While this may be one of the most difficult goals to attain, the ultimate reward and value is well worth the effort.

4. Stop Smoking

Second only to losing weight, this resolution, while extremely difficult, is another life-saving goal that must be attempted. Studies report that smokers try and fail four times on average before they are successful. SO, KEEP TRYING! Get help. Talk to your physician about using over-the-counter or prescription nicotine replacement therapy and proven quit-smoking aids. Consider smoking cessation classes, support groups and hotlines in addition to the meds. This is one goal that is worth the effort.

5. Find Your Smile

Due in great part to our hectic and stressful work and family demands, long before COVID-19, the United States is home to millions of people requiring the use of mood elevators and antidepressants. As a result, it is important to learn what really makes you happy in order to FIND YOUR SMILE. It requires the balance of a healthy mind, body and spirit. It might be a walk in the snow, taking virtual dance, exercise or enrichment class. One hint, smiles are often found in something simple and inexpensive. And, be sure to associate with upbeat, fun-loving and genuine people when possible.

6. Moderate Drinking

This is one tip for a healthier New Year that I expect to receive plenty of flack about! This is especially true now because more alcohol is being consumed with the stress of COVID-19. But, I would be remiss if I did not mention this potentially harmful habit…excessive drinking. While many people use the New Year as an incentive to finally stop drinking, most are unable to adhere to such a rigid goal. Studies show that moderate drinking can offer many health benefits such as lowering cholesterol and coronary artery disease but that is defined as one or two 8 ounce drinks per day and red wine is preferred. However, many heavy drinkers would do well to taper off to a moderate level. For those with a problem and have decided to stop drinking altogether, there are plenty of help and support available such as Alcoholics Anonymous. There are also a number of treatment-based programs, as well as support groups for families of alcoholics.

7. Get Finances in Order

This is one tip that few consider being health related. However, serious stress from financial problems affects millions of Americans every day. This cumulative stress can be very harmful to your health and can be lessened by initiating a plan. Get professional help and learn how to downsize and reevaluate your real needs. Less toys (adult and child) with less stress for a longer life!  For those suffering from economic hardship due to COVID-19, contact social services and government agencies to determine if assistance is available to you and your family.

8. Try Something New

There may be no one thing more important to gaining a new perspective on life that to have learned something new. It could be as drastic as returning to school to prepare for a career change or as simple as learning to play bridge. Have you vowed to make this year the year to learn something new? Take a virtual course at local college or read a new book. Take a tour of some of the world’s greatest museums. Listen to a TED talk. It will enrich your life and make you a more interesting person. Most local colleges and universities offer virtual and adult education programs

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

Read all of Dr. Mackarey's articles at https://mackareyphysicaltherapy.com/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.