How to cope with stress over the holidays –the most stressful time of the year.

MORE WOMEN THAN MEN ARE STRESSED DURING THE HOLIDAYS

It doesn’t come as a surprise to me that more women are stressed over the holidays than men.

On top of the ‘usual’ workload of looking after the family and working, women generally shoulder more of the responsibility for organizing the holidays, gift shopping, planning meals, decorating, cooking, to year-end holiday parties and activities.   A recent survey by the American Psychological Association bears this out.   44% of women said that they were more stressed over the holidays than men at 31%.

So, what is supposed to be a joyous time with family and friends can wind up being exhausting and stressful.  Stress can also affect your health.

Here is what I recommend to help you get into the holiday spirit without triggering stress and anxiety.

  1. 1. Create a to do list and then simplify it. stress-do-everythingIf long line ups in the stores wears out your patience and creates anxiety–do more of your shopping on line.
  2. Share tasks. I recently was at a holiday gathering for nineteen, where one of the adult sons made the stuffing and cranberry sauce, while the other son bought the pies and ice cream. And everyone helped set the table and pitched in doing the dishes.  We tend to take on too much and often don’t ask for help. This year, make that one of your holiday resolutions.
  3. Be realistic.  It doesn’t have to be the perfect holiday.  Focus instead on the things that are important.  Cut back on things that are nice but not necessary.
  4. Learn to say ‘no’.  No wayIt’s ok to say no to certain events.  If it cuts into your time for the things that are a priority, says no and save your energy and time for the things that count and make your feel good. Women often have difficulty saying no, as we often simply want to please. Saying no can happen in 3 easy steps: open your mouth.  Politely decline, say no thanks, no, it just doesn’t work for me. Close your mouth. Don’t say you’ll try, or maybe as that does not reduce your stress.  Merely say no to whatever, which truthfully means you are saying yes, to something else, something more important for you right now.
  5. Relatives– If you have a hard time being around relatives, set time limits for those visits.
  6. Be mindful.  There is no doubt that practicing mindfulness is a big assist during stressful times.  Mindfulness means that you stay in the moment without judging yourself rather than your mind bouncing around in a thousand directions.  Mindfulness is also considered good for heart health.
  7. Take Time fowoman-stretching_galr Yourself. This is one of the most important things you can do both during the holidays and throughout the year. .  We tend to do more for everyone else, than we do for ourselves. That can stress our bodies as well as our minds.  Take time to go for a workout, a long walk, quiet time, even a nap far from the madding crowds.

 

If any of these tips work for you this holiday season, why not make them part of your New Year’s resolutions. Happy Holidays !!!

 

Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

 

 

 

 

Exercises that Help To Maintain or Build Strong Bones

Osteoporosis can strike at any age and affects both men and women.

Osteoporosis is often known as “the silent thief” because bone loss occurs without symptoms.  It is sometimes confused with osteoarthritis because the names are similar. Osteoporosis is a bone disorder, with a loss of the normal strength and quality of the bone, as well as a decrease in bone mass. Osteoarthritis is a disease of the joints and surrounding tissue, often described as wear and tear of a previously normal, smooth joint.  *

Bone is living tissue that is constantly being broken down and replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the removal of old bone.  The bones become weak and brittle making them more fragile and at risk of a fracture. (broken bones) Even a minor fall can have a significant impact –leading to a broken hip, spine, wrist or shoulder (the most common areas at risk)

Exercise is part of a healthy bone strategy

Weight bearing

Wwalking-man-and-womane all know and understand how important exercise is for heart health. But it can’t be emphasized enough how important regular weight-bearing exercise is for bone health, too.  Weight bearing exercise is when you use your body weight in activities such as walking, running and weight lifting. The result is that weight bearing exercises help to develop more bone mass.   Brisk walking, dancing, tennis, and yoga have all been shown to help your bones become denser.  It will also improve your balance and strength, which could help to prevent falls.   But what about biking?   It’s good for your heart and lungs but is not considered weight-bearing, when you are seated.

Look at it this way.

It is recommended that you walk between three to five miles a week to help build or maintain healthy bones.  If we assume it takes between fifteen or twenty minutes to walk a mile, then spending between seventy-five to one hundred minutes a week (out of ten thousand and eighty minutes in a week) is minuscule compared to the enormous benefits you will reap.

Resistance Training

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Resistance means you’re working against the weight of another object. Resistance exercise includes free weights or weight machines, water exercises that make your muscles work harder and resistance tubes— incorporated into your regular exercise regime two to three times a week will help build or maintain bone mass.

 

 

Stretching and Flexibility woman-stretching_gal

Having flexible joints is another important aspect of help to keep osteoporosis at bay. Regular stretching, yoga, and Pilates are some of the ways you can ensure your joints stay lubricated and flexible.

 

There are of course other aspects to maintaining good bone health such as eating a healthy diet and ensuring you get enough calcium and vitamin D, but that’s a subject for another blog.

The important thing to keep in mind is that staying active, exercising and stretching are very effective strategies to help prevent osteoporosis.  And even if you have osteoporosis you can still make improvements by exercising.

Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Considerable efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

 

* Source Osteoporosis Canada. Speaking of Bones. 2006.

 

 

Caution: Calcium Supplements Might Hurt Your Heart!

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I have long been an advocate of getting your vitamins and minerals from food rather than relying totally on vitamin and mineral supplements.  For instance, a 3-ounce serving of salmon is 208 milligrams of calcium, a glass of orange juice fortified with Calcium and Vitamin D is 320 milligrams—the daily requirement, for menopausal women, according to Osteoporosis Canada is 1,200 mgs per day.

While it’s desirable to eat a balanced diet, for many in this fast paced world, it is just not possible. And that’s where supplements come into play. Canadians are huge buyers of supplements paying an estimated $374 million a year.

 However, some supplements may actually be harmful, especially calcium.  A recent study, released by the Journal of the American Heart Association, backs up what many experts already claim about calcium supplements.  That too much calcium from supplements rather than from food can lead to plaque buildup in arteries which will affect your heart.

It’s not clear why.  According to a nutrition professor at the University of North Carolina, that worked on the study, “there is clearly something different in how the body uses and responds to supplements versus intake through diet that makes it riskier.”

The study team looked at 2,700 people taking part in a larger survey. They had filled out questionnaires in 2000 and got CT scans— in 2000 and again in 2010. These CT scans can assess and visualize whether calcium-heavy deposits are building up in the arteries.

Those who ate more than 1,400 milligrams of calcium a day were 27 percent less likely to this buildup than the others, the study found.

But when they looked at the source of calcium, they found those who took supplements were more likely to develop the blockages.

People who took calcium pills were about 22 percent more likely to develop dangerous buildups called plaque in their arteries than people who did not take them, according to the research.

But people who also ate a lot of calcium in food seemed to be protected, according to the team at Johns Hopkins University

The daily recommended intake of calcium is 1,000 -1500 milligrams a day.  What I do, is total up the amount of calcium I have in a day, whether it’s from a latte, yogurt or hard cheese and then top it up with a calcium supplement, only if needed, to reach my daily requirement. That way I am assured I am not overdoing it and creating a problem where none should exist.

Disclaimer
The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five simple ways to help you fall back into a healthy routine

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Dr. Stacy Irvine, Bsc. Kin, M.Sc., D.C., C.S.C.S is a Health and Exercise Specialist and Chiropractor in Toronto and owner of Totum Life Sciences a leader in fitness and rehabilitation in Toronto.   Totum will be opening a fitness centre at our Medisys Toronto Offices on the 15th floor of 333 Bay Street in October.

I asked Stacy to suggest ways now that summer is over, to help us get back into a healthy routine. Here are her top suggestions.

That’s it! Summer is officially over. As sad as this sounds, for most of us, there is a small part of our brain that will welcome the return to a more structured routine. We will all miss the wonderful freedoms of summer, but those late nights, delicious cocktails, dockside burgers, and adventure-filled travel can disrupt many of our healthy habits. During the summer months, our sleep patterns are often altered, we usually eat a bit more and drink a bit more, and we skip our usual workouts because we are travelling. All of these changes to our routine may even add to our emotional stress.

The time has come to get back on track and set ourselves up for the success that comes with starting out the fall on a great plan. Here are five simple steps to get you started on the right path.

  1. This fall, make your exercise time a priority by booking it into your schedule now and putting it on repeat. Too often we book all of our family and work activities first and then leave our workouts to last. This is not as effective. Carve out the time and the activities right now and let everyone know that you are booked during these times.
  1. Set up your training program to get you the BEST results possible. A great exercise program contains areas that develop your physical strength, your cardiovascular fitness, and your overall mobility. Too often we find one activity we like and then we just repeat that activity over and over and over and over. Then we get an “overuse” injury and wonder why that happened! This fall I want you to include a variety of activities that help you work on all of these areas. Lifting weights is a wonderful way to build your strength.   Cardiovascular activity is usually easy to figure out because any sport or movement that elevates your heart rate for approximately 45 minutes will qualify. Mobility training can be a challenge for many people. You could sign up for a class that focuses on mobility such as Yoga, Pilates or the new trend of Kin Stretch. Another option for mobility would be to spend approximately 15 to 20 minutes working on this after your cardio workout. However, you want to sort this out, do it now and make it a priority in your schedule.
  1. Eliminate two unhealthy foods from your regular diet and add two new healthy items. Small changes to our usual eating patterns are easier to manage and will result in long-term successful changes. If you are unsure about how to do this or if you do not feel comfortable making these types of choices, fall is a great time to book a session with a nutritionist to see what you can improve.
  1. Make sleep a priority. Get back on a regular sleep schedule and practice the best sleep hygiene you can. This means getting your screens out of your bedroom, making sure your sleeping area is dark and cool, and giving yourself enough time to regularly get 8 hours of sleep per night. Without proper sleep, you will have an extremely difficult time meeting your other health goals.
  1. Pick your top three health related goals and write them down in an email and send them to yourself. You should re-visit and re-read these goals often. This is easily done by hitting forward on that email and sending it to your mailbox again and again. You could also add an inspirational quote or photograph to this email. Whenever you are feeling frustrated about a lack of time for training, or a bad night of sleep, search up this email and re-read it to get back on track.

These five steps are so simple and they do not require a ton of time. Do them now before your fall schedule gets completely out of hand and you find yourself preparing for Christmas.

Thank you, Stacy, all useful and practical suggestions.

Disclaimer
The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

Exercise & Brain Health

better-brainExercise is an important component of health aging especially when it comes to brain health. While there are no guarantees a healthy lifestyle will prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s, exercise will absolutely improve blood flow to the brain. Because as we age, the brain shrinks!
It happens to everyone. As we age, our blood supply to the brain is reduced, which causes the volume of the brain to shrink. If you exercise, the blood supply to your brain will improve blood flow and increase your brain volume, which can slow the brain aging process.

Studies show that exercise, meaning exercising with purpose, increases the level of Brain -Derived Neuro-Tropic factor (BDNF), which is critical for neuroplasticity. (The ability for the brain to adapt) Exercise is also associated with the growth and creation of new brain cells which helps increase the volume of your brain.

Sustained aerobic exercise is not to be taken lightly or put off for another day, as brain function and cognition are essential in maintaining an independent and healthy life.

So what exercises are the best?
Studies indicate that thirty minutes of sustained aerobic exercise such as running every day will increase brain health, neural plasticity, brain function and cognition. That’s the BDNF factor I was referring to earlier.   For most of us, seven days a week is a big commitment and may not be practical or achievable. However, one can set a reasonable weekly goal. The objective here is to circulate more blood to the brain that will, in turn, increase the volume of the brain to prevent early dementia.
What about weight training or interval training? Both are good for you and other parts of your body such as your muscles, but there is no indication that it positively affects your brain the way aerobic exercise does.

 Proof that Exercise is good for the brain
Take a look at the  diagram below. The brain on the right lights up after activity.

brain-benefits-exercise
Lots of women say to me, “ Yes, I know Dr. Brown exercise is really important but I just don’t have the time. “ What they are really saying to me is ‘exercise is not my priority’. I understand that. Exercise may not be your priority as you run from the carpool to take care of elderly parents and to finish your work. But if exercise is never your priority, if you are always last on your list and you will pay a huge price.

So my advice is that you allow yourself to be your priority at least part of the time.Let’s remember, when the flight attendance explains that when the oxygen comes down, put the mask on yourself first and then on the child beside you. If you don’t take care of you, you won’t be here to take care of the others you care about!!

 

Disclaimer
The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

 

 

Do you know how healthy you are?

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How good is your health?
The Benefits of getting a Personal Health Risk Assessment

Don’t we all want to know how we’re doing from a health point of view and if we’re on the right track? That was a question posed centuries ago by the learned Hippocrates-the father of modern medicine who focused on diet and exercise to forecast the health of his patients. Fast forward a few centuries later and we now have a more formal process, called the Personal Health Risk Assessment.T
The process refined over the years is a four-part questionnaire used to evaluate the health risks and quality of life of patients.The questions are based on lifestyle including what level and form of exercise practiced,  demographics such as age, sex, personal and family medical history, and physiological data such as your weight, height, blood pressure and cholesterol.

Another important part of the process is your level of willingness to charge your behaviour to improve your health. A personal health risk assessment can have enormous benefits, whether the assessment is for a person or used as part of an employee health and wellness program.
It provides a snapshot of your current health. Enables individuals to monitor their health status over time. And having concrete information helps prepare you for a change in your lifestyle. The information is there, before you, and makes it clear in black and white what needs to change.
If your company is engaged in a health prevention program, it can help determine on an aggregate basis how healthy and productive the company work population is AND what health-related programs they might include such as lunch and learns, flu shot clinics, reviewing the company cafeteria menu to ensure healthy food choices are available, and introducing a health management program.
Hippocrates –the father of modern medicine at one point was imprisoned for 20 years for believing and arguing that disease was not a punishment inflicted by the gods, but rather the product of environmental factors, diet, and living habits.

The same holds true today.  You can make changes to your health.
A Personal health risk assessment is one of those ways.

The more information you have —both the good and the challenges—the better able you are to make informed decisions about what you can do keep or improve your well-being.

Disclaimer: The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts are made to ensure the quality of the content. However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider. As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

Osteoarthritis: A rising epidemic as baby boomers age. Signs, Symptoms and Solutions.

Arthritis consists of more than 100 different conditions, which range from relatively mild forms of tendonitis and bursitis to crippling systemic forms, such as rheumatoid arthritis. The common denominator for all these conditions is joint and musculoskeletal pain, often as a result of an inflammation of the joint lining.
Critical to the outcome of the disease is an early diagnosis as it only gets progressively worse.  And therapies work best when started as soon as possible.
Consider this:
• Over four million Canadian adults have arthritis, and the numbers continue to grow.
• By 2036 it’s estimated that almost one in five Canadian adults will have arthritis, an irreversible degeneration of the bone.
• Two out of three Canadians affected by arthritis are women
WHAT CAUSES OSTEOARTHRITIS?
Osteoarthritis starts when the cartilage, that tough elastic material that covers and protects the ends of bones that act as a cushion-like shock absorber, starts to break down and wear away. Joints become bigger as the body tries to heal itself, and bones begin to rub together, leading to pain, stiffness, and swelling. As we get older, our risk of developing osteoarthritis increases. Other risk factors include obesity, a previous joint injury and a genetic predisposition that researchers believe may have something to do with the shape of your bones and the way they fit together.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Understanding the signs and symptoms as well as treatment options can help to slow the progression of the disease which is an important step in living with Osteoarthritis:
Common signs and symptoms
• PAIN
• STIFFNESS
• JOINT DEFORMITY
• JOINT INSTABILITY
• LIMITED RANGE OF MOTION
TREATMENTS
Treatments are divided into non-medical therapies such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, bracing and splinting, education, weight loss and exercise. All of which can lead to improving function and biomechanics. Dietary supplements including chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine can be taken up to three times daily in doses of 400 mg and 500 mg respectively. While the medical evidence for these products is inconclusive, most rheumatologists do not feel they do harm and may, indeed, be helpful.
Depending on the severity, medical treatments may involve the use of acetaminophen anti-inflammatories (NAISD’s), topical non-steroidal naproxen, opioid analgesics such as codeine or morphine under careful doctor supervision. Joint injections with corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid for knee osteoarthritis can also be used. The most invasive option is joint replacement involves surgery.
Whatever your condition and treatment goals, it is important to heed the signs and symptoms and take action as soon as possible because osteoarthritis while not curable, is manageable, with the goal of keeping you active, engaged in activity, and pain free.

DISCLAIMER
The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content. However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider. As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.