Spring Cleaning – it’s Time to De-clutter Your Life!

shutterstock_335890811 (1)Spring cleaning is a time-honoured tradition of doing a deep clean of one’s home or a room.

In modern times, it’s also used as a metaphor for a time to reflect on our lives and look for ways to simplify or invigorate our lives. I look at it as a time to review expectations of yourself and others around you over the past year and whether you have been conscientious about saying NO and YES to yourself!

What that means is learning to make time for yourself. Setting time aside for exercise or reading a book or just relaxing, rather than meeting the expectations of others.

I know, it’s not easy with so many demands on our time these days between family, work and other obligations. It’s easy to put yourself and your needs last on the list. But here’s a strategy to consider, a way to prioritize the demands. Learn to say no. That’s right, say no.

No, I cannot take on more work, no I cannot accept that task, no we as a family cannot do more.

Here are three easy steps to learn:

  1. Open your month
  2. Say NO, thank you. It doesn’t work for me. Sorry, No
  3. Close your mouth. DON’T say “I’ll try” or “Maybe”. It is a clear, though polite, NO

And when you say No to something, you are, in reality,  also saying yes.
Yes to your health, Yes to your family, Yes to your life, Yes to a different priority.
Enjoy the YES and you have empowered yourself by saying NO.

So yes, spring cleaning and to de-cluttering and learning to say NO and appreciating the YES

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.

 

Mumps are making a comeback in Canada

shutterstock_337150673Check your vaccinations!
A rise in cases of Mumps in Canada has public health officials asking young adults to check if they need a vaccination booster. The standard vaccination is two doses starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Teens and adults also should also be up to date on their MMR vaccination. *(measles, mumps & rubella)

Mumps is a viral infection that is contagious and spread through saliva and respiratory droplets, causing swelling of the salivary glands. **   Prior to having a vaccination against mumps available in the mid-sixties in Canada, mumps among school-age children was common in fact a rite of passage.   In early 1970’s the vaccine was combined to offer protection against measles, mumps. and rubella. (MMR).

But providing a second round of the vaccine wasn’t practiced until the 1990’s, which has led to a small gap in immunity for those born between 1970 and 1994.

The gap in immunity for those that have not had a second dose is one of the reasons, health officials believe there is a rise in the infection.  The other is because of growing numbers of individuals who have never been vaccinated for mumps and are infectious while coming into contact where are a lot of people sharing food and drinks. It takes between two to five days before the infection begins to show swelling and other symptoms. Once mumps has been diagnosed, the usual procedure is to keep the individual in isolation until the infection subsides.

The symptoms of mumps include fever, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite and inflammation and tenderness of one or both salivary glands

Mumps is serious and can have long term affects such as deafness, or sterility in males.

So, it is extremely important that you check your vaccination records with your family physician to ensure they are up to date.

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Mumps are making a comeback in Canada.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.

 

Sources:  * Center for Disease Control  ** Wikipedia -Mumps

My New Year’s Resolution– Is NO New Year’s Resolutions!

ChrisKornackiI will be honest; my issue is not wanting to exercise or take the time to work out. I have a very busy schedule and find it hard to fit in.   Although I know and talk about the importance of exercise and healthy aging, internally I find it hard to schedule.  I tell myself that’s because of work. However, enough is enough. I need to make this a priority.

So before the holidays,  I decided to make a commitment, set a reasonable goal and act on it.  For me, creating the challenge and then living up to it is always satisfying and I feel energized by the effort. This led to rearranging my work schedule, book with a trainer and just do it!  No more excuses.So my journey has begun.  I am meeting weekly with Chris, a young, bright,

So my journey has begun.  I am meeting weekly with Chris (pictured above), a young, bright, well-educated trainer in charge of TOTUM, the fitness facility in the Medisys location where I work on Thursdays.  I, therefore, changed from business attire to workout clothes and walked into a beautiful new facility for my assessment. Intimidating? YES. Important? YES. Part of my routine, well, I am trying to keep that focus and have booked a month of appointments, even pre-paying for them so I am less likely to cancel.

How am I doing? So far, less intimidated and starting to feel more positive. Not yet stronger or healthier, but it is early. I will let you know how it goes.

So, whether your goal is healthy eating, exercise or getting more sleep, don’t make a New Year’s resolution. Instead, dig deep within yourself for the answers and take responsibility. Be honest with yourself and you may just find the best resolution of all.

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

shutterstock_492750550.jpgExercise 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.

 

 

 

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

shutterstock_274164731Arthritis 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.

The Sleep Revolution

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I just reviewed Arianna Huffington’s important book on Sleep, The Sleep Revolution. Transforming your life, One Night at a Time. Let’s take a look at what she has to say. According to Ms. Huffington, the co-founder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post, we are in the midst of a sleep deprivation crisis. She says that sleep deprivation is having profound consequences – on our health, our job performance, our relationships, and our happiness. What is needed, she boldly asserts, is nothing short of a sleep revolution.  Only by renewing our relationship with sleep can we take back control of our lives. (1)

A report by The World Sleep Association bears this out. The report claims sleep deprivation is a worldwide epidemic. This is also true in Canada, where the majority of Canadians –60% of us only get an average of 6.9 hours of sleep per night. — The experts recommend an average of 8 hours.

WHY IS SLEEP IMPORTANT
Sleep is necessary for our nervous systems to work properly. Too little sleep leaves us drowsy and unable to concentrate the next day. It also leads to impaired memory and physical performance. Without sleep, neurons may become so depleted in energy or so polluted with byproducts of normal cellular activities that they begin to malfunction. Sleep also may give the brain a chance to exercise important neuronal connections that might otherwise deteriorate from lack of activity. (2)
Why then, when it has been conclusively shown that sleep is an absolute necessity in keeping ups healthy and happy do we continue to discount sleep as a priority?
Ms. Huffington’s extensive research concludes that as a culture “we tend to dismiss sleep as time wasted—and a badge of honor—even though it compromises our health and our decision-making and undermines our work lives, our personal lives — and even our sex lives.”
Her book explores all the latest science on what exactly is going on while we sleep and dream.  She takes on the dangerous sleeping pill industry, and all the ways our addiction to technology disrupts our sleep. She also offers a range of recommendations and tips from leading scientists on how we can get better and more restorative sleep, and harness its incredible power.

Here are Ms. Huffington’s twelve tips for getting a good night’s sleep. Doctors refer to this as sleep hygiene.

  1. Create a bedroom environment that’s dark, quiet, and cool (between 60 and 67 degrees).
  2. Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  3. Don’t charge your phone next to your bed. Even better: Gently escort all devices completely out of your room.
  4. Stop drinking caffeine after 2 p.m.
  5. Use your bed for sleep and sex only—no work!
  6. Keep pets off the bed (sorry, Mr. Snuffles).
  7. Take a hot bath with Epsom salts in the evening to help calm your mind and body.
  8. Wear pajamas, nightgowns or even a special T-shirt—it’ll send a sleep-friendly message to your body. If you wore it to the gym, don’t wear it to bed.
  9. Do some light stretching, deep breathing, yoga, or meditation to help your body and your mind transition to sleep.
  10. Choose a real book or an e-reader that does not emit blue light, if you like to read in bed. And make sure it’s not work-related: novels, poetry, philosophy—anything but work.
  11. Sip chamomile or lavender tea to ease yourself into sleep mode.
  12. Write down a list of what you’re grateful for before bed. It’s a great way to make sure your blessings get the closing scene of the night.

I try to keep to a regular sleep schedule- going to bed at the same time every night or close to it and waking up in the morning, generally at the same time. It helps my body and mind ready itself for sleep the same time every night. As with anything else establishing a new health pattern takes time, so don’t be discouraged.

Sources

  1. The Sleep Revolution. Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time by Arianna Huffington. Harmony Books, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group, a Division of Random House LLC, New York.
  2. Source- Mental Health Canada

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.