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quitting as self care

Quitting as Self-Care

A few years ago the term self-care appeared as a means of describing anything that a person does to take care of themselves, like getting a massage, meditating, going for a walk in nature, or taking a relaxing bath in essential oils. All of the above are great ways to improve your physical and emotional health; however, they are often used not as a way to improve health, but to undo the damage caused by underlying stresses and simply restore one’s previous level of health.

Take meditation. It’s a practice that has been used for millennia as a means of trying to reach an enlightened state. But what do we often use it for now? As a means to calm ourselves down after an argument with a significant other or a way to gain a glimpse of equanimity before what we know will be a tough day at work.

In the above instances, meditation isn’t being used to take us to a higher place, it’s being used to get us back to baseline. And then the next day, when our job or our toxic relationships drag us back into sadness or anxiety, we use it again to bring us back up.

This is akin to using Tylenol to treat cancer. Cancer causes pain, so we take Tylenol to relieve the pain. This treats only the symptoms and ensures that we’re going to have to take Tylenol again and again each time the pain arises.

How would we stop that cycle? By curing the cancer.

Similarly, you can’t massage away a bad job and you can’t journal away a toxic relationship. In both instances, you’re merely treating the symptoms.

What’s the cure? Quitting.

Quit the job that’s taken your sanity day after day. Quit the relationships that have led you to the negative self-talk that requires hours of journaling and meditation to sort out.

Because all of the above self-care tools are amazing in their own rights, but are so much more helpful in improving your physical and mental health if you’re starting from a more stable baseline — which requires taking a good look (often through journaling!) at what is disturbing your peace.

So next time something has you anxious or depressed, grab that journal and write down what led to that feeling. Then start analyzing whether the cause can be quit. You may need a job-ectomy, or to have some toxic friends surgically removed from your friend circle.

And after you do, be sure to light some candles, throw some essential oils in a bathtub, and meditate your way to enlightenment — free of whatever was holding you back!

Reprinted with permission from Dr. Morski.


Dr. Lynn Marie Morski is a Quitting Evangelist. She helps people to and through their quits through her book “Quitting by Design” and her podcast Quit Happens, along with speaking and coaching. She is also a board-certified physician in family medicine and sports medicine, currently working at the Veterans Administration. In addition, she is an attorney and former adjunct law professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Visit her website, quittingbydesign.com

DNA strand

Protecting Our Telomeres with Targeted Nutrition and Lifestyle Changes

Telomeres are sections of genetic material that form a protective cap at the end of each chromosome in every cell of the body. When a cell divides, the telomere gets a tiny bit shorter, until there is no more telomere left to protect DNA from “unraveling,” and the cell dies. Cellular death causes the body to age, whether the cell is from cardiac muscle, skin, or brain tissue, thus making telomeres a novel biomarker for biological age. The longer one’s telomeres, the younger one’s biological age. Several things affect telomere attrition rate – both positive (good nutrient status, healthy blood sugar and lipid metabolism, normal weight, exercise, etc.) and negative (micronutrient deficiencies, inflammation, cellular stress, a sedentary lifestyle, etc.).

Telomeres over time

Shammas M. Telomeres, lifestyle, cancer, and aging.  Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2011 Jan; 14(1): 28–34. Illustration: Ivel DrFreitas MD, ABIM, ABAARM.

 

How is micronutrient status linked to the aging process?

Micronutrient status has direct implications for telomere length. This makes it especially important to correct specific deficiencies and maintain micronutrient balance. Measuring total antioxidant capacity via SPECTROX® is equally important as the body’s ability to handle oxidative stress contributes significantly to telomere health/length.

Why measure fatty acids?

OmegaCheck® measures the amount of three very important fatty acids (EPA, DHA, and DPA) in one’s blood. Fatty acids can either contribute to or alleviate inflammation, and the OmegaCheck determines the amount of these pro- and anti-inflammatory fatty acids. Although the protective omega-3 fatty acids influence enzyme and hormone systems throughout the body, they have gained attention primarily for their superb cardiovascular benefits. Since fatty acid status is a surrogate marker for inflammation and oxidative stress, it is not surprising that omega-3 fatty acids can slow cellular aging by preserving telomeres. When it comes to OmegaCheck, higher is better.

Omega-3 fatty acids can slow the aging process. There are many reasons for this: they reduce inflammation, help maintain the cardiovascular system healthy, and protect the brain. However, the existing research points to an entirely different mechanism of action against aging: protection of telomeres.

A recent study on people with active heart disease demonstrated that individuals with high blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids also had the lowest rate of telomere attrition, suggesting that omega-3 fatty acids protect against cellular aging.In another study, the adoption of comprehensive lifestyle changes (including daily supplementation with 3 grams of fish oil, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids) was associated with an increase in telomere length in human leukocytes.In animal studies, dietary enrichment of omega-3 fatty acids prolongs life span by approximately one-third.3

Yet another way that omega-3 fatty acids have a protective effect on telomeres is through their action on cortisol. Following six weeks of fish oil supplementation, a group of men and women in a study demonstrated significantly reducedcortisol, a stress hormone known to reduce the activity of telomerase,5an enzyme that protects and even lengthens telomeres. Even stress-related cellular aging may be thwarted by omega-3 fatty acids!

SpectraCell’s Telomere Analysis

SpectraCell’s telomere test measures a person’s telomere length. A control gene is also measured and compared to the telomere length, and then results are stated as a ratio. A higher ratio means a longer telomere, and younger biological age. The Telomere Score is also compared to other individuals in the same chronological age group.

The price of the Telomere Test is affordable and is also covered by insurance. Testing once each year or every other year is suggested to monitor the rate of telomere loss.

The great news is that with the telomere analysis and appropriate lifestyle, habits, you can protect your telomeres and reduce the rate at which they shorten! Discover your estimated cellular age today with a comprehensive, and individualized approach to managing the aging process.

Click here to learn more about SpectraCell testing services.

Reprinted with permission from the SpectraCell blog.


SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. is a leading clinical laboratory specializing in personalized disease prevention and management solutions. Our pioneering intracellular micronutrient and cardiometabolic testing, driven by state-of-the-art technology, assesses a spectrum of risk factors and biomarkers for optimum wellness. Through our dedication to research and development, SpectraCell also provides innovative solutions for hormone health and genetics.

fall-walking

The Mind/Body Connection – Programming For Year Round Success

In the fall of each year, as summer fades from our view, we often find ourselves having to work diligently to “restart” our fitness activities in preparation for the holidays – and the year to come. As the seasons change to shorter days and cooler weather becomes a reality, we have to “re-think” our fitness plans/goals and address the changes that are coming – thoughtfully and carefully – in order to ensure continued growth and results.

Being able to understand the “cycles” of life and how the changing seasons affect us is important in programming your fitness activities for the balance of the year. Success comes when we plan and evaluate again what it is we want to achieve with our fitness activities and then “re-set” our priorities to account not only for the change in the weather – but our lives as well.

I will share with you some tips on how you might maintain your momentum when it comes to fitness programming following the summer months of mostly fun activities that don’t fit the mold of “exercise”. Remembering exercise can be a form of “play” is important when transitioning to the fall and winter months that lie ahead. Let’s be creative and hopefully this article will spark a thought (or two) or maybe an idea that might help you move into the fall and winter months ready to continue challenging yourself – and not just “working out” – or “exercising”.

The Mind/Body Connection

The key to transitions in life – as well as with fitness activities – is the thought that goes into planning the program. Very often, the mind conceives of an idea that captures what it is we REALLY want to get out of our fitness activities but the heart never gets fully engaged in the plan. We THINK our way to a new plan, but do we ever really FEEL our excitement about the plan (and its possibilities) as well? This question relates to having exercise BE FUN so that you return to it again and again.

I connect my mind (thoughts) to my heart (feelings) every day when I go into my “quiet time” – visualizing and then appreciating the training I have planned for the day. What is missing in my opinion – and the most common reason people quit on their fitness activities – is that they never connect the mind – which conceives the plan – to the heart – which “experiences” the plan. If you love what you are doing – you will do it for life – just as I have done with my running program over the past 52 years.

A Note of Caution

Technology is killing physical activity and squeezing out the present moment. I see this every day at my gym: people mindlessly peddling on a stationary bike, watching TV, looking at their phones and completely disregarding the activity – and the moment. No wonder people are bored – and quit – they are not present and have no way of knowing if what they are doing is in any way fun – or useful to their purpose (if they have one in mind at all). Smart phones DO NOT need to be in the gym or constantly with us. Taking a break while we exercise is a GOOD thing. This is a time for you to enjoy and promote your own well being. Let’s release the stresses of life for even a few minutes – and learn something new about ourselves in the process!

What Should You Do?

You should connect your mind to your body BEFORE starting your training session so that you can enjoy what you have chosen to do. This inexactly what I do. This way, I first “see” with my mind’s eye and then experience it in my imagination before I even get to the gym to train. When the “hard” days come – and they will – (especially when you have been away from planned fitness activities for a while), you need your heart and mind to communicate regularly with each other to ensure success with your plan.

When I say everything in life starts with a thought and gets carried out into the world through the feeling side of our nature, I am saying that life is constantly communicating through our senses – thought, feelings, and intuition. With thoughts and feelings working together in harmony, you will not have to make excuses or have any regrets later because you are totally committed to your purpose. This is true personal power.

In order to be successful in executing your plan you must engage your WHOLE being in order to maximize your results. This is HOW you get through the fall and winter months – by preparing in advance with purpose – and setting goals you really want to achieve. In enjoying the journey – and learning more about yourself in the process –  you can rest in the knowledge that your life works! This sounds pretty great to me!

Adherence

The issue of adherence is being answered today through technological advances that help you track your progress and also assist you in managing your behavior. By this I mean there are innumerable devices on the market that will tell you how well you have done, whether you have met your goals and also show you what you can do to improve your results. The problem as I see it is that you are still accountable and responsible for your results regardless of how much you use technology to keep you “on track”. How much fun is that?

I solved the problem of adherence early in my life by falling in love with being active as a child and then finding new ways to engage my body – and mind – as I got older. I later came to believe in recording my sessions in writing and this behavior allowed me to learn even more about my own capabilities – and potential – in the process. I found a method for staying on track naturally that worked for me and today I have complete running records dating back to 1979. I know what I have done, what I am capable of doing – and am able to set goals going forward that are based upon my results from my past and current work.

Looking back through my running records I can learn a great deal about my current capabilities based upon the goals I have accomplished. This knowledge gives me the opportunity to set my course for the coming year – and define what I want to achieve going forward. (Run a 6 minute mile on my 80th birthday for example?) It is in the process of envisioning your goals – and experiencing the results before they occur (in your mind) – that you will succeed – enabling and empowering yourself as you move toward success. Remember that everything in life – as well as fitness programming – starts in your imagination first and then gets revealed in the “real” world through your choices and activities.

Always start with what you enjoy doing most and then add additional activities as you go. Change is inevitable and if you embrace it willingly – and allow yourself the opportunity to make new choices – you will grow in confidence and commitment to your purpose. If what you are doing seems natural and fun to you – keep going and enjoy it! If not, make minor adjustments at first – and then if necessary – more significant changes later. Nothing ventured, nothing gained is the rule here.

Activities, lots of choices

The internet has many options and “meet ups” are a good way to go. There are groups for running, cycling, walking, hiking, swimming, sports related activities such as volleyball and handball or racquetball – and any interest you can imagine. Meet ups are pretty much everywhere and if not you can start your own meet up group right where you are – from workplace relationships to volunteer activities to church activities – whatever suits you.

If you find people who have a common interest in what you would like to do, the group will “keep you on track” while you share, learn and build new friendships as you accomplish your goals together. Team sports – which is another way to go – (softball, basketball, etc.) can also keep you motivated and interested in your physical wellbeing by holding you accountable to a group that needs you to participate to be successful (bowling, swimming meets, road races etc…) Going through the “tough” months on your own can be challenging, so finding support with other people who care as you do is always a great strategy.

The gym setting can be challenging because you are on your own most of the time (unless you hire a trainer). The times where you can interact with others and form mutually supportive bonds with other like-minded individuals is through group exercise programs (there are many options) such as aerobic or yoga classes. Each method has value and both can be lots of fun while you learn what suits you as an individual. These and other group activities are very popular because they bring people together – enabling you to learn and share your journey together (yoga classes are particularly powerful in this way).

In the summer of 1982 when I joined Nautilus Plus after my wife left me, I went to as many as five aerobic classes a week because they were fun, challenging, and the music and moves helped me forget my pain for a while. I eventually went back to running but I never forgot the great help I received by participating in those classes. The instructors were young, enthusiastic, talented and absolutely LOVED teaching the classes. All in all it was a very positive and supportive experience that helped me get through a rough summer of questioning and uncertainty.

Final Thoughts

  • Think of the change in the seasons and the advancing winter months as an opportunity for personal and physical growth. Don’t think along the lines: “I have to get back to exercise”. Think about the opportunity to balance out your life – and help your body in the process.
  • Do commit your best effort to planning – and “feeling” – your desires and hopes for your fitness goals.
  • BE PRESENT while doing your fitness activities
  • Let others be a part of your plan. Include anyone who wishes to succeed with you.
  • Define your activities around things you enjoy doing and continue to expand your thinking to include new and possibly exciting activities you can do by yourself – or with others if you so choose.
  • Meet ups are a great way to engage other people with you as you work toward your goals. Shared goals always have a better chance for success.
  • Remember burning calories should be FUN! Program fun into your goal setting
  • Finally, DO NOT be afraid to change your mind about your goals – or your activities. There is NEVER one right answer for a particular challenge. There are always many possibilities. Take time to consider as many options as you can and then pick one – and KEEP ON MOVING!

Originally posted on healthynewage.com. Reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop. 


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach, a fitness professional with over 25 years of experience whose passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

Stressed Man Working At Desk In Busy Creative Office

Stress – How Does It Affect Our Health?

Stress is something we are all confronted with every day of our lives. Stress as a specific medical term was first defined by the endocrinologist Hans Selye in 1936 as the physiological adaptive responses to perceived (psychological) or real (physical) threats (“stressors”) to an organism.1,2 There are different types of stress such as psychological stress, physical stress and oxidative stress. All three of these are connected physiologically and how we handle stress may be determined by previous experiences and by our biochemical make-up. It has been shown that there are 50 common signs and symptoms that occur when we experience stress, and these involve several systems of our body, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, nervous, immune, etc.

The HPA Axis is a physiological pathway that is highly associated with stress and this pathway is affected by hormones, medications and an individual’s nutritional status. There is an old saying which comes first the chicken or the egg. This is also true when we are considering nutritional status and how it may affect our ability to deal with stress. For example, if you have a zinc deficiency you are more likely not to handle stress well due to the fact that zinc is related to serotonin production and this neurotransmitter helps us relax.3 On the other hand, when we encounter a stressful situation a group of hormones known as stress hormones (cortisol, norepinephrine and epinephrine) become elevated and they can cause our blood glucose levels to rise as a result of their effect on our insulin receptors. As we experience elevated blood glucose levels our magnesium status may be affected in the sense of increased urinary loss and then we experience magnesium deficiency related signs and symptoms such as headache, irritable bowel syndrome, facial twitching and insomnia.

Every one of us has a unique biochemical makeup and this is one reason why we don’t respond to stress in the same manner. Roger J. Williams was an American biochemist who spent his academic career at the University of Texas at Austin. He is known for isolating and naming folic acid and for his roles in discovering pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, lipoic acid, and avidin. Dr. Roger Williams a renowned scientist wrote a book titled “Biochemical Individuality”, which described how different each of us are. This is why none of us respond the same way physiologically when we encounter a stressful situation.

It is important that we utilize specific diagnostic methods available today to determine our individual nutritional status. Obtaining objective nutritional information is essential and it is vital to making sure nutritional deficiencies are treated properly, so other nutritional inadequacies do not occur. For example, if you started taking zinc because you were experiencing some stress and you did not consume copper with it, you could develop a copper deficiency which could result in nerve damage, anemia or skin changes. Our body tries to maintain a state of homeostasis and must have an adequate nutritional status to achieve this.


Join Dr. Grabowski and 16 other expert presenters at the Medical Fitness Tour!
February 8-10, 2019 in Irvine, CA. Learn more »


Dr. Ron Grabowski is a practicing Doctor of Chiropractic in Houston, Texas. He has presented over 500 seminars and lectures on nutrition throughout the United States and in Europe, publishing several articles and a textbook on clinical nutrition. His research interests include nutritional support of the athlete and the use of supplements in clinical practice for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and gastrointestinal disorders. Visit his website, hsrnc.net

References

  1. J Physiol Pharmacol 2011; 62:591-599.
  2. Exp Neurol 2012; 233: 49-67).
  3. Sandstead, H.H.; Frederickson, C.J.; Penland, J.G. History of zinc as related to brain function. Nutr. 2000, 130, 496S–502S. [PubMed]
High intensity interval training workout

How Much High Intensity Exercise is Too Much?

Are you doing too much high intensity exercise? High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been the holy grail of fitness trends for the past several years. Is it the Holy Grail for YOU? Here’s what a recent study says and how to interpret that if you’re a woman flipping (or wanting to) her second half with flare.

Exercise is stress. High intensity exercise is greater stress. Stress causes cortisol.

Cortisol plays two roles in our lives. It’s both the stress hormone and the energy hormone. The perfect amount of stress makes you feel alive and thrive. Too little or too much cortisol each causes problems.

When you’re exercising with the right amount of “overload” or stress you create a positive, not negative, stress response. That’s not to say (because I hear you saying that’s how you negate stress) that exercise doesn’t relieve stress. It can. But we sometimes don’t give ourselves the right dose, frequency or intensity to optimally relieve stress without having it come back to bite us you-know-where.

Better Stress

The key is to find your personal optimal exercise. I’m an advocate for the right exercise for you right now. Women in midlife are more susceptible to the negative effects of stress as they go through other major hormone changes. What worked once – even as recently as months ago or last week – may not be your ideal exercise this week.

That doesn’t mean you’re going to suffer, gain weight, get moody or any of the above. If you adjust your exercise according to what’s going on, respond to it even if you can’t predict what changes will be, you’ll sail through those years from peri-menopause to beyond menopause better. That sets you up for a full Flipping 50 (49-99) feeling as young as your habits will allow you. It’s habits that determine how your genetics express or suppress (epigenetics).

What’s the best exercise?  The answer is not the same for you and for every other woman over 50. We’ve got common denominators but your details are unique to you. If you’re deconditioned, conditioned, or an athlete it changes your exercise prescription. If you’re in adrenal fatigue, you’re estrogen dominant, or have low testosterone will change what I suggest you do. If you have osteoporosis, are trying to prevent it, or you have 20 or more pounds to lose, each of these (and more) will change the exercise plan that’s best for you.

A recent study of weight training performed as high intensity interval training (HIIT) was created to determine if HIIT weight training was better than traditional weight training. Researchers asked, is heavy weight training better than the moderate-to-light weight training recommended for decades?

A side note here: the fear of “bulk” from strength training is legit. The three sets of 10-to-12 repetitions taught for decades, as some kind of gold standard actually IS a bulk-building protocol. Ten or fewer repetitions is the optimal strength, bone building, and fat reducing/lean increasing protocol while higher repetition ranges are best for performance enhancement and influencing smaller muscle activation.

Your personal exercise protocol is also influenced by whether you’re a mesomorph, endomorph, or ectomorph. Each body type can respond differently to a protocol.

ACE Research

According to the study performed by the American Council on Exercise, a leading authority in fitness, moderate or average exercise should occur between 70 to 80 percent heart rate intensity, HIIT training requires at least 85 percent heart rate intensity, the study says. Les Mills’ researchers (creators of Body Pump) wanted to determine how to best achieve a healthy balance between one’s HIIT volume (minutes of HIIT per week) and one’s positive stress response. Their hypothesis was that more than 30 or 40 minutes of weekly HIIT volume would prompt a reduced positive stress response.

“A positive stress response to exercise is a critical part of creating the bio-chemical changes in the body that help build new muscle and improve fitness,” the study says. “The stress response can be measured effectively by examining cortisol and testosterone concentrations in saliva.”

Not to repeat myself but as mentioned earlier, this is really what we refer to as the principle of overload in fitness. The stimulus of exercise must be adequate to provide overload such that the body responds after (when between sessions fitness occurs IF you have adequate rest, food, and sleep).

Remember Your Hormones

It’s key for YOU to remember, Flipping 50 friend, that you have another thing to consider. The status of your hormones, not just of your mind’s desire to lose fat, or get in shape needs to be considered when designing your exercise program. Pushing through … following lame social media memes suggesting that “sweat is fat crying” can backfire on you and increase fat storage when stress goes the wrong way. When you read “move more” interpret it as walking down the hall to deliver a message as opposed to going to boot camp 6 days a week or doing two-a-days.

Let me take a step back here and describe what it feels like to lift at a level defined as HIIT. There’s a lot of confusion about HIIT. Anything that gets you breathing slightly harder is NOT HIIT. Lifting with a weight that causes fatigue at 10 repetitions correlates with 80% intensity. So in order to lift and a HIIT level of 90% as per the study, you’d be lifting a weight closer to 5 repetitions.

Don’t panic. You definitely progress to this point. You also can reduce the weight slightly and use power, increasing speed on the lift but always controlling the lowering (eccentric) phase of exercise to achieve this overload without a heavy weight. You do this in daily life… the wind grabs the car door, the door to a store is heavy, or you heft the garbage bag out to the curb… so if you’re worried about injury (valid) do consider whether your daily activity warrants the work so you’re prepared.

Fatigue vs Tired

Moving fast to get breathless is not necessarily overloading the muscles in a way that muscle changes and creates lean muscle tissue that assists in fat burning.

THIS is a key distinction most program creators and attendees fail to make. Going to a boot camp where you’re moving fast from a strength exercise to a cardio exercise to a core exercise will likely tire you. Tired is not muscle fatigue. Muscle fatigue must be reached so your body changes.

Will it burn calories right now? Yes. Will it change your body, your body composition, and set you up for years of a stronger leaner body? No.

The study used strength training as the mode of high intensity exercise. Researchers compared one set of 5 repetitions for each of 10 exercises to 1 or 2 sets of 10 repetitions for 10-12 exercises. The subjects were both male and female and ages up to 59.

The results showed body fat decreased significantly for both groups. Blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol decreased only for the HIIT group.

“When it comes to HIIT, adding volume doesn’t deliver better results,” the report says.

“It actually hinders. To get the full benefits of HIIT and prevent overreaching, our recommendation is to…

Do a maximum weekly HIIT sessions that are above 90 percent maximum heart rate for 30-40 minutes…

…and balance them with other less demanding workouts.”

“It’s also imperative that you let your body recover properly after a HIIT session. This way, you’re likely to perform better when you do your HIIT workouts and benefit from the positive results,” researchers added.

The key exercise flips:

  1. More is not better when it comes to High Intensity exercise
  2. An understanding of what constitutes high intensity interval training is key if you’re to reap benefits
  3. The more health markers (blood pressure and cholesterol) you’re trying to target with your exercise, the more HIIT could benefit you done with adequate progression
  4. low volume of HIIT (no more than 40 minutes a week) is far better for results (and reduction of injury) than more volume (frequency, or duration)
  5. If you’re doing high intensity exercise that is also high impact cardio or high intensity strength training every day you may be inhibiting your recovery and results.

This distinction of when to work hard and when to recovery is so important. It’s not intuitive for a generation that witnessed the work harder, get better results discipline of our parents.

Article reprinted with permission from Debra Atkinson. Originally printed on flippingfifty.com.


Debra Atkinson is the #youstillgotitgirl who is flipping 50 and changing the way thousands of women think about their second half. She’s the host of the Flipping 50 TV Show and the Flipping 50 podcast. As a master personal trainer, strength and wellness coach with over 30 years fitness industry experience, she works with women who are pro-aging with vitality and energy. She is an international fitness presenter, author of hundreds of articles and multiple books. Visit her website, flippingfifty.com

Seniors using exercise ball and weights

How the Human Body Changes As It Ages

The human body undergoes a lot of changes during its lifetime. From infancy to old age, there are biochemical processes in the body that define these changes.

Some of them are visible externally, such as the greying of hair, skin becoming less supple, etc.

But beneath all of this, some processes happen to make all of this possible.

Metabolic Changes

Metabolism is defined as the chemical reactions that occur to keep the body functional.

Although metabolism does decrease during old age, this effect can be slowed down by exercising and staying fit.

Metabolism is influenced by four major factors:

  • Resting Metabolic Rate – This is the number of calories that you burn while you’re in a state of rest. This is the least amount of energy that you need to keep functioning.
  • Thermic Effect of Food – This is the number of calories that you burn by digesting and absorbing food.
  • Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis – The number of calories that you burn by small actions that are not defined as an exercise. Ex: Casual walking, washing dishes, etc.
  • Exercise – This is the number of calories that you burn through active exercise.

Through active exercise, you can sustain your metabolism while aging. This does not prevent it, but delays the onset and reduces the impact.

Genetic Changes During Aging

Throughout a person’s lifetime, their cells are exposed to harmful environments, continuously damaging them. This reduces the body’s capacity to heal from injury and regrow dead cells. This damage to the cells also damages the DNA.

While DNA can replicate, it’s not infinite.

It’s limited by Telomeres.

Telomeres are protein complexes that cap the end of linear DNA strands. During replication of DNA strands, Telomeres do not replicate. Instead, they stretch themselves out between the newly created strands. Because of this, there are a limited number of times that DNA can replicate.

It’s been observed that there’s a direct correlation between the shortening of telomeres and the production of somatic stem cells throughout the course of aging. This shortening of telomeres is what causes a large number of age-related diseases in humans.[1]

Hormonal Changes During Aging

Hormones cause significant changes while the human body ages.

Before adulthood, there’s a substantial increase in the production of the growth hormone in the human body.

After attaining adulthood, the production of this hormone is reduced and ultimately declines as the person grows older.

Tropic hormones rise during puberty.  This hormone increases the production of sex steroids and growth hormones. It’s been observed that the decline of Growth Hormone reduces by 15% for every ten years in adulthood.[2]

Sleep is also a factor in hormonal changes during aging.[3]

Without adequate sleep, hormonal imbalances have been known to occur, when compared to individuals who get a proper amount of sleep regularly.

In men, it’s been found that there is a significant reduction in the production of testosterone as they age.

This commonly happens during Andropause. This reduction in testosterone is attributed to the loss of libido, depression, the decline in cognitive ability, and loss of muscle mass and strength.

This can be slowed to an extent through an active exercise to maintain muscle mass. But it’s not entirely preventable.

The reason for this reduction in the production of testosterone is because of the reduced hypothalamic secretion in the pituitary gland.[4] Although this can be treated with Androgen replacement therapy, it is usually only reserved for those with an abnormal change in their testosterone levels.

In women, the balance of hormones changes during menopause. Common symptoms of menopause include “hot flashes,” mood swings, and problems with sleeping.

Menopause typically happens to women in their mid-forties. Their bodies start making less of the female sex hormone, Estrogen. Because of this, their menstrual cycles slow down, become less regular, and eventually stop altogether. This signifies the end of the woman’s fertility.

When a woman has her last period that is when her menopause begins. In addition to the end of menstrual cycles, the walls of her vagina will also dry up and thin.[5]

Both Andropause and menopause cannot be completely stopped, but the loss of hormones can be reduced with hormone replacement therapy. This is done by artificially injecting hormones like estrogen and testosterone into the person’s body.

Exercise can lessen the impact of this to an extent, but it is not entirely preventable. It’s a natural cycle that happens to everyone.

Slowing Down the Effects of Aging

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to prevent the effects of aging. It’s a natural process that cannot be stopped. But it can be reduced to a great extent with controllable factors.

But for most people, a healthy and balanced diet with proper exercise can keep the effects of aging from impacting them too adversely. You can follow this at any age, and it isn’t restricted to only those that are beginning to feel the signs of aging.

Loss of muscle mass is a significant aspect of aging, and continuous exercise can help keep muscles from degenerating from loss of testosterone. A proper protein diet also helps, since this ensures that there’s an adequate supply of protein for the human body to repair damaged cells. [6]

Talk to your doctor about a proper exercise regimen for you to arrive on a schedule that is suited to your requirements.

Maintaining this should help prolong your lifespan while minimizing the adverse effects of aging.


Jill Roberts, is an owner and editor of Wellness Geeky Health & Wellness Publication. She and her team dedicated to provide readers and clients with most reliable Health information. She holds Master’s Degree in Molecular Biology and PHD in Epidemiology and Clinical Research. She also worked as an editors for European Medical publication (European Medical Journal) for 7 years.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3295054/#b9-ad-2-3-186
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279163/
  3. https://www.wellnessgeeky.com/3-tips-to-get-more-sleep-and-reduce-stress/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1502317/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072495/
  6. https://www.wellnessgeeky.com/arbonne-protein-shakes-powder-reviews/
seniors-exercising

Healthy Aging: A Paradigm Shift to Prevention

In a previous article about A Paradigm Shift to Personal Responsibility, I set up the premise that the healthcare system is technologically driven and derives its results through partnerships with the insurance industry, government, pharmaceutical industry, medical profession and the hospitals that deliver services to patients.

Given the complexity of the system, patients have have to learn to navigate it to get the proper guidance, access and information from the right people at the right time for the right results. Moreover, the system is laden with traps in the form of its many “hidden” extra costs which means that going down the wrong route can turn into an expensive mistakes. Therefore, I believe that people need to become educated on the value of prevention by living a life that represents the core values of “wellness” and all that this word has come to mean over the past two decades.

A Definition of Wellness

In 1993, I prepared a presentation for the Association of Human Resource Professionals entitled “Improving Health in The Workplace”. I designed it as a proposal to encourage corporate managers to see the value and importance of prevention through the eyes of the employee in partnership with the company. My intention was to develop a “win-win” model whereby the company enhanced employees’ lives by investing in programs that would help create a “workplace health consciousness”. This would assist people in making healthier choices thereby improving productivity and performance. The company would benefit in the form of fewer days of work missed and the cost of healthcare would decline as well.

Needless to say, the presentation did not net me any new corporate clients but it did yield a couple of wonderful personal training clients. My thought process was focused on personal health and fitness services delivered on site, but being a single fitness provider the idea was probably too impractical to pursue. My presentation focused on the individual and its takeaway messages was:

We are what we eat, we are what we think, we are what we do, we are what we feel, and finally we are what we believe.

My idea was that if we become healthy in our thinking and expression first, then our bodies will follow suit: our new thought patterns will foster the adoption of new attitudes and behaviors. This model is just as true today as it was back in 1993 because wellness is not fitness – it is a consciousness of health that is ingrained in what we value most about our life and what that means to us.

The Values of Wellness and Prevention

I think it only fair to share with you my vision statement because it goes to the heart of why I am a proponent of healthy aging and believe prevention comes from “within” us as we focus on our choices while living in the present.

Healthy aging is a consciousness issue. It is not merely the death of our cells but is a complex and dynamic process that is grounded in CHANGE as life unfolds for each of us. The challenge, as I see it, is in discovering the potential that lies within us to become all we were meant to be – mentally, physically, and spiritually. This potential can carry us to living a life of fulfillment, peace, and prosperity if we remain PRESENT during each moment of our life – living consciously. Learning about who we are from the “inside-out” while acting upon our choices in the present, enables and empowers us to live a life of great accomplishment. This is my vision of a world that is possible.

I see now that what I envisioned for healthy aging will disappear in the world of the iPhone and other technologies if we do not become active players in the awareness of our own body and other sources that can control our thoughts and other processes. The goal of prevention is to “catch” the stressors BEFORE they create “dis-ease” in the body causing chronic conditions such as cancer. The problem is that the tests and the other “preventative” measures being used today only catch problems AFTER they have started to take hold in our bodies.

The Power of Five

1. The Power of Thought: Thinking is life. What we think we become. Everything in life evolves from thought. From this power comes our imagination, affirmations and ability to visualize outcomes. Dreams come from our thoughts. Disneyland was once a thought in Walt Disney’s mind. If we are staring at our phones over 200 times a day (which has been tested), we are missing out on our life and the changes that are occurring right before our eyes.

2. The Power of Change: “Change is the only constant in the natural order” as one of my favorite teachers taught me back in 1982. How we deal with change and address the challenges that change brings, plays a key role in whether we can go with the flow – or remain stuck where we are. Comfort zones keep us trapped in the place where change becomes almost impossible to embrace, but if we learn to let go of the past and embrace who we are in the present, life becomes so much more rewarding. “Go with the flow” is the best advice I can give when dealing with ALL change – it makes life so much easier and rewarding.

3. The Power of Choice: Choice is the real point of power in life. We “choose” every day of our life: whether we to go to work, go to the store, play with our kids or plan our futures. The point of making choices in the present is to create what you want from your life – and in your life. If you choose your health you will become active without excuses. You will eat well. You will entertain uplifting and loving thoughts. You will express yourself gently to those you love. You will not demand but forgive. You will value your every experience and be grateful for your gifts. This is to choose life in all its wonder and potential happiness.

4. The Power of Belief: Believing in yourself is always the place to begin. Believing in your potential to accomplish great things and to make a difference in the world takes work but it is possible with proper reflection and thought. “If you can conceive and believe, you can achieve”. This is true in all areas of life. Take responsibility for your beliefs and if they need to be altered or replaced – do so. Don’t wait until you are sick and tired and finally unable to believe at all in something more than your own life. Affirmations, meditation and reflection in quiet moments are ways to check in on your current beliefs. If you believe in yourself, anything is possible.

5. The Power of Consciousness: “The mind of man is unlimited in its potential and responds to specific demands made upon it”. This is another statement of belief I hold. I believe in opening my mind to new ideas and thoughts. I can create new and exciting ideas and some of these become realities in the world. This very piece of writing was an idea that is now materialised in the world to inspire others. My consciousness is one of hope and faith that I am being guided to create programs that will help people of all ages grow in consciousness so that they too can benefit from the ideas that others shared with me over the past 40 years.

Living in the present is challenging given the world we live in and all the demands that are placed upon us. We are on call 24/7 if we choose to let ourselves be taken in that direction. I refuse to let myself get taken into the world as Steve Jobs envisioned it. His world is not my world. I believe in the freedom to create my life by making the choices that are appropriate for me at any given time. Make your choices consciously and respond to your life and the changes it brings you by not resisting them. Be open and receptive to them. Thinking is the key. Think “through” your life. Do NOT react to outside pressures. Only then you will be able to enjoy the journey. This is true prevention.

Originally printed on HealthyNewAge.com. Reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop.


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach, a fitness professional with over 25 years of experience whose passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

If you need help in designing a fitness plan, you can contact Nicholas Prukop via email at runningnick@sbcglobal.net or read his inspiring book Healthy Aging & YOU

woman sleeping

Sleep: An Essential Component to Maintaining Health

I have the answer to making you feel calmer, more energized, with no side effects, help with depression, lose weight, improve your for focus and productivity at work, regulate your hormones and boost your immune system. Sleep does all of this and more. 

Sufficient sleep is an essential to maintain health.

Getting enough sleep improves:

  • motivation
  • supports brain health
  • recovery of muscle strength
  • speed
  • muscle glycogen (stored energy in the muscles)
  • cortisol (stress) regulation
  • memory

Two thirds of adults in developed nations do not get enough sleep!

Less than six hours of sleep compromises the immune system and doubles cancer risk.

A tired brain isn’t able to communicate its needs properly, which can lead to imbalance and unhealthy habits.

Those who are sleep deprived also have a slower reaction time than to those who are rested. You can take all the vitamins and drink all the caffeine you want, sleep deprivation is sleep deprivation. Sleep enables the body to heal itself. Sleep actually is not passive, but studies show during some sleep phases, parts of the brain are more active then they are when you are awake.

The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life span. For athletes, insufficient sleep can be the reason for decreased performance and increased injury risk.

Adults should sleep 7 or more hours per night on a regular basis to promote optimal health. Less than five or six hours of sleep can negatively impact human performance, metabolic health, mental health, cardiovascular health, immune function, mortality, pain, general health. More than 8 hours a night can improve all of the above.

As you age, you sleep less and you spend less time in slow wave sleep. Amyloid beta is cleared from the brain during sleep and more slowly from the aging brain. Worsening amyloid deposition is seen in people with shorter sleep durations, or worsening sleep quality. Don’t count on recovery methods to contract little sleep and a poor diet. Sleep and nutrition are not recovery. Modifiable risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is not enough sleep!

As you rest, your body and brain are preparing and rebuilding themselves. Growth hormones, which promotes cell reproduction and regeneration, is released into the bloodstream and the production of certain types of immune cells peaks. Sleep also helps to regulate hormones associated with weight gain. A study on sleep deprived men found that when they got less sleep, levels of gherkin (the hormone that increases appetite) rose. Lack of sleep can result in weight gain. Woman who sleep five hours a night were 15 percent more likely to be obese than those who slept seven hours. Being sleep deprived contributes to weight gain and makes weight loss difficult.

Good nutrition is amazing. Meditation is amazing. But nothing makes up for lack of sleep, nothing.

Sleep slows your heart rate and breathing and causes your blood pressure to drop. It also changes the frequency of your brainwaves. Delta waves (the slowest frequency brainwaves), which are linked to deep healing, only occur during the deep part of your sleep cycle. These are the same brainwaves experienced in a meditative state. Production of delta waves is associated with a drop in the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Lack of sleep have an aging impact on the brain and skin.

Some tips to create a sleep friendly bedroom:

  1. Black out curtains, the darker the room the better.
  2. Keep your bedroom decor simple and calm, clutter free, work papers out of sight.
  3. Blue walls perhaps or blue in your room.  Gentle blue tones are widely believed to have a calming effect.
  4. Keep a notepad by your bed so you don’t have to worry about staying awake because you don’t want to forget something, just write it down and go back to sleep.
  5. Pre sleep meditation and calming music.

Some tips for quality sleep:

  1. Institute a tech curfew. The light radiating from TV, phones, computers, iPads can disrupt the circadian rhythm. A study at Harvard University Medical School found particular frequencies of light disrupted the sleep inducing hormone melatonin. Turn off all devices at least an hour before bedtime. If you must read on your laptop or iPad before bed, download the blue light filter app. The more amount of screen time used, the less sleep. The circadian clock regulates our sleep; using technology near bed time interrupts the natural circadian rhythm clock and negatively impacts sleep. The top 25% of social media users were 2-3 times more likely to have disturbed sleep than those in the bottom 25%.
  2. Alcohol. You fall asleep more quickly, but the quality of sleep is poor, and REM sleep is decreased.
  3. Exercise regularly. Just not right before bed — that can have the opposite affect.
  4. 65 degrees is the optimum temperature for a good night sleep. If you are too hot, you are more likely to feel restless.
  5. Try herbal tea with chamomile and or valerian root.
  6. Imagine a tranquil natural scene, this visualization could make you relax. Studies at Oxford University showed that those who used this technique would fall asleep twenty minutes sooner than those who did not picture the tranquil scene. Avoid counting sheep — the study showed it took people longer to fall asleep!

Restful sleep is key ingredient to living a miraculous life. Real sleep!

“Lack of sleep is another way we block our power, creativity, and intuition.”
–Huffington Post President and Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington.

We often measure how productive we are based on how hard we work and how little sleep we get. This mentality is negatively affecting our health and overall well-being!


Charleene O’Connor is a a biomechanics specialist, TPI Level 3 Golf Fitness Trainer, Egoscue Postural alignment therapist, Meditation teacher and SUP instructor. Visit her website, charleenesfitness.com