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Archive for Health
April 28th, 2014
I’ve become completely obsessed with this longevity test.
Can you get off the floor from a seated position without using your hands, arms or knees to help you?
Try it! It’s not as simple as it sounds.
I somehow stumbled upon a longevity study that was done a few years back and now I’m hooked.
In the study over 2,000 men and women ranging in age from 51-80 were told: “Without worrying about the speed of movement, try to sit and then to rise from the floor, using the minimum support that you believe is needed.”
Here’s a video showing how the subjects were scored in the longevity study and how you can test yourself and others:
The study found that middle-aged and elderly adults who needed to use their hands and their knees to get up and down were almost seven times more likely to die within six years, compared with those who could get up and down without support.
I’m not old enough to participate in this study, yet I still feel compelled to make sure I can do this not-so-simple task.
The investigators in the longevity study said that a high score in the sitting-rising test might “reflect the capacity to successfully perform a wide range of activities of daily living, such as bending over to pick up a newspaper or a pair of glasses from under a table”.
I’ve been working out for years, but this study shows that longevity is based on more than just physical fitness.
“It is well known that aerobic fitness is strongly related to survival, but our study also shows that maintaining high levels of body flexibility, muscle strength, power-to-body weight ratio and co-ordination are not only good for performing daily activities but have a favorable influence on life expectancy.”
So now do you see why I’m obsessed?
I’m so fixated that I just got out of my chair to make sure I can still do this!
Bringing longevity back to reality
Placing my obsession aside, I know that one simple test isn’t a tried and true indicator of longevity. I think what’s so fascinating is our ability to have some control over this small measure of how long we live. It’s not new news that what we place in and on our bodies along with functional fitness can all help gauge our long-term health.
So it’s time to get on the floor and let me know if you can do this. Hopefully you won’t become as obsessed as I am!
photo credit: @superamit via photopin cc
February 10th, 2014
Last week I had my annual mammogram.
It’s not a fun day by any stretch of the imagination.
I know that many of you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Being in New England where the temps are pretty chilly, I was already cold when I arrived for my appointment. I was asked to change into once of those little cotton hospital tops that has about 15 hanging strings that somehow tie together. I didn’t have the patience or the energy so I just left the top wide open. There’s not a modest bone left in my body after birthing children.
When I was called into the exam room I was shivering. Nerves. Cold.
The lovely woman (she’s always so incredibly pleasant-right?) introduced herself. My chest became play dough as she spent time arranging it perfectly on the machine. She then let me know that I would hear a beep once the x-ray machine was where it needed to be. If I couldn’t stand the pressure on my chest she assured me that it would be OK to ask her to stop. But then she reminded me that if I made it to the beep the x-rays would probably turn out better. After hearing that, I knew that I had to suck it up and wait for the beep. I was willing to endure the pain if there was a lesser likelihood that I would have to come back for more x-rays.
When that beep finally came “STOP(or @#%^!)” was on the tip of my tongue. It was all I could stand. She asked me to hold my breath while she took the x-ray, but I already was.
She took two x-rays, one on each side, and then I managed to ask if most people make it to the beep. She laughed and said “No honey, they don’t. ” She then said “Personally, I’ve never made it to the beep.” I didn’t feel like Superwoman. I just wanted to get out of there.
Two more x-rays with the beep and I was sent on my way.
I’ve been to two different types of mammogram centers- those that give you the results that day and those that don’t. This was the latter.
Why I Get a Mammogram
Getting a mammogram is scary stuff. We all know someone who’s had breast cancer. Someone close.
The American Cancer Society’s estimates for breast cancer in the United States for 2014 are:
- About 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
- About 62,570 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
- About 40,000 women will die from breast cancer
Mammography has helped reduce breast cancer mortality in the U.S. by nearly 1/3 since 1990 through early detection.
It has saved the lives of many women in my life and for that I’m truly grateful.
That’s why I get a mammogram and you should too.
Beyond the Mammogram
Breast cancer prevention begins with making educated decisions about what goes in or on our bodies. Our cosmetics, personal care products and food are all places where toxic chemicals can be hiding. Taking the time to read labels and ask questions is so important. The burden is on us to find safe products. Together we need to help shape public policy so that it focuses on prevention for all.
We assume that chemicals used to make ordinary products are tested for safety — but they are not. Our current laws are outdated and not doing their job. We need our government’s help. It’s time to get tough on toxic chemicals.
There’s a lot that needs to happen before women, men and children no longer have to worry about cancer and other diseases. We’ve seen the power of our collective voices. I have no doubt that together we can make this happen.
Do you have an annual mammogram? Tell me more……
photo credit: Eyesplash – feels like spring via photopin cc
September 3rd, 2013
When my friend Lindsay asked if I wanted to participate in a 30 Day Deep Breathing Challenge my first thought was I’m way too busy. Then I managed to take a step back only to realize the timing was perfect. This is a transitional time of year for many of us – school’s starting, the seasons are changing and life as we know it is being shaken up. I’m the first to admit that I don’t always handle change very well so a few deep breaths are much needed.
Over the years I’ve incorporated deep breathing or meditation into my life, but generally only on an as needed basis. Overall life seems to get so busy and my deep breathing gets shuffled to the end of the to-do list.
What is the 30 Day Deep Breathing Challenge?
There’s a simple theory out there which says deep breathing (meditation) is linked to a more relaxed and happy life. Hard to deny that and I’ve experienced it firsthand. Simply put- it works.
The challenge is easy: Every day for the next 30 days commit to doing deep breathing at some point throughout the day.
I’ll be deep breathing along with several other bloggers. You can follow the conversation on Twitter with the #BreatheDeep hashtag, and follow their blogs: Lindsay Dahl, EnviroBooty, Conscientious Confusion, Made in USA Challenge, Tea with Dee, Jen and Joey Go Green, Almost All the Truth , Green4u, and more!
Tips for Deep Breathing or Meditation
- Deep breathing can happen anywhere. Find what works for you.
- There is no right or wrong way to deep breathe.
- Smile. Try it. Smiling keeps you relaxed and focused.
- Find a time that works for you. Maybe it’s when you wake up or after the kids leave for school.
- Focus on your breath. Keep coming back to it as other thoughts try to push in.
- Practice makes perfect. Well not really- we’re not shooting for perfection, but practicing does help.
When I first began meditating the book Meditation for Beginners by Jack Kornfield was very helpful.
So are you up for the challenge? I would love to have you join in!
photo credit: tamra hays via photopin cc>
February 14th, 2011
There is something so special about Valentine’s Day when you’re a kid. My kids spend endless hours reading through each valentine that comes home from school and sorting through all the candy, pencils and other loot.
We gave a lot of thought this year about what to attach, if anything, to the valentines handed out in school. One idea was to attach organic lollipops. This idea prompted a long discussion about why we would choose organic lollipops vs. their non-organic cousins.
We talked about what ORGANIC means
Organically produced foods must be produced without the use of:
- Synthetic hormones
- Genetic engineering
- Other excluded practices
- Sewage sludge
Organic foods are minimally processed without artificial ingredients or preservatives to maintain the integrity of the food.
Ok-so far, so good. The organic lollipops are made without all of the above.
But what about all the ingredients that organic lollipops are made with?
The lollipops I was thinking of buying listed the following as their first three ingredients:
- Organic evaporated cane juice (aka sugar)
- Organic tapioca syrup (aka sugar)
- Organic brown rice syrup (aka sugar)
Photo used under Creative Commons from Terrin in Virginia
All the ingredients in the lollipops were organic and therefore not grown with any chemicals or pesticides. The sugars used are not as processed and refined as the evil high fructose corn syrup or other processed sugars. But regardless of how sugar is made and where it comes from- corn, juice concentrates, cane, beets, tapioca, brown rice or honey, sugar is sugar. All sugar contains four calories per gram and are handled the same by the body. Sugar is addictive. Sugar can cause obesity, diabetes, gum disease, a weakened immune system and a myriad of other health concerns.
No matter how you look at it, too much sugar isn’t healthy.
There are so many organic sugary treats out there- ice creams, cookies and snacks- and although they might be free of chemicals, dyes and pesticides, they aren’t healthy. Yes, it’s better to have sugar that’s organic, but too much even of organic sugar isn’t a good thing.
Sorry to pick on you, lollipops. You are just one example of the many organic foods that are processed, contain lots of sugar and are unhealthy.
How to choose healthy organic food
Organic foods can contain all sorts of unhealthy ingredients. Sugar isn’t the only bad guy. When choosing where to spend your money on organic food:
- Read ingredient labels carefully.
- Be wary of long lists of ingredients that you don’t recognize.
- Stick with organic fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts as much as possible.
- Enjoy processed and/or sugary organic foods in moderation.
We didn’t end up sending in lollipops. Once class did get candy (after much begging from my son). For the rest, we stuck with boring pencils and tooth brushes to help clean up the mess.
WHAT DO YOU SEND IN WITH YOUR KIDS VALENTINES?
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*Photo used under Creative Commons from D. Sharon Pruitt