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Are You Killing Your Knees
Stress Relievers: Tips to Tame Stress
Running Tips 
Overcoming Exercise Excuses 
True or Flase:  You Can Cure A Hangover
Can Coffee Combat Alzheimer's?
New Government Fitness Recommendations
20 Tips For Cold And Flu Prevention
Seasonal Allergies
Fitness Ain't Rocket Science... Or Is It?
Is Walking Enough Exercise For Women?
Outrageous Fitness Club Offenses
Water Fitness
Headaches?
The Celebrity Macrobiotic Diet
Why Are We So Fat?
Coping With Arthritis
Breathing During Exercise
Creatine: Liver Disease and Kidney Failure
Smith Machine
Leg Extensions



Are You Killing Your Knees 

When was the last time you skinned your knee? It's probably been a while since you experienced this commonplace ailment of rough and tumble youthful times. But even if your grown-up ways have made frequent knee scrapes a thing of the past, your habits in adulthood could still be damaging your knees. The only difference now is that the damage may be a little harder to see.

We put an enormous amount of mechanical stress on our knees on a daily basis. And, typically, the knee is designed to take it. However, certain bad habits could be shortening the life of your knees and opening the door to chronic pain and disability.

The way you stand, walk, and move can have a tremendous impact on the health of your knee joints. Taking time now to evaluate some basic choices, such as your stance, your shoes, and your level of overall health and fitness, may help you side-step debilitating knee conditions like osteoarthritis and help keep your knees healthy, inside and out.

Ask yourself the following five questions and find out if you're being nice to your knees.

1. How much weight are you carrying?

Your knees bear the brunt of your body weight, so it's crucial that you maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI). Every extra pound you carry adds up to 3 pounds of pressure on your knee joints when you walk, and 10 pounds when you run. So, if your BMI is 25 or more, you may be compromising the health of your knees. In fact, obesity is one of the biggest risk factors for developing osteoarthritis because it speeds the breakdown of cartilage. Dropping extra weight -- particularly body fat -- may be the single most important thing you can do to reduce the risk of developing a serious knee problem. In a study reviewed by the National Institutes of Health, overweight people who lost an average of 11 pounds cut their risk of osteoarthritis in half. 

2. Are you exercising?

Regular exercise is essential to maintaining knee strength. Without it, your muscles weaken, leaving your joints without ample support and leaving your muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and joints vulnerable to misalignment.

Your best bet is to choose activities with a low risk of knee injury. A knee injury can double the risk of developing osteoarthritis. Daily moderate exercise is much better for your joints than occasional strenuous exercise. Focus on low-impact activities that build stamina, strength, and flexibility, such as yoga, walking, biking, swimming, and weight lifting. These types of exercise can help enhance circulation, improve your range of motion, and build the muscles that surround the knee joints. One study revealed that a relatively small increase in quadriceps strength (20%–25%) can lead to a 20%–30% decrease in the chance of developing knee osteoarthritis. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week.

Knee-Friendly Exercises

  • Water workouts provide low-impact resistance and add a strength-training aspect to aerobic exercises such as walking or jogging.
  • T'ai chi can help increase your range of motion, lengthen your muscles, and make your ligaments and tendons more resilient.
  • Isometric exercises and yoga strengthen core body muscles as well as leg muscles that support the knee. 

3. Are you overusing some muscles and joints?

Staying active is one of the best things you can do to protect your knees, but you should avoid repetitive strain on muscles and joints. For example, repeatedly engaging in the same activity -- whether for work, recreation, or exercise -- may loosen tendons or damage cartilage and eventually lead to injuries and possibly even arthritis.

Determining if you are overusing a joint requires listening to your body. When you feel pain or discomfort during or after exercise, household chores, or other activities, don't ignore it. Take a break and consider ceasing the activity altogether until you can perform it without pain. In the meantime, stay active by focusing on other activities that do not stress the injured joint. If the pain does not go away in 2 weeks, see your healthcare provider.

To help avoid overuse injuries, spend 5–10 minutes warming up before you exercise and another 5–10 minutes cooling down afterward.

4. Is your body properly aligned?

Just as driving a car when the wheels are out of alignment causes the tires to wear irregularly, the same principle holds true for your knees. If your body is not properly aligned, your muscles, joints, and ligaments take more strain than they are able to endure healthfully.

Here are some general principles of correct standing posture:

  • Your back is straight. Don't slump forward at the shoulders or waist.
  • Your knees are slightly bent - they should not be locked.
  • Your abdominal muscles are tight - gently suck in your stomach.
  • Your head is centered over your body. Check yourself in the mirror from side to side.
  • Your weight is evenly distributed between your feet. Do not jut one hip out to the side.

A physical therapist can help you assess your biomechanics and teach you proper standing, sitting, walking, running, and lifting techniques that can help spare your joints from extra wear and tear.

5. Are you wearing the right shoes?

Shoes that cause your body weight to be unevenly distributed place extra stress on your knee joints. In addition to avoiding obviously uncomfortable or impractical shoes that can throw your stride off and stress your knees, you also should consider a visit to a specialty store if you have special anatomical considerations. As they say, nobody's perfect. Flat or rigid arches, uneven leg length, and bowed legs are fairly common in the general population, and each can contribute to an awkward stride and put pressure on your knees. Consider purchasing at least one of your main pairs of shoes or sneakers at a specialty store where the staff can advise you on which shoes provide the appropriate support for your foot and body type. Before you go, consider a visit with a podiatrist. He or she can help diagnose any additional foot concerns, such as overpronation or supination, and prescribe orthotic inserts that go into your shoes and correct your gait.

High-heeled shoes might add to the risk of osteoarthritis or other knee problems: A Harvard University study found that women who wear high heels have stress across the part of the knee where osteoarthritis usually develops.

Be Good to Your Knees Now

Arthritis of the knee is common, but it is not necessarily an inevitable consequence of aging. Taking care of your knees now will cost you a lot less time and effort than rehabilitating them down the road.


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Stress relievers: Tips to Tame Stress 

Try yoga

With its series of postures and controlled-breathing exercises, yoga is a popular stress reliever. Yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines to achieve peacefulness of body and mind, helping you relax and manage stress and anxiety. Try yoga on your own or find a class — you can find classes in most communities. Hatha yoga, in particular, is a good stress reliever because of its slower pace and easier movements.

Get enough sleep

Stress often gives sleep the heave-ho. When you have too much to do — and too much to think about — your sleep suffers. But sleep is the time when your brain and body recharge.

And the quality and amount of sleep you get affects your mood, energy level, concentration and overall functioning. If you have sleep troubles, make sure that you have a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine, listen to soothing music, put clocks away, and stick to a consistent schedule.

Keep a journal

Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a good release for otherwise pent-up emotions. Don't think about what to write — just let it happen. Write whatever comes to mind. No one else needs to read it, so don't strive for perfection in grammar or spelling. Just let your thoughts flow on paper — or computer screen. Once you're done, you can toss out what you wrote or save it to reflect on later.

Get musical and be creative

Listening to or playing music is a good stress reliever because it provides a mental distraction, reduces muscle tension and decreases stress hormones. Crank up the volume and let your mind be absorbed by the music.

If music isn't your thing, turn your attention to another hobby you enjoy, such as gardening, sewing, sketching — anything that requires you to focus on what you're doing rather than what you think you should be doing.

Seek counseling

If new stressors are challenging your ability to cope or if self-care measures just aren't relieving your stress, you may need to look for reinforcements in the form of therapy or counseling. Therapy also may be a good idea if you feel overwhelmed or trapped, if you worry excessively, or if you have trouble carrying out daily routines or meeting responsibilities at work, home or school. Professional counselors or therapists can help you identify sources of your stress and learn new coping tools.


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Running Tips 

Although running style tends to be roughly preordained by your innate and individual biomechanics and shouldn't be tampered with drastically, minor corrections can make a big difference in performance and injury prevention.
 

Give yourself a casual test or have a buddy give you the once-over while running. Health clubs often have treadmills positioned in front of mirrors, which can be an excellent way to check yourself out.

If you think your own running form could use some attention, find a trainer or strength and conditioning coach to help. If you've been running injury-free for years, it probably doesn't make sense to drastically change your gait.

However, most of these tips can help you to run with more ease and less tension, saving your energy for speed and endurance.

Head Position: Look straight ahead, neither up nor down. Head should be relaxed, eyes on the course about 10 feet ahead. Fatigue can cause shoulders to rise up and the head to tilt back. Be conscious of your position.

Body Angle: Run tall. Imagine a plumb line dropped from the top of the head to the arch of your feet. Plumb lines follow the pull of gravity perpendicular to the ground, and so should your body.

Arm Action: Never carry the arms high on the chest. Arms should be relaxed at about a 90-degree angle. Swing should be like a pendulum from the shoulders, elbows down, the arch extending from chest high to the seam of your shorts. The upper body should not twist from side to side.

Hands: Keep your hands relaxed and your wrists loose. Cup your hands and touch the thumb to the forefinger.

Knee Action: Let your leg come forward naturally swinging with the weight of the leg. Knees shouldn't be lifted beyond their natural swing.

Footplant: Here lies the greatest controversy in running biomechanics. Although some will argue for a heel-first landing, especially for older or less accomplished runners, many authorities call for you to land on the lower part of the ball of the foot, drop the heel, and push off the ball of the foot. The faster you run, the more tendency there is to land on the lower ball of the foot. Do not turn your feet out.

Stride Length: Don't overstride, this is the cardinal sin of running. Avoid reaching for the next stride. Run tall with a low forward knee lift.

Relaxation: Avoid unnecessary use of energy through tension and stress originating in the face, hands, or arms. Save your energy for running with a relaxed, efficient form. It pays off.


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Overcoming Exercise Excuses 

You’ve told yourself dozens of times that tomorrow you are going to start exercising. Yet, tomorrow has come and gone, and you still haven’t starting moving. So, what’s holding you back? What excuse seems fitting today?

It’s time to face your excuses head-on so that you can overcome them and choose to live a healthier lifestyle. Here are some of the most common excuses for skipping exercise along with ways to combat them.

I Don’t Have Time: This if by far one of the most common excuses used. But, it still doesn’t hold water. People that use this excuse are actually saying that exercise is not enough of a priority to make it on their weekly to-do list. If you fall into this category, then it’s time to review your daily priority list. Certainly there is something less important that you are doing for 20 minutes every day that can be replaced with exercise. After all, exercise is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family to ensure that you live a long, full, disease-free life.

I’ve Tried And Failed In The Past: It’s true that it can be difficult to get motivated to try something after you’ve failed before, but isn’t your health worth another try? If you’ve been unsuccessful at exercising in the past, then re-evaluate what went wrong. Did you try to do too much, too quickly? It’s very common for new exercises to be overzealous when starting their workouts and end up either burning out or getting injured early on. Did you set unrealistic goals for yourself? Try to stick with small goals that are truly achievable. For example, that you will workout three times per week for the next month.

I Can’t Afford A Gym Membership: You don’t have to spend a single minute in a gym in order to lose weight or get fitter. Just walking outside is a great place to start. Also, home fitness equipment has become very affordable and accessible. For as little as $30 you can buy some great home equipment that will really challenge your body. A resistance band and an exercise ball allow you to work every muscle group and even get a cardiovascular workout.

I’m Too Fat (or out-of-shape): Unless your physician has forbidden exercise, then it’s very unlikely that this excuse has any validity. If you are extremely out-of-shape, then you simply need to start with baby steps. Walking is always a great place to start. You may have to start with just five minutes. That’s okay. You can gradually add more time each week. If walking is not an option, then you could try some pool exercises. At the very least, you can start by getting active while sitting. There are many beneficial strength training exercises you can do while sitting.

I Don’t Have Any Exercise Equipment: Nice try, but it doesn’t require special equipment to get your heart pumping. Don’t underestimate what you can do with things that are already in your house. For example, if you have a flight of stairs in your house then you’ve got an awesome way to get your heart rate up with through walking or running the stairs. Grab soup cans or milk jugs filled with sand to immolate dumbbells for strength training exercises. Try push-ups and tricep dips and you’ll quickly realize how hard your body has to work when just using it’s own weight.

I Don’t Know What Exercises To Do: A great way to ensure your workouts are most effective is to hire a personal trainer or an online personal trainer. They can guide you every step of the way so that you don’t waste any time doing exercises the wrong way.

I’m Too Old To Get Started: It may sound cliché, but you are never too old to get started. Everyone can benefit from exercising. Even if you are a senior citizen you can reap many rewards from starting an exercise program. Okay, so maybe you won’t be a marathon runner or a bodybuilder, but you’ll be able to walk the stairs easier, play with your grandchildren, improve your balance, improve your strength and more.

I Just Can’t Get Motivated: Don’t view exercise as a lifetime evil. Set small, short-term goals to help you get started. Start with a promise to just take the stairs instead of the elevator, for example. Then you might move onto scheduling 10 minutes of activity a couple of times per week. Also, make a list of all the positive benefits exercising has on your life. Your list might include giving you more energy, reducing your health ailments and more. The list should be pretty long. Post it somewhere that you will see it regularly and it can serve as a reminder to you as to why you need to workout.

I Hate Exercising: You probably think you hate it because you’ve been stuck doing activities that you don’t enjoy. Many people still have the old “no pain, no gain” mentality and think that in order for exercise to be worthwhile you have to be miserable doing it. This just isn’t true. Consider things that you really like to do. Do you prefer competitive situations? Then consider joining a recreational sports team. Do you enjoy spending time alone? Maybe Yoga or evening walks are for you?

I’m Too Tired: This excuse can create a vicious circle because the more sedentary you are then the more tired you become. Of course, the more tired you are then the less appealing exercise sounds. So, try to nip this in the bud quickly. Exercise can actually make you feel more revived then a nap. Regular physical activity increases your energy level. Plus, exercises tend to sleep fall asleep faster and sleep better, which allows you to truly feel rested every day.

When you find yourself making an excuse not to exercise, read through some of the above tips again. And, remind yourself of all the many benefits of working out: lower body fat, decreased risk of many diseases, reduced instances of depression, improved bone density, reduced risk of injuries and many more.



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True Or False: You Can Cure A Hangover  

There is no scientific evidence in support of any method to rid the body of hangover symptoms. However, myths are still out there regarding surefire hangover remedies. Strong black coffee, for example, is a favorite among hangover sufferers who reason that a jolt of caffeine will restore some energy. However, caffeinated beverages, like alcohol, are diuretics and only worsen dehydration!

The modest benefits of acetaminophen (eg, Tylenol) may not be worth the increased risk of liver toxicity that can occur in the presence of alcohol. Ibuprofen and aspirin are safer for the liver, but may worsen any stomach irritation caused by the excesses of the night before.

According to another popular myth, called the “hair of the dog” theory, drinking first thing in the morning will help ease the effects of alcohol withdrawal. Although logical and possibly effective in the short-term, once your brain stops reacting to the new alcohol, the hangover will kick back in. Do not expect to recover by drinking more. The additional alcohol will be metabolized and the unavoidable hangover will return as your BAC drops.

Although there is no way to reliably reverse a hangover once it is hammering away at your head, you may be able to lessen its severity by planning ahead. Dr. Robert Swift and Dena Davidson’s article, “Alcohol Hangover–Mechanism and Mediators,” provides a comprehensive, scientific review of common hangover remedies.

One strategy for lessening the potential effects of intoxication is eating before you drink. Having food in your system will absorb some of the alcohol so that it doesn’t go directly into the bloodstream, and may protect your stomach from the irritation caused by alcohol. Fatty foods take the longest to digest, so if you are more concerned about the short-term health consequences (your potential hangover) than the long-term health effects (clogged arteries), go for that extra slice of greasy pizza!

Since your liver can only efficiently process one standard-sized alcoholic drink per hour, spreading your drinking out over the course of the night can be helpful. (In general, men can process more alcohol per hour than women.) Hydration is also a key factor because alcohol acts as a diuretic. Your body needs more and more fluids as the night goes on. Drinking a glass of water or juice between each alcoholic drink will help keep you hydrated and moderate the rate of your alcohol intake. Drinking a large glass of water before going to sleep will also help rehydrate you, and juice or Gatorade will restore some of the electrolytes you lost over the course of the night.

Finally, the type of alcohol you drink may affect the intensity of your hangover. Drinks that contain large amounts of compounds called congeners may increase hangover symptoms. Clear beverages like vodka, gin, and white wine contain less congeners than darker drinks like brandy, whisky, rum, and red wine.

Hangovers are nature’s way of telling you that you had too much to drink. To date, researchers haven’t figured out any way to “cure” a hangover, although research suggests that taking precautionary measures before and during the party may help reduce symptoms later. Until hangovers can be effectively treated (if ever), why not take the hint, and protect your body before symptoms arise by drinking responsibly!


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Can Coffee Combat Alzheimer's?
by Dr. Al Sears 

Your morning cup o’ joe may protect you from one of the most dreaded diseases of our time. A new study says that drinking five medium-sized cups of coffee a day could lower your chances of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.1

The study followed mice that were bred to develop Alzheimer’s. After two months of drinking water with 500 mg of caffeine added — the equivalent of five 8 oz. cups of coffee or two venti hot coffees from Starbucks — the mice performed much better on memory and thinking tests compared to mice that were given only water.

In fact, the memories of the caffeinated mice were on par with mice that didn’t have dementia at all.

Plus, the mice taking caffeine had a 50% reduction of beta amyloid, a protein often found in Alzheimer’s patients.2

And it’s not just Alzheimer’s. At least six separate studies indicate that people who drink coffee on a regular basis are up to 80% less likely to develop Parkinson’s. In fact, the newest Parkinson’s drugs contain a derivative of caffeine.3

Here’s how you can take advantage of coffee’s health benefits:

Drink it fresh. Grind your coffee at the time you wish to drink it. This maximizes the flavor and prevents against oxidation. Coffee’s healing properties are best when brewed fresh.

Drink it black. The best benefits of coffee are delivered in its purest state. Adding dairy products and sweeteners may alter the taste, but it will also diminish the rewards.

Don’t drink coffee close to bedtime. The brain, and your body, both require rest. Caffeine stimulation could negatively affect your sleep patterns.

Steer clear of flavored coffee drinks. The flavors are most likely artificial (i.e., high fructose corn syrups) and are often laden with unwanted calories.

If you’re not fond of coffee, here are few natural caffeine sources to consider:

Black tea/Green tea –Black tea and green tea both contain caffeine. A cup of black tea has roughly 40 mg of caffeine. That’s about half as much caffeine as a regular cup of coffee. Green tea, a popular and healthy drink, contains approximately 20 mg per cup.

Guarana — A popular ingredient in many energy drinks, guarana provides solid, energy-boosting benefits without the coffee jitters. The berry that Guarana comes from is high in healthy fatty acids, which are absorbed slower than water-soluble caffeine. This gives guarana a slower release time than coffee.

Remember, non-organic coffee is heavily sprayed with pesticides. And most popular brands use chemicals in the manufacturing process. So whatever caffeinated beverage you drink should be from organic sources. And if you don’t want to get your caffeine from tea or coffee, I recommend an herbal source, rather than caffeine pills.

References

  1. Arendash G.W. et al. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. July 2009
  2. Chuanhai Cao et al. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. July 2009
  3. Brunilda N. Coffee: the New Health Food? April 12, 2004 www.somalibantu.com.

[Ed. Note: Dr. Sears is Chairman of the Board of Total Health Breakthroughs. He has written over 500 articles and 7 books in the fields of alternative medicine, anti-aging, and nutritional supplementation.]


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New Government Fitness Recommendations 

The United States Government has released a new series of fitness recommendations including muscle-strengthening (resistance) activities at a moderate or high-intensity level for all major muscle groups, two or more days a week, as part of the new Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

These recommendations are the most comprehensive federal recommendations ever for fitness including adults, children, expectant mothers and the physically disabled.

The recommendations include, but are not limited to:

Adults should do at least 2.5 hours per week of moderate-intensity physical activity such as brisk walking or 1 hour and 15 minutes weekly of a vigorous-intensity activity such as jogging or swimming laps, or a combination of the two in order to get the health benefits of exercise.  The aerobic activity should be done in
at least 10 minute bouts.

Adults should do muscle-strengthening (resistance) activities at a moderate or high-intensity level for all major muscle groups, two or more days a week.  This should include exercises for the chest, back, shoulders, upper legs, hips, abdomen,  and lower legs. This can be done with free weights, machines, resistance bands, calisthenics that use body weight for resistance (push-ups, pull-ups, curl-ups), carrying heavy loads, or heavy gardening such as digging or hoeing.

Kids and adolescents should do an hour or more a day of moderate-intensity to vigorous aerobic physical activity.  That should include vigorous activity at least 3 days per week, and should include some bone-strengthening activities such as running, jumping rope, skipping, playing hopscotch and some muscle-strengthening activities including climbing trees, tug of war, modified sit-ups and push-ups.

Older Americans should follow the guidelines for other adults if they are able.  If not, they should be as active as their physical condition allows.  If they are at risk of falling, they should also do exercises that help improve their balance.


Adults with disabilities should also follow the guidelines  for other adults if they are able.


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20 Tips For Cold And Flu Prevention 

1.  Wash Your Hands - This is still the best way to prevent colds and flu!  Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds.

2.  Use Tissue Instead Of A Handkerchief - Wipe or blow your nose and immediately throw the tissue away.  Handkerchiefs continually spread germs to your hands and face.

3.  Don't Touch Your Face - Touching your eyes, nose or mouth is a fast way for germs to get into your body.

4.  Cough And Sneeze Away From Others - Instead of coughing or sneezing into your hands, turn away from others, cough or sneeze into your sleeve or use a tissue.

5.  Watch That Mouth - Avoid placing objects such as pens or pencils into your mouth.  Also avoid licking your fingers when sorting papers.

6.  Take Care At Work - Clean your work area and phone often.  Wash your hands after using the bathroom,
lunchroom, copy/fax machine and any other space that is used by others.  Some germs can survive on objects for hours or a few days.

7.  Be Aware Of Community Space - Doorknobs, light switches, refrigerator doors, bathroom and kitchen counters, telephones and remote controls are all place germs can reside.

8.  Use Hand Sanitizers - Keep liquid or gel hand sanitizers or anti-bacterial wipes handy.

9.  Teach Your Children - Children are very susceptible to colds.  teach them to wash their hands often with soap and warm water.  Saying the ABC's while washing their hands assures they wash long enough (at least 15 seconds).

10.  Don't Share Cups - Use paper cups in the bathroom and kitchen.

11.  Don't Share Food Or Utensils - This may be difficult for parents to do, but it is important so germs aren't passed back and forth.

12.  Use Disposable Products - germs can live on cloth towels and sponges for hours, so use paper towels in the kitchen and bathroom or replace bathroom hand towels often.  Disinfect sponges by heating them in the microwave and replace them frequently.

13.  Keep Toys Clean - Regularly wash children's toys in warm soapy water.

14.  Don't Smoke - Smoking can irritate the nose and lungs when you have a cold or the flu, making symptoms worse.

15.  Practice Good House Cleaning - Frequently clean living areas and wash bedding (especially children's) and towels.

16.  Ventilate - When warm weather permits, open up doors and windows to let fresh air in and germs out.

17.  Exercise - About 30 minutes three or more times a week can help strengthen your immune system.

18.  Eat Healthy - Getting all your daily vitamins and nutrients can help ward off colds and flu.

19.  Relax - You're more likely to get sick when you're under stress.  Get eight hours or more of sleep per night and remember to relax!

20.  If You Do Get Sick - Stock up on cough drops, tissue, and other products you use in case someone in your family becomes sick.


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Seasonal Allergies 

For 22 million Americans, spring brings more than warmer weather.  It brings on their allergies.

Allergic rhinitis (hay fever) is the 6th most common chronic illness in the U.S.  While hay fever can begin at any age, two-thirds of its sufferers have symptoms before they're 30.  It takes time to develop and usually gets progressively worse with repeated exposure.

Smoke, air pollution, paint fumes, fragrances, etc., can also cause rhinitis.  But these are irritations, not allergic reactions.

Seasonal allergies show up mainly in the spring, late summer, and fall - when pollen from trees and flowers is in the air.

Year-round allergens include dust mites, cockroaches, molds, and animal dander.  They're found both in- and outdoors.

If you suffer during a particular time of year, you could be allergic to...

Tree pollen - Early spring
Grass Pollen - Late spring and summer
Ragweed - Fall
Molds, house dust, animals, chemical polutants, cigarette smoke, etc. - Year-round
Flowers (house plants and cut flowers) - Whenever in bloom


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Fitness Ain’t Rocket Science… Or Is It?  by Art Rothafel 
                                                             

When it comes to health and weight-management, most medical professionals offer nothing more than this familiar cliché --  “eat right and exercise.” 

 

Really?

 

O.K., will someone please define “eat right and exercise?”

 

Seriously.

 

Eat Right?

 

Do you know how many calories your body actually requires each day?  Do you know the proper ratio of protein, carbohydrate and fat for your body?  And, if so, what foods should you eat to achieve those ratios?

 

And Exercise?

 

Today, there are hundreds of exercise theories, methodologies and protocol advancing thousands of specific exercises.  There are boot camps, Pilates, yoga, cardio, strength and functional training - all which have their place. 

 

Which one is right for you?  Thanks, Doc.  We’re more confused than ever.

 

No wonder people just throw their hands up in despair.  Where does one start? 

 

Just Do It!  Not.

 

That we naturally eat and move doesn’t mean we do it correctly.  Weight-management, fitness, disease prevention and long-term health are dependent on proper protocol.  Yet, each year, incredible amounts of time, effort and money are wasted by millions of Americans who – just do it.   It’s a set-up to fail despite the good intentions and doctors’ advice. 

 

Ground Zero - Reframe

 

The health proposition is not “Eat Right and Exercise."  It isn’t “Just Do It.”   The proposition is this:  The key to long-term weight-management, health and fitness starts with education.   That’s right.  Education is “ground zero.”

 

Think About it.

 

You didn’t simply hop into a car and start driving.  Nor, did you jump off a dock and immediately start swimming.  To correctly perform most activities a certain amount of education and guidance is necessary.  And, nowhere is this more evident than with de-conditioned adults who decide it’s time to get in shape.

 

Education Required

 

The need for basic fitness education is now being addressed by progressive health and fitness professionals at clubs, studios and spas throughout the country.  Topics including digestion, protein, carbohydrate, aerobic training, resistance training, food additives and stress reaction are part of the curriculum.  It is a holistic approach that provides the reasoning behind proper eating and productive exercise.

 

Weight-Management / Fitness 101

 

Several Weight-Management 101 Courses are being taught in quasi classroom settings within fitness facilities.  Corporate conference rooms are being transformed into "Brown-Bag" lunchrooms where lunchtime fitness and weight-management courses are taught by retained health professionals.  Mobile fitness professionals take their educational courses "on the road" to serve police officers, fire crews, high school students, Sunday worshipers and, yes, even doctors!   

 

Do the Right Thing

 

Beyond personal safety, a basic fitness curriculum helps members understand the rationale behind optimal caloric intake and increased physical activity as well as exposing a multitude of misconceptions regarding health and fitness.  So, doctor, before you advise your next patient, why not do the right thing and refer him or her to a health and fitness professional who not only understands, but actually teaches people how to "eat right and exercise."



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Is Walking Enough Exercise For Women? (Rehab Connection) 

Walking is good exercise. It is inexpensive, requires only a good pair of athletic shoes and can be done almost anywhere. No one will argue about that. But even a brisk daily walk does not meet the goal of total fitness for women (or men for that matter). A comprehensive woman's fitness program should include moderate to vigorous aerobic exercises, strength training and stretching exercises.

Aerobic exercises are activities that strengthen the cardiovascular system and get the heart beating fast. Walking usually is not vigorous enough to do this, but power walking or walking uphill make good aerobic workouts. Other aerobic activities include jogging, jumping rope, stair climbing, dancing, swimming or playing tennis, etc. Most health clubs have aerobic exercise classes that combine elements of dance and calisthenics for those who do not enjoy exercising alone.

Strength training, also called resistance training, increases muscle strength and builds and maintains bone mineral density of the hip and spine. This is of particular concern to women after menopause when the body does not produce enough hormones to maintain bone density. Resistance training can address this condition. Using tension, these exercises also strengthen the muscles of the arms, legs, chest, abdomen and back. Some classes, such as Pilates, incorporate strength training because they work the stomach and back muscles. Strength training can be done using free weights, weight machines or elastic bands.

Stretching exercises keep muscles limber and improve agility. Stretching is an important part of warm-up and cool-down after aerobic exercise. DO NOT stretch for the sole purpose of warming up. Get the blood flowing first, usually 5-10 minutes on a cardio machine first will suffice, then you can do light stretching. The combination of stretching exercises and strength training particularly benefits older women because it helps improve balance and reduces the likelihood of falls.

Every woman-old or young, pregnant, disabled or with a chronic health problem-can benefit from a well-rounded exercise program. If you have a condition you think may be aggravated by exercise, talk with your doctor. Not only will your total fitness program provide more health benefits than a daily walk but its variety will help stave off boredom.



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Outrageous Fitness Club Offenses 

Because any gym rat can tell you, grunting isn't the most irritating thing people do in fitness clubs. From making lunch in the sauna to sporting unsavory yoga attire, club managers report that some of their patrons are clueless when it comes to gym etiquette, or general decency. Here are nine of the most outrageous fitness club offenses.

1. The Sauna Stovetop A manager at a New York Sports Club was walking through the women's locker room a few years ago when she smelled cheese. Puzzled, she opened the door to the sauna, where a woman had placed bread and cheese on the hot rocks to make a postworkout grilled cheese sandwich. "Not only was it a health code violation, it was not really respectful to the other people in the sauna," says NYSC PR director Linda Hufcut. "She said, 'I do this all the time.' That was, obviously, the last time she ever did it.'"

2. Nude Fitness? A couple of visitors to a Gold's Gym in Paramus, N.J., decided to get naked and weigh themselves before they started working out. The two men didn't seem daunted by the fact that the scale was outside the locker room. They hung out by the scale, in full view of the other, clothed patrons, until a manager asked them to put some clothes on. They told Mike Epstein, the gym's owner, that they did that sort of thing all the time at their home gym. Perhaps they meant "home gym" as in the one in their basement.

3. Creative Blow-Drying A man in a California Crunch gym decided that the best way to dry out his sweaty shoes was to stick a hair dryer in each of them while he took his after-workout shower. He was shocked when managers asked him to cease and desist. "He said, 'I didn't even realize I shouldn't be doing this'," says Keith Worts, chief operating officer of Crunch, a national fitness chain.

4. Downward Dog? At another Crunch location a man had a habit of taking a yoga class while wearing shorts without underwear. He was more than happy to correct his faux pas as soon as managers made him aware that other members were uncomfortable with the view they were getting.

5. Work Out, Sleep In Some people get a little too relaxed at the gym. Gold's Gym managers have reported finding customers who fell asleep in the tanning facility and didn't wake up until the gym was closed, as well as customers who fell asleep on the bench press in between sets.

 6. Killer Karaoke It's common and profoundly annoying: gymgoers get carried away listening to their music players. Before they know it they've treated everyone in the room to an off-key rendition of "...Baby One More Time." "I call it karaoke gone bad, because there is no background music and they're singing at the top of their lungs," says Harry Reo, a regional vice president for 24 Hour Fitness.

7. Talking (Too Much of) the Talk Fed up with people gabbing on their cell phones as they used the elliptical, many gyms have banned cell phones around workout equipment and designated areas for patrons to make calls. Still, people forget. "There's nothing worse than running on the treadmill and having someone next to you conducting an extremely loud conversation," says Hufcut, who's seen some people use walkie-talkies while on the treadmill.

8. Sweat Sins It seems basic, but enough people forget to wipe down their equipment after using it that this was one of the four deadly gym sins included on an informational video NYSC taped a few years ago. During the segment a careless gymgoer didn't dry off his machine; when he stood up, the entire machine was covered in dripping goo.

9. Scrimmage to Scuffle It's only logical that testosterone can run high at the gym, and sometimes managers need to break up altercations on the basketball court, says Nancy Pattee Francini, co-founder and president of the Sports Club/LA, which has 10 locations around the country. "Those guys, when they're playing basketball, can get into fights," she says. "They're not terrible fights—we're a high-end club."

These are, of course, the worst offenses, not the norm. Obnoxious behavior can usually be curbed with a little etiquette education, say gym owners. "Most of the time it's really an awareness issue with members," says Worts of Crunch. "We have to remind them that they're in a shared public space." Nonetheless, it might not be a bad idea to look over the list and make sure you're not committing any gym sins.


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Water Fitness 


Water fitness can improve strength, flexibility and cardiovascular health; decrease body fat; facilitate rehabilitation; improve functionality for daily living; and even enhance sports skills. Consider these recommendations for making sure your pool time is spent wisely.

1. Check Out the Facility. Start with the basics. Look for a clean, safe, well-maintained pool. The water temperature should be comfortable: 82 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit (28-29E Celsius); and there should be a lifeguard on duty--your instructor shouldn't have to do it all! Check out the equipment, too. You want to see a variety--for example, buoyancy belts and dumbbells, gloves, noodles and paddles.

2. Look for Professionalism. Ask about the water fitness staff itself. Are instructors professionally trained in fitness, not just swimming or lifeguard skills? The staff should be certified in fitness and have additional training in water fitness.

3. Know Your Limitations. In general, water fitness is so versatile and safe it is the ideal choice for people with a variety of conditions, including pregnancy, orthopedic problems and arthritis. Before joining a class, however, always check with the instructor to make sure it will be appropriate for you. 

4. Try a Variety of Classes, and Practice Basic Skills. Remember that all classes are not alike; training in the water is muscle- and function-specific. 

5. Know Your Goals. This may be the most important key to having a satisfying water fitness experience.  Look for classes that focus on some or all of the following, depending on the results you'd like to achieve:

*Cardiovascular Health and Weight Management. To provide these benefits, a class should focus primarily on working the legs, using the arms (with webbed gloves on the hands) for balance. Interval training is the ideal.

*Muscular Endurance. To improve muscular endurance, a class should work isolated muscle groups along with the muscles that stabilize the joints and body. 

 *Functional Fitness. If your goal is functional fitness, look for exercises that target the activities of daily living. For example, aquatic step exercise can improve stair climbing, and a program that includes dynamic reaching and leaping can enhance range of motion and flexibility. 

 
*Sports Skills. Do you want to hone your skills on the court or field? Check for sport-specific drills that will improve your ability to run, jump, change directions, etc.

 *Physical Therapy. If you need rehabilitation, you should seek a licensed therapist for your water fitness program. Post-rehabilitation can be conducted by a trained water fitness professional who is willing to work closely with your health care providers and can design progressions to help you regain function.


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Headaches 

Q. What is a headache? What is a migraine?

A. During a headache, several areas of the head can hurt, including a network of nerves which extends over the scalp and certain nerves in the face, mouth, and throat. Also sensitive to pain, because they contain delicate nerve fibers, are the muscles of the head and blood vessels found along the surface and at the base of the brain. The ends of these pain-sensitive nerves can be stimulated by stress, muscular tension, dilated blood vessels, and other triggers of headache.

There are many types of headaches, some more severe than others and requiring medical attention. Headaches are often symptoms of other diseases. One fairly common but vary painful headache is a migraine. This type of ache, part of the category of vascular headaches, is usually characterized by severe pain on one or both sides of the head, nausea/vomiting, and at times disturbed vision. There are two types of migraines:

The common migraine--a term that reflects the disorder's greater occurrence in the general population--is not preceded by an aura like the classic migraine. But some people experience a variety of vague symptoms beforehand, including mental fuzziness, mood changes, fatigue, and unusual retention of fluids. During the headache phase of a common migraine, a person may have diarrhea and increased urination, as well as nausea and vomiting. Common migraine pain can last 3 or 4 days.

Q. Who gets migraines? How do they differ from regular headaches?

A. Although boys and girls seem to be equally affected by migraine, the condition is more common in adult women than in men. Both sexes may develop migraine in infancy, but most often the disorder begins between the ages of 5 and 35.

The relationship between female hormones and migraine is still unclear. Women may have "menstrual migraine"--headaches around the time of their menstrual period--which may disappear during pregnancy. Other women develop migraine for the first time when they are pregnant. Some are first affected after menopause.

The effect of oral contraceptives on headaches is perplexing. Scientists report that some women with a history of migraine headaches who take birth control pills experience more frequent and severe attacks. However, a small percentage of women have fewer and less severe migraine headaches when they take birth control pills. And normal women who do not suffer from headaches may develop migraines as a side effect when they use oral contraceptives. Investigators around the world are studying hormonal changes in migrainous women in the hope of identifying the specific ways these naturally occurring chemicals cause headaches.

Q. What’s the best way to get rid of a headache?

A. Treating a headache varies with the type and frequency; a chronic headache may be treated for symptoms but should not be ignored because it may indicate other underlying causes. Drug therapy, biofeedback training, stress reduction, and elimination of certain foods from the diet are the most common methods of preventing and controlling migraine and other vascular headaches. Regular exercise, such as swimming or vigorous walking, can also reduce the frequency and severity of migraine headaches. During a migraine headache, temporary relief can sometimes be obtained by using cold packs.

There are two ways to approach the treatment of migraine headache with drugs: prevent the attacks, or relieve symptoms after the headache occurs. For the frequent migraine, drugs can be taken at the first sign of a headache in order to stop it or to at least ease the pain. People who get occasional mild migraine may benefit by taking aspirin or acetaminophen at the start of an attack. Aspirin raises a person's tolerance to pain and also discourages clumping of blood platelets. Small amounts of caffeine may be useful if taken in the early stages of migraine. But for most migraine sufferers who get moderate to severe headaches, stronger drugs may be necessary to control the pain.

For More Information.....

You can find out more about headaches by contacting the following organizations:

American Chronic Pain Association, Inc.

P.O. Box 850
Rocklin, CA. 95677-0850
(916) 632-0922

American Council for Headache Education (ACHE)

National Chronic Pain Outreach Association, Inc.

7979 Old Georgetown Road, Suite 100
Bethesda, MD. 20814-2429
(301) 652-4948

National Headache Foundation

428 W. St. James Pl., 2nd Floor
Chicago, IL. 60614-2750
(312) 388-6399
(800) 843-2256

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Robert J. Fabian Memorial Foundation, Chronic Pain Letter

P.O. Box 1303
Old Chelsea Station
New York, NY 1
001

This information was abstracted from brochures developed by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.


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The Celebrity Macrobiotic Diet 

Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna are among the celebrities who have found success with the macrobiotic diet. The macrobiotic lifestyle is centered around whole grains and supplemented with vegetables and legumes. Macrobiotic dieters avoid foods that are highly processed or refined. They also concentrate while eating, avoiding fast food and chewing food carefully. The diet is based on the principle that a healthy diet will impact overall functioning and happiness.

Dieters should try to stick to a diet that is comprised of half whole grains (i.e., brown rice) and one-third veggies, supplemented by beans, legumes, and miso soup. Locally grown whole grains, natural seasonings, and fruit also are consumed along with the grains and vegetables.

10 Macrobiotic Staples
Seaweed
Whole cereal grains
Tofu

Tempeh
Miso
Brown rice
Seeds
Nuts
Buckwheat pasta (soba)
Fermented soy products

10 Foods to Avoid
Oils
Sauces
Alcohol

Sugar
Yogurt
Honey
Coffee
Chocolate
Avocado
Potatoes

Now understand that you cannot take what you read about the fitness and nutrition plans of the stars at face value, as what is not shared is that the majority (not all) stars take substances like cytomel (to manage thyroid levels on low calories diets), clenbuterol ( a beta 2 agonist) to stimulate the adrenal glands and stimulate fat loss, growth hormone, hCG and a host of other medically prescribed substances to achieve the type of results they claim to be achieving with diet and exercise alone.

While there is no doubt they may implement some ideas in these plans and do exercise I recommend that you trust in what you have learned by a fitness professional fitness rather than try to mimick plans whose sole merit is that a star is linked to it.


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Why Are We So Fat? 
  

* One out of three Americans is obese, twice as many as three decades ago
* The Center for Disease control and Prevention (CDC) has declared obesity an “epidemic”
* 15% of children and teens are overweight, three times as many since 1980
* Being overweight is now associated with over 400,000 deaths per year
* Obesity is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, stroke, and colon, breast and endometrial cancers
* Next year, obesity is expected to surpass smoking as the leading cause of preventable death in the
United States
* One in four Americans gets ZERO exercise, one-third of Americans don’t get the minimum amount the government suggests we need just to avoid chronic disease
* The average child will watch 10,000 commercials per year relating to junk food or beverages

So what’s the answer to the question?  The reason we are so fat is because we eat too much and exercise too little. Surprise, surprise!  We’re fat because we eat a lot.  A whole lot more than we used to, and most of the increase comes from refined carbohydrates (sugar).

Come on folks, how about some common sense? It’s a simple matter of eating fewer calories. But nobody wants to talk about calories because doing so doesn’t sell books. No one wants to listen to that simple message, “Eat less, Exercise more,” because everyone’s too busy looking for the latest breakthrough or the “next big thing in fat loss.”  Permanent fat loss will always require sweat, discipline and effort, and will often be a greater challenge for some than for others. But, if we stop allowing ourselves to be so caught up by all the different weight loss methods, including drugs, and accept some common sense you will be pleasantly surprised.


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Coping With Arthritis  

The Physical Aspects:
In America, nearly 43 million of us have arthritis. Arthritis is now one of the most chronic health problems we face and is also the number one cause of limitation in movement, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Arthritis is prevalent in those over 65 with one-third in this age category suffering from it, although it does affect people of all ages.

Recognizing common symptoms of arthritis and learning to differentiate between myths and facts is essential for everyone because the chances of you developing it or someone you love being stricken are high. For those who already have arthritis, it is important to learn how to manage your symptoms.

Arthritis comes in more than 100 different forms. The specific causes for most forms are not yet known, making it difficult to know how one could prevent being afflicted with it. The most common symptoms include joint pain, inability to move joints normally and swelling.


Included in these more than 100 forms of arthritis are the three most common; osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that covers the ends of bones deteriorates, causing pain loss of movement as bones begins to rub against each other. Fibromylagia is widespread pain afflicting muscles and attachments to the bone. The exact cause of fibromylagia is unknown, but research now shows decreased blood flow and certain viruses may be the culprits that trigger the disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is when a joint's lining becomes inflamed, resulting in deterioration of the joint, pain and limited movement.

Some people believe that arthritis is a minor condition and only results in slight aches and pains. This is one of the myths. Arthritis can, indeed, start with minor aches and pains, but left undiagnosed and untreated, could become a major health problem. Not only does it affect the joints; arthritis can also affect muscles and connective tissues of the body including the skin and internal organs.


Daily activities often become limited. Driving, bathing, and working can all become difficult and painful to accomplish. This can lead to psychological problems due to the daily pain endured causing one to be tense, angry and tired. Oftentimes this leads into depression and can put a strain on family relationships and friendships. This disease can and does go far beyond simple aches and pains. It can be life altering.

Common belief also seems to be, among many, that nothing can be done about arthritis. This is another myth. There are a variety of medications that have been introduced to the market within the last year to treat various types of arthritis. It is critical that one gets an early and accurate diagnosis to minimize the affects of arthritis due to the fact that the majority of joint damage occurs within the first two years of disease onset.

As stated earlier, it is not known how one can prevent arthritis but those who do have the affliction can take part in a treatment plan tailored to meet their individual needs. The first step is to make sure you've gotten a proper and correct diagnosis. A doctor can diagnose arthritis based on the overall pattern of symptoms, medical history, physical exam, x-rays and lab tests.

Arthritis causes anxiety and weakness. For this there are a variety of techniques people can use to reduce the impact of. Relaxation exercises done on a regular basis are key elements, as is taking part in some exercise daily. One must find a balance of rest and activity. If you like swimming, water exercise is an extremely beneficial way to exercise the joints and muscles. The water supports the joints to encourage free movement while providing resistance to help build muscle strength. Water massage therapy is beneficial for many suffering from arthritis. Jet nozzles release warm water and air, massaging the body and helping to relax tight muscles.

In addition to balancing rest and activity, there are other techniques used to manage arthritis. These include planning ahead making work easier, maintaining proper body posture and practicing joint protection techniques.

The Nutritional Aspects:

Patients treated for heart disease have been found to have a reduction in the severity of pain and swelling in their arthritic joints due to the nutritional therapy given to them to treat their heart disease. This observation led to further review of nutrition and arthritis and how to use nutrition to reduce the symptoms. As a result, a nutrition plan was laid out with eating guidelines and nutritional supplementation designed specifically to ease the pain and inflammation of arthritic joints.

They are the exact same strategies designed to help reduce the risk of heart disease! You can "kill two birds with one stone", so to speak. Try the following tips for eight weeks to see if it helps reduce symptoms, or share it with some you know and love who is afflicted with arthritis.

Raise blood pH.
Lower blood pH promotes formation of crystals in joints, which leads to arthritis. Every day, have a glass of carrot, wheat grass or cherry juice. The alkalizing effect on the blood helps to raise your blood pH. Avoid orange juice, grapefruit juice and other citrus juices as well as tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant. These acidifying foods lower blood pH.


Eat chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll helps remove excess heavy metals from the joints. Heavy metal atoms cause accumulation of free radicals, highly reactive compounds that damage the joints. Be sure to drink a glass of green barley, chlorella or frozen wheat grass every day. Each is rich in green pigment.

Eat cayenne and garlic.
Garlic stimulates the immune system, which supports healing. Garlic also contains the antioxidant mineral selenium. It helps control free radical buildup. Both herbs have an anti-inflammatory effect, helping to reduce swelling and pain. You can take a daily cayenne capsule, but some people get an upset stomach from this. Try it with bread or crackers. If it still bothers you, or you fear it will, do not take it. But do try to use garlic!

Eat omega-3 oils.
Omega-3 is primarily in flaxseed and fish oil and inhibits the production of leukotrienes, natural compounds that stimulate inflammation.


Experts recommend 1,000-mg. flaxseed oil capsule after each meal. The capsules can be found in any health food store. Another way to boost your omega-3 intake is to eat at least one, preferably two, helpings of fresh fish per week, but not fried!

Drink ginger tea.
In addition to being soothing to the stomach, ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. One cup of ginger tea a day is recommended.

Eat Certo.
Available in any supermarket, this pectin-containing gelatin powder is very effective at reducing swelling in joints. It is unclear, however, just why Certo relieves arthritis, but it is known to. Each day, try to consume on tablespoon (mix it with apple juice or another alkalizing fruit juice to form a soupy gelatin).

Take multivitamin supplements.
A combination of antioxidant nutrients is the best way to fight free radicals. Fresh fruit and vegetables are rich in antioxidants but to ensure you get enough, it is best to supplement your diet with multivitamins. Be sure to select an iron-free supplement. Too much iron has been linked to an elevated risk of heart disease. Chose a supplement with no more than 1 mg of copper (half the government's recommended daily
allowance). Your supplement should also include folic acid, vitamin B-6, vitamin D, zinc and calcium as any deficiencies in any of these nutrients can worsen arthritis. Also, the supplement should contain selenium and vitamin E. Both nutrients are especially good for morning stiffness. 

T
ake coenzyme Q-10 and quercetin.
Both of these supplements are available in a health food store. Coenzyme Q-10 is a remarkable substance that works to stabilize the membrane of every cell in your body. That prevents cell breakdown in your joints. Quercetin blocks the release of histamines (inflammation-producing chemicals) into the bloodstream. 30mg of coenzyme Q-10 is recommended taken after each meal and 100mg to 500mg of quercetin once a day.


Avoid caffeinated beverages.
Caffeine acts as a diuretic in your body resulting in washing out nutrients, thereby undermining your efforts to eat a healthful, nutrient-rich diet. Coffee, tea and soda, as well as chocolate are to be avoided. Drink decaffeinated forms and avoid chocolate. 

Some of the above mentioned products may not appeal to you. Follow what you think you will be comfortable with. Anything you do to help yourself is something and who knows, as we are all uniquely created, one thing or another may give you some relief whereas others may not. Experiment, do what you can and follow your doctors orders at all times! In fact, it wouldn't be a bad idea to present this diet to him or her to be sure it is suitable and healthy for you. Make sure to discuss the supplements with your doctor, also. The best judge will be your body!

The diet was written and created by a highly respected and revered doctor in his field and is given as a guideline to help you work with your body and it's nutrition to reach optimum performance and relief of your arthritic symptoms. I am not qualified to endorse it or disapprove of it, only to share it in hopes you will find some relief.


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Breathing During Exercise 

Breathing during any form of exercise is often taken for granted. We breathe all the time and often underestimate how much the way we breathe helps during our exercise routines. Many people make the mistake of unconsciously holding their breath when doing a strenuous activity. This in turn causes unwanted tension in the muscles, making the activity that much harder. Stretching is no exception.

Why Breathe? Well besides continuing to live, breathing properly promotes blood flow and increases the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. Breathing slowly and easily also helps to relax your muscles, which makes stretching easier and more beneficial. When your body is relaxed, your stretching becomes easier. Stretching is then safe, and when you are stretching safely, you are gaining the most benefits from your stretching routine.

Learning to Breathe
If you have not been breathing properly during stretching or other physical activities, it might seem a little awkward at first. Once you learn how to breathe properly, the process becomes second nature. The whole trick to breathing properly, is knowing when to breathe in (inhale) and when to breathe out (exhale). Make sure you inhale through the diaphram!  Your stomach should move in and out, not your chest
.

Exhaling occurs whenever you are moving weight. Sometimes it is away from your body (as with leg presses or push-ups) and sometimes it is towards your body (as with bicep curls or lateral pull-downs). This is the same during a stretch; your body is the weight that you are moving. When you move into the stretch, you are moving the weight of your body, so you should breathe out. As your muscles return to their original positions, you should breathe in.

The easiest way to remember how to breathe during a stretch is to exhale as you are moving into the stretch and inhale as you return to your original position. For example, try doing a simple leg stretch. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you and try to reach towards your toes while inhaling. It’s not very easy, is it? Now, try the stretch again as you exhale. You will find that as you release the air from your lungs, you can stretch a lot farther.

If you get confused in the beginning, that is all right. The important thing to remember is to breathe no matter what. Holding your breath will not help you at all, and you will find yourself tiring faster. For your body to get the maximum results, you have to consciously make an effort to do everything you can to increase internal performance.


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Creatine: Liver Disease and Kidney Failure 
 
by: Dr. Jack Barnathan

Will taking Creatine lead to liver disease and kidney failure.  There are some disturbing findings from a study published by Baylor University Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation that we must pay close attention to.
 

First, lets review what 'creatine' is and how it impacts our system.  Creatine is a naturally occurring compound that is synthesized in the liver and kidney and obtained in small quantities from the diet (primarily meat and fish).  Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation has been reported to increase muscle creatine and phosphocreatine (C-P) content by 15 - 40% (if supplemented in large dosages).  It can enhance the cellular bioenergetics of the phosphagen system, improve the movement of energy releasing phosphates between the mitochondria and cytosol via the C-P shuttle, and enhance the activity of various metabolic pathways. (Baylor University).
 

Until recently the only serious 'side effect' of creatine reported in the literature was 'weight gain', but that is changing.  Concerns are being raised that when one takes too much creatine as a supplement, the body will essentially 'shut down' it's own production of creatine.  What good is that?  Why not let the body produce it's own?  Which do you think is better in quality, your body's creatine or something from a jar?
 

Further concerns are over fluid and electrolyte imbalances, as well as kidney, liver and muscle tissue damage with long term use - or use of high dosages. 
We must be concerned over two recent studies where long term supplementation in mice resulted in damage, and contributed to kidney disease in rats with hypertension (high blood pressure). That shouldn't concern us unless we know any strength and power athletes who might be taking excessive amounts of creatine.  Taking creatine for long periods of time or taking it while experiencing high blood pressure

Actually, that sounds like every powerlifter I've ever lifted with... 
These studies were performed on rats and mice one might say - and therefore conclude that it could be different in humans.  True, but also consider that the medical researchers involved in these studies considered it too dangerous and unethical to perform such a study on humans, considering the potential for damage.  

The New York Strength and Centers for Strength Performance Cuisine protocols call for an intelligent approach to all supplementation.   
First, create an environment where the body can produce the proper amount of the biochemical compound (in this case creatine) on it's own through progressive training technique combined with a carefully planned recovery program.  Overtraining leads to inefficiency and eventual breakdown and this is the number one cause of poor performance (and possible damage)

Next, your first line of 'supplementation' should be through the choices you make with the food you eat.
  We are involved in ongoing research into not only the type of meat, but also fish, cuts of meat and preparation that impacts nutritional effectiveness of the food you eat!  Meat and fish are still the best means of creatine 'supplementation' since is also contains all the essential components needed for growth and again, recovery

But the exciting future of 'nutrition' lies not in the bottle, but on the plate.  This is our firm stance.  We're not against all supplementation, but we know through our own clients that Gold Medal winning athletes take far less supplements (in some cases, none) compared to what the muscle media would have you believe. Third is traditional supplementation.  We are not against athletes supplementing their diets with vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and other intelligent products.  But we know what athletes and elite performers really do to attain greatness, and it rarely matches the hype you see in the media

Considering the new studies presented and the consequences possible with high or long term creatine supplementation, we continue to recommend a conservative approach to the supplements you take. 
 A teenager will be influenced by the muscle magazine ads proclaiming Creatine to be the only true path to strength and power (just like they'd also like you to believe the only way to lose body fat is through 'fat burner' supplements).  Both incredibly wrong and dangerous

Athletes must be understanding of how a proper training program with progressive components and clear recovery modes will lead to exceptional growth and peak performance.
 

As for The Centers for Strength, we wish to focus on permitting the body to produce it's own creatine, and finding the best quality choices for your meals before considering any other steps.  This will give you the foundation to find your true strength at the studio or gym, and not in a bottle.


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Smith Machine  

The major fault of the Smith Machine is how it forces the athlete to follow the machine's straight line of motion (or in more 'advanced' versions a forced arc) rather than the natural arc developed by the lumbo-pelvic spine with the squatting motion.

Dr Tud
or Bompa and Comacchia's article about the dangers of lifting on a Smith machine is excelling in emphasizing that the smith machine forces you to move the bar on a straight line while your body is planted in one spot. This is not a natural movement pattern. In a natural squat the bar moves in an arc, more pronounced when you squat on the whole surface of the soles of your feet. The straight up and down movement of the bar while your feet are planted in a smith machine squat produces excessive strain on the lower back and knees. (Bompa and Comacchia 1998).

And again: Bompa and Cornacchia weren’t the first researchers to find fault in movements that restrict the body’s natural motion and force the lifter to repeat those movements over and over. Stone, Johnson and Carter also wrote on this subject in 1979. They denounced squatting on a smith machine as, “an idea both hideous and destructive.”  They felt this way for several reasons, with the first one being that any athlete needs to learn balance, which is removed from any smith machine motion. Second, the “straight up and down” movement of the bar reduces the lifter’s use of his or her optimal strength curve. “The smith machine also requires that the lifter either squats with his torso much closer to vertical than would be done with a real squat, which mechanically decreases the involvement of both the spinal erectors and the hamstrings. While this would be fine if it was done by the lifter’s muscular control, when the Smith machine does this it is disadvantageous to the lifter by virtue of decreasing the ability of the hamstrings to protect the knee joint.” Stone, Johnson and Carter continue and explain just how harmful this limited motion can be on the knees. “Another mistake is allowing the knees to drift forward over the toes, the chance of which is increased by the Smith machine. As was previously mentioned, this greatly increases the shearing force on the knees. This, from a device touted by the ignorant as ‘safe.’”

For serious lifters, there is even more at stake when using a Smith machine. Scholz and McMillan wrote an article that appeared in Physical Therapy in 1995. “You have to especially watch the Smith machine, since it is used the most for compound exercises. You will injure yourself using heavy weights for compounds on a smith machine. A natural arc is a system that allows the muscle and bone to optimize a lifting assignment. By denying the arc, you are not only putting undue stress on the muscles and nerves, stunting growth, but also on the ligaments and bones and everything else involved in a lift, and that in turn can lead to some seriously unhealthy practices.” 

The amount of research describing the relationship between Smith machines and injury may come as a surprise to many lifters who use a Smith machine as part of their everyday workout regime. Rod Cole, Head Strength Coach at Kansas State University, was quick to react to these kinds of findings when word first came out. “I used to include a Smith machine in some workout programs I designed for my athletes. But after a few sore backs, knees and some other injuries, compounded with the research that was being published at the time, I stopped relying on Smith machines. I just don’t want to take a chance with my athletes.”

Coach Cole wasn’t alone. Other professionals in the industry reacted similarly to the latest news about the safety concerns involved with working out on a Smith machine. Corporate fitness center purchasers within the Ford Motor Company also didn’t want to take any more risks. Dee Smith, a corporate fitness center purchaser at UAW-Ford, explains, “The liabilities of running a corporate fitness center are already great, so we try to minimize the involved risks whenever possible. When I heard that Smith machines were increasing the possibility of injury, it was a simple decision to stop buying those units.” Aside from the insurance and liability aspects, fitness center managers, coaches, trainers and gym owners also feel that biomechanics often get overlooked and need to be addressed more often. “When research proved that these machines were forcing my lifters to move unnaturally, I immediately began to look for alternatives,” she added.

Like any piece of equipment, properly working, the use is often not proper or the user/trainer not properly familiar with the limitations of the equipment. Many people do use it with no problems, but, not for mass development. That was not its ordinal purpose to begin with.

Most trainers (and certainly clients) do not even know where the 'safety' catch system is on the Smith Machine.  A lawsuit recently settled for a gym member who was crushed under the bar when he slipped.  The safety was not engaged, and it fractured his spine. 

Consideration should also be made regarding the use of the Smith Machine for shoulder or chest training.  Again, the forced straight range of motion does not permit the normal 'arc' of the shoulder joint (both in shoulder and chest training).  Free weight training, when developed properly permits the stabilizing muscles and prime movers to grow properly with biomechanical integrity.



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Leg Extension  
                           
                              

It is good to know why leg extensions are inappropriate and why it may be appropriate as recommended by some physical therapist. As we know the problem has to do with shear forces. Shear in this case just refers to a horizontal force on the joint. Some therapists prefer squat-type movements to the typical leg-extension because it is a closed kinetic chain exercise. Put very simply exercises where both feet are in contact with the floor are considered to be closed chain while exercises like leg extensions are open chain.

First and foremost, most open chain exercises do not correlate with real-world movements. When was the last time you had to sit down and extend your knee (excepting your last leg workout). The squat, on the other hand, is performed daily anytime you bend your knees to lower your body followed by an extension (i.e. picking something up, assuming you are not using your back). Thus there is greater specificity when using closed chain movements in terms of applicability to the real world.


However, there are other differences. During a leg extension, only the quadriceps are contracting as opposed to squats where both quads and hamstring are active. This has one very major consequence. During a leg extension, there is not only rotation of the shin about the knee during extension but also some linear translation of the shin. This puts amazing stress on the cruciate ligaments of the knee, especially at the beginning of the movement. However, during a squat, both the quads and hams are firing. Since they are pulling from opposite sides of the shin, there tends to be a lot less demand put on the knee as there is not as much translation.

Motion x-ray analysis actually demonstrates a slight dislocation of the femur on the tibia during the linear translation.

However leg extensions do have their place, and are still used by many physical therapist and occupational therapist usually in rehabilitation and with clients in special populations. HOWEVER, if the leg extension machine is used, it is wise to use a smaller range of motion, perhaps the top third of the movement (from slightly bent to fully straight leg), and light weight to contend with the aforementioned limitations.


Also keep in mind that with the lunge or squat the tibia rotates slightly to accommodate for torsion.  The pad on the 'shin' of the leg extension does not permit this normal absorbing of stress, damage to the joint.


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