Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Asthma and Exercise

Most people with Asthma can exercise and become fit. But the type, and intensity of exercise Asthmatics can do varies greatly from person to person. Here's a video that outlines the rules of thumb.

Asthmatic or not, be sure to consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways. It causes bronchial passages to become inflamed and arrowed in response to triggers like cold, exercise, and stress, and allergens like dust mites, dander and smoke.

Breathing becomes labored and difficult, and in extreme cases, Asthma attacks can be fatal. Asthma is on the rise. Asthma affects about 25 million people in the U.S. according to the National Institutes of health.

The cause has been debated for decades. The hygiene hypothesis: it was thought that living in a too clean environment, like suburban America, and smaller family size decreased a child's exposure to bacteria and viruses, thus preventing the immune system from developing normally and allowing it to instead set its sights on allergic triggers like dust.

More recent studies in less clean urban areas suggest Asthma causes are more complex and no one explanation has come to the forefront.

There are many types and degrees of Asthma. There is no cure, but modern medicine has provided options that help keep most Asthma symptoms under control most of the time. They include, drugs, swallowed, inhaled and injected, and lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. Yes, people with Asthma can exercise.

The most common symptoms are wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing.
But exercising with Asthma is a two edged sword. Exercise is an irritant trigger.

It can induce Asthma. In fact, there is a whole category of asthmatics for which exercise induced Asthma, EIA for short, is the main issue. However this can be overcome. Studies show that exercising for fitness, particularly aerobic exercise, strengthens and builds the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems to the same extent as it does in non-asthmatics.

Asthmatics can become very fit. Many Olympic and professional athletes, have exercise-induced Asthma.

So what kinds of exercise can and should asthmatics do and, what precautions should they take.

Pick an exercise that gets your heart rate up without putting too much pressure on your breathing.

Generally, low intensity activities like walking, biking, moderate aerobics and swimming outdoors where fumes from pool chemicals are less of an irritant, are more easily tolerated. Activities like high intensity aerobics or calisthenics can be more problematic and should be approached gradually.

Exercise limitations; vary greatly from person to person. Some asthmatics have trouble with even low intensity exercise, while others can do almost anything most of the time.

First and foremost consult your doctor before you begin.

Rules of thumb:

· Depending on your particular condition, you may need to take medication, or take a puff or two from your inhaler before you begin.
· If you use a peak flow meter, test yourself and don't exercise unless you're in normal range.
· Keep your emergency inhaler handy during exercise just in case.
· Avoid triggers whenever possible.
· If it's too cold or the pollen count is high outside, exercise indoors.
· Exercise outside when the air is clear and humidity is higher.
· If you exercise in the cold, wear a scarf over your nose and mouth to warm and moisten the air as you breathe.
· Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.
· Take time to warm up with slow dynamic movements like marching in place or gentle stretching.
· Start slowly and monitor how the exercise is affecting you.
· Avoid sudden bouts of intense exercise.
· Breath through your nose if possible in a relaxed controlled pattern
· Try using pursed lip breathing. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth with lips pursed as though whistling. It helps avoid hyperventilation and manages shortness of breath. It helps your airways relax and dilate so you can expel carbon dioxide and take in oxygen.
· If exercise induces your Asthma more severely, with your doctors approval, you may want to try easing in with gentle movements while seated in a chair.

The bottom line is exercising with Asthma is a very individual undertaking. One size does not fit all. Some people can do almost anything, while others have trouble with even light exercise.

Talk to your doctor, listen to your body, Start gently and build up. Stay in your comfort zone. Take precautions, get fit and live well.

Drivers Benefit From Exercise

Doug Crocker knows a thing or two about driving. The 74-year-old former Hartford police officer and his wife have navigated the continental U.S. three times in their motor home.

Even experienced drivers feel the effects of aging when behind the wheel. "It's harder to turn around now to look for blind spots," he said. "Backing up is a real issue too," especially when he drives the Jeep they tow along for in-town use.

Age-related decline in mobility, flexibility and reaction time can seriously impact driving and safety. Some simple, targeted exercises may ease normal age-related physical changes and help keep Crocker – and many of the 700,000 older Connecticut drivers -- safely on the road.

study by The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence and the M.I.T. Age Lab looked at the effects of exercise on older drivers' strength, flexibility, coordination and range of motion. Participants used a specially designed exercise program and an X-Box. Drivers who exercised for 15-20 minutes daily reported greater ease in turning their heads to look in blind spots when changing lanes or backing up, compared with a similar group that did not exercise.

The exercise group could also rotate their bodies further to scan the road when making right hand turns compared with non-exercisers. "When you think about the risks in intersections, that's a very positive outcome," said Jodi Olshevski, a gerontologist and executive director of The Hartford Center, part of The Hartford Insurance Company. The group was also able to get in and out of their cars more quickly, which translates to improved flexibility, something "so essential to be able to respond to all of the various actions that are required for driving," she said.

The study was important in establishing a connection between exercise and a specific fitness program and driving ability, added Olshevski.

"We wanted to look at the impact of physical fitness on driving skills of older drivers before they have really significant health issues," she said.

There were over 2.4 million licensed drivers in Connecticut in 2012, according to the latest figures available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicle data show that one in five drivers is age 65 or older. In Connecticut, 50 of the 332 fatal traffic crashes involved older drivers in 2012, according to the NHTSA.

Frank Pagerino, AARP's State Coordinator for Driver Safety, said, "Most older driver don't complain about their physical ailments, but when we start talking about it, they admit they can't walk, or it's hard to bend down, or turn their necks.'' That affects their ability to conduct maneuvers like lane changes, which require turning the torso and neck to make sure there's no oncoming traffic, he said. AARP is a partner with The Hartford Insurance Company, offering car insurance to mature drivers.

Older adults have a higher crash rate per mile driven and are frailer. So when they crash, their chances of injury or death is greater compared with a younger driver in that same crash, according to Yale doctoral student Nancy Knechel.

Knechel conducted a separate analysis on the effects of various interventions on improving skills of older drivers. She found that exercise was the best approach to maintaining driving ability in older adults compared with other activities like cognitive training.

Driving is more than getting from point A to B, she said. Seniors who don't drive have less social interaction, more depression, and worse overall health. "Even though it seems like a quick Band-Aid to take them off the road, it probably creates bigger problems," Knechel said.

In a 2013 national telephone survey of 1,107 drivers age 50 and older, turning their heads to look at blind spots, getting in and out of a vehicle, and reaching and adjusting the seat belt ranked as the top three physical challenges.

"The real question is what can people do to try to extend their ability to stay safe on the road as long as possible. That's why we wanted to look at the role of exercise as an empowerment model, rather than a reactive 'oh you've got to get off of the road' model," Olshevski said.

Many newer cars have built-in technology that addresses age-related challenges, like blind spot warnings, light-sensitive headlights and backup cameras. Fifty-one percent of consumers surveyed by the Hartford Center said they would feel safer with at least one of these technologies in their car.

AARP's Pagerino cautioned that technology is also a distraction, because "you're taking your eyes off the road to look at a screen and your concentration gets blurred. I'm a bit leery, but that's what's coming down the pike."

Read more here:,0,4592209.story

How Regular Exercise Can Make You Look and Feel Younger

There are several daily habits that can keep you looking and feeling young, and exercise is one of them. Studies have shown that exercising can even turn back the clock on aging, reversing some of the effects of time, and restoring your youth, inside and out.

Youthful Skin

A recent study performed by McMasters University in Ontario found that the skin of people who exercised regularly was structurally much younger than those who don’t. Even people over 50 had a dermis and epidermis resembling someone in the 20-40 age range when they exercised vigorously at least twice a week.

Improved Posture

One of the sure signs of aging is a tired, stooped posture. Maintaining core strength through exercise gives you the posture of a much younger person. If your posture is already suffering from age, it can be improved through exercise. Yoga and pilates are particularly effective with improving posture.

An Underage Attitude

One of the top aging factors in our lives is stress. It hastens the signs of aging both physically and mentally. Exercising reduces stress, along with our risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. It also increases your energy levels, so you can live a high quality, youthful lifestyle. Those who exercise have a greater sense of self-confidence as well.

Increased Sex Drive

One of the greatest fears people have about aging is that they or their partner will lose interest in sex because of hormonal changes. Exercising has been shown to boost libido in a couple of ways. For one, it evens out hormone levels, leaving you feeling in the mood more often. The second thing exercise does for you in this area is to make you feel more attractive and comfortable in your own skin, which will make you feel more open to birthday suit time. Regular exercise is often the key to maintaining a youthful sex life.

Start Living the Younger You Today!


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Wine and Exercise: A Promising Combination

The European Society of Cardiology is currently convened in Barcelona for its annual congress, where an abundance of promising heart-disease research has been unveiled. Envious American eyes are on a study of regular wine consumption and its apparent health benefits.

Many studies in the past have found that wine drinkers have healthier hearts than abstainers, but the current trial—called In Vino Veritas (In Wine, Truth)—is one of the first studies to actually introduce wine into people’s lives and track its effects on their bodies.

Lead researcher Miloš Táborský, head of cardiology at the Palacký University Hospital in Olomouc in the Czech Republic, revealed the study's results in a presentation over the weekend, saying, “We found that moderate wine drinking was only protective in people who exercised. Red and white wine produced the same results.”

For one year, subjects drank “moderate” amounts of wine five days per week. For men, that meant 0.3 to 0.4 liters daily, about two to two-and-a-half glasses. For women it meant 0.2 to 0.3 liters, about one to two glasses. (A more common definition is one glass for women and two glasses for men.) Half of the 146 subjects drank pinot noir, and half drank a white “chardonnay-pinot.” The participants logged any and all alcohol consumption in journals, where they also kept track of their diets and physical activity.


By itself, drinking wine did not appreciably affect cholesterol, blood glucose, triglycerides, or levels of inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein. It also did not appreciably damage people’s livers during the year, at least, based on liver-function tests.

But then Táborský and company ran a more specific analysis that looked at people who exercised. Among those who worked out twice per week and drank wine, there was significant improvement in cholesterol levels (increased HDL and decreased LDL) after a year of wine—red or white, no matter.

"Our current study shows that the combination of moderate wine drinking plus regular exercise improves markers of atherosclerosis," said Táborský, "suggesting that this combination is protective against cardiovascular disease."

Can Exercise Cause A.L.S.?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has been all over the news lately because of the ubiquitous A.L.S. ice bucket challenge. That attention has also reinvigorated a long-simmering scientific debate about whether participating in contact sports or even vigorous exercise might somehow contribute to the development of the fatal neurodegenerative disease, an issue that two important new studies attempt to answer.
Ever since the great Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig died of A.L.S. in 1941 at age 37, many Americans have vaguely connected A.L.S. with athletes and sports. In Europe, the possible linkage has been more overtly discussed. In the past decade, several widely publicized studies indicated that professional Italian soccer players were disproportionately prone to A.L.S., with about a sixfold higher incidence than would have been expected numerically. Players were often diagnosed while in their 30s; the normal onset is after 60.
These findings prompted some small, follow-up epidemiological studies of A.L.S. patients in Europe. To the surprise and likely consternation of the researchers, they found weak but measurable associations between playing contact sports and a heightened risk for A.L.S. The data even showed links between being physically active — meaning exercising regularly — and contracting the disease, raising concerns among scientists that exercise might somehow be inducing A.L.S. in susceptible people, perhaps by affecting brain neurons or increasing bodily stress.
But these studies were extremely small and had methodological problems. So to better determine what role sports and exercise might play in the risk for A.L.S., researchers from across Europe recently combined their efforts into two major new studies.
The more impressive of these, which was published in May in Annals of Neurology, involved almost two dozen researchers from five nations, who developed a deceptively simple but scientifically rigorous research approach. They asked 652 A.L.S. patients if they’d be willing to talk about their lives and activities and did the same with 1,166 people of matching ages, genders and nationalities. They conducted extensive in-person interviews with each volunteer, asking them how active they had been in professional or amateur sports, at their jobs and during leisure time. They also asked about past histories of injuries and accidents, including concussions and other head trauma but also other injuries.
They then compared answers from the people with A.L.S. to those of healthier people.
The results should reassure those of us who exercise. The numbers showed that physical activity — whether at work, in sports or during exercise — did not increase people’s risk of developing A.L.S. Instead, exercise actually appeared to offer some protection against the disease. Even pro athletes showed no heightened risk, although they represented such a tiny subset of the patients with A.L.S. that firm conclusions cannot be drawn, the researchers say.
One aspect of people’s lives did significantly increase their risk of developing A.L.S.: a history of multiple hits to the head. Men and women who had sustained at least two concussions or other serious head injuries were much more likely than other people, including never-concussed athletes, to develop A.L.S.
These results coincide closely with those of the other new study, a review article published in July in the European Journal of Epidemiology, which gathered data from 50 years’ worth of epidemiological studies related to A.L.S. risk (including the other new study) and teased out the effects of physical activity. Most of the studies were limited in scope, but they amplified one another’s validity when combined, the researchers thought.
And their main finding was that “in the general population, physical activity is not a risk factor for A.L.S.,” said Dr. Benoit Marin, a neuroepidemiologist at the French Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris who oversaw the new review.
But as Dr. Marin also pointed out, the studies involved were all associational, meaning that they cannot establish cause and effect. Exercise and a reduced risk for A.L.S. might be linked to other lifestyle factors, such as a healthy diet, and not to each other.
The new studies also cannot dispel the lingering and troubling questions about the effects of head injuries from contact sports.
“I would not consider this issue settled,” said Ettore Beghi, a neuroscientist at the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan and senior author of the study published in May in Annals of Neurology.
In the United States, a few researchers have begun to look at football and A.L.S. risk, a plausible research concern, Dr. Beghi said, given evidence that head trauma sustained playing football might contribute to neurodegenerative diseases. But to date, the football data has been inconclusive.
For now, he and other scientists are continuing to study Italian soccer players, as well as athletes in other sports, including rugby, which, for some reason, confers no increased risk of A.L.S., although it involves considerable contact. Such research may ultimately “shed some light on the underlying mechanisms of the disease, which are still poorly understood,” Dr. Beghi said.
The greatest obstacle to advancing the research, he added, is “the lack of funding,” a situation that could be ameliorated, somewhat, with all of that ice dousing.

Low Carb Diet Comes Back Around Yet Again

A new study has caused the infamous low carb diet to come back around in the press yet again despite mountains of scientific evidence that in the long term, calories in vs. calories out–not carbs or fat–is what matter most in weight loss. The study was recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and it included 148 men and women. Half of the participants ate a low-fat diet while the other half ate a low carb diet, cutting out breads, pastas, potatoes, high sugar fruits, baked goods and other carb-laden foods.
At the end of the study, the low carb group lost eight pounds more than the low fat group, leading press headlines to once again shout the benefits of a low carb diet from the rooftops. Low carb dieting began as far back as the 1800s, but it became incredibly popular in the 1970s, when Dr. Atkins was at the height of his career. His eating plan became so entrenched in the American mindset that it became known as “the Atkins Diet,” or as some people enjoyed calling it, “the Atkins.”
Atkins’ philosophy was that by cutting out carbs, a person’s body would be pushed into what is called ketosis. That is when the body is forced to burn fat as fuel, but it is also a condition suffered by diabetic people as well as those with kidney disorders. Few doctors think that ketosis is a healthy state in which to be, and it is hard on the kidneys and other organs. The Atkins diet starts people out on a phase called “induction” in which they eat almost no carbs, then moves them into the weight loss phase, where they can eat limited carbs in the form of vegetables. Maintenance allows some fruit and alcohol as well.
It is true that people lose weight on the Atkins diet or most any low-carb eating plan, but some experts say that the weight loss is due mostly to the drastic calorie reduction that occurs when carb-rich foods are cut from a person’s daily intake. Indeed, as USA Today reports, larger studies have shown no significant difference in weight loss between low fat and low carb diets.
Perhaps the most research has been done on the effect of calorie restriction as it pertains to weight loss. What the body of research over time shows is that calories are the main factor in determining weight loss. When someone burns more calories than they ingest, they will lose weight barring any underlying medical condition. This has been proven again and again in numerous meta-analyses over at least 50 years.
Nearly all diets rely on one basic factor for success: calorie restriction. Whether that restriction occurs due to cutting out food groups, counting points, measuring portions, eliminating sweets, adding exercise or replacing meals with shakes and bars, all the diets have one thing in common and that is a net reduction of calories.
Low carb diets have come back around yet again, but like the current gluten-free hysteria, low carb is a trend; a fad that keeps waxing and waning over time. To lose weight for the majority of healthy people, calories must be reduced somehow, and no amount of marketing for any specific diet will change this proven fact.