Tag Archives: exercise

Staying home could weaken your immune system

In the words of my trainer, staying home can mess up your immune system. When we are ready to mingle again, how resistant will our systems be? PJ Glassey of Xgym asks if we remember when Quarantines were only for sick people? I was once quarantined because I had the mumps. I remember the dark front bedroom and my mother creeping in to take my temperature and feed me soup. I was six years old. We have seldom quarantined healthy people.

We could end up on the other side of this quarantine period claiming it saved us all and

had we not done this unprecedented lockdown, millions upon millions of people would have died, and the virus would have continued to wreak havoc on the world for decades to come.

The other extreme side will say the lockdown had absolutely no effect on the infection or death rates and, in fact, the countries and states who didn’t close down proved that point by fairing as well or better than those who did.

Then there will be lots of people in the middle, adjusting toward one side or the other, based on what they believe to be true and then repeating that narrative based on their ingrained biases and agendas.

The bottom line is no one will really know. No one will be able to prove anything because no one can see into the future or even guess what might have been if things were done differently. PJ Glassey

Either way the lockdown will have negative effects on our immune systems and may cause increased infection rates if we don’t recognize what is going on and do something about it.

Here are some ideas about how to strengthen your immune system so you don’t catch every little cold, flu, bacteria, and other bugs the minute we are all mingling again.

First, let’s be clear that everyone gets sick, and there’s no way to avoid every bug….

The strength of anyone’s immune system lies mostly in their gut flora balance and diversity. In fact, over 70% of you’re immune system strength is directly attributable to the health and status of your gut flora.

Those little internal buggers protect you from the outside buggers in a myriad of ways, ranging from killing off those bad bugs themselves to communicating with your other lines of defenses in your body to help kill them there.

The best way to have an optimized gut flora is to feed them with the right nutrients and tools to be as healthy, balanced, and diverse as possible. If you help them, they are able to help you.

When you eat real, organic food, your gut flora thrives on the fiber (soluble and insoluble), vitamins, and minerals. Real (and especially organic) food is the best source for all this.

Non-organic food often has pesticides, fertilizers, and genetically modified components that kill off your good gut microbes, throwing off the balance, and slashing the diversity. Additionally, some respected scientists are finding the Coronavirus mechanism involves an “unmasking” of environmental toxins such as glyphosate, found in many non-organic foods, drastically amplifying its toxic effects inside the body on a cellular level, exacerbating the complications related to Coronavirus.

There’s something even worse than non-organic food though. Guess what that is? Yep – processed food. If you are eating most of your food out of bags and boxes, you’re decimating your gut flora and your immune system.

It just so happens that’s what most people are eating now in this lockdown, so they are setting themselves up to catch lots of nasty bugs when they get back out of their homes.

Another huge way we get and maintain a strong immune system is through constant exposure to microbes. When we are consistently coming into contact with viruses and bacteria, we are building and strengthening our immune system. We do this by shaking hands (and sharing microbes), playing in the dirt, hugging people, kissing, talking and laughing within 6 feet of each other, etc. – everything we are avoiding right now – so that’s another way we are decimating our immune system and setting it up for failure.

We are also acting like OCD people with all the incessant handwashing, hand sanitizers, spraying, wiping, disinfecting every surface, masks, gloves, and more, all contributing to preventing the natural and healthy exposure of the TRILLIONS of microbes we need to be in contact with, in order to try to avoid the ONE bug we are so fearful of right now.

If that worked, then clean-freak OCD people wouldn’t get sick more frequently than their “dirtier” friends but they do. They get sick way more often, in fact, because they are so focused on staying clean and sterile, they don’t get the exposure necessary for proper immunity. This, of course, feeds their OCD, which makes them try to be even cleaner, which then perpetuates the problem, sometimes resulting in the “Howard Huges syndrome,” along with Munchausen, and more.

When we are cooped up inside and out of the sunshine, we rapidly become deficient in Vitamin D, which drastically weakens our immune system. Some health and medical experts even believe Vitamin D should be reclassified as a hormone because it’s so much more powerful than other vitamins – especially with its effect on our immune health.

Since we are inside, out of the sun, and moving much less than we usually do, our hydration habits are also most likely suffering, as our thirst mechanisms are sending us fewer signals. Viruses and bacteria LOVE a dry host and HATE hydrated hosts because those people are stronger, more energetic, have healthier organs, happier gut flora, and the list goes on and on. PJ Glassey

During the lockdown, we are doing the exact opposite of what we should be doing to build and maintain a healthy immune system to be ready to come out of this and resume our lives.

Here are PJ’s top 7 suggestions, based on what he has learned about the human body as a biohacker and health researcher over the last 34 years:

1.) Drink 2-4 quarts of clean, filtered water per day. Here’s a “ballpark” way to figure out how much you should have: Take your body weight in pounds, divide that by two, and drink that many ounces each day, spread throughout the day as much as possible. This general formula works great for people who weigh between 100 and 250 lbs. but some may need a bit more or less depending on climate, habits, activity, sweating rate, etc.

2.) Eat organic real food, prepared in your own kitchen, with your own hands.

3.) Stay away from processed food, artificial ingredients, and especially sugar because that can really hurt your internal buggers. If your food has a label on it, treat that as a warning label, and the longer it is, the more urgent the warning!

4.) Exercise! This can be through the X Gym online training, the X Gym app, running, biking, hiking, dancing (learn a new move on TicTok), or anything else that gets you breathing hard. [Join Free Form Dance Dance on Saturday morning 10:30 – 12. zoom to a curated set list virtually dancing with several dozen people. It’s a hoot.]

5.) Get out in the sun and/or take a vitamin D3 supplement.

6.) Eat fermented foods like kimchi, or sauerkraut, or kefir, or all of those, as I do. These foods are packed with probiotics – another word for the “good buggers” I’m been talking about and will help balance and populate your gut flora. [Shaklee’s Optiflora does a great job.]

7.) Get outside and roll in the grass, plant some stuff with your bare hands, play with some earthworms, walk on the beach in your bare feet, dig in the sand with your hands, etc., and then rub your face with those grimy hands!

How is your score on doing these 7 things? Begin adding one after the other over the next few days/weeks to get ready. Hopefully, you have not put on 19 covid pounds during this stay-at-home order. Shaklee can help you there with a 7-Day cleanse to kick start better eating anytime you are ready.

Our current “quarantine quandary,” as PJ calls it, is more than just weight gain. It’s going to get way worse if people don’t become aware of the current immune-depressing world we are moving around in. Personally I know a lot of people who are gardening and walking and getting up close and personal with their “quarantine pod” of friends and family and so are not overly depressing their immune system. If you see yourself in the situation PJ describes, take steps. You’ll be glad you did.

Be well, do well, and keep moving!

Betsy

 

Betsy Bell’s Health4U

206 409 5940

betsy@hihohealth.com

www.HiHoHealth.com  my Shaklee shopping page

 

 

 

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Keep Moving

Hello, Gentle Reader,

In end every post with “be well, do well and Keep Moving.”  But I spend most of my day at the computer, sitting for hours.  What’s to be done?  You probably don’t move all day at your work, either.  I was talking with my hair stylist, suggesting a trip for her family to La Push and Second Beach, and her first question was “How long does it take to get there?”  Riding in the car for anything over an hour is too much sitting for her.  She moves all day long.  So does my renter, a finish carpenter working long hours on high end construction sites. The last thing he wants to do at the end of the day is an exercise program.  He is constantly in motion on his job.

We are all different in our daily routine.  If we want to make a change to our weight, or our stamina, or the comfort in our joints, we need to change it up.  Movement that is different from the routine is the movement that makes a difference in your health quotient.  Keep Moving means different things for different life styles.

Here’s my routine:

6:00 or so    Up, stumble into the kitchen to draw and heat a 16 ounce glass of water and squeeze half a lemon in it.  This wakes up my stomach and helps digestion.

6:30  after a relaxed complete bowel movement (chewing the warm lemon water helps this), I lie down with the Back2Life machine, which gently lifts the pelvis in a passive Feldenkrais type movement.

6:45   a 10 minute yoga routine which includes Cat-Cow movements (see a past post for pictures), Downdog and calf stretches.

7:15   Meditation and early morning writing.

7:40  Breakfast and reading

8:40 approximately, in the office at the computer.

10:15  break for tea and while the kettle boils, visit the chickens to feed them and collect eggs.

More sitting.

What I do is plot the walking I will do each day.  Today I walk a mile to the Uptown Velvet Foam coffee emporium where I will write for a couple hours.  The walk takes me down a steep hill, up another very steep hill and getting home it is the reverse.

How about you?  Can you fit a walk in that includes stairs?  One of the recommended ways to avoid osteoporosis is to climb 200 steps everyday, carrying 10 lbs of weight.

Move to Improve

What are we talking about here?

Everybody knows we need to be physically active.  But if we have arthritis and hurt much of the time, wouldn’t it be better just to find a comfortable position, take our medication and not invite more pain.  Movement makes you hurt, right?

Not necessarily.  In fact the opposite is true.  Trust me.  Get up and move.  Movement can have specific benefits for people with rheumatic or musculoskeletal disease (RMDs).  Those joints that hurt with every step and every bend, will actually hurt more and more WITHOUT moving them.  To keep the motion you have, you must move.  Moving also improves circulation and will help keep other degenerative diseases at bay.

So what can I do? The most appropriate form of activity will depend on a number of factors including the type of RMD you have.  Which joints are affected and how bad is the joint damage?  Articles like this always tell you it is important to consult your doctor or physiotherapist about the type of exercise you need therapeutically, as well as the type of activities you enjoy doing to keep you healthy.  One friend who was just one step from a wheel chair because of her arthritis, did not like any activity.  Her chiropractor told her she just had to find an activity she loved.  She stumbled on a scull, a single racing shell.  She fell in love with the water and rowing.  Got off all her medication.  Began taking a prescribed regimen of food supplements from Shaklee Corp and went on to win world championships in her age group.

Find something you love to do and begin, slowly with guidance.  Don’t stop.

Let’s see what physical activity is.   Physical activity is any form of daily activity that involves movement, rather than sitting or lying still. This could include playing with children, doing housework, walking the dog, gardening etc. Being physically active can release stiffness and lift your mood.  I find that the playing, housework, gardening activities often lead to more stiffness while some form of regulated, prescribed exercise reverses or controls those negative results from just any daily physical activity.  In other words, exercise can make the fun stuff easier.

The term exercise describes planned, structured and repetitive movements that are performed frequently, at a given intensity and for a set duration of time. Exercise can be therapeutic, such as in rehabilitation, or taken as an enjoyable way of improving or maintaining:

§ muscular strength and endurance

§ flexibility and joint mobility

§ motor functions including coordination and balance

§ aerobic capacity and increased energy expenditure, which can help with weight control

§ bone mineralisation contributing to the prevention of osteoporosis

§ mood and self-esteem leading to increased positive attitude

Level of exercise

You have to decide what you can handle.  One person may have an easy time doing water aerobics while another will have to begin slowly and increase intensity. For example, walking, cycling or swimming at a gentle pace (low intensity), might have an aerobic effect (increase your heart rate and breathing) for some people, while others would need to exercise at a moderate to high intensity to experience the same effect. How old are you?  How is your general state of health?  How advanced is your disease?  How regularly have you been exercising?  Are you carrying too much weight?  Begin at a level of exercise that works for you.

Starting out

Always begin gently and build up slowly over time. It is better to do little and often than to try and overdo things and to push yourself too hard when you start exercising.  So many people begin with fervor and peter out after the third day or so.  I believe that dietary changes need to accompany a new exercise program to support your recovery.  Here is an article about foods and supplements that help.

If you do need to stop exercising for any reason, always start again gently and build up slowly. When you reach your desired level of function, you will need to keep up regular activities to maintain this level.

How much exercise

When you repeat activities regularly your body will adapt over time and you will find you can do more with less effort. You may need to change up your program to continue improvement.  People hit a plateau and get frustrated because they are not improving beyond a certain point.  Make little alterations in your routine and your muscles will respond.  It’s the surprise factor in training.

Really.  Regular exercise slows, or may even prevent loss of function due to disease progression.

Ideally, do stretching/flexibility exercises every day, muscle strengthening and endurance exercises two to three times a week and some form of aerobic exercise for 20 minutes three times a week. Mix it up.

The key is to find things you enjoy doing so that being active is something you look forward to and becomes part of your daily life.

Did you know?

The word ‘fit’ comes from:

Frequency – how regularly you exercise

Intensity – how hard you exercise

Time – how long you exercise

Now the word fitness is used to describe health and the ability to meet the demands of a physical task.

 What are we talking about when we say exercise?

 Aerobic / cardiovascular – Exercise that raises the heart rate and breathing, e.g. walking, cycling, swimming, dancing etc. at a moderate or high intensity

 Balance – The ability to control the body’s position when either stationary or moving

 Endurance – How long you are able to exercise at low, medium or high intensity

 Flexibility – The ability of muscles to stretch. Stretching muscles helps to keep them supple and relieves stiffness

 High impact – Exercises where the body weight impacts forcefully against a surface, for example running or jumping

 Low impact – Exercises where there is minimal impact through the joints and pelvic floor or where the body is supported whilst exercising, e.g riding a bicycle or swimming

Mobility – The ability of joints to move through a range of motion

 Posture – Good body alignment

 Strength – The extent to which muscles can exert force by contracting against resistance (e.g. free or fixed weights, bands, moving in water etc)

 Weight bearing joints – Joints that support the weight of your body against gravity when you are upright, i.e. your spine, hips, knees, feet and ankles

 Weight bearing exercises – Exercises where your body is working or moving against gravity, for example walking (swimming is non-weight bearing because the water supports your body weight)  Weight bearing exercises also help maintain bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis

I went to the Arthritis Foundation.  Their website has excellent articles about taking control.  This posting borrows  from their pages.

Be well, Do well and Keep Moving, Betsy

Betsy Bell’s Health4u

206 933 1889

Betsy@hihohealth.com

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low back pain

Gentle Reader,

Yicks!  Low back pain. Leg numbness.  JR, my twenty something trainer, moved me up to a new set of exercises last week.  I’m not the only ancient mariner at the Xgym by a long shot, but the way they schedule us in half hour slots for a 25 minute hands-on workout, I don’t have the opportunity to see how the other over-70 year olds are doing.  What I do know is the numbness in my right leg showed up on Sunday morning while I was navigating between the choir corner and my chair in the Ensemble (a little pick up band that plays the family service at our Episcopal Cathedral here in Seattle.)  And my lower back was killing me.

When you have low back pain because of a workout, do you quit?  No.  You modify the workout to avoid low back pain.

On Monday, I talked to PJ, the owner and creator of Xgym, who is also a physical therapist.  He knew right away what to do to modify my program and to help me avoid low back pain between the twice a week sessions.  Squats free standing on uneven surfaces using ski poles to support stability strained by back too much.

Picture ski poles and squats on an uneven surface like this pillow
Picture ski poles and squats on an uneven surface like this pillow

He changed this quad exercise to leg raises on one of the machine, hands forward so the lower back is relatively uninvolved.

lean forward drapping your arms over the top cushions to reduce back strain.
lean forward draping your arms over the top cushions to reduce back strain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This round of exercises to strengthen the shoulders and lats meant lifting weights while standing, arms outstretched on either side, ratcheting up two, down one, up two, down one seven times and then back down.

Turn around with the back against the upright frame to prevent low back  strain
Turn around with the back against the upright frame to prevent low back strain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This action aggravated the lower back. PJ changed the move so I stand against a flat surface stabilizing my back and shoulders while I do the same straight arm lifting.

 

I tell you this because it illustrates the importance of hands-on training when your body has areas of weakness from previous injuries, arthritis, or some other cause.  Friends I have talked to about my Xgym workouts shy away because they are afraid of hurting themselves.  “I can’t take all that jumping around,” they tell me.  There is no jumping around. “X” doesn’t mean extreme, insane, sweat pouring activity.  In fact, there is almost no stress on joints at all. These exercises are designed to bring each of five muscle groups to complete fatigue through slow, controlled movements.

The second corrective advice PJ gave was to suggest daily warm up exercises including “cat-cow” and opposite leg and arm extensions from the neutral “cat-cow” stance.  Good old Pilates exercises I have forgotten about.  He explained that when the back is stressed, it seizes up, guarding against further pain.  Doing the “cat-cow” reassures the lower back that it is safe to move.  Relax.  Relax and go with the flow.  This movement gets the blood flowing freely in the area, supported by the breath.

 

Cat-cow exercise
Cat-cow exercise

9-11-14superman pose

People go to the gym for all kinds of reasons:  body-building, endurance, losing weight or at least making that extra piece of bacon inconsequential—calories in, calories out.  I am there for one express purpose:  preventing osteoporosis.  The slow-burning activated muscles pull on the attached bone and the bone reacts by taking on more density.

 

Did you know that medical anthropologists have determined that the people with the strongest bones in the history of human kind were the slave-class women in ancient Egypt, as compared to women from the ranks of Egypt’s elite?  High ranking women were extremely inactive physically.  Same ethnic stock, different life styles.  Different bone density and strength.

PJ Glassey’s Xgym has not cloned itself across the US. He has only two locations in the greater Seattle area, Harbor Dr. in West Seattle and downtown Kirkland on the eastside.  I hope more trainers with extensive physical therapy knowledge develop this low stress, high intensity approach.  Those of us working to avoid the deterioration of joints that comes with aging and keep a high level of fitness and strength need this type of training.  You can read about his methods and the science behind them in his book Cracking Your Calorie Code.  I do not agree with PJ on the topic of supplementation.  The kind of diet his consumes may be adequate for many if you never miss a day eating the way he recommends. As careful as I am about my food intake, there are days I cannot get all the nutrients I need from food.  I am just not home to prepare those fresh vegetables three meals a day.  Some bodies need more nutrients to build optimal health than they can get from good food alone.  Read his book and decide for yourself.  He has so many good pointers and if don’t live in Seattle, it’s the next best thing.

Not all supplements are equal.  They must be sourced from organic, non-genetically modified plants and they must be processed so no contaminants or impurities taint a single tablet. I trust the Shaklee scientists because my body lets me know how well they are absorbed.  If I couldn’t believe my body, I can believe the double-blind clinical trials with real people using these products in independent tests.  If you feel your body is not getting everything it needs from food alone and you are already taking supplements, I invite you to change brands for a minimum of three months to see if the Shaklee effect happens to you.  It takes three months for the blood to be all new.  That length of time would be a fair trial.

By all means, keep moving.  The breath carries the blood to the muscles and joints. Moving means breathing deeply, from the bottom of the belly.  This action alone will do more for your health than any other single thing.

Your comments are welcome and if this post rings true for you, pass it along to a friend.  Sign up to receive this weekly health blog automatically.

Be well, Do well and Keep Moving,

Betsy

206 933 1889

 

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OTC pain meds

Gentle Reader,

The aftermath of my bike crash calls into question two of my closely held beliefs:  OTC pain meds are bad for you; keep moving, no matter what.  I was on the dunes path at Long Beach, WA with twelve Finneys of all ages.  Nothing like a little crowd around the beginning of the last section of trail to get a person off kilter and into the sand.  My recovery seemed fine while at the beach because I was icing and taking a lot of Shaklee Pain Relief Complex and doing nothing.  (My granddaughter reminds me that I split some wood with a heavy ax.) The pain worsened, keeping me awake at night.  Coughing hurt unbearably.  I went to my doctor.  Dr. Pepin knows I am not a willing patient.  He is working hard to play the role of a team member in my health care.  He makes a special effort to honor my preference for natural healing practices—acupuncture, massage, individual training and supplements.  He sent me for an x-ray.

When I got home, My Chart contained the message that I had broken the 9th rib on the left side, but only a hairline fracture.  In his notes, he suggested more icing and anti-inflammatories.  I decided to take Aleve.  I took another one 8 hours later.  I took a third 8 hours after that.  I iced off and on for the next 36 hours.  Everything improved.  The depression in the muscles beneath the broken lower back rib normalized.  The muscles on the opposite side calmed down to normal.  I slept soundly, happy that pain did not disturb me.  It seemed like a miracle.

What is so bad about NSAIDS? What do they do?  Why have I resisted taking them so consistently?

It turns out when taken for a brief time (2 – 10 days), anti-inflammatories calm down injured muscles allowing healing to take place.  The danger with these drugs appears when taken habitually over a long period of time to manage chronic pain.  The NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) intercept 2 enzymes called Cox 1 and Cox 2 that are involved with inflammation.  Inhibiting Cox 1 has the side effect of damaging the stomach lining, causing bleeding.  Advil, Motrin and Aleve are the most popular of these non-specific anti-inflammatories and regularly cause damage to the stomach lining when taken over a long period of time.

The risks from taking NSAIDS, besides internal bleeding, are most severe for people who have heart conditions.  People with stomach problems should avoid them.  For healthy people with no blood pressure or other heart issues, taking NSAIDS for a few days to bring down inflammation carries low risk and brings much relief.

I am satisfied that taking NSAIDS for a few days to help the immediate problem is a good thing for my body and does not put me at risk.

Now let me think out loud about my other closely held belief: Keep Moving under any and all circumstances.  This week I have not hiked, gone to yoga practice, worked out with my trainer or done much of anything. I did walk around Green Lake, a 3 miles meander on the flat, and twice I walked to the West Seattle Junction, down and up  a hill, repeated in the opposite direction, about 2 miles total.  Moving, yes; pain free, pretty much.  At least pain free around the injured area.  But after a dozen steps, chronic pain kicked in: hips, knees and lower back.  I found myself questioning the value of moving, especially since moving causes pain.

It turns out that Not moving is lethal.

Bone Loss

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, our bones require applied stress for them to grow. Bone stress sends a signal to the body to build bone density. If you don’t stress your bones by exercising, you can suffer from low bone density, which can turn into a case of osteoporosis. Also, if you never exercise and stretch your joints, your arthritic joints will stiffen over time and their adjoining tissues will weaken, causing more arthritis.

Muscle Loss

Your bones need stress exerted on them to grow, and so do your muscles. A muscle’s fibers need to tear for it to rebuild itself larger and stronger. So as you may already know from experience, if you don’t use your muscles, you “lose” them.

Increased Risk of Disease

Muscle loss caused by inactivity makes your metabolism slow down. Your metabolism is the rate at which your body converts food and drink into usable energy. If you have a slow metabolism, your body ends up storing a lot of the food and drink energy instead of using it to get your body moving. This storage leads to weight gain and puts you at a higher risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, depression and anxiety, according to Harvard School of Public Health.

Weaker Immune System

According to MayoClinic.com, without regular aerobic exercise, your immune system weakens. This makes it harder for your body to fight viruses such as the flu and the common cold. So if you never exercise, you’re likely to find yourself getting sick more often.

Keep Moving will remain my closely held belief.  Since the pain I experience when I move is chronic, caused by arthritis, I will continue to use Shaklee’s Pain Relief Complex.  Its herbal formula is a pain path inhibitor (Cox 2 and 5 Lox) but does not interfere with Cox 1.  Therefore there is no risk to the stomach or to the heart.

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving,

I promise I will.  Join me.

Betsy

Comments?  I love to hear them.

Thanks to Lindsay Haskell  of AZ who blogs about health, fitness, culture and fashion.

 

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Speaking of feet: blisters

Dear Gentle Reader,

In my last post, I talked about the pain of plantars faciitis along with some suggestions as to how to alleviate that debilitating pain. Today, I want to address the care of your feet, i.e. blisters and how to heal and prevent them.

Last Wed. Betty and I hiked 11 miles along Rattlesnake Ridge, overlooking North Bend, WA., a trail 45 minutes from Seattle. It is a through-hike requiring two cars.  We chose the long uphill route dropping to the Ledge and thence to the lake below.  Rattlesnake

People fall to their death from the Rattlesnake Ridge ledge
People fall to their death from the Rattlesnake Ridge ledge

ledge is infamous because so many unprepared people can easily get up there–it is only 1 1/2 miles, and every year one or two fall off to their death below.

View from Rattlesnake ledge
View from Rattlesnake ledge

In spite of arthritis, chronic pain, aching joints–hips, knees, ankles–, you still want to go walking.  Your feet must have the best possible support.  For me, this has been a huge challenge because I have bunions which require double wide men’s shoes.  At one point I developed a metatarsal neuroma or  Morton’s neuroma .  I mentioned Dr. Huppin’s Foot and Ankle clinic last week.  He knew exactly what modifications to make to the orthotic inserts to take the pressure off the 2nd toe and spread weight over all the toes.

He and his partner, Dr. Hale, publish a guide to shoes that helps a person choose the most stable shoe.  They even consider and recommend a flip flop!  Here’s the link where you can sign up for their recommended shoe list and guide lines on how to choose a shoe that will keep your foot stable.

On the Rattlesnake Ridge hike, I make a huge mistake.  I ignore a hot spot between my big toe and the 2nd toe, a place where I have rubbed countless blisters.  By the time I get home late that night, after another event, I can hardly walk.

I’d like to share what to do to avoid that suffering.  Blisters are serious business.  I knew a woman who ignored a blister her ski boot rubbed.  It developed septicemia and she died before they could airlift her to a hospital.

Women on Wed.hike to Red Pass on the Pacific Crest Trail
Women on Wed.hike to Red Pass on the Pacific Crest Trail

In my pack I carry a tape made by a German company.  The product is called Hansaplast and is not available in the US, only Canada and Mexico in North America.  But of course anywhere in Europe you can purchase rolls of this magical thin, easy-to-tear-with-your-fingers tape.  If I’m not going to Europe, I ask a traveling friend to buy it for me.  Usually I put a piece of this tape on the areas of my feet most likely to blister in my hiking boots before I begin the hike.  Usually, if I feel a hot spot, the way I did when we hiked out of Commonwealth Basin up the Pacific Crest Trail toward Red Pass, I stop on the trail and take off my boots and sox and put the tape on, thus preventing a blister.  But on Rattlesnake Ridge, I ignored everything I usually do.

The blister kept me awake all night. In the morning I punctured it, cleaned it carefully and put Second Skin on it.  This is the second thing to tell you about blisters.  Second Skin is a must for your pack first aide kit.  Don’t leave home without it.  You leave the second skin on for 5 days and by that time the blister is completely healed.  I hiked again yesterday, 8 miles on Tiger Mt. with quite an elevation gain.  Before going, I used the Hansaplast and a pair of liner sock.No blisters or sore feet.

One more suggestion for protecting your feet and legs: walk with hiking sticks and use them to lift your body up and lower it down on the steep bits of trail.  Your upper body gets a work out and your legs and feet have less stress.  We spent much of our time on Tiger a little bit lost.  I was glad we were 5 and that my smart phone GPS could locate us, but nothing helped poor signage.  We are determined to master the maze of wilderness trails on this complicated mountain, a foot hill of the Cascade Range, blessedly protected by forward looking environmentalists.  Known as the Issaquah Alps, Tiger and Cougar and Squak mountains form a corridor of wilderness in an otherwise densely developed exurban Seattle.

More than anything, keep moving, Gentle Reader, keep moving.

Before you go, what is your foot sore story and how have you kept sore feet from keeping you in your chair? Let us hear from you.

Be well, Do well and keep moving

Betsy

206-933-1889

 

 

e may

 

 

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5 Surprising Signs of Dementia

Gentle Reader,

Are we showing signs of demenita?  Traveling with my sister-in-law for a month on ferries, in rental cars and my car; staying in new rooms night after night has resulted in a few missing things, left here and there.

“Our life style is not compatible with our memory issues,” Joan said and we both burst out laughing.  We had to make a stop in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island to buy the plug for our cell phones.  She is taking pictures with my camera because she didn’t bring her charger for this round of sites.  And then there is the misplaced earring.

It wasn’t enough to spend 3 weeks poking around five towns in the Inside Passage of Alaska.  We decided to extend our ferry-boat travel to Lopez, San Juan and Victoria with a full afternoon at the Butchard Gardens.

The Sunken gardens at Butchard in Victoria BC
The Sunken gardens at Butchard in Victoria BC

Tonight we are in our beds in the James Bay Hotel, Government St. in Victoria.  A half-moon hangs over head.  The lights on the government buildings glittered like Christmas time.  The street musicians entertained enthusiastic passers-by and the little harbor taxi spun like a wind-up version of the bumper cars.  At Butchard the gardens are transitioning from summer to fall with beds full of chrysanthemums, tight-buds hint lavender, gold, yellow and orange .  The zinnia patch is a clown-riot of color. The tuberous begonias and impatience vibrate their more nuanced color palate.

Butchard Gardens, Victoria,BC
Butchard Gardens, Victoria,BC

The visit to the gardens began with high panic:  I couldn’t find my wallet.  I put it in a different place in my purse, changing a fixed habit.  Dashing nervously back to the car (if you have been to Butchard Gardens you know how far everything is), I was relieved to find it on the floor of the car just inside the door. All was well.

Do we have the early signs of dementia?  A few years back, my daughter Grace, who was working with a University of Washington hospice project, asked me to subject myself to a base line test of memory.  I did.  I passed.  Somewhere in my medical records there is an account of my memory capabilities at 70.

This recent report may interest you. We can watch for early signs of dementia and take steps to avoid the full-blown condition.

By Alysha Reid, Everyday Health Staff Writer

There’s growing evidence that small changes in the way you walk, chew, sleep, and feel may be subtle early indicators of dementia.

Dementia is characterized by the progressive loss of cognitive functioning as brain cells are destroyed.

But long before you show obvious signs of dementia, certain changes in your behavior could signal that you may have the condition.

One: Trouble Chewing Hard Foods

The act of biting an into apple may predict your odds of developing dementia, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS). Researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Karlstad University in Sweden studied a sample of 577 people aged 77 or older and found that those who had trouble chewing hard food such as apples had a much higher risk of mental decline. The Swedish researchers offered one possible explanation: Since chewing is difficult when you have few or no teeth — which may be the case for some older people — they chew less, which reduces blood flow to the brain and therefore may put you at higher risk for dementia.

Two: Slow Walking

Your walking style could predict your dementia risk, according to a report presented at the 2012 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference. Several studies presented there found a correlation between walking abnormalities and signs of cognitive decline on neuropsychological tests. Another study presented at the conference analyzed the at-home walking behaviors of 19 older subjects using motion-sensor technology. They found those with a slow pace had smaller brain volumes, which is often true of people with dementia.

Three: Trouble Sleeping

More bad news for night owls: Your sleep cycle now may lead to dementia later. In a December 2011 study published in Annals of Neurology, 1,300 healthy women over the age of 75 were followed over the course of five years. By the end of that time, 39 percent had developed some form of mild cognitive impairment or dementia. Researchers found that women with weaker circadian rhythms(those who performed less physical activity early in the day) were 80 percent more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment or dementia than women who were active early in the day.

Four: Carrying Extra Pounds

Being overweight is linked to many health dangers — including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. But one study, published in May 2011 in Neurologylinked a high BMI to a higher dementia risk. In an analysis of 8,534 twins aged 65 and older, it was noted that 350 were officially diagnosed with dementia and 114 with possible dementia. When researchers tracked their BMIs from 30 years earlier, they found that those with dementia or possible dementia now were 70 percent more likely to have been overweight or obese back then.

Worried that your extra weight could lead to cognitive decline later on? The answer may be tostart a workout program. A July study presented in the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference concluded that exercise may protect the aging brain.

Five: Being Depressed

Feeling blue isn’t only bad for your emotional well-being — depression can take a toll on your brain health, too. A study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry evaluated the medical records of more than 13,000 California residents over the course of six years. Those with late-life depression had double the chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease, while those with both mid-and late-life depression had more than triple the risk of developing vascular dementia.

Dear friends, I hope this can be a little wake-up call for.  Not an alarm bell necessarily, but a cautionary suggestion to take a look at some of the creeping behaviors that might be addressed sooner than later.

By all means, to avoid early signs of dementia, keep moving!  Email me or comment here with your stories about dementia.

For supplements that can help, see resources.

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving,

Betsy

206 933 1889

www.EmpoweredGrandma.com

 

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No Magic Pill to end Arthritis Pain

Gentle Reader,

In the end, and in the beginning, there is only one thing we –you and I– can do to bring lasting health to our aching bodies.  Life style change.  As I travel the Alaska Marine Highway, eat in the cafeteria on board, snack along the wharf in the various Inside Passage towns, I struggle with how to maintain my eating habits with poor choices everywhere.  Some people go on vacation and throw their healthy life-style to the winds for those 7 – 21 days.  Unfortunately the stomach doesn’t know you are on vacation and when the deep fried foods, extra sour dough bread with butter come rolling down the intestinal track, the joints react.

I’ve been having a few digestive and joint issues until yesterday when I found an IGA in Skagway with a ripe peach, some snap peas, and carrots.  Amazing how getting back to the healthy routine will quickly restore one to their mobile less-pained body.  Did I mention I also found a 4 mile round trip hike up to Dewey Lake right out of Skagway on 2nd Ave?

hiking in Skagway
hiking in Skagway, Dewey Lakes

So good to move after strolling.  What a difference.

This article about the new weight loss drug Dexaprine came across my desk.  Dr. Chaney talks about the hazards of relying on a magic pill to take care of the pounds that weigh our joints down.  It simply doesn’t work. Read his whole article here.

Want to really make a difference in your health?  Lose 10 pounds.  Safely.  Let the fat go, keep the lean muscle.  Have the energy to work out, or a least begin a walking program.  Change the way you eat, permanently.  That’s what the 180 Turnaround kit and the Lean and Healthy Kit are all about.  Consider these Shaklee products as a way to launch yourself into a permanent life-style change.  Personally, I’ll be drinking –or pouring over my breakfast cereal–a Shaklee 180 smoothee for the rest of my life, just as I have been doing ever since I achieved my goal weight 25 years ago with the Shaklee shakes and vitamins.  Why not?  Excellent science behind the product.  Delicious. Sustains energy all day. Convenient to use (I have packets with me on this trip.)  Cheaper than the fast food items at Starbuck’s or McDonalds.  Begin today.

Be well, Do well and Keep Moving,

Betsy

PS to catch the latest on the Alaska expedition, click here

PPS Leave me your diet success/struggle stories in the comment section.

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Food Cures. Is there such a thing?

Gentle Reader,

I’ve joined an on line face book arthritis support group to learn from others how they suffer and what they are doing about it.  Following the rabbit trails I came to this web site  maintained by a Joy Bauer.  She has a slide show showing foods that are helpful for sufferers of arthritis.  You can also take a survey here that will give you a food suggestion list based on your answers to several life style questions.

Here are the suggestions that resulted from my survery:

Step 1

Understanding Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is due to a combination of factors, including genetics, past injury, joint use and overuse, and the aging process in general. The word “overuse” implies that it’s a concern for serious athletes, as well as those who have stress on the joints caused by excess body weight. Losing just a little weight can have a huge positive impact on OA. Because arthritis is a disease of inflammation, the most effective — and logical — treatment is anything that fights inflammation. Management of arthritis usually starts with ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory medications, eating anti-inflammatory foods, and improving weight and lifestyle. I will go into more detail on how to manage OA in the following steps and on the Food Cures Web site.
Step 2

Foods to Avoid
In order to reduce inflammation in your body, you should dramatically limit your intake of pro-inflammatory foods. It sounds like you’re already avoiding foods high in saturated fats — such as fatty meats, butter, whole and 2 percent milk, full-fat cheese, and rich desserts. However, there are a few other foods you should add to your “foods to avoid” list. Trans fats, which are man-made fats added to baked goods to give them a longer shelf life, are very dangerous and even worse than saturated fats for your health. The good news is that laws now require food manufacturers to list trans fats on nutrition labels — so they’re easy to spot. Choose packaged foods that list 0 grams trans fat on the Nutrition Facts panel and don’t list any “hydrogenated oils” — codeword for trans fats — in the ingredients panel. The other food group to avoid is simple and refined carbs — which set up a state of inflammation in the body. These foods include soda and other sweetened beverages, candy, sugary refined cereals, white-flour baked goods, and white rice, bread, and crackers.
Step 3

Keep Drinking Your Water
Cartilage is 65 to 80 percent water, so staying hydrated is important for the health and lubrication of your joints. Maintaining proper hydration is even more important for individuals who suffer from gout. Water helps flush uric acid out of the body, and studies suggest staying hydrated may help prevent flare-ups. It isn’t necessary to count the number of glasses of water you drink in a day — the latest research suggests that if you take time to drink a glass whenever you feel thirsty, you’ll probably do fine. You are already drinking enough water, which is important for managing your arthritis. To spice things up, you might want to try flavoring your water with fresh fruit slices or drinking unsweetened green tea or herbal tea — there are so many delicious and fun varieties. And be sure to avoid sugary drinks like soda, sweetened water, fruit drinks, sweet tea, and froufrou coffee concoctions.
Step 4

Smoking and Arthritis
I know you don’t smoke, but I just wanted to share with you a few good reasons to stay smoke-free: Smoking delivers toxins throughout the body, causing inflammation and increasing the risk of arthritis. In one study, smokers were more than twice as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than people who didn’t smoke. In addition, researchers from a multicenter study reported in 2005 that smokers had a greater risk of osteoarthritis of the knee, possibly because smoking interferes with the body’s ability to repair its own cartilage. The bottom line is that staying smoke-free is a wise choice!
Step 5

Maintain Your Healthy Weight
One of the best things you can do for your arthritis is maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight — and you’re already there! Being overweight can put added physical stress on your joints, which can aggravate arthritis (particularly osteoarthritis) and increase your levels of pain. An unhealthy weight can also promote inflammation, which as I’ve mentioned is the root of arthritis. Another reason to keep eating right and exercising!
Step 6

Exercise and Managing Arthritis
You’re already exercising daily — good for you! Many people stop exercising at the first twinge of pain in a joint, but this can be a big mistake. Exercise can actually be a great tool for fighting arthritis. It can help you lose or maintain weight, which reduces the overall stress impact on joints. Strong muscles can absorb shock from daily movements, keep joints stable, and protect against additional joint injury. Stretching and yoga can improve flexibility and range of motion and reduce joint stiffness. Swimming and water aerobics allow free movement without added stress on the joints. Walking is another manageable, low-impact form of aerobic exercise appropriate for most individuals with arthritis. All good reasons to maintain your active lifestyle!
Good luck changing whatever needs changing to find the pain free movement you long for.
Comments?  Please leave your thoughts and comments.  Pass this along on your facebook page.
Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving,
Betsy
206 933 1889
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I did not know him: a cycle of pain

My brother died.  I went to Boston to be with his wife and children.  At first the pain and suffering was all about my loss.  In Boston I became one grieving sister in a sea of grief.  I did not know all these other grieving people.  Not his wife of thirty-five plus years and their three children, and all of his wife’s siblings, their spouses and their children.   And then his friends from high school and college and his medical practice and their church and his men friends.  Six hundred people in various degrees of pain.

I listened.  I discovered that I have not listened well; I let the stories of others come in unfiltered.  These stories gave me my brother.  How bitter sweet to have him and lose him at the same time.  The acute pain is mediated by the truth, the fleshing out of the man he was these years we had been separated by a continent and our too-busy lives.  Today back in Seattle, I feel less pain.  I also have far more compassion for his wife and their children who now begin the work of knitting a life without him physically present.

How are emotional pains like our body pains?

I recently found an interesting web site called the Arthritis Management Program. They published a graphic of the pain/fatigue cycle which you may find helpful. arthritis pain cycle In a closed loop, each new painful experience pulls you further down into the pain and suffering.  In this downward spiral, pain leads to depression which makes exercise difficult.  One abandons the good diet.  Sleep is challenging.  All of these challenges occur while a loved one is struck down and then dies.  Each of these symptoms can by themselves contribute to the other symptoms, and all can make pain and fatigue worse.

Even worse, they can feed on each other. For example, inflammation from the arthritis can cause pain, which causes stress and anxiety, which can cause poor sleep, poor sleep can cause depression, depression can sometimes make it hard to eat as we should, and these can lead to more pain or fatigue, and so on. The interactions of these symptoms, in turn, make our arthritis or fibromyalgia seem worse. It becomes a vicious cycle that only gets worse unless we find a way to break the cycle.

A support group for arthritis sufferers, a good blog (hehehe) or web site can trigger a cycle-breaking strategy.  A memorial service in which all the sufferers participate can show the way to break the grieving cycle.  Neither strategy is permanent.  I have lost two husbands and this loss brings all that pain back.  It was hard to sleep, to focus my mind on anything.  I felt as though I was spinning.  How must those much closer to my brother have suffered from the physical and emotional disruptions of death.

I always go back to my mantra of Keep Moving.  If your arthritis pain gets too great to move in the usual ways, find new ways to move.  A warm-water pool and a class for arthritics; gentle Feldenkrais movements;  a quick trip to the Korean foot massage place (that was my strategy when I couldn’t sleep from the anxiety of my brother lying in the ICU with a stroke.)  Call a friend and ask them to help you get out of the doldrums.  Eat a salad with toasted pine nuts instead of chocolate cake.

You no doubt have been on this closed circuit pain path. How did you get out of it?  Let us know.

If this has been helpful, pass it along, post it on your face book page, and like my business page while you are at it.  🙂

Fondly, Betsy

Be well, Do well and Keep Moving.

www.grandmabetsybell.com

www.dowellwithbetsy.com

 

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Who is Peggy Cappy?

Gentle Reader,

Whether it is the new exercise classes or the intense gardening, I cannot say for sure.backcaremed (1)  What I am sure about is increased pain and then the magical release from it.  Here is the unexplainable magic.  I have mentioned it to you several times in the past.  It is a 20 minute meditation tape by Peggy Cappy about Rejuvenating the Back.   She talks in a soothing voice about how every cell in your body is capable of reproducing into a fresh, new creation, whole and healthy.

 

 

I come in from the garden hurting in every lower back, hip and knee joint, shoulders and hands, as well.  I turn on the Ipod to her voice and prop my knees over the Back2Life machine (I have described this contraption several times in previous posts) and when the tape is over, I stand and walk without pain.

BAck2Life machine

 

 

Back2Life

 

 

The third thing I do is take an herbal tablet that inhibits the pain path.  The Pain Relief Complex is helpful but does not bring such complete results by itself.

 

I urge you, if you suffer pain, to invest in Peggy Cappy’s cd.  You might want the Back2Life machine, too, but it probably is less important than her relaxation/rejunvenation message.

 

I’d be interested in hearing your techniques for curbing acute pain.  So let us hear from you.  If you investigate these techniques and like what I have shared, please pass the message along to your friends. While you are at it, like my facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/BetsyBellsHealth4U.

Fondly,

Be Well, Do Well, Keep Moving

Betsy

Injured at 52. Diagnosed and sentenced to a wheel chair at 55.  Hiking, skiing, dancing and walking at 75.  Read my story

206 933 1889  betsy@HiHoHealth.com   www.GrandmaBetsyBell.com

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