Archives for posts with tag: Healthy living over 40

Work-Life-Balance

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balance or postural control, is the ability to maintain the body in either static or dynamic equilibrium with the center of gravity over the base of support (Magee 2007). Sounds so simple doesn’t it – but the fact is that lack of balance in humans can be costly and deadly. It is estimated that by 2020 the national cost of falls related injuries will reach 43.8 billion dollars (Donatelli 2010).

For myself I recently discovered just how ‘un-balanced’ my own body actually is, esp. after a number of injuries which all occurred on the right side of my body – each injury by itself was not the cause – but rather the combination of 5 injuries took its toll. Further the risk of having balance problems increases as we get older. I even found myself beginning to have small changes in my thinking that my own imbalance was just a product of those injuries and age – and what I realized was what a ‘negative’ mind set this type of thinking could become in my life.

I also began to understand why so many older adults start to become terrified of falling and losing the ability to move and function. Keeping active and mobile is key to our functioning both physically and mentally – without balance we cannot function normally, just ask anyone who has ever had episodes of vertigo.

Balance also extends to other aspects of our lives – our mental outlook and quality of life, our nutrition, our spirit. Keeping balance in our life of work, recreation, relaxation and mental stimulation is essential. I recently heard a neurologists from Harvard speaking on a radio program about neurological issues of the aging process. He was asked ‘if there is any one activity that we as aging humans could do to keep our brain healthy, active and functioning – what would you recommend? His answer – ‘exercise and staying active’. So simple and so profound.

The good news is it’s never too late. Check your own balance; here are a couple of simple tests.

1) Stand with one foot placed directly in front of the other foot and stay in that position for 10 seconds, then change feet.

2) Stand on one foot for 10 seconds, then change feet.

One should be able to perform these simple test quite easily and at will – and perhaps many can. However if you notice that even during these simple test that you have a bit of a challenge maintaining balance and being still then perhaps its time to begin adding balance training components into your regular routine. Even if you had no issues with these simple tests I would still recommend adding balance training components into your daily activity. Easily performing Activities of Daily Living (ADL) are a key measuring tool in determining how independent we are as individuals as we age.

Even in Joseph H. Pilates description of ideal health that he wrote about in 1945 he stated.  ‘Our interpretation of physical fitness is the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally, easily and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure.’

motivation

Motivation – is key to realizing your health, fitness and life goals. To me – without motivation I would just end up being a blob of organic matter – being alive in basic definition, but not in a reality that is meaningful and fulfilling.
Websters defines Motivation as:
•the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something • the act or process of motivating someone
•the condition of being eager to act or work : the condition of being motivated
•a force or influence that causes someone to do something

Interestingly enough for me my ‘motivation’ for things have changed as I have changed, grown and matured and I’m sure that’s the case for most of us. From the perspective of health and fitness – my motivation to get fit has evolved over the years. As a young boy I was not athletic, extremely overweight, uncoordinated and basically uninterested…

Right around the time of puberty I grew tired of the many taunts I had heard through the years – ‘Hey Fattie’, Fatso, the sound of Moo’s and so on. We all know how cruel kids can be to one another. Those seemingly endless jabs and insults pushed me or ‘motivated’ me to exercise, lose weight and basically change my life.

The up side of that change was 1) I felt better physically and mentally and 2) I looked better and began to receive more positive attention (again it made me feel better mentally). The down side was that I was motivated to make these changes for all the wrong reasons – and those reasons were based upon what other people thought about me and how I looked – not how I really felt inside or  what I wanted. I was the product of my environment.

It wasn’t until I began to move through life and mature that I realized that health and fitness was so much more than 6 pack Abs, 7 % body fat and big biceps. Don’t get me wrong – having those attributes is certainly nice, but it doesn’t and shouldn’t define who you are and how you live. Health and Fitness is something that comes from the inside out and truly should be motivated by a desire to be healthy, to have an improved sense of well being, to function well and to have an enhanced quality of life.

So I ask you – what is your ‘Motivation’ for a healthy life?

Drop your pants, lay down on your side on the examination table. The snap of rubber gloves and a then a cold moist finger being put….

Yes, that’s how it goes gentlemen when we have to succumb to the dreaded of all test at the doctor’s office – the Prostate Exam! We all know that this is the test/exam that we don’t like to talk about, however remember it is actually one of the most important that we need to have on a regular basis.

November is Prostate Cancer Awareness month, that is why I am growing a moustache in honor of Prostate and Testicular Cancer Awareness. For more information go to:  http://www.pcf.org/site/c.leJRIROrEpH/b.5699537/k.BEF4/Home.htm

Here are some important facts to know:

Did you know that Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America affecting 1 in 6 men? There are several factors that influence risk:

Age – the older you are the more likely you are to be diagnosed with Prostate cancer – for example the rate for men under 40 is 1 in 10,000 men, but that rate shoots up to 1 in 15 men for ages 60 – 69.

Race – African-American men are more likely t develop Prostate cancer compared with Caucasian men, and are nearly 2.5 times as likely to die from the disease. Asian men who live in Asia actually have the lowest risk.

Family history/genetics – A man with a father or brother who developed prostate cancer is twice as likely to develop the disease.

Where you live – For men in the U.S., the risk of developing prostate cancer is 17%. For men who live in rural China, it’s 2%. However, when Chinese men move to the western culture, their risk increases substantially.

Men who live in cities north of 40 degrees latitude (north of Philadelphia, PA, Columbus, OH, and Provo, UT, for instance) have the highest risk for dying from prostate cancer of any men in the United States. This effect appears to be mediated by inadequate sunlight during three months of the year, which reduces vitamin D levels.

Also, keep in mind that not everyone experiences symptoms of prostate cancer. Many times, signs of prostate cancer are first detected by a doctor during a routine check-up.

Some men, however, will experience changes in urinary or sexual function that might indicate the presence of prostate cancer. These symptoms include:

  • A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
  • Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Difficulty in having an erection
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs

You should consult with your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms above.

The above information was provided by the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

Stay tuned for my next installment about Prostate cancer and why I believe Men and those who love Men need to know the facts and understand all of aspects of this disease! I truly believe that the attention and funding that we have given to Breast cancer in Women, should be the same that we give to Prostate cancer in men.

A recent article in Men’s Fitness Magazine by Janna Leyde provided some interesting information about what is actually in the food that we eat. Some of these items are actually added to our food and others make their way in there during the production process. Either way it is quite surprising as well as – unappetizing and/or disgusting. Further according to the FDA all of these items are perfectly harmless to ingest at certain levels.

Here are a few examples of what’s in our food:
Wood – powdered wood pulp or cellulose is a product used to keep prepackaged cheese from balling up in globs and to make low fat ice creams and pre-made milkshakes extra creamy.
L-Cysteine – a common ingredient in most commercial breads, pastries and pizza dough is made from boiling human hair in acid. This hair is gathered from the floors of salons and barber shops in China.

According to both the USDA and the FDA the above ingredients pose no threat to our health. Better yet there is actually a safe level of the following items that may find their way into our phone supply. These items include: Maggots, insect fragments,mold, insect eggs, Mammalian excrets (poop). So goes the saying – ‘You are what you eat’. NOT

Here’s a few suggestions to help you along the way if you want to avoid being exposed to some of these acceptable additives or ‘defects’.

Read the ingredients – if you do not understand the words, then you more than likely do not know what you are eating.

Buy local – at least you’ll have a better handle on exactly where your food is coming from.

Eat less processed food – or none at all. No artificial flavorings or color please!

Here’s an interesting tidbit: I recently read that the average Olympic Games viewer gained 4 pounds over the 2 week period – Really?

We are almost half way through the Summer (depending of course on how you look at it) and almost to the commencement of the summer Olympics. The Olympics have always provided me with a sense of inspiration of what truly can be achieved by the human body and being. Not doubt much time will be spent during the Olympic coverage on how these amazing athletes train for their particular Olympic sport both on and off-season.

Some of these Olympians utilize various forms of traditional and non-traditional fitness training and some have utilized  the Pilates method for their training – athletes such as Andre Ward (Boxing), Sanya Richards (Running), Julia Mancuso (Swimming), Thomas Finchum (Diving)  just to name a few. The point is that their sport specific training also includes a comprehensive approach to functional fitness, flexibility and health as should yours as a ‘Prime Male’.

So pull up a chair and watch the Olympics and don’t forget to take care of the athlete in you – no matter what your fitness level. Here are a couple of  tips to make the most of your Olympic enjoyment:

*If watching TV ignites your urge to snack – then snack healthy. Watching the Olympics while gorging on chips and dip (unless the chips are baked and the dip something low fat and healthy such as fresh salsa) doesn’t make for a good health and nutrition, allow the Olympics and MacDonald’s to set the poor nutrition example (don’t even get me started on this subject, that will be the topic on another blog). Try some fruit, vegetables, whole grain baked crackers, a little peanut butter, guacamole  – you get the idea.

* Better yet,  why not multi-task while watching the Games. Clear some space,  get down on the floor and do some simple exercises or stretches – such as a side lying bridge to work the abdominals or perhaps holding a plank position, or doing some regular bridges or sit-ups during the commercials.

Enjoy the rest of the summer, the Olympics and your commitment to health and fitness!

The goal for any health and fitness plan is to just keep on track. Set realistic expectations of yourself and by all means do not jump off the deep end and jump into some crazy CrossFit style of workout boot camp hell to get a jump start on the new you. Some of us may indeed be cut out for this type of workout and others of us are definitely not, especially those of us just beginning to exercises in the Prime Male age group.

Keep in mind that its not just the intensity of these type of workouts that worries experts. It’s the fact you’re doing technically complex lifts for high reps in a state of fatigue, when form is guaranteed to break down. “It takes time to perfect certain movements, especially the Olympic lifts,” says trainer Joe Dowdell, founder of Peak Performance in New York. “Not spending enough time teaching people how to perform these movements correctly is dangerous.”

So it’s quality over quantity and proper form is a must in any fitness regimen. It’s no secret that I am a big proponent of Pilates and for good reason. When I was turning 50 I decided to do something I had never done before and participate in a ‘sprint’ triathlon. Although swimming was not my best endeavor I managed to get through all three segments and 4 months of training with not one injury – and I owe that to my consistent Pilates practice both before and during my time in training. It’s all about being balanced in everything that you do.

Back again with some more gym equipment that would be best for you to avoid gentlemen.

The Seated Lat Pull Down (behind the neck): This machine is supposed to train your upper back, back – (think lats) and biceps. The problem is that unless your shoulders are extremely flexible it can cause an impingement in your shoulder joint and possibly even damage the rotator cuff. Further prime males most of us, even the ladies have some form of a rotator cuff injury or tear by the time we reach 50 anyway – so why make it worse? If you are insistent upon using this machine then do the pull down in the front leaning back slightly with a straight back and engaged torso for support. Better yet – why not try incline pull-ups? Begin by  placing  a bar on a squat rack at waist height, grab the bar with both hands and then hang from the bar with your feet stretched out in front of you. Next, keep your torso engaged and pull your chest up to the bar 10 – 15 repetitions. You can make this exercise more difficult by lower the bar or easier by raising the bar.

Smith Machine Squats: This exercise is predominantly supposed to train your legs – (hamstrings, glutes, quads). What actually ends up happening is because the bar is attached to a vertical sliding track – the movement arc is very linear and therefore does not create a natural or arched movement plane. This unnatural movement then puts undue stress on not only the back but also the knees and the shoulders.

A better alternative would be to do body weight squats where you focus on descending (squatting) with control as far as you can without rounding your lower back. You can do 15 – 20 repetitions per set and increase sets as you get stronger.