See also: Eating Smart & Woman's World
By Roy Carter
One and two and...Hey, what are you looking at? Haven't you ever seen someone at this before? I'm part of the strengthening section of this program.
So, why is a dumbbell working out all by itself? Because I haven't had one of you guys use me for ages. I figured if I was going to get any workout at all, I would have to do it myself.
You know, I'm a very important part of your exercise program. I'm sure you have seen it all before. That frail, elderly man or woman, barely able to leave their chair to get to their walker and hobble to the bathroom and back. Then follows the heavy breathing, to catch their breath from that marathon they've just run.
Sound like any one you might know?
You may not know this, but by the eighth decade, with the sedentary life that most of you lead, you have lost 33 to 50 percent of your gross strength. That's enough loss to change anyone's life style. This process begins by age 40, and continues at a rate of about 5 percent a decade.
This decline in strength may be inevitable, but it doesn't have to be quite so dramatic. I don't know if many of you remember Jack LaLanne, but he was the exercise guru of the fifties and sixties. He had a daily show on black and white television and back then that must have been a lonely endeavor because exercise had not yet become fashionable.
At least today there are a lot more people thinking about exercise.
Anyways, Jack is still alive and kicking and, at age 91, he looks like he has the body of a 30 year old (and no it is not his wife, she is in her eighties). He's also as spry and agile as if he really were 30.
Jack attributes this geriatric anomaly to proper diet and a good daily exercise program that includes stretching, cardiovascular exercise, and strengthening. The strengthening is my part of the program.
Now, you ask me either, "What can I do to develop this kind of program?", or, "What am I doing talking to a dumbbell?"
Well, before you start to ponder the latter too deeply, my friends, let me take you on a little tour. As you can see from my colleagues there are many pieces of equipment you can use to improve your strength. There are weight machines, pulleys, elastic bands, free weights, and a host of other devices.
Some important concepts to understand are; you should strengthen large muscle groups rather than get too specific, unless of course you are planning to compete; and you should only train these muscle groups two to three times a week. Muscle doesn't build itself up during the actual training period. It does this while it is resting, to repair micro tissue tears produced by the training. Those rest periods are just as important as the training, and there should be at least 24 hours between sessions.
A general rule of thumb is to use enough weight so you can manage only 12 to 15 repetitions, but not so much that you can't do at least eight. You can do up to three sets of repetitions of each exercise if you have the desire and time, but doing at least one of each will do the trick.
Of course, there are some programs that you can get into that will help with your strengthening goals, as well as with balance and endurance. They are programs such as tai chi, Pilates, yoga and such. These are all very good programs, and they will keep you interested.
So, unless you want to meet my other metallic friend here, the walker, and depend on it for the rest of your days, you need to do more weight lifting than hoisting yourself off your chair now and then.
(Mr. Carter is a physical therapist for Bayada Nurses. He can be reached at 781-831-0347.)
By Jamie Neithold-Nash, DC
Last Fall I realized I was very depressed. My thoughts repeatedly ventured into hopeless and morbid places. My cup was half empty. My mind didn't trust people and in response my body was tense and nervous. More importantly, I couldn't trust myself to be completely capable of figuring things out on my own.
In wondering why this was happening, I began evaluating my life and what was dominating my experiences.
I enjoy lots of daily blessings and gifts. But why was I walking in the middle road of life where a little bit of anything was fine, but a lot was unbalancing and often even unhealthy?
Then I realized an intruder had taken over my emotional reasoning. I had gotten a new clock/radio and was waking up to news reports each morning. At first, it seemed like a great idea. Before I even got out of bed I was up on current events and therefore more savvy and quick-witted.
But soon I started to realize that something was amiss in my world. Each morning wakeup involved hearing how many people had died the day before. After a few days of this I did find myself avidly seeking out some uplifting news to counter this steady stream of misery. Instead, I found only more reports filled with terror and fear. Uplifting news must not be very popular these days...because I could not find any.
This steady diet of disaster created a split in my psyche. I began distrusting my neighbors; even felt guilty because I didn't have a war in my backyard.
How could I live in such a fabulous place and still empathize with the violence caused by people and nature in other parts of our nation and the world?
Is there any way we can create something positive from the misery of these worldwide tragedies? Should laughter be forbidden because there also is suffering?
There have been tragedies that gave rise to heroics from which people found faith, courage and hope to move on. Having compassion and concern for others does not mean you have to let people take advantage of you. Teaching a child to never talk to a stranger is really teaching fear.
So, let me share my revelation about the information we get each day.
This technological age is only giving us half the story, and it's often twisted. We Americans are a helping, kind nation, particularly eager to jump in and give aid where needed. When things get tough, we come together and do the right thing. Look at the private outpourings of help after Katrina. What about the hope and strength that comes from those who battle for human rights? The grit of a neighbor who continues to golf years after being declared legally blind?
And, yes, I believe we all know that about ourselves.
The current dilemma is that electronic media imprints messages and images in the mind one at a time; images of tragedy, violence, fear and despair.
So now, I have chosen to read my news from a daily paper because it puts the world into perspective; the good news side-by-side to counter-balance the bad.
We have always had wars and natural disasters and they are unfair and devastating. But now I have decided not to dwell on the heartaches of the world's misfortunes, rather to focus on the beauty and gifts that surround us.
I prefer to take my lasting impressions from the kind people who inhabit this beautiful earth...and choose to do that which I can.
(Dr. Neithold-Nash is a Certified Network Chiropractor in South Dennis, 508-394-9355.)
By Carol Charpentier, MS
College is choosing majors, going to parties, talking long into the night. It's making your own academic and social choices, often for the first time. It's a time of transition from being a kid to being an adult.
But, like all times of major change, it isn't without stress; stress which surfaces in a new environment, absent the support of family, familiar teachers, and old friends.
We are always shocked and dismayed when we read in the newspaper about a promising college student who has committed suicide. Yet we learn about such events far more often than we should. The combination of college pressures and the lack of established support systems can be overwhelming for some students. They reach a point where they can't see a way out of their perceived problems.
This is why depression is such a serious condition in college students. As a parent, a sibling, a fellow student or friend, we shouldn't blithely assume that college days consist of an unbroken string of happy days.
No matter one's age, depression is debilitating and often has a profound impact on life experiences. But among volatile young people depression too often can lead to rash decisions, like dropping out of school, or thoughts of suicide. It also can encourage alcohol and drug abuse among students who think the quick highs diminish their depression.
The symptoms of depression are sadness or anxiety, decreased energy, loss of pleasure in usual activities, sleep disturbances, weight changes, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, irritability, excessive crying, and aches and pains not caused by another physical condition.
While it's normal to experience some symptoms of depression some of the time, five or more of episodes lasting two weeks or longer should be evaluated by a health professional. Since people who are depressed may not be thinking clearly, they sometimes will require help in order to get help.
Another condition to watch for during college years is bipolar disorder, or manic depression. This is a mental disorder that most commonly surfaces during early adulthood, and so may appear for the first time at college. Bipolar disorder is a type of depression that involves mood swings that go from periods of depression to periods of being overly "up" and irritable.
Whether students are suffering from bipolar disorder, depression, or just are highly stressed, they often resist seeking help. They may feel that they're nearly an adult now, and should be able to solve their own problems. Friends may reinforce this attitude by remonstrating, "Just toughen up." The student responds that professional help is for weak, messed-up people, and may be afraid of what others may think of someone who seeks counseling.
That's why college students need strong support for seeking this help if they are considering it. There are very effective treatments for depression, including talk therapy and non-habit forming medications. A major advantage of seeking therapy at this stage of life is that it not only can solve the immediate problem, but also provide the tools to help if depressive episodes recur later in life.
And what better time to really learn about yourself and what makes you tick than during your college years?
(Ms. Charpentier is director of Bayview Associates, a program of South Shore Mental Health, with offices in Brewster and Hyannis. She can be reached at 508-862-0514.)
By Carol Penfield, RN, MS, NPc
This is a question asked of many personal trainers and dietitians. The answer is a simple mathematical equation. If you burn fewer calories than your take in you will not lose weight.
As simple as that sounds, individuals still need guidance on how to make the changes needed to lose weight. For those willing to do the detective work, here are some suggestions.
When evaluating a diet and fitness regimen many underestimate their intake and overestimate their calorie burning. Average-sized persons exercising at a level they consider "somewhat hard" burn approximately five calories per minute. Research shows that people who successfully lose weight burn at least 2,400 calories per week. That is the equivalent of 7.5 hours per week of exercise. Fortunately the exercise can be performed in divided amounts spread out during the day, such as a 15-minute walk four times daily.
When assessing your intake, it can be discouraging since it is very easy to "eat back" calories that are burned off. For instance, 300 calories that are worked off during a one-hour walk can be consumed in less that a minute. Keeping a diet log has been shown to be the most successful behavioral technique for those who lose weight. Recording consumption increases consciousness and accountability and allows an individual to calculate the actual calorie intake.
Consistency and patience are critical. The scale will not show a true loss of one pound of fat for almost a week. Gentle changes and adjustments lead to long-term success and are less overwhelming for the frustrated dieter. The take-home message is to try to burn 250 calories per day beyond your normal activity in any way that you enjoy. Couple that with decreasing your daily intake by 250 calories. This combination will lead to a one-pound weight loss weekly. It can be done, give it a try!
(Ms. Penfield is a nurse practitioner, certified personal trainer and the owner of Chatham Health and Swim Club, 508-945-3555 or email@example.com.)
By Denise M. Dever
As long as you're healthy and keep current with physical exams and eye checks, you should be able to consider yourself still competent to continue driving. Still, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends asking yourself the following questions:
Eyesight is among the most important considerations. The NHTSA suggests that you consider the following:
If you can't answer "yes" to any one of these questions, make sure to always wear your glasses and keep your prescription current. Be sure to see an eye doctor at least once a year. Keep windshield, mirrors and highlights clean, and make sure headlights are working and aimed correctly. Sit high enough in your seat so that you can see the road for at least 10 feet in front of your vehicle.
At night, try to drive only on well-lit streets. Use your high beams when you're not facing oncoming cars, and install high capacity headlights on your vehicle.
If you're starting to feel uncomfortable about driving alone, consider a driving "partner" who can help you watch the road. This could be a friend, neighbor or family member who can accompany you on trips around town, or even run errands for you or drive you to your appointments and social events. It's hard to give up this independence, but your safety and that of others around you are important.
(Ms. Dever is President and co-owner of Home Instead Senior Care of Centerville, providing home care for seniors, 508-778-8613 or www.homeinstead.com.)