Category Archives: Stay Fit

Physical fitness keeps you young.

The Right Way To Wash Your Hands

Keeping your hands clean through improved hand hygiene is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.

Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water.

When Should You Wash Your Hands?

When to wash your hands

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal or animal waste
  • After touching garbage

What Is The Right Way To Wash Your Hands?

How to wash your hands

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and apply soap
  • Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails
  • Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice
  • Rinse your hands well under running water
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them

What If You Don’t Have Soap And Clean, Running Water?

Using hand sanitizerWashing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them. However, if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs. And, hand sanitizers are not effective when hands are visibly dirty.

How do you use hand sanitizers?

  • Apply the product to the palm of one hand
  • Rub your hands together
  • Rub the product over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry

This information comes from the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention who also have provided this 3 1/2 minute video that tells you why hand washing is important and demonstrates how to wash your hands the right way.

CDC Video Player.  Flash Player 9 is required.
CDC Video Player.
Flash Player 9 is required.

Exercise Improves Sleep

Exercise improves sleepDo you have a problem falling asleep at night? Do you suffer from leg cramps while sleeping? Are you sleepy during the daytime? Do you have difficulty concentrating when you are tired?

If so, you are not unusual. As many as 4 out of every 10 American adults have a sleep problem such as these.

But before you resign yourself to living with the problem, or decide to pop sleeping pills, consider a new study done at Oregon State University and reported in the December 2011 issue of the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity.

The study found that those who got at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each week had a dramatic improvement in the quality of their sleep compared to those who did not exercise as much. The exercisers . . .

  • got to sleep more quickly
  • were less likely to feel sleepy during the day (65 percent less likely)
  • had fewer leg cramps while sleeping (68 percent less likely)
  • had less difficulty concentrating when tired (45 percent decrease)

(You may recognize the 150 minutes a week as the standard established by the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.)

Brad Cardinal, a professor of exercise science at Oregon State University and one of the study’s authors, concluded that “Increasingly, the scientific evidence is encouraging that regular physical activity may serve as a non-pharmaceutical alternative to improve sleep.”

There is mounting evidence that regular exercise is not just good for your heart, your brain and your waistline but it also can help you sleep at night and remain alert during the day.

Kiss Those Senior Moments Goodbye: Studies Show That Physical Fitness Delays Brain Aging

A "Senior Moment" -- Physical fitness delays brain agingAre you plagued by senior moments?

If so, or if you want to avoid them as long as possible, lace up your sneakers and get moving.

According to two recent studies, there is a definite link between good physical fitness and delayed brain aging.

In one of the studies, done at the University of Arizona, the researchers studied 58 men and 65 women between 50 and 89 years old and matched their patterns of neural activation against their performance on treadmill tests.

The result?

According to psychologist Gene Alexander, who led the study team, “Better brain aging is associated with better physical fitness.”

This study is consistent with a growing body of research showing that regular aerobic exercise can help stave off the mild cognitive failings of normal aging and can spur the growth of new neurons in the area of the brain associated with memory and learning (the hippocampus).

One such research study was done at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and it consisted of comparing the brain structure and function in 10 athletes and 10 sedentary people.

The investigators found that the brain’s white matter fiber was better preserved among the athletes than the inactive people.

What’s white matter, and why is it important?

In the human brain, white matter plays the critical role of transmitting messages between different regions of gray matter — areas where functions such as seeing, hearing, speaking, memory and emotions take place.

So, without sufficient white matter, gray matter can’t do its job (as is the case for many people with various forms of dementia).

Physical fitness delays brain aging“Without properly functioning white matter, people can begin to show signs of neurological problems,” said Dr. Benjamin Levine, one of the Texas researchers. “They can lose the ability to do simple daily tasks that we take for granted.”

One of the conclusions of the Texas study, according to Dr. Levine, is that long-term aerobic exercise has definitive, measurable impact on brain health.

In short, we can fight off dementia and some of the other classic signs of aging with a purposeful, consistent exercise regimen.

That, my friends, is the take-away.

A consistent aerobic exercise regimen benefits your brain as well as your heart. It’s a health two-fer.

Medical disclaimer: I am not a physician and I have never played one on television. I haven’t even stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. Therefore, always consult with your real doctor before starting or altering your exercise program, especially if you have existing medical conditions.

You Are Never Too Old To Accomplish Great Things

100-year-old Fauja Singh completes marathonDo you think that after a certain age you are no longer capable of major achievements?

If so, I disagree.

People over 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, and even 100, are accomplishing incredible things.

Nobel Prizes

You are probably familiar with the prestigious Nobel Prizes which recognize excellence in the sciences and in working for peace.

Did you know that there have been Nobel Laureates in theirs 80s and 90s?

  • In 2002, 88-year-old Raymond Davis Jr. received a Nobel Prize in Physics.
  • 85-year-old John B. Fenn was a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry in 2002.
  • Peyton Rous, when he was 87, received a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
  • Doris Lessing, while 88 years old, was a Nobel Laureate in Literature in 2007.
  • Joseph Rotblat was honored for his work in promoting peace in 1995, when he was 87.
  • And Leonid Hurwicz received a Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2007. He was 90 when the prize was awarded!

Business And Finance

How about business and finance? Are people over 50, 60, 70 and 80 successful in business?

Of course.

The list of the 10 wealthiest individuals in the United States in 2011 included 55-year-old Bill Gates (of Microsoft, the youngest of the group), 81-year-old Warren Buffett (of Berkshire Hathaway) and 67-year-old Larry Ellison (of Oracle).

The list also included 81-year-old George Soros, a hedge fund manager, and 79-year-old Sheldon Adelson who owns casinos, mostly in Las Vegas.

And they are certainly not the only seniors who are successful in business.

As an example, I recently heard about Jerome Oxman who started Oxman’s Surplus back in 1961 and, at 96, is still running his business in Santa Fe Springs, California. In fact, as I write this, he’s in the process of expanding.

You Are Never Too Old To Accomplish Great Things

Physical Achievements

What about physical accomplishments? Are people over 50 physically “over the hill?”

Hardly.

Have you heard of 100-year-old Fauja Singh, the first centenarian to complete a marathon? Singh didn’t even take up competitive running until he was 89! Not only did he complete a marathon; but, just a few days before running the marathon in October, 2011, he also set 8 more running records at shorter distances!

At 62, endurance swimmer Diana Nyad made a valiant attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida through shark infested waters. She swam about 60 miles before she was forced to give up her attempt . . . for now.

Want more examples?

Bill Anderson, at 78, bicycled from San Diego to Jacksonville. George Brunstad swam the English Chanel at 70. Lucille Borgen won a water skiing championship on her 91st birthday.

And the list goes on . . . and on.

No, age is not a reason to forego your dreams. It’s never too late to become the person you always dreamed of being. Actress Mae West said it well when she said: “You’re never too old to become younger.”

With life spans increasing, standards of living improving and health care advancing, there is no doubt that more and more incredible things will be done by people whose odometers have gone around more than once.

Study: At 50 You Can Be As Fit As A 20-Year-Old

50 years old and fit

(One message of this blog is that, with persistence, you can be healthy, vibrant and highly productive throughout your life. Here is still another scientific study that proves our point.)

According to Norwegian researchers, a 50-year-old who exercises regularly can be as fit as a 20-year-old who doesn’t exercise.

The study showed that:

  1. Youth is not necessarily the most important factor when it comes to being fit.
  2. Activity is far more important than age in determining fitness.
  3. Both the amount and the intensity of the exercise are important.
  4. These researchers found that by increasing the intensity of exercise, people are able to reduce their risk of metabolic syndrome, the cluster of risk factors that increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular diseases.

  5. The least fit people, no matter what their age, have the poorest measures of cardiovascular health, such as higher blood pressure and high cholesterol.

The process of getting healthy and staying healthy is simple . . . but it’s not always easy. To receive the health benefits of exercise, you have to exercise with intensity.

One way to do this is through interval training where you alternate short bursts of high intensity exercise with short periods of lower intensity exercise.

For example, you might run for 1 to 4 minutes followed by 1 to 4 minutes of walking. Then, when you progress, you could alternate hard running with slower, easier running.

Your goal is to work up to 30 minutes of exercise per day.

Of course, especially if you are a couch potato now, you should consult with your physician before beginning an exercise program . . . and always use common sense. The first rule of exercise is: don’t hurt yourself.

If you are a complete newbie at exercise, or just want some instruction and encouragement, you would be wise to consult a qualified personal trainer.

Shrinkage! How Our Body Parts Get Smaller As We Age

ShrinkageWhen I say “shrinkage,” what do you think of?

Many of you immediately thought of the Seinfeld episode where George Costanza was seen naked by Jerry’s girlfriend after he came out of the pool. He tried to explain his teeny weenie by claiming “shrinkage.”

Well, it turns out that’s just part of the story.

As we get older there’s plenty of shrinkage, including our height, heart, brain, bladder, facial bones and, yes, sex organs.

Height Shrinkage

Most of us lose at least 1/3 of an inch in height every decade after the age of 40.

By 80, most men will be 2 inches shorter than they were in their prime, and women will be as much as 3.15 inches shorter.

What causes this?

Beginning at about 35, our bones lose minerals, especially calcium. Because our body’s ability to grow new bone tissue slows, our bones shrink slightly (and become more brittle and more likely to collapse as well as more likely to break, a condition known as osteoporosis).

In addition, the discs between the bones of our spine flatten over time, also contributing to making us shorter.

Temporary Height Shrinkage: Did you know that our discs temporarily flatten daily as we stand and move around? When we lie down at night, the discs reabsorb fluid and return to normal. That’s why we shrink by as much as ½ inch during the day but regain the height over night.

What can you do to protect yourself against height shrinkage?

First, choose the right parents. Not everyone get shorter, or shortens as much. There is a definite hereditary component.

Beyond that, a healthy lifestyle is your best protection.

Research has shown that people who engaged in moderately vigorous aerobic activity lost only about half as much height as those who stopped exercising in middle age or never exercised at all.

To help stave off osteoporosis, you should stick to a healthy diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D.

Smoking, alcohol and excess caffeine (more than eight cups of coffee or tea a day) can affect bone health, too.

Maintaining good posture will also protect ageing discs.

Heart Shrinkage

Our heart shrinks by an average 0.3 grams per year beginning in middle age.

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, with every year it takes longer for the heart muscles to squeeze and relax, by around 2 to 5 %, and the amount of blood pumped out of the heart falls by 9 millilitres a year.

A poor blood supply leaves you more prone to heart failure.

How do you protect yourself against the effects of a shrinking heart?

Like all muscles, the heart becomes stronger and less likely to shrink if it is exercised.

Exercises that benefit your heart include walking, climbing stairs, gardening, vigorous housework, dancing or using home or gym exercise equipment.

Brain Shrinkage

Starting around the age of 20, your brain shrinks by as much as 10 to 15 % over your lifetime.

Doctors don’t know why this is, but studies show the process appears to be accelerated by smoking, drinking alcohol and diabetes.

Being overweight and having high cholesterol levels also appear to have an impact.

Scans show the frontal and temporal lobes (which control thinking, planning and memory) shrink most.

However, contrary to expectation, the shrinkage doesn’t necessarily affect our thinking capacity, and cognitive tests have shown men and women perform similarly despite increasingly different brain sizes.

Can we protect against brain shrinkage?

Keeping mentally active throughout your life is key.

Avoiding excess alcohol also helps (post-mortems show alcoholics have smaller, shrunken brains), as does getting adequate sleep.

Bladder Shrinkage

At the age of 25, the average person’s bladder can hold 2 cups of liquid, but by 65 its capacity is half that.

Capacity and function shrink with age because of physiological changes to the muscle structure.

Is bladder shrinkage inevitable?

Avoid excess caffeine or alcohol because they irritate the bladder.

Men and women should also do regular pelvic floor exercises to boost bladder control.

Facial Bone Shrinkage

Scientists used to think loss of muscle tone and gravity led to facial ageing, but more recent thinking is that the facial bones actually shrink in size, sucking in the skin and muscle around them.

The jawbone is most prone to shrinkage.

Experts believe women lose facial bone structure earlier than men (women in their early 40s, men 10 to 15 years later).

Is there any hope of avoiding or slowing facial bone shrinkage?

The key is to practice good dental hygiene to prevent tooth decay and loss which can aggravate the process.

Sex Organ Shrinkage

Both male and female sexual organs shrink with age.

With men this occurs for two reasons.

First, fatty substances (plaques) are deposited inside tiny arteries in the penis, restricting blood flow. This poor circulation leads to ‘atrophy’ of the tissue within the penis — leading to loss of length and thickness.

Second, there is a gradual build-up of relatively inelastic collagen (scar tissue) within the stretchy, fibrous sheath that makes erections possible.

If a man’s erect penis is 6 inches long when he is in his 30s, it might be 5 inches or 5½ inches when he reaches his 60s or 70s.

In addition, beginning around the age of 40, the testicles begin to shrink, by up to a 1/3 inch in diameter between the ages of 30 and 60.

In women, changes are related to reduced levels of estrogen, which reduce blood flow to the area. The uterus also shrinks, returning to the size of a pre-adolescent girl, as the body registers that the organ is no longer active and so spares vital resources that other, still active organs can use.

Dwindling estrogen levels mean mammary glands and milk-producing tissue wither, to be replaced by fat, so the breasts lose their bulk. Natural wear-and-tear on the supporting skin and ligaments makes them more likely to drop.

Is there anything you can do to protect against sex organ shrinkage?

For men, a healthy diet that is good for your heart will also be good for your sex life — as healthy arteries all over your body mean better blood flow to the penis.

Women can do little about breast changes (apart from wear a well-fitting bra), but for both men and women, regular sex can slow the shrinking process.

Largely, it’s a case of use it or lose it.

These Body Parts Don’t Shrink, They Keep Growing!

While all this shrinking is going on, our nose, ears and feet keep growing.

The inner part of the ear lobe (the ‘concha’) remains the same size, but most ears become steadily longer.

The traditional explanation has been they are made up cartilage, which continues to grow after bones.

However, gravity is another factor. Cartilage, like skin, becomes thinner and loses its elasticity as we age, with collagen and elastin fibres breaking down.

This allows skin to stretch and sag, the tip of the nose to lengthen and droop, and the ears to stretch down.

Our feet become longer and wider with age, as the tendons and ligaments which link the many tiny bones lose elasticity.

Podiatrists estimate that the over-40s can gain as much as one shoe size every ten years.

The tiny joints between the toe bones deteriorate, allowing the toes to spread out, and the arch of the foot to flatten.

The protective fat pads on the heels and balls of the feet also flatten through wear and tear.

What’s the take-away from all this? Eat right and exercise regularly to put the most life in your years.

Omega 3 Fish Oil: Too Many Benefits To Ignore

In an earlier post, I gave the top 5 reasons virtually everyone should take nutritional supplements.

Omega 3 Fish Oil
Omega 3 Fish Oil
Now, I turn to the subject of which supplements you should take.

The first nutritional supplement I ever took, which I have continued to take for more than 20 years, is Omega 3 fish oil. You can read about why I started taking fish oil and how it has helped me here.

Basically, I take fish oil because it supports heart health and brain health and is a powerful anti-inflammatory (which helps protect against any disease that ends in -itis).

The Health Benefits Of Omega 3 Fish Oil Are Well-Proven

Omega 3 fish oil benefits have been thorough researched for more than 20 years. There have been thousands of studies reported in hundreds of medical journals.

The heart health benefits are so clear that the American Heart Association has stated this: ”Omega 3 fatty acids benefit the heart of healthy people, and those at high risk of – or who have – cardiovascular disease.”

Brain health benefits are almost as well-documented. In fact, according to a 2004 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, ”People who eat oily fish or take fish oil supplements score 13% higher in IQ tests and are less likely to show early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Benefits Of Fish Oil Supplements

I take fish oil as protection against heart disease and brain decline, and to receive its anti-inflammatory benefits. However, according to University of Maryland Medical Center, Omega 3 fatty acids are also used by many people around the world for these problems:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Cognitive decline (dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease)
  • Skin disorders
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Asthma
  • Macular Degeneration
  • Menstrual pain
  • Colon cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Prostate cancer

Omega 3 fish oil is also safe. Healthy people who take not more than 3,000 mg a day of fish oil should experience no significant side effects from taking a pure, high quality fish oil. Of course, if you have a medical condition or a fish allergy, you should consult with your physician before you begin taking, or increase your dosage of, fish oil.

The Best Place To Learn More About The Health Benefits Of Omega 3 Fish Oil

I feel so strongly about the health benefits of Omega 3 fish oil that I have created a website devoted exclusively to this subject. It’s called TheFishOilFacts.com.

Although I’m not a health care professional, my team of researchers and writers and I have investigated this subject thoroughly and presented the evidence as fairly as we can.

(Disclosure: At TheFishOilFacts.com, I recommend a specific Omega 3 fish oil product – the one I take. And . . . the links from TheFishOilFacts.com to the site of my recommended manufacturer, Xtend-Life Natural Products, are affiliate links. That means that if you click on one of the links and purchase anything from Xtend-Life, I will receive a small commission.)

Study Says Only 15 Minutes of Exercise Each Day Can Add 3 Years To Your Life

Exercise at least 15 minutes a dayThis blog exists to put more years in your life and more life in your years.

One of the best things you can do to achieve those twin goals is free and doesn’t take long, although you will get sweaty (and no, I’m not talking about that!).

It’s exercise. There is overwhelming evidence that increasing physical activity leads to improvements in your health, mood and over-all well-being.

But how much exercise do you need to receive the benefits?

The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, plus two additional strength-training sessions.

The UK government also recommends that adults get 150 minutes of activity a week.

Exercise at least 15 minutes a dayNow, however, there is evidence that even less exercise than that – as little as 15 minutes per day or about 90 minutes a week – will give you significant health benefits.

A recently-published study, done in Taiwan, involved following more than 400,000 people for an average of 8 years. Based on their self-reports of their weekly exercise, the study participants were placed in one of these five categories: inactive, low, medium, high or very high activity.

Those in the inactive group were couch potatoes who did virtually no exercise. The low activity group exercised an average of 92 minutes a week. Each group above that exercised progressively more each week.

Here comes the good part . . .

Compared to those in the inactive group, those in the low-activity group were 14 percent less likely to die from any cause, 10 percent less likely to die of cancer, and had a three-year longer life expectancy, on average.

And there’s even more good news . . .

Each additional 15 minutes of daily exercise (up to 100 minutes a day) reduced the risk of death by an additional 4%, and people who got 30 minutes of activity a day added about four extra years to their life expectancy, when compared with their sedentary peers.

These findings were the same in men and women and in all age groups. They even apply to people with cardiovascular disease risks.

“You can get good gains with relatively small amounts of physical activity. More is always better, but less is a good place to start”

Professor Stuart Biddle, an expert in exercise psychology at Loughborough University


How vigorously do you have to exercise? Well, you don’t have to throw around heavy weights or run until your tongue hangs out. You can do that if you want, but you will get the health benefits from such moderate exercise as biking, walking briskly or dancing.

There is no upper age limit. This applies to everyone. If you don’t believe me, read this post about a study of weight training by seniors.

Exercise at least 15 minutes a dayConvinced? Do you plan to get off the couch for at least 15 minutes a day and get moving to add bounce to your step and years to your life?

If you still don’t “get it,” let me tell you about even more new research.

A study done in Australia on health risks linked to TV viewing suggests that too much time sitting in front of the box can shorten your life expectancy. In fact, the study showed that watching television for 6 hours a day can shorten your life by 5 years!

The scientists who conducted this study do not know why this is the case, and it may simply be because viewers who watch a lot of telly do little or no exercise.

These new studies were summed up by England’s Chief Medical Officer, Sally Davies, who said: “Physical activity offers huge benefits and these studies back what we already know – that doing a little bit of physical activity each day brings health benefits and a sedentary lifestyle carries additional risks.”