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2019-04-24

Midlife Fitness Keeps Chronic Disease at Bay

Does it really help to start exercising in our 40s or 50s?  Or by that time have we left it too late to do much good?

Investigators at the University of Texas and The Cooper Institute have found that we should still “go for it”.  According to their recent study, being physically active during midlife helps extend lifespan and increases the chances of aging healthily and preventing chronic illness.

Analyses of 18,670 patients showed that when patients increased fitness levels by 20% in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, they decreased their chances of developing chronic diseases—congestive heart failure, Alzheimer disease, and colon cancer—decades later by 20%.

"What sets this study apart is that it focuses on the relationship between midlife fitness and quality of life in later years," said Benjamin Willis, MD, MPH, lead author of the study. "Fitter individuals aged well with fewer chronic illnesses to impact their quality of life."

My parents are coming to visit this month from Australia.  They are in their 70s but look amazing.  They’re still working out most days and climbing mountains.  Literally climbing mountains!  Now that’s the kind of life that you may be able to have in your retirement ...

Should We Go Bare?

I’m sure you have heard about people running in “finger shoes” and bare feet.  It is a movement that has probably passed “fad” status amongst runners.  And possibly for good reason.  There is evidence that when a healthy, normal, well trained foot (attached to a normal healthy body) walks or runs without much support or protection, the individual experiences less injuries.  In a recent study, runners in traditional shoes were found to be over three times more likely to report injuries than experienced “minimalist” shoe wearers.

Now the authors of the study do caution that further research must be done before we can conclude that for a healthy population minimalist shoe wear is better.  But it does raise some interesting thoughts.

 

For example, would our feet, knees and backs be better off if we could train our feet to tolerate not wearing supportive shoes during the day?  I’m sure the answer is a resounding “maybe for some people…sometimes”.

 

I’m certainly not advocating throwing away the shoes that you are enjoying now.   But for many people, training their feet to function without much support may be a healthy thing to do. 

 

If you’re thinking about making the switch to a minimalist ...

Headaches:  Relief for chronic headaches


Rest, exercise, heat or ice packs….or a long, hot shower….may be all you need to relieve an occasional tension headache.  If not, perhaps there are structural or biomechanical problems that need to be addressed.

The neck and head are complex structures.  Within these structures are many tissues that may be causing repetitive or chronic headaches.

 

A common cause of occipital headaches is the upper cervical spine and related tissue reaching into the occiput.  This is an area rich in nerve tissue.  When spasm occurs in the muscles around this area, the nerves can become irritated, causing immediate localized pain.

 

As spasm continues, it may lead to postural adaptation in which the facet joints of the upper cervical spine become compressed.  C1/2 and C2/3 can refer directly to behind and above the eyes.  This is often how headaches extend into these areas.

 

The cause of spasm.

Why do these areas fall into spasm and irritation?  There may be an underlying condition of the cervical spine.  Joint irritation will cause muscles to spasm in an attempt to prevent motion and further irritation.  This will cause joint stiffness and muscle weakness with reduced activity.


Weak muscles will also spasm as they are ...

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