Fitness - What Is Fitness?

Aristotle helped define the standards of fitness 2,500 years ago when he taught that a thing that suits its purpose well is fit. Fortunately for us, the cardiovascular system, lungs, skeleton, muscles, endocrine system and all the other amazing components of the body function for our purpose: to live well.

Exercising aids fitness in numerous ways, each involving one or more of those systems.

Increased physical activity causes the heart to work harder than at rest. That increases blood flow, floods tissues with fresh oxygen and removes cellular waste products.

Exercise causes the lungs to draw in extra oxygen to bathe the tissues and help power the heart. Exhalation removes carbon dioxide, a waste product of certain biochemical reactions.

Regular, moderate exercise helps raise HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol (the 'good' type). It helps regulate blood sugar levels and converts stored fat into sugars that are used to provide energy. That process also prevents obesity.

The other benefits of a regular fitness program are more obvious and usually among the more direct goals of most people who make the effort: increased muscle mass, toned legs, buttocks, arms, stomach and healthier looking skin. Along the way, the individual receives the added value of greater strength, improved balance, higher endurance and (often) a better frame of mind.

Different types of routines will emphasize one area more than another. Aerobic routines help the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, weight lifting focuses on building muscle tone and mass, yoga and pilates helps balance, flexibility and muscular control. But each of these, and several more, help more than just the intended focus group. The body is an integrated system and improving one area almost always has beneficial consequences for others.

All those benefits, at least to a moderate degree, can be had for minimal daily effort. Moderate intensity activity for 30 minutes per day, at least five days per week, will go a long way toward optimizing fitness.

A brisk walk, taking the stairs up one or two flights, a short daily jog, jumping rope and many other simple activities can be carried out with no special equipment or training.

More intense activity, done properly, can raise that level even further. A vigorous tennis game, a few laps in the swimming pool, an hour on the treadmill or exercise bike, or any of a dozen others, can raise your fitness to a peak with only a moderate investment of time and money.

For the truly committed there are, of course, a thousand and one classes at the gym, and every conceivable kind of home fitness equipment to fit a variety of budgets. A daily routine using free weights, followed by a good jog around the park will keep all systems functioning well.

And, as Aristotle taught all those centuries ago, to function well is to live well.

Cell Phone Use and Cancer

Several medical studies have shown possible links between cell phone use and health problems, including cancer. Although there are no definitive links, a number of medical professionals are now calling for people, especially children, to limit their use of these devices.

Cell Phone Use

Warning Sent to Staff to Limit Cell Phone Use

In July 2008, Dr. Ronald Herberman, Center for Environmental Oncology, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Center, warned 3,000 staff and faculty about cell phone use. Dr. Herberman’s memo included a recommendation that children should use cell phones only in emergencies and adults should use the speakerphone feature or wireless headsets. There is not enough information available on the effect of electromagnetic radiation on developing brains to determine if there is a cause for concern; however, Dr. Herberman believes that there is no reason to wait for science to provide an answer. Instead, limiting use is a more proactive approach.

Possible Link Between Cell Phone Use and Salivary Gland Tumors

Another study, which appeared in the February 2008 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, suggested a link between heavy cell phone use and salivary gland cancer. This study was the first study to examine long-term use of cell phones. According to the study, people who used a cell phone held up to their face for several hours per day were 50% more likely to develop a tumor in the salivary gland.

Behavioral Problems and Cell Phone Use

In May 2008, a study completed by UCLA and Danish researchers released data linking behavioral problems in children to cell phone use by mothers while pregnant. According to the study, when a mother used a cell phone during pregnancy, children had a higher risk of being hyperactive, having conduct problems and difficulties with emotions and social relationships. If these children used cell phones before the age of seven, the risk became higher. The researchers, however, could not explain why such a connection may exist and accept the results may not reflect cell phone use but may be caused by other reasons, such as the mothers that spent a great deal of time on their cell phone were not paying attention to their children.

No Definitive Link Has Yet Been Shown

Despite the studies that suggest health problems as a result of cell phone use, there has not been any study showing a definitive link between cell phone use and cancer, or any other health problems. A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in December 2006 indicated that there was no link between cell phone use and cancer. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviewed the results of a long-term Swedish study that found a link between brain cancer and cell phone use and found the results to be inconsistent with earlier studies and difficult to interpret.

Researchers will continue to review the present information as well as conduct additional studies to determine if there is any link between cell phone use and health problems. However, for anyone concerned with the risks, using a wireless headset and keeping the phone away from your body (either by using a holster or keeping it in a purse or briefcase) can help eliminate risks.

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A Night at the Sleep Center

Sleep Center

Diagnosing sleep apnea starts with an appointment with your family doctor. A history of possible sleep apnea symptoms is recorded. As sleep apnea symptoms are often seen alongside depression, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), asthma, obesity, and impotence, the doctor may ask questions that, on the surface, seem to have little to do with sleeping habits.

During the appointment the doctor also performs a physical exam, looking for evidence of physical sleep apnea causes. He or she will check the mouth, nose, and throat for possible obstructions.
As bed partners often that notice sleep apnea symptoms first, their input and observations can be very helpful when diagnosing sleep apnea. If bed partners can attend the doctor's appointment they can provide valuable information that aids in making a diagnosis.

Sleep Apnea Clinics

If the doctor suspects sleep apnea, the patient is usually referred to a sleep apnea clinic or sleep center for further tests. There the patient will meet with a sleep apnea doctor, who will ask further questions about the patient's symptoms.

If the sleep apnea doctor believes testing is required, the patient will return to the sleep center for a sleep apnea test.

A polysomnogram, or sleep recording, uses electrodes and other measuring devices to record the patient's sleep pattern. A polysomnogram is a painless procedure: sleep center staff fit the patient with the measuring equipment in the evening and the patient then sleeps in one of the sleep clinic's rooms under the watchful eye of the staff.

A polysomnogram sleep apnea test measure a wide range of sleep-related body functions, including:
  • Air flow through the lungs
  • Blood oxygen levels
  • Brain activity
  • Breathing
  • Heart rate
  • Muscle movement
  • Rapid eye movement while dreaming.

In cases where patients cannot visit a sleep apnea clinic it is possible to take a sleep apnea test at home. This is not the usual procedure: sleep apnea tests are best performed at a sleep center. If circumstances require a home test, however, a sleep center can send a staff member to the house in the evening. The staff member will set up a portable version of the polysomnogram test, which records the sleeper's activity. In the morning, the machine is picked up and returned to the sleep center.

Sleep Apnea Test Results

After the sleep apnea test results have been analyzed, the patient has another appointment with the sleep apnea doctor to discuss his or her condition. At this time the sleep specialist will explain the causes of sleep apnea and discuss sleep apnea treatment options with the patient.

Disclaimer: The information contained within this article is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute in any way for care and treatment by a qualified health professional.

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What is Involved in Rhinoplasty

rhinoplasty

Noses present with all kinds of bumps and humps that can cause emotional distress and anxiety. Rhinoplasty is the name given to the procedure to remodel a nose.

How is Rhinoplasty Performed

A closed rhinoplasty is done through incisions inside the nose. This method is suitable for adjusting or reducing the nose’s size and shape. In an open rhinoplasty, an incision is made across the strip of skin between the nostrils. This allows easier access for more extensive work.

Who will Benefit from Rhinoplasty

Rhinoplasty is suitable for adults whose noses are fully grown and developed. It may also be performed on children who have sustained damage through an accident or who were born with a nasal defect.

What can Rhinoplasty Achieve

A successful rhinoplasty can change a person’s appearance, profile and mindset. Even a minor physical adjustment can have a major psychological effect.

What Rhinoplasty Cannot Do

Plastic surgeons have to work with the original nose and there are limits to what they can do. It is important to trust the surgeon who sees the whole picture of how the remodelled nose will fit into the face. Have realistic expectations and work with the experts.

What Form of Anesthesia is used

Most rhinoplastys are done under general anesthetic but minor remodelling can be done under local anesthesia. This is normally accompanied by sedation so the patient doesn’t remember much of the procedure.

What are the Steps of a Rhinoplasty

A typical rhinoplasty will follow these steps:
  • The surgeon makes small incisions inside the nose
  • The cartilage is reshaped and trimmed as necessary
  • In some cases, the nasal bones will be broken and repositioned
  • Tissue can be removed and cartilage and bone grafts introduced to build up areas as needed
  • The incisions are sutured closed
  • The nose is packed with gauze and taped to maintain its new shape and reduce swelling

Caring for the Nose after Rhinoplasty

It is important to rest after rhinoplasty. Avoid talking too much and lie still and relax. Don’t try and blow the nose and avoid bending and lifting.

Side Effects of Rhinoplasty

The most common effect is severe bruising and swelling around the eyes. This is more evident when the nasal bones have been broken.

How Long will Recovery Take

The nose will be swollen for about six weeks and it often takes a year for the final result to be seen. Areas of numbness are common as is a sensation of pins and needles. The bruising and discoloration take two to three weeks to subside and can be hidden to a certain extent with makeup.

A rhinoplasty can greatly improve the appearance of a nose and so give confidence to a person. It is essential that this type of surgery is fully understood and the limitations accepted before going ahead with it. With time and a positive outlook, rhinoplasty can transform a person’s life.

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What is Frostbite?

Most people living in northern climates have heard about frostbite. Exposing the skin and underlying tissues, especially of the extremities including the hands and feet, to extremely cold temperatures can lead to the development of frostbite. If cold exposure is severe enough, tissues can actually die.

frostbite

Ice Formation Inside Tissues

The body works hard to maintain the temperature of all of its tissues, both at the core of the body and at the periphery. Peripheral tissues such as the fingers, the toes, the ears, the nose and the lips are, however, at highest risk for damage as a result of exposures to extremely cold temperatures. When conditions are most dangerous, this extreme exposure can lead to the actual formation of ice crystals inside the tissues, first occurring near to the surface tissues just below the external skin, and then progressing to deeper tissue structures. When this happens, frostbite develops.

How Ice Damages Tissues

When ice crystals start to form in tissues, the cells that make up the tissues are not equipped to deal with its effects. Cells start to get injured because of disruption of cell membranes and the loss of cellular integrity. If the exposure continues, the body tries to deal with the exposure to the cold by regulating the performance of the circulatory system. Unfortunately, this typically means that the first response is to shunt more of the blood to the vital organs at the core of the body, worsening the cooling of the extremities. Soon afterwards, the blood vessels in the extremities try to overreact and start dilating and then constricting before the body recognizes that it needs to stop supplying blood to the extremities altogether to preserve as much heat in the core as possible.

Loss of Tissue Oxygenation

As the freezing progresses, a reduction in blood flow and the damage sustained by the blood vessels themselves can lead to loss of oxygenation of the tissue, what is known as necrosis. When tissues stop getting the oxygen that they need, the tissue begins to die. After a frostbite injury it is not uncommon for surgeons to have to wait for several days before they can determine how much of the tissue has actually died. Injuries to tissues can be severe enough to warrant amputation, and rewarming of the tissues must be done carefully in order to minimize further injury.

Preventing Frostbite

When it comes to frostbite, prevention is absolutely the best approach. It is not simply enough to dress more warmly as the temperature drops. Awareness of overall conditions can be very important. For those into mountaineering, exposure to a low temperature at higher altitudes can be more rapidly destructive. Combining low temperature with exposure to water can also be extremely problematic. And frostbite is not only a province of winter extremes, it can occur in those people who work with dry ice or with liquefied gases such as liquid nitrogen and liquid oxygen.

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Vitamin D Essential to Good Health

vitamin d

The results of the first Canadian study of the effects of vitamin D deficiency have been released by Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, and they look worrying.

Northern Latitudes Lack Vitamin D

Health Canada says that “Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin upon exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation.” That, of course, comes from the sun, so Vitamin D is often called the “sunshine vitamin.”

However, Canada being a northern country means that the sun’s UVB is weaker than in tropical regions. The result, according to Health Canada is that “Vitamin D synthesis in the skin is absent during the winter months (October to March), and for an even greater part of the year in far northern latitudes. This means that for a significant portion of the year, Canadians must rely on dietary intake of vitamin D to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D in the body.”

Sources of dietary vitamin D include milk, fatty fish, and egg yolks. Also, inexpensive supplements in pill form are available at pharmacies and health food stores.

Canadian Kids Don’t get Enough Vitamin D

Doctors at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children say that one third of Canadian youngsters living in urban areas don’t get enough of the sunshine vitamin. In a report released on May 4, 2009, researchers say their “finding is markedly higher than the data from a previous study of toddlers in Boston that found 14 percent of that population was lacking Vitamin D.”

Between November 2007 and June 2008, the study team “evaluated 92 healthy children aged 24 to 30 months who were attending routine well-child visits at a community-based pediatric practice in Toronto.” They monitored dietary intake through questionnaires filled in by parents and established Vitamin D levels through blood tests.

“The study revealed that factors associated with lower levels of vitamin D included lower milk intake, higher Body Mass Index (BMI), and watching television while snacking.”

Negative Health Effects of too little Vitamin D

The study’s lead author is Dr. Jonathon Maguire, an Academic Fellow in the SickKids Division of Pediatric Medicine who is pursuing a Master’s degree in Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Toronto. He is quoted by the hospital as saying, “Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a number of chronic medical conditions.”

He lists these as including rickets (a disease that may cause severe bone deformities and seizures), Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and certain types of cancers.

Other researchers have suggested that vitamin D deficiency may be associated with tuberculosis, high blood pressure, seasonal affective disorder, and memory loss.

Writing about the study in The Globe and Mail (May 4, 2009) Martin Mittelstaedt noted that researchers believe babies get enough vitamin D from fortified formula and/or breast milk. He added that the story with toddlers seems to be different: “The finding of widespread insufficiency indicates most children aren’t getting enough vitamin D either through diet or through sunlight exposure. Dr. Maguire said that developing strategies to prevent deficiencies “would seem to be a prudent thing to do.’ ”

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Using Generic Drugs

generic drugs

Generic drugs can save you money because they cost less than brand-name prescriptions.

Unlike other types of generic products such as cereal or soup where the brand is often better, generic medications are just as pure, effective and high quality as their brand counterparts.

Generic drugs, by law, must have the same active ingredients than the brand names, and they are plentiful – generic options are available for about half of all prescription drugs currently on the market, a recent Consumer Reports report stated.

According to the Consumer Reports article, “Shopper’s Guide to Prescription Drugs” from 2006, generics are simply copies of the medications that have expired patents. It can take any where from 10 to 14 years for a patent to expire, at which point the brand-name manufacturer loses the right to be the only seller of the drug.

What’s Causing All the Confusion?

The confusion between choosing a generic or name brand often is because the name brand stays on the market while the generic is being sold. Seeing the two together, many people tend to choose the name brand because, as is the case with the soup they like to eat, they think the name brand must be better.

Another reason people are not using generics is because they may have been using the brand name for a while and don’t want to switch for fear it won’t work as effectively.

Still another reason generic medications haven’t caught on is because they often look different from the name brands. Again, this goes back to the comfort level of the patient. People like to stick with what they know without considering other options. Pharmaceutical companies have spent millions selling the image of their drugs to people, and, according to this logic, it’s no wonder. Once the idea is planted, it’s hard to uproot and plant another.

Ask Your Doctor About Generics

According to Providence Health Plans’ Web site, generic drugs are now available in all major therapeutic drug classes and are usually subject to a lower copayment or coinsurance, and generics offer effective treatment for many of the common conditions treated in routine care and are equivalent to brand-name products in safety, quality and performance.

If you are interested in trying generic medications, you must speak with your doctor. Pharmacists can change a doctor’s order from brand name to generic, but they have to ask you, by law. If you want more information, even after speaking to your doctor, consult your pharmacist. He or she will be able to provide additional insight about whether or not you should choose a name brand or generic.

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