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.

Fractures of the Hip

fractures of the hip

Hip fractures are like any other broken bone in the body, but they are also distinctive. Such injuries can result in the inability to walk and lead to major functional disruptions. Fractures of the hip occur often in the elderly, a population that is prone to these fractures. Such reasons make hip fractures a commonly discussed condition.

The following is an overview of how these fractures occur and how they are managed.

Relevant Anatomy of the Hip

The hip joint consists of the femur, or thigh bone, and the pelvis. The head of the femur fits into the acetabulum, a round socket in the pelvis. The femoral head comes out of a narrow femoral neck, and below the neck are two bony prominences called the greater trochanter and lesser trochanter. These anatomic landmarks comprise the upper portion of the femur involved in hip fractures.

The blood circulation to the upper femur is also noteworthy. Of three arteries that carry blood to this region, about 90% of circulation comes from the lateral epiphyseal artery. Despite being a main vascular source, this artery carries more blood to specific areas of the femur than others, a characteristic that may worsen some hip fractures.

Types and Causes of Hip Fractures

Hip fractures involve the upper femur in one of three places: the femoral neck (femoral neck fractures), through the greater and lesser trochanters (intertrochanteric fractures), and below the greater and lesser trochanters (subtrochanteric fractures). They often occur secondary to trauma, which can involve high-energy impact but may also occur with falls and minor injuries in people with more brittle bones. Factors that may weaken the femur and make it susceptible to injury include but are not limited to age, osteoporosis, inactivity of thigh muscles, and deficiency in calcium and/or vitamin D.

Treatment of Hip Fractures

After evaluation of a hip fracture by x-ray, an orthopedic surgeon decides whether surgical correction of the fracture is appropriate. He or she takes several things into account, mainly the features of the hip fracture and the overall surgical risk of the patient. If operative treatment is planned, the surgeon performs a hip arthroplasty, repairing the femur using screws, plates, and other fixating devices.

As counterintuitive as it sounds, not all patients with hip fractures are treated surgically. Such patients are of high operative risk with multiple comorbid conditions, have hip fractures that are relatively minor in severity, or have insufficient bone mass for orthopedic fixating devices to function appropriately. Certain patients may be given a walker or cane for ambulation, provided that they bear as little weight as possible on the injured leg.

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Top 6 Fitness Myths

fitness myths

1. Women who lift weights will get bulky muscles:
Not true; lifting weights, doing cardio and eating right are all three essential for losing weight. If you just want to tone up, perform each exercise between 10 and 20 reps. So keep your reps high and don’t be scared of weights; after lifting your metabolism will speed up for the next 48 hours.

2. Spot reducing is possible:
False; let’s take the stomach for example. Everyone has a “six-pack” in there somewhere - it is just a matter of exercising in general and eating right that gets rid of the fat on top. The best abs in the gym belong to the people who do a variety of things, not just working one area. If all you do is 500 crunches a day for the next two months, you will have the strongest abs that Nobody Will Ever See!

3. No pain, No gain:
No Way! This myth often scares people away, so let’s replace it with the truth. No Consistency, No Gain; consistency is the most important part of exercise, without it you are swimming upstream. Pain is not part of a safe routine; find the difference between pain and discomfort. But be ready to suck it up and deal with some sweat and discomfort; you need to push yourself, just not to the point of injury.

4. Exercising requires a hefty time commitment:
Once again absolutely false; exercise requires a commitment to consistency, not a large amount of time. It is much more beneficial to work out just 10 minutes every day of the week, than to work out for 2 hours once a week. Take pride in exercising more often without the burden of time.

5. If you exercise you can eat what ever you want:
This sounds more like an excuse: still not true. Food plays a huge role in how we feel, perform and go about our everyday routines. If you fill your body with fats and sugars all day any amount of exercise can’t counteract the damage. Don’t make things too complicated, just eat healthy and have the treats in moderation; don’t ruin all your hard work at the dinner table.

6. There is a “magic bullet” or quick fix out there somewhere:
Not even close; there is no magic pill, no 8-min Abs, and no equipment you can use on your couch. It took time to gain that weight and it will take time to lose it. So don’t fool yourself, get up and get to the gym.

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Frozen Shoulder

frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder affects only about two percent of the population but can greatly impact day to day life events such as brushing hair, opening doors or reaching up to retrieve something from a top shelf. It is most common in people between the ages of 40 and 60, and, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, can also strike people with diabetes, thyroid problems, Parkinson's disease or cardiac disease.

Dr. Jennifer Solomon, a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, which is well-known for its treatment of frozen shoulder, says, "It is also extremely common in perimenopausal women."

This suggests hormonal changes may cause joint stiffness associated with frozen shoulder.

The disorder often develops slowly, and in three stages.

Stage One: Pain increases with movement and is often worse at night. There is a progressive loss of motion with increasing pain. This stage lasts approximately 2 to 9 months.

Stage Two: Pain begins to diminish, and moving the arm is more comfortable. However, the range of motion is now much more limited, as much as 50 percent less than in the other arm. This stage may last 4 to 12 months.

Stage Three: The condition begins to resolve. Most patients experience a gradual restoration of motion over the next 12 to 42 months; surgery may be required to restore motion for some patients.

No one has yet to pinpoint the exact cause of frozen shoulder. However, it likely involves an underlying inflammatory process and can develop after leaving the shoulder immobile for any period of time, such as after surgery or an injury.

A medical history and physical exam, including X-rays can usually diagnose frozen shoulder. Treatment options include ibuprofen and cortisone injections. Steroids can significantly reduce inflammation and pain and increase range of motion.

Physical therapy is also often recommended, and consists of stretching or range-of-motion exercises. Therapy can be conducted by a trained and licensed therapist or in the comfort of home without supervision. Surgery is seen as a last resort should conventional methods be unsuccessful.

The recently held 75th Annual Meeting Podium Presentations by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons concluded that frozen shoulder is often misdiagnosed when the real culprit to pain and loss of motion is a tumor localized inside the bone or in the scapular region. These surgeons cautioned that a misdiagnosis can cause a significant delay in treatment. Patients should ask their physicians to consider all options.

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Keep Viruses and Germs in Check

viruses and germs

Many believe that the way one catches a cold is through the air via small droplets that are sneezed or coughed out by an ill individual. This isn't quite accurate. Most colds are caught by way of touching a contaminated object (including any number of common ones like a doorknob or a shopping cart handle) covered with those droplets.

There are ways of preventing colds and making your home environment "cold free".

Wash up!

The best way to prevent colds from occurring is to wash one's hands thoroughly with warm water and soap. During cold season, you may want to do this a second and third time.

If possible, fingernails should be scrubbed by a scrub brush to remove all that's caught underneath. Fingernails tend to harbor not only dirt, but also bacteria and viruses. If using a washroom is impossible, consider carrying around sanitizing towellettes. These are a good substitute in lieu of washing when ouotside.

If you do need to cough or sneeze, do so into your arm or tissue. This will help to prevent the contamination of the area by you. Be also careful about touching your eye. Viruses can enter the eye easily and can cause myriad problems, not the least of which is conjunctivitis or "pink eye".

Breathe in...

Other methods of prevention include the breathing in hot steamy air, or even warm air for that fact. If you can find one at a local gym, a 20-minute sauna session is most helpful. The hot or warm air seems to kill the cold virus fairly well. If one doesn't have access to a sauna, just breathing in the air from a hair dryer may do the trick. (But take care!)

Or try filling up your sink with hot, boiling water, covering your head with a towel and breathing the steam, taking care not to get any hot water on your skin. You can also add a bit of Eucalyptus oil or something like Vicks Vapo-Rub to help clear out any congestion.

One can also help prevent colds by taking certain supplements. Vitamin C, Zinc and a herb called Andrographis can be helpful.
Getting a good night's sleep and decreasing one's stress can also aid in healing. Sleep boosts the immune system, while stress decreases it. Think positively or do activities that help to relax one's system. Exercise can also bolster immunity. Three days of moderate exercise should prove sufficient. But if you're very ill, rest is best.

Cleanliness is key

Another way to minimize colds is to decrease the amount of germs in your home. Clean the phones and doorknobs daily during cold season. Place tissue boxes out in your highest-trafficked part of your home. Consider leaving the window open a crack in the most populated rooms to help drive away germs. Lowering the temperature 5 degrees and keeping humidity at 50% will also help maintain a steady germ-free environment. Viruses thrive in the heat.

By keeping the temperature down, it will keep viruses at bay. Also heat tends to dry mucosal tissues in the nose, making them more prone to allow germs to gain entry here. Finally toothbrushes and towels should be changed reugularly, especially if someone just recovered from a cold, to help keep everyone healthy.

By following the above your chances of becoming ill will decrease. Your odds will improve that you'll escape unscathed during cold season.

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Effective Ways to Help Lower Hypertension

lower hypertension

According to the American Heart Association, one in three Americans has hypertension, with a third of those not knowing they have it. High blood pressure is dangerous because it makes the heart work harder than needed and hardens the arterial walls. Hypertension can increase the risk for heart attack and stroke, which are the number one and three primary causes of death in the United States respectively. It can also lead to heart failure, kidney failure and blindness. High blood pressure can lack symptoms so many don’t know that they have it. The only way to find out is to have one’s blood pressure checked regularly. Luckily there are simple lifestyle changes that can help prevent or control hypertension.

Diet

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s DASH diet, is a good model to follow. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The diet basically is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and total fat, emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Fruits and vegetables provide fiber, magnesium and potassium, which are all important for arterial health. Specific fruits and vegetables such as canteloupes, prunes, raisins, bananas and potatoes are especially high in potassium. Potassium helps regulate the body’s fluid and salt levels. This, in conjunction with decreasing salt intake to no more than 1500mg a day, can effectively lower blood pressure readings by 10 points. Other foods that help lower hypertension include oatmeal, soy, and dark chocolate. Some Vitamins and supplements that may aid in lowering blood pressure include magnesium, fish-oil supplements, garlic and hawthorn. Dosages and efficacy may vary from individual to individual. Checking with one’s physician prior to taking these supplements is a must.

Lifestyle changes

There are several life-style changes that can help reduce hypertension. These include limiting alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, exercise and decreasing stress.

In some, alcohol raises blood pressure and heavy drinkers tend to have hypertension. Alcohol consumption should be limited to a drink a day. Smoking should be eliminated completely. Tobacco can include elements and compounds that contribute to the hardening of the arteries and the nicotine in cigarettes can cause blood vessels to contract, increasing the risks associated with high blood pressure.

Brisk exercise, consisting of thirty minutes a day, several times a week can help lower overall blood pressure. Although exercise can temporarily increase blood pressure during the activity, it does help lower overall resting blood pressure greatly. In addition, exercise promotes weight loss, reducing the amount of work that the heart has to perform. Checking with one’s physician prior to implementation of an exercise program is advised.

Stress can increase heart rate, which can lead to hypertension. Relaxation techniques and biofeedback methods are helpful to combat stress. These may include meditation, mind-body exercises, stress reduction training and things as simple as becoming involved with a hobby or getting a pet.

The numbers

Blood pressure consists of two numbers. The top number, systolic pressure measures blood flow at its highest pressure when the heart beats, while the lower number, diastolic pressure, measures blood flow when the heart is at rest. Although both numbers are important, the diastolic pressure reading is the one that concerns the most, because high pressure at rest can only go up when exertion is applied. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute maintains that a blood pressure of 120/80mg or lower is normal. Readings of 140/90mg or higher can indicate hypertension. It’s important to get checked regularly, not only by a physician, but also occasionally at home, by taking one’s own blood pressure.

High blood pressure is a silent killer. Regular checkups and home monitoring can diagnose this problem. Changes in lifestyle and diet can help control or lower hypertension. Consultation with one’s physician is necessary prior to exercise programs, vitamin supplement ingestion and the prescription of medications, if indicated.

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Incorrect Treatment For Lyme Disease

lyme disease
Delays in proper treatment, inhibition of our immune systems by tick and bacterial defenses, and development of resistance of Borrelia to common antibiotics allow the bacteria to escape eradication. Caught early enough, most cases are cured with a short series of oral antibiotics. There is even talk about a single dose of long-release doxycycline being sufficient if given early enough. Yet many people are being misdiagnosed, given insufficient treatments (Burrascano 2005), and not cured even after prolonged antibiotic administration.

The Physician Factor

Physicians who follow the guidelines of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) feel that the regime of antibiotics proscribed by IDSA is sufficient to eliminate Lyme disease. Thus, these doctors prescribe 14 days of doxycycline when they assume the patient has had the disease for less than a month, and 28 days when they feel there is neurological involvement.

When the patient symptoms are not relieved by this antibiotic regime, the doctor, following IDSA's guidelines, states the disease is cured, but now the patient is demonstrating “post Lyme disease syndrome”, and there is nothing further that can or will be done. The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) produced different guidelines. ILADS physicians understand that the disease has entered a “chronic Lyme disease” state, and more intense measures must be taken to eradicate the disease.

How Borrelia Escape the Immune System During Chronic Lyme Disease
Borrelia penetrate into the cells of various tissues where they become isolated from both antibodies and killer T-cells (phagocytes) that would eat them. The blood brain barrier prevents many antibiotics from entering the tissues of the brain and spinal cord. When Borrelia penetrate that barrier, they are isolated from most antibiotics and wreak mayhem inside our nervous system, causing major alterations in nerve function – breaking the synaptic network and even destroying nerve cells.

The bacteria also burrow into and kill T-lymphocytes, the very cells designed to trap and kill them. As they destroy lymphocytes, Borrelia can hide inside a stolen portion of the lymphocyte's membrane and move through the bloodstream and tissue fluids looking to the immune system like a lymphocyte. The bacteria leave the lymphocyte membrane for only a short time before they enter a new cell.

How Borrelia Escape Antibiotics

  • Once inside the host, the bacteria reproduce about once every two weeks. (E. coli can reproduce once every twenty minutes.) Since most antibiotics prevent the bacteria from reproducing, ILADS feels a two week antibiotic treatment is ineffective as the bacteria may not reproduce during the period of treatment.
  • Each spirochete releases hundreds of membrane covered blebs, from their outer surface, and it appears these blebs are in part responsible for causing the symptoms of LD. Some antibiotics destroy these blebs, although the bacteria escape the antibiotic. In this case, the antibiotic reduces the severity of the illness because, although the blebs are rapidly destroyed by the antibiotic, bacteria continue to make blebs, so a few blebs remain active during treatment. The patient feels “better” but is not cured. Once the antibiotic is stopped, the blebs increase to pre-antibiotic levels and the disease comes back in full force – often producing new and more serious symptoms.
  • Borrelia has the ability to change from a spirochete into two other cell forms and enter body cells (Alan B. MacDonald, MD, power point presentation entitled: “Borrelia and Alzheimer's Disease”, presented to the ILADS national meeting Oct 30, 2007).
  • The first is an inactive cystic form that is able to produce new spirochetes at a later time. MacDonald feels this form is responsible for resurging Lyme disease after periods of remission.
  • The second is an L-form or spheroid without a cell wall. This form is often found inside T-cells and neurons and appears to be responsible for damaging these tissues. Each of the three forms of Borrelia requires different antibiotics or medications to destroy (Burrascano 2005). If these different medications are not provided at the proper times, the disease may return. IDSA does not agree the cyclic and L-forms develop in humans – even though Dr. McDonald has been demonstrating this for years. Thus, IDSA does not provide for treating any form but the spirochetal one.
  • Bacteria can acquire genes for antibiotic resistance from resistant strains of other species. If a few Borrelia become resistant to an antibiotic, the sensitive forms are destroyed by it - effecting a temporary “cure.” When the resistant ones reproduce and form a resistant population, LD returns but now must be treated with a different antibiotic.

Patients May Need Several Medications

The key to treatment of LD is to have the treatment started as soon as you suspect you have the disease - before the bacterium transform, mutate, or obtains antibiotic resistance. Once the bacteria are altered, a single antibiotic can not treat all of its forms, but there are many antibiotics available. If a particular antibiotic fails, another one might be effective.

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