Saturday, May 26, 2018
Health

For better health, get to steppin'

At 8 a.m. Oct. 21, a few staff members from Crescent Community Clinic in Spring Hill, along with some locals, assembled at Towne Square Mall. After brief introductions, we started walking briskly inside the mall from one end to the other and back, then along the walkway, for 30 minutes, led by clinic director Barbara Swineberg and three physicians. Ann-Gayl Ellis of the Hernando County Health Department, Joy Hammond from U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent's office and County Commissioner Diane Rowden also were there. At the end of the walk, everybody said: "We feel great. That was fun."

The occasion was the launch of the "Walk With a Doc" program in Hernando County. We were responding to the call to action by U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, who has urged Americans to walk regularly to improve their health and well-being and has suggested that physicians be at the forefront of the effort in order to set an example. The purpose is to motivate the public to pay attention to health maintenance. Walking is a low-impact, easy-to-do exercise that's safe for most people, including many with heart disease. We plan to do this community walk every Wednesday morning.

Despite great advances in the field of medical science and technology, many serious health problems continue to plague our nation. Until now, hypertension, heart disease and cancer were the main killers, but now diabetes and obesity, having reached epidemic status in the United States, are in this elite company. It's time we pay attention to the adverse trends that threaten our longevity. Experts predict that, for the first time, the life span of younger people may be shorter than the life span of their parents unless steps are taken to forestall the progression of these major health issues.

As we all know, our health, or lack of health, is dependent on two major factors: diet and exercise. (This presumes the absence of tobacco use, drug addiction, excessive use of alcohol and other bad habits.) In other words, lifestyle is the principal determinant of our health, a fact often forgotten. With relentless digital distractions of modern times assaulting the senses of the young and old, old-fashioned exercise patterns have been abandoned.

Medical scientists say soon there will be a barrage of patients who suffer from a new disease: "Sitting Disease." They believe that "without a doubt, excessive sitting (more than six hours a day) contributes to heart disease, various cancers and diabetes." Believe it or not, the average American sits for more than nine hours a day.

According to Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic, "Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death."

These findings have been challenged in a recent study from London that concluded "The problem lies in the absence of movement rather than the time spent sitting itself." So, the emphasis should be to promote physical activity in any form on a regular basis. We ask people who sit for a long time continuously, especially computer professionals, to get up and walk around for a minute or so every one to two hours.

Current statistics show that "one out of every two U.S. adults is living with a chronic disease, like coronary heart disease, cancer or diabetes." Needless to say, these contribute to significant disability, premature death and rising health care costs. Increasing your physical activity level reduces your risk of chronic disease.

"Be fit and live long" should be our new slogan. After diet, physical fitness is the cornerstone of good health. People who exercise regularly benefit from increased longevity and protection from many chronic ailments. Exercise also improves cognitive abilities and helps us maintain ideal body weight. With aging, we tend to become frail and unstable. The only way to maintain good health and independence is by being physically active.

Did you know that you could gain up to two hours of life for each hour of exercise? And you don't need any special equipment or a gym membership. All you have to do is walk around the block in a comfortable pair of shoes for a half-hour and you're done. A total of 150 minutes a week is what the American Heart Association recommends.

So, folks, get out and start walking and take a step toward better health.

Dr. M. P. Ravindra Nathan is a Hernando County cardiologist and author of "Stories From My Heart: A Cardiologist's Reflections on the Gift of Life.

Comments
Stroke stories can have a happy ending: What you should know

Stroke stories can have a happy ending: What you should know

Arto Woods and his wife, Syvilla, had a good flight from Baltimore to Tampa in early May. En route, they talked about how convenient it would have been to fly directly into Orlando, where the conference that brought them to Florida was being held, bu...
Published: 05/25/18
Finding a yoga retreat to stretch the mind and body

Finding a yoga retreat to stretch the mind and body

Before I attended my first yoga retreat on a trip to see my sister in Oregon, I did exactly zero preparation. Turns out, that’s just fine, and it opened up the wider world of what a yoga getaway can give you.With four hours of yoga classes a day, my ...
Published: 05/25/18
Music makes us happy, motivated, determined … and hungry?

Music makes us happy, motivated, determined … and hungry?

Music is the ultimate mood setter. Faster beats gets us pumped up to work out. A slower rhythm can set a romantic mood or help one unwind at the end of a long day.Music can also influence the kinds of food we crave. A study co-authored by a Universit...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Estimated 7,000 bodies may be buried at former asylum

Estimated 7,000 bodies may be buried at former asylum

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Some of the boxes stacked inside anthropologist Molly Zuckerman’s laboratory contain full bones — a skull, a jaw, or a leg. Others contain only plastic bags of bone fragments that Zuckerman describes as "grit." These humble remain...
Published: 05/23/18
FDA warns teething medicines are unsafe for babies

FDA warns teething medicines are unsafe for babies

WASHINGTON — Federal health officials warned parents Wednesday about the dangers of teething remedies that contain a popular numbing ingredient and asked manufacturers to stop selling their products intended for babies and toddlers. The Food and Drug...
Published: 05/23/18
A chronic lack of sleep could lead to decreased brain function, study finds

A chronic lack of sleep could lead to decreased brain function, study finds

A sleep study revealed that less than six hours of sleep a day can limit the brain’s ability to function properly.The study, published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that people experiencing less than...
Published: 05/23/18
Many cancer patients juggle care along with financial pain

Many cancer patients juggle care along with financial pain

Josephine Rizo survived chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, but breast cancer treatment wrecked her finances.Money was already tight when doctors told the Phoenix resident she had an aggressive form of the disease. Then she took a pay cut after goin...
Published: 05/22/18

Hernando County officials gather to remedy ‘dearth of services’ for youth with mental illness

BROOKSVILLE — Educators, court officials, law enforcement officers and health care professionals met Friday to identify the best ways to keep local youth with mental illnesses out of the court system and provide treatment for those already in the sys...
Published: 05/22/18
Give your arms a workout, too

Give your arms a workout, too

In addition to appearance, it is very important to maintain strength in those arms, as they are needed for practically every upper body movement we perform. We often take our 23 arm muscles for granted, until we reach a point where it suddenly become...
Published: 05/22/18
Intermittent fasting seems to be a good thing, new report suggests

Intermittent fasting seems to be a good thing, new report suggests

Going long hours without eating isn’t good for us, we are often told. Our bodies need fuel regularly. Otherwise, we may become lethargic, tired and hungry. Our thinking can become mushy, our ability to work, and even play, hampered.Not so fast.A new ...
Published: 05/22/18