Did you know that over 28 million Americans suffer from bone loss? Or that more women die from complications of osteoporotic bone fractures than die from breast cancer each year? Women are particularly susceptible to bone loss, which can begin as early as age 35. And while women are at greater risk, men suffer from bone loss, too. With bone loss comes the risk of osteoporosis, a disease that causes the skeleton to weaken and the bones to become brittle and break.
One out of every three women over the age of 40 suffers bone loss to some degree, so bone health is important, particularly as we age. Most of us know by now that calcium-rich foods are important to bone health, but exercise, particularly weight-bearing exercise, is just as important. It is also important to make sure you get enough Vitamin D, which aids in calcium absorption. Here are some things you can do now to help keep your bones strong.
- Eat nutrient-rich foods that are high in calcium. These include dairy products such as low-fat yogurt (448 mg/cup), but also foods such as tofu, dark leafy greens, beans, and almonds.
- The RDA of Vitamin D is 600 IU for most adults, 800 IU for those over 70. Foods high in this vitamin include salmon, tuna fish, low-fat, Vitamin D-fortified milk and yogurt, and eggs.
- The RDA for calcium for adults under 50 is 1,000 mg; for women over 50, it is 1,200 mg. If you suspect you are not getting enough calcium in the foods you eat, it may be important to take calcium and Vitamin D supplements, so check with your physician.
- Exercise is important, both weight-bearing exercise and resistance training. Both types of exercise build and maintain bone density. Weight-bearing exercise is any exercise that requires you to hold up your body weight – brisk walking, hiking, yoga, racquet sports. Lifting weights, using weight machines, resistance bands, even your own body weight, are forms of strength training. With strength training, you are working against resistance to stress a sequence of muscles and bones. This stress, in turn, stimulates bone growth and helps build density.
Having a strong skeletal structure has a direct impact on your posture, your energy level, and your sense of wellbeing. Your bones are living tissue, and in a constant state of renewal so begin where you are. A healthy diet and the right exercise program can significantly reduce the risk of bone loss and osteoporosis, and keep you strong for years to come.
What does happiness mean to you? Is it spending time with loved ones, being outdoors in nature, a new puppy? Or is it something less tangible – that feeling of satisfaction you get from a job well done, or a goal attained?
Here’s what Webster’s has to say:
Happiness: good fortune, prosperity; a state of well-being and contentment , joy; a pleasurable or satisfying experience; felicity, aptness.
If I asked you to come up with a list of 10 things that fit any of these descriptions, I’ll bet you could do it rather easily. I’ll also wager it might look somewhat different from mine, or your next door neighbor’s. Happiness is subjective. Maybe your idea of happiness is one of prosperity, good fortune. Maybe mine is browsing an art museum on a Saturday afternoon. Someone else might find a thrill in the feeling of health and well-being that accompanies them after their morning run. Or all of these might show up on your list. Is there a common thread? Researchers have found the following common characteristics of happy people:
- They have close connections to family, friends, and community. When asked what positive psychology was all about, one of its founders, the late Dr. Christopher Peterson, was fond of saying: “Other people matter. Period.”
- They are grateful. Dr. Robert Emmons, UC-Davis, operates the Emmons Lab, which studies gratitude as it relates to well-being. Among his discoveries:
Participants in an experiment who wrote in a gratitude journal on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives, and were more optimistic, compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events (Emmons & McCullough, 2003). In another study, it was found that children who practiced grateful thinking had a more positive attitude towards their schools and families (Froh, Sefick, & Emmons, 2008).
- Their lives have meaning. They found purpose in something which they believe to be bigger than themselves. Whether their work is inside or outside the home, whether they are students, parents, or retirees, they regularly engage in an activity they find fulfilling, and where they can use their strengths and talents.
- They engage in some type of regular physical activity. For anyone who continues to doubt the mind-body connection, there is a host of research to support maintaining a regular exercise program. Just a few of the benefits: Improved moods, reduced stress, increased self-esteem and self-confidence, increase in energy, improved body image, and better sleep. A growing body of evidence also links exercise with mental acuity and improved cognitive function.
So why does all this matter? Why bother to pursue this state called happiness, well-being and contentment? Turns out there are some very good reasons. In general, people in this category:
Are more sociable and energetic;
More charitable and cooperative;
Better liked by others;
More likely to get and stay married;
Have richer networks of friends and social support;
More flexible and show more ingenuity in thinking’
More productive at jobs;
Better leaders and negotiators;
Make more money;
More resilient in face of hardship;
Have better immune systems; and,
So what can you take from this? Your well-being counts in more ways than meets the eye. Happiness = well-being, and it’s important, for you and those around you.
Coach’s action step: Pick one of the characteristics of happy people above and put it to work in your life this week. Call a friend (or friends) for a get-together, make a gratitude list, or help out in a cause you care about. Note how you feel afterward. If it’s something that makes you feel good, you may want to do it more often.
When I talk to people about exercise, it often seems they fall into one of two categories. There are those who really enjoy their workouts, and look forward to them. Then there are those who really don’t, but make themselves do it anyway. (There are also those who don’t like it and don’t do it, but we’ll leave that for another time.)
I have usually fallen into the first category, although I occasionally have those days when I just want my work out to be over. Over the years, I have found different ways to keep my workouts fresh and enjoyable. I love taking a yoga class when I can, or mountain biking with my family. Another great way to keep workouts fun is to do it in company. Hiking with friends is a great way to catch up and get in a good cardio workout. And having a partner to work out with regularly can be both motivating and fun. A couple years ago, I felt the need to shake up my routine and decided to hire a personal trainer for a few sessions. Two + years later, and I still work out with Fran and share that hour with my friend Meg most Wednesday mornings. Research shows that friendship and community boost both health and longevity, so I get a dose of both with my Wednesday workouts.
Here are a few more benefits of having a friend or partner to exercise with:
- It makes your workout time fly by. Having a stimulating conversation or catching up on the weekend makes your workout time more enjoyable, which means it will go by faster. You will be done before you know it!
- It keeps you accountable. When you know someone is counting on you to show up, you are less likely to blow off your workout. When you’re tempted to sleep in, or skip the gym after a long day, knowing your friend is there might be the motivation you need to get there, too.
- It’s a great way to get – and give – support. Working out with a supportive friend can give you just the encouragement you need to push past the limits you set for yourself. Celebrating your successes helps you to realize how far you’ve come, and keeps you motivated to keep going.
- It’s a great way to spend time together. Everyone’s busy these days. Scheduling a power walk 3 times a week with your best friend, or your spouse, gives you time together that you wouldn’t ordinarily have. A fringe benefit can be a stronger relationship.
- It’s just plain more fun! We don’t always get a chance to play as much as we would like. Socializing, laughing, even a little friendly competition – these can all serve to make your workout time something you look forward to.
How can you find the right person? One thing to look for in a fitness partner is someone who is similar to you in fitness level. Be sure the person you choose is committed to their fitness goals. You can also ask around at your local gym. Fran introduced Meg and I, and we have worked out ever since. And I’ve made a wonderful friend.
If your fitness program is feeling a little stale, try adding in a workout or two with a partner. It might be just the thing to shake things up for you.
What do running, jogging, walking, biking, swimming, Stairmaster and rowing have in common? All of these are examples of cardiovascular exercise – a chief component of any fitness program. Any exercise that increases the work of the heart and lungs is cardiovascular exercise. And, you don’t have to qualify to run a marathon in order to reap its benefits.
In order to reap the benefits of cardiovascular, or aerobic, exercise the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, published by the CDC, recommend s the following:
2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week;
OR 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week
OR An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
If this sounds like a lot of time to you, remember that you don’t have to do it all in one day. It’s best to spread your exercise out during the week, into smaller chunks of time. If you take a brisk walk 5 times a week for 30 minutes, you have your 150 minutes. You can break it up even more, but it’s important to continue your activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time, in order to reap the benefits of this type of exercise.
And what are the benefits? They include:
- Improved body image, and self-esteem;
- Increased energy and metabolism;
- Improved heart function and reduced risk of heart disease;
- Decreased body fat and cholesterol;
- Reduced risk of osteoporosis;
- Improved muscle mass;
- Decreased anxiety and depression, and an increase in endorphin production, generating a feeling of well-being;
- Improved sleep; and
- A decrease in physical and emotional pain.
In order to get the maximum return on your time, it’s important to exercise at a sufficient intensity. Anywhere from moderate to vigorous intensity will give you the most benefit, and what may be moderate for one person might be vigorous for another.
One way to measure relative intensity is the talk test. Generally, if you’re doing moderate-intensity activity you can still carry on a conversation during the activity. If you’re exercising at a vigorous level, you will not be able to say more than a few words without catching your breath. And, if you can’t talk and do your activity at the same time, you are exercising too hard.
Another simple way to measure exercise intensity is how you feel while you’re doing it — your perceived exertion. Your perceived level of exertion may be different from what someone else feels doing the same type of exercise. An easy workout for one person may feel more difficult to someone less fit.
Your heart rate offers a more objective look at exercise intensity. In general, the higher your heart rate during physical activity, the higher the exercise intensity. Studies show that your perceived exertion correlates well with your heart rate. So if you think you’re working hard, your heart rate is likely elevated.
You can use either way of gauging exercise intensity. You can also use a heart rate monitor, but if you are paying attention to how you feel and your level of exertion, it’s not a necessity.
It’s important to warm-up your body at a lower intensity before engaging in a higher intensity workout, and to cool down as well, by gradually decreasing intensity prior to stopping. Also, pick an activity – or more than one – that fits into your lifestyle and that you enjoy doing. Mix it up. Take a brisk walk with a friend, cycle with your family on the weekends, swim or do the elliptical at the gym. You don’t have to do the same thing every time, and you may discover new activities to include as time goes on. The bottom line is this: Make aerobic activity a regular part of your life and you’ll feel better, look better, and live healthier and younger for years to come.
Aging is inevitable, but how you age is not! You can control and manage your aging process now and in the future. Americans are living longer, but are not necessarily healthier. Chronic disease accounts for 70% of all deaths in the U.S. Fifty percent of Americans have central obesity – middle aged bulge that increases your risk of dementia. Putting on pounds increases your health risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, dementia, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and osteoarthritis. Health care costs are skyrocketing, and yet we are still not addressing the underlying cause of the aging process. Medical care that is centered on diagnosis and treatment of individual diseases is now outdated. Looking at the root cause of your medical condition is ultimately what will improve your quality of life. So what are the factors that affect how we age? Genetics, environment, lifestyle (exercise, nutrition, stress management), hormonal imbalances, inflammation and oxidative stress. Inflammation is how the body responds to injury or stress. Did you know that inflammation is the underlying cause of all chronic illnesses? Managing inflammation by balancing hormones, and improving lifestyle is key to minimizing risks for long term illness. Age Management Medicine helps identify your risks at an early stage before developing these chronic conditions . By addressing these issues you will extend your health span. This is the best form of preventative health. We all want to be productive as long as possible; have good energy, sexual functioning, low body fat, strong muscle mass with good flexibility and balance. Refreshing sleep and clear cognitive functioning makes life so much more enjoyable. To achieve this goal, we need to refocus attention away from what is “normal” to what is “optimal”. While it is certainly normal to develop morbidities as we age, it is certainly not optimal and absolutely not inevitable. By focusing our attention on superior nutrition, daily exercise, optimal hormone management and pharmaceutical grade supplements, we can achieve optimal health. Good health is no accident. It takes your active participation.
Aging is inevitable, but how you age is not! You can control and manage your aging process now and in the future. Americans are living longer, but are not necessarily healthier. Chronic disease accounts for 70% of all deaths in the U.S. Fifty percent of Americans have central obesity – middle aged bulge that increases your risk of dementia. Putting on pounds increases your health risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, dementia, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and osteoarthritis. Health care costs are skyrocketing, and yet we are still not addressing the underlying cause of the aging process. Medical care that is centered on diagnosis and treatment of individual diseases is now outdated. Looking at the root cause of your medical condition is ultimately what will improve your quality of life.
So what are the factors that affect how we age? Genetics, environment, lifestyle (exercise, nutrition, stress management), hormonal imbalances, inflammation and oxidative stress. Inflammation is how the body responds to injury or stress. Did you know that inflammation is the underlying cause of all chronic illnesses? Managing inflammation by balancing hormones, and improving lifestyle is key to minimizing risks for long term illness. Age Management Medicine helps identify your risks at an early stage before developing these chronic conditions . By addressing these issues you will extend your health span. This is the best form of preventative health.
We all want to be productive as long as possible; have good energy, sexual functioning, low body fat, strong muscle mass with good flexibility and balance. Refreshing sleep and clear cognitive functioning makes life so much more enjoyable. To achieve this goal, we need to refocus attention away from what is “normal” to what is “optimal”. While it is certainly normal to develop morbidities as we age, it is certainly not optimal and absolutely not inevitable. By focusing our attention on superior nutrition, daily exercise, optimal hormone management and pharmaceutical grade supplements, we can achieve optimal health. Good health is no accident. It takes your active participation.
Over the years, I have become somewhat of a collector of inspirational quotes. I have always loved words, so this is likely an extension of that. I find that inspiring words can lift you up and keep you going, often just at the right time. Sometimes they can encourage you to dream bigger dreams, or to think of things in a different way. They can help and they can heal. Occasionally, they can be life changing. With that in mind, I thought I would occasionally share some thoughts that have made a difference in my life, with the hope that they might do the same for you:
“It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” George Eliot
I saw this years ago on a poster in a store, and immediately adopted it as my own. I love it so much, I use it as a tag line on my website now. So many of us sell ourselves short because we think it’s too late and this is a beautiful reminder that it never is.
“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.” William James
Another way to put it is this: Our attitude shapes our experience and, ultimately, our life. There may not be much I can do in the moment about a specific circumstance, but I can always do something about how I choose to view that circumstance.
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” ― Dale Carnegie
Three words: Never give up.
“The best things in life aren’t things.” Art Buchwald
This one might take a little time to learn, but once you get it, you get it.
Finally, these words delivered by Steve Jobs to the graduating class at Stanford University in June, 2005, never fail me as a reminder of what’s most important:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
COACH’S ACTION STEP: Do you have a favorite or inspiring quote that has made a difference in your life? Put it up somewhere where you can see it regularly – on a post-it, by your desk or computer. Try to bring it into your daily experience, and see what happens.
“Either you run your day or your day runs you.” Jim Rohn
The one resource everyone has in common is time. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, where you live, what you look like, or who you know – we all get the same twenty-four hours, seven days a week. Lots of people never have enough, while others seem to get by pretty well on their allotment. Nowadays, a recurrent theme I hear is “life balance,” that is, having an adequate amount of time to devote to the significant areas of your life – family, work, friendships, responsibilities and interests. Here again, some folks seem to do just fine, while others struggle to hit the right note. What gives?
I don’t pretend to have all the answers, and I truly believe what fits for one person might not work at all for the next. Employing a variety of “time management tips” isn’t likely to create lasting lifestyle change, if those changes aren’t tailored to us as individuals. There are times, too, when life throws us a curveball and we need to make adjustments. That being said, here are a few ideas that might get you started on a custom fit for your life.
- Plan your week ahead and be sure to schedule in personal time. If you want to work out four times a week, block that time on your calendar. If Saturdays or Sundays are family time, then make those inviolate. If you have a work deadline that requires an afternoon, that goes on the calendar. Smart planning can create time you wouldn’t have found otherwise.
- Stick to your plan. Having a plan is great, but will do nothing for you if you repeatedly let it fall by the wayside. There are times when it takes discipline, not always a popular idea. At times like that, it helps to remember that discipline is freedom. Doing what you need to do now frees you up to do what you want to do later.
- Be flexible. Things happen that can throw you off track for a day or a week, or more. At those times, remind yourself that all you can do is your best. Make adjustments, do what needs to be done, and try to get back on track as smoothly as possible as soon as possible.
- An oldie but goodie, because it works: Lists, lists, lists. Lists keep you organized. Know what you need to get done before the day starts, starting with the three most important tasks. After that, if something on your list doesn’t get done that day, just carry it over to the next.
- You’ve heard it before but it bears repeating: Learn to say no. You can’t do everything. Decide what is most important to you. Say no to what isn’t.
- Employ the one-hour-a-day formula. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in one focused hour. If you have a project to complete, or a long-term goal, give yourself a one hour block of time, say, 5 days a week to work on it. This can keep you moving forward without feeling burdensome. Most of us can find one hour a day to focus on something really important.
- Practice mindfulness. A definition of mindfulness I like describes it as “the nonjudgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment.” Take time out of your day to just be in the moment. Enjoy something beautiful. Get outside for a few minutes and appreciate the day, or enjoy your dog’s goofy antics. Listen to classical music. Breathe. Notice how you feel afterward. Taking mindfulness breaks can make a huge impact in your day.
These are just ideas. Try one or more on for size. If it’s a fit, great. If not, try another. Or come up with your own. Whatever you come up with, I hope it’s something that lets you make the most of your moments, and your day.