Monday, November 26, 2012

Exercise Made Simple & Effective, Part 2

There are two reasons for exercising regularly: one, it reminds you to do it at a certain time of the day; two, constancy of progress is assured.

Deciding when to have your daily exercise is not as important as doing it.

What kind of exercise should one have?  The answer depends on the individual.  Is it walking, running, aerobics, working out with weights, or simply playing with your children?

Walking – as many would agree – is the easiest solution to a form of regular exercise.  It can be done alone, with a companion, or in a group at anytime, and is easily fitted into anybody’s daily schedule.  If you walk to and from the office each day as part of your trip, it takes little time out of your day.

According to Rodale (who recommends an hour or two per day, if possible), walking brings many of our vital muscles into play, muscles too seldom exercised since we ride so much.  It brings us out into the fresh air and brings plenty of health-giving oxygen into the blood stream.

Another advantage of walking as an exercise is that anybody of any age can do it. If you get tired, you can just rest and go home long before physical exhaustion can set in.  There is no need to exert yourself.  When you walk and get tired, you can stop and sit down – even on a curb if you must, or in the grass under a shady tree.

In the American Medical Association Journal’s summary of the article on exercise, these points are stressed:  Start young with some form of regular exercise and continue at a good pace determined by experience; Persons over 30 should not indulge in hard, fast, sustained games unless they have been maintaining an appropriate state of fitness; Watch your ability to recuperate from an exercise session – if your heart is pounding for more than 10 minutes – and the feeling of weakness persists, you’d better slow down.

We’re pleased to see recommendations for exercise in the Journal as an indication that orthodox medicine approves as we do of this natural measure for maintaining good health.  As Rodale says, “We regard good diet as the most important way of insuring good health, but don’t sell exercise short, your body needs some every day.  Make sure you get it!

Tidbit.  Do you know that not all living things get old?  Bacteria do not age and die naturally.  They divide and multiply indefinitely barring accidents and predators, reports Curtis Fuller in his Column, “I See By The Papers” in Fate Magazine.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Exercise Made Simple & Effective, Part 1

Body movement is the key to exercise.  It does not matter what kind of exercise you do, so long as you do it long enough to be effective.

Fifteen minutes of running, studies show, is comparable to two hours of tennis.

Moderate exercise, on the other hand, extended over a period of time, is best for fat metabolism.  If you walk four hours a day, you can do yourself as much good as running for 30 minutes or exercising with weights for an hour.

Many of us consider exercise only as a means of losing weight, and if we are satisfied with our weight, we leave exercise as important to our overall health.

The need for some form of regular exercise, according to an article in an issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, is based upon the fact that the body becomes more efficient when rigors of regular exercises are imposed upon it.  The heart and circulatory system respond to exercise by improved and more economical pumping action of the heart.  The demand for increased circulation due to extended exercise results in a physiological readjustment which makes this new facility second nature.  Through regular exercise, the organs and muscles get stronger and tire less easily.

Before starting an exercise program, we should commit ourselves to doing it regularly.  And as Editor Rodale of Prevention Magazine puts it, “When beginning a regular series of exercises, people first want to know how much they should do.  They don’t want to hurt themselves by making physical demands that their bodies are incapable of meeting.”  Rodale gives us more reminders on exercising well:

  • Stop when fatigue sets in, rest and begin again, or wait until the next exercise schedule.
  • Remember that exhaustion is not the aim of exercise.
  • Over-exercising is not necessary, for even the slightest increase in exercise effort will become automatic and increase your endurance without being aware of the effect involved. 
Who Should Exercise.  Is exercise good for everybody?  Yes, if the person is in good health and aware of his limitations.  Muscle power increases in most individuals into early adulthood, around the 20’s.  At ages 30 or 40, there is a gradual decline in muscle strength because of the lack of regular exercise.  People avoid walking when they can ride; they never lift something that can be wheeled.  Is it any wonder that their muscle strength declines? Children don’t need any encouragement to run, play, swim, etc., but a middle-ager needs determination to stretch his muscles and do so regularly, as exercise physiologists would advise.

(We’ll share with you more exercise tips next Monday, 26 Nov 2012. – J.P.)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sleep Deprivation: Problems & Remedies, Part 2

Another important consideration to sleeping soundly is your need for minimal light and noise in the bedroom.  “Have you considered black-out blinds for instance or a sleeping mask?” asks Dr. Sy, adding that using ear-plugs can help to keep out uncontrollable noise.

Watching television in bed is not a good practice as it stimulates the brain in a way which is not conducive to sleep.  On the other hand, listening to soothing and relaxing music or reading a novel (something not too challenging!) does seem to help switch your mind off the worries of the day, asserts Dr. Sy.

Your bedroom should be warm but not stuffy.  If possible leave a window open and let fresh air circulate.

If your mind is still actively working out some problem and you wake again with new ideas, keep a pencil and paper pad next to the bed so that you can write them down.  Then you’ll find it easier to put them to one side and fall asleep again.

As a last resort for lack of sleep (and instead of popping conventional sleeping pills) think about taking a melatonin tablet when you go to bed – but check with your doctor beforehand.  Studies show that, after taking it, you can expect to fall asleep quicker than usual and to sleep for a little longer but without any of the debilitating side effects of conventional sleeping tablets.

Natural Remedies for Sleep Problems.  Dr. Sy lists the following as effective aids in overcoming sleep concerns:

  • Melatonin is the hormone that controls and induces sleep.  Although some experts recommend taking higher doses, studies show that lower doses are more effective.  There’s concern that high doses of melatonin could cause toxicity and raise the risk of depression or infertility.
  • Valerian is one of the most common sleep remedies for insomnia.  Numerous studies have found that valerian improves deep sleep, speed of falling asleep, and induce overall quality of sleep.  However, it’s most effective when used over a longer period of time.
  • Chamomile has been effectively used as a sleeping aid.  A component of the chamomile plant, called chrysin, is known to promote sleep and calm anxieties.  It works as a depressant which calms the uneasy feelings which may keep you awake.

A combination of melatonin, valerian and chamomile, according to Dr. Sy, enhances better sleep and restores vigor or appearance.

(Visit Dr. Sy’s website at for more health info. – J.P.)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sleep Deprivation: Problems & Remedies, Part 1

“Lack of sleep accelerates the aging process and yet, ironically, many of us find a good night’s sleep more difficult to achieve as we get older,” says Dr. Gary S. Sy in his booklet, titled Hypertension, Diabetes, Arthritis (which he distributed to his audience after his lecture).

Dr. Sy, a Diplomate in Geriatric Medicine (who spoke recently at a health symposium held at the Naga College Foundation School of Nursing, Naga City, Philippines) emphasizes that “the quality of sleep is important.  The better we sleep, the better we feel.  After one bad night you probably ache all over and feel irritable, clumsy and miserable.”

Chronic sleep loss can reduce the capacity of even young adults to perform basic metabolic functions such as processing and storing carbohydrates or regulating hormone secretion, report researchers from the University of Chicago Medical Center in the October 23 issue of The Lancet.  Cutting back from the standard eight down to four hours of sleep each night produced striking changes in glucose tolerance and endocrine function – changes that resembled the effects of advanced age or the early stages of diabetes – after less than one week.

To have a good night’s sleep, think about setting fixed bedtime and waking times, and avoiding afternoon naps (unless you’re playing catch-up, in which case have them before 3 pm) so that you adopt good sleep habits.

Research shows that getting even a small amount of daily activity can improve the ability to get a good night’s sleep.  Exercise!

Caffeine intake should be limited.  Caffeine is also in tea, chocolate and cola.  Some other form of hot drink, however, can aid restorative sleep by reducing anxiety – hot milk.

Alcohol should be limited (much better, completely avoided) because although it might help you to fall asleep (or knock you out in some cases!), it disturbs your sleep later on, as it breaks down in your system.

Eat earlier.  Finish your evening meal at least two hours before bedtime.  Digesting your meal can keep you awake.

An important point to help with restorative sleep is to ensure that your bed is comfortable.  Is the mattress supporting you well and the covers keeping you warm?  Are the pillows the right height and firm enough for your comfort?

(We shall discuss Dr. Gary Sy’s tips on sleeping well next week. – J.P.)