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Tips to Help Your Pet Survive the Heat of Summer

Tips to Help Your Pet Survive the Heat of Summer

ASK MR. PEDOMETER AND FRIENDS…

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, you recently wrote about the “dog days” of summer.  Any advice on how to help our canine pals survive this hottest part of the year?

A:  Good question!  Fortunately, columnist Joan Morris recently offered some great advice in the East Bay Times, including the following:

  • NEVER leave your dog unattended in your car, not even if you park in the shade and leave the windows partly open. Cars heat up fast!  A dog can suffer from heatstroke – possibly fatally – within 15 minutes. “California law now permits people to rescue animals from cars – without legal risk – if they believe the animal is in distress.”
  • If your furry pet spends much time outdoors, “create spaces where they can escape the heat and sun.”
  • Always provide your pet with water when it is outdoors. “Fill a bowl and leave it under a slowly dripping faucet, invest in a water dispenser, or freeze bowls of water that will slowly melt in the heat.  Refill the bowl at least daily, and more often in hot weather.” [NOTE:  You may want to bring in food and water bowls at nighttime, to avoid attracting raccoons, coyotes, etc.]
  • Check your pet daily for fleas or ticks, which are more active in the summer.
  • Wildlife may be more attracted to irrigated landscapes in hot weather, so check before letting out your pet. “If you have small pets, don’t leave them in the yard alone.  Coyotes can scale or jump 6-foot fences, and hawks may view small pets as prey.”  [NOTE:  There have been several sightings of mountain lions within residential areas of Pleasanton lately, according to the police department.]
  • Avoid walking your dog in the heat of the day. “If you have no choice, avoid asphalt and dark pavement, which absorbs the heat and can burn your dog’s paws, and keep walks short. Test the heat by putting your hand down on the pavement.  If you can’t comfortably hold your hand on the surface for at least 5 seconds, it’s too hot for your dog.”
  • If you have indoor pets, “be sure they have access to cooler places in the house and plenty of water.”
  • “West Nile virus has been confirmed in the Bay Area, so protect yourself and your pets by eliminating places for mosquitos to breed. Mosquitos usually feed at dusk and dawn, prime dog-walking times, so if you can’t adjust your schedule, be sure to use repellents containing DEET, picaridin, or lemon eucalyptus oil.”

Thank you for reminding us that pets need special attention in order to stay healthy during the summer “dog days”!

Leg pain while walking…Should you be worried?

Leg pain while walking…Should you be worried?

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

August 1, 2018

Q: Mr. Pedometer, I know that you always encourage us to walk, but even at a slow pace, I find that walking makes my legs hurt. Any suggestions?

A: Doctors usually recommend walking because it is easy, convenient, and free – except, perhaps, for the cost of a comfortable pair of shoes. However, walking can become painful for some of us, usually due to age and/or arthritis. Other possible factors were outlined in a recent newsletter from Harvard Medical School. These include the following four:

  • PERIPHERAL ARTERY DISEASE – Arteries that supply blood to the leg muscles can become narrowed by a build-up of plaque or even blood clots, causing working muscles to become “starved” for oxygen. According to the newsletter, “The pain tends to come on with walking, gets worse until the person stops walking, and then goes away with rest.” Other symptoms include “scratches or bruises in the lower leg that won’t heal and pale and cool skin.” The bad news is that “people with peripheral artery disease are six to seven times more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or transient ischemic attack than people without it.” Check with your doctor, who may prescribe walk-rest sessions of about 30 minutes several days a week.

 

  • CHRONIC VENOUS INSUFFICIENCY – This is a poor circulation condition involving the veins and the blood’s “return trip back to the heart and lungs.” If the tiny valves inside the veins are damaged, “blood tends to pool in the legs and feet, instead of traveling ‘north’ to the heart. It’s often a vicious cycle: If the valves aren’t working, pressure from blood collecting in the veins increases, so the veins stretch out. As a result, the valves don’t close properly, so even more blood flows backward, adding pressure.” Legs may feel achy or heavy. Other symptoms can include swelling or “ulcerated, open wounds on the bony ‘bumps’ of the ankle.” To offset these symptoms, lie on your back and elevate your legs. Compression stockings also may help. “If you’re sitting for long periods, pointing your toes up Woman walking with back painand down several times can flex the vein-pumping muscles.”

 

  • LUMBAR SPINAL STENOSIS – “Vertebrae, disks, and other parts of the spine impinge on the spinal cord and nerves branching off of it…When spinal stenosis occurs in the lumbar region, lower back pain can be a symptom, but it’s often the legs that are affected…cramping tightness that increases with walking…One important clue is whether the pain eases when the back is curved forward, or flexed. That posture tends to take the pressure off of the lumbar region, and it’s the reason some people with lumbar spinal stenosis find it easier to walk when leaning on a grocery cart or a walker.” Physical therapy may help, and surgery is another option.

 

  • DIABETIC NEUROPATHY – “People with diabetes are prone to nerve damage, or neuropathy. Exactly why is uncertain…Diabetic neuropathy affects the upper and lower legs in different ways. In the upper leg, the pain from ischemic nerves can come on suddenly and be felt in just one leg. In the lower legs and feet, where it is more common, the symptoms are typically numbness or tingling, and are usually felt about equally in both legs…(It) can make walking more difficult, but symptoms may improve with exercise.”

 

As you can see, leg pain from walking can be a serious symptom. Lack of mobility can lead to even more problems. Check with your doctor if the symptoms continue so that you can find ways to recover the pleasure of walking, pain-free.

Inflammation is an underlying cause of many diseases

ASK MR. PEDOMETER & FRIENDS… Q:  Mr. Pedometer, recently I’ve heard that inflammation is an underlying cause of many diseases.  Can you offer suggestions on how to reduce the risk? A: Inflammation can be either good or bad, as noted in a recent edition of “Consumer Reports on Health”: “Inflammation is, very basically, the body’s reaction to something that’s not supposed to be there,” explains Keenan Walker, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.  That’s a good thing on a temporary basis when your body’s immune system perceives a threat, such as “the swelling that occurs after an ankle sprain, as more blood flows to the area or the fever that develops during an infection to create an unwelcome environment for germs.” However, if inflammation becomes chronic, it “becomes a foe instead of a friend.”  Chronic inflammation is linked to rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, heart disease, dementia, type 2 diabetes, cancer, joint pain, and more. So how to avoid inflammation?  The article gave the following tips:

  • Go Mediterranean – In your diet, that is. Focus on eating fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils, such as olive oil.
  • Limit foods that cause inflammation – These include red meat, processed meat, organ meat, refined grains, and sugar-sweetened beverages, according to Fred Tabung, Ph.D., a research associate in the department of nutrition at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.
  • Strive for a healthy weight – “Obesity-associated chronic inflammation is well recognized, which in part explains the high risk of chronic disease in obese individuals,” says Dayong Wu, M.D., Ph.D., a scientist in the Nutritional Immunology Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston.
  • Be physically active – Regular exercise can help lower inflammation. “The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise per week, which can mean 30 minutes of brisk walking five days per week.”
  • Avoid injury and illness – Check with your doctor about vaccinations for pneumonia, shingles, and flu. Take good care of your teeth, “because poor oral health can lead to infection and chronic inflammation.”  Try for 7 or more hours of sleep each night.

To simplify these tips, Mr. Pedometer encourages you to… EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL, FOR A HEALTHY, LONGER LIFE!

Know what symptums of a Stroke look like!

 

ASK MR. PEDOMETER & FRIENDS…

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, recently someone I know died from a stroke because those around him did not know what was happening. Can you please remind us of what symptoms to watch for?

A: I am sorry for the outcome for your friend.  Here is the easy-to-remember F.A.S.T. acronym to recognize and react if you or someone near you is experiencing a stroke:

  • F = Face: Drooping?
  • A = Arm: Weak?
  • S = Speech: Difficulty?
  • T = Time to call 911 if the above symptoms are observed, even briefly!

According to the to the American Stroke Association, as reported by Bobbi Dempsey in “Spry Living”

  • “Up to 80 percent of strokes could be prevented by lifestyle changes….
  • “The biggest risk factor is high blood pressure, so keep your blood pressure under control by
    • watching your diet,
    • getting enough exercise, and
    • taking medications, if necessary…. 
    • “And don’t forget that the guidelines for what is considered healthy blood pressure numbers dropped recently from under 140/90 to 120/80, so even yours has always been fine, it’s a good time to get it checked again.”

Mr. Pedometer hopes you never have to use the F.A.S.T. guidelines, but it always is better to be prepared.

EAT RIGHT,

MOVE MORE,

AND SLEEP WELL,

FOR A HEALTHY, LONGER LIFE!

 

Stay healthy while flying this summer

ASK MR. PEDOMETER & FRIENDS…

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, we will be on a very long flight to our summer vacation destination.  How can we avoid germs while flying?

A: I was surprised at the answer provided by Consumer Reports On Health: “Most illnesses contracted on a plane are picked up from surfaces, not through the air,” according to Mark Gendreau, M.D., a researcher who studies infection risk during air travel.  He offers the following tips:

  • USE HAND SANITIZER (one with at least 60% alcohol) before and after touching seatback trays and seatbelt buckles, where the bugs are plentiful.”
  • IF YOU SIT NEAR A PASSENGER WHO’S COUGHING OR SNEEZING, adjust the air vent above your seat so that the air flows away from your face.”
  • AND STAY HYDRATED: Dry cabin air can dehydrate protective membranes in your nose and mouth, leaving you more susceptible to infection.”

I hope those suggestions can help you arrive at your distant destination feeling healthy and ready to enjoy your vacation…once you adjust to the time change

EAT RIGHT,

MOVE MORE,

AND SLEEP WELL,

FOR A HEALTHY, LONGER LIFE!

Want to Boost Your Brain Power?

ASK MR. PEDOMETER & FRIENDS…

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, you offer good advice on how we should “move more” for wellness, but is there any way we could also help boost our brain power?

A: That’s a timely question, as June happens to be national Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.  Just in time, our local newspaper included a “Spry Living” insert, with a list of “brain-booster” tips, including the following:

  • KEEP MOVING! Yes, you’ve heard it before, but regular exercise tops the list of experts’ recommendations to stave off diseases like Alzheimer’s (dementia) and to stimulate the creation of more brain cells, according to Wendy Suzuki, Ph.D., a professor of neural science and psychology at New York University and author of Happy Brain, Happy Life.  “One study of older adults found that walking 40 minutes a day, three days a week, increased the size of the hippocampus, the brain’s memory center, — effectively reversing age-related loss by a year or two.”
  • ENGAGE MULTIPLE SENSES – University of Iowa researchers found that our memory for sounds declines as soon as 4-8 seconds after we hear them. “Repeating something back immediately can help shore up your memory, but seeing the words works even better.”
  • CLOSE YOUR EYES – “University of Surrey research shows that shutting your eyes frees up brain power and helps bring back recent and distant memories. Respondents who closed their eyes scored 23 percentage points higher on a memory test.”
  • HIT RE-PLAY TO PRESERVE GOOD MEMORIES – “We tend to remember what we pay attention to,” says Suzuki. “The more you bring a memory back to mind, the stronger it becomes.” Repetition strengthens neural connections, allowing the memory to resist interference from other memories or general degradation.
  • DOODLE – “Unlike many dual-task situations, doodling while working can be beneficial,” says Jackie Andrade, Ph.D., author of a British study that found the activity can boost recall by nearly 30 percent.
  • ADD CINNAMON TO YOUR COFFEE [OR TEA] –“The scent boosted cognitive functions – including memory and attention span – in a study at Wheeling Jesuit University. The spice also contains two compounds that may help prevent the brain cell changes that lead to Alzheimer’s.”

Who among us has not had a so-called “senior moment,” perhaps when it comes to remembering a person’s name…or where we left our car keys? If any of the above can help reduce those foggy-brain feelings, they are worth a try!

EAT RIGHT,

MOVE MORE,

AND SLEEP WELL,

FOR A HEALTHY, LONGER LIFE!