Be Aware Of Air Quality During Fire Season Before You Head Out To Walk

Be Aware Of Air Quality During Fire Season Before You Head Out To Walk

With wildfires raging at both ends of California and filling the air with smoke we need to be even more aware of the air quality where we live before we head outside to get our steps in for the day or for any other reason.  We hope that most of the fires will have been quelled before this weekend.  However, there are several ways (besides looking up at the sky) that you can determine whether it’s healthier to stay indoors.

Woman wearing a protective face maskThe Bay Area News Group newspapers warned that “everybody is at risk” when the smoky air is loaded with soot particles that can affect our lungs and even our bloodstream.  Most severely affected are children (whose lungs are still developing) and those who have respiratory conditions, such as asthma and COPD.

Become familiar with the Air Quality Index, which rates air pollution levels on a scale of 0-500.  Each day, these forecasts are printed on the weather page of the Bay Area News Group papers (including the East Bay Times) and can be found online (see below).

Air Quality Index

  • 0-50 = Good air quality
  • 51-100 = Moderate
  • 101-150 = Unhealthy for sensitive people
  • 151+ = Unhealthy for all

“Anything between 150 to 200 has the potential to affect even healthy people, but patients with chronic heart or lung conditions can also be at risk for exacerbating underlying conditions,” according to Sharon Chinthrajah, a pulmonologist, and an allergist with Stanford Health Care.

“The amount of fine particulate matter registered across the Bay Area on November 9 was the second-highest ever recorded since the metric started being tracked almost 20 years ago,” according to Kristine Roselium, a spokeswoman for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. (The highest was October 13, 2017.)

You can check for Air Quality Index listings at The newspaper article also cited AirNow (a government site) or PurpleAir.

For some of us who are fortunate to have good health, being outdoors for an hour of moderate walking is no problem.  For others, on Spare the Air days, it can lead to hospitalization for life-threatening pneumonia.  Quality air masks (N95 respirators) can help, but many stores no longer have them in stock.

Staying indoors, with doors and windows shut tight, maybe the best for those at risk.

One in EIGHT American adults have Type 2 Diabetes-A largely preventable disease! 

One in EIGHT American adults have Type 2 Diabetes-A largely preventable disease! 


November 7, 2018

Mr. Pedometer, I heard that one in ten American adults has Type 2 diabetes.  Is that an exaggeration?

Actually, the truth is even worse:  One in EIGHT American adults have Type 2 Diabetes which is a largely preventable disease!  November is American Diabetes Month, and the Parade magazine insert in our local Sunday newspaper included the following Type 2 diabetes facts:

  • About 29 million American adults have Type 2 diabetes, which means that their bodies either don’t use insulin properly or don’t make enough of it, causing their blood glucose levels to rise.Woman with Type 2 Diabetes checking glucose level

  • The older you get, the greater your risk.

  • “The American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates that people with diabetes spend 2.3 times more on medical expenses than those without it.”
  • Sugary foods and drinks do NOT cause diabetes, but those extra calories can lead to weight gain, which increases your risk for Type 2 diabetes, according to Sacha Uelmen, RDN, director of nutrition at the ADA.

  • “You could have prediabetes and not know it. One in three Americans over age 20 – a staggering 86 million – has blood glucose (sugar) levels hovering just below the Type 2 diabetes threshold….  Prediabetes isn’t harmless:  It may endanger blood vessels and cause nerve problems, says William Cefalu, M.D., chief scientific, medical, and mission officer for the ADA.  (You can take the ADA risk test at

  • “You can prevent or delay its onset. If you have prediabetes, you can help reverse the disease by losing 7 percent of your body weight. For starters, eat healthfully and get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking.”

  • “Even older people can develop Type 1 diabetes. Though it’s dubbed juvenile diabetes because it typically affects children and young adults, Type 1Diabetes doesn’t discriminate based on age.”  Sometimes older people are mistakenly diagnosed with Type 2 when they actually have Type 1 – meaning different medications are needed.

  • “It really hurts your heart. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases than people without diabetes, says Cefalu.”

  • “It can raise your risk for gum disease. Type 1 and Type 2 up the risk for cavities, thrush, dry mouth, and periodontitis, says diabetologist Jay Shubrook, D.O., director of diabetes services at Touro University in Vallejo, CA.”

  • “It’s bad for bones. In people with diabetes, hormones and cell products called cytokines can weaken bones, raising fracture risk, says Felicia Cosman, M.D., professor of medicine at Columbia University.  Also, conditions associated with diabetes, such as neuropathy, vision problems, and low blood sugar, increase the risk of falling a breaking a bone.”

Don’t become a sad statistic!  Take steps to decrease your risk of prediabetes or diabetes. Walking 10,000 steps a day will help lower your risk of Type 2 Diabetes or eliminate it if you already have it. Try wearing a pedometer.  Research shows that pedometer users increase their daily steps by 26.9%.  That’s 2000 extra steps a day to get you on your way to being a healthier more active you. Find the pedometer that is right for you and start walking.  You will be amazed at how much better you begin to feel.

For advice on how to get started on a walking program go to Pedometer.Com.  There you will find articles on how to start a walking program, tips on the correct way to walk and many articles in the Blog search about Type 2 Diabetes that will encourage you on your journey.

If you have questions, Contact Us at

Daily Stress – How to handle it

Daily Stress – How to handle it

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

October 30, 2018

Q: Mr. Pedometer, I try to follow your advice about eating right and moving more, and I am fortunate to be mostly in good health. I say “mostly” because I deal with daily stress, due to family obligations, daily news, and more. Am I the only one who feels this way? 

A: Far from it! recently issued a special report entitled “The United States of Stress: You’ll Never Think About Stress the Same Way Again.” Visit their website for the full report, but here is a sampling of what they had to say:

“Stress in the modern world is a constant. When stress doesn’t let up clock with coutout of person with stress words all over itand is paired with the feeling that we have little to no control over the circumstances that are creating it, that’s called chronic stress. Over and over again, the research points to one key fact: Prolonged or unremitting stress exacts a stunningly toxic toll on the body, brain, mind, and soul. Its ongoing assault wears us down, measurably aging — or ‘weathering’ — our insides, for some of us much more than others. Chronic stress zaps brainpower by damaging neural pathways and skewing judgment. It compromises the immune system. It taxes the heart, kidneys, liver, and brain.”

Their special report was based on findings of a survey of 6,700 Americans, ages 18-64. Three of the key causes of stress among those surveyed were:

Financial instability

Putting others first (including the “sandwich generation,” dealing with aging parents or grandparents at the same time as raising children)

Social isolation – possibly being “connected” via electronic devices rather than in person. We need daily contact with those who make us feel safe, feel seen, and feel heard. (Walking and talking with friendly people is a good way to meet this need!)

To deal effectively with stress, according to Frank Farley, Ph.D., Temple University in Philadelphia, we need three things:

Self-knowledge (What energizes you? What enervates you?)

Motivation (The desire to change one’s condition.)

Resources (Necessary to take effective action.)

Those in the study were asked what they did to manage stress, but the panel who reviewed responses felt that many were distractions rather than strategies. The most common replies were (in the order of frequency) music; TV/videos; sleep; exercise/sports; and talking/venting. The fourth on the list – exercise/sports – was deemed most effective by the reviewing panel.

Stress will continue to be part of your life. Be sure to take care of yourself – not just other people – particularly by making time in your schedule to get out and walk. That can help!

A Lifetime of Meds for Blood Pressure and Cholesterol?  Maybe not…

A Lifetime of Meds for Blood Pressure and Cholesterol? Maybe not…

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

October 23, 2018

Q: Mr. Pedometer, my doctor has prescribed medication for my blood pressure and for my cholesterol. Will I have to take these pills for the rest of my life? Is there any hope of getting off of them?

A: Possibly. The “Consumer Reports on Health” newsletter included a recent article that suggests many of us can make lifestyle choices that can either eliminate our need for certainwoman pouring pills into her hand heart medications or at least allow us to safely reduce the dosage.  Of course, you want to work with your doctor to make sure you are not putting yourself at risk. Here are the four healthy lifestyle steps that may help, as reported in the newsletter:

  • LOSE EXTRA WEIGHT. Even losing just 9 pounds can make a significant difference in your blood pressure readings, according to a 2014 Cochrane review.
  • EAT RIGHT. Where have you heard that before? (-; “Proper eating habits can help you get to – and maintain – a healthy weight. Vegetarian and Mediterranean-style diets reduced body fat and weight equally, according to a study published in “Circulation” in February (2018).” woman walking in tennis shoesCutting back on sodium (less than 2,300 mg per day) also can help reduce blood pressure.
  • If you are engaged in 150 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous activity, you have a 22 percent lower risk of a major cardiovascular event than those who are less active, according to a 2017 study published in “Lancet.”
  • AVOID AIR POLLUTION. This may be the most unfamiliar suggestion on the list. “A study published in the “Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism” in 2016 found that people who breathed in higher than average levels of particulants, such as auto exhaust and dust, had higher blood sugar levels, higher “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, and lower “good” HDL cholesterol levels – all factors that raise your risk for heart disease.” Pay attention to local pollution levels by visiting “…On high-pollution days, spend time outdoors before or after rush hour, when pollution levels tend to be lower.”

You may want to try some or all of these lifestyle choices before your next physical, to see if the combination helps you reduce the need for prescription medications.

Do I really need a flu shot?

Do I really need a flu shot?

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

October 16, 2018

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, you have urged us to get our flu shots this month.  Well, I did that last year, and I still got the flu! Why should I bother to go stand in line again?           

A:  Consider yourself lucky:  You likely had a milder case of the flu 2 nurses hold a sign - Get your flu shotthan if you had not gotten the shot. Obviously, you survived…unlike an estimated 80,000 Americans who were not so lucky last year.  At least 180 of those fatalities were children (80% of whom had not gotten their flu shots).  More than 12,000 Americans age 65 and older died from the flu last year.  The very young and those of us at a certain age are the most vulnerable, and the more people who get the protective flu shots, the better our chances of surviving another year.

Jeff Garberson put it very well in his article in the October 11 Independent newspaper: “Like automotive seatbelts, which reduce both injuries and fatalities on the road, flu vaccinations prevent many cases of flu and make other less severe.

“Unlike seatbelts, however, flu shots also protect people around us, medical experts say.  By blocking influenza’s spread, they also make it less likely that we will infect loved ones and neighbors, grandchildren and elderly parents.”

Isn’t that enough to make standing in line for a flu shot worth your time?  Cases of the flu already have been seen at the Stanford-Valley Care Medical Center in Pleasanton.

Jake Scott and infectious disease physician with Stanford-ValleyCare Medical Center advised that we all follow the “3 C’s” for slowing the flu’s spread:

  • “CONTAIN the disease by staying home if you have flu symptoms (fever, aching joints, dry cough);
  • “COVER coughs and sneezes with your (inner) elbow and sleeve, not with your hands; and
  • “CLEAN hands by washing with soap and using alcohol gel.”

Most important, though, is getting a flu shot, preferably before Halloween.


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

October 10, 2018

Q: Mr. Pedometer, haven’t you forgotten something about the month of October?  Relating to women’s health (hint, hint).         

A: If what you are referring to in your not-so-subtle hinting is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, NO, I certainly have not forgotten! I think it is a safe bet that each of our 700+ newsletter subscribers has known at least one person who has battled breast cancer.

This is the month to gently remind each of the women you care about Woman with Doctor for Breast exam(especially those who are over age 40) to be sure to get their annual mammogram, which remains the best way to detect cancer at its earliest stage when it is most curable.

Here are some startling statistics, from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

Facts about Breast Cancer in the United States

  • One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women.
  • Each year it is estimated that over 252,710 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,500 will die.
  • Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,470 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 460 will die each year.
  • On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer and 1 woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes.
  • Over 3.3 million breast cancer survivors are alive in the United States today.

Now here is some good news:

Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990, in part due to better screening and early detection, increased awareness, and continually improving treatment options.

Also, be aware that physical activity can reduce the risk of breast cancer, as can a low-fat diet that includes plenty of fruit and green and orange vegetables. “A high-fat diet increases the risk because fat triggers estrogen production that can fuel tumor growth,” according to the National Breast Cancer Organization.

One more thing you can do before Halloween (besides getting your flu shot): Schedule a mammogram for yourself (or for a female family member).