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Worried about rattlesnake sightings?

 

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

Q: Mr. Pedometer, should we be worried about rattlesnake sightings on trails in this area?  

A: While it is true that warmer weather brings out snakes (as well as humans), there is no cause for alarm.  The East Bay Regional Park District recently posted the following reminders:

  • “Spring and summer are active snake seasons in parks and open spaces. As the weather heats up, rattlesnakes especially become more active. They, like humans, like to explore when the weather gets warm.”
  • “Always hike with a friend so you can help each other in case of an emergency.”
  • “Look at the ground ahead of you as you are walking.”
  • “Look carefully around and under logs and rocks before sitting down.”
  • “Avoid placing your hands or your feet where you can’t see clearly.”
  • “Check the area around picnic tables, campsites, and barbecues before using them. If you   encounter a rattlesnake in these areas, notify park staff.”
  • “Bring plenty of water for yourself and your pets, as many parks do not have direct water supply.”
  • “Keep pets on the designated trails and away from snakes if they see them.”
  • “Snakes are an important resource in the natural environment. They are the primary controlling   agents of rodent, insect, and other reptile populations.”
  • “It is illegal to collect, kill, or remove any plants or animals from the East Bay Regional Park   District.”

Keep in mind that snakes want to avoid us as much as we want to avoid them. They usually will slither away if they sense approaching people. Don’t let worrying about snakes prevent you from enjoying walking on local trails.

EAT RIGHT,

MOVE MORE,

AND SLEEP WELL,

FOR A HEALTHY, LONGER LIFE!

 

What is “Wellness”?

ASK MR. PEDOMETER & FRIENDS…

Q: Mr. Pedometer, you call your group “World Walk to Wellness,” but what exactly is ‘wellness”?

A: That’s a good question!  Wellness certainly is more than the absence of illness.  May is Mental Health Month, so we turned to Mental Health America (MHA, formerly known as the National Mental Health Association) to get their definition:

“Wellness is defined as ‘an active process of becoming aware of and making choices towards a more successful existence.’

“Because living ‘a successful existence’ means something different to each individual, wellness can be many things, but it generally includes the pursuit of health, defined as ‘a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity,’ and working towards achieving one’s full potential.”

MHA outlines many “pathways to wellness,” the first ones of which may sound very familiar:

  • A Balanced diet (Eat right)
  • Regular exercise (Move more)
  • Enough sleep (Sleep well)
  • A sense of self-worth
  • Development of coping skills that promote resiliency
  • Emotional awareness
  • Connections to family, friends, and community

According to the MHA, we should “take periodic readings of our emotional well-being, just as we are careful to check our blood pressure and to get cancer screenings.” National Mental health Month might be a good time to try one of these strategies:

  • Be good to yourself
  • Show gratitude
  • Keep good friends close
  • Take care of your community
  • Eat one less cookie
  • Learn how to let go
  • Walk instead of driving

As for that last one, why not consider starting your weekend with a walk outdoors?

EAT RIGHT,

MOVE MORE,

AND SLEEP WELL,

FOR A HEALTHY, LONGER LIFE!

Can Spring Cleaning Help One’s Health?

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, I am not a big fan of housework, but I wonder, can spring cleaning help one’s health.

A:  Some aspects of spring housecleaning could actually save your life, while others can improve your quality of life.  Realtor Kris Moxley shared tips on a recent handout, some of which follow (with Mr. Pedometer’s parenthetical comments):

  • CHANGE THE BATTERIES in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. (The latter, now required by law, are easily forgotten.)
  • CHECK YOUR MEDICINE CABINET and pantry and get rid of anything that has expired. (NOTE:  Pleasanton Police Department has added a drop-off location in their lobby for expired medicines, which no longer are being accepted at the Household Hazardous Waste drop-off location in Livermore.  Pleasanton’s Kaiser clinic has a similar lobby drop-off.)
  • REPLACE OR CLEAN your filters around your house.
  • WASH OR REPLACE the pillows on your bed(s).
  • CHECK YOUR EMERGENCY/SURVIVAL KIT to ensure that your flashlight batteries and food items are updated. (You DO have such a kit, right?)
  • VACUUM OUT your dryer’s vent and ducts.
  • CLEAN YOUR REFRIGERATOR, especially the coils, which should be vacuumed off. (While you’re at it, look inside for anything that has become green and fuzzy…. (-;  )

EAT RIGHT,

MOVE MORE,

AND SLEEP WELL,

FOR A HEALTHY, LONGER LIFE!

How much sleep do older adults need?

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, isn’t it true that older adults need less sleep each night?  I am in my eighth decade and still waiting for this to happen.     

A:  That turns out to be a myth!  Older adults still require 7-9 hours of sleep each night, according to Jessica Rundo, M.D., a staff physician at the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center. 

In an article in Consumer Reports on Health, Dr. Rundo says that sleep cycles change with age, and older adults may awaken more often during the night. 

There are health dangers related to insufficient sleep, including increased risks of falls, cognitive decline, and dementia. “Chronic insomnia – difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at least three nights a week for three months or longer – can also occur with conditions such as anxiety and depression,” the report states.

Here are the tips provided for getting a good night’s sleep, without medication:

  • TURN OFF ELECTRONICS – At least one hour before going to sleep, stop watching TV, reading on your tablet, or checking e-mail. “The blue light from electronics suppresses melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep,” says Beth Malow, M.D., director of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Sleep Division in Nashville.
  • EAT WISELY – Don’t consume a large meal within a couple of hours before bedtime, to avoid heartburn. During the day, choose meals high in fiber and low in saturated fat in order to fall asleep faster and have a better quality sleep (according to a 2016 study in the Journal of Sleep Medicine). “Also, skip the nightcap.  An alcoholic drink might help you doze off initially, but when it wears off, you’ll be awake again,” the article notes.
  • GET IN A DAYTIME WALK – “Exercise boosts the effects of sleep hormones like melatonin, especially if it’s done in bright daylight in the morning,” according to Timothy Morgenthaler, M.D., co-director of the Mayo Clinic for Sleep Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota. A 2010 study found that people 55 and older who exercised about four times a week for half an hour found it easier to fall asleep than those who did not exercise.
  • SET YOURSELF UP FOR SLEEP – Thirty to 60 minutes before bedtime, dim the lights, make sure your bedroom is cool, read a good (actual) book, and turn on soothing music (or a white noise machine), suggests Dr. Malow.
  • RETHINK THE REGULAR DAYTIME NAP – If you nap occasionally without affecting your nighttime sleep, that’s okay, but limit the nap to an hour. Otherwise, it can make it more difficult for you to doze off at night, according to Dr. Rundo

Taking sleep medicine may be risky, and not particularly effective.  Some prescription sleeping pills have been found to double the risk of falls and hip fractures in older adults. Other studies have linked sleep medicine to poorer cognitive ability and possibly dementia in people 65 or older (according to a 2015 study in JAMA Internal Medicine).

See your doctor if none of the above strategies works after several weeks.  You may be a candidate for overnight sleep monitoring, to determine if you have obstructive sleep apnea, which is defined as “numerous brief pauses in breathing during sleep” (which can lead to snoring).

Sleep apnea, if untreated, can lead to increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes.  According to the article, “almost 80 percent of the estimated 29 million Americans with obstructive sleep apnea haven’t received a diagnosis.”

EAT RIGHT,

MOVE MORE,

AND SLEEP WELL,

FOR A HEALTHY, LONGER LIFE!

How much sugar is too much?

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

Q: Mr. Pedometer, the nutritional labels on foods generally tell not only the quantity of each nutrient but also the percentage of the recommended daily amount. The exception is sugar. The label tells how many grams, but not how much that is toward a daily amount. How much sugar should a healthy person eat (or drink) in a day?

A: Your question spotlights one of the biggest problems in Americans’ eating habits. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that most people should consume no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of “free sugars” (any kind of sugar added into a food or beverage product) per day. However, that amount is found in just one cup of apple juice or a small fruit yogurt!

The Bad New

The Globalist Quiz in our local newspaper recently reported, “In the United States, almost three-quarters of the population consumes more than the recommended amount [of sugar] per day. (The U.S. average is 22 teaspoons per day, close to four times higher than the WHO recommendation.)”

That has alarming consequences for health in this nation since excess sugar can lead to both obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Some researchers believe that sugar can be “chemically addictive,” with many of the problems associated with other types of addiction.

Reading nutritional labeling on food is a good practice. What can make it confusing, when reading ingredients, is that terms such as “corn syrup” and “fruit juice concentrates” may not be obvious as names for sugar additives.

The Good News

The good news is that more and more consumers are choosing healthier foods. Major global food processing manufacturers are being impacted. The article noted that “companies such as Kraft Heinz and Coca-Cola are experiencing a continued decline in sales. Coca-Cola’s soft drink sales reached a 31-year low in 2017.” Perhaps this will persuade those large companies to reduce sugar additives? Meanwhile, consuming fewer processed foods seems to be the healthiest option.

EAT RIGHT,

MOVE MORE,

AND SLEEP WELL,

FOR A HEALTHY, LONGER LIFE!

Learn to protect yourself in a fall

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, is falling the most serious risk for the elderly?   

A:  That depends on how you define “elderly.” Surprisingly, those in their 50s and 60s are more apt to fall than older folks, according to a study in the Journal of Allied Health.  The scary part is, falling is more apt to result in traumatic brain injury than any other cause.

An article in AARP Magazine by Michael Zimmerman included an interview with stuntwoman Alexa Marcigliano on how to make an inevitable fall as safe as possible.  “Be smooth, don’t panic, stay loose,” is her short answer, but she then elaborated on four points to ensure a safe crash landing:

  • STAY BENT – When you lose your balance, get ready to fall by bending your elbows and knees. If you panic, you are apt to become rigid, resulting in injuries doctors call FOOSH:  “fall on outstretched hand.” That likely would result in a broken wrist or elbow.
  • PROTECT YOUR HEAD – When falling forward, be sure to turn your head to the side. If falling backward, tuck your chin to your chest to avoid having your head hit the ground.
  • LAND ON THE MEAT – If you keep your elbows and knees bent and try to land on muscle (back, buttocks, or thighs), you are less likely to fracture your elbows, knees, tailbone, or hips.
  • KEEP FALLING – It may seem counter-intuitive, but the more you give in to the fall, the safer it will be. By rolling with the fall, you spread the impact across a larger part of your body instead of concentrating the impact on one area.

No matter what your age, there is a very high possibility that you will suffer a fall at some point.  These four tips could mean the difference between merely being bruised and being hospitalized with broken bones and head trauma.

EAT RIGHT,

MOVE MORE,

AND SLEEP WELL,

FOR A HEALTHY, LONGER LIFE!