Get depressed in the winter by gray skies and fewer hours of daylight?

Get depressed in the winter by gray skies and fewer hours of daylight?

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

December 4 2018

Q: Mr. Pedometer, I get depressed in the winter by gray skies and fewer hours of daylight.  Any suggestions of how to be “merry” despite those features?     

A: You are far from alone in getting the winter blues. A recent article in the Parade magazine insert of our Sunday newspaper offered the following suggestions on how to brighten these darker days…

VEG OUT “Plant-based foods, like fruits and vegetables, feed the good Basket of fresh vegetablesbacteria in our gut that help produce mood-regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin, explains Karen Bush, a board-certified functional medicine health coach at Cleveland Clinic.  It doesn’t have to be fresh:  Frozen produce often retains its flavor and nutrition.”

EMPLOY FLOWER POWER People who woke up to flowers reported a better mood, in a recent study.  So place a vase of tulips or daisies on your bedside table.  When in doubt, opt for blooms that are yellow, a hue that’s often associated with sunshine, energy, and happiness.”

MAKE A PHOTO ALBUM – “Positive memories greatly enhance our present happiness and can even reduce depression, says Dmitry Golubnichy, founder of the 100 Happy Days Foundation and author of Can You Be Happy 100 Days in a Row?  Sort through your photos and assemble the happy ones into a book you can flip through again and again.”

LOL – “’Laughter reduces stress and overrides other emotions in the moment,’ says Donna Agajanian, a New York City-based certified life and intuitive coach. Laughter ‘therapy’ has even been shown to function similarly to antidepressants by raising serotonin levels….”

COLOR YOUR WORLD – “When you find ways to brighten your days physically, you’ll literally feel brighter, says Amy Spencer, author of Bright Side Up:  100 Ways to Be Happier Right Now.  Wear a colorful shirt or scarf.  Buy a pen with green ink or some turquoise sticky notes.  Get pillows for your couch in Kelly green or sheets in tangerine…  ‘Just a few shades of difference in your everyday items can make life feel more vivid all around,’ Spencer says.”

CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE – “’Small changes can bring big rewards for our spirits,’ says Agajanian.  ‘Routines are often connected with the past, so changing one that links to a past negative association can break that link and open up space for other feelings.’  One tweak that takes minimal effort:  Make your bed (if you don’t already).  “It’s a form of self-care and a way of telling yourself that you matter.  That alone can lift your mood,’ she says.”

MAKE FRIENDS WITH WINTER WORKOUTS – “Just 5 minutes of moderate-intensity Mr Pedometer and walking group walking and picking up trashexercise releases feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins. Exercising outside will give you an even better workout.  For one thing, it tends to be more strenuous that indoor sweat sessions, so you’ll burn extra calories. Plus, researchers find that people who get physical outdoors enjoy it more.  ‘I tell people to go outside for 10 minutes,’ says Bush.  ‘But once they’re out there, they realize how beautiful it is and they stay for an hour.’”

WALK THE HAPPY WALK – People in one study who walked as if they were sad (slowly, without a lot of energy or body engagement) ended up feeling sadder. How to make your gait a mood boost?  Happy people walk with an upright, steady torso and swinging arms, reports Golubnichy.”

FLASH A SMILE – “It actually spurs a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing hormones like dopamine and serotonin that increase feelings of happiness and reduce stress.  Even forcing a fake smile helps.  For best results, smile with your eyes and your mouth….”

The very good news is that you can accomplish all of the last three on the list if you come “Walk ‘n’ Talk” with us on Saturday mornings!  If you aren’t in our area, consider starting your own “Walk ‘n’ Talk” group.  Here’s to a cheerier wintertime!

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

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.

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.

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.






Will Walking help those of us with high blood pressure?

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, I know you encourage us all to walk frequently, but I am wondering, will that help those of us with high blood pressure?

A:  This month’s AARP Bulletin reported that high blood pressure is just one of half a dozen ailments that can be improved by taking regular walks – but at different speeds and durations.

Here is an excerpt from the article by Sara Altshul, describing what walking can help:

  • HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE – “Shoot for at least 1.75 miles at a moderate rate (3-4.5 miles per hour) most days of the week to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, says Paul T. Williams, a life sciences researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California.”
  • ARTHRITIS – It may seem counter-intuitive that people with joint pain can feel better if they walk more, but that is what the research shows. Start with 5 minutes and build up to 30 minutes per day of walking at a leisurely pace for 5 days per week, suggests Leigh F. Callahan, assistant director of the Thurston Arthritis Research Center, U. of North Carolina.  “If the pain is worse two hours after the walk than it was before the walk started, take a less intense walk the next time.”
  • DEPRESSION – Walking fast “increases the production of serotonin, dopamine, and other brain chemicals that lift your mood, says John B. Arden, author of The Brain Bible. “Start with 10 minutes of strolling, then walk briskly to 75 percent of your maximum effort – a pace that makes talking difficult.  Keep that up for 2-3 minutes, then resume a strolling pace.  Repeat these intervals for 20-30 minutes.”
  • INSOMNIA – Exposure to daylight can help. “Bright light inhibits the body’s secretion of melatonin, our natural sleep agent,” says Donald W. Greenblatt, M.D., director of the Medicine Sleep Center at the U. of Rochester, New York. “When you block melatonin in the morning by walking outside, it then bounces back later in the day, helping to promote sleep.”  Late afternoon walks also can be effective.  Try for daily walks at a comfortable pace for15-30 minute, finishing your walk at least 3 hours before bedtime.  “Be patient:  some evidence suggests that it can take a couple of weeks to get the full benefit of exercise, so don’t be disappointed if you are not experiencing an immediate effect, Greenblatt says.”
  • OSTEOPOROSIS – Did you know that walking helps preserve bone? Walking 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, can make a difference.  “Three 10-minute walks a day are as bone-strengthening as one 30-minute walk,” says Andrea Singer, M.D., of the national Osteoporosis Foundation.
  • TYPE 2 DIABETES – “Walking after eating sweets can prevent a blood sugar spike. Walk for 15 minutes at an easy pace about a half-hour after breakfast, lunch and dinner.…Because people with diabetes can develop foot infections due to reduced blood flow to the feet, it’s important to get properly fitted for walking shoes.”

So, you see, that’s even more reason why you should…