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! EverydayHealth.com 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!

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!

Is Summer Sun Healthy?

ASK MR. PEDOMETER & FRIENDS…

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, isn’t it dangerous to be exposed to the summer sun on daytime walks?

A: That depends:  As Consumer Reports on Health noted in their June edition,  “While getting too much [sun] damages the skin, letting some sun in may be good for you.”  Here’s why:

  • “Sun exposure’s best-known benefit is vitamin D synthesis, which occurs in the skin in response to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.” Vitamin D promotes absorption of calcium, which helps keep bones strong.
  • “The research is ongoing, but so far studies show that UV exposure might
    • Lower blood pressure (which helps to protect against heart attack and stroke)
    • Curb appetite (which can reduce the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and possibly certain autoimmune diseases)
    • Extend longevity (by 6 months to two years, according to a study in Sweden that monitored 30,000 women for 20 years)

However, those same UV rays can cause sunburn, which is a major risk for skin cancer.  The key is limiting unprotected sun exposure (no sunscreen) to 10-12 minutes TOTAL per summer day.  In general, doctors recommend that we

  • Apply sunscreen to face and hands
  • Wear a broad-brimmed hat
  • Wear sunglasses
  • Limit exposure to arms and legs – and then only if you are NOT taking a medication (such as certain diuretics and antidepressants) that increase your risk of sunburn.

The East Bay Times includes a UV index on its weather page, indicating at what time of day the highest risk is for sun damage to the skin.  Usually, morning walks avoid the highest risk time.

EAT RIGHT,

MOVE MORE,

AND SLEEP WELL,

FOR A HEALTHY, LONGER LIFE!