October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…about Breast Cancer

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, my dear friend refuses to get a mammogram because she is fearful of what she may find out.  Any suggestions as to how I might persuade her to have this annual screening?

A: Your question is timely, as October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  You might remind your friend of the sad fact that 1 of every 8 women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. (The rate is lower for men, but they also can develop the disease.) However, the good news is that the diagnosis no longer implies a death sentence, as it may have many years ago.  Here’s what the American Cancer Society has to say:

Early Detection

“When breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 100%. World Walk To Wellness Ask Mr Pedometer about National Breast Cancer Awareness MonthEarly detection includes doing monthly breast self-exams, and scheduling regular clinical breast exams and mammograms.”

By now, nearly all of us know someone whose life has been affected by breast cancer.  Happily, many of those are survivors.  This is a good month to remind all the women who are dear to you to schedule a mammogram.

Fairly recently, medical experts revealed that as many as 40% of women have dense tissue breasts, which means that they may need to have an ultrasound examination in order to “pass” their annual check-up.  After a mammogram determines that the person has dense breast tissue, the staff is required to notify the person how to obtain follow-up examinations.

Both detection and treatment of breast cancer have improved in our lifetime.  Encourage your friend to take advantage of an annual breast examination for her own peace of mind…and continued good health.


Get A Flu Shot- It’s not just to Protect Yourself

Get A Flu Shot- It’s not just to Protect Yourself

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…and Get a Flu Shot

September 25, 2019

Q: Mr. Pedometer, I’ve never gotten the flu, so why should I bother to stand in line to get a flu shot every year?             

A: First of all, “the flu” takes on new forms each year, so the vaccine changes accordingly. You are very fortunate not have had the misery of flu symptoms, which can last for three weeks (and sometimes lead to hospitalization). However, getting the flu shot isn’t just about you: It’s about protecting others you come into contact with – especially the very young, the elderly, and those who have chronic health conditions. For these folks, the flu can mean the difference between life and death. The more of us who get the flu shot, the less dire their chances.“Complications of the flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes,” warns Kaiser Permanente health organization (www.kp.org)

They encourage everyone 6 month and older to get a flu shot World Walk to Wellness on Getting a Flu Shotevery year, starting in September.

Their website notes that “vaccination is especially important for:

  • People 50 years and older

  • Children 6 months through 4 years old

  • Women who are or who will become pregnant during flu season
  • People with chronic medical conditions or weakened immune systems
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care centers
  • Health care workers
  • People who live or care for anyone at high risk for flu-related complications.”

If you start experiencing a fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, chills, and fatigue, you may very well have the flu. “Make sure to: 

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink enough liquids.
  • Stay home until fever-free for 24 hours.

Consult with your doctor before using over-the-counter products if you take medication for other conditions.

Follow dosage instructions listed on the product.”

Kaiser adds, “To avoid spreading illness:

  • Limit contact with others.

  • Wash your hands with soap often.

  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue.”

Here’s wishing you a flu-free season between now and March!


Why Fit More Walking Into Your Life?

Why Fit More Walking Into Your Life?

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…on Walking

September 4, 2019

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, you may have said this before, but please tell me again:  Why should we try to fit more walking into our life?

A: When Vivek Murthy was United States’ surgeon general, he “prescribed” a single activity for America to reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.  Here are the nine reasons cited by Anna Almendrala, healthy living editor of the Huffington Post, for making walking an important part of your life:

LOWER RATES OF OBESITY – “A 2015 study found that even walking just 20 minutes a day can reduce your risk of premature death by 30 percent, and the Mayo Clinic notes that 30 minutes a day burns about 150 calories, which can help you reach a calorie deficit that leads to weight loss.”

PREVENT DIABETES – “Walking helps regulate blood sugar levels, which in turn keep insulin levels low and diabetes at bay. Walking group adding steps to their dayIn fact, walking for 15 minutes after every meal helped regulate blood sugar levels just as effectively as one 45-minute walk per day, according to a 2013 study, which is good for Americans daunted by one big walking session.”

GOOD FOR YOUR HEART – “If you walk at a clip where it feels comfortable to talk, but not comfortable enough to sing, then your heart is getting a great workout, Murthy noted.”

GENTLE ENOUGH FOR NEARLY EVERYBODY – “Pregnant? Morbidly obese?  Arthritic?  Walking is gentle enough for most people who have these conditions, doctors agree, and the activity can ease the pain of chronic illness – even if you have to start off with just two minutes a day.”

IMPROVES YOUR MOOD – “Moving your body is a well-known way to release endorphins, a set of feel-good chemicals that dull pain receptors in the brain, sedate you, and even give you a feeling of happiness and euphoria.  That’s why exercise in general, and walking in particular, is recommended to help improve symptoms of mild to moderate depression”

HELPS YOU SLEEP BETTER – “There’s a reason that travel experts advise you to walk around a new city on the day you arrive.  Exposing your body to the sunlight and staying outside until it grows dark helps recalibrate the hormone melatonin to your new surroundings and time zone.  As melatonin rises, so do feelings of sleepiness.”

WALKING IS AFFORDABLE AND ACCESSIBLE – “There’s no gym membership, fancy exercise clothing, or even walking-specific shoes you need to start.  You also don’t have to be trained to learn how to walk properly. All you need is a pair of comfortable, supportive shoes!”

MEET YOUR NEIGHBORS – “One in two Americans don’t know their neighbors.  Remedy that today by taking a walk around your block.  You’d be surprised at how many friendly faces you see and meet!”

INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF SEEING BIRDS, BUTTERFLIES, AND SUNSETS BY A MILLION – “This one isn’t a scientific fact, but it just makes sense.  Take a page from the immensely successful memoir Wild, in which Cheryl Strayed wrote, ‘There’s a sunrise and sunset every day.  You can choose to be there for it.  You can put yourself in the way of beauty.’”

I hope that any one of those good reasons will help you decide to schedule walks most days of the week.


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Plant Proteins are Better for Your Health

Plant Proteins are Better for Your Health

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

August 21, 2019

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, what do you think about a meatless diet?  I have heard that plant proteins are better for your health and provide nutrients lacking from our normal diets but should we eliminate meat?

A: We have all heard the warnings to eat less red meat. Many people have gone farther than that and get some or all of their protein from plant proteins because they are better for your health.  Consumer Reports on Health (CR.org/cronhealth) reports in their September edition that “only 5 percent of Americans call themselves vegetarians.”  However, more and more of people are shifting to getting at least some of our protein from plants.  Here’s why:

EVEN SMALL CHANGES HELP – “Replacing even just a few meaty meals with meatless ones Plant based protiens that are better for your health at World Walk to Wellness Blogcan lead to improvements in health, such as lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels and less fat around your middle.  (Large waistlines are associated with a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease.)  A 2016 study of 131,342 people found that trading just 3 percent of calories for an equivalent amount of plant protein resulted in a 12 percent lower risk of dying from any cause.  If plant protein replaced processed red meat – such as deli meat or hot dogs – it equated to a 34 percent lower risk of death.”

PLANTS CAN PROVIDE ADEQUATE PROTEIN – Foods like beans, nuts, and soy are the most concentrated protein sources, according to Dana Hunnes, Ph.D., senior dietitian at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. “Protein is essential for keeping your muscles strong – something that becomes even more important as you get older, because we do tend to lose some muscle mass as we age,” Hunnes says.  And a 2019 study found that protein – especially from plants – helps control the low-level inflammation that increases with age and contributes to disease.  Older people should aim for at least 0.6 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day – about 90 grams for someone who weighs 150 pounds.  (Exercise is also key for maintaining muscle).”

PLANT PROTEINS PROVIDE EVEN MORE –  Fiber from plant protein “can help to lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, lower your risk of colorectal cancer, and prevent weight gain….Plant-based diets are also rich in potassium and antioxidants….Potassium helps to regulate blood pressure – something that becomes increasingly important with age. (More than 60 percent of people 60 and older have high blood pressure, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.)” Antioxidants may help prevent cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. “A diet rich in plant-based foods helps provide a number of important nutrients that are lacking in the typical American diet,” says Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., R.D., distinguished professor of nutrition at Penn State University in University Park, Pennsylvania.

WHERE TO START? – Eliminating processed meat and limiting red meat is a good goal, the article suggests: Try to go meatless one or two days a week.    “The key is to experiment until you find healthy plant-based foods you love,” says Kris-Etherton.  “Then it won’t feel like a sacrifice to skip the meat.”

Next time you share a meal out with your vegetarian friends, why not try what they order?  You may discover that limiting red meat intake is not necessarily a burden. If you find you enjoy foods that provide plant-based proteins that are better for your health, you see timproved health at your check ups with your doctor.


How to reduce the risk of cancer

How to reduce the risk of cancer

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

August 14, 2019

Q: Mr. Pedometer, my family tree has been “pruned” by cancer. Are there any ways that I can reduce the risk of cancer?

A: The good news is that cancer Women celebrating ways to reduce risk of getting cancer.treatments are improving every year. However, in 2019, 1.7 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. The August edition of the Parade magazine insert in our Sunday newspapers offers these tips to reduce the risk of cancer:

ADD CANCER-FIGHTING FOODS TO YOUR DIET – “’This means avoiding highly-processed, high-fat and high-sugar foods. Shift as much as possible to a plant-based diet, and prioritize fish over other animal protein,’ according to S. Adam Ramin, MD, medical director of the Urology Cancer Specialists in Los Angles. Other recommended foods for “potential anti-cancer properties include nuts, garlic, turmeric, berries, green tea, tomatoes, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli.”

STAY AWAY FROM SECONDHAND SMOKE – “Simply breathing in someone else’s smoke is almost as bad as smoking yourself, says William Li, MD, author of Eat to Beat Disease: The New Science on How the Body Can Heal Itself.”

GRILL MEATS WITH CAUTION – “’Cooking red meat, pork, poultry, and seafood above 300 degrees Fahrenheit can produce carcinogens, or substances capable of causing cancer,’ says Maria Petzel, senior clinical dietician at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Instead, she suggests, ‘Precook your meats in the oven, or on the stovetop, then finish them off on the grill; grill animal proteins on lower heat and for a longer time; and marinate the meats in an acidic base like vinegar or citrus juice.’ Another suggestion is to include rosemary, ‘Studies show that including this ingredient in a marinade can reduce chemicals produced when grilling by over 90 percent.’”

WEAR SUNSCREEN DAILY – “Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. (1 in 5 Americans will develop it by age 70.) It is also one of the most preventable types. Use sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher every day, will help reduce the risk of cancer even if you will not be outside for more than a few minutes, advises Annemarie Fogerty, MD, a hematologist and oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.”

DON’T GAIN ANOTHER POUND – “Obesity is linked to increased risk of a dozen types of cancer…. ‘Even if you never lose a pound, stabilizing your weigh where it is and preventing further weight gain is important for health,’ says Suzanne Dixon, a registered dietitian and epidemiologist.”

BE SMART ABOUT DRINKING – “’Alcohol is an established risk factor for cancer,’ says Niyati Parekh, PhD, director of public health nutrition at NYU College of Global Public Health. While moderate consumption does have protective effects for the heart, even small amounts of alcohol consumed regularly increase the risk for certain cancers, particularly breast cancer. If reducing the risk of cancer is your primary concern, the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends abstaining altogether. At the least, cap it daily at one standard drink (12 oz. regular beer, 5 oz. Wine, 1.5 oz. liquor) for women and two for men.”

MAKE SURE YOU’RE UP TO DATE ON YOUR SCREENINGS – “If not, hop on the phone and schedule them. ‘Early detection is the key,’ says Kevin J. Cullen, MD, director of the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center. Go to Parade.com/cancer screenings for a list of the ACS guidelines.”

I hope these suggestions will help you avoid having to deal with cancer.



Preparing for a Safe Trip

Preparing for a Safe Trip

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

August 7, 2019

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, instead of plane, boat, or train, I will be traveling by automobile this summer.  Any suggestions for making it a safer trip?     

A: The August edition of Consumer Reports on Health (CR.org/health) has some good suggestions for you to help you have a safe trip:


    “A 2017 AAA study found that about 9 out of 10 older drivers Classic Car for World Walk to Wellness Blog on Safe Tripdon’t make any modifications to their cars that could make driving easier.  These can include handles and grips that can help with getting into and out of the vehicle, convex or multifaceted mirrors that make seeing blind spots easier, or steering wheel covers that make gripping the wheel less painful if you have arthritis in your hands.”


    “Performing a thorough check of your car’s functions can help avoid delays or hazardous situations while you’re on the road.  Check the levels of the oil, coolant, brake, and windshield washer fluids. Check for any wear and tear, cracks, weak spots, or hardened glassy surfaces on hoses and belts; replace any that are damaged.  Make sure the battery terminals and cables are firmly attached, and look through the radiator grill to ensure it’s clear of any obstructions.  Check the pressure in the tires, and add air if needed.  For more pre-trip tips, go to CR.org/roadtripprep.”


    “Older adults are at a higher risk for blood clots, and sitting in a confined space – such as your car – for more than 4 hours can increase your risk of developing a clot in your legs, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  So split up your sitting:  Be sure to take breaks and get up and walk around every few hours, the agency recommends.  Plus, if you are getting drowsy, a break is a good opportunity to take a quick nap, switch drivers, grab a cup of coffee – or all of the above.”


    “A complete first-aid kit should include bandages (clean wounds thoroughly before dressing); anti-histamines for allergies; over-the-counter pain relievers; anti-diarrheal remedies…; antacids; lubricating eye drops; and a thermometer.  And don’t forget to pack insect repellent, sunscreen, tweezers for tick removal, and hand sanitizer.”

  • PACK FOR HEALTH – “Make sure you have enough of all your medications to last you through your whole trip, plus a few days extra in case of any delays, says the CDC.  Ask your insurer for a ‘vacation override” if you need to refill your meds early before you leave.  Be sure to bring along an insurance card, your health-care provider’s contact info, and a list of your medications and dosages.”

  • KEEP SNACKS SAFE – “Keep any perishable snacks (such as cheese or cut fruit) in a cooler; wrap or package meat items separately, and fill in any extra space with ice or cold packs. Store non-perishable items like nuts or dried fruits elsewhere so that you need to limit how many times you need to open the cooler.”

I hope these ideas will help you have a safe and happy road trip!  Take walks wherever your destination.