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Stay Safe in the Heat and Still Get Your Steps In

Stay Safe in the Heat and Still Get Your Steps In

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

June 2019

Q: Mr. Pedometer, do you have any advice on how to stay safe in the heat and still get your steps in when the temperatures climb to triple digits?

A: Don’t stop taking walks outdoors, but take them when it is cooler – early morning or late evening when it is still light out.  Avoid being in direct sunlight as much as possible.  Pick walking destinations where there is shade. 

As always, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.  In partnership with East Bay Regional Parks, Kaiser Permanente suggests 6-8 glasses of water per day; carrying a water bottle with you, and eating fruits and vegetables with high water content.

Alameda County sent out an “excessive heat advisory” message, based on the National Weather Service’s forecast this week.  Here are some of the things to be aware of:

 

In the hottest part of the day, it’s a good idea to stay in an air-conditioned space (building or car).  However, we still need to plan time to get outdoors and walk – just at cooler hours.

 

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.

Distracted walking is causing more accidents and deaths

Distracted walking is causing more accidents and deaths

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

June 2019

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, I heard that “distracted walking” is causing more accidents and deaths.  What are some ways we can be safer?              

A: That is a timely question since June is National Safety Month.  The National Safety Council website confirms that “distracted walking” is causing more accidents and even deaths.  They offer information on how we can keep safe when we are pedestrians as (and even inside our own homes):

“Head Up, Phone Down”

“Distracted walking incidents are on the rise, and everyone with a cell phone is at risk. According to a Governors Highway woman distracted walking with a phone in her hand and her head down not watching where she is walkingSafety Association report, nearly 6,000 pedestrians were struck and killed by motor vehicles in 2017. This number mirrors 2016 fatalities. Total pedestrian deaths in 2017, both traffic- and non-traffic-related, were 7,450, according to Injury Facts.

“We are losing focus on our surroundings and putting our safety – and the safety of others – at risk. The solution: Stop using phones while walking, and not just in crosswalks and intersections. Over half of distracted walking injuries occur in our own homes, proving that we need to stay aware of our surroundings, whether they’re new or familiar.

“While many communities are implementing measures to become more ‘walkable,’ like adding more paths and traffic-calming measures, there still is a long way to go to keep pedestrians safe. Malls surrounded by parking lots, few sidewalks, blind intersections, and high traffic areas all contribute to pedestrian fatalities and injuries.”

“All Age Groups are Vulnerable”

“While pedestrian-vehicle injuries are the fifth leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 19, according to SafeKids.org, no age group is immune. Here are a few tips from NHTSA and NSC for children and adults of all ages:

  • “Look left, right and left again before crossing the street; looking left a second time is necessary because a car can cover a lot of distance in a short amount of time
  • “Make eye contact with drivers of oncoming vehicles to make sure they see you
  • “Be aware of drivers even when you’re in a crosswalk; vehicles have blind spots
  • “Don’t wear headphones while walking
  • “Never use a cell phone or other electronic device while walking
  • “If your view is blocked, move to a place where you can see oncoming traffic
  • “Never rely on a car to stop
  • “Children younger than 10 should cross the street with an adult
  • “Only cross at designated crosswalks
  • “Wear bright and/or reflective clothing
  • “Walk in groups

“Walking is one of the best things we can do to stay healthy, but only if we put safety first. At the National Safety Council, we don’t believe in accidents. Please join us in doing everything you can to prevent senseless injuries and deaths.”

Yes, walking can be dangerous, but so can almost any activity.  Mr. Pedometer points out that our “Walk ‘n’ Talk” sessions on Saturday mornings are with a friendly group that watches out for one another, and we choose pretty safe locations as our destinations.  We hope you’ll join us, to see for yourself!

Stroke Awareness – What you need to know!

Stroke Awareness – What you need to know!

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

May 2019

Did you know that May is Stroke Awareness Month?   The National Stroke Association is raising awareness about strokes because of how debilitating they can be for survivors and because they can happen to anyone, at any age. Knowing how to tell if someone is having a stroke could be the key to saving their life.  And knowing the risk factors and what we can do to prevent them is a good way to protect ourselves. Full recovery from a stroke is dependent upon how quickly the person gets medical help. 

Remember to “Act F.A.S.T., which translates as follows:  Acronym FAST spelled out for how to respond to a stroke

  • F= Face – Does the person’s face drop on one side when they try to smile?

  • A = Arm – After raising both arms, does one of the person’s arms drift downward?

  • S = Speech – When repeating a simple phrase, is the person’s speech slurred or strange?

  • T = Time – If ANY or all of the above are observed, it’s time to call 9-1-1 for emergency medical assistance.

Help save someone’s life by remembering that simple acronym.  For more information, see the National Stroke Association Website TheNSA is urging people to look at their stroke risk factors, and commit to making at least one change to reduce their stroke risk.

Here’s how much stroke would be reduced if each was eliminated:

  • *Hypertension 47.9%

  • *Physical inactivity 35.8%

  • *Lipids (blood fats) 26.8%

  •   Poor diet 23.2%

  • *Obesity 18.6%

  •   Smoking 12.4%

  • *Heart causes 9.1%

  •   Alcohol intake 5.8%

  • *Stress 5.8%

  • *Diabetes 3.9%

70% of the above Risk Factors can be reduced or eliminated by simply walking.  Walking can save your life.  For information on starting a walking program, go to Your Own Pedometer Walking Program at World Walk To Wellness and get started walking! 

8 Tips to Avoid Falling; The Leading Cause of Accidental Death in the Elderly

8 Tips to Avoid Falling; The Leading Cause of Accidental Death in the Elderly

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

June 15, 2019

Q: Mr. Pedometer, I read that “Every 11 seconds in the U.S., an older adult ends up in the emergency room due to a fall. ‘It’s the leading cause of accidental death in the elderly,’ says Catherine Colon-Emeric, M.D., chief of geriatrics at the Duke University School of Medicine. Do you have any advice that could help us avoid falling?

A: You certainly are not alone in having concerns about falling – and with good reason. The June issue of Consumer Reports on Health has some tips to help prevent falls.  Below are the 8 tips that can help all age groups but especially the elderly to avoid the risk of a broken hip or a concussion:

  • WATCH FOR MED SIDE EFFECTS

    – “Some prescription and over-the-counter meds can affect balance. For instance, diuretics may lower blood pressure too much and lead to dizziness on standing. Some allergy drugs, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl and generic) may cause dizziness and sleepiness….Some meds can cause dehydration, which can also increase the risk of falling when you stand up…. At least once a year, review your meds – Over-the-counter, alternative products, and supplements – with your doctor.” 

  • KEEP YOUR SENSES SHARP

    – “Eyesight naturally changes with age… [which] can make it more difficult to see shifts in terrain and other stumbling blocks. Hearing loss, too, has been linked to an increased risk of falling. A 2012 study from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, for example, found that middle-aged people with mild hearing loss were three times as likely to fall. See your eye doctor every year or two…. Have your ears checked at least every three years starting at age 50, or earlier if you are having trouble hearing.”

  • DECLUTTER AND REPAIR AT HOME

    – “Rugs, clutter, steps, cracked driveways and sidewalks, poor lighting, slick surfaces – all can contribute to tumbles. If you’re concerned about falling in the house and unsure about how to proceed, the Institute on Aging (blog.ioaging.org) has a home safety checklist.”

  • STRENGTHEN KEY MUSCLES

    – “Exercises that enhance gluteal, leg, and core strength Elderly man stretching and exercisinghelp with balance, says Colon-Emeric. ‘These muscles make it easier to catch yourself before you fall and make it easier to get out of bed, lift yourself off the toilet, or get out of the car.’ Moves like knee bends (stand tall and bend your knees as if you were going to sit in a chair behind you) and sideways walking (keeping feet parallel, step out to the side with one leg, bring the other foot to meet it, then step out again) are part of a balance program called Otago that’s recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

  • PRACTICE FOR FALLS

    – “’Exercise is important, but simply practicing getting off the floor can make you stronger and less likely to fall,’ says Kathleen Bell, M.D., a psychiatrist and chairwoman of the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. She suggests getting up and down 10 times three to four times a week. (When starting out, do this next to a bed or another stable object you can hold onto.)”

  • SKIP THE FANCY FOOTWEAR —

    “If you struggle with balance, choose shoes with sturdy, nonskid soles that fit snugly enough so they’re not sliding around underneath you. ‘You don’t have to opt for ugly shoes, but you don’t want to be walking around in bedroom slippers either,’ Bell says. If you’re unsteady, heels aren’t a good idea, nor are those hot-weather favorites, flip-flops. They offer zero support, catch on rugs, often have little grip on slick surfaces, and slip off easily.”

  • TRAIN FIDO RIGHT –

    “Having a pet can be good for your health, but your beloved pooch may also trigger falls by tripping you or pulling you down…. ‘Besides making sure you’re matched with a dog that suits your lifestyle, working with a trainer to learn how to control your dog and using a good leash and collar can help minimize falls,’ says Grace Anne Mengel, V.M.D., an assistant professor of clinical primary care at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.”

  • FACE YOUR FEARS –

    “Research suggests that simply being afraid of falling increases your likelihood of taking a tumble. In part, anxiety about falling can make it harder to focus on your surroundings. This fear can also cause you to limit physical activity, which in turn can lead to muscle weakness. If you find yourself frequently worried about falls, speak to your doctor.”

I hope these suggestions can help you avoid falling and allow you to continue to enjoy taking walks.

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.

Celebrating “National Today” Days

Celebrating “National Today” Days

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends….

March 6, 2019

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, do you make up all those “National Today Days and Month of …” things that you cite?     

A:  I don’t, but somebody does.  There is a website for NationalToday.com that actually invites people to submit days/weeks/months to celebrate.  I have no idea what makes such a designation “official,” but lots of them show imagination and humor.

We already missed National Unplugging Day (March 1, which coincides with National Peanut Butter Lovers’ day, suggesting, perhaps, that those who are lost without being in front of a computer or cellphone screen could fill in their time by eating peanut butter?)

A few are serious, focusing awareness on diseases or other issues, such as World Wildlife Day (March 3) and International Women’s Day (March 8, which many nations honor, but not the USA).  World Water Day (22nd) is worthy of attention…but it shares the date with National Goof Off Day.  This month also has National Let’s Laugh Day (19th), followed by the International Day of Happiness (20th – What?!  Only one day of happiness per year?)

The International Day of Forests (21st) shares the date with National Common Courtesy Day, which you could interpret to say that in America, you have to go deep into the woods to finds signs of “common” courtesy.

I could support National Napping Day (11th), but I cannot even imagine what to do on If Pets Had Thumbs Day (3rd).

If you could limit yourself to one portion per year, this crazy calendar could be your diet guide, suggesting that you eat frozen food (March 6 – also Oreo Cookie Day), meatballs (9th), pancakes (12th), potato chips (14th), artichokes (with corn dogs? Both on the 16th), poultry (19th), French bread (21st), cheese steaks (24th),waffles (25th), followed by spinach (26th).

For those who want a steadier diet, this whole MONTH is supposed to be for celery, noodles, and “caffeine awareness.”

woman in walking shoes that are orange and tealHere is a good one to celebrate.  Coming up next month is National Walking Day on April 6

My conclusion?  No matter what day or month it may be to some, for all of us, every day, we need to …

EAT RIGHT,  MOVE MORE,  SLEEP WELL

Walking to help lower high blood pressure.

Walking to help lower high blood pressure.

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

Jan 16, 2019

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:  An AARP Bulletin reported last January 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.”  woman in walking shoes that are orange and teal

  • 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 for 15-30 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…

EAT RIGHT,

MOVE MORE,

AND SLEEP WELL,

FOR A HEALTHY, LONGER LIFE!