Monthly Archives: December 2010


Most health experts these days are counseling older people to lift weights to maintain their muscular strength and energy. Given that most of us thought that weight lifting was for Bulgarian men and teenage boys, it is hard to know what to do and how. Today weights are sold in sporting goods stores, and it is possible to get weights that weigh one pound or 50. Most people might think that they should take the heaviest weights that they can lift, but this is not necessarily so, and that is good news for most of us. A recent study done at McMaster University in Canada found that it is not the amount of weight lifted that matters for building larger muscles, but the muscular fatigue that occurs. Growing bigger muscles means stimulating them to produce more muscle fiber. The bad news is that you must exercise until you can’t do another repetition; that is what builds muscle. Overall, people who used lighter weights gained more muscle mass than those who used heavier ones.

From: Secrets to Pumping Iron by Dr. Mitchell Hecht. Philadelphia Inquirer, August 30, 2010, E2

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Posted by on December 7, 2010 in Articles, Dementia/Alzheimer's Focus



A colleague’s wife suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease for 12 years before she died. During the later stages of her disease, when she could no longer recognize her husband or her children, and when most of her other intellectual faculties had greatly diminished, her love of music persisted. An hour a week, a friend from church came with a CD player, and together they sang her favorite hymns from her youth. She remembered the words and the tunes, despite all of her other losses. Because we knew this story, we took particular interest in an article by Sara Davidson in the New York Times. As Davidson reported, researchers and clinicians are finding that when all other means of communication have shut down, people remember and respond to music. Familiar songs can help people with dementia relate to others, move more easily, be more relaxed, and experience positive emotions. Kate Gfeller, who directs the graduate music therapy program at the University of Iowa, published a study in the Journal of Music Therapy indicating that activities like moving to music, playing rhythm instruments, and singing led to more group involvement and less wandering and disruptive behavior among 51 patients with dementia in five nursing facilities. Other studies demonstrate that music therapy can slow the progress of Alzheimer’s, relieve pain and create emotional intimacy. Music is also helpful with other bodily limitations. In a study published by the American Society of Neuro-rehabilitation, music therapy and conventional physical therapy were given to two groups of stroke victims who could barely walk. The group who received music therapy showed greater improvement in walking in a shorter period of time than those getting physical therapy. People especially respond to music that had special meaning for them earlier in their lives. Sara Davidson, from whom we are drawing this material, recalled visiting her grandfather when he was hospitalized with dementia, lying in bed, unable to talk. “I started singing a Hungarian song he’d learned as a youth and later taught to me, ‘Territch-ka.’ I sang the verse and when I stopped, he opened his mouth and sang the chorus: ‘Yoy, Territch-ka!’ Right on key.” She also commented that her daughter, a music therapist, was looking ahead with optimism. ‘Boomers will be the next generation in the nursing facilities. … Your generation will be awesome — we’ll get to play the Beatles.’

From: The Songs They Can’t Forget by Sara Davidson New York Times, April 23, 2010, blog.


New Types of Walking

New Types of Walking

You’ve tried taking different routes and walking with a friend, but it still feels a little ho-hum.

Try these creative twists to keep walking interesting. To experience a mental and physical workout, try ChiWalking. Stressing good posture and proper breathing, ChiWalking incorporates the principles of tai chi with walking.

“It is a mindful practice because it requires focusing the mind to direct the movements,” explains Katherine Dryer, co-founder of ChiWalking. For example, if your shoulders are stiff, you would focus your mind on keeping them relaxed and swinging your arms. During ChiWalking, instead of letting your mind wander and thinking about your to-do list or even the scenery, you pay attention to your movements.

As a physical practice, ChiWalking emphasizes walking with good posture – and a slight lean forward – while keeping your core muscles tight, joints loose and arms and legs relaxed. It’s based on five steps: aligning your body, engaging your core muscles, creating balance throughout your body, choosing to walk regularly, and then continually increasing your practice. According to Dryer, ChiWalking is easy on the joints. It also improves balance and allows practitioners to walk further with less effort.

To learn more about ChiWalking, go to
To burn more calories, try Nordic walking. At first, strolling down the sidewalk using a pair of modified ski poles to help propel you might seem odd, but consider this: Nordic walking burns up to 20 percent more calories. Plus, the poles provide extra support if you have poor balance and reduce strain on knees.

Nordic walking allows walkers to transfer the impact from their legs to the poles, making exercising more comfortable. The poles also encourage proper walking technique and give your upper body a workout as you walk.

“It combines the advantages of fitness walking and cross-country skiing,” says Bernd Zimmermann, founder of the American Nordic Walking Association. “It is a very efficient full-body workout for walkers at all levels.”

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Posted by on December 7, 2010 in Articles




Drugs for what ails you, from depression to diabetes, seem to be the American way.  But it is not necessarily an optimal way or even a good way to feel better.  These are some common alternatives to the drug route to health that avoid the usual drug induced side-effects, dependencies, and costs:                                                                       –

Arthritis: Aerobic and strength-training exercises can help people with arthritis feel better.   Younger and well as older people experience a significant reduction in pain through exercising.  Go to for more information on this program.

Bodily Pain: Again, exercise is an answer.   A 2007 review of 31 studies on nondrug treatments for fibromyalgia concluded that low to moderate intensity aerobics, including water aerobics, reduced symptoms.  Exercise was also helpful to back pain sufferers.  Other treatments, including acupuncture and meditation have also worked for many people with pain.

– Tummy Troubles: Peppermint oil is an excellent choice for 3 of 4 people who have tummy problems, including irritable bowel syndrome. .  Yogurt also helps.  Heartburn is lessened if certain “dangerous” foods are resisted, such as caffeine and chocolate.  It also helps to lose excess weight, quite smoking, eating smaller meals more often, and avoid lying down after eating.  Wearing comfortable clothing also helps.

– Urinary Problems: Doing Kegel exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor helps with controlling those giggle-induced wet spells.  Google Kegel exercises to find out more.  Also check out some behavioral measures to stop the rush to the toilet. One way is to reflect on your “go” signal, tighten your pelvic muscles 3 times, and walk, not run to the bathroom.

– Depressed Mood: Its exercise again.  In two clinical trials comparing exercise with anti-depressant drugs for major depression, researchers found that after about four months, both approaches worked equally well.   Drugs alone are no substitute for talk therapy, and in the long run, finding ways of living better through therapy is more successful than popping the pill.

Sleeplessness: Good sleep habits can work as well as taking a sleeping pill, and over a six month period  those without the pill slept better than those who sometimes used one.  Good sleep habits include having a regular sleep schedule, a dark and cool bedroom reserved for sex and sleep, and no coffee, alcohol, smoke or exercise near bedtime.  (People who love to read in bed or watch tv will want some re-evaluation of this.)

From: Feel Better without Drugs.  Consumer Reports on Health, 2010, 22, 1, 4.

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Posted by on December 7, 2010 in Articles