Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Runners add years to Their Lives

By Carolyn Johnson

STANFORD, CA (KGO) -- Baby boomers exercising into their golden years can take heart tonight. A new study out of Stanford documents long term benefits from running and details how the body reacts to vigorous exercise as we age.

Walter Bortz hit the pavement long before the running craze of the 1970's and 80's. But, after completing dozens of marathons, the 78-year-old has none of the knee or hip damage critics back then had predicted.

"Nothing, not a smidge," says Bortz.
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And now, a new report could put even more spring in the step of older runners. Stanford researcher James Fries followed more than 500 runners for 20 years. Among the findings about to be published says the runners had fewer disabilities than non-runners, a longer span of activity in their lives and were half as likely to die early deaths.

"This is good news. What we found was that if you're a regular long distance runner or practice other forms of vigorous long distance activity, then you'll have a prolongation of the good period of life, the period where you don't have any disability," says Dr. James Fries.

He says the biggest surprise was that the predicted joint damage, in which many researchers had expected to see, wasn't there. Instead, they found that barring injury, running kept important components of the knee, such as the cartilage, healthy.

"When you put weight on the cartilage you squeeze water out into the joint space, and with it go the waste products. And when you take weight off, another part of the stride, the water goes back in and with it goes oxygen, which nourishes these cells," says Fries.

All of which validates what many older runners like Walter Bortz say they're bodies already tell them.

"I use this marathon every year as my annual physical exam. I don't need a doctor. I don't' need to know anything. If I can run a marathon, that's proof of health," says Bortz.

And to those with a long road still ahead, perhaps some incentive to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

The results of running study are being published in the journal 'Archives of Internal Medicine'. Fries and his team also released a separate paper earlier this month, focusing on the arthritis findings.
(Copyright ©2008 KGO-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Inactivity and Your Health: the Risks

Advice to “consult your physician before you begin an exercise program” is regularly given. This advice is important, especially for older individuals or people with underlying health problems – particularly if they want to engage in vigorous physical activity. However, more important advice might be to “talk to your physician first and get permission if you plan to stay sedentary” because the hazards of being sedentary are clear:

1. Your risk of getting diabetes doubles. Physical activity helps to prevent insulin resistance, the underlying cause of type 2 diabetes. It was reported in one study that the risk of diabetes increased 14% for every 2 hours a person watched television each day.
2. Your risk of cancer increases. Sedentary people have a greater risk of developing breast cancer and pancreatic cancer increases; they are 30-40% more likely to develop colon cancer. Some studies have shown a decrease in cancer-related deaths in people who are fit compared to those that are not fit.
3. Your brain may turn to mush. Okay, maybe this is a bit dramatic, but research shows that physical activity helps prevent a decline in cognitive functioning and dementia. Exercising just 3 times per week decreases your chances of developing dementia by 32%.
4. Your risk of a heart attack increases. Exercise strengthens your heart and keeps it healthy. A study by Harvard found that nurses who walked 3 or more hours per week (30 minutes per day) had half as many heart attacks as those who did not have a regular walking program. Face it, couch potatoes are simply a heart attack waiting to happen.
5. Your risk of stroke increases. The Aerobic Research Center data showed that men who were active reduced their risk of stroke by two-thirds. Likewise, the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study showed that active women dropped their risk of stroke by 50%.
6. You lose muscle. The old saying “if you don’t use it, you lose it” is true. The best way to lose muscle mass (which eventually leads to not even having enough strength to function properly in your daily life) is to be sedentary. If you want to stay out of the nursing home, get regular exercise that includes strength training (with core training and balance training).
7. Your bones weaken. Beginning after the ages of 25-30, our bones become weaker each year. This process is accelerated in inactive people. In fact, weak bones account for 1.5 million fractures per year. Just like muscles, bones need regular exercise to maintain their mineral content and strength. The best activities for bone health and weight-bearing activities and weight lifting.
8. You’re more likely to become depressed. Inactive people get depressed more often than people who are physically active; physical activity is not just about your muscles, it’s about your brain and is a good way to elevate your mood.
9. You’re more likely to gain excess weight. If you don’t exercise, you’re going to grow. Nearly two-thirds of the population is now considered to be overweight, leading to numerous other health problems. One study found that walking for one hour daily reduced the risk of obesity by 24%.
10. Your immune system is depressed. Your immune system fights disease and illness to keep you healthy. People who get regular moderate physical activity have the highest functioning immune systems. But don’t over-do it, as this can lead to exhaustion and decreased immunity.

If you’re still determined to be inactive, then you might want to have a long chat with your healthcare provider because you’re headed down a long, expensive, and dangerous journey. If you’re finally convinced that staying on the couch isn’t safe for you, start slow by putting on a pedometer and gradually increasing your steps. There are many resources on this website available for you to help you get going. In other words, your excuses have run out!

Source: The Cost of Inactivity, Nutrition Action Health Letter, Dec. 2005.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Steps to Save Energy in Warm Weather

Here are some tips to save money and energy in warm weather. The biggest savers are in bold.

* Use electrical appliances at night during the non-peak hours. Spreading out demand controls costs and delays the need for new power plants.
* Set your air conditioner thermostat to 78 oFor higher. You can save one percent on your energy costs for every one degree you increase your thermostat setting.
* Turn off your air conditioner when no one is at home. Use a programmable thermostat to start cooling before you come home.
* Use whole house fan, room fans or ceiling fans instead of air conditioning.
* Use one high-efficiency dehumidifier instead of two or more regular dehumidifiers.
* Use a dehumidifier with a humidistat.
* Replace the most used incandescent bulbs and fixtures with fluorescent.
* Unplug second refrigerator if not in use.
* Pull the shades and close the drapes during the day.
* Cook outside or use your microwave instead of the stove.
* Hang laundry outside to dry.
* Run the dishwasher at night.
* Vacuum in early morning or evening.
* Turn off appliances, including TVs and computers, when not in use.
* Turn off lights when not in use.

Source: “Energy-Savings Tips for Warm Weather,” Madison Gas & Electric Company,

Monday, December 15, 2008

How Fit Are You?

How fit are you? Most people reply to this question with “I’m pretty fit.” However, how do you know how fit you really are? Researchers at the University of Washington studied this by analyzing data from treadmill tests conducted on 1,978 adult men and women in the National Health and Nutrition Evaluation Survey (NHANES) that comprised a stratified sample of the entire United States.

Researchers calculated the VO2 max, or maximum aerobic capacity, for each subject and used the data to develop national norms for cardiovascular fitness for adults ages 20-49. The norms were divided into three fitness categories:

1. Low fit – having an aerobic capacity equal to the least fit 20% of the population for that age group and gender.
2. Moderately fit – having an average aerobic capacity equal to 20-59% of the population for that age group and gender.
3. High fit – having an aerobic capacity equal to the most fit 60-100% of the population for each age group and gender, or above average.

Previous research was conducted by the Cooper Aerobic Research Center that used similar fitness ratings. The results of this research include:

* The low fit group has the highest mortality rates.
* The high fit group had the lowest mortality rates
* The “moderate fit” group’s mortality rates were in between.
* Low fit men were 3.2 times more likely to die during the 10-year follow-up than fit men.
* Low fit women were 5.3 times more likely to die during the 10-year study than high fit women.
* The biggest drop in mortality was between those in the low fit to moderate fit; this indicates that even moderate exercise done regularly had a strong protective effect on health.

Click here to assess your aerobic capacity

Aerobic Capacity Norms:
Fitness Category

VO2 max (ml/min/kg)

VO2 max (ml/min/kg)
Ages 20-29

Low fit
<37.1 <30.6

Moderate fit
37.1 – 44.2 30.6 – 36.6

High fit
44.3 + 36.7 +

Ages 30-39

Low fit
<35.3 <28.7

Moderate fit
35.3 – 42.4 28.7 – 34.6

High fit
42.5 + 34.7 +

Ages 40-49

Low fit
<33.0 <26.5

Moderate fit
33.0 – 39.9 26.5 – 32.3

High fit
40.0 + 32.4 +

Ages 50-59

Low fit
<31.4 <25.1

Moderate fit
31.4 – 39.3 25.1 - 31.3

High fit
39.4 + 31.4 +

Ages 60+

Low fit
<28.3 <21.9

Moderate fit
28.3 – 36.1 21.9 – 28.2

High fit
36.2 + 28.3 +

The Bottom Line:

Keep in mind that being in the moderately fit or average fitness level category is not necessarily desirable; it is important to consider that these norms are based on a population that is largely sedentary. If you want to improve your longevity, your best odds are to stay in the high fit group.

* Regular exercise is critical for strong bones. This is especially critical for adolescents, teens, and young adults.
* Participating in activity that builds stronger bones during youth continues even after becoming less active for 5 years.
* Staying active throughout your life is the best for maintaining bone health.

Sources: Sanders and Duncan (April 2006). Population-Based Reference Standards for Cardiovascular Fitness among U.S. Adults: NHANES 1999-2000 and 2001-2002. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 38:701-7; Blair, et al. (1989). Physical fitness and all-cause mortality. A prospective study of healthy men and women. Journal of the American Medical Association, 262:2395-2401; Determining Aerobic Capacity (2006), Wellsource, Inc.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tips for Party Givers

The National Commission Against Drunk Driving (NCADD), a member of the National 3D Prevention Month Coalition, offers the following great ideas for party givers:

1. When your guests arrive, collect their car keys. That way, when they are ready to leave, they can get a second opinion on whether or not they are sober enough to drive.

2. Always serve food with alcohol. High protein and carbohydrate foods like cheese and meats are especially good. They stay in the stomach much longer, this slows down the rate at which the body absorbs alcohol.

3. Have several self-measuring ounce bottle spouts at the bar to mix drinks. Guests are less likely to drink excessively when standard measures are used.

4. If you serve alcoholic punch, use a non-carbonated base such as fruit juice. The body absorbs alcohol faster when mixed with carbonation.

5. Serve non-alcoholic beverages. It is possible that some of your guests will not want to drink alcohol.

6. Do not force drinks on your guests or rush to refill their glasses. Some guests may not want to seem rude and will accept drinks they do not want.

7. Stop serving alcohol about two hours before the party is over. Guests then have time for their bodies to absorb the alcohol consumed. Serve coffee or other non-alcoholic beverages as well as food.

8. If you observe a guest drinking too much:

* Engage him/her in conversation to slow their drinking.
* Offer high protein food like shrimp, pizza or spare ribs.
* Offer to make the next drink with a non-carbonated base.

Non-Alcoholic “Mocktails”

Below are non-alcoholic recipes to try provided by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles:

Designated Driver’s Delight:

* 2 1/2 oz. orange juice
* 1 ¼ oz. pineapple juice
* 1 ¼ oz. cranberry juice
* 2 scoops vanilla ice cream
* 3-4 frozen strawberries

Mix in a blender until smooth. Serve in a hurricane glass with an orange slice and a strawberry.

The Enforcer:

* Fresh brewed coffee
* Whipped cream
* Chocolate sprinkles
* Sugar Cubes
* Cinnamon

Pour coffee into a mug and stir in 2 sugar cubes and a dash of cinnamon. Top with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.

Source: National Drunk and Drugged Driving (3D) Prevention Month Coalition, “Party Ideas and Recipes,”

Monday, December 8, 2008

Natural Health Terminology

I found this glossary of terms that may be useful to readers or unless that may help clear up some answers as to what actually is chelation therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic,...
I hope you enjoy.
A.O.B.T.A.: American Association for Bodywork Therapies of Asia

Acupressure: Type of Chinese medicine that uses direct stimulation by a therapist’s fingertips, knuckles, or hands or from blunt-tipped instruments to stimulate specific points on energetic meridians and points on a patient’s body (1).

Acupuncture: A branch of ancient Chinese medicine that treats many conditions including diseases, drug or alcohol addiction, and sinus problems by stimulation of needles to directly manipulate a network along 12 major pathways or energetic meridians, connecting specific internal organs with energetic points on the network. Acupuncture regulates, or disperses Ki (also referred to as Chee, Chi, Ki, Qi, and Qui), the vital life energy that animates all living organisms, and results in a correcting and rebalancing Ki to relieve pain and restore health (1).

Alexander Technique: A method of changing everyday movement habits to improve freedom of movement, balance, coordination and posture, and to reduce tension (4).

Allopathy: The conventional method of medicine that combats disease by using active techniques specifically against the disease (1).

Alternative therapies: Interventions for improving, maintaining and promoting health and well being, preventing disease, or treating illness. Encompassing over 200 modalities and more than 10,000 uses, alternative and complementary therapies are not part of the standard North American biomedical regimen of health care or disease prevention. Standard refers to practices commonly taught in U. S. medical schools, covered by major insurers, or referred to as allopathic or Western medicine (1).

Anthroposophic medicine: Based on the principles of anthroposophy, developed by philosopher and spiritual scientist Rudolf Steiner, PhD (1861-1925); this medical system takes into account the spiritual and physical components of illness. A treatment regime may include herbal and homeopathic medicines as well as dietetics, art and movement therapies, massage, and hydrotherapy (1).

Antioxidant: A substance capable of protecting other substances from oxidation; some are made by the body to inhibit the destructive actions of chemicals called free radicals; some, such as vitamins C and E, are nutrients (1).

Applied kinesiology: Can determine health imbalances in the body's organs and glands by identifying weaknesses in specific muscles. By stimulating or relaxing these key muscles, an applied kinesiologist can diagnose and resolve a variety of health problems (6).

Aromatherapy: Therapeutic use of essential oils extracted from flowers, stems, leaves, roots, or fruits of a plant or tree. Physiological and psychological benefits of treatment are achieved by absorption through massage, hydrotherapy, and inhalation (1).

Art therapy: A type of therapy in which a person is encouraged to express feelings through a nonverbal process, using a variety of materials to create art. By observing the process, form, color, content, interests and comments, an art therapist makes a comprehensive [assessment] of a client’s needs and determines treatment plans to restore, maintain, or improve an individual’s physical and mental health (1).

Aston-Patterning: Is the application of the Aston paradigm (perceptions about our bodies' natural form and function, our processes of learning and self-expression, and our interaction with the physical properties of the planet and our environment) to human movement, bodywork, and ergonomics, matching human function to its environment. As a form of therapy, its uniqueness lies partly in its comprehensive approach to the whole individual rather than seeing the body as separate parts. The understanding of a specific problem or interest is evaluated in relationship to the whole, taking into consideration the entire person, including the body, character expressions, personal beliefs, and movement habits. There is no set recipe for managing a problem (6).

Ayurvedic medicine: Five thousand-year-old system of holistic and preventive medicine from India that treats illness as an imbalance or stress in the awareness of the individual, along with an imbalance of the doshas. The ayurvedic tradition employs diagnostic procedures such as reading the pulse and observing the tongue. Nutrition counseling, yoga, massage, herbal medicine, meditation, and other modalities are used to treat a broad spectrum of ailments in reaching a balanced state of inner harmony, health, and natural well-being (1).


Bach Flower Remedies: Are a set of 38 different herbal remedies (plus one combination remedy) made from the specially prepared, "potentized" essence of the petals and heads of flowers. Each essence is made from a particular type of flower and preserved in unflavored brandy to prevent spoilage. Bach flower remedies are non-toxic, non-addictive, and utilize the mood-altering properties of the plants to harmonize and balance emotional sensitivities. The remedies act as catalysts to alleviate the underlying causes of stress. They are related to homeopathy in terms of application, this system was developed by British physician Edward Bach (1886-1936) (6).

Balneotherapy: The treatment of illness by baths (e.g., mud baths).

Bioelectromagnetics: The scientific study of interactions between living organisms and electromagnetic fields, forces, energies, currents, and charges. The range of interactions studied includes atomic, molecular, intracellular, up to the entire organism (1).

Bioenergetics: A method of studying and understanding the human personality in terms of the body and its energetic processes. Bioenergetic therapists believe that the body and mind are functionally identical and that repressed emotions affect the body and mind by creating chronic muscular tension and diminishing energy. Through movement, breathwork, psychotherapy and emotional release techniques, the person works to resolve these issues; also called Reichian Therapy (1).

Biofeedback: The process of furnishing an individual with information, usually in an auditory or visual mode, on the state of one or more physiological variables such as heart rate, blood pressure, or skin temperature; it often enables the individual to gain some voluntary control over the physiological variable being sampled. Biofeedback is used especially for stress-related conditions such as asthma, migraine headaches, insomnia, and high blood pressure (1).

Botanical medicine: Another term for herbal medicine--therapies of or derived from plants (1).

Bowen Technique: Is an original system of gentle but powerful soft tissue mobilization that affects they body both structurally and energetically to restore its self-healing mechanisms. It is painless, noninvasive, safe to use on anyone, ranging from newborns to the elderly, and provides lasting relief from a wide variety of acute or chronic conditions (6).


Cell therapy: Promotes physical regeneration through the injection of healthy cellular material into the body. It is used to stimulate healing, counteract the effects of aging, and treat a variety of degenerative diseases such as arthritis, Parkinson's disease, atherosclerosis, and cancer. Although not approved in the United States, cell therapy is used throughout Europe and in many countries worldwide (6).

Chakras: Sensed by some practitioners of the touch therapies and first elaborated in ancient Indian metaphysics, describes seven major vortices of energy in the human biofield, each associated with a particular nerve plexus and endocrine gland. Chakra balancing is the clearing of energy blocks from the chakras (1).

Chelation therapy: Series of intravenous injections of the synthetic amino acid EDTA (ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid), designed to detoxify the body of undesirable heavy metals such as lead, mercury, nickel, copper, and cadmium. Chelation therapy is often used to treat atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis by dissolving plaque that has built up in the circulatory system (1).

Chinese medicine: A variety of ancient and modern therapeutic methods, including acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, heat therapy, and nutritional and lifestyle counseling-that treats a broad range of chronic and acute illnesses (1).

Chiropractic: A system of healing that recognizes the innate healing capacities of the body and seeks, through a variety of approaches, to remove impediments to health. Training includes medical and chiropractic diagnosis, applications of physiotherapeutic modalities, exercise, rehabilitation and nutrition. Acupuncture may be used by some chiropractors. A high priority is placed on preventive health and wellness education.

Colonic therapy: Colonic irrigations with fluid under gentle pressure are a method of and therapy for bowel cleansing designed to detoxify the large intestine (1).

Color therapy (color healing): The therapeutic use of various forms of color and light for physical, emotional, and spiritual benefit to the human body (6)

Complementary Therapies: Commonly refers to those therapies that complement, or are adjunctive to, standard or mainstream medical therapies.

Craniosacral therapy: Gentle manipulation of the brain, spinal cord, bones of the skull, sacrum and interconnected membranes--to correct misalignments and distortions in the structure and function of the craniosacral mechanism that surrounds the central nervous system (1).

Crystal therapy or gem therapy or crystal healing: Use of quartz crystals, gemstones, and other types of crystals and stones for therapeutic and healing purposes (1).

Cupping: A technique of applying suction over selected points or zones in the body. A vacuum is created by warming the air in a jar of bamboo or glass and overturning it onto the body to disperse areas of local congestion. This therapy is used in the treatment of arthritis, bronchitis, and sprains, among other ailments (1).


D.C.: Doctor of Chiropactic

D.Ac.: Doctor of Acupuncture

D.H.M.: Doctor of Homeopathic Medicine

D.Om.: Doctor of Oriental Medicine

Detoxification: The process of eliminating the build-up of wastes and toxins from the body, often accomplished with fasting, adhering to specific diets, colon therapy, vitamin therapy, chelation therapy, and hyperthermia (1).

Dietary supplements: Congress defined the term "dietary supplement" in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. A dietary supplement is a product (other than tobacco) taken by mouth that contains a "dietary ingredient" intended to supplement the diet. Dietary ingredients may include vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, and substances such as enzymes, organ tissues, and metabolites. Dietary supplements come in many forms, including extracts, concentrates, tablets, capsules, gelcaps, liquids, and powders. They have special requirements for labeling. Under DSHEA, dietary supplements are considered foods, not drugs.

Doshas: In Ayurvedic medicine, three basic physiological principles that interact to create health; an imbalance leads to disease (1).

Drama therapy: Defined by the National Drama Therapy Association as "the intentional use of drama/theater processes to achieve the therapeutic goals of symptom relief, emotional, and physical integration, and personal growth." Drama therapy is an active approach to behavioral, emotional, and cognitive change that has been found to be effective with the severely disturbed and disables. Yet it is equally applicable to the exploration of human potential in all people (6).

Dream therapy: The use of dreams and the dream state to accomplish physical and emotional healing. It involves both the interpretation of information obtained while dreaming and the active participation in the dream process through a technique called lucid dreaming. The various processes associated with dreams have been put under the generalized term of "dreamwork" (6).


Ear candling or ear coning: A treatment for wax build-up, hearing problems, and ear and sinus infections. Treatment involves placing a narrow, specially designed tubular candle at the entry to the ear canal, while the opposite end is lit. The heat from the burning cylinder creates a vacuum and draws debris from the ear canal (1).

Eastern medicine: A broad term for Oriental, Indian, Tibetan, Japanese, and Chinese medicine, all of which share philosophies about the energy system of the human body and the necessity of balance and harmony. Practitioners are trained to use a variety of ancient and modern techniques of diagnosis and treatments (1).

Electrotherapy: The use of electrical current for a variety of therapeutic purposes including pain relief, reduction of swelling, muscle relaxation, speeding up of the healing process, and stimulation of acupuncture points (1).

Energetic medicine: A group of therapies and approaches that seeks to influence health by working with the energetic field (“non-local consciousness”) of the body.

Environmental medicine: Explores the role of dietary and environmental allergens in health and illness. Factors such as dust, molds, chemicals, and certain foods may cause allergic reactions that can dramatically influence diseases ranging from asthma and hay fever to headaches and depression. Virtually any chronic physical or mental illness may be improved by the care of a physician competent in this field (6).

Enzyme therapy: Both plant-derived and pancreatic enzymes are employed in enzyme therapy and they can be used independently or in combination. Plant enzymes are prescribed to enhance the body's vitality by strengthening the digestive system, while pancreatic enzymes are beneficial to both the digestive system and immune system. As proper digestive functioning is restored, many acute and chronic conditions may also be remedied (6).


Feldenkrais: A form of movement therapy designed to isolate separate muscles and muscle groups to promote flexibility, release tension, and enhance balance (1).

Feng shui: Ancient Chinese practice of arranging home or work environments to promote health, happiness, and prosperity. Importance is placed on color selection and furniture placement in order to promote a healthy flow of chi or vital energy (1).


Guided imagery: A technique that involves using the imagination and mental images to promote relaxation, changes in attitude or behavior, and encourages physical healing. Also known as visualization (1).


Hair analysis (hair element analysis, hair mineral analysis, hair-shaft analysis): An ostensibly diagnostic technique that involves laboratory analysis of a sample of hair. It allegedly can be a "useful guide" to bodily well-being (5).

Hawaiian healing practices: Traditional Hawaiian healing practice incorporates herbal medicines, exercise, therapeutic massage, meditation, and spiritual cleansing (6).

Healing touch: One of the touch therapies that uses a variety of techniques to re-pattern and align the biofield, allowing the innate healing process to occur. Healing touch is an energy-based, therapeutic approach to healing and uses touch to influence the energy system thus affecting physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health (1).

Herbal therapy or botanical therapy or herbalism: Employs parts of plants (seed, stem, flowers, root, bark, leaf) for the relief of conditions, ailments, or complaints; the earliest known form of medicine (1).

Holistic medicine: Philosophical approach to health care which treats the patient as a whole person, not simply as a disease process or a collection of symptoms. Holistic health care practitioners may combine allopathic medicine with complementary therapies, taking into account the emotional, spiritual, social, nutritional, mental, environmental, and physical aspects of health and illness (1).

Homeopathy: Derived from the Greek word homoios meaning similar-and pathos meaning suffering, homeopathy is an alternative medical system that treats the symptoms of a disease with minute doses of a natural substance or remedy. In larger doses, the remedy would produce the same symptoms as the disease or disorder that is being treated (1).

Hydrotherapy: Treating a disease with hot or cold water, externally or internally to maintain and restore health. Treatments include full body immersion, steam baths, saunas, sitz baths, colonic irrigation, and the application of hot and/or cold compresses (1).

Hyperthermia: The body protects itself from viruses, bacteria, and other harmful substances through the use of numerous defense systems. One of these is fever. Fever raises the body's temperature above normal in an attempt to destroy invading organisms and sweat impurities out of the system. Fever is a highly effective and natural process of curing disease and restoring health, and has been recognized as such for thousands of years. Hyperthermia deliberately creates fever in the patient in order to utilize this natural healing response (6).

Hypnotherapy: The clinical use of hypnosis, in which the subject’s powers of consciousness are mobilized and subconscious memories and perceptions are brought into consciousness. Heightened responsiveness to suggestions and commands, suspension of disbelief with lowering of critical judgments, the potential of alteration in perceptions, motor control, or memory in response to suggestions and the subjective experience of responding involuntarily are induced through hypnotherapy (1).


Integrative medicine: Practitioners of integrative medicine have training and interest in both conventional Western medicine and alternative and complementary therapies, bringing a variety of techniques to their practices (1).

Intercessory Prayer: A practice of using prayer as a medium of healing, seeking to invoke spiritual/religious help in assisting or supporting healing.

Iridology: A diagnostic technique which uses the markings and patterns of the irises of the eyes to determine the condition of various systems or organs of the body (1).


Currently no terms


Currently no terms


L.Ac.: Licensed Acupuncturist

L.M.T.: Licensed Massage Therapist

Laying-on of hands: Healing technique often practiced in Christian fundamentalist churches. The practitioner is felt to have a God-given gift and is an instrument of God to promote healing (1).

Light therapy: Many health disorders are traced to problems with circadian rhythm, the body’s inner clock, and how it governs the timing of sleep, hormone production, body temperature, and other biological functions. Disturbances in circadian rhythm can lead to health problems such as depression and sleep disorders. Natural sunlight and various forms of light therapy can help reestablish the body’s natural rhythm and are becoming an integral treatment for many health-related conditions (1).


Macrobiotic diet: Low-fat, high-fiber diet of whole grains, vegetables, sea algae, and seeds that are prepared in accordance with specific principles; said to synchronize eating habits with the cycles of nature (1).

Magnetic field therapy: Also known as biomagnetic therapy; uses magnets or electromagnetic fields, generally for pain control and bone growth stimulation following a fracture. Magnetic waves pass through tissues enhancing blood flow and bringing more oxygen to that area (1).

Manipulation: A term used in connection with the therapeutic application of manual force. Spinal manipulation, broadly defined, includes all procedures in which the hands are used to mobilize, adjust, apply traction, massage, stimulate, or otherwise influence the spine and nearby (paraspinal) tissues with the goal of positively influencing the patient's health (1).

Massage therapy: Systematic, therapeutic stroking, rubbing, or kneading of the skin and underlying muscle and other soft tissue of the recipient for the purpose of physical and psychological relaxation, improvement of circulation, relief of sore muscles, and other therapeutic effects (1).

Meditation: A technique of mind control with the goals of feeling an inner calm and peacefulness, profound experiences of self-realization and transcendental awareness. Meditation is a discipline found in many of the world’s religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity, but it is also advocated by many practitioners of holistic health for its impact on stress-related disease (1).

Megavitamin therapy: Administration of vitamins vastly exceeding the amount recommended for nutritional balance (1).

Meridian: In Eastern traditional medicine, it is believed that the body has a channel with 12 parts, or meridians, that loop through the body in an endless circuit, connecting the principal organs and other body parts. Meridians are said to carry ching qi that regulates the relationship between, and the functioning of, various body structures (1).

Mind-body techniques: Therapies such as meditation, hypnosis, guided imagery which focus on the interaction between the mind and the body (1).

Music therapy: Systematic application of music to produce relaxation and desired changes in emotions, behavior and physiology. Music can also be created by the client, allowing nonverbal self expression (1).

N.D.: Naturopathic Doctor

Native American Indian health care: Community-based health care practices found among the tribes of North America that share the use of sweating, purging, herbal remedies, and shamanism (1).

Naprapathy: System of bodywork founded in 1905 by chiropractic professor Oakley G. Smith, author of Modernized Chiropractic (1906). It encompasses nutritional, postural, and exercise counseling. Naprapathic theory holds: (a) that soft connective tissue in a state of contraction can cause "neurovascular interference," (b) that this "interference" may cause "circulatory congestion" and "nerve irritation," and (c) that reducing this "interference" (primarily by hand) paves the way for optimal homeostasis. The major form of Naprapathy in the United States is the Oakley Smith Naprapathic Method(TM), taught by the Chicago National College of Naprapathy (5).

Naturopathy: Integrates traditional natural therapies such as botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, homeopathy, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and naturopathic manipulative therapy with modern scientific medical diagnostic science and standards of care. Naturopaths recognize the innate intelligence and inherent healing ability of the body; great emphasis is placed on preventive medicine (1)


O.M.D.: Oriental Medicine Doctor

Oriental Medicine: See Chinese Medicine

Orthomolecular medicine (orthomolecular nutritional medicine, orthomolecular therapy): Approach to therapy whose centerpiece is megavitamin therapy. Orthomolecular medicine encompasses hair analysis, orthomolecular nutrition (a form of megavitamin therapy), and orthomolecular psychiatry. Linus Carl Pauling, Ph.D. (1901-1994), coined the word "orthomolecular." The prefix "ortho-" means "straight," and the implicit meaning of "orthomolecular" is "to straighten (correct) concentrations of specific molecules." The primary principle of orthomolecular medicine is that nutrition is the foremost consideration in diagnosis and treatment. Its purported focus is "normalizing" the "balance" (5).

Osteopathic medicine: A system of therapy that emphasizes normal body mechanics and manipulation to correct faulty body structures. Osteopathic physicians provide comprehensive medical care (1).

Oxidative therapy: Supplies oxygen to the body for its potential therapeutic benefit. The two most widely known types of oxidative therapy are hydrogen peroxide therapy and ozone therapy (1)


Palming: An imaging technique involving the visualization of color (1).

Photoestrogens: Plant compounds that exert estrogen-like effects (1).

Pilates: An exercise system founded by Joseph Pilates focused on improving flexibility and strength for the total body without building bulk (4).


Qi (also referred to as Chee, Chi, Qui or Ki): In Eastern philosophies, the energy that connects and animates everything in the universe; includes both individual qi (personal life force) and universal qi, which are coextensive through the practice of mind-body disciplines, such as traditional meditation, aikido, and tai chi (1).

Qigong (gi gong and chi-kung): Ancient Chinese exercise that stimulates and balances the flow of qi, or vital life energy by using breath, movement, and meditation to cleanse, strengthen, and circulate the blood and vital life energy. Certain qigong "masters" are considered to be "energetic healers," who via "external" qigong use some of their own energy to strengthen the vitality of others who have ailments (1).


Reflexology: A body work technique in which the practitioner applies pressure with thumbs and fingers to points on the feet, hands and ears said to correspond to specific organs and parts of the body. Similar to acupressure (1).

Reiki therapy: An Eastern touch therapy in which the practitioner systematically uses light hand placement in one of 12 positions on the recipient's body to balance and direct healing energy to those sites (1).

Rolfing: A massage technique developed by Swiss-born American biochemist Dr. Ida Rolf that involves deep fascia and muscle manipulation and education about body position. The purpose is to help the recipient establish deep structural relationships within the body that manifest via a symmetry and balanced function when the body is in an upright position. Also known as structural integration (1).


Shamanism: An ancient spiritual and medical tradition practiced in native cultures around the world. Using ritual, shamans often enter altered states of consciousness to promote the healing of their clients. Shamans regard themselves as conductors of healing energy or sources from the spiritual realm (1).

Shiatsu: A form of acupressure used in Japan to treat pain and illness as well as for general health maintenance. Practitioners apply rhythmic finger pressure at specific points on the body to stimulate qi (1).

Swedish massage: The most common form of bodywork in Western countries. Its originator, Peter Hendrik (Per Henrick) Ling (1776-1839), of Sweden, was a fencing master, physiologist, and poet. His method was called the "Ling system" or the "Swedish movement treatment." Dr. S.W. Mitchell introduced Swedish massage in the United States. It is based on scientific anatomy and often vigorous. The purported aim of Swedish massage is to improve circulation of blood and lymph (5).


Tai chi: Through this form of movement, one achieves health and tranquility while developing the mind and body. Tai chi teaches the individual how to control the nervous system in order to put the entire body to rest, believed to be an effective way of staying healthy (1).

TCM: Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Therapeutic Massage: See Massage Therapy

Therapeutic touch: A healing modality that involves touching with the conscious intent to help or heal. The practitioner moves the hands through a recipient's energy field for the purpose of assessment and treatment of energy field imbalance (1).

Tibetan medicine: Tibet has long been renown throughout Asia as a land of medicines. It's medical tradition is a vast science with fully-elaborated notions of the bases of health and sickness, a simple but exceptionally efficient system of diagnosis and a very full range of treatments based on diet, lifestyle, medication, and external treatments. Tibet's pharmacopoeia was particularly rich (6).

Touch therapy: broad range of techniques in which the practitioner uses the hands on or near the patient's body to assist the individual toward optimal function (1).1

Trager Method: A bodywork method developed by Milton, Trager, M.D. consisting of active and passive gentle, natural movements designed to release deep-seated physical and mental patterns and promote relaxation, mobility and mental acuity (4).

Trigger points: Specific points in the muscular and fascial tissues that produce a sharp pain when pressed; may also correspond to certain types of traditional acupuncture points (1).


Currently no terms


Currently no terms

Visualization: A variety of visual techniques used to treat disease based on inducing relaxation in the patient who actually wills away his disease. Also known as guided imagery (1)


Western medicine: A term used by holistic health care practitioners to describe allopathic medicine, orthodox medicine, or the way medicine has traditionally been practiced in the United States and Europe. The basis for the separation and division of the mind and the body along with the diseased part from the whole is the Descartian system of analytic, reductive reasoning with human beings divorced from nature. Pharmaceutical products and surgery are the major modalities used to combat disease (1).

Wholistic medicine: See Holistic medicine


Currently no terms


Yin and Yang: Chinese words for complementary and opposite forces that make up the life force (Qi) (3).

Yoga: Ancient philosophical system and spiritual practice from India; it involves stretching exercises, breathing practices, and meditation.


Currently no terms

Maybe if we keep working at staying well, we will come up with some type of Zenith Therapy. Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Staying Active in the Winter Months

It can be very difficult to stay active in the cold months of winter. All of the things you’ve been doing to stay active when you get home take a little more effort when it’s cold. Here are a few ideas to keep you up and going through these chilly months.

1. Grab your kids, crank up the tunes, and dance. Dancing is an excellent way to increase your heart beat and burn calories. Kids do not spend as much time outside during the winter because of limited daylight and weather, so they tend to have a bit more energy to burn off. So, use the radio or create your own music to get your juices flowing.
2. Spend time with your old buddy – the stairs. While not as entertaining as the other options, the stairs are a great way to burn some calories. The best part about the stairs is that they are inside, so you can exercise no matter what the weather is.
3. Getting ice cream in the winter is fun to kids and so is the idea of going to the pool. So, pack up those kiddos and head out to the nearest indoor pool. Swimming is another way to get moving while enjoying the relaxing effect of the water. Most of the time local pool facilities, offer water aerobic classes, so take advantage! Be sure to dry off well before heading out.
4. The mall doesn’t have to be just for shopping, it is a great place to go for a walk when the weather is on the less comfortable side. While crowds may not let you keep the pace you are used to, the large indoor space lets you get steps in. It also gives scenery for new gift ideas.
5. Shoveling the sidewalk isn’t the only way to get exercise… Sled and build snowmen and forts. Once you are finished making your snow sculptures, don’t forget about that snowball fight! Playing in the snow makes hot chocolate taste better.
6. Lastly, don’t forget about the local ice skating rink or skiing. These two traditional sports are very big calorie burners and are fun, too.

Source: Shaping America’s Health

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How Does the Immune System Work?

We often think of the immune system when we are fighting a cold or flu, but the immune system is always on constant alert to keep the body in good working condition. The role of our immune system is to recognize and destroy foreign invaders and correct internal errors before harm is done to us. These foreign invaders include bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. The internal errors are cancer cells that are daily by-products of normal metabolism and eliminated by an intact immune system. Since it is our body’s first line of defense, some degree of immune imbalance underlies almost all illness, especially chronic infections, fatigue, cancer, autoimmune conditions, and chronic allergies. Impaired immune function is a combination of our genetic susceptibility and environmental factors. A new genetic laboratory test called ImmunoGenomic ( is now available from health care professionals to assess a predisposition to immune dysfunction.

What Are the Causes of Poor Immune Function?

* Nutritional/dietary factors: Excessive fat and sugar consumption, excessive alcohol intake, nutritional deficiency, obesity;
* Emotional/Physiological factors: Food allergy or intolerance, intestinal candida overgrowth, emotional trauma, severe physical trauma;
* Chemical factors: Pesticides, exposure to heavy metals (mercury, lead, cadmium) or toxic chemicals (organic solvents);
* Drug-related factors: Over-the-counter drugs (aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, corticosteroids), chronic antibiotic use;
* Lifestyle factors: Stress,excessive exercise, inadequate rest;
* Environmental factors: Frequent exposure to infectious agents; air pollution.

Source: Paul Ratté, N.D., Northwestern Health Sciences University

Friday, November 21, 2008

Meditation-Truths and Myths

Meditation Basics

Meditation has been practiced since ancient times (mainly in Eastern societies). Today, it is catching on worldwide as a means to reduce stress and help with pain caused by various illnesses. Studies have shown that meditation may help lower anxiety, produce a more positive emotional state and increase immune function.

Meditation is distinct from deep relaxation. Deep relaxation allows you to let your mind drift without a specific focus into a dream-like state. This is often done while lying down. Meditation, on the other hand, is focused; when you meditate you are fully focused on the present moment and in a state of relaxed alertness. Since the goal is to remain alert, meditation is typically done while seated with your legs crossed or sitting tall in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Meditation comes in several forms and can have numerous health benefits. There are many great books, CDs, and meditation cards that can help get you started; a small selection is listed in the resources section.

There are many types of meditation but the one definition that fits almost all types is, consciously directing your attention to alter your state of consciousness. There is no limit to the things you can direct your attention toward. It can be symbols, sounds, colors, breath, uplifting thoughts, or spiritual realms. Meditation is simply about attention, where you direct it, and how it alters your consciousness.

Why Do People Meditate?

Traditionally, meditation was, and still is, used for spiritual growth (i.e. becoming more conscious; unfolding your inner light, love, and wisdom; becoming more aware of the guiding presence in your life; accelerating your journey home to your true self and your spirit).

More recently, meditation has become a valuable tool for finding a peaceful oasis of relaxation and stress relief in a demanding, fast-paced world. Uses for meditation include

* Healing;
* Overall wellness;
* Emotional cleansing and balancing;
* Deepening concentration and insight;
* Manifesting change;
* Developing intuition;
* Unlocking creativity; and
* Finding inner guidance.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, meditation can be used for specific conditions such as:

* Insomnia;
* Anxiety;
* Pain;
* Depression;
* Mood or self-esteem problems;
* Stress; and
* Physical or emotional symptoms that may be associated with chronic illnesses and their treatment such as:
o Cardiovascular disease;
o HIV/AIDS; and
o Cancer.

Benefits of Meditation:

Meditation is often used for health purposes. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, meditation can increase physical relaxation, mental calmness, and psychological balance; and can help people cope with certain diseases and conditions.

A study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine in 2005 reports that meditation can help decrease anxiety and contribute to a more positive mood and a higher pain tolerance. The study also found that meditation is often utilized to lower heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration rate.

Common Misconceptions about Meditation:

* Misconception #1: Meditation consists of turning off your thoughts or making your mind blank.
o Not True - Inner quietness is experienced in meditation, but not by willfully turning off thoughts. Quieting the mind occurs naturally when you’re ready.
* Misconception #2: Meditation is difficult and takes tremendous discipline.
o Not True - Meditation can be easily learned, and can be quite enjoyable. Meditation is only difficult if you try to do it perfectly, but it is not possible.
* Misconception #3: Meditation is not successful unless you see interesting things in your mind.
o Not True - Although some meditations are specifically for visualizing, many are not. In those meditations, seeing things may be entertaining, but is not essential. Even visualization does not necessarily require seeing. Some people sense or feel things inwardly, and that's all right.
* Misconception #4: Meditation is associated with a religion.
o Not True – While meditation is practiced as a part of some of the world’s religions, it is not a religious procedure. It is a means for you to become more aware of your own being and will help you to connect with any source – from within or outside.

We all experience mind chatter throughout the each day. It consists of thoughts that you have little or no control over. They just need to be let go. Pema Chodron speaks of shenpa or attachment. She described it as the urge to itch. Yet through meditation, we learn that itches go away as we let go of them and focus back to the breath. Meditation is so useful and not that time consuming. I recommend trying it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

By Starting Early, a Little Planning Can Go a Long Way to Ensuring Future Financial Success

Today’s news is filled with dire warnings about future financial problems related to mounting college debt for recent graduates, the impending social security crisis as baby-boomers start to retire, and the general lack of financial literacy in the United States that spell doom for the economic prospects of this country. It is a great way to sell magazines and newspapers, but adds very little to actually helping to solve these problems.

In reality, all it takes is a little knowledge, some discipline, and time to solve most of these future financial problems if organizations and individuals start to plan for their future financial security. Here are some pointers to get you started:

* Save first: Keep in mind that your income today is not just for today’s needs. Someday you’ll stop working, and will need money to live on continue living. The best person to help you in that future is your younger self today. So always allocate a portion of your income to savings before discretionary expenditures: Otherwise, you may find yourself with money burning a hole in your pocket and end up spending what you should have saved!

A good rule of thumb for young professionals is to allocate 20% of gross income to taxes (Federal, state, and FICA), 5% to 10% to insurance, 10% to 15% to savings, and no more than 55% to 60% to current expenditures.

* Manage your debt: There is good debt and bad debt, especially for recent college graduates. Credit card debt is bad debt, since the rate you pay is ALWAYS higher than you’d be able to get on your investments! Credit card debt is also not tax-deductible, so do work hard at paying these off as soon as possible, even if you have to postpone savings initially.

Education debt is good debt, since it already enabled you to finance an education that got you your good paying job. Education loans under the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) like Stafford loans also carry an interest rate that is below market for signature loans. In addition, these loans have flexible payment options that include income contingent payments, graduated payments, and extended payments. You can even consolidate your loans for additional savings, so don’t be in a panic to pay these off too quickly while not saving for the future.

* Invest for the long-term: Many people do not segregate their savings into short-term money and long-term money. These should be managed differently. Short- term savings to cover emergencies should not be subject to volatility since you may need to access it on short notice and cannot afford to wait for the market to come back up be profitable.

Long-term money should be invested and exposed to volatility, or market risk, since that is what will eventually earn you higher returns to compensate for the volatility you are experiencing. The risk premium historically in the US S&P 500 market is about 6% above inflation over the long haul, and is a good benchmark to compare your investment results.

* Protect your income: The first step in ensuring future financial success is to cover against risks that can jeopardize the ability to work, like premature death and disability. What good is a disciplined savings plan if the source of contributions - a person’s income - is disrupted or ended due to death or disability? If you have dependents, a good rule of thumb is to buy as much pure insurance coverage as your short and long-term obligations are, or affordable based on your budget.

* Never Wait: It doesn’t matter how old you are, never wait to start planning for the future. The longer you have, the more time becomes your strongest ally. The rule of 72 is a simple way to illustrate the compounding power of time. If you divide 72 by your rate of return, you’ll get the number of years it takes to double your money. So if you started saving immediately out of college and managed to save $20,000 by the time you are 25, that may be all you need to build a retirement nest egg.

Retiring at age 67, you’d have 42 years for your money to compound. If you earned 7% on your money, you’d end up with $1.28 million at when you retire! If you waited 6 years and kept everything the same, you’ll only end up with $640,000 or half of what you would have had. So it is important that you start saving as soon as possible.

Keep in mind that there are risks associated with an investment in the securities market and there is no assurance that any asset class or investments will double within specific timeframe. The rule of 72 is a mathematical concept and does not guarantee investment results or functions as a predictor of how your investment will perform. It is simply an approximation of the impact a target rate of return would have. Investments are subject to fluctuating returns and there can never be a guarantee that any investment will double in value.

* Keep it simple: Especially when you are getting started, don’t get too creative with your money. Many young professionals look for exciting (otherwise known as RISKY) places to invest their money. Once insurance needs are satisfied and savings rate established, invest in a well-diversified portfolio of mutual funds that only require periodic checking. Spend your time on work and personal needs instead of setting up a portfolio that needs constant attention.

* Hire professionals: In today’s “do it yourself world” dominated by Home Depot and Loews, many people feel the need to manage their finances that way as well. Financial security, however, is too important to tackle solely as a weekend warrior. Read up on finances and learn all you can, but don’t be shy about hiring a professional to help you manage some of or all of the components in your financial plan. A good insurance agent can save you many hours off of searching and comparing life and disability insurance quotes, and a good investment advisor can help you set up a low-maintenance portfolio. Hiring an accountant to file your taxes each year can reduce anxiety and eliminate costly penalties from filing a return too late or making mistakes.

Source: “The Long Run Equity Risk Premium,” Jeremy Siegel, CFA Institute Conference Proceedings, July 2004; “Efficient Frontier- The Gospel According to Ibbotson, Part II,” William Bernstein, 1999

Author: Steven I. Yeh, JD, MBA - President, CSN Financial Services

Steven Yeh is an attorney and President of CSN Financial Services. He has sixteen years of experience as a financial advisor, offering securities and advisory services through Jefferson Pilot Securities Corporation, member NASD/SIPC. He is also an instructor for several courses on financial & college planning through the American Education Foundation. He can be reached at the following address:

Steven I. Yeh, JD, MBA - President, CSN Financial Services, LLC
300 International Drive, Williamsville, NY 14221 (716) 626-3676
(716) 626-3677 facsimile; e-mail:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ayurvedic Medicine

What is Ayurvedic Medicine?

The word ayurveda literally means the knowledge or science (veda) of life (ayu). Maharishi Ahur-Veda (MAV) is a systematically developed, carefully researched medical system that is based on the ancient Indian medical system known as Ayurveda. The concern with population health remains central in MAV as well as the value of refining one’s consciousness through meditation.

Ayurvedic medicine is not a treatment, rather an entire medical system whose goal is the prevention of disease through the proper balance of three “irreducible principles” at work in the body. It emphasizes avoidance of stress and a moderate balanced lifestyle. It encompasses a wide range of treatments and lifestyle measures, including dietary recommendations, massage, medicinal herbs, and the meditation and breathing techniques of yoga.

MAV’s model begins with a detailed concept of what normal health is. It is then the task of the practitioner to see how far even a relatively healthy patient has fallen away from that ideal and then doing what is necessary to get him or her back to that ideal normal state. It is by doing this that disease is prevented. In other words, MAV focuses on the root cause of the disease rather than just the symptoms. It reduces dependence on drug therapies and the danger of side-effects. It focuses on making the body’s defenses as strong as possible through promoting an inner balance. If balance is maintained, immune strength is maximized.
The Foundations of Ayurvedic Medicine

The ayurvedic model views physiology and anatomy in terms of doshas, which refer to three categories into which all functions fit: motion, energy production, and structure. Vata is the dosha that is expressed in all motion; Pitta is expressed in metabolism, heat production, digestion, and energy production; and Kapha gives solidity and structure and balances the fluids.

When the doshas function normally, they produce the symptoms of good health. Since they involve both the mind and the body, their effects are both mental and physical. Each dosha has specific qualities. For instance, Vata is associated with cold, dryness, speed, and lightness; Pitta is associated with heat, sharpness, and acidity; and Kapha is associated with cold, heaviness, oiliness, and slowness. Each individual has unique expressions of doshas; treatment is focused on increasing a dosha that might be lacking in one area and decreasing one that is excessive in another area – all with the goal of brining the body into balance.

What is an Ayurvedic Treatment Like?

Every treatment is judged in terms of its effect on the entire mind/body system. Practitioners generally begin by taking comprehensive personal and medical history to determine your physical and spiritual “type” and then prescribe and treat accordingly. Expect detailed questions about your emotional temperament, skin type, food preferences, and other quirks. The practitioner is also likely to examine your tongue, and spend a significant amount of time taking your pulse. Specific dietary and exercise recommendations will be given based on your doshas that integrate the body and mind; specific meditation techniques are also part of this practice. The Ayurvedic practitioner’s job is to identify the individual’s “tridosha” a unique combination of the three dosha’s and prescribe dietary patterns, exercises, lifestyle changes, and therapies designed to bring the tridosha into balance.

The frequency and duration of Ayurvedic treatments vary widely. Many aspects of Ayurvedic practice, such as dietary choices and yoga, can be self-administered on a regular basis. Typical measures may include massage with warm sesame oil; avoidance of certain types of foods, emphasis on breathing exercises, or saunas or enemas to “detoxify” the body. An overall “purification” and rejuvenation may be offered at some Ayurvedic clinics, center, or spas

Source: Sharma, H. and Clark, C. (1998). Contemporary Ahurveda – Medicine and Research in Maharishi Ayur-Veda, Churchill Livingstone

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fiber-Why is it important?

We all know fiber is important, but why is it so important and just what exactly is it? Dietary fiber is the term used to describe several materials that make up the parts of carbohydrates your body can't digest. It is found in plants that are eaten for food, such as grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables; however, not all fiber is the same regarding its effect on your risk of developing certain diseases.

Types of Fiber

The two main types of fiber are soluble and insoluble. The more soluble the fiber, the more easily your body can break it down.

* Soluble Fiber – this type of fiber dissolves easily in water. It is found in oat bran, beans, apples, citrus pectin, guar gum, and psyllium husk.

* Insoluble Fiber – this type of fiber does not dissolve in water. It is found in whole grains, barley bran, soy fiber, and pea fiber. This type of fiber aids in digestion and elimination, helps promote regularity, and assists to bowel cleansing.

Sources: American Heart Association; Harvard School of Public Health; 10 Weeks to Wellness™, Paul Ratte, ND

Monday, November 3, 2008

Back Pain: Tips for Prevention

Back pain may be inevitable for some, but there are simple changes you can take to lessen or even avoid the pain. Although making changes may be difficult at first, your back and body will thank you later.

The list of risks related to inactivity is endless. But regular exercise can produce an endless amount of benefits and even help reduce or eliminate chronic pain.

The Role of Exercise:

Back pain can be prevented by having a well-rounded exercise program and can help:

* improve posture;
* strengthen back muscles;
* increase flexibility;
* lose weight;
* enhance your mood;
* release endorphins; and
* decrease stress levels and increase sleep quality.

Starting an exercise program may be difficult but there are steps you can take to ensure dedication and positive results.

Here are some helpful tips when starting an exercise program:

* Consult your health care provider to help design a program that is right for you.
* Join a local gym that offers fitness training programs.
* Choose activities that you enjoy such as swimming, walking, and biking.
* Exercise with a friend to motivate one another.
* Remember that staying consistent is more important than the intensity.
* Try activities such as yoga and meditation to help you unwind.
* Combine stretching, lifting weights, and cardio for maximum benefits and to keep interest levels high.

Safe Lifting Techniques:

Not only does exercise assist in prevention but being careful in daily activities can lessen your chances of experiencing back pain. Many people lift and bend improperly, causing short and long-term pain. It is important to understand the correct way without applying stress and strain to the back:

* Do not lift an object that is too heavy or awkward; always get help.
* Spread your feet approximately shoulder-width apart for support.
* Stand close to the object being lifted.
* Bend at the knees and not at your waist.
* Use your stomach muscles (flex) when lifting and lowering the object.
* Always lift using the strength from your legs.
* When you stand up with the object, do not bend forward.
* Do not twist your body when bending, lifting, or carrying the object.

Additional Ways to Prevent Back Pain or Injury:

* Try to avoid standing for long periods of time. If you must, bring a stool to rest and alternate each foot.
* Avoid wearing uncomfortable shoes such as high heels. Choose shoes that fit properly and have cushioned soles.
* When sitting at work or at home, make sure your chair has a straight back, armrests, and a swivel seat with adjustable settings.
* Try to rest your feet so that they are higher than your hips. Use a stool or ottoman.
* When sitting or driving for extended periods of time, place a small pillow or rolled towel behind the lower back.
* If you are on an airplane or driving a car for an extended period of time, stop and take a rest every hour. Make sure to walk around and stretch.
* Make sure your car seat is moved forward to avoid bending of the back.
* Join a cessation class to quit smoking.
* Join classes that help you relax like yoga or tai chi.
* Get a deep tissue massage when needed.

Sources: National Institutes of Health; The Mayo Clinic

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Chiropractic Care can Help Pregnancy Pain and Ease Delivery

The stress placed on a woman’s body during pregnancy can lead to many complications that, while not life-threatening, cause discomfort or pain. In many cases, chiropractic adjustments can alleviate pregnancy pain, decrease delivery time and improve the baby’s position in-utero.

Anne Packard-Spicer, DC, a faculty clinician at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington, Minn., says chiropractic adjustments can balance a woman’s spine and pelvis, allowing for normal functioning of the muscular and nervous systems. This allows better maternal body function, which will have a benefit to the baby. According to Packard-Spicer, when a woman’s pelvis is properly aligned, the uterus will be under less nerve and mechanical stress, which causes the baby to be in a more comfortable position during labor. Chiropractic adjustments can begin at any time and can continue all the way up to the day of delivery.

“Many women worry about getting adjusted while they are pregnant, but chiropractic is gentle and very safe throughout pregnancy,” says Dr. Packard-Spicer. “There is no evidence that adjustments have ever harmed a pregnant woman or her baby. In my 12 years of experience, it is safe, gentle and effective.” Dr. Packard-Spicer adds that chiropractic adjustments for pregnant women are very similar to adjustments done on anyone else. The only differences are that the adjustments may be gentler and the patient has the opportunity to sit or lay in different positions that are more comfortable.

Dr. Packard-Spicer says that pregnant women who are experiencing little to no pain should seek chiropractic evaluation to assess whether they are experiencing any misalignments. Asymptomatic patients may not need to be adjusted, but should be evaluated on a regular basis during pregnancy. Additionally, women who are considering becoming pregnant should receive chiropractic evaluations three months before conceiving.

Pregnant women who are experiencing back or leg pain should be adjusted two-to-three times a week until their pain is stabilized, says Dr. Packard-Spicer. In addition, she says that women who know their babies are going to be born breech should receive chiropractic adjustments. Dr. Packard-Spicer adds that in her experience women who have followed the above regimen have had a much greater chance of turning their babies around under her care.

After delivery, women should seek chiropractic care within the first 12 weeks, adds Dr. Packard-Spicer. During pregnancy, the hormone relaxin circulates throughout the body, loosening the joints so that the pelvis can stretch open during delivery. After birth, the joints begin to tighten again. Checking for proper spinal alignment during this time may allow for the correction of chronic problems by allowing the spine to tighten in a normal alignment.

Source: Natural News Service, Northwestern Health Sciences University

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Humans have been drastically changing the chemistry of the environment in which we live over the years. In the year 2000 alone, our soil and water tables were threatened by more than 4 billion pounds of chemicals with more than 260 million pounds of chemicals discharged into surface waters. Unfortunately, each year the amount of chemical pollutants released into the environment grows.

To make matters worse, our food supply of nutrient-rich foods has been replaced by artificial colorings, flavorings, preservatives, etc. Poor quality diets combined with a toxic environment predispose many people to experience “internal” pollution; this occurs when toxins enter the body from the environment or are produced by unhealthy bacteria in the intestine. “Internal pollution” has a negative impact on several aspects of our overall health.

Types of Toxins:

A toxin is defined as any compound that has a detrimental effect on cell function or structure. In other words, a toxin is basically any substance that creates irritating and/or harmful effects in the body and undermines your health or stresses your biochemical organ functions. Some common toxins include: industrial chemicals and their polluted by-products, pesticides, additives in our foods, heavy metals, anesthetics, drug deposits, environmental hormones, and secondary smoke. More than 25,000 new toxins are identified each year.

The types of toxins can be broadly categorized into four categories:

1. Heavy metals toxins. Toxins that are included in this category are lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, nickel, and aluminum. These metals tend to accumulate in the brain, kidneys and immune system. It is estimated that up to 25 percent of people in the U.S. suffer from heavy metal poisoning. In addition, heavy metal toxicity has been linked to several diseases including Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease and severe neurological disorders.
2. Liver toxins. The liver is the main detoxification center for the body. Toxins that are cleared by the liver include alcohol, solvents, formaldehyde, pesticides, herbicides and food additives. Therefore, the liver needs to be supported by consuming antioxidants and other supplements to maintain a healthy liver.
3. Microbial toxins. This category of toxins includes those produced by unwanted bacteria and yeast in the gut which can be absorbed and cause a significant disruption of bodily functions. The key to preventing a build-up of microbial toxins is to eat a diet rich in fiber, especially water-soluble fiber.
4. Protein by-product toxins. The kidneys are primarily responsible for eliminating toxic waste products (e.g., ammonia and urea) resulting from protein breakdown. Detoxification of the body involves cleansing the kidney with adequate amounts of water (at least 8 to 10 glasses a day) and reducing protein intake (such as red meat) to avoid overloading the body with urea.

How Toxins Affect You:

Toxicity occurs on two basic levels--external and internal. External toxicity results from environmental exposure through breathing, ingestion, or physical contact with toxins. Internal toxicity occurs from the body producing toxins through its normal, everyday functions. Our bodies are designed to handle a certain level of toxicity; the proper level of elimination of these toxins is essential to health. However, when these substances/molecules/toxins are not eliminated, they can cause irritation or inflammation of the cells and tissues; this leads to normal functioning being blocked on a cellular, organ, and whole-body level.

The effect of toxins is cumulative and builds over time, thus interfering with normal metabolic processes and leading to numerous allergies and addictions. Long-term exposure to external toxins can result in metabolic and genetic alterations that affect cell growth and immune response. In fact, the World Health Organization has linked environmental toxins to 60 to 80 percent of all cancer cases.

What is Detoxification?

Detoxification of the body refers to cleansing of the bowels, kidneys, lungs, liver and the blood. Essentially, anything that supports elimination in the body can be said to help detoxify. Even things as simple as drinking an extra quart of water per day or eating more fruits and vegetables can help eliminate more toxins.

There are many levels of the progressive detoxification diets, from these simple changes to complete fasting. Naturopathic physicians caution against the extreme programs of over-elimination or “colon blow” programs. Some programs are extreme and include fasting, enemas, diuretics, and even laxatives. However, these result in losing essential nutrients from the body.

Do You Need Detoxification?

We are all exposed to toxins; it is unavoidable. Because of this, most people can benefit from some degree of detoxification. Cleansing or detoxification is just one part of the trilogy of nutritional action; the other parts of a balanced nutritional program include building and balance or maintenance. With a regular, balanced diet, devoid of excesses, we will need less intensive detoxification.

Here are some signs that you may need to detoxify yourself:

* Unexplained headaches or back pain
* Joint pain or arthritis
* Mucus problems
* Digestive problems
* Brittle nails and hair
* Lack of energy or depressed
* Memory problems
* Unexplained weight gain
* Frequent allergies or allergy symptoms
* Psoriasis
* Abnormal body odor, coated tongue or bad breath
* History of heavy alcohol use
* History of natural and synthetic steroid hormone use.
* Exposure to cleaning solvents, pesticides, diuretics and certain drugs

Benefits of Detoxification:

Cleansing or detoxifying your body has several benefits, including:

* Cleansing the digestive tract of accumulated waste and fermenting bacteria.
* Purification of the liver, kidney, and blood can take place that is not possible during regular eating patterns.
* Enhanced mental clarity as chemical and food additive overload is reduced.
* Reduced dependency on habit-forming substances (e.g., sugar, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, drugs).
* Enhanced hormonal system.
* Stimulated immune system.
* Normalized stomach size as bad eating habits are stopped.

Sources: "Detoxification", Advanced Nutrition Publications, Inc; 10 Weeks to Wellness™, Paul Ratte, ND; “General Detoxification and Cleansing”, Elson Haas, MD (Health World); “Detoxification”, Michael Lam, MD (

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Why Take Supplements? By Paul Ratte,N.D.

Why take a multiple vitamin/mineral supplement?

It is almost impossible to get adequate levels of vitamins and minerals from the diet alone. The standard
American diet is high in empty calories that are practically devoid of vitamins and minerals; low in fiber; high
in saturated fat; high in refined carbohydrates and sugar; and low in the number one source of vitamins and
minerals - colorful vegetables. As it is easier to take a pill than to change the diet, a high-quality multiple
vitamin/mineral supplement is the easiest insurance policy to follow.

What’s in a multiple vitamin/mineral supplement?

There are four classes of nutrients addressed by most multiple vitamin/mineral supplements:

1. B vitamins are essential for proper energy production. These include thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin
(B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folic acid. These vitamins have a
demonstrated effect to reduce cholesterol, prevent heart disease, elevate mood, regulate the stress
response, increase energy, and improve blood sugar regulation.

2. Antioxidants provide cellular protection against the damaging effects of free radicals that are produced
as a by-product of normal metabolism. These antioxidants include vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C,
vitamin B2, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, and beta-carotene (precursor to vitamin A). This is
probably the most important class of nutrients as they are protective against heart disease and cancer.

3. Macrominerals are essential for structural health. These include calcium, magnesium, potassium, and
sodium. These are known as electrolytes and are found in high concentrations in the body and are very
important for proper muscle and heart function and bone structure. These minerals take up a lot of space
in a multivitamin and require more pills per day to get the required amounts. Multivitamin/minerals that
are advertised at one to two pills per day do not have required amounts of these macro-minerals.

4. Trace minerals are found in small amounts in the body and are important in a number of physiological
functions. Chromium and vanadium help to regulate blood sugar and can help to reduce the risk of
diabetes. Iodine is essential for proper thyroid function. Boron and manganese are important for bone
structure. Molybdenum is important for proper liver detoxification.

Can I just take one pill a day?

Different multivitamins have differing amounts of ingredients based upon the design of the formula. For
example, some formulas are designed to provide higher doses of the B vitamins. But, something has to be
subtracted in order for this to happen. Often calcium and magnesium are at very low doses in one-a-day
multivitamins because they take up a lot of space. It is impossible to attain optimal levels of all four categories
of nutrients by taking one to two pills each day. Making the choice to take a one-a-day multivitamin means you
are cutting corners somewhere.

Is there a difference in the quality of ingredients?

The price of a multivitamin is dependent upon the quality of ingredients used in the formula. It is important to
consider that not all vitamins are created equal, as it is dependent upon the form of the vitamin or the carrier
molecule of the mineral. For example, vitamin E can exist in a natural form (d-alpha tocopherol) or a synthetic
form (dl-alpha tocopherol). Calcium carbonate is found in inexpensive supplements and is much more difficult
to absorb compared to highly absorbable calcium citrate or calcium aspartate.

At the Natural Care Center we offer a wide range of multivitamins. They differ on quality of ingredients and
potency. Higher quality vitamins and minerals increase the cost of the supplement. A “good” multivitamin can
become an “average” multivitamin if you don’t take it at the recommended dose. It is important to read labels
when comparing formulas as the serving size can vary. The “best” multivitamin will be a citrate or aspartate
formula that needs to be dosed at four to six pills each day to provide comprehensive nutritional support.

If you
would like to read additional articles about natural approaches to health, visit Northwestern Health Sciences
University’s website at

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Halloween Health


Trick-or-treaters: When making plans for Halloween fun, be sure to include safety precautions in the evening’s line-up, says Dr. Todd Maxson, assistant professor of surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. He recommends the following tips for a safer Halloween:

Wear only flame-retardant costumes and, if outside at night, make sure the costumes are bright and have reflectors.
Carry a light, strobe or other device so you can be seen after dark.
Travel in a group with adult supervision; make sure an adult chaperone is carrying a cell phone in case of an emergency; use the buddy system.
Plan your route to avoid busy intersections and poorly lit areas.
Go only to neighborhoods you know; avoid strangers’ houses; beware of unfamiliar pets.
Never eat unwrapped treats.


Before throwing out the meat and seeds of a carved Halloween pumpkin chew on this: Pumpkin is an excellent source of vitamins A and C and potassium, and the seeds are high in fiber, vitamin B12 and polyunsaturated fatty acids, one of the so-called good fats.

“The flesh of pumpkin and the seeds are abundant in many essential nutrients,” says Lona Sandon, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. “Pumpkins are low in fat, calories and are loaded with vitamins.”

If you are planning to use fresh pumpkin for baking, Sandon says, choose smaller, blemish- and bruise-free pumpkins. Smaller pumpkins have softer and tastier meat. To maintain freshness, pumpkins should be stored in a cool, dry place until ready to use.

And don’t forget to oven roast the seeds. They are ideal as snacks or as a salad topping.


Halloween dress up can be irritating for those with sensitive skin, says Dr. Ponciano Cruz, vice chairman of dermatology at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

To help goblins and ghouls avoid day-after rashes, Dr. Cruz recommends:

Don’t wear masks and costumes that rub color onto the skin.
Choose loose-fitting garments since tight clothing can cause friction and irritation.
Skip the makeup, face paints or body-coloring agents.
All costume wearers should be sure to wash off their makeup, paints and color from clothing at the end of the night to avoid irritations.


Peanut allergy sufferers should take a moment to read ingredient lists before digging into Halloween candy, says Dr. Rebecca Gruchalla, chief of allergy at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. Some of the goodies could contain peanuts, peanut byproducts or be made in areas with other peanut-containing foods.

“The allergy community continues to work with the Food and Drug Administration to improve product labeling,” Dr. Gruchalla says. “However, while labeling is getting better, peanut allergen-contamination of nonpeanut containing foods is still a possibility.”

Peanut or tree nut allergies affect approximately 3 million Americans – roughly 8 percent of children aged 6 and under and 1 percent to 2 percent of adults – and cause the most severe food-induced allergic reactions, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Approximately 100 Americans, usually children, die annually from food-induced allergic reaction, NIAID officials report.

Dr. Gruchalla recommends that peanut-sensitive holiday revelers avoid homemade snacks and stick to hard candy and well-known treats that don’t list peanut products among the ingredients. Also, do some research before eating off-brand foods or fun-size candy without an ingredient list. Contact the manufacturing company or log on to The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network Web site at for more peanut information.


Fear can be a thrilling sensation for some kids, especially on Halloween, but parents should not push unwilling children into fear-inducing situations such as trick-or-treating, says Dr. Peter Stavinoha, associate professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

“We might think they will have fun, or we might remember having fun ourselves as children; however, it can be detrimental to a child to be placed unnecessarily in a fear situation,” he says. “The child may not have that basic level of trust that everything will be OK. This might seem irrational to adults, but it can quickly turn into a true panic situation for a child.”

If a child is scared to go trick-or-treating, Dr. Stavinoha recommends the following:

A parent should offer to tag along.
Go trick-or-treating before dark and carry a flashlight.
Plan alternative activities, such as movie night at home or a Halloween party.
Above all, don’t force the issue. “If a child fears trick-or-treating, that is really not a big deal,” Dr. Stavinoha says

By Staishy Bostick Siem

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Eat Well

Exercise-Specific Nutrition Needs

Good nutrition and proper hydration are important, but for regular exercisers or athletes, it can mean the difference between poor workouts and performance and outstanding performance. All macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) are converted into ATP or useable energy. However, how this happens will depend on the type and intensity of exercise you do and will determine the fuel that is most appropriate for you.

ATP must be continuously generated during exercise since it is not stored in your body. Nutrients in your body are converted to ATP via four different energy systems. Which nutrients are used depends on the length and intensity of the activity.

1. Phosphagen – this system is used during the first few seconds of maximal effort (i.e. volleyball spike, tennis serve, 50-100 meter sprint).
2. Anaerobic Glycolysis – after the first few seconds of maximal effort, ATP is converted solely from carbohydrates. This energy system is used during activities that are high intensity and short duration (i.e. sprints, weight lifting sets). You will usually reach fatigue based on a build-up of lactic acid which causes physical pain in the muscles making it difficult to continue.
3. Aerobic Glycolysis – requires oxygen to convert nutrients to ATP and can use carbohydrates, proteins or fats).
4. Fatty Acid Oxidation – this energy system is involved for long-distance endurance activities typically lasting longer than 90 minutes. At this point, your body no longer has any carbohydrate stores and must convert fatty acids to ATP in order to continue.

Moderate-to-High Intensity

If you plan to workout at moderate-to-high intensity levels, you need carbohydrates. At higher intensity levels, glucose (derived from carbohydrates) is what your body uses for fuel; your carbohydrate metabolism is more efficient than your fat metabolism at this level. Whether your activity is weight lifting or anaerobic sprints or intervals, you need carbohydrates.

If you are competing in an event lasting longer than one hour or continuing a high-intensity workout, you will likely need to replenish your carbohydrate stores. It is a common misconception that “running out” of carbohydrate stores will force the body to burn fat. Your performance will decline (some people may even be stopped by “hitting a wall”) because your body cannot maintain a higher intensity without having carbohydrates to convert to ATP. Some well-trained individuals can go as long as 2 hours before they need to replenish their body’s carbohydrate stores, but this also depends on how well they have replenished their stores in the days leading up to the event.

Low-to-Moderate Intensity

If you plan to workout for long periods of time at a low intensity, fat can serve as your body’s fuel source. In fact, at lower intensity levels, fat metabolism is more effective than carbohydrate metabolism and can continue being converted to ATP for several days (assuming your body lasts that long).

Where Does Protein Fit In?

Protein functions to build new and repair damaged proteins in your body; it is not primarily used as a fuel source during exercise. However, as you incorporate more intense workouts into your exercise routine, you may need slightly more protein in order to allow your body to repair from the stress of the workouts.

Do I Need to “Carb-Load”?

It’s a common misconception that eating a huge pasta dinner the night before a big event will help your performance. Unless your event is lasting longer than 1-2 hours, carb-loading is probably not necessary. However, maximizing your body’s glycogen stores (stored form of carbohydrate) in the days and weeks leading up to the event can impact your performance. Ideally, you want to begin an event with the maximum amount of glycogen stores. After each workout (particularly after strenuous workouts), you should be replenishing those stores by eating high quality carbohydrates. This is the best way to ensure your glycogen stores are maximized. When you taper your training and rest in the days leading up to longer events, you should be eating high quality carbohydrates. If you haven’t done this, then “loading up” the night before won’t do you much good.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Got "B"?

With the weather changing into that awesome Philadelphia Fall feeling and The Phillies bringing us into an exciting October of possibilities, it also reminds me that the sun filled evenings of summer to a break to regenerate for the spring, as do we. However, as we slip into out autumnal and winter habits;physical, dietary,etc..., many of us experience a mood shift from the early dark sky. Eventhough it will start getting lighter on December 21st(just around the corner, it seems to stay dark early through February and March. So, what do we do with this seasonal affect we feel? A lot of people seek out anti-depressants from their primary physicians. Unless you are suffering from severe clinical depression year round, I would hold off taking prescription medication for a season problem. Instead, check your diet. Are you getting enough B vitamin? Vitamins play an important role in preventing a reversing the ill effects of anxiety and depression. Neurotransmitters that are responsible for keeping us emotionally balance are very dependent on the right amount of B vitamins. B1,2,3,12 and folic acid are paramount to the proper function of neurotransmitters. Low levels of folic acid have been linked to depression and bipolar disorder. A sore red tongue may be an indicator of folic acid deficiency.Natural sources of B can be found in brewer's yeast, sunflower seeds, soy beans, walnuts, lentls, lima beans(yuk) hazelnuts, brown rice, avocado(yeah)and many other common foods. You can also purchase a great B supplment at Triune. I take it daily, myself, the New Chapter B Complex. So enjoy the playoffs, the color change of the leaves and the awesome breezes as the earth rotates and tilts on it axis to give us a great fall and winter filled with having all your expectations met, whatever they are.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Core/Functional Training

If people are not active in sports or physical education (in other words doing something that challenges their stability and ability of muscles to react), they start to lose balance at the age of 15 or 16.

After the age of 70, nearly 85% of people die from complications due to breaking their hip.

If those aren’t reason enough to incorporate core and functional training into your exercise program, perhaps learning more will convince you.

What is Functional Training?

Functional training is defined as “activity that trains movement” and includes: balance training, stabilization training, core training, and dynamic movement training. The result of functional training is agility – improved reactionary forces where your body has the ability to compensate for changes in your center of gravity and can move quickly and efficiently. In other words, if you’re falling or suddenly caught off guard, your body is trained to react quickly, meaning you are less prone to injury. Exercises promoting core strength and stability improve or maintain posture and alignment as well as challenging balance and equilibrium.

Core training is different than just training your abdominals. Although the abdominals are an important part of your core musculature, true core training is amore integrated approach; it combines strength, balance, agility, and flexibility of the muscles that control the entire trunk and spine. Regular conditioning of the core muscles is essential to prevent injuries, correct posture, and making you more efficient with all that you do. Core training is about QUALITY of the movement, not quantity!

Why are Functional Exercises Important?

There are many reasons why functional exercises are important; here are some of the primary reasons:

They promote maintenance and improvement in Active Daily Living tasks
They promote spinal health and longevity
They mimic motor patterns that translate into daily tasks, recreational sports, and work activities.
Traditionally, when people exercise, they are working on “cosmetic fitness” – exercising to look good and working on surface muscles or those that we see. The problem with this is that it doesn’t help you in daily tasks. How often do you hear that someone hurt themselves reaching to the back seat of their car, turning quickly, or bending down quickly to pick up something? These are daily living tasks; therefore, it makes sense to train the muscles doing similar movements. You aren’t lying down most of the day doing crunches, yet your abdominal muscles are constantly working to stabilize your spine. So why not train them in a way that makes sense (i.e. standing, sitting, twisting)? That’s what core and functional training are about, and there are several methods you can use.
But I LIKE my “Traditional” Exercises; How Can I Make Them More Functional?

Making your regular exercise more functional and beneficial simply requires some basic problem-solving and creativity.

Any exercise that you would normally perform standing on a floor can easily be made functional. Try standing or kneeling on a piece of equipment that challenges your balance; you will force your core muscles to work at the same time and improve balance and stability. And when you recruit more muscles, you also get the added benefit of burning more calories and finishing your workout quicker!
Any exercise that you would normally perform on your hands and knees or on your hands and feet (i.e. push-up) can also become functional. Simply place one or more of your bases of support on something unstable and experience the challenge as you engage your core and stabilizing muscles. For example, place one or both of your hands or feet on one of the pieces of equipment described in this section while doing a push-up; it then becomes a core exercise as well as strengthening your upper body.
Perform two exercises at the same time. Combining actions requires stability, improves coordination, and allows you to more quickly complete your workout. For example, try doing an overhead shoulder press at the same time you do a squat; better yet, do it standing on a piece of balance equipment. Or try doing a standing leg extension while working your biceps or triceps.
Practice basic balance exercises. Try standing on one foot; then progress to closing your eyes at the same time or adding some dynamic movements. When you feel comfortable doing that, perform your “regular” exercises while standing on one leg (i.e. arm exercises, squats).
What if you don’t have any special equipment? The best thing you can do is learn what neutral alignment is and try to maintain it throughout the day with all that you do. Think of drawing your navel in towards your spine like you have a string running from your navel, up your spine, and out the crown of your head. When you do this, you should feel your deep abdominal muscles engage. Your ears should be in line with your shoulders. People often ask “what is the BEST abdominal or core exercise I can do?” It’s simple, learn how to get into neutral alignment; keep your navel drawn in, and maintain it – that is the BEST exercise there is!
If you try to maintain neutral alignment while sitting in your car, there’s a good chance you’ll have to raise your rear-view mirror. This can then be a physical cue for you; rather than adjusting your mirror, adjust your body! If you find that you slouch during the day, get yourself into neutral alignment and then tie a string around your torso, directly on your skin just over your navel; have it snug enough that you don’t really feel it when you’re in proper alignment. If you let your navel go or lose your neutral alignment, you will have that physical reminder when the string presses into your skin (for best results, use an “uncomfortable” material like curling ribbon or a rough-textured rope). No one will know you’re wearing the string but you, and you just might find your posture improving!