Friday, 16 March 2007

Heart attacks join strokes as worst thing to have on a weekend

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In addition to weekend strokes, it's now stated that having a weekend heart attack can be more deadly than one suffered on a weekday. The funny thing is, the reason seems reasonably preventable to me in the world's best health care system.

A new study finds out that weekend heart attack sufferers have a slightly higher risk of death if they go to the hospital on the weekend. Ok, so "slightly" is not that bad of a term -- but when patients are more likely to miss or wait longer for crucial treatments, one can see how more deaths occur here.

In stating the obvious, doctors say you shouldn't avoid a weekend hospital visit if you think you are having a heart attack or stroke. Even with reduced staffing on weekends (ailments and sickness know no bounds), an immediate trip to the hospital is in order if you're showing the signs of a heart attack, yes?

To max out those exercise sessions, be sure to measure heart rate

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When you exercise, do you measure your heart rate to ensure all that cardio exercise is being had? When using a treadmill, elliptical machine, recumbent bike or when doing Pilates movements, having a heart rate monitor nearby is a great way to ensure you are moving that heart rate into the "target heart rate zone".

In general, exercising for cardio reasons should move that heart rate into the "80% of max range" -- which is the target I shoot for. The longer you keep that up (within reason), the more you are conditioning that heart.

One of these handy hand units can be perfect for that "on the go" heart rate monitoring you need to ensure you're exercising in the correct "target zone".

Find fitness fun this summer

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For those runners, bikers, and swimmers out there (and wannabe runners/bikers/swimmers too!) now is a great time of year to plan on some fun running and sporting events for this upcoming spring and summer. has a handy "race finder" that lets you see at a glance where and what different events are being held all over the country. You can pick some that are near your area, or maybe make a vacation out of traveling to participate. From expert to beginner, there are lots of different events so you should be able to find something you like, plus there's links to other resources if you want to expand your search a little wider.

10 easy ways to burn 100 calories

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With spring coming, it's nice to know that for almost all of us, burning a simple 100 calories is as easy as doing some household exercises we perform all the time. In addition to playing with your kids outside, how about the activities below? These are great ways to burn off calories with things you may already do:

1. Play outdoor games with the kids (tic-tac-toe, four square).
2. Resist the urge to order takeout food and spend just 30 minutes preparing a delicious, low-fat meal.
3. Take a 20-minute walk with your dog (or borrow a neighbor's) in the morning.
4. Get romantic. Just a half hour of slow dancing with your spouse or significant other will burn those calories
5. Spend just 15 minutes bowling, 30 minutes playing Frisbee, 18 minutes golfing or play 13 hands of cards.
6. Catch up with family and friends. Spend an hour getting in touch with your family and friends by e-mail, which burns calories due to the typing. I knew blogging was healthy!
7. Plant some flower bulbs, so they bloom just in time for warm weather.
8. Wash the car.
9. Repair your own clothes.
10. Take the stairs.

Want to lose weight? Dress the part!

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When you've gained weight or are feeling heavy, it's a common tendency to want to hide under large, baggy clothing and hide the extra pounds. But after watching a recent episode of my guilty-pleasure What Not to Wear, I learned something important. The episode revolved around a woman who really wasn't overweight, but felt fat because she'd gained 30 pounds after having a baby. She covered herself head to toe in long sleeves, high necked shirts, and long pants, all in dark colors, and refused to buy anything new because "she was going to lose weight." Raise your hand if you've been there...only one pair of pants that fit but you refuse to buy another pair because you don't want to buy a larger size. The show's snarky but kind hosts pointed out an excellent point: when you don't feel good about yourself and your body, you are unlikely to give it the necessary time and commitment to lose weight.

So whether you've lost weight and want to show off your new curves or you're just getting started and need a confidence booster, here's a great article on dressing for weight loss success. Try to accentuate the positives. For instance, if you have great arms, take advantage of the spring weather to wear sleeveless tops or dresses. And if you have an area of concern that makes you feel uncomfortable, don't hide it under big baggy clothes, just camouflage it with a certain cut or pattern.

Remember, when you look good, you feel good. And when you feel good, anything is possible, including sticking to that diet. Now excuse me, I have some shopping to do!

Fruits and veggies -- almost all are virtually fat free

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I like my diet colored with all the brightness of a fruit orchard -- do you? The reasons we always hear "eat more fruits and vegetables" is because the amount of vitamins and minerals in those foods are generally plentiful and almost all fruits and vegetables are fat free. It's hard to argue with that!

A tip from eDiets here is to avoid pre-packaged foods that state "fruit flavored." I agree here -- it may seem convenient at first, but going to the produce aisle for fresh fruits and veggies is the best course of action always.

So, what is your favorite low-calorie fruit? Try this list on for size: steamed broccoli, steamed zucchini and yellow squash, fresh-cut pineapple and strawberries and those easy-to-pop grapes.

Could making a grocery list HURT your diet?

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According to new research being published out of Duke, UCLA, and the University of Florida, making a grocery list before shopping can actually hurt your intentions of eating healthy and/or dieting. Scientists found that the process of making a list from memory usually means more impulsive and indulgent choices over practical ones.

All I know is that when I don't make a list and have nothing to "stick to" I still come home with some healthy foods, but I also end up with a bunch of impulse items that caught my eye as I was going down the aisle. And also, when I don't make a list, I inevitably forget some necessary item for a healthy meal recipe and end up ordering pizza that night instead.

Yeah, lists for me all the way.

Soft drinks contribute to diabetes -- what is an alternative?

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In a follow-up to this post from a few days ago, I was thinking about possible alternatives to regular soft drinks since there is so much refined sugar in those beverages and new research shows that they are also now linked to diabetes. This came as little surprise, since huge intakes of refined sugar is almost always correlated with the incidence of diabetes in many cases I have read.

But what is an alternative? It's hard to think of diet soft drinks as alternatives once you've researched what aspartame, NutraSweet, saccharin and other fake sweeteners can really do. that pretty much knocks out all diet soft drinks for me as well. Search Google or another search engine and read up on these sweeteners from trusted sources (note: you're in for a shock).

Flavored teas and healthy fruit drinks are my solution (although non that contain the cheap high-fructose corn syrup), so what is your non-soft drink method of beverage drinking?

Smokers in India to get shocking new warnings on cigarette packages

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Nearly half of adult males in India use tobacco, and tobacco products are blamed for causing 800,000 deaths in the country each year. The Indian Health Ministry is fighting back with new and shocking picture warnings on all products containing tobacco. Consumers might buy a pack of cigarettes only to find themselves staring at a picture of a corpse or photos of mouth cancers. Not only that, each package will now be required to carry the image of a skull and crossbones and dire warnings such as, "Tobacco causes a slow and painful death."

Will the new packaging work? Officials hope so. With over 200 million citizens using the products every day, tobacco is a threat to the health of the country's citizens. Surprisingly, a public smoking ban, something that's becoming more common in American cities, has had little effect on India's smoking habits. However, other countries, including Australia and Singapore, have started putting pictoral warnings on cigarette packages and recent studies in Canada found that the practice got smokers to cut back or quit.

What do you think? If you smoke, would warnings like these make you think twice before lighting up?

Diabetes becoming more common in Colorado youth

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Something odd is happening in the state of Colorado, as the incidence of type 1 diabetes is increasing in Colorado among non-Hispanic and Hispanic youth both.

The age range for these groups of kids run from infancy to the age of 17 -- so that is quite an age range and quite a few kids indeed.

Researchers indicated that the annual increase of type 1 diabetes was 2.7% for non-Hispanic white youth and 1.6 % for Hispanic youth. Is this Colorado study indicative of other states as well, most of whom have not performed such a study? Hard to tell -- but if so, it's highly alarming.

Get in that one glass of purple grape juice daily

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Are you a fan of grape juice? The rather tart fruit juice can come in highly diluted varieties and highly juiced varieties, which are much better for you. I avoid the drinks that are concentrates sweetened by high fructose corn syrup and opt for the "100% juice" varieties myself.

Purple grape juice made from purple grapes is known to be very high in antioxidants, which are fighting the battle every day inside bodies against unstable oxygen molecules (free radicals).

The best variety from a recent study conducted in England? A glass of purple grape juice made from Concord grapes right here in the U.S.

Tanning can be as addictive as alcohol or drugs

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Spring and summer are coming up and so are the tanning bed marketers and tanning lotion companies. In the quest to find that rich brown sheen, millions of people will begin regularly tanning very soon. How many of those are addicted to tanning, though?

There are warnings after warnings on tanning and the negative health effects that can result (like skin cancer), but some folks just continue to tan regardless. If this indicative of something -- like an unhealthy addiction?

According to a new survey, tanning may indeed be an addition just like alcohol or drug addiction. In this case, the releasing of endorphins while tanning in a bed or even under the sun can produce euphoric sensations -- hence, the addictive part.

Create a great date meal without going overboard on calories

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Are you into dating right now? If you're single, the answer is most likely a yes. If you're one to fix meals for your date instead of always going out to a restaurant, are you fixing healthy but delicious meals that put your culinary skills on display?

While it's always good to know what your date prefers to eat (pretty obvious, I know), it's also a good idea to fix a healthy meal f at all possible as well. That may be hard sometimes, but here are some menu items that have worked well for me in the past (smiles here):

  • Bamboo-skewer kabobs with chicken breast, pineapple, onions and bell peppers
  • Freshly-steamed Asparagus wrapped in fresh garlic and turkey slices
  • Angel hair whole-wheat pasta with fresh basil and olive oil (a slight dash of Parmesan on top)

What are your healthy date meal ideas?

Daily Fit Tip: Say Namaste for fitness

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I've heard people say that yoga isn't a very good workout, in the sense that it doesn't burn many calories. My reaction? Pffffftttt ... they obviously haven't tried the yoga class that I go to. It is hard. I've been doing it for a long time and I still feel sore after every single class. I sweat buckets. I often collapse halfway through a plank pose in utter exhaustion. The class moves through poses very quickly and it's hard to keep up at times. And before you disregard my claims by thinking I must be weak or lazy, I can assure you that I am in pretty good shape. But it made me think: Perhaps it's not the best for burning calories, but yoga is challenging at the best of times and it's certainly done wonders for my body.

Power yoga is basically what I described above. It incorporates traditional yoga moves that are higher in intensity and proceed faster than regular, more traditional yoga. Yoga is supposed to be about meditation, but in Power Yoga there's little time to relax because, as I mentioned before, the poses are intense. And while they're held for about 10 breaths or so, there isn't really time to get used to them too much.

Continue reading Daily Fit Tip: Say Namaste for fitness

Is losing a pound a day harmful?

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What is the healthy and normal amount of weight to lose in a week? That is a question that could be answered differently by 10 different people, but the the most common answer I hear if about two pounds per week, give or take a few ounces.

It is possible to lose a pound a day, though? Sure it is -- there are many ways to do this, but at a rate I would consider possibly dangerous. Stopping eating, exercising in a rubber suit and other methods may drop those pounds fast, but you may lose muscle mass at the same time (after the fat gets dropped).

What is your solution? Eating right, a good exercise regimen and no huge cheats are ways to effectively drop pounds in a disciplined fashion over time. What has worked for you -- and did you gain any weight back or fall into any old habits after seeing yourself lose weight recently?

Keep those "menopause pounds" at bay

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For many women, for many reasons, menopause is not a pleasant experience. Along with nasty symptoms like hot flashes and irritability women often experience changes in metabolism and weight gain. Studies have shown that exercise can help prevent or limit the pounds from piling on, but many women aren't sure where to start. This author recommends Pilates as a good choice not only for weight loss or maintenance, but for better flexibility and strength as you get older.

I personally love Pilates, and if you haven't tried it yourself now might be a good time. There are even some easy-to-follow pictures to get you started.

Can losing weight decrease your risk of breast cancer?

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Carrying around excess weight has been associated with many different conditions, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but according to recent research, it may also be linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

An long term study that followed 50,000 nurses for 30 years found that when women gained more than 55 pounds from age 18 on, they were 1.5 times more likely to develop breast cancer. Surprisingly, when women gained 22 pounds or more post-menopause, their risk was increased by 18%. There is good news, however. When the post-menopausal women lost weight, their risk appeared to drop significantly.

Experts haven't pinpointed the exact link between excess weight and breast cancer, but they think it may have to do with hormones that fat cells produce. The message here, however, is that it's never too late to lose weight, and shedding the extra pounds will do more for you than lower your risk for breast cancer. You'll decrease your risk for other diseases, have more energy, feel good, and look great too!

A peek inside Dr. Weil's inspirational veggie garden

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How does the garden of one of our country's most recognizeable healthy living experts grow? For Dr. Andrew Weil, well-known advisor on alternative paths to wellness, it grows with a great deal of contemplation and consideration of the senses.

Dr. Weil says he determines which vegetables to phase in or out of his personal garden based on four critical characteristics:

  1. Good nutrition
  2. Agreeable taste
  3. Suitability for the garden site
  4. Novelty
Veggie varieties that are a good fit for his garden must meet all four characteristics to stay in rotation season after season. He admits that a particular vegetable may be intriguing to him for its color and because it's packed full of nutrients. But if it doesn't look appealing after it is cooked or is repeatedly passed over by dinner guests, he may just scale back on how much of it he grows or phase it out altogether.

His garden also grows abundantly, regularly providing plenty of fresh produce for the good doctor as well as several of his neighbors. Sharing the bounty, Dr. Weil says, is one of the joys gardening brings him.

If you're curious about exactly what's cropping up in Dr. Weil's garden, this article provides descriptions of vegetables that will have your mouth watering for a big, delicious summer salad.

Get in shape with 4 brand new workouts

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Can you hula-hoop your way to fitness? Apparently so! The heavy hoop, basically a weighted hula hoop, is a a hot new tool in fitness classes across the nation. (See a video of hooping in action here.) In fact, studies have shown that heavy hooping can burn as many calories as running an 8-minute mile. Plus, after watching those videos, it looks like a lot of fun!

This is just one of four new fitness trends to keep your eye on. Others include ramping, which is similar to stepping, but gives a more comprehensive lower leg workout, and the Gyrotonic Expansion System, which sounds like an amped up Pilates session. The one that gives me pause, however, are the gliding discs. You know those little plastic pieces that you can put on the bottom of your couch or dresser legs so that you can push your furniture effortlessly across the room? That's what the gliding discs remind me of, and I can just picture myself crashing around the room on them. But they promise a great workout, so who am I to judge?

Any other new trends out there we should know about? Speak up!

Not enough Americans eating fruits and vegetables

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Are you a fan of eating fruits and vegetables? Sure, preparing fruits and vegetables can be a little more cumbersome than popping something in the microwave, but the extra few minutes (or maybe 10) to prepare a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables is easily worth it. The thing is, 10 minutes is quite a bit to ask in this age of extreme business.

The CDC said yesterday that fewer than a third of American adults eat the amount of fruits and vegetables the government recommends. This is not particularly surprising, but it is alarming to see it in print. The goal of the U.S. government is to see 75% of Americans to eating two servings of fruits and seeing 50% of American adults consume three servings of vegetables each day by 2010.

If this current trend -- which has remained steady for about a decade -- continues, that goal won't be met. What do you do to get your suggested fruit and vegetable servings eaten every day?