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For February 29, 2020

  • Osteoporosis.

    Bone is a dynamic tissue. It breaks down and re-builds itself constantly. As we age, the re-building process falls behind the breaking down process, resulting in weak, porous bones that are more prone to breaking.

    Osteoporosis is a condition, not a disease, in which the calcium content of the bone has depleted sufficiently enough over time that the bones become brittle, porous and are likely to fracture from even minimal trauma. There are no symptoms of osteoporosis until a fracture occurs, indicating the condition is in the advanced stages with little likelihood of successful treatment.

    More than 20 million Americans are affected by osteoporosis--a condition most of us believe is "for women only." In fact, twenty percent of the people who fall victim to this often debilitating condition are men. Their bone loss typically begins in their mid to late 40's and increases to a 10% loss by the age of 75. If it continues, this bone loss is classified as osteoporosis.

    Many health specialists believe about half of bone loss is determined by lifestyle factors. Whether you are a man or woman there are useful steps you can take to prevent osteoporosis. This includes drinking 2 to 3 servings of calcium containing milk products or supplementing the diet with 800 to 1000 milligrams of calcium, drinking alcohol in moderation, abstaining from tobacco use, and participating in weight-bearing exercise on a regular basis.

  • Winterize your workout
    Winterize your workout

    By Michele Stanten

    From Prevention on Women.com

    Winter brings with it some health hazards for the outdoor athlete. Here are nine hot tips for safe cold-weather exercise.

    1. Warm up inside first

    Once you get moving, you know you'll warm up. But to avoid the chill when you step outside, get your blood pumping and muscles working with a five- to 10-minute warm-up indoors: jog in place, do some jumping jacks or climb the stairs a few times.

    2. Bundle up right

    Layers are the best protection against the elements. Here's how to stay cozy. First layer: polyesters and polypropylenes such as Capilene and Coolmax that wick away moisture. Second layer: fleece for warmth. Third layer: Gore-Tex or another waterproof, breathable material to keep you dry.

    3. Stay dry

    Wearing wet clothes in chilly temps puts you at greater risk of hypothermia, a lowering of body temperature that can be deadly. If your clothes get soaked, whether from the elements or too much sweating, get indoors and into dry clothes quickly.

    4. Don't forget the water

    You can become dehydrated just as easily in cold weather as in hot weather. You lose water with every breath you take, and overdressing may cause you to sweat more. So drink up. Backpack-type water bottles may make it easier.

    5. Protect your feet

    Cold weather can stiffen the midsoles of athletic shoes, causing them to lose a lot of their cushioning ability. The solution: Choose shoes with softer (compression-molded EVA) midsoles for winter.

    6. Ski safely

    Always follow ski safety rules posted at the resort. Also, to reduce your risk of injury on the slopes, quit in the early afternoon. More injuries occur after this time due to fatigue.

    7. Top off your outfit with a hat ... and earmuffs or a headband

    You lose the most body heat from your head, so keep it covered. If you start sweating too much, take your hat off but don't leave your ears vulnerable to frostbite. (That's where the earmuffs come in.)

    8. Keep your feet dry

    Cold, wet feet are the worst. Now you can protect your tootsies with waterproof socks. DuPont's SealSkinz Waterproof MVT Socks keep your feet toasty dry and are breathable.

    9. Be safe, not sorry

    If weather conditions are severe, stay indoors. Walking or running in icy conditions can alter your stride and cause you to tighten your muscles more, putting you at increased risk of injury.

    Michele Stanten is the Fitness Editor at Prevention magazine in Emmaus, PA. She specializes in the areas of exercise, weight loss, fitness, and sports medicine. She is also a certified group fitness instructor and lifestyle counselor in the areas of weight control and stress management. In her free time, she enjoys running, hiking, mountain biking, backpacking and traveling.

  • The Scoop on the Atkins Diet
    The Scoop on the Atkins Diet

    (From Phys, August 1999)

    THE DIET: Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution by Robert C. Atkins, M.D.

    THE CLAIM: Carbohydrates provoke hunger, causing you to overeat and gain weight. If you eliminate carbs and increase protein and fat intake to satisfy hunger instead, your body will thank you for it by losing weight without food cravings.

    THE DOC'S PRESCRIPTION: A meat lover's dream: Thick steaks with slabs of melting butter, crisp bacon, eggs (yolks and all), thick cream instead of milk, mayonnaise-based salad dressings, fried pork rinds and, finally, rich desserts like cheesecake and mocha pie.

    HOW IT'S SUPPOSED TO WORK: Atkins claims that ketosis is the key: Without incoming carbs, your body first burns its carbohydrate stores, and then the protein in its lean muscle tissue for energy, both of which release a lot of water. Your body also starts burning some fat in an inefficient way that creates toxic by-products called ketones. These build up in your bloodstream and need to be processed through your kidneys to be eliminated.

    BUT HOW DO YOU FEEL? Too many ketones in your blood can cause dizziness, headaches, mental confusion, nausea, fatigue, sleep problems and bad breath. Also, high protein intake causes your body to lose calcium, so add weakening bones to the list.

    WHAT'S REALLY HAPPENING: Since your brain and body are designed to get energy primarily from carbohydrates, they view anything else as abnormal food, especially ketones. "Ketosis is a signal that your body has gone into starvation mode," says Howard Flaks, M.D., a bariatric physician (weight loss specialist) based in Beverly Hills, California. When your body thinks it's starving, it slows your metabolism to conserve whatever fuel it can and eats at its own muscle tissue to get at the carbs stored there as glycogen.

    Worse, after you quit the diet, your body fights to turn every bit of food you eat into fat because it doesn't know when you're going to starve again and it needs to build up a bigger reserve than you had before. The result? You gain more fat than you had when you started.

    WHAT TO TELL FRIENDS ON THE DIET: If you lose weight, you'll gain it all back � and more � once you stop the diet. Not planning on quitting the diet? Then don't expect to have healthy kidneys for the long term: Over time, the stress of processing so many ketones can damage your kidneys, causing ketoacidosis or toxic ammonia in your blood, according to Megan McCrory, Ph.D., a researcher in the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, at Tufts University.

  • Ways to Protect Women's Knees
    Ways to Protect Women's Knees

    WASHINGTON (AP) - It took just one wrong jump, and women's basketball star Rebecca Lobo was on the floor in agony, yet another victim of a torn knee ligament called the ACL.

    The very day Lobo was writhing in pain last week, doctors were meeting to figure out how to battle a growing problem: Women are far more susceptible to this debilitating knee injury than men. It's not just a risk for professional female athletes, but for high school and college teams, and even women who like a little weekend skiing, soccer or hoops.

    Anterior cruciate ligament injuries are notorious because they're so painful and can require months of treatment and rehabilitation. But they also can predispose people to serious knee arthritis later in life, said Dr. Joan McGowan of the National Institutes of Health. The good news: There are some ways women can protect their knees, lowering the risk of injury by strengthening their hamstrings and learning to crouch properly while jumping, concluded a consensus conference sponsored by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

    Now doctors' quest is to alert women. "These injuries affect young people, and can affect the rest of their lives," said Dr. Letha Griffin, team physician at Georgia State University, who organized the meeting. "We really need to ... help the public know that there are injury prevention techniques." Her message: "If I'm doing jumping, pivoting, cutting sports, I really need to look into some of these prevention techniques."

    Inside the knee, two ligaments pass each other in the shape of a cross, connecting the upper and lower leg bones. The anterior cruciate ligament is the one in front, and it's important in pivoting. Many sports fans connect ACL injuries to football's crunching hits. But experts say most ACL tears actually are noncontact injuries - and studies show women suffer from them about five times more than men.

    ACL injuries are particularly common with lots of jumping, quick deceleration and pivoting, like in basketball, soccer and skiing. But recreational athletes who run, take boxing classes, even do step aerobics can suffer, too, said McGowan. Scientists are studying everything from hormones to anatomy to explain the gender discrepancy. But neuromuscular factors seem to play the biggest role, and that's where women can lower the risk, Griffin said.

    Hamstrings, muscles behind the thigh, relieve stress on the ACL when the knee bends. If your hamstrings are too weak, they may not protect the ACL. Men's hamstrings typically are 60 to 70 percent as strong as their quadriceps, muscles in front of the thigh. Women athletes may have strong quads, but they typically have significantly weaker hamstrings, said Dr. Thomas Lindenfeld of the Cincinnati Sportsmedicine Research and Education Foundation. So as they jump and pivot, the hamstrings don't do their job and the ACL tears. In addition, women jump and land differently than men - more straight-legged and flat-footed. Men bend their knees more as they jump and land, a built-in shock absorption.

    The Cincinnati foundation created a program called Sportsmetrics to strengthen hamstrings and train female athletes to jump with their knees properly bent and body correctly aligned so they don't land off-balance. In a study of 1,200 high school athletes, the six-week program lowered girls' injury risk to equal boys' risk, Lindenfeld said. The foundation now sells a video that demonstrates the program, and dozens of high school and college teams already are adopting the techniques.

    Also, many ski shops carry pamphlets describing Vermont research on avoiding ACL injuries. Scientists videotaped ski accidents to show positions where skiers got so off-balance that the stress tore an ACL. Teaching skiers about those risky positions and how to regain balance on the slopes can reduce injuries, Griffin said. This focus on injuries shouldn't scare off women - exercise is key to good health and American women don't exercise enough, stressed McGowan, who led a related NIH meeting last week on women and sports.

    But learning to prevent injuries in professional athletes could translate to a more fit general population, she said. It's important to know "this is the kind of thing amenable to training."

    Copyright 1999 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

  • Doze Control: Eat Right and You'll Sleep Like a Baby
    Doze Control: Eat Right and You'll Sleep Like a Baby

    By Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D.) - Do you toss and turn during the night instead of sleeping soundly? If so, your battle with insomnia might start at the dining table, not in the bedroom.

    A cup of coffee or tea or a glass of cola are quick pick-me-ups that might undermine your sleep. Even small amounts of caffeine (like the amount in a chocolate doughnut) can affect your sleep, especially if you are sensitive to caffeine. Try eliminating all caffeine-containing beverages. If you feel and sleep better after two weeks of being caffeine-free, then avoid caffeine permanently. You can try adding back one or two cups after the two-week trial, but cut back if sleep problems reappear.

    As for alcohol, a nightcap might make you sleepy at first, but in the end you'll sleep less soundly and wake up more tired. Alcohol and other depressants suppress a phase of sleeping called REM (rapid eye movement) during which most of your dreaming occurs. Less REM is associated with more night awakenings and restless sleep. One glass of wine with dinner probably won't hurt, but avoid drinking any alcohol within two hours of bedtime. And never mix alcohol with sleeping pills!

    Sleep-Friendly Table Tactics

    Big dinners make you temporarily drowsy but prolong digestion, which interferes with a good night's sleep. It's best to eat your biggest meal before midafternoon and have a light evening meal of 500 calories or less. Include some chicken, extra-lean meat or fish at dinner to help curb middle-of-the-night snack attacks.

    Spicy foods can contribute to sleep problems: Dishes seasoned with garlic, chilies, cayenne or other hot spices can cause nagging heartburn or indigestion. Avoid spicy foods at dinner. Gas-forming foods and hurried eating also cause abdominal discomfort, which in turn interferes with sound sleep. Limit your intake of gas-forming foods to the morning hours, and thoroughly chew food to avoid gulping air.

    Bedtime Snacks: a Great Alternative to Sleeping Pills

    A high-carbohydrate snack, such as crackers and fruit or toast and jam, triggers the release of a brain chemical called serotonin, which aids sleep. And although the traditional glass of warm milk, a protein-rich beverage, probably doesn't affect serotonin levels, the warm liquid soothes and relaxes you and makes you feel full, which might help facilitate sleep.

    A new product on the market called 5-Hydroxy-L-tryptophan, or 5-HTP, is touted as a building block for serotonin, which is a mood elevator, brain stimulant and sleep enhancer. However, since its safety is questionable and no optimal dose has been established, you're better off raising serotonin levels naturally with high-carbohydrate snacks.

    Curbing the Midnight Snack Attack

    Do you awaken in the middle of the night, unable to fall back to sleep unless you eat something? These midnight snack cravings may be triggered by hunger, or they may just be habit. In either case, your best bet is to break the cycle. Try eating more during the day, and stop rewarding your stomach by feeding it every time it wakes you up. Instead, read a book, drink a glass of water or ignore the craving. It takes up to two weeks to break a midnight snack habit.

    Exercising to Relieve Stress

    Stress is a common cause of insomnia. Often, relieving tensions and anxieties eliminates sleep problems. One tension reliever is exercise. In a study from Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA, healthy adults with mild sleep problems who exercised twice a week for at least 40 minutes per session fell asleep faster and slept about 45 minutes longer than people who didn't exercise. Physical activity also helps you cope with daily stress and tires the body so it is ready to sleep at night. Vigorous exercise should be done no closer to bedtime than six hours; mild exercise should be done no closer to bedtime than four hours.

    In short, sleeping pills are a temporary fix, but a few simple dietary and lifestyle changes could do wonders for your long-term snooze control.

    Copyright � 1999 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.

  • Risks From Concussion Injury In Sports Underestimated
    Risks From Concussion Injury In Sports Underestimated

    Two blows to the head in sports can cause long-term damage, experts say

    (MSNBC News Services, September 7 1999) � Two or more significant blows to the head while playing sports can harm teen-agers� thinking abilities for years to come, according to studies that suggest such injuries are more common and more serious than some coaches and parents might think.

    THREE SEPARATE sports injury studies highlighting the risks from concussions were published in Wednesday�s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. �This is a major public health issue that has been given short shrift,� said Michael W. Collins, a neuropsychologist at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit and a leader of one of the studies. �And this is information parents should know.�

    A concussion is any alteration in mental function after a blow to the head, said Collins. Signs or symptoms may be subtle � a headache, dizziness, difficulty with balance or memory, confusion or a personality change.


    One of the studies, conducted by researchers at Med Sports Systems in Iowa City, Iowa, did not explore the effects of concussions but only how often they occurred in football, wrestling, soccer, basketball, softball, baseball, field hockey and volleyball at 235 high schools nationwide from 1995-96 through 1997-98.

    There were 1,219 concussions � 63 percent of them in football � and 99 students suffered two or more, said researchers led by John W. Powell, a professor of kinesiology and an athletic trainer at Michigan State University. The researchers estimated that more than 62,800 concussions occur among high school students nationwide annually in the sports they studied. Researchers also reported that sideline tests for concussion may miss many cases of mild brain injury in high school and college athletes, with possible long-term effects on their mental functioning.

    While many athletic trainers spot and appropriately manage head injuries on the field, according to Collins, some schools, particularly in rural areas, may rely on the judgment of coaches who are unaware of the more subtle signs of concussion, such as headache, dizziness or confusion. �Many people believe concussion means the loss of consciousness,� he said. �So when athletes aren�t knocked out, they�re put back in the game.�


    Collins led a study of 393 college football players from four universities that looked at the risk factors for poor recovery from a mild brain injury. His team found that about one in three had suffered a concussion at some time in the past and one in five had suffered two or more.

    Those who had suffered two or more were significantly more likely to report continuing problems with headaches, sleep and concentration, and they scored significantly worse on paper-and-pencil tests of the ability to learn words, to think quickly and to handle complex tasks.

    Further, players who had learning disorders � 13.5 percent of the sample � fared even worse if they had two or more concussions, suggesting that the disorders make the brain especially vulnerable to jarring injuries. About 12 percent of all collegians have learning disorders, research has shown. "If they have a learning disability, if they have one concussion, you should be a lot more cautious in returning them to game conditions and practices after their first concussion,� said an expert not involved in the studies, Jeffrey T. Barth, chief of medical psychology and neuropsychology at the University of Virginia.

    He said the research on the prevalence of concussions among high school students confirms previous work but is by far the largest study, and it highlights a problem that �has been kind of ignored over the years.� Most emphasis on managing concussion has been at college and pro levels, he said.

    Animal research suggests that the youthful brain remains vulnerable after a first concussion for a longer time than a mature brain does, so a high school athlete may need a much longer recovery time from a concussion before returning to play than a college player or a pro, Barth said.


    A third article in the journal reported that amateur soccer players scored lower on tests of memory and planning than other amateur athletes did, and that repeated blows to the head may be the culprit. Dutch researchers at the St. Anna Hospital in Geldrop compared the results of brain functioning tests of 33 amateur soccer players with those from 27 middle-distance runners and swimmers. Thirty-nine percent of the soccer players showed impaired performance on tests that measured planning abilities compared to 13 percent in the other group of athletes. On memory tests, 27 percent of the soccer players showed impairment compared to 7 percent of the swimmers and runners. Of the soccer players studied 27 percent had suffered one concussion during their playing career and 23 percent reported a history of two to five concussions. The median number of balls �headed� in a match was 8.5 among those studied.

    While some research has implicated �heading� the ball, Barth and other experts believe the more likely explanation is the frequent collisions between players and players� heads hitting the ground or a goalpost.

    According to a study published earlier this year in the same journal, Americans suffer about one million traumatic brain injuries each year, resulting in more than 50,000 deaths and about 80,000 long-term disabilities. About 30 percent of these are sports-related.

    The Associated Press, Reuters and the Medical Tribune News Service contributed to this report.


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