All posts in Fitness

Are Vitamin Supplements A Waste Of Money?

Are Vitamin Supplements A Waste Of Money?

Strolling down the vitamin isle of your favorite drug store is like taking a long walk off a short dock. If you aren’t careful, you might be all wet when it comes to having good health. This is especially true of so-called heart-healthy supplements.

Consumer Reports says in its July 2017 issue of “On Health, the Truth About What’s Good for You,” that most of those shelves loaded down with expensive dietary supplements touted to help you heart are a waste of money. These include omega-3 fish-oil pills, Q10 (or CoQ10) and red yeast rice.

Consuming foods — like sardines, tuna and mackerel — do contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids that are necessary for maintaining a healthy heart. But taking a pill as a substitute is extremely “iffy” based on numerous studies endorsed by the American Heart Association. People who have already had heart attacks or been diagnosed with heart failure might benefit from taking heavy doses of fish-oil supplement, but only reduce their chance of dying of heart disease by a mere 10 percent.

Coq10 is another supplement that is not all that it is hyped up to be. Supplements of this compound, produced by the body as well as some healthy foods, are touted as been good management tools in the prevention of heart failure and alleviating muscle aches associated with cholesterol-lowering statins. But here again, there is a significant lack of conclusive evidence that this supplement does what it is supposed to do.

Red yeast rice pills are the latest unproved heart-healthy supplement making the vitamin shelf rounds. Red yeast rice is said to lower LDL (or “bad’) cholesterol in the human body. However, Consumer Reports lists red yeast rice as one of 15 supplement ingredients to avoid.

Remember, with over-the-counter supplements, the user seldom knows what she is getting because there is little or no government regulation by the federal government. Although there are some high-quality supplements available, it is best to get them through your trusted health-care provider. Otherwise you might be wasting not only your money but also your health because some over-the-counter supplements interact badly with certain prescribed medications.

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Giving up on your goals does not mean you are lazy

Giving up on your goals does not mean you are lazy

We are in an exciting time in life. Just as we had the beginning of the digital revolution at the end of the last century, we are now experiencing a personal transformation revolution.  It’s about becoming healthier, happier and living your own life with purpose. But better health and positive change won’t come unless you know what you’re doing.

Here are five steps to help you begin your own journey on the road to personal development:

  1. Set goals: The first step to living the way you want is to set goals for each part of your life. Those would be your health, career, finances, spirituality and family, but not necessary in that order. Setting separate goals in each area of your life allows you to prioritize what you want to achieve so you can increase your chances of doing so.

However, if you are like most people, you set goals but fail to achieve them because they are too vague. When I work with my health coaching clients, one of the things we work on is setting SMART goals. So what is a SMART goal?

S — Specific: If you want to lose weight, for example, you need to specify how much.

M — Measurable: The easier it is to track your progress, the better your chance of attaining it. “If you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it,” said Lord Kelvin.  Tracking your food intake is one way to do this and makes it less difficult to determine if extra efforts are in order in case you experience a setback or come up short on the progress you desire.

A — Achievable: Although you should aim high, make sure your goals are still achievable and action-oriented.

R — Realistic: While some goals are achievable, they might not be realistic for this moment in time. An example might be you have decided to do a marathon but you have not even run a mile yet. Running is realistic, but you might want to start by building up to running a marathon by completing a 5k (3.1 miles) or a 10k (6.2 miles) race first.

T — Time-based: Setting a deadline will help you remain focused and ensure you stay on track. Using the same example above, you might say, “starting June 1 I will begin jogging and complete a 5k race by Sept. 1, 2017.”

  1. Create an action plan: Once you’ve set your goals and have written them down, create an action plan on how to achieve them. What activities do you need to do to achieve your goals? If you have a long-term goal, break it down into small steps to make it manageable. Don’t forget to track your progress so you can look back and pat yourself on the back every time you move one step closer to your goal.
  2. Make time for growth activities: Even though life is very busy, it’s vital that you make time for yourself and your own personal growth. Take 15 minutes to read, learn, or listen to a podcast. Wake up 15 minutes earlier to read or write in your journal. If mornings are tough for you, block out 15 minutes during the day or before you go to bed at night. Whenever you chose is up to you but make sure to try and do it daily.
  3. Adopt a positive mindset: Optimists are more likely to enjoy and succeed in life than people who always see the negative in a situation. Fill your head with positive information and people. Before long you too will have a sunnier disposition and all the health benefits that come with it.
  4. Keep a journal: Journaling allows you to keep a record of your progress. It helps you learn from the challenges you face and your triumphs and everything in between. I personally like to have two journals going at all times, a gratitude and goal journal. Writing everything down gives me a chance to reflect on my journey, embrace the challenges and savor the joyful moments along the way to the destination.

If you have already set your goals and accomplished them you are in good shape. Give yourself a pat on the back. Even though there is no special prize, if you have managed to do it by yourself, you’ve learned it takes longer and with more mistakes.

However, have you tried to succeed alone and failed? Health coaching can help you dive a little deeper. I know the reason that people lose weight but never seem to keep it off. People THINK that the reason they give up exercise is that they’re lazy but there’s a surprising reason they don’t stick with it. Meditation is something one can use to relieve stress; I know what it takes to cultivate a daily practice with little effort. People feel they should be restricting calories and avoiding certain foods to eat a healthy diet and are shocked when that’s not the case. Would you like to have a wellness breakthrough session with me? You’ll discover the top 5 things that can get in the way of your health goals, and the #1 thing you need to move forward.

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What does a good night’s sleep have to do with weight loss?

What does a good night’s sleep have to do with weight loss?

Lately I have not been getting enough sleep, which is worrisome because sleep deprivation leaves your body in a state of unhealthy stress. So I re-visited those things that promote quality sleep and soon got back into a proper routine. Quality sleep is critical to maintaining good health and performing optimally in our daily activities

A lack of sleep is associated with impaired learning, driving and work performance, faster aging of the brain and body, overeating, obesity, elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol and increased risk of diabetes and hypertension.

There is also evidence that poor sleep can impair your immune system and increase inflammation in your body. When you get enough sleep you can shorten the duration of a cold or other such illnesses and increase the number of cells that naturally kill mutant or deviant ones. Darkness, which is one of the things needed to get good sleep, produces the hormone melatonin, and melatonin is an antioxidant and inhibitor of cancer cell growth.

Let’s face it, a lack of sleep affects our physical appearance and emotional state. Our brain works best when well rested. It keeps us more alert and energized, and sleep improves our memory too.

But how much sleep is needed varies from person to person. The rule of thumb is 7-9 hours. The best way to tell if you have gotten enough sleep is determined by your alarm clock. If you need one to wake up daily, you probably are not getting enough sleep.

What are the strategies to getting a better night’s sleep?

  1. Minimize your use of a television, smart phone, tablet or laptop at night, and by all means do not go to sleep while using such devices. All of them emit light, typically blue in color, which suppresses melatonin production, so using them at or close to bedtime is disruptive. This is what caused my recent problem. I love to research things, read blogs and return less urgent emails at night after dinner. Now, instead of using such devices, I’ve gone back to reading a book at night. NOTE:  I’ve heard you can get various apps that turn the blue light to yellow, but that hasn’t worked for me.
  2. Cut off lights. The natural rhythm of light and dark keep us alert during the day and promotes sleep at night by shifting how much melatonin our bodies produce. Clocks, phones, night and outside lights can disrupt this natural rhythm. And did you know that light exposure before bed can increase your risk of cancer? Any exposure to light before bed or during your sleep reduces the depth and quality of sleep. Even a low-level light through closed eyelids can reduce melatonin production. A sleep mask makes a lot of sense if you are bothered by excess light, although I’ve yet to use mine.
  3. Maintain a regular schedule of going to bed and waking up. Once you get into a good routine, you’ll no longer need an alarm clock. By waking naturally, you allow your body to go through its final sleep cycle, where the hormones shift, melatonin decreases and cortisol increases so you become alert.
  4. Your body temperature should drop naturally at night so make sure you keep your bedroom cool. Ideal sleep temperature is 68 degrees. By lowering the thermostat, avoiding alcohol and caffeine and minimizing noise, you give your body the best chance of a good night’s sleep.
  5. No surprise here but eating right and exercising are also important for sleep. One of the many benefits of exercise is it helps to physically tire your body so you are ready to get a good night’s sleep. Also, remember to eat your vegetables daily. Otherwise, your sleep may suffer.

I continue to read more and more about the side effects of the various prescription sleep aids on the market today. Relying on a sleep medication generally isn’t the best long-term solution for insomnia. Medications can mask an underlying problem that needs treatment, and they have side effects.

For example, some people who take Zolpidem (Ambien) or similar medications, such as Eszopiclone (Lunesta), do things while asleep that they don’t remember — such as driving, sleepwalking and preparing and eating food. Because you’re not awake, these obviously are dangerous behaviors.

Also, after taking sleep drugs, the Food and Drug Administration recommends that you avoid driving or doing activities that require full mental alertness the next day. This is especially important if you take extended-release varieties.

Sleep medications can be useful in the short term but don’t make them a habit. The best approach is to address whatever is causing your sleep problems in the first place. Remedies include many of the things I have talked about in this blog. In addition, counseling for anxiety or using stress-reduction techniques, such as meditation, can be helpful.

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Guest Post: What Does Wellness Mean in Today’s Chaotic World

Guest Post: What Does Wellness Mean in Today’s Chaotic World

By: Guest Blogger Cassie from ehealthinformer.com

What Does Wellness Mean in Today’s Chaotic World?

 

It seems like today’s world is constantly in motion. Everything is instant, and it feels like attention spans get shorter every day. Amidst all this commotion, it can be hard to know when we’re okay and when we’re not. This confusion leads us to ask, what does wellness mean in today’s world?

 

Any time we talk about “today’s world” we must discuss the impacts of the digital revolution. Having so much technology in our lives has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, accessing information and communicating with people can be done in the blink of an eye, but on the other hand, we now seem hooked to devices many of us lived without for many years. It shouldn’t be a secret that all this time spent in front of screens isn’t the best for our well-being.

 

So, how can we find wellness and peace of mind amongst this chaos? Can it be achieved, and if so, how? In today’s article, I’ll outline what wellness means to me in this crazy, connected world, and I will offer some strategies to help you remain calm, peaceful, active and, most importantly, well.

 

Leisure Time

 

One of the consequences of such a high-tech, chaotic world is that work and leisure time can easily mix.  You’ve probably noticed how many people like to discuss their work problems when they are supposed to be relaxing. This really isn’t a great idea; it only creates more stress.

 

So, in today’s world, wellness means having time for you to do what you want to do. Take the time to do things you enjoy with people who fill you with positive emotions, and try as best as you can to leave work and other stresses behind. You don’t want them ruining these precious “you” moments. Being able to truly disconnect is a great step towards achieving wellness in the hectic world we live in.

 

Being Active

 

For as crazy and chaotic as the world is, it seems like we still spend a lot of time sitting down. Breaking out of this and moving around is a big part of achieving wellness. Engaging in active pastimes fills us with positive emotions, both during and after we do them.

 

It seems, though, nowadays a lot of us associate being active with an obligation. We need to go to the gym or have to go for a jog. Well, it doesn’t need to be this way, and finding ways to be active should go hand in hand with doing things you like. You could go for nature walks or strolls around your neighborhood and get the same benefits you would get from other types of exercise.

 

Being active allows stress to work its way out of the body. Tension is lessened through muscle movement—this is why activities such as yoga are great practice for self-improvement, as well as your physical health. So, in today’s world, wellness can be achieved by breaking up the routine and moving around. It’s not about reaching certain weight loss goals or looking a certain way, but rather about getting out there and experiencing joy and happiness with yourself and your loved ones.

 

Peace of Mind

 

Peace of mind is essential for letting go of nerves, worries or feelings of anxiety. In today’s “chaotic” world, achieving peace of mind can be a real challenge with all the different sources of stress. But what would wellness be without a calm and peaceful mind? Would it be worth pursuing?

 

These days the more peace of mind you can give yourself the better, and you can achieve it in a variety of different ways. For example, you can make to-do lists for the things you need to get done so that you don’t get overwhelmed with what you have on your plate. Or, you could keep a journal and write down what worries you—it’s like venting to a friend all the time. Another thing you could do is install a secure network
on your computer and other devices to not have to worry about things like identity theft or hackers. It seems like a small thing, but when it comes to peace of mind, everything counts. If it is something that could stress you out or worry you, find a solution, for achieving peace of mind and wellness in today’s world come hand-in-hand.

 

When thinking about wellness in today’s world, remember that the world you see on the outside is usually a reflection of how you feel on the inside. Therefore, making time for leisure, being active and working to achieve peace of mind will help make the world seem less chaotic, help you feel less stressed and make achieving wellness much easier.

 

Author bio: Cassie is a health and tech blogger who is passionate about wellness and well-being. She blogs for ehealthinformer.com.

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I am Pre-Diabetic too

I am Pre-Diabetic too

Boy, did I get a surprise last week. My doctor’s office called to say my blood work came back fine except for my A1C test — the one that provides information about a person’s average level of blood glucose (blood sugar) over the past three months. It is the primary test used to determine if you are pre-diabetic or have diabetes itself.

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Guest Post: Dr. W on Calories In = Calories Out

Guest Post: Dr. W on Calories In = Calories Out

Re-printed from 60 Is The New 50, by Dr. W

Basic working formula. Nothing profound. Simple math. You put 2000 calories into your body- then you must follow thru and use those calories throughout the day. Put in 100 calories per day more than you use, multiply by 7 days, then over a month you have gained a pound. The solution is found on either end of the formula or simply stated- eat less or burn more. What could be simpler? Look around you and everywhere you turn you see those extra pounds on almost everyone. What has happened? We eat too much and we move about less. So obvious and, at the same time, so difficult to surmount. foof court -image4I was at the airport last week, waiting and still waiting for my flight. Outside my gate the airline has opened a new, enticing, and seductive food court. The appeal was overwhelming. Nothing to do – eat. Hundreds of people milling about, entertaining themselves with visual delights, unable to control those leptin levels and indulging themselves regardless of the enormous physical cost. To boot, ten dollars for a tuna sandwich.

Is there anything one can do about it? Maybe the airline should give out those night masks before you get on the plane. On a serious note, exercising self-control is a challenge that so many of us fail.

However, can we do something with the other side of the formula? How do we rev up the calories out portion? Can we increase our daily energy expenditure on a regular basis? We all have daily schedules and patterns. Can they be modified to include higher caloric use? A more profound question emerges: does this higher caloric use translate into real health benefits?

Let’s begin with the famous studies done in England in the 1950’s and 60’s comparing bus drivers of double decker buses to conductors who climb up and down the stairs. The more active conductors had half the incidence of heart disease. Landmark studies conducted by Dr. Ralph Paffenbarger, spanning his career, studying the effects of inactivity, obesity and heart disease showed a strong correlation between inactivity and heart disease. One study looked at the relationship between TV watching and markers for coronary heart disease. Spending hours in front of the tube, interrupted by getting up and going to the kitchen for beer and chips, may lead to eventual heart disease. Mother was right – TV is bad for you.

So what to do? Alter the basics.

We spend too much time sitting. Take those activities that you normally would do sitting and do them standing. “Screen time” has increased exponentially in the last two decades. Time spent sitting in front of the computer, the TV and hand held devices makes up the majority of our waking hours. Use that phone standing up. It can double caloric output. Skip that spectator sports event and do that exercise yourself. Who knows? You may end up with the “bod” of that swimmer on TV.

Climb those stairs.

One now classic study compared San Francisco factory workers in a five story building with no elevator. Those working on the top two floors had less heart disease and lived longer. The message is clear: find that stairwell and use it. Up and down. Never take an elevator or escalator 1-2 floors. Make it dogma.

Next up is walking.

For those who can walk to and from work the benefit is obvious. For others who need the car or train, make small alterations that go a long way. Park your car in the parking lot as far away from your destination. NEVER look for the closest parking spot.

Park a few blocks away from your destination. Need the train or bus, get off a stop before. Minimize emailing or texting a colleagues at work. Get up and speak to them. Walk to the theater or restaurant. Walk to the gym. Walk your children or grandchildren to school – the obesity epidemic has spread to them as well. Whenever you open that door and leave the house, ask the question- can I walk there? And back? Sure, it means spending time that can be used for other things. However, you are adding “time” down the “long road” ahead. Nothing is better than that.

Final message: calories in <CALORIES OUT

See more at 60isthenew50.com

 

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Four Ways to Rev Up your Metabolism

Four Ways to Rev Up your Metabolism

After you lose weight, your metabolism slows down, thus it is easier to regain the weight you lost. And once you gain back the weight, the harder it is to lose it.  It’s a vicious cycle.  But you can get it back under control.  By employing a few helpful nutrition and lifestyle changes, you will be on the road to optimizing your metabolism for life.

What is metabolism? It’s the sum of all the chemical reactions happening in your body. Based on the science of food metabolism and the way our bodies burn energy, here are four ways to boost your metabolism for lasting weight control:

  1. Distribute your intake of protein throughout the day. Don’t let dinner be the meal where you consume most of your protein. Spread it out among all your meals for more efficient use.
  1. Work out daily: But mix up what you do every day.  Combine resistance, aerobic and flexibility training to five consistent workouts per week.  Maybe 2-3 times a week do an aerobic or cardio workout like jogging, my favorite, or biking.  Balance this out with 2-3 days of some form of stretching like Yoga or Pilates.  The objective is to not solely burn calories but to boost your body’s metabolism and response to exercise through recovery and rebuilding.
  1. Manage stress: Stress is not something we are going to eliminate, and a little bit is not necessarily a bad thing.  But when your stress level gets out of whack, your metabolism suffers.  Stress causes your hormones, such as cortisol, to overproduce and affects your insulin sensitivity.  You tend to sleep less and gain weight. We also tend to overeat and exercise less when we are stressed.
  1. Sleep well. Even a single interruption in your normal 6-8 hours per night sleep pattern has a detrimental effect on fat metabolism and tissue recovery from exercising.  Plan your sleep routine as you would a workout. When you give your body a full night sleep on a consistent basis, you are supporting the release of important hormones. Melatonin is one of these hormones that help control your daily metabolic rate.

Your energy levels, ability to work out, and weight gain or loss all depend on your body’s metabolic processes.  If you implement these four simple strategies, your body will operate more efficiently.  You’ll maintain weight loss, which makes for a happier new year.

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Resolve to Take a Broad Approach to Weight Management this New Year

Resolve to Take a Broad Approach to Weight Management this New Year

Now that we are in the holiday season, many of us resign ourselves to the weight gain that typically follows. Indeed, it is very hard to pass up holiday sweets that seem to be everywhere as well as extra servings of a traditional family dish. That’s why so many weight loss books are published at this time promising a “New Year, New You.”

So it’s no surprise that the No. 1 New Year’s resolution is to lose weight.  But this year consider a broader approach to resolving the problem for more lasting success.  Here are 10 points that my health-coaching clients have incorporated into their weight-management programs that you may want to consider:

1. Sleep better.
2. Work out more, whether it is outside, at the gym or home.
3. Begin a daily mindfulness or meditation practice.
4. Drink more water and get rid of diet sodas.
5. Eat more vegetables and less meat.
6. Organize your home, workspace or both.
7. Make new friends and/or spend more time with those you already have.
8. Improve work/life balance to allow more time to take better care of yourself.
9. Quit tolerating an uncomfortable situation at home or work out of fear.  Define the problem and fix it.
10. Find an app or person to hold you accountable to whatever goal you are trying to achieve so you will create a lasting  new habit.

There is a lot of help available, so take advantage of it now so 2017 can be your best year yet!
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The Benefits of Exercise That You Can Enjoy Now

The Benefits of Exercise That You Can Enjoy Now

Last week, we talked about the immediate benefits of exercising and how exercise is the new miracle drug. But, even better news is that so much of what we already do counts as exercise. Heavy gardening, like digging and raking, mowing the grass and washing the car all count as vigorous exercise. Physical activity and exercise include all types of movement not just playing an athletic sport.

In fact, emerging research is showing that it doesn’t take much movement to get benefits. Research is showing that an intensive work out for as little as 10 minutes has benefits, and doing it at high intensity has the same benefits of a standard 50-minute workout. Still, not everyone wants to do high intensity or interval training that is required in a shorter workout. However, if you are short on time, the #1 reason people say that don’t exercise, this type of exercising might be for you.

Interval workouts are also proving effective for people who already have a chronic disease such as Type 2 diabetes or heart failure. Any type of exercise that gets your heart rate up is the answer to seeing dramatic improvements in all chronic diseases. Getting your heart rate up through exercise is also known to improve depression, anxiety, and energy levels.

So since exercise can benefit nearly everyone, what are some of the types of workouts that don’t necessarily require a gym membership? The best type of workout is one that is a mix of cardio and strength training. Cardio will prevent you from being winded after climbing the stairs. Strength training will build muscle and bone, which protects against injury as we age.

Several examples would be:

1. Walking: It has the lowest “quit” rate of any exercise, improves your memory, well-being, heart health and creativity. In fact, today, after Hurricane Matthew had come and gone, I took a brisk walk with a friend. Not only did my energy increase, but the walk helped me focus so I could write this blog.

2. Cycling: Whether you do it indoors or out, cycling has been shown to increase brain connectivity. And doing it at high intensity improves a depressed mood.

3. Running: My personal favorite is running. Going for a run improves sleep and makes your bones stronger. Even doing it for 5-10 minutes a day, at a jogging pace, is linked to a longer life.

4. Yoga: Lifting your own body weight and flowing through intense poses will give you the strength training you need. Not to mention a bit of mindfulness and stress relief.

5. Weight training: I used to think weight training meant lifting dumbbells at a gym with a bunch of other sweating people. I now know that an inexpensive pair of light weights will build muscle and strengthen bone just by increasing the number of repetitions. Something else to try as an alternative to weights are resistance bands.

6. Tai Chi: These slow gentle movements might not look like you are doing much of anything. But, in fact, Tai Chi strengthens the back, abs, upper and lower body. It also relieves pain and improves posture. This is one workout I have never tried but am thinking it might be good one. Especially since my “frozen” shoulder is improving and I am working to regain strength in that area of my body.

As you can see, one exercise does “not fit all.” It’s extremely important to find one you like and will do on a regular basis. Why? So you can reap the immediate benefits today and create a lasting habit that will help you live a longer and healthier life.

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How Exercise Can Help You TODAY

How Exercise Can Help You TODAY

Everyone knows they should exercise. Doctors, scientists and even ancient philosophers have long advised that exercise is good for you and warn that the more the better if done properly. Now we are getting more and more proof that exercise is critical.

Researchers have found that during and immediately after exercising, positive changes occur in our bodies. A steady run, jog or walk not only gets blood flowing and hearts pumping but also helps improve skin and eye health. If someone created a drug that could do for human health everything that exercise can, it would be the most valuable pharmaceutical ever.

So why do only 20 percent of Americans get the recommended 150 minutes of strength and cardiovascular physical activity per week? Why is it that more than half of all baby boomers do no exercise whatsoever?   Surely by now everyone knows the consequences of leading sedentary life.

People with low levels of physical activity are at a higher risk of developing cancers, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and early death by many other preventable causes. Yet generally speaking, humans are not good at assessing long-term risks as well as benefits, of our lifestyle choices. Promises that exercise is “good for you” aren’t motivating enough for most people to take action — especially if they consider exercise as just another chore. However, most people are motivated by rewards. Here are only a few of them regarding proper exercise:

— Slower aging.

— Better mood.

— Less stress and anxiety.

— Less chronic pain.

— Improved eyesight.

— Lower medical bills.

Where’s the proof? Beginning in 2017, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) will launch a six-year $170 million study with a group of 3,000 sedentary people of all ages. They will start an exercise program and then donate their blood, muscle and fat before and after exercise. Another group that doesn’t exercise will also be tracked.

This study is the first of it’s kind in terms of size, rigor and aims. Experts are hoping it will give doctors evidence they need to start treating exercise like the miracle drug they’ve long thought it to be. Instead of your doctors saying, “You need to exercise more,” they will actually give exercise as a prescription!

It’s becoming evident too that nearly everyone — young, old, pregnant and those that are ill —benefit from exercise. As scientists learn more about why this it is, they are hoping that the messaging about exercise gets simpler too. No fancy gym membership required, just get out and move. I’ll have on this important subject next week. So please stay tuned!

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