Thursday, November 13, 2008
Walk faster - you'll live longer
New research shows that three or four hours of moderate exercise can help maintain a healthy body weight for those who carry the obesity gene.
Walk faster - you'll live longer
The You Docs
November 13, 2008
Gait speed could help predict how long you'll live. It may very well be another important vital sign, like heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
The magic number for staying young is 3.6 kilometres an hour. Why? If you can walk that fast, you are better able to bounce back from an illness. That's why zippy over-65 walkers in a recent study enjoyed lower mortality rates.
So, time yourself (or your mom or dad) on a tread- mill or around the track. Get your speed up by intermittently picking up the pace for a short distance on a walk or a treadmill.
One easy way to increase your pace is to do it by the clock: For the first 10 seconds of every other minute, walk faster. Each week, keep up the faster pace longer.
Once you've got your walking mojo going, add some strength training, which will help you get faster as well as stronger. And walk every day.
Anger is a pain in the lungs
That fight you had with your spouse or the feelings you have for that son-of-a-rhymes-with-witch who cut you off on the highway may keep you from breathing easy. And that prevents your body from getting what it needs to operate your other systems.
Yes, you pay twice with anger: It hurts your lungs.
Although lung function naturally declines as you age, it may slip faster in perpetual hotheads. In one study, men who scored highest in hostility performed poorly on lung function tests, both at the beginning of the study and years later. Strong negative emotions seem to provoke inflammation and alter hormone function, which can knock the wind out of your lungs' sails.
Also, the kind of bad feeling that piggybacks on anger often goes hand-in-hand with smoking and inactivity. Each of these – anger, unnatural hormone levels, smoking and inactivity – goads the others to make lung function worse.
Next time you're seething (but not while driving), try this: Close your eyes, relax and imagine yourself far away from what's making you so mad. Breathe deeply with your forefinger on your navel and feel it move in and out.
Then see what kind of results you can get without yelling.
GOT A COLD? GET OVER IT
Three things help reduce the average time a cold lasts, from roughly five days to three. Do any of these the minute you start feeling cold symptoms:
1. Chicken soup: Have one cup four times a day. Ingredients in grandma's favourite remedy have anti-inflammatory properties that prevent certain white blood cells (neutrophils) from migrating to your airways and contributing to the inflammation that causes annoying cold symptoms. Chicken soup also contains compounds that help inhibit mucus production, and its heat and steam may help open nasal passages.
2. Vitamin C: Wash down 500 milligrams of the vitamin with plenty of water four times each day. It's not clear why this works, but research has shown that it does.
3. Zinc lozenges: Take one every six hours. Your immune system needs zinc to function. Just don't try taking zinc lozenges every day as a preventive step. Taking more than 100 mg of zinc daily over a long time actually hurts, not helps, your immune system. (Lozenges generally have around 13 to 20 mg of zinc.)
MORE with LESS MEAT
A little less meat (beef, pork, veal, lamb, elk, luncheon meats, sausage, etc.) on your plate could mean much less meat on your bones. People who eat few or no animal products are less likely to be overweight or obese than people who eat meat.
Not enough to scare you out of the steakhouse? Consider this: Dropping meat lowers your risk of diabetes and heart disease – in fact, postmenopausal women who substituted vegetable protein for their usual red meat lowered their coronary heart disease death rates by a whopping 30 per cent.
You don't have to go cold, uh, tofu. Just choose appropriate portion sizes and low-fat cooking methods. A serving of meat is equal to 85 grams (3 ounces), about the size of a deck of playing cards. Limit red meat to one serving per week, and don't overcook it.
When you trim the meat, fill the nutrition hole with enough protein, vitamins B-12 and D, calcium, iron and zinc. Get them with soy products such as tofu or soy burgers; legumes, lentils or garbanzo beans; low-fat dairy; dark green, leafy vegetables; nuts; and whole grains. And add a vitamin supplement twice a day as an insurance policy against an imperfect diet (do that even if you have meat).
A LITTLE BEND, A LOT OF BENEFIT
These days, yoga gets more love than the current So You Think You Can Dance star. And for good reason: It increases three "relax-it's-okay" compounds in your body. Best of all, you can get its rewards even if you're about as pliable as a two-by-four. Talk about a natural high.
Yoga boosts blood levels of serotonin, dopamine and endorphins – three natural feel-good substances. This ancient practice may boost mood even higher by preventing middle-age weight gain. One study found that it helped adults between the ages of 45 and 55 maintain or lose weight when they practised regularly for four years or more, as opposed to the pound-a-year gain that happens to most people.
And the effect of yoga on overweight people was especially dramatic: They gained 18.5 pounds fewer than those who did not practise.
So downward-dog it: You've got nothing to lose ... except maybe some mental and physical weight.
The You Docs, Mike Roizen and Mehmet Oz, are authors of the best-selling YOU: On a Diet. Send questions to the good doctors on their website, realage.com.