Encouraging Health and Happiness

Archive for September, 2011

A Little Deception Helps Push Athletes to the Limit

Tom Boland/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press
Published: September 19, 2011

The trained bicyclists thought they had ridden as fast as they possibly could. But Kevin Thompson, head of sport and exercise science at Northumbrian University in England, wondered if they go could even faster.

So, in an unusual experiment, he tricked them.

In their laboratory, Dr. Thompson and his assistant Mark Stone had had the cyclists pedal as hard as they could on a stationary bicycle for the equivalent of 4,000 meters, about 2.5 miles. After they had done this on several occasions, the cyclists thought they knew what their limits were.

Then Dr. Thompson asked the cyclists to race against an avatar, a figure of a cyclist on a computer screen in front them. Each rider was shown two avatars. One was himself, moving along a virtual course at the rate he was actually pedaling the stationary bicycle. The other figure was moving at the pace of the cyclist’s own best effort — or so the cyclists were told.

In fact, the second avatar was programmed to ride faster than the cyclist ever had — using 2 percent more power, which translates into a 1 percent increase in speed.


Yes, You Are Getting Shorter

You’re not just getting older. You’re probably getting shorter, too.  Height Loss May Signal Health Risks, Especially for Men.

Why are you shrinking? Starting in their late 30s, it’s normal for men and women to lose about a half-inch in height every 10 years. Melinda Beck on Lunch Break looks at what point does it get worrisome and what can be done to help.

Height loss is a natural part of aging—some people start shrinking slightly as early as 30. Losing too much height too rapidly, however, can signal a high risk for hip fractures, spinal fractures and even heart disease, particularly in men, several recent studies have found.


New Steps to Help Prevent Knee Injuries in Teen Sports


A torn knee ligament is one of the most debilitating injuries that routinely hit young athletes. Now, medical researchers are deciphering why women are at much greater risk for the problem than men and how it can be prevented.

An estimated 90,000 varsity high-school and college athletes a year suffer an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, which connects the thigh bone to the shin bone. Women are between four and six times as likely as men who play the same sports to be injured, partly because they rely more on ligaments to compensate for less-developed muscles, researchers say. The riskiest sports for ACL tears are soccer, basketball, volleyball, football and skiing, all of which involve sudden stops, changes in direction and jumps.


A Full Life and Real Courage

New Orleans Saints cult hero Steve Gleason battling ALS

09/25/11 8:00AM

Today is the five-year anniversary of the highlight of Steve Gleason’s football career — his epic blocked punt against the Atlanta Falcons in the official reopening of the post-Katrina Superdome. It was a seminal moment in his life, the exclamation point to an inspirational eight-year career that saw him rise from relative obscurity to cult hero status in the city he would eventually call home.

Michael DeMocker/The Times-Picayune archive
New Orleans Saints special teams ace Steve Gleason blocks a punt by the Atlanta Falcons’ Michael Koenen in the opening minutes of the team’s Superdome homecoming game after Hurricane Katrina.

The New Orleans Saints invited him to serve as a ceremonial team captain for today’s game against the Houston Texans at the Superdome. He’ll handle the coin toss and initiate the ceremonial Who Dat chant before kickoff.

He’ll undoubtedly receive a thunderous ovation from the sellout crowd of 73,000 but many fans won’t understand why Gleason is moving so slowly on the field.

Gleason has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a rare terminal disease that damages the nerves that control voluntary muscle movement.


Member Spotlight: Kevin Bergsrud

Kevin Bergsrud

Kevin is a Seattle Parks & Recreation Enterprise Division Planner. He has been instrumental in managing public-private partnerships to revitalize Magnuson Park. Kevin and his wife, Anne, are two of our charter members, and their daughter enjoys going to the MiniMAC and Parent Date Night.

MAC:  Tell us a little bit about where you grew up and how you ended up in Seattle.
KB: Grad school at UW brought me to Seattle. First time visited Seattle over an Indian Summer weekend in 1989. I was hooked, what a fantastic city! I grew up in Phoenix. While I don’t have bad memories of the hot summer weather, I did dream a lot about what it would be like to live somewhere with fog and rain. Now I know!

Gut friend #2- Ginger!

According to Ayurveda (Science of LIfe, originated from India)  Ginger increases  “agni” or digestive fire, the body’s most essential ingredient for good health.  Impaired agni (caused by overeating, eating the wrong foods for your constitution, or eating while stressed or upset) can lead to impaired metabolism and immunity over time putting you on a slope toward chronic illness.

How to take it:  Before meals, try either a cup of ginger tea or a thin slice of ginger  with a squeeze of lime juice and a pinch of sea salt.  If you have heartburn – avoid ginger, it will aggravate the condition.

from – Natural Health Mag – Sept 2011

Save $25 on massage through October!

Welcome Crystal Mappala to our MAC team!

We’d like you to get to know Crystal and her excellent massage work by coming in for a massage with her. Through October, if youmention this post, you’ll receive a $50 one hour massage that’s $25 off of our full priced hour. Also try a 90  minute massage for only $75! Awesome. Crystal accepts insurance for billing including Premera, First Choice, Aetna and others. You can book with her online starting Saturday, September 3rd. Her massages are a great blend of deep work and flowing relaxation, perfect for any athlete or aching body.

To learn more about Crystal, visit her page on our website here

USDA 10 Tips for Building Healthy Meals

A healthy meal starts with more vegetables and fruits and smaller portions of protein and grains. Think about how you can adjust the portions on your plate to get more of what you need without too many calories. And don’t forget dairy – make it the beverage with your meal or add fat-free or low-fat dairy products to your plate.

1. Make half your plate veggies and fruits – Vegetables and fruits are full of nutrients and may help to promote good health. Choose red, orange, and darkgreen vegetables such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli.

2. Add lean protein – Choose protein foods, such as lean beef and pork, or chicken,
turkey, beans, or tofu. Twice a week, make seafood the protein on your plate.

3. Include whole grains – Aim to make at least half your grains whole grains. Look for the words “100% whole grain” or “100% whole wheat” on the food label. Whole grains provide more nutrients, like fiber, than refined grains.

Dig Deeper

gut friend #1

As promised here is a gut friend for you, to help boost your health .. both now and long term!

Breanne Curran, NSCA CPT, NS, Health Coach

1.  Probiotics

How they work:  Antibiotic use, excessive sugar and stress can alter the bacterial balance in the gut,  Takng a supplement of “good bugs” ( officially known as probiotics) can help restore this bacterial balance , strengthening immunity and potentially preventing or treating a wide range  of health issues, including yeast infections.

“There’s good data that probiotics improve symptoms of allergies, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) , eczema and colic”  – says Patrick Hanaway M. D. an integrative family physician in Asheville N.C.  Preliminary research has also shown that Probiotics  activate an immune response in mucous membranes which helps prevent colds and flus.

How to take it:  Look for a mixed strain product that includes Bifidobacteria  and  Lactobacilis and follow package directions.  ( I like New Chapter brand)  find it in the refrigerated supplement section of your natural food store – It is active enzymes, so needs to be kept cold.

How to Keep Your Knees Healthy

By Linda Melone, CSCS, Special to Lifescript

Published April 23, 2011

Healthy knees are important to your well-being, but painful injuries like “runner’s knee,” ACL tears and tendonitis are all too common. In fact, women are more likely than men to suffer serious knee trouble. Read how the knee works, what can go wrong and how to prevent getting hurt. Plus, learn how to strengthen leg muscles and reduce pain with a knee workout…

Although they’re the largest joints in the body, your knees are also among the most vulnerable to injury. And women face a higher risk, especially if they’re active.

But if you take precautions, you can reduce the likelihood of painful or even debilitating damage.

“Knee injuries generally fall into two categories: macro traumas and overuse injuries,” says John Hurley, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Summit Medical Group in Morristown, N.J.

Macro trauma includes tearing of a tendon or cartilage, usually the result of turning and twisting during running or sports. A tear can also occur when you stop short with feet planted in one direction and the knee forced into a different direction.

An overuse injury, on the other hand, often occurs from asking too much of your knees without enough rest.

And while they’re not completely preventable, both kinds of injury can usually be avoided with proper care.

Dig Deeper

Go with your gut

Go with your gut
a balanced digestive system can boost your immunity and help stave off disease. 

Breanne Curran  NSCA CPT, Nutrition Specialist and Health Coach

  Since I’m focusing on quality of movements…( that’s nutrition humor ! )  Got good digestion?  If you’re suffering from migraines, allergies or chronic disease the answer may be “no”  Digestion – the process by which your body breaks down food into nutrients and eliminates the rest – isn’t just about simple mechanics.  Recent research has homed in on the digestive system’s most abundant inhabitants:  trillions of beneficial bacteria that colonize the GI tract from the moment we’re born.  These “good bugs” support digestion itself and affect health in myriad other ways, staring with our immunity.

“Many people don’t realize that the lining of our intestines is the biggest part of our immune system” says Boston-based naturopathic doctor Cathy Wong N.D.  Indeed with it’s massive surface area (if stretched out, it’s actually the size of a football field) the GI tract is continually under attack by harmful bacteria  and viruses present in the food we eat and the air we breathe.  When the good bugs are plentiful, they keep the bad ones at bay: Healthy flora release acid , making the environment inhospitable to harmful microbes.  Plus researchers are still uncovering more ways in which our inner ecosystem affects our health with studies linking bacterial imbalance in the gut to everything from allergies to obesity to heart disease.
Optimizing both your gut health – it’s ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria- and the digestive process are two of the best things you can do for your body. To start, eat a plant based diet with plenty of fiber and healthy fats, fermented foods, like yogurt and miso, and minimal sugar and processed foods.  And try and relax, because the bodies stress response inhibits digestion.  Speaking of which – I have a yoga class to get to!  Check my blog, this week and next  www.breannetrains.com  and the blog at www.macseattle.com for 9 more gut healthy tips.  I’ll post one every couple days,

Massages really can make the pain go away, study finds

A new study reinforced what physical therapist have long suspected: Massage, when coupled with traditional medical treatment, provides significant relief from chronic back pain. The 400-person study was conducted by Seattle’s Group Health Research Institute.

By Roberto Daza   read online article here, originally published July 4, 2011

Seattle Times staff reporter

When Nobuku Anderson walked into her home, she knew something was wrong. She had pushed her luck trying to carry the wine case purchased earlier that day. Almost immediately, pain seized her. Collapsing to the floor, crying, she inched toward the phone.

This was the first time in the decades she has been managing her back pain — the result of years of tennis, golf and “the crazy high heels you wear when you’re young” — that she couldn’t move.

Until then, she kept the pain at bay with regular exercise, the sporadic massage, and trips to the chiropractor. She also took aspirin, but those instances were rare. This afternoon was different. It took four hours, but Anderson made it to a phone and called for help.

Her situation is not uncommon; 70 to 85 percent of Americans experience back pain at some time in their lives, and it is the most frequent cause of limited activity in people under 45, according to the National Institutes of Health.


Find time, for what really matters

Do you start out your day with great aspirations of spending time with your family, getting in a good run or catching that spin class at the gym, calling your mom and stocking up on good foods from the grocery store? How often do you get these things completed? What happens?

If you are like most people, life does. We get distracted – you check your email in the am- absently mindedly surf the internet, then you’re late for work ,  you forget to eat lunch. Get stopped by a co-worker who chats you up for 20 mins and you’re late for your kids game, forget the spin class. And so on… Life is hectic – there is a lot to juggle. Question is – could you be more efficient?

The number one excuse from clients and people I meet with, as to why they aren’t keeping up with their workouts or eating better- “I don’t have any time!” My answer – Really? Or do you just need to simplify – be a little more selfish – and set aside time for yourself , maybe say “no” more often. Remember you are a product of all your movements- the more you give in, the less you keep in good movements in your life. Check out my list of time management tips. I challenge you to exercise 2 new ones in the next 7 days. Then 2 more the week after.

15 Painless Ways to Free Up an Hour a Day for Your Goals

“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” – Henry David Thoreau


Ask Mr. Dad: Here comes or there goes the sunscreen

Here’s how to protect babies and toddlers from the sun.

By Armin Brott

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Dear Mr. Dad: I thought I was doing the right thing by slathering my 1-year-old with sunscreen when we go outside, but I just read that the chemicals in sunscreen could be more harmful than the sun. Now what are we supposed to do?

A: Summer is winding down, but there are still plenty of sunny days ahead, so your question comes at a good time. For years, we’ve been programmed to practically marinate our kids in sunscreen before sending them outside. But recently, as you point out, the effectiveness — and safety — of that strategy is in question.

Before we get to the actual ingredients of sunscreen, let’s talk about the vocabulary, which can often be contradictory, confusing, or both. In June 2011, the Food and Drug

Administration (FDA) tried to deal with this issue by coming up with new regulations for sunscreen labeling, including requiring a “drug facts” box, forbidding claims such as “sunblock” or “waterproof,” and clarifying which products can be labeled “broad spectrum” (meaning that they protect against both UVB and the more deadly UVA rays). Unfortunately, these requirements don’t go into effect until summer 2012.

OK, back to ingredients. In a 2010 study, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit watchdog, reported that only 39 of the 500 sunscreen products they examined were safe and effective. The study claims sunscreens flaunt false sun protection (SPF) ratings, that one commonly ingredient, oxybenzone, is a hormone-disrupting chemical that can affect puberty, and another, retinyl palmitate (a derivative of Vitamin A), could actually accelerate some cancers instead of preventing them. But the emphasis needs to be on the word “could” as the research is hardly definitive.

The American Academy of Dermatology, for example, maintains that sunscreens — even those with oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate — are safe for most people over the age of six months. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) agrees, but recommends that babies under six months be kept out of direct sunlight and shouldn’t wear sunscreen except in very small areas, such as their hands. For babies over six months, the AAP recommends sunscreen but says the best protection is limiting sun exposure — especially around midday — and wearing protective clothing, including a hat.

If you’re concerned about sunscreen chemicals, look for “chemical-free” or “mineral-based” brands that don’t contain oxybenzone.

These mainly use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the active ingredient, both of which form an actual barrier on the skin without being absorbed and start working immediately upon application.

But don’t go overboard. In small doses, the sun is actually healthy. Those UVB rays help our bodies produce vitamin D which is essential for healthy immune systems and bones. If you’re going to be out in the sun for a few hours, you and your children need protection; if you’re just running around for 10 minutes, you should be OK (but check with your pediatrician to be sure).

Here’s how to protect babies and toddlers from the sun:

— Limit exposure to direct sunlight, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when rays are strongest.

— Use protective lightweight clothing to cover up, including a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses (if they pull them off, keep putting them back on).

— If you’re not using a zinc or titanium blocks, apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside so it has plenty of time to get absorbed into the skin. But regardless of the type of sunscreen, reapply every two hours or after swimming (no sunscreen is completely waterproof.)

— Don’t fear the sun.

A little every day is good for you.

— — —

(Armin Brott is the author of “The Military Father: A Hands-on Guide for Deployed Dads” and “The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be.” Readers may send him email at armin@askmrdad.com, or visit his website at www.mrdad.com.)) 2011, Armin Brott

Just 15 Minutes of Exercise a Day May Add Years to Your Life

By Meredith Melnick Tuesday, August 16, 2011 |


U.S. fitness guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. But increasingly, evidence suggests that even half that amount can extend significant health benefits.

Only about a third of Americans currently meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines for physical health, which advise a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, plus additional strength-training.

Now here’s the good news for the rest of us: even just 15 minutes of moderate exercise a day (or 92 minutes per week) was associated with a three-year increase in life expectancy and a 14% reduction in risk of death by any cause, compared with a sedentary lifestyle, according to a new study.

Each additional 15 minutes of daily exercise (up to 100 minutes a day) reduced the risk of death by an additional 4%, the study found, and people who got 30 minutes of activity a day added about four extra years to their life expectancy, compared with their sedentary peers.

The observational study involved more than 400,000 people in Taiwan, who were followed for an average of about eight years. Researchers gave participants a questionnaire asking about their medical history and lifestyle habits, including how much leisure-time physical activity they got. Based on the answers, researchers divided them into activity intensity groups: light (walking), moderate (brisk walking), vigorous (jogging) and very vigorous (running).

People were characterized as inactive if they got less than one hour of exercise per week. Compared with this group, those who got even small amounts of moderate activity daily lived longer.

“The 30-minute-a-day for five or more days a week has been the golden rule for the last 15 years, but now we found even half that amount could be very beneficial,” lead author Dr. Chi-Pang Wen told ABC News. “As we all feel, finding a slot of 15 minutes is much easier than finding a 30-minute slot in most days of the week.”

But that’s no excuse to scrape by with minimum effort. And it’s certainly no reason to scale back if you’re already working out for at least 30 minutes a day. When it comes to exercise, more is better. As anyone who has ever embarked on a new exercise regimen knows, the hardest part is starting; the longer you stick with it, the easier and more enjoyable it becomes. Over time, as you get fitter, your exercise goals will become easier to attain.

The new study had some limitations. For one, the questionnaires involved self-report, which always carries a measure of inaccuracy. The study was also observational, so it’s not clear whether people’s health outcomes could be attributed to factors other than exercise (though the researchers accounted for other factors like smoking, drinking, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and history of disease), or whether it was inactivity that caused poor health or vice versa.

Still, there is no shortage of existing evidence that increasing physical activity leads to all-around improvements in health, mood and well-being. And the new results suggest that even small amounts of moderate exercise — think biking, walking briskly or dancing — may mean significant benefits.

“The knowledge that as little as 15 minutes per day of exercise on most days of the week can substantially reduce an individual’s risk of dying could encourage many more individuals to incorporate a small amount of physical activity into their busy lives,” wrote Dr. Anil Nigam and Dr. Martin Juneau of the Montreal Heart Institute and the University of Montreal in an accompanying editorial in The Lancet, which published the new study online on Aug. 15.

Meredith Melnick is a reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @MeredithCM. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

Hopefulness Is Better Than Happiness for Diet Success

By Maia Szalavitz Wednesday, August 17, 2011 |

Linda Mooney / Getty Images

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow — if you want to stick to your diet. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which found that upbeat, forward-looking feelings like hopefulness led to better dietary choices, while positive emotions like happiness weren’t necessarily conducive to self-control.

“Past research is a bit conflicting in terms of how positive emotion affects food consumption,” says lead author Kelly Haws, assistant professor of marketing at Texas A&M University. “We found that the more future-focused positive emotions were leading people to consume less.”

Research on unhealthy eating behavior has typically focused on negative emotions like fear, anxiety and hopelessness because people tend to use sweet or salty foods to alleviate distress. However, as anyone who has ever been to a party knows, celebrations of good times and positive feelings are also occasions for indulgence.

Haws and her colleagues wanted to study what types of positive emotions lead to unhealthy behaviors — like letting yourself slip and have “just one” as a reward for being good — and which foster greater restraint.

In the first experiment, 59 college students, most of whom were at a healthy weight, wrote essays aimed at making them feel either happy or hopeful. One group was asked to write about three happy experiences and to revisit the feelings they evoked. The other group wrote about and recalled the feelings associated with three experiences that made them most hopeful about the future.

While they wrote the essays, the students were given M&Ms and raisins to snack on. Both groups ate about the same amount of raisins, but those who were primed to feel happy ate 44% more M&Ms than those who were focused on their hope for the future.

“That’s huge,” says Haws. “You would not expect the effect to be that large.”

Another experiment involving 191 undergrads found that students who generally tended to be more focused on the past were less influenced by the experience of hopefulness when it came to choosing between healthy and unhealthy snacks.

“Most people sort of implicitly understand that negative emotions can lead them to engage in unhealthy behavior,” says Haws. “With positive emotions, there’s not as much awareness about how they can have a negative effect on consumption as well.”

Recognizing this influence may help to counteract it. “A shift in the focus [toward] positive emotions [related to the] future is more conducive to achieving your goals and having more healthy behavior,” Haws says.

The study was published in the Journal of Consumer Research.


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