Although growing older comes with a number of major life changes, science can help inform the things we do in the here in and now to forestall the most serious features of the aging self, promoting healthspan and not just lifespan.
- Build Muscle – Muscle mass is one the best predictors of health and longevity. Muscle tissue is known to release its own chemicals called myokines, which can have benefits that span cognition, immunity and anti-cancer activity. By performing regular, resistance-based exercise that prioritizes strength, we can delay the loss of bone density and risk of physical injuries.
- Vitamin D – Commonly known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is in fact a critical hormone that helps maintain healthy bones, boost our immune system and improve our cardiovascular function. With age, the production of vitamin D in the skin can become less efficient, so if we don’t spend enough time outdoors, our risk of vitamin D deficiency may increase.
- Neurodegenerative Diseases – One of the most unsettling aspects of aging is the potential for neurodegenerative disease. These conditions are increasingly prevalent in those with diabetes, suggesting that the brain’s blood flow and energy supply may be compromised. Research indicates that regular physical exercise, a healthy whole foods diet and staying intellectually active could at least slow the rate of decline.
- Mindfulness – As we get older, major arteries can become thicker and less flexible, leading to increased blood pressure and undue strain on the heart. A regular mindfulness practice such as yoga or meditation has been shown to stem the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. By freeing us from this “fight-or-flight” state, this habit can improve blood flow and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Stay Social – As social animals, maintaining a strong sense of community and close personal relationships into old age are underestimated contributors to longevity. While social isolation in seniors can result in significant physical and mental decline, research suggests that close loved ones offer important emotional support and behavioral modifications that can overcome periods of high stress.
- Metabolism – “My metabolism is slowing down!” That’s what we often hear, as the aging body becomes less effective at using energy, placing us at risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. By maintaining our muscle mass and reducing sugar consumption, we can support hormonal health, preserve our metabolism and keep our vitality into those advanced years. As scientists continue to find ways to extend our lives, paying attention to these keys to healthy aging can help increase the quality of those extra years.
Fatigue is a common symptom and I have discussed it previously; look for “energy and fatigue”. Certain individuals, usually in their 30s and 40s, develop severe fatigue that is unrefreshed by sleep, and interferes with their normal activity.
Sometimes CFS is accompanied by sore throat, swollen glands, and Headache. The doctor usually finds no physical,laboratory or clinical abnormalities. If This fatigue continues on for many months, and is life-changing it has been called chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS.
There is another similar chronic problem that is called fibromyalgia, and some authorities think of them as the same problem. To be diagnosed as CFS, The patient needs to have difficulties with memory, focus and concentration, or dizziness that worsens with moving from laying or sitting to standing.
I had had two such patients when I was in practice, Who were sent to me to rule out allergies. I found no such allergies and tried to encourage a healthy lifestyle including good sleep, diet, and exercise. My patients seem to get better with some exercise, although exercise often causes more fatigue according to the literature.
I have heard many causes postulated for this condition such as hormonal difficulties, immune system problems, or psychological factors. Infections particularly have been suspected such as cytomegalovirus, herpesviruses, or Epstein-Barr virus, but nothing consistent has shown up.
Since sleep does not restore energy, consulting a sleep center to rule out sleep apnea is reasonable. Such a condition following in the wake of COVID-19 would probably be attributed to that condition. Perhaps CFS is indeed due to an as yet undiscovered viral infection. Please check out the accompanying Mayo clinic summary.
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- High blood pressure is one of the most common modifiable risk factors for heart disease and stroke in women.
- Approximately, 1 in 2 adult women in the US has elevated blood pressure (>120/80).
- Physical activity can help to prevent and control blood pressure by strengthening the heart, contributing to a healthy weight, and reducing stress.
Mayo Clinic Division of Preventive Cardiology will be preparing a series of recordings focusing on Cardiovascular Disease states. This is the Exercise Series and this particular one focuses on HIIT and its benefits. Results in physiological adaptations linked to improved health (even with a very small volume of exercise).
Hip fracture is an iconic bugaboo of old age. It is a chronic condition in the sense that its complications, such as Depression, blood clots and pneumonia often extend long beyond the healing process.
Predisposing factors include old age and associated risk factors like osteoporosis, sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass and strength), poor vision, poor balance and hazards in the home.
FALLING is the usual agency that produces the fracture. At the risk of being ostracized, I will point out that thousands of injuries sustained by walking or tripping over dogs (and cats) occur every year.
In my small “hilltop” group of friends, there was 1 fatality, 1 shoulder fracture-dislocation, 1 hip fracture, and 0 acknowledgements of animal causation. Members of the family are immune to blame.
Treatment of hip fracture involves surgery with pins, or the more cost-effective Hip replacement. PREVENTION is critical. Osteoporosis must be prevented by exercise, Calcium, vitamin D, and avoidance of certain medication like Corticosteroids.
Balance should be developed by exercises. Vision problems, such as cataracts,should be corrected. Muscle mass should be preserved by diet and exercise, and the home cleared of throw-rugs and obstacles removed.
Just yesterday, a friend wearing socks (reducing friction?) fell down some stairs after stepping over a dog-gate. She is scheduled to have her elbow pinned. Have I mentioned SLEEP, DIET and EXERCISE RECENTLY?