THE REALITY OF HEALTH IN AMERICA

As a wellness and fitness expert I know what we all know.  America is getting fatter by the day. The new statistics just released by the CDC are truly scary.  Between 2007 and 2009 another 2.4 million people slid into obesity.  And I’m not arguing the facts.  But as a health professional who has been in the fitness and medical industry for over 30 years I know focusing solely on the negative isn’t motivating any of us. But I also know that American’s have made significant strides in their health and wellness in the past generation.  So I say it’s time we focus on the good things we are doing to get healthier.  No motivational speaker focuses on the negative to inspire their audience.  So I am here to put our success in perspective.  I am here to help you focus on the positive steps you are taking toward health, so you can shape the life you want.

In so many ways we, as a country, are getting so much better.  We’re getting healthier and we are getting fitter. The news media forgets that fact but in my medical practice I am reminded of it every day. Even my 80 year old patients now understand the importance of their daily walk to keep the joy in their lives.

I run a pain management practice in La Quinta California  and most of my patients are over 60.  The majority of them are in pain because they have been inactive all their lives.  They are now suffering the ravages of arthritis and osteoporosis in addition to the heart disease, diabetes and hypertension all fed by their sedentary life.  Most of our parents grew up in the 1940’s -1960’s.  They enjoyed all the benefits of an industrializing prosperous country; there was no longer farm work to be done and we all transitioned to sedentary jobs and a sedentary life.  How many of your parents/grandparents ever went out for a night time stroll, let alone a 3 mile run?  Not mine.  The importance of exercise wasn’t even discussed back then.  So, it is not surprising to me that the golden years for all of my elderly patients are far from golden.  They didn’t know what we know now.  And they are suffering dearly for it, as is the cost of health care to support them.  All my elderly women have osteoporosis and are deathly afraid a fall will be their demise. In many ways it is too late for them, but it’s not too late for you.
How lucky are we, women in our 40’s and 50’s,  who know that regular exercise will prevent the same fate in us?  And how much luckier are our daughters who by watching each of you exercise on a regular basis know that exercise is just suppose to be part of what they do in a day.  June Cleaver sure didn’t have a clue. But you do and because you do, our daughters will be so much healthier than even we are.
I started working in the wellness field in the early 1980’s; when aerobics was thought to be just a fad. But look at us now.  If we don’t get our cardio at least we feel guilty that we didn’t. This was when we first discovered the value of omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) and running was for the Uele Gibbons sorts who ate pine cones for breakfast (remember the Grape Nuts commercials?).  That was the beginning of a wonderful revolution toward wellness.  And it hasn’t stopped.  We’re not there yet (not close) but we’re making progress. Now even government is involved because as a nation we recognize the importance of fitness and exercise.  That is  huge.  And I am proud of all of you.  And in turn you should be proud of every baby step you take toward a healthier life.

I am not minimizing the crisis of obesity and childhood obesity in America today.  We still have a terribly long way to go.  There are many societal adjustments that need to happen with more and more mothers working out of the home.  Mother’s leaving the home is a major societal shift and nothing has filled the gap for our children. I know, as a single working mother without their dad around, I was left to make it all work myself.   So for now I will acknowledge societal ills but not stray from my purpose which is to let you know, we are making steps in the right direction.  You are making steps.  Every time you pick exercise, your children are watching.  They watch your success and sense of accomplishment and will emulate you. Maybe not now but I bet in their 20’s it will come back around.
Remember, your children will benefit from every baby step you take.  Skim milk costs no more than 4% milk but has half the calories.  HALF. That is an easy step.  Make the switch slowly from 4% to 2% to 1% and your kids won’t even notice.

Keep reading with me.  I will give you the steps.  Many are covered in my book GET MOVING! Live Better, Live Longer and you can progress much quicker with my guidance.

Let me give you a few more examples of our progress.  Omega-3 fatty acids are on every drug store shelf whereas 30 years ago they were known only to a select few researches and health professionals.  That is a big step.  We are aware of all the hidden calories in restaurant fare and are starting to make much smarter choices.  Healthy cooking is now valued, not shunned as ‘nuts and berries’ fare.  We are becoming smarter consumers.  Much smarter.  Exercise may not be a regular part of your day, but at least you know it should be.  30 years ago only the freaks went running down the street.
You are not guaranteed the same aging fate as your parents. Your lifestyle choices can overcome any set of genes you were born with. Get up off the couch, push yourself away from the computer and grab your child’s hand.  Go for that first walk.  It will be the walk of your lifetime.

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I’M FAT AND I CAN’T GET IT UP

Being fat is more than a real health risk.It is a major risk for life enjoyment, fun and sex.In addition to being a major risk for heart disease,diabetes and hypertension (to name just a few) obesity is now linked with sexual dysfunction in men.Women seem to be spared this horror but both obese men and women also reported a decreased interest and a decreased drive for sex.This study just came out and was reported in the British Medical Journal June 16, 2010.

Paradoxically however, despite being less interested in sex and having less sex,obese women suffer more sexual complications such as more unplanned pregnancies.They have a startling 4x the number of unplanned pregnancies as normal weight women.But obese men aren’t spared.They are more at risk for getting sexually transmitted diseases and like I just said, have more erectile dysfunction than their single counterparts.

These are alarming statistics considering the wealthy nations where obesity is becoming endemic.

So, in summary guys, being overweight means that you can’t get it up nearly as easily or consistently as your thin drinking buddies. And ladies you aren’t without significant risk as well.

What I hope you take home with you is this great fun fact: For every 10 pounds a man gains his penis shrinks about an inch in size.That’s because men put on belly fat and the expansion of their suprapubic fat pad makes their penis look that much smaller.
No wonder obesity is linked to increased risk of depression.

My favorite saying was published in Men’s Health years ago when they were talking about sex drive and weight loss. The summary of the article was this:  If you lose 10 pounds you may not get more sex but we can guarantee you won’t get less.  Guys, if you want that spark back in your marriage giving your woman a body that turns her on will light her fire.

Live Well,
Ruth Anderson, MD MS

If you want more information on this study click on:
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2010/06/obesity-and-sex.html

Exercise. The Best Treatment for Hypertension

Exercise is the best treatment for hypertension. It has none of the side effects of medication and the correct exercise program is as effective as most anti-hypertensive drugs.   I really want you to appreciate what a health problem hypertension is in our society. About a third of Americans have been diagnosed with high blood pressure; yet only half of them are adequately treated.  Despite all our medical advances hypertension is killing us.  And it’s costing us a fortune.  In 2010 alone the cost of high blood pressure will run this country about $76.6 billion.  No wonder our health care budget is in the crapper. To say it is a major public health problem is a gross understatement.

Exercise is key in preventing and treating high blood pressure.

  • Exercise will prevent hypertension in 50% of us.  And that is really significant because once you reach age 55, the chance of you getting high blood pressure is a sky-rocketing 90%.  So if you’re lucky enough to live to age 55, you are pretty much guaranteed that you will be taking blood pressure medication.  Unless you GET MOVING!
  • If you have hypertension, exercise alone will decrease your blood pressure.
  • Exercise lowers blood pressure 2 ways
  • There is an immediate decrease that happens after every exercise session. So daily aerobic (cardio) exercise can prevent the normal and dangerous rise in blood pressure that occurs during daily activity in hypertensives.
  • There are also significant long term benefits from regular exercise, especially when that exercise is coupled with weight loss.

You see, you can only win when you take control of your life and your health.  You have more power than any pill or treatment I could prescribe.

My mission is to decrease the cost of health care in this country – one healthy body at a time.  Shouldn’t you be the first volunteer?