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?

Exercise Is One Of the Best Treatments for Heart Disease

Exercise is one of the most effective treatments for heart disease.  But you know that.  That’s why you call it ‘Cardio’.  The term is short for cardiovascular; the body system that your heart is part of and includes all your arteries and veins as well.  I grew up in the era when we called it Aerobics but that conjures up images of Jane Fonda with puffy hair wearing leg warmers. Fortunately we are much cooler now and have much cooler lingo.  But what is most important is that so many more of us are doing it.

But are you doing the right thing?  Or are you one of the lost souls at the gym hoping that the time you spend on the elliptical machine or treadmill is helping you meet your goals?  If you goal is to prevent that heart attack that your dad just had or prevent heart disease that runs in your family, this blog is for you.

You see I’m a physician who tells her patients every day how important  exercise is for their health.  Some listen but mostly I get blank stares.  Then I realized that none of my patients knew what to do to get started and how to stick with it.  That is where this book comes in.  GET MOVING! Live Better, Live Longer is the step by step guide to exercise effectively and efficiently.   I truly believe people want to be healthier but they don’t really know what to do.  You see, Exercise is Medicine.  It is the only medicine known to prevent and even cure disease and it has no side effects! How cool is that?

Heart disease is the #1 killer is our society.  It also causes significant disability; we have even coined the term cardiac cripple in medicine. They are patients whose heart is so weakened after a heart attack simple things like grocery shopping are almost an impossibility.  And I don’t want you to be one of those.  Exercise is your best medicine to prevent and treat heart disease once you’ve been diagnosed.

The Right Exercise Program will Treat Heart Disease. Just follow these simple steps

  • Before you start your exercise program, get the OK from your doctor
  • While you wait to see him, most of you can start a gentle walking program
  • Plan to gradually work up to 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity exercise 4-5 days a week
  • There are special precautions people with heart disease should take. They are covered in my book
  • Weight lifting is good, if done the right way

Those are your simple steps to treat heart disease with exercise.  GET MOVING! Live Better, Live Longer will give you the details you need to ensure your success. All you need to do is get up off the couch, turn off your computer and go for you a walk. It will be the walk of your lifetime.

Exercise and Wellness Expert Knows We Are All Getting Fatter – And Our Kids Are Paying The Price

Physician and wellness expert Ruth Anderson MD, MS has jumped on the fitness bandwagon with Michelle Obama.  She will be the first one to tell you that exercise is the best medicine to fight obesity and disease. And with this obesity epidemic in America we all have no choice but to set the right example for our children, get up off the couch and go for a walk.

Michelle Obama has the potential to catalyze the nation and combat the scary increase in fatness of our kids. One third of them are fat.  Really fat.  The kids hate it and you as parents hate it.  Now I can’t do what the Obama’s can, but on an individual level, l I can teach you how to take the first baby steps. The good news is that most kids can drop the weight much easier than we can; they have higher metabolisms and are naturally more active than their parents. But there are many steps you can take, as parents, to make the fat loss easier.

  • Set the example. Go for a walk every night. If not for your health then for the health of your children.  Regular exercise with diet changes is the only way to get the pounds off
  • Exercise is the best way to keep the fat from coming back.  Be the model of health and wellness for your kids. They learn by your example.
  • Get the junk food and soda out of the house.  Do it Now.  You don’t need it and neither do they.
  • Get healthy food into your house. The more healthy stuff you have around the more you can train their tastes to enjoy it.  And believe me, when your teens are hungry enough, they will eat it.  And they will actually learn to prefer it.  You can’t expect them to avoid the junk if its sitting in the cupboard.
  • At dinner chat a bit about healthy choices or the health benefits of the foods you are serving.  Boys love to hear how protein will help them build muscle or how green beans and fruit you are serving will keep their complexions clear (OK a bit of a stretch on that one but no harm, no foul).
  • Involve your kids in meal planning.  My teenage son likes to cook (it started as something he and his dad could do together and that is important to him – so get your husbands’ in the kitchen tonight)
  • Make healthy eating fit into your lifestyle.  I can’t cook meals every night.  So Brad and I cook our meals for the week on the  weekend.  He and I eat leftovers all week – it’s the only way to have healthy food available with my busy schedule. I have Brad help make food choices and he has developed a very adventurous palate (hard to believe in the kid who would only eat hot dogs and mac ‘n cheese).

So I can speak from experience, your efforts will all pay off.  Maybe not this year but don’t stop trying, It will work .

Remember, fat kids make fat adults.  And they won’t love you for that.  They will love your quiet gentle support and you teach them how to make healthy choices and watch the fat melt away. You will foster a strong child who has taken charge of their own destiny.

Exercise For Health, Exercise For Wellness

Exercise is the Best Medicine.  That is the new slogan of the American College of Sports Medicine. And they should know.  They are the ones who set the standards for your fitness trainers and the world of exercise science.

I am not stealing their phrase but I am telling you that they are absolutely right.  As a physician who treats patients every day, I know that exercise is their answer. Your doctor will tell you the same thing.  For many diseases exercise works as well as  medications, but without the side effects.

  • Exercise for health because it is the only intervention known to lower your risk of dying.  That means anyone who exercises on a regular basis is less likely to die.  Period.
  • Exercise for wellness because the right exercise program prevents the development of hypertension in over 50% of people.
  • Exercise for health because it is the only intervention (coupled with weight loss) that can cure diabetes
  • Exercise for wellness because it can prevent osteoporosis (brittle bone disease). And no drug can do that.
  • Exercise for health because this is the only life you have (for now) and you are in control of how well you live and how well you die.

GET MOVING! Live Better, Live Longer gives you an easy to follow guide on how to use exercise to prevent or treat the 6 major diseases of our society.  They include heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, chronic low back pain, osteoporosis and arthritis.

I have combined my medical training (double boarded in anesthesiology and pain management)  and masters in exercise physiology with 30 years of teaching exercise and dance to give you this step by step guide to get you started on the right program for you.

My mission is to lower the health care budget – one healthy person at a time. And that first healthy person is you.  As a doctor I recommend that you pick up this book and get started.  We’ll start together.  One baby step at a time.

FYI. If your personal trainer is not certified by the American College of Sports Medicine you might want to ask why.  It is the toughest of all the certifications and the trainers who have earned it have a high enough level of competency to ensure that he/she knows how to work with you both safely and effectively.