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Archive for August, 2013

Top 10 Lifestyle Changes to Lower Alzheimer’s Disease Risk

August 29, 2013

Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 5 million people in the United States, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. This number could triple by the year 2050. While many factors play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s, people can make several lifestyle changes today to lower their risk for getting this devastating disease.

According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, below are the “top 10 rules” to live by to lower Alzheimer’s disease risk:

1. Give your brain a workout by engaging in mentally challenging games and tasks. Crossword puzzles, number games, word games and even learning a new skill or new task can strengthen existing brain connections and possibly generate new ones, making the brain stronger and healthier.

2. Give your body a workout, too. Staying physically active and maintaining a healthy weight contributes to your body’s overall health, including brain health. Physical activity promotes blood flow to the brain stimulating the growth of brain connections.

3. Feed your brain with foods that naturally lower cholesterol, fight high blood pressure, and are lower in fat. These foods also help guard against obesity, a leading risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Eat protective foods that research has shown can help protect brain cells and lower risk of heart disease and stroke. These include dark-skinned fruits and vegetables, which are high in antioxidants, fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, and some nuts.

5. Don’t let depression go untreated. Depression can affect both physical and intellectual health, both of which affect your risk for Alzheimer’s Disease.

6. Protect your heart and blood vessels. Blood flow and oxygen flow to the brain are crucial for maintaining optimum brain health. High blood pressure and heart disease limit blood and oxygen flow to the entire body, including the brain, raising the risk for cognitive problems.

7. Taking vitamin supplements every day can also help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s. Vitamins E, B12, C and folic acid all help support a healthy cardiovascular system and help the brain function at peak performance.

8. Remain socially active with friends, family and loved ones. These social bonds stimulate intellectual activity in the brain. Joining a club, volunteering or attending church can promote social well-being.

9. Get help to stop smoking, which is a habit with numerous negative health consequences including consequences for the brain.

10. Choose a doctor you feel comfortable with and follow his or her advice. Having great doctors is pointless if you don’t listen to and follow their medical guidance.

Lastly, we’ve added one final tip: use a health screening service like Life Line Screening to become aware of undiagnosed health conditions that could contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol. Knowing the state of your health can empower you with the ability to prevent more serious, life-altering problems down the road.




Why is Preventive Medicine So Rare?

August 28, 2013

Study after study points to the importance of preventative medicine for healthy lives. In the United States, the preventive healthcare gap is growing, especially when compared to European nations. If the benefits of preventive medicine are so abundant and well-known, why is it so rarely emphasized?

This topic was addressed in a recent Huffington Post article titled “Disease Prevention Celebrated But Rarely Practiced.” It discusses how preventative healthcare has the ability to limit the development and severity of many health conditions, yet the problem for many medical providers is convincing the patient that taking the precautions now will result in a positive effect in the future.

This situation also touches on many psychological issues that healthcare providers must address, such as:

  1. How can you convince someone of a potential hazard when it is not currently seen or felt?
  2. How do you make a significant enough impression to a healthy individual that the health they are enjoying may not last?
  3. How do you approach chronic health conditions and mortality in a way that will encourage the appropriate behavior without causing fear, avoidance, and denial?

With a distinct lack of drama involved in preventative medicine, it’s easy for people to neglect the opportunity to fully utilize practices to ensure their chances for better health at later dates. For example, it’s much more dramatic to treat cancer than it is to prevent it from developing in the first place with a HPV vaccine.

Too often people will wait until the moment in which their symptoms become overwhelming. No longer able to handle the pain or dysfunction, and with their lifestyle or physical ability now impacted, the person is spurred to seek medical care.

So, what can be done to promote preventive medicine? Harvey Fineberg, president of the U.S. Institute of Medicine, suggests a few ways:

  • Involving employers to promote health in the workplace and provide incentives to employees to maintain healthy practices.
  • Using a policy to reinforce choices that favor disease prevention.
  • Embedding prevention in popular culture.

“Some countries have done an excellent job with preventive strategies,” said Fineberg in the Huffington Post article. “Finland dramatically reduced its burden of cardiac disease…through a concerted program focused on the major cardiac risk factors.”

Placing a higher emphasis on disease prevention can have a positive impact on health – we’ve witnessed the benefits. Life Line Screening stands behind the notion that now is the time to push preventive medicine and keep people healthier before they get sick.

Learn more about Life Line Screening now.




How You Can Use a Pedometer to Give Your Workouts a Boost

August 27, 2013

Exercise is important for people of all ages. For seniors, exercise can help maintain a level of independence, provide more energy to do enjoyable activities, improve strength, flexibility and balance, and so much more.

Walking is a great form of exercise no matter how old you are, but it’s especially beneficial for those over age 50. According to ParentGiving.com, the average adult should be walking at least 10,000 steps per day from both exercise and daily activities. The problem is, you don’t go through your days counting how many steps you’re taking. So how can you know you’re walking enough every day?

That’s where pedometers come in. A pedometer is a small, lightweight fitness device. It has a motion sensor that can detect and track your physical activity and motivate you to do more. While exact features of pedometers may vary depending on the brand, many of them track distance in miles or kilometers, clip to a waste-band or belt and include things like a calorie calculator, a stopwatch and a clock.

By using a pedometer, you can get a baseline of the number of steps you’re taking per day. If you exercise using a pedometer, you can get a better idea of how influential your workout is. You can track your daily totals and push yourself to beat your previous total. Over time, you can look for ways to build up your number.

There is a general index used to quantify exercise levels in adults. Researchers from Walking Behavior Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, LA have outlined the following index:

  • Less than 5,000 steps per day – sedentary
  • 5,000 to 7,499 steps per day – low active
  • 7,500 to 9,999 steps per day – somewhat active
  • 10,000 steps per day – active
  • More than 12,500 steps per day – highly active

You don’t have to walk for an hour every day to earn the benefits of physical activity. Even taking a brisk walk for 10 minutes per day will help boost your health. The important part is you’re moving. You can build up your distance or time spent exercising gradually.

Do you use a pedometer when you exercise? What do you like or dislike about it? Please share with us in the comments below, or tweet to @Life_Line with the hashtag #MovementIsMedicine.




Your Weekly Inspiration: Take What You Need

August 26, 2013

Water. Food. Shelter. These are all essentials to daily living no matter your age, background, gender or location. We all need these necessities to survive.

But what about the things we can’t physically see or touch? Things like love, courage, peace and understanding. We need those things just as much as we need the physical things. Our health – both mental and physical – depends on all of these items.

For optimum health and lower disease risk, we all need to be happy. And having things like love, courage, peace, understanding, motivation, strength and passion can help us to be our happiest selves. Take what you need so you can give your body and mind the essentials they need to be happy and healthy.

healthy living: take only what you need




5 Health Benefits of Walking You Probably Didn’t Know

August 23, 2013

If you’re walking, you’re moving – and movement is medicine. We know the health benefits of moving because being physically active can lower risk of a variety of health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and more.

“Walking is the single best exercise we can recommend on a large scale,” said Bob Sallis, MD, physician-spokesperson for Everybody Walk!, a national public health campaign from Kaiser Permanente, in a Grandparents.com article. “Exercise is like a medication we should be prescribing for our patients…and the simplest exercise prescription is walking.”

Did you know there are more surprising health benefits of walking that you might not be aware of? Let’s explore them below:

One 15-minute walk after you eat dinner can lower your blood sugar.
That’s right – just 15 minutes of walking after dinner can lower your blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours. How? Walking burns up the sugar in your blood and strengthens your muscles so blood sugar can be used more efficiently.

For heart health, walking is just as good as running.
Hard to believe? Researchers examined long-term studies of runners and walkers and found that if you cover the same distance, your heart still benefits the same. Walking has the same health benefits for your heart, it just takes a little longer.

Walking is a direct stress and anxiety-reducer.
If you want a reliable way to lower your stress and/or anxiety levels, try walking. Especially among women going through menopause, walking has been seen to aid in stress-relief. Studies have shown that they more you walk, the greater the reduction in stress, anxiety and depression.

More walking means higher quality of life.
A study among men over 55 found that the more steps the men took, the better their physical and mental health. Those who walk have higher quality of life than those who don’t walk.

How fast you can walk is a good indicator of how long you’ll live.
If you can walk at a moderate pace as you age, studies show you may live longer than those who can’t. One Australia study found that among a group of men over age 70, those who passed away were primarily slow walkers, averaging just 1.8 miles per hour. Among those who could walk 3 miles per hour, none died.

The bottom line is this: walking is good for your health. If you’re walking you’re staying active, and that’s one of the best forms of medicine for your body. Movement is medicine, after all.

What’s your go-to form of exercise? If you like walking, what do you do to keep it enjoyable? Share with us in the comments below, or tweet it to @Life_Line with the hashtag #MovementIsMedicine.




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