With the global AIDS crisis, the hard lessons of events like Hurricane Katrina, and worldwide health threats like tuberculosis (yes, it’s coming back) and even the flu, now just might be the time for our government to step up to the plate and find a way to direct more dollars to public health – if not tax dollars, how about better support for organizations that raise funds for such serious health issues? It’s not happening. A report in Time recently revealed some of the funding cuts the government has passed for the CDC (Centers for Disease Control):
Funds for AIDS prevention: cut 19%
Funds for tuberculosis control: cut 16%
Funds for unexpected health emergencies: cut 17%
The CDC is currently in its own quagmire of corruption and ineptitude, and genius budget cuts like the above certainly don’t help. I mention this news simply to highlight the incredible urgency of taking responsibility for your health and well-being. Though ideally we hope to trust our government, our health agencies, and our doctors to look out for our best health interests, the fact is this doesn’t happen all the time – now more than ever. Whether you like the direction health care appears to be heading (Arnold is seeking universal health care and other states are following suit) or not, there are plenty of compelling reasons to do all that you can to take care of your health through as many means as you have at your disposal.
Fortunately, you can achieve significant improvements in health through some very basic, preventive lifestyle measures. It’s my goal to help you choose and implement those health options.
A nutritious diet, stress management, regular exercise, judicious supplementation and careful health decisions are the fundamental steps everyone can take to prevent and even reverse many health problems.
Bottom line: Your health is your choice. Choose it.
Mark’s Weekly Health Challenge to you:
Every day this week, either get yourself outside or to the gym. No excuses (sky falling? Okay). Working out every day, all the time, isn’t totally necessary, but it certainly is good for you – and you’ll feel amazing come the weekend. Commit to at least 30 minutes every day this week.
There’s a lot of advice about exercise floating around out there. Everyone knows they need to work out, yet most of us don’t (well, everyone except you, dear Apples – right?). The big problem is motivation.
Let’s face it: we just don’t feel like it.
- We know we need to.
- Once we get going, we usually like it (or at least, it’s not a totally miserable experience).
- We always feel better afterwards.
- We sleep better that night.
- We feel really confident and light-hearted for the rest of the day.
- We love that good soreness the next morning.
And yet…we still refuse to exercise habitually.
Things that are officially easier than forming an exercise habit:
- House-training a puppy.
- Cleaning the outside of the windows on the second floor. With a broken squeegee.
- Spending the weekend with your mother-in-law. Alone. In a motel.
- Changing a flat tire in your best suit.
- Spreading cold butter on bread.
- Getting a real person when you call customer service.
- Peace in the Middle East.
If you aren’t going to exercise, you aren’t going to exercise – end of story. If you really want to get fit this year, or simply fitter, there’s one surefire way to do it: stop thinking about it and don’t wait until you feel like it. Nike is right: just do it. A lot of exercise advice focuses on convincing you that you need to work out. But please, you’re smart – you already know that much. And you know exercise is good for you. So, if you’re serious about finding motivation, here are 5 guaranteed motivation tips:
1. Click here to see what will happen to you if you do not work out.
2. Click here to see what can happen to you if you do work out.
3. Instead of swearing you’ll exercise or promising to stick to a workout regimen, commit to health the easy way: just commit to putting on your sneakers. Really and truly, that is 90% of the battle. Don’t think about working out; only think about putting on your shoes. Do that, and it’s instantly easier to start the workout. Even if you only do 10 minutes, at least you did something! We promise this works. So commit to shoes.
4. Ask us for encouragement. We are completely wrapped up in the thought of helping you get fit and healthy this year!
5. Don’t overestimate yourself. People set hugely unrealistic goals. We think we could all look like Cindy Crawford if we felt like it. We work out a few times, nothing happens, and…we’re back to lifestyle circa 2006. If you’re not really habituated to working out, it is harder than you think. That’s okay. It’s actually healthy to accept that. Set smaller, more realistic goals. And we mean small. 10 sit-ups a day. 5 push-ups. A jog to the end of the block and back. A walk to the store. Get used to simply moving every day – and do this for at least a few weeks before you try anything new.
It’s kind of annoying to start slow and small, because we naturally want big results and we naturally overestimate our abilities and commitment. Hey, holding too much stock in our capabilities is a huge blessing for the most part – it’s actually built into our DNA! But be aware of this tendency. You really do need to be gentle and patient with yourself. You really do need to go slow. And you really will get better results if you start small.
Between bird flu, Rhode Island school closures, conjoined children, the new WHO director, an ethical debate about a disabled daughter, and the ruckus over human-animal DNA splicing, it’s been quite a controversial and bizarre week in the world of science and health.
Frankly, I’ll leave these stories to Google and all the pundits chomping at the 5 o’clock Friday bit. If you’re looking for a little bit of a breather from all this, the Bees have gone hunting for the latest study findings in the field of health, and here’s the best of the catch:
1 – My favorite kind of study: one that’s randomized, placebo-controlled, and long-term (in this case, nearly 7 years!). The findings reveal that supplementing with zinc helps fight aging and age-related diseases, macular degeneration, and oxidation. It’s one of the better-designed studies I’ve seen on zinc. Although, quick note – long-term supplementation with zinc needs to be kept at a fairly low dosage and quality source such as found here. Here is the American Journal of Ophthalmology Clickativity for those who want the nitty-gritty.
2 – A researcher named Bruce. Now here’s a guy I like. He writes a terrific essay on the need for particular nutrients to mitigate certain effects of aging, cancer risk, and cellular function, and is upfront about his conflict of interest (he’s part of a scientific advisory board involved in the licensing of a supplement that supports mitochondria). Nevertheless, he doesn’t profit, his findings are spot-on, and I appreciate the academic honesty. That’s more than can be said for a lot of conflicts of interest in the medical industry that get hushed.
We’ll be getting into ATP, stress, oxidation and mitochondria in the future to help you understand why our bodies age and weaken the way they do, and what can be done about it (first tip: take a potent multivitamin with antioxidants, and lay off the sugar). But Bruce’s summary is worth perusing for a quick minute. The more you can do to stop oxidation at the cellular level, the better your health will be in myriad ways: wrinkling and aging, energy, immunity, cognition, disease prevention, liver function, nervous system function, cardiovascular health, and so on. There is a common component to many diseases, illnesses and dysfunctions of the body – it’s cell damage.
3 – Exercise improves life in your golden years. A study from the Journal of Gerontology highlights the critical need for folks over 60 to continue building their strength through exercise. Aging is essentially a process of tissue wasting away – hair, organs, vital fats, muscle and bone tissue, and even brain tissue. Exercise, particularly strength training, offsets this process to the extent that is possible. Living long is great – but I’m interested in living well, too. I’m sure you are as well. Exercise later in life is also critical for maintaining confidence, emotional happiness, and a sense of security – all important things for everybody but especially seniors. Medline Plus, a public service resource, summarizes the study nicely and offers some fitness tips. It also stresses the importance of a structured workout regimen: we humans do thrive on just a little bit of routine.
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