Saturday, May 16, 2015

Please take the time to click on the link below and read the story of Courtney Alexander. She is an incredibly articulate, intelligent, caring and lucky woman.  Her life was nearly cut short by a somewhat rare condition known as Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection or SCAD.  Because her husband knew CPR and the police nearby happened to have an automated defibrillator (AED) in the backseat of their cruiser her life was saved. Courtney developed a cardiac arrest as a result of her SCAD event. Her very well written and touching piece below stresses the importance of learning CPR and the emphasizes the need for more widely available AED's.  Her story also sheds light on the fact that young, previously healthy men and women can develop heart disease out of the blue and should not be discounted just because they don't look like the typical heart disease patient.  I applaud Courtney for sharing her story.  In my own practice I have encountered several patients whose stories are similar and I know of at least 9 children who have mothers alive today thanks to immediate bystander CPR and defibrillation with an AED.  Check with your local AHA affiliate and find out what you can do to help raise awareness and please learn Hands Only CPR and teach it to your friends.  

Courtney's Story:

Hands Only CPR:

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day to all you Moms, Grandmoms, Stepmoms and Moms-to-be.  What a joy and privilege it is to have these titles.  I would like to dedicate my blog today to my Mom, Betty Wood and my Grandmother Ella James.  These two ladies demonstrated on a daily basis what the word truly means.  My Grandma was warm, caring, generous and funny.  She assumed  the role of mother at 6 years of age when she took over the responsibility for her younger sister.  She worked in a restaurant in the dust bowl of Oklahoma to earn money to support her family.  Her kind heart and generous spirit were her trademark features. Every stray dog and cat in her town knew they could always find a home with Ella. She also took care of neighbors in need and even brought them into her home to care for them when no family was available to do this. Her many grandchildren and great-grandchildren hold such special memories of time spent w Grandma Ella.  Her daughter, my Mom, was a gal of the 40's. She became a teacher before she had even finished college due to the lack of teachers at that time.  She then went on to pursue advanced degrees in education and ultimately worked at a teacher's college sharing her gifts as a teacher with teachers-in-training.  Many of her former students have remarked to me that my Mom was the first person who believed in them and that confidence helped pull them out of a rut and boosted them along their way.  My Mom was also truly beautiful inside and out. She was classy, funny and smart.  I loved to travel with her because she never met a stranger.  I would hope that I have been fortunate enough to carry a bit of Ella and Betty inside of me and hopefully that I have passed this along to my beautiful daughters Caitlin and Ciara. Have a great day and spend time with the people you love.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The sun is out, the flowers are blooming and Boston is once again the gem of the Northeast (in my view at least).  The weather and longer days are certainly motivation to get out and move. Now is a great time to set a new goal for yourself. Maybe getting out of bed 30 minutes earlier and getting that brisk walk, run or bike in before your hectic day gets started.  I would like to give a shout out to my colleague and friend Dr. Gloria Yeh who along with her co-authors published an article describing the cardiovascular benefits of Yoga. It is nicely described in the Harvard Health Blog. I have incorporated yoga into my health routine and it is amazing the changes I have noticed. Better sleep, more flexibility and improved performance. I strongly encourage you to try yoga, find a studio and bring a friend!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

One month away!

Just one month until Thinfluence is released by Rodale press! The book a collaborative effort which I have written with my co-authors Dr. Walter Willett and Dan Childs examines the powerful effect friends, co-workers, family and even our surroundings have on our weight! We provide a constructive action plan for making changes in these important domains in our life.  Pre-order your copy today!Buy the book Thinfluence

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Exercise Benefits Brain Function as We Age

In the study above, researchers found that Seniors who both rode a stationary bike and  played a racing game demonstrated improvement in their overall executive function on testing as compared with riding the  bike alone.  This type of synergistic activity in the study reduced progression of mild cognitive impairment by 23%.

Here is a paragraph from our book  Smart at Heart where we discuss the cognitive benefits of exercise:

Multiple studies have shown that people who exercise regularly have a reduced risk of Alzheimer's and other cognitive disorders, and othere studies have determine that aerobic exercise enhances memore and brain function.  Wanting to investigate the effect of resistance training, researchers at the University of British Columbia put 106 women, ages sixty-five to seventy-five, on a strength-training program either once or twice a week for thirty-minute sessions.  The eight-move program included exercises for the major muscle groups, like leg presses, bicep curls, and hamstring curls.  After a year, both groups improved their cognitive function (the ability to reason, organize, and decide) by 10-12 percent, while a control group, which did balance and tone training (read: not as intense exercsie) lost 0.5 percent of their cognitive function.* I find this study to be very exciting; as little as thirty minutes weekly of resistance training doesn't just make your body stronger- it makes your mind stronger too. 
So my take is that it is never to late to start exercising. Even a little bit has a huge impact on your overall health.  Here are just a few benefits:  You'll have a longer life, you will build a stronger less disease-prone heart, you will enjoy better quality of life, you are likely to be leaner than if you don't exercise which means less risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, degenerative joint disease and the many other health issues associated with being overweight. 

*T. Liu-Ambrose, et al., "Resistance Training and Executive Functions:  A 12-Month Randomized Controled Trial," Archives of Internal Medicine 170, no 2 (2010: 170-78)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Get fit on a budget...In winter!

Living in Massachusetts, I am no stranger to cold weather and long dark days!
Last year I received a Jillian Michaels DVD for a Christmas gift and really switched it up.
Her approach to fitness, in your own home, at your own pace is right on!
Most everyone has a DVD player or computer with internet access.
Having an inspirational trainer like JM right in your living room is a great way to get started- on a shoestring.
And for those of you who complain that they just don't have time to work out....Come on ...Everyone has 20 minutes a day they can spend getting fit....Long term benefits are reduced weight , better sleep, less risk of diabetes and heart disease...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Technology helps!

One of my patients, a businessman and father of four who found himself 45 lbs overweight woke up one morning, didn't like what he saw in the mirrow and turned it all around. He started training and modified his diet and managed his stress.  He lost 50 lbs over the course of one year and started competing in triathlons. He is now a very accomplished triathlete and has found that exercise was a great way to manage his stress.  At his last visit he told me about a new app:  myfitnesspal.. This tool tracks your weight, activity and diet.  The app has a huge dictionary of food items and gives you the nutritional content.  As long as you are honest about your intake it gives you the straight scoop on days to get to your target weight.