This week's 4 Most Valuable pieces of content that I found to help you live longer better (and might save you a little money). These four articles stood out to me this week:
This is the first edition of my weekly 4 Most Valuable pieces of content I can find to help you live longer better.
I read a lot of articles each week. A lot are just factory-produced content for Google. A lot are search engine headlines with little substance. A lot do not gel with my 20 years of experience exercising and my Professional Diploma in Sports Nutrition.
But some have very useful hints and "how tos". I pick four of these a week to share with you. I also add my insights, generally to explain the "why" so that you have more motivation to try.
These four articles stood out to me this week:
It's not "why me" that matters when you have cancer - although I've heard this often.
I've had two different aggressive cancers. How you react is very individual but "why me" won’t help you or the people around you.
Recently on "24 Hours In Emergency" (UK Channel 4) a middle-aged woman was admitted with abnormally low blood pressure. The doctors fixed that quickly with drugs and then sent her for a scan.
The scan picked up a cancer. Unfortunately, it was malignant.
In the outro interview, she lamented "why me". There was a pregnant silence as the outro faded on her numb expression.
If you can stand then you can exercise - what to do next when you have sprains, strains and injuries (and you are 50+)
It's a downward spiral if we stop exercising because of pain or injury. Of course, sometimes it's "doctor's orders" and then you need to obey. And if you don’t have good body awareness then you can cause compensation stress in other parts of your body.
That said, in my experience, most people give up too easily.
If you can stand without troubling pain then you can do something. If you've not been exercising then you can start, with something gentle. If you've been exercising then you have a chance to keep up and not lose all of your hard-won gains while you recover from your injury.
Think about people with chronic pain. Some have a fear of exercise and avoid movement. They often get worse. Others manage their fears and regain their confidence by starting and sticking with an exercise plan. They get better - first mentally and then physically.
You may have seen warnings about the health dangers of sitting for prolonged periods.
There is now clear evidence that prolonged sitting is adversely associated with health outcomes, including cardio-metabolic, type 2 diabetes and premature mortality.
A recent study of 149,077 Australian adults who were followed for nine years found that the more time participants spent sedentary, the greater their risk of death.
For example, among adults that reported no regular exercise, those who spent eight or more hours a day sitting had 52% greater risk of death.
What is more frightening is that researchers have also claimed that prolonged sitting negates the health benefits from exercise even among very active individuals.
Be careful while brushing your teeth
The thought of a bad back strikes fear into all of us.
We know people living with bad backs and it's painful just watching them live their daily life.
My wife hit the wall with her back in too many falls as a short-track speed skater in Japan. She has chronic pain from fractured vertebrae. To be honest, I can't image how hard it must be to live with that every day.
As it turns out, the source of common back pain is a bit of an enigma.
We most often think of injuring ourselves during heavy lifting. But statistically 95% of people experience a back injury as a result of something like bending over to brush their teeth !
Last week ABC TV (Australia) ran a program on their Catalyst series of science programs revealing how we can all "improve our healthspan by making simple changes to the way we live our lives" (watch or download the program here).
The show featured retired newsreader Ian Henderson on a quest to find "the secrets of ageing healthily" - a subject close to my heart. I must say that as someone well-versed in the "secrets" I heard only one new one, which I'll explore below. But it is fantastic to see these ideas put out into the mainstream and made more accessible to everyone. I enjoyed his discoveries and his enthusiasm, and the more of these kind of practical education shows the better.
I'll summarise his key findings here, accompanied by my own insights in also discovering and applying these things over the last 20 years. That might help fast-track you to picking up on those which appeal to you most and also those which give you the most bang for your exercise buck.
What I knew about my eldest brother (Harry) was relatively little. Only that he'd had a brutal upbringing - at the hands of both our mother and our father. He'd learnt to box at an early age at the Botany Boys Club and this catalyzed in him an intensely deep-seated sense of manhood.
He went on to ride motorbikes before he had a license, knocked out two of my father's front teeth in one of their confrontations, and had been stabbed in the back by a large kitchen knife thrown at him by my mother as he ran from her rage.
He left home before I was born, was in trouble with the law, spent time in Pentridge Prison. and had fled to work in New Britain (Papua New Guinea) for 15 years in about 1960 (shortly after Mum died - after spending time in a psychiatric institution).
The phone call
I knew that Harry had been living in Darwin for decades - 3,200km from me in Melbourne as the crow flies and 40 hours by road. When my phone rang 4 weeks ago with a caller id of "Darwin" I wondered what was coming.
Over 50 and hit a plateau? Here's what to do
You're consistent with your training, but losing your motivation because you've hit a plateau.
Sound familiar? If you are consistent it should, because it happens to us all. I've noticed over the last 20 years of training that as we get older the plateaus get longer. I've had a few people lately express frustration with their plateaus, but don’t give up - all will be well. It's by perseverance that your fitness will get to the next level of reward for you.
Things to try, to avoid medication
Unfortunately stress and anxiety are the hallmarks of the 21st century. Just before Xmas 2018, on a local TV show, 3 soccer moms were discussing their plans in the lead-up to Xmas. What kind of shocked me was when they all agreed that there was "so much pressure, so much stress".
Objectively, Xmas is a neutral event. It is not inherently stressful nor without stress. It is our beliefs and reactions which are "stressful", not the event. But knowing that that wouldn't help the three moms. The tips in this post will help to relieve this type of stress, which is an outcome of our beliefs.
In addition to these societal changes it is well know the rate of depression increases as we age. This is a complicated process with some key factors driving it being imbalances in neurotransmitters, atrophication of the amygdala - the region of the brain most important for controlling mood - and a shrinking hippocampus. Research shows that the hippocampus is smaller in some depressed people. These factors are all "natural" by-products of aging.
Here's the good news. You can slow the rate of aging and combat some of the effects of stress and depression - whatever the cause - using the following four techniques.
Since I was diagnosed at 50 with Type 2 diabetes I've been learning how to do bone-building body-shaping training for people our age. You can too. It's your choice. Walter