Walking sticks for Christmas?
Nordic walking is fun, burns a lot of calories.
It's no longer unusual to see people in the park
walking with "poles." It's called Nordic walking, and was developed in Scandinavian
countries as a training exercise for cross-country skiers.
Skiers start with basic walking with moderate pole
pushing and moved on to more and more exaggerated walking with more
powerful pole pushes.
In Nordic walking, you use more energy than in ordinary walking of
similar intensity. Your breathing increases. Your body consumes more
oxygen, and burns 20 percent more calories. Still, after a one-mile
course, participants in a Mayo Clinic study reported no significant difference
in the sense of exertion.
The extra calorie burn is caused by working the
muscles of your arms, shoulders, chest, back and torso. When you walk
with poles, you get the benefits of any ordinary walk with an upper body
Nordic walkers find the exercise is easier on the
hips, knees and lower back than ordinary walking. It promotes balance
and posture, and it gives anyone, the confidence to use walking as
When choosing poles, get those with a strap covering
most of the palm and back of your hand. They allow you to let go of the
pole as your swing it back, which is proper Nordic technique. As you
swing your arm forward, the pole snaps back into your hand.
In terms of length, your forearm should be about
level with the ground when you plant the pole vertically.
Rubber pole tips are helpful.
Bad cholesterol (LDL) still trumps the good kind (HDL)
Researchers at Duke University have found that
efforts to increase HDL, the good cholesterol, have little effect on
lowering cardiovascular disease risk.
They were surprised to find that having a high good
cholesterol number did not protect against having a heart attack.
The researchers also found that people with very low
levels of good cholesterol were more likely to have a heart attack, but
efforts to raise HDL didn't make much difference.
At the same time, they say doctors and patients
should focus on reducing bad cholesterol numbers with such steps as
stopping smoking, controlling blood pressure and blood sugar,
maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and taking a statin
if it's recommended.
One obesity specialist says the government's got it wrong
One expert says the government's claim that we eat
too much and don't exercise, which causes us to get fat, is mostly
Gary Taubes, the author of Why We Get Fat and an
independent investigator in health policy at the University of
California, Berkeley, says there are many examples of why it doesn't
In 1934, at the height of the Great Depression, there
was barely enough to eat, but there were so many fat kids in New York
City, a childhood obesity clinic was founded at Columbia University.
What people did eat were inexpensive, starchy or sweet foods that made
them gain weight.
There are many examples of obesity epidemics in
populations that barely had enough food for people to eat. One theory
has been around for decades but has largely been ignored. It implicates
refined sugars and grains because of their effect on the hormone
insulin, which regulates fat accumulation. The interaction can be found
in medical textbooks.
A recent study by the National Institutes of Health
shows that a low-carbohydrate diet, which reduces bread, pasta and
sweets, but emphasizes red meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, is
successful in preventing weight gain and achieving weight loss.
The government is right in saying we shouldn't eat
huge amounts of food, but what we do eat makes a big difference.
Be aware of the arthritis-anxiety-depression link
Doctors at Johns Hopkins University say about
one-third of arthritis patients over age 45 also suffer from anxiety,
depression or both. Most don't seek help for their mood disorder.
About 50 million Americans have rheumatoid arthritis,
osteoarthritis, gout, lupus or fibromyalgia. Together these conditions
are the leading cause of disability in the United States.
Studies by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) show that depression is common among all people with chronic pain,
but the CDC was surprised that anxiety was almost twice as common in
people with arthritis.
Anxiety can be caused by arthritis' physical
limitations, but lack of confidence to perform everyday tasks
contributes to it. They are obstacles to making lifestyle changes, like
physical activity, which can reduce pain.
The CDC says arthritis patients who believe they can
manage or influence their symptoms are more likely to have better
outcomes than those who don't believe they can. For information on
exercise, visit www.arthritis.com/exercise on the Web.