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February Awareness
March: Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease expressed as a decrease in bone mass and density. This usually results in fractures and breaks much more easily than the average person. According to the NIH it effects 1 in 5 women over 50 and 1 in 20 men over 50. Bone is a living tissue that is extremely important. Not only for the structure of our bodies but also for generating red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It also stores calcium and phosphorus. As such, it is very important that we preserve as much bone as possible and keep it as healthy as possible.

Osteoporosis occurs when creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the loss of old bone. With this being the case, we need to keep bones healthy. Eating disorders, low calcium intake, steroids, and certain medical conditions such as: celiac disease, cancer, and Rheumatoid Arthritis can all reduce bone strength and structure. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be your outcome. Staying active, getting enough calcium, vitamin D and plenty of protein each day, as well as quitting smoking can all have a significant impact on keeping your bones strong and healthy. Getting hormone levels checked can also have a significant impact on bone health.

For more healthy lifestyle tips, goal-setting techniques, and general health and fitness related questions, please e-mail Vantage’s Wellness Team at (VantageWellness@vhpla.com).




February Awareness
February: Resistance Training vs Cardio

Resistance training and cardio. Two very different but equally important aspects of training to live a healthy life. Although resistance training had a bad rap in the past it has been shown to be extremely effective at weight loss and strength gain. Cardio, such as running, can do wonders for the cardiovascular system and your endurance.

Resistance training is simply moving the body against resistance. That resistance could be 100s of pounds of steel in the gym or simply our own body weight while moving through space. Resistance training covers a wide range of movements and methodologies. Olympic lifting, strongman, CrossFit, chair aerobics, and even tai chi could all involve a measure of resistance training. Resistance training is an absolutely essential portion of keeping the body healthy and strong.

Cardio or Cardiovascular Endurance Training is basically anything that raises your heart and breath rate and improves the function of the heart, lungs, and circulatory system. This is another pillar to health that we should all be working on. Cardio includes walking, running, jumping jacks, swimming, and so many other modalities. Strength training could even benefit and be similar to cardio.

The debate between these two training modalities is completely unnecessary and unhelpful. Both, along with balance and stability, form the pyramid of physical exercise. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, needs all to be at their best physically. The elderly are especially vulnerable to not doing enough of either of these. Without strength training it will be difficult, as we age, to maintain muscle and strength. As we know, muscle and strength are so extremely tied to health and longevity that one cannot be fully healthy without them. Without cardio, it is very difficult to maintain enough endurance even to do simple things in life such as walk up a flight of stairs or walk down long corridors. Both are absolutely necessary.

The best approach would be to alternate or include bouts of cardio between lifting sessions. For example: Resistance training Mon, Wed, Fri with Cardio Tues and Thurs. The main focus should be resistance training to build and maintain muscle, with cardio to round out health, aid in recovery, and increase endurance. I am here to tell you that women are at no risk of accidentally “gaining too much muscle.” I’m also here to tell you that cardio will not take away “gains”, and in fact, if used appropriately can improve strength gains. Finally, the elderly should actively seek resistance training. Do not avoid lifting weights and strengthening yourself. If you do not feel comfortable approaching this on your own, find a trainer or exercise instructor to ensure that you keep good form and drastically reduce any chance of injury.

There should be no disparagement between Resistance training and Cardio. Both are key components of a healthy life, and both should be valued as such. Take your time, educate yourself about each, and incorporate both into your weekly exercise routine.

For more healthy lifestyle tips, goal-setting techniques, and general health and fitness related questions, please e-mail Vantage’s Wellness Team at (VantageWellness@vhpla.com).




January Awareness
January: Falls

Falling is an increasingly serious health problem for many as we age. According to the CDC, more than one out of four older people fall each year and unfortunately falling once doubles your chances of falling again. This is a very real issue to be aware of but fortunately there are things that can be done to mitigate and reduce the chance and severity of falls. See our wonderful therapists and doctors to figure out the best ways for you to keep moving and avoid falls.

The major contributor to falls being so deleterious is the injury that can come from the fall. Hip fractures, broken bones, and head injuries being among the worst cases. With 800,000 a year for hip injury or fracture and falls being the most common cause of TBI (traumatic brain injury). Not only does a fall affect us physically it can affect us mentally, especially more traumatic falls. This can cause fear when approaching stairs, exercise, or just being more active in general. This increase in fear and reduction in movement cascades into lower and lower quality of life and mobility.

The effect of falls only increases after the first fall. As stated, falling once doubles your chances of falling again. The downtime and recovery make one weaker, losing a percentage of the strength they once had depending on how long the recovery may be. This weakness can increase likelihood of falling. Then the fear of walking and exercising makes it more difficult to recover strength, also increasing likelihood of falling. Finally, if there is an injury to the hip, head, or leg, often regardless of if there was a full recovery, that spot will be more susceptible to follow up injuries. It is a calamity of events that needs to be defended against fervently.

Strength is so very important, high blood pressure has a 20% hazard ratio regarding longevity risk factor. Smoking has a 50% hazard ratio. Being weak relative to being strong is a 250% hazard ratio. Strength is manifested in almost every way you move and interact with the world. Being stronger is healthier than not. Grip strength is a huge contributor to possible falls, with a higher grip strength reducing fall likelihood. Stronger legs as well as a stronger core can reduce falls. Strength is gold and should be hoarded as much as possible. The dangerous cycle of strength loss is difficult to fight. As we age, we have what is called sarcopenia, or loss of muscle mass specifically related to aging. Then, living a sedentary life or any time spent in bed rest will directly reduce the loss of strength and muscle mass. Followed by a fear of or reduction in exercise after falling or injury further reducing muscle mass and strength. This vicious cycle can kill.

Although things seem bleak, there are things that can be done to reduce the destructive nature of falls. Exercise as if your life depended on it because it does. Exercise can positively affect nearly every aspect of your body and life. Strength can reduce the damage of a fall and mean the difference between holding onto a railing or falling down stairs. Balance training and awareness are massively important, contributing directly to fall prevention. We will not always be able to have a walker or be on flat even ground. Preparing for the time that we will trip, or stumble will pay dividends. Picking up the foot as you walk, often-times the toe is left to point down or drag as one walks. This increases the likelihood that it will get caught on something as you step over it or even drag on the floor. Strengthen the foot and calf muscles and be cognizant of toe position as you walk. Finally, reduce weight if possible. According to studies: “Older obese individuals have an increased risk of falls and obese fallers have a higher prevalence of pain and inactivity than fallers of a healthy weight.” (pubmed.gov). Maintaining healthy weight is best for overall health, reduction of injury and disease chance, and best for increase in quality of life.

Falls are a dangerous and serious thing to be aware of. However, they should not paralyze us in fear and prevent exercise and living our lives. Approach it with a healthy respect, do what you can to minimize its chances, and stay as strong as you can for as long as you can.

For more healthy lifestyle tips, goal-setting techniques, and general health and fitness related questions, please e-mail Vantage’s Wellness Team at (VantageWellness@vhpla.com).




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