Balance and Osteoporosis
The April 1 newsletter from Sequoia Health is available to FitLink members at sequoiahealth.com
, or you can just scroll down to read it. The contents are...
Practice Your Balance; Save Your Life
The recent fall and subsequent death of a Hollywood star points out the
importance of balance. The ability to balance properly is critical to prevent
a life threatening fall. Every year thousands of people injure themselves because
of poor balance. In people over the age of 65, falls are the main cause of
serious injury and accidental death. Like many other functions in your
body, balance is learned and must be practiced on a daily basis. Increased
sitting times reduces your body's ability to balance. To counter act
sitting, specific balance exercises should be practiced every day.
The Balance Mechanism
Your eyes, inner ears, sensors on the bottom of the feet, (proprioceptors)
and brain are all responsible for helping keep your balance. When you
balance, signals from your eyes, inner ear and feet are sent to the brain
about the body's position in relation to its surroundings. These signals
are processed by the brain determining head angle, body position and
movement patterns. When all the signals are properly sent, your balance is
good; lack of signals from any of those areas can cause big problems.
What Can Go Wrong
Beyond all the other things that can go wrong with your balance systems-
inner ear infection, loss of feeling (neuropathy) in the legs and feet,
loss of eye sight or clear vision, vascular problems and brain tumor- the
number one reason for the loss of balance is a sedentary lifestyle.
Activity, especially walking and sports based activities, stimulate the
balance mechanisms and prevent deterioration as you get older. Coordinated
movement stimulates your body's balance mechanisms forcing them to stay
tuned and sharp.
Leg Strength and Its Role
Leg strength is a critical factor to good balance. Weak legs change the
way your lower body functions causing a shuffling of the feet to occur when
walking. Shuffling can lead to increased trips and falls. Strong legs allow
you to lift your feet properly when you walk and catch yourself if you do
trip or stumble preventing a fall in the first place. The best way to train
your legs to improve balance is through free squats with one dumbbell and
lunges. These exercises strengthen leg muscles while also stimulating your
Simple Ways to Stimulate Your Balance
Practicing your balance every day can be a real lifesaver. It can be as
simple as standing on one leg when you do the dishes or brush your teeth.
For athletes like runners, golfers and tennis players, good balance is
critical to strong athletic performance. For more active people looking to
improve their sport, lifting weights in a standing position instead of
sitting can make a big difference in overall balance. Standing while you
lift weights forces your balance mechanisms to keep you upright during the
Advanced Balance Practice
Once you have mastered balancing on one leg, more advanced techniques are
available to push your performance envelope. Advanced balance training
programs incorporate simple tools like BOSU balls, Airdex pads, ½ foam
rollers and balance boards. These tools create an uneven or movable surface
that further stimulates your balance mechanisms. Another good training
technique is to close your eyes when you balance. This interrupts your
visual system forcing the proprioceptors of the feet and legs to control
the balance mechanism. This advanced training technique is helpful for low
light or darkness conditions when your eyes are less effective at giving
feedback to the brain.
Osteoprosis... Myth or Fact?
A Must Read
The book, The Myth of Osteoporosis by Gillian Sanson, has been on the book
shelves since 2003. It is a must read for anyone interested in maintaining
healthy bones or diagnosed with low bone density or osteoporosis. Sanson
calls into question many of the so called "facts" about osteoporosis and
presents a compelling rethinking on how to live with and treat the
diagnosis. Her book is well written and researched with many references to
scientific papers and interviews with authorities in the medical community.
She goes on to suggest that many women are suffering unnecessary mental
anguish by the inaccurate diagnosis of osteoporosis. To many women, a
diagnosis of osteoporosis means easily broken bones and a humped over
posture. It also means a curtailment of normal healthy activities in an
effort to "protect" the bones. She also believes that many women are
scared into taking unnecessary drug therapies which result in a host
of unhealthy side effects.
Here are some highlights of her book:
Every Woman Over the Age of 50 is at Risk for Osteoporosis
The DXA testing that is used to measure bone density is not as reliable as we
have been told. The normal data used by manufactures is not standardized to
give accurate and consistent results which means large variations between
machines can exist. Your diagnosis of osteoporosis on one machine might be
a normal bone density reading on another.
No Good Correlation Exists Between Low Bone Density and Fractures
Whether your bones are fragile and will eventually fracture is not well predicted
by a low bone density diagnosis. In Sanson's research, she found almost no
correlation between bone strength and bone density. She studied populations
of women in the world with low bone density and found that they actually
had very low fracture rates. Bone density measurements were not able to
determine the strength of bones which is different from their density. The author
concluded that even though the so called "bone strengthening" drugs can
increase density, they don't necessarily increase strength.
The Myth of the Magic Bullet
No magic bullet exists to strengthen your bones; not drugs and not calcium
intake. Sanson notes that the "Got Milk" ads sell a lot of milk even when milk
consumption has actually been shown not to help strengthen bones. She also
found that groups of women that received the most calcium in their diet and
ate the most protein had weaker bones and more fractures than other groups.
Creating Strong Bones
Strong bones come from a healthy and balanced body. If you are concerned
about the health of your bones, take this little Strong Bone quiz. See how
many of the following questions you can answer YES to:
Strong Bone Quiz
1. I have a diet that contains more fruits and vegetables. Fruits and
veggies contain greater amounts of water and minerals with generally lesser
amounts of animal protein.
2. I get adequate water intake of at least 8 glasses a day. Water is very
important in helping the kidneys regulate pH and detoxify the body.
3. I practice daily stress reduction activities to help lower cortisol and
total body inflammation and reduce calcium loss.
4. My vitamin D3 levels have been tested (25-hydroxyvitamin D test) and
are in the 50-80 ng/mL (or 125-200 nM/L) all year long.
5. I get sufficient weight bearing exercise to stimulate muscle growth
that is essential for bone strengthening and is determined by regular full
body strength testing.
Reducing stress is the key to healthy bones. At any age, Fresh Start
Be Bone Strong! provides the education, motivation and accountability
necessary to improve your bones and health while helping you feel and
look your best. For a free Be Bone Strong! consultation, please call
Woody McMahon at 703-464-5171 or email to Woody@SequoiaHealth.com.
The Spring Cleaning: Pet Friendly Cleaning Tips
While cleaning may not be everyone's favorite activity, there is something
satisfying about throwing the windows wide open to let in the spring air.
Giving every room in the house a thorough cleaning is a great way to
welcome the change of seasons.
Dangers of Chemical-based Household Cleaners
But did you know that many commercial cleaning products can be extremely
toxic, even deadly, to your pets? Cats are especially susceptible to chemicals
since they groom themselves by licking and as a result ingest anything that comes
in contact with their feet or fur.
Many household cleaners contain contain hazardous ingredients such as
organic solvents and petroleum based chemicals which can release volatile
organic compounds into your indoor air. Some ingredients in household cleaners
are known to cause cancer in animals and are suspected human carcinogens.
Inappropriate use, storage and disposal of these hazardous household substances
may impact your personal health and the health of our environment. Lysol, Pine-sol
and other products containing phenols are deadly to cats as they can cause serious
liver damage. Chlorox bleach, especially when concentrated, can cause chemical
burns when it comes in contact with sensitive pet paws.
Non-toxic Cleaning Products
With the wide variety of naturally based and non-toxic cleaners available, there
is no need to continue to use unsafe, toxic products. Brands such as Seventh
Generation and Method offer every type of cleaner imaginable and are available
in all major grocery stores. If you have cats, try to steer clear of natural products containing essential oils. Even though many manufacturers of essential oils claim
that they are safe to use around cats, this is not always the case. Tea tree oil in
particular can be deadly to cats.
Some of the safest and least expensive cleaners are baking soda and white
distilled vinegar. Some suggestions for their use are:
# Pour a layer in the litterbox before adding fresh litter to quell odors
# Add 1/2 cup to the laundry to freshen pet bedding
# Use as an abrasive cleaner for sinks, bowls, and non-porous surfaces
White Distilled Vinegar:
# Use to disinfect feeding dishes, the litterbox, and non-porous toys
# Add 1 cup to the wash cycle to freshen and soften pet bedding
# Apply a diluted solution (one part vinegar and one part water) to help
remove the appearance and odor of urine stains from carpets
Baking soda and white vinegar combined make a great non-toxic drain cleaner
- pour some baking soda down the drain, follow with a cup or so of vinegar.
The mixture will foam, and the foaming action will clear your drain. Repeat if
necessary. For tough drains, follow with hot water.
If your pet does come into contact with toxic chemicals, contact the
ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 for help.
Ingrid King is a writer, Reiki Master Practitioner and owner of Healing Hands. Healing Hands provides Reiki for pets and people. Ingrid publishes periodic newsletters on alternative health topics for pets and people and a blog on conscious living for pets and people. For more information, and to subscribe to the Healing Hands newsletter, please visit www.pethealing.net
The Coach Connection
Making S.M.A.R.T Decisions
The Extra Edge
Keeping your health on track isn't as easy as it may seem. As subscribers to this
newsletter, I'm going to make the assumption that all of you are interested in
health; whether it's to improve balance, reduce stress, eat healthier meals, gain
flexibility, or rehabilitate an old injury. Despite the fact that exercise, nutrition and stress reduction are all important; did you ever wonder why it's so hard to stay focused and motivated? I would like to show how a life coach can empower you and make it easier to "do the right thing" as you develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
A Real Case Story
The best way to introduce the benefits of coaching is to share an actual client story.
The goal of one of my clients (I'll call her Sandy) is to have more fun and excitement in her life. She wants to go on hikes and do other physical activities with friends without struggling to keep-up. Sandy is overweight and does little exercise. She has tried several of the more recent fad diets with the usual yo-yo results. As long as she sticks with her diet, the weight loss is good. But like most people, eventually boredum sets in with the self-imposed eating restrictions, she breaks the diet and gains back all the weight and more. Sandy is frustrated and wants to create a balanced approach to her health; one that she can actually maintain.
My first step in helping Sandy restore balance is to explore her view and relationship with health. She knows that better health and weight loss are the result of getting more physically active, eating better and reducing stress. Sandy realizes she is not getting any closer to good health by just thinking about it. But she is still unsure of how to break the cycle.
I suggest the best way to break the current cycle is to view her situation differently.
I also discuss a second option which would be to just ignore her health and continue the current pattern. Sandy immediately counters that the current pattern is unacceptable because of a history of heart disease on both sides of her family; a history that is scary and makes her want to change.
Sandy could now see the future results of her inaction. So together it was time to develop S.M.A.R.T goals helping her with this newly identified relationship to her health. A S.M.A.R.T goal is one that is:
- I'm going to lose 20 pounds; not I'm going to lose some weight
- The scale and body measurements will reflect my healthier body; not I might feel a little better
- I'll sign-up for Fresh Start within 2 weeks and go 2 times a week; if not I'll join a gym sometime and go if I can.
- I'm doing this for me because I want to; I'm not doing this for my family, doctor, friends, etc.
- I'll finally be able to fully enjoy the activities with my friends; not I'll have some more energy.
You can think of S.M.A.R.T goals as a palindrome, one of those words that mean something different when spelled backwards. From that perspective, S.M.A.R.T becomes TRAMS, which is a vehicle to take you somewhere!
Just like in Sandy's case, coaching can create a safe and courageous space making it easier to explore your wildest dreams, re-invent your life and discover what makes your soul sing! Whether it's achieving optimal health, exploring a different career, starting your own business, or anything else imaginable, a life coach can guide you on your journey!
For more information on Life Coaching or to schedule a complimentary coaching session, please contact Patty Hagan of Lighthouse Coaching, LLC, at 703-742-8137 or email her at LighthouseCoaching@comcast.net.