Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Many people are miserable this winter: feeling lethargic from eating too much junk food, spending too much time in front of screens and catching each cold that comes around. There is a solution to the winter doldrums: more exercise.

The empty calories in junk food don’t provide the nutrition needed for moving large muscles groups and thinking clearly. Too many chips and cookies will make anyone feel like a lump of clay unable to muster the oomph to get going. Thirty minutes of vigorous activity will stimulate the brain chemicals that will improve mood and cognition.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screen time to no more than one or two hours per day. Watching TV develops an appetite for junk food and many people overeat while watching. Screen time results in sleep loss and irregular sleep patterns; both are associated with fatigue and increased snacking. Excessive screen time leaves less time for active, creative play.

There is evidence that moderate daily activity decreases the incidence of colds. In a group of post-menopausal women, those ladies who exercised five times per week reported one-third fewer colds over one year.

Every member of the family will benefit from limiting “sit time.” In addition to limiting screen time, do something active. Challenge each other to see who can do the most pushups during a commercial break.

Even when stuck at home on a snow day, stick with a routine. Get some exercise. Give food the respect that it deserves. Sit at the table and enjoy your food rather than mindlessly snack at the keyboard. Go to bed at a reasonable hour.

Spring can’t get here fast enough.

Tips to reduce screen time. 

If you decide to exercise outdoors or want to stay inside.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Kudos to CVS

Much appreciation to the CVS Pharmacy chain: the announcement that they will stop selling tobacco products is an important step in health promotion. I would like them to continue the good work and stop selling soft drinks, chips, and other items that are contributing to the obesity crisis in America.

Look at photographs taken in the 1940's and 1950's - people were slender. Those were the days that pharmacies sold medicine, bandages and beauty products. It wouldn't be so terrible if both pharmacies and people took a step backward.

Monday, February 3, 2014


Osteoporosis is a common problem that results in thin weak bones that break easily. A hip fracture is a sudden event that can have life-changing consequences but not all bone fractures are as dramatic. Small fracture in the spine bones (vertebrae) can result in loss of height, a stooped posture and impaired breathing and digestion due to loss of volume in the chest and abdominal cavities. Both men and women should be concerned about bone health

Osteoporosis prevention starts in the teen years. Key factors are good eating habits, regular exercise and never smoking. The optimal diet to build good bones includes adequate calories and protein and optimal amounts of calcium and vitamin D. The main dietary sources of calcium include milk and other dairy products, such as cottage cheese, yogurt, or hard cheese, and green vegetables, such as kale and broccoli. A rough method of estimating dietary calcium intake is to multiply the number of dairy servings consumed each day by 300 mg. One serving is 8 oz of milk (236 mL) or yogurt (224 g), 1 oz (28 g) of hard cheese, or 16 oz (448 g) of cottage cheese. It’s unclear how much vitamin D a young person should take, but most guidelines recommend 600 IU daily.

Non-drug therapy underlies all osteoporosis prevention and therapy: adequate calcium and vitamin D, exercise, fall prevention, not smoking and limiting caffeine and alcohol intake. Medication may be needed. People with the highest risk of fracture are those most likely to benefit from drug therapy. The decision to add medication needs to be a shared patient-physician since the substantial benefits are associated with substantial risks

The National Osteoporosis Foundation has patient-friendly tips as well as links to new research and recommendations.