Fix your walking habits
The Harvard Medical School advises that, with a little work, it’s possible to correct ingrained walking habits while exercising.
- Look ahead. Lift up from the top of your head. Don’t tuck your chin or look at the ground but train your sights 10 to 20 feet ahead of you. If you need to check the ground, lower your eyes, not your head.
- Stretch your spine. Your shoulders should be level and square, neither thrust back nor slumped forward. Tuck your buttocks in.
- Bend your arms. Flex your elbows at close to 90 degree angles and let your arms swing at waist level. Your fingers should be curled but not clenched.
- Swivel your hips. A slight pivot at the hip can add power to your stride.
- Flex your feet. Come down on your heels and lift up off your toes. A person walking behind you should be able to see the sole of your shoe.
- Take measured steps. Too long a stride throws you off balance. Concentrate on taking shorter steps but more of them.
New prostate cancer test
The New York Times reports that the FDA has approved a test that can locate prostate cancer cells wherever they are, and cancer specialists say it will alter treatment for patients nationwide. The test relies on a radioactive tag attached to a molecule that homes in on prostate cancer cells that have spread to other locations in the body and may seed new tumors. Specialists are hoping to use the technique to kill cancer cells, not just find them.
Medications as effective as stents
The latest study reported last November at the American Heart Association meeting shows that patients with stable coronary artery disease can be managed with medications and healthy lifestyles. The ISCHEMIA trial followed 5,000 patients with significant narrowing in one or more coronary arteries. The trial suggests that medications are just as good at preventing heart attacks and death in stable patients. For those limited by angina, stents can provide symptom control but not prevention of heart attacks or death.
Pandemic slows FDA approval for OTC hearing aids
The Federal Drug Administration was scheduled to issue draft regulations by last August to establish safety and effectiveness benchmarks for over-the-counter hearing aids. Legislation passed in 2017. The final rule was to take effect in May. Now manufacturers are hopeful 2021 will be the year.
While experts say the “$50 miracle device” is garbage, once federal requirements are set, manufacturers of quality devices can apply for approval, and you’ll be able to walk into any big-box or drug store or even go online and get a hearing aid. Audiologists will still provide important services such as testing, education and counseling, and adjusting devices.
One quarter of Americans in their 60s and nearly two-thirds of those over 70 have hearing loss. Its damaging consequences can include social isolation, an increased risk of falls, and much higher rates of dementia.
In 2018, only about 18.5 percent of Medicare beneficiaries over 70 owned and used hearing aids. Cost is the big deterrent for most people since Medicare only covers testing, not the hardware.
A Better Understanding of Alzheimer’s Disease
Some very good news to report when it comes to battling Alzheimer’s disease. A novel form of an Alzheimer’s protein found in the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord indicates what stage of the disease a person is in, according to a study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The discovery of so-called microtubule binding region tau (MTBR tau) in the cerebrospinal fluid could lead to a way to diagnose people in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease, before they have symptoms or when their symptoms are still mild. It also could accelerate efforts to find treatments for the devastating disease. The Medical Minute
A Cup of Hot Chocolate May Boost Brain Power
Grab a cup of hot chocolate the next time you have a taxing problem to tackle. Increased consumption of flavanols, which are a group of molecules that occur naturally in fruit and vegetables, may increase your mental agility, according to new research at the University of Birmingham in England. A team in the University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences has found that adults given a cocoa drink containing high levels of flavanols were able to complete certain cognitive tasks more efficiently than when drinking a non-flavanol- enriched drink. The Medical Minute
California olive oil stands the test
In 2014, California began standardized testing of olive oil. AARP reports that in 2017, unregulated extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) were below standard 82 percent of the time; regulated only failed 10 percent of the time. One to two tablespoons a day has been shown to lower cholesterol. The more potent an oil’s flavor, the more powerful its protective effects. If you feel a slight burn at the back of your throat, that means it has high levels of oleocanthal, the polyphenol shown to bust up Alzheimer’s plaques.
Consumer Reports says:
Eggs from chickens raised with “no hormones” are not worth any extra money. By law, chickens that produce eggs cannot be given hormones. And you’ll get less mercury in your tuna, one third less, if you eat chunk light rather than albacore.
Plank is ideal exercise for your core
Your core covers the muscle groups in your abdominals, back, hips, pelvis and buttocks. If your core is weak, other muscles must compensate and that can lead to lingering pain in other areas such as your neck, shoulders or back. According to the Harvard Men’s Health Watch, plank activates all the core muscles at once and doesn’t require extra movements that can cause stress or injury. Two to three sets a day of ten to 30 seconds each is plenty—more than two minutes offers little benefit.
Here’s how to do a plank correctly:
- Lie facedown with your forearms on the floor, legs extended and feet together.
- Push into your forearms (or your arms fully extended) so your body forms a straight line
- from head to feet. Don’t let hips sag or rise.
Keep your gaze down and engage your abdominal muscles. Take steady breaths.
- Maintain for 10 to 30 seconds, then lower. That’s one set.