Monday, July 9, 2018

Garnet Goes Hiking


This week’s blog was written by Garnet, my son’s dog. His voice sounds like Scooby Doo would sound if Scooby Doo talked.

My name is Garnet and I’m a dog. Uh, last week on July 4th, I spent the day with Granmama and Pa Tim. My dad went to Savannah and he didn’t take me. But Granmama and Pa Tim took me to the mountains. We went to Table Rock. I’d never been there before, but we climbed a mountain. First we went to buy some fried chicken and had a picnic. Well, uh, Granmama and Pa Tim had a picnic, but all I got was a few bites of a Bojangles biscuit. I think it was good, but I didn’t really taste it, because I don’t chew much. I just swallow food.

Uh, then after the picnic, we got in the car and drove to Table Rock. Pa Tim went into a building and I stayed outside with Granmama. When he came out of the building, we started walking up the mountain. Pa Tim said we were going on the red trail. The man inside the building told Pa Tim that was a rigora, a rigara, uh, a tough trail, but Pa Tim said that was no problem. Granmama had a walking stick, but Pa Tim had me on a leash and I pulled him some. I’m a really strong dog, but uh, I’m kinda afraid of rain and thunder.

The trail was really fun for me and Pa Tim, but Granmama kept stopping to rest and drink some water. I was drinking water too, but I had to drink water from the river and I had to stand in the river to drink the water. It was good water and uh, very cold on my paws. Pa Tim kept telling Granmama stories about his backpacking days with my dad and my Aunt Darby. I don’t think Granmama enjoyed the stories. Her face was kinda red. Pa Tim kept telling Granmama to hurry up and Granmama kept telling Pa Tim to do something which I didn’t understand, but it sounded like it was hard to do and might hurt.

Finally after about an hour or it might have been a month – I have a hard time with time because I’m a dog – Granmama said she was turning around and Pa Tim said ok, cause when Granmama talks in that tone of voice, Pa Tim says ok. So we turned around and I led Granmama and Pa Tim back to the car. And we drove home and I slept in the back seat. Pa Tim told me we would go back sometime without Granmama and climb all the way to the summit whatever that is. Maybe there’s a treat there. He said maybe my dad and Aunt Darby would want to come too.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Older adults and strength exercises.

Older adults need to be doing strength exercises.  There are many reasons for this, among them the fact that lifting weights gives you about a 20 percent chance of living longer than people who don’t.  Unfortunately, only about 10 percent of adults over 65 years old meet the minimum requirements for strength training which is two full-body workouts a week.   A good full-body workout works the abs, lower back, legs, chest, back, arms, and shoulders.  You can use machines, free weights, bands, or just body weight, but every older adult needs to get in a couple of strength workouts a week.

In addition to the possibility of increasing your lifespan, strength training will build muscle which helps with activities of daily living.  Strength training also helps with blood sugar regulation which is important in controlling or preventing diabetes.  And it helps in the battle with arthritis by reducing joint inflammation.  So don’t neglect strength training.  Even people in their 80’s and 90’s can benefit.

This doesn’t mean you should do strength training to the exclusion of cardiovascular training.   Any kind of aerobic exercise is good – walk, jog, combine the two, ride a stationary bike or whatever you like to get the heart pumping.  Strive for 30 minutes a day, 3 or 4 days a week.

By doing your strength training and your cardio work, you’ll look better, you’ll feel better, and you have a 20 percent better chance of living longer too.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Walking and Surgery Recovery

Three weeks ago I had a second ablation surgery for atrial fibrillation, or afib.  It takes about 3 months to know whether the surgery is successful, but all indications are that everything went well this time.  In about 25 percent of the cases, it takes two surgeries.  I was one of the 25 percent.  In case you’re not familiar with afib, it’s an irregular heartbeat in the atria of the heart.  Afib itself is not life-threatening, but there is an increased risk of a stroke because some blood can settle in the heart and a clot can form.  The remedy for that is to take a blood thinner.  During ablation surgery, the doctor inserts a catheter through the femoral veins to the heart and freezes or cauterizes the areas causing the electrical impulses to misfire.  It’s considered minimal risk surgery.  There is no pain involved and the recovery time is very short.

Still I can’t resume regular exercise for another week.  I can walk though, and that brings me to the subject of this article.  We all know that walking is good for you, but how fast should you be walking to get maximum benefits?  Unfortunately, there are no studies for people under 65, but there are some studies that indicate how many calories are burned at different speeds.  For example, a 150 pound person who walks 30 minutes at 2.5 mph will burn about 107 calories.  At a 3 mph pace, 125 calories.  At 3.5 mph, 154 calories, and at a brisk 4 mph pace, 179 calories.

For those of us who are over 65,  one study (Verghese, Wang & Holtzer 2011) found that our walking pace provides a crucial clue to our functional status, which is defined as the ability to do normal activities of daily living.  Another study (Middleton, Fritz & Lusardi 2015) showed that slower walking speeds indicate frailty, functional dependence, cognitive decline, and mortality.   For instance a walking pace of 1.3 mph or less is considered poor.  A speed of 1.8 mph is the median walking pace for this population.  That computes to 33 minutes a mile.  Speeds of 2.2 mph or greater suggest healthier aging, and a pace in excess of 2.7 miles per hour indicates better health and a higher life expectancy.  A 2.7 mph pace is about 22 minutes a mile.   I guess I’m doing ok by those standards.  At 71, I’m pacing about 3.75 mph, or about 16 minutes a mile.  Still, I’ll be glad to mix a little running in with the walking.  That’s still a couple of weeks away though.

On other thing, whether you’re 25 or 75, just because you’re walking doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also be lifting weights.  For older adults, lifting weights is even more important than walking.  I’ll cover that in a future blog.

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