Health and Fitness

Public Health

With the COVID-19 epidemic, and the daily updates from Governor Dewine and Dr. Amy Acton from the health department, we have become very familiar with public health.

Public health professionals are working to help thousands of people at a time. As Dr. Acton unfortunately realized, this involves making some unpopular decisions. She and Governor Dewine however, are to be applauded for dampening the the COVID-19 incidence curve and saving thousands of lives here in Ohio.

The public health profession can further have a great impact by addressing health population inequalities. The poor and minority populations that have been disproportionately effected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This makes clear the never ending role of public health to address the health of all populations of our society in a fair and equitable way.

COVID-19 has represented a new public health threat. Public health professionals receive new information constantly. They use it from an epidemiologic standpoint to direct societal health decisions that can save countless lives. Hopefully,we will look back at this time next year when things have returned to a semblance of normalcy, and be grateful for the knowledge that was learned and the lives that were saved.

Health and Fitness

Telemedicine and the Physical Exam

Earlier this week, I read a troubling article by a physician suggesting that the physical examination may be archaic. He implied that with the use of modern technology, including blood tests and radiology, a thorough physical examination may be outdated

Telemedicine has been around since the 1980s. With the presence of the COVID-19 virus, increased usage of telehealth has become a necessity. A new survey from Gallup found the number of patients reporting “virtual“ medical visits more than doubled, from 12% to 27% from late March to mid May.

It is easy to see why both patients and physicians like telemedicine. Telehealth visits can be be dine from the comfort of your home. For the physician, this means that they can see many more patients in the same amount of time. For the patients, they have the convenience of not having to leave their home to have a medical visit.

Telehealth can be a valuable resource in rare and unique situations. Let’s hope, however, that it does not become the norm and the art of a thorough physical examination is lost.

Physical examination involves palpating different parts of the patient’s body. When performed by a skilled examiner, this provides a great deal of diagnostic and treatment information. Pathology such as abdominal aneurysms or central nervous pathologies causing spasticity, just to name a few, are readily apparent in the hands of a skilled examiner. Substituting the physical examination exclusively with multiple radiographic and laboratory examinations would be both dangerous and expensive.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Coping During the COVID -19 Pandemic

Mental health awareness month, recognized last month, fell at an opportune time this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to social isolation, grief and many stressors that may negatively impact your mental health.

Many people feel isolated and disconnected from family and friends. This has been felt acutely in hospitals and nursing homes.

Others have been faced with significant financial hardships due to loss of employment or significant under-employment.

This pandemic has resulted in a very real increase in depression and anxiety across all of society.

Care for your mental health just like you care for your heart health or your musculoskeletal health. Don’t neglect it. Do what works best for you. Eat a healthy diet and try to avoid excess alcohol. This means less than two drinks on average per day for men and less than one drink per day on average for women. Also make sure you get enough sleep. For most adults this means 7 to 9 hours per night.

Keep exercising and keep that heart pumping. Try to get outside part of every day in the sunshine as well. Don’t forget your quiet time and use prayer and meditation.

Most importantly, keep talking. In order to communicate, we have had to become creative during social isolation. Many people have found that the video conferencing has brought family members together in unique and special ways that they’ve never been before. If you’re ever feeling down, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Aging Well

Did you know that September is “Healthy Aging Awareness Month”? It’s a great idea and I never knew that it existed. I do think, that all 12 months of the year should be healthy aging awareness months.

Healthy aging practices will improve your life expectancy as well as the quality of your life. This is more important than ever. The growth in the number of older adults continues to accelerate. In 2014, 14.5% of the US population was age 65 or older. This will rise to 23.5% of the United States population or 98 million people over the next 40 years.

There are a few basic Healthstyle tips that are easy to follow which will provide great dividends over time. With regards to diet, listen to your mom and eat your vegetables. Particularly raw vegetables. They provide a myriad of health benefits including improving your gut flora and they act as an antioxidant which may counter the aging process at the cellular level.

Eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as fatty fish. Eat beans and nuts. Substitute olive oil whenever possible. Avoid all processed food and processed carbohydrates and processed meats as well as sugar. Obviously avoid tobacco and if you drink alcohol, try to average less than one drink per day for women and less than two drinks per day for men.

When we are young, we so often I think of aging as only a few years down the road. To truly have a long healthy lifestyle, you need to have a long-term mindset of more than 30 years. This maintain means maintaining your posture, strength and flexibility throughout your life by doing strengthening and flexibility exercises as well as protecting your back joints, skin and organs.

Live a healthy and active life today for a healthy and active life tomorrow.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Yoga and Low Back Pain

During this pandemic, many people are discovering new and creative ways to exercise and stay in shape. With the gyms closed, we are forced to exercise at home and in our neighborhoods, using the equipment we have and our body weight for resistance.

Like so many adults, I have suffered from intermittent back pain and sciatica. Mine begin with a lifting injury. I lifted an extremely heavy bag of leaves with an awkward posture and immediately felt back pain running down my left leg.

Over the past couple years I have continued to exercise at the gym doing weight lifting and aerobics. Although it greatly improved my strength and aerobic capacity, my flexibility suffered and I continued to have pain.

This past month, I began a 30 minute daily yoga routine. I have tried yoga intermittently over the years and if I am a big proponent of the concept of balance, core strengthening, body weight and flexibility exercises. They are great way to improve strength flexibility and decrease pain. I found a great online program that I’ve been able to do pretty much every day. I always feel better after I’m done.

Dr. Lauren Elson, instructor in Medicine at Harvard medical school has a great quote. It really sums up the benefits of yoga. She says “Remember that the stretching and lengthening yoga movements are often what your low back needs to feel better, so don’t be afraid to give it a try. By mindfully practicing yoga, people can safely improve their mobility and strength while stretching tight and aching back muscles.“

Yoga can provide lifelong benefits with regards to posture, strength, balance, mobility, and posture. I encourage you to add it to your exercise routine. You won’t regret it.

Stay well!