Stressipedia

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WEXTING: Walking while Texting is the Traffic Accident for Pedestrians

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One of the newest forms of preventable injury comes via your cell phone.  Now that these devices are ubiquitous and addictive, we are seeing some very serious medical consequences not only for drivers, but for pedestrians.  

Walking while Texting, otherwise known as "WEXTING" is the latest hazard to clog up emergency wards. Sometimes the results are comical, but serious inuries or even death can be the consequence of your next step. 

In headline news we have seen carnage caused by train and bus drivers who are texting and not paying attention to their driving.  Hundreds of needless deaths are caused by such dereliction of responsibility.  Even thousands more are killed as a consequence of texting drivers of cars and trucks.  Driving while talking on a cell phone is illegal in many jurisdictions, so many people have switched to texting.  The results are not much better than talking; one's focus is taken up by the phone, not the road ahead.  To this point, many police now can charge drivers with "driving while distracted", even if they were not actually holding the phone to their ear .  But the one place people think is safe to text is walking.  After all, what harm could come to a pedestrian who walks and texts at the same time?  Well, as it turns out, a lot.  Maybe walking and chewing gum is as much multi-tasking as most people should handle.

In one US study recently it was estimated that over 60,000 people were injured while walking/texting, and 4,000 of them were killed.  

Distracted walkers have been run over by cars, as they tend to step into an intersection without looking in either direction.  Most take an extra 2 full seconds to cross the road, as they walk 20 percent slower while their fingers dance across the keyboards.  Some have fallen into manholes, fountains, and down staircases.  Others have walked of the ends of piers into the sea, and still others into plate glass windows.  Injuries tend to be fractures to bones in the face, eye injuries, concussions, or fractured feet and legs.  If the victim walks into a moving vehicle, the whole body can be crushed with fatal results.

 In the city of London, experiments have started with padding telephone poles to prevent concussions as pedestrians lead with the top of their heads, while focussing on the little screen in their hands. 

 Whether dialing for new songs on your iphone, talking to a real person via your telephone, or texting, the results can be a catastrophe.

 

In the car, it has now been shown that talking , even through your car's speakers, can be just as distracting as holding an actual phone to your ear.  Our heads are already swimming in an information overload, so even the mental stimulation of conversation can have disastrous results on your present reflexes. This fact has led to police charging distracted drivers even if their phone conversation allowed both hands to be on the steering wheel.  With pedestrians who text, their entire head is pointed to the ground, leaving them blind to forward obstacles.  Even worse when combined with ear buds, now they are also deaf to the noises of surrounding runners, bikes, and cars. 

View this brief news video for some Wexting visual images.

So the action tip is clear.  Just because you are not driving does not mean that walking is always safe.  Texting, dialing up songs, or watching YouTube while you walk is an invitation to trouble.  Give yourself a break, and try to unplug when you are in motion.  Otherwise your next text could be to call for an ambulance.  From a time management point of view, its worth spending a few seconds to stop moving while using your cell phone, in order to avoid spending hours or years recovering from your injuries.  

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Manage Your Stress and Enjoy Better Health

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Studies show that the more stressed you are the less likely you are to fight back against a visiting flu virus, and, once infected, the course of the disease is likely to be longer and more severe.

An image of a healthy family having fun

In my 25+ years of family practice, it was remarkable how certain individuals seemed to never get sick, while others never missed a flu virus, or should I say the virus never missed them. Well, a recent study confirms that this is not just a fluke and that there are reasons for this.

Dr. Lorne Becker, an assistant professor of family practice at the University of Toronto, organized questionnaires that asked patients about two areas of their family life. First, family cohesion, or support an individual felt from family members, then adaptability, or flexibility. In a scientific way, he was really asking for a measure of happiness. The results indicated that rigid, inflexible families, who were fragmented and non-supportive of each other had fifty per cent more flu infections than those who had balanced, happy family lives. Mind you, even the most convivial of households were not immune, and still had a 22% rate of infection in flu season, but this is significantly better than the 33% rate for their more miserable neighbors.

None of this would have been any surprise to the Late Dr. Hans Selye, Canada's great pioneer in stress research. A half a century ago, Dr. Selye noted that when laboratory animals were stressed by controlled shocks or punishments, their lymph glands shriveled up, and the rest of their immune systems went into steep decline. This means that a stressed person is less likely to be able to fight back against a visiting flu virus, and, once infected, the course of the disease is likely to be longer and more severe.

Stress can also affect your health in a number of other ways and inhibit your ability to cope. Under stressful condition your response may be eating high-fat, high-calorie comfort foods, smoking, drinking too much, not sleeping, and not exercising. The combination of changes in your body from the way you respond to stress, combined with other behavioral and emotional responses may lead to chronic health problems. These include:

  • Obesity. In many people, stress can lead to overeating. But that's not all. High levels of stress may increase the risk for visceral fat. This type of fat develops around waist and the organs in the abdomen, causing metabolic changes that can lead to diabetes and heart disease.
  • Cardiovascular disease. Stress does not directly cause heart disease. However, stress can put a strain on the heart and blood vessels, thereby contributing to heart disease.
  • Diabetes. Stress can make it hard to follow your diabetes treatment plan, which can lead to poor health. Stress also directly increases glucose levels, especially in people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Anxiety and depression. It's no surprise that ongoing stress can wear you down mentally, and if severe, lead to anxiety and depression.
  • Asthma. Stress does not cause asthma, but it can trigger asthma attacks and worsen symptoms.
  • Skin conditions. Stress can trigger or aggravate skin symptoms in people with psoriasis and eczema. Stress management may help control these conditions.
  • Stomach problems. No, stress does not cause ulcers. But it can worsen symptoms of ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Acne. One large study confirmed what many teenagers already know: high levels of stress makes acne worse in teens.

Here's an action tip:

Stress doesn't cause infections, for that you still need a bacteria or a virus. But stress does interfere with your defenses to any disease. So workaholics beware, if you don't invest enough time and energy in building strong support at home, you may be headed for an avoidable illness. 

It’s also impossible to completely avoid stressful situations. But you can learn t manage the stress you do encounter:

  • Get enough sleep and eat a healthy diet. Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night so you have the energy to cope with stressful situations. Fill up and fuel your body with healthy choices rather than getting bogged down by high-fat comfort foods.
  • Nurture close relationships. Often, we don't appreciate how important friends and family can be for good health.
  • Learn to let go. Remember, the sky won't fall if you wait another day to do laundry, clean the bathrooms, or write that thank-you note.
  • Try new ways to relax. Some studies have found that yoga, meditation, and relaxation exercises may help reduce stress in people. Yoga will also help build strength and flexibility.
  • Get help if you need it. If you can't get seem to get relief from under stress and nothing seems to help, talk with your family physician or a counselor.

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Work Stress and Heart Disease

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Are you under a lot of stress at work? Well, if you are not handling it well, it could be making you more at risk for heart disease.

An image of someone stressed-out at work

First, let’s set the record straight. We are all under some stress, and most people at work are under a lot of it. But just because you have a stressful job, such as an air traffic controller, police officer, or computer worker, does not mean your health need suffer. Many such people thrive on their pressures, and indeed wither into death or senility within a few short years of idle retirement. But if you are not handling these job stresses well, then indeed there is cause for concern.

A recently published study in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at over two hundred men, aged 30 to 60 years. About one in five suffered job stress, such as impending mergers, trouble with a bad boss, and economic factors. These highly stressed individuals were three times as likely to have high blood pressure as their peers. Even more alarmingly, all men aged thirty to forty with high stress jobs had a clinically significant thickening of the heart's left ventricle. This means that there is something happening inside your body when you have chronic job stress, and rather than responding by passively adopting bad habits, it is critical for you to take control.

People with highly stressful jobs but little real control over decision making are running a 23% increased risk of a heart attack, according to authoritative research.

Many people in today's world, where the pace of life is fast and money is tight, may consider themselves stressed at work, but the definition used by authors of the study in the Lancet medical journal is precise. They considered job strain to involve high demands on the individual and little freedom to make his or her own decisions about how and when to do the work.

This sort of stress is to be found among all sorts of people, holding down all sorts of jobs on both high and low salaries, said one of the authors of the study, Professor Andrew Steptoe of the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London.

"It is the coupling [of high demand and low control] that is problematic," he said. "It is more common in low income jobs where people are doing the same thing again and again, such as assembly line work, but it is across the whole social spectrum.

When one has high job stress, the tendency is to pay less attention to good nutrition, learning skills of relaxation and exercise, and more inclination to talk shop all through one's spare time hours. It may very well be that it is these choices, and not the job itself, that account for most of the associated heart disease. If you are in a stressful job, you owe it to yourself to fight back with ‘active participation’. Eat good foods, exercise regularly, develop skills of relaxation, and focus on other interests in your spare time to get your mind off work.

Given that 1 in 3 Americans suffers from heart problems, managing work-related stress is key. Here are some recommendations from the American Heart Association:

  • Practice positive self-talk: Instead of telling yourself, “everything is going wrong,” think, “I can handle things if I take one step at a time.”
  • Identify emergency stress stoppers that work for you: For example, count to 10 before you speak or go for a walk.
  • Find pleasure in simple activities: Try to do at least one thing a day that you enjoy, like listening to music or meeting friends for lunch.
  • Take time to relax daily: Calm tension in your mind and body through yoga or meditation.

 

Most of all, ask yourself if you really like the job in the first place, or are just in a rut. If you no longer enjoy your work, be flexible enough to consider planning for a change, for the sake of your heart. The most stressful job in the world is after all the one for which you are not suited.


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Dry Eyes - How to make them less stressful

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Dry eyes are more than a modest problem.  They can be the cause of great stress.

Sufferers wake up with scratchy eyes, and have to take drops frequently just to avoid discomfort.  

 

When untreated, dry eyes are more likely to get infections or redness, and their owners are more likely to be irritable. 

Let's take a look at the problem, and consider solutions.

1. What are tears?

Tears are really a mixture of three layers over the surface of the eye; water, oil, and mucous.  The water layer is closest to the cornea, while the oil or lipid layer is secreted by the mebomian glands of the lids.  The lipid layer keeps the water from evaporating.  The mucous layer on the top is there to protect the other two layers from blasts of air and particles that might prove irritating.  The final protective layer of the eyeball is the lids, which blink to renew the spread of the three layers, and to refresh the eyeball surface.  Tears are produced inside and along the edges of the lids, and drain out through the punctum or hole in the inner margin of each of our upper and lower lids, close to the nose.  The tear ducts then carry them away into the nose.  This is why crying is also associated with blowing your nose!

2. What makes eyes go dry?

There are many factors that lead towards dry eyes.  These include staring too long at computers, tablets or cell phones, where the eyes are trying to stay open for focus and concentration.  The same can happen with prolonged study of books, or staring at the road while driving on a long trip.   LASIK surgery (to restore normal vision to people who need glasses) can also be drying in later years.  People with certain skin diseases like acne rosacea and Sjogren's syndrome may suffer from dry eyes.  Even birthdays can cause dry eyes, starting at about the age of 50.  In younger people, makeup and facial soaps can add to the problem, as can wearing contact lenses for excessive periods of time (even if the manufaturer promises you can leave contacts in overnight).  Ambient dust or other small particles can also bedevil the dryness problem.  Certain medications can also cause dryness as a side effect; be wary of drops that "remove redness" as these too can make the problem worse.

3.  What can I do about it?

Try to establish root causes.  If your room air is dusty, try to control it with air filtration or other measures.  If you wake up with dry eyes, make sure your pillow is not a bag of dust by washing or dry-cleaning it.   If makeup is a problem, use hypoallergenic products, and learn how to apply them properly.   If you stare for hours at computers, then try to take your breaks outside, and focus on distant objects to give your eyes a break from the short distance stare.  If non-prescription drops are not sufficient, please see your doctor.  While your family doctor can initiate investigations, including for general health issues, you will need to see a specialist to further examine the eye, including to measure the production of tears with a strip of litmus paper and stained eye drops.  As you will see on our post on the subject, it is important to have the full array of modern tools to examine the eye, not just a hand-held light with an eye chart at the end of the room.  Once the doctor assesses the problem, then a menu of options apply. 

 Punctal plugs can be inserted into the drain holes of each lid, commonly the lower ones.   If you have tried non-prescription drops, make sure you use them often and correctly. (see our article on Eye Drops Made Easy)   

 If the problem is with dry wax in the meibomian glands of the edges of each lid, then try to use warm compresses such as a face-cloth.

Press firmly over each eye for a minute or so, and the dry balls of wax in each gland opening will melt away.  Shampoo in the eyes, (almost!) can also be effective in dissolving the waxy gland material; use a gentle shampoo like Baby Shampoo, and rub it into each eye, almost opening the lids.  After leaving it for a minute, then rinse under the shower. 

Use regular drops like Refresh or Systane, just for lubrication and moistening. 

 

Above all, make sure you have your eyes examined regularly, and protect them with sunglasses, or appropriate goggles for handywork or sports. 

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A Personal Financial Crisis May Affect Your Health

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As evidenced in the stock market crash of 1929, a financial crisis can evoke a lot of ledge-jumping. The detrimental effects of having the financial “alligators” snapping at your heels are seen both in the acute fall from wealth and the chronic oppression of poverty. A financial crisis may also happen to those between the two extremes--people who are working hard and making a good wage, but lack perspective, discipline, and organization in managing their money. The seductive lure of credit cards and “no money down” purchases of cars, holidays and furniture also lays a trap for the unwary. The ease of refinancing one’s home in recent markets also provided cash that was temptingly squandered.

image of a financial crisis

Recently, in survey after survey, people say that they are either financially distressed, or already in a financial crisis, and dissatisfied with their personal finances. Close to 25% of working adults are seriously financially distressed or already experience a financial crisis. This amounts to about 30 million workers in America. 

In some cases, a financial crisis develops from a poor relationship, where excess spending is thought to “buy” improved self esteem, whether for oneself or one’s spouse or kids. People experiencing a financial crisis  are often living paycheck-by-paycheck with no money for extras. They struggle with money and debt and fret over bills. They worry there will not be enough money to live on once they retire. Perhaps most worrisome is that many do not even have hope that they might one day be able to catch up financially.

The difference between spending 5 percent more than you earn and spending 5 percent less than you earn separates living comfortable from a financial crisis. Money that is wasted on frivolous purchases could often be enough to finance stress reduction measures such as vacations, treats, or part-time help around the home. Without making time and priority for financial stress reduction, burnout is the likely result. In health, this burnout can be disastrous or even fatal; at work it can lead to an even worse financial crisis, and, ultimately, ruin.

A likely consequence of experiencing a financial crisis is a negative impact to one's health as a result of all the mental stress that is also experienced. Disagreements with friends, family members and co-workers, a restricted social life, and reduced job productivity are all possible when in the middle of a financial crisis. Often distress over health care costs and medical bills can further unveil or aggravate a depressive or anxiety disorder, which can affect:

  • coping skills
  • attention and concentration ability to the point of decreased job attendance
  • reduced workplace performance and hamper job retention for employers. 

It should also be no surprise that anyone in a financial crisis spends time at their place of employment worrying about personal finances and dealing with financial issues instead of working and that this behavior interferes with their work. Obvious ways in which a personal financial crisis can negatively impact productivity is:

  • talking with co-workers about personal financial problems
  • communicating with creditors about past due payments
  • paying personal bills
  • balancing a checkbook
  • talking to a lender about a debt consolidation loan

This can also easily turn into a nasty negative cycle of being unable to carry out normal responsibilities, having to cut back on a normal workload, and not being able to accomplish as much as usual. This cycle further interrupts employee performance, workplace attendance and poses greater financial burdens which only increases stress and financial pressures. In the worst case, a personal financial crisis may lead to losing one's job and takes the financial crisis from the frying pan to the fire, so to speak!

When I see a patient with chest or stomach pains, headache, depression, or other signs of stress related conditions, I always ask how things are going financially. Very often the rest of the medical history will be negative, but the health crisis will be caused by too much month left at the end of the money.

In a case like this, a good financial planner can often help more than a doctor.

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Water is Easy Aid for Stress and Heart Disease

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Water: it makes up three quarters of our planet, and it makes up three quarters of your body. We swim in it until the day we're born; all our life our body craves it. When you find out what happens in your body under stress, you'll see why, and believe me, it will drive you to drink.

The link between water and stress reduction is well documented. All of our organs, including our brains, need water to function properly. If you’re dehydrated, your body isn’t running well -- and that can lead to stress.

An image of river rapids

When we are under stress, which is most of the time, our stone-age reflexes think they are helping by thickening our blood. The spleen, a fist sized organ under the left ribs, squirts out it's thick paste of red blood cells, to help us carry more oxygen to the muscles. That's why we can run faster than a speeding bullet if a wild animal is attacking us, and why  Usain Bolt  cannot set a world record on an empty practice track. But for most of us desk potatoes, there is nowhere to run when stress strikes, so our blood just thickens, and sits there, waiting for the wild animal that never comes.

The fact that a stressful phone-call from the tax department can turn your blood to porridge could clog a coronary artery, and cause a heart attack. One of the simple things you can do to fight back, apart from not answering the phone, is to drink eight glasses of water every day. Taking in more water helps to dilute the blood, and this is about the only way to accomplish that feat without side-effects. If you don't like your tap water, or you don't know who's been camping up-stream, then invest in bottled water. It comes up from pure wells, after years of natural filtration, and is a lot cheaper than some of the other vintages you might be considering.

Here's an action tip:

How can you build more water consumption into your day?

  • Carry an insulated sports bottle with you and fill it up periodically.
  • Keep a glass of water on your desk at work.
  • Keep another glass next to your bed. Many of us wake up dehydrated first thing in the morning.
  • Switch one glass of soda or cup of coffee for a glass of water.
  • Drink small amounts of water throughout the day.

That doesn’t mean that drinking plenty of water throughout the day will magically cause your money problems, your kids’ troubles at school, and your deadlines at work to disappear. But if you’re already stressed by coping with all of these things, you don’t need the additional stress of dehydration to add to your burden.

By the way, drinking eight glasses a day may also take years off your face, by re-hydrating the skin. So raise your glasses, all eight of them, and let's drink to your health: with water.

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Speech Writing 1.0: How to come up with Power Phrases like a Leader

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For most of us, public speaking is a deep fear, probably dating back to our first “show and tell” command performance in kindergarten. 

How about being put on the spot as a teacher singled us out in class for not paying attention? Everyone’s gaze would turn to the guilty student, his or her mouth would dry up, the mind would go blank, and the most useless gibberish would be all that issued forth. 

But in the age of internet access to video clips, accurate public speaking becomes really important.  (see our article on public speaking).  One wrong word while adlibbing can cause public embarrassment, outrage or anger.  Sometimes the “gotcha” quote comes while the speaker thought the microphone was off; other times it comes during an impromptu scrum with the press.   For the politician, this can mean votes lost.  For the Corporate spokesperson, this can mean loss of product appeal or stock prices. 

That’s why speech writers are turning to technology of the PPSM (Power Phrase Slot Machine).  Adapted from the familiar casino slot machines, each one comes with a large crank handle, and three little windows.  Instead of triads of fruit symbols, these windows are set for VERB, ADJECTIVE, and NOUN.  Run together, this will create a great power-phrase, which can be inserted anywhere into a speech.  The result is inspirational, cannot offend anyone, and is guaranteed to withstand the scrutiny of YouTube.

The samples below were taken by me at a large corporate convention.  I was booked as the key-note speaker, but first all the vice-presidents  got up to make their inspirational plea to rally the troops.  As I took notes, it became apparent that each power phrase must have been generated by the same PPSM.  While the speaker may have had the aid of the teleprompter to make this all look smooth, we could see where the slot machine was inserted.  The audience was indeed spellbound.

VERB

Input

Reaffirm

Modify

Acknowledge

Agitate

Optimize

Streamline

Compound

Overload

Generalize

Control

Improve

Manage

Leverage

Strategize

Impact

Refine

Expand

Plan

Recommend

Isolate

Maximize

Minimize

Innovate

Maintain

Review

ADJECTIVE

Joint

Strategic

Corporate

Political

Positive

Market-share

Growth

Negative

Positive

Fiscal

Product

Participatory

Monumental

Pro-active

Interdependent

Problematic

Emerging

Working

Attainable

Unique

Market-driven

Insightful

Voter-friendly

Competitive

Tactical

Global

Local

Value-added

 

NOUN

Accountability

Focus

Integrity

Solutions

Leadership

Emphasis

Synergy

Productivity

Options

Effectiveness

Trends

Development

Goals

Activities

Issues

Challenges

Expectations

Analysis

Feedback

Performance

Direction

Partnerships

Excellence

Specifics

Matrix

 

 

 

 

So if we drop in on the rehearsals where the speaker gets to use the real crank-handle, we can see what’s behind all the meaningless gibberish we see on the airwaves.  Make sure you leave time for the applause that is guaranteed to follow each phrase.

The permutations of Power-Phrases  become endless:

“Let’s come together and (crank!) MAXIMIZE our MARKET-DRIVEN MATRIX!”

“Its time for us to stand tall and (crank!) OPTIMIZE our INTERDEPENDENT ACCOUNTABLILTY!”

“Tell our children we will (crank!) STREAMLINE their EMERGING FOCUS!”

“Reach out to those less fortunate and (crank!) COMPOUND their ACTIONABLE EXPECTATIONS!”

“Show our enemies that we can (crank!) GENERALIZE our STRATEGIC SPECIFICS!”

“Show the world that we can (crank!) ARTICULATE our PARTICIPATORY EMPHASIS!”

“Remain steadfast in our beliefs and (crank!) INNOVATE our UNIQUE PERFORMANCE!”

“Draw a line in the sand, and let no enemy (crank!) INPUT our TACTICAL SYNERGY!”

 

So the next time you want to make your own power-speech, you can duplicate the above results without even owning a PPSM.  Just print out the list above, tape it to the wall, then throw three darts. Then you too can (darts!) "ISOLATE all your MARKET-DRIVEN FEEDBACK!".  (...pause for standing ovation...).   

 

 

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Yoga: Good for many, but not without caveats

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Many people have been attracted to Yoga for its many benefits. 

 Doctors have often recommended Yoga for their patients, to help with back pains, injuries to the limbs, or for routine post-operative care.

However, that does not mean Yoga is automatically safe for all.  It has come to light that many amateur enthusiasts force themselves into text-book (or video) positions even if the pose hurts.  The dangers are not just with the unsupervised beginners.  In class situations, there are instructors who will try to force all the people to get into all the poses, even if it means exhorting them past the point of pain or comfort.  Other instructors are too swift with their pacing, forcing participants to change positions too quickly for comfort. 

An interesting new look at Yoga has been written by William J. Broad, pointing out that many people should not be doing certain Yoga poses, and some should not be doing Yoga at all.  A compelling look at the good and bad sides of Yoga is to be seen in the following link, which is highly recommended: NYTimes-Yoga

However, this is an example of the universal rule of sports; not every body is suited for every activity.  That’s why such diverse body types excel in the Olympics, where the marathoners and sprinters have completely different strengths and aptitudes, not to mention body builds.  And, within running, there are many of us who are simply not built for it, such as people with issues of bony alignment, arthritis, or pains when running on concrete.  Others are not suited to the mental discipline required in long distance running, and simply cannot appreciate the zen of it.  Swimming is another sport thought to be universal, but many just sink like a stone, or otherwise seize up with fear when they get near the water.

 So the point is to consider the whole menu of options for sports, activities, and therapies.  Following the latest fads is fine if you turn out to be well suited to it.  But be prepared to bail on even the gentlest of exercises if they don’t work for you.   

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Eye exams for the modern age

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In medical offices all over the country patients are patiently squinting down corridors to spot the color bars, letters, and symbols on a faded cardboard chart.

First covering one eye, then the next, standing a measured distance of seven paces away. The overhead lights flicker, distractions come and go, and finally the eye exam is done. These same patients then think they are on safe ground (or thick ice, as we say in Canada).

A common assumption is that annual physical exams with the doctor preclude worries about vision because one is tested by the doctor’s staff each year. The problem I have with this is that we cannot cover nearly enough with the simple Snellen eye chart. About all it tests for is visual acuity and color blindness (and from twenty feet away, not the standard computer screen distance of less than two feet), and there are certainly many better ways to determine both of these conditions and more.

The modern state of the art of eye inspection requires hundreds of thousands of dollars of machines that fill a small room. In addition to the very rough estimate of the faded old wall chart, the modern optometrist can test for the following important conditions:

1. Visual acuity: by using letters with measured lighting projected on the wall of a darkened examining room, the examiner gets a much more accurate reading than the hall chart. This is where nearsightedness or far-sightedness show up, and prescriptions for glasses can be initiated.

2. Curvature of the cornea: By using special lenses to fine tune the acuity testing, the examiner can determine if there is any astigmatism. Not only can this be tested for, but the readings are accurate enough to incorporate into the prescription for new glasses lenses.

3. Pressure of the eye: Glaucoma can NOT be discovered on a wall chart, only by testing for pressure directly. The eye examiner uses freezing drops to keep you from flinching, then puffs a jet of air at close range through a blue circle almost touching the cornea. Further testing can also be done by a hand held tonometer, but usually the computerized method is preferred as a screening device.

4. Tear production: With the aid of some orange staining and a strip of paper, the production of tears can be measured accurately.

5. Fine examination of the surface: the cornea comes under huge magnification and spectacular detail when seen through a slit lamp. In addition to corneal abrasions, foreign bodies, or ulcerations, one can also see the state of the mebothian glands on each edge of the eyelids. A common cause of dry eyes occurs when these glands get plugged with dry wax, and effectively “scratch” the eyes every time one blinks. Invisible on regular clinical exam, these are easily detected under proper magnification. Treatment can be as simple as warm compresses to melt the waxy deposits.

6. State of the lens: cataracts (fogging of the eye’s lens) are effectively invisible in their early stages unless one uses proper lighting and magnification from a slit lamp.

7. Retinal damage: Without proper dilation, the full retina is difficult to visualize. With the proper modern equipment not only can one see the retina better, but further tests can be done where trouble is found. For example, computerized machines can test for retinal thinning, visual field “blind spots”, and photographic measurements of the optic nerve and other key areas.

So to get a modern screening of your own eyes, it is best to see an optometrist every couple of years, as a base line for adults.

 

If any problems are found, then further investigations at more frequent intervals might be suggested, or further assessments could be recommended with an opthalmologist. But do not think that the old-fashioned eye exam from your doctor will prevent or detect most eye diseases. Please get your eyes checked the new-fashioned way!

 

 

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Avoid That "Postural Challenge" In Your Later Years!

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The human body was built for “hunting and gathering”, not “hunt-and-peck” typing. Our DNA and our evolution is built on movement. However, we now have invented a work form that is virtually movement-free: the modern office. Instead of walking, foraging and farming, we now sit all day, with tense fingers poised over keyboards, and our eyes straining to read back-lit images. an image of poor posture in the workplace By the end of the day, our shoulders are up around our ears, our necks are craned forward, and our noses are almost touching our screens. Our legs are folded like a card table, and our arms and wrists are stiff from their tense day of hovering over the mouse or keyboard.

To make matters worse, we have none of the usual animal signals of the passage of time. We don’t get winded, so we don’t take time out to catch our breath. We don’t need the sun (and many of us do not have outside windows at work) so don’t get the signals of increasing amounts of daylight to help wake us up. And we are not hiking over great distances, nor carrying loads on our frame, so we don’t have to think about good posture. In fact after years of hunching over our computers at work, our spines become curved like a “question mark” when viewed from the side.

A shipwreck’s anchor chain crusted in coral quickly fuses into its last position. The same thing can happen to the human spine. If movement is denied, and if the spine is left to compress itself into the distortions of modern desk work, then old age will surely be a postural challenge. We often note that our elderly tend to have a curved spine, or “postural kyphosis”. However, it should be noted that this is very rare among dancers, or devotees of Pilates, Yoga, or the Martial arts.

The reason is simple. If we only exercise the muscles on the front of our chest and neck, then we draw our body closer to the screen in the classic “hunchback” mode.

To recap, consider the following points to help you fight the office hunch, and keep your posture forever young:

1.Set a timer. Every fifteen minutes or so, set a timer, or have your computer screen alert you to take a quick few moments to stretch, roll the neck and shoulders, and to squeeze the shoulder blades together. Try a few phantom rowing movements as well, then plunge back to your work.

2.Set your ergonomics. Make sure you have a screen height that approximates your eye-level when you are sitting up straight. Don’t use a laptop down on your knees (at least not for long), and make sure you have a separate keyboard down at a comfortable level so the forearms are parallel to the ground. Lastly, have a decent chair, which can be adjusted in several dimensions to fit your comfort level.

3.Use the reverse muscles in the gym. Back exercises like the lat pull-downs, upright rowing, as well as certain yoga poses will help reverse the forward drift of the pectoral and neck muscles as they draw your face into the screen all day. A professional trainer can assist with proper programs here, as well as with the use of such aids as the foam roller. The latter is basically a Styrofoam version of a three-foot long cigarette, with about a 4-6 inch diameter. Lie on the floor with this tube along the length of your spine, from the back of your head to your tailbone. Balance with your legs. Then use your arms to hoist light weights in a “bench press” or “butterfly” move, for three sets of ten or more repetitions. Take deep breaths with each movement, and you may notice some “cracking” noises coming from your upper spine. This is a great technique to “open” up the disc spaces, and fight against the forward compression that we associate with age.

4.When you walk, look ahead, not at your feet. Remember to stand tall, and frequently pull your shoulder blades together to tone up these muscles. Also swing your arms normally as you walk, don't have your shoulders seized and arms stiff. The military has always taught posture from the beginning of any soldier’s training; not for simple appearances, but for function (if soldiers had to carry heavy packs and march miles into battle, they would all arrive with stiff backaches if they slouched the whole way). When your body posture becomes part of your muscle memory, you are on the way to a youthful aging process.

For further reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyphosis

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