ROW, ROW, ROW for Your Health!

ROW, ROW, ROW for Your Health!

Healthy Living

No matter what your age is, a fitness plan that includes cardio (or aerobic exercise) is an important contributor to your overall health. The benefits of regular aerobic exercise include weight loss, increased stamina, and a stronger immune system. Endorphins released while you work out can also help improve your mood and sleep quality. Because it requires the use of so many major muscle groups, a rowing machine is an effective way to raise your heart rate and increase your oxygen intake for an effective cardio workout. The adjustable resistance on most rowers lets you easily work up to your target heart rate as well as slow back down to your resting rate. Great for weight loss, toning and building muscles, and increasing stamina, this machine is a fitness game changer. Rowers work out several major muscle groups and will help you develop both your upper and lower body. Most importantly, using a rowing machine gets your heart pumping and lungs working, providing a serious aerobic workout.

It has been called the “new spinning.” Yet this fitness craze is based on a sport that dates back to Ancient Egypt, and the machine itself has been around since the Civil War era. So why, suddenly, has rowing skimmed ahead of many modern fitness fads and longtime cardio standards? Besides the fact that “vintage is in,” it seems this age-old workout is finally gaining speed and getting its proper due with mainstream America. And it’s well placed. Rowing is high intensity and low impact, so it’s a win-win at the onset. Even better – when it’s done correctly, rowing engages about 85% of your muscles. Now that’s a championship workout!

There’s a proper technique to oaring, though, both in and out of the water. Below are a few training tips to help you maximize the benefits of your rowing routine:

  • Don’t Grip the Handles Too Tightly. This will protect your hands and forearms from pain and soreness later.
  • Lead with Your Legs. If you’re doing it right, your leg (and butt) muscles should be doing the most work.
  • Legs, Hips, Arms – Reverse! This is the progression of movement for rowing. Very important!
  • Pull Straight Back. If you’re pulling back – not up – your body should stay firmly seated throughout the workout.
  • Pull with Your Legs, NOT Your Arms. Keep your elbows straight, but relaxed, while your legs are doing the heft.
  • Sit Up Straight. Maintain good posture throughout; your entire core should be in line all the way down to your seat.
  • Breathe Well. Exhale going backward; inhale going forward.
  • Stay Fluid. Don’t drive the seat into your feet; keep your motion steady and smooth to the finish – not choppy.

So, who’s ready to row? It’s a great workout for all ages and fitness levels. Best of all, you don’t need an Ivy League coach, eight-man crew or frigid winter waters – just your neighborhood Y!

-Jean Bowick

YMCA of Greater Birmingham, www.ymcabham.org 

Read more healthy information from the YMCA at www.BirminghamChristian.com. Click on News/Health

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Stretch Yourself: The Benefits of Stretching at Work

Stretch Yourself: The Benefits of Stretching at Work

Healthy Living 

Americans spend huge portions of their lives at the office. But since we’re so busy working, most of us don’t think of our desks – or our cubicles – as ideal places for working out. Given the increasing demands, stress levels, and repetitive requirements of many of our jobs, however, it is essential to our physical and mental health to keep active during the day, stretching ourselves beyond the regular rigors of spreadsheets and paperwork.

Whether you realize it or not, sitting in an office chair hour after hour is one of the worst things you can do for your body, particularly your back and neck. Couple that with extended hours of repetitive motion tasks like typing or answering the phone, and you’re setting yourself up for chronic pain and stress-related issues. According to an article posted by WebMD, employees who maintain sedentary positions at their jobs – with narrow ranges of motion – are more likely to suffer long-term injuries, chronic stress, and weight gain. One of the best ways to protect our joints, bones and muscles, however, is to take regular, stress-relieving stretch breaks throughout the day.

Some of the stretching exercises we can perform at work include shoulder shrugs, torso twists, back hugs, leg hugs, leg extensions, and hand and finger extensions. Standing up and sitting down at regular intervals (without help from our hands) can also make us more alert, energetic and flexible. And if we have the option, replacing our office chair with an exercise ball is an excellent way to improve our balance and strengthen our lower backs, reducing the risk of spinal stress and accompanying vertebral injuries.

As an added bonus, frequent stretching can also make us more refreshed and productive in our jobs. As reported by Shape magazine, these mini-breaks help clear our minds for the tasks ahead, and release us, at least temporarily, from the stresses of our day.

For optimal results, schedule your stretch time every hour, or every bathroom break, to fully integrate these changes (and benefits!) into your daily work routine.

-Jean Bowick

YMCA of Greater Birmingham, www.ymcabham.org 

Read more healthy information from the YMCA at www.BirminghamChristian.com. Click on News/Health

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The Advantages of Online Therapy

The Advantages of Online Therapy

Healthy Living

While you might be aware that some psychologists perform psychotherapy sessions online, you might not be aware of the advantages that this mode provides.

Practical Advantages

  • The client can participate in the session from any location that allows for privacy and an Internet connection. When Internet connectivity is not good, the session can occur via a phone call.
  • Therapy is accessible to those who reside far from a good-fit therapist.
  • A person who has difficulty leaving home due to a disability or due to a lack of transportation can participate.
  • Avoiding a drive to and from a professional office means avoiding stressful and dangerous traffic conditions.
  • A client might not have to take leave from work in order to attend an appointment.
  • The contagion of a head cold would not prevent the therapy session from occurring.
  • Clients who have children are not limited by the availability of babysitters. A marriage therapy couple might be able to leave their school-aged children in the next room for an hour in the evening in order to engage in marriage therapy.
  • Clients who frequently travel are able to keep their therapy sessions.
  • In marriage therapy or family therapy, if one family member is away, the session may be held with multi-user videoconferencing.

Therapeutic Advantages.

  • A client who is uncomfortable disclosing personal matters might find it easier to disclose when the therapist is not sitting in the same room.
  • A client might feel more relaxed at home, making it easier to engage in therapy.

The Session Format. In my practice, at the appointment time, the client and I each connect to the meeting through the user-friendly website of a company that is a major provider of videoconferencing services. That company’s videoconferencing service is certified as HIPAA-compliant, which means that the transmissions meet high standards for security. For about an hour, we engage in discussion of the client’s concerns and issues. Typically, the session ends with a plan for the client to take certain actions before the next session, which will typically be one or two weeks afterwards.  My approach tends to be solution-oriented with an emphasis on skill development.

To explore the opportunities to participate in online therapy in our faith-based practice, please visit our website at www.crosswalknow.com, call our office at 334-744-3694, or email us at office@crosswalknow.com.

-Dr. Thomas Maple

Dr. Maple is an Alabama-licensed psychologist and the founder of Crosswalk Psychological Services, LLC.  His clinical background includes work in private practice and in university clinics. Born and raised in the Birmingham area, he now resides in Auburn with his wife and his two daughters.

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A Halloween Trick?  An Unexpected Slip & Fall

A Halloween Trick? An Unexpected Slip & Fall

Legal Matters

presented by: Frank S. Buck, P.C., Personal Injury

Imagine you are with your kids at a business trick or treating when suddenly your shoe gets caught on a broken tile on the floor and you fall breaking your ankle, what do you do? Alabama law requires businesses to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition, free of defects, dangers and hazardous conditions. Businesses are also required to warn the public if there is a hazardous condition which could cause injury to customers and visitors who enter their premises. If a slip and fall occurs which causes you injury, it is important to let a manager or other employee of the store know so that an incident report can be made at the time of the fall. Furthermore, you should seek medical treatment immediately so that a doctor can assess your injuries. In the example of the broken tile, the store should have repaired the broken tile which was obviously dangerous to customers and was a defect on the premises. On the other hand, it is important that you use care and pay attention to where you are walking when you are at a business. Alabama law protects businesses from slip and falls if you are simply clumsy or fall over something that you should have noticed. In this case, the business could not have prevented the fall and did nothing wrong.

When a restaurant, grocery store, spa, gym, convenience store, bank or any other business where a customer would enter looking for a product or service where they intend to spend money causes an injury to a customer because they left a spill on the floor or failed to repair a dangerous area on their property, they can be held responsible under the law to compensate the injured person for their injuries, pain and suffering. If a person slips on a puddle of coffee that has been on the floor and the manager had prior notice of the spill but failed to clean it up, there is legal liability on the part of the business. It is the duty and responsibility of the owners or managers to extend utmost care and diligence to keep visitors from harm. If you have an injury that was caused by someone else, whether it be a wreck, a wrongful death, wrongful prescription, slip and fall or any other injury please do not hesitate to contact us. We have made it our life work to help injured people.

Frank S. Buck, P.C., Attorneys at Law have been offering professional legal services and serving Alabama citizens for over 40 years.  We have experienced trial attorneys who have over 89 years of combined trial experience.  You can reach us 24 hours a day at (205) 933-7533.  Please call us for a free consultation.

Read more from Frank Buck at www.BirminghamChristian.com. Click on News/Family/Legal Matters.

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Caring for Your Aging Pet

Caring for Your Aging Pet

Two by 2

Pets, like adults, have new and more frequent health issues as they age. A pet is considered senior at age seven and veterinarians recommend bringing them in twice a year for an examination. During this time, we can look at diet and weight management, joint health, eye health and perform lab tests to determine how their thyroid, kidney and liver is functioning and screen for diseases like diabetes.

Even if your pet is not yet age seven, joint health can be a concern for many pets, particularly larger breeds or pets that are carrying a few extra pounds. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the number one cause of chronic pain in dogs, affecting about 1 in 5 dogs in the United States. It is a degenerative disease that worsens with age as the protective cartilage in joints wears down and causes painful swelling and stiffness that can make movement difficult. Arthritis can affect any joint but it is commonly diagnosed in knees, elbows, wrists, hips and the spine.

Dogs suffering from OA may avoid activity like running or stairs, shy away from being held or picked up, limp, seem irritable and lethargic, or just not like their usual selves. Although there is no cure, OA pain can be managed with appropriate treatment to help your dog stay as active as possible. A treatment plan may include PREVICOX (firocoxib) to relieve pain and inflammation, joint health supplements as well as appropriate exercise and weight control. If you suspect your pet may be in pain or you notice any of the signs above, talk to your veterinarian now to start treatment before the condition worsens. Pets are adept at hiding pain from us so we as their caregivers must watch for the symptoms they might need help.

Jeff Falone, DVM 

Valleydale Animal Clinic

205-991-5416

 www.valleydaleanimalclinic.com

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What to Expect at Your First Gynecologist Visit

What to Expect at Your First Gynecologist Visit

Healthy Living

presented by: Henderson & Walton Women’s Center, P.C. 

To those of you who have not made a trip to a gynecologist, the very thought of it probably makes you feel uncomfortable. Most of us are not even comfortable with looking at our own bodies, so baring it all in front of a physician you just met is not the most appealing idea. However, we at Henderson & Walton cannot stress to you enough how important it is to regularly see a gynecologist. Proper gynecological care helps prevent many undesired cancers, diseases, and other illnesses through early detection. Yes, your first gynecologist visit can be scary, but knowing how to prepare and what to expect can very beneficial

When to Visit. Our doctors recommend that your first visit be at the age of 21, or when you start becoming sexually active. Additionally, women and girls of any age need to visit their gynecologist if they notice irregularities in their breasts, genitalia, menstrual cycles, or if they become pregnant. Make sure you schedule your appointment when you will not be having your period. Bleeding can affect the accuracy of the test results. To be preventative and maintain your good health, visit your gynecologist once every year unless you are having problems or your doctor has advised otherwise.

Be prepared. Before your visit, look online at the practice’s website to see if you can get your paperwork online.  At Henderson & Walton all your paperwork is accessible online and just needs to be completed and printed. Have your insurance card with you when you come in for your first visit so the receptionist can scan your card into your account and your insurance can be correctly billed. Most preventative visits are covered at no cost to you. Bring a list of any medications you are taking and the dosage. Be prepared to provide a urine sample, before you see the doctor.

Meeting with the Nurse & Medical Assistant. When you are called by the nurse, she will take your height and weight, and ask questions regarding your personal, family, sexual, and medical history. She will then instruct you to go to the bathroom to give a urine sample in cups provided in the bathrooms. Once completed, you will be called to a room, or if a room is not ready yet, you will be sent to the waiting room. Once in the room, the medical assistant will take your vital signs and instruct you to remove your clothing and cover with drapes once she has left the room. When you are ready, the doctor will come in to meet you and will only uncover areas needed for the examination.

Meeting the Doctor. Your first appointment is usually very simple, and your doctor will spend time getting to know you. The doctor will ask about you and your family’s medical history and your sexual health. It is very important to be honest. This will help the physician tailor the best treatment for you. Also, do not be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes if you are nervous, you forget what you want to ask your physician. Try writing down a list of your concerns.

The Exams. Each exam depends on your age, sexual history and whether or not you have any particular symptoms. Your physician will explain each part of the exam before he/she performs it. The following is a list of exams that may be performed:

Breast examination: Your doctor will exam your breasts to detect whether there are any lumps or abnormalities. Breast exams are one of the most important early breast cancer screenings.

Pap smear: During this routine screening procedure, cells from your cervix are gently scraped away and then examined for the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells on the cervix. This test is performed on women over the age of 21.

Pelvic examination:  A physical exam of your pelvic organs is performed based on your age, whether you are sexually active, and the extent of your symptoms.

Gynecological care is important, regardless of your age, marital status, or level of sexual activity. Your first appointment may be nerve-wracking, but being prepared and having the knowledge of what to expect will help. It’s important that you find a gynecologist you trust and one that you feel comfortable with. We understand the importance of having the right gynecologist and we have 11 physicians to select from.

  • Henderson and Walton Women’s Center

The physicians of Henderson & Walton Women’s Center, P.C. are accepting new patients in their Birmingham, Alabaster, Chelsea, Cullman, Gadsden, Jasper and Tuscaloosa locations. Call 1-800-264-1075 to make your appointment. Visit www.hwwc.net to learn more about the practice, physicians, and services.

*This article is for educational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. If you have a medical concern, see your physician.

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The Real (& Remarkable) Deal About Cardio: YMCA

The Real (& Remarkable) Deal About Cardio: YMCA

Healthy Living

Long before Jane Fonda donned her first pair of leg warmers, “cardio” has been a major buzz word in the exercise world. According to an article published by Muscle Mag Fitness, both the term and the style of exercise were introduced in 1968 by a team working at San Antonio Air Force Hospital in Texas.

Cardio, or aerobic exercise, refers specifically to exercise that helps improve our bodies’ consumption of oxygen. Improving our oxygen efficiency increases our metabolic (energy generation) process. Common examples of aerobic exercise include running, walking, swimming, cycling, and any number of aerobic-style classes. As long as the physical activity involves prolonged, continuous movement that keeps your heart rate elevated at an ideal level, it qualifies as “aerobic.”

Like any other muscle, your heart becomes stronger with regular exercise. Regular aerobic/cardiovascular activities help your lungs, heart, and blood supply operate more efficiently, and with less effort. The physiological benefits of cardio exercise are vast and many. Regular cardio training:

  • Increases stamina & reduces fatigue
  • Helps control blood sugar
  • Improves the muscles’ ability to use fat
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Increases red blood cell count
  • Improves circulation
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Decreases body fat
  • Tones muscles
  • Increases bone density
  • Reduces stress & improves sleep
  • Eases joint impact for arthritis patients

In addition to all the great ways cardio helps your body, it does brilliant things for your mind. In a study published by US News & World Report, cardio exercise increases your brain’s output of “calming” chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. It’s also possible that regular cardio can counter the effects that stress would otherwise have on the aging process. Aerobic activity also helps our brains produce more new brain cells, and new connections between these cells, thereby improving our learning skills. The more complex the activity, the bigger boost your brain gets. Activities that require intense concentration to follow, or to learn specific steps, are the best. Furthermore, aerobic exercises help keep your brain active, which defends against memory loss and supports your long-term vocabulary retention. Studies suggest that exercise, in particular, helps protect the hippocampus, the part of the brain where Alzheimer’s first manifests itself.

Now if you’re ready to give your heart and mind a good workout (with or without the leg warmers), check out our schedule of awesome aerobic Group X classes at the YMCA branch closest to you: www.ymcabham.org/class-finder. We look forward to seeing you there!

-Jean Bowick

YMCA of Greater Birmingham, www.ymcabham.org

 

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Latest in Prevention & Treatment of Concussions

Latest in Prevention & Treatment of Concussions

Healthy Living

Attendees at the recent Concussion Summit at Children’s of Alabama learned the latest about concussion prevention, early identification and post-concussion care, www.childrensal.org/concussion.

Children’s of Alabama, UAB Sports Medicine and the Wise Up! Initiative recently hosted their fourth annual Concussion Summit. The day-long event geared toward coaches, athletic trainers and parents emphasized the importance of post-concussion care, including “Return to Learn” protocol. Renowned pediatric neuropsychologist Gerard Gioia, MD, PhD, from Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C. and director of the SCORE Program (Safe Concussion Outcome & Recovery Education) talked about early identification of concussion and prevention. Parents, coaches and trainers were encouraged to speak to a medical professional about how to recognize early concussion symptoms. UAB Football Coach Bill Clark emphasized that safety of athletes should be paramount for all schools and sports. To learn more about concussion prevention and treatment visit www.childrensal.org/concussion.

 

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Radiation Oncologist at St. Vincent’s Birmingham

Radiation Oncologist at St. Vincent’s Birmingham

Radiation Oncologist at St. Vincent’s Birmingham Shares Progress in Prostate Cancer Treatment

Susan Salter, MD with prostate cancer patient Richard Hydinger who has benefitted from the SpaceOAR treatment offered at St. Vincent’s Birmingham. Susan Salter, MD has practiced at St. Vincent’s Birmingham for more than two decades. She is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, on the Mountain Brook City Schools Foundation Board of Directors and a member of the Junior League of Birmingham.

Prostate cancer is one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers in the United States, and the American Cancer Society now recommends regular prostate exams for men starting as early as age 40. Unfortunately, radiation treatments for prostate cancer can irritate the rectum, causing diarrhea, pain, and other bowel issues that complicate an already uncomfortable situation. St. Vincent’s Birmingham is the first hospital in Alabama to offer a system called SpaceOAR to minimize these effects. According to Radiation Oncologist Susan Salter, MD, the goal of radiation therapy is to maximize exposure to the prostate tumor while minimizing exposure to surrounding normal tissue, but because of its close proximity, the rectum remains at risk for damage. Here’s what to know about prostate cancer detection and how SpaceOAR can help:

  • Early stages of prostate cancer usually cause no symptoms, which is why screenings are crucial every one to two years.
  • Prostate cancer can be detected by an antigen in the blood, a digital rectal exam, and a prostate biopsy.
  • SpaceOAR hydrogel creates a half-inch barrier to reduce radiation injury to the rectum. It is the first prostate cancer spacing device to receive clearance by the FDA.
  • Using ultrasound imaging, local or general anesthesia, and a small needle, physicians can place the hydrogel in a 30-minute procedure.
  • Made of a polyethylene glycol, widely used in cosmetics, SpaceOAR is injected as a liquid then solidifies into a synthetic material that expands within seconds. It is eventually absorbed into the body after completion of the patient’s radiation therapy.

“We do not have long term results as of yet, but our patients have tolerated the procedure very well and have not experienced discomfort from the procedure itself,” Salter says. “In clinical trial, 76 percent of patients experienced less rectal pain during radiation therapy treatment.”

Dr. Salter’s mother and father are both physicians, and two of her siblings are surgeons. She says that while family did not pressure her to become a physician, they did encourage her try a nursing assistant position first, which taught her the complexity of patient needs. Today she puts that knowledge into practice by staying up to date on treatment technologies and encouraging patients. I love getting to know my patients and their families. I think it’s important to find out what motivates them, find out their support system, and really just get to know what they enjoy in their life,” Salter says. “Keeping focus on things they want to do or places they want to visit most often keeps them focused on getting through treatment.” For more information, visit stvhs.com/cancer.

 

  • Camille Platt

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