Pursuing a Healthy Lifestyle Cuts Your Risk of Strokes Drastically

From previous studies, it had already been shown that living a healthy lifestyle contributes to lower risks of contracting various serious illnesses, such as coronary heart disease, cancer and diabetes. But little had been proven about the link between healthy living and one's risk of getting a stroke.

This gap has been closed by the findings of a recent study conducted by the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

"This study shows that following a healthy lifestyle, which has been associated with up to 80 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease and 90 percent lower risk of diabetes, may also prevent more than half of ischemic strokes," said Dr. Stephanie E. Chiuve, leader of the study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Stroke – a major killer today
Each year, it is estimated that over 780,000 people in the United States alone suffer a stroke -- this works out to about one person every 40 seconds. Of this figure, about 600,000 are first-time occurrences.
An ischemic stroke takes place when the blood supply to a part of the brain is reduced, and the affected brain tissue suffers dysfunction and necrosis. This could happen, for example, when a blood vessel becomes blocked. Ischemic strokes are the most common kind of stroke, with about 87% of all strokes estimated to be of this nature.
When categorized separately from other cardiovascular diseases, strokes are the third highest killer in the United States today, behind cancer and heart disease.

Details of Stroke Study
This latest study, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, analyzed the living habits and health status of a total of 43,685 men as well as 71,243 women from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) and the Nurses' Health Study respectively.
The participants reported on their medical status and lifestyle factors every two years, with the males tracked from 1986 to 2002 and the females from 1984 to 2002. In the course of the respective periods, 994 men and 1,559 women suffered strokes, of which 600 and 853 respectively were ischemic strokes.

In the study, a healthy or low-risk lifestyle was defined to contain the following elements:

  • Maintenance of a healthy weight (body mass index less than 25)
  • At least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day
  • Not smoking
  • Moderate drinking of alcohol
  • Consumption of a relatively healthy diet, as indicated by a calculated healthy diet score. Some factors here include the consumption of good amounts of fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, chicken and fish, as well as low amounts of trans fats and saturated fats.
Findings of the Study
The results of the study were quite astonishing. Men who met all five healthy lifestyle criteria were 69% less likely to suffer any type of stroke and 80% less likely to get an ischemic stroke as compared to those who did not meet any of the five criteria.
For women, the corresponding figures were 79% for any type of stroke and 81% for ischemic stroke.
Further, it was estimated by the researchers that 52% of ischemic strokes suffered by men, as well as 35% of all strokes suffered by this group, could have been avoided by following a healthy lifestyle.
As for the women, the proportions of ischemic and total strokes which might have been prevented through healthy living were estimated to be 54% and 47% respectively.

All in all, the findings of the study revealed that people who fit the definition of having a healthy lifestyle were about 80% less likely to get an ischemic stroke, as compared to those who did not meet any of the five mentioned criteria.
This has led the study team to conclude that "a low-risk lifestyle that is associated with a reduced risk of multiple chronic diseases also may be beneficial in the prevention of stroke, especially ischemic stroke".

Living a healthy lifestyle and having a decreased risk of killer diseases –- this is a relationship which many of us would have been convinced of through common sense alone. Now, with the release of these findings, we will all have one more concrete and proven reason to embark on a healthier lifestyle.

Living a Healthy Lifestyle on a Budget

Health and wellness is a privilege that everyone should be able to afford even in difficult economic times. With the right experience and know-how, anyone can make smart choices about healthy living while also being wallet wise.

Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg has mastered the art of staying fit, while also being financially responsible. She is a busy mom of three, runs a private practice in New York City and serves as chief pediatric officer for RealAge.com – an informative Web site that helps people live healthier, longer lives. Through her extensive experience of balancing work, life and wellness, she has learned how to keep living a healthy lifestyle, while keeping out of the red.

Dr. Trachtenberg shares her top five tips for staying healthy on a budget:

Tip 1 – Buy Frozen for Good Nutrition
The fresh produce section at the grocery store can be a budgeter’s nightmare as pricey fresh foods can really add up. The budget-conscious can find much needed relief in the frozen food section. Frozen fruits and vegetables typically have the same levels of nutrients as their fresh counterparts, because the produce is frozen at the peak of its ripeness, locking in the maximum amount of nutrients .

Tip 2 – Get Fit in the Great Outdoors
No matter what the season, the outdoors is a great place to move your body and bond with family and friends without the confinement and encumbering expense of a gym membership. Calorie-shedding activities can be enjoyed year round:

  • Winter – Ice skate at a local rink or work the biceps with some snow shoveling
  • Spring – Get some friends together and form a softball league, or ride a bike on weekends
  • Summer – Try to walk instead of driving short distances or take up swimming
  • Fall – Get some cardio by raking leaves or challenge yourself to participate in a local road race
On rainy or chilly days, visit the local library and check out a workout video. It can be a lot of fun and doesn't cost a thing.

Tip 3 – Let the games begin!
Lately, board games are making a major comeback with the reinvention of the traditional Family Night. Flexing your mental muscle by opting to play cards, trivia games or parlor games of yesteryear can help cut costs on expensive movie rentals and excessive cable charges. Plus, leisure time spent with friends, family and neighbors is always a healthy and fun way to de-stress.

Tip 4 – Drink to your health!
Water is a necessity and getting the recommended eight glasses a day is important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Switching from bottled water to tap can save hundreds of dollars (not to mention it also eliminates the amount of plastic bottles that get discarded!). To ensure tap water is healthy and clean, consider a PUR Water Filtration System, which could save up to $600 each year in comparison to bottled water. PUR is certified to reduce many unwanted contaminants to help ensure drinking water is clean and healthy. Visit www.purwater.com for more details.

Tip 5 – Sweet Dreams
Getting much needed sleep no matter what your age is crucial to mental, emotional and physical health. You will feel better, be more productive at work, have increased levels of physical and mental alertness, and your body will get the rest it needs to fight off diseases. For these reasons, make a commitment to schedule your day so you get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep. Children, depending on age, might require more.

New study promotes healthy lifestyles to fight cancer

Many people think getting cancer is just the luck of the draw. A new poll found 43 per cent of Canadians think this way, but new research shows one-quarter to one-third of all cancers can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle. It’s this groundbreaking evidence that links diet, exercise, and weight management to preventing cancer which sparked an international symposium in Halifax starting today.

“What will come out of this is a change of thinking, it will be a new look and understanding of the evidence. It will be more compelling change opportunities,” said Theresa Marie Underhill, CEO of Cancer Care Nova Scotia.

“Just imagine the impact if we take what we know and apply it.”

More than 120 people from a number of sectors will ruminate on how to start a wave of societal change that will lead to fewer diagnoses of cancer. An estimated 74,000 Canadians die of some form of cancer every year. Based on their own research in Nova Scotia, Underhill said most people — at around 72 per cent of those polled — think cancer is the greatest risk to their health. Getting the word out about how people can prevent this disease in the first place in crucial.

“Information is knowledge and knowledge is power. We’re putting the power with individuals to make a difference for themselves and change their luck, quite frankly,” she said.

“Not too many times you have the opportunity to change your luck.”

Healthful Choice for a Healthier Lifestyle

Healthful Choice is all about helping people make the right choices so they can live a healthier lifestyle. We are all about sharing the information needed to get you on the path to a lifestyle that is healthier and more fulfilling. Although living a healthy lifesytle is a choice, it has to start by focusing on spiritual growth, proper nutrition, daily exercise, and personal finances. We have a ten step daily guide that you can use to begin your journey.

Everyone of us are faced with making choices everyday. Everything we due in life is based on choices. Our choices, whether good or bad, have a direct affect on our our lives. Although we may not see the immediate affects, the results of choices we make today will affect our lives tomorrow, next month, and in the coming years. Do you believe

  • You can do something in the next few days that will make your life worse?
  • You can do something in the next few weeks that will make your life better?
  • he choice is yours?
  • every choice you make has an end result?
By answering yes to these questions, you have just admitted that no matter how good or bad your past was, or how good or bad your present situation is, there is something you can do right now that will either make your future situation better or make your future situation worse – whether you belive it or not, it's your choice.

The answers to these simple questions have proven that you already know the choice is yours. Although the ultimate outcome of your life is in God's hands, there are choices you can make that will make your life more exciting and fulfilling. Even though many people make it a proclaimation, the outcome of your life is NOT the fault of your parents, spouse, teachers, or children, but rather a combination of daily choices. And these choices are yours and yours alone!

If you're looking to make a change for the better, take that first step today! I promise, you will not regret it.

Fitness Program Tips

How To Live a Healthier Life

People are obsessed with dieting and weight loss! Don't believe me? Just tune-in to any source of advertising...you're instantly bombarded with the latest diet schemes and "Hollywood" food fads.

Here in America, we have built a thriving industry trying to control our weight and treat the consequences of over-indulgence. The cost of weight loss and obesity related health care treatments is staggering...Americans alone spend around $114 billion every year! And even with all this interest in losing weight, we continue to pack on the pounds like never before...

- A whopping 64 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese...up about eight percent from earlier estimates.

- Among children and teens ages 6-19, 15 percent or almost nine million are overweight...triple the rate in 1980!

- Nearly one-third of all adults are now classified as obese.

For Americans, modern life may be getting TOO easy. Our cushy lifestyle means we expend less energy and consequently need fewer calories to sustain our normal body weight.

Think about it for a moment...

Entertainment no longer requires energy expenditure. In fact, it's usually quite the opposite. We now entertain ourselves in the comfort of our own home while watching TV and munching on our favorite snack. Whether it's television, computers, remote controls, or automobiles, we are moving less and burning fewer calories. Common activities that were once a part of our normal routine have disappeared...activities like climbing stairs, pushing a lawn mower or walking to get somewhere.

And please do not misunderstand me...I appreciate comfortable living just as much as the next person. But, here is the problem...

With all of our modern day conveniences and "cushy" style of living we have not adjusted our caloric intake to compensate for our decreased caloric expenditure. We consume more calorie rich and nutrient deficient foods than ever before. Consider a few of the following examples comparing what we eat "today" vs the 1970's (U.S. Department of Agriculture survey):

- We are currently eating more grain products, but almost all of them are refined grains (white bread, etc.). Grain consumption has jumped 45 percent since the 1970's, from 138 pounds of grains per person per year to 200 pounds! Only 2 percent of the wheat flour is consumed as whole wheat.

- Our consumption of fruits and vegetables has increased, but only because French fries and potato chips are included as vegetables. Potato products account for almost a third of our "produce" choices.

- We're drinking less milk, but we've more than doubled our cheese intake. Cheese now outranks meat as the number one source of saturated fat in our diets.

- We've cut back on red meat, but have more than made up for the loss by increasing our intake of chicken (battered and fried), so that overall, we're eating 13 pounds more meat today than we did back in the 1970's.

- We're drinking three times more carbonated soft drinks than milk, compared to the 1970's, when milk consumption was twice that of pop.

- We use 25 percent less butter, but pour twice as much vegetable oil on our food and salads, so our total added fat intake has increased 32 percent.

- Sugar consumption has been another cause of our expanding waistlines. Sugar intake is simply off the charts. People are consuming roughly twice the amount of sugar they need each day, about 20 teaspoons on a 2000 calorie/day diet. The added sugar is found mostly in junk foods, such as pop, cake, and cookies. In 1978, the government found that sugars constituted only 11 percent of the average person's calories. Now, this number has ballooned to 16 percent for the average American adult and as much as 20 percent for American teenagers!

Unfortunately, it would seem that the days of wholesome and nutritious family dinners are being replaced by fast food and eating on-the-run. We have gradually come to accept that it's "OK" to sacrifice healthy foods for the sake of convenience and that larger serving portions equate to better value.

It's time to recognize that we are consuming too many calories and it's time to start doing something about it! Each of us can decide TODAY that healthy eating and exercise habits WILL become a normal part of our life!

We can begin by exploring our values, thoughts and habits... slowly and deliberately weed-out the unhealthy habits and activities and start living a more productive and rewarding life. And remember, it has taken a long time to develop bad habits, so be patient as you work toward your goal!

Fitness Program Tips

Get Healthier Life With Physical Activity

The Benefits of Physical Activity
Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can help:

  • Control your weight
  • Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
  • Reduce your risk of some cancers
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles
  • Improve your mental health and mood
  • Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you're an older adult
  • Increase your chances of living longer
If you're not sure about becoming active or boosting your level of physical activity because you're afraid of getting hurt, the good news is that moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking, is generally safe for most people.

Start slowly. Cardiac events, such as a heart attack, are rare during physical activity. But the risk does go up when you suddenly become much more active than usual. For example, you can put yourself at risk if you don't usually get much physical activity and then all of a sudden do vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, like shoveling snow. That's why it's important to start slowly and gradually increase your level of activity.

If you have a chronic health condition such as arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease, talk with your doctor to find out if your condition limits, in any way, your ability to be active. Then, work with your doctor to come up with a physical activity plan that matches your abilities. If your condition stops you from meeting the minimum Guidelines, try to do as much as you can. What's important is that you avoid being inactive. Even 60 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity is good for you.

The bottom line is - the health benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks of getting hurt.

If you want to know more about how physical activity improves your health, the section below gives more detail on what research studies have found.

Control Your Weight
Looking to get to or stay at a healthy weight? Both diet and physical activity play a critical role in controlling your weight. You gain weight when the calories you burn, including those burned during physical activity, are less than the calories you eat or drink. For more information see our section on balancing calories. When it comes to weight management, people vary greatly in how much physical activity they need. You may need to be more active than others to achieve or maintain a healthy weight.

To maintain your weight: Work your way up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent mix of the two each week. Strong scientific evidence shows that physical activity can help you maintain your weight over time. However, the exact amount of physical activity needed to do this is not clear since it varies greatly from person to person. It's possible that you may need to do more than the equivalent of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week to maintain your weight.

To lose weight and keep it off: You will need a high amount of physical activity unless you also adjust your diet and reduce the amount of calories you're eating and drinking. Getting to and staying at a healthy weight requires both regular physical activity and a healthy eating plan. The CDC has some great tools and information about nutrition, physical activity and weight loss.

Reduce Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Heart disease and stroke are two of the leading causes of death in the United States. But following the Guidelines and getting at least 150 minutes a week (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity can put you at a lower risk for these diseases. You can reduce your risk even further with more physical activity. Regular physical activity can also lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels.

Reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
Regular physical activity can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a condition in which you have some combination of too much fat around the waist, high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, or high blood sugar. Research shows that lower rates of these conditions are seen with 120 to 150 minutes (2 hours to 2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of at least moderate-intensity aerobic activity. And the more physical activity you do, the lower your risk will be.

Already have type 2 diabetes? Regular physical activity can help control your blood glucose levels. To find out more, visit Diabetes and Me.

Reduce Your Risk of Some Cancers
Being physically active lowers your risk for two types of cancer: colon and breast. Research shows that:
  • Physically active people have a lower risk of colon cancer than do people who are not active.
  • Physically active women have a lower risk of breast cancer than do people who are not active.
Reduce your risk of endometrial and lung cancer. Although the research is not yet final, some findings suggest that your risk of endometrial cancer and lung cancer may be lower if you get regular physical activity compared to people who are not active.

Improve your quality of life. If you are a cancer survivor, research shows that getting regular physical activity not only helps give you a better quality of life, but also improves your physical fitness.

Strengthen Your Bones and Muscles
As you age, it's important to protect your bones, joints and muscles. Not only do they support your body and help you move, but keeping bones, joints and muscles healthy can help ensure that you're able to do your daily activities and be physically active. Research shows that doing aerobic, muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening physical activity of at least a moderately-intense level can slow the loss of bone density that comes with age.

Hip fracture is a serious health condition that can have life-changing negative effects, especially if you're an older adult. But research shows that people who do 120 to 300 minutes of at least moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week have a lower risk of hip fracture.

Regular physical activity helps with arthritis and other conditions affecting the joints. If you have arthritis, research shows that doing 130 to 150 (2 hours and 10 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, low-impact aerobic activity can not only improve your ability to manage pain and do everyday tasks, but it can also make your quality of life better.

Build strong, healthy muscles. Muscle-strengthening activities can help you increase or maintain your muscle mass and strength. Slowly increasing the amount of weight and number of repetitions you do will give you even more benefits, no matter your age.

Improve Your Mental Health and Mood
Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression and may help you sleep better. Research has shown that doing aerobic or a mix of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities 3 to 5 times a week for 30 to 60 minutes can give you these mental health benefits. Some scientific evidence has also shown that even lower levels of physical activity can be beneficial.

Improve Your Ability to do Daily Activities and Prevent Falls
A functional limitation is a loss of the ability to do everyday activities such as climbing stairs, grocery shopping, or playing with your grandchildren.

How does this relate to physical activity? If you're a physically active middle-aged or older adult, you have a lower risk of functional limitations than people who are inactive.

Already have trouble doing some of your everyday activities? Aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities can help improve your ability to do these types of tasks.

Are you an older adult who is at risk for falls? Research shows that doing balance and muscle-strengthening activities each week along with moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking, can help reduce your risk of falling.

Increase Your Chances of Living Longer
Science shows that physical activity can reduce your risk of dying early from the leading causes of death, like heart disease and some cancers. This is remarkable in two ways:
  1. Only a few lifestyle choices have as large an impact on your health as physical activity. People who are physically active for about 7 hours a week have a 40 percent lower risk of dying early than those who are active for less than 30 minutes a week.
  2. You don't have to do high amounts of activity or vigorous-intensity activity to reduce your risk of premature death. You can put yourself at lower risk of dying early by doing at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity.
Everyone can gain the health benefits of physical activity - age, ethnicity, shape or size do not matter.

Fitness Program Tips





   2009 Health and Fitness Blog by Fitness Program Tips

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