News & Events

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John's Health & Fitness Tips

Beat the Heat Tips for Runners

We are in the middle of the summer, and the days are hot and humid. Perhaps you have been too concerned about the heat and humidity to do the amount of running outside that you would have liked.

Here are some tips to help you beat the heat.

#1. Early Bird Run: The best way to beat the heat is to run during the coolest part of the day, which is early in the morning. Start…
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Foods That Hydrate

It is June. Warm weather is here. Your body needs much more hydration than during the cold winter.

Your body has more water than any other substance, and it is the most important. Without water humans can only survive a few days, because water regulates body temperature, transports nutrients and oxygen to cells, keeps body tissues moist, protects organs, lubricates joints, and helps…
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Boost Your Immunity

Your immune system naturally fights off invaders, such as viruses and bacteria, that try to make your ill. A strong immune system is essential to prevent colds, the flu, stomach bugs, and other ailments that can be major health problems.

T cells, or T lymphocytes, are a type of lymphocyte, which is a kind of white blood cell, that play a major roll in your immunity. The T cells can be…
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Stand Up!

There is a modern day disease, which does not yet have an official medical phrase, but which causes a long list of serious ailments. This disease can be called "sitting disease." Prolonged sitting is a symptom of the moderm work and home lives of many people. Physical labor has maintained only a very small part of the modern world.

Extended sitting contributes to many health…
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Good Posture for a Long Life

Stand up straight, shoulders and head back!

This is hard to do while texting or using your mobile device. Be warned: texting and using mobile devices for long periods of time could lead to lower life expectancy!

The United Chiropractic Association (UCA) claims that poor posture is as big a health risk as obesity. Studies suggest a direct link between forward-leaning posture in…
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A Complete Exercise Program for Healthy Older Adults

"Older adults" typically refers to anyone age 65 years or older, but it is important to realize that this age group includes a wide range of fitness and health. Age-related physiological changes result in declines in functional capacity that can impact activities of daily living. These physiological changes start at about 30 years old, and continue until end-of-life. Physical activity levels…
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Companion for Healthy Exercise

More than one third of adults and 17% of children (2-19 years of age) in the United States are obese. More than half of adults do not meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for aerobic physical activity, and the prevalence of aerobic physical activity declines with increasing age.

With these realities in mind, finding ways to encourage more physical activity is of paramount importance to…
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Burn Calories during Winter

Winter seems to never end this year. How long will it take to melt all this snow, if and when it actually warms up? How many more months will it be before we can start burning extra calories with our normal spring outdoor activities. We just cannot be physically active enough during the winter to burn enough calories to avoid adding a few pounds of unwanted fat to our bodies. We go to the Y for…
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Warm Up A Cold Morning

It has been a very cold winter. Nothing starts a cold winter day better than a steaming bowl of hot cereal. Besides warming and filling you up, hot cereal gives you plenty of reasons to feel good about what your eating It's packed with fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals, and pouring low-fat or fat-free milk over your cereal adds still more protein, calcium and vitamin D. If you also top…
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Metabolize More Calories

The weather has been cold with not much snow, until today, to prevent us from going to the Y for our calorie burning exercise. The Superbowl with it excesses is in our past. It is time to focus the mind on three more ideas to work on to metabolize more calories.

1. Cutback on sugar. The average American consumes almost 152 pounds of sugar a year! This equals about 13 teaspoons per day…
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Boost Your Metabolism

January, 2014, has been snowy, icy, and cold. Due to all these problems it has been difficult to even participate in normal outdoor activities like running, walking, biking, snowshoeing, hiking, and cross-country skiing. During the winter it is just more difficult to be as physically active as during the other seasons.

Consequently, we end up sitting more and exercising less, which…
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Miracle Food

If a miracle ingredient found in many tasty, inexpensive foods helped you lose weight, live longer, and avoid dangerous diseases, would you eat it every day?

No, I am not trying to sell you a bridge in Brooklyn. There really is such a food ingredient, dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is easily available, but most of us eat way too little of it, putting ourselves at increased risk for heart…
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Eat Right to Fight Colds and the Flu

It is cold and snowy outside. Cold and flu bugs love this time of year. Our doors and windows are sealed. Everyone stays indoors most of the time. The bugs can easily visit many people.

We constantly wash our hands and try to stay far away from coughing people. But, it is still impossible to avoid the cold and flu bugs. We know our bodies will be exposed to the nasty bugs no…
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New Year's Resolution

Have you made your New Year's resolution for 2014?

Will your New Year's resolution be that you want to live a healthier life? Why wouldn't this be everyone's resolution. Wouldn't everyone like to be healthier?

The big news this week was that recent studies found no evidence that vitamin supplements protect against heart disease, cancer, cognitive decline, or death! Half of…
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Mindfulness for the Holidays

The Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas holidays have arrived for 2013. These holidays are wonderful times to renew and grow relationships with friends and family. They are also holidays to celebrate food.

The holidays can also be a time of stress with our relationships with friends and family and with food.

Mindfulness can be the pathway to reduce the stress and increase the…
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Run away from colds

It is the beginning of cold and flu season. We constantly wash our hands and stay far away from people who are sneezing. We try to avoid touching commonly used door handles.

These tactics help us avoid exposure to cold germs, but are there ways to improve our immunity to fight cold germs that do manage to invade our bodies?

Most research has confirmed that moderate exercise, such…
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Stand Up to a Marathon

Would you like to lose about 8 pounds over the next year? Then run 10 marathons. Running 10 marathons will burn about 30,000 calories, which is equivalent to about 8.5 pounds of fat.

Eight pounds of weight loss might be appealing, but running 10 marathons in one year? No way!

How about if you could just stand around every day and still burn those same 30,000 calories. Now that…
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Exercise as Medicine

Exercise is as effective as drugs at preventing diabetes and repeat heart attacks, and it is potentially better than medication for averting additional strokes.

This is the essential result of a study recently published in the British medical journal BMJ. The study was related specifically to four health conditions--Type 2 diabetes, repeat heart attacks, repeat strokes, and heart…
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Nutty Weight Loss

As nutty as it seems, eating a handful of fatty, high calorie tree nuts every day could actually ward off an expanding waistline. It could also boost your heart health and lower your risk of several diseases, according to several recent studies.

One study, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, found that the participants in the study who ate at least one-quarter…
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Music For the Heart

We are constantly reminded that healthy eating and exercise are necessary for a healthy heart. Of course, healthy eating and exercise take discipline and work, which is hard and time consuming.

Why can't something like music be healthy for our heart, as well as entertain us. Well, it is!

Studies have found that in fact music can strengthen the heart, and improve the recovery…
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Young YMCA Members

I love walking around the Y and seeing all the members active with their favorite exercise programs: swimming, cardio, strength training, group exercise classes, basketball in the gym, talking with friends, children in the the child care area. The members are all ages from very young to quite old. They all seem to be having a very fun time with their healthy exercise. 

No matter…
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Protect Your Brain

Now that you have taken my advice and have boosted your brain health and memory by mentally focusing and engaging your brain while you exercise, you now need to protect your healthy brain. No, a helmet will not work except when you are riding a bike.

To protect your brain you need more fat and less fat. Now, that sounds confusing. The key is what kind of fat.

Smart fat choices…
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Unplug the Earplugs

There is plenty of research that shows that at any age, physical exercise boosts brain health and memory. Recent scientific evidence has found that to get the best cognitive benefits, you need to be mentally focused and engaged during your workouts. Your brain needs to be working to organize what your body is doing.

If you wear headphones or watch TV while you exercise, you could be…
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Strength training for increased running speed

It is summer. Southern Maine has running races including 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, and sometimes marathons every week. Many runners participate in all the races.

Are you a YMCA of Southern Maine member who participants in this active running schedule? Do you have a good running workout schedule, and are you satisfied with your speed? Or, would really like to increase your speed, but…
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Sunscreen for Supper

Summer arrived with some 90 degree, sunny days, though since then we have seen mostly rain and clouds. The sun will return along with the need for sunscreen to protect our largest and most visible bodily organ, our skin.

The UVA and UVB rays from the sun can increase your risk of skin cancer, skin aging, and advanced wrinkling. Two million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every…
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Block the Sun

The summer season is finally here again, though you may not have noticed over the past few cloudy weeks.

We love the sun. Maine is vacationland, and lots of sunshine is essential to our summer economy. Maine has long winters, and we Mainers need summer sun to prepare for the next one. Mainers are gardeners, and our gardens need sunlight.

But, our skin should not have too much sun…
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Why runners love to run!

May is a great time of the year for runners to head outdoors to run. The weather is cool and sunny. Life is bursting out with flowers, leaves, and green grass.

Runners love spring, but runners love to run any time of the year. Why?

Running is not easy. In fact, it is very hard, it hurts, it's very tiring. It is hard on the muscles and tendons. It abuses the ankle, knee, and hip…
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Healthy Vision Month

As you start to approach the age of 40, are you concerned with crow's feet and wrinkles around you eyes?

Since May is Healthy Vision Month, it is a good time to think about what starts to happen to your eyes as you see your 40th birthday ahead. By the age of 40, many people may begin coping with vision problems they did not have before. These problems often include dry eyes and…
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Sleep and coffee for a long life!

We drink coffee to help wake us up, and help keep us awake all day. We do not drink coffee to help us sleep.

Yet, research has found that drinking 2-3 cups of coffee a day and sleeping eight hours every night help us live longer. How does this work?

Over the past years you may have often heard that multiple cups of coffee a day can cause the jitters and thus must be bad for you…
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Do not do this before exercise!

Do you like to workout really hard in the gym? Are you training for a marathon, or summer 10k races, or triathlons? Would you like to relieve the pain of the strenuous workouts? Do you take ibuprofen before your workouts and before your races?

Don't!

Ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are known to damage the lining of the gastrointestinal tract…
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Love Bacon and Sausage? Beware!

Just love crispy bacon with your morning eggs? Or, do you prefer sausage? Or, on special occasions do you love both?

You have heard many times that fatty bacon and sausage, and even hot dogs, are not really very good for you, but you cannot resist them. Right? Or, how about the pepperoni on your pizza? Pizza is not pizza without pepperoni! Spring is here, and it is time to clean up the…
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Jump For Your Heart, Bones, and Muscles

Spring will come! The snow will melt! We will be able to run and walk outside in the fresh air, sunny skies, and beautiful scenery!

We want to be ready. We are bored of the indoor treadmill. The treadmill is a great cardio machine to keep our cardiovascular system in good shape. But, it is different than running or walking on the hard ground. It does not give our bones, joints, and…
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Let's Celebrate

February is the month when we wait out winter. It can bring us wintry storms like last Friday and Saturday, but we know that in a few weeks March will be here with its bright, melting sun.

Let's pep up the wait by celebrating February as the "American Health Month." In 2010 the American Heart Association introduced a means to celebrate a healthy heart with "Life's Simple Seven," steps…
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Do You Want To Be King or Queen?

Since we have no kings or queens in America, how about the desire for an executive position in your workplace? One of the primary requirements for a senior manager's job description is being fit. Staying trim is now virtually required for anyone on track for a leadership position.

The non-profit Center for Creative Leadership in its research collected hundreds of peer-performance reviews…
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Scared yet?

The media headlines are screaming: "The Highest Number of Flu Cases In Years," "Hospitals Are Overflowing With Flu Patients," "Only 50 Percent of Population Has Had the Flu Vaccination." There is fear throughout the land.

The Friday, January 11, Portland Press Herald starts its flu story with "The flu 'is reaching epidemic proportions' in Maine, the state's top health official said…
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Resolution for Your Life

Did you resolve to increase you wealth during 2013? Last week I quoted Virgil: "The greatest wealth is health." The best New Year's resolution to increase wealth would be to improve health.

We are individuals. Our life is our greatest possession. Only we alone can truly feel our pain and pleasure. Other individuals may ask us questions and give us advice, but only we alone can make the…
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Resolution? Resolution? Resolution?

Another new year is on our mind. Do we make another New Year's resolution? Did we make one last year? Were we successful upholding last year's resolution, and every year before? Or, did we fail? If we made another one this New Year, would we just fail again? What should we do?

Many centuries ago Virgil said that "The greatest wealth is health."

Have any of our past resolutions…
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Anti-Antibiotics

There has been much coughing, nose blowing, and sore throats this fall. The coughing and nose blowing are a nuisance, but the sore throat hurts.

Many people run to the doctor's office and demand antibiotics for their sore throat, and in a few days their throat feels much better.

The age of antibiotics began in the 1930s with the introduction of sulfa drugs, followed by penicillin…
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Pass Your Germs

Nearly everyone I know has had a cold during the past few weeks. The colds have been fairly mild, but colds are still colds. We are a sharing community, and we sure do a great job sharing our cold germs.

As a general rule, adults with a cold will be able to infect others starting one day before symptoms even appear, and up to five days or so after becoming sick. Infants and children are…
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Coffee: Yes, No, or More? Or, Tea.

The questions continues to be out there. Should I drink coffee? Am I drinking too much coffee? Is coffee good for me? Is coffee harmful? 

Studies on coffee are becoming quite common recently, and a large majority of them show a positive benefit from drinking coffee.

Some of the benefits of drinking coffee are:

1. Less likely for develop type-2 diabetes, Parkinson's…
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Jack-o'-lantern Pie

Halloween is upon us with all its creative costumes, parties, trick-or-treating, decorating, and jack-o'-lanterns. It is all about just light fun. The jack-o'-lantern is the mainstay year after year, cutting off the top, cleaning out the seeds, carving a face, putting a light inside to glow the carved face in the dark.

But, then what after the fun ends? Do you just throw away the seeds…
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Fall is Fair Time

For many people one of their favorite fall activities is to go to the county fair. The fair is a reminder of just where our food really comes from.

The prime attraction are all the farm animals, cows, sheep, pigs, goats, and horses. The young 4-H members show their animals in competitions. Farm horses and oxen show off their strength by pulling heavy weights. Riding competitions show off…
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Fat Choices Affect Your Brain

The weather in Maine was wonderful this summer. Nearly every weekend had warm, sunny days. It was perfect weather to fire up the grill and barbeque some burgers and dogs.

Summer is over, and the grill is stored away. So, how is your brain functioning?

You know that hamburgers and hotdogs are loaded with saturated fat, and saturated fat is very bad for your arteries and heart. But…
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Mid-life Fitness

Middle-age, the 40s and early 50s, are a very busy time what with children in their teen years or college and careers in a very responsible and busy stage. Financial stress with college costs and concerns about starting to financially prepare for retirement keep the mind very busy. But, there is another concern we should think about.

Americans are living longer, with our average life…
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Massage you muscles and mind

Did you overdo kayaking, cycling, running, or gardening and now have sore muscle? Are you stressed out over all these fun summer activities that have caused the pain, or over the fun summer activities you have not done, or over your life in general? Or, do you just want a relaxing event to rejuvenate you energy level?

Then, massage you mind and body with a massage.

Research has…
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What? A healthy tan?

Common knowledge: a tan comes from ultraviolet radiation, either from the sun or a tanning booth. Ultraviolet radiation certainly gives our skin some reddish color, but along with this reddish skin color comes premature wrinkled skin and a dangerous risk of skin cancer. You may hate the pale skin you keep covered all winter, but do you really want your skin to look old before you are old and…
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Hot? Keep moving!

The summer has been hot, and humid. In my last two blogs I discussed how to stay safe when exercising in the heat. Have you continued to work out with the modifications to your workout and the safety precautions? Or, have you holed up in an air conditioned room whether at work or home, moving as little as possible?

Be careful that this inactivity caused by the heat does not become a…
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Workout In a Sizzle

Summer is here and it has been a sizzler. Temperatures have consistently been in the 80s with high humidity. Running and biking workouts under these hot conditions can be unhealthy and even dangerous, if you are not careful. Some of the risks of working out in hot, humid conditions are:

-Dehydration, which can lead to fatigue, dizziness, and muscle cramps.

-Fainting, if you're not…
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Love the Sun-Love Your Skin

The hot summer sun arrived on the first day of summer in 2012. Did you dig out your swimsuit and hit the beach? Do you just love soaking up the sun rays in the summer and tanning your skin?

Have you reach a responsible age when you are starting to be concerned about all the accumulated sun damage and sunburns you have had since you were young? 

According to the American…
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Oil Your Brain

With all the strawberries you are now consuming you can just feel the surge in brain power. Your cognitive function is running on all cylinders. If only you had eaten strawberries when cramming for your college finals instead of gulping coffee, you would have earned straight A's. Just think where you career could have taken you.

Now that a large portion of your food budget is going to…
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Strawberry Heaven

Strawberries are starting to ripen in Maine. The crop report is for an abundant harvest. Pick your own farms will soon open. Farmers markets have fresh berries for sale now. Strawberries are the first of the summer berry crops.

My taste buds are excited with anticipation. My favorite way to enjoy freshly picked strawberries is just as a snack. Though, I also love them sliced on into…
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Dumb as a rat!

Eating too much sugar can eat away your brainpower!

A study at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) was recently published and showed that a steady diet of high-fructose corn syrup reduced lab rats' memories, but when fed omega-3 fatty acids, the memory loss was reduced.

Before the sugar drinks began, two groups of rats were enrolled in a five-day training sessin in a…
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Older Americans Month

May is Older Americans Month. This tradition started in 1963, and encourages our nation to celebrate the contributions and achievements of our older adults.

This year's theme is Never Too Old to Play, and puts a spotlight on the important role older adults play in sharing their experience, wisdom and understanding. Many baby boomers are reaching 60 and they are playing a very active roll…
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Lowerin' Beyond Raisin'

A few weeks ago I gave you one of the easiest and tastiest snacks to eat to lower you blood pressure: raisins!

Now that your blood pressure is nearly at the healthy level goal of 120/80, let's push it below those numbers with another very tasty food: soy.

A clinical blood pressure study has found that participants who consumed about 2.5 or more milligrams of isoflavones, a key…
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Cross-country walking

Are you a cross-country skier? Unfortunately you missed a season. No snow!

Cross-country skiing has long been touted as one of the most effective forms of exercise because it works all of the major muscle groups. This past winter you missed all that full-body exercise, but with spring here you have a chance to make up for it with Nordic walking, or walking with poles.

Although…
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No Longer Spring Chickens

Middle aged baby boomers are no longer spring chickens. There is a surge of baby boomers in their 50s and 60s who are facing physical disability from chronic disease, expanding waistlines, and many other health issues.

A lot of functional limitations we consider associated with old age are starting to emerge in people in their 50s and 60s. A study by the geriatric medicine expert at the…
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Lowerin' by raisin'

High blood pressure is a key risk factor in heart disease. Blood pressure is considered to be healthy if it measures below 120 over 80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Pre-hypertension blood pressure is when the measurement is between 120/80 mm Hg and 139/89 mm Hg. Once blood pressure rises about 139/89 mm Hg, medication is usually necessary to reduce blood pressure to healthy…
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More cardio workouts

While hanging around the Y's Wellness weight training area all day, I see many men doing heavy lifting to build their lean muscle mass. They lift very heavy weights with only a few repetitions, and then they rest for a long period of time. This way they are able to do several sets of these heavy weights. This is a great way to bulk up their muscle size and strength.

The question is…
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Feed Your Heart

Now that you love your heart, feed it as if your really do love it.

How do you figure out how best to feed your heart with all the conflicting and confusing information about nutrition and heart health.

We are constantly being told to not eat certain foods with harmful nutrients like trans fat, saturated fat, dietary cholesterol, sugar, and salt. Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a…
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Valentine's Day chocolate guilt?

Did you load up on Valentine's Day chocolate? Do you feel guilty? Well, don't!

Studies have found that those consuming the highest levels of chocolate have a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29% reduction in stroke compared to those with lower chocolate intake.

If these health benefits haven't convinced you that you should be glad that you love chocolate, check out…
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Love Your Heart

Do you ever think about your heart? Your heart is the engine that provides life sustenance to all other parts of your body. If your heart suddenly stopped, all other bodily functions would immediately also stop. Your heart pumps about once every second of your entire life. Your heart is the most important organ of your life.

Diseases related to the heart and its cardiovascular system are…
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You Will Be Your Own Doctor

In the near future, about 10 to 20 years, we are going to have a big shift in our model for health care. To glance into the not-to-distant future you can imagine what it would be like to live robustly to over 100 years without dying of any specific disease, or wasting away with an enfeebling, long-lasting disease.

This will happen with you monitoring and adjusting your own health in real…
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More Treadmill Spice

Now that you have spiced up your treadmill with the two types of workouts I presented last week, and you have renewed your excitement for your New Year resolution, I offer you two more workouts you may try.

If you are pressed for time, you can try the "Fast 15." Start by jogging for three minutes. Then increase the speed to a fast pace and run for two minutes. You want this to be a hard…
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Spice Up Your Treadmill Training

Your New Year's resolution is in place to start running for healthy exercise, lose weight, and/or to train for a 5K race this spring. Since it is cold, dreary, and slippery outside, you are doing your running on the treadmill at the Y. You have been running on the treadmill for a week now, and your are remembering how boring it can become after about ten minutes. If you read while running to…
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New Year's Pressure

With January 1, 2012, on the horizon the pressure is rising to make the annual New Year’s resolution. Will this new year be just another rush of optimism to make that major transition in lifestyle or attitude, only to fall to failure again? Oh, how to make a resolution that can be successful?

Habits are hard to break. We have had a lifetime to have habits hardwired into our…
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Stop the Cold and Flu!

It's that time of year when we worry about contracting a cold or the flu, which would give us a miserable week or two.

We wash our hands about twenty times a day, but will that be enough? I have four ideas for you to try that some studies say might work to build your immunity to or decrease the severity of colds and the flu.

1. People who exercise at least 20 minutes of moderate…
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Walking Is One of Life's Pleasures

Saturday afternoon the Portland Y Wellness Department had a party at Director Debbie Reed's home in Porter, ME. The party included a two mile walk. The pre-winter day was sunny and 48 degrees. The walk was pure pleasure.

It is said that most great thinkers are walkers, as thinking and walking seem to be at the same pace. Life seems so busy that we seem to not have enough time to walk or…
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Healthy Thanksgiving Feast

We Americans should be very thankful for the abundance and quality of life that we enjoy. When we do our grocery shopping for Thanksgiving dinner, we should slow down and observe with thanksgiving all the available and healthy food in our large grocery stores.

Traditional Thanksgiving dinners are very healthy with our plates covered with several vegetables and lean meat. Jokes are often…
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Grow Old Young

From your body's point of view, normal aging isn't normal at all. It is a choice you make by the way you live your life. You can control your aging process.

You replace about 1% of your body's cells every day. That means that 1% of your cells are new every day. It is your choice whether these new cells grow strong and are youthful, or decay and are old.

Most aging is programmed…
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Stealthy Vegetables

Vegetables are the all-around healthiest food you can eat!

They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and other healthy plant compounds. A high intake is linked to decreased risk of many chronic diseases.

Vegetables are also very low in "energy density," meaning that they have relatively few calories for a given weight. Individuals usually eat a consistent amount of food by weight…
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Boosting Metabolism to Lose Weight

What is this metabolism, and how does it help you lose weight?

Metabolism refers to the way the body uses energy, which is measured in calories. The body uses calories in three ways: (1) to sustain vital body functions like breathing, heart rate, waste removal, cell growth and cell repair, even when at rest and accounting for up to 75% of the calories you burn daily, (2) for physical…
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Heavenly food! Good for you too!

My favorite treat is chocolate! I am in luck, because nutrition scientists have found that chocolate is very healthy. I can now eat some every day, and not feel guilty. Chocolate is made with cocoa, which is rich in flavonoids, compounds that are packed with health benefits. The more cocoa in the chocolate, the more flavonoids, and the more benefits. The darker the chocolate the…
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Radical Abdominal Workout Idea

Are you performing hundreds of repetitions of various abdominal exercises to improve your performance in your favorite sport? After learning about the latest research, maybe you could save a lot of time.

When researches at Indiana State University began doing studies on strength of core muscles vs athletic performance, the results were a real surprise. Traditional thinking by coaches…
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Fall! Time to think about falling.

Mainers love fall. The cool, clear, colorful days are delightful. We also know that winter will be here soon. One of the major dangers of winter if falling, especially for our older population.

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) states that:

     1. 30%-40% of community-dwelling Americans ages 65 and older fall at least once a…
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Hints for eating out!

Eating out in a restaurant can be dangerous to your healthy eating goals. Plates are too large and loaded with several meals on one plate. The meals are very tempting to our palate, but they can be very high in calories, saturated fat, salt, and sugar. I offer some hints to mindfully navigate through your restaurant experience.

1. Think twice before you order an appetizer. At a…
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Does exercise influence your eating?

Does your perception of how hard you exercise influence how much you eat? Do you think that it is okay to eat more calories, because you recently exercised?

An interesting study at Cornell University involved a one mile walk around a lake before being served dinner. The study group was divided in half, and each group had a leader for their walk.

The first group was told by their…
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John's Blog: Is your job adding on the pounds?

Over your career have your jobs become more and more sedentary? Part of the reason Americans have been gaining so much weight is that our jobs require less activity and more sitting.

In reviewing energy expenditure since 1960, scientists report that men are burning an average 140 fewer daily calories on the job; for women, it's 124 fewer calories a day.

The obesity epidemic has…
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Dehydration or hyponatremia?

Which is more dangerous, dehydration or hyponatremia? Who has even heard of hyponatremia?

It is summer. It is hot! You like to run. You like to do outdoor activities. After all, that is what summer in Maine is all about. You sweat a lot. You see ads everywhere for beverages to purchase to prevent dehydration. If you sweat, you will lose vital nutrients. You could suffer severely…
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John's Blog: Lift weights? Why? Because!

I am back from vacation. I assume that since it has been a few weeks since Because! #2, you are all actively building stronger muscles and improving your health by lifting weights. Just in case there are still some stragglers, I'll give you four more Because! reasons…
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Lift weights? Why? Because! #2

Have you started lifting weights after last week's four good, solid reasons why you should? If yes, great! If not, then I'll try four more reasons that hopefully will persuade you to raise that dumbbell over your head.

#5. Everyone has some stress in their life. Health scientists have found that the fittest people exhibit lower levels of stress hormones than those who were the least…
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Lift weight? Why? Because! #1

You know you should exercise. Lose weight. Keep the weight off. It's healthy. Your friends do it. You walk the Back Cove. You walk around the block when it is nice out. You do cardio at the Y. Yet, it's not working the way everyone says it should. You don't look or feel the way you think you should.

Do you lift weights? Well, no. Reasons? Too many confusing machines. Boring. Too many…
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Water, Water, Everywhere!

Water, water, everywhere ... don't drink too much!

Are you a runner? Do you run road races? Then, you are bombarded with notices and advertisements about the dangers of dehydration and to stay hydrated with water or sports drinks. Sweat will wash out vital nutrients! Drink liquids before, during, and after races to replenish these nutrients!

Don't believe all the hype!

Dr.…
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What's on your plate?

Is your eating choice a pyramid or a plate? After two decades of trying to make us eat off a pyramid, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)  has finally figured out that we really eat off a round plate.

Nobody could easily figure out what the USDA was trying to tell us with their pyramid advice on the most nutritious foods we should be eating and in what proportions. The U.S…
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What's for break-fast?

How do you break your fast?

As we sleep, chemicals in our bodies are at work digesting food eaten on the previous evening. By morning, we are ready to "break the fast" after a long night's sleep. The blood sugar (glucose) we need to power our muscles and brain has been depleted by the time we wake up, and breakfast is needed to replenish this power source.

If we miss the early…
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How long will you live?

A fun activity when you are with a group of friends would be to ask the question: "What personality characteristic was most associated with long life?" It could lead to an interesting conversation with many different ideas presented. But, unless someone had read the book "Longevity Project," probably no one would come up with the correct answer.

I have not read the book "Longevity…
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The Useless Brain Myth

I keep hearing and reading that we use only about 10% of our brain, so we must buy these brain exercises and supplements. The idea that we use only 10% of our brain is a 100% myth.

Brain scans of various kinds have shown we regularly use all of the brain. Dr. Robert H. Shmerling of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Mass, states that "some parts of the brain are more…
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Love Fiber, Love Longer!

If you love life and want to hang around for a very long time, there are many lifestyle habits you will want to practice on a regular basis. Some of these healthy habits may be hard and some may be easy, but one of the easiest is to eat more fiber.

An analysis by the National Institutes of Health of many scientific studies on the effects of nutrition on health has found a direct link…
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Spring is here! Lawn and garden work is here!

It has taken four months into 2011 for spring to arrive, and it finally did over the past weekend. Out came the gloves, shovel, clippers, rake, and trowels. The day was sunny and warm at least for Maine. My primary job for the day was to chip the branches from the tops of some trees I had cut down during the winter. The branches were on the lawn, so the time-pressure was to clean them off the…
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New Healthy Food #9

While the nutritional advantages of dark, leafy greens are widely known, not everybody loves spinach as much as Popeye. Branching out to try new types of greens may inspire a previously unrealized appreciation for the wide range of tastes, varieties, and culinary potential within this group.

Chinese broccoli, also known as Chinese kale, or gai lan, is one such leafy green that would be…
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John's Fitness Blog: Sarcopenia...what?

Sarcopenia is a pretty fancy word! What does it mean and why am I throwing around such a big word? Because it a word that we should all be concerned with, as it affects all of us.

Sarcopenia means muscle loss with aging. And, aging means starting at about 30 years old! This is a scary thought for nearly all of us, or it should be. Throughout our lives, our bodies are continually breaking…
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Healthy Food #8

Would you like to connect in your kitchen with a prehistoric human ancestor from the Neolithic period? Then cook up some lentils, which were domesticated by our early ancestors in about 9500 BCE in the Near East. Lentils continue to play an important role in culinary traditions worldwide, but especially in the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent which have large vegetarian…
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Want a bigger brain?

Have you felt light headed lately? Possibly your head is lighter than it used to be unless...

The hippocampus is the brain's memory center. As we age, the hippocampus normally loses 1% to 2% of its volume annually, affecting memory and possibly increasing the risk for dementia.

But, there is hope for us all. A study recently published in the Proceedings of the National…
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New Healthy Food #7

Pumpkin seed might come to mind only when it's time to carve Halloween jack-o-lanterns and they are usually thrown away, but this is a waste of a very nutritious and fun food. Pumpkin, and squash, seeds were a large portion of the diet of Native Americans and early European settlers, and they are still used in many Mexican dishes. So, why throw away such a tasty and nutritious food?

When…
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Sitting Time

Most of us join the Y to help us be active and to exercise so that we will be healthy and feel good. Sometimes it is difficult to make it to the Y because of snow or rain, too much work, not enough energy, not enough easy parking, just too busy, and so on. It takes effort to get to the Y or walk around Back Cove for an hour of healthy exercise. But just making the effort to sit less, by itself…
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New Healthy Food #6

If your tongue is still burning from the New Healthy Food #5, try cooling it off with the sweet taste of mango. These honey-sweet, smooth-textured tropical fruits were originally grown in the sub-Himalayan plains of India, but they are now produced in tropical areas all around the world, and are often called "the king of the fruits." Worldwide, mangoes are so popular they're recognized as the…
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Keep Your Balance

Recently a young friend of mine slipped on the ice and broke a bone in her foot. This winter has been particularly dangerous with much slippery ice on the streets and sidewalks. Slippery winter ice is dangerous for all of us, but older adults have to be concerned about falling year round.

Falling is the leading cause of injury among seniors, and is the ninth leading cause of…
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New Healthy Food #5

On my vacation to California and Arizona last week I was excited to be served my New Healthy Food #4, avocados, sliced on a salad and spread in a ham and cheese with lettuce and tomato sandwich. This seemed to be the natural ingredient for my hosts to serve in each setting.

For New Healthy Food #5, let's give our palate a switch from the richly smooth and slightly sweet flavor of…
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New Healthy Food #4

After a quick trip to Greece for Greek yogurt, let's head back to South and Central America to try avocados. When you first look at these bumpy, green-skinned fruits, it is hard to imagine that inside it contains a slightly sweet flavored and richly smooth interior. Avocados add an intriguing heart-healthy fruit choice to your diet.

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Winter Exercise

So what have you been doing for exercise this winter? Shoveling snow for sure. Everyone agrees that Maine has beautiful summers, but Maine also has a reputation for outdoor recreation in the winter. Mainers have three choices in winter: shovel snow and travel south for a warm vacation, shovel snow then sit around and brood about the nasty, long winter, or shovel snow then stay outdoors to enjoy…
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New Healthy Food #3

Now that we have tried sardines and quinoa, let's hit the dairy with yogurt, actually Greek yogurt. Yogurt has long been known as an excellent source of bone-building calcium and muscle-building protein. Greek yogurt, however, is a relative newcomer to US households. As with all yogurts, Greek yogurt is produced by heating and culturing milk with gut-friendly bacteria. Greek yogurt is then…
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New New Year's Resolution

Has your New Year's resolution of more cardiovascular exercise already started getting boring and the length of your workouts starting to decrease? It is time for a new New Year's resolution by spicing up the intensity to burn more calories, to improve your cardiovascular health, to make your workouts more interesting, and to decrease the time required.

A cardio method called interval…
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New Healthy Food #2

New healthy food #1 was sardines, which is rich in protein, calcium, vitamin D, and omega-3 unsaturated fatty acid. I hope you gave it a try and feel healther and adverturous. Next, let's try what seems like a grain, quinoa.

Quinoa is a South American food that was originally grown in the Andes, where it has been a staple for the Inca people for over 6,000 years. When cooked, quinoa…
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How Are Your Bones?

No matter how old you are, you should be concerned with your bones. Osteoporosis, which means "porous bones," is a medical condition affecting over 10 million Americans and is characterized by accelerated bone loss, leading to low bone mass and low bone density. Our bones increase in density from birth until about the age of 30. Beginning at age 30 we gradually lose bone density. We cannot…
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Try new healthy foods in 2011

The start of a new year marks the perfect opportunity to revisit familiar menu routines and jump-start healthy eating patterns. Adding a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to your plate will not only boost overall nutrition in your diet, but also broaden your culinary horizons. Instead of just trying to find new recipes for the same familiar ingredients, try expanding your…
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Light headed?

Last week I recommended walking the streets of Portland to observe the lights and decorations for your holiday exercise. The question is, how far should you walk? And, have you been feeling lightheaded lately?

The University of Pittsburgh studied people enrolled in their Cardiovascular Health Study, a research project focused on risk factors for heart disease and stroke and based on…
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Social Relationships for You Health

The end of the year holidays are a time friends and family gather together to celebrate the end of the old year and the beginning of a new year. These special social gatherings and our social relations all year add immensely to our quality of life, and research has shown that they also tend to add years to our lives. Brigham Young University in Utah recently reviewed 148 studies involving more…
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Sweet potatoes? Yes, please!!

Sweet potatoes are a traditional fall food and a favorite for Thanksgiving dinner, but we should seriously consider them for a year-round, regular part of our diet, given their nutritional density, easy preparation, and low cost.  

One cup of sweet potatoes has only 180 calories and is loaded with 7 grams of fiber. Increasing dietary fiber is a key step in a heart-healthy…
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Greatful People are Happy

Thanksgiving Day is a time to be thankful for the many positive things in your life.

Research has found that maintaining this thankful attitude every day can improve an individual's psychological, emotional, and physical well-being. Adults with this sense of gratefulness have more energy, more optimism, more social connections, and more happiness than those who are not so grateful. They…
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A Big Belly Is Dangerous

A big belly is dangerous to your health, even if you are not overweight. American Cancer Society scientists has completed a 14 year study of the association between waist circumference and mortality of men and women age 50 and older. The results found that after adjusting for body mass index (BMI) and other risk factors, very large waists-47 inches or larger in men and 42 inches or larger in…
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You Sound Hungry!

Stomach and intestinal noises, such as rumbling, gurgling and growling, are a normal part of the digestion process, as food particles, liquids and pockets of gasses slowly move through your intestines. However, the loud stomach growling, called borborygmi, occurs when you haven't eaten and are hungry. Hunger and appetite are controlled by a complex system of hormone-like substances primarily…
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Yoga for Everyone!

Yoga is not just for the young and ultralimber. Millions of Americans now practice yoga, and the habit is catching on with older adults who want to improve their strength, flexibility, and concentration. New research supports the benefits of yoga for older adults who may have weak leg or balance problems. This research found that even standing or chair yoga can greatly increase lower body…
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John's Tips: Swim to get slim?

Woman SwimmingSwimming can burn a lot of calories, depending on the stroke and the intensity. So why does swimming usually result in less weight loss than comparable amounts of other aerobic activities, like running, cycling, and even…
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Diet Mixed Messages? Not!

Don't blame mixed messages if you cannot stick to a healthy diet. A review of three prominent sets of dietary guidelines finds that, despite being derived from different nutrition research, all three essential messages are consistent: Eat more vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains, switch to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from plants, and cut back on saturated fat and…
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High-Fructose Corn Syrup - The Myth

The idea that high-fructose corn syrup is more harmful to your health than sugar is "one of those urban myths that sounds right but is basically wrong," according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a health advocacy group. The composition of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)is almost identical to table sugar, or sucrose. Calorie-wise, HFCS is the same as regular sugar. Studies…
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Nuts for nuts!

If your snacks do not include nuts, you should reconsider what you are snacking and go 'nuts for nuts.'

Nuts contain a variety of heart-healthy ingredients, including omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid, dietary fibers, and essential vitamins. Research has suggested for years that these substances may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.  A recent analysis…
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John's Tips: Don't Leave the Leaves

It is October, and that means leaves. At first they are beautiful, then they are work. Raking leaves is hard work, and can easily lead to injuries. Here are some tips to help prevent injuries.

Pick up any debris like branches before starting to rake. Use a rake suitable for your height. Ideally, use an ergonomic rake, with a bent handle, which is easier on your back. Very your…
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Fuel Your Body

You wouldn't take your car out for a drive without gas, so what about your body? Like an engine, we need fuel to keep us going. Exercising on empty can make you feel weak and tired, causing you to slack off or even shorten your workout. For the stamina you need to maximize your workout, enjoy a healthy snack 1 to 2 hours before you begin. This will give your body the time to digest and avoid…
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Carbohydrates? But, I'm diabetic!

There are two types of carbohydrates: whole-grain and refined. There have been many studies that have linked whole-grain foods with a reduced risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. A recently published Harvard University study made over a 26-year period found that those participants who ate the most bran (a component of whole grains) had a 35% lower risk of dying from a heart attack or…
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John's Tips: Back to School Cold and Flu Season

Cold and Flu SeasonSchool is back in session. Colds are spreading around already, and flu will soon be on the prowl. Is there anything to do except continually wash our hands? Recent studies have found that there may be some fairly simple help…
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Trail Running! What's that?

Trail Running
The fastest growing type of running races in America is trail running. Runners in growing numbers are veering off concrete and blacktop onto dirt, grass, rock, and gravel. Trail running provides a more comprehensive workout…
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How's That Low-Back Pain?

If you have overdone the gardening or lifted the kayak too often this summer and have developed low-back pain, how should you treat it? Until about ten years ago, doctors often advised people to stay inactive and even rest in bed. Studies since then have discovered that all that rest is counter-productive, and staying as physically active as you can helps reduce pain and improve mobility.…
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Increase Your Happiness!

The Boomers are getting happier! Weren't they told that aging, with its undeniable physical declines and looming feeling of mortality, is supposed to be depressing? Not according to the recent survey results published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of more than 340,000 Americans. Researchers discovered that, in most people, a sense of personal well-being actually…
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Summer Cycling

It has been a perfect summer for cycling. Whether you're young or old, athletic or sedentary, bicycling is an enjoyable and healthy way to travel and experience the outdoors. When done vigorously, it can also provide a good cardiovascular workout and burn up to 500 calories an hour. A recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that women who cycled regularly were less likely to…
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The Youthful Heart?

Do you think you are too young to be concerned about your heart and what you eat? Think again! The recent results of a 20 year study involving young people between 18 and 30 years old found that the cumulative effect of even modestly abnormal cholesterol levels in your blood increases your risk of developing signs of heart disease by age 45. LDL is the bad cholesterol. The study found that the…
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Watch Out Coffee Lovers

Coffee lovers love their caffeine, but watch out how you drink it. No source of sugar is more stealthy than the caffeine kicks dished out at coffee shops. Even an unflavored 16-ounce latte has close to 200 calories, and for the average person that represents nearly 10 percent of your daily energy requirements. Starbucks alone sells about two dozen drinks with more than 500 calories apiece…
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John's Tips: Exercising in the Heat

Woman With Towel
This has been the longest period of high heat and humidity in Maine in memory. You do not want to give up on your exercise, but you need to be careful. If you are just beginning an exercise program outdoors, you should…
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Mountain Top Vacation

Take a vacation in the mountains for some quick weight loss. German scientists found that in a study where 20 obese middle-aged men spent a week in a mountain research facility at an elevation of about 8700 feet, the men lost an average of 3.5 pounds and their blood pressure dropped significantly. They did not change their normal physical activity, but they did eat less. The scientists are not…
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Gradually Reduce Calorie Intake

The recently publicized results of a study by Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital indicate that the 2008 U.S. Department of Health guidelines urging thirty minutes of moderate exercise five day a week will not prevent women from gaining weight as they age unless they reduce calorie intake. Women who started at a healthy weight with a body mass index less than 25, and who gained hardly any…
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Watch the TV Watching

Watching television has been found to cause a greater risk of heart disease, Type II diabetes, and certain types of cancer, regardless of an individual's daily physical activity level. This finding was presented at the American Heart Association's Joint Conference on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism, as reported by Healthyday News, 2010. The more television one views, the greater an…
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John's Tips: Fun In The Sun

If you plan to exercise in the sun, you should not wear cotton t-shirts. Find clothing made of fabrics that wick away sweat, ventilate the body, and block the sun. Cotton t-shirts have an SPF of only 5, yet there are sun-blocking fabrics that offer up to SPF 30 due their microfiber fabric construction. Sunburned pores are much less efficient at releasing sweat to cool the skin. If you are…
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Break Out in Laughter!

Break out in laughter! The University of California's Wellness Letter, April 2010, refers to two studies that show some of the health benefits of laughter. Japanese researchers found that laughter reduces glucose levels in people with diabetes and stimulates certain genes that control immune system activity. University of Maryland Medical Center scientists discovered that laughter has very…
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Sleek Muscles

Duke University girls' basketball coach, Joanne P. McCallie, is the most successful Maine-grown basketball coach ever. Her Duke team was a second-seed in the women's NCAA tournament. McCallie attributes much of this success to an increase of time spent in the weight room. McCallie states: "We obviously want to be quicker and faster, and you do that by getting stronger and having the ability to…
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Did you know?? - Check inside for John's Fitness Tip-

Here's a great tip for you from John Turrell, Fitness Consultant at our Greater Portland Branch:

"The most important strategy to not just survive to the age of 85, but to live healthy lives into old age is to be physically active during an individual's middle age. This was the result of a study at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical…
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