Obesity & Diabetes, the Highest Risk Factors Mainstream Media Doesn’t Mention for COVID-19

I live in a suburb of New Orleans, which is a hot spot for COVID-19.  In an interview with Dr. Gee from LSU Healthcare, and a town hall call with Rep. Steve Scalise this week, both experts stated diabetes is the main cause of spread in New Orleans and Louisiana.  Dr. Gee went on to also say that it’s specifically type 2 diabetes from obesity in our population being the main culprit.  Overall, Louisiana does not have a large percentage of elderly population, we are in the top three of obese states.  The mainstream media does not discuss these details, and instead focuses on washing your hands and staying socially distant.

Obesity.  It’s in the health news regularly and is the cause of many health risk factors like diabetes and heart disease.  Obesity is a lifestyle dis-ease and treatable by moderating food intake and increasing physical activity.  Unfortunately, obesity is so prevalent with more than 1/3 of Americans on their way to achieving it, not many are paying attention to its devastating effects on the spread of COVID-19.  Type 2 diabetes is a result of obesity and people being overweight, fact.  People with type 2 diabetes are more susceptible to viral infections, such as Coronavirus, with weakened immune systems, than those in the normal weight categories who don’t have diabetes.

The fact of all new strains of viral infections is they will run their course regardless.  Some like COVD-19, are more dangerous than others and require different precautions and treatments.  To add more facts and controversy people do not want to acknowledge, your lifestyle is the main contributor to the infection and morality rate.  How you deal with these times regarding your food intake and exercise has a massive effect on the duration and intensity of the virus.  Being socially distant does not mean stop physical activity and lay around stuffing your face on the couch.  Continuing regular exercise, physical activity, and eating in moderation, increases your chance of reducing spread and survival.  No medications necessary.

I’m not saying to abandon your state and federal guidelines about COVID-19.  You can help yourself, your family, and your community by remaining or starting healthier habits.  Your immune system is strongest when you get at least six, preferably seven, hours of sleep each night, in addition to being active and watching what you eat.  Sound familiar?  Yes, these are CDC guidelines for 365 days a year.  When you follow them, the curve can remain more a speed bump than spike for everyone.  Not to mention heart disease and many forms of cancer can have reduced risks from a healthy lifestyle.

Unfortunately, healthy lifestyle news and updates don’t make much national and local nightly news shows.  Instead, they focus on high drama and worst-case scenarios to attract advertising and ratings.  As humans, we prefer that to common sense in our tv watching.  Here’s a suggestion, turn off the high drama, and get around the block with your family.  Governors are encouraging their citizens to get outside, while remaining six feet from others, and exercising.  Use your devices to find resources for workouts, and not just scrolling up through social media feeds.  Yes, you can reduce this time of quarantine and get Americans back to work sooner.  All it takes are minor changes to your day, since you have more time now to do them.

Right now, stand up, gather your family and pets if necessary, and head out the door.  Don’t come back for 30 minutes or more.  Tomorrow, do the same thing.  Do it every day for the next 60 days, at that point it becomes a habit.  Exercise and food moderation do not discriminate on gender, race, sex, creed, or religion, just like COVID-19.  Make a difference for yourself today, in the end, your ultimately responsible for your health.

New study finds exercising is good for our brain’s gray matter — Novo Scriptorium

A study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases provides new evidence of an association between cardiorespiratory fitness and brain health, particularly in gray matter and total brain volume — regions of the brain involved with cognitive decline and aging.

via New study finds exercising is good for our brain’s gray matter — Novo Scriptorium

Use Technology to Get Outside for Physical Activity and Physical Education

Gyms, fitness centers, health clubs, and schools are closed.  All means of physical activity and physical education are currently cutoff, and who knows for how long.  Gym equipment at sporting goods stores is disappearing faster than toilet paper!  Stay at home parents are going nuts with having to now educate their children for the remainder of the year, much less keep them physically active and off their devices.  What is our society to do??

Believe it or not, in the not to distant past, gyms were not easily accessible for the masses.  Children rode their bikes and walked for miles everyday without thinking about it.  Yes, technology has made us soft, pudgy, and seemingly allergic to the sun.  Now it’s time to get back to basics, and leverage technology to be your friend in staying physically active for all ages.

The weather is pleasant, or soon becoming pleasant in all areas of the country.  Getting natural Vitamin D is healthy and needed in moderation for all age populations.  Companies like mine, Movement Academy, and other social networks, have low cost or free resources to keep you, older loved ones, and your kids physically active.  Cell networks allow you to have access just about anywhere for your devices.  Go into the backyard and fire up the iPad with a 20 minute HIIT workout.  Often times no heavy equipment is necessary.  Get some light dumbbells collecting dust in the closet, a gallon jug of water, maybe soup cans, and get moving!

HIIT workouts are short and to the point.  Elevate your heart rate, work on agility, increase your strength, and be done before you notice any time has passed.  Regardless of your fitness conditioning, a HIIT home workout challenges all levels because how much weight you use doesn’t matter.  It is a self-driven workout that builds BDNF-1 for new brain cell growth and contributes to 60 minutes of daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per the CDC.  Really, there are no wrong answers when choosing a HIIT workout because they’re all slightly different.

Coronavirus does not have to stop you from exercising.  Sure, you’re not getting the same gym workout without being in an actual gym.  With most schools teaching PE twice-per-week for 45 minutes, you have a better chance to help your kids stay active and healthy by making them do something five days-per-week.  Yes, it’s all change, and change is hard.  Humans don’t like and respond well initially to change.  The true stats are it takes over 60 days for something to become a new habit if performed daily, good or bad.

You’re more than welcome to use Movement Academy as your guide for older adults home-based exercise and home-based PE.  Use code BRAIN for our Active Aging Program, and code HOME for our PE program to get 50% off your first month.  Both are only $14.95 per month as is, far less than the cost of most gyms and more flexible to your schedule.  Technology can be used for more than online gaming and checking social networks.  Get up, get out, and keep moving!

Where’s the Evidence to Support More Time in Class & Less Physical Activity?

Evidence-based, the term schools use to justify their decisions on everything academic related.  Is this 100% accurate?  Do school leaders really use evidence when deciding how long students need to sit in a classroom?  Are there studies and evidence to show reducing art, music, and PE are beneficial for the “whole child”?  In attempting to leave no child behind, the system has created an overweight/obese child with attention and behavioral problems, and yes, there is plenty of evidence to show just that.

The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Report from the CDC outlined the MINIMUM standards and associated beneficial evidence of daily physical exercise and activity for ALL age groups.  The CDC said in this report that children and adolescents need 60 daily minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, now commonly called MVPA.  In this lengthy document developed over a period of years by doctors and scientists, it also describes in detail the cognitive benefits of 60 daily minutes of MVPA.  Being schools require evidence to make decisions for the proper development of a child, why are more than the majority of schools and school districts ignoring this glaring piece of evidence?

State laws set forth the required number of days and hours schools must be in session.  I have not seen an evidence-based study behind why these parameters have been set.  Is there anything inherently wrong with them?  Debatable.  Is there anything inherently right about them?  Debatable.  If state school leaders truly based their decisions on evidence, it would make sense that double blind studies on the proper length of a school day and number of school days would be published.  Additionally, studies on how long classes are required to have children sit quietly for maximal academic benefit would be readily available.  Surprisingly, no such studies exist for either.  Each school and school district has their own discretion to fill in the box, long as it meets the state’s requirements for number of days in school and hours of the day.

The question becomes, if evidence is required for all these decisions, why are there no studies out there guiding school leaders?  Before the No Child Left Behind Act, 500,000 kids nationwide were diagnosed with ADD/ADHD.  Currently over a million are now diagnosed.  Coincidentally, recess and PE times have been reduced drastically, are these purely coincidences?  Has the biological and psychological makeup of a human child changed since the mid 1980’s to warrant more ADD/ADHD?  My answer is no, they are the same human tissue and nerve synapses as the 1980’s.

The only honest-to-goodness evidence-based study out there, are the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines.  School leaders, open your eyes and read the answer to all of your test scores, behavioral problems, and childhood obesity issues.  THE AUTHORITY in all things health, states less class time and more physical activity and exercise are the solutions to what ails your students!  No negative side effects exist.  A little less butt in the seat time, and more move around time does a body and brain evidence-based good!  If you don’t believe the CDC, read numerous articles from the Harvard Medical Journal Blog, Science Daily, and Medical News Today.  Nothing but evidence-based studies to make decision making, a snap!

Feeling Closed Off? Try Corrective Exercise and Open Up!

Society is becoming more closed off every day.  You notice it standing in line at the grocery store, sitting in traffic, sitting at your desk, and sitting in a public place.  Phones in hands, hunched over staring at screens using only thumbs.  The phenomenon has no age boundaries either.  People attempt to stand up and stretch, look over at someone else to talk, but it’s to painful for all that moving, so they sit right back down into the hunched position.

From the previous scenario, you may think I’m talking about our lack of social interaction and addiction to devices.  Actually, I’m talking about the physical changes our bodies are going through and the pain to correct them back into an upright and anatomically correct position.  The sedentary lifestyle of Western civilization affects our muscles and joints that prevents us from moving properly and without pain.  Even though some people exercise, they exacerbate the muscle dysfunction and don’t see the results they desire.  To move forward, similar to soccer, sometimes you have to move backward and correct the daily postural sins before great results happen for a healthier and more active lifestyle.

The normal daily grind for students and adults of all ages starts with sitting in the car or bus for long periods of time.  A short walk to class or work, then more sitting for hours.  Maybe there is a physical activity break to walk somewhere further than across the room, and more sitting till the end of the day.  Back into the car or bus for another lengthy ride home, and straight inside to sit for homework and watching a device.  All of this sitting leads to a forward head and tilt of the upper body, low back pain, inability to stand fully erect, and weakness in the joints below the waist.  When attempts to exercise are made, poor form creates injury opportunities from muscles and joints not in proper alignment.

Working with a trainer or a fitness professional who is knowledgeable about corrective exercise has become essential now to avoid injuries and overcome the postural sins the daily grind brings.  From a youth standpoint, the lack of true physical education and free play opportunities starts this viscous cycle in elementary school.  The next generation of adults is already physically closed off before the age of 16.  Unfortunately, few school leaders and PE teachers take the time to invest and teach proper movement techniques to your kids.  In addition to physically moving and feeling better, children have less behavioral issues and score higher on achievement tests when they move properly and multiple times throughout the day.

As a natural decline in the human aging process, people do “shrink” from loss of muscle and bone strength.  Typically, older adults also reduce their daily physical activity which speeds up the shrinking process.  It is work, yes, and the aging process can be slowed down with proper instruction on movement techniques for agility, balance, and coordination.  The brain has the ability to rewire itself through neuroplasticity when taught properly by a fitness professional, or using a program specifically designed by professionals for older adults to relearn these lost skills.

Corrective exercise is for everyone.  It is a process, not a one and done activity.  Even as a personal trainer for over 10 years and being physically active my whole life, I do daily corrective exercises as a warmup to my intense lifting sessions.  We are all athletes in the game of life, not just in a sport.  Bending, lifting, carrying, squatting, pushing, and pulling are all daily occurrences.  The better we prepare ourselves for them, the easier they are, and more time is spent enjoying the fruits of your labor.  As a personal trainer and studying to be a Corrective Exercise Specialist, I highly recommend Movement Academy’s Active Aging Program and Youth Movement Skills PE Program.  The program takes older adults and students through corrective movements to help them improve their bodies and brains for life’s stresses and activity.  No other program I have seen can do both functions.  Invest in yourself to learn and relearn proper techniques for movement.  I promise you; it is worth the time and money to do so.

How to Reduce Risk of Dementia if You’re 40-65

My grandmother is in her early 90’s and has dementia.  She can remember vacations, events, and names from years ago, just not always what we discussed yesterday.  What has likely helped to reduce the signs and symptoms of her dementia?  Her habit of exercise and physical activity over the decades.  In an ongoing research project at the UC San Francisco Memory and Aging Center, lifestyle habits are being analyzed regarding their effects on frontotemporal dementia (FTD).  FTD is the most common dementia for people under 65, and accounts for 5-15% of all cases the study says.

At the ripe young age of 44, I’m in this category of people who can alter their chances of developing dementia through exercise, diet, and staying mentally engaged in life.  While this sounds simple, why do so many middle agers ignore what their poor lifestyle choices do for their health?  No drugs are currently available to treat and prevent FTD. Per the study, ‘”This is devastating disease without good medical treatments, but our results suggest that even people with a genetic predisposition for FTD can still take actions to increase their chances of living a long and productive life. Their fate may not be set in stone,” said Kaitlin Casaletto, PhD, assistant professor of neurology at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center and corresponding author of the new study, published January 8, 2020 in Alzheimer’s and Dementia.’

As a person in my 40’s, this is good and startling news.  Who knew how much toll your lifestyle can take this early on regarding mental health?  The majority of people know the physical risks for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer with an unhealthy lifestyle, and now have even more to be concerned about.  The question now for those at risk generally is “what can I do to change?”  My 10 plus years’ experience as a personal trainer tells you to eat less and smarter, and exercise more!  A friend of mine started back working out recently after a 15-year layoff.  His body tells him that wasn’t a good idea with the intense soreness he feels!  To his credit, he’s starting back.

Can you reverse the damage done by decades of unhealthy eating and sedentary living, for the most part yes within reason.  Weight loss at any age reduces risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer.  Neuroplasticity allows you to reform neural pathways related to movement patterns.  The downfall people have are in the expectations.  Changes after 10 years or more of hard living don’t happen in two weeks.  When you start, know it is a process, and the outcomes are always positive in moderation.  No secret pill, potion, or juice exists to reverse the damages at any point during your change.  Consistent effort and dedication win the day.

Being good to yourself does pay large dividends according to every study every written.  Healthy lifestyle, not specifically abstinence in any area of life, leads to you being generally happier and living longer than people who do the opposite.  The body is amazing and runs efficiently when treated kindly overall.  Even when you have a few bumps and scrapes along the way, it heals itself to be stronger for the next off-road adventure.

For additional help on reducing symptoms for FTD, sign up for Movement Academy’s Active Aging Program.  Use code BRAIN at checkout for 50% off your first month.