Upcoming presentation

Tuesday, December 10, 12:30, Mission Valley Library. Immunizations: The good, the bad and the future. Vaccines have been around for centuries and they are responsible for the eradication of several deadly diseases. They are not entirely benign, however. Immunization is no longer only for children. There are at least two adult vaccines that can save your life. Sponsored by OASIS. To register see their web site at http://www.oasisnet.org.

In the news

We underestimate the need for exercise.

Humans have evolved to require moderately intense physical activity every day, a concept that we discussed in this blog nearly a year ago. Now we have more compelling reasons to be active, in other words, to exercise.

A research team in Norway looked at the lifestyles of more than 23,000 young people and monitored their activity periodically for 22 years. They found that those who were inactive were twice as likely to die during the study and nearly three times as likely to die from heart attack or stroke compared to their fellow Norwegians who were physically active.

What does “physically active” mean? It’s not really intense – 150 minutes per week (2 ½ hours) of moderately intense exercise, being able to just about break a sweat, or 75 minutes (1 ¼ hours) per week of vigorous, intense, aerobic activity. Those who got religion, that is to say that they began to exercise more often and with greater intensity during the study, had survival rates between the figures noted above.

The 150-minute figure is interesting for two other reasons, just coincidentally. Another study showed that persons with prediabetes who walked for about 2 ½ hours per week were much less likely to cross the line to type 2 diabetes in the following several years. In still another study, women with osteopenia, the stage of bone loss that precedes osteoporosis, gained bone mass during the course of about one year with 2 ½ hours per week of vigorous walking.

Does it help to exercise even more than 2 1/2 hours a week? Yes, as we learn from senior athletes, especially those            who compete in various sports. But it’s nice to know that even moderate activity has real benefits.



Another annoyance of aging: alcohol intolerance.

          About the time we approach the end of middle age we notice that we feel the effects of alcohol after fewer drinks than in the past. It bruises our ego a little but there’s more to it. We’ve known for a century or so that driving under the influence of alcohol is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths each year. Alcohol-related falls are also a major problem, especially when so many seniors are on blood-thinning medications and even a relatively minor bump on the head can lead to fatal bleeding within the brain.

So why are we more sensitive to the effects of alcohol? The major reason is that we have a smaller percentage of body water in which the alcohol can be diluted, so our blood levels – and hence brain levels – are higher than they would have been a few decades ago.

The obesity epidemic is having an effect. Most Americans have lost muscle mass by the time they reach middle age and it has been replaced by fat. As with lower percentages of body water, lower muscle mass also results in less volume in which to dissolve the alcohol.

To a lesser extent we have lower concentrations of the enzymes in the stomach and liver that help us to break down alcohol.

The lesson is clear: two glasses of wine or the equivalent should be the limit for most mature adults. You might even have noticed that you’re not quite the same after only one glass of wine. My solution is simple: stop at two glasses and switch to water. It’s good bet that no one will even notice – because they’re still drinking alcohol.











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