Health Scan: Exercising prudence can improve life

The benefits for only occasional exercise loses its effect quickly, new study reveals.

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April 11, 2010 11:05
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elderly swimming88. (photo credit: )

 
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Even physical exercise will not halt time and ageing, but regular workouts using both aerobic and anaerobic exercise changes the way one’s life would have gone if one continued with a sedentary lifestyle, according to the latest research.

Exercise has been found to extend life expectancy and prevent or delay chronic illnesses, as well as improving cognitive functioning. But one must stick to it, as the benefits for only occasional exercise loses its effect quickly.

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These were the conclusions released recently by the American College of Sports Medicine and explained in a recent issue of the Israeli Journal of Family Practice by sports medicine physicians Dr. Dalia Navot-Mintzer and Dr. Naama Constantini.

They note that as one ages, muscle mass declines and one faces a higher risk of chronic illness, but it is more pronounced in some people than others. The differences, they write, lie in both genetics and lifestyle, and in addition to diet and not smoking, lifestyle is best characterized by how often and how intensively one exercises.

Aerobic exercise, such as walking, running, bicycling or swimming, gets the heart pumping and increases the supply of oxygen to the organs, as well as reducing blood sugar. Anaerobic exercise such as lifting weights and doing push ups and pull ups strengthens muscles and promotes strength, speed and power.

But a sedentary lifestyle leads to weight gain – eight or nine kilos between the ages of 18 and 55 and another kilo during the next decade. Only after the age of 65 does weight generally decline, but exercise is needed to preserve and build up the muscle, keep blood vessel walls flexible and slow the natural loss of bone mass.

Epidemiological studies, note the authors, have shown that a regular combination of both types of exercise, reduces the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. It also gives many older people a sense of control and raises the quality of life.



HELP FOR PARENTS OF AUTISTIC CHILDREN

A private member’s bill that will entitle families of autistic children to get state-financed treatment by a social worker, psychologist or other paramedical professional has been passed by the Knesset. The law was initiated by MKs Rachel Adatto and Ze’ev Bielsky.

Such children will get up to three hours of paramedical treatment a week, and be able to choose a clinical communications specialist, physiotherapist or occupational therapist as well. Adatto, a gynecologist and lawyer by training, said the new law opens options for parents who have a very difficult time raising disabled children.

SLAVING AWAY

We have heard about problematic handmade carpets, but now it has become known that small children as well as adults in the Third World work almost like slaves making surgical instruments.

The British Medical Association recently issued a protest and called on the National Health Service in Scotland to adopt new guidance on ethical purchasing. Dr. Mahmood Bhutta, advisor on the BMA’s medical fair and ethical trade group, said: “There is evidence to suggest that many supplies used in the NHS are produced in unhealthy, unsafe and unfair working conditions.

“Workers in the developing world are poorly paid and are exposed to hazardous conditions. For example, many surgical instruments are made in Pakistan, where workers as young as seven labor 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Some suffer serious injuries due to poor standards of health and safety. It seems perverse that laborers around the world are risking their lives to supply us with equipment to save British lives.”

TO THE RESCUE IN THE FAR EAST

The ZAKA International Rescue Unit – which has assisted in rescuing victims of the tsunami in Thailand, Hurricane Katrina in the US, the terror attack in Mumbai and most recently the earthquake in Haiti – is now training local volunteers in communities around the world to help save lives by saving time.

The unit will work in full cooperation with the local emergency and security services,

At a gala event held late last month in Hong Kong, the Israel-based ZAKA Rescue and Recovery organization announced plans to establish a fully equipped ZAKA center in Hong Kong to serve the East Asia region and train local volunteers in emergency preparedness, medical first response and disaster management.

The aim of this civilian volunteer force, said chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, is to shorten the response time to any mass-casualty incident such as a natural disaster or terror attack in the region, and thereby increase the chances of saving lives.

Hundreds from the Jewish and non-Jewish communities in Hong Kong attended the launch of ZAKA Hong Kong, Macau and China, including dignitaries from the political, diplomatic, business and security scenes.

The funds raised at the event will support the 10-day training program scheduled to take place in Hong Kong in June 2010 with highly experienced Israeli members of the rescue unit, as well as all the medical and response equipment that will be needed there.

Meshi-Zahav noted that ZAKA’s motto is to help those in need, regardless of race, religion or creed.

ELECTRIC SURPRISE

Strange things are discovered during pre-Pessah cleaning, but the Mamman family in Rehovot didn’t expect to find  a button battery in their five-year-old son’s ear.

Matan was playing with a small flashlight three months ago when it suddenly broke.

Only two weeks ago did he begin to suffer pain, fever and pus emerging from his ear. A doctor at Kaplan Medical Center sent him directly to the surgical theater after discovering a foreign object in his ear canal.

The battery apparently popped into the ear when the flashlight broke, requiring an operation to remove it under general anesthesia.

The family were relieved that no permanent damage was caused to his hearing.

Ear-nose-and-throat Dr. Meir Werman said the chemicals in the battery could have leaked out and caused serious harm, but he was lucky it was caught in time, thanks to his symptoms.

He called on parents to monitor children’s play with dangerous objects such as small batteries.

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