The power of lifestyle as medicine goes back thousands of years, and there is now consistent scientific evidence to support its influence on health. Approximately 80% of chronic diseases and premature deaths in the U.S. circle back to the way Americans live.
Some of the major medical society guidelines and recommendations emphasize lifestyle as first-line medicine (i.e., lifestyle interventions), which integrates exercise, nutrition, sleep, a healthy mindset, and other “lifestyle” modifications.
CLINICAL EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGIST | Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, Palo Alto VA Medical Center
Physical function is recognized as a powerful factor in the prevention and treatment of a number of health issues in older adults. Quality of life (QOL) encompasses some key lifestyle domains, such as healthy habits (nutrition + exercise), a healthy environment, and a healthy mindset. Chronic lifestyle diseases and conditions associated with advancing age include:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Overweight / obesity
- Other sensory impairments (vision, hearing, touch)
Even in the absence of disease, physical inactivity can lead to physical impairments, such as muscle weakness, poor cardiorespiratory endurance, inflexibility, poor reaction time, postural instability, poor grip strength, and ultimately advancing age.
All ages and abilities can be accommodated with modalities and intensities that maximize each individual’s level of physical function. Functional training incorporates neuromotor exercise (balance, coordination, gait, and agility, and proprioceptive training), interval training, low-impact plyometrics, and functional circuits. Various exercise modalities are used to enhance functionality.
Be Fit, Not Frail
Sarcopenia is a component of “frailty syndrome”. It is the loss of skeletal muscle mass, strength, and function — a consequence of normal aging:
- After age 30, inactive adults lose 3% to 8% of their muscle mass per decade.
- At around age 50, muscle atrophy (wasting away) becomes most noticeable.
- After age 50, muscle decreases by 5% to 10% per decade.
- From age 50 to 65, about 15 pounds of muscle mass are lost.
- By age 85+, half of these adults needs some assistance with everyday activities and falls are more likely.
Chronic and yo-yo dieters are apt to lose even more muscle because 25 percent of weight lost is muscle. Weight regain is typically very swift. Without the proper foods and exercise to rebuild muscle mass, functional ability will decline (a downward trajectory).
Eight indicators of frailty syndrome include: weakness, fatigue, weight loss, low physical activity, poor balance, low gait speed, visual impairment, and cognitive impairment. Proper exercise interventions and adequate nutrients are essential to avoid and combat frailty syndrome.
Exercise and nutrition are intimately related. Think of them as two wheels on a bicycle. If one is faulty or inadequate, you end up with a dysfunctional bicycle.
Learn to Eat Well to Be Well
- Learn the how-to’s in following a whole food, plant-based lifestyle. Studies have shown that a whole food, plant-based lifestyle may prevent and even reverse chronic diseases as well as strengthen immune function
- Learn how to exercise with diabetes. It is particularly critical for those with diabetes/pre-diabetes to know how to exercise safely and effectively on medication and/or insulin. Diabetes is linked to other physiological issues, such as soft-tissue injury and overuse injury as well as delayed-onset hypoglycemia from exercise, so it’s important to know how to compensate.
MEDIA CONTRIBUTOR on television, video, and radio. KRON 4’s weekly health expert on the weekend morning news.
SPEAKER for lifestyle medicine (both in-person and online) to corporate/non-profit wellness events, medical groups, ‘Lunch and Learns’, retreats, and residential/fitness facilities. Group-involvement activities and cooking demonstrations inspire interest in healthy eating, well-being, and longevity.
- Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, concentration in Biodynamics
- Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist, American College of Sports Medicine
- Pulmonary Rehabilitation Certificate, American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation
- Certified Memory Program Specialist, University of California, Los Angeles
- Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, American Council on Exercise
- Certified Cancer Exercise Trainer, American College of Sports Medicine
- Certified Orthopedic Specialist, American Council on Exercise
- Certified Balance Training Specialist, Zibrio
- Certified Living Strong, Living Well Instructor (cancer), Stanford School of Medicine
- 2014 San Francisco Peninsula Press Club Award
- 2008 Richard M. Aronson Special Service Award