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Scientists are working on a new biosensor, applied to the human skin like a temporary tattoo, that can alert marathoners, competitive bikers and other “extreme” athletes that they’re about to “bonk,” or “hit the wall.” The study, in ACS’ journal Analytical Chemistry, describes the first human tests of this sensor, which also could help soldiers and others who engage in intense exercise — and their trainers — monitor stamina and fitness.
The sensor monitors lactate, a form of lactic acid released in sweat. Lactate forms when the muscles need more energy than the body can supply from aerobic respiration. The body then shifts to anaerobic metabolism, producing lactic acid and lactate. That helps for a while, but lactate builds up in the body, causing extreme fatigue and the infamous “bonking out,” where an athlete just cannot continue. Current methods of measuring lactate are cumbersome, require blood samples or do not give instant results. Joseph Wang and his colleagues sought to develop a better approach.
In their study they describe the first human tests of a lactate sensor applied to the skin like a temporary tattoo that stays on and flexes with body movements. Tests on 10 human volunteers showed that the sensor accurately measured lactate levels in sweat during exercise. The scientists say that such skin-worn metabolite biosensors could lead to useful insights into physical performance and overall physiological status, hence offering considerable promise for diverse sport, military, and biomedical applications.
Future research will further correlate sweat lactate levels with fitness, performance and blood lactate levels, Wang added.
AVOID THE BONK
If you exercise at high intensities for more than 90 minutes, you’ll need to fuel properly to avoid hitting the wall. How do you know if you’ve hit the wall? You’ll feel dizzy, disoriented, and suddenly heavy and uncoordinated. At this point, it’s best to stop and get some glucose (sugar) into your system. Gels and drinks (Gatorade, Powerade) are best as they take less energy to absorb compared to nutritional bars or bananas.
For more on fueling properly before/during/after a workout, check out Nancy Clark’s books on sports nutrition.
From blisters to bunions, most of us will suffer from foot problems more than once during our lives. Some issues can be resolved with over-the-counter remedies, targeted Pilates exercises, reflexology and gently rolling your feet on a tennis ball.
The pain is usually caused by the inflammation of the plantar fascia, also known as plantar fasciitis, a chronic irritation due to abnormal biomechanics. Wait too long and you could be headed to surgery. The pain often feels like you bruised your heel on a stone. It can also radiate through your arch.
MADE FOR WALKING
The triangular structure of the feet allows the weight of our bodies to efficiently spread out over a broad base. The plantar fascia is a tight band underneath your foot. Its job is to prevent the foot collapsing out when you walk. When this band is overly stressed, it can tear, causing pain.
The most common cause of plantar fasciitis is faulty biomechanics (walking abnormalities) that place too much stress on the heel bone and the soft tissues that attach to it. It can also be caused by walking, running, or jumping on hard surfaces; wearing poorly constructed shoes; or being overweight.
To learn more about heel pain and taking care of your feet, visit the American Podiatric Medical Association.
You’re at a restaurant. Your dinner companion chokes and quickly falls to the floor unconscious. What should you do? With CPR certification, you’d know how to help save that life.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
As a fitness professional, I am required to get CPR re-certified every two years. Each time I take the class, I feel reassured that I will correctly assess the situation and act in time. We work with dummies, both adult and infant, so we get a real hands-on feel for just how much pressure is needed to get the heart pumping again. A lot more pressure that you might think! We also learn how to use an AED (automated external defibrillator), a portable machine that shocks the heart back to life.
An article I wrote for Baylor Innovations details why reacting quickly in time makes such a huge difference. Had a by-stander not helped this man, the story would have a taken a fatal turn.
“Time is everything,” says Robert Kowal, M. D., Ph.D., a cardiac electrophysiologist at the Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital, “There is a direct relationship between time to defibrillation and survival.”
WHO YOU CAN SAVE
CPR prepares you to react in an emergency. It’s a skill easily learned and often free or at small fee through the American Heart Association.
- Four out of five cardiac arrests happen at home.
- Statistically speaking, if called on to administer CPR in an emergency, the life you save is likely to be someone at home: a child, a spouse, a parent or a friend.
- Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival, but only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander.
- Sadly, less than eight percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive.
It only takes a few hours to the learn CPR skills. There are also more advanced courses where you can learn how to handle emergency first aid situations. These videos show you what it takes and direct you to CPR courses in your area.
An extensive Mayo clinic study reveals that most Americans take at least one drug, and many take two or more. While prescriptions for lifestyle-related chronic diseases (high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes) are on the list, the most prescribed drugs are antibiotics, antidepressants and painkilling opioids. Twenty percent of patients are on five or more prescription medications, according to the findings.
A COSTLY ISSUE
Prescription drug use has increased steadily in the U.S. for the past decade. The percentage of people who took at least one prescription drug in the past month increased from 44 percent in 1999-2000 to 48 percent in 2007-08. Spending reached $250 billion in 2009 the year studied, and accounted for 12 percent of total personal health care expenditures.
With obesity now officially classified as a disease, prescriptions will continue to rise especially as pharmaceuticals to treat obesity rush to market.
The cost is not only monetary, side effects to patients abound. Learn more about specific drugs and their side effects. The good news is that lifestyle choices can reduce or even eliminate your condition and your drug dependence.
WHAT YOU CAN DO DIFFERENTLY
Type 2 diabetes, blood pressure, depression and of course obesity can be reduced and possibly reversed. It’s within your control.
- exercise 3-5/x per week for at least 30-minute per session
- eat more nutrient-dense whole foods (fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish)
- avoid processed and fried foods
- reduce stress (meditate, spend time in nature, get a pet)
Living a healthier lifestyle leads to a higher quality of life meaning more joy and happiness for you and those around you.
In the July edition of Shamabala Sun I read an article by Norman Fischer titled, What is your body? In it is that familiar concept of we are all one with the earth. I’ve never been able to connect with that – until now.
“Our bodies too are the Earth. They rise up from her, and are nurtured, fed, and illuminated by her. Our bodies are in constant touch with Earth, and return to Earth, from which they have never parted…Even our most abstract ideas, like freedom, justice, and happiness, are nothing more or less than Earth’s urge, the thought of wind, sky, water, and light. Nothing we think or do could ever be more profound or true than these natural elements which are literally more or less than our own bodies.”
Soil = food, water = drink, air = breath. We literally sprout from the earth. I imagine us all as plants now with our roots deep into the earth, all of us, standing next to each other. Green. And reaching toward the sun.
ON FRACKING AND ESCAPING
To me, the earth is not a deity and my thoughts of god are fuzzy – can’t quite get solid with it. What I do know is there is life consciousness within and of the earth. Recently, the State of Illinois passed a bill to allowing fracking. A process which fractures the earth, forces chemicals into in order to extract any found gas or oil. Sigh. It just makes me sad that with so many alternative methods available and in development that short-sighted, fearful politicians make such a poisonous choice. As resilient as nature is I don’t believe it can withstand our endless abuse.
I met a man recently who after 9/11 fled the mainland United States to live in pristine Kauai. A few years later, one of his sons’ died there. There’s no escaping our fates.
As I get older, I am challenged with keeping a faith in myself, my own ability to keep life interesting. To not give in to complacency and cynicism. Some days I win the battle. Some days I do not. What I find most helpful are the simple pleasures. Brushing my dog, teaching him new tricks, listening to the birds while sipping coffee, feeling of warm sun on skin, enjoying conversations with old friends.
How can you take better care of your health? Be more proactive about your office visits. Here are five tips will help you be a better medical care consumer.
1. Know your family history – know how parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles died. This is especially important if they died young.
2. Have a primary care physician – schedule an annual exam. Primary care doctors are the gatekeepers of your medical care and your medical history.
3. Ask questions. If you don’t understand a process or procedure keep asking questions until it is clear to you. Feel free to take notes during your medical visit.
4. List your medications. Maintain a current list of medicines including over-the-counter medicines and any supplements. Tell your doctor about any allergies.
5. Request test or procedure results. Ask when and how you will get the results of tests or procedures. Make especially sure you get any lab results or x-rays from any Emergency Room visits.
Here are more details on what you can do to prevent medical errors.