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ASK DR. SPINE: A new year, a new you

ASK DR. SPINE: A new year, a new you


To all my readers,

Thanks for your continued support, and all the best for the holiday season and for the upcoming year. As 2019 comes to an end, this is the perfect time to reflect on the year and to make health goals for 2020 for a healthier you.

Here are five health goals for 2020:

1. Lose weight: Being overweight has potentially significant health risks, including hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, joint disease due to arthritis, stroke and diabetes. One way to measure being overweight is the BMI, or body mass index, which is obtained by dividing your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters. Although not a perfect way to determine if you are overweight or not, BMI measurement is a generally good and accepted way. Normal BMI is defined as between 18.5 and 24.9. Having your BMI within this range has been shown to reduce health risks.

2. Stop smoking: Americans have significantly discontinued smoking cigarettes over the past decades, mainly because of the health risk associated with smoking and the social stigma associated with it. Health risks associated with smoking include lung cancer, peripheral vascular disease and heart disease. For those of us who still smoke, those risks still exist, and therefore it is important to focus on discontinuing. There are many smoking cessation options now available including medication, nicotine patches, behavioral therapy and even hypnosis that can help smokers quit their habit.

3. Exercise more: There is little doubt that exercise is good for us. The many benefits include keeping our muscles in shape, heart health and preventing being overweight. It is recommended that we exercise three times weekly for about one-half hour each time. Exercising releases endorphins in our brain, which can help to elevate our mood and can help with season affective disorder.

4. Reduce sugar intake: There has been an increase in adult onset diabetes in the U.S. It is thought that this is the result of an increase in sedentary lifestyles as well as an increased consumption of foods high in carbohydrates/sugars. Sugars are found in almost everything that we eat, from bread to fruits to candies. The more natural the sugar is, such as those in fruits, the longer our bodies take to digest them. On the other hand, the processed sugars in most candies and similar food is quickly digested, leading to an insulin spike. It is thought that perhaps these insulin spikes eventually leads the pancreas, which makes insulin, to burn out, leading to diabetes. Going forward, avoiding or limiting the amount of processed sugars, along with regular exercising, will go a long way in reducing the risk of adult onset diabetes.

5. Sleep more: It is often said that we all need eight hours of sleep, but the amount of sleep we need varies from person to person and varies on our age. Younger people, such as infants, might need up to 17 hours of sleep, while older adults might need six to seven hours. Signs that you are not getting enough sleep include fatigue during the day, falling asleep, feeling very drowsy during the afternoon or a sense of fatique during the day. It is therefore importantly to set a sleep schedule and sticking with it.

Dr. Dwight S. Tyndall, FAAOS, is a minimally invasive spine surgeon practicing in the Region at His column, which appears every other week, covers a wide range of health and medical issues.


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