“If You Have Some Young Folks Around”

Governor Christie and his administration just guided the state of NJ through a snow emergency. It appears they did an excellent job. In a press conference, talking about people shoveling their snow, Christie said,  “If you have some young folks around, get them to do it.”

It is a shame that older people can no longer shovel their snow safely. We are a nation of fat weak out-of-shape lazy sickly people, many of whom are old. Some of us are victims of circumstance. Most of us are victims of ourselves.

!WARNING! If you are an out-of-shape reader, DO NOT shovel 20 inches of wet snow from your driveway and sidewalk. It would kill you or put you in the hospital. I wouldn’t want that. (It would cost me indirectly, in taxes or insurance premiums.)

I saw my great-grandfather mowing the hay in the back acres. With a scythe! (He had sweet set of sickles and scythes in assorted sizes.) He was eighty years old.

!WARNING! If you are an out-of-shape reader, who has acres of ripe hay and a sweet set of sickles and scythes, DO NOT mow the back acres with your scythe, it would put you  etc etc

So, for my beloved readers who happen to be shamefully weak and shapeless, what exactly am I suggesting?

You will benefit from a moderate plan of exercise which starts with what you can do comfortably. Then, make progress slowly. I spent a year walking and hiking before I began to jog, and then, only on downhills. It is important not to overdo it, because you will be injured and that will reverse your progress, because you will weaken as you rest the injury.

Patience is one of the hardest parts.

I would write more, but it’s time to shovel the snow.

Sugar Sugar

Jack LaLanne, 1914-2011, was a well known bodybuilder, strongman, and health advocate. He was the father of the American fitness movement, long before Jane Fonda made a fitness tape into a VCR ;  in fact, long before VCRs were invented.

He had a remarkable record of fitness and strongman stunts until an advanced age. For instance, he received a star on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame. At his induction ceremony, at age 88,  LaLanne did push ups on the top of his star.

His first and most important idea was the importance of regular exercise. Close behind – and less accepted to date – was the poisonous and addictive nature of sugar. LaLanne entirely banned sugar from his diet, except as it appeared in fruits and vegetables.

Modern medicine accepts that the chief cause of adult diabetes is a diet high in sugars, refined starches (white rice, white flour, etc.)  and other foods with  high “glycemic index” (potatoes). The “white foods” all digest quickly into sugar. Sugars go into the bloodstream quickly. The amount of increase in blood sugar from eating a given food is called the food’s “glycemic index”.

Diabetes is the body’s inability to control the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Diabetics age rapidly. All the normal effects of age occur more quickly in diabetics, including cataracts, wrinkles, and heart disease. This is due to over-high levels of sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream.

At the chemical level, the accelerated damage to the body is the reaction of glucose with protein (“glycosylation”) . Proteins play many key roles in the body. Protein molecules are long chains. Glucose can link several separate protein molecules permanently, when they should not be linked. This degrades the proteins’ function.

For instance, the protein elastin can stretch and recoil. It is a major part of every muscle. When multiple molecules of elastin become cross-linked by glucose, they lose their ability to stretch and recoil. Another example: when the clear protein that forms the lens of the eye becomes glycosylated, it becomes a cloudy cataract.

Over the years, scientists believe, the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar degrades if it is repeatedly challenged with high amounts of sugar and “white food” in the diet. The pancreas seems to wear out.

But Jack LaLanne wasn’t just trying to avoid diabetes.  He believed that exercise and a natural diet would bring vigor and health to everyone. His remarkable life proved his point.

Old Man (in) Winter

In the winter, my physical fitness slackens and my waist expands. At least, until last year.  Last winter there was snow to shovel, a great workout if you don’t overdo it. And I set up my old Nordic Track exerciser and used it in-between snows.

This winter my region is setting records for warm temperatures. Some of the spring bulbs came up in December. I have exercised outside almost every day.

Outdoor exercise in the daytime is great for my mood.

I have battled a tendency to depression for a long time. Before I realized this, I thought I was poetic. (Thanx and a tip o’ the hat to JJ for some solid feedback!) It isn’t bright enough in Winter to make Vitamin D (thanx and a tip o’ the hat to Dr. M for some solid science!), but the bright light is great against depression.

It stayed abnormally warm until New Years Eve here. The past two days have been more seasonal, which is, wind-chill numbers around 20 degrees. I did a long walk one day, and did the exercise course in the park the next day, with many layers of clothing, and no terrible discomfort. But the next two days will be a lot colder.

I am pretty sure that older bodies do not produce warmth as effectively as younger ones.  There is some science that shows that being cold does not cause the common cold.  But, I have to think that cold is stressful.

I want to become able to hike in the cold. I hope to do long hikes in the next few years, and cold weather is likely to occur. I hope these cold-weather workouts will improve my ability to handle cold, without making me ill. This is the classic problem: stress makes the body build up, but too much stress breaks it down.

Modern science brings us warm clothing with efficient, inexpensive, lightweight insulation, along with breathable yet waterproof fabrics. I will test these as the wind-chill approaches zero.