How Inactivity and Junk Food Can Harm Your Brain

How Inactivity and Junk Food Can Harm Your Brain

By Dennis Thompson | Featured on US News

If you’re in your 50s and your typical day involves sitting at a desk followed by lounging on the sofa and succumbing to late-night snacks, the long-term toll on your mind might be greater than you think.

Like dominoes, an unhealthy lifestyle can trigger inflammation throughout your body, which can then accelerate wear-and-tear on your brain, a new study suggests.

The result? Faster declines in thinking and memory for folks who don’t practice healthy habits that counteract inflammation.

Long-term inflammation is most often caused by chronic health problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, said lead researcher Keenan Walker. He is a postdoctoral fellow of neurology with Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

“We found that people in their middle adulthood who had higher levels of inflammatory markers in their blood tended to decline over the next 20 years at a quicker rate, especially on measures of memory,” Walker said.

Regular exercise, a heart-healthy diet and good sleep could be important factors in staving off age-related declines in brain function, the study authors concluded.

“If someone becomes really sick, they tend to have changes in behavior,” Walker explained. “Even with just a common cold, people have different behavior. They’re less likely to want to do anything, they lose motivation. They become less hungry. Sometimes they experience changes in mood. Those are all examples of systemic inflammation in the body affecting how the brain functions.”

Given that, it’s possible that long-term chronic inflammation could have longer-lasting effects on brain health.

To test that notion, the research team gathered data on more than 12,300 people participating in a long-term study of heart health problems. The participants, with an average age of 57, were followed for about two decades.

As part of the study, researchers took blood samples and measured four different markers of inflammation. They combined the four to come up with a composite inflammation score for each person.

Participants’ thinking and memory skills also were tested at the beginning and end of the study, according to the report.

The group of people with the highest inflammation scores had an 8 percent steeper decline in thinking and memory skills over the course of the study, compared with those who had the lowest inflammation, the findings showed.

Walker called the influence of chronic inflammation on thinking and memory skills “modest,” but added that it was more powerful than the effect found in previous studies of middle-aged high blood pressure on brain function later in life.

This could be happening either because chronic inflammation is directly harming neurons, or because it is exacerbating other brain conditions that contribute to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, Walker said.

However, people shouldn’t start taking anti-inflammatory meds like aspirin or ibuprofen on the assumption that the drugs will protect their brain health, warned Walker and Mary Sano, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

Sano said, “There have been many studies examining anti-inflammatory agents in cognitive [thinking] diseases over the years, and the results have been modest to unimpressive.”

Rather, it shows the potential lifelong importance of reducing inflammation in your body by staying on top of chronic health conditions and living a healthy lifestyle, Walker and Sano said.

“One of my common comments to people is to treat your treatable conditions,” Sano said. “If you reduce the inflammatory effects broadly, you may also reduce their effects on cognition.”

Neither Sano nor Walker felt that any age would be too late to start eating right, exercising and controlling chronic disease.

“I think earlier typically is better,” Walker said, “but I’m aware of studies that have shown improved diet and exercise can positively impact cognitive health even among older adults.”

The findings were published online Feb. 13 in the journal Neurology.

More information

Johns Hopkins has more about chronic inflammation.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Could Neck-Strengthening Prevent Some Concussions?

Could Neck-Strengthening Prevent Some Concussions?

BY ROBERT PREIDT | Article Featured on US News

Boosting athletes’ neck strength in the off season might reduce their concussion risk in sports such as football and soccer, researchers say.

This is among several recommendations from researchers at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., who are looking to prevent these serious head injuries in athletes.

“Our ability to detect sports-related concussions has greatly improved, but our ability to prevent concussions and decrease post-injury outcomes remains limited,” said study lead author Allison Brown. She is an assistant professor in the School of Health Professions.

“We have identified neck strength, size and posture as potential factors that reduce risk by lessening the magnitude of force upon impact. Thus, increasing neck strength and possibly size could substantially reduce risk or severity of injury or outcomes,” Brown said in a university news release.

For the study, her team reviewed previous research on the relationship between sports-related concussion risk and neck strength, size and posture.

A neck that is stronger, thicker or in a forward posture — ears ahead of rather than aligned with the shoulders — may reduce the amount of energy transferred to the brain during an impact, reducing the risk and severity of concussion, said study senior author Carrie Esopenko, also an assistant professor in the health professions school.

Esopenko noted that compared with men, women typically have less neck strength and a higher risk of concussion, more severe symptoms, and a longer recovery.

Their other recommendations for physical therapists and athletic trainers include doing a thorough cervical spine assessment as part of the pre-athletic participation exam, and screening for pain. Pre-existing neck pain has been associated with increased concussion risk in young athletes, the study authors said.

A concussion occurs when an impact to the head makes the brain move within the skull. It can cause nausea, dizziness, problems with thinking, concentration and mood, and other neurological changes.

The study was published online Jan. 15 in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Physical Therapy Can Keep Sports Injuries at Bay

Physical Therapy Can Keep Sports Injuries at Bay

BY ROBERT PREIDT | Article Featured on US News

Physical therapy helps people recover from sports injuries, but it also can help prevent them, an expert says.

This approach, called proactive physical therapy, can help correct imbalances in amateur and professional athletes that can increase the risk of injury, according to Dean Plafcan, a physical therapist with Penn State Health

“Consider enlisting a physical therapist or athletic trainer to look for weaknesses or imbalances in one part of the body that might be impacting other areas,” Plafcan said in a university news release.

“The result of identifying problem areas and doing targeted therapy and training can be better athletic performance with less risk of pain and injury,” he added.

Plafcan noted that many amateur golfers complain about back pain, and the likely reason is their desk job. Spending a lot of time sitting leads to shortened hip flexors, the muscles on the front of the hip. This forces the lower back to do more of the work during a golf swing, resulting in pain.

“Proactive physical therapy can diagnose this imbalance and improve hip mobility,” Plafcan said. “The result is less risk of back pain, plus a more powerful downswing and greater yardage on the golf course.”

He also said that one-sided body use in many sports leads to physical imbalance.

“A baseball player, tennis player or golfer constantly works one side of the body more than the other, depending on whether the athlete is right-handed or left-handed,” Plafcan said.

“Yes, these athletes need great strength on their dominant sides to excel in their sport, but weakness on the other side of the body can lead to overcompensation and injury,” he explained. “By targeting exercise to increase symmetry in strength and flexibility, the athlete can improve overall performance.”


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Strengthen Your Deltoids to Help Prevent Shoulder Injuries

Strengthen Your Deltoids to Help Prevent Shoulder Injuries

Article Featured on US News

Two out of every three people will experience a shoulder injury or problem at some point in their lives.

One reason: When it comes to training, the anterior, or front, deltoid muscle gets almost all the attention, while the medial and posterior deltoids get the cold shoulder.

For a study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise, scientists from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse evaluated popular shoulder exercises to see which were most effective.

Popular Deltoid Strength-Training Exercises

  • Barbell upright row
  • Battling ropes
  • Bent-arm lateral raise, great for the medial deltoids
  • Cable diagonal raises
  • Dips
  • Dumbbell front raise
  • Dumbbell shoulder press, tops in training for the anterior deltoids
  • Push-ups
  • Seated rear lateral raise, excellent for the posterior deltoids
  • 45-degree incline row, excellent for the medial and posterior deltoids

While no single exercise can work all three parts, start building a shoulder workout with two that target most of the muscles. Build up to three sets of eight to 15 reps each. At first, you may only be able to lift very light dumbbells, but with consistency, you’ll develop strength over time. When you can complete three full sets, it’s time to increase your weight.

For the seated rear lateral raise, sit on the edge of a bench, feet flat on the floor, a dumbbell next to each foot. Bend over to bring your torso as close as you can to your thighs. Hold a weight in each hand with elbows bent slightly so that each weight is against the outside of each calf. Slowly lift your arms out to the sides and up to shoulder height; your back should stay straight and not move. With control, slowly bring the weights back to start. Repeat up to 15 times.

For the dumbbell shoulder press, stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. With a dumbbell in each hand, raise your arms out to the sides until level with your shoulders. Bend your elbows so that your forearms make 90-degree angles with your upper arms, then rotate wrists so that palms are facing forward. This is the start position. Slowly straighten your arms up toward the ceiling. Then with control, lower them to start. Repeat up to 15 times.

Always start a shoulder workout with exercises that target the posterior deltoids because they’re the weakest of the group. As a reminder, strength train no more than three times a week, allowing 48 hours between sessions, and always after warming up the body with light cardio activity.

More information

The American Council on Exercise has an extensive library of deltoid exercises and how to do them safely.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Exercise Injury Prevention: Protecting Your Ankles

Exercise Injury Prevention: Protecting Your Ankles

Article Featured on US News By Len Carter

Guarding against injury means increasing both flexibility and strength. Target the muscles that support your ankles to protect your joints by strength-training two or three times a week on alternating days and always after you’ve warmed up.

Start by using a resistance band to work calf muscles. Sit on the floor, with legs straight. Wrap the center of the band around your right foot and hold the ends taut in both hands. Flex toes, hold and return to start. Complete your reps. Next, point your toes, hold and return to start, adjusting the tautness of the bands in your hands as needed. Complete reps, then repeat the entire sequence with your left foot.

Now move to calf raises using your own body weight for resistance. Hold the back of a chair or face a wall and place your hands against it for balance. Lift your left foot behind you, heel toward your butt, placing all your weight on your right leg. Now lift just your right heel off the floor. Hold for three seconds, then lower. Complete your reps, then switch legs and repeat.

For both exercises, start with one set of eight reps and build to three sets of 10 to 12 reps. To avoid injury, always build up endurance gradually, no matter what the activity, and get instruction if needed so that you always use the proper technique.

Follow strength training with stretches. Take your ankles through a full range of motion by using your toes to trace the alphabet. Sit on a high stool so your feet won’t touch the floor. Start with your right foot and, leading with the big toe, pretend to write each letter from A to Z in the air. Use small movements — only your foot and ankle move. Repeat with the left foot. Note: You can do this stretch every day, after any type of exercise that warms up your body, even a five-minute walk.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

'Extreme' Exercise No Danger to Middle-Aged Hearts: Study

‘Extreme’ Exercise No Danger to Middle-Aged Hearts: Study

By Dennis Thompson | Article Featured on US News

Middle-aged men who partake in extreme exercise are not putting their heart health at risk, a new study contends.

Aging athletes who do eight or more hours a week of vigorous exercise have no greater risk of early death than people who work out less often, researchers found.

Extreme exercise included activities such as fast running or biking, as well as competitive sports such as basketball or tennis.

In fact, middle-aged men who didn’t already have hardening of the arteries saw their odds for early death fall by half if they regularly engaged in vigorous activity, noted senior researcher Dr. Benjamin Levine. He’s director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, a collaboration of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

“Being a high-level athlete was clearly protective and not injurious” for those with lower levels of arterial plaques, Levine said.

Previous studies had questioned whether extreme exercise could be harmful, because some very active athletes tended to have higher levels of coronary artery calcification (CAC), researchers said in background notes.

Heart doctors use imaging tests to check for CAC as a means of assessing risk for heart attack, stroke or heart disease. Coronary calcium is a footprint of atherosclerosis, in which plaques accumulate in the blood vessels that supply the heart.

“Particularly the male athletes tended to have more coronary plaques, and the plaques they did have were virtually all calcified,” Levine said.

But no study had ever taken the next logical step, he added.

“No one actually ever determined whether that made them at higher risk of death or not, and that’s really the whole question,” Levine said. “Who cares if they have more calcium if they don’t die [prematurely]?”

To examine this more closely, Levine and his colleagues studied data gathered on nearly 22,000 generally healthy men, aged 40 to 80, during the years from 1998 through 2013.

The men reported their activity levels and underwent coronary calcium scanning. Most were runners, but some were cyclists, swimmers, rowers or triathletes.

Extreme exercise was defined as eight or more hours a week of activity at an average of 10 metabolic equivalents, or METS, Levine said. METS are a measure of the energy spent in activity.

Vigorous exercise at 6 METS or higher can include jogging at 6 mph or faster, bicycling at 14 mph or faster, carrying heavy loads, or playing competitive basketball, soccer or tennis, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“People don’t typically do that for recreational fitness,” Levine said of these exercise levels. “They’re more likely to do that for competitive fitness.”

The athletes were split into two groups based on their CAC scores, and researchers compared them based on their levels of physical activity. The investigators tracked participants’ rate of death for any cause and specifically for heart disease.

During the study period, extremely active athletes with low CAC scores died half as often as the least-active men with similar CAC scores, the findings showed. They also were 61 percent less likely to die of heart disease.

Those with high CAC scores also appeared to do well. Extreme athletes with high arterial calcium were about 23 percent less likely to die compared with less active men, but there were so few deaths that the result was not statistically significant, Levine said.

“Rather than saying they have a lower risk of death, we say they had no greater risk of death,” Levine said of extreme athletes with high CAC scores.

The study did not include women because their lower rates of death in middle age made a valid statistical comparison impossible. “The trend seems to be similar in men and women, but we can’t say anything convincingly because the death rates were so low” in women, Levine said.

Cardiologist Dr. Nieca Goldberg said these findings support the advice she regularly provides.

“A really important message that I try to get across to my patients is you can have plaque present but if you lead a healthy lifestyle, it helps prevent dying of a heart attack,” said Goldberg. She is medical director of the Center for Women’s Health and Women’s Heart Program at NYU Langone Health in New York City.

However, Goldberg hesitated to say these results would apply to women the same as men.

“I would have to see a study done to see what the results are,” Goldberg said.

Levine pointed out that there are several potential reasons why extreme exercise might aid heart health rather than harm it.

“Exercise, particularly over a long time, causes increased flexibility and youthfulness of the heart and blood vessels,” he said. “Blood vessels are better able to flex and send blood where it needs to go.”

It also appears that plaques in arteries of extreme athletes tend to be more calcified and harder, making them less prone to rupture and cause a blood vessel blockage, Levine said.

So how old might be too old to engage in extreme exercise?

“I don’t think there’s an upper age limit beyond which the benefit diminishes,” Levine said. “The trick is to sustain a meaningful amount of exercise across your lifespan.”

While extreme amounts of exercise don’t appear to harm your heart, you don’t need to do that much working out to keep yourself healthy, he noted.

“The biggest bang for your buck comes with the conversion from a sedentary to an active lifestyle,” Levine said. “Most of the benefit for cardiovascular mortality tends to plateau at about the three- to five-hour-a-week mark.”


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Why It's Harder to Lose Weight as You Age

Why It’s Harder to Lose Weight as You Age

By Ruben Castaneda | Article Featured on US News

DOES YOUR FAVORITE PAIR of jeans fit more snugly around the waist with each birthday? Is your favorite dress a little tighter with each passing year?

Research suggests that many people gain weight as they advance in age from young adulthood into middle age. Between ages 29 and 39, women typically gain about 7 pounds, and men put on an additional 15 pounds, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Conversely, losing weight in your 30s and 40s is more difficult than when you’re a young adult. (Men and women tend to put on little or no weight after age 40 and lose weight in their 70s, according to HHS.) For a variety of reasons, it’s tougher for men and women to drop pounds as they transition from young adulthood into middle age than it is to shed weight during young adulthood, experts say. The factors behind middle-age weight gain are biological and related to lifestyle.

Beginning in your 30s, you lose muscle mass every decade, research suggests. That muscle mass is replaced with fat. This happens even if you exercise regularly, whether it’s working out at the gym, running, swimming or playing in a pickup basketball, softball or volleyball game. Since muscles use more calories than fat, less muscle mass and more fat slow your metabolism, which means you need fewer calories, says Kimberly Gomer, a registered dietitian and director of nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa in Miami. “As we age, unless we work at it, we lose muscle mass,” Gomer says. “Fat needs very few calories to exist.”

Women and men face other biological challenges to losing weight in their middle-age years. Because of changing hormones and a loss of estrogen, women typically gain 15 pounds around the time of menopause, says Dr. Kathryn Boling, a primary care physician with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. She’s also board-certified in obesity medicine. Women going through menopause tend to gain weight around their tummy, Boling says. Men going through middle age face a different issue: the loss of testosterone, which can cause the diminution of muscle mass, Boling says.

In addition to biological issues, changes in lifestyle can be a factor that causes some people to put on pounds in their 30s and 40s. Many people become parents during that phase of their life, and they’re less physically active because of family responsibilities. Career demands can also cause many people to become more sedentary than they were when they were young adults, says Jessalynn Adam, a primary care sports medicine physician with Orthopedics and Joint Replacement at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. “Your schedule isn’t your own at that point,” Adam says. Gomer agrees. “Many of us are very active when we’re younger, running around carefree with few responsibilities,” she says. “In grade school, high school and college, we participate in sports, walk more and run more. As we age – maybe get a desk job, have a family – our free time/leisure time gets decreased.”

Exercising less can lead some people to bad eating habits, Gomer says. Physical activity releases endorphins, neurotransmitters in the brain that block pain and can help you feel calmer and happier. Eating foods that are salty, fatty and sugary can have a similar effect. Consuming such foods leads the brain to produce surges of dopamine, a brain chemical that’s released when we experience pleasure. Some people who miss the feelings of well-being associated with exercising may turn to unhealthy foods as a substitute.

While you can’t do anything to slow the passage of time, there are steps you can take to lose weight as you age. Experts recommend these strategies:

In Your 30s, 40s and 50s

Learn to cook and plan your meals. Have you ever picked up a quick dinner of burgers and fries from the nearest fast-food outlet because you had to work late to meet a deadline? Fast food is typically highly processed and poor in nutrients. It’s also often high in calories, sugar, sodiumand unwanted additives, Adam says. Consequently, eating meals from fast-food outlets won’t help your efforts to shed pounds. If you learn to cook and to plan your meals out a few days in advance, you can avoid impromptu stops at greasy burger joints, Adam says. She suggests taking a cooking class to learn how to prepare healthy meals that focus on fresh vegetables and healthy sources of protein. Learn how to make enough food for more than one day at a time; you can refrigerate the food so you’ll have healthy meals prepared, and no need to make a spur of the moment fast-food run.

Do weight-bearing exercises. Lifting weights helps you maintain muscle mass, which becomes increasingly important as you move from young adulthood into middle age, Boling says. Maintaining your muscle mass helps you burn more calories. “If you have less muscle mass, you burn fewer calories,” she says. Maintaining your muscle mass also helps cut down the chances of sustaining injuries. She recommends doing exercise with free weights and resistance machines.

Make physical activity a family affair. Having a spouse and children doesn’t have to interrupt your exercise regimen, Adam says. For instance, if you’re part of a pickup hoops game, shoot baskets with your significant other or child before or after the contest. You can ride bikes with your partner or with your kids. Look for opportunities to make exercise a family activity. For example, some triathlons also have a “fun run” for kids. Introducing your kids to exercise could also encourage them to adopt their own workout regimens that they’ll continue into adulthood. In the long run, this can lead to lower obesity rates, Adam says.

Monitor your caloric intake. You might be able to get away with not counting your calories in your 20s. But as you move into your 30s and 40s, and the number of calories you need drops, it’s a good idea to keep track of your caloric intake, says Audra Wilson, a clinical dietitian with the Northwestern Medicine Metabolic Health and Surgical Weight Loss Center. A typical sedentary 60-year-old woman should consume 1,600 calories daily, while a sedentary man of the same age should have 2,200 calories a day, according to federal government dietary guidelines. Your ideal weight range depends in part on your height. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has an online tool that you can use to calculate your BMI and check whether you’re overweight for your height. To keep track of calories, read food labels and check restaurant menus for calorie counts per item. Some grocery store hot bars and salad bars also post calorie counts for prepared items. There are free apps, like MyFitnessPal, that help keep track of daily calorie intake.

In Your 60s, 70s and Beyond

Split entree portions at restaurants. Going out to eat remains a major part of socializing for people in their 60s, 70s and beyond. Unfortunately, many restaurant portions are large, particularly if you’re at an age where you need fewer calories, Gomer says. “Eating out is a disaster,” she says. “Restaurants give us giant portions laden with salt, sugar and fat. (They offer) lots of (highly caloric) wine, bread, fried foods and dessert.” When you dine out, split your entree, particularly protein servings, with a fellow diner, she advises. If you’re eating alone, ask for a half-portion and take the rest home in a box. Servings of animal protein shouldn’t be more than 4 ounces per meal.

Don’t dine out when you’re (too) hungry. Hunger can sabotage the best intentions, so before you go out for a meal, eat something healthy, Gomer advises. Munching on a piece of fresh fruit or a handful of nuts can help you avoid temptation while you’re hungry. Or, “order something healthy as soon as you’re seated, such as a salad, a crudité (a raw vegetable) or fruit as soon as you’re seated,” she says.

Order a healthy dessert. You don’t have to abstain from dessert while your fellow diners order cake, pie or ice cream, Gomer says. Many restaurants have healthy dessert options, like fresh berries, a fruit cocktail or sorbet with fresh fruit. Order a healthy dessert option “to avoid tasting from other people’s high-fat and sugar-laden choices,” Gomer says.

Remain active. As they move beyond middle age into their later years, many men and women have to contend with chronic health issues, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and depression, Adam says. In that phase of life, you may not be able to maintain the same level of physical activity you did in middle age, but you can and should keep moving, Adam says. You can make adjustments, like playing half-court hoops instead of full-court or walking vigorously in place of running. Take advantage of special discounts for older athletes. For example, some ski facilities offer free lift tickets for skiers older than 70. And you should continue to do weight work.

Maintain good eating habits. Whether you’re still cooking or not, you should keep a healthy eating regimen. That means consuming lots of fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, healthy carbohydrates (like whole-grain foods) and adequate amounts of protein, Adam says. Don’t give up on the idea of staying in shape. “I’ve seen lots of super-healthy 90-year-olds,” Adam says.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque, New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

4 Exercises for a Better Back

4 Exercises for a Better Back

By Len Canter | Featured on US News

To strengthen your back — the most commonly injured part of the body — it’s important to condition both the muscles in it and the ones that support it, notably the abs.

Here are four moves to boost back fitness:

For the bird dog, start on your hands and knees. Tighten your abs and simultaneously lift your right arm and your left leg until they’re in line with your back. Keep them straight as you hold for 15 seconds, then gently return to the start position. Do 10 reps, then switch sides and repeat.

The plank works your back, abs and glutes. Lying on your stomach, bend your elbows to support your upper body on your forearms. Tighten your abs and glutes and turn your toes under, then lift your body off the ground. Keeping your back straight, hold for a count of 10. Slowly return to the start position, rest 30 seconds, and repeat.

Side planks are a great variation. Lie on your left side, with your left elbow bent, forearm on the floor for support. Tighten your abs and glutes and lift hips off the ground, so that your body forms a 45-degree angle with the floor. Keep your back straight and avoid scrunching your shoulders as you hold for a count of 10. Work up to a total of 10 reps, then switch sides and repeat.

To finish, sit up straight on a stool and bring your shoulder blades together. Hold for five seconds, relax and repeat five to 10 times.

Do this series every other day to start. As you become stronger, aim for two sets of 10 reps on four or five days each week and ultimately two or three sets every day.

Questions to Ask Before You Have Anesthesia

Questions to Ask Before You Have Anesthesia

Article Featured on US News

HAVING A MAJOR SURGICAL procedure can be a scary proposition. First, there’s the fear connected to the issue itself that prompted the surgery. Then, you may also have some concerns about how the procedure will go. Part of this fear often revolves around how you’ll react to anesthesia – powerful medications that block pain.

Dr. Karen Sibert, director of communications and associate clinical professor in the department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine at UCLA Health in Los Angeles, says that “anesthesia is what enables you to tolerate surgery. Modern surgery really couldn’t develop until anesthesia developed. Before the onset of anesthesia, surgical procedures were short and done as fast as possible for humanitarian reasons.” In the mid-1800s, a gas called ether was first used to anesthetize a patient during surgery. Since then, other drugs have been developed that also work to block pain and desensitize patients to nerve signaling in the body to enable procedures that otherwise would be far too painful to conduct.

Dr. Mary Dale Peterson, president-elect of the American Society of Anesthesiologists and executive vice president and chief operating officer of Driscoll Health System in Corpus Christi, Texas, says the word “anesthesia” comes from the Greek word meaning “without sensation. Anesthesia is either a loss of feeling or awareness,” such as you’d want to have if a surgeon were about to cut into your body to conduct a needed medical procedure.

Here are questions to ask if you’re about to have anesthesia:

  1. What type of anesthesia will be used?
  2. What are the risks of anesthesia?
  3. How can I best prepare for this procedure?
  4. What should I expect after the procedure?

1. What Type of Anesthesia Will Be Used?

Anesthesia can be divided into three major types:

  • Local. This type of anesthetic numbs a specific area of the body, such as what you’d receive when having a cavity filled by a dentist. Peterson says it leaves the patient wide awake and aware of what’s going on, or only mildly sedated.
  • Regional. These anesthetics block pain in an area of the body, such as an arm or leg. Epidurals – injections of pain-blocking medication directly into the spinal column that block pain from the waist down – are commonly used to alleviate labor pains without putting the mother completely to sleep. That way, she can participate in the birth of her child without feeling the pain that typically comes with that experience. Regional anesthetics may also be used for a variety of orthopedic surgeries on the lower extremities, such as reconstructing ligaments in the knee and sometimes in brain surgery, where the patient needs to be awake to respond to cues from the surgeon to help guide where incisions should be made.
  • General. General anesthesia is what most people probably think of when they hear the word “anesthesia.” These drugs make you unconscious and are usually delivered as a gas through a face mask. The National Institutes of Health reports that when given this type of anesthetic, “you do not feel any pain, and you do not remember the procedure afterwards.” It’s commonly used for larger or more complex procedures such as organ transplants or lung or heart surgery.

The type of anesthetic used will depend on the location of the surgery and the type of procedure.

2. What Are the Risks of Anesthesia?

Being sedated or made unconscious is not a risk-free enterprise, and anesthesiologists are highly-trained specialist physicians who know how to react in the dynamic environment of the operating room to keep you safe. “Every patient is a little bit different in how they react to or metabolize drugs,” Peterson says, a situation that can also be influenced by other medications the patient may be taking and disease states or other health issues. “All of these can change how those (anesthetic) drugs work on the body.”

With general anesthesia, “there’s a loss of consciousness and there’s a loss of ability for the patient to maintain their airway or breathe on their own,” which can be a challenge depending on the patient and the particular situation. “For a lot of major operations, a breathing tube will be fit in, and we’ll put the patient on a breathing machine to assist with that.” In addition, some anesthetic medications depress the heart or blood pressure, which means the anesthesiologist will have to counteract those effects with other medications to support the patient.

“In addition, you’ve got the insult of surgery and blood loss” that the anesthesiologist works to counteract with blood transfusions and other techniques and medications to stabilize the patent and allow the surgery to continue, Peterson says, adding that one reason why she loves the field is because “you’re bridging two different worlds. You’re bridging the surgical world and the internal medicine world. You’ve got to know about all those diseases and how they impact the patient, but you also have to know about the surgery, even though you’re not the person performing it.”

During a procedure, Sibert says the anesthesiologist is tasked with taking “care of the heart, the lungs, the brain, the circulation, the kidney function, you name it. We’re the internal medicine physician or pediatric physician for everything else that’s going on with that patient during the procedure.” Being able to do this all safely “requires a great deal of general medical knowledge in addition to what drugs to use to sedate or anesthetize someone and wake them up in the end. We’re also responsible for intraoperative fluid management, transfusions, ventilator management – all kinds of things that people never really think about,” Sibert says.

To make all this happen, the anesthesiologist has sophisticated equipment that monitors the patient’s status. “It’s sort of like a cockpit. We have a ventilator and infusion pumps and machines that deliver the anesthesia gasses. All the vital sign monitors are right there,” Sibert says.

Peterson also uses a flight analogy when describing what anesthesiologists do. “There’s a lot that anesthesiologists and pilots have in common. We have our take-offs – that’s what we call induction or getting the patient to sleep. That’s a very critical time. And we have landings, or waking them up, which is another really critical time. In between, it depends on the surgery and how everything is going.” Some surgeries are turbulence-free while others make for a bumpier ride where the anesthesiologist has to make a lot of adjustments on the fly. “It’s kind of like an airplane pilot – sometimes they’re on auto-pilot and other times they have to have all that experience and training to get the plane through.”

While having anesthesia may confer some risks to the patient, Peterson says anesthesiologists have “led medicine in that we have made anesthesia much safer and we’re operating on much sicker and younger patients” now than they once were able to because of how precisely they can regulate most people’s response to anesthesia. She says pediatric anesthesiologists can now safely anesthetize infants weighing less than a pound. At the other end of the spectrum, more elderly adults aged 90 and older are able to safely undergo surgery because of advances in anesthesiology the past few decades.

3. How Can I Best Prepare for This Procedure?

“Patients do need to take some ownership of their own health,” Sibert says, and “if they are in rough shape to begin with, they’re going to have a tough time getting through surgery.” This means that you may need to take some time prior to a surgical procedure to improve your health. Optimizing blood pressure, addressing anemia (low iron levels), reducing obesity or getting your diabetes under control before a procedure may result in a safer experience. “There isn’t always time to do that, but those things really help. The better shape patients are when they go into surgery, the better shape they’ll be in coming out of surgery.” Eating right, exercising and getting good sleep prior to surgery are also important to improving your outcome.

If you’re a smoker, you should try to lay off the habit for a period of time prior to surgery. “We know that patients do better not only from the anesthesia, but also healing from surgery, if they stop smoking. Even if it’s just for a few days before surgery, it can still make a difference in their recovery and risk,” Peterson says. No doubt, this is a tall order, but smoking cessation efforts prior to surgery have been shown to help.

Generally speaking, you shouldn’t have any food in your stomach when you head into a procedure that involves anesthesia, as that can make you sick. Your doctor will also outline any other specific requirements you need to follow prior to surgery. Follow these directions to the letter; there are many medications that can negatively interact with anesthetic medications or alter the effects of these powerful drugs. Because of this, Peterson says “all patients should be very open and honest with the anesthesiologist and give them a good health history, including things that are sensitive topics,” such as illicit drug use and pregnancy. “Even herbal supplements can affect how some of the drugs work,” Peterson says. Anesthesiologists aren’t there to judge you or your lifestyle choices, they just want to keep you safe.

In addition, “patients need to be really honest with us about what they’ve had done in the past,” Sibert says, including things like plastic surgeries that might not seem related to the current procedure. “Sometimes people who’ve had plastic surgery, their eyes don’t close completely and that puts them at risk for eye damage.” Alternatively, patients who’ve had chin implants pose a specific challenge. “It’s difficult to put breathing tubes into patients with very receding chins,” and a cosmetic augmentation of the chin might hide that aspect of a patient’s physiology. Therefore, “we really need to know anything you’ve ever had in terms of surgery, what health problems you’ve had, what medications you’re taking. And just because you have a health problem that seems to be under control doesn’t mean we don’t need to know about it.” The bottom line is, don’t lie to your surgeon or anesthesiologist about anything you may be taking and other procedures you’ve had. That information is critical to ensuring a safe outcome of the procedure you’re about to have.

Prior to your procedure, you should also ask lots of questions and make sure you understand what’s going to happen and what to expect. “If you don’t understand, you need to ask questions,” Peterson says. She says it’s always helpful to bring a friend or family member to support you, as “you might not be thinking clearly right after anesthesia, and if you’re having day surgery, you need someone to drive you home,” as the drugs can have a lingering sedative effect that makes driving a car dangerous.

In addition, “I also think that patients deserve to know who’s going to be taking care of them in the operating room,” so for that reason, she recommends asking for a meeting with the anesthesiologist. “I think it’s a perfectly legitimate thing to ask, ‘are you a physician anesthesiologist? Is there anyone else on the team who’s going to be taking care of me in the operating room?’ Sometimes a care team approach is used, and I think everybody should be open and honest” about who will be playing which roles while you’re unconscious. Most hospitals have some protocol for the anesthesiologist to review the patient’s history and meet with them ahead of time and to make themselves available to answer any questions, and that’s your time to ask whatever questions you may have. “Even though we may not meet you for a very long time, it’s an important relationship to establish,” Peterson says.

4. What Should I Expect After the Procedure?

Anesthesia is great in that it prevents you from feeling any pain while the procedure is ongoing, but once that medical support ends, pain can become an issue for many people. “It’s very important for us these days to make sure that expectations about pain relief afterward are realistic,” Sibert says, noting that post-operative pain management has been implicated as a contributing factor to the current opioid epidemic. Talk to your doctor prior to the procedure about how post-operative pain will be managed, and if a narcotic is recommended, consider whether that’s something you’re comfortable with. If not, find out what alternatives to opioids are available. Sibert says there are lots of ways to control pain with a variety of non-narcotic pain killers, “but we do need patients to meet us halfway and not have unrealistic expectations of having zero pain after major surgery. Unfortunately, it just isn’t like that.”

Similarly, taking an active role in your own recovery is important, as following your doctor’s orders on physical therapy and any other rehabilitative methods you’re prescribed will often take some work on your part.

3 Conditioning Exercises to Support Your Hips

3 Conditioning Exercises to Support Your Hips

To support your hip joints, you need to strengthen the muscles that support them. This can help prevent or relieve hip pain and guard against injury.

Appropriate exercises target muscles of the thighs and the glutes. Here are three to add to your fitness regimen.

Note: Before conditioning, always warm up with five to 10 minutes of easy exercise, like walking or riding a stationary bike.

Hip abduction exercises primarily work the outer thighs. Lie on your left side, top leg straight but not locked, bottom leg bent. Slowly raise the straight leg to make a 45-degree angle with the floor. Hold for five seconds, then slowly lower. Do three sets of eight to 12 reps, then switch sides and repeat.

Hip adduction exercises primarily work the inner thighs. Lie on your left side with both legs straight. Cross your top leg over the lower leg, placing the foot flat on the floor. Raise the lower leg six to eight inches off the floor, hold for five seconds, and then slowly lower. Do three sets of eight to 12 reps, then switch sides and repeat.

Prone hip extensions primarily work the glutes. Lie flat on your stomach on a firm surface and place a pillow under your hips. Bend your right leg so that your calf makes a 90-degree angle with your thigh (the sole of your foot is parallel with the ceiling). Keeping your head, neck and upper body relaxed, raise the bent leg straight up (your thigh lifts off the floor) without jerking your hips. Slowly lower your thigh to a count of five. Do three sets of eight to 12 reps, then switch sides and repeat.

Follow these tips to make the exercises even more effective:

  • Wear ankle weights during your workout. Depending on your ability, start with a 2- to 5-pound cuff on each ankle.
  • Do these exercises two or three times a week, but never on consecutive days.
  • Always stretch after strengthening to improve your range of motion and avoid soreness.

New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.