Posts Tagged ‘lifestyle’

Investment Advice

May 3, 2014

Blog # 152

This blog is a new iteration of a previous posting from 2013, but modified significantly and certainly worthy of reiteration!

 

It is advisable not to take investment advice from a physician, but nonetheless I have some hot tips for the purpose of making you richer.

Q: What is the most important asset in your life? Who owns that asset? Specifically, what durable capital asset is the most valuable investment you can make?

A: The most valuable investment is your health, because without that, you’ve got nothing at all. Your health is your wealth, and we can refer to it as health-wealth.

When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot become manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless, and intelligence cannot be applied.”… Herophilus

Health is our most valuable possession.” …Hippocrates

Life without health is not worth living.” …Plato

Protecting and developing health must rank even above that of restoring it when it is compromised. … Huang-Di (the emperor who laid the foundation for traditional Chinese medicine 4500 years ago)

Many of us make an effort to save for retirement, earmarking funds for IRAs, 401K plans and other retirement vehicles in preparation for when we will no longer be working and will need to tap our savings to live…and hopefully, we will be living for many years after retirement, perhaps reaching the human potential of 100 years or so. First we need the health and wellness to have the quality of life to enjoy our golden years and second we need the financial wherewithal to thrive economically for the (hopefully) many years of retirement. Ralph Waldo Emerson summarized it in five words: “The first wealth is health.”

Sweat equity is the contribution of time and effort that is fundamental to the success of a business. Projecting its use to the health arena, I propose that we have Sweat Equity Accounts—aka, Fitness Accounts. The principles of obtaining and maintaining a fitness account parallel those of a retirement account:

  • Have a plan. Understand the need for and the importance of your account. If you invest wisely, it will create great health wealth.
  • Pay yourself first. Commit to it automatically, guaranteeing that it is a priority not to be tampered with. This will ensure regular deposits to build your fitness nest egg.
  • Slow and steady approach. A moderate amount of investment capital (exercise), deposited to the account on a diligent and regular basis, will ultimately allow for complete funding.
  • Long-term perspective. The greater the investment in terms of time invested, the larger the nest egg builds. The commitment to this plan needs to be a lifetime endeavor. No gimmicky investments, shortcuts, tricks or instant rewards! No nonsense!
  • Seek counseling. Not everyone is capable of managing his or her own portfolio, so seek the services of a professional advisor (personal trainer or fitness instructor). Their services will be well worth their cost.
  • Diversify. Deposit into your account a broad range of investments (aerobic and endurance activities, weight training, core, flexibility exercises, etc.).
  • Eliminate debt. Pay down and eliminate debt (excessive body weight and the burden of bad lifestyle choices) and reap the benefits of becoming debt free.
  • Start early. The earlier you begin accruing savings, the more time available to work the magic of compounding, when the investment returns themselves earn further returns. You will earn returns in the form of “interest and dividends” (improved quality of life) and “capital gains” (longer quantity of life). If you failed to start early, don’t waste another minute.

Your contributions to your account will ultimately make you “healthy-wealthy.” When sickness or disease inevitably surfaces, you will be well equipped to strike the noblest of fights because of your years of investment in your most valuable capital asset.

Andrew Siegel, M.D.

Please check out my brand new book:  Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health; available in e-book (Kindle, iBooks, Nook); paperback coming soon.

www.MalePelvicFitness.com

 

 

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Pilates and Male Pelvic Fitness: Part 2

April 12, 2014

 

Blog #149

Pilates is a discipline that has a strong foundation in core strength and pelvic floor conditioning. This blog is the second part of an interview of Catherine Byron, Pilates trainer and owner of CB Performance Pilates (www.CBPerformancePilates.com). This material is excerpted from my forthcoming book: Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health. (now available in ebook format on Amazon; soon to be available on iBooks, Nook, and paperback)

Dr. Siegel: Can you elaborate on the mind-body connection?

Catherine Byron: Integrating “awareness” and the “mind-body” connection are key components to reaching your potential. The art of being in the moment, of involving the intellect with movement is the key to reaching one’s goals. Often, we are not living in the moment but are simply going through the motions, a condition known as “mindlessness.” Pilates is rooted in “mindfulness”—staying alert and aware in the present moment. Not only does Pilates educate a person about his anatomy, but also how to use it more efficiently.

Dr. Siegel: But doesn’t too much thinking interfere with our ability to do a physical task in a natural and fluid fashion?

Catherine Byron: During the rehabilitative/reconditioning phase of training, mindfulness is key. Over time, these patterns become natural and intuitive and the need to “think” about it will diminish. Initial “heightened” focus is part of the overall process 

Dr. Siegel: In your opinion, what constitutes fitness in general and pelvic fitness in specific?

Catherine Byron: Being physically fit has its roots in the foundations of stability, flexibility, strength and aerobic conditioning. Pilates adds spinal alignment, muscle balance and core strength. Throughout your book, you have emphasized the importance of blood flow to the pelvis, linking it to cardiovascular and penile health and function. Cardiovascular fitness is a foundational pillar of good health and should be a lifestyle habit that is incorporated into one’s existence. In terms of pelvic fitness, a simple formula is improve blood flow, improve function.

Dr. Siegel: What differences have you observed in working with men vs. women?

Catherine Byron: One of the main differences between men and women is range of motion. Most males do not have the degree of joint flexibility as do females, particularly around the hip region. Movement is directly related to this range of motion or flexibility. The more flexible a person is, the more they can “articulate,” meaning move the body with greater detail. For example, think of a ballerina in terms of how she moves. She has the ability to move her ribs and hips with petite, incremental articulations and singular, ratcheted movements as opposed to the chunky, massive movements of many men. The good news is that through stretching and Pilates, men can greatly improve their range of motion and muscle function and begin to perform pelvic movements with greater articulation. The resulting improved range of motion ultimately translates into awareness and improved control of your core, pelvic floor and all-importantorgan, the penis.

Dr. Siegel: How will your 10-step Pilates program improve male pelvic health?

Catherine Byron: The Pilates exercises will develop the deep stabilizers of the spine and improve pelvic movement. These muscle groups work to “hold” or “stabilize” the hips and spine in place. They greatly contribute to the strength and endurance requirements of pelvic movements. There are two types of muscles—movers and stabilizers. For example, your biceps muscle allows you to move your arm but does not work to stabilize any part of your body. Stabilizer muscles are located throughout the body and, in essence, hold you together so that you don’t collapse. In terms of pelvic fitness, Pilates focuses on the pelvic stabilizers. The pelvic floor muscles lift, support and stabilize our pelvic organs. Without the pelvic stabilizer muscles, we would all be wearing diapers. Unfortunately, over time, these lose elasticity and tend to collapse to some extent, which is why strengthening them is so vital.

Dr. Siegel: How does pelvic stabilization help sexual function?

Catherine Byron: Pelvic stabilization builds endurance of the pelvic floor muscles and surrounding core region. This directly equates to improved function, stamina and the length of time that the pelvic muscles can contract before they fatigue. An improved pelvic floor coupled with active pelvic floor muscle contractions will enhance sexual function by allowing a man greater control over his erections.

Dr. Siegel: What about breathing?

Catherine Byron: Breathing is literally the “lifeline” of the entire body. Inhalation brings a surge of oxygen to every cell of the body, fueling and providing energy. Exhalation is a necessary release not only of waste gases but also of physical tension. Holding one’s breath or a lack of coordinated and full breathing diminishes this fuel connection and can result in tense and rigid movements. Breathing is part of that mind-body connection and can help to maximize the integration of body, mind and spirit.

Dr. Siegel: What is the relationship between stability and flexibility?

Catherine Byron: Stability and flexibility can be likened to a tree’s roots and branches. The roots represent stability and the branches, flexibility. If either function is in greater measure than the other, an imbalance occurs. Pilates creates a body that is stable and flexible in equal measure. Over-development or under-development of one or both of these can lead to injury and dysfunction. Pilates exercises produce both length (flexibility) and strength in the muscles, creating a harmonious balance.

Dr. Siegel: What is a Pilates ring?

Catherine Byron: The Pilates ring, also called a Pilates “circle,” is a device used to activate the inner and outer muscles of the pelvis and pelvic floor. The ring is excellent at directly targeting and allowing one to develop the core muscles addressed in this book. For this reason, the 10-step program will require one. The ring is positioned inside or outside the hips, activating hard-to-reach stabilizers required for spinal, urinary and sexual health. Using this device will ignite the “hidden” muscle groups, rarely targeted in traditional gym style exercises.

In addition to strengthening the pelvic stabilizers, the 10-step program involves movement patterns so that muscle development will occur not only statically, but also dynamically during motion. While using the ring, movement in several planes of motion will function to develop the pelvic region in a balanced fashion. Creating balance in this region results in greater performance. Strengthening the front, back and sides of the hips is of vital importance because all are connected. Mastering movement withstabilization is our primary goal in order to enhance core strength and pelvic floor function to the maximum!

Dr. Siegel: What does Pilates offer men if they already know how to exercise their pelvic floor muscles including the bulbocavernosus, ischiocavernosus, and pubococcygeus muscles?

Catherine Byron: The 10-step Pilates exercises will maximize the strength and endurance of the pelvic floor muscles. This program will target and ignite the pelvic floor and will allow one to work the pelvic floor more deeply, effectively and efficiently.

Dr. Siegel: How is the 10-step exercise program geared towards men?

Catherine Byron: To reiterate, one of the main differences between men and women is the way in which they move. Women move with greater and more focused detail. It is easier for a woman to move her pelvis and tilt it one vertebra at a time as compared to a man whose pelvis is typically “thicker” and moves more in “chunks.” In addition, men tend to choose sports, exercises and hobbies that further exacerbate this bulky, heavy movement style. The result is a serious restriction of motion that can lead to diminished performance and potential injury.  For the 10-step program, along with step-by-step photos of the technique, please refer to Dr. Siegel’s book.

 

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:

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Author of: Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health; in press and now available in e-book on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Male-Pelvic-Fitness-Optimizing-Urinary-ebook/dp/B00JIJDGXC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397295413&sr=8-1&keywords=andrew+siegel+male+pelvic+fitnesswww.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of Promiscuous Eating: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food: www.promiscuouseating.com

Author of Finding Your Own Fountain of Youth: The Essential Guide For Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness & Longevity (free electronic download) www.findyourfountainofyouth.com

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Pilates and Male Pelvic Fitness

April 5, 2014

 

Blog #148

Pilates is a discipline that has a strong foundation in core strength and pelvic floor conditioning. This blog is an interview of Catherine Byron, Pilates trainer and owner of CB Performance Pilates (www.CBPerformancePilates.com). This material is excerpted from my forthcoming book: Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health.

Dr. Siegel: What is Pilates?

Catherine Byron: Pilates is a system of exercises designed to strengthen the core. Pilates pays particular attention to spinal alignment and muscle balance. There are many ways to strengthen the core, but what makes Pilates exercises unique are the movement patterns through the spine, specifically articulating one vertebra at a time. As a result, the exercises are not only done with fine control and detail but also serve to strengthen the body evenly: they work both the front and back sides of the spine and, most importantly, include the pelvic floor. A regular gym approach to the core often targets the superficial (outer) muscles of the core while Pilates will target the spinal stabilizers (deepest layer), which attach to the vertebrae of the spine. In Pilates, a great deal of emphasis is placed on a person’s alignment, posture, and movement patterns.

Dr. Siegel: In your opinion, what constitutes the core?

Catherine Byron: The core is the trunk of the body—cut off the arms, legs, and head and what you have left is the core. The “foundation” or “primary core” is the area around the hips—the lumbar pelvic region.

Dr. Siegel: What does Pilates have to do with the male pelvic floor?

Catherine Byron: Pilates activates the pelvic floor muscles and the surrounding muscles that provide additional support for male pelvic function. In order to maximally benefit this area, the muscles have to be treated as a “team.” Similar to developing a sports team, you would never concentrate on only one player. Instead, you would focus on building the entire team. In much the same way with the human body, you never isolate and train individual muscles. If you can think of the complexity of the pelvic floor as a hammock that comes together to lift, you are going to engage that hammock and build up the endurance of the pelvic floor muscles. With Pilates, this area of the body is a specific target and, of course, because the nether parts are so intimately connected, this area is improved as well.

Dr. Siegel: Are Pilates exercises meaningful for male pelvic health?

Catherine Byron: As a certified trainer, fitness advocate, and owner of a Pilates studio, I can attest that no other core strengthening system compares with the conditioning program established by Joseph Pilates. For the very specific needs of the musculo-skeletal system of the male pelvis, these exercises are not merely a direct hit or even a home run, but a grand slam!

Dr. Siegel: Is Pilates good for sex?

Catherine Byron: I don’t think there is any other form of exercise that so directly targets the muscles used in sex. Pilates strengthens the exact muscles that are discussed in this book. During sex, there is a lot of pelvic movement. Moving the hips back and forth repeatedly requires more stamina than strength. Pilates-style exercises develop those muscles that function to stabilize and hold, the ones that provide endurance. Sex demands staying power of the backside of the pelvis, that is, the lower back region. In many exercise routines, there is way too much emphasis on the abdominals, developing the front side of the pelvis—the muscles that assist in the “pushing forward” phase. But the truth is, the more vital requirement is for the endurance of the lower back muscles that assist in the “pulling back” phase. It is the pulling back—the winding up so to speak—that is key to enable pushing forward. Also, muscle balance is an important prerequisite to proper movement and function. Balanced training of the entire pelvic region—the front, back, outside and inside—are essential for improved sexual performance. The 10-step program laid out at the end of this chapter will largely target these muscle groups.

Dr. Siegel: What are the key principles of Pilates?

Catherine Byron: Pilates principles are based on spinal alignment, muscle balance and core strength. Pilates emphasizes spinal alignment—properly positioning one’s hips, ribs, shoulders and head in their anatomically neutral positions. Pilates is a mind-body exercise—all movements are executed with control and strongly linked to breath. Pilates will develop a balanced body, meaning all muscle groups, on all sides of the body, are evenly developed. Core strength is stressed and the deep stabilizers of the spine are focused upon. Practicing these exercises will improve balance, stability, strength, and enhance flexibility through detailed articulation of all movements.

Dr. Siegel: As a Pilates instructor, what is your take on the human body?

Catherine Byron: As a fitness professional, I have 25 years of experience in observing the musculo-skeletal system of the human body in both its static (still) and functional (motion) states. I have always marveled at the human body and its well-conceived design. Nothing is happenstance as every bone, muscle, organ and system is perfectly engineered to harmonize with its counterparts. When this harmonious balance is disrupted, the body “speaks” by producing symptoms. It is through the understanding of these “symptoms” that we gain insight into not only our bodies but also ourselves.

Dr. Siegel: What symptoms occur when there is lack of balance or harmony?

Catherine Byron: Usually a stress point occurs, causing inflammatory conditions. Pain is a “shout out” by the body for attention. Many of the disorders described in this book can easily arise when the pelvic floor muscles and surrounding core area are not holding or functioning properly. When there is a lack of balance to the system or any kind of disruption occurs, “dis-ease” occurs.

Dr. Siegel: So how do we strive to achieve this balance?

Catherine Byron: Finding balance in our lives can be just as great a challenge as creating it in our bodies. The art of doing so comes with great discernment and requires the courage to be honest with ourselves as we determine what areas are in our power to change and what areas are not. It’s that age-old adage: we must accept what we cannot change and change what we can. You have clearly delineated the importance of recognizing what it is that we cannot change about our anatomy. Learning to accept what nature has given us is the first step towards the achievement of harmony with respect to our bodies and ourselves. The second step is identifying what changes can be made in order to improve one’s pelvic fitness as well as overall health and lifestyle.

Dr. Siegel: What can we change and what can’t we change?

Catherine Byron: You cannot change genetics. Your size, strength and even your flexibility to some degree are all dictated by hereditary factors. However, the specifics of your anatomy and how to properly use it can be taught and developed. By working with a professional trainer you can learn to retrain movement and function. My goal is to address those areas that can be changed through a 10-step Pilates-based program. The exercises are specially designed to empower you by improving pelvic health, strength and stability

Dr. Siegel: Before getting into the specifics of Pilates exercises, can you say a few words on general health and wellness?

Catherine Byron: Attitude and personal philosophy have a profound influence on our health. Before discussing the Pilates exercise program, there must first be a consideration of two major areas, lifestyle and mind-body connection. As a foundation for improving one’s health, it is imperative to be aware of our lifestyle habits. These include diet, exercise, sleep, stress management, attitude, etc. As you have acknowledged, it is important that diet and lifestyle be recognized as key players. When a physical disorder is traced back to its root cause, much of the time lifestyle and diet are implicated. In the quest towards health and fitness, introspection about one’s diet and lifestyle is a monumental step in the process of change and progress. If you want to improve, you must first be aware. Self-awareness is a fundamental prerequisite to self-improvement. Developing and refining the mind-body connection can be transformational and is capable of boosting an amateur athlete towards far greater levels if he has the right attitude and is willing to put in the time and effort.

To be continued next week.

 

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:

www.healthdoc13.wordpress.com

Author of: Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health; in press and available in e-book and paperback formats in late April 2014.

www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of Promiscuous Eating: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food: www.promiscuouseating.com

Available on Amazon in Kindle edition

Author of Finding Your Own Fountain of Youth: The Essential Guide For Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness & Longevity (free electronic download) www.findyourfountainofyouth.com

For more info on Dr. Siegel: http://about.me/asiegel913

My Blood Pressure Ordeal

July 6, 2013

Andrew Siegel, MD  Blog #111

I consider myself to be a very fit person—for the most part, I eat a very healthy diet with abundant fruits and vegetable and avoid processed, fast and junk foods, don’t smoke, drink alcohol very moderately, and exercise religiously and aggressively.  I’m 5’9” tall and weigh 155 lbs., so I’m not carrying around much body fat.  Nonetheless, in spite of my healthy lifestyle, I was diagnosed with hypertension this year.  I am a strong believer in the mind-body connection and initially attributed my blood pressure issue to the incorporation of electronic medical records into my urology practice, a frustrating and tedious experience that has added hours of time to my workday and much grief and hassle to my life.  That stated, it is difficult to hide from one’s genetics—I have a bunch of family members with high blood pressure, including my younger sister who is a vegetarian and avid cyclist and runner who truly could not be any leaner or in any better physical shape.  But it really irks me that I know many obese and sedentary individuals who do not have blood pressure iss

Earlier this year, I was in Florida with my brother, cousin, and brother’s friend for an extended weekend golf and tennis excursion. We went to the Publix supermarket where we chanced upon one of those free blood pressure machines that you stick your arm in and presto, in a few moments you have a blood pressure reading.   Suffice it to say that among the four of us, I lost the blood pressure contest!   I wrote it off to the stressful week that I had had, but at a visit to my dentist several weeks later, the elevated blood pressure was confirmed.  Suffice it to say that I was not pleased with this news.

You are probably aware that high pressure within the arterial walls (hypertension) contributes to many serious ailments including the following: coronary artery disease; aneurysms; stroke; congestive heart failure; and kidney disease.  These cardiovascular diseases are the leading causes of death in the USA. So it behooves anyone with high blood pressure to get it treated, pronto.

I saw my internist and was prescribed medication called Diovan, which I started immediately.  It controlled my blood pressure nicely, but I experienced some side effects, so I returned to my doctor and I recommended to him a trial of a different class of medication called a beta-blocker.   This is typically not a first-line drug for hypertension and is often used for people with cardiac problems.   It works by decreasing the heart rate and contractility (the ability of the heart muscle to squeeze out blood).   This class of medication generally has a calming effect and I thought that because of my rather “energetic” style and persona, it might have a beneficial effect beyond managing the high blood pressure. Beta-blockers are sometimes used by people before public speaking, work on tremors of the hand, and have a general blunting/“take off the edge” effect.  I have some early morning insomnia and thought that this might help with that as well.

The medication was effective in normalizing my blood pressure.   However, it did “knock” me down a few notches.  I experienced fatigue in the late afternoon that was new to me.  More disturbing was that it was more difficult for me to exercise when it required major exertion.   When working out, I became short of breath and tired much more readily than previously. I’m a recreational cyclist and have always enjoyed bike riding since my earliest days of childhood.  I observed that I was having trouble keeping up with my cycling buddies and that hills—previously one of my strengths—were suddenly particularly difficult.  Understand that I’m going to be 58 years old on my next birthday, so I thought that my age might have finally caught up with me a bit, but I also questioned what role the beta blocker was playing.

My old heart rate monitor that I typically use when I cycle was not working properly so I headed out to Campmor and picked up a new one.  It is basically a chest strap that detects one’s heart rate that is displayed on a wristwatch. It is a very helpful device when cycling that helps one stay in the proper zone of heart rates to assure the appropriate level of exertion.   For example, I know that my maximum heart rate is 160 and a level of 125–140 is a comfortable heart rate for an endurance ride. When I start heading above 145, I begin experiencing shortness of breath and need to tamp down the exertion if I want to maintain the endurance.  I learned all of this when I attended Chris Carmichael hill cycling camp, located in Asheville North Carolina where I went a number of years ago with my cycling buddies to learn the proper techniques of attacking hills.

So I put on my new heart monitor and went out on a hilly ride.  Much to my surprise, my maximum heart rate was now 125, being 160 under normal circumstances.   At 115, I started experiencing shortness of breath; 110 was a comfortable rate.  I was astonished by the profound effect the beta-blocker had my heart rate.

Understand that beta-blockers do not just work on heart rate but also on contractility.  The term “stroke volume” refers to the amount of blood that the heart pumps out with one beat. Beta-blockers reduce both heart rate and stroke volume.   The ability to succeed in aerobic sports such as cycling and running is contingent upon satisfactory cardiac output to provide oxygen and nutrients to our cells. Cardiac output is the product of heart rate and stroke volume. So, cardiac output goes way down on a beta-blocker and clearly explains my sub-normal performance with highly exertion physical sports.

I saw my internist yet again, stopped the beta-blocker, and started an alternative medication—the same one that my sister is on—that has no cardiac effects. I went on a bike ride in Fort Lee Park and Route 9W with my sister and friends and noticed a dramatic subjective improvement in my cycling performance, more in line with my typical cycling functioning of previous years.  This was just one day after getting the beta-blocker out of my system. Objectively, my maximum heart rate was 140, much improved over the 125 on the beta-blocker, but still not up to the 160 that was typical for me.  On my next ride, my maximum heart rate was back to normal and my cycling performance was fully back to days of old.  I was back!  I’m very happy to say that age is not catching up with me—yet.

Bottom Line: The morals of the story are several: 

1.    High blood pressure usually causes no symptoms whatsoever and must be sought after, so get your blood pressure checked periodically even if you’re feeling great

2.    Do not assume that because you are in great physical shape, exercise regularly, are not overweight, are a non-smoker and have a healthy diet, that you are immune from high blood pressure, which is often genetic despite a very healthy lifestyle

3.    Be wary of beta-blockers if you are an endurance exercise enthusiast.   Apparently what I experienced does not happen to everybody, but it was quite profound with me.  

4.    Don’t tell your doctor what to prescribe you even if you are a doctor!  Physician—do not treat thyself; let your internist provide their sage input regarding management of medical problems.

 

 

Andrew Siegel, M.D.

Author of Promiscuous Eating: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food: www.promiscuouseating.com

Available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle edition

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A Tribute To One Of The Father’s Of Public Health

July 14, 2012

A Tribute To  Lester Breslow

Andrew Siegel, M.D.      Blog # 66

 

The field of public health is of utmost importance to the vitality and well being of humankind. Public health and sanitation saved more lives than any other cause in the 19th century—the Century of Hygiene; in the 20th century—the Century of Medicine—vaccines, antibiotics, transfusions, chemotherapy, etc., helped contribute to longevity; the 21st century will be the Century of Behavior Change—where longevity will be furthered by reducing risky behavior and making positive changes with regards to exercise and nutrition.

One of the father’s of the field of public health, Lester Breslow, M.D., M.P.H., died earlier this year at the age 97.  Originally intent on becoming a psychiatrist, he changed to public health because he believed it was an appropriate match for his desire to be a political activist for disadvantaged people.  His seminal contributions to the health of our society are more than worthy of a blog.  He was one of the first to prove that we can live longer and healthier by modifying our habits including tobacco use, sleep and diet.  He changed the direction of public health from a discipline with an emphasis on communicable infectious diseases to a field focused on lifestyle, the effects of community and the environment and the emergence of chronic disease.

Dr. Breslow joined the California Department of Public Health in 1946 to found the Bureau of Chronic Diseases. He then became a professor at UCLA School of Public Health and subsequently chairman of the UCLA School of Medicine’s Department of Preventive and Social Medicine. He served as Dean of the UCLA School of Public Health from 1972 to 1980.  President Truman appointed him director of a commission to assess the health of the nation in 1952.  He was elected president of the American Public Health Association and was the founding editor of The Annual Review of Public Health and the editor-in-chief of The Encyclopedia of Public Health. He was also president of the International Epidemiological Association and the Association of Schools of Public Health.

In the 1940’s and 1950’s, he was responsible for some of the earliest studies on the hazards of tobacco and three of these were cited in the surgeon general’s report in 1964 linking tobacco to lung cancer.

One of his major accomplishments was the Alameda County Study, a long-term investigation of the lifestyles of almost 7000 residents of Alameda County, California.  Using quantitative analysis, the study unquestionably proved that one’s lifestyle strongly influences longevity.  The study concluded that to achieve maximal longevity, one must do the following: avoid tobacco; consume alcohol moderately; sleep seven to eight hours a night; exercise at least moderately; eat regular meals; maintain a healthy weight; and eat breakfast.  Dr. Breslow concluded that a 60-year-old man who heeded all seven recommendations would be as healthy as a 30-year-old man who heeded fewer than three.  Considering that this study was initiated in 1965, its results were quite remarkable, although in the 21st century, we take his recommendations for granted.

In 2010, at the ripe age of 95, he co-authored a paper on the life expectancy of a group of Californian Mormans.   The study, conducted during the previous 25 years, concluded that the Morman life expectancy exceeded the life expectancy of the general population of Caucasian males by 10 years on the basis of the Mormans’ clean lifestyle. Although not a Morman, Breslow practiced what he preached, even growing his own organic vegetable garden.  Given his longevity, his healthy lifestyle seems obviously to have supported many of his theories.  He was a man of enormous vision and his contribution to the field of public health was profound.

*Credit to Douglas Martin, writer of Dr. Breslow’s New York Times’ obituary, for much of this information.

Andrew L. Siegel, M.D.

Author of Promiscuous Eating: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

www.PromiscuousEating.com

Available on Amazon Kindle