How Sleep Affects Your Weight

Have you ever had a night of insomnia followed by a day when your appetite can not be satisfied?  This is an interesting phenomena that is now being studied at the New York University of Medicine.  As it turns out the production of two key hormones, Ghrelin and Leptin may be influenced by how much or how little we sleep.

Here is the scoop.  Leptin and Ghrelin work in concert to control the feeling of hunger and feeling full.  Ghrelin stimulates appetite and Leptin lets our brain know we are full.  When you are sleep deprived Leptin level become very low in the body.  Conversely, as you can probably guess Ghrelin levels rise so you feel hungry the entire day.

A step in the right direction when you are working on obtaining a healthy weight is to get a good nights sleep.  For some of us that is easier said than done.  Stay tuned for tips on getting a good nights sleep.



Do I Really Need Sunscreen?

The answer is a very loud YES!!!  Sunscreen is not just for when you go to the beach or when planning a prolonged event in the sun.  Sunscreen should be worn every day as it protects skin from sunburn and some skin cancers.  Think of the application of sun screen as part of your morning rituals.  To be effective sunscreen needs to be applied 30 minutes prior to going outside.  This allows time for the sunscreen to bind and be absorbed into the skin.

Choose a sunscreen that says “broad spectrum” on the label.  This means that you will get protections from both UVB and UVA rays.  Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 or higher.  It is important to note that you can get sunburned even on a cloudy day.

Lastly do not get caught up in the hype of sunscreen causing skin cancer or the need to expose yourself to the sun to get adequate Vitamin D.  Both concepts are false.  For more information on these topics visit

Heat Stroke vs Heat Exhaustion

Hopefully you will never experience Heat Stroke or Heat Exhaustion.  In my past blog entries I have discussed ways to avoid these potentially dangerous side effects to exercising in the hot summer sun.  Let’s review the signs and symptoms just in case you encounter someone who needs help.

Heat Stroke is considered a medical emergency.  Symptoms of heat stroke include a marked increase in body temperature often greater than 104 degrees with changes in mental status.  Skin may be hot and dry.  Other symptoms include fatigue, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing, disorientation.  Get help immediately for persons experiencing these symptoms.  While waiting for help to arrive cool the person in any way possible my removing clothing, applying water or ice to the skin, & providing shade.

Heat Exhaustion can lead to heat stroke if the symptoms are not taken seriously.  Heat exhaustion can develop suddenly or over time especially with prolonged exercise in hot, humid weather.  Symptoms include heavy sweating, cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat, weak, rapid pulse, muscle cramps, nausea, headache, or faintness.  When experiencing any of these symptoms stop exercising.  Rest, hydrate and move to a cool location.

Stay safe and have fun in the sun this summer.

More Tips for Safe Exercise in the Summer

Having fun in the sun is easy when you follow these easy recommendations.

  • Know the side effects of the medications you take.  Blood pressure medications, antihistamines, decongestants, appetite suppressants and antidepressants can hasten dehydration and decrease the body’s ability to recognize danger.  So remember to stay hydrated.
  • Know your exercise route and weather for the day.  If you are going on an extended hike, run or bike ride make sure your route has some shade along the way.  Exercise in direct sun for greater than 30 minutes can accelerate dehydration.  Check out the heat index and try to exercise early in the morning or after 6:00pm.
  • Decrease the Intensity of your Workout.  When you plan to exercise in hot and humid weather do not try to set a personal best record.  This is the time to either decrease the intensity or the duration of your workout.  Also do not feel the need to keep up with exercise partners who may be more fit or better acclimated to the heat.

Hopefully these tips will help to you to have fun and stay safe when exercising or playing in the summer sun.

Summer Exercise and Fun When You Have Multiple Sclerosis

If you have Multiple Sclerosis, MS you know how challenging it can be to go run an errand when it is a hot, humid day, never mind even think about exercising.  One of my closest friends has MS.  She loves to be as active as possible especially in the summer.  She shared with me this line of cooling products that she swears by.

They are called Polar Products and they are a line of vests, wrist bands, scarves and tons of other items that have insulated pockets filled with frozen water-based cooling packs.  Because the frozen packs are in insulated pockets the cooling will last for 2-3hrs!  How cool is that!

Check out the website and have fun enjoying the summer.



Exercising in the Heat. Is it Safe?

Wow our first day of summer is met with an upcoming heat wave.  We have been waiting for the beautiful summer days when we can spend an afternoon playing tennis, taking a hike or an adventurous bike ride.  Good times, right?  But we all likely know someone who has not prepared themselves for exercising when it is a hot, humid day and got into a bit of trouble.

When exercising in hot humid weather you need to be prepared.  Here is why.  Usually our bodies are warmer than the temperature outside.  When that begins to change our muscles regulate heat by releasing sweat which allows our body to cool itself.  The down side to this reaction to heat is we begin losing fluid.  If we do not replenish the fluid our body is loosing we risk heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Here is tip #1 to safe exercising in the summer:   Drink plenty of water!  For a moderate workout try to drink 20oz of water 2 hours prior to exercise.  Follow that by 8 oz before going out into the heat.  During your bout of exercise take 3-5 swallows of water every 20 minutes.

To make sure you are meeting your bodies needs weigh yourself after your workout.  If you are 1-2lbs lighter you are not drinking enough water while exercising.  According to Suzanne Girard Eberle, Sports Dietitian you lose 2 1/2 cups of water for each pound lost during exercise!!  This puts a huge strain on your body.

Stay tuned for more tips for safe exercising in the summer.



Leaf Blower, Snow Blower – Do I Need Them?

It is so important to do a variety of activities when thinking about exercise.  If you do the same old treadmill workout 5 days a week your muscles accommodate to the activity and your benefit diminishes greatly.  If fact any kind of work out session needs to be changed every 4-6 weeks to avoid this phenomena.

So think about leaving the leaf blower in the garage and rake your fall leaves.  Or use a broom to clear your driveway or walkway.  For most people this will be a cardiac workout.  I recommend to bend from the knees to pick up the leaves to use your large muscle groups of your legs and to protect your low back.  Also alternate hand placement on the rake to avoid an overuse injury especially if it has been months or years since you have picked up a rake.

The same can be same for shoveling snow.  Now this is a work out!  I have always said “when I have to shovel I do not have to go to the gym that day.”  Shoveling is great exercise.  And you know most of the time you are out with your neighbors so it is kind of nice.

So think about leaving these power tools in the garage and getting a bit of healthy exercise.

Do I Have to go to the Gym?

I have always recommended to do the kind of physical activities that are fun.  During the spring and summer months at least here in the Northeast it is easy to get involved in enjoyable outdoor activities that use your major muscle groups and raise your heart rate.  So the short answer to the above question is no, you do not have to go to the gym.

For me I love gardening.  And do not kid yourself it is exercise especially when you protect your back and squat when picking up garden waste to place in your leaf bag.  All that up and down off the ground uses the large muscles of your legs.  Or try hauling a wheel barrow load of mulch across your garden, then raking it out.  That will get your heart rate elevated.  No doubt about it this is exercise.  In fact a 170 pound women will burn ~400 calories for 1 hour of gardening.  Not bad.  And I get to be outside and feel very satisfied when I am finished with my garden project.

Here is a good website that will calculate the calories burned for tons of different activities. All you have to do is enter your body weight.  Check it out and have fun this summer.


Everything You Want to Know About Your Medication

Another one of my favorite websites is  Simple URL to remember and what a bevy of information it can provide.  I like this site because it is in compliance with the HONcode which is a code of conduct to provide accurate and reliable information on medications.

The editorial team at is comprised of registered pharmacists.  The site is designed to provide general health information and education.  The site does not aim to replace discussion with your MD.  But how nice is it to learn about your medications to enable you to have a more informed conversation with your doc.

I like many aspects of this site.  You can obtain tons of information on a medication from what the pill or capsule looks like, side effects, adverse reactions, how the med will interact with other meds.  Great information.  There is also links to current articles about a variety of medications.   Take a look.

Where Can I Find Reliable Information on Health Related Topics

Not everything one reads on the web is reliable information.  Often times information is misleading and sometimes just not correct.  Whenever I am looking for information on just about any health related topic or to read good outcome based studies I go to Medline.

Medline is a great site based out of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health.  There are several sections of the site that are written in lay terminology. There is a great section on medications with side effects and adverse reactions.  When you want to learn about different diseases this is a good resource.

My favorite is the research sections.  Here one can find well designed, non biased research on millions of topics.  Why should I waste my time and your time on a particular treatment strategy unless I know that there is good research to prove that the technique has shown to work.

So when you want to go to an excellent site and know the information is correct check out.