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For Your Health: Make time for good health with these five tips

Vaccines have not been scientifically linked to autism, but they do cause some side effects.
Russ Zimmer

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Patches of good health; Facebook’s disinformation fight; Uber’s shift

Someday soon, perhaps within a year, you’ll be able to slap a soft, stretchy patch on to your arm that tells you if you’re dehydrated. Or that your electrolytes are dangerously out of balance. Or even that you have diabetes. Way smaller than fitness trackers, a new generation of devices might analyze sweat for many chemicals at once, producing a snapshot of the wearer’s health or fitness. The latest advance, described Friday in the journal Science Advances, provides information on the wearer’s pH, sweat rate, and levels of chloride, glucose and lactate — high levels of which could signal cystic fibrosis, diabetes or a lack of oxygen.

Uber said Monday it is raising the minimum age of its drivers in the Netherlands and taking other measures to increase road safety after a series of fatal accidents there. It is lifting the minimum age from 18 to 21 years for drivers and insisting that they have at least one year of driving experience. Those under 25 will be required to take a traffic safety course.

1 million

That’s at least how many fake accounts Facebook shuts down each day, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said as she discussed the company’s role in stopping disinformation. TechCrunch reported that Sandberg made those comments at the annual DLD conference in Munich, held before the World Economic Forum. TechCrunch quoted Sandberg as saying that Facebook employs 30,000 people to check for hate posts and misinformation.

Daily Briefing is compiled from San Francisco Chronicle staff and news services. Twitter: @techchronicle

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Your Good Health: Diet a good way to control irritable bowel syndrome

Dear Dr. Roach: I have dealt with irritable bowel syndrome for more than 40 years. I have had less cramping and loose stools when I quit drinking milk. However, now over the past few years I have had mild constipation and very frequent bloating. I take dicyclomine, 10 mg, before meals and bedtime, that helps a little with spasms. When bloating is more constant, I take Phazyme, Tums and Pepto-Bismol, along with 150-mg ranitidine, which helps a little. I am concerned that I am taking too many types of pills to control it. I have been getting acid reflux lately and feel pressure in the stomach and up under the breast bone with a lot of burping.

My question is if it is OK to take all of these pills within a couple of hours, or is there a better alternative?

I wore a heart monitor for a month because of irregular heartbeats and heavy heart beat. Incidences were recorded, but it wasn’t severe enough to be concern with right now. I feel the problem was caused by the pressure of bloating.


Irritable bowel syndrome is a common (10 to 15 per cent of adults) disorder of the gastrointestinal tract, manifested by abdominal pain or discomfort and bloating, along with changes in bowel movements, such as diarrhea or constipation. Abdominal discomfort is typically relieved by a bowel movement in IBS.

Primary treatment for IBS is an appropriate diet and relationship with food. Stopping milk, for example, seemed to have helped you a lot.

It is possible other dietary changes may reduce the need for medication, and a meeting with a gastroenterologist and a nutritionist dietitian may be have a dramatic effect on your symptoms. Many foods (known as FODMAPs, for “fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides and polyols”) can worsen symptoms, and learning how to reduce these takes more space than I have in 10 columns.

Dicyclomine is an antispasmodic that helps some people with IBS. Phazyme is a brand of simethicone, an anti-gas agent; Tums is an antacid; Pepto-Bismol is an antidiarrheal and antimicrobial; and ranitidine partially suppresses stomach acid. None of these is specific for irritable bowel syndrome, and all are generally considered safe with few serious adverse effects. I’m not sure how many of your symptoms are due to acid reflux (acid going backward from the stomach, up into the esophagus) and how many are due to IBS. I agree with you that you may not need all these medications. Try tapering them off, especially if you are able to find some dietary treatment.

Irregular heartbeats are common and without additional concerning symptoms, such as fainting or chest discomfort, may not need further evaluation unless they continue to bother you.

Dear Dr. Roach: I’ve been recommended a supplement made from powdered fruits and vegetables. Would this be beneficial?


I believe in getting nutrition from food, not supplements, whenever possible. Supplements should be used for specific issues or concerns and not to promote general health, with a very few possible exceptions (omega 3 and vitamin D supplements remain controversial). I would rather you spend your money on an extra serving or two of fruits and vegetables a day than take a powdered supplement.

Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to

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How to use your intuition to your advantage

Oprah once said that using your intuition is paramount for any lasting success.

“I’ve trusted the still, small voice of intuition my entire life,” she said. “And the only time I’ve made mistakes is when I didn’t listen.”

Many of us agree. A new study about intuition has found that the more we rely on gut feelings to make a choice, the more we feel that the choice reflects our true selves and the more confident we become in it.

“Intuition is the ability to know something without conscious reasoning or thought,” says registered psychologist Rachel Hard.

“People often describe physiological symptoms associated with the gut when they don’t feel good, safe or sure about something.”

A stirring in the pit of the stomach or a stomach drop sound familiar? Rachel says that these feelings come from your ‘second brain’.

“It’s believed that intuition comes from our gut,” she explains.

“This is essentially neurons, chemicals and hormones that flood the brain with messages about the state of our body, such as when we’re hungry or stressed.”

Rachel notes that the brain then processes these messages to understand what’s happening in our body and why we might feel anxious without cognitive awareness.

“At this point, if we pay conscious attention, our brain ‘steps up to the plate’,” says Rachel. “We can apply reasoning, past experiences and expectations to figure out why we feel that drop in the pit of our stomachs.”

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Peter Kay appears in good health as he’s spotted for first time in NINE months

Peter Kay looked in good health as he was spotted out in public for the first time in nine months.

The comic looked cheerful as he took a walk in his hometown of Bolton, Greater Manchester, last week.

Peter, 45, has not been seen in public since he made a surprise appearance on stage last April in Blackpool.

But he looked well when photographed by The Sun as he walked along the street on Thursday.

The popular comedian was forced to cancel his first stand up tour in eight years in December 2017, citing “personal reasons”.

Since then he has kept a low profile and made just that one public appearance, the charity fundraiser featuring the screening of a Car Share episode.

In November 2018 it was revealed that Peter has been planning his comeback after Car Share co-star Sian Gibson, who plays Kayleigh in the BBC comedy, admitted the duo had been working on a new script.

Peter Kay and Sian Gibson are working on a new script
(Image: BBC/Goodnight Vienna Productions)

She said: “We have got things that we are going to do together.

“I was with Peter the other day and we have got something in the pipeline.”

Peter had earned £50,000 a week in 2018 – despite cancelling his tour.

According to his accounts, his company assets have increased from £29.5 million to £32 million.

Read More

Showbiz and TV editor’s picks

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Music is good for our health, so why are musicians suffering so much?

“Music was my refuge,” the writer Maya Angelou once said. “I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”

It’s a neat way of summing up the powerful impact music can have on our mental state. Indeed, its ability to soothe our troubled minds has been explored for centuries.

Greek physicians used instruments such as lyres and zithers to help heal their patients, while Aristotle believed that flute music could arouse strong emotions and “purify the soul”. In Italy, celebrated castrato singer Farinelli was employed at the Spanish Court for 10 years, where he sang to King Philip V after his wife, Queen Elisabetta Farnese, suggested the musician’s voice might have the power to cure his depression. When President Nixon had trouble sleeping, he apparently liked to play Rachmaninov’s piano concertos at “ear-splitting volume”.

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In the 21st century, research suggests there is a connection between music and its effect on various illnesses. Studies have shown it to slow heart rate, lower blood pressure, and reduce levels of stress hormones. Research conducted in 2005 by the University of Windsor in Canada, meanwhile, showed that music could improve cognitive function.

And yet the health of many artists and other music professionals is dire.

It’s easy to understand how sudden fame, or a lifestyle built around creating music and live shows, could lead to drug and alcohol abuse, or even cause serious health issues. Lady Gaga told The Mirror in 2016 that she has blocked out the memory of rising to fame: “It’s like I’m traumatised,” she said. “I needed time to recalibrate my soul.”

Zayn Malik, who overnight became one of the most talked-about people on the planet after One Direction came second on the 2010 series of The X Factor, has anxiety so severe that it has forced him to cancel several solo tours. Two years ago, he wrote a first-person account in his book, Zayn, which addressed the multiple issues that fame had either caused or exacerbated.

“When I was in One Direction, my anxiety issues were huge, but within the safety net of the band, they were at least manageable,” he said. “As a solo performer, I felt much more exposed, and the psychological stress of performing had just got to be too much for me to handle – at that moment, at least.”

Even just the act of trying to break into the industry can be so stressful that it can have a massive impact on an artist’s health. Today, Nicki Minaj is regarded as one of the best rappers around, but in 2011, she recalled to Cosmopolitan how she had suffered from suicidal thoughts after being turned away time and time again.

“I kept having doors slammed in my face,” she said. “I felt like nothing was working. I had moved out on my own, and here I was thinking I’d have to go home. It was just one dead end after another. At one point, I was like, ‘What would happen if I just didn’t wake up?’ That’s how I felt.”

Her experience is all too common. “The industry is brutally competitive and only a very few make it to a successful career,” says Peter Leigh, CEO of the charity Key Changes, which provides music engagement and recovery services in hospitals and communities for young people and adults affected by depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other mental health disorders.

“Some of the triggering factors of the problems we see in the music community include self doubt and stress brought about by rejection and failure, poor decision making based on bad advice and exploitation. The fact that record sales peak immediately after an artist’s death is an illustration of the often callous power of the media and the market.”

Serious discussion about how we deal with mental health in the music industry was sparked by a detailed survey published by Help Musicians, the leading independent UK music charity, in 2014. It was found that 60 per cent of musicians had struggled with their mental health, whereas the overall figure in the UK is 25 per cent. In that same study, 68 per cent said they struggled with loneliness or separation from family and friends, and a staggering 75 per cent of musicians said they had experienced performance anxiety.

Fans may wonder what musicians are talking about when they discuss the pressures of live shows. They look like they’re having fun – what’s the problem? Yet scientific evidence shows how the “fight or flight” response is very likely to kick in during a high-pressure situation such as a gig, where a singer is positioned facing hundreds or even thousands of people who are staring right at them. For some, this can lead to a better performance due to the heightened state of awareness and adrenaline rush it causes. For others, it can cause panic attacks or even memory loss, which can lead to long-term anxiety about live shows.

“It’s nothing to do with age or inexperience,” Aaron Williamon, professor of performance science at the Royal College of Music, told The Guardian in 2015. “No matter how highly skilled a person is, the body’s pre-programmed stress responses mean they can enter a different physical state and sometimes even a different psychological state.”

Even in the past few weeks, musicians have shared stories about their issues with mental health. Ben Gregory, frontman of the British indie band Blaenavon, revealed last week that he suffered a stress-related breakdown after “an incredibly hectic and difficult 2017”, and was admitted to hospital before Christmas that year.

“I’m proud and thankful for being able to overcome it,” Gregory said in a statement on Twitter, where he thanked his bandmates and label for supporting him during the difficult period. “I’m now the happiest I’ve been in years: not drinking, exercising, feeling healthy and positive about the future.” 

Last year, Demi Lovato was admitted to hospital for a suspected drug overdose but has since been in recovery and often shares updates on her wellbeing with fans. Even before then, Lovato – who has bipolar disorder – had been a huge advocate for mental health care and has even featured free mental health counselling sessions at her concerts.

“There’s a new breed of pop artists such as Lovato and Years Years frontman Olly Alexander who aren’t afraid of talking about mental health,” says Leigh. “Ironically the most powerful impact on mental health awareness within music tends to come after the death of an artist – such as Avicii, Prince, George Michael, etc. One of the most long-lasting legacies has been the Amy Winehouse Foundation set up by Amy’s family which has created many amazing opportunities for young people – we’re really grateful for their gift of a recording studio for our charity that’s helped hundreds of artists achieve their goal of making great music with industry professionals.”

Charli XCX is one of several high-profile artists who have been open about their struggles with anxiety. Back in 2014, in an interview with The Guardian, she spoke about how panic would arise when she was writing with an artist she hadn’t worked with before. Earlier this month, she summed up the exasperation that comes with such a debilitating issue, tweeting: “F*** anxiety f*** anxiety f*** anxiety f***.”

She followed this up with a slightly more nuanced comment: “Anxiety always hits me when I least expect it and it’s so explosive and really just flips my world inside out. I know loads of people can relate. I think it’s good to talk about / normalise / be honest.”

As well as artists who speak publicly about these issues, there are a number who address it via their music. In 2017, Logic released his Grammy-nominated collaboration with Alessia Cara and Khalid, “1-800-273-8255” (the phone number for the American national Suicide Prevention Lifeline), which addresses feelings of severe depression and suicidal thoughts.

According to the NSPL, in the three weeks that followed the track’s release, calls to their helpline rose by 27 per cent, while website visits jumped from 300,000 to 400,000 over the following months.

Maggie Rogers distils her personal experiences of anxiety into her new album Heard it in a Past Life, with the song “Back in My Body” describing the moment she “almost ran away” in Paris while on her European tour in 2017. 

“I was doing so much press,” she told The Independent in a recent interview. “It made me miserable. I remember I was in the middle of a video session in Paris and I walked outside to have a cigarette. I thought, ‘I have enough money to buy a plane ticket’… before people really realised where I went.”

And on his critically adored album Gang Signs and Prayer, grime MC Stormzy showed courage with the track “Lay Me Bare”, which features the lyrics: “Like man’a get low sometimes, so low sometimes / Airplane mode on my phone sometimes / Sitting in my house with tears on my face / Can’t answer the door to my bro sometimes.”

In an interview with Channel 4, the rapper reflected: “If there’s anyone out there going through that, I think that for them to see that I went through it would help.”

While witnessing one of your heroes in the same boat as you can indeed prove beneficial, there is also a level of responsibility that must be put on labels, management and touring companies to ensure the musicians they are working with are being supported.

In 2016, Sony Music UK became the first music company to partner with a mental health charity (MIND), and has made several commitments to supporting its staff, from offering them opportunities to take part in “mental health first aid” training or office activities in the office such as yoga and body acceptance discussions, to hosting a “Mental Health Music” panel discussion at its company HQ in London.

Help Musicians UK has partnered with Independent Venue Week 2019 (IVW) to launch the “Live Music, Help Musicians” campaign, taking place at over 230 grassroots music venues around the UK later this month. Inspired by research highlighting a serious need for better mental health support in the live music community, the charity will equip venue management and staff with “healthy venue packs” that include hearing protection, along with information and signposting on support for artists who may be struggling.

“HMUK wants a world where musicians thrive, and the foundation of many musicians’ emergence into the industry is through the grassroots music venue circuit,” says Joe Hastings, head of the charity’s health and welfare department. “It is therefore fundamental to HMUK that grassroots venues and the musicians we support thrive. We aim to not only support artists and upskill the sector during and beyond IVW, but also cultivate an ongoing nationwide conversation around the health and welfare needs of artists on tour.”

“The ‘Live Music, Help Musicians’ campaign is one of the most significant developments in mental health for the sector,” adds IVW founder Sybil Bell. “With the continued growth of venues who have joined the IVW family all around the country, being able to work with HMUK and our venue partners means collectively, we can start to have a real and meaningful impact for artists and those around them at the venues, during their touring period and beyond. By continuing the work beyond IVW, we can keep the support going across the year when it’s needed.”

The way mental health is covered by the media is also crucial. Many may argue that we have moved on from the days where tabloid journalists and paparazzi salivated over images of Britney Spears shaving her head, or beating a photographer with an umbrella, but how far have we come, really? Just last year, with Lovato’s issues brought painfully into the public view, the feeding frenzy from certain parts of the media was often difficult to watch.

Will Gore, who worked in press regulation for a decade before moving into journalism (he is currently executive editor at The Independent), suggests that the “rock and roll” narrative beloved by so many tabloid journalists (and media consumers) “perpetuates a myth that musicians somehow ought to be capable of superhuman fortitude – until, that is, they burn out”. 

He adds: “Yet the cases of burn-out, mental breakdown and even death only seem to add to the superficial allure of lives lived fast and dangerously. It’s not hard to suspect that this perception suits the industry down to the ground when it comes to marketing and sales – but it is hardly likely to help vulnerable stars who strive to meet such unrealistic expectations.”

Leigh agrees: “There is a danger that the complexity of the subject matter is lost in some of the easier-to-tell and more easily understood stories about depression and anxiety than, say, schizophrenia and personality disorders.

“The system itself (hospitals and services) is still largely hidden from public view in out-of-the-way locations and anonymous looking buildings, and there’s still very little awareness around what it means to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act, detained in hospital or forcibly medicated.”

Arguably one of the closest examples we have to the clichéd definition of a rock and roll frontman in modern music is The 1975’s Matty Healy, who is often presented in interviews as a kind of romantic, tortured genius. Healy himself has made efforts to clarify that he is aware “this isn’t real” while at the same time being open about his issues with drug addiction.

“The manicness seems to resonate with people, because they know how it feels,” he said in an interview with Billboard, referring to his honesty about feelings of anxiety – both in his music and in the public eye.

“I’m so aware of the vocabulary of rock’n’roll, and what’s tired,” he added. “It’s difficult because everything’s so postmodern and self-referential and hyperaware of everything being bulls**t. As I grow as an artist, I just want to be sincere.”

Key Changes is working with musicians who are experiencing mental health problems in order to support their recovery, via songwriting, production and recording sessions, as well as live performances, marketing promotion and business advice. Support is also provided for artists to access its psychological therapies, and help with problems like addiction and debt.

“We’re linking the health and social care sector with the music industry to provide access to culturally relevant treatment not available elsewhere in the NHS,” says Leigh. ”And we’re addressing the music industry’s poor record on supporting artists who are struggling with their mental health.”

“Music performs a vital role in improving health and wellbeing,” says UK Music CEO Michael Dugher. It’s for everyone in the industry to promote the help that is out there for the many people who will need it – and to work across the industry and with policymakers to improve that support and to help lift the stigma”.

If you have been affected by any issues mentioned in this article, you can contact The Samaritans for free on 116 123 or any of the following mental health organisations:

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Tomorrow is Good: Make healthcare a ‘sexy’ place to work again

Jobs, jobs and jobs. Politicians and news outlets talk and write a lot about jobs. The creation of it, the loss of jobs, and how they want to create more in agriculture, in IT, in logistics and even in coal mining (somebody pinch me please). News items, policy makers, governments air statements about the ambition to boost jobs in steel, agriculture, logistics, technology are great ánd needed.

The other day, however, a small youtube video struck me. Bernd Montag CEO of Siemens Healthineers AG during his opening address (in German) of a conference talked about how strange it is that there is so much talk about all the industries mentioned above, and so little about the healthcare sector while in Germany the healthcare sector is as big as an employer as the whole German automotive industry together.

Although I’m aware of how big the healthcare sector is and I’m always trying to get this point across to the Dutch Provinces – when they say they don’t have any formal role in healthcare anymore I like to point them out to the economic value and employability aspect of healthcare. In the U.S., healthcare became the biggest employer.

We all know healthcare costs are on the rise, demand is doubling so we have to come up with smart tooling like Digital Health.

Knowing the huge shortages in the workforce for healthcare, we really should take good care and attention to make healthcare a ‘sexy’ place to work again. With all the sentiment (including the press) of the past years about healthcare in budget cuts, long hours, high administrative burden and a lot of stress, youngsters choosing for healthcare as a career might decrease at an exponential pace.

First of all, we need to be mindful of the problems and solve them not only with a lens dominated by economics as costs but also with a lens of employability and long term thinking of having a sustainable workforce. Sadly, in all the debates on the change and innovation of health(care), although nurses are -hands down- in the majority, they almost never get to sit at the tables that decide about their work and roles. Given they also have the fastest growing job outlook (+15% 2026) something that really has to change.

So taking care of the healthcare workforce, will also take care of ourselves once we are in need of healthcare, and will keep driving society also from an economic standpoint of view.

I’m not advocating for a lot more money, but to cherish the current and future workforce in healthcare.

About this column:

In a weekly column, alternately written by Maarten Steinbuch, Mary Fiers, Carlo van de Weijer, Lucien Engelen, Tessie Hartjes and Auke Hoekstra, Innovation Origins tries to find out what the future will look like. The six columnists, occasionally supplemented with guest bloggers, are all working in their own way on solutions for the problems of our time. So that tomorrow will be good. Here are all the previous episodes.

Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash


Innovation Origins is an independent news platform, which has an unconventional revenue model. We are sponsored by companies that support our mission: spreading the story of innovation. Read more here.

On Innovation Origins you can always read articles for free. We want to keep it that way. Have you enjoyed this article so much that you want to thank the author? Click here:

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CommonWealth Magazine

LAST MONTH’S FEDERAL COURT ruling declaring that Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional was yet another alarm-raiser for Obamacare customers around the country. Again, in the delicate realm of subsidized insurance, ACA customers were asking: Should I reapply? Is the ACA dead?  Will my coverage be canceled?

The ACA remains the law of the land as this latest upheaval makes its way through the courts. Obamacare has withstood numerous challenges and two Supreme Court appeals, so, advocates say, stay the course, get covered. In Massachusetts, the sign-up deadline is January 23.

During the 2017-18 Open Enrollment period, as the ACA was under assault from a president and Congress bent on its undoing, more than 11 million people signed up for coverage – far outpacing projections. In November and December 2018, nearly 8.5 million signed up. Although enrollment has slipped somewhat as some states abandoned coverage mandates, it’s evident that most Americans still want to get, and keep, their health coverage.

For now, let’s assume that ACA is here to stay. Millions of Americans who were once locked out of insurance options now have access to health coverage.

But the ACA is no guarantee of better health. It’s a payment system that enables a patient to get into the exam room of a primary care provider, specialist or a dentist. That’s the starting point where better health begins. Now, as our patients have more support to achieve better health, community health centers like ours are remodeling health care for both our new ACA patients and for others who choose our care.

Today, we are redefining what constitutes “good health” and “good health care.” As the “social determinants of health” move into focus, we must reach beyond vital signs, the histories, the medication lists. We now ask patients about housing stability, transportation access, family relationships, caregiving challenges, friendships, food security. We know, and research shows, that these stressors impact health. But are we prepared for the patients’ answers?

Our programs in the Berkshires are unique in serving more than 32,000 patients in nine separate practice sites, in a far-flung rural corner of Western Massachusetts. We provide a range of medical, dental, women’s health, nutrition and other care. We have an extensive program of services for families, and we administer a WIC program. As comprehensive as our services are, we see a growing need for new support and resources to keep our promise of providing health care to all comers.

On the list:

  • Resources to support patients “beyond the exam room” with referrals, information and follow-through on social and environmental issues impacting health security. We are working to strengthen community collaborations with social service and advocacy organizations, to meet this need.
  • Fast-track licensure and credentialing for health care providers interested in working in rural or underserved areas such as ours and/or in FQHCs in any area. We are talking with our elected representatives and boards of registration in medicine and nursing in hopes of opening this pipeline.
  • Creative transportation solutions for patients, especially in rural areas, who need not just a medical appointment, but an x-ray, a pharmacy trip or a physical therapy appointment, a grocery stop. We are exploring ways to improve rural transit resources with ridesharing options or enhanced volunteer networks to assist patients, especially our elders.
  • More flexible student loan forgiveness and assistance for primary care providers who chose to work in underserved communities, to help with recruitment and retention. We need state and federal help to boost incentives for those who commit to rural areas and CHCs.
  • Reform of Medicaid’s limits on dental care coverage, to ensure that poor people do not lose their teeth, thereby reducing their overall health and nutritional status. We must continue to lobby for better oral health through our professional and legislative alliances.

Most critically, we must help to expand our community’s concept of what it means to provide health care to all, and what it means to be healthy. We must embrace the notion that when the patient leaves the office, our work is not yet done.

With the ACA, in which we have confidence, we are inching toward health insurance and health care access for nearly all Americans. Pockets of leadership are beginning to understand that health insurance subsidies are not a tax burdens – they are up-front investments in overall health for families and communities. And as health care providers, we are now understanding that follow-up care is not just about the next visit to the doctor’s office.

Lia Spiliotes is the chief executive officer of Community Health Programs, a federally qualified health center network serving more than 32,000 patients in Berkshire County. 

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We all know exercise is good for your health — so why isn’t everyone doing it?: Opinion

Being a family doctor, and tasked with health promotion, I started out my career making sure I passed along lots of information regarding the health benefits of exercise to my patients.

Before long I realized: my patients read the news. Articles quoting studies about exercise and its benefits seem to be published daily. They knew the health benefits, yet that didn’t necessarily make them actually start exercising.

I talk to patients about exercise every week.

For those who are exercising regularly, I see them light up in these conversations.

Regular exercisers in their seventies and eighties are a special group. They have reaped the benefits of a lifetime of physical activity.

I sense their pride in hopping up on my exam table without help, and informing me how independent they are at home.

Many of my patients, on the other hand, are not exercising regularly. I’ve found that a lot of these patients hold certain beliefs about exercise or about themselves. In some cases, these beliefs have kept people sedentary for years.

A family doctor is meant to be your ally in health. When I hear about beliefs that get in the way of my patients’ good health habits, I try to challenge them. 

Here are some examples of what I commonly hear.

‘It just seems silly — it’s foolish to drive to the gym to run on the spot!’

Human bodies are meant to move.

It’s not breaking news that modern conveniences, while relieving us of drudgery and physical labour, have taken away the activities that historically kept our bodies strong.

And that’s where exercise comes in.

It might seem silly to run indoors on a treadmill, but with modern conveniences many people don’t have exercise built into their lives anymore. (Sorapop Udomsri/Shutterstock)

In a perfect world, our lifestyles would perfectly match with our health needs. But in Canada in the 21st century, not so much.

If we want to maintain good health and also have machines plow our fields and wash our dirty socks for us, maybe we need to schedule in some intentional exercise, for the sake of it.

And, if the idea of treadmill running is silly to you, just pick something else!

‘I don’t have enough energy to exercise’

As my regularly-exercising patients would tell you, and I can tell you based on my own personal experience — exercising regularly gives you energy!

It’s like tapping into an internal spring.

Exercising can give you more energy, and it can keep you mobile into your senior years. (sonsam/Shutterstock)

Strengthening your muscles, heart and lungs makes them better able to endure usual daily challenges — carrying groceries, standing or sitting long periods at work or chasing kids.

You won’t know the truth of this statement for yourself until you try it.

If you feel you are at rock-bottom for extra energy, you have nothing to lose.

‘I’m not “sporty”‘

This statement, or versions of it such as “I can’t run, because of my bad knees” or “I can’t go walking right now, it’s too icy” all have an underlying presumption — that there is one type of exercise that person could be doing and that they have a solid reason not to do it.

It’s a false excuse.

There are hundreds of ways to exercise.

If you aren’t “sporty” or co-ordinated, you could try something slow-paced and deliberate, like walking, or even weight lifting.

Not a fan of running? Try yoga. There are lots of different ways to get exercise — figure out which you enjoy. (fizkes/Shutterstock)

If you have bad knees, think about swimming, or low-impact exercise like pilates or yoga.

If the sidewalks are slick, take your walk indoors (at a mall or other building, or an indoor track), or commit to some stair-climbing at home.

When there is a real barrier to one activity, let your mind move on to another that is a better fit.

What’s stopping you?

If you aren’t exercising (even though you know you should), what beliefs are stopping you?

Think about them. Write them down. Are they valid? Talk them out with someone else while keeping an open mind.

If you can change your mind, your body will thank you.

Don’t forget to check with your doctor

One last note: when was the last time you read an article like this and it wasn’t qualified with a statement like “check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program?” Well, this article is going to be no different.

That stands as good advice, particularly if you have medical conditions, take medicines, or have not exerted yourself physically in many years.

Your doctor isn’t going to come up with a perfect training program for you; there are other professionals to do that job.

However, your family doctor knows your health background and risk factors. They can make general suggestions about where to start, and what type of movements or activities might be more risky for you.

This column is part of CBC’s Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor’s blog and our FAQ.

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Patriots notebook: Bill Belichick credits players for team’s good health

FOXBORO — The Patriots’ last two AFC Championship Games on the road ended in losses, and the team’s health was a major reason why.

The 2015 squad, which looked to be on a record-setting pace out of the gate, was beat up beyond recognition by the time it arrived in Denver for the conference championship. Julian Edelman had just returned from a broken foot. The top two running backs — Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount — were on injured reserve. So was Nate Solder. Sebastian Vollmer was playing through a high ankle sprain. Dont’a Hightower battled through knee issues.

It just wasn’t meant to be.

Same deal in 2013, when the Patriots were without Vince Wilfork, Rob Gronkowski, Jerod Mayo and Tommy Kelly down the stretch. Aqib Talib was knocked out of the title game with a rib injury.

This season, the Pats hit the road for the AFC finale with a much healthier squad.
They have a clean injury report heading into the showdown with the Chiefs. And while Tom Brady and Gronkowski dealt with various injuries throughout the season, the Pats were extremely fortunate to avoid many season-ending injuries.

Running back Jeremy Hill (knee), linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley (undisclosed), and cornerback Eric Rowe (groin) were the only full-time players lost for the season. Rookie tackle Isaiah Wynn also suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the preseason.

Bill Belichick credited his players for a year-long commitment to staying healthy.

“Training is like anything — it helps to have a good plan, it helps to follow the plan, and the players have worked extremely hard,” Belichick said. “There’s no pill we can take to get in condition or get stronger or get faster or anything. You’ve got to go out there and you’ve got to work at it, and you do that day after day, week after week, month after month, in some cases, year after year, and that’s how you improve, just like anything else.”

Belichick noted the contributions of the Patriots’ training staff, but emphasized the role of the players.

“It’s a combination of a lot of people working together and doing a good job,” Belichick said. “But I think you can’t take anything away from the players. In the end, players work to get in condition. Certainly, they need a good plan, good structure — I’m not saying that — but if they don’t work hard at it, then you could have the best plan in the world, and probably aren’t going to have great results.”

Brady offered his take.

“You know my belief on injuries: I think a lot of them are preventative,” the quarterback said. “I try to take as much responsibility and accountability for my injuries as possible so that I can be out there. Sometimes you have bad luck in football. It’s obviously a contact sport. You can take a bad hit and that’s your season. Our team’s been very fortunate in that sense this year to not really take those things. The guys have done a great job staying healthy and trying to go week to week.”

Silver anniversary

Sunday the Patriots will shoot for a mind-boggling ninth Super Bowl appearance under Belichick.

And Monday, they’ll celebrate the 25th anniversary of Robert Kraft purchasing the team.

“We have a good setup here,” Belichick said. “(Kraft) has been very supportive, gives us great opportunity to go out and compete every week. We’ve done that. I hope we can continue it for a long time.”

Belichick’s mention of the partnership continuing for a “long time” was certainly noteworthy. No one knows when Belichick, 66, plans on retiring.

But based on his comment Friday, he doesn’t sound like someone who will walk away anytime soon.

High anxiety

Does Belichick get nervous in the days leading up to the AFC Championship Game?

Of course he does.

Belichick said he feels a certain anxiousness “every week” of the NFL season.

“Nervous? Yeah, sure,” Belichick said. “You want to go out there and do well. There’s an anxiety. We all have things in the game that we have to do. You want to perform them well, not let your team down because everybody’s counting on you to do your job. You’re counting on everybody else to do theirs. You don’t worry about everybody else. You just worry about doing what you can do and make sure you don’t screw up what you’re supposed to do, what you’re responsible for, because nobody else can do that. That’s your job, and we all have jobs to do. We all want to do them well.”

Asked if the feeling intensifies before a big game, Belichick smiled and said, “They all count in this league. Just let me know the next game that doesn’t matter so I can take that into account. … Just let me know the ones that don’t matter. I’ll make sure I don’t get excited for those.”

Report with no name

The final injury report of the week for the Pats lists … well, no one. All 53 players on the active roster are good to go for tomorrow.

The Chiefs ruled out linebacker Dorian O’Daniel with an ankle injury. He was the only player listed on Kansas City’s final injury report.

Running back Spencer Ware (hamstring), who hasn’t played since Week 14, will not carry an injury designation into the game.

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