SHINE THE LIGHT ON SICKLE CELL
Today is World Sickle Cell Day with the theme ‘Shine the Light on Sickle Cell’. June 19th every year has been set aside as an important day by the United Nations to recognise sickle cell anaemia as a public health problem and to promote education about this genetic condition.
Sickle cell anaemia is a condition in which there are not enough healthy red blood cells to transport adequate oxygen throughout the body. Sickle cell disease affects nearly 100 million people worldwide and is responsible for over 50% of deaths among those with the most severe form of the disease.
It is estimated that each year over 300,000 children are born annually with sickle cell disease (SCD) in Africa. SCD is a significant contributor to NCD-related child mortality globally, causing up to 15% of deaths in children aged less than 5 years. Without appropriate intervention, up to 90% of those born with the condition die before their fifth birthday.
According to Dr Oluwatosin Adeoye in her article in the Punch Newspapers, titled ‘’ Challenges in Nigeria’s management of sickle cell disease,’’ she made us understand that ‘Sickle cell disease is a genetic blood disorder inherited from one’s parents and characterised by the inheritance of two abnormal genes with one of the abnormal genes being haemoglobin “S.” It’s commoner in blacks although it is a global disease. It is said to have originated from Sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria still has the highest burden of sickle disease in the world’
Nigeria leads the world in the number of cases of sickle cell disease (SCD). An estimated 150,000 babies are born annually in Nigeria with SCD, a heredity disorder, and 70-90% die before age 5.
Experts say sickle cell anaemia can lead to many complications such as stroke, acute chest syndrome, pulmonary hypertension, organ damage, blindness, leg ulcers, and pregnancy complications, among others.
For instance, it is believed that sickle cells can block blood flow to an area of the brain, igniting stroke signs such as seizures, weakness or numbness of arms and legs, sudden speech difficulties, and loss of consciousness.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 70% of deaths could be; prevented with a low-cost diagnostic and treatment plan, but what else can we do to reduce sickle cell disease among our people?
- Screening of sickle cell disease among our newborns. Which is one of the best ways to tackle the surge of SCD.
- Promote effective education about sickle cell disease and its management
- Increase awareness programmes that will help in reducing ignorance about the disease.
- Providing affordable healthcare for people living with sickle cell disease is another means by which there can be effective management of sickle cell disease in this part of the world.
- Availability of medical therapies in the management of sickle cell disease to the people at an affordable price; and under a conducive atmosphere.
- Like other NCDs, managing sickle cell anaemia is expensive in terms of getting the needed drug therapies. So we are asking that the government and other international organisations/donors (like WHO) should make SCD drugs and treatment available to our people like what they did with HIV/AIDS and TB.
- Nigeria government through her health agencies, concentrate more on the treatment of SCD complications than preventive/ management of sickle cell disease. There should be awareness among our youth who are yet to be married or about to on the importance of knowing their blood genotypes
- We must remove the stigmatisation associated with the people living with sickle cell disease. We must see them as people with special needs and not see them as cast out with ‘names’.
Lastly, our salute to our born warriors in the battles against Sickle Cell anaemia in Nigeria, keep the fights on! Hold on to your hopes and dreams you can all achieve whatever you ever dream of, if you believe.
SCD, it’s a war that will be won very soon through proper enlightenment and collaborations.
Courtesy: #ROHSI3 Team members.
IS WALKING A GOOD EXERCISE?
Walking is great. It helps you clear your head; it keeps you active and it’s low-impact and joint-friendly. But is walking a good exercise? The short answer is yes, but like all things there is a skill to it. So, read on if you would like to find out more about the intricacies of walking!
Walking is your body’s natural movement. To count as exercise, you should aim to walk at a brisk pace for about 30 minutes, at least four times a week. Pay attention to your posture and footwear choices, and always warm up and cool down after your walks.
I’ll go through some of the benefits of including walks into your daily routine. You’ll also need some pointers on the kinds of shoes you should wear on your walks. On top of running, you can also add some other exercises to help increase your heart rate and burn calories.
Benefits Of Walking:
While many people wouldn’t don’t consider walking as exercise, it certainly benefits you in many ways, both physically and mentally.
Walking at a moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes, five times a week is the minimum recommended amount of exercise. In particular, walking a longer distance at a faster pace will provide even more benefits.
People who walk regularly were found in a study to have a 31 percent decrease in their risk for cardiovascular diseases.
Other benefits include:
- The stress release from walking will help you sleep better.
- Your overall health will improve as you lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Like any exercise, it helps you maintain muscle tone and bone density.
Walking will also help you burn some calories. Depending on your age and weight, a brisk 30-minute walk can help you burn an average of 129 more calories a day. If you’re also following a healthy diet, this can add up in the long run and help you lose weight.
If you take your walks as a moment to get in contact with yourself, you’ll get benefits that go far beyond the physical impact of the exercise. Exercise at even a moderate intensity can help reduce stress and anxiety and even improve cognitive function.
You can use walking to get an active start to your day and a moment to focus on your goals for the day. You can also take a walk at the end of the day to unwind and release stress.
How To Turn Walking Into Exercise:
Walking is a natural movement of your body. It’s low-impact and meditative and helps you crank up the steps on your Fitbit. If you don’t do any exercise, starting a walking habit will certainly be an improvement for your health.
It’s also a lot easier for your joints than running, especially if you’re overweight or have underlying problems. This is what makes it a good way to get active for beginners.
But for such a low impact, is it even exercise?
Yes, if you do it correctly.
While some may consider walking an inferior form of movement, it’s a good way to burn calories and add activity. However, walking as an exercise doesn’t mean peacefully strolling around.
To be an effective exercise, walking needs to be brisk. This means you have to be a little winded and feel your heart rate going up. Your pace should be fast enough so that it would be hard for you to talk while you’re walking.
How Long Does It Take To Walk A Mile?
You should be able to walk a mile in fifteen minutes for it to count as brisk.
If you’re not able to do this at first, take your time and work on increasing your speed. Give yourself a goal to get a minute or 30 seconds out of your mile every time you go out. You’ll get to a 15-minute mile in no time.
Good Walking Form
The right form and speed are the most important things to get the biggest benefit out of your walks.
Warm up your muscles at a slower pace before starting and cool down after you’ve finished. Always stretch after your walks to maintain and increase your mobility.
- Back: Keep your back straight, your shoulders back and your head high—that means no looking at your phone!
- Shoulders: Try to relax your shoulders and keep your arms slightly bent and swinging freely.
- Breathing: Focus on your breathing correctly, taking profound inhales.
- Feet: Try to walk as neutrally as possible, with your toes pointing forward. Land on the heel at first and then let your weight move naturally toward your toes.
- Engage: Keep your core and your legs and glutes engaged.
Walking for exercise doesn’t require much equipment to be effective, but you may need to pay attention to your clothes and shoes. You can also invest in some poles to try out Nordic walking.
Make sure you’re wearing comfortable clothes that don’t inhibit your movement or cause other types of discomfort. Your regular workout clothes will be fine, as long as they’re stretchy and don’t have seams that will make you chafe.
Rather than wearing your regular comfy clothes, go for specific lightweight active wear. These offer protection from the elements while keeping you warm and will wick moisture away.
A Good Pair Of Shoes
Walking is free, but you might want to invest in the most basic piece of equipment before you get started: shoes. The right shoes are the most important thing to take into consideration when you’re starting a walking hobby.
The first thing is to wear shoes that are made for exercise and are comfortable. They need to have enough support and cushioning to help you get through many miles of walking without injury.
Running shoes aren’t your best bet for walking practice. The two patterns of movement impact your foot differently, so you should give your foot the support it needs for the specific movement.
Running will impact your heels more as they’re the first point of contact with the ground. Walking puts more pressure on the middle of your foot. That’s why running shoes have more cushioning in the heel, whereas walking shoes usually focus more on arch support.
Finding Your Perfect Shoe
Depending on your previous underlying conditions, you might need to find a shoe that adapts specifically for them.
For example, people with flat feet need a little more support for the arch. If your arches are very high, you may need to balance them out to correct the alignment. This will help keep your ankles, knees and hips safe from unnecessary strain.
If you have plantar fasciitis, you may need more cushioning in the heel to keep it slightly elevated.
Spend some time figuring out whether you have flat or high arches or if your gait is neutral or if you tend to pronate. Then, make sure you’re wearing shoes that are right for you.
Nordic Walking Poles
Nordic walking can be helpful for people who are rehabilitating from injury. It can give some assistance in your upper body movement when walking and prevent your shoulders from curving forward. This is especially important for older adults.
Nordic walking also helps you burn more calories since it gets your whole body moving. You’ll be using 80–90 percent of your muscles by engaging the upper body instead of 50 with normal walking. This helps you burn up to 67 percent more calories every time you work out.
When you start with Nordic walking, make sure you’re using the right technique:
- The poles should be kept low, instead of ahead of your body.
- You should slightly swing your arms forward and back.
Walking For Weight Loss
Walking can be very therapeutic and a great way to aid you in weight loss. Keep these pointers in mind to get the most out of your walking workouts.
The basic equation of weight loss is that the calories you ingest need to be lower than the calories you use in a day. Your calorie expenditure depends on many things, from your weight to your age and general activity level.
According to Health Department guidelines, an adult woman would need around 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day. A man would need from 2,000 to 3,000 calories a day.
You can evaluate the calories you’ve burned with exercise with many apps or online calculators. Keep in mind that these are always rough estimates according to your body weight, as people have very different metabolisms.
Also, remember that weight loss is dependent on a healthy and balanced diet. Half an hour of walking won’t help you burn through hundreds of extra calories, so make sure your diet is in check.
Try to challenge yourself with your pace. Increase your velocity slowly when you get more comfortable.
Another way to increase the intensity of your walk is to choose a terrain you’re not as familiar with. Walking on the beach will add some real difficulty to your workout. Hiking up a hill will also help you burn extra calories and target your leg and glute muscles more.
Doing intervals is also very beneficial for your weight loss goals and can help you improve your aerobic capacity faster. You could end up burning 20 percent more calories by simply changing your pace.
This is also great if you’re having a hard time keeping up with a faster pace for longer periods.
Try increasing your speed for a couple of minutes at a time and then relaxing it for another minute or two. It’s good if you can add these intervals to your walks a couple of times a week to really see improvements.
If you’re walking indoors on a treadmill, you can easily make it more intense and add to the calorie burn. You can use different speeds and adaptable inclination to make your exercise more varied and interesting.
Try starting slow and gradually increase the inclination on the treadmill to a degree you can handle for a couple of minutes. Then go back, give yourself a breath, and repeat. You can also try some intervals at a higher speed.
Keep In Mind
One important thing before you head to the treadmill, however, is not to hold onto the supports.
You’ll end up relying too much on them and even putting some of your weight on top of the handles. This will not only make the exercise less effective but will also affect your posture in the long run.
Keep your chin up and your arms swinging from side to side just like you would outdoors. If you need to grab the handles to give yourself a breath, only do it for a couple of seconds.
Curved Manual Treadmills
You might have seen the curved manual treadmills at your gym in recent years. They’re non-motorized, which means you move the treadmill with your steps. Since they’re concave, each step you take propels the movement of the treadmill.
What’s great about this device is that it significantly ups the intensity of your exercise. It helps reduce the impact on your joints, while at the same time making it harder for your muscles to keep up. You can also make it more difficult by turning on the resistance of the treadmill.
These kinds of treadmills can be a bit hard to master at first, especially with the balance. Ask a gym instructor for help, and lightly hold on to the railing until you’re sure you’re balanced.
Overall, a curve treadmill can be a nice addition to your walking routine. Try to switch it up between a normal treadmill and walking outside to avoid affecting your gait.
Other Exercises To Aid With Walking
Getting in some muscle-strengthening exercises will help you have more power in your legs and improve your endurance and speed. It will also help your general wellbeing and, if done correctly, keep you injury-free.
Another perk for building muscle is that it will help you burn more calories. While fat is more of a passive component, muscle needs calories to maintain density. This is why your body will burn more calories, even when resting when you have more muscle.
- Legs: Do basic squats or lunges to improve the strength in your legs.
- Upper body: You’ll need some strength in your shoulders to help balance out your walk and carry yourself with good form.
- Core: Doing some back and ab work will help you keep your core better engaged when you’re walking.
You can even get in exercises in the middle of your walk to get your heart rate up. Try jumping or doing squats every so often to increase the difficulty. If there are stairs somewhere in your walking route, take advantage of them in your workout.
How To Pass The Time While Walking
If being alone with your thoughts doesn’t sound appealing and you get bored easily, there are a couple of things you can do to pass the time.
Find A Friend
It can be easier to start a walking habit if you do it with someone else. Even if you walk at a pace that will make it harder for you to talk, the miles will pass faster when you’re with someone else.
You’ll also be more motivated and won’t want to let your walking buddy down, which helps for those inevitable days when you’re just not feeling up to it.
Change Your Routes
By changing your scenery, you may be able to ward off some boredom. Taking yourself outside of the city or even to a new neighbourhood makes things more interesting.
Listen To Music
Try listening to your favourite music to help you relax. Focus on the music and let it guide your breathing.
Music can even help you get more intensity out of your workout. How about creating a playlist that alternates between up-tempo and slower songs?
Find Podcasts and Audio books
If music doesn’t provide you enough distraction, try listening to a podcast or an audio book. Today, you have an incredible amount of podcasts to choose from, in every possible topic. You can learn a new language, gain new insights on health, business, or politics, or listen to comedians while you walk.
For those who struggle to find the time to read a book, try listening to them. Most bestsellers from fiction to non-fiction are now published in audio versions, so you have an amazing range to choose from.
If you’re walking on a treadmill, try not to use this time on your phone or watching shows on Netflix. You’ll keep your head down in an uncomfortable angle, and you might feel this in your neck later.
Focus On Breathing
If you’re naturally tense and need some help winding down, take a meditative approach on walking. Focus on your breath and try to clear your mind of all other thoughts. It can take some getting used to, but soon you’ll be able to disconnect and only focus on your body.
Ready, Set, Go
You’re just about ready to start your new walking habit to improve your health and overall wellbeing. You’ve got your shoes, your music, and your walking buddy with you. It’s time to get outside.
A minimum of 30 minutes four times a week will help you keep your blood pressure down and improve your heart health. Adding strengthening exercises and increasing the difficulty of your walks adds to the calorie burn and your overall fitness level.
Remember to keep your pace brisk and always stretch after your walk. Pay attention to your breathing and your form. Keep your shoulders down, your chin up and your arms swinging.
BY: VICTOR OWENS
Everybody knows that physically active people have significantly better cardiovascular health. Every doctor in the world will advise you to get fit, feel better, and reduce your chances of joining the quarter of a million people in the United States who literally die every year simply from a lack of exercise.
Doctors used to believe that, while there was a great deal going on behind the scenes in cellular terms, the concept was really that simple. What has more recently been discovered is that prolonged inactivity has risks of its own – even for otherwise fit people. Even if someone performs high-intensity exercise several times a week, sitting for too long at a stretch can still put them at risk.
So, how much time do you spend on your rear every weekday?
When you actually add it all up, the answer may surprise you.
The Science of Sitting
Sometimes when studying a complex system like the human body, scientists can’t really start with a question like “What are all the factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease?”. This approach is just too wide and general. Instead, they might study the health and habits of similar people who differ in one respect, to see if they can find a correlation.
In this case, drivers and conductors on public transport – who respectively sit a lot at work and don’t – were polled, and it was discovered that, on average, drivers die sooner. Now, if they had compared sitting and non-sitting professionals with different socioeconomic backgrounds and types of work, like lawyers and lumberjacks, such a difference wouldn’t be all that surprising. In this case, however, they could only speculate on what in the world was causing this.
The interesting thing, which has since been confirmed by additional research, is that the cause of death in different cases wasn’t only from one single condition, but could be any of several. In fact, people who sit for 10 hours or more per day are 34% more likely to pass away in the hospital than are those who take the occasional stroll around.
Health Effects of Sitting Too Long
There is actually a huge difference in the effects of sitting down on a park bench just to eat a sandwich and spending whole shifts glued to your chair. Although more research needs to be done, how you sit may be just as important. Cultures that tend to squat or sit cross-legged are possibly not affected in the same way. The amount of time you get up between seated sessions and what you do when you get up also has an effect – longer and more active being better. However, even a minute or two of walking every hour can prevent a great deal of harm. Consider the following:
- During long periods of little movement, your metabolism slows. This can contribute to obesity, which is by itself a risk factor for several diseases.
- This means your heart slows down, while most people also breathe less easily when sitting. At the same time, the pressure on your thighs can reduce the ability of blood to flow freely, so that fewer nutrients are delivered and waste products take longer to be removed from your organs and cells.
- The above offers one possible explanation of why long-term sitters are more likely to develop dementia.
- Although the exact mechanism is unknown, there are also reports that too much sitting causes anxiety and other mental health issues, including loss of concentration.
- The same change in metabolic rate makes your cells use less energy and respond differently to insulin, which may later develop into Type 2 diabetes. One study found an increase in risk of 20% for every two hours spent watching television daily (unhealthy snacking may also have played a role here, not only sitting).
- As your circulation slows and your leg muscles do no work, more blood begins to pool in your legs, so getting varicose veins becomes much more likely. Something similar applies to the formation of blood clots, a condition some joker has labeled “e-thrombosis”.
- Finally, people who spend more time sitting show higher levels of inflammation in their tissues, which has been linked to several types of cancer, particularly in post-menopausal women.
The Importance of Posture
Virtually every mammal in the world has a spine much like ours, but arranged horizontally. Humans have a mostly vertical spinal cord, which works out pretty well for us but only as long as we pay attention to how we stand and, especially, how we sit.
As a kid, your mother might have yelled “Sit up straight!”, mostly for aesthetic reasons and because of the way hunched-over people are perceived socially. However, this issue goes much deeper; especially for older, less fit, or overweight people whose spines aren’t as well supported by their back muscles.
When your shoulders slump forward, as they tend to do when sitting at a desk, your breathing automatically becomes shallower, contributing to many of the problems already mentioned. Perhaps more importantly, your skeleton and especially your spine are literally the framework that prevents you from collapsing into a floor-dwelling sack of meat. Abusing them is bound to lead to problems – often permanent ones. As the following graph shows, this is a problem for very many people.
If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer, please make a point of ensuring that your feet are comfortably flat on the floor, your thighs and forearms are approximately horizontal, and, unless you’ve made a habit of maintaining good posture, your back is straight, upright, and supported by the backrest.
This may be difficult to achieve with your current furniture, so consider investing in a good ergonomic chair. This can literally keep you from developing conditions like sciatica and spinal arthritis. To a less serious degree, it will also save you unnecessary pain.
More On Posture
With 33 independently-moving vertebrae and 31 pairs of nerves, the spine is an amazingly complex organ, both mechanically and electrically. As the diagram above shows, the nerves radiate out to regulate not only the movements of our limbs but also much of the function of our organs.
For this reason, one of the principles of chiropractic is that a spinal problem can manifest as any of a range of otherwise baffling medical problems. While many in the medical community continue to view chiropractors as little better than faith healers, anyone who has suffered a pinched nerve will know how uncomfortable this can be. Avoiding back pain, which often requires chronic medication, braces, or special sleeping arrangements, is therefore not the only reason to ensure that you sit up straight or at least stand up periodically.
Working Out In the Office?
One of the main reasons people spend too-long stretches glued to their chairs is that most offices and other workplaces are (nominally) designed and managed for efficiency, not workers’ health. This issue is no longer being ignored by employers, however. When taking into account the lost productivity and direct medical expenses of sick days and long-term absences, most are quite willing to consider implementing initiatives to keep employees healthy.
It’s clearly just a bad idea to force employees to suffer in unhealthy environments. Some companies are now providing on-site workout facilities with treadmills and showers, or at least subsidized memberships to nearby gyms. Others are realizing that ideas dating from the 1800s on how people should behave in the workplace are no longer relevant. In fact, allowing people to leave their desks and walk around every 30 minutes or so doesn’t turn them into hardened procrastinators; these planned interruptions actually make people more productive at their jobs, not less. This is called the Pomodoro method.
Numerous phone and computer apps make this technique easy to practice, while fitness bands like the FitBit actually start vibrating when you’ve been sitting down for an extended period. At this time, you could stretch, walk around, or perhaps get a glass of water. If you prefer, there are even exercises you can do, without leaving your chair, that will undo some of the damage caused by sitting motionless.
Using a Standing Desk
One of the most innovative and effective solutions to the entire problem is to use a standing desk. This does take some getting used to, especially for older people, but the reduced risk of lower back pain, heart disease, and diabetes makes it worth it. Your body is designed to work best when it’s either vertical or lying down, and all that’s needed to overcome the initial discomfort is practice. There is a caveat to this, though – if you’re currently sitting down for all or most of your workday, don’t try to make the change all at once, as your joints and muscles will do much better by dealing with a gradual transition. If possible, try getting a sit/stand desk that can switch between high and low positions.
One objection many people raise to working standing up is that standing will be too distracting to get much done. Actually, the opposite is the case. Have you ever attended a meeting where chairs were banned? These tend to be much briefer and productive, and not only because people’s feet start to hurt.
When you’re erect (and in the correct position), your breathing and circulation are much better. Considering that your brain uses about a third of the oxygen you inhale, this means that you’ll be more alert, able to concentrate and remember better.
Repairing the Damage
If you’re middle-aged or approaching it, you may already have noticed some signs that you’ve been sitting too much over the years. You might be a little heavier around the waist, get dizzy spells when you stand up too quickly, have high insulin resistance, or perhaps even have to carry a heart rate monitor band around with you.
The bad news is that there is simply no pill or surgery that will magically restore your body to tip-top condition. The good news is that relatively simple lifestyle changes – which you might want to make anyway – can have major effects.
The first thing to do is to start moving throughout the day. You don’t need to take up weightlifting or running – some doctors are now suggesting that frequent, gentle activity may actually be better for you than shorter bursts of exercise.
If you haven’t already, quit smoking and moderate your alcohol intake. Eat less sugar and saturated fat, but more vegetables and fruits.
All of these are things we know we should be doing anyway; they not only ameliorate the direct effects of years spent chained to the desk, but they prevent other problems too. Above all, don’t panic about your health. Go for checkups when needed and get a blood pressure monitor if you have to, but remember that stressing about these things will only make them worse.
THE HEALTH RISKS OF PROLONGED SITTING.