Hello Dr Wise
I’ll be 56 in two weeks. I’ve been working out twice a week with a trainer very strenuously and walking a couple of miles 2 or 3 times a week for exercise. I’ve been doing this for about 7 months now. My doctor tells me I should be getting 45 minutes of vigorous exercise 5 days a week to get my heart rate up into the 75% range but it’s a real pain to even do what I’m doing now.
I’m always sore though. My muscles all ache all the time and I’m stiff and creaky. I drink plenty of water, my diet is very good as I’m losing weight, I do smoke, I don’t own a hot tub, I’m trying not to take ibuprofen unless it’s really bad. I don’t drink.
Dr. Wise Answer:
Being almost 56 is a good thing, considering that the average life expectancy in 1900 was 40 years old.
I cannot think of one good reason to smoke (except for lighting firecrackers). Please read the posting on my site about why nicotine is in tobacco and then stop smoking. You could use the smoking money for hobbies or your new health program.
I would hope that when you turned 50 you had a check up including an echocardiogram and stress test. Remember that in 50% of men (60% of women) with heart disease the presenting complaint is sudden death.
Steady moderate exercise is better than too infrequent excessive exercise. There is also evidence that when running it is better to have intermittent sprints alternating with walking rather than the steady pounding jogging.
Consider doing a “super circuit” of weight machines alternating with the cardio exercise stations if you have access to a health club facility. I have a patient who came back from 10% cardiac output after a heart attack and pacemaker placement to 60% output in 2 years by using his “total gym” at home for 60 minutes every day because he was diligent to steady exercise.
Moderate intake needs to be part of a conditioning program. Consider the Atkins diet or south beach diet. Both have limited carbohydrates, more vegetables and protein foods. Our systems are not made for the large amounts of carbohydrates that are overwhelming the “modern diet”.
One of the most common causes of fatigue and muscle aching is vitamin D deficiency. About 85% of Americans have low levels of vitamin D and need supplementation. Often the vitamins C and K are also low. Ask your physician to check your blood for basic blood tests and these vitamins. Usual appropriate levels of vitamin D replacement is 4000 to 12000 units daily (Really!) This is 10 times the usual daily tab of 400 units. When you get tested and start on replacements be sure to have follow up tests to adjust correctly.
Avoid acetaminophen and ibuprofen since they are toxic compounds.
Please include thyroid and parathyroid testing in your labs. Since you are 55, include a PSA and testosterone level. Have a colonoscopy since most cancers start just up the tailpipe and early detection means better cure and survival.
Most importantly, get started today! (Especially the stop smoking part!) Sign up on my website for the newsletter too.
Sam Wise MD