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Blog Workshop At The Canyon Ranch Institute In Tucson

I just got back from a blog workshop at the Canyon Ranch Institute in Tucson, co-led by yours truly and the lovely and charming Kerri Morrone Sparling of SixUntilMe. We had a wonderful time with the locals, acquainting them with social media terminology, and teaching them how to blog and Tweet. We were also immersed in their culture, which largely meant that I lectured (for the first time in my physician career) in yoga pants, and enjoyed small portions of food rich in fruits and vegetables.

A Javelina

A Javelina

Despite the arid, inhospitable environment, the Arizona desert is teeming with life. Quail, rabbits, lizards, javelinas, humming birds and woodpeckers, bob cats and coyotes – all roam around freely near adobe homes nestled between flowering cacti. The extraordinary liveliness of the desert takes the casual visitor by surprise, and the variety of scrubby plants, aloes, and cacti of every imaginable shape, size, and pricklyness is a horticulturalist’s dream.

Since I was on east coast time, I was willing to participate in the 6:30am speed walks in the desert each morning. The lovely landscape inspired reflectiveness in the walkers, though I was somewhat distracted by the roaming hoard of javelinas (very large peccaries who resemble wild boars, smell like skunks, are virtually blind, and live to eat flowering plants). The javelinas had new babies with them – described by one Canyon Rancher as “footballs with legs.”

In between workshop lectures, Kerri and I were treated to some spa services – (regular readers know that I’m a huge fan of massages) which were welcome respites from our very busy work lives.  But best of all, we got to spend some time with Dr. Richard Carmona (who attended our workshop), and we discussed how social media could be the key to inspiring behavior modification in Americans who need to eat more healthily and get more exercise.

As beautiful as the Canyon Ranch is, the healthy lifestyle it promotes won’t reach beyond its own walls if they don’t engage people in ways that fit their budgets and time constraints. Now that 70% of Internet users are engaged in social media, and Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and online support groups are growing exponentially, there’s never been a better time to find ways to reach people with disease prevention messages and strategies. As Washington gears up to support preventive health initiatives as part of healthcare reform, innovative non-profits like the Canyon Ranch Institute can play an important role in helping us get America back on track in terms of weight management and fitness. Online communities like SparkPeople or the Canyon Ranch Institute could be one avenue for change.

Of course, if you can afford to vacation in Arizona, the place itself has a calming, therapeutic effect. If that’s not in the cards for you, you can still emulate the lifestyle in your own javelina-free environment. As I take my regular walks back in DC, I’ll be sure to remember those cute little footballs with legs, and wear yoga pants as often as possible during future lectures (if the NIH looks at me quizzically next month during my NLM presentation, I’ll just blame Rich Carmona).

Sedentary Kids: The Funniest Public Service Announcement (PSA) Video EVER

This is the funniest public service announcement I’ve seen in as long as I can remember. Congratulations to the creative communications team at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons for putting this together!

© American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Back story: I met Sandra Gordon, Director of Public Relations, at the AMA Medical Communications Conference (where I was faculty) and where she presented this video. After the show I approached her to say how surprised many of us were that Orthopaedic Surgery was leading the way in creative PR – and that it was quite unexpected. The PSA had almost a hint of Monty Python humor to it.

She responded with out batting an eye: “Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition!”

How cool is Sandra?!

How Is Exercise Like Brushing Your Teeth?

This isn’t really plastic surgery related, but considering that I am always trying to get patients to get more active or to remain active, then maybe it is.  I like to tell my patients that I have the easy part, they have the hard part of maintaining the results.  This is especially true for the liposuction or abdominoplasty patients where keeping their weight in line is an issue to outcome in years to come.

There is a new article published in  Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association earlier this week which looked at different types of exercise after a myocardial infarction (MI).

The authors,  Dr Margherita Vona et al, did a controlled trial using 209 patients who were referred to cardiac rehabilitation after having an MI.  These patients were then randomly assigned to one of four groups:  aerobic training, resistance training, both combined, or no exercise.

The researchers looked at flow-mediated dilation (improve blood vessel function) at baseline after 4 weeks of exercise, and then again one month after stopping training.  The flow-mediated dilation more than doubled with exercise, from about 4% to about 10% in all three exercise groups.  Those in the no exercise group had a small increase from the baseline 4% to about 5%.

The benefits of physical activity did not last when the activity ended.  Within a month of no exercise, the flow-mediated  function returned to baseline levels.

The important finding of this study is as Dr Vona said, “Long-term adherence to training programs is necessary to maintain vascular benefits on endothelial function.”

Exercise / physical activity has to be like “brushing your teeth”.  It needs to be something that you do regularly and not just once or this week, but for life.

It is not important which physical activity you choose to do, it is important that you do it.  It is important that you continue to be physically active on a regular basis.


Effects of different types of exercise training followed by detraining on endothelium-dependent dilation in patients with recent myocardial infarction”; Circulation 2009; DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.108.821736; Vona M, et al

**This blog post was originally published at Suture For A Living.**

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