Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Eclipsing The Sun

A Shaman ceremony during a total solar eclipse in Mongolia where Ray Jayawardhana, astrophysicist and Dean of the Faculty of Science, was to watch the event
A Shaman ceremony during a total solar eclipse in Mongolia where Ray Jayawardhana, astrophysicist and Dean of the Faculty of Science, was to watch the event . . . York University
"The belief [in the mountains of Mongolia in 2008] was that a monstrous deity called Rah was supposedly gobbling up the sun. People [were] howling, screaming, shouting, banging drums . . . to kind of make Rah spit the sun back out."
"It [eclipse of the sun] is kind of a magical event. You see the eclipse, but you also feel the chill in the air, you hear the birds singing . . . it's really kind of an immersive experience."
". . . I saw this notice at the American Central Library in Colombo [Sri Lanka] that had been put up by somebody trying to organize an amateur astronomy group. And it actually said Halley's Comet will be seen [from Sri Lanka]."
"And because of being active in the group [amateur astronomy club], I actually got to meet him [Arthur C. Clarke] when I was 14 or 15."
"I think there are many different ways of being a scientist, many different styles. For me, that [as a science communicator] was the appealing one."
"It's important [for me] to think of science as a very human endeavour. I do think it's doing good in the world to share the understanding of science but also the process of doing science, the frustrations of doing science, the excitement of doing science, with a broader audience."
Ray Jayawardhana, Astronomer, dean of science, York University, Toronto
Ray Jayawardhana, astrophysicist and Dean of the Faculty of Science, taking in the total solar eclipse in Turkey
Ray Jayawardhana, astrophysicist and Dean of the Faculty of Science, taking in the total solar eclipse in Turkey...York University

In 1998 Ray Jayawardhana produced his finding from a study he led on the possibility of planetary formation around a distant star that he and his colleagues observed. That paper, produced while he was still a graduate student at Harvard brought him to the attention of the world of astronomical observation. A hole was observed in the planetary disc surrounding the star, HR 4796A, conceived as evidence a planet in its formative stages was likely there.

This astronomer of growing influence in his chosen field was himself influenced by world-famed science writer Arthur C. Clarke, who had made his home in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in the 1950s. And Sir Clarke sponsored the very astronomy club that the-then young, but star-and-cosmos-struck Ray Jayawardhana became a member of. And while the budding astronomer lived in Colombo and took part in the astronomy club he also met Sri Lankan-bornNASA scientist Cyril Ponnamperuma.

"Ponnamperuma] actually studied lunar [rock and soil] samples that the [Apollo] astronauts brought back, so he was very well known in Sri Lanka for that. But he was also really good at giving public talks. He appeared in NASA videos  about meteorites and their chemistry, and he was publicly engaged becoming science adviser to the president of the country", explained Dr. Ponnamperuma. The trio he most admired was rounded out by Carl Sagan, the astronomer who wrote and hosted the PBS series Cosmos in 1980.
This file photo taken on March 29, 2006 shows a full solar eclipse sin Antalya, southern coast of Turkey.
This file photo taken on March 29, 2006 shows a full solar eclipse sin Antalya, southern coast of Turkey.  (CEM TURKEL)

Since the publication of Dr. Jayawardhan's 1998 paper on planetary formation no fewer than a staggering 3,500 planets have been discovered to be in existence outside Earth's solar system. The science of detecting planetary bodies resembling Earth, with the requisite potential to host life has been accelerating. With the use of the world's largest telescopes, techniques are being pioneered to recognize spectrographic light signatures from distant planets so atmospheric and surface conditions can be detected, capable of hosting life.

He was also involved in the science team tasked to design the Canadian component of the James Webb Space Telescope, larger than the Hubble Telescope, set to be launched by NASA in the coming year.  "As a result of that, we have been given 400 hours of guaranteed time to use James Webb . . . and we're using roughly half of that [time[ on exoplanets. It really has been heady stuff."

Ray Jayawardhana got instant attention while still a grad student at Harvard in 1998. He led a study he led on possible planetary formation  around a distant star.
Ray Jayawardhana got instant attention while still a grad student at Harvard in 1998. He led a study on possible planetary formation around a distant star.  (Steve Russell)

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

PPOIT (probiotic with peanut oral immunotherapy) Immunotherapy

"These children had been eating peanut freely in their diet without having to follow any particular program of peanut intake in the years after treatment was completed."
"This is a major step forward in identifying an effective treatment to address the food allergy problem in Western societies."
"The importance of this finding is that these children [in her study] were able to eat peanuts, like children who don't have peanut allergy, and still maintain their tolerant state, protected against reactions to peanut."
Professor Mimi Tang, immunologist/allergist, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Australia
The peanut allergy cure is designed to reprogram the immune system’s response. Photograph: Josh Westrich/Getty Images

Professor Tang designed a research trial where 48 children were given the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus as well as peanuts in steadily increasing amounts daily for a 18-month period, to enable the building of a tolerance for peanuts. A placebo trial took place as well, the aftermath of which was that four percent only of the children in the trial were judged to be tolerant to peanuts post-trial. (At the original trial's conclusion in 2013, 82% of children who received the immunotherapy treatment were deemed tolerant to peanuts, compared with just 4% in the placebo group.)

Her goal was to create a treatment protocol whereby children with severe peanut reactions where death could ensue if a child inadvertently consumed peanuts, would have the end effect of building immunity to such reactions, enabling children to eat a normal diet, including peanuts. Those children involved in the treatment protocol did indeed build the desired immunity to reaction, going on to eat peanuts without fear or consequences. The results of this study were published in Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

The treatment's immune effects lasted for years following the original study, with close to 80 percent of child participants remaining free of peanut reactions four years on. This is a giant step forward given the fact that in recent decades peanut allergies have dramatically increased particularly in Western countries, given that the anaphylactic shock that threatens untreated children has the potential to kill them.

One in thirteen Canadians suffer a food allergy, according to AllerGen NCE Inc., with 1.93 percent -- over 700,000 people -- encumbered with a serious peanut allergy. After Professor Tang's experimental study, her four-year follow-up revealed that the majority of the children completing the study had been enjoying peanuts free of concerns, with over half of the group consuming "moderate- to-large" amounts with no ill effects.

The fact that the probiotic regimen resulted in 82 percent of children with peanut allergies involved with the clinical trial becoming free to eat the legume, bypassing its former allergic effect represented a stunning success. One that leads to hope that further allergy treatment may present with a permanent cure for the allergy to peanuts.

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Art, Quite Simply Art
"Sundown, The Crossing" 1999 by Harvey Dinnerstein. Oil on canvas.
"It was formative [the recognition that the tradition of 19th Century artists called his aesthetic to respond in kind]. The drawings that I did were mostly incidental and reportorial. I think they were effective, but at some point I started to realize that it wasn't enough just to record incidents. One had to reach beyond the narrative, beyond the moment, for something deeper, more transcendent ... to some other level of perception."
"It was the beginning of a way of thinking that affected many of the things that I would do later [as an artist]."
"The biggest challenge [is] to have a visual idea that's personal relevant to myself as I see the world around me."
"It is difficult to explain. It is being open and having an insatiable curiosity [for] anything that is happening. That's a small part of it."
"The vast diversity of humanity in the city, more so today than ever, seems to me especially focused underground."
"I've never planted a tree in my life. I do them in this space [committing his art to canvas in his studio]. It's kind of crazy with all this stuff in here."
Harvey Dinnerstein, visual artist, New York City, New York
Artist Harvey Dinnerstein in his studio in Brooklyn, New York, on May 31, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Artist Harvey Dinnerstein in his studio in Brooklyn, New York, on May 31, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Just as a writer of novels makes use of his personal history and adds a healthy dose of fantasy to his/her novels to create a work of fiction that resonates with the personal and the whimsical to invite the reading public to a treat for their minds and imaginations to run free, so too did this artist who had 'never planted a tree in his life', place himself within the context of a painting showing a gardener at his task among flowers, busy with the planting of a tree, wheelbarrow holding garden soil beside him. It is an original vision, a painting of strength, unlimited talent and vibrant beauty.

Some viewers might recoil at the sight of an aged man, upper torso revealed, intent on his task, handling a tree, beside him bright and piquant colours of a floral display against a glowing backdrop. But this man has not shied away from the beauty of the human figure even in old age, for he is well into his eighties and has no intention of submitting to the years other than to make the most of all the opportunities the future years will afford him. He is a classical figurative painter. Many of whose paintings reflect family scenes, city life, the seasons and visual conceptions that artists before him focused on.

He is skilled and driven to paint life and his vision of eternity. Classical depictions of mythology are not beyond him; myths they may be, but they involve human nature and mankind interacting with the faith of a higher intelligence. The visual documentation of humankind's ventures in love and war, the emergence of cultural variants and the measures that humans employ to advance their interests and communicate with one another can all be depicted as they are envisioned in the past, and as they take place at the present.

Artist Harvey Dinnerstein in his studio in Brooklyn, New York, on May 31, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Artist Harvey Dinnerstein in his studio. Photo: Samira Bouaou
As a realist artist he moved in his youth among others whose love of art mirrored his own. While the art world became immersed and enthused with non-objective art and the theories of modernism, he and his peers clung to the classical tradition of depicting nature and the human form as they appear to us realistically. That type of art is classified by this man as the humanist traditions of the past. The art of the Renaissance with its lavish splendour and ebullience along with later naturalist and realist artists patterned his own version of rendering timeless art under his brush and his signature.

"Walking Together, Montgomery," 1956, by Harvey Dinnerstein. Charcoal on paper, 17 1/4 inches by 25 7/8 inches. (Courtesy of Harvey Dinnerstein)
“Walking Together, Montgomery,” 1956, by Harvey Dinnerstein. Charcoal on paper, 17 1/4 inches by 
25 7/8 inches. (Courtesy of Harvey Dinnerstein)
He took inspiration from the civil rights movement, from poetry, from everyday scenes of life he witnessed, and accustomed himself to carrying a notebook where he could jot down a 'cartoon' sketch that he might later, in his studio use as a guide to his memory to expand and detail into a painting. It is what many artists married to their work do, to jog memory and outline what they will at a later date elaborate upon in the commission of an artwork.

The quality of this man's depiction of landscape and figures speaks to his passion for his art. It is a passion that communicates itself to the eye of the beholder. Viewing his paintings, no explanation is required for they speak for themselves. It can be readily determined what Mr Dinnerstein meant to convey, and succeeded admirably in doing so. This is the kind of art that has its peers in the past, less so in the present, overshadowed in the world of art by the bogus productions in demand by buyers who believe the art 'experts' who claim abstract art represents fine art.

"In the Kitchen," 1960–61, by Harvey Dinnerstein. Oil on canvas, 20 inches by 16 inches. (Courtesy of Harvey Dinnerstein)
"In the Kitchen" 1960-61 by Harvey Dinnerstein, Oil on Canvass, Courtesy Harvey Dinnerstein

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Inheriting Stress Disorder-Linked Behavioural Malfunctions

"The roots of mental illness can be traced back to the very beginnings of life. We can't avoid all stress during pregnancy, or at any time. But we can help women avoid stress and manage stress."
"Research shows that when stressful things happen, people are likely to have mental health problems decades later."
"Having a supportive partner and family members helps. It's in everyone's best interests to help pregnant women reduce stress."
Dr. Ian Colman, associate professor, school of epidemiology and public health, University of Ottawa

"This study is certainly reflective about what we know about stress. It validates what we have been saying in the mental health community -- stress can be toxic."
"Resilience isn't about avoiding stress. It's about springing back and helping people do that."
"We can beat illnesses upstream. This impacts more than the mother."
Mark Henick, national director of strategic initiatives, Canadian Mental Health Association
Stressful times for mother increase the risk of later problems for her baby. Flickr/Roberto Carlos Pecino

In 2015 a study appeared in the journal Advanced Neurobiology suggesting that prenatal anxiety or depression may be responsible for between ten to fifteen percent of the attributable load for emotional or behavioural outcomes in children even while the biological mechanisms involved in the interaction are not yet known. The hormone cortisol which the pregnant woman expresses responding to stress is known to pass to the fetus through the placental barrier.

That fetal response theoretically links to behavioural problems in the emerging child. Testosterone is linked to fetal cortisol, and testosterone is linked to aggressive behaviour. Roughly ten percent of school-age children are diagnosed with what is termed conduct disorder, or ADHD. Other research published in 2014 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal concluded little evidence exists that greater numbers of children are emerging with behavioural disorders.

They are surfacing in greater numbers simply because the social stigma surrounding these fairly common behavioural disorders has dissipated leading parents to aggressively seek medical treatment for children exhibiting those symptoms. And therein lies another potential problem, when children acting out in what may be a normal manner which parents find difficult to handle are being diagnosed incorrectly and prescribed medications they don't actually need.

More recently a University of Ottawa study studying data on over 10,000 mother-child pairs has validated the theory that pregnant women experiencing significant stress increase the risk of producing a child with behavioural problems. Exposed to high levels of stress, expectant mothers had children twice as likely to exhibit chronic symptoms of hyperactivity as well as conduct disorders, according to the study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

Long-lasting or permanent alterations to the brain of a fetus can be caused through a mother's stress levels. The British Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children which began in 1990 provided the data base for this study where mothers were prompted to describe stressful life events during pregnancy, citing problems in the workplace, illness or death of family members, or disagreements with a partner, family or friend.

Symptoms of conduct disorder in the children of the women interviewed were measured at ages six, nine and thirteen. Aggressive or anti-social behaviour associated with poor school performance, substance abuse, difficulties in personal relationships and criminal activity were all noted as reflective of conduct disorders. Building on those criteria, the University of Ottawa study included additional variables such as parental education, class, low-birth weight or premature birth, maternal smoking, drinking or mental health throughout pregnancy.

The study's lead author, Dr. Colman, added that mothers depressed or experiencing anxiety during pregnancy may continue feeling depressed or anxious during the child's formative growing years, which would also be likely to affect the child's behaviour. Additional research undertaken by this team led by Dr. Colman anticipates an increasingly complex study of the nature of specific stressors and how they would further impact children, in an effort to understand what types of prenatal stress may be specifically harmful.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Empathy Awry

Baby Charlie Gard wears starred pyjamas and holds a monkey plush toy as he sleeps in the hospital attached to life support.
Photo: The case became a flashpoint for debates on the role of the state and the rights of children. (GoFundMe: Charlies Fight)

"Charlie did have a real chance of getting better. ... Now we will never know what would have happened if he got treatment."
"Mummy and Daddy love you so much Charlie, we always have and we always will and we are so sorry that we couldn't save you."
"We had the chance but we weren't allowed to give you that chance."
"Sweet dreams baby. Sleep tight, our beautiful little boy."
"Our beautiful little boy has gone, we are so proud of you Charlie."
Connie Yates, Chris Gard 

Chris Gard and Connie Yates, the parents of critically ill infant Charlie Gard, arrive at a court session in London. Jonathan Brady/AP 
A first child, a lovely little boy, discovered at two months of age to be afflicted with a serious illness. His parents, British citizens, had been referred with him to the Great Ormond Street Hospital. This is no ordinary hospital, it is an institution known globally for its advanced paediatric care and always has been, for the two centuries of its existence. The tiny boy was instantly admitted, where paediatric specialists hastened to apply the most proven of modern paediatric practices to save his life.

No single doctor, but a medical team of experts assigned themselves to do what they could for this infant. He was placed on a ventilator to breathe for him and unlike most situations of this type tiny Charlie demonstrated "no spontaneous respiratory efforts"; in other words where the respirator breathing on his behalf would influence other babies in similar distress to respond by making an autonomic effort to help themselves breathe, he could not.

The baby was submitted to a round of tests to determine the full depth and extent of his malady. That included advanced genetic testing, the result of which was a diagnosis of a very rare mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome which meant that Charlie would die of a certainty in the near future, and his deteriorating condition lent credence to that expectation based on test results. Soon not only could he not breathe on his own he was unable to open his eyelids as well, due to muscular weakness.

He experienced hearing loss and became unresponsive to any type of stimuli that would normally elicit a response. Charlie's parents were continually apprised of his situation, the results of the tests and his deteriorating condition. He began to experience intractable seizures so that ventilation long-term presented as inhumane for the pain he would be suffering. He could be kept alive through ventilation-enabled breathing, but his pain would only intensify.

The hospital's ethics committee was in agreement that Charlie be given palliative care.

His parents, for reasons best known to themselves spurned all the readings of test results heralding his imminent death. The advice given them with their baby's best interests topmost in mind was rejected by them. They believed, they stated emphatically, that their infant son would rally, he would somehow manage to overcome his body breakdown and become healthy and they would take him home and raise him as they planned to. Because he was a 'fighter'.

This pathological transfixion in the faith of their own reasoning in polarized contrast to all the test results, the diagnoses, their child's steady decline, and the professional advice of the entire hospital staff led Chris Gard and Connie Yates to publicize their conflict with the hospital, charging them with defying the baby's best interests and denying their request that he be treated elsewhere. Their constant public appearances and their pleas succeeded in extracting wide news coverage and compassion at home and abroad.

Their coercive manipulation of peoples' sympathies with their heartfelt pleas to save their son, and appeals through a GoFundMe online campaign to raise funds to enable the parents to pay for their then-11-month-old infant to be flown to the United States to undergo treatment there, succeeded in raising over 1.3 million pounds ($2.14 million). The medical staff looking after the child objected, reasoning there was no treatment that could help save his life; rather it would increase his suffering.

The parents' intransigent objections that they knew their baby could recover with expert care given him elsewhere than at Great Ormond Street Hospital, but that the hospital and the doctors there were foiling the parents' efforts to save their child, exposed both the hospital and the medical team to hostile abuse by a public indignant over the purported treatment of the parents by the hospital they accused, in essence, of doing nothing to prevent Charlie's death.

By appealing to peoples' raw emotions through the spectacle of a grieving, outraged father and mother of a helpless and desperately ill child, this couple portrayed themselves as courageous fighters for justice to be enabled to save their baby. They were prepared to take on medical science and defeat reality through the force of their faith in what they believed. In the process they became celebrity figures, respected and supported in their battle with reality by a pope and an American president.

No one but they, and perhaps not even they, will ever know the agenda that drove them to unreasoning blame and vituperation; of, in the final analysis, causing their baby to suffer beyond endurance because they insisted on proving they were right and were prepared to fight a battle that could never be won. They attained a supportive audience, and they played for it.

Head stuff to people who became addicted to fame born out of human compassion, where they gained recognition for their suffering and their baby continued to suffer because of their addiction.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Coming to an Airline Near You....

"I never would have thought I'd still be flying at 65 [years of age, post-retirement]."
"The jets I used to fly were highly automated. But now, with the propeller planes, I can enjoy a freer, more visual kind of flying. It means getting back to the basics as a pilot."
"When you're young, you can pull an all-nighter. But I read the textbooks [to attain a new commercial flying license] in half-hour chunks. At my age, you have to manage your time."
"I have at least three years left, maybe five [before mandatory retirement at age 70]. As long as I have my health, I want to make the most of them."
Shigekazu Miyazaki, Nagasaki, Japan

"If places like Germany and the United States are raising the age where people can collect pensions to 67, there's no reason Japan shouldn't go to 70."
"We're reaching a point where a 40-year career is just half the average life span, and having people become inactive too early is unsustainable."
Atsushi Seike, expert, labour economics, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan

Airline pilots appear to be in short supply world-wide. Partially this is a factor of new airlines opening in heavily populated parts of the world where, as for example in China, the middle-class is exploding and with disposable income people are becoming more invested in tourism, flying to and seeing other parts of the world they live in, near and abroad. Airline pilots are in high demand, as a result.

Mr. Miyazaki at age 65, retiring from four decades at All Nippon Airways, the largest airline in Japan where 65 is the top for employment, was given an offer of employment that he felt he just couldn't turn down. And which took him right back to doing what he most enjoyed in life; flying. The new airline for which he has become an employee doesn't recognize an age ceiling of 65; he was hired for his experience and his ability by Oriental Air Bridge, flying between Nagasaki to a group of remote islands.

Mr. Miyazaki is quite happy that his work life has been extended. At the same time he is reminded of his age when he realizes how difficult it is for his elder brain to function as it once did as for example, studying for a new license to enable him to fly the Dash 8s the new airline uses. The 39-seat propeller aircraft has an instrument-crammed dashboard, nothing whatever like the jets he was accustomed to flying during his commercial flying career.

His co-pilots are young enough to be his grandsons. And while he's enjoying the new challenge and the opportunity to go on piloting aircraft through the skies over Japan, the transition has been demanding of him. So that he admits to having felt "a little uneasy" with the need to study to enable him to pass the tests to acquire his new pilot's license. It took him eight months to complete the study-test-license process. So he knows his brain has slowed down, its cells grown a little whiter than grey.

True, Japan has the distinction of being known as having the world's longest life expectancy. And because of the pride Japan takes in its 'homogeneity' (read resistance to immigration from other parts of the world), plus its low birth rate, it suffers a general shortage of workers as the population fails to grow other than among its aged population. Over half of Japanese men over 65 years of age perform paid employment of some kind.

Unemployment stands at an enviable 2.8 percent; enviable if there were enough younger workers to fuel Japanese production. Adequate staff to fill the need of employers is difficult to come by even while retirees draining the pension system, alarms government sufficiently to raise the benefit age from 65 to 67, something other nations' economies are persuading them to turn to as well.

When Mr. Miyazaki flew for All Nippon Airline as captain of Boeing 767s mostly to southeast Asia, his salary was generous at several hundred thousand annually, with an excellent pension Oriental Air Bridge, a tiny airline, can afford to compensate him with roughly a third of his former salary. But it is not the salary that has any measure of importance to this man; it is the opportunity to continue flying; compensation is secondary; he has a new lease on extending his professional career.

He emphasizes that to qualify for his new flying license he underwent physical testing that was more rigorously extensive than what a younger candidate would face inclusive of MRIs, electrocardiograms, treadmill tests for stamina. He managed to pass to achieve his prized license. At the present time under federal regulations he can continue flying commercially until reaching age 67; even so government is considering raising the maximum age to 70.

One can only wonder what airline passengers think, what goes through their minds when a pilot the age of their grandfathers clambers into the cockpit to ferry them to remote places, and perhaps whether they will reach their destination. Mr. Miyazaki is having a great old time, and he may have many more healthy and active years to live, but the profession of an airline pilot is one upon which many paying passengers depend on the assumption that the man in command of the vessel is hale as well as experienced in the air, that his reaction time is not age-impaired.
Image result for japan, older commercial airline pilots
The rise of budget airlines in Asia is said to be one reason why Japan raised the maximum age limit for pilots of commercial airliners to 67 from 65.    Travel Pulse

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Eat Well, Exercise, Sleep Well, Enjoy Life!

"My secret of life is to wake up every morning with something to do."
"Some people I feel are old because they allow themselves to get old. When people ask me how I'm able to do what I can do, I say I never did quit trying."
Warren Berger, 95, Chattanooga, Tennessee, national high-jump record, 94 - 99 age bracket

"Individuals in favourable cardiovascular health at younger ages not only live a longer life, but live a healthier life and a greater proportion of life free of morbidity."
Chicago-based study

"My research looks at why no one wants to be old. They want to set themselves apart from this negatively viewed age group. They just want to distance themselves from stereotypes; 'I'm not like the stereotype. I'm different'."
"Adults who believe age is just a umber showed better memory performance, but adults who believed aging is set in stone and fixed had a decrease in memory performance and a stronger stress reaction."
Dr. David Weiss, assistant professor, sociomedical sciences, psychology, Columbia Ageing Center, Columbia University, New York

"One of the most unique and novel aspects of this study [published last year in the Journal of Applied Physiology]. is the exceptional participants."
"These are individuals in their 80s and 90s who actively compete in world masters track and field championships. We have seven world champions. These individuals are the crème de la crème of aging."
"Therefore, identifying opportunities to intervene and delay the loss of [nerve and muscle fibres] motor units in old age [through exercise] is of critical importance."
"Exercise is definitely an important contributor to functional performance. Staying active, even later in life, can help reduce muscle loss."
Dr.  Geoffrey A. Power, professor, Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph

Exercising octogenarians
Glenn Bradd, who will turn 87 later this month, shows his six-pack after working out at the Bloomington-Normal YMCA. (The Pantagraph/Steve Smedley) 
Setting the stage at an early age when most people barely think of themselves into an elderly future is like paying a monthly insurance fee. Anyone who looks ahead to consider what their health might be like, how long they may live and how much quality their lives might hold, should consider how best to be healthy while they're young. The American Heart Association has created a formula, the contents of which will not be new to anyone. The guide of seven issues that all add up to healthful living is simple enough. 
  1. Manage blood pressure because when it stays within a healthy range the strain on heart, arteries and kidneys is reduced.
  2. Control cholesterol because high cholesterol contributes to clogging your arteries with plaque buildup, in turn leading to heart disease and stroke.
  3. Reduce blood pressure since over time high levels of blood sugar may damage heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves.
  4. Get active for, as anyone knows, daily physical activity is an assist in managing blood pressure, blood sugar and stress, increasing quality of life and longevity.
  5. Eat better because following a heart healthy diet improves opportunities for feeling and staying healthy throughout your life.
  6. Lose weight because when you lose extra fat and unnecessary pounds you also reduce the burden on heart, lungs, blood vessels and skeleton.
  7. Stop smoking for the simple and unalterable reason that smokers are at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease (and lung cancer). 
According to Statistics Canada, one in four Canadians will be over 65 years of age by the year 2031. The Life's Simple 7 guidelines represent the seven lifestyle habits meant to keep your heart healthy and to reduce the risk of other types of chronic illness -- and for the present and the future, the requirement for both short- and long-term medical care and hospital stays.

Heart disease, according to the Heart Research Institute, burdens the Canadian economy to the tune of $20.9-billion annually and with 33,600 lives lost yearly by heart disease, represents Canada's number one killer. A recently published study based in Chicago examined the medical history of 25,804 men and women following them from middle age until age 54 to determine whether longer life came with good health.

The study concluded the risk of ignoring the Simple 7 recommendations in early adulthood and middle age  has its consequences up to 43 years on by earlier onsets of chronic disease on an average of four to five years, compared to people who had recognized the value of living a heart-healthy lifestyle. These same people benefited as well with a life of 3.9 years longer duration than those who paid no attention to two or more of the Simple 7 points.

Ditching a sedentary lifestyle for exercise such as just moving oneself about, going out for walks, swimming, or hiking, bicycling, attending fitness classes, all have a place in a healthy lifestyle, just as a diet emphasizing whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and fewer processed food choices all help to control cholesterol, blood sugar in balance, and keep excess weight gains at bay.
Still from video -- Today

Carl Reiner, 95 year old writer, comedian, director, creator of the 1960s hit sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show and 91-year-old Mel Brooks enjoy a close relationship based on their show business backgrounds. Reiner's 22nd book -- Too Busy to Die -- recently published, represents one of five books he has had published since turning age 90 and he is planning two additional books.

Advice sex therapist, 89-year-old Ruth Westheimer is busy, out of the house six nights a week visiting with friends and family, and serving on several boards. Her advice? "Do as many things that are enjoyable ... as possible -- participating in activities at a senior centre, going to the theatre and movies and not just sitting home and saying, 'I'm too old to be out there'." And, she says: "I'm very busy. I'm teaching at Columbia. I'm coming out in 2018 with three new books." Beat that.

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