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Newsletter 9 March 20, 2013

Dear patients,


Flu season is winding down and the days are getting longer, which means more sunshine, less cold. Spring is here. Inspiring!


Happiness: Can you say that you are happy? My colleague, Gordon Livingston, MD, a psychiatrist in Columbia, wrote in his first book Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart that there are three components to happiness: meaningful work, people to love, and things to look forward to. I keep this in mind every day. I hope you can see the power of this simple formula. You might find his website interesting:



To achieve and sustain happiness, I want to inspire and encourage you to put your health first. Put it above everything else. Putting your health first is selfless, not selfish, because when you are feeling well and healthy, you are a better parent, spouse, friend, etc, and have more energy to be better at everything you do including your work.


I want you to find time to exercise, and if you are already doing it, I want you to do it more efficiently in order to sustain and improve the benefits. Exercise is important to every cell in your body. Exercise improves your cardiopulmonary efficiency, muscular endurance, strength and flexibility. Exercise balances important life sustaining proteins. I've written to you in the past that powerful cytokines are stimulated by exercise. Reparative cytokines help fight decay and degeneration of our bodies, which is brought on by our sometimes inflammatory lifestyles (less than optimal nutrition, environmental toxins, and stress).


If you are not convinced about the benefits of exercise please take a look at this YouTube video:



Every day, 50 billion cells of your body die and are replaced with 50 billion new cells. We want those cells to be healthy and efficient. Providing your body with the right fuel helps your body resist cancer. My message again is to limit animal products and eat more plant food. Check the link below:



So my question to you is this: If you are not exercising, do you have 12 minutes a day to commit to exercise? Just 12 minutes. Can you spare it?


I am just asking for 12 minutes every day. Can you spare it?


That is less time than a shower, less time than it takes most people to drink a cup of coffee. Less time than it takes me to walk my two dogs. Can you commit to just 12 minutes to begin improving your life? If not now, when?


What am I talking about???




Izumi Tabata was a Japanese Olympic speed skating coach who designed a method using very brief 20 second interval training to rapidly improve aerobic and anaerobic conditioning. This type of training is an excellent way to start your program or enhance your current regimen. The core of the program takes 12 minutes. This is where you should start; as you improve, you can always add on. The exercise can be done in unlimited ways. I like using a stationary exercise bike, but it can be done with a treadmill, weights, running in place, jump rope, jumping jacks, push-ups or a combo of all the above. Having a piece of equipment is NOT necessary.


Here is how it is done:


Phase 1: warm up for 4 minutes. Using, for example, a stationary bike, set a timer for 4 minutes and find a slow comfortable setting to pedal.


Phase 2: active phase for 4 minutes. Pedal fast and hard for 20 seconds, take a 10 second rest by pedaling very slow, then repeat for a total of 8 cycles.


Phase 3: recovery phase for 4 minutes. Pedal at a slow comfortable rate. Congratulations for getting through your first high-intensity workout!


As you get in better condition, add on more by either increasing the length of the active phase or after finishing Phase 3, repeat Phase 2 then Phase 3 to a maximum of 45 minutes total.


Warning: you must go slow on this! If you are not sure whether or not you are fit enough to start this, send me an email. Listen to your body as you begin the program. As you begin phase 2, it's okay at first not to do the cycles for the full length and it's also okay to recover longer than 10 seconds between cycles.


If you decide to do this, and you do it daily, you will be very surprised at how fast you will improve. Additionally, this type of exercise will increase your metabolism throughout the day and make you a more effective fat burning machine.


Here is some more information on Tabata:   www.Tabatatraining.org


So put your health first...it is selfless.


Wishing you good health,


Harry A. Oken, MD