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Living healthy

Fitness Exercise Guru Jack Lalanne Epitomized A Healthy Lifestyle — And You Can, Too

Having demonstrated his strength by pulling a locomotive with his teeth, Jack LaLanne left no doubt about the benefits of his daily exercise and diet routine. LaLanne, who passed away recently at the age of 96 years young, was ahead of his time in not only promoting, but also performing and teaching proper exercise, strength and conditioning routines. While we don’t know how much LaLanne’s genes played a part in his longevity, we do know that it took hard work and commitment to gain his chiseled physique and stamina.

Much has been written about LaLanne over the years. He demonstrated his commitment to health and exercise by opening the nation’s first health and fitness center in 1936, which included a gym, juice bar and health food store. While a great idea in hindsight, he once told the New York Times that most people weren’t ready to bet on a healthy living craze.

“People thought I was a charlatan and a nut,” he told the Times. “The doctors were against me. They said that working out with weights would give people heart attacks and they would lose their sex drive.”

Even in his 90s, LaLanne began each day with a two-hour workout that included weight training and swimming. It’s a lesson in wellness we could all heed and one that doesn’t involve complex diets, gym equipment or pricey trainers.

As 2011 begins, many of us are vowing to start or resume a healthy living routine. Some baseline suggestions include:

  • If you smoke, commit to quitting. If you need help, see your primary care provider to discuss a plan to help you achieve success.
  • Start exercising. No matter what your age or medical history, some form of exercise is a good and healthy idea — and one that LaLanne surely recognized. Your physician will know your health status and can help recommend an exercise program that includes at least four days a week at 30 minutes each time. Try to take the time, find a friend and make it fun. If you haven’t exercised regularly, at the outset you should start slowly and gradually work up in duration of activity. Remember that your physician should be your guide.
  • Improve your diet. Try cooking meals that use fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and lean meats. Reduce your consumption of soda and fast food. Concentrated sweets (candies and such) should be minimized, and if you take the time to read food labels you’ll be surprised by the amount of sugar and sodium hidden in foods. Finally, be adventurous; try new recipes and healthy cuisine. Spices tend to be low in calories, sodium and have no fat, so they are good, favorable salt substitutes.
  • Avoid stress. Today, we are busier than ever, so staying stress free and living a healthy lifestyle are all the more challenging. Try participating in simple stress-reducing techniques such as yoga, reading, meditation, journaling and exercise. Reducing stress can go a long way toward fulfilling a healthy lifestyle.
  • Routine and preventative care. You are the only one who knows how you feel. You should make regular visits to your primary care provider and complete regular screenings. Heed warning signs, know what to watch for and remember to follow your physician’s advice.

While no one will recommend pulling a locomotive with your teeth, we would all do well to remember LaLanne’s oft-quoted mantra: “The only way you can hurt the body is not use it. Inactivity is the killer and, remember, it’s never too late.”

House Call

Valley Doctors Balance Offices With House Calls

Sitting impatiently in a packed waiting room past your appointment time just hoping to be called next, seems like a far cry from the comfort of the old country doctor that made house calls.

A few Valley doctors are resurrecting this relationship-oriented style of medicine through a hybrid concierge model; some even make house calls in urgent situations.

Concierge care, which solely caters to a VIP clientele, has been around for a while. But Wayne Lipton, the founder of Concierge Choice Physicians, is touting a hybrid model that has a handful of doctors practicing in Arizona and more than 160 physicians in 16 states.

The hybrid approach allows concierge patients to have direct contact with their physician through e-mail or phone, same- or next-day appointments, extended visits and executive physicals. The doctors can still see other patients who didn’t feel the need to pay extra to join a concierge model.

“This approach is not only kinder and gentler to an area, it helps accomplish a number of goals,” Lipton says. “It’s a choice, not a requirement on the part of patients. So it’s an opportunity, and the opportunity is to have something that’s more akin to old-fashioned primary care. It’s also an opportunity for the doctor to continue to participate in the plan and the government plan they’d been in before.”

Dr. Susan Wilder, who has been a physician for more than 20 years, switched her practice, LifeScape Medical Associates, to the hybrid model about two years ago.

“We wanted to take the time needed with patients … not churn them through 40 patients a day,” says Wilder, founder and CEO of LifeScape Medical Associates in Scottsdale.

Wilder became a doctor to provide the kind of care she received as a child from her general practitioner, who knew her family’s medical history and who delivered her and her siblings.

“My ideal was to be the old-fashioned family doctor,” she says. “The concierge model allows us to have that relationship.”

Christine Craft, who has been a concierge patient for two years, says she opted to have more accessibility to and a closer relationship with her doctor.

Craft says most of her questions are health-related as opposed to sickness-related, but the conversations the hybrid model allows her to have with Wilder are worth the extra payments.

Craft and her husband didn’t have health issues when they became concierge patients, but since that time Craft’s husband has developed a serious illness.

She says she thought the concierge practice was valuable when she was healthy, but with a serious illness, “the value of it increases a hundred times. … The accessibility that my husband (has), to have that when times are scary and tough (is) even more valuable.”

Wilder isn’t the only doctor to find the concierge care beneficial to both her and her patients.

“It’s growing leaps and bounds,” Lipton says. “It’s growing numbers amongst the best and the brightest … because it is consistent with why they became primary care doctors to begin with.”

In the current health care system, where the only way to increase income is to increase patients, thereby decreasing the level of care, doctors are turning to concierge care to boost income.

“Sometimes I feel like Charlie Brown and the football” in the current health care system, Wilder says.

Although Wilder only has about 200 concierge patients and her practice has more than 1,500 non-concierge patients, she says the hybrid model has kept her practice alive financially.

“It doesn’t make millionaire doctors, but what it does is it bolsters the revenue of a practice efficiently to make up for what really is a very unsure level of compensation for primary physicians today, and it encourages excellence,” Lipton says.

The hybrid model not only boosts income, but also the fulfillment level of doctors.

It’s “much more rewarding to provide comprehensive care,” Wilder says.