Photo: Sal Benedetto
MD Dr. Mulford is medical director of Atlantic Rehabilitation Services and chairman of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Morristown Medical Center. Recognized by his peers as a ‘Top Doctor’ in New Jersey, Dr. Mulford has lectured on strength training, weight reduction and performance enhancement in athletes. Here, he explains the art and science of healthy aging as presented at the annual Brookfield Society Luncheon, held this past October.
a primary care physician who will know you as a person, instead of just an illness. A doctor who knows your entire health history – including health risk factors – can advise you better in preventive care. Preventing illness is the most powerful care available at any age and becomes even more crucial for optimal health as we age.
Q: What assessments need to be done as we get older? A: Everyone needs to monitor for risk factors by
checking blood pressure and body mass index (to gauge obesity, diabetes and cholesterol) and by looking at unhealthy habits, such as smoking, drinking and drug use. Genomic testing – studying DNA sequence – is a relatively new way to evaluate a person’s risks for illness. Gene testing is now becoming more mainstream and is helpful in detecting many different conditions, such as breast and other cancers, and in guiding treatment decisions.
Q: What forms of exercise are better for older adults? A: People usually think of aerobic exercise when
they talk about health and fitness. Aerobic exercise is good for heart health and overall fitness, but it doesn’t strengthen muscles, improve flexibility or increase balance. Resistance exercise is a must for
everyone. Aquatic exercise is an excellent choice as we get older for both aerobic and strength benefits because of the resistance of the water. It’s easier on the joints than running or walking, particularly for people with arthritis.
Q: Everyone has seen the food pyramid since grade school. Is there anything different we should know about it now? A: There is more emphasis on foods that offer anti-
inflammatory benefits for optimum heart and joint health. Inflammation used to be identified only in its acute form related to trauma: when something is red, hot and swollen. Now we know that chronic inflammation can affect our blood vessels, joints, heart and other organs. A diet rich in antioxidants, fish oils, flaxseed, whole grains, fresh vegetables and legumes has proven to reduce chronic inflammation and promote good health for many reasons.
Q: Is Human Growth Hormone the new magic bullet to transcend age? A: It is a very powerful hormone that is produced
in our body and, as we age, our natural levels decline. Supplements of human growth hormone do give us a benefit against the aging process, but it’s not selective in how it will ramp up cell metabolism in our body. Use of growth hormone could accelerate cancer growth and lead to many other health problems. Currently, the risks are not worth the benefit.
Q: Why is having a primary care physician a key to healthy aging? A: It’s important to establish a relationship with
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Foundation Journal Winter 2013