Today Kyle and Michelle talk about a handful of simple things that we can all do to live the active life. We also visit with Dr. Michael Olpin about stress in our daily lives. Why are we so stressed out and what can we do it about it? Sit back, relax and enjoy this episode of the Huntsman World Senior Games Active Life.

 

Speaker 1:
(singing)

Kyle Case:
Hello, and welcome to the Huntsman World Senior Games Active Life. My name is Kyle Case, and I'll be your host on this amazing journey as we attempt to help you get the most out of your life. Joining me in the studio today, filling in for Jeff Harding, who is out on vacation this week, is my copilot, Michele Graves.

Kyle Case:
Michelle, how are you doing today?

Michelle Graves:
Kyle, I'm fantastic.

Kyle Case:
Good.

Michelle Graves:
Maybe not as fantastic as Jeff is right now, but pretty good. I can't complain.

Kyle Case:
You know, I hope he's out there just having a ball. He needs to take a little break every once in a while, and he's taken it this week.

Michelle Graves:
Yeah, he'll have a good time, I'm sure. How are you, Kyle?

Kyle Case:
I'm good, thanks. I'm actually doing really, really well. I feel good. I've been fighting a cold for the last couple of weeks and I feel like I'm finally over it, and ready to just bear down and get to business.

Michelle Graves:
Be alive again.

Kyle Case:
Yeah, yeah.

Michelle Graves:
Fully functional. I know how that feels.

Kyle Case:
I feel good, thanks. So, Michelle, over the years on the show, we've tried to talk about a variety of different ways that we can all live healthier lives. That's kind of been the focus, right?

Michelle Graves:
Yeah. Personally and through podcasting. You know, we're all interested in that, right?

Kyle Case:
Absolutely. I feel like sometimes that idea of I want to be healthier can feel a little bit intimidating to people. They might feel like, "You know, yeah, of course, I want to be healthy, but, you know, I don't have the time to spend all day at the gym. You know, maybe I don't have the money to pay for a personal chef that can cook all my healthy meals for me, and so, therefore, I don't." You know, I feel like sometimes we fall into that.

Michelle Graves:
Yeah, that kind of go big or go home mentality.

Kyle Case:
Yeah, it's got to be all or nothing kind of a thing. The reality is, is that living the active life doesn't really have to be all or nothing. It's a puzzle, and we just got to put pieces together that work for us. What works for me may not work for you, and what works for you may not work for me. But there's a wide variety of different ways to live the active life and to be healthy.

Kyle Case:
Today I want to share just a handful of simple ideas that, frankly, we could all apply and have a positive impact on our lives and on our health. Some of these are going to feel maybe a little random, but they're just pieces of that puzzle, they're just concepts that I want to share. Incidentally, all of these come from Best Life online magazine. Again, I think all of them are things that we could do.

Michelle Graves:
Okay.

Kyle Case:
Are you ready?

Michelle Graves:
You've got me intrigued. Yes.

Kyle Case:
Number one, eat more walnuts.

Michelle Graves:
Oh.

Kyle Case:
Now when I said I've got a list of a few things that we could do, did you think that would be the first one?

Michelle Graves:
I thought you'd be a little broader than that, but I like walnuts, so that's fun.

Kyle Case:
Walnuts are actually very delicious, they're also helpful when it comes to your heart health. So they did a study this year, in 2019, they published it in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The study found that when subjects added walnuts to a low-fat diet, they successfully lowered their blood pressure. Low blood pressure, as we know, is associated with the reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. We all want to avoid cardiovascular disease if we can, right?

Michelle Graves:
Absolutely.

Kyle Case:
So, walnuts.

Michelle Graves:
Who knew walnuts were the cure?

Kyle Case:
See, these are easy things. These are easy things.

Michelle Graves:
Okay. This is fun, yes.

Kyle Case:
Number two, item number two. Make new friends, also not hard, right?

Michelle Graves:
No, it shouldn't be.

Kyle Case:
Yeah. So hanging out with people, having a lot of friends, they have found just might be the key to our longevity. They did a study in 2005 this time, and they published it in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. They found that among this study, and this study included 1,477 people, they found that the people with the most friends lived on average 22% longer than the people with the least number of friends.

Michelle Graves:
Wow.

Kyle Case:
That's significant.

Michelle Graves:
Now I have to just say, you know, we run this little organization that we talk about sometimes-

Kyle Case:
Called the Huntsman World Senior Games, incidentally.

Michelle Graves:
Yes. Oh, yeah, that's right. You know, we talk about peace, health, and friendship, and I just must say that the friendship part of our games is what I love the most, to see that. These are senior athletes, so they must have known that they're getting it.

Kyle Case:
I totally agree. I've read a variety of different studies on this concept of social interaction, and friendships in particular, and there is something to it. There is something to it. I don't know that we fully understand exactly what happens. It's hormone-based, and there's a lot of different things going on, but when we interact with people, and have friendships and have relationships, there is something to that. It's worth reaching out and being a friend, and, you know, increasing that social circle that you have.

Michelle Graves:
I agree.

Kyle Case:
Number three, this is definitely a direction change, but they say that we should monitor our ibuprofen intake.

Michelle Graves:
Oh.

Kyle Case:
Now you've maybe heard a little bit about some of the effects of too much ibuprofen. It's an over the counter painkiller, it's within the painkiller family of what they call a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. They're good for helping us when we have pain in our lives, but they do say that they should only be used in moderation.

Kyle Case:
They're finding more and more according to the national kidney foundation that anywhere from 3% to 5% of new chronic kidney failure cases every year are caused by overuse of these kinds of drugs. Seeing as they can damage kidney tissue, we want to make sure that we limit our ibuprofen intake.

Kyle Case:
Number four, be more optimistic.

Michelle Graves:
Okay.

Kyle Case:
That's a good one, right?

Michelle Graves:
That's a great one, I love that one.

Kyle Case:
Multiple studies have found that people tend to handle stress more effectively if they believe that things are improving and they maintain a positive attitude. Taking that old fashioned advice to always look on the bright side of life, could be enough to alleviate some of your anxiety, and it could help you live a long and happy life. Well, you're just going to be better off in the long run, right?

Michelle Graves:
Absolutely.

Kyle Case:
Number five, this is not my favorite one, but it is an important one. They say we need to cut back on our red meat intake.

Michelle Graves:
Oh, Kyle, I'm so sorry for you.

Kyle Case:
I know, I love a good steak. But, you know, in all reality, I eat way more chicken and fish than I do steak. But I love-

Michelle Graves:
You set yourself up for it.

Kyle Case:
A good steak and I love a good hamburger. But they do say we need to limit that. Research published in the Journal of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, in 1987, found that healthy man produced 60% more dangerous clotting agents after they ate high-fat meals loaded with red meat and dairy. So we've got to take a look at that. The last one is, I think maybe one of the best ones on the list, and that is to volunteer.

Michelle Graves:
Oh, there you go.

Kyle Case:
It's a good one, right?

Michelle Graves:
We need a lot of those for our games. That's so coincidental, how many of these just fall right in.

Kyle Case:
We do need it for the games. But outside of the games, you know, maybe if you're not in the area, or if you are in the area and don't have time, whatever, but of course-

Michelle Graves:
Everyone can volunteer-

Kyle Case:
We'd love your help.

Michelle Graves:
For something.

Kyle Case:
Being selfless really can benefit you as much as it benefits the people or the cause that you're helping. In 2012, they did a study published in the Journal of Health Psychology. They found that while 4.3% of individuals who didn't volunteer were deceased by the end of a 55 year research period, so this was a very long term study that they did, only 1.6% of those who volunteered for selfless reasons had passed away. So, volunteering can help us live longer.

Michelle Graves:
Wow. Volunteering, optimism, friendship, and then those other random things. I like it.

Kyle Case:
You know, cut down ibuprofen, keep the red meat at a minimum, and eat your walnuts, right?

Michelle Graves:
And eat more walnuts. I love it.

Kyle Case:
Of course, there's a wide variety of different things that we can do that will help us live a longer and a happier life. Those were just a handful of things, but things that we could and should maybe think about and consider.

Kyle Case:
Michelle, today's guests might have some insights into ways that we can live a healthier life and a longer life. Dr. Michael Olpin is a professor of health promotion at Weber State University and is the Director of the WSU Stress Relief Center. He earned his Ph.D. in health education from SIU and his Master's and undergraduate degrees from BYU.

Kyle Case:
Dr. Olpin, thank you for joining us today on the show.

Dr. Olpin:
Thank you very much. I'm very excited to be here.

Kyle Case:
Yeah, so as a person who is in health and wellness, and health promotion in particular, what did you think about those six ideas to help us live a longer, happier, healthier life?

Dr. Olpin:
Well, the walnut thing was a new one for me.

Kyle Case:
That wasn't on your list, right?

Dr. Olpin:
Didn't know about that one, but it makes sense. It's really interesting that all the things that research keeps saying are good for us, things that we should be doing, are things that people have been doing forever, you know, in our history. I assume eating walnuts is one of those things. People ate nuts, people ate beets and seem to be good for them [inaudible 00:09:37] good for us now. The research is now saying, "Yep, that's right."

Kyle Case:
I think you're onto something there. Yeah, I think you're onto something there. The old fashioned things that our moms and grandmas have been telling us our whole lives because they're the things that their moms and grandmas told them their whole lives. There's something to that stuff, right?

Michelle Graves:
Yeah. That's a really good kind of marker, because, you know, there are so many trends in health and wellness, especially.

Kyle Case:
Fads that come and go, you know, those kinds of things.

Michelle Graves:
Right, I like that. I like that definition.

Kyle Case:
But I think that you know, that social aspect, and just general common sense ways to take care of yourself, I think are the ways to go. But today we want to talk a little bit about one of those things in particular that we can take a look at in our lives that can help us be happier and healthier, and that is stress.

Michelle Graves:
Now Kyle, before we just dive right into that, I just want to self-disclose. I'm really excited, Dr. Olpin, To have you here today because my degree in college was health promotion as well. You wrote a book called Stress Management for Life, and I actually had that textbook in college. So, I just wanted to put that little connection together.

Kyle Case:
Isn't that cool?

Michelle Graves:
I think I'm like a secret fan of yours, so it'll be fun to talk about this today. What a coincidence, right? I went to BYU, for what it's worth.

Dr. Olpin:
Oh, so did I. That's great. When did you take the stress management class? [inaudible 00:11:13]

Michelle Graves:
Oh, well I graduated in 1990, so it must've been the first edition, I guess. You're on the fourth edition now or something?

Dr. Olpin:
Yeah. Well, that's exciting. I'm happy to hear that.

Michelle Graves:
Well, I don't want to spend a lot of time on it, we can jump right back into stress. But I just wanted to, you know, waste time on the radio and tell you that. Thanks.

Kyle Case:
That was awesome. [inaudible 00:11:38]

Dr. Olpin:
Very, very, cool.

Kyle Case:
Human connections and relationships, and, you know, that's kind of fun.

Michelle Graves:
Who knew I was going to be here today. It's fun for me, so thank you.

Kyle Case:
So speaking of the textbook and the title of it, involving stress and how to manage stress, let's talk about it. Well, how does stress show up for us in our lives? And what do we do too, you know, kind of deal with it?

Dr. Olpin:
Okay. So how long do we have?

Michelle Graves:
Never long enough.

Dr. Olpin:
No, the challenge is always, because I do teach a full semester-long class in stress management, and an additional advanced stress management class here at Weber State. And-

Kyle Case:
So we have a little less time than that.

Dr. Olpin:
Yeah, exactly. You know, it's really amazing how many symptoms that we struggle with today where there's the stress connection. I wouldn't ever say that stress causes any specific health problems, maybe headaches. But what we do know for sure is that stress makes every health problem worse for a variety of reasons. The main reason that it makes all of our health problems worse is that stress, the fight or flight response that how we understand it, creates an enormous imbalance in the body, head to toe. Every system in the body, every tissue, you know, all the organs, are out of balance while this stress response is on and somebody's in the stress mode.

Dr. Olpin:
Now in the short term, that's not a problem. You know, when somebody just is say being chased by a bear, or if running along a mountain trail and flips, and goes off the side a little bit, the stress response lasts, you know, 10 seconds and then you're back to normal. That's okay, there's no problem with that.

Dr. Olpin:
The problem that we have really is that people continue activating this stress response for a longer period of time than it is designed to last, and that results in the imbalances over a longer period of time, that turn into health problems like headaches, ulcers, can't sleep at night, fibromyalgia. I mean, every single maladie that we struggle within our society, stress plays a part. I saw a recent statistic that said upwards of 85% of hospital admissions right now have a stress component to it.

Kyle Case:
Wow.

Dr. Olpin:
So, it's a pretty serious deal that fortunately you can do something about, that I think a lot of people have a sense that, "And there's nothing I can do, I'm just stuck with this stress." It's kind of like, "It's happening to me like a virus or a bacteria." That if we understand how stress really happens, then we immediately are able to gain some control over it and even prevent it, I think.

Kyle Case:
So, you touched on something that I think is really interesting and important. You know, you talked about that fight or flights, and we're all familiar with that concept and what it means. You even alluded to, you know, maybe some of our ancestors' challenges that they dealt with as they were running from bears or saber tooth tigers, or whatever it happened to be. But you also mentioned that today, in today's day and age, we don't let that go, we kind of carry that around with us.

Kyle Case:
What is it that is causing us to be so stressed? It makes sense that, you know, once you climb the tree and the bear goes away, that your stress can go down. But what is it about the modern day lifestyle that keeps us in that fight or flight stress mode that, you know, we just can't seem to kick?

Michelle Graves:
Yeah, we can't course correct. How can we course correct?

Dr. Olpin:
Yeah. It's a terrific question, and here's how I would explain it. When our ancestors encountered a threat, a dangerous situation, you tell me, what was their first thought when they saw a bear coming at him or a saber-tooth tiger? What was their first thought?

Michelle Graves:
We can't curse on the air.

Kyle Case:
After the very first thought, it was, "I got to get out of here, right? I got to get out of here, or I got to protect myself."

Dr. Olpin:
Correct. But the thought before that is the one we can't say on the air.

Kyle Case:
Right.

Dr. Olpin:
It sounds something like, "Oh."

Kyle Case:
Right.

Dr. Olpin:
That thought, which is actually a conscious thought, it's a choice that they had, but they recognized, "I'm in danger, I've got to get out of here because if I don't, I'm going to die." There's something that our ancestors figured out about being alive that was a good idea.

Kyle Case:
Right.

Dr. Olpin:
So, that thought is what activated, the next step was the fight or flight response, which made them super powerful and super fast right now so that they could either run faster than the bear or beat the tar out of it with their Fred Flintstone golf clubs or whatever they had-

Michelle Graves:
Right, right.

Dr. Olpin:
On hand.

Michelle Graves:
Super human adrenaline.

Dr. Olpin:
Exactly, exactly. The whole body is designed to be really, really fast and powerful after they have the "Uh oh," though. It was only designed to last about 15, maybe 30 seconds at all.

Michelle Graves:
Oh.

Dr. Olpin:
So as long as it was designed for [inaudible 00:18:05] because that's how long it took our ancestors to get away from the dangerous situation most of the time. It didn't take very long.

Kyle Case:
Yeah.

Dr. Olpin:
Now, to answer your question, if you fast forward to now, we live most of our days where there are very few physical threats. The stress response was only designed, going back, the stress response was only designed for the single purpose of keeping people alive in the presence of physical danger. That's the only reason why we have the stress response as part of us.

Dr. Olpin:
Now, when we look at our society and our culture, and, you know, the life that we live, on a day to day basis, we have very, very few dangerous situations that we encounter. You know, we think we have dangerous situations, but most of the time we're pretty safe and comfortable.

Kyle Case:
We're pretty safe, yeah.

Dr. Olpin:
But, here's to answer your question, whenever we say, "Uh oh," as we did back then when the bear showed up, or the saber tooth tiger, whenever we say, "Uh, oh," our body doesn't know that it's not a bear. Our bodies can't see outside of us, our body systems, our, you know, our endocrine system, our adrenal glands, our hypothalamus, they're not looking out here going, "That's not a bear." They're just-

Kyle Case:
That's just a Facebook post.

Dr. Olpin:
Say it again.

Kyle Case:
That's just a Facebook post, that's not a bear.

Dr. Olpin:
Exactly. But if our conscious mind, if our higher order thinking, includes anything that sounds like, "Uh oh," our body still thinks it's a bear. So it automatically activates this physiological response the same as our ancestors did. The problem is, today, we say, "Uh oh," all day long to stuff that couldn't possibly hurt us.

Kyle Case:
Yeah.

Dr. Olpin:
Like the Facebook posts, or, "I didn't get enough likes or I didn't get enough this, or she looks at me weird, or I've got to speak in front of all these people tomorrow, or I've got a race in three days and I'm not ready for it." All of these thoughts that we have are "Uh oh," thoughts and our body think, "Oh, you must be in danger, and the only way I know how to handle a dangerous situation is fight or flight."

Dr. Olpin:
So that turns into a chronic state of imbalance, rather than the short term, you know, immediate, and then it's over kind of imbalance.

Kyle Case:
Yeah. I think you've painted a pretty good picture of modern life, and how we do carry around all that stress. We've got about two minutes left. What are some tips that we can apply to help us de-stress and just, you know, set it to the side, and eliminate some of that fight or flight response that we carry around with us?

Dr. Olpin:
There are so many good things. If we want to prevent this stress from happening, then that involves being more aware of our thinking. The best thing we can do, in that respect, is just kind of what you alluded to earlier, is think positively, think gratefully. It's impossible to be grateful and stressed at the same time. But we also need things that help turn the stress off. Some of those things include exercise, which is probably one of the best things because then you're actually following through on that message to run or fight.

Michelle Graves:
As long as you don't encounter a bear. I'm kidding, come on.

Dr. Olpin:
Exactly. We teach things like meditation and yoga, we have a lot of programs that involve guided relaxation, where it actually just take the body out of the stress mode. Other things include, you know, hobbies, things that invite us to be mindful. Anything that you can do that keeps your mind in the present moment enjoyable, automatically turns off the stress response. The whole concept of mindfulness is such a powerful one for ... I love the idea of enjoying the moment and getting into the moment and exploring the wow of now.

Kyle Case:
I like that. The wow of now. I like that.

Michelle Graves:
I like that too. That's great.

Dr. Olpin:
Yeah. Because whenever we're angry or upset, we're always thinking in the future or past. But when we put ourselves in the moment, our body recognizes, "Oh, you're safe. Okay, good." The more we can do that, through meditation or hobbies, or just being with friends, that's one of the reasons why I loved what you said earlier about friends, is when we're with friends and we're safe, our body recognizes, "Oh good, I don't have to turn on this stress response now."

Kyle Case:
Yeah, that's awesome. That's awesome.

Dr. Olpin:
So, there's a lot of great things that we can do.

Kyle Case:
Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for that information, and those great tips. I think the big takeaway for me is that we do get to control that, it's a conscious decision that we are capable of making. As you said, whether that's hobbies, or yoga, or exercise, or whatever it is, that something that's within our control.

Kyle Case:
Dr. Olpin, thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your expertise with us. We appreciate it.

Dr. Olpin:
It is my pleasure. I've thoroughly enjoyed it.

Kyle Case:
Wonderful. Michelle, it's June.

Michelle Graves:
I know. It's almost July.

Kyle Case:
I know, we're almost there. Which means that it's time to register for the Huntsman World Senior Games. You can do that at Seniorgames.net. It's very easy to do, and before you know it, you can be one of our 11,000, more than 11,000 athletes, who will compete this year in the Huntsman World Senior Games. The dates for the 2019 Huntsman World Senior Games are October 7th through the 19th, and we'd love to have you be a part of them this year.

Kyle Case:
Remember to tune in live next to and every Thursday at 5:30 PM Mountain Time on AM 1450 or FM 93.1 for the Huntsman World Senior Games Active Life. Of course, you can subscribe to our podcast pretty much anywhere that podcasts are found.

Kyle Case:
Michelle, our inspirational thought for the day. Are you ready for this?

Michelle Graves:
Drum roll.

Kyle Case:
It's a good one. Life is short. Excuse me. Life is too short to be anything but happy.

Michelle Graves:
Very nice.

Kyle Case:
Until next Thursday, stay active.