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Edmonton Sun YOUR HEALTH Monday, November 13, 2006

All Hart, no fat genie

Bret (the Hitman) Hart is the genie in Aladdin, the Magical Family Musical
smashed the back of his head and suffered a blood clot in the right side of his brain. Hart recalls he was coasting when he struck a hole in the grass and was thrown from his bike. He says he wasnt wearing his helmet that day because the chin strap was broken. The stroke, which Hart believes may have been stressrelated, landed him in a wheelchair for three months. Being in the wheelchair was really tough. A lot of times I never thought Id get out of it, he says. It was a long, difficult recovery It was a battle of wills and Im happy to say I fought pretty tenaciously to get back whatever I could. Prior to that, Hart says he gained a total of about 10 pounds due to depression between the time his brother Owen died in a botched 1999 WWF wrestling stunt in Kansas City and the period following a career-ending concussion in 2000, which doctors later said wasnt related to the stroke. But these days, the fivetime WWF heavyweight champion is down to his fighting weight of about 235 pounds, at an even six-foot. How does he keep fit? He lifts weights at BJs Gym in Calgary three times a week when his schedule permits. For cardio, he usually cycles


Its been a little more than four years since Bret (the Hitman) Hart suffered a debilitating stroke, but hes still dragging himself to the gym up to three times a week. The legendary pro wrestler, who has faced more than his share of adversity, has way too much Hart to let himself go. I always had too much pride, he told the Sun last week in a phone interview. Ill never be what I was before, but I will be a reasonable facsimile. Sure, he no longer hoists a max bench press of 415 pounds. (These days its closer to 280, which aint exactly light especially considering Hart has never regained 100% mobility on his left side.) But the 49-year-old Calgarian can boast that he still has the same 36-inch waist he had when he was 20. Thats my barometer, he explains of his waist measurement. If I can stay around there, Im happy. Ironically, Hart says he was bicycling to the gym on June 24, 2002, when he crashed,

Former WWF wrestling champion Bret (the Hitman) Hart will reprise his role as the genie of the lamp during the Edmonton staging of Aladdin, the Magical Family Musical at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium.
to the gym, which works out to a 40-minute trek each way. I really enjoy bike riding and I like working out. As I get older, it starts to wear on my joints a little bit more than it used to, explains the father of four, who splits time in Italy, the homeland of his second wife. In the kitchen, Hart practises moderation, eating a balanced diet. While he says he enjoys butter on his bread, hes careful not to have too many sweets or too much beer. This week, starting tomorrow, Hart will be at Edmontons Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, where he reprises his role as the genie of the lamp in Aladdin, the Magical Family Musical. Hart says being in shape should help him in the national touring production. Its not mandatory. Genies can be fat, he adds with a laugh. Not this genie. THE BIGGEST WINNER The deadline to enter Club Fits Biggest Winner Contest is Wednesday. Contact your


nearest Club Fit for details. And dont forget to follow my progress in the Biggest Winner media challenge online at Lifestyle/castagna.html. Do you have an inspirational story for Keeping Fit? E-mail Cary Castagna at:

Arthritis is painfully on the rise

Rheumatoid arthritis, a source of great pain, is the most common form of arthritis and is caused by the inflammation of synovial membrane around certain joints. This membrane secretes a viscous liquid (a bit like egg white) that acts as a lubricant for our joints and ensures a fluidity of movement. When inflammation of this membrane becomes chronic, there is a stiffening and progressive destruction of cartilage and bone, which leads to intense pain and the deformation of joints. Arthritis patients often have higher rates of heart disease, which, in addition to the problems of arthritis itself, can cut lifespan between three and 10 years. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 46 million American adults, or 21% of the adult population, suffer from arthritis-related problems. If that tendency continues, researchers predict that in 25 years close to 70 million adults could be affected by arthritis. But is this scenario inevitable? Even if we still know little about what exactly causes arthritis, research suggests that fewer than half of all cases are due to genetic factors. Like many other chronic illnesses, it seems that the onset of arthritis could be linked to certain life choices. In recent years, several factors have been identified that increase the chances of being affected by arthritis: Weight: Studies in the U.S. suggest that 52% of overweight people contract arthritis, compared with only 16% of those with normal weight. Being overweight significantly increases the pressure that joints must support, which increases the risk of inflammation. Physical inactivity: When they go unused, joints have a tendency to stiffen and become painful. But you have to be careful! Too much repetitive physical activity can have the reverse effect, and also cause joint inflammation. Eating: We already know the important role food plays in preventing heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. But what we eat can also influence the possibility of arthritis. So, what should an anti-inflammatory menu include? Given that arthritis is, more than anything, an inflammatory illness, it is important to regularly favour foods that are rich in anti-inflammatory molecules, all the while limiting foods that encourage inflammation, such as red meat

This week we introduce a new columnist, Dr. Richard Beliveau, a leading authority in the field of cancer research. He holds the Chair in the Prevention and Treatment of Cancer at the University of Quebec at Montreal where he is a professor in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department. Each week Dr. Beliveau will examine the latest research into dietary and lifestyle choices to reduce the risk of disease ... Statistics published last week in the United States suggest that the number of people in North America living with arthritis continues to grow. And while we believe the illness usually comes with old age, several studies show that it's possible to lower the risk of becoming arthritic by modifying our daily habits.

and vegetable oils rich in omega-6 fat (sunflower, grape seeds, corn). And, of course, always reduce fast food to a minimum! Fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel are all sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, and it is recommended that you have them once or twice a week. Fruits and vegetables contain a wide variety of molecules that prevent inflammation. You should favour in particular fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants (small fruits, green vegetables). Several studies indicate that the antioxidant properties of these foods could limit the damage caused by free radicals. Ginger and turmeric are among the best sources of anti-inflammatory molecules. For example, studies show that turmeric can re-

Dr. Richard


duce the pain of those suffering from arthritis of the knee, an effect linked to a decrease in the number of inflammatory molecules in the blood. Olive oil also seems to help prevent arthritis. Residents of the Mediterranean basin suffer much less from arthritis than the rest of the world, a difference some researchers attribute to their high intake of olive oil. Other studies have shown a decrease in arthritisrelated problems in people who have olive oil daily, compared to those who rarely consume it.