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International Pilates Day

Northstar Pilates Solution of Williamsville will host a free Pilates event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in Hearthstone Manor in observance of the second annual International Pilates Day. Activities will include exercise demonstrations, introductory Pilates mat classes, and educational seminars on Pilates for fitness, rehabilitation and special populations. Pilates is an exercise program that concentrates on developing core muscles through toning and stretching.

In keeping with the day's theme, "Western New York 100 Doing the Hundred," the first 100 participants will receive a free Pilates mat. For more information, call Northstar at 887-5052 or log on to and click on events.

Excess calcium risk

Taking extra calcium can contribute to the formation of kidney stones in some people, according to researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

People with calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate kidney stones should not take extra calcium on their own as suggested by previous guidelines, researchers said. They suggest patients check with their doctors to determine the dietary guidelines that work best for them.

Earlier studies downplayed the significance of calcium and even encouraged some patients to increase their intake. But the new studies show that urinary calcium -- the amount in a person's urine -- is an important contributing factor in the formation of calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate kidney stones.

Doctors may want to recommend calcium restriction in patients who have moderately to severely elevated intestinal calcium absorption, said Dr. Margaret Pearle, a professor of urology and internal medicine at UT Southwestern.

An estimated 10 percent of Americans will have a kidney stone some time in their lives, with men affected more frequently than women.

Advance care planning

Univera Healthcare wants everyone to give themselves and their loved ones peace of mind knowing that future wishes for medical care will be honored if for some reason individuals are unable to speak for themselves. The health care insurer is offering a free step-by-step Advance Care Planning booklet available to anyone to download at Click on either the Member or Visitor page; then click on "Health & Wellness"; and then click on Advance Care Planning.

In New York State the process of advance care planning involves completing two documents -- the Health Care Proxy and the New York Living Will. Each is included in the booklet, says Univera.

Call your gal pals

Stress is the greatest preventable cause of heart disease, says Dr. Mehmet Oz, author of "Healing from the Heart: A Leading Surgeon Combines Eastern and Western Traditions to Create the Medicine of the Future." And a landmark UCLA study found that women can counteract stress by hanging with their girlfriends.

The research shows that when women face tough times, they have a self-protective response: Their bodies produce oxytocin, a hormone that compels them to nurture their loved ones and be with their friends. Called the "tend-and-befriend response," it not only relieves stress, but it's also a powerful antidote to the better-known fight-or-flight response, which is marked by the production of the heart-damaging stress hormone cortisol.

"The question I always ask my patients is, 'Do you have a reason for your heart to keep beating?' " says Oz. So after a particularly stressful day, remember who makes your heart happy: Call your girlfriends and hug your kids.

Compiled from News and wire service reports.

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