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group meditation session

Choosing Appropriate Music for Mind/Body Classes

When creating mind/body fitness classes, we are never told which type of music is most useful or how to appropriately choose our music. An instructor will usually choose music for the sound that is pleasing to them. There is nothing wrong with this, and in fact, music is very subjective to everyone. Not everyone will like the same music that is chosen for the class. Some class participants may ask where you purchased your music, but you cannot please everyone with the music selection. You may be wondering how the brain picks up these frequencies and synchronizes them with its brainwaves. The brain can differentiate each sound frequency as it enters the brain through the ear. You may not know, however, that each frequency has it’s own specific purpose. For example, white noise is commonly used for helping individuals to get to sleep as well as calm the sound of Tinnitus (a ringing in the ears). Once you understand how frequencies work you can choose music that will produce a certain outcome. (National Institutes of Health, 2018)

Music and Stress

According to the University of Nevada, music can be a powerful stress reliever as well as help the mind to be more focused. (4) Choosing the right type of music for each class is critical in helping you to achieve the objective of somatic movement classes. It is known, for example, that faster music can make participants feel upbeat and be better able to concentrate. A slower beat can help you to quiet the mind and your class participant to de-stress. The University of Nevada says that music that is 60 beats per minute can cause the brain to synchronize with the beat, causing alpha brain waves to initiate. This relates to sound frequencies that are 8-14 hertz or cycles per second. Alpha brainwaves are present when we are relaxed and conscious. Delta brainwaves are dominant at 5 hertz. Stanford University found that certain sounds tend to relax us more; they are Native American, Celtic, Indian stringed instruments, drums, and flutes. There is a song called “Weightless” by Marconi Union, which is said to be the most relaxing song in the world. They ask that you not listen to it while driving in the car. The specific purpose of the song is to help lower the heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and reduce levels of the hormone cortisol. You can play the song on YouTube for a thoroughly relaxing experience and then record how you felt in your journal. It is noted that individuals should listen to this type of music for at least 45 minutes to obtain full benefits. 

Psych Central says that nature sounds are very beneficial in decreasing stress levels because of the external focus it provides. When playing nature sounds for somatic movement classes, you want to use real sounds of nature. Artificial sounds draw the participant into themselves and can have the opposite effect. Listening to nature for 30 to 40 minutes three times a week can profoundly decrease stress and cortisol levels. (5) When choosing music for the Mindful Stretch or NeuRoll Calm™ class, we ask that you use primarily natural sounds mixed with soft music. Isochronic tones can be used as well, depending on the goal of the class you are instructing. (3)

Nature sounds help you to focus internally

Nature and soundscapes are widely used for meditation, but the question is which sounds are best for our group exercise class or small group training sessions. As the instructor, you are setting the objective for each class, and you can choose the music accordingly. Both of these types of music have frequencies or noise colors, and each color can be used to elicit specific meditative responses. The colors are white noise, pink noise, blue noise, grey noise, violet noise, red noise, green noise, and black noise. According to audiology.com, the most common noise colors used in meditation are white noise, pink noise, and brown noise. You can tell the difference in the noises by listening to them one at a time. White noise has a higher frequency and is perceived to be louder than it is; think of a water fountain. Pink noise has a more resonant sound than white noise and has more of a balanced sound; an example would be a calm ocean, and brown noise sounds like a soft rumble like thunder or a rough ocean. (2)

White noise is a collective frequency of all noise and can block out or mask other sounds. Some individuals use a fan, for example, to help them fall asleep at night. White noise is the go-to sound for masking sounds that come from within. Tinnitus sufferers use white noise to mask the constant sounds in their ears. Tinnitus can sound like a heartbeat, swooshing noise, or many other sounds within the ear. Other benefits of white noise are improved concentration and sleep promotion. (2)

Pink noise is a popular alternative to white noise, and some individuals prefer it because of the more gentle, relaxing sound it makes. We recommend changing up the music because not everyone will always like the music you choose. Like white noise, pink noise also includes the whole sound spectrum, but it has a less harsh sound. An example of pink noise is rushing water or heavy rain. Pink noise is also used to block out other sounds and help with improved focus, alleviating headaches, and promoting sleep. (2)

Brown noise was actually discovered by Robert Brown, a botanist in the 1800s, who calls this Brownian Motion. Brown takes the low frequency of pink noise lower, so it sounds like a buzz. Brown noise sounds like rushing water with a low roar. Brown noise is used to help with relaxation or meditation, improved focus, and reading comprehension, as well as sleep promotion. This is also known as Brown noise because the change in sound signal is random.(2)

Noise Color Chart

Adapted from:  Gulf Coast Audiology. “White, Pink or Brown: Which Noise Helps You Sleep Better? – Hearing Aids Hearing Loss: Pascagoula: Biloxi, Mississippi: Gulf Coast Audiology.” Hearing Aids Hearing Loss | Pascagoula | Biloxi, Mississippi | Gulf Coast Audiology, 10 Feb. 2016,

Binaural Beats

Binaural beats are another type of music that can be used by clients at home or whenever they feel stressed. The sound produced is relaxing as long as the hertz or cycles per second are within the right cycle per sound. Individuals usually listen to binaural beats through earphones to achieve the best outcome. Each ear typically has a different frequency than the brain is listening to. The frequency should be no more than 30 hertz apart for the brain to synchronize the soundwave. The only known side effect of binaural beats, when listened to through headphones, is seizures. If anyone chooses to listen to binaural beats on their own with headphones, it is recommended to consult with their physician first. If you are using binaural beats in class, it does not have the same effect. It is relaxing, but the brain can only synchronize the sound and pick up brainwaves through earphones. For now, we know that binaural beats can help with anxiety, memory, mood, creativity, and attention. The different brain waves are Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta, and Gamma. Delta brainwaves are synchronized with a hertz of 0.1 to 4, Theta brainwaves are noticed at 4 to 8 hertz, Alpha is 8 to 13 hertz, Beta is 13 to 30 hertz, and Gamma is 30 hertz and higher. (1)

Psychology Today says that individuals have decreased cortisol, increases in melatonin, and decreases in DHEA when listening to binaural beats. This therapy is also being looked into as a possible treatment for anxiety and pain reduction. It is essential to stay within the hertz ranges that are provided below. If you go higher than the recommended Herz range, the individual could end up with the opposite effect of what the goal for the class originally was. For example, someone who is looking for stress relief could become anxious instead. Music that pre-mixed already follows these guidelines. (1)

Isochronic Tones 

Isochronic tones are single notes of tones that are spaced evenly to create a rhythmic beat type of sound. You do not need to wear earphones for Isochronic tones to be useful as they are a singular beat, and the brainwaves produced can be measured by an EEG test. Many Isochronic tones are mixed with soft music or nature sounds. According to Healthline, Isochronic tones may promote better quality sleep, focus, and attention, decrease pain, help with declining memory, meditation, and a more positive mood. Isochronic tones follow the same brainwaves as Binaural Beats. It is recommended to use isochronic tones when instructing mind/body classes. (1)

Binaural Beats and Isochronic Tone Brain Waves Chart

Adapted from: Booth, Stephanie. “Brain Health With Binaural Beats”. Healthline, Healthline Media, 14 May 2019.

The music for class should be either natural soundscapes with soothing music blended with it or Isochronic Tones-based, which you can find online. Isochronic tones can be sold as a full album or a single song. We suggest starting the music before class to help calm class participants and prepare them for Mindful Stretch™.  The instructor should also use a natural voice and no microphone. A natural voice helps to elicit the relaxation response and enables participants to connect with you. Keep in mind that breathing from the diaphragm helps instructors not to strain their vocal cords. The volume of the music being played is essential as well. It should be just loud enough that everyone can hear but soft enough that you can safely talk over the music. If you feel that you are straining your voice, lower the music to a level that is comfortable for you. (3)

Robyn Kade is the Founder of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals. She has 20 years of experience in medical-based fitness. 



  1. Booth, Stephanie. “Brain Health With Binaural Beats.Healthline, Healthline Media, 14 May 2019,
  2. Gulf Coast Audiology. “White, Pink or Brown: Which Noise Helps You Sleep Better? – Hearing Aids Hearing Loss: Pascagoula: Biloxi, Mississippi: Gulf Coast Audiology.” Hearing Aids Hearing Loss | Pascagoula | Biloxi, Mississippi | Gulf Coast Audiology, 10 Feb. 2016.
  3. Kade, Robyn. Mind/Body Medicine Specialist Manual. 4th ed. / USA, Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals, 2020.
  4. University of Nevada Reno. Releasing Stress through the Power of Music, 2020.
  5. Collingwood, J. “The Power of Music To Reduce Stress”. Psych Central, 2020.



What does the word “geriatric” mean to you?

geriatrics\ ˌjer-​ē-​ˈa-​triks  , ˌjir-​\ : a branch of medicine that deals with the problems and diseases of old age and the medical care and treatment of aging people.

What does the word geriatric mean to you? Oftentimes, it comes with a negative connotation. It’s time to change the perception of this word in the fitness industry.

In the medical fitness space, we seek to align with doctors and health professionals.

Geriatric medicine physicians (Geriatricians) work to promote health by preventing and treating diseases and disabilities. To a great degree, this includes improving functional abilities and independence in their activities of daily living. With the rapid growth of the older population in the US, the demand for geriatric medicine is higher than ever.

Physicians specializing in geriatric medicine work closely with interdisciplinary teams, including physical therapists and fitness professionals, to implement care plans that will improve quality of life. This is where a properly educated fitness professional can enter, collaborate with doctors and make a huge impact in the lives of this population.

Senior Fitness vs. Geriatric Fitness

Senior fitness is popular in the fitness industry and many organizations offer education for working with seniors — but it’s primarily focused on seniors who are “generally healthy”.  Senior fitness is centered on preventative measures to maintain existing health as a person ages.

But not all seniors fall into this category. In fact, most do not. Geriatric fitness is for those who are not healthy,  who need guidance with fitness and lifestyle changes to improve degraded function so they can perform activities of daily living and be independent.

Why Specialize?

Specializing in geriatric fitness allows you to reach a huge market (there are over 70 million baby boomers with 10,000 people reaching age 65 daily!), but you’ll also find it to be a fulfilling part of your career. You’ll find creating programming for this group intellectually stimulating and challenging. You’ll also find it emotionally rewarding — helping geriatric clients make small improvements in their health will have an enormous impact on their quality of life, independence and well-being.

You’ll also offer peace of mind to caregivers — often adult children — as they are frequently the ones seeking an educated fitness professional to help their aging parent.

It’s time to see the word geriatric in a new, positive light. A personal trainer specializing in geriatric fitness is helping a senior maintain independence, prevent life-threatening falls and manage chronic health conditions to live their highest quality of life through their golden years.

Become a Geriatric Fitness and Lifestyle Specialist

Align yourself with the medical community and become a Geriatric Fitness and Lifestyle Specialist! Check out MedFit Classroom’s first of its kind online course for fitness professionals.

Save 30% on this online course until 11/1/21. Enter coupon code GFLS30 during check-out.




What if I told you fitness is simple? Would you believe me?

Health and fitness are, in fact, simple, just not easy. What you must do; move more, make better choices with food, stretch, strength train, etc. is really not complicated. However, making it a part of your lifestyle can be quite challenging. How do we deal with this? By helping clients to develop the proper mindset.  

Like any aspect in life, if you have the right mindset, you dramatically increase your chance for success. Health and fitness success is no different. While there are many components that go into creating the proper mindset, I wanted to share a quick strategy that I have found to be effective for staying on track. I call it S.T.A.T. Not only is this a great acronym, but it also means to hurry and do something! 

The Sstands for schedule overview. Look at your schedule every week to see where you have the time to move more, strength train, stretch or prep some healthy snacks.  

The T stands for time blocks. After you review your schedule, commit a few blocks of time to doing those activities and lock in the times. The more consistency you have in those blocks of time from week to week, the better.  

The A stands for action plan. Once you have committed to time blocks, create a specific action plan for what you will do.  As cliché as it may sound, failing to plan is planning to fail. Making the most of the time blocks is essential. What exactly will you do to move more? Jog, do a band workout, participate in a yoga class, etc.? Where will this happen? Are you at a gym, the park, or at home? Be very specific. 

The final T stands for track your progress. Find metrics that are important to you and track those every four to six weeks. Metrics can include weight, body fat, body measurements, energy levels, blood work and more. The key is finding a metric which is personally motivating. When you track metrics, you either make progress or you don’t. If you see positive progress, it confirms the investment of time is worth it, which helps with motivation. If you don’t see progress, you can plan which adjustments need to be made to improve your results. 

The S.T.A.T. technique is very powerful and can help cultivate a mindset conducive to taking those simple aspects of fitness and making them a bit easier to incorporate into your daily routine.

Join Chris for his webinar to learn more, Creating the Mindset for Change in Your Clients.

Chris Stevenson – former Power Ranger stuntman – is the founder of Stevenson Consulting, a full-service consulting firm based in Westlake Village, California. Chris’s current focus is to help businesses and entrepreneurs of all types maximize potential. His expertise stems from his 20 years of hands-on experience in all aspects of the health club industry. 


The Top Big Data Issues – and How Wellness Can Do Them Better

Big data is here to stay within the healthcare profession.  More and more engineers and data programmers are being hired to sift through the myriad of data that consumes the field.  Of concern to executives at the top are certain attributes of healthcare that may need “fixing”.  The aspects of this report are to highlight what are perceived as the biggest concerns in healthcare, and how the wellness industry – if they can stay on track – can supersede all of these types of issues as they transition to the data analytics side of their health offerings.  

#1 – In network utilization.  

This is a very big concern for hospital systems and physician network groups, as patients have a tendency to switch providers if they think they will get better service, better medicine, or better prices.  One of the reasons is that most patient contracts don’t require patients to stay in a network – which puts the responsibility of good care, competitive prices, and follow ups squarely on the doctors.   If patients are unhappy with their doctor or practice for any reason, they can leave.  Now that these organizations are getting bigger and more complex – it’s easier to see why patients may become disgruntled, and try to find a better solution in a private practice, or smaller group or hospital practice. 

From the wellness side – it’s not uncommon for health club members to stay at their club or studio for years.  Prices don’t change that much, and most members have a very personal relationship with their instructors and club owners.  They have group classes, personal exercise programs, child care, plenty of free parking, and clean facilities that provide some of the latest in technology every few years.  So – should healthcare systems look to health clubs to see why people stay in clubs longer?  Perhaps they should be partnering with these health clubs for specific programs for their patients.

#2 – Customer satisfaction.  

This is a priority in most businesses.  Hospitals and physician practices are no exception.  However, most people still associate going to the doctors with being sick.  So there is already an inherent negative connotation to the doctor’s office.  Therefore physicians need more than a lab coat and a prescription to make sure patients are getting what they need.  They need a team-orientated approach that can help with the issue NOW, and use the team to follow up with the patient to make sure the situation and health concerns are taken care of over time.

Again – the health and fitness industry is concerned about customer satisfaction.  With cut-rate gym memberships, and a new club coming into communities almost every month, clubs and owners need to offer clean facilities, professional trainers and instructors, and technologically advanced equipment that doesn’t break down and that is easy for members to take advantage of.  The issue between the two programs – is that although some exercise programs push the body and may be painful – it’s a good pain and the rewards of long term participation should be better health and less risk of using the healthcare system over time.  It’s the old adage of “pay me now, or pay me later” axiom, and more people are willing to put their trust in health clubs – and the risk of injury or illness or death is extremely low compared to even trips to the doctor’s office. 

#3 – Looking at the mounting data to convene the best possible approach to patient care.  

Again – this is a huge concern in healthcare – that doctors can’t read the thousands of new studies that come out in their field each month, so they rely more and more on their clinical experience (which may be a good thing), but they will stick to the tried and true methods they have always been using, and may not prescribe the most effective type of treatment for their patients.  Big data in many instances can do two things – one is look over millions of studies in a particular field, and two – through machine learning, hone in on what may be the best type of treatment plan for a particular patient, based on their age, severity of disease, family history, weight, and other factors.  This is a powerful tool to help doctors prescribe and treat better.

However, it’s still the same paradigm.  They are looking over medical studies, many of which may not be in the best interest of the patient.  One of the most cited studies in medicine came in 2005 when Stanford epidemiologist John Ionnidis reported that the majority of medical research finding are false, because they have inherent bias from their authors, their findings are not statistically significant, they were published by industry officials, and are not relevant, and conclusions may not match the actual results of these very papers.  Ionnidis opened the floodgates for many professionals who have gone after medical research and institutions for publishing false studies.  It is estimated that almost 40% of medical research studies are false, in that their findings do not hold relevance regarding the enhancement of patient care.

In contrast, sports medicine has been methodological in its research for a century – from the basis of treadmill cardiac and performance testing in the 1930s, to the onset of physical activity studies in the 1950s and 60s, to cardiac rehab and exercise safety studies in the 1980s, to the onset of exercise for special population groups in the 1990s.  There are very few reports on sports medicine research fraud, and the foundation of this research usually shows some level of benefit to those who participate.  In almost all cases, no harm is done to subjects while performing these studies.  This has now transitioned into many successful clinical health club programs for persons with cancer (Sunflower Wellness, Cancer Well-fit, Fast Trac Cancer Program), spinal cord injury (Claremont Club), multiple sclerosis, diabetes, hypertension, weight management, bariatric recovery, and medical fitness in general. 

#4 – Cost savings. 

 One of the biggest attributes of big data and population health is to drive policymakers and physicians to deliver the highest quality care at the most competitive prices.  In many opinions, this is a misnomer of sorts, and medicine is continually advancing technology, which is very expensive, and works through a third party reimbursement system — which is many times more expensive than if they offered the service or procedure or product at market value.  Many hospitals are undergoing facelifts (no pun intended) and look more like five-star hotels than medical centers.  All of these amenities cost the patient and insurance pool more money.  This is why healthcare costs usually rise at more than twice the rate of inflation, and have some of the highest costs of any industrialized business model.

As far as health and fitness, the rate of price changes for the average health club has held steady at just below inflation for years.  The prices for café food, personal training, specialty exercise, or apparel has also held steady.  Even with the rush of new technologies for equipment and personal monitoring devices (such as FitBit), prices have remained constant. 

Big data in the health and fitness setting should be concentrated on health outcomes.  There are many software programs in the industry now that look at finances, front desk management, club administration, and human resources.  They do their functions well.

If big data is going to continue to look at all aspects of healthcare, and continue to miss the boat regarding improved patient health and well-being, then no amount of data can help repair the continual dysfunction that exists between an over-burdened and (in many opinions) under caring system, and the continued increase in poor health in the US.  Prescribing more pain meds, vaccines, or antibiotics will not help improve health – and in many cases is making health worse. 

The health and fitness profession is on the mark moving into the realm of special populations at every level.  As the amount of population health and data analytics becomes a more ingrained part of wellness, we will see at many levels how these types of interventions improve health, reduce costs, and vastly improve patient satisfaction and retention to their favorite health club, exercise program, or personal trainer. 

Eric Durak is President of MedHealthFit – a health care education and consulting company in Santa Barbara, CA. A 25 year veteran of the health and fitness industry, he has worked in health clubs, medical research, continuing education, and business development. Among his programs include The Cancer Fit-CARE Program, Exercise Medicine, The Insurance Reimbursement Guide, and Wellness @ Home Series for home care wellness.




Ionnidis, JPA.  Why most published research findings are false.  2005.  PLoS Medicine.  Aug. 30. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124



Why Do My Feet Hurt?

Many of you reading this are going to experience a foot problem at some point in your lifetime. Some of you are even going to develop a chronic condition that will introduce your body to a new level of suffering. Ever heard the old saying – “when your feet hurt, you hurt all over”?

The tendency for most of you will be to try to figure out what is wrong, and find a way to alleviate your discomfort. You may self-treat with over the counter products such as insoles, anti-inflammatory or pain medicine. Some of you will seek professional advice from your primary doctor or a specialist. A lot of you will look for answers online, to determine a diagnosis.

After doing this you may think that you’re going to get to the solution you’re after, but in actuality there’s something that should be looked at long before pursuing any of the steps mentioned above. From the 22 years I’ve been taking care of people’s feet, I can tell you that there is a key piece of information many never find. It’s honestly something few know about, but it’s much more likely to be causing your foot troubles.

The fit of your shoes

Yes, the commonly accepted shape of shoes and the method of assigning your feet a number and letter, based upon measurements with the Brannock device, are the most likely reasons for your foot pain. Why? Having your feet measured in this way ignores the natural shape of your feet, and guarantees that you will change this natural shape and inhibit proper function. For many of you this started in infancy, but because of the amazing compensatory abilities of your feet you are likely able to function fairly well in unnatural alignment. For a while, that is.

Picture from CorrectToes

Studies show that about 75% of people in the United States have foot pain at some point in their lives. When that day comes for you to experience your own personal suffering; instead of resorting to the means mentioned above, perform a free and simple in home test to show yourself the most likely reason for your pain.

We perform this test on every patient that comes in to our clinic, and the majority of their feet spread beyond the sock liner. This ensures that their feet are going to be misaligned, because the upper part of the shoe is the same shape as the sock liner.

This goes for you men as well. Even in athletic shoes.

So when your feet begin to hurt – resist the temptation to self-medicate, seek professional advice or try to figure out your diagnosis, until you have checked the fit of your shoes.

Be skeptical of any advice or treatment of your foot pain that does not include aligning your feet naturally. Your feet are designed to be widest at the ends of the toes, so be wary of any professional who ascribes your foot pain to genetics, biomechanics or overuse, but fails to ensure that your feet are aligned as they are naturally designed to be. It is impossible to achieve lifelong foot health and ignore this basic anatomic fact.

Originally printed on the Correct Toes blog. Reprinted with permission.

Dr. Ray McClanahan’s practice, Northwest Foot & Ankle in Portland, Oregon, allows him to care for those who find their highest joy when in motion. In his 18 years as a podiatrist, he has learned that most foot problems can be corrected by restoring natural foot function. He is also the inventor of Correct Toes, silicone toe spacers. His professional goal is to provide quality natural foot health services with an emphasis on sports medicine, preventative and conservative options as well as education on proper footwear.

Dr. McClanahan is an active runner and athlete. In 1999, he finished 14th in the U.S. National Men’s Cross-Country Championships and had a near Olympic Trials qualifying 5,000 meter mark of 13:56 in 2000. He then qualified for the World Duathlon Championships in 2001.”


Caregivers: The Often Overlooked Gold Mine in the Senior Market

Caregivers… what does that mean? Obviously, it means someone who takes care of others. In this case, seniors 65 and older. Now you might say that 65 is a very young age to need caregiving, but not if you have a chronic condition like Parkinson’s, COPD, Multiple Sclerosis, even Type II Diabetes. What happens when these seniors suddenly can’t navigate through their life like they used to and even simple things like getting to the doctor and grocery shopping become extremely difficult to manage? They find they need a break after doing these simple tasks. At this point, they either have their adult children take on these tasks or hire someone to do them. These people — the Caregivers — are a huge untapped market for medical fitness professionals to provide our valuable services.  

Do you have connections to this market? They tend to be overlooked as they are not the end-user of our services.  Yet, they hold the key to introducing us to pre-qualified clients. There is a huge trust already established between these caregivers and their relatives or employers. The client values and relies on their recommendations, therefore, it is very advantageous to cultivate a presence in their world.  

As with all targeted marketing, where do they hang out and what are their needs? Did you know there are entire associations geared specifically toward caregivers with a subcategory of the adult children, or “parents taking care of parents”? If you didn’t, you need to. It is where the goldmine begins, and the subcategory of caregivers we are going to focus on.  I have been a caregiver with both of my parents and with numerous clients I’ve worked with. When you tap into this market, you find yourself becoming a caregiver as well. If you are great at establishing trust, you too become a trusted resource for referrals. This is a compelling reason to develop a network of preferred medical practitioners that hold similar values and approach towards care. 

From the biopsychosocial aspect of where these caregivers are, they are stressed out from providing care for both their parents and their own children as well. Their parents will fall under the category of Condition Impacted Dependent© to Extensively Dependent and Frail©, meaning they need assistance or improvement with their IADLs (Instrumental Activities of Daily Living). The caregiver demographic will be working a full-time job and juggling their own children, they have very full plates. They literally will not have the energy or time to research and find a qualified professional who can provide in-home medical exercise services designed to make their lives easier. They will welcome any respite in managing their parents’ condition; improving function is added frosting on the cake. 

When it comes to getting noticed, start with your message.

  • Preventing further decline – how valuable do you think that is to stressed-out caregivers? 
  • Increasing their parents’ ability to function more independently can prevent further decline, allowing them to take on more of their own IADLs and in the process keep their cognition. 
  • The capacity to bounce back after setbacks is instrumental to all the people involved. 
  • The biggest take-home is that it will reduce the caregiver’s anxiety of having to care for their parent.
  • Have your materials ready to educate people on what medical exercise is and specifically what the benefits are to the caregiver and the client’s lives.

Marketing Plan

  • Research groups that support caregivers, specifically adult children of seniors (see resources)
  • Offer presentations on how-to’s.  Build fall resilience, improve strength for grocery shopping, resources on balance training, presentation on 10 best exercises seniors can do for function. Make sure you have these ready to go, it will save a lot of stress later. 
  • Have a PDF ready of your services and costs. The caregiver might be tech-savvy, but they will need to have something easily accessible to show to their parents
  • Hone your empathic listening. When a potential caregiver calls you up, listen. A lot of times this technique will put you above the competition. Seniors love to chat, it is how they make connections and establish trust. I know that if a trainer is constantly interrupting me or seems to have divided attention when talking to me, they are certainly not going to be listening to my rambling parent/client. 
  • Network within your community. Join a local chamber of commerce, look up villages and volunteer your time. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg, we haven’t even covered other categories of caregivers, CNAs, housekeepers, assisting hands companies, etc. That and more is covered in-depth in the Geriatric Fitness and Lifestyle Specialist online course, available through MedFit Classroom.  

Sharon Bourke has been involved in the health and fitness industry for more than 28+ years presenting, teaching and coaching in fitness clubs and private studios throughout the Washington metropolitan area. She holds certifications in Medical Exercise Specialist, Personal Training Pre-Postnatal fitness, Fitness for Arthritis, and Multiple Sclerosis. Sharon founded the Life Energy Foundation,to utilize her extensive experience and network to create exercise and behavior modification programs and resources to help people avoid becoming immobilized from their chronic conditions. 



Health and Disease Spans: Can You Change It?

Sam is a 90-year-old client of mine who comes into the clinic every day, walks for 30 minutes on the treadmill, then jumps on the elliptical for 15 minutes following by another 15 minutes on the stationary bike. After he’s done with his cardio, he knocks off 10 pull-ups, unassisted, and then he finishes the rest of his strength program. He feels energetic and enjoys spending time with his family and friends. On the other hand, Bob, a client who came in a few months ago, is 62 years old, sleeps in a recliner most nights because his back pain is too severe to stay in bed. He is an attorney working long hours with high levels of stress. His long hours keep him from exercising on a regular basis, he is a borderline diabetic and has recently started Lisinopril to control his newly diagnosed hypertension.

What’s the difference between my two clients? Sam has experienced a long and successful health span. At 90, his disease span has barely started to show. Bob, on the other hand, has an early onset disease span. He is losing his function and productivity while experiencing a slow and steady decline into the abyss.

There are several factors that influence the onset of one’s disease span. Factors such as genetic predisposition, lifestyle choices and sleep patterns are just a few examples that will influence the shape of your disease span curve. Often, the interrelatedness of influencing factors dictate our life’s outcome. By understanding our history, recognizing the triggering events that have occurred over time and managing mediators affecting our health, we are in the unique position to have a positive impact on our health/disease span curve.

Regardless of your previous lifestyle choices, you can create a big change. It is amazing how quickly our bodies respond to positive changes. In as little as 30 days, I have seen people decrease their need for medication, increase their energy, improve their sleeping habits and become more engaged in their personal relationships.

Remember Bob, in 45 days he was off his pain medication, sleeping in bed and played 9 holes of golf which is something he hadn’t done in 5 years. It is essential to understand your lifestyle history to take the necessary steps in making a well-rounded change. Success begins when you work with the right professional to re-write your story which will in turn elongate your health span, shorten your disease span and result in dying young at a ripe old age.

Jim Herkimer, DPT, MS, ATC  has been involved in health, fitness and rehabilitation for over 35 years. He is currently the CEO and Executive Director at Sports Conditioning and Rehabilitation (SCAR) in Orange, California. SCAR is a wellness and rehabilitation clinic providing a continuum of care for individuals through the life span. Throughout his career, he has had the opportunity to help a variety of athletes and individuals from all walks of life reach beyond their potential. 


Key Exercises and Training for Aging Successfully and Living Your Best Life

As the years roll by, nothing has become clearer to me than the fact that aging successfully requires a lot of work. When it comes to our bodies, nothing rings truer than, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” This is particularly true not only when it comes to preventing declines arising from disuse, but also when trying to slow down the normal impacts of aging. 

The function of our bodily systems peaks at around age 25 and declines over time. As a result, your maximal aerobic capacity decreases, even with constant training, reflective of declines in maximal heart rate. In addition, your balance ability gets worse (particularly after age 40), bones get thinner, muscles atrophy, reflexes get slower, and recovery from workouts takes longer. Aging is not for sissies, but it beats the alternative!

The good news is that it is possible to slow the rapid decline of these systems by changing how you live your life. By including regular physical training, better nutrition, adequate sleep, and stress management, you can delay or prevent a lot of normal aging and reverse decrements caused by inactivity, neglect, disuse, and abuse of our bodies. The only caveat is that we can’t control or reverse neurological decline.

It starts to seem like preventing additional declines from inactivity or inadequate training gets to be a full-time job as you get older and you have to keep adding in additional exercises, stretches, and activities. A fitness instructor recently confirmed that it’s a bit like playing whack-a-mole: fix one weak area or physical problem and another one pops up. Welcome to aging!

So what can you do to live your best life both physically and mentally? I would suggest adding at least these (and many other) critical exercises to your weekly routine:

Cardiorespiratory fitness: Cardio workouts with faster training intervals

In addition to doing regular cardio activities like walking, cycling, and swimming, add in some faster intervals into any workout, such as walking faster for 10 to 60 seconds at a time during your normal walk or doing a hill profile on a cardio training machine. Doing so will increase your fitness more and improve insulin sensitivity for longer. It’s also fine to do high-intensity interval training (HIIT) at least once a week, but start out slowly and progress slowly to prevent injuries and demotivation. Not all your workouts should be equally intense, and varying your aerobic activities also lowers the risk of getting injured.

Muscular strength and endurance: Resistance training exercises

It is easy to work on your muscle strength and muscle endurance by doing a series of resistance exercises targeting your major muscle groups (in the upper body, lower body, and core areas). Pick at least 8 to 10 exercises that cover all these areas and do them at least two to three days per week. It’s fine to use your own body weight, household items (like full water bottles), hand weights, or resistance bands as resistance—you don’t have to have access to a gym or leave home. Adding in these exercises to your weekly routine is critical to aging well and being able to live independently throughout your entire lifespan.

Balance ability: Standing on one leg at a time (and other balance exercises)

This simple exercise involves standing on one leg for a minute, switching to the other leg, and repeating. Have something you can grab onto nearby, such as the back of a chair. You can hold on with both hands, one hand, one finger, or nothing as you get better at balancing. To challenge yourself, move your free leg in different directions (e.g., out front, to the side, behind you) while standing on the other one, or practice standing on uneven surfaces, such as a cushion. If your balance ability is really getting to be an issue, include other balance training activities each week as well.

Joint mobility and cartilage health: Stretches for all your joints

Do a series of flexibility exercises that stretch your joints in all their normal directions to maintain and increase their range of motion. With aging, we are all losing flexibility and diabetes can accelerate this loss when extra glucose sticks to joint surfaces (cartilage) over time and makes them more brittle. Try to stretch at least two to three days per week. The older you get, the longer you should hold each stretch (up to a minute on each one), and you may need to add in specialized stretches (such as for your calves or hips) to really work tighter joints to enhance your mobility and balance ability.

Bone strength: Weight-bearing activities and/or resistance training exercises

Your bones stay stronger when you put normal stress on them regularly, such as carrying your own body weight around when walking or jogging or doing resistance exercises with your upper body or carrying grocery bags. If you stay sedentary, your bones will lose minerals faster and get thinned out more quickly, and non-weight-bearing activities like swimming and cycling just don’t have the ability to build bone as much as weight-bearing ones. Try to adequately stress your bones to stimulate the bone mineral density to stay higher—at least two to three days per week.

Basic mobility and self-care: Wall sits and/or sit-to-stand exercise

Until you start to get older, you seldom think about how difficult it can be to get up out of a chair or off the sofa. Many older people get heavier and weaker and start to have trouble doing these basic maneuvers, which are critical to living well independently. To improve your ability, practice doing wall sits, which involves sitting against a wall with your hips and knees at 90 degree angles and your feet straight below your knees for as long as you can. This exercise will also help prevent knee pain and problems. Alternatively, you can do sit-to-stand exercises where you sit on the edge of an armless chair and practice getting up without using your arms. (This is also often called the “getting up from the toilet” exercise.)

Sexual enjoyment (and incontinence): Kegel exercises

Also known as pelvic floor muscle training, Kegel exercises can help with stress incontinence (i.e., urinating a little when sneezing or laughing) and normal incontinence (both urinary or fecal), and they may enhance your sexual pleasure to boot. The easiest way to identify the pelvic floor muscles is to stop your urine flow while urinating or tighten the muscles that keep you from passing gas. To do Kegels, imagine you are sitting on a marble and pretend you’re lifting it up by tightening your pelvic muscles and holding them contracted for as long as you can; do this a few times in a row. When your muscles get stronger, you can do these exercises while sitting, standing, or walking. Both men and women can and should do Kegel exercises regularly.

Sheri R. Colberg, PhD, is the author of The Athlete’s Guide to Diabetes: Expert Advice for 165 Sports and Activities (the newest edition of Diabetic Athlete’s Handbook). She is also the author of Diabetes & Keeping Fit for Dummies, co-published by Wiley and the ADA. A professor emerita of exercise science from Old Dominion University and an internationally recognized diabetes motion expert, she is the author of 12 books, 34 book chapters, and over 420 articles. She was honored with the 2016 American Diabetes Association Outstanding Educator in Diabetes Award. Contact her via her websites (SheriColberg.com and DiabetesMotion.com).