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Can Exercise help treat women with postpartum depression?

According to several studies, exercise has been proven as an effective method of treating and preventing depression. Some studies suggest that physical activity may be as powerful as anti-depressants for treating mild to moderate depression over time. The same is true for women experiencing mild to moderate postpartum depression. It’s important to note that there are different levels of postpartum depression and screening is available through hospitals and doctors’ offices if PPD is suspected. Both the Edinburgh Postnatal depression scale questionnaire and a PAR-Q medical history questionnaire will help give insight to healthcare practitioner and patient on treatment methods.


Expand Your Career! Become a Multiple Sclerosis Fitness Specialist

The health/fitness industry is constantly evolving with new scientific research and education released on a regular basis. Currently, the medical fitness track is on the precipice of explosion and expansion. Therefore, obtaining your personal training or group exercise instructor certification is only the beginning for launching your professional health and fitness career. One area of health/fitness specialization that is gaining attention is with the multiple sclerosis (MS) community. There is a huge need and demand for qualified health/fitness professionals to provide proper programming for those with MS. The National MS Society states that the MS population is more than double what was previously recorded with over one million people diagnosed in the United States alone. Health/fitness professionals can effectively work with those who have MS, providing them with a better quality of life, hope for the future and continued improvement. Education and specialization on the part of the professional is key to the success of the professional and the client through proper exercise programs, nutritional guidance and mindset training specifically for those with MS.


Three Incredibly Simple Ways to Maintain a Strong Immune System

During the COVID-19 pandemic, taking steps to protect yourself from contracting the virus is essential. That means you need to prioritize boosting your immune system. Although a strong immune system always plays a crucial role in your health, right now, it’s particularly important.

Strengthening your immune response is also fairly easy. While you should remember that none of these tips are substitutes for seeking medical care if you believe you have COVID-19 or are in danger of contracting it, you should consider the following ways – from cooking healthy recipes to getting enough sleep – that you can keep your immune system strong during a pandemic.


The Naturopathic Chef: Southwest Green Goddess Dressing

The fresh, herbacious flavor of the original Green Goddess dressing inspired a Southwest version I used for my cafe menu. Today, it remains a client favorite. Perfect for a veggie platter and grilled seafood. The dressing is pictured here on a Southwest Caesar with grilled Mahi.

Summertime is the season for fresh herbs. If you don’t like cilantro, flat-leaf parsley works well.


  • ¾ c Grapeseed Oil Mayo
  • ¼ c Grapeseed Oil
  • 1 clove Garlic, peeled, trimmed, and smashed
  • 2 Tbls Pumpkin Seeds
  • 2 Tbls Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Tbls Cotija Cheese
  • 1 freshly roasted Anaheim Chili, peeled and seeded, or two tablespoons of canned mild chilies
  • 1 bunch Cilantro, cleaned and stemmed
  • ½ tsp each Salt and Pepper (Cotija Cheese is salty, be sure to taste along the way)

Place all ingredients up to cilantro into a blender. Process until smooth. Add cilantro in thirds to keep the bright color. Over-processing heats the dressing and can cause the herbs to lose their vibrancy.

Phyte Facts

You may read negative commentary about Grapeseed oil. It is high in polyunsaturated fats making it susceptible to over oxidization. In other words: don’t deep fry with Grapeseed oil. However, cold-pressed GSO is beneficial due to a very little known polyunsaturated fact. When the PUFAs are ingested, our immune function goes to sleep for a short period (I know this sounds bad but…) this allows a very special heart mending action to take place. Once the “work” is done, our immune function wakes up and everything resumes. GSO also assists in the removal of plaque built up in the arteries. It’s higher in vitamin E, than Olive Oil, and binds the water we drink to our tissue keeping us thoroughly hydrated.

All veggie oils are processed and should be kept to a minimum. A little goes a long way!

The remainder of the ingredients are definitely Delicious Medicine, with Cilantro heading up the foods with phyte. Apigenin will someday be the cure for Ovarian Cancer, says Harvard School of Medicine. This phytonutrient is also a major player in the reduction of inflammation and anti-aging science.


Get more great recipes from Tina Martini — her book, Delicious Medicine: The Healing Power of Food is available to purchase on Amazon. More than a cookbook, combining 20+ years of experience, along with her love of coaching, cooking and teaching, Tina offers unexpected insights into the history and healing power of clean eating, along with recipes to help reduce your risk of disease and improve overall wellness so you can enjoy life!

Affectionately referred to as The Walking Encyclopedia of Human Wellness, Fitness Coach, Strength Competitor and Powerlifting pioneer, Tina “The Medicine Chef” Martini is an internationally recognized Naturopathic Chef and star of the cooking show, Tina’s Ageless Kitchen. Tina’s cooking and lifestyle show has reached millions of food and fitness lovers all over the globe. Over the last 30 years, Tina has assisted celebrities, gold-medal athletes and over-scheduled executives naturally achieve radiant health using The Pyramid of Power: balancing Healthy Nutrition and the healing power of food, with Active Fitness and Body Alignment techniques. Working with those who have late-stage cancer, advanced diabetes, cardiovascular and other illnesses, Tina’s clients are astounded at the ease and speed with which they are able to restore their radiant health. Tina believes that maintaining balance in our diet, physical activity, and in our work and spiritual life is the key to our good health, happiness and overall well being. Visit her website, themedicinechef.com

Smiling elderly woman training in a group

Minimize the risk of falling in the elderly with this simple balance exercises

The mortality rate of seniors after an unintentional fall increases significantly. Among the elderly with 38-47% of those who fall will eventually have a fatal outcome [3]. Furthermore, one-half of those who fall are likely to fall again [4]. To minimize falls, exercise and staying physically active is extremely important to ensure that the mind and body is constantly optimized. Unfortunately, not all exercises are created equally for fall prevention. Therefore, here are some simple but effective balance exercises that you, or an elder under your care, can do at home.


Why Yoga Professionals Should Join the MedFit Network

It is safe to assume that not everyone a yoga professional works with is injury or disease free. As a yoga professional, it is your responsibility to ensure that you provide your clientele with safe and effective programming. The question you have to ask yourself is: are you truly qualified and up to date on the latest information to work with your current (and future)? A second question to ask is are you marketing yourself to those who need you most in this healthcare crisis?  If you’re honest, you should at least say that perhaps you are not. 

Well, this is where the MedFit Network (MFN) can help! MedFit Network (MFN) is both a professional membership organization for yoga, fitness and allied healthcare professionals, and a free online resource directory for the community to locate professionals with a background in prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation in working with those with chronic disease or medical conditions. As a yoga professional, here are three reasons why you should join the MedFit Network

Senior woman doing curl-ups

5 Key Strengthening Exercises for People with Diabetes

Although stay-at-home restrictions are loosening around the USA and summer is coming, you may still need to get some of your activities indoors at home for a variety of reasons. If you aren’t doing resistance workouts already, you should really consider adding some resistance exercises to your normal regimens. 

In fact, if you do nothing else, doing these 5 key exercises is critical for people with diabetes who may have weak core muscles, altered gait and balance, and central and peripheral nerve damage.  If you lose your core strength, it will affect your ability to do all activities of daily living, including walking and living independently.

Do at least one set of 8-15 reps of each one, but work up to doing 2-3 sets of each one per workout.  For best results, do these exercises at least 2 or 3 nonconsecutive days per week — muscles need a day or two off to fully recover and get stronger — but just don’t do them right before you go do another physical activity (as a fatigued core increases your risk of injury).  

These and many more exercises are available on Diabetes Motion Academy for free download.

  • Exercise 1: Crunches with waist worker
  • Exercise 2: Chair sit-ups OR Low back strengthener
  • Exercise 3: Modified push-ups
  • Exercise 4: Squats OR Suitcase lifts
  • Exercise 5: Sit-to-Stand exercise

#1: Crunches with waist worker


Crunch Example


  • Lie down on your back with your knees bent. 
  • Place your hands on your head right behind your ears. 
  • While breathing out, contract your abdominal muscles to lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the floor and curl forward no more than 45 degrees. 
  • Hold for a moment before returning to the starting position, then repeat. 

Waist worker:


  • Lie on your back on the mat with your legs bent, your feet flat on the floor, and your left hand behind your head. 
  • Stretch your right hand across your body toward your opposite (left) knee and circle your hand three times around your knee in a counterclockwise direction; your right shoulder blade will lift off the mat. 
  • Repeat the circular movement around the right knee using your left arm, but in a clockwise motion. 
  • Keep your head in a neutral position and relax your neck to ensure that the contraction is in your abdomen area only. 

#2: Chair sit-ups OR Low back strengthener

Chair sit-ups:


  • Sit up straight in a chair with your feet on the floor, hands to your sides for support.
  • Bend forward, keeping your lower back as straight as possible, moving your chest down toward your thighs.
  • Slowly straighten back up, using your lower back muscles to raise your torso.
  • For added resistance, put a resistance band under both feet before you start and hold one end in each hand during the movement. 


Low back strengthener (Superman exercise):


  • Lie on your stomach with your arms straight over your head, your chin resting on the floor between your arms. 
  • Keeping your arms and legs straight, simultaneously lift your feet and your hands as high off the floor as you can (aim for at least three inches off the floor).
  • Hold that position (sort of a Superman flying position) for 10 seconds if possible, and then relax your arms and legs back onto the floor.
  • If this exercise is too difficult to start, try lifting just your legs or arms off the floor separately–or even just one limb at a time. 

#3: Modified push-ups


  • Get on your hands and knees on the floor or mat. 
  • If using a band for extra resistance, position it across your back and hold one end of it in each hand so that it is somewhat tight when your elbows are straight. 
  • Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the mat. 
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles to straighten your lower back and lower yourself (from your knees, not your feet) down toward the mat as far as you can without touching it. 
  • Push yourself back up until your arms are extended, but without locking your elbows. 
  • If this exercise is too hard, stand facing a wall and place your arms on it at shoulder height and your feet about a foot away; then, do your push-ups off the wall (with or without a resistance band).


#4: Squats OR Suitcase Lifts



  • Stand with a dumbbell (or household item, like water bottles) in each hand and your feet shoulder-width apart, with your toes pointing slightly out to the side.
  • If you’re using a resistance band, tie both ends of your band onto a straight bar or broom handle, which is placed squarely across your shoulders with the loop of the tied band placed under your feet. 
  • Keep your body weight over the back portion of your foot rather than your toes; if needed, lift your arms out in front of you to shoulder height to balance yourself.
  • Begin squatting down but stop before your thighs are parallel to the floor (at about a 70-degree bend), keeping your back flat and your abdominal muscles firm at all times. 
  • Hold that position for a few seconds before pushing up from your legs until your body is upright in the starting position. 
  • Do squats with your back against a smooth wall if needed to maintain your balance.


Suitcase lift:


  • After placing dumbbells (or household items) slightly forward and between your feet on the floor, stand in an upright position with your back straight. 
  • Keep your arms straight, with your hands in front of your abdomen.
  • With your back straight, bend only your knees and reach down to pick up the dumbbells. 
  • Pick up the dumbbells or items in both hands, then push up with your legs and stand upright, keeping your back straight.

#5: Sit-to-Stand exercise     



  • Sit toward the front of a sturdy chair and fold your arms across your chest.
  • Keep your back and shoulders straight while you lean forward slightly and practice using only your legs to stand up slowly and to sit back down.
  • To assist you initially, place pillows on the chair behind your low back.

From Diabetes Motion Academy Resources, “Basic Core Exercises,” Sheri R. Colberg © 2017.

Sheri R. Colberg, PhD, FACSM, 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), available through Human KineticsAmazon, Barnes & Noble, and elsewhere. She is also the author of Diabetes & Keeping Fit for Dummies. A professor emerita of exercise science from Old Dominion University and an internationally recognized diabetes motion expert, she is the author of 12 books, 30 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.


COVID-19 New Normal in Fitness

The Challenges

We all know Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest. During these COVID times, fitness professionals desperately need to evolve – for our own fiscal survival, a great deal of population health depends on us. 

A study released in June 2020 surveyed 10,824 people worldwide. Results showed 46.67% of gym members said they will not continue their gym membership after COVID. The number of people in the US not continuing membership is over 50%. 

We can encourage people to Zumba on Zoom, online exercise… but let’s have a reality check on what is really going on.

Forbes: “Americans Are Excessively Eating, Drinking, Smoking Pot, Playing Video Games And Watching Porn While Quarantined”

Obesity is associated with a more violent reaction to coronavirus – which is no surprise as fat cells are like millions of little endocrine engines spewing inflammatory factors. Smokers and vapers are at higher risk of serious illness and complications if they get COVID-19.

Everyone knows smoking tobacco, pot-smoking, and vaping affects the lungs. The damage done by smoke makes it easier to get many lung illnesses. People who smoke and vape – even younger people – are at higher risk of more severe illness and complications from COVID-19.

Isn’t it amazing alcohol sales were deemed as an essential service? According to Nielsen, studies show that “alcohol sales were up 55% in the week ending March 21.” Nielsen also found that amount of spirits sold, such as tequila, gin and pre-mixed cocktails, skyrocketed 75% compared to March 2019. Wine sales rose 66%, beer sales popped 42% and online alcohol sales grew by an astounding 243% from last year at this time. 

COVID Calamities

  • eating more junk
  • drinking more alcohol
  • exercising less
  • more stress
  • more TV/Screen time
  • Grand Canyon University Arizona study showed 22% of people surveyed reported weight gain during COVID crisis. That is just of those surveyed, and those who admitted to it! 

Their response to the findings:

“Get the recommended amount of sleep, do not snack after dinner, practice dietary restraint, alter stress coping mechanisms, and maintain an exercise regime.” People know this. They need help implementing these suggestions. 

The Balance of Exercise During COVID-19

If you haven’t read it yet – please refer to my article here on MFN on exercise and chronic inflammation. Reducing chronic inflammation and balancing our immune response is key during this pandemic.

Reducing chronic inflammation and balancing our immune response is key during this pandemic. 

In a number of studies, exercise has an important role in immune balance.

A large study showed that mild to moderate exercise, performed about three times a week, reduced the risk of dying during the Hong Kong flu outbreak in 1998. The Hong Kong study was performed on 24,656 Chinese adults who died during this outbreak. This study showed that people who did no exercise at all, or too much exercise — over five days of exercise per week — were at the greatest risk of dying compared with people who exercised moderately.

It is clear that both too much exercise, overexertion during exercise and exercising while sick increases the risk of medical complications and death. These cause excess production of inflammatory cytokines. In the COVID-19 pandemic, research is showing those who get very ill or succumb to the virus – a massive cytokine storm overwhelms the body. 

Secretory immunoglobulin A, or “sIgA” is an antibody protein used by the immune system to neutralize pathogens, including viruses. sigA has proven to be vital in upper respiratory tract infections. Over-exercising without adequate recovery has been shown to lower sigA, increasing susceptibility to respiratory tract infections. These infections are often what cause severe illness in COVID cases. 

Remember Physical Activity

Of course, physical activity is a necessity to keep all of us healthy. Even if it’s not an “exercise” day – we all must remind people to be vigilant about physical activity. 

Unfortunately “stay at home” was interpreted as sit on the couch and watch TV, or more screen time. 

According to the data from Comcast, the average household is watching TV at least 8 hours more per week. That’s a full workday more. The data shows a 40% increase in viewing during the late-night hours. Comcast says it has seen the largest increases happening between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.

Netflix has added 16 million global customers since the pandemic started. 

Physical activity and moderate exercise are vital to our mental health, physical health & immune function. The immune system has no pump of its own. It depends on our pumping muscles for flow. 

There is no question this pandemic is increasing our stress levels. The psychological stress from feeling isolated, fear of catching the virus, the many unknowns, how long we will live like this, the hysteria.

It is our gift to be able to help people make better choices to deal with their stress levels. 

The increased stress, screen time, changed schedules are all contributing to sleep issues. Sleep is vital to immune balance and the control of inflammatory responses. 

We should encourage more passive exercise closer to bedtime, rather than trying to fall asleep to Netflix. Meditation, deep breathing, Tai Chi, yoga stretches, more passive exercise – incredible for stress reduction and muscle strength. Encourage some Pilates intermittently throughout the day for activity, calorie burn, muscle strength. And of course, walking. Remember there really isn’t a place now for the “no-time whine”. 

With our guidance as fit pros, we truly can make a massive contribution to how we come out of this pandemic. There is a new normal. This COVID crisis could be here for a while. Let’s take this as an opportunity to offer newer more innovative services. And yes – always welcome to contact me to brainstorm. We need to expand our services as health consultants. You are a wealth of information and creativity, and we can help calm the calamities. And please… educate all on wearing a mask!

Shira Litwack has been in chronic care management and prevention for 30 years, specializing in lifestyle habits including holistic nutrition, medical fitness and oxidative stress reduction. She is frequently called upon by the media, has her own podcast bringing current research to the public. She has created and provided oxidative stress assessments, to help clients identify potential health risks. From these, she provides guidance to lower inflammation. Shira is now a product specialist with a major COVID-19 test kit supplier, working with epidemiologists educating people on COVID testing, and setting up and designing protocol for COVID testing clinics


Evolution of the Foot: How the Senses Shape the Foot

Everyone has had flat feet, and probably will again – and that’s normal!

While working in a biomechanics lab, part of my job was to read nearly 500 papers on childhood foot development. In doing so, I learned something extraordinary: we all had flat feet at one time and as we get older, we likely will again. This makes so much sense if you see the foot as a sensory organ and not just a mechanical part of the human machine.

Fat Flat Feet

Most babies have cute, pudgy, fat, flat feet!  As the child grows, the foot develops and an arch becomes more and more evident, keeping pace with the child’s physical abilities. Evolutionarily this makes sense.  Before birth we are water dwellers and do not need a well-developed vestibular system.

Only a few months after birth babies begin learning to roll, then crawl, eventually sit upright, and then “find their feet”. They begin to stand and squat and the vestibular system starts to adapt to gravity. Babies’ fat flat feet give them a broad surface to sense the effects of gravity, which allows the vestibular system to orient and develop.

As balance improves, the foot becomes stronger and the arch develops.  The effect is a decrease in the amount of sensory surface area dedicated to gravity, making baby less structurally stable but providing a biomechanical environment for increased speed and agility.  However, now the individual must rely on a very well developed and active vestibular system, supported by the mobile proprioceptive system of the foot joints.

The twilight of the arch

Understanding how and why the arch develops should then clarify the changes we experience as we grow older. The vestibular system slowly becomes less active and balance becomes more difficult. This leads to a natural decline of arch height as an attempt to increase proprioceptive input, like we needed when we were babies.

Gait tells us so much

The reality is, gait assessment is a window into your clients’ nervous system and, utilized properly, it informs how we help our clients improve, at every stage. Now that you know how the arches and vestibular system relate, help your clients rediscover their feet!

Coach Pat Marques & I will host a live webinar, focusing on gait assessment, for MedFit practitioners and trainers.


Dr. Grove Higgins is a chiropractor, rehabilitationist, soft tissue injury expert, researcher, anatomy instructor, biomechanist, human performance expert, speaker, and corporate health consultant. In 2015, Dr. Higgins cofounded Neuroathlete with Coach Patrick Marques (LTC, US Army Ret.) and Peter Hoversten. Neuroathlete’s goal is to more broadly deliver neurological training to a global audience.

Interesting studies and articles:

Does My Kid Need Arch Support: March 2020: Blog. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.vivobarefoot.com/nz/blog/march-2020/does-my-kid-need-arch-support

Gray, H., Carter, H. V., Pick, P. T., Holden, L., & Keen, W. W. (1887). Anatomy, descriptive and surgical / the drawings by H.V. Carter with additional drawings in later editions edited by T. Pickering Pick ; to which is added Landmarks, medical and surgical by Luther Holden with additions by William W. Keen. Philadelphia: Lea Brothers &.

Li, F., Harmer, P., Wilson, N. L., & Fisher, K. J. (2003). Health Benefits of Cobblestone-Mat Walking: Preliminary Findings. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 11(4), 487-501. doi:10.1123/japa.11.4.487

Rock Walking for Healthful & Graceful Aging. (2018, December 13). Retrieved from https://www.integrativehealthcare.org/mt/walking-on-rocks-benefits/

Tubbs, R. S., Mortazavi, M. M., Loukas, M., Dantoni, A. V., Shoja, M. M., & Cohen-Gadol, A. A. (2011). Cruveilhier plexus: An anatomical study and a potential cause of failed treatments for occipital neuralgia and muscular and facet denervation procedures. Journal of Neurosurgery, 115(5), 929-933. doi:10.3171/2011.5.jns102058