Hide

Error message here!

Lost your password? Please enter your email address. You will receive a link to create a new password.

Error message here!

Back to log-in

Close
Woman Doing Stretching Exercises In Gym With Trainer

Physical Activity and Menopause

Menopause is bad.

Exercise is good. 

More exercise is the solution!

Is that it?

It’s not quite that simple, although most things you will read will tell you that any form of physical activity is helpful. There is a lot of truth to it. Physical activity at any age is beneficial and for women during mid-life exercising carries additional substantial health benefits. The menopausal transition is associated with many health risk factors such as increased risk for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, decreased bone mineral density, metabolic syndrome, and musculoskeletal symptoms. Exercise prescriptions for those health risks are the same as for non-menopausal women.

However, according to my research, not all forms of physical activity are of equal benefit in helping with menopause symptoms. In fact, some forms of exercise can exacerbate certain types of symptoms such as hot flashes and insomnia.

I believe that it is important to pick the type of exercise depending on your symptoms rather than just exercise to exercise.

So how do you know which exercise is best for you? You start by reading this article! 🙂 To help you find your way through the labyrinth of research that is out there, I’ve consolidated the findings of the last 20 years of research on this topic so you don’t have to.

First I want to highlight the overall benefits of exercising regardless of symptoms…

Exercise Increases:

  • Benefits brain function and functional capacity
  • Increases beta endorphins
  • Quality of Life
  • Strength and balance
  • Increased Bone Mineral Density
  • Increase in quality and length of sleep
  • Maintenance of healthy BMI
  • Self-perceived physical condition
  • Sport competence
  • Body image & physical self-worth

Exercise Decreases:

  • Vasomotor Symptoms
  • Somatic & psychological symptoms
  • Depression (1 exercise session/week = 22% reduction)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Body Mass Index
  • Musculoskeletal symptoms
  • Cardiovascular Disease (50% reduction)
  • Overall mortality (20% reduction)

Exercise has many benefits but can also be stressful on the body.

Too much exercise and/or intensity can:

  • Decrease sleep quality and length, which in turn is correlated with adverse physiological and psychological outcomes
  • Increase circulating cortisol levels, which can lead to increased abdominal fat (read last week’s post for more info on this)
  • Have negative effects on thermoregulation as it causes substantial increases in metabolic heat production and core temperature (during exercise, metabolic heat production can increase by ten to twenty-fold and recent studies suggest that hot flashes are triggered by small elevations in core body temperature)

Moderate intensity appears to have the most benefits…

  • Highest menopause-specific quality of life
  • Lowest number of symptoms
  • Increased sleep, energy, confidence, mood

The following exercise guidelines are specific to helping you with menopause symptoms as well as increased quality of life throughout the menopausal transition. These recommendations do not apply to overall physical health.

Type of Exercise 

  • Endurance/aerobic training best for increased sleep
  • Strength training for body image, strength, body aches
  • Yoga for vasomotor (VMS) symptoms and overall menopause-specific quality of life (Hatha yoga for cognitive function (memory, concentration)
  • Walking at ~3-3.5 mph for anxiety and depression

Duration & Intensity

  • Moderate Intensity (60-70% Target HR)
  • Min. 3 x week (more days = decreased severity of symptoms)
  • Programs lasting at least 12 weeks

Special Considerations

  • Keep body core temperature at comfort level to avoid increases in VMS
  • Focus on activities that are enjoyable to you. Forcing yourself through workout regimens that you dislike can have negative effects on quality of life. I hear too many people say: “I think I should run more” and my question to them is “Why? Do you like running?”. “No, but it’s good for you”. Really? Is it? I don’t believe in doing things just because someone said they’re good, especially in regards to exercise. If you don’t like it, you won’t stick to it. It’s as simple as that. And when it comes to working out, consistency is the key. So find activities that you truly enjoy. Not only will you continue doing them and reap the physical and mental benefits but doing things you love will help you reduce stress and keep off that unwanted meno-pod (if you don’t know what a meno-pod is, you have to read last week’s post).

All information is based on peer-reviewed research. I usually add a reference list of all the articles I read to put together an article but this one would be way too long. If you’re interested in finding out more about specific research articles used for this blog, contact me.

Article reprinted with permission from Dr. Maria Luque.

 


Dr. Maria Luque is a health educator and fitness expert that specializes in helping women take charge of their own wellness. A native of Germany, she pursued a career driven by a passion for health and fitness. Dr. Luque currently teaches at the College of Health Sciences at Trident University International, in addition to conducting workshops, group/personal training, and writing. She’s an IDEA Fitness Expert and has been published in the IDEA Fitness Journal as well as appeared as a guest at local news channel to talk about quality of life and menopause. Visit her website, doctorluque.com

fall-walking

The Mind/Body Connection – Programming For Year Round Success

In the fall of each year, as summer fades from our view, we often find ourselves having to work diligently to “restart” our fitness activities in preparation for the holidays – and the year to come. As the seasons change to shorter days and cooler weather becomes a reality, we have to “re-think” our fitness plans/goals and address the changes that are coming – thoughtfully and carefully – in order to ensure continued growth and results.

Being able to understand the “cycles” of life and how the changing seasons affect us is important in programming your fitness activities for the balance of the year. Success comes when we plan and evaluate again what it is we want to achieve with our fitness activities and then “re-set” our priorities to account not only for the change in the weather – but our lives as well.

I will share with you some tips on how you might maintain your momentum when it comes to fitness programming following the summer months of mostly fun activities that don’t fit the mold of “exercise”. Remembering exercise can be a form of “play” is important when transitioning to the fall and winter months that lie ahead. Let’s be creative and hopefully this article will spark a thought (or two) or maybe an idea that might help you move into the fall and winter months ready to continue challenging yourself – and not just “working out” – or “exercising”.

The Mind/Body Connection

The key to transitions in life – as well as with fitness activities – is the thought that goes into planning the program. Very often, the mind conceives of an idea that captures what it is we REALLY want to get out of our fitness activities but the heart never gets fully engaged in the plan. We THINK our way to a new plan, but do we ever really FEEL our excitement about the plan (and its possibilities) as well? This question relates to having exercise BE FUN so that you return to it again and again.

I connect my mind (thoughts) to my heart (feelings) every day when I go into my “quiet time” – visualizing and then appreciating the training I have planned for the day. What is missing in my opinion – and the most common reason people quit on their fitness activities – is that they never connect the mind – which conceives the plan – to the heart – which “experiences” the plan. If you love what you are doing – you will do it for life – just as I have done with my running program over the past 52 years.

A Note of Caution

Technology is killing physical activity and squeezing out the present moment. I see this every day at my gym: people mindlessly peddling on a stationary bike, watching TV, looking at their phones and completely disregarding the activity – and the moment. No wonder people are bored – and quit – they are not present and have no way of knowing if what they are doing is in any way fun – or useful to their purpose (if they have one in mind at all). Smart phones DO NOT need to be in the gym or constantly with us. Taking a break while we exercise is a GOOD thing. This is a time for you to enjoy and promote your own well being. Let’s release the stresses of life for even a few minutes – and learn something new about ourselves in the process!

What Should You Do?

You should connect your mind to your body BEFORE starting your training session so that you can enjoy what you have chosen to do. This inexactly what I do. This way, I first “see” with my mind’s eye and then experience it in my imagination before I even get to the gym to train. When the “hard” days come – and they will – (especially when you have been away from planned fitness activities for a while), you need your heart and mind to communicate regularly with each other to ensure success with your plan.

When I say everything in life starts with a thought and gets carried out into the world through the feeling side of our nature, I am saying that life is constantly communicating through our senses – thought, feelings, and intuition. With thoughts and feelings working together in harmony, you will not have to make excuses or have any regrets later because you are totally committed to your purpose. This is true personal power.

In order to be successful in executing your plan you must engage your WHOLE being in order to maximize your results. This is HOW you get through the fall and winter months – by preparing in advance with purpose – and setting goals you really want to achieve. In enjoying the journey – and learning more about yourself in the process –  you can rest in the knowledge that your life works! This sounds pretty great to me!

Adherence

The issue of adherence is being answered today through technological advances that help you track your progress and also assist you in managing your behavior. By this I mean there are innumerable devices on the market that will tell you how well you have done, whether you have met your goals and also show you what you can do to improve your results. The problem as I see it is that you are still accountable and responsible for your results regardless of how much you use technology to keep you “on track”. How much fun is that?

I solved the problem of adherence early in my life by falling in love with being active as a child and then finding new ways to engage my body – and mind – as I got older. I later came to believe in recording my sessions in writing and this behavior allowed me to learn even more about my own capabilities – and potential – in the process. I found a method for staying on track naturally that worked for me and today I have complete running records dating back to 1979. I know what I have done, what I am capable of doing – and am able to set goals going forward that are based upon my results from my past and current work.

Looking back through my running records I can learn a great deal about my current capabilities based upon the goals I have accomplished. This knowledge gives me the opportunity to set my course for the coming year – and define what I want to achieve going forward. (Run a 6 minute mile on my 80th birthday for example?) It is in the process of envisioning your goals – and experiencing the results before they occur (in your mind) – that you will succeed – enabling and empowering yourself as you move toward success. Remember that everything in life – as well as fitness programming – starts in your imagination first and then gets revealed in the “real” world through your choices and activities.

Always start with what you enjoy doing most and then add additional activities as you go. Change is inevitable and if you embrace it willingly – and allow yourself the opportunity to make new choices – you will grow in confidence and commitment to your purpose. If what you are doing seems natural and fun to you – keep going and enjoy it! If not, make minor adjustments at first – and then if necessary – more significant changes later. Nothing ventured, nothing gained is the rule here.

Activities, lots of choices

The internet has many options and “meet ups” are a good way to go. There are groups for running, cycling, walking, hiking, swimming, sports related activities such as volleyball and handball or racquetball – and any interest you can imagine. Meet ups are pretty much everywhere and if not you can start your own meet up group right where you are – from workplace relationships to volunteer activities to church activities – whatever suits you.

If you find people who have a common interest in what you would like to do, the group will “keep you on track” while you share, learn and build new friendships as you accomplish your goals together. Team sports – which is another way to go – (softball, basketball, etc.) can also keep you motivated and interested in your physical wellbeing by holding you accountable to a group that needs you to participate to be successful (bowling, swimming meets, road races etc…) Going through the “tough” months on your own can be challenging, so finding support with other people who care as you do is always a great strategy.

The gym setting can be challenging because you are on your own most of the time (unless you hire a trainer). The times where you can interact with others and form mutually supportive bonds with other like-minded individuals is through group exercise programs (there are many options) such as aerobic or yoga classes. Each method has value and both can be lots of fun while you learn what suits you as an individual. These and other group activities are very popular because they bring people together – enabling you to learn and share your journey together (yoga classes are particularly powerful in this way).

In the summer of 1982 when I joined Nautilus Plus after my wife left me, I went to as many as five aerobic classes a week because they were fun, challenging, and the music and moves helped me forget my pain for a while. I eventually went back to running but I never forgot the great help I received by participating in those classes. The instructors were young, enthusiastic, talented and absolutely LOVED teaching the classes. All in all it was a very positive and supportive experience that helped me get through a rough summer of questioning and uncertainty.

Final Thoughts

  • Think of the change in the seasons and the advancing winter months as an opportunity for personal and physical growth. Don’t think along the lines: “I have to get back to exercise”. Think about the opportunity to balance out your life – and help your body in the process.
  • Do commit your best effort to planning – and “feeling” – your desires and hopes for your fitness goals.
  • BE PRESENT while doing your fitness activities
  • Let others be a part of your plan. Include anyone who wishes to succeed with you.
  • Define your activities around things you enjoy doing and continue to expand your thinking to include new and possibly exciting activities you can do by yourself – or with others if you so choose.
  • Meet ups are a great way to engage other people with you as you work toward your goals. Shared goals always have a better chance for success.
  • Remember burning calories should be FUN! Program fun into your goal setting
  • Finally, DO NOT be afraid to change your mind about your goals – or your activities. There is NEVER one right answer for a particular challenge. There are always many possibilities. Take time to consider as many options as you can and then pick one – and KEEP ON MOVING!

Originally posted on healthynewage.com. Reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop. 


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach, a fitness professional with over 25 years of experience whose passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

brain-neurons

Parkinson’s Disease and Exercise

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer disease.  Unfortunately, the incidence of Parkinson’s disease has not declined, and its impact is seen in all races.  This is due in part to the fact that the population of the world is greater than ever before and increasing. In addition, people are living longer than in previous generations, and the baby boomer generation, one of the largest generations in history, has reached old age.

Risk factors for Parkinson’s disease include:

Age: Risk of Parkinson’s disease increases with age.  The average age of onset for this disease is 55 years and the rate of incidence increases steadily until the age of 90.

Gender: Men have a higher risk for Parkinson’s disease than women.

Family history: Individuals with a family history of Parkinson’s disease are at a higher risk for Parkinson’s disease. Moreover, it is said that those with affected first-degree relatives double their risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Agricultural work: Individuals exposed to pesticides and herbicides have a greater risk of developing Parkinson’s disease symptoms. Drinking well-water and living in rural areas have also been associated with an increased incidence of Parkinson’s disease.

Head Trauma: Head trauma can be a risk factor for Parkinson’s disease as is seen in the case of boxers. One study showed that trauma to the upper cervical region, head, and neck was a risk factor for Parkinson’s disease. However, in some cases it took years for these symptoms to appear.

The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown.  Regarding the molecular events that lead to the development of this disease, there is still some uncertainty in terms of what causes the neurodegeneration seen in Parkinson’s disease. The current hypothesis is that Parkinson’s disease may result from the interaction between environmental factors and genetic susceptibility.

The primary symptoms for PD are deficiencies in motor performance due to the loss of the dopamine pathways in the brain. Decreased dopamine production in the substantia nigra in the brain causes the 4 primary motor symptoms:

  • Bradykinesia: described as slowness in the execution of movements while performing daily activities.
  • Rigidity or Stiffness: caused by an involuntary increase in tone of the limbs and axial musculature.
  • Resting Tremor: Found primarily in the arms and hands and can be socially bothersome. Resting tremors are less disabling since they often vanish with the initiation of activity (especially in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease).
  • Postural Instability: manifested in a slow speed of walking, shortened stride length, narrowing of base of support, and leaning towards one side.

Exercise should be targeted for the primary motor symptoms with exercise and occupational therapy to improve quality of life. Recommended program components include:

  • Posture, gait, mobility
  • Fall risk reduction
  • Cardiorespiratory health
  • Strength and function
  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Joint health

Exercise prescription for clients with PD includes: (ACSM)

  • An individualized program
  • Cardiorespiratory: use guidelines for healthy adults
  • Muscular Fitness: use guidelines for healthy adults
  • Flexibility: slow, static exercises for all major and minor joints in the body including the upper torso, spine, and neck.
  • Neuromotor Exercises: help with balance, gait, and postural instability. Clinicians use a gait belt or parallel bars to ensure safety depending on the severity of the symptoms.  Include functional exercises to improve ADLs and quality of life.

PD exercise therapy includes intervention with many kinds of exercise modes. Both personal training and group fitness have been successful in helping to manage the disease and reduce the symptoms. There is not strong evidence at this point to show that exercise prevents PD, but it is believed that exercise may play a role.  Exercise is however the mainstay for symptom management and slowing disease development.

Want more on this topic? Register for June’s upcoming webinar:


June M. Chewning BS, MA has been in the fitness industry since 1978 serving as a physical education teacher, group fitness instructor, personal trainer, gym owner, master trainer, adjunct college professor, curriculum formatter and developer, and education consultant. She is the education specialist at Fitness Learning Systems, a continuing education company.

References and Resources:

holidays-xmas

Surviving the Holiday Season

The hardest time of year for weight management is from Halloween until Valentine’s Day – temptations are everywhere from home to the workplace and everywhere else you go, people wear more clothes and are more covered up because of the weather, and people tend to exercise less because they are stressed, exhausted, it is cold, and they have very little time. Here are some tips to manage weight during the holiday season:

Plan ahead

  • Eat something before you go out so that you are not inclined to eat everything or anything in sight.
  • Stock your home, office, and/or car with healthy snacks such as fruit in your home, almonds in your office, and a nutrition bar in your car.
  • Plan on making healthy choices for your meals such as mustard instead of mayonnaise or light Italian rather than ranch dressing.

Manage stress

  • Make a list of stress relieving activities that do not include food or eating such as getting a massage, exercising, listening to music, or talking on the phone.

Party responsibly

  • If you are attending a pot-luck party, bring something healthy so you know there will be at least one healthy choice at the party.
  • Eat small portions of your favorite sweets at parties.
  • Try to fill your plate with mostly fruits and veggies at parties.
  • If you want to try new dishes, only take a taster size portion so that you are not tempted to eat more than you should. Then go back and get more of what you like if you are still hungry.
  • Drink a glass of water after each glass of soda or alcoholic beverage in order to cut beverage calories in half.
  • Focus on socializing with other guests rather than eating the food available.

Keep moving

  • If you know you will not have time to exercise, try to fit other small activities into your day such as parking farther away, taking the stairs, and putting the shopping cart away instead of putting it to the side.
  • If you have a stationary bicycle or a treadmill that you haven’t used for a while, take it out and put it in front of the TV, so you can watch TV when you work out.
  • Take a walk alone or with your spouse, kids, or other family and friends after dinner.

Kristy Richardson is a dietitian and exercise physiologist, specializing in sports nutrition and weight management, She is the founder of OC Nutrition and also works as a nutrition professor at Fullerton College.

References

Cleveland Clinic. (2009). 8 Steps to Surviving the Holiday Weight Gain. Retrieved December 22, 2009 from: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/prevention/nutrition/holidayeating12_01.aspx

Zamora, Dulce. (2007). Holiday weight management; Surviving the Feasting Season. Retrieved December 22, 2009 from: http://www.medicinenet.com/holiday_weight_management/article.html

Seniors using exercise ball and weights

How the Human Body Changes As It Ages

The human body undergoes a lot of changes during its lifetime. From infancy to old age, there are biochemical processes in the body that define these changes.

Some of them are visible externally, such as the greying of hair, skin becoming less supple, etc.

But beneath all of this, some processes happen to make all of this possible.

Metabolic Changes

Metabolism is defined as the chemical reactions that occur to keep the body functional.

Although metabolism does decrease during old age, this effect can be slowed down by exercising and staying fit.

Metabolism is influenced by four major factors:

  • Resting Metabolic Rate – This is the number of calories that you burn while you’re in a state of rest. This is the least amount of energy that you need to keep functioning.
  • Thermic Effect of Food – This is the number of calories that you burn by digesting and absorbing food.
  • Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis – The number of calories that you burn by small actions that are not defined as an exercise. Ex: Casual walking, washing dishes, etc.
  • Exercise – This is the number of calories that you burn through active exercise.

Through active exercise, you can sustain your metabolism while aging. This does not prevent it, but delays the onset and reduces the impact.

Genetic Changes During Aging

Throughout a person’s lifetime, their cells are exposed to harmful environments, continuously damaging them. This reduces the body’s capacity to heal from injury and regrow dead cells. This damage to the cells also damages the DNA.

While DNA can replicate, it’s not infinite.

It’s limited by Telomeres.

Telomeres are protein complexes that cap the end of linear DNA strands. During replication of DNA strands, Telomeres do not replicate. Instead, they stretch themselves out between the newly created strands. Because of this, there are a limited number of times that DNA can replicate.

It’s been observed that there’s a direct correlation between the shortening of telomeres and the production of somatic stem cells throughout the course of aging. This shortening of telomeres is what causes a large number of age-related diseases in humans.[1]

Hormonal Changes During Aging

Hormones cause significant changes while the human body ages.

Before adulthood, there’s a substantial increase in the production of the growth hormone in the human body.

After attaining adulthood, the production of this hormone is reduced and ultimately declines as the person grows older.

Tropic hormones rise during puberty.  This hormone increases the production of sex steroids and growth hormones. It’s been observed that the decline of Growth Hormone reduces by 15% for every ten years in adulthood.[2]

Sleep is also a factor in hormonal changes during aging.[3]

Without adequate sleep, hormonal imbalances have been known to occur, when compared to individuals who get a proper amount of sleep regularly.

In men, it’s been found that there is a significant reduction in the production of testosterone as they age.

This commonly happens during Andropause. This reduction in testosterone is attributed to the loss of libido, depression, the decline in cognitive ability, and loss of muscle mass and strength.

This can be slowed to an extent through an active exercise to maintain muscle mass. But it’s not entirely preventable.

The reason for this reduction in the production of testosterone is because of the reduced hypothalamic secretion in the pituitary gland.[4] Although this can be treated with Androgen replacement therapy, it is usually only reserved for those with an abnormal change in their testosterone levels.

In women, the balance of hormones changes during menopause. Common symptoms of menopause include “hot flashes,” mood swings, and problems with sleeping.

Menopause typically happens to women in their mid-forties. Their bodies start making less of the female sex hormone, Estrogen. Because of this, their menstrual cycles slow down, become less regular, and eventually stop altogether. This signifies the end of the woman’s fertility.

When a woman has her last period that is when her menopause begins. In addition to the end of menstrual cycles, the walls of her vagina will also dry up and thin.[5]

Both Andropause and menopause cannot be completely stopped, but the loss of hormones can be reduced with hormone replacement therapy. This is done by artificially injecting hormones like estrogen and testosterone into the person’s body.

Exercise can lessen the impact of this to an extent, but it is not entirely preventable. It’s a natural cycle that happens to everyone.

Slowing Down the Effects of Aging

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to prevent the effects of aging. It’s a natural process that cannot be stopped. But it can be reduced to a great extent with controllable factors.

But for most people, a healthy and balanced diet with proper exercise can keep the effects of aging from impacting them too adversely. You can follow this at any age, and it isn’t restricted to only those that are beginning to feel the signs of aging.

Loss of muscle mass is a significant aspect of aging, and continuous exercise can help keep muscles from degenerating from loss of testosterone. A proper protein diet also helps, since this ensures that there’s an adequate supply of protein for the human body to repair damaged cells. [6]

Talk to your doctor about a proper exercise regimen for you to arrive on a schedule that is suited to your requirements.

Maintaining this should help prolong your lifespan while minimizing the adverse effects of aging.


Jill Roberts, is an owner and editor of Wellness Geeky Health & Wellness Publication. She and her team dedicated to provide readers and clients with most reliable Health information. She holds Master’s Degree in Molecular Biology and PHD in Epidemiology and Clinical Research. She also worked as an editors for European Medical publication (European Medical Journal) for 7 years.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3295054/#b9-ad-2-3-186
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279163/
  3. https://www.wellnessgeeky.com/3-tips-to-get-more-sleep-and-reduce-stress/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1502317/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072495/
  6. https://www.wellnessgeeky.com/arbonne-protein-shakes-powder-reviews/
seniors-exercising

Healthy Aging: A Paradigm Shift to Prevention

In a previous article about A Paradigm Shift to Personal Responsibility, I set up the premise that the healthcare system is technologically driven and derives its results through partnerships with the insurance industry, government, pharmaceutical industry, medical profession and the hospitals that deliver services to patients.

Given the complexity of the system, patients have have to learn to navigate it to get the proper guidance, access and information from the right people at the right time for the right results. Moreover, the system is laden with traps in the form of its many “hidden” extra costs which means that going down the wrong route can turn into an expensive mistakes. Therefore, I believe that people need to become educated on the value of prevention by living a life that represents the core values of “wellness” and all that this word has come to mean over the past two decades.

A Definition of Wellness

In 1993, I prepared a presentation for the Association of Human Resource Professionals entitled “Improving Health in The Workplace”. I designed it as a proposal to encourage corporate managers to see the value and importance of prevention through the eyes of the employee in partnership with the company. My intention was to develop a “win-win” model whereby the company enhanced employees’ lives by investing in programs that would help create a “workplace health consciousness”. This would assist people in making healthier choices thereby improving productivity and performance. The company would benefit in the form of fewer days of work missed and the cost of healthcare would decline as well.

Needless to say, the presentation did not net me any new corporate clients but it did yield a couple of wonderful personal training clients. My thought process was focused on personal health and fitness services delivered on site, but being a single fitness provider the idea was probably too impractical to pursue. My presentation focused on the individual and its takeaway messages was:

We are what we eat, we are what we think, we are what we do, we are what we feel, and finally we are what we believe.

My idea was that if we become healthy in our thinking and expression first, then our bodies will follow suit: our new thought patterns will foster the adoption of new attitudes and behaviors. This model is just as true today as it was back in 1993 because wellness is not fitness – it is a consciousness of health that is ingrained in what we value most about our life and what that means to us.

The Values of Wellness and Prevention

I think it only fair to share with you my vision statement because it goes to the heart of why I am a proponent of healthy aging and believe prevention comes from “within” us as we focus on our choices while living in the present.

Healthy aging is a consciousness issue. It is not merely the death of our cells but is a complex and dynamic process that is grounded in CHANGE as life unfolds for each of us. The challenge, as I see it, is in discovering the potential that lies within us to become all we were meant to be – mentally, physically, and spiritually. This potential can carry us to living a life of fulfillment, peace, and prosperity if we remain PRESENT during each moment of our life – living consciously. Learning about who we are from the “inside-out” while acting upon our choices in the present, enables and empowers us to live a life of great accomplishment. This is my vision of a world that is possible.

I see now that what I envisioned for healthy aging will disappear in the world of the iPhone and other technologies if we do not become active players in the awareness of our own body and other sources that can control our thoughts and other processes. The goal of prevention is to “catch” the stressors BEFORE they create “dis-ease” in the body causing chronic conditions such as cancer. The problem is that the tests and the other “preventative” measures being used today only catch problems AFTER they have started to take hold in our bodies.

The Power of Five

1. The Power of Thought: Thinking is life. What we think we become. Everything in life evolves from thought. From this power comes our imagination, affirmations and ability to visualize outcomes. Dreams come from our thoughts. Disneyland was once a thought in Walt Disney’s mind. If we are staring at our phones over 200 times a day (which has been tested), we are missing out on our life and the changes that are occurring right before our eyes.

2. The Power of Change: “Change is the only constant in the natural order” as one of my favorite teachers taught me back in 1982. How we deal with change and address the challenges that change brings, plays a key role in whether we can go with the flow – or remain stuck where we are. Comfort zones keep us trapped in the place where change becomes almost impossible to embrace, but if we learn to let go of the past and embrace who we are in the present, life becomes so much more rewarding. “Go with the flow” is the best advice I can give when dealing with ALL change – it makes life so much easier and rewarding.

3. The Power of Choice: Choice is the real point of power in life. We “choose” every day of our life: whether we to go to work, go to the store, play with our kids or plan our futures. The point of making choices in the present is to create what you want from your life – and in your life. If you choose your health you will become active without excuses. You will eat well. You will entertain uplifting and loving thoughts. You will express yourself gently to those you love. You will not demand but forgive. You will value your every experience and be grateful for your gifts. This is to choose life in all its wonder and potential happiness.

4. The Power of Belief: Believing in yourself is always the place to begin. Believing in your potential to accomplish great things and to make a difference in the world takes work but it is possible with proper reflection and thought. “If you can conceive and believe, you can achieve”. This is true in all areas of life. Take responsibility for your beliefs and if they need to be altered or replaced – do so. Don’t wait until you are sick and tired and finally unable to believe at all in something more than your own life. Affirmations, meditation and reflection in quiet moments are ways to check in on your current beliefs. If you believe in yourself, anything is possible.

5. The Power of Consciousness: “The mind of man is unlimited in its potential and responds to specific demands made upon it”. This is another statement of belief I hold. I believe in opening my mind to new ideas and thoughts. I can create new and exciting ideas and some of these become realities in the world. This very piece of writing was an idea that is now materialised in the world to inspire others. My consciousness is one of hope and faith that I am being guided to create programs that will help people of all ages grow in consciousness so that they too can benefit from the ideas that others shared with me over the past 40 years.

Living in the present is challenging given the world we live in and all the demands that are placed upon us. We are on call 24/7 if we choose to let ourselves be taken in that direction. I refuse to let myself get taken into the world as Steve Jobs envisioned it. His world is not my world. I believe in the freedom to create my life by making the choices that are appropriate for me at any given time. Make your choices consciously and respond to your life and the changes it brings you by not resisting them. Be open and receptive to them. Thinking is the key. Think “through” your life. Do NOT react to outside pressures. Only then you will be able to enjoy the journey. This is true prevention.

Originally printed on HealthyNewAge.com. Reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop.


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach, a fitness professional with over 25 years of experience whose passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

If you need help in designing a fitness plan, you can contact Nicholas Prukop via email at runningnick@sbcglobal.net or read his inspiring book Healthy Aging & YOU

Senior Man On Cross Trainer In Gym

Exercise and Cardiovascular Disease

Regular exercise has a favorable effect on many of the established risk factors for cardiovascular disease. For example, exercise promotes weight reduction and can help reduce blood pressure. Exercise can reduce “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood (the low-density lipoprotein [LDL] level), as well as total cholesterol, and can raise the “good” cholesterol (the high-density lipoprotein level [HDL]). In diabetic patients, regular activity favorably affects the body’s ability to use insulin to control glucose levels in the blood. Although the effect of an exercise program on any single risk factor may generally be small, the effect of continued, moderate exercise on overall cardiovascular risk, when combined with other lifestyle modifications (such as proper nutrition, smoking cessation, and medication use), can be dramatic.

Benefits of Regular Exercise

  • Increase in aerobic capacity
  • Decrease in blood pressure at rest
  • Decrease in blood pressure while exercising
  • Reduction in weight and body fat
  • Reduction in total cholesterol
  • Reduction in LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Increase in HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Increased insulin sensitivity (lower blood glucose)
  • Improved self-esteem

Physiological Effects of Exercise

There are a number of physiological benefits of exercise. Regular aerobic exercise causes improvements in muscular function and strength and improvement in the body’s ability to take in and use oxygen (maximal oxygen consumption or aerobic capacity). As one’s ability to transport and use oxygen improves, regular daily activities can be performed with less fatigue. This is particularly important for patients with cardiovascular disease, whose exercise capacity is typically lower than that of healthy individuals. There is also evidence that exercise training improves the capacity of the blood vessels to dilate in response to exercise or hormones, consistent with better vascular wall function and an improved ability to provide oxygen to the muscles during exercise. Studies measuring muscular strength and flexibility before and after exercise programs suggest that there are improvements in bone health and ability to perform daily activities, as well as a lower likelihood of developing back pain and of disability, particularly in older age groups.

Patients with newly diagnosed heart disease who participate in an exercise program report an earlier return to work and improvements in other measures of quality of life, such as more self-confidence, lower stress, and less anxiety. Importantly, by combining controlled studies, researchers have found that for heart attack patients who participated in a formal exercise program, the death rate is reduced by 20% to 25%. This is strong evidence in support of physical activity for patients with heart disease.

How Much Exercise is Enough?

Unfortunately, most Americans do not meet the minimum recommended guidelines for daily exercise. In 1996, the release of the Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health provided a springboard for the largest government effort to date to promote physical activity among Americans. This redefined exercise as a key component to health promotion and disease prevention, and on the basis of this report, the Federal government mounted a multi-year educational campaign. The Surgeon General’s Report, a joint CDC/ACSM consensus statement, and a National Institutes of Health report agreed that the benefits mentioned above will generally occur by engaging in at least 30 minutes of modest activity on most, if not all, days of the week. Modest activity is defined as any activity that is similar in intensity to brisk walking at a rate of about 3 to 4 miles per hour.

These activities can include any other form of occupational or recreational activity that is dynamic in nature and of similar intensity, such as cycling, yard work, and swimming. This amount of exercise equates to approximately five to seven 30-minute sessions per week at an intensity equivalent to 3 to 6 METs (multiples of the resting metabolic rate*), or approximately 600 to 1200 calories expended per week.

How Can a Personal Trainer Help?

If you have cardiovascular disease or are at risk for developing disease, you may be apprehensive at starting an exercise program. You may have questions such as:

  • Is exercise safe for me?
  • How long should I exercise?
  • How frequently should I exercise?
  • Do I stretch before or after exercise?
  • Can I do strength training and lift weights?
  • How do I know if I’m exercising at the right intensity?
  •  What if I develop symptoms such as dizziness, light-headedness, or nausea?

A personal trainer or exercise professional can answer all of these questions for you and establish a well-rounded exercise program that is safe and effective.

A personal trainer will tell you what types of aerobic exercise are most appropriate for you and devise an exercise program tailored towards your needs. This will include guidelines for frequency (how many times per week), intensity (how hard you should exercise), and duration (how long each exercise session should last). A well-designed exercise routine will start with a warm-up that includes dynamic movements designed to raise the heart rate, increase core temperature, mobilize the major joints in the body, and prepare the body for more intense exercise. Warm-up can be followed by either aerobic exercise or weight training. Your trainer can monitor your heart rate and blood pressure during both activities to make sure you are exercising at the proper intensity. If heart rate and blood pressure get too high, your trainer will have you decrease the intensity of exercise or stop. If you develop any symptoms while exercising, your trainer will be right there to advise you and check your vital signs. Weight training is very safe as long as it is performed with proper supervision. Your trainer will recommend the most appropriate exercises for you to do and emphasize proper breathing and technique. Under the guidance of an exercise professional, you can help to improve aerobic capacity, decrease blood pressure and cholesterol, improve good cholesterol, lower blood glucose, improve muscular strength, increase joint range of motion, and lower weight and body fat. All of these will result in a lower risk for developing cardiovascular disease or if you already have disease, it will decrease the chances of subsequent cardiovascular events. Most importantly, working with an exercise professional will extend your lifespan and greatly improve the quality of your life.

If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, join Eric Lemkin for his upcoming webinar, Essentials of Cardiovascular Disease and Exercise.


Eric Lemkin is a certified personal trainer, strength & conditioning specialist, corrective exercise specialist and founder of Functionally Active Fitness. Lemkin has been a certified personal trainer for 17 years and has helped people ages 8-80 reach their fitness goals through customized personal training – specializing in exercise for the elderly or handicapped. 

References

Kochanek KD, Xu JQ, Murphy SL, Miniño AM, Kung HC. Deaths: final data for 2009 [PDF-2M]. National vital statistics reports. 2011;60(3).

Roger VL, Go AS, Lloyd-Jones DM, Benjamin EJ, Berry JD, Borden WB, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2012 update: a report from the American Heart Association . Circulation. 2012;125(1):e2–220.

Heron M. Deaths: Leading causes for 2008 [PDF-2.7M]. National vital statistics reports. 2012;60(6).

Heidenriech PA, Trogdon JG, Khavjou OA, Butler J, Dracup K, Ezekowitz MD, et al. Forecasting the future of cardiovascular disease in the United States: a policy statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2011;123(8):933–44.

CDC. Million Hearts™: strategies to reduce the prevalence of leading cardiovascular disease risk factors. United States, 2011. MMWR 2011;60(36):1248–51.

Stress Management Exercise Programming

As fitness professionals, we know that exercise helps our clients to cope with stress. We are told that any type of exercise will help them to reduce stress levels. The problem with this way of thinking is that we do not look at stress from the same point of view as a chronic illness. In turn, you could be putting your clients at risk of developing illness’s. We know that stress can wreak havoc on the body but what can we do as fitness professionals?

When we have clients diagnosed with diabetes, cancer and heart disease, for example, we follow a certain protocol or guideline. Not everyone is the same so you may have to deviate and think outside the box. Why should there be a difference with stress management exercise programming? There are specific guidelines that you should be following.

Many fitness professionals take into consideration the mental piece of stress but not what is actually going on inside the body as a direct correlation. Or fitness professionals may think that the client is better because they feel less stressed mentally after their session. When we do any type of exercise, endorphins will be released throughout the body. This will make you feel better mentally but it is a quick fix for what is really going on inside.

If a client is highly stressed and you have them do an intense workout they may become physically worse. Exercise is a stressor on the body itself and will increase cortisol levels. This  in turn, can make blood sugars and blood pressure higher. If someone does not have either of these conditions it could become their new norm over time. When pushed to hard, a client may develop conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease earlier due to high cortisol levels.

We need to look at stress management from a physiological standpoint when prescribing exercise. Many fitness professionals do not make this important connection during their sessions. We may advise clients to do meditation, yoga and exercise as a “one size fits all approach” Our clients’ bodies are different and therefore need a customized exercise and health education plan. If you have a client who cannot lose weight when exercising and eating properly have them see their doctor. The Physician may want their patient to take a cortisol level test to make sure their body is functioning normally.

Fitness professionals should follow the FITT Principle for stress when working with this population. Knowing the appropriate frequency, intensity, time and type of exercise is very important. You must assess your client and know their stress levels before you can customize a program. It is also important to look at their health history and what medications they are taking.

One way of effectively training clients is by using the Aria Method™. Open and flowing movements are important for training individuals who are stressed. Posture and stress play an integral part of movement and should be taken into consideration. For instance, Stress can make people hunch over or adapt to a kyphotic posture. By opening the chest and strengthening the muscles you are correcting this motion. Take a moment and really look at your clients before deciding how to train them.

Educating clients about stress and healthy coping techniques is also important and can make a big difference. It may be hard for some individuals to make positive lifestyle changes. Remember to praise clients for any changes they make no matter how small.


Robyn Caruso is the Founder of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals. She has 18 years of experience in medical based fitness.

References: