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The Secret To Improving Mental Health With Physical Activity 

When I first entered the field of performance coaching, terms like building resilience, develop focused attention, manage sustainable energy levels and strengthen our emotional intelligence were sought after areas of development not only in elite athletic training; but also, executive development. 

As the demands of life rise for our clients, the best way we can support them is by designing health and fitness routines that combine all the elements of health and performance.  Our clients are seeking our expertise on how to “feel” better physically, mentally and emotionally. And the one tool that links the mind, body and brain is BREATH.



In 2020, COVID-19 changed the world. Businesses closed, social gatherings ceased, isolation grew, and the fear of catching the Corona Virus was on the rise. In fact, for those with compromised immune systems due to chronic autoimmune diseases, the increased stresses of navigating a world full of dangerous contagions has led to an increase in the consumption of medications to battle painful symptoms and lingering flare-ups. Isolation and loneliness have led to an increase in feelings of depression, anxiety, and overall mood, which directly impacts the ability to deal with painful symptoms.


Functional Movement Patterns in Exercise For MS

You’ve heard the terms “functional exercise”, “functional movement” or “functional movement patterns”.   But what do these terms, thrown out there by trainers a lot, actually mean? The term “functional movement patterns” is confusing because it is really not a specific term. Trainers, especially those putting MSers on exercise programs, will usually take you through a program of upper and lower body exercises incorporating compound movements that ask your body to do several things at once. They tell you this is a functional exercise routine and that it’s the best way to help you with your MS limitations. Every exercise is NOT considered a functional one. So what’s the difference?

Adult woman indoor at home smart working using computer

Regaining Physical Fitness in a Post-Pandemic World

Yes, I know we’re still dealing with a life-changing pandemic around the world and especially in most areas of the United States, but it is still worth thinking ahead to what comes next. Despite a current focus on non-gym fitness trends (see an article in Time [1]), it is more than likely that many of us have experienced a change (most often a decrease) in our daily physical activities and, subsequently, in our aerobic and muscular fitness levels. 


Stay Active to Reduce the Risk of Falling: 5 Exercises to Keep You Fit

Did you know that over 33 percent of people older than 65, fall each year? As people age, the risk of falling increases and so does the fear of having a fall-related accident. Part of that fear prevents many from engaging in physical activities.  Rather than avoiding an active lifestyle, there are strategic, smart ways to stay active while decreasing your chances of falling. In this article, we’ll discuss a few fall prevention exercises that can strengthen your body, while improving your coordination and balance.


Launching Soon! Osteoporosis Fitness Specialist Course

I am excited to finally bring you the Osteoporosis Fitness Specialist program. It started about 3 years ago as a presentation on the MedFit Tour in Phoenix. It was then developed into a webinar, then short continuing education product, and now a full 10-hour course! It has been nicknamed Project B.O.N.E. for Beating Osteoporosis with Nutrition and Exercise.

It is a unique course in the fitness world because it is a total turn-key format. It starts in the first module with education on bone anatomy and physiology. It then delves into what osteoporosis and osteopenia are and how our bone mass naturally changes across time. It then goes into some of the mechanisms of how bone adapts to the stresses we put on it as well as the interrelationships between joints, bones and movements and how they can improve or decrease with movement or lack of it.

The second module goes into the role nutrients play on bone health. It is interesting that you can approach this from four different perspectives. First, you can attempt to integrate certain foods into your diet that help you obtain calcium, vitamin D, and other bone-building nutrients. Second, you can try to avoid foods that actually decrease calcium absorption and even the stores in your bone. These are termed calcium-robbing foods.

I have developed 13 short video segments that are entitled “EAT this, NOT that” to help guide people with substituting good food for a “bad food”, or one that potentially depletes calcium. Taking in the right nutrients is key because the exercises that strengthen bones are not able to do their “job” if the nutrients that can build bone are not available. Trying to change the way someone eats is one of the more difficult things in life. By making gradual changes and by substituting one food for another, the transitions become easier, and before you know it you are eating well!

The third module is about how exercise can change your bone health and why it works.  One common misconception is that weightlifting is going to stress your bones more than body weight movements that use ground forces. This is simply not true. The target spots and how to work them are combined into the SHoW ME pneumonic — which informs which body parts to focus on (Spine, Hips, and Wrists) and what exercise modalities to use, with Multiplanar activity and Eccentric contractions being the best for bone-building if the client can handle it. Another pneumonic is the SAFE exercises, which represents Strength, Agility, Flexibility and Equilibrium or balance.

The fourth module is on assessments. This is one of the keys to the innovation of this program. Not only does the assessment encompass personal traits, habits, demographic and activities of daily living, but it has a comprehensive physical assessment which is named the ABCEDEFF battery. The agility, balance (both static and dynamic), coordination, dexterity or deftness, endurance, force or strength in both upper and lower regions, and flexibility in both upper and lower regions are part of this assessment program. The tests are simple to perform and the individual will fall into one of four categories, with some having male and female standards separately. The proper way to perform the assessment tests are demonstrated in videos.

The fifth module is putting it all together meaning you’re using: a) the results of your assessment and b) the client’s intake information, which includes their c) needs, limitations and preferences to combine it into a comprehensive, highly-personalized and effective. Clientas will likely not be at the same level for all the variables tested, so you may have a client who is strong but inflexible or a client that is flexible but weak. You address the weak spots and monitor progress easily.

Why is it so effective? Because the assessment will categorize the client one of four levels. Each exercise has four levels for proper progression or regression. The client is getting the right exercise for them depending on their skills, bone density and any limitations. Exercises are similar in each of the three workout venues — a gym, a park, and at home — but vary with the equipment available and surroundings. Each of these venues has pros and cons and in the current age of COVID, it is important to have alternatives to turn to.

The final module addresses some business aspects. Marketing and promoting your skills and knowledge are what keeps you in business. There must be a balance between the training skills and knowledge as well as how to manage the logistics and getting the word out.

I believe this program will set a new standard in training programs and how to carefully train a client with the knowledge gained from an assessment and thorough intake questionnaire. The disease of osteoporosis is only going to get bigger. With 54 million Americans already with low bone density, the numbers are already huge!

Join the waitlist to be notified when the course is live on MedFit Classroom. You’ll get an exclusive 50% discount when it launches!

Dr. Mark P. Kelly has been involved with the health and fitness field for more than 30 years. He has been a research scientist for universities and many infomercial projects. He has spoken nationally and internationally on a wide variety of topics and currently speaks on the use of exercise for clinical purposes and exercise’s impact on the brain. Mark is a teacher in colleges and universities in Orange County, CA., where Principle-Centered Health- Corporate Wellness & Safety operates.


Menopause Exercise: The Depression or Well-being Determinant?

Wonder if your menopause exercise prescription makes a difference? It turns out your hormone ride during menopause deems exercise more necessary than ever. Your hormones reveal more than your likelihood to store belly fat or hot flash.

Brand new research published in the Menopause Journal says your likelihood of being depressed or feeling positive lies in your physical activity level. The study addressed menopause, movement, and mental well-being.

One of 7 levels of physical activity was assigned to each subject:

  1. I do not move more than is necessary in my daily routines;
  2. I go for casual walks and engage in light outdoor recreation 1 to 2 times a week;
  3. I go for casual walks and engage in light outdoor recreation several times a week;
  4. Once or twice a week, I engage in brisk physical activity(eg, yard work, walking, cycling) that causes some shortness of breath and sweating;
  5. Several times a week (3-5), I engage in brisk physical activity(eg, yard work, walking, cycling) that causes some shortness of breath and sweating;
  6. I exercise several times a week in a way that causes rather strong shortness of breath and sweating during the activity;
  7. I do competitive sports and maintain my fitness through regular training.

Which level describes you?

Based on that you fall into one of these categories:

  • Low (1 to 3)
  • Medium (4 and 5)
  • High activity (6 to 7)

Subjects in the study with the highest level of activity had the lowest incidence of depression and the greatest sense of well-being.

That’s the bottom line.

What’s most interesting is that researchers measured not only self-reports of depression but hormone levels. So the study was both objective and subjective.

Given we’re in a time when positive mood, attitude, optimism are so important to how we get from day to day, this is just one more message to get moving.

There’s More

Menopause has historically been associated with negative feelings about aging and with greater incidence of depression than in younger women or same age men. The proper menopause exercise prescription, however clearly has the ability to change your well-being.

In fact, many women report that this is a time of great life satisfaction.

Menopause Exercise Rx

The high activity level word descriptions used in this study are exact descriptions of the High Intensity Interval Training and strength training to fatigue that are a necessity for women who want to flip 50 feeling not just well, but outright full of energy and vitality during and beyond COVID19.

Often when I talk about the After 50 Fitness Formula for Women, and a critical part of it – “Less Exercise, More Food” inevitably an audience member will comment. She may say something like, “I’m so glad you said women over 50 need less exercise.”

I get nervous with that simple statement. Because like a recent podcast I created about “Moderate Exercise,” that is too open to interpretation.

So let me take some real estate in this post to get clear:

  • You are not a flower.
  • You are not delicate.

You absolutely need to push limits in your workouts – for seconds at a time. That’s true when you’re in good times and when you’re in COVID19.

You need moderate amounts of:

  1. High Intensity exercise that gets you breathless
  2. High Intensity strength training that takes you to muscular fatigue
  3. Fill in with low to moderate exercise that you love

It is #1 and #2 above that have the best opportunity to change your hormones for the better, and in doing so changes your mental well-being, your visceral belly fat, your hot flashes and night sweats, and reverses the effects of 179 genes associated with aging.

Careful Clarification

Advice to do less exercise is often interpreted as advice to do “light” exercise or following a doctor’s vague advice to “walk.” It’s not enough. And walking 3 or 4 miles a day as many women do in an effort to overcome weight or fat gains in menopause only makes matters worse. Greater volume of the same ineffective exercise will not get you better results.

Yes, you want less exercise. Less than you think, and of the right type (of intense exercise).

It’s true that if you’re just beginning you start with habits. We get you hooked and regular first. Yet, yes, you can do interval training when you start. COPD patients and asthma sufferers often do best with intervals. If they can you can. We simply apply a progressive plan for you.

Before you start intervals it may be appropriate for you to “restore before more.” If you’re already exhausted, suffering from mood swings, your first step is to restore yourself with rest, sleep, nutrients and movement, NOT exercise.

Menopause exercise is not a generic prescription for all women in menopause. It should be based on your unique condition now, your current hormone status (assessed by a fitness specialist by your signs & symptoms), and your personal preferences and schedule.

Yet, menopause exercise has the power to make this second half better than the first.

For Fitness Professionals

Gain the information, tools, and resources needed to coach and train this steadily growing population with Debra’s 10-hour online course with MedFit Classroom, Stages of Menopause and Exercise Intervention.

Given the number of women who have not exercised previously, and the current void in proper hormone balancing exercise prescription, there exists numerous, lucrative opportunities for fitness professionals to positively impact the lives and health spans of a great many women still seeking answers.

Reprinted from flipping50.com with permission from Debra Atkinson.

Debra Atkinson is the #youstillgotitgirl who is flipping 50 and changing the way thousands of women think about their second half. She’s the host of the Flipping 50 TV Show and the Flipping 50 podcast. As a master personal trainer, strength and wellness coach with over 30 years fitness industry experience, she works with women who are pro-aging with vitality and energy. She is an international fitness presenter, author of hundreds of articles and multiple books. Visit her website, flippingfifty.com





HR Tactics to Strengthen Remote Employee Morale

How do we strengthen employee morale? In this post, we’ll dive deeper into the key tactics and strategies HR leaders and managers can implement with their workforce to help boost remote employee morale and employee wellness as well as develop a communicative and trusting internal company culture, regardless of where employees are located.

Our 3 ways to strengthen remote employee morale are:

  • Key 1: Employee Recognition, Praise and Appreciation
  • Key 2: Build a Culture of Gratitude in Your Company
  • Key 3: Effective Communication, Connection, and Trust

Let’s dive into the tactics and help you strengthen your remote employee morale today.

#1: Show your appreciation by recognizing and praising employees

Recognition, praise, and appreciation can help your employees feel valued and stay motivated.

Many management guides stress the importance of doling out praise or appreciation – as well as bonuses in compensation. No matter what form your appreciation takes – written, vocal, monetary – it’s been shown to increase productivity and boost morale. Employees are sensitive to the fact that some praise may come off as insincere, so there are some caveats to this key – you can exhibit and develop praise and recognition for your employees’ good work, and build a culture of recognition within your team so the appreciation doesn’t just come from the top down. Employees can show appreciation and gratitude towards their co-workers and team members, which can also have a positive effect on morale and productivity.

You can show you care about your employees by recognizing them and showcasing that gratitude to the broader team. Here at BurnAlong, we close out every week’s team meeting by offering a ‘thank you’ to one or more members of the team. This has stayed part of our weekly agenda for much of our team’s history, and remains a core part of our remote company meetings even when we were no longer located in the same office.

  • When employees feel recognized and appreciated, they are more motivated and encouraged.
  • Leading with a culture of gratitude helps perpetuate the cycle, giving employees the space and encouragement to thank others on the team as part of their daily work.

#2: Build a culture of gratitude at your company

Develop a culture of gratitude in your company to create an internal sense of camaraderie and trust.

Promoting a culture of gratitude really helps engage and motivate employees, especially when aligning them to the organization’s purpose. When we end every week by thanking someone else at the company, the benefits of promoting gratitude across levels of the organization can have far reaching effects. It comes up more during weekly meetings, and often people will thank others directly across messaging platforms as well as during team meetings.

Recently we hosted a webinar for HR leaders. During it Senior People Leader at Google shared this thought about expressing gratitude in the workplace:

“At the leadership level, we have what we call a shared gratitude journal: basically a shared Google doc or Box notes, whatever shared documentation platform you are using to have every leader come in and write down what they’re grateful for. And gratitude actually helps build a lot of resiliency at the individual level. And when we’re doing it at the leadership level, it starts to flow down. So I think that is one thing that is a small thing – It’s easy to do, it doesn’t cost anything – that we’ve done that’s gone a long way that I personally feel like everyone should do.”

#3: Communicate and connect to help build trust

Communication and connection is key to fostering and strengthening employee morale – and is even more important when remote teams are separated by location.

Stay connected with your employees through consistent check-ins and team meetings. Even being virtual, it can take just a few minutes a day to reach out via email, text, or message and see how your team is doing. Opening the lines of communication and keeping them well-used gives your employees a sense of safety. In turn they’ll bring ideas, challenges, and solutions directly to you.

With that in mind, for managers and supervisors it’s also important to recognize that there is a balance between productive levels of communication and collaboration, and allowing people time to get work done on their own. Managers need to have a high level of trust to avoid micromanaging or trying to establish too much control over their employees because they’re worried they are taking advantage of the lack of direct supervision.

You can boost remote employee morale if you lead with recognition and appreciation, develop a culture of gratitude, and balance effective communication across all levels of the organization.

(Bonus) Include benefits that they’ll love

Another great way employers and leaders have been able to strengthen remote employee morale is by offering effective employee benefits.

Employees want to feel like they’re being supported and taken care of by leadership. In office environments, many organizations promoted benefits like free coffee and snacks, an on-site gym or massage therapist, or a game room with pool tables and ping-pong. In the post-COVID world, these in-office perks are less important to employees as benefits like a good 401K plan, solid health insurance for themselves and their dependents, and wellness benefits they can use from anywhere in the world

With millions of people now working from home for the near future, and potentially forever, major organizations are starting to look to remote benefits as viable ways to boost employee morale during this time, and beyond. Employee stress is at an all-time high and as a result, companies are focusing resources on improving employee mental health. As they’re working from home, employees are also spending more time around their family and have additional stresses placed upon them; physically, mentally, as well as emotionally and financially. Companies who identify this and put the right type of employee benefits in place will find they have a stronger, more resilient workforce with a higher level of employee morale.

We’re passionate about helping leading employers boost their employee’s morale, health, and wellness