Our first Qigong class, taught by Regina Wolgel, was held on Wednesday, March 21. I was curious to see what this class was like, so I joined the group of five. I now know that Qigong is all about breathing and movement.  By focusing on breathing while doing simple movements, you increase oxygen intake and delivery to the body; so circulation and muscle activation is improved as well. I felt energized after the 45-minute class and look forward to the next class. We have room for a few more participants.

Zumba classes have not yet begun, as we do not yet have enough participants registered.  This is a remarkable class as taught by Lisa Wolf.  Zumba  is a fun aerobic workout and Lisa makes it easy to learn the movements.  What makes Zumba fun, however, is the lively music, and the fact that it doesn’t matter if you keep up or not; everyone just moves in their own way and has a good time doing it. If you have never tried it, now is the time!  We have three people registered for a Saturday 8:30am class; we need 3 more.

OVEREATING MAY DOUBLE RISK OF MEMORY LOSS (from National Council on Strength and Fitness, March 2012)

Research has indicated that the number of calories one consumes is linked to lifespan and those who consume conservative amounts of food often enjoy a longer life. To add to the notion that less is better, new research from the American Academy of Neurology suggests that consuming more than 2,100 calories per day may double the risk of memory loss, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in later age. MCI is the stage between normal memory loss that comes with aging and early Alzheimer’s disease. The study is slated will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 64th Annual Meeting in New Orleans April 21-28, 2012.

“We observed a dose-response pattern which simply means: the higher the amount of calories consumed each day, the higher the risk of MCI,” said study author Yonas E. Geda, MD, MSc, with the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. This likely explains, at least part of, the probable link between the increase risk seen with Alzheimer’s disease and obesity. In the study 1,233 people free of dementia, between the ages of 70 and 89, were evaluated for MCI. Of the total sample 13% (163) had MCI. Participants were divided into three equal groups based on their daily caloric consumption. Each person completed a food questionnaire requiring them to report the amount of calories they consumed from food or drink per day. One-third of the participants consumed between 600 and 1,526 calories per day, one-third between 1,526 and 2,143 and one-third consumed between 2,143 and 6,000 calories per day. Interestingly, the odds of having MCI more than doubled for those in the highest calorie-consuming group compared to those in the lowest calorie-consuming group. The results were the same after adjusting for history of stroke, diabetes, amount of education, and other factors that can affect risk of memory loss. There was no significant difference in risk for the middle group.

According to Geda “Cutting calories and eating foods that make up a healthy diet may be a simpler way to prevent memory loss as we age.” While more research is necessary there seems to be an interesting trend in the amount of stress the body contends with on a daily and longevity. While moderation has been preached since Hippocrates, the concept seems to be more relevant than ever in today’s society. While lower caloric intake promotes smaller size, another common trait in the very old, the reduced stress of proper weight may also prevent many of the other common Western culture disorders.


If you are afraid to exercise because of mild high blood pressure, a Johns Hopkins study may you’re your concerns. Research results on 104 men and women ages 55–75 showed that a moderate program of physical exertion had no ill effects on the heart’s ability to pump blood, nor did the activity produce a harmful increase in heart size. Researchers say that people’s concerns about exercise stem from the fact that blood pressure levels can rise from 40 to 60 millimeters of mercury, on average, during each workout. In this study, “moderate” meant a subject could sustain exercise for about an hour three times a week.

A report on the study, published in the July issue of the journal Heart (2006; 92, 893–98), showed that after 6 months of cardiovascular exercise on a treadmill, a bicycle or a stepper, in addition to strength training, participants showed no overall ill effects in 11 measures of diastolic heart function. Researchers also found that exercise did not cause an increase in eight measures of heart size. In contrast, one long-term effect of hypertension, even when the body is relaxed, is hypertrophy, an enlargement of the heart that eventually stiffens and weakens the muscle.

“While having high blood pressure at rest is a well-established risk factor for heart problems, older people should not fear the effects of moderate exercise on the heart, despite short-term bump-ups in blood pressure during their workout,” said lead study investigator Kerry Stewart, EdD, professor of medicine and director of clinical and research exercise physiology at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and its Heart Institute, in a press release. “Exercise is a highly effective means of increasing the heart’s efficiency and reducing body fat, factors that may ward off future health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.”

LOW BACK PAIN – A Personal Experience

From time to time I overdo physical exercise and my back complains.  This has been going on and off for many years. During my last ski trip, I skied every day for three weeks and although I felt some back discomfort occasionally, I ignored it.  When I returned home, I resumed my normal exercise activities (horseback riding, jogging on the treadmill, fitness walking); then suddenly my back went into spasm.  Discomfort I had  ignored was now pain that could no longer be ignored.  The spasms subsided in a few hours, but the achiness was persistent. Ibuprofen helped a lot, but I really hate taking any medication of any kind.

I asked my friend and physical therapist, Lance Labno of Movement Solutions (he was only a few feet away in the next office) to take a look at my back.  He noticed restricted movement in my lumbar spine and did a little “sacral glide” for me that helped temporarily. He also recommended I do spinal extension movements throughout the day.

In searching for ways to incorporate Lance’s advice with exercises that have worked for me in the past, I found an article by Mike Robertson, C.S.C.S. at   The two exercises he suggests worked very well for me, so I wanted to pass them on to our clients. Below are those two suggestions.

HIP RAISE: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat. Lift your hips until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold for 5 seconds, and return to the starting position. Perform two or three sets of 10 to 12 reps, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets.

HIP FLEXOR STRETCH: Kneel on your left knee, squeeze your left glute and brace your abdominal muscles while keeping your body upright. Then reach up with your left hand as high as you can and bend slightly to the right. Reach out and back with your right hand, and turn toward the right. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds. Then repeat on your other leg. Perform five reps on each side.  Note:  If you are not comfortable kneeling, you can do this standing.

Debora Morris, CPT