FREE WALKING CLINIC – Our free Walking Clinic began a few weeks ago.  We meet at Gillson Park in Wilmette at 6pm on Mondays and Wednesdays.  Susan Thomson and I are leading the class, and Julie Cohen is assisting on Mondays. We try to have two of us present at each session, so those who want to keep a slower pace will have the company of one of us.

The format includes a warm-up, stretching then continuous walking, with occasional stair/bleacher climbing and faster intervals.  The age of participants so far range from 40-75.

If you want to join us, come any Monday or Wednesday at 6pm (for the next 4 weeks or so). We meet at the west side of the tennis courts.

OPEN GYM HONOR SYSTEM  – As most of you know, current and former PFTL clients can exercise on their own in the studio during our non-busy hours; we refer to this as Open Gym.  The charge for current clients is $8 and for former clients $12.  Each time Open Gym is used, we ask that the person sign-in on the sheet posted on the column by the entrance, indicating the date and time of the visit.  This is an honor system, as the sign-in sheet is the only way that we can keep track of who is using the facility (and charge accordingly).   So, please remember to sign-in whenever you are coming to Open Gym.

SUGAR IS MORE THAN EMPTY CALORIES   (excerpted from Nutrition Action July 2014 newsletter)

Most people know that tasty, familiar white sugar is just “junk” and “empty calories.” Sugar has been derided because it was devoid of vitamins and minerals and it promoted tooth decay.

But recent studies have begun to demonstrate that the large amounts of added (or refined) sugars—including cane and beet sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, plain corn syrup, and dextrose—in our diets are harming much more than our teeth.

Although levels have declined in the past decade, we still consume an awful lot of sugar. According to estimates by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average person takes in almost 400 calories’ worth of refined sugars a day, and many people consume far more. In fact, more than 35 million people get more than a quarter of their calories from refined sugars. Almost half of that sugar comes from liquid candy: soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks, and the like.

Studies that track thousands of people for years find that those who consume more sugary drinks have a higher risk of weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and gout. When scientists give people sugary drinks, they put on more weight than people who get calorie-free drinks. And when researchers give people hefty amounts of fructose—which constitutes about half of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup—they see a rise in deep belly fat and in blood levels of triglycerides, glucose, insulin, and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol—all precursors of heart disease. Moreover, the more sugar (from foods and beverages) that people consume, the fewer nutrients they get.

The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugars a day and that men consume no more than nine. To put that into context, a can of Coke contains nine teaspoons of added sugars and a 6 oz. flavored yogurt has about five teaspoons.

But advice from health experts can do only so much in a society where cheap sugary drinks and foods are sold at every fast-food outlet, convenience store, coffee shop, gas station, drugstore, and supermarket.

Luckily, companies are developing safer, better-tasting, high-potency sweeteners made from natural sources like stevia leaves. Others are working on “sweetness enhancers” that make one teaspoon of sugar taste like two.

The time has come for the Food and Drug Administration to re-evaluate the safety of sugary drinks. That’s what the Center for Science in the Public Interest, several dozen nutrition experts, and 15 nonprofit organizations have asked the FDA to do.


Posture is an important consideration in all activities of daily living (e.g., walking, lifting objects and driving). Keeping good posture can make a difference to the long-term health of your spine. Many postural problems are detectable at early stages, regardless of age.

1. What is posture?
Posture is a state of skeletal and muscular balance and alignment that protects the supporting structures of your body from progressive deformity and injury. Whether you are erect, lying, squatting or stooping, good posture allows your muscles to function with maximum efficiency. With good standing posture your body’s joints are in a state of equilibrium with the least amount of physical energy being used to maintain this upright position.

2. What is a posture muscle?
Posture muscles help to fix or stabilize a joint; they prevent movement, while other muscles create movement. They are composed of muscle fibers that have a particular capacity for prolonged work.

3. Does poor posture affect a person’s psychological health?
Yes. People with poor posture are more likely to have poor self-image and less self-confidence.

4. What are the natural curves in a healthy spine?
The low back (lumbar spine) curves inward (toward the anterior part of the body) and is called the lordotic curve. The middle back (thoracic spine) is curved outward (posterior to the body). The neck (cervical spine) curves slightly forward or inward and thus has a lordotic curve.

5. What is “neutral spine”?
Although the vertebral column has three natural curves, “neutral spine” usually refers to the lumbar region. Neutral spine is a pain-free position of the lumbar spine attained when the pressures in and around the pelvis joint structures are evenly distributed. The pelvis is balanced between its anterior and posterior positions. Inner core muscles are responsible for maintaining a neutral spine.

6. Is poor posture associated with increased falls in older adults?
Yes. A study found that the best predictor of future fall risk in people aged 62–96 was deficiency in lateral posture stability. Lateral stability exercises can help older adults prevent falls.