PFTL News January 2023



This year, instead of busting out of the gate with lofty goals, start with small, bite-sized habits that can make you feel a whole lot better.

These six resolutions are easy to accomplish, low-commitment and you can do them right in your own home.

1. Stand Up Every Hour – If you find yourself spending a lot of time sitting, set an alarm on your phone to get up from wherever you are sitting.   Getting up and moving every hour improves circulation, metabolism and energy levels, and combats lethargy.

2. Cook One Meal Each Day – Considering there are countless food delivery platforms promising cheaper and cheaper fees, the temptation for takeout is real. But cooking even just one meal a day is a great habit to build.​

3. Cut Your Screen Time by 10 Minutes a Day – Completely cutting out technology or social media is pretty unrealistic, and frankly, not necessary. But trimming down your non-work-related scrolling is totally doable.

Too much screen time can lead to poor eyesight, a disruption in your circadian rhythm (due to the blue light), neck and back pain or headache. Making a resolution to reduce it can create time for other activities and opportunities that may not only be healthier but also more fulfilling in the long run.

4. Stretch Every Day – Many people tend to skip out on flexibility and mobility exercises. This year, pick one mobility problem area — common trouble spots include the hips, shoulders, knees, ankles or back — to work on each week.

Start by doing your mobility move or stretch for one minute each day. Over time, build up to performing your exercises for a minute at the top of each hour.

5. Have One Less Glass of Wine – After a long day, a glass of wine can help you unwind and clear your head. One glass probably won’t do much harm, but alcohol can hurt your sleep and recovery, which is the last thing you want after a busy, stressful day.

Being mindful of how many days each week you drink can be a healthy resolution. Start by meeting yourself where you are: If you’re drinking five days a week, maybe you start by cutting back to four. Or, if you tend to have two drinks twice a week, cut one of those days by one glass.

6. Drink One More Glass of Water – On days that feel never-ending, hydration drops low on the priority list. But drinking more water is an easy habit to adopt and will make you feel a whole lot better.

To increase your daily water intake, set yourself up for success. Ditch single-use plastic and buy a large reusable water bottle to carry around the house. If the thought of guzzling plain water all day isn’t appealing, add some flavor. Toss a cucumber or lemon slice into your water to add some refreshment.

The foods you eat can increase your daily hydration, too, she adds. Water-rich foods like watermelon and soup will increase your daily intake, while giving you the opportunity to try new ingredients.


Even if you don’t step in actual dirt, your shoes pick up a lot of gunk when you’re walking outside. “Several studies have suggested that shoes are vectors for infectious diseases,” says Kishor Gangani, MD, MPH.  In other words? They’re total germ magnets.

We’re talking nasties like E. coli, which can cause stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. In a May 2008 study sponsored by the not-for-profit Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI), 96 percent of participants had measurable levels of the bacteria on their shoes within two weeks. (And the shoes were brand-new at the study’s outset.)

Our shoes are also regularly bringing in the bacteria Clostridium difficile or C. diff. In fact, the bacteria is more likely to show up on shoe bottoms than on toilet seats, according to June 2014 findings published in the journal ‌Anaerobe.‌ C. diff can cause diarrhea or fever in healthy people, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In older adults or those with compromised immune system, a C. diff infection can be deadly.

And when you wear your bacteria-covered clodhoppers around your home, almost all of the microbes on your shoe soles come along for the ride. The CIRI study found that when people wore their street shoes inside, a whopping 90 to 99 percent of germs on the shoes were transferred to the floor tiles. From there, they might get picked up by a crawling baby or toddler, a pet or by objects that fall onto the floor. The germs can even end up on your own feet once you do finally take your shoes off.

Frequent cleaning might not make much difference either, since some of these microbes are tough to get rid of. “As Clostridium difficile spores are resistant to disinfection, the possibility of community household contamination is high,” Dr. Gangani says.

The Alternatives – You can corral the germs on your footwear by removing your shoes at the door and placing them in a dedicated bin or shoe rack. From there, it’s just a matter of deciding whether you want to go barefoot or wear shoes that are just for inside.

Going totally shoe-free at home is often the best bet.

“Being barefoot is great for overall foot health and helps to increase foot muscle strength, tissue tolerance and joint mobility,” says Alissa Kuizinas, DPM, a board-certified podiatrist. Try taking a gradual approach if walking around barefoot is uncomfortable because you’re not used to it. “Go for 15 to 30 minutes a day and work up from there,” she says.

If you have foot pain, flat feet, or ankle arthritis, consider having a pair of supportive slippers or shoes that stay in the house. Shoes should have flat, flexible soles, a wide toe box and low or minimal cushioning, Dr. Kuizinas says. “If you require a slipper, I would recommend a stiffer sole, possibly a forefoot rocker or toe spring, and some cushioning,” she adds.

Indoor shoes may also be safer for older adults, since non-skid soles can reduce the risk for falls, according to the National Institute on Aging. People with diabetes or neuropathy should always wear shoes indoors too, to avoid foot injuries that could become infected.

Bottomline: Dr. Gangani puts it pretty plainly: “Wearing outdoor shoes inside the house should be avoided.”

PFTL News December 2022

WHY DO MUSCLES CRAMP?   Excerpt From IDEA Fitness Journal August 2021

Muscle cramps can stop athletes in their tracks. These cramps usually dissipate within seconds or minutes; however, the abrupt, harsh, involuntary contractions can cause mild-to-severe agony and immobility, often accompanied by knotting of the muscle. And cramps are common; 50%–60% of healthy people suffer muscle cramps during exercise, sleep or pregnancy or after vigorous physical exertion. They appear to occur more often in endurance athletes and in the elderly, but there is no gender difference in incidence of skeletal muscle cramps.

Types of Muscle Cramps

  • Nocturnal cramps occur during sleep without any clear trigger.
  • Pathological cramps are a consequence of having diabetes, nerve dysfunctions or metabolic disorders.
  • Exercise-associated muscle cramps occur during or after exertion. The first scientific confirmation of these types of cramps dates to 1908, when they were described in miners working in hot and humid conditions.

Risk Factors for Muscle Cramps – With marathon runners, research has found certain risks associated with the occurrence of a muscle cramp. These risks include a longer history of running, advanced age, higher body mass index, shorter daily stretching time, irregular stretching habits and a family history of cramping. The top two factors associated with cramps in marathoners are muscle fatigue (linked to longer runs) and poor stretching habits..

Theories on the Cause of Muscle Cramps-  Early theories on the source of muscle cramps focused on electrolytes, dehydration and the environment.

  • Serum Electrolyte Theory – Blood plasma contains electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, calcium and phosphate. Electrolyte depletion is often blamed for causing cramps. Currently, however, there is no solid explanation for how low serum electrolyte concentrations could have this effect.
  • Dehydration Theory – In the past, studies have suggested treating muscle cramps in workers and firefighters with fluids and electrolytes.  More recent studies that have estimated blood volume and plasma volume do not support the theory that dehydration has a direct link to exercise-associated cramps.
  • Environmental Theory – This theory sprang from the condition referred to as “heat cramps.” While exercising in a hot, humid environment may  correlate with the development of muscle cramps, there is no evidence linking cramps to an increase in core body temperature.

Current Theory On Muscle Cramps – The newest concept of muscle cramps is a neuromuscular theory. This theory has evolved to point to two origins: a central origin (spinal column) and a peripheral one (neuromuscular junction).

The central or spinal origin theory suggests that the involuntary contraction of a muscle occurs when nerve messages to the spinal column change, perhaps due to muscle fatigue. This results in an imbalance of excitatory (from muscle spindles) and inhibitory (from Golgi tendon organs) spinal messages to muscles . This neural signaling imbalance leads to enhanced muscle cell excitability and cramping.

The scientific evidence of a neuromuscular theory is mounting. The research appears to show that, in some cases, fatigued muscle can’t fully relax. This condition leads to an imbalance between excitatory signals and inhibitory messages to the muscle. So, the most recent research appears to support the central origin theory of the muscle cramp.

What Are Muscle Spindles and Golgi Tendon Organs?

Muscle spindles and Golgi tendon organs are referred to as proprioceptors. A proprioceptor is a sensory receptor that receives stimuli from within the body, particularly signals related to body position and movement. The neuromuscular theory of muscle cramps suggests that muscle spindle and Golgi tendon organ signaling play a role in the development of a muscle cramp.

Muscle spindles are stretch receptors within a muscle that serve to detect changes in the length of the muscle and/or the speed of length change. They convey muscle length information to the spinal column via specialized afferent nerve fibers. The muscle spindle activates the stretch reflex. This happens when a muscle is stretched quickly to its endpoint of movement. The muscle spindle sends a rapid message to the spinal column, which tells the muscle to contract, preventing it from overstretching.

Golgi tendon organs, also called Golgi organs, are neurotendinous sensory organs that sense changes in tension within a muscle. The Golgi tendon organ lies at the origin and insertion of skeletal muscle fibers into the tendons. If there is too much tension (i.e., too much force) placed on a muscle, the Golgi tendon organ will inhibit the muscle from creating any more force (via a reflex arc), protecting it from injury.

PREVENTING MUSCLE CRAMPS – Intense, extremely long workouts (relative to the fitness of the exerciser) clearly lead to more skeletal muscle cramps. Lack of training and training in a hot, humid environment also predispose a person to muscle fatigue and potential cramping. As mentioned previously, research also shows muscle cramps are more common in the elderly.

Although studies show that poor or inadequate stretching may spark muscle cramps, there are no evidence-based stretching recommendations for warding off cramps. But encouraging clients to stretch regularly and with proper body alignment after exercise seems logical.

RESEARCH TAKEAWAYS – From a health and teaching perspective, the latest research shows no evidence that muscle cramping is due to electrolyte imbalances or water depletion in muscle. Studies also fail to support the use of particular supplements to impede cramps. What is imperative is avoiding intense or long workouts for which clients are not properly prepared. Teaching and encouraging proper stretching exercises, particularly of the limbs, is also essential. And finally, although studying cramps is difficult, we need more research to better understand their mechanisms and to develop evidence-based prevention strategies.


DEBORA’S EXPERIENCE – I have experienced severe muscle cramps in my adductor (inner thigh) muscles, especially after skiing.  What seemed to help was to drink about a ½ cup of the brine from a pickle jar. I know this seems strange, but it worked 85% of the time to relieve the cramp. My husband has experienced similar relief by this method.


PFTL News November 2022


My email to clients on September 29 notified everyone of a necessary rate increase effective November 1, based on specific criteria. Below is copy from that email:

To continue providing the level of service and uncrowded environment that you’ve come to appreciate, I must reluctantly raise our hourly training rates. Therefore, effective November 1, 2022, the following new rates will apply for Studio training sessions.

•   One-on-One Training

  • 1X/week – $100
  • 2X/week – $95 per session
  • 3X/week – $85 per session

Multi-client Training & Pre-Pay

  • Two Clients/One trainer: $130 (split $65/$65)
  • Three Clients/One Trainer -$150 (Split $50/$50/$50)
  • 10 Pre-paid Sessions – $90 per session

We’ve been providing high level personal training for 31 years and hope to be here for you as long as you need us.  Feel free to contact me at or 847-722-2115, if you want to discuss the new rates.

SPATIAL AWARENESS AND PROPRIOCEPTION FOR OLDER ADULTS  (Excerpt from IDEA Fit, August 2022. Author: Tracy Markley)

By adulthood, most of us have a fairly good ability to judge where our body is with respect to the objects around it and where our limbs are in relation to our body. This is one of the things that allows us to be safe as we move through the world. Without thinking about it, you can judge the height of an object you need to step over so your foot lifts high enough up and steps far enough out before landing back on the floor.

However, as people enter their senior years, the cognitive skills that allow for this type of movement can diminish. I like to describe it as having a “malfunction” of spatial awareness and proprioception. When these skills decline, older adults find they must coordinate cautiously through many daily activities such as taking steps forward and backward, using stairs, and turning around. Fortunately, these skills can be relearned.

Spatial Awareness and Proprioception Defined.  Spatial awareness and proprioception are often viewed as the same, but they are they are different skills.

Spatial awareness is a complex cognitive skill that allows us to be consciously aware of where the body is in space, how much room there is around it, and how far away the body is from objects in its surroundings.

Proprioception is more specific to knowing where the limbs are in space and the force needed for moving them in relation to the body. The sensory receptors that provide this constant feedback to the brain are called proprioceptors.

A simple example of the brain working with spatial awareness and proprioception is when you walk towards a chair and sit down. Both processes help the brain calculate the distance between you and the chair, and you walk accordingly. You begin taking smaller steps when needed, adjusting the speed of each step as you approach the chair. You calculate the turn, including the size and the direction of the steps required to place your body in the right position to prepare to sit. You calculate the height of the seat and coordinate where the body is in space before using the appropriate speed and force to lower into sitting position without slamming into the chair or falling to the floor.

I’ve posted a 15-second video of one of my stroke-recovery clients performing a reenactment of this sequence. You’ll see how it looks when his spatial awareness and proprioception were malfunctioning alongside a second video of his regained ability of these cognitive skills (Markley 2017).  This client followed a program of exercises like the one described in this article.

Getting to the Core of the Matter – Spatial awareness and proprioception work with the skeletal muscles in the body as they move the body through motion. It’s essential to strengthen the muscles that stabilize the spine and pelvic region and keep the body in proper posture so the limbs can move safely and efficiently. For safe and effective movement, these muscles must gain strength before the legs and arms can be strengthened to their full potential.

A weak deep core in the body is like an apple tree that has a hollow trunk. The tree’s trunk may appear normal, but it’s unstable because it is weak. The tree’s limbs cannot sustain the weight of many apples, and the tree cannot sustain itself in a windstorm.

In my years of studies, I have found research that states that the brain sends a message to the deep center of the body to stabilize the body, which happens microseconds before the limbs are going to move (Le Mouel & Brette 2017). If the center or core of the body is weak, it cannot obtain its best stabilization to keep the body at its safest while in movement. If the brain sends messages to those weak muscles, the communication with the legs and arms will function poorly—or malfunction.

Put more simply: Walking begins deep in the spine, not in the limbs. Therefore, it’s important to strengthen the core and spine from the inside out.

Muscles Involved in Spinal Stabilization – Let’s look at some important muscles and groups of muscles involved in spinal stabilization.

Deep Core Muscles

The multifidus is a small and powerful group of muscles and stabilizes the spine. It begins to activate before the body moves, which helps to protect the spine (Kumar 2019). It’s one of the muscles in the spine that extends, abducts, adducts and rotates the spine.

For a person to gain a better spatial awareness, posture and balance, this muscle must be strong. It’s important to know this muscle is on the same neuromuscular loop with the transverse abdominis, the diaphragm and the pelvic floor muscles.

It’s best if all these muscles are functioning properly: They need to perform jobs individually and as a team. If the transverse muscle is weak, the pelvic floor, multifidus and diaphragm cannot gain the proper strength needed for a healthy, functioning body.

Note: PFTL trainers can show you how to improve spinal stability, balance and posture.

PFTL News October 2022


Our first Balance Class was well- received by the participants. Improvements were evident after the first three classes.  The new 6-week Session will begin on October 21 at 2pm (min. 4 and max 5 participants).  The cost is $150 for the 6-weeks.  The focus will again be on improving balance, coordination, core control and agility.  All these areas are important for fall prevention.  For NEW clients, we will perform a modified fitness assessment ($30), and all participants will be tested for balance prior to the first class. If there are more than 5 participants, but at least 8 we will consider adding an additional class. The class will be taught alternately by Debora Morris, Linda Meyer and Keri Werner. Call Debora for more information and to register (847-722-2115).

WHAT STRESS CAN DO TO YOUR BODY  (Excerpt from Health-Healthy Living)

Stress is what happens when you’re introduced to a challenge or demand in life—it results in physical or emotional tension, according to the US National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus resource.

It’s a normal feeling that has evolved over a millennium to protect you from danger. Also known as the flight-or-fight response, it gets the body ready for action. So, if you’re in danger, the brain’s hypothalamus sends triggers—both chemical and along the nerves—to the adrenals, which are glands that sit on top of each kidney like a hat perched on a head.

The adrenals then churn out hormones, such as cortisol, which raise blood pressure and blood sugar (among other things). This is dandy if you need to outrun a hungry lion, less so if the perceived threat is a looming layoff.

Despite the fact that it happens to everyone, stress can still be harmful to health if occurs over a long period of time. Here are some ways stress can affect your health.

Increased cravings – Studies have linked cortisol, a hormone released during times of stress, to cravings for sugar, fat, or both, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

Hard-to-lose belly fat – “You can clearly correlate stress to weight gain,” Philip Hagen, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, tells Health.

Part of that link is due to poor eating during stress, but the stress hormone cortisol may also increase the amount of fat tissue your body hangs onto and enlarge the size of fat cells. Higher levels of cortisol have been linked to more deep-abdominal fat—yes, belly fat.

Heart problems – The exact relationship between stress and heart attack is still unclear, but evidence is mounting that there is one. One study of 200,000 employees in Europe found that people who have stressful jobs and little decision-making power at work are 23% more likely to have a first heart attack than people with less job-related stress.

Insomnia – Stress can cause hyperarousal, a biological state in which people just don’t feel sleepy. And insomnia itself—a sleep disorder in which a person has persistent problems falling and staying asleep—is commonly derived from stress.

Headaches – “Fight or flight” chemicals like adrenaline (epinephrine) and cortisol can cause vascular changes that leave you with a tension headache or migraine, either during the stress or in the “let-down” period afterwards. Tension headaches, per MedlinePlus, are the most common type of headache. They typically feel like a “band is squeezing the head,” and occur in the head, scalp, or neck area.

While it’s tough to limit stress in our hectic lives, some experts recommend trying meditation, among other solutions.

Hair loss – There are a few key ways that stress may affect your hair and lead to hair loss, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center: Telogen effluvium and trichotillomania. Telogen effluvium is a common cause of temporary hair loss, per UPMC. That’s because enough stress can push your hair follicles into a prolonged resting phase, meaning they won’t produce new hair strands as quickly or as often as usual in periods of high stress.

High blood sugar – Stress is known to raise blood sugar, and if you already have type 2 diabetes you may find that your blood sugar is higher when you are under stress.

Stomach troubles – Heartburn, stomach cramping, and diarrhea can all be caused by or worsened by stress. In particular, irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, which is characterized by pain and bouts of constipation and diarrhea is thought to be fueled in part by stress.

High blood pressure – A stressful situation can raise your blood pressure temporarily by constricting your blood vessels and speeding up your heart rate, but these effects disappear when the stress has passed.

It’s not yet clear whether chronic stress can cause more permanent changes in your blood pressure, but techniques like mindfulness and meditation may help, according to Dr. Hagen. In addition, there are many natural ways to reduce blood pressure, including diet and exercise.

Back pain – Stress can set off an acute attack of back pain as well as contribute to ongoing chronic pain, probably for the simple reason that the “fight or flight” response involves tensing your muscles so that you’re ready to spring into action. One recent study in Europe found that people who are prone to anxiety and negative thinking are more likely to develop back pain, while a U.S. study tied anger and mental distress to ongoing back pain.

Premature aging – Traumatic events and chronic stress can both shorten telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of cell chromosomes, causing your cells to age faster, according to Harvard Health Publishing. The good news? Exercising vigorously three times a week may be enough to counteract the effect.

PFTL NEWS September 2022


Beginning Friday, September 9 at 2pm, we will be offering a new small group class (min. 4 and max 5 participants).  It will run for 6-weeks and cost $150 for the 6-weeks.  The focus will be on improving balance, coordination, core control and agility.  All these areas are important for fall prevention.  For NEW clients, we will perform a modified fitness assessment ($30), and all participants will be tested for balance prior to the first class. If there are more than 5 participants, but at least 8 we will consider adding an additional class. The class will be taught alternately by Debora Morris, Linda Meyer and Keri Werner. Call Debora for more information and to register (847-722-2115).


Going for a walk after a meal can help reduce blood sugar levels, even if it’s just for a few short minutes, new research shows.

The news comes from a meta-analysis, published earlier this year in  Sports Medicine, in which researchers analyzed seven different studies to examine how light physical activity like standing and walking affects heart health, including insulin, and blood sugar levels, compared to prolonged periods of sitting.

The findings suggest that going for a light walk after a meal—even for as little as two to five minutes—can improve blood sugar levels, as compared to sitting or laying down after lunch or dinner. Simply standing can also help lower blood sugar levels, but not to the same degree as walking.

How Light Walking Can Help Lower Blood Sugar Levels – When you eat a meal—particularly one heavy in carbohydrates—it’s normal for your blood sugar levels, or the amount of glucose in your blood, to sometimes spike temporarily. This is known as a postprandial spike.

This spike in blood sugar typically triggers the release of a hormone called insulin, which allows the glucose to leave your bloodstream and enter your cells, where it’s used for energy.

But the balance between blood sugar levels and insulin is a delicate one—and it can swing out of control quickly. According to the CDC, if the body consistently has very high spikes in blood sugar—and thus, is routinely pumping out more insulin—cells can eventually stop responding to insulin and become insulin resistant. This break in the balance can lead to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

The team of researchers from the University of Limerick analyzed seven different studies to examine the effects of sedentary breaks—or interruptions to prolonged sitting—on cardiometabolic health markers, like blood sugar and insulin levels, after eating. Participants were asked to stand or walk for two to five minutes every 20 to 30 minutes over the course of one day.

The researchers found that both standing and walking were found to lower postprandial glucose levels, compared to sitting. But, according to study authors, “light-intensity walking was found to be a superior intervention.” Light walking was also found to improve insulin levels after a meal.

According to study authors, the contractions in skeletal muscles that occur while walking lead to an increase in glucose uptake—meaning that your working muscles use up the extra glucose in your bloodstream, reducing the need for insulin secretion.

If you can do physical activity before that glucose peak, typically 60 to 90 minutes [after eating], that is when you’re going to have the benefit of not having the glucose spike.


I think that one of the best seasons in our part of the country is autumn.  The temperature is mildly cooler, leaves change colors to beautiful hues of yellow, red, and rust, parents seem a bit more relaxed when their kids are back at school, and the sunlight is more golden. Take advantage of this wonderful season and get outside to enjoy it.