by Debora Morris | Jan 1, 2023 | Newsletters
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!
SIX NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS YOU CAN ACCOMPLISH WITHOUT LEAVING THE HOUSE (Excerpt from Lifestrong.com Newsletter 12/30/22)
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.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU WEAR OUTDOOR SHOES IN YOUR HOME (Excerpt from Lifestrong.com)
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.”
by Debora Morris | Oct 6, 2022 | Newsletters
IMPROVING BALANCE AND FALL PREVENTION – New Class Begins October 21
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.
by Debora Morris | Sep 5, 2022 | Newsletters
NEW SMALL CLASS OFFERING – IMPROVING BALANCE AND FALL PREVENTION
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).
WALKING AFTER A MEAL CAN HELP CONTROL BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS (Excerpt from Healthy Living 8/29/22)
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.
LOVE THE AUTUMN SEASON
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.
by Debora Morris | Dec 19, 2021 | Newsletters
With the advent of new Covid cases in the area, we are advising the following:
- All clients should have had or should get booster vaccine shots.
- If you have been travelling, please do not come to the studio for 7-10 days after returning home. Ask your trainer if you can do virtual sessions until this period of time lapses.
- Always wear a mask in the studio, covering both nose and mouth. After drinking water, the mask needs to be put back in place.
- If you feel the least bit sick (coughing, stuffy nose, fever), do not come to the studio. Contact your trainer as soon as possible and you will not be charged for the session.
Thank you for understanding that this is a difficult time for all of us. We want to ensure your safety and that of our trainers.
Feel free to contact me if you have questions. (847) 722 2115
by Debora Morris | Dec 5, 2021 | Newsletters
HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO EVERYONE!
This is such a weird time, on so many levels. Covid, world events, local, regional and state news are all contributing to confusion, anxiety and stretching our coping skills to limits we never thought possible. But in spite of all this, we are still functioning, still trying to live “normal” lives, still trying to understand others even though we may not agree with them, and still smiling every chance we get. So, my friends, I truly wish you the best that is possible for this holiday season.
Keep your spirits up (exercise helps a lot) and be kind to yourself and others.
Cheers to you all.
THRIVING INSTEAD OF COPING THROUGH STRESS (from IDEA Fit Tips November 2021)
Many people are focused on “resiliency.” says behavior science consultant and transformational coach Michael Mantell, PhD. He defines this as “the psychological mechanism that keeps people going and allows them to thrive instead of just survive. It helps them to see every setback as a setup for a stronger comeback.” An apt analogy he gives from physical training is that to build a muscle, first we must break down the muscle.
Mantell explains that the building blocks of resilience consist of three components: a) “I have” b) “I am” and c) “I can.”
“I have” means you have support around you such that you have the ability to trust the world and people in it. Successful people are able to let people get close to them without fear of harm. They have mentors they respect, and in whom they have confidence. By trusting others to help, successful people avoid feeling sad, angry and vulnerable in the face of impending failure.
“I am” means you have encouragement in developing the inner strengths of confidence, unconditional self-acceptance and responsibility. Successful people, free of the inner fears of failure, believe themselves to be autonomous, independent and free to make their own decisions, including their mistakes.
“I can” means you have acquired the interpersonal and problem-solving skills to take action. Successful people are free of the psychological blocks that get in the way of developing initiative. They are able to work diligently at a task free of negative thinking.
Be Kind to Yourself – Self-compassion is linked to positivity, happiness and health, none of which are part of the stress equation. “We need ‘me’ time for our happiness to unwind, allow time for self-discovery, reboot our brains, improve our focus and promote our relationships,” Mantell says. “Compassion requires that we notice suffering, in others and in ourselves, with no judgment. Compassionate people understand humanity is filled with imperfection and take no pity. They simply recognize that suffering is a common, shared, human occurrence. Mindfully bring this comforting understanding to yourself without over-identifying with your negative thoughts or feelings.”
An eloquent way of advising us to give ourselves grace. Stop stressing out over that which you cannot control.
FUNCTIONAL TRAINING FOR ACTIVE AGING (from IDEA Fit tips Dec 2021)
Discover what type of exercise you need to enhance fitness as you grow older.
What’s driving the relevance of functional training? Loss of functional abilities significantly impacts life quality, according to Colin Milner, founder and CEO of the International Council on Active Aging. “Having a chronic health issue, like diabetes or high blood pressure, is manageable, but if you can’t stand up, everything changes.”
So how can you exercise for function? Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA, internationally acknowledged integrative health advocate.
What Is Functional Training? – The idea of functional training is [to do] a fitness program that mirrors common daily life activities, like getting out of a chair, making a bed, lifting laundry baskets, going shopping, gardening, etc.,” says Carol Ewing Garber, PhD, past president of the American College of Sports Medicine. “In older adults, as fitness declines . . . many find it increasingly difficult to do usual tasks or to engage in enjoyable activities.”
Progressive Resistance Training – Numerous studies show that progressive resistance training can improve functional capacity in older adults, including aspects of gait, balance and stability. It also benefits cardiovascular function, metabolism and heart disease risks. Increasingly, studies emphasize that muscle power—the ability to produce force rapidly—is more crucial to functional fitness than strength and mass are. Also, researchers have suggested that exercises for the trunk muscles should be done to promote balance, functional performance and fall prevention.
Dynamic Balance Training – Balance training may improve the safety of certain cardiovascular activities. Researchers note that high-challenge balance training or programs that incorporate exercises that target both muscular and somatosensory balance systems have been most effective for reducing fall risks in older adults.
Flexibility or Functional Mobility Training – The ability of joints to maintain full range of motion is highly relevant to enjoying functional independence in combination with muscular strength for tasks such as getting in and out of a bathtub. Very little research, however, has focused specifically on how to improve flexibility. Preliminary evidence suggests that activities like yoga, Pilates or tai chi—that involve movement through a full range of motion—are effective.
Cardiorespiratory or Functional Aerobic Training – Cardiovascular fitness is important for climbing stairs, going shopping and enjoying recreational activities; it also reduces cardiovascular disease risks and promotes mental well-being. Current research supports the physical activity guidelines of regular moderate- and vigorous-intensity exercise for those who can achieve it and regular light- to moderate-intensity activity for deconditioned persons, for health benefits.