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.
Masks Still Required
We are still requiring masks for all those who enter the PFTL studio. We want to ensure that our studio is a safe place to come and exercise. We know that exercising with a mask is not fun, but it is a good practice for the time being. Contagion is increasing in our village and the immediate area, so we are watching the situation carefullly. We always want clients and trainers to feel that our studio is a safe and healthy environment and will do all we can to maintain that.
THE HIDDEN VICTIM OF THE PANDEMIC – Your Hips (Excerpted from ACE Insights March 2022)
We constantly hear that core strength is fundamental to athletic performance, reducing injury risk and living a healthy life. But what most people don’t realize is that the psoas and iliacus muscles are also considered muscles of the core. Like the other muscles that make up the core, if the muscles that act at your hips are not in good health, you’ll soon know about it.
Back pain, knee pain, shin splints, IT band friction syndrome, plantar fasciitis, and all sorts of other aches and pains often stem from the hips.
It’s the muscles around your hips that support your torso and pelvis, creating a strong foundation for your limbs to move from. When these muscles (primarily the psoas, iliacus and the gluteus maximus) are not in good shape, you don’t have the strong foundation you need, which means that other parts of the body have to pick up the slack. When these other muscles do too much compensating, overuse or repetitive stress injuries can soon result.
By strengthening the muscles around your hips, not only can you ease injury risk, but it also improves your athleticism. Building strong glute muscles and strengthening and stretching your hip flexors helps you transfer force through the upper and lower body, so you can move more powerfully.
Ask Bryce Hastings, physiotherapist and Les Mills Head of Research, about the most beneficial stretches and he says, for many, focusing on your hip flexors is hard to beat. “We only have 10-15 degrees of extension available at the hip (where the thigh moves behind the body) and we use all of this mobility every time we take a step. Compare this to the hamstrings, which normally allow 90 degrees of hip flexion, of which we only use around 30 degrees when we walk or run. Therefore, losing 10 degrees of hamstring length is generally O.K., whereas losing 10 degrees of psoas length is a real problem. Any shortening of this muscle shunts movement that should occur at the hip into the lower back during each step, and that’s a disaster.”
If you have tight hips, you have less mobility, which can make even the simplest movements—like walking or pushing a stroller—painful. Tight hips can also lead to a tilted pelvis, which affects both your posture and your head and neck alignment. Poor posture is linked to stress and depression, while neck alignment issues can lead to headaches.
Post-pandemic Hip Health is More Important Than Ever – While we know the perils of too much sitting, for many, pandemic-induced restrictions have meant we’re spending more time than ever at home working and sitting on our bottoms. A recent study identified prolonged sitting as one of the key causes of pain and discomfort caused by limited hip extension. Your hips are contracted whenever you’re sitting, and your hip flexors (the large powerful muscles at the front of the hip) are in a shortened position. In as little as 30 minutes, this tightening of the muscles can become problematic. You experience a loss of elasticity in the muscles, and as you age, this can become more pronounced, and the muscles become less pliable.
Signs You Need to Stretch Your Hips
- Sitting for any more than four hours a day
- Lower back or knee pain
- Any pinching or pain in your hips
- A feeling of being restricted when you move
- If you struggle to touch your toes.
NO RISK OF OSTEOARTHRITIS FROM PHYSICAL ACTIVITY (IDEA Fitness Journal, Winter 2022)
For years, people have raised concerns about the risks of physical activity on joints; however, study after study shows that the benefits of exercise outweigh the risks for most people—even for frail, elderly individuals. New research adds to our understanding of the limited risks of physical activity and its connection to osteoarthritis.
Researchers from England’s University of Southampton and University of Oxford conducted a study to evaluate risks of developing knee osteoarthritis from physical activity. They examined data from six global community-based studies that included more than 5,000 participants who they followed for 5–12 years.
Data analysis showed that neither the amount of energy expenditure of physical activity nor weekly hours spent training were associated with increased risk of developing knee OA. This is good news for clients who may be concerned that being active may increase knee arthritis risks.
The research is reported in Arthritis & Rheumatology (2021; doi:10.1002/art.42001).
WHY EXERCISE REDUCES CHRONIC INFLAMMATION (IDEA Fitness Journal, Winter 2022)
Your body produces what it needs to reduce inflammation.
A new study offers insight into why exercise reduces chronic inflammation, as reported in Gut Microbes (2021; 13 , e1997559).
University of Nottingham, England, researchers conducted the study using data from a 6-week exercise intervention involving a group of 78 people with arthritis. Roughly half of the participants engaged in a 15-minute daily exercise program for the study period and half did not. After the study period, only those who exercised had reduced pain and increased gut microbes that produced substances that helped with chronic inflammation and increased the body’s endocannabinoids.
“Our study clearly shows that exercise increases the body’s own cannabis-type substances, which can have a positive impact on many conditions,” said lead study author Amrita Vijay, PhD, research fellow in the School of Medicine. “As interest in cannabidiol oil and other supplements increases, it is important to know that simple lifestyle interventions like exercise can modulate endocannabinoids.”
RETURN TO MASKS IN THE STUDIO
With the advent of increased cases of infection with the Delta variant in Cook County, we have reinstated a mask requirement at the studio. Everyone, even if vaccinated, will be required to wear a mask (unless for medical reasons this is not possible).
This is consistent with the recommendations from the CDC, IDPH and the Cook County Department of Public Health.
I know this is not welcome news for anyone, but the safety of our clients and trainers is our primary concern. Hopefully, this will not be necessary in the long term.
WHAT YOUR WALKING SPEED SAYS ABOUT YOUR HEALTH (excerpt from Livestrong.com 7/20/21)
Your walking speed can tell you more about your health than you might think. Walking is the most popular aerobic physical activity among Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s a good thing because it not only offers its own set of health benefits, but your walking speed can also be an indicator of how healthy you are.
Being able to walk at a quick pace, as opposed to a slower one, indicates that your body is functioning properly, says Naresh Rao, doctor of osteopathic medicine. “If you’re walking faster, you have better core musculature, balance and endurance, which can indicate good cardiovascular health,” says Rao.
“So it’s reasonable to think if you can walk faster, then you’re generally in better shape.” He also says that, as long as all other factors are equal, faster walkers will likely have less body fat, lower BMIs, more muscle and better balance.
Walking can indicate more than just how physically fit you are. Research shows that walking speed might just be a strong predictor of longevity, surgery recovery speed and more.
Your walking speed might predict your life expectancy. Walking speed (also known as gait speed) seems to indicate how long a person will live. “As gait speed declines, risk for mortality increases,” says Christina M. Dieli-Conwright, PhD, an assistant professor of research with University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.
A June 2019 study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that walking pace — defined as slow, steady/average or brisk — was the strongest predictor of how long a person would live, with a slow pace being associated with shorter life expectancies. A female slow-walker could expect to live to be between 72 and 85 years old, whereas a brisk-walking woman could live to 87 or 88. For men, the slow walkers’ life expectancy ranged from 65 to 81, while the fast walkers lived to be 85 to 87.
Your walking speed could be a sign of heart health. A 2018 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine also explored the link between walking speed and mortality rate and found average walkers (which the researchers defined as walking at a pace of below 20 minutes per mile) had a 20 percent lower risk of dying over the course of the study compared to slow walkers.
Those who walked faster than 18 minutes per mile had a mortality rate that was four percent lower. Interestingly, these results appeared to be linked to lower heart-related deaths among faster walkers, since walking speeds didn’t seem to affect cancer rates.
A November 2017 study published in European Heart Journal also found slow walkers had more heart-related issues. The researchers found slow walkers were twice as likely to die from heart disease compared to faster walkers.
Faster walking speed could mean fewer hospital visits. A June 2019 study published in Blood assessed nearly 450 patients with blood cancer and found walking speed predicted the survival rates as well as the chances that patients would return to the hospital. Every 0.1 meter per second decrease in walking speed was linked to a higher mortality rate. A slower pace also increased the likelihood the patient would return to the hospital for unplanned visits and emergencies.
Walking speed has been linked to the health of your brain and body. An October 2019 study published in JAMA Network Open found that “the walking speed of 45-year-olds, particularly their fastest walking speed without running, can be used as a marker of their aging brains and bodies.” Those who walked faster had healthier lungs, teeth and immune systems than slower walkers. Plus, slower walkers showed signs of accelerated aging.
How to Determine Your Walking Speed:
Curious to know if you qualify as a brisk walker or a slow one? To calculate your walking speed, walk naturally down a hallway or sidewalk and count the number of steps you take in 10 seconds. Multiply that number by six. That will tell you your steps per minute.
A 2018 review of 38 studies published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine noted the goal pace for people younger than 60 should be greater than 100 steps per minute, or 2.7 miles per hour. That pace isn’t particularly strenuous; researchers noted this should be an achievable target for healthy adults. Older adults likely will see similar benefits at a slower pace, but there’s no research yet to say exactly what that pace is.
Caveats to the Research: Dieli-Conwright, who has studied exercise’s effect on cancer patients, says it’s not only about how fast you walk or have always walked but if your walking speed changes. “As soon as individuals start to have a decline in gait speed, it’s a strong indicator that they’re losing physical function and they’re losing overall health,” she says. “Even if they’re a fast walker and they experience a decline in gait speed, that’s going to have an effect on their health outcomes.”
Rao also notes that a slow walking speed doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not fit, but it’s a good idea to take your speed as a signal that you need to amp up your exercise routine.
The reverse is also true: Being a fast walker doesn’t mean you’re in perfect health, and a fast walker could still have high blood pressure. “It’s not enough to walk fast,” says Rao. “My fear is that people will say, ‘I walk fast, therefore I don’t need to exercise,’ and that’s not true.
Rather, consider walking speed one indicator of your health — but not the only one. “Just like anything, it’s only one piece of data,” says Rao.
EXERCISES TO HELP ACHIEVE AN INSTANT POSTURAL ADJUSTMENT
(From IDEA Fitness, April 2019)
Did you know that good posture helps minimize stress on tendons, joints and ligaments? Plus, better posture can have a significant impact on your quality of life.
Good posture may improve your job prospects, verbal communication, self-confidence and mood and enhance how others see you. Ryan Halvorson, chief content officer for Fit Scribe Media and a TriggerPoint®master trainer, explains exercises that can help you improve posture.
5 Key Exercises – These easy-to-implement, equipment-free exercises can help you achieve an instant postural adjustment. The moves can be done seated, but standing yields the best results.
Pectoral Massage – Tight chest muscles can make it difficult to pull your shoulders back and down. One way to overcome this is to increase tissue mobility through self-massage.
Begin by rolling the shoulders back and down. Make a fist with the right hand and gently press the knuckles into the left pectoral muscle next to the sternum. Place the palm of the left hand on top of the fist for added pressure. Slowly drive the knuckles across the muscle toward the shoulder joint. Lift the hand, returning it to the starting position, and repeat.
Shoulder External Rotations – Internal rotation is a common problem. External rotation can help. Roll the shoulders back and down. Tuck the pelvis slightly to maintain a neutral lower-back position throughout the exercise. Slowly twist the wrists until the thumbs point away from the body. Hold for a few seconds and release; repeat.
Chin Tuck – This exercise stretches the muscles of the neck, allowing the skull to return to a more neutral, balanced position while the spine is lengthened. Stand with your hips and shoulders against a wall. Heels can be an inch or two away from the wall.
Lifting through the crown of the head, gently bring the chin down toward the throat while pressing the back of the head against the wall for a few seconds. Rest and repeat. Place a pillow behind the head if the pressure is uncomfortable.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch – Start in a kneeling lunge position (one knee on the floor and the other leg bent 90 degrees in front of you with foot flat). Lift from the crown of the head to elongate the spine. From here, drive the hip of the kneeling leg in a gentle thrusting pattern to achieve the stretch. Hold for a few seconds, then release and repeat. Perform the exercise several times for both hips. Place a pillow under the knee for added cushion.
Hip Hinge With Fly – This exercise improves your ability to extend your upper back. Place feet hip-width apart, and hinge at the hips while simultaneously angling the upper body forward. Aim to slightly arch the lower back by lifting the tailbone. Retract and depress the shoulder blades.
Start with the arms extended and palms clasped together directly in front of the chest. Then slowly swing the arms out to the sides of the body at about shoulder height with a slight external shoulder rotation, and pause when you feel contraction in the upper posterior muscles and a stretch in the pectorals. Release and repeat.
EXERCISE SUSTAINS MENTAL ACTIVITY (Excerpted from PsychCentral August 2018
From a review of studies on exercise and its effect on brain functioning, researchers confirm that physical exercise slows the effects of aging and helps people maintain cognitive abilities well into older age
Fitness training – an increased level of exercise – may improve some mental processes even more than moderate activity, say the authors of the review. Findings from the review of 40 years of research does offer evidence that physical exercise can have a positive influence on cognitive and brain functions in older animal and human subjects. Different methodologies were examined to comprehensively study what effects exercise can have.
The researchers first examined the epidemiological literature of diseases to determine whether exercise and physical activity can at certain points in a person’s lifetime improve cognitive ability and decrease the likelihood of age-related neurological diseases, like Alzheimer’s. Based on a review of the epidemiological literature, the authors found a significant relationship between physical activity and later cognitive function and decreased occurrence of dementia. And the benefits may last several decades.
In a few of the studies that examined men and women over 65 years old, the findings showed that those who exercised for at least 15-30 minutes at a time three times a week were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease, even if they were genetically predisposed to the disease. By examining the human intervention studies, a relationship was also found between fitness training and improved cognition, more efficient brain function and retained brain volume in older people
Other studies confirmed the evidence that fitness does have positive effects on brain function in older adults. A study of older adults who were randomly assigned to either a walking group or a stretching and toning control group for six months found that those in the walking group were better able to ignore distracting information in a distractibility task than those in the control group. Aerobically trained older adults showed increased neural activities in certain parts of the brain that involved attention and reduced activity in other parts of the brain that are sensitive to behavioral conflict.
More research is needed to know exactly how much and what types of exercise produce the most rapid and significant effects on thinking and the brain; how long exercise effects last following the end of training; or how much exercise is needed to get continued benefits.
SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING (From ACE Healthy Living Jan 16, 2019)
A key barrier to being physically active is an all-or-nothing mindset. Unless there is time for a full workout, why bother to start it at all? What is the point of eating carrots for dinner if I ate two cupcakes at work today? It’s Friday and I didn’t get one workout in this week—why bother doing one now? I have forgotten to drink water all day—well, I might as well have another soda. This type of thinking subconsciously drives disengagement in positive behaviors.
Although it doesn’t work with everything, the idea of “something is better than nothing” nicely applies to healthy behaviors. In other words, it is better to do something good—however small or seemingly insignificant—for your health and well-being than nothing at all.
Not convinced? Consider, for example, that a five-minute exercise interval performed once an hour may improve glucose and insulin levels in obese individuals better than one single longer session (Holmstrup et al., 2014).
Another study found that people who rode 10 minutes on a stationary bike had a sharper cognitive response to specific tests compared to individuals who read a magazine for the same amount of time (Samani and Heath, 2018). And immune function may be significantly enhanced with a 20-minute bout of exercise (Dimitrov, Huelton and Hong., 2017). As you can see from this small sample, the research confirming that something (in this case, a small amount of exercise) is better than nothing is encouraging.
Specifically, some movement is better than none. Standing is better than sitting. Walking or moving around is better than standing still. The same is true for other health behaviors that often feel challenging for some people. For example, drinking some water each day is better than drinking none. Eating some fruits and vegetables is better than eating none. Getting some sleep is better than getting none.
Here are some practical ideas for adding small doses of physical activity and movement into your daily life:
- Walk around your house while you are brushing your teeth.
- Every time the phone rings, go for a walk or do some wall-sits.
- Stand up once every 30 minutes and breathe deeply for 2 minutes while doing standing squats.
- Dance your way through household chores (it’s way more fun!).
- Convert your work station into a standing/active station.
- Make family time an active time.
- Anytime you have to wait for something, do squats or calf raises.
- Every time you have to use the restroom, do five push-ups (after might be best!).
- Perform standing lunges while fueling up your car.
- Go for a brisk 10-minute walk after dinner.
Adopting a few small healthy habits has the potential to progress into more healthy patterns over time and gives you the opportunity to experience what reaching your goal might feel like. Doing something rather than nothing also provides a sense of accomplishment, which initiates positive self-talk and self-empowerment.
YOU NEVER AGE OUT OF HAPPINESS AND HEALTH (from Guest Writer, Jason Lewis. Jason is passionate about helping seniors stay healthy and injury-free. He created StrongWell to share his tips on senior fitness. His website is strongwell.org )
Happy, healthy seniors have one thing in common: they never give up on life. And thanks to modern medicine and advanced technology, seniors are aging healthier than ever.
Pay attention to your gut – You already know that you shouldn’t ignore your “gut” feelings. But new research suggests that your intestines have a bigger role in your health than previously thought. Researchers have found that the healthiest seniors are those with a diverse microbiota. Eating fermented foods, taking a probiotic supplement, and abstaining from antibiotics unless absolutely necessary, are all ways to improve gut health and the population of good bacteria in your gut’s microbiome.
Up your energy levels – There are several ways to improve your energy levels, such as getting enough sleep and eating foods that are high in protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates, and vitamins. If you find that lifestyle changes aren’t enough, talk to your doctor about adding an energy supplement to your daily routine. Don’t just grab the first bottle off the shelf, however. Take the time to evaluate your actual needs and the options available.
Exercise for 30 minutes each day – According to Genesis Health + Fitness, 30 minutes is all it takes to change your life. Half an hour of exercise each day can help you lose weight, reduce stress, and lower your chances of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Plus, exercising can help keep your memory sharp.
Avoid brittle bones – Osteoporosis is a condition that leaves you with bones that can break without warning, and you may have to limit physical activities. The Mayo Clinic explains, however, that physical activity is one way to keep your bones healthy. Getting enough calcium is also important. If you’re not a milk drinker, make a point to eat calcium-fortified foods, dark green leafy vegetables, and salmon.
Thwart loneliness – Senior loneliness is an epidemic that, according to the Washington Post, is just as harmful as being a lifelong smoker. While it’s perfectly normal to feel lonely sometimes, don’t be afraid to drag yourself out of the house to attend church, visit the senior center, or volunteer reading to children at your local elementary school.
Don’t let age get in the way of your well-being. By implementing small changes, such as keeping tabs on your gut health and social activities, you’ll make your health a priority all year long.