PFTL News January 2023

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.”

PFTL News April 2022

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 [1], 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.”

PFTL News March 2019

4 WAYS TO MAINTAIN BALANCE WHEN THINGS GET HECTIC (ACE Healthy Living Feb 2019)

It seems as though the pace of life continues to gain speed. Constant events, deadlines, goals and to-do lists fill the calendar. This pace of life can become stressful. Unfortunately, stress is one of the primary causes of disease, unhappiness and anxiety. When you are really busy, it’s likely you don’t have time for a shower, much less a massage or a vacation. So, how do you make time for de-stressing? Let’s get right to the point, because time is of the essence. Try any of the following actions to improve your ability to reduce stress, maintain balance and enhance resiliency. Each idea can be implemented daily with little time commitment.

  1. Change the way you think – Shift your focus to abundance rather than lack. Focus on what you have rather than what you don’t. This simple mindset shift evokes gratitude and a sense of peace. We inherently fear failure and rejection. We worry about trying to control every outcome in our lives. We compare ourselves to other people, and we believe that we are always behind. As easy as it is to compare ourselves to others, it really is something to avoid. Each person has his or her own challenges, feelings of lack and bouts of unhappiness. We all have our own story, each is unique and different. It’s O.K. to be content with where you are right now and be grateful for what you have in the present.

Action: Start a gratitude journal – For one week, each night before bed, write down three things for which you feel grateful, proud, happy or content. Note how these things came into your life. At the end of the week, assess how you feel. It’s likely a mood shift may have occurred, and you feel less stressed.

  1. Take a break – In the midst of an overwhelming schedule, a selfish break can feel irresponsible. However, a short five- to 10-minute break will clear the mind, help with fatigue and provide a much-needed pause during a busy day. If possible, go for a short walk outdoors. Nature provides grounding energy, and movement improves blood flow and produces mood-enhancing hormones. Better yet, pair regular breaks with a daily bout of exercise. Maintaining a consistent exercise program, even when life is hectic, will enhance your physical and emotional abilities to deal with stress.

Action: Walk in the present – In the next hour, take a five-minute break for a walk. Notice your surroundings and pay attention to how your body feels. Take inventory of how you feel prior to the walk and again after the walk.

  1. Be a superhero – Physical activity, smiling, power postures and deep breathing are quick fixes for stress-related physical symptoms. Our bodies display stress in external ways—headaches, gastrointestinal issues, sleeplessness, general aches and pains can often be attributed to stress. Even if you don’t experience severe symptoms, it’s likely you have experienced fatigue, general tightness around the neck and shoulders, and a slouchy, tired posture. You can trick your body into feeling fewer physical symptoms of stress by changing your physical posture. Stand up straight, align the spine and smile. This power posture is an instant boost.

Action: Pose like a superhero – During moments of stress or general tiredness, stand up and place your hands on your hips. Pretend you are a superhero and puff up your chest. Take five deep breaths. Fill your lungs and belly to capacity. Next, smile for 10 seconds. The simple act of smiling sends a positive signal to the brain and allows the body to relax a bit. This power posture can be helpful before presentations and difficult conversations, and for those times when you just feel overwhelmed.

  1. Practice mindfulness – When life is overwhelming, your mind naturally spins with multiple thoughts. Focusing your thoughts on the past can create feelings of regret and depression, and focusing on the future can foster feelings of anxiety. The only place we can be without worry is truly in the present. That means letting go of expectations of anything except what happens right now. Most of us have future deadlines, goals and ambitions. Being mindful in the moment does not mean that we let go of those things. It simply means we turn our attention to the task at hand, and really place our focus and energy with it. For some, mindfulness is being fully immersed in work. Taking the time to eat slowly, taste and enjoy food is a form of mindfulness. Paying attention to how your body feels during movement is mindfulness. Mindfulness might also take the shape of paying attention to the breath, something that occurs all day long without you giving it a second thought. Whatever form mindfulness takes for you, the point is that it can be done anytime, anywhere, and it provides immediate results. In as little as 60 seconds, your body and mind can become calm, and a sense of balance can be restored.

Action: Breathe – Assume a comfortable position with a tall posture, standing or seated. Set a timer for one to three minutes. Close your eyes and pay attention to your breath. Follow the inhale, follow the exhale. Try to inhale for the same duration as you exhale. Notice how you feel before this exercise and after.

It takes conscious effort and commitment to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle. These four ideas are quick and efficient ways to navigate stress and maintain balance when life gets hectic.

WAYS TO PREVENT FALLING  (From Washington Post, Lean and Fit, Feb 27, 2019)

The author of this article had taken a fall and was apprehensive about falling again.  She was 53 years of age.  She consulted several people about how to prevent falls, and here are excerpts from that article regarding the advice she received.

  1. Practice the following:

Level 1. Balance on one foot. Start by doing it near a doorway or chair so there is something to grab for support.

Level 2. Use your non-dominant hand to stir a pot.

Level 3. Use your non-dominant hand to stir a pot while standing on one foot.

  1. If you are going to fall, the best way to do it is to bend a knee and roll at an angle over one shoulder to protect your hip and your noggin.
  2. Tuck your head, use your strength to direct your fall, and roll so that you take most of the impact on your backside, the upper back and/or gluts being the most resistant parts of your body.
  3. Wear “minimal” shoes with thin, flexible soles for both sports and everyday living. The information we get from the bottoms of our feet (the technical term is plantar neurosensory input) helps us maintain balance. This input, coupled with muscle strength and agility, is essential for generating a “good correctional movement” should we fall.

Debora’s Note:  I recently took a fall while walking fast on a dark street.  I tripped on uneven pavement and when I realized that I was not going to be able to regain balance, the one thing I told myself as I was falling, was, “Don’t hit your head on the sidewalk”. I did hit my nose and head, but I was able to keep from hitting hard by bracing myself with my arms.  Despite a lot of facial bruising, I was unharmed.  But I learned that walking in the dark requires one to pay extra attention to the surface you are walking on.

PFTL News February 2019

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.

PFTL News December 2018

NUTRITION MISFIRES (excerpted from IDEA Food and Nutrition Nov. 2018)

There is so much conflicting information about food and nutrition, it is a challenge to determine what is the correct information.  Stamp out misunderstandings by learning how top nutrition professionals set their clients straight on five all-too-common nutrition misfires.

Misfire #1 Sugar is bad; therefore, all carbs are bad.

“All carbs are not created equal,” advises Kathy McManus, MS, RDN, director of the Department of Nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “There are some unhealthy sources, like white bread, white rice, white potatoes, and foods containing added sugar (cake, cookies, candy and sugar-sweetened beverages). These foods raise blood sugar and can lead to diabetes and weight gain. But “The right types of carbohydrate foods, such as intact whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and other legumes, are the foundation for a healthy diet.” (Intact whole grains include all layers of the original kernel: bran, germ and endosperm.)

Focus on reducing added sugar, not on reducing sugar that occurs naturally, as in fruit or all carbohydrates. it is added sugar or refined grain, limit intake. If it’s in whole foods, dig in, though be mindful of portion control even with healthy foods.

Misfire #2 Vegetarian diets are healthy, so I should avoid all animal foods.

Vegetarians have lower rates of overweight and obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers compared with those on a typical American diet (Appleby & Key 2016). That sounds pretty compelling, but it doesn’t necessarily mean animal foods (meat, poultry, fish, dairy products) have no place in a healthy diet. In addition to protein, meats are sources of well-absorbed minerals, including iron and zinc, while milk and other dairy products are great sources of calcium.

Misfire #3 Gluten is bad for some people; therefore, everyone should avoid gluten.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. “The fact that gluten is a protein surprises people, since today’s food conversation is very positive about protein,” says Kim Kirchherr, MS, RDN, a nutrition consultant.  People with celiac disease react to gluten in a way that damages the lining of their small intestine, leading to digestive symptoms like bloating, diarrhea and malabsorption of nutrients.

Wheat sensitivities are not always related to gluten. “Some people with irritable bowel syndrome are intolerant to the carbohydrate portions of wheat called oligosaccharides. But the majority of us are totally okay to consume wheat and gluten,” says Denise Barratt, MS, RDN. She says gluten-free products may have less iron, fiber and B vitamins, so reconsider switching unless you need to avoid gluten for health reasons.

The message shouldn’t be to avoid gluten; it should be to choose more nutrient-dense breads made with whole-grain flours and, especially, more intact whole grains like barley and quinoa, which don’t raise blood sugar as much.

Misfire #4  Juicing is the best way to get your fruit and veggies.

Recent research has shown that juices are an effective way to increase vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients in the diet (Zheng 2017). In the U.S., most people don’t eat enough fruit or vegetables and may miss out on the nutrients they provide: vitamins A and C, potassium, fiber, phytonutrients, and more.

Juicers, however, usually remove fiber, and fiber is important for digestive health and cholesterol reduction, and it helps keep blood sugar under control.

Calories are another consideration. You are probably consuming a lot more calories from juice than you would if you were eating the whole fruit.

Misfire #5  Vitamins and minerals are essential for health, so I should take a lot of them.

Vitamins and minerals are critical for good health, but “bigger isn’t always better. We can’t easily get rid of excess vitamins stored in fat, such as fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. The B vitamins and vitamin C, on the other hand, are water-soluble, and we excrete what we can’t absorb, so taking an excess of those may mean you are essentially flushing the money you paid for them down the toilet.

While a multivitamin and mineral supplement containing around 100% of the Daily Values may be low risk and could make up for nutrients missing in the diet (Ward 2014), we have little research on the long-term effects of large doses of vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements. In the U.S., laws do not require the Food and Drug Administration to verify safety or effectiveness before dietary supplements are marketed to consumers (NIH 2011).

 

ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS.  DON’T FORGET TO EXERCISE,  EAT HEALTHY,  AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, BE NICE AND SMILE A LOT.