Saturday, May 29, 2010

Boston Celtics Strength Coach demonstrates the TRX row:

A great way to strengthen the mid and upper back for increased strength and better posture.  Great exercise for prevention of shoulder injuries.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Posture Training with the TRX:

This is a simple but effective to work on your posture and help prevent the rounded shoulders look that can happen when you spend too much time sitting in front of the computer or just too much sitting, period.

If you haven't done much resistance training before, this is a nice way to learn how to do this row correctly, by focusing on the finish position first.  I would also recommend that you work on your thoracic spine mobility with diaphragmatic (stomach) breathing.  You can find examples of that elsewhere on this blog.

Get moving!

Brian Morgan

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Simple Posture Exercises for Baby Boomers:

Here are some simple exercises to help with posture.  They can also be used as part of a warmup prior to exercise.  If you've been sitting at a desk all day long you especially need to do these.

Developing upper and mid-back strength is also a great way to help prevent osteoporosis and the rounded look that we often associate with aging - proper stretching and strengthening is the best way to reduce the risk of rounded shoulders.

The TRX is a great piece of equipment that can easily be used at home or on the road, if traveling. 

Monday, January 04, 2010

Exercise Helps Older Adults Improve Elasticity in Their Arteries:

Three months of physical activity can help those with type 2 diabetes increase the elasticity in their arteries - reducing their risk of heart disease and stroke.  This study looked at those between 65 and 83 who also had high blood pressure.

The exercise group used treadmills and stationary bikes three times a week for 60 minutes, working at 70% of their max heart rate.  The previously sedentary individuals completed three months of exercise, compared to the control group who did no exercise.  (source - Science Daily)

Walking is something simple that can be done by most anyone.  Different forms of dancing or Tai Chi has also been suggested as a way to keep seniors moving and increase their levels of physical activity.  Group classes can add an important social component and add some fun, as well.

I would also suggest some strength training to help support the joints and keep the bones strong.  Strength usually decreases with age, particularly for those who are sedentary.  Adequate strength levels can help keep your mobility as you age.

I recently had an 84 year old gentleman come in for a few exercise sessions and he was able to do more than you might think.  This also showed that in many cases it really is a matter of "move it or lose it."  If you want to try to maintain physical function as you age you need to be proactive in your approach. 

Get moving!

Brian Morgan

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Reducing Disabilities in 60-somethings!

A recent study revealed that more people are entering their sixties with disabilities.

The study from UCLA looked at basic activities of daily living such as walking throughout the house, climbing stairs, mobility, and simple household tasks.  It appears that those in this age group are seeing an increase in disabilities related to these activities.

Besides the obvious advice to remain physically active to help reduce this occurrence, I would offer some specific recommendations:

Getting up from a chair or getting out of bed - practice bodyweight squats to keep your lower body both strong and flexible.  Hold onto something for support if necessary - assisted squats with a suspension trainer like the TRX will work.

The same goes for the typical loss of mobility that may occur with aging - Move it or Lose it!  Don't spend all your time sitting.

If you can't go anywhere to walk than walk up and down the stairs several times throughout the day.  Remember, exercise doesn't have to be 30 minutes of continuous activity to be effective, according to recent guidelines set forth by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association.

Doing step up exercises with your own bodyweight or dumbbells will help maintain leg strength and balance - both are crucial to maintaining mobility and preventing falls.  Resistance (strength) training is also key to maintaining joint stability and bone health.

Most strength programs for those over 50 involve exercises in a seated or lying position.  There are a couple of problems with this:  One, these positions don't require you to develop coordination or balance in a standing position, which is where most activities of daily living occur.

Two, exercise done while seated places more stress on your back, according to spine studies done in the '70's.  Seated exercises in positions of poor posture places even more stress on the spine.  Since most people in this age group have had postural changes, I think you can see the risk  potential here.

The first step is to maintain an active lifestyle, including some form of resistance training.  For those who have already lost some mobility and strength, you would be advised to work with a professional who can guide you safely through some type of program.

Get moving!

Brian Morgan

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Posture Affects Confidence in Your Thoughts:

Researchers have found that posture can affect not just how people perceive you, but how confident you are in your mind. 

A study involving college students had them in positions of good posture while seated or slumped over.  They were then asked to write about positive or negative characteristics of their future employment.

Surprisingly, the position they were asked to maintain correlated strongly with their thoughts of future job placement.  Basically, good posture gave them positive thoughts!

This is something that I have often thought in recent years.  After doing a lot of joint mobility training in the last six years, my posture has improved greatly, along with my movement efficiency - meaning, my everyday movements are more coordinated and smooth.

I think this carries over to how people on the street perceive you.  At 6' 5 (when I stand up straight!), I'm taller than most people and when you walk upright you seem to stand out more.  At least it seems that people take notice of me because of my good body mechanics and relaxed gait.

Which wasn't always the case, as I used to have pretty poor posture and ended up doing damage to my shoulders while lifting weights.  I think that stress and too much time seated can have an effect here, but your confidence levels and/or anxiety levels seem to also play a role.

At least, I believe it did in my case.  As a shy introvert with some social anxiety, I think my body positions reflected my confidence levels or lack there of.  So some specific training can definitely help and breathing exercises that emphasize abdominal breathing can't hurt either.

If nothing else, "fake it 'til you make it."  Meaning, if you stay positive and give off the illusion of good posture and confidence, maybe you just might make some internal changes to go along with the external.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Reduce Arthritis Pain and Get Your Life Back

Red, burning, swollen and so stiff you don't want to move... that's what those who suffer from arthritis experience on a daily basis. If you know this all to well, you are probably one of the 46 million Americans (that's 1 out of every 5 people) that are living with arthritis every day. To better understand how to get relief from this debilitating disease we need to dive deeper into its root cause.

Some of the types of arthritis which are associated with inflammation include:

    * rheumatoid arthritis
    * gout
    * tendinitis
    * bursitis
    * polymyalgia rheumatica

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis actually means joint (arthr) inflammation (itis).   Arthritis can be used to define a group of more than 100 rheumatic diseases and other conditions that can cause pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints or any part of your body.

Additionally, it can damage the joint cartilage which can lead to joint weakness, instability and visible deformities that can interfere and, in severe cases, limit a person's ability to perform most basic daily tasks such as walking, climbing stairs, using a computer keyboard, washing dishes or brushing your teeth.

Arthritis can affect anyone regardless of age and most commonly affects joints in the knees, hips, hands and spine. If left undiagnosed and not treated properly, arthritis can cause irreversible damage to the joints, bones, organs, and skin. Not to mention dramatically impair your quality of life.

Arthritis-related conditions primarily affect the muscles and the bones but it is also considered to be systemic, affecting the whole body. Arthritis can cause damage to any bodily organ or system, including the lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, skin and even the heart. The Arthritis Foundation sites two independent studies (Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota) both of which prove that the widespread inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis is linked to heart disease and an increased risk of early death.

No one really knows the exact cause of arthritis but there are certain risk factors to keep in mind:

    * Genetics - likely to contribute to risk but no one knows
      how much.
    * Age - the older you are the more at risk you become.
    * Weight - maintaining a healthy weight will ease the load on
      the joints.
    * Previous Injury - major injuries are likely to contribute to
    * Occupational Hazards - repetitive, high demand jobs increase
    * Certain Sports - high level, high demand sports can
      contribute to arthritis (however, general exercise is always
      a plus)
    * Illness or infection - an infection in the joint or gout can
      lead to arthritis.

What we do know is that when you have arthritis your immune system goes into over-drive and causes the joints to swell and become inflamed. Therefore, treating the inflammation becomes key in managing the pain and discomfort associated with this condition.

Sadly enough, the Arthritis Foundation reports that half of those Americans with arthritis don't believe anything can be done to help ease their pain. You may be in that situation yourself, having thrown your hands up in frustration and simply decided to live with your pain. The good news is that by reducing the inflammation you
can significantly ease the painful symptoms associated with arthritis.

Here are a few ways to reduce your inflammation:

    * Exercise - less weight equals less stress on joints
    * Diet - Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole-grain
      products; limit sugar, salt and fat (especially saturated fat
      found in animal products)
    * Rest - a good balance between rest and activity is the key to
      joint health
    * Over-the-counter and prescription medications - while these may
      provide temporary relief by masking the pain they are not always
      get to the root of the problem - inflammation. They can also
      have serious side effects, especially with long-term use.
    * Natural anti-inflammatory supplements - probably the most
      promising natural approach to reducing inflammation in a long
      while. We recommend looking for supplements containing systemic
      enzymes and all-natural herbal ingredients.

By taking these simple steps to reducing inflammation you will be well on your way to managing your arthritis pain and it devastating effects on your mind and body. Everyone should strive to achieve a healthy and
active lifestyle for optimal health and wellbeing.

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