Tag Archive for: Aging Strong Pilates

Foam rolling is a form of self-massage that alleviates tightness and trigger points (aka muscle knots) by using your body’s weight against a foam roller. The benefits are many.

 

 

BENEFITS OF FOAM ROLLING:
  • Increases blood flow and elasticity of muscle tissue, joints, and fascia, the body’s connective tissue, which helps with mobility and overall well-being.
  • Reduces inflammation that occurs during the muscle repair process.
  • Helps injury prevention by maintaining muscle length and alleviating tension and tightness.
  • Releases tension promoting relaxation.
FOAM ROLLING PRO-TIP: 

Click to view the video. If you are new to the Aging Strong Pilates Facebook Community, you will have to join the group to see the video.

For all the moves, you’ll want to stop wherever it feels tight or tender. Breathe allowing the pressure and stillness to create a release. You’ll note the benefit immediately. When you experience that release, inhale, and then as you exhale, slowly roll your way to another tight spot and repeat.

DEMONSTRATIONS:

Want to see some demonstrations of key roller exercises? Watch the video on our Aging Strong Pilates private FB page where I demonstrate effective techniques to melt away your stress and your knots. You can also ask your questions there. I moderate daily.

 

HOW ELSE CAN YOU USE THE ROLLER?

The foam roller is not just for relieving knots and tension. It can also be used to increase the challenge to certain muscles and improve your postural stabilizers which are important for balance.

Imagine lying on your back with bent knees, the soles of your feet on a roller that’s perpendicular to your body.  Doing bridging this way increases the challenge to the muscles in the back of your legs because your feet are on an unstable surface that, without adequate hamstring firing, will roll away from you.

Here’s another scenario:

Lying vertically on the roller with your head to your buttocks supported by the roller- similar to the photo on top, knees bent, feet and fingertips on the floor.  Challenge your postural stabilizers by marching in place – lifting and lowering one bent knee. Notice how your balance systems kick into high gear to keep you from falling off the roller.

YOUTUBE FOR ROLLER AND MORE

My Youtube channel “BoneSmart Pilates” has many free videos that support your movement practice. Check out this one which includes 6 Great Foam Roller Exercises to Start Your Day!

 

Getting yourself up and moving in the morning isn’t always easy. You might find that on some days, you wake up feeling achy and full of tension. This could be caused by inactivity the previous day, having worked on a laptop for long uninterrupted periods of time, overdoing a particular activity, or maybe just from sleeping in a weird position.

Please accept this holiday gift of the Fab 5 Morning Stretches to help release tension, relieve achiness, and get you moving with ease in the morning.

Inspired by nature, research, and my own body’s morning crankiness, I’m sharing what I found works well. By all means, add any of your favorite stretches in if you have the time.

I curated this list to ensure efficiency (short and sweet), effectiveness, and achievability.

 

You’ll notice in the video I mention pandiculation. Besides being a cool sounding word, it is an integral part of our sleep wake cycle.

 

According to Walusinski (2006), Pandiculation is the involuntary stretching of the soft tissues, which occurs in most animal species and is associated with transitions between cyclic biological behaviors, especially the sleep-wake rhythm.

 

Yawning is considered a special case of pandiculation that affects the musculature of the mouth, respiratory system and upper spine (Baenninger, 1997).

 

Yawning is probably one of the best ways to stretch in the morning.  That’s why I incorporated a yawn in two of my Fab 5 Stretches. It’s easy to stimulate a yawn, except when you’re filming yourself!

 

Here’s what’s working and stretching during a yawn. When you examine it closely, it’s a pretty comprehensive list!

  • Lungs – Yawning sucks in an increased load of air to boost the oxygen circulating in your body instantly kick starting your energy and vitality.
  • Eyes – When you yawn it’s amazing, your eyes squeeze shut, contracting the circular muscles around them moisten your eyeballs so when you open them your vision brightens sending a jolt to that region of your brain that deals with consciousness, self-reflection, memory retrieval and alertness!
  • Mouth – yawning stretches your mouth open, your nostrils flare and stretch all your facial muscles including your palate, lips, forehead, chin all from the inside out.
  • Ears – remarkably you’re also stretching your ears inside and out when you yawn.
  • Neck – The act of yawning causes you to involuntarily tilt your head back. This opens your throat effectively stretching the front and back of your neck.
  • Torso – When you draw in that breath, your diaphragm expands, your ribcage widens 3 dimensionally, your back arches so all your vertebrae get a wake up nudge, you trigger those large back muscles, your tummy stretches waking up your stomach, and these movements start to massage your liver, your intestines and your bladder!

 

If you think in terms of kinetic energy, a yawn stretches your body like a rubber band. All the connective tissue pulls, then you release. Your body stretches to its “end feel”, innately knowing that’s as far as it can go without causing harm. It’s arguably the safest stretch you can do!  It’s like nature’s little adrenaline shot to help wake you up.

 

So, yawn your way to a great day!

 

Happy Hands and Feet Exercise Cheat Sheet

View the Video for details

 

HANDS

Roll Back and Forth with

  • Palm Up
  • Knife Edge
  • Palm Down

Squeeze and Release

 

FEET

Roll Back and Forth Lightly

Press and Roll Deeply

In and Out (inversion/eversion)

Squeeze and lift

 

 

Have you found navigating my online booking system challenging?
I created these short video tutorials to make everything easy peasy, crystal clear!
  1. First view the “Overview for All” before clicking the video for the category of class that interests you.
  2. Bookmark my scheduling home page BoneSmartPilates.as.me for easy access
  3. If you prefer using mobile devices, download the free app “Acuity Scheduling Client” from the App store. My sisters find it easy to navigate.
  4. Always Log In whenever you’re on the site. If  you haven’t created an account you can Create an Account Here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want to thank you, my clients, for bearing with me as I’ve transitioned to a new online appointment scheduling system. After 2 decades of pen and paper documentation, I’ve finally taken the leap. There are the inevitable road bumps and you’ve been so patient during my learning curve. I anticipate more hiccups and ask for your patience as we charter this new territory together.

Below are 3 separate video tutorials I’ve created to help you navigate the new system. Each video is dedicated to the type of class you’re interested in whether it be New Client Welcome packages, Group Classes, or Private Sessions.  I hope you find them helpful but as always, I’m only a quick email away to lend a helping hand!

Step by Step Tutorial for booking online virtual classes

This tutorial above targets orienting New Clients to the new online scheduling system, those of you who have never taken a class from me but are curious.  Perhaps you have one of my DVDs, like my teaching style, and want to try out a Zoom class.  There are some amazing Welcome Packages for newcomers and a Free Consultation to answer your questions and discuss your goals.

Need a gift idea? Welcome Packages can be purchased as Gift Certificates to print or share electronically ranging from $25-$50, They make an exceptional gift of health for a friend or loved one. Details in this video. Single group class certificates are also available for $20 and a 3 pack of Express Private Sessions are available for $175

 

 

 

Follow along as I guide you in the steps to purchase/register for Virtual Group classes on my new online scheduling platform at  bonesmartpilates.as.me

This is for those who are taking group classes with me and need a little extra guidance to navigate this appointment software. This is also appropriate for those of you new to my group classes and who are ready to commit to an active aging class.

 

Online Scheduling for Private Clients of BoneSmart Pilates

Need a little help booking your Private Appointment? Follow me above in this step by step tutorial on how to purchase and book private appts with my new online scheduling system located at BoneSmartPilates.as.me

 

Here it is, almost 10 months after I started this ReCode (Reverse Cognitive Decline) Clinical Trial.

Allow me to back up for a moment and share with you what got me concerned about my brain health in the first place. Back in 2019 and before, I noticed I was forgetting people, appointments, names, why I was holding the object in my hands, and so on.  True it’s common for that to happen occasionally but it was happening more and more frequently. I have a strong family history of Alzheimer’s disease and I was worried.

Through clinical study genetic testing, I learned that I carry the ApoE4 gene, that sucky one that makes me susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease. The good news from the book “End of Alzheimer’s”  written by Dr. Dale Bredesen from which this clinical trial is based, is that your genes are not your destiny.  I believe that is true really of any genetic predisposition you might have for whatever disease. The genetic gun may be loaded but you have the power and choice to avoid the triggers that will tip the balance that puts you over the edge.  Those are the secrets I learned in this trial. How not to pull the trigger.

Time to celebrate!

What are my key learnings from this clinical trial that might help you?  I’ve experienced improvements in cognition, weight loss, sleep, gum health, and overall energy.  When reading the recommendations given to me, keep in mind that many of the nutritional supplements and hormone choices were selected for my unique biochemistry so the type and dosage may not translate to you. Best to consult with your own wellness practitioner for customization.

My Cognition Improved
The Recode protocol which includes a combination of a Ketogenic diet, Intermittent Fasting, exercise, nutritional and hormonal supplementation, brain training, and mindfulness training has helped me to crawl out of the abyss of cognitive decline.

  • Cognitive function tests have all markedly improved since baseline testing in December of 2019 to the point of testing “out of the range” of cognitive decline to normal levels.  I was in the range of “cognitive decline” for my initial testing.

I lost considerable weight

  • I lost 15 pounds on this diet, with a noticeable improvement around my waistline. I’ve lost fat but not muscle as evidenced by the physical testing that I underwent at the beginning and end of the study and by Body Mass Index (BMI) testing on special equipment.  For me, I believe the aspects that contributed to weight loss were intermittent fasting (no nighttime snacking), no sugar, high fat/low carb ketogenic diet which includes no bread. Exercise is also very important but I was doing that already. It was the food and fasting that were the new variables.

I’m Sleeping Better

  • Since I’ve been in this study my sleep has markedly improved.  I used to get up repeatedly to go to the bathroom and at times would have difficulty getting back to sleep. I now sleep through the night and when I do get up, I can fall right back asleep easily.
    From my understanding, the following that I’m taking positively affects my sleep. Remember it may look very different for you and your body.

Over the counter supplements:

    • NeuroMag by Designs for Health 3 capsules at bedtime  (=144 mg magnesium)
    • Melatonin SRT by Designs for Health 1 tablet bedtime (6mg)

Prescription meds

    • Progesterone 200mg cap (Costco has it the cheapest)
    • Naltrexone 3mg tablet

Improved Gum Health

  • Dentalcidin toothpaste with Biocidin by Bio-Botanical Research is the natural toothpaste that I’ve been provided to use for the entire clinical study. My dental hygienist asked me what I was doing differently as my gum health improved significantly. I told her about the study and apparently, the change in diet and toothpaste resulted in this improvement.  Marie, one of my Pilates students, started using this same toothpaste after I mentioned it in class and she shared this with me. “I went to my dentist yesterday and got a great review on how well my gums looked after using this natural toothpaste.”

Reflecting on this clinical trial I found further evidence of the efficacy of a multimodal approach to cognitive decline and the prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease.   Doctors often tell patients at high risk of Alzheimer’s due to having pre-dementia conditions—such as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) or Subjective Cognitive Impairment (SCI)—that there is really nothing that they can do other than wait and monitor. A recent study from Australia suggests that advice may be out of date. Researchers found that modest lifestyle changes (e.g., a nutrition plan, a physical exercise plan, and BrainHQ brain training which was all included in my clinical trial plus more) significantly reduced Alzheimer’s risk after only eight weeks. You can read a news article about the study here.

As I contemplate life after ReCode, I know that I’ll continue brain training, sauna, intermittent fasting, and will continue with the Dentalcidin toothpaste. I’ll maintain aspects of the ketogenic diet, and will add some carb cycling in.  I miss things like my brown rice and beans, bananas, and sweet potatoes. I don’t really miss bread and will choose to keep that at bay. I believe dropping bread and sugar contributed to my weight loss.  As I prepare to have my final clinical study doctor appt on Oct. 8, I’ll be advised then on how to smoothly transition out of clinical study mode with guidelines on what supplements to continue and what I can drop.  I’ll fill you in on the details next month in my epilogue!

The countdown is on for my Recode clinical trial. 

For those not familiar, I’m embarking on the final month of a 9-month clinical trial for preventing and reversing cognitive decline.

This clinical trial follows Dr. Dale Bredesen’s approach that includes a ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting, nutritional and hormonal supplementation, detoxification, online brain training, and mindfulness training.

The trial is being conducted by a medical doctor, a physiatrist, a nutritionist, and an exercise coach.  It has been a journey of self-discovery, determination, new insights, memory improvement, and weight loss.

I am so thankful for having the opportunity to be included in this study. Having the accountability of keeping data charts and having regular meetings with the doctor and nutritionist helped me to stay on target. I knew that if I faltered or had questions, I could reach out for support. That is invaluable.

Brain Progress

Now, how has my brain been faring through all of this given that brain function was my ultimate focus in joining this clinical trial?

My different milestone cognitive tests along the 9 months have all displayed an upward trajectory, meaning my brain is clearer and the test numbers prove it!

I’ll have final cognitive testing done the first week of October to wrap things up including another MRI and a slew of other tests.

I’m hoping a lot of the junk in my system that was discovered like herpes zoster, Lyme, and mold will be cleared out with the various interventions the doctor has added to my protocol.

Brain Fun Fact – Learning Changes the Brain

     
Every time you learn something new or create a new memory, your brain physically changes. New connections are forged between neurons to represent the new thing.

That explains why the brains of people who have expertise in a certain field look a little different from the brains of people without that expertise.

For instance, London taxi drivers traditionally had a larger hippocampus than the typical person, because their brains were specialized to know all the complex intricacies of the London street map. Bilingual people and musicians, too, show brain growth in areas corresponding to language and playing music, respectively.

Each one of us has unique brain maps, reflecting our own life experiences!  Pretty cool right!  This underscores the fact that our brains are plastic, and are able to make new connections throughout our lifetime. Let’s keep learning new things and keep those connections going!

Pour on the olive oil and oil your brain!  

Keep in mind that not all olive oil is created equally.  It should be extra virgin, relatively fresh, and used raw or cooked only to low temperatures; otherwise, you may be missing out on some of the nutritional punch.

Why olive oil?
There’s a fair amount of scientific evidence that olive oil is good for the brain. For starters, it’s rich in polyphenols and vitamin E, both of which have been shown to protect against cognitive problems.

What’s more, it’s a key part of the Mediterranean diet, which multiple studies suggest is good for cognitive function. Martha Clare Morris, Ph.D., includes olive oil as one of the 10 essential brain-healthy food groups in her MIND diet (designed specifically for cognitive health) which has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 53%.

This is just shy of the 7 month mark-2/3 of the way through my Recode clinical trial.

I continue to feel strong, alert, and energized.  The lead investigator was thrilled with the improvement in my recent 6 MONTH cognitive testing.

I’m at and maintaining what I feel is an optimal body weight for my frame and I’m happy to have finally lost my belly fat with this program. I’m even comfortable wearing crop tops and athletic bras, something I would not have considered a year ago.

 

Nutritional adjustment due to Osteopenia

With my recent diagnosis of osteopenia, my doctor has added Vitamin K (specifically Designs for Health Tri-K, vitamin K in three synergistic forms that help the Vitamin D keep the calcium in the bones) to my already existing Vit D supreme (also Designs for Health brand) which is important for Ca++ absorption.

Exercise Adjustment with Bone Health in Mind

Because my spine is more compromised than my hips which are just over the borderline into osteopenia, I’m adding more spine extension exercises into my repertoire to address this deficit.  Think the Bird Dog exercise on all 4’s with the opposite arm and leg reach and the following 2 extension exercises.

Calcium Sources

Because this clinical trial does not allow dairy, I’m hard-pressed to get sufficient Ca++ through my diet as I’m not a big fan of sardines or tofu, two non-dairy high Ca++ options. In addition to my oat milk which has a decent amount, I’m independently adding Bone Builder Forte by Metagenics, a good bioavailable Ca++ supplement.

Ketone Levels

My blood ketone levels are finally consistent at the ideal levels of over 1.0 for the study. This is thanks in part to the addition of exogenous ketones, specifically Designs for Health Keto-Nootropic.

Keto Support Group

I belong to a local Keto lifestyle support group where we learn from each other as we share our trials and triumphs. Some of the topics we recently discussed I thought might be of interest to you.

What am I eating?
I start the day with an oat milk latte (which has a good amount of Ca++)

Lunch is typically an omelet with veggies and salmon or sometimes a slice of bacon and a whole avocado drizzled with plenty of olive oil.  Other times it’s a soup with extra olive oil for the increased healthy fat with an avocado.  A Sunday brunch favorite is almond flour waffles topped with crushed berries and nuts.

Dinner can fluctuate between chicken, fish, sometimes beef, with a side of veggies and salad.  Our zucchini crop is abundant so I’m having a lot of zoodles (zucchini noodles) with various toppings like ragu sauce or pesto.

 

Sauna
There are studies linking positive cognitive function with regular sauna use.  I’ve been without a sauna for the last 3 months as a result of the COVID lockdown. My friend recently invited me to use his own far infrared sauna so I’m adding that back in which feels wonderful.  I’m grateful for this detox opportunity.

What’s the Key?

“What do you think is making the most difference?” is a question I get asked a lot.

Honestly, I believe it’s a combination of many factors including:

  • Improved quality and quantity of sleep
  • The addition of targeted supplementation and balancing my hormones
  • Intermittent fasting for regulating my metabolism
  • Getting the junk out of my diet!
  • Consistent and varied exercise has been key including my Pilates, HIIT workouts 2x/week, dancing, walking, and biking.
  • Online brain training because I’m seeing objective improvement and I can see my focus and processing speed improving.

So can I point to one thing?  No. That’s why the Recode Protocol is a multi-modal approach and why a single pill will not address cognitive decline.

Question posed by a Reader

I wanted to share a question that one of you had which as requested, I posed to my doctor.

“If you have osteoporosis, can the Keto diet be followed? Everything I read is that it is acidic and you need an alkaline diet”

The doctor’s response:
“If you follow the keto diet according to our protocol, then it will be fine because ours is more of a Plant-Based diet with less emphasis on meat, especially red meat.  This keeps it less acidic.”

What I’ve learned independently is that eating too much animal protein also can leach calcium from your bones, so if you have osteopenia or osteoporosis, you should limit red meat to two times a week and keep portions small – 4 to 6 ounces.

A study published in Advances in Nutrition in January 2017 found that cutting down on red and processed meats as well as soft drinks, fried foods, desserts, and refined grains all had a positive impact on bone health.

According to the research, the best diet for the prevention of osteoporosis includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, fish and poultry, nuts, and legumes.

After this study is over

With my DXA (bone test) results, I will personally be adding pasture-raised dairy and A2 milk back into my diet after the study is over, to support my bones.  I’ll also be checking in with my doctor on which supplements I should stay on for the long term to support my cognition.

If you’re on or starting the Keto lifestyle or the Mediterranean diet, share your struggles and wins here.  I’d love to learn from and celebrate with you!

Do you know someone who seems to have 80 hobbies and are always looking for the next one? Maybe you’ve thought, “They must just have too much time on their hands.”  The truth is, they probably work hard at making time for hobbies. Learning a new skill offers a slew of mental, physical and social benefits for people in all walks of life. 

Whether you’re in school, in the middle of your career, living in your golden years, recovering from substance abuse or anywhere in between, finding a good hobby can keep you healthy and enjoying life. Here are five mentally engaging hobbies that can be learned online or with a group of friends.

Learn an instrument

One skill that is good for the mind and helps people express their thoughts and feelings is playing a musical instrument. It can also increase your capacity for memory, strengthen your dexterity and coordination, lift your mood, and boost your self-confidence. Furthermore, developing musical comprehension can improve your communication skills, and playing in a group can strengthen your interpersonal skills. A lot goes into choosing the right instrument, so do your research and pick one that interests you and fits your personality. 

Read

Besides the entertainment aspects, reading is beneficial for people of all ages. Along with being a critical part of child development, reading a variety of topics and genres is an effective way of gaining general knowledge and expanding your vocabulary. It has also been proven to reduce stress and improve cognitive function by boosting memory, concentration and focus, as well as strengthening analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. Reading a traditional book promotes healthy sleep. For those who are interested in writing, reading also helps you become a better writer. 

Write

Similar to reading, writing is beneficial for any age, whether it’s done traditionally or digitally. It engages and stimulates your brain, sharpens your focus and provides an outlet for creatively expressing unresolved thoughts and feelings. Writing can even slow down the aging process, calm the nerves, and ease anxiety and depression symptoms. Additionally, there is a plethora of different forms and subjects to write about, so there’s something for everyone. If you’re looking for a good excuse to unplug from our tech-driven world, opt for writing some of your material by hand

Dance

If you’re looking for a hobby that’s more kinetic in nature, dance may be the one for you. Some of the many benefits include improved mood, positive self-image, increased energy and more neural connections, a big plus as we age! 

There are many ways to increase your skill in dance, whether by taking a class or just dancing to music in your living room. For the former, active agers may have access to dance classes if they’re signed up for a qualifying Medicare Advantage plan. SilverSneakers, a program specializing in senior-focused fitness activities, is included in many Medicare Advantage plans offered by health insurance companies like Humana. Your local YMCA is a valuable resource for Zumba and other movement-oriented activities. The Y offers programs for people of all ages and abilities and always has something fun for those ready to take up a new fitness-focused hobby. 

Volunteer

While volunteering is a great way for retirees to stay physically, mentally and socially active, it has just as many benefits for people in other age groups. Volunteering at a nonprofit (e.g., food pantry, animal shelter, church, museum, etc.) is a great opportunity to step out of the stresses of your personal life and help others. It can also be a base for socializing and building new friendships, enhancing school and college experience, providing better job opportunities, and reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s while helping you age gracefully.  

Keeping your mind engaged is not only helpful, but it’s also essential for anyone who wants to live a long and healthy life. Reading, writing, playing an instrument, dancing and volunteering are all mentally challenging activities that are worth trying, no matter your age or life circumstances. Whether you opt for local classes or go online for free tutorials, find a hobby to make a lasting difference in your quality of life.

Photo Credit: Unsplash  

Cheryl Conklin

www.wellnesscentral.info

We’ve known about the perils of tech neck and texting thumb. Now we have budding phone horns?

Our mobile devices can seem like a godsend-until they wreak havoc on our necks and backs. There’s been a recent buzz about the research out of Australia. It shows that there are bony horn-like protuberances growing at the base of our youth’s skulls as a direct result of the forces on the neck from Tech neck, that extreme forward bent position of the neck while using one’s phone.  Whether or not the research on the “phone horns” will be replicated and further validated, that forward flexed posture should be of concern to all of us long term for the impact on our spine, especially as we age.  You can read the full article here.

Bony phone horn protuberances seen in the Australian research

Bad posture can lead to early joint wear and tear and possible future surgeries.  According to research done by Dr. Hansraj chief of spine surgery at NY Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, looking at a phone at a 60-degree angle is about the same as applying 60 lbs of force to your spine.  That’s roughly the weight of an 8 y/o child. It’s easy to see in the illustration below how the more forward bent the head is, the greater the forces and stress on the spine.

You can circumvent these problems with a little adjustment to your posture when holding your devices!

The following videos I’ve created, demonstrate practical strategies to hold your mobile phone/iPad efficiently in various positions:

  1. Standing

2. Sitting

3. Lying in bed reading (research shows that the blue light emitted from using a mobile device at night in bed interferes with melatonin production and sleep quality but if you choose to do so, please follow my postural guidelines)

I’d love to hear in the comments section if these tips help you, your kids or grandkids.

We all have our postural faults, especially if we lose focus. Mine is rib flaring, that tendency to jut the bottom ribs forward in a faulty attempt to open the chest or lengthen the body. This often results in excess back tension and pain.

With mindfulness and an awareness of this tendency, I can better control this common error and so can you!

The secret is, no surprise, “connection”.  I like to use the image of 2 vertical bungee cords connecting my front bottom ribs with my pelvis.  Watch the video to test if you’re a rib flarer and learn 2 exercises to help fix it.