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Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

Photo: Jonathan Wiggs /Globe Staff
Lauren Mayhew was my Essentrics teacher for a year. Here she is leading a class at the Steinberg Wellness Center for Mind and Body. Despite the photo, Essentrics doesn’t have students hold positions.

I was never one for doing exercise for exercise’s sake, but a couple decades ago, my doctor friend Anna insisted I take up something. I’m so glad she did.

I knew that in order to do any exercise regularly, it would have to be something I really enjoyed, so I started walking every day. I don’t walk fast, but I keep the joints moving, and I learned that any sort of walking fulfills that Holy Grail called “weight-bearing activity.” I also love the time to think, and I like taking pictures on my walk.

In addition to walking, I take two exercise classes. I’ve been taking tai chi chuan at Zhen Ren Chuan for more than six years. I like taking tai chi chuan at a martial arts studio because the moves are more clear and understandable than at another place I tried. They are clear because the martial arts people like to tell you the self-defense origins of the moves.

Tai chi chuan is great for balance and moving your body in a seamless way so you don’t stress the joints as you might do when holding a yoga position.

Moving in a seamless way is also the goal of a class I’ve been taking for two years called Essentrics. Essentrics was developed by a former ballerina and aims to strengthen and stretch all the muscles in every session, with beneficial attention to often neglected hands and feet.

Although the tai chi class includes many young people who are also studying martial arts, my midday Essentrics class has mostly retired people, many of whom have had injuries of one kind or another.

What do you do for exercise? Do you take any classes? As a child I took a lot of ballet classes, and ever since then, I’ve had the idea that you make friends in classes. Do you find it works that way with grown-ups? Since starting exercise lessons again as an adult, I find that most grownups keep their heads down and avoid eye contact. I can’t figure out why that is.

Here’s a Boston Globe article that explains how Essentrics helps improve posture. Lauren Mayhew, one of my teachers, is featured in the story.

Photo: Zhen Ren Chuan
The Zhen Ren Chuan website highlights its community garden: “Our families learn horticulture as well as Martial Arts.” Students and teachers keep the school’s corner of the business district neat as a pin.

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Photo: Alamy
Exercise and social activities could help to reduce the risk of developing dementia in later life, according to a new report.

Although there is no cure yet for dementia, lifestyle changes have the potential to reduce new cases by as much as one-third.

Nicola Davis writes at the Guardian about a recent report from the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention and care. The study suggests that many “dementia cases might be avoided by tackling aspects of lifestyle including education, exercise, blood pressure and hearing. …

“ ‘There are a lot of things that individuals can do, and there are a lot of things that public health and policy can do, to reduce the numbers of people developing dementia,’ said Gill Livingston, professor of psychiatry of older people at University College London and a co-author of the report. …

“ ‘We expect it to be a long-term change that will be needed for exercise; joining a gym for two weeks is probably not going to do it,’ she said.

“Clive Ballard, professor of age-related diseases at the University of Exeter medical school and also a co-author of the report, added that the evidence suggests individuals should also try to follow a Mediterranean diet, maintain a healthy weight and keep an eye on their blood pressure. …

“The results reveal that as many as 35% of dementia cases could, at least in theory, be prevented, with 9% linked to midlife hearing loss, 8% to leaving education before secondary school, 5% to smoking in later life and 4% to later life depression. Social isolation, later life diabetes, midlife high blood pressure, midlife obesity and lack of exercise in later life also contributed to potentially avoidable cases of dementia, the report notes. …

“They admit that the estimate that more than a third of dementia cases could be prevented is a best case scenario, with the figures based on a number of assumptions, including that each factor could be completely tackled. …

“Fiona Matthews, professor of epidemiology at Newcastle University who was not involved in the report, said that interventions for depression and social isolation could still prove valuable. ‘If we could actually resolve some of that issue, even if it is not 100% causal, it is likely we might be able to slow [dementia] progression – even if [an individual] is on a pathway to developing dementia already,’ she said.

“She added that the proposed areas for action could offer myriad health benefits beyond lowering dementia risk. …

“The authors pointed out that an intervention that delayed dementia onset and progression by even a year could decrease the number of people with dementia worldwide in 2050 by nine million.”

More at the Guardian, here.

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Photo: Travel Blog
Crow Hop dance, one of several being adapted for exercise classes on the reservation.

A fitness program for members of a tribe in Idaho is showing results with its combination of exercise and spirituality.

Emily Schwing reports at National Public Radio, “In Indian Country, a gym membership is not a cultural norm and the incidence of heart disease and obesity are high. Native Americans are 60 percent more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic whites. The Coeur D’Alene tribe, whose headquarters is in northern Idaho, is trying to combat the problem by incorporating culture into fitness programs.

“The tribe has created an exercise routine — called ‘Powwow Sweat’ — based on traditional dancing. The program features a series of workout videos that break down six traditional dances into step-by-step exercise routines.

” ‘Drop the pringles and let’s jingle,’ commands Shedaezha Hodge, as she demonstrates the steps that make up the women’s ‘Jingle Dress’ dance.

“High steps, box steps, cross steps and kicks combine into a routine that would give any Zumba class a run for its money. …

“All the dances in the exercise program are typical at powwows, including the ‘Men’s Fancy Dance’ — which features four basic steps and a hip move. The hip move involves lifting your knee up, then circling it out to the side, all the while bouncing to the drum beat.

” ‘I lost 13 1/2 pounds,’ says Ryan Ortivez, who attends the weekly ‘Powwow Sweat’ classes at the Coeur D’Alene Wellness Center, in Plummer, Idaho. …

“The CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] has given the Coeur D’Alene tribe $2 million to develop ‘Powwow Sweat.’ It also supports a community garden on the reservation and a project that stocks the gas station market with healthy food options. …

“Mainstream fitness and nutrition programs don’t meet the needs of tribal members, [LoVina Louie, director of the tribe’s wellness center] says.

” ‘What they lack is spirituality,’ says Louie. ‘Most programming is only physical, or it’s only nutrition. It’s in these compartments — whereas we’re more holistic,’ Louie says. …

“It’s this combination of tradition and exercise that keeps tribal member Ryan Ortivez and his neighbors coming to class each week, to watch the videos and dance alongside each other.

” ‘It’s a lot more attractive than doing jogging or the bicycle for me, because it also relates to my culture,’ says Ortivez.

I’m in love with my community, first and foremost,’ he says. ‘My people. I love to see my community get involved and get active and be healthy.’ “

More here. Be sure to see the great little videos.

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Photo: Milwaukee Public Schools
Sarah Wenzel and her class at Forest Home Elementary demonstrate a series of poses from the YogaKids cards, http://www.yogakids.com.

When I was in kindergarten, someone would come to play the piano and we children would walk in a circle pretending to be giraffes (re-e-eaching!) and elephants (swinging gently while bent over).

Just the other day, I realized that those kindergarten stretches were the same as stretches I’ve been doing for my back.

Decades ago, schools like mine were helping kids exercise for health. Now an increasing number of studies suggest that moving while in class helps children’s brains learn better, too.

Donna de la Cruz writes at the NY Times, “Sit still. It’s the mantra of every classroom. But that is changing as evidence builds that taking brief activity breaks during the day helps children learn and be more attentive in class, and a growing number of programs designed to promote movement are being adopted in schools. …

“A 2013 report from the Institute of Medicine concluded that children who are more active ‘show greater attention, have faster cognitive processing speed and perform better on standardized academic tests than children who are less active.’ And a study released in January by Lund University in Sweden shows that students, especially boys, who had daily physical education, did better in school.

“ ‘Daily physical activity is an opportunity for the average school to become a high-performing school,’ said Jesper Fritz, a doctoral student at Lund University and physician at the Skane University Hospital in Malmo, who was the study’s lead author. …

“ ‘Kids aren’t meant to sit still all day and take in information,’ said Steve Boyle, one of the co-founders of the National Association of Physical Literacy, which aims to bring movement into schools. ‘Adults aren’t wired that way either.’

“Mr. Boyle’s association has introduced a series of three- to five-minute videos called ‘BrainErgizers‘ that are being used in schools and Boys and Girls Clubs in 15 states and in Canada, Mexico, Ireland and Australia, he said. A version of the program is available to schools at no charge. …

“ ‘At the end of the week, kids have gotten an hour or more worth of movement, and it’s all done in the classroom with no special equipment,’ Mr. Boyle said. ‘We’re not looking to replace gym classes, we’re aiming to give kids more minutes of movement per week. And by introducing sports into the videos, giving kids a chance to try sports they may not have ever tried before.’ ”

To read more at the NY Times, click here.

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Germany is opening a 62-mile bike path. That’s what I call a long ride.

See what Charlie Sorrel (“previously found writing at Wired.com, Cult of Mac and Straight No filter”) has to say about it at Fast Company.

“Germany, the country famous for its speed-limit free stretches of Autobahn, is building car-free Autobahns for bikes. The Radschnellweg (‘fast bike path’) RS1 runs 62 miles between the cities of Duisburg and Hamm, passing through eight other cities along the way.

“Cycling is big and growing in Germany. In Berlin, the school run is more likely to consist of a parent on a bike with two child seats than in an SUV. Cycling is done for pleasure, but also as just another way to get around. Cities already have extensive cycling infrastructure, and in the countryside, you can find wide, smoothly-paved bike highways.

“According to the ADFC, one kilometer of road costs around €10 million. One kilometer of bike highways runs to just €1.8 million. …

Says the ADFC’s (Germany’s bike association and advocate group) Ulrich Syberg. ‘When it’s ready, the world will look upon the Ruhr area and wonder, how many people can you motivate to switch from the car to the bike, and much this will relieve congestion in city centers.’

“How much congestion? A 2014 study into the lane by the Federal Ministry of Transport says that it could replace up to 52,000 car journeys. But that’s not even the best part. The study also estimated that savings due to the health benefits of cycling could be as much as five times the cost of building the bikeway.” More here.

Photo: via Radschnellweg
The Radschnellweg (“fast bike path”) RS1 runs 62 miles between the cities of Duisburg and Hamm, passing through eight other cities along the way.

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It’s getting chilly around here. Thirty degrees this morning. I’m getting wimpier about taking my walk outside and just go ’round and ’round indoors. I need to toughen up. The NY Times health columnist Jane Brody is older than I am and not only swims every day (vigorously, I’m sure) but walks five miles. Whoosh. I would have to walk back and forth to the high school — twice — to do five miles. It would take me half the day.

Here are photographs from the last couple weeks: shadows at the zoo, where my grandson ran into a friend he usually sees only in summer; milkweed and shadows; leaves casting shadows; an abandoned bird nest; overdevelopment reflecting on the waters of Fort Point Channel; and a burning sunset.

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Claire swims in Walden Pond before work. I take a lazy walk. Other people run or go to the gym. But in Brooklyn, you have the option of a dance party at a club.

Stacey Anderson has the story at the NY Times: “It was a typically raucous scene in Williamsburg, Brooklyn … . However, not all was familiar at this rave called Daybreaker, held at the club Verboten. For a start, the 400 young participants wore athletic clothing and pressed office wear rather than skimpy dresses and droll T-shirts. Some were bright-eyed, but just as many yawned and clutched cups of coffee. …

“The Daybreaker dance party, which runs from 7 to 9 a.m. three times a month, is one of two new early electronic diversions finding audiences in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Branded as both a morning workout option and a wholesome inversion of dance culture, the events are novel beyond their sunrise start times: They are alcohol-free, with coffee and fruit-infused water distributed at the bar instead of the customary club libations. The event, which had its debut in December and moves from place to place, darkens its spaces to mimic the typical rave experience, quite convincingly.

“ ‘It’s like a casino in here; there’s no idea of time,’ said Malcolm Ring, 24, a financial analyst. He woke at 5:30 a.m. to attend this Daybreaker party, his first. ‘I would normally go for a run right now, but this is more enjoyable.’ ”

More here.

Photo: Willie Davis for The New York Times
The rap artist Salomon Faye at a Daybreaker party at Verboten, a club in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 

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