Cancer and Exercise

Cancer and ExerciseCancer and Exercise: Best exercises for Cancer Patients?

In my health coaching practice, I consult with women who want to exercise but have health issues that make them uncertain as to how much they should do. Recently I had a client who said, “I am recovering from breast cancer. I finished my chemotherapy a few weeks ago and though I still feel weak, I was wondering if I should start exercising again?” And this is what I told her.

If your doctor says you’re up to it, you can get started. Best Exercises For Cancer Patients: according to ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine)

Cancer and Exercise

The best exercises for cancer patients is a combination of the three major components of fitness: Cardio, Strength and Flexibility. These types of exercise can have a positive impact on cancer patients and survivors. Easy aerobic exercise for cancer patients, has been shown to increase hemoglobin levels, reduce inflammation, lessen fatigue, keep muscles in shape for better every day activities, increase self confidence, reduce depression and aid in recovery of surgery.

Other research has shown strength and flexibility exercises to be good exercises for cancer patients helping them return to a normal activity level sooner.

Exercise and social support seem to increase the life expectancy of breast cancer survivors, preventing recurrence.

At the beginning, gently move a few minutes at a time, and build up at your own pace. Try walking, light aerobics or swimming. As you get stronger, add a couple of days a week of light resistance training. On days you feel more tired, try doing a few stretches.

Personal Note: It has been my privilege and joy to use my skill as a Certified Health Coach & Exercise Physiologist Specialist to help women manage their cancer with the healing properties of movement and exercise. It is from my own experience, that exercising on a regular basis, eating healthy food and reducing your stress can help prevent and/or manage cancer and many other life threatening diseases.

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for in home exercise programs for women over 50.

Bernadine’s Crusade

My mother died in 2005 from Ovarian Cancer. Here is a poem I wrote about her.

Time it was when she found out how sick she was.

Like a Gladiator she got in her wheel chair and with her cane she fought against her illness.

Month after month she strived and relished every peach, every plum.

Moment by moment from lunch to lunch, she road the streets and shopped for food, clothes and jewelry as if she would live forever.

Her doctors were amazed at the way she road into their offices waving her cane
in stylish hats.

For her it was just the way she lived.

Opinionated, visually acute; her sense of aesthetics keen.

Expressive, she once cooed for me like a bird then clicking her teeth like a sparrow eating a tiny meal.

So it went.

Until the last, she raged with her cane beside her in the bed.

Little sips of ice mocha and chocolate malts

Slowing down.

Barely breathing,

her eyes flew open, to take one last peek

getting ready for the next to come.

mwh©

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Water Ballet Exercise

Water Ballet ExerciserWater Ballet Exercise!

We are filming for several hours a day starting at the crack of dawn. The weather is cooler but not for long. My only relief has been to strip off my workout clothes, which are almost pasted to my body, jump into a swimsuit and plunge into the pool. After about 45 minutes of laps back and forth I get an idea. What if I try some exercises in the water, holding on to the side of the pool? Doing some Water Ballet Exercise in the water, while cooling off is not such a bad idea I’m thinking. So I try one of my on land favorites for my legs and butt. I like it! I can really feel it working. It may be even more effective with the water for added resistance. This Aqua Ballet Workout not only tones your lower body but it also helps to elongate your muscles while you are doing it. And because you are in the water, you are adding resistance to strengthen your legs and butt while at the same time using your core muscles to help keep your body upright and balanced.

Try this Water Ballet Exercise to Tone Up Your Legs and Butt

Stand facing front, heels together, feet turned out. Hold on to the edge of the pool with your right hand. Slowly bend left knee, bringing foot up to right knee forming a triangle. Slowly stretch leg in front of body. Then bring foot back to the knee of the standing leg and return to the starting position. Repeat 4 times to the Front, Side, and Back.

Water Ballet ExerciseWater Ballet ExerciseWater Ballet ExerciseWater Ballet ExerciseWater Ballet Exercise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turn around and repeat exercise on the other leg holding on with your left hand. Enjoy this Water Ballet Exercise.

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Better Sleep

Better SleepLooking to get better sleep? We all love a good night’s   sleep. But did you know that not getting one not only makes you dull and stressed, it can also make you pack on the pounds.

Health experts recommend eight hours of sleep a night for most adults. Yet so many of us get fewer than six-and-a-half hours during the work week.

Too little physical activity is clearly part of why we’re overweight. But a lack of sleep may make weight loss and weight control more difficult by altering your metabolism. It may also be changing your eating and exercise patterns.

In a Japanese study, children sleeping less than eight hours a night were almost three times as likely to be overweight.

Lack of sleep may change hormone levels and thus influence weight gain. Higher levels of the hormone insulin have been linked to a shortage of sleep.

Because insulin promotes fat storage and controls blood sugar, extra insulin could make weight loss more difficult.

Studies also show that a lack of sleep leads to lower levels of the hormone leptin, which can cause an increased appetite. Sound familiar?

A third hormone affected by too little sleep is cortisol, linked by research to stress. When people feel threatened or stressed, their cortisol levels rise in a “fight or flight” reaction. In one study, people whose cortisol levels rose highest in response to stress had more waistline fat – and fat at the waist is related to the greatest number of risks for heart disease and other ailments. So what can you do to get better sleep?

Better Sleep With Aerobic Exercise

Results from a Stanford University study show exercise, particularly aerobic exercise in the late afternoon or right after work can turn this all around.

The physical stress of aerobic exercise produces fatigue and a rise in body temperature. A few hours later, your body temperature drops. That coupled with the fatigue from your exercise triggers your brain to induce a deeper, longer better sleep.

Better Sleep

What time of day you do is as important as doing it. If you exercise too close to bedtime you may be up for hours climbing the walls. Getting a half hour brisk walk is all it takes.

If you belong to a Gym, get there and mix it up on the cardio machines.

Or get yourself a good cardio dance video by a certified instructor.

In any case quality zzzzzs equals quality of life and may even increase longevity.

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Exercise Relieves Back Pain

Exercise Relieves Back PainAlthough specialists once thought that resting was the best prescription for a bad back, it is now shown that exercise relieves back pain. And carefully designed exercises may be even more effective in reducing back pain. A sedentary lifestyle and unnatural alignment of the spine have a lot to do with back pain, a condition that affects 31 million Americans at any given time, according to the American Chiropractic Association. One study found that half of all working Americans report back pain symptoms whether they are seated or standing on the job.

Exercise Relieves Back Pain

Exercise Relieves Back PainIf you spend most of your time sitting at a desk, it’s easy to hunch your shoulders and neck forward to look at a computer screen without even noticing. And if you hold that position for hours at a time, especially with your legs crossed at the knees, your spine can really suffer. For women, wearing high-heeled shoes can add to spine stress.
By the time we reach our fifties, many Baby Boomers have created bad habits and bad backs.

Luckily, it’s possible to change your posture for the better, standing or sitting, and relieve that chronic pain – as well as the restricted breathing, digestion and circulation that holding an unhealthy posture may cause.

The most effective way to improve your posture is by stretching your spine and strengthening your back and abdominal muscles so that your whole core area gets stronger. Exercise also works to remedy sudden injury to back tissue and muscles.

One of the most effective ways to relieve back pain is back extension. Back extension helps to reset your vertebrae into proper alignment and to relieve nerve pressure. You can do it standing, sitting or lying face down (yoga cobra pose).

Exercise Relieves Back Pain

Exercise Relieves Back PainHere’s the standing version:

Stand feet comfortable apart. Place your two hands behind you at the lumbar area. Gently arch your back and look upward without stretching the neck too far back. Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat 3 times. Try this anytime your back feels fatigued. You’ll be surprised at how much relief it gives you. But don’t do it if you are in severe back pain. In that case it’s time to call your doctor.

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Enjoy Holiday Treats Without Weight Gain

Enjoy holiday treats without weight gainCan you really enjoy holiday treats without weight gain?

Well, when we think of the holidays the first thing that comes to mind is fear of weight gain. That’s because we always have a few treats up our sleeves. And we do gain weight.

But, preventing this phenomenon is not as hard as you think. You don’t have to starve, deny yourself favorite holiday dishes or do heavy-duty compensation workouts.

Enjoy Holiday Treats Without Weight Gain: Some Pointers

If you are the one cooking, you are more in control of what is going to be placed on the table.

So you can choose equally delicious lighter recipes. But, if you are visiting friends and family all bets are off and your radar needs to be on. It’s all about portion control.

Don’t wait till the second piece of pie gets offered. Pre-planning is key. In some cases you’ll know from past experience what the menu will be. Even if you don’t, assume there will be a barrage of excess temptations. Excess is the operative word. Enjoy but not to excess.

Whether you count calories, points, or eyeball your portions, eat half of what you think you should eat. If you are not sure of a particular food or treat, pass on it, or just take a bite to see if it is worth the calories. If you find yourself hungry after all of this, you can eat a little more or maybe you’ve actually saved room for that dessert.

You can visit, enjoy the company, make merry and have a smug sense of self-assurance that this whole season will pass without you gaining even a pound. Who knows, you might lose weight.

That brings me to your insurance policy. If you don’t exercise regularly this is definitely the time to start and get a jump on your New Year, New You. If you do, make time for it. You don’t have to do extra but don’t make the excuse you’re too busy at this time of year.

Cardio exercise is great calorie burner, and we all know that a half hour of moderate aerobic exercise a day can reduce one’s chance of heart attack by a whopping 50%.

See how I snuck in my pitch for exercise? I am not suggesting anything that I don’t do myself. It works for me and I bet it will work for you.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. And let me know if you were able to enjoy holiday treats without gaining weight.

Happy Holidays!

Of course staying on your exercise routine can always help thru the holidays. If you need a little help please feel free to use this coupon code FABNOW and save on any of my exercise videos at www.mirabaiholland.com

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Chronic Stress: How To Get Rid Of It

CHRONIC STRESSChronic stress. It’s everywhere. If you live and work on this planet it’s almost impossible to avoid.

Feeling stressed? Me too!

Today I’m writing about how to get rid of chronic stress and suggest some easy ways to get that burden off your back.

To get us in the mood, let’s start with a short, guided meditation and stretch video to help reduce chronic stress. Try it with me and see for yourself. You can do this at home or at your desk at work. (I use my ear buds at work.)

Now that you’re a believer, lets have a look at chronic stress and how to get rid of it. (By the way, as you get better at becoming relaxed, you can keep your eyes open while watching the waves on the video.)

Stress has been around since the beginning of time. It started as the fight-or-flight response when early humans confronted a life-threatening situation. In that situation, stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, are produced. Your blood vessels constrict, blood pressure goes up, pupils dilate, heart rate quickens, and breathing becomes more rapid. The body is preparing itself to do battle or run. This response is essential in times of acute danger. But problems at work, crying kids, traffic, you name it can trigger the same response.

Given the pressures of daily life, chronic stress itself has become a life-threatening situation. It can cause a host of health problems including headaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, trouble concentrating, anxiety, depression, increased body weight, high blood pressure and heart disease.

We can’t eliminate the stress. But we can relieve the fight-or-flight response that sends our bodies into danger mode. And we can cultivate a relaxation response over time that will reduce our physiological stress reaction.

So what do we do about chronic stress? How do we get rid of it?

How? Relax. That’s what my first yoga teacher used to say when I was all bent up in the pretzel pose with a grimace on my face. And, like that meditation you just did, it actually worked. Once I was able to relax, I was stress-free even in the pretzel pose.

Seriously, daily conscious relaxation exercises can make real difference in the way your body responds to stress. Dr Herbert Benson coined the phrase “relaxation response” in his book by the same name in 1975.

Since then he and others have conducted numerous studies, including a recent one at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine, that have detailed the body’s intricate positive response to conscious relaxation exercises. In a nutshell, the relaxation response has the opposite effect of fight-or-flight. It engages the parasympathetic nervous system to counteract the effects of stress. You experience a feeling of deep relaxation and well being. And if you practice relaxation regularly you’ll feel better and help yourself avoid those stress related health issues. That’s how we get rid of chronic stress.

Meditation is just one of an almost infinite number of ways to consciously relax. Virtually anything that takes your attention away from your daily grind and makes you concentrate on just one thing can work. Doing the dishes, aerobic exercise, yoga, stretching, golf, playing a musical instrument, casting a fishing rod, playing with a cat, almost anything can work if you pay attention to only that and clear your mind. I’m partial to exercise because I get the benefits of a workout as well as the relaxation. It’s my mantra. It’s what I do to get rid of chronic stress.

Dr. Benson suggests you practice some form of conscious relaxation for 10 to 20 minutes every day to get rid of chronic stress in the long-term.

But what if you’re pressed for time? (Pressed rhymes with stressed.)

Reduce Chronic Stress with this little exercise.

Sometimes you only need a few seconds and you feel a lot better.

Sit down and close your eyes. (If you’re on the street, duck into a doorway, stand and keep your eyes open and one hand on your purse.)

Let your muscles relax. Concentrate on your breathing.

Breathe in and hold your breath for one second, count one one hundred thousand, and breathe out.

Breathe in again a little deeper and hold for two seconds — one one hundred thousand, two one hundred thousand — breathe out.

Breathe in deeper and hold for three, then four, then five seconds.
When you get to around three seconds of breath holding, your stress level should start to drop and your mind should start to clear itself of thoughts.

After five, you should feel pretty good. This works well for me particularly in moments of acute stress.

That one worked too didn’t it. I hope concentrating on reading this helped you reduce your stress and I hope you’ll make conscious relaxation a part of your life.

It’s a lifestyle change that’s easy to make because it feels so good when you do it.

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Dance Exercise: The Magic of Movement

Maribai_Holland3RED HI KICKDance exercise!

America is experiencing a dance renaissance. Thanks to the success of TV shows like “Dancing With The Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance”, people are starting to dance again

In this era of personal trainers and hi-tech exercise equipment, dance exercise classes and videos are resurging to new heights of popularity.

From ancient times people enjoyed coming together to move and communicate non-verbally. Looking back at the history of dance virtually every community gained togetherness by dancing to insure a good harvest, asking for rain, or celebrating a season. There are folk dances representing movement styles from every part of the world.

Expressive movement comes from a natural place within us. We’re all born knowing how to move. It’s innate, part of our humanity. As kids, we stamp our feet when angry, flail our bodies when frustrated and jump for joy. Humans have been expressing themselves through movement since the beginning of time. That movement has a purpose. It was never suppose to go away. But somehow, our so-called modern culture saw that release of tension, that form of human expression as primitive. So we have been repressing it for hundreds of years.

Dance Exercise

Our technology has brought us some great things. But it negates that part of who we are. We hardly have to move anymore and so we don’t-until we see ourselves falling apart at middle age. Turns out, movement was never primitive at all!

It’s primal! Primal is natural. Primal is good. It’s part of who we are, what we’re meant to be.

Studies show that expressive movement can help heal physical ailments and relieve psychological trauma. It can also get you fit, and Fitness=Longevity.

Get back in touch with that part of yourself that knows how to move, and feel better because of it. Tap into that mind-body connection that’s been there waiting for you. Release yourself from the conventional hard-body exercise experience.

Get back to your roots at this important time in your life. It’s as simple as turning on some music and dancing to the beat. Go ahead. Try a dance exercise class and dance yourself fit!

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Stress Busters

meditation-tight_1607webStress Busters.  We need them now! Isis, Syria, movie theater shootings, floods, fires, honey bee colony collapse disorder, what’s next? Given the current global situation, we should talk a little about Stress.

Feeling stressed? Me too!

Stress has been around since the beginning of time.

It started as the flight-or-fight reflex when early humans confronted a life-threatening situation, and now, stress itself has become a life-threatening situation. We need stress busters.

Obviously we can’t eliminate all causes of stress, so what can we do about it?

Stress Busters

Here are a few quick and easy stress busters.

Relax. No really, conscious relaxation is a form of Yoga or Meditation. Sometimes you only need a few seconds and you feel a lot better.

Try this at home or at work:

Sit down and close your eyes (if you’re on the street, duck into a doorway and keep your eyes open and one hand on your purse)

Let your muscles relax

Concentrate on your breathing

Breathe in and hold your breath for 1 second – 1 one hundred thousand, Breathe out

Breathe in again a little deeper and hold for 2 seconds – 1 one hundred thousand, 2 one hundred thousand – Breathe out

Breathe in deeper and hold for three, then four, then 5 seconds

When you get to around 3 seconds of breath holding your stress level should start to drop and your mind should to clear itself for thoughts.

After 5, you should feel pretty good. This actually works!

Try this short stress buster video.

Eat better. Substituting good food like fruit for sugary snacks and drinking less caffeine and less alcohol can make a big difference

At home, put on some music and dance around for a song or two.

If you have the time keep going. After a few minutes, as your heart rate goes up your mood will improve. This is because you’re now doing aerobic exercise, a great mood elevator, after about 20 minutes you’ll feel even better because the endorphins, your body’s natural anti-depressant drugs will kick in and all will be right with the world for a while.

By the way a half hour brisk walk or putting on an aerobics video works just as well.

Another great stress reducer is getting a massage. Professional massage therapists are great, but for just plain stress, getting your significant other or a close friend to give you a massage works just as well, maybe better. Be sure to return the favor.

Stress BustersLast but not least, snuggle with a dog or cuddle with a cat.

 

 

 

 

 

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Stretching Routines: Gogi Tendon Organs ?

Stretching Routines: What Do Your Gogi Tendon Organs Have to do with it?

Stretching RoutinesStretching: What Do Your Gogi Tendon Organs Have To Do With It?  
Here’s a little video with the answer.
Have you tried to pick a coin up off the ground lately? How about tying your shoes? Have you switched to slip-ons? What about reaching over the coffee table to scoop some dip on the other side? Remember when you didn’t think twice about those maneuvers?
Sounds like decrepitude is setting in. Or maybe you’ve just lost some Flexibility.Flexibility is range of motion around your joints.
There are two types. Static flexibility – how far you can stretch and hold a body part, and dynamic flexibility – how much range of motion you have when you move.
Both are important. In fact I consider Flexibility one of the 3 main components of fitness, along with Aerobic Capacity and Muscle Strength.
I recommend a flexibility program that incorporates slow dynamic movements like Tai Chi, as well as static stretches like Yoga.But in my experience, Flexibility is the most ignored component of fitness. We do our Cardio and our Strength training but, unless we’re regular Yoga or Tai Chi, practitioners, Flexibility is not on the menu.
Why not? I think there are a couple of reasons. First, I think we don’t get it.It doesn’t make our muscles stronger or our figures shapelier. We don’t realize how valuable flexibility is until we try to do something we used to take for granted, like reach around to the back seat to get our sunglasses. Even then we toss it off with, “Well, I guess I’m getting older”. We somehow don’t connect with the thought, ” If I’d been doing a little stretching all these years, it wouldn’t have felt like I was going to rip something just then”.Secondly, there’s been lots of press about conflicting studies on the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of stretching.
Some studies say stretching improves athletic performance. Others say they’ve proved the exact opposite. Some studies say stretching helps prevent injury. Others say it has no effect on injury prevention. There’s enough conflicting buzz to make you not want to bother.That’s too bad because all that buzz masks the fact we do know stretching does help you gain and maintaining flexibility.
Does stretching help prevent injury or aid athletic performance? I DON’T CARE.
I want to stay flexible as I age. I want to be able to pick up coins, tie my shoes and grab my sunglasses. Give me my dose of flexibility training!Even if we were flexible as kids, as we get older, connective tissues, our tendons and ligaments, tend to lose water, shorten, and become stiffer. So we get less flexible. But it’s not too late.

Even if you’re not interested in the fine practice of Yoga or Tai Chi, barring some medical issue, there’s a simple way to help hang on to the flexibility you have, and work on getting some of that youthful flexibility back. A few easy stretching exercises may be the difference between living tight and living flexible.

I stretch every day. Easy for me to say, I teach a stretch class. But just a few minutes, three times a week, can make a real difference. I’ve seen students of mine go from really stiff to pretty darn flexible in a few months, without trying hard.

Stretching, when done right, feels delicious while you’re doing it, and even better when you’re done. The kind of stretching I do is relaxing and meditative. I find it melts my stress and energizes me while keeping me flexible. I’ve developed a stretch exercise technique I call Moving Free. It’s evolved some over the 30 years I’ve been teaching it. I use a fusion of modified static stretches from Dance, Yoga and classic fitness as well as dynamic movements adapted from Dance and Tai Chi and Kinesiology.

Here’s a video with some lower body stretches you can try at home.

As if that weren’t enough, There’s more to stretching than just flexibility. I think stretching is a form of meditation that creates a sense of well-being and promotes peace of mind. When I finish my stretching routine I have a more positive outlook as well as the feeling that my body is more alive, more accessible to me. Try it and see.

Chances are that pretty soon you’ll be able to find your shoes simply by looking down.

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Weight Loss Panic

Weight LossWhenever the weather gets warmer, the idea of putting on summer clothes generates a ton of weight loss panic! I get a lot of panicky emails asking about quick weight loss. Here are a couple of familiar ones.

Weight Loss Panic Solutions

Q: I need to lose 20 pounds. I am doing aerobics three times a week and watching my calories but I am losing so slowly, I was wondering if there is any other type of exercise that could help me lose weight faster? I am really getting frustrated and I am almost ready to just give up.

Frustrated

A. Try adding 2-3 days of weight training to the mix.

weight lossStudies show the winning formula is a combination of aerobic and weight training exercise. Moderate aerobic exercise burns calories while you are doing it and for a short time afterwards. Weight training burns calories too but it also increases your lean muscle mass. So as you add more muscle, you’ll burn more calories all day long. Research from Tufts University found that after 12 weeks of weight training, total calorie burning increased by about 15 percent which for an average adult, could amount to an extra 240 to 400 calories a day.

Q: I’m carrying about 10 extra pounds around my middle. I’ve got 12 weeks to get into my dress for my daughter’s wedding. I would hate to have to go out and buy a bigger size. Is there anything I can do to get rid of this belly by then?

A: As we get older, particularly after menopause, women tend to carry extra weight around the middle. This change in body shape puts you at higher risk for heart disease and cancer. So, it’s even more crucial to do something about it.

weight lossFortunately, it’s not as difficult as you think.

If you lose a pound a week, you’ll still have 2 weeks to spare, just in case you get a little hungry.

So, here’s a formula for losing the weight and toning up at the same time.

One pound = 3500 calories. So to lose one pound a week eliminate 500 calories each day (500 X 7 days = 3500 calories)

Eat 300 calories less, and do one half hour to one hour of aerobic exercise, like brisk walking, to burn the other 200. You might want to write down everything you eat for the next 3 days or so to help you figure out what you can do without. Or, simply cut your portions in half.

As for aerobic exercise, you don’t have to do the whole workout at once. Three 10-minute walks are just as effective as one half hour walk.

Weight LossYou should also do some abdominal exercises about 20 a day to help tone up that belly as you lose weight. And, exercise actually picks up your metabolic rate so you burn more calories even after you’ve finished exercising.

Now, just try not to trip on your way up the aisle!

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