Getting Fit: Find Fabulousity!

Getting FitGetting Fit: Find Fabulousity!

I was back in my home town recently, where I taught for over 20 years. I missed my ladies so I decided to take some of my former students out for tea and dessert.

I thought for a minute the dessert part was a bad idea when a couple of them wouldn’t eat a piece of cake in front of me. But when I dug in, moderately of course, the party got started in earnest.  Ever the moderator, I asked them each to share things that were important in their lives over the past year.

As we went around the circle, they spoke of getting pregnant, daughter’s weddings, losing your job, becoming a gym rat, outliving heart disease, surviving menopause, the joy of grandchildren, and a trip to China.

Maybe because I was their host, the conversation drifted toward how getting fit had changed their lives.

They shared stories about feeling invisible, not sexy, not pretty, having no energy and feeling like a lump. One remembered showing up in my office, tearing her hair out saying my doctor told me I need to do something, I’ve got serious health issues, but I hate to exercise. What do I do?

She said, I told her “I’m going to give you exercise you can look forward to instead of dread.”

Getting Fit: Find Fabulousity!

Most of my work is done with women who haven’t been active in a while. My coaching style is to start people wherever they may be physically and emotionally and get them moving, gently, and pleasantly. If the first experience is pleasant, you’ll want a second and the third and so on. Sustainability is the key to getting fit and staying fit successfully. And that’s what happened with these ladies. But something else remarkable happened too.

They told me getting fit had given them the self confidence to pursue things they would never have dared to try; that the change in their bodies had kindled a change in the way they saw themselves. Instead of feeling invisible they felt fabulous and that Fabulosity had spilled over into the rest of their lives. As much as I would love to take all the credit for this transformation, I think that it boils down to healthy body, healthy mind;

Getting fit was the key that unlocked the door to their potential.
Pretty cool huh?

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Aerobics May Improve Memory

Aerobics May Improve MemoryAerobics May Improve Memory.
I became interested in exercise and memory several years ago when my older students began to tell me that their memories seemed to improve after they took my class.
I was teaching mostly dance-exercise in those days. I started with simple steps and built up to a pretty complex routine.
There has to be a connection I thought, between the physical movement, making your brain learn this routine, and improved memory.
I’m no scientist but I was curious. So I started to break it down.
What I was having people do is learn short phrases of movement and then link them together. The cardio dance routine required them to move forward and back, side to side, remember specific steps; and stay in rhythm.
This was a real challenge for many of my students who had never done anything like this before. As they got more proficient, the class became a social gathering; because of this shared experience.
My students felt energized afterwards, not exhausted. They told me that besides getting a good body workout they were getting a memory workout as well. They said they could actually remember things better.
I wondered if there was science to support our anecdotal experience.
I contacted a couple of local Alzheimer’s specialists (there was no internet back then) and they told me – you’re probably right but there weren’t any specific studies on this more than 20 years ago.
Even now the research is not conclusive. But, technology in the last 15 years has allowed science to discover a lot more about the brain.
Vascular memory loss has been linked to heart disease and cardio fitness is a major factor in preventing and managing that issue. Aerobic exercise increases the amount of oxygen supplied to the brain improving mental function. Cardio fitness has been shown to reduce loss of brain cells in older adults.
A study of 1,449 older adults shows those who in middle age exercised vigorously enough to perspire and breathe hard for 20 to 30 minutes at least twice a week reduced their risk of later developing Alzheimer’s disease by about 60 percent.*
But cardio is just part of the equation.
Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that certain types of dance, particularly with routines to learn and remember, may help prevent age-onset memory loss and diseases like Alzheimer’s. “…. cognitive activity may stave off dementia by increasing a person’s “cognitive reserve.” **
And a study conducted at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, says activities that combined mental and social as well as physical stimulation offered the greatest protection against dementia***
Activity is the active word. Be physically active, mentally active and socially active, preferably all at once. Taking a Cardio Dance class or getting together with friends to do a Cardio Dance DVD is a good place to start. And to this day, when I start my cardio dance class I say,
“It’s time to workout our hearts and minds!”

*Rovio, Suvi; Kareholt, Ingemar; Helkala, Eeva-Liisa; Viitanen, Matti; Winblad, Bengt; Tuomilehto, Jaakko; Soininen, Hilkka; Nissinen, Aulikki; and Kivipelto, Miia. “Leisure-time physical activity at midlife and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.” The Lancet Neurology; published online Oct. 4, 2005.
** Dr Joe Verghese, lead author of study conducted at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, N Engl J Med, 2003; 348:2508-2516.
***Karp, Anita; Paillard-Borg, Stephanie; Wang, Hui-Xin; Silverstein, Merrill; Winblad, Bengt; and Fratiglioni, Laura. “Mental, Physical and Social Components in Common Leisure Activities in Old Age in Relation to Dementia: Findings from the Kungsholmen Project.” Presented at the Alzheimer’s Association 9th International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders, Philadelphia, Penn., July 17 – 22, 2004. Abstract published in Neurobiology of Aging, July 2004, Vol. 25, S2: p. S313.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3761497/

Compared with the control group, the exercise group significantly improved in verbal fluency (p = 0.048), word list delayed recall (p = 0.038), word list recognition (p = 0.007), and total CERAD-K score (p = 0.037)

  • Metabolic syndrome (MS) is associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment.
  • Aerobic exercise improves cognitive function in elderly people and contributes to the prevention of degenerative neurological disease and brain damage. Dance sport is a form of aerobic exercise that has the additional benefits of stimulating the emotions, promoting social interaction, and exposing subjects to acoustic stimulation and music.
  • In the present study, dance exercise for a 6-month period improved cognitive function in older adults with MS. In particular, positive effects were observed in verbal fluency, word list delayed recall, word list recognition, and the total CERAD-K score.
  • Our data suggest that the implementation of dance exercise programs may be an effective means of prevention and treatment of cognitive disorders.
  • http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnagi.2013.00075/abstract

For more information on women health and fitness and in home exercise programs for women check out  www.mirabaiholland.com

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Working Out Your Bones By Mirabai Holland, MFA ©2012

Weight Bearing Exercise

By now we all know that Osteoporosis makes bones so thin and porous that they can break during everyday activities like stepping off a curb or picking up a grocery bag.

We’ve all heard that estrogen protects women from bone loss and that we can loose up to 30% of our bone mass in the first 10 years after menopause. And we’ve heard that we should do weight bearing and resistance exercise to help prevent bone loss and promote bone growth.

But what IS weight bearing exercise? What’s the difference between weight bearing and resistance exercise? And what kind of exercise routine should I do to protect my bones?

I hear this all year long. So, here are the answers.

Weight bearing means literally making your bones carry weight. Standing makes your bones carry your body weight. Standing with your grandchild on your shoulders makes your bones carry your weight plus your grandchild’s.

Studies show that weight bearing exercises like walking and jogging that also apply impact to your bones are even more effective

Resistance exercise uses your muscles to apply mechanical forces to your bones like pushing (compression) pulling (tension), twisting (torsion), and bending.

So, the more weight, impact and resistance the better, right? No. Even if your body were a machine made of steel there would be a weight, impact and resistance that would break it.

And we know our bodies are much more fragile than that. Common sense must rule.

Walk, jog, jump rope, dance, pull on a rope, push on a wall, wring out a towel, and bend bones with weight lifting exercises. But do it safely. Do it in moderation. Stay in your comfort zone. Start with a comfortable amount and build up slowly over time. Take breaks between shorter intervals of training. Studies show that those break times may be when bones get stimulated to grow.

Studies also show that site-specific exercises are very effective. So, do exercises that involve the 3 areas most at risk for Osteoporotic fracture, the spine the hip and the wrist?

Walking loads your spine and your legs including the hip joints. Wrist curls and wringing a towel work your wrists and forearms.

Do any weight-training resistance exercises every other day because your muscles need time to recover. A starter routine might be 20 minutes or more of brisk walking every other day and weight resistance training on the days in between.

But make sure you talk to your doctor about your particular exercise needs and limitations.

They vary greatly from person to person.

So why not use Osteoporosis month to set an example for the women in your family of any age because it’s never too early or too late to start working out your bones.

To Read More On Osteoporosis:

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Exercising For Diabetes: Good Fat Burns Calories while Muscles Burn Sugar By Mirabai Holland © 2012


Since March is Diabetes Month I wanted you to know about a recent discovery that is poised to be real game changer.
We all know inactivity and excess body fat are risk factors for Diabetes.
But did you know you have two kinds of fat, bad and good, white and brown?
White fat just sits there and is, well, just fat. It’s the bad fat. It puts you at higher risk for diseases like diabetes. Brown fat on the other hand, doesn’t just sit there. It’s metabolically active. It burns calories, lots of calories. It’s the good fat. (Yes, there is such a thing as good fat.) And exercise can turn white fat brown!
A recent study* by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School shows that exercise produces a hormone called Irisin that turns white fat brown. This may be a reason people who exercise regularly burn more calories, even hours after exercising, than sedentary people. Doesn’t that make you want to get up, make some irisin, turn that white fat brown and burn a bunch of calories? Well if that’s not enough here’s something else.
Exercise helps regulate blood glucose levels. It helps get excess glucose out of the blood and into the muscle tissue where it’s burned as fuel. It really works. In fact many diabetics who exercise regularly find they need to take a lot less insulin. Some have even been able to eliminate their need for insulin with daily exercise.
So between the calorie-burning brown fat, and the sugar-sucking effect on muscle tissue, I’d say exercise is a no-brainer for those of us at risk for diabetes.

* http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature10777.html

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Leaf Peeping & Label Lessons Learned in Vermont by Mirabai Holland © 2011

Last weekend I went hiking in Vermont and the Fall color was astonishing.

I went along for about two hours at a brisk pace enjoying the fresh air.

Much of my exercise is teaching fitness classes and creating new routines for exercise DVDs. So, it was refreshing to just free my mind, move my body and drink in all those trees dressed in red, yellow, orange mixed with green. Sometimes its good to mix up your exercise routine. I felt renewed.

When I finished my hike we went into a little country food market.

So cute with all those red and white checkered tabletops filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, homemade jams, honey, maple syrup and cider. I spotted a bottle that said “Fresh Apple Cider” thinking how fresh it would taste, this being apple season and all. I continued my walk and I’d gotten a considerable distance from the store when I decided it was time for swig of cider. As I was about to sip, I glanced at the ingredients label expecting to see APPLES. But instead it read

APPLES, and Potassium sorbate, a preservative.

I wanted to throw that cider against a wall!


I was thirty so I drank a little and whether it was in my mind or not, it seemed to taste not as fresh as I imagined it would. So the lesson here, is just because you are in an adorable country market, don’t take for granted that all the foods will be fresh and adorable too.


So caveat emptor: let the buyer beware!

I also filmed a brief vlog (video blog) post while I was there. Enjoy!

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CAN YOU BE FIT AND FAT? by Mirabai Holland © 2011

You don’t have to be thin to be fit. A number of the people I work with in my practice are both fat and fit. They work out and don’t always lose weight but they are reaping the health benefits that regular moderate exercise can bring to everyone.

According to Dr. Steven Blair in a study from University of South Carolina report published in the Journal of the American Medicine Association. (2007)

“There is a great benefit to being fit” Blair noted, “even if you are, in fact obese…across every category of body composition, unfit individuals have a much higher death rate than those who are fit…Our follow-up has shown that the death rate for women and men who are thin but unfit is at least twice as high as their obese counterparts who are fit…Fitness appears to provide protection against early mortality no matter how much you weigh”

So if you’ve got a few extra pounds on that you are finding impossible to shed, don’t obsess and don’t use it as an excuse not to exercise. Get yourself on a pleasurable and sustainable fitness program. You’ll feel and be healthier and you may eventually end up thinner too.

Here are some safety guidelines for exercising while carrying some extra weight:

Do low impact cardio activities like walking, biking, swimming or low impact aerobics. High impact exercise like jumping or running while carrying extra weight can over-stress your joints.

Stay in your target heart zone. If you’re a normal, healthy person, here’s the formula for finding yours:

220

-Your Age

Your Max Heart Rate in Beats Per Minute

Your should exercise at between 55 – 85% of your Max heart rate.

A good rule of thumb is you should be just barely able to carry on a conversation while exercising.

Here are a few tips for making your exercise program Pleasurable and Sustainable.

-Find something you like or at least don’t hate!

-It helps to exercise with a friend or loved one.

-Use your favorite music to help motivate you.

-Find a regular time in the day and make it a habit.

-Try to do at least something 5 days a week.

-Don’t over do it. Stay in your comfort zone.

Enjoy! And remember, fat or thin Fitness = Longevity!

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Orthopedic Issues: Prehab To Avoid Rehab

 

Orthopedic problems are a major health issue worldwide. This is a growing problem particularly among baby boomers. Both women and men are both at risk. Job-related conditions like standing all day or performing repetitive motions can lead to overuse injuries. And being out of shape and overweight are leading contributors to orthopedic injuries and chronic orthopedic problems. But active adults are not immune. Pushing too hard when you workout or play sports instead of staying in your comfort zone can do you more harm than good. In fact there are about 28 million reported orthopedic injuries each year in the USA alone. Accidents happen and excellent rehab is available. But a lot of orthopedic problems are preventable. Muscles and tendons are connected to the brain by a complex system of sensors called proprioceptors, capable of detecting the slightest difference in muscle length, or tension on a tendon. The proprioceptors exist to help your body avoid injury. Those little strains and pains you begin to feel when you push too hard are telling you “Back off” you need more conditioning before you can perform at this level. Pushing through the pain is flirting with serious injury.

The proprioceptors also, tell the brain just where a limb is in space at any given time. A well-trained proprioceptive sense helps a tennis player get to a ball and return it without having to think through each step. The body knows the way.
Prehab is one of the best ways to avoid Rehab. Developing your proprioceptive sense- awareness of where your body is in space — is a good start. There are exercise programs that focus on proprioception like my own Moving Free® technique, Tai Chi and certain yoga exercises. It helps you avoid awkward movements that can cause injury and perform daily tasks with ease and grace. And it improves your sense of balance to help prevent falls.Here’s an exampleClose your eyes. Hold out your arm in front of you. Your brain knows your arm is in front of you without you having to see it. Keep your eyes closed. Now circle your index finger. Your brain knows where your finger is through the full range of motion without looking. That’s your proprioceptive sense at work.

Strengthening areas at risk for orthopedic injury is another component of Prehab. This kind of Prehab comes in two forms:
  1. ·General Prehab for daily living as part of a personal wellness program, looks at the body as a whole, and develops it as a whole to maximize quality of life. This often includes strength training, cardio conditioning and core training, as well as some proprioceptive exercises.
  2. ·Activity Specific Prehab designed to get you ready for the rigors of a particular sport or physical endeavor. Good Activity Specific exercises pay special attention to the body parts most involved in that activity without ignoring the concept of training the body as a whole.
Send your Moving Free with Mirabai questions to:askmirabai@movingfree.com
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Exercise Smart: Remember The Tortoise And The Hare! By: Mirabai Holland, MFA © 2013


Have you started that exercise program that you promised yourself? If not, you’re not alone. Only about 8% of Americans keep their New Year’s resolutions, and starting an exercise program is a particularly tough one. The very thought of knocking yourself out with exercise every day makes you cringe. Me too. It reminds me of the old story of the guy who beats his head against the wall. When his friend asks, “ Why on earth are you doing that ”, the guy replies “Cause it feels so good when I stop”. Crazy? Maybe. But that’s what’s going on with fitness today. We’re told we have to push our selves beyond all reason to get fit and then maintain with some austere, joyless regimen forever. Yea, can’t wait.
Well that’s just nonsense. Exercise should be something you look forward to instead of dread. You can get every bit as fit without the drudgery. I’m not saying that you should never do vigorous exercise. I’m saying don’t do it until your body is ready to enjoy and benefit from it. It’s not exercise Light; it’s exercise SMART.
So here’s the plan. The first step is get up and move. Start today and spend 5 minutes doing something really easy like putting some favorite music on and dancing around. Or take a 5-minute walk.
Try to do this at the same time every day, the earlier the better.
Pick something fun, something you can look forward to doing again tomorrow.
Do 5 minutes a day until it gets too easy. Then add another 5 minutes.
The idea is to ease up to 30 minutes of moderate movement a day.
This may take weeks or months. It doesn’t matter how long it takes.
Trying to go too fast is what makes people quit. Remember the tortoise and the hare!
If you have already started apply this gradual method to any program you’re on. It will help you stay on track.

Let me know how you’re doing. If you have any questions or comments my email is at the bottom of this article.
Of course always consult your doctor before beginning this or any exercise program.

You can contact Mirabai at: askmirabai@movingfree.com

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