Little Things That Make a Big Difference: Balance Exercise

January 13th, 2012

By Cathie Dunal, MD, MPH: One of my patients, a lovely lady of about 60–let’s call her Sandra–had a bad fall a few years ago. It was an icy February, and the sudden collision with a sidewalk took a toll on her back and neck. She went to physical therapy for several months.

This past spring, when Sandra came in for her annual visit, she had a big smile. “I didn’t fall once during the winter,” she beamed, “and I think I know why.” I took the bait: “Why?”

“Because I did the balance exercise you taught me all through the winter. I’m sure that’s why I didn’t fall. I had a few close calls.” She said that she told her friends about the balance training I’d prescribed, and they were doing the exercise too.

Balance exercise? It’s actually incredibly simple to do a tiny bit each day to maintain and improve your balance, and I’d like to share it with you, too:

Stand on one foot. This can be done at any time; I prefer to do it when I’m brushing my teeth–if you brush your teeth for two full minutes, as the dentist recommends, that’s a minute balancing on each foot. Twice a day.  Or while waiting for a pot to boil, a download to finish…during commercials.

It’s that simple. Continue reading »

Face Yoga: Chin & Neck Tightening

November 27th, 2011

Here’s another set of facial yoga exercises from instructor Annelise Hagen to help tighten your chin and neck.

Little Bit of Exercise, Big Benefits

October 6th, 2011

ScienceDaily: A new University of Colorado Boulder study shows that a small amount of physical exercise could profoundly protect the elderly from long-term memory loss that can happen suddenly following infection, illnesses or injury in old age.

In the study, CU-Boulder Research Associate Ruth Barrientos and her colleagues showed that aging rats that ran just over half a kilometer each week were protected against infection-induced memory loss.

“Our research shows that a small amount of physical exercise by late middle-aged rats profoundly protects against exaggerated inflammation in the brain and long-lasting memory impairments that follow a serious bacterial infection,” said Barrientos of the psychology and neuroscience department.

“Strikingly, this small amount of running was sufficient to confer robust benefits for those that ran over those that did not run,” Barrientos said. “This is an important finding because those of advanced age are more vulnerable to memory impairments following immune challenges such as bacterial infections or surgery. With baby boomers currently at retirement age, the risk of diminished memory function in this population is of great concern. Thus, effective noninvasive therapies are of substantial clinical value.”

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All About Cramps

July 9th, 2011

By Anahad O’Connor for NYTimes: For many avid runners, side stitches can be a maddening problem: the cramplike spasms set in suddenly and can ruin a good workout. While no one knows their precise cause, many experts believe a side stitch occurs when the diaphragm — which is vital to breathing — is overworked during a vigorous run and begins to spasm. Runners who develop stitches are commonly advised to slow down and take deep, controlled breaths.

But a new theory suggests that it may not be the diaphragm that’s responsible for the pain, and that poor posture could be a culprit. In one recent study, researchers used a device to measure muscle activity as people were experiencing side stitches. They found no evidence of increased activity or spasms in the diaphragm area during the onset of stitches.

Last year, the same team published a separate study in The Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. They found that those who regularly slouched or hunched their backs were more likely to experience side stitches, and the poorer their posture, the more severe their stitches in exercise. Article

More Running Tips……

Nocturnal Leg Cramps Continue reading »

Video Games For Exercise

April 2nd, 2011

By Nancy Shute: Parents who fear that video games are turning their children into tubs of lard can now say with confidence that playing Dance Dance Revolution burns more calories than sitting on the couch.

In fact, active video games like Dance Dance Revolution give kids a better workout than walking on a treadmill at 3 mph, according to new study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. And even the overweight kids say they liked playing the games.

However, a 3-mph walk is pretty darned leisurely, and the children who played Wii Boxing didn’t manage to get their metabolic rate above their walking rate. Dance Dance Revolution bested Nintendo Wii Boxing when 39 children ages 9 to 13 were dancing to the rock chestnut “Thirteen.”

Earlier studies have evaluated home video games as exercise options, but this study also looked at commercial video games like SportWall, in which students interact with wall panels equipped with motion sensors, that are becoming increasingly popular for school phys ed classes.

Three commercial games were among the four that burned the most energy —SportWallTrazer, a laser-tag-like game; and LightSpace Bug Invasion, in which players stop lighted bugs on a mat.

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