Posts tagged ‘exercise’

December 9, 2019

Essentrics Are Essential, Especially with RA

It started with a trip to the library. While perusing the DVDs I came across the Essentrics Pain-Relief Workouts : Standing, Floor and Barre Workouts. I loved how at ease I felt while doing the exercises. The best part was that I felt much more limber after doing a workout almost-first-thing in the morning. (By the way, you do not need a barre – a chair serves as your barre.)

What I love about these exercises is that they are gentle. Miranda Esmonde-White, who retired from the National Ballet Company of Canada, knows her stuff. If her routines are good enough for the Montreal Canadiens and Cirque de Soleil, they are good enough for me! (No, you don’t need to be a high performance athlete to benefit or to take part.)

In the beginner DVDs, Miranda cautions you to respect your body. If it hurts, don’t push into the pain. Instead, go back to the point where you don’t feel pain, thereby allowing your brain to send the message to your body that it is safe to move to that point. Do what you can, while respecting your limitations, which will more than likely change for the better over time. You’re encouraged to relax while you do lazy, circular movements, reminiscent of T’ai Chi, that help to lengthen and strengthen your muscles.

As a person living with rheumatoid arthritis, you know that range of motion exercises are vital, especially if you wish to maintain the mobility that you do have. Your often-neglected hands and feet aren’t forgotten in Essentrics. A full-body workout in 20 to 30 minutes. Isn’t that worthy of your time? As always, check with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program.

I have also checked out Classical Stretch – Age Reversing Workouts for Beginners – Mobility and Bone Strengthening, Aging Backwards – Connective Tissue Workouts, Essentrics – The Ultimate Stretch Workouts, Essentrics – Strength and Stretch in Motion, Essentrics – Toning for Beginners – Standing, Floor and Barre, Essentrics – Full Body Toning – Standing and Floor, Essentrics Body Sculpting Series – Volume 1 and Essentrics Body Sculpting Series – Volume 2. (I found the latter two DVDs, which are led by Sahra, Miranda’s daughter, more challenging to do in the morning. They were much easier to do in the afternoon.)

The library also had Aging Backwards – 10 Years Younger, 10 Years Lighter, 30 Minutes a Day. This book is a wonderful “User’s Manual,” that introduces you to your muscles, ligaments and joints. You’ll learn about the difference in strengthening your muscles concentrically (by shortening them as in weight-lifting), and essentrically, (strengthening by lengthening, as in Essentrics). Aging myths, fitness and disease prevention, injury recovery and exercises are also included in the book.

Equipment

Apart from the cost of the DVDs, which I’d class as $$, you don’t need expensive gear. Maybe an exercise mat if you have hardwood floors, a sturdy chair and an exercise band. For the exercise band you can use a towel, or braid your old pantyhose if you’d prefer something stretchy. (I remember doing that in the 80s when I did those Jane Fonda exercise videos. Do you remember VCR tapes?)

My feet tend to slip on the carpet, so I put socks on that have a rubberized non-slip sole:

Do Better When You Know Better

In my 20s and 30s, I taught fitness classes. If only I knew then what I know now, bolstered with the information I gleaned from Miranda. It is what it is, so by applying the principles I’ve learned from Miranda in her Essentrics program, I can do better in order to live better.

Perhaps if I were 10-15 years younger, I’d consider beoming an instructor. Similar to my Auntie Stress hat, I suspect that I would become my own best client. That’s how much I believe in the Essentrics system.

The movements I’ve learned and practiced in the livingroom accompany me as I go about my day. I am more mindful of how I walk and stand (something that is covered in the How To section of Classical Stretch Posture and Pain Relief DVD). I have even incorporated some of the movements into my pool exercises.

No, I am not being compensated for this review! Darn! 😉 I’m sharing this information with you so that you can take back the reins of your life and giddy-on-up to feeling and doing better!

 

March 27, 2019

#566 – Live Better with RA – Tip #3

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Tip #3 – Move/Exercise

The last thing you may feel like doing is moving, when even talking hurts. The adage “move it or lose it” applies, especially when you have RA. If you’re concerned that you are doing more damage, consult a physiotherapist for appropriate exercises for RA.

In addition to keeping you mobile, strong and flexible, the right amount of exercise can help kick inflammation to the curb. I always notice a huge improvement in mobility, particularly after my swim.

UC San Diego Health has this to say about exercise as an anti-inflammatory:

The brain and sympathetic nervous system — a pathway that serves to accelerate heart rate and raise blood pressure, among other things — are activated during exercise to enable the body to carry out work. Hormones, such as epinephrine and norepinephrine, are released into the blood stream and trigger adrenergic receptors, which immune cells possess.

This activation process during exercise produces immunological responses, which include the production of many cytokines, or proteins, one of which is TNF — a key regulator of local and systemic inflammation that also helps boost immune responses.

Speaking of moving and exercising, I’d like to share what Rick, my online acquaintance, has accomplished. His go-to exercise is cycling, which combined with healthy eating (see Tip #2), has allowed him to become, in his own words “a big loser.” Way to go, Rick!

A big round of applause to all of us who are losers, and to some of us who have been on the weight-loss/weight-gain teeter-totter and have finally settled into a good place/weight.

In case you are in the midst of a major flare, I’m swimming two extra lengths just for you! (It’s my new thing. Consider it an energetic gift for someone who is unable to move/exercise. 🙂 Whether I’m stretching, lifting weights, swimming or dog walking, I’m finishing my “usual” routine by doing two more – be it lengths, blocks, lifts, reps, minutes or holds.)

Can you guess what Tip #4 will be?

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January 17, 2019

#562 – An Exercise Tip for Lazy Bones

 

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I make sure I get some form of exercise on a daily basis. I sleep better, but the big pay-off is that I feel better.

Having Holly helps, as dogs need to be walked in rain, hail, sleet or sun. However, there are days when I feel like a lazy bones. Marianna’s Law as Applied to Exercise usually gets me to the pool. As incentive, I agree to do half my swim. Invariably, I end up doing the full workout, since I’m already in the water.

If I’m feeling lazy I recall all the times in the past when everything hurt to move. When I was in excruciating pain before my hip replacements. How my feet felt before forefoot reconstructive surgery (Warning! Graphic image on that page!) When I even needed help pulling the blankets up at night. Yes, I think about that. Then, I reflect upon how grateful I am that I can go for a Holly dog walk, or enjoy a refreshing swim.

Listening to my body means that unless I am in agony or are in dire need of rest, I give my lazy bones a wake-up shake and make sure I do something physical, even if it’s only to get up and dance around the living room. Dancing just isn’t Holly’s thing.  Her predecessor, Murphy, would often join me whenever I said, “Murphy, dance!”

Mobility – please don’t take it for granted! The best way I know to honour my mobility, is to move. Plus, it’s a great way to build in the practice of gratitude, which has enormous health benefits.

This also goes for all you able-bodied people who prefer the couch. If you can move easily, do so! Do it for those who cannot.

Move it, don’t lose it! If you’ve got it back, be grateful and move it again!

March 20, 2017

#520 – Fitness in Sight

There is something to be said for the adage, “Out of sight, out of mind”. It is often used when referring to a mess of some sort. However, I’ve found that when fitness equipment is out of sight, it is too often out of mind, and that’s not conducive to increasing fitness.

Working from home, I make sure that I take little exercise breaks.  In addition to my dance breaks, dog walks and swims, I do some exercises at home. It’s easy enough to glue my butt to the chair when I get wrapped up in a project.

While having my weights, stretch bands and balls in a visible place won’t win me a page in a decorating magazine, it gives me wins in other (more important) areas of my life: flexibility, strength and endurance.

As you can see, I have a number of exercise “toys”.  A wobble board is tucked underneath my perch, er recliner, which I’ll use while watching movies. Sometimes I’ll roll the stability ball into the office to work at the computer, or I’ll do some weights, which you can see in Holly’s toy box. I have different coloured/strength Therabands®; I tied the black one to the foot of our (very heavy) coffee table to work primarily on my adductors and abductors. (If you want to get started now, here are some exercises you can do to strengthen these 2 often-neglected muscle groups.)

Be sure to check with your healthcare team before starting any new exercise program.

My rheumatologist recently shared the name of a new resource with me called Exercise is Medicine®. This is a global health initiative that is designed to encourage primary care physicians and  healthcare providers to include physical activity as a part of the treatment plan for patients. As this initiative builds momentum, you can expect to hear more about this during your office visits. Wouldn’t it be great to get a jump on this and be able to tell your healthcare team about the steps you are taking to address this area?

How are you incorporating fitness into your day?

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