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Tag Archives: Fitness

Do you feel Born to Run, but Walk instead to save your Knees?

As long as your joints are healthy to begin with, it may be safe to pick up the pace.

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If you’ve been reluctant to make running one of your New Year’s resolutions, fear no more. A common misconception is that running puts tremendous wear and tear on the knees and can even bring on osteoarthritis. But a new study of almost 75,000 runners shows just the opposite: There was no association between running and osteoarthritis. In fact, runners were less likely to develop arthritis than people with lower activity levels. Running isn’t necessarily a higher-impact exercise, biomechanically speaking. While runners do apply more force with each step, that force is distributed over fewer steps (since their strides are longer). Walkers apply less force but take more strides. The bottom line: The impact of running or walking on your knees may be the same.

But keep this in mind: If you’re a woman over 55 or a man over 45, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you get your doctor’s okay before beginning an exercise program. While running may be easier on our joints than previously thought, it is still considered moderate to strenuous cardiovascular exercise, so it’s smart to make sure your heart and lungs are up to the challenge.

 

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Keep Moving!

Keep Moving! A new study found nonoperative treatments were just as effective at reducing pain and disability as spinal fusion surgery for patients with lumbar degenerative disc disease.

PT found effective as spinal fusion for pain Nonoperative treatments, including physical therapy, were just as effective at reducing pain and disability as spinal fusion surgery for patients with lumbar degenerative disc disease. Nonoperative treatments, including physical therapy, were just as effective at reducing pain and disability as spinal fusion surgery for patients with lumbar degenerative disc disease, according to a recent study.

According to an American Physical Therapy Association survey, 61% of U.S. residents experience low back pain, of which degenerative disc disease is one cause. The same survey found just 40% of those with low back pain will try movement as a way to relieve the pain.

Researchers with the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville, and the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, reviewed 200 consecutive patients with back pain and concordant lumbar discogram who were offered the option of spinal fusion then followed up with the patients to compare outcomes of those who chose fusion or nonoperative treatments, such as physical therapy. Their study was published online Sept. 17 in the journal World Neurosurgery.

The team used follow-up questionnaires including the pain score, Oswestry Disability Index, SF-12 and satisfaction scale. Researchers conducted follow-ups with 96 patients (48%). Patients who lacked follow-up data were slightly older and less likely to be smokers. Overall, pain score at initial visit, body-mass index and gender were not significantly different between patients with and without follow-up results.

Of the 96 patients with follow-up, 53 were in the operative group and 43 were in the nonoperative group. The researchers found no significant differences between the groups based on age, pain score, BMI, smoking or gender at baseline. The average amount of time that elapsed before follow-up was 63 months and 58 months for the operative and nonoperative groups, respectively.

According to the findings, patients in both groups reported much less pain at the final follow-up. The authors concluded the two groups �did not demonstrate a significant difference in outcomes measures of pain, health status, satisfaction or disability.�

Abstract: http://www.worldneurosurgery.org/article/S1878-8750%2813%2901111-X/abstract

 

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Maintain Exercise Momentum

Want to maintain your exercise momentum? Commit to shorter, moderate-intensity workouts rather than lengthy, high-intensity ones.

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Here’s an early Christmas present: 30 minutes of moderate exercise is about as beneficial to your health (not to fitness) as a full hour of intense training (and much easier to fit into your busy schedule). What’s more, you’re more likely to be energized by moderate workouts and more motivated to keep doing them. “When you do a 30-minute moderate workout, you increase your energy levels without depleting them completely, leaving you with more energy to continue with the rest of your day,” says Melissa Hendricks, MEd, manager of the Cleveland Clinic Fitness Centers. So pop in your favorite workout DVD, take a vigorous walk or hop on the elliptical at your gym and watch how quickly those 30 minutes fly by.

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Meditate Daily to Reduce Stress

Remember gazing at the clouds when you were a child? Meditation is a seated form of daydreaming. Do it daily to reduce stress.
Sitting still for an hour. Humming strange noises. Changing your religion. Ask most people what’s involved in meditation and the answer is likely to be any or all of these things. Actually, meditation is a simple way to quiet the mind and calm the body. Should be easy, right? Well, in our busy Western world, taking the time to sit quietly and breathe deeply seems to be an almost impossible task. Yet, study after study is proving that a meditation practice can help us to be less stressed, more focused and much healthier.

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Consider the facts: Chronic stress is at the core of many of our modern ills. We’re working more, exercising less and not always making healthy food choices. Genetically, we have the bodies of our ancestors — built to deal with the occasional threat of a wild animal attack but not the ongoing, daily stress of deadlines and overdue bills. Unchecked, this chronic stress leads to a whole host of physical problems, such as muscle tension, elevated blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, blood sugar swings, lowered immunity, increased pain and more. Our minds are affected as well. Chronic stress makes it harder to concentrate or to remember, disturbs our sleep, increases our anxiety and self-doubt, and gets in the way of our enjoyment of life. A regular meditation practice can help by focusing the mind, quieting that mental “chatter,” reducing tension in the body and calming the breath.

Do you remember lying on the grass and gazing up at the clouds when you were a child? You just watched the world go by without judging whether your experience or thoughts were good or bad. Meditation is a seated form of daydreaming (or you could lie down). To begin, take a few moments to move and stretch your body, loosening up tight areas like the shoulders and lower back. Next, find a quiet area and a supportive chair. Sit with your feet planted firmly on the floor, hip-width apart, with the knees directly over the ankles. Sit up tall and let your hands lie gently in your lap. Close your eyes and start paying attention to your breath. Try saying to yourself, “I am breathing in” on the inhale and “I am breathing out” on the exhale. As thoughts come up (and they will), just notice them like the clouds passing by and return to your breathing. At first, try this for about five minutes. Remind yourself that this is a practice, and with practice comes progress. It won’t take long to notice that your breathing is deeper and more even, your heart rate has slowed and you feel calmer. You may not know it, but you have reduced your blood pressure and your body is no longer pumping out the same quantity of stress hormones. This practice is so simple you can do it almost anywhere and at almost any time.

— from the Cleveland Clinic’s yoga program manager, Judi Bar, and certified yoga instructor Sally Sherwin
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Proper form for Squats…

Hate squats? You may not realize it, but you probably do them as part of your daily activities. So it’s smart to know proper form.

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Many people avoid doing squats because they believe they’re going to hurt their knees. However, any time you pick something up from the floor (assuming you’re lifting safely from your legs and not your back), you engage in a squat. Knowing how to do the move properly will ensure that you don’t injure yourself. Besides, says Melissa Hendricks, MEd, manager of the Cleveland Clinic Fitness Centers, contrary to popular belief, adding squats to your exercise routine will actually strengthen, not weaken, your knees. “Squats target the muscles in the front and back of your legs, along with your gluteals and core. The stronger these muscles are, the more stable your knees will be. In fact, stronger muscles above and below your knees serve as shock absorbers for your knees. The fact that most people do not do squats correctly is what can lead to injury,” she says. Here, Hendricks offers a primer on how to perform squats properly.
• First, try not to bend forward at your waist; this is quite common and is usually a sign of a weak core. Bending forward while you’re squatting puts a lot of pressure on your lower back, and it also drives a lot of the strain straight into your knees. To prevent this from happening, keep your back as straight as possible. Try finding a spot on the wall to focus your gaze on throughout the exercise. You may also want to limit how low you squat until you gain more strength in your core and perfect your form.
• Next, make sure you’re not shifting your weight forward into your toes and lifting your heels off the ground. Not only does this put a lot of pressure on the knee joints, it also takes away a lot of the effectiveness of the exercise, since you aren’t using the strong gluteus (butt) muscles to lift you from the squat. When going down into the squat, make sure you can always see your toes. If your knees travel past your toes, then shift your weight back into your glutes more. Try putting a chair or bench behind you, and then aiming for the bench.
• If you are just learning how to squat or have very little lower-body strength, you may also want to consider placing a stability ball behind you, against a wall, and allowing the ball to guide you up and down. This will help you to feel more secure in the exercise, and it will train your muscles for when you’re ready to do your squats without the ball.

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Not Seeing Results? Your Dumbells may be too Light

Not seeing the results you want at the gym? Look to the number on your dumbbells. Research shows most of us choose weights that are too light.

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If your workout feels too easy, or you’re not seeing the results you were hoping for, you may be selecting weights that are too light for you. Research in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that, during resistance training, many women chose weights that were too light to see any real muscle improvements. “While performing any exercise is better then doing none, you want to make sure you are continually challenging your body. Doing the same exercise at the same weight for more than two weeks most likely means you are no longer seeing any continued benefits, because your body has adapted,” explains Melissa Hendricks, M.Ed, manager of the Cleveland Clinic Fitness Centers. To select the proper weight for you, choose one that you can lift at least eight times, but no more than 15, before exhausting your muscles completely. The last few repetitions should be difficult, but you should still be able to maintain proper form.

source:cleveland clinic

 
 

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Walking Can Help Prevent Negativity & Stress

To protect against bad moods and stress, exercise regularly. A 30-minute walk most days of the week can help prevent negativity and stress.

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Picture this: You had a long day, but now, as you’re grooving to your music and breathing in the smell of fresh-cut grass as you walk through the park, you feel your stress (and that afternoon cookie) melt away. “Exercise is not only for losing weight and looking better. It helps you feel better mentally,” says Melissa Hendricks, M.Ed, manager of the Cleveland Clinic Fitness Centers. “People who exercise moderately for at least 30 minutes a day tend to have more overall energy throughout the day, handle stressful situations better, and sleep more restfully. Combined, all of these can help you perform your daily tasks more efficiently and with better results,” she says. The fact that physical activity fends off stress is nothing new. But newer research suggests that exercise also stimulates the creation of new brain connections that help induce calm even in the face of stress. Since motivating yourself to exercise during a period of high stress or anxiety can be a challenge, says Hendricks, try using exercise as a way to calm your mind and body. “Walking, yoga and tai chi are all great physical activities that can help you feel more calm and less anxious.”

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Posted by on September 17, 2013 in Cleveland Clinic Wellness Tips

 

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Everyone Needs a Pedometer

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Need a new way to motivate yourself to be active? Put on a pedometer to move more, weigh less and monitor how much you move each day.

Researchers have found that the simple act of wearing one encourages people to walk more and be more active when they would otherwise be stationary for hours at a time (like at work or in front of the TV). Even if you exercise for 30 minutes a day, you may also spend a lot of time sitting. Taking breaks to stand up, stretch and move around at least once an hour can go a long way toward keeping you healthy and fit. According to Dr. Mike Roizen, chief wellness officer of the Cleveland Clinic, a pedometer is a must-have for everyone. In fact, he recommends owning two. “Buy a backup pedometer, and overpay for it. It is one of the four things in life for which you should overpay: chef’s knife, great walking/exercise shoes, an engagement ring and two pedometers,” he says. That way, you’ll never have an excuse for not using one. Your ultimate walking goal is 10,000 steps per day. No excuses, says Dr. Mike.

 

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