Tag Archives: Inspiration

Spring Training Check In: What direction are you heading?

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (10)

In November, we started Spring Training.  Staying active and consistently exercising through the winter is challenging.  It becomes more motivating when you realize you are doing it for a purpose, like to enjoy the activities you like to do on that first beautiful Spring day.

With are only five weeks until the first official day of Spring, it’s time to check in. Which direction are you heading in?  Are you on the path to a Spring that starts with soreness and limitations or are you on the path to a Spring that allows you to do the activities you need and want to do with ease?

If your motivation has taken you off the path to an easy and enjoyable time in Spring, lets renew your energy for Spring Training.

Close your eyes and fast forward to the first beautiful day in Spring.  Ask yourself the following:

  • What do I want to be able to do in Spring?
  • How do I want to feel?
  • What do I need to do that activity – more strength, stamina,  mobility?
  • What is one thing I can do starting today that will tell my body to build more of that over the next five weeks?

The great news is, exercise does not need to take a lot of time, it only needs to be done consistently and your body will adapt.  Starting your day with one set of an exercise that you know will improve your strength.  Taking five to ten minutes before dinner to dance or walk.   Before going to bed each night doing that one stretch that you know feels so good.  These are so small you might think they are not worth it, but think again.  It’s the natural laws of nature that they will work.   Just like snow is designed to melt at a certain temperature, your body is designed to adapt to what you give it.   Let it know you  are in Spring Training and it will keep you on a path to a more enjoyable season ahead.

Keep Moving, Be Well, Think Spring!

Janet

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by | February 11, 2020 · 8:58 pm

Stretching: Three benefits you may not know (part 3)

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (8)

In part 1 of this series on Stretching; the three benefits you may not know, we discussed how stretching helps the lymph system do its job to help your immune system function. This makes stretching one of the best ways to reduce the effects of sitting for too long.  In part 2, we reviewed the fascia system and it’s effect on your whole body and your mind.  Stretching then becomes a way to help your body feel less stiff while improving whole person health.  In this last part, let’s take a look at how the effects of stretching on your nervous system can lead to more comfort, less pain and more freedom of movement.  

The nervous system is what controls muscles. When a muscle is tight, it is your nervous system trying to protect your muscles from tearing. A muscle spasm is when your nervous system has to take extreme measures to protect a muscle that is holding a lot of tension. The spasm happens to prevent it from tearing. That spasm is not the result of that one movement, but rather the accumulation of tightness over time. The movement that resulted in a spasm was the final straw, so to speak. Regular stretching helps to keep that tightness from accumulating.  

When you stretch regularly, you are helping your nervous system build up tolerance of movements, so it is less “hyper-protective” of the muscles.  

Nervous systemThe way to get this benefit though goes against the way you may have been taught to stretch in the past.  The word stretching implies you are stretching a muscle like a piece of cloth, and the more you pull the more the muscle will relax.  Because the nervous system is in a large part what is ‘allowing’ the muscle to ‘stretch’ or not, pulling harder means your nervous system needs to go into that ‘hyper-alert’ mode to protect the muscle from injury.

We now know that starting with a gentle stretch and only going into a light to moderate stretch sensation is more likely to result in relaxing a muscle.  Stretching to a point of pain or discomfort can have the opposite effect of what you are trying to do by stretching.

This means, paying attention to how you feel when you are stretching, and listening to your body is the way to get the most from stretching.  When you do a stretch mindlessly, quickly or forcefully, you lower the quality of the stretch and thus waste your time. Rethink stretching as a way to help your body restore and recharge so it becomes a way to reduce the stress in your mind that is held in your body.  Sprinkle your day with stretch breaks to avoid that accumulation, and you raise the quality of your movement breaks while gaining more freedom of movement in daily life.  

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

 

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by | January 28, 2020 · 4:28 pm

Happy Thanksgiving!

Why exercise for diabetes_ (3)

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by | November 28, 2019 · 4:50 am

How our supervisor keeps moving strong into her seventies

Linda Guerin is our supervisor here at the surgery clinic at UMass Memorial. Outside of work she is active with her grandchildren.   I have known her for many years and her energy level has not wavered.  Her secret?  Healthy eating and exercise!  Read below about what she does for exercise and how she keeps moving strong in her seventies!

Team blog series (5)

What do you currently do for exercise? I currently work out 4 nights a week and have been for over a year- I take a variety of classes including Zumba, P90x, and HIIT class.

What has been your biggest challenge with exercise in recent years?- I need to have both my knees replaced but it does not prevent me from attending classes

How did you overcome that challenge to keep moving?  I just keep moving, I was doing a fitness program with weights for over five years and decided it was no longer working for me and my knees and joined FIT Friendzy Studios over a year ago and I just over the variety of classes they offer and I love to challenge myself.

Why is exercise important to you right now in your life? I’m determined to stay healthy and fit especially the older I get it’s even more important to me. I will be 71 in January. I  work full time and I eat healthy.  Over a year ago I gave up junk food and sweets (sugar) and don’t miss it at all. It’s so important to me to be healthy, you never know what tomorrow brings but it will not be because I didn’t work on my health.  I have also lost 90 lbs since I changed my lifestyle.

I love spending time with my grandchildren and family and friends. I also love to tent camp for a couple of weeks in the summer when I’m visiting my son and family in Michigan. I need to be healthy to do that. I also found a way to exercise while camping. I truly enjoy being active, it’s a big part of my life.  I stay late at work just not to miss my classes. I truly love my life!

Thank you Linda!

Janet

 

 

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by | November 25, 2019 · 4:19 pm

Moving in the outdoors keeps this physician young and healthy

Team blog series

Dr. Elizabeth Benjevin is one of our physicians here at the UMass Memorial Weight Center.  She shares how she keeps moving by enjoying exercising in the outdoors year round, how she overcame an injury, and stays active on busy days in the clinic.  


What do you currently do for exercise?

Currently I like to mix it up when it comes to exercise.  I enjoy exercising outdoors and being close to nature, so many of my activities revolve around that.  On weekends and my days off I will often go hiking, kayaking or biking in the summer.  During the winter that will switch to skiing – primarily downhill but also cross country as well as occasionally snowshoeing or winter hiking (I use yak trax when walking/hiking to avoid slipping when there’s slippery conditions on the trail.)  I enjoy exercising in the cold.  I realize a lot of people will often hibernate in the winter, but I’ve found that with good warm clothing and practice, one can enjoy exercising outdoors in the cold air.  I often prefer it as I find the cold more invigorating.  But I don’t like being cold so I have invested in some warm jackets, socks (woolen or polyester are much better than the usual cotton), hats, and mittens as well as the footwear.  If I didn’t have these things, I’m sure I would be hibernating as well!   

On days that I am working, I will try to get at least 6000-10,000 steps per day.  I wear my Fitbit and will find excuses to get up and log some extra steps.  It starts in the morning when I park my car in one of the furthest parking spots.  If I have some free time I may walk around the medical school and hospital (outdoors if it’s nice, indoors if not.)  If things are busy then I try to at least get a few steps just walking from my office to the Weight Center front desk – I will often bring charts back one at a time instead of all at once to get more steps as well as to get a break from sitting.  After work, I will often walk with my husband around the neighborhood. 

What has been your biggest challenge with exercise in recent years?

One of my biggest challenges to exercise has been my knee problems.  I had major knee surgery almost 10 years ago.  That knee does have a tendency to act up from time to time.  Often just pacing myself (going on shorter hikes, taking a break from getting my step goal for the day and babying it a little – but not too much because then it can stiffen up) will be all that is needed.  About three years ago when it was not getting better by my usual routine, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do my usual hiking and skiing, I finally bit the bullet and made an appointment with my orthopedist.  He recommended physical therapy and what a game changer that was!  With a lot of stretching, a little bit of strengthening exercises and attention to form, I was back hiking again and with much less discomfort than I previously had.  (I had almost hung up my hiking boots so I was thrilled!)

Why is exercise important to you right now in your life?

Exercise is obviously a very important part of my life.  I find that I feel not only physically better but also mentally more alert when I exercise.  It can also be stress relieving (even more so when I can get out in nature) and I feel that it keeps me young.   When I was a primary care physician and saw healthy 80 and 90 year olds in the office, the one thing they all had in common was that they stayed physically active.  It also gives me pleasure – the accomplishment of hiking up a mountain or successfully tackling a black diamond ski trail cannot be beat!

Thank you Dr. Benjevin!

Keep moving, Be Well,

Janet

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by | October 21, 2019 · 8:31 pm