Monday, September 15, 2014


“Discovering the truth of who you are is the only way to love and care for yourself.” 
― Vironika TugalevaThe Love Mindset

Who Are You?

What a bizarre question to ask someone and how many answers are there to this inquiry?  You may be one thing to your spouse, something else to your boss or friend but what are you, meaning YOU, personally.  The answer, here at least, may influence your life and what to expect of yourself.

Being a homo sapien, you are a member of the animal group, and probably one of the most complex entities in the universe. You could fill a book on who you are, why and how you function, what to expect of yourself, and how you can be "all that you could be" without becoming a U.S. Marine!

Our human family originated about 200,000 years ago in the Middle Paleolithic period in southern Africa. Whether produced by a super-natural being, or developed as part of an evolutionary process, we have component parts that help us dictate what we do, and how we do it.

Let's begin at birth and look at what we are, anatomically, biologically, and even under the microscope.  It's been estimated that a human is made of approximately 37 + trillion (that's spelled with a "T") cells.  We have approximately 206 bones, 630 muscles, 50 hormones and 243 joints.  Oh, we also have ligaments, tendons, skin, fat, muscle and umpteen million other components.  We have the most developed brain of all the animals in our group, and with a central nervous system(CNS). The CNS is composed of 24 cranial nerves (12 pairs) and 64 spinal nerves (32 pairs). It also has over a billion branches.  Each of our cells is a small chemical factory that needs nutrition to produce what we need to live.

So what's this have to do with fitness you ask?  If you want to function in health and live a vibrant life, you, Mr. CEO, have been installed in your corporation whether you like it or not.  You have a lot to learn about yourself and don't rely on your doctor because he is, essentially, a facilitator. He may help you with your pains, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis, but he cannot do your healing for you. That's up to you and how well you control your corporation, from birth to the present time. 

As you view the components of your body, you realize that the bones give shape and structure to our bodies, the ligaments attach bones to bones and tendons attach muscles to bones and joints.  The purpose and instruction our creator has given us is to use what we have, maintain our health and tend to our needs as humans.  We are a miraculous creation that thinks, understands, moves and heals itself.  We are not machines that go for service every 5000 miles.  How about daily?

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"Some people talk in their sleep. Lecturers talk while other people sleep."
                                                            -Albert Camus
Improving Your Sleep

If you listen for advice on the amount of liquids you should drink or the number of hours you should sleep daily  it would be 10 glasses and 7-8 hours, respectively, as the correct answer.  There is no special number in either case that has been proven for every one.  And in some cases of people  can do well on 5 hours and some need 10 or more hours of sleep to feel refreshed.  What really counts is how well we sleep and how deep is our sleep.  The number of sleep hours also change with age and how we treat our body. Those that do high intensity workouts require more time to restore their muscles to a stronger condition after training than before their workouts began.

The National Sleep Foundation and the American Sleep Association suggests that with a lack of sleep we fall into a "sleep debt."  To "pay off" this debt you have to determine what your basal sleep need is and the amount of sleep you require to function optimally. To figure out what your basal sleep requirement is:
  1. Choose a time you usually go to sleep and keep it fairly constant, day after day.
  2. When you awaken the next day, write down what time it was and how many hours you slept.
  3. From keeping a daily record of the total amount of time you spend sleeping each day so you can average out what the basal sleep need time is.  This then becomes the minimal amount of time you require to sleep and if you sleep less, you go into a "sleep debt."
  4. If you go into debt, you have to pay your debt back for optimal health. As soon as possible you should find the time to pay off this debt and get back on track for the desired sleep routine. 

Foods To Eat To Aid Your Sleep Pattern

Some food can aid in establishing a sounder and more healthful sleeping period.  They include:
  1. Eggs: They contain high quality protein and help to keep your blood sugar levels stable.
  2. Dairy Products:  Milk products and yogurt are also high in protein along with good amounts of calcium.  For deep sleep (called REM sleep) calcium is a big factor in this phase of sleep.
  3. Tea:  Try drinking herbal tea or a decaffeinated green tea as an aid to increase drowsiness.
  4. Cherry Juice:  Cherries are rich in melatonin which aids sleep.  It is sometimes called the sleep inducing hormone.
  5. Cereal:  A small bowl of whole-grain cereal with a low-sugar content contains melatonin and tryptophan (an amino acid that helps in causing sleepiness).
  6. Chickpeas:  They contain vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin.
  7. Fish:  Halibut, salmon, and tuna contain vitamin B6.  This helps the body produce melatonin.
  8. Bananas:  These are high in potassium, which helps calm restless legs and nighttime leg cramps.They also contain magnesium, which relax muscles, nerves and contributes to healthy circulation.

Watch What and When You Consume
The Following

  1.  All products that contain alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes (nicotine).  They tend to upset normal sleep rhythm.  Caffeine tends to last about a half a day so consume your cup of java with your breakfast and use decaf the rest of the day.
  2. Allow 2-3 hours after your last meal before your sleep time. If necessary, be sure it's a light snack with no sugar.  Digestion and especially a large meal, can affect the quality of your sleep.


Monday, September 1, 2014

“Earth's crammed with heaven...
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.” 
― Elizabeth Barrett BrowningAurora Leigh

Resistance Exercise & Seniors

As we age there are changes in our brains and total nervous system.  More specifically, one of the basic components of our nerves are neurons.  As muscles atrophy with age, as in sarcopenia, neurons lose size, their myelination and their ability to regenerate.  Throughout the body these changes can lead to incoordination, accidents, falls, and trauma. 

In the August 2014, vol 28-Issue 8., The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research had an article entitled Resistance Exercise May Improve Spatial Awareness and Visual Reaction in Older Adults. The authors were trying to determine if strength training had any effect on cognitive and physical impairments.  Aerobic exercise has exhibited positive effects on both cognitive and physical impairment on older adults.  Presently there are few pharmacological treatments available. Aerobic exercise has been of value in improving the cognition and reaction of older people, but to determine the results from resistance training was the purpose of this study.  

Twenty five healthy adults 60 years or older were volunteers and were free of recent surgeries, heart disease, pulmonary problems, and metabolic symptoms.  There were no musculoskeletal injuries so, essentially, they were in reasonably good health for their age group.  They were divided into two groups, a control group of 12 individuals and a training group of 13 people.

Thee training programs completed 2 days of training to become familiarized with the exercises they were taught.  They had 2 resistance training sessions for a period of 6 weeks with at least 48 hours of rest between all training sessions to allow for recovery.  Full body workouts were performed during each session with 7 or 8 exercises performed each day.  The workouts were for 3 sets of each exercise and the number of repetitions were between 8 to 15.  All sessions were monitored by a certified strength and conditioning specialist.  The program followed the recommended guidelines for older adults by the American College of Sports Medicine and the national Strength and Conditioning Association.

The exercises performed by the training group include:

  1. Leg extensions
  2. Leg curls
  3. Seated rows
  4. Lat pull-downs
  5. Modified squats
  6. Modified split squats
  7. Modified stiff-legged dead lifts
  8. Biceps curls
  9. Chest presses
  10. Shoulder presses
  11. Tricep extensions
  12. Abdominals
  13. Calf raises

Results and Interpretations of the analyses revealed that resistance exercise training was "likely beneficial" for improving spatial awareness and visual and physical reaction times.  The improvement of the training group over the control group for each of the senses are as follows:

  1. Spatial awareness; +40%
  2. Visual reaction times; +14.6%
  3. Physical reaction times; +14%
According to the authors of this study, "The results of this study support the use of resistance exercise as a means to potentially preserve or improve spatial awareness and visual and physical reaction times in older adults. Both spatial awareness and reaction are essential to accident avoidance in everyday living because they enable the individual to perceive and react to the surrounding environment."