florida

Get Outside

By Paul Hunter

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Fitness goals typically accelerate when spring weather arrives, so as the air warms and the sun shines longer, head outdoors for some fitness fun.  Opportunity for fitness avails itself everywhere, you just have to be willing to notice the opportunities and get up and go!
 
Sidewalks are a great place to start if the couch has been too good of a friend.  Walking with a companion or listening to your favorite tunes or audio book is a great way to enjoy the spring weather.  Pay attention to your stride, your pace, and your foot placement.  Squeeze the glutes, stand tall, and tilt those hips for a straighter spine so you can lead each step with a powerful core.  After a couple of weeks, add a little circuit training and dynamic stretching to the walk by including walking prisoner lunges (holding your hand behind you head while you progress into a lunge), high knee forward steps (like running with high knees but, you are walking while maintaining your balance), walking while kicking your heel back to your glutes (rear-end) and a quick jog.  Try 5-10 reps per side of each exercise every 2-3 minutes.  Within 2-3 weeks you’ll be feeling stronger with more energy and can continue to pick up the pace as you gain joint and cardiovascular strength. 
Beach days don’t have to be about a chair, an umbrella, and a nap.  Now that you’re feeling stronger, challenge yourself with a 10 minute walk and lung combination in the deep sand.  Add upper body conditioning by digging a hole with the kids, or building a sand castle…and make sure you are the one carting the buckets of water back and forth.  When the water warms and you find your self waist high in the Gulf, try your own version of Water Aerobics.  Stand on one leg and swing the other forward and backward using the water resistance for both balance and power.  Do the same with your hands as you paddle you hands forward and backward.  Finally, try something new.  Stand up paddle boarding has become very accessible at our beaches.  Beach services along the coast rent boards, so when the water is flat, grab a board and discover the benefits of fitness when you realize that the little bit of work you’ve put into yourself translates into a whole new world of activities.  
 
Bike and hiking trails are plentiful in our area and a great way to add to your outdoor experience away from the sandy beaches.  Load up the family or invite a friend, and remember to pack a lunch, water and the binoculars to take full advantage of the benefits and enjoyment of being outdoors.
Bike and hiking trails are plentiful in our area and a great way to add to your outdoor experience away from the sandy beaches.  Whether an experienced hiker or a newbie to venturing out, search for websites like funforemeraldcoastkids.com to find and enjoy new trails. Load up the family or invite a friend, and remember to pack a lunch, water and the binoculars to take full advantage of the benefits and enjoyment of being outdoors.
 
Staying active is a key ingredient to staying young.  Fitness is a lifestyle that allows you to live stronger.  So accelerate your activity everyday and enjoy the warm air and sunshine in a whole new way.

Make it a great day!

New Year New You

By Paul Hunter

Happy New Year!  I am sure many of you have set a resolution to lose weight, eat better or simply lead a better life.  Resolutions that come to mind easily are made and quickly forgotten as we get on with our daily lives after the holidays.  Statistics show that after six months, half of us who have set resolutions have stuck with them.  After a year, 90% have fallen off the wagon, leaving 10% who have stuck with their resolutions for change.   Seems like the odds are against us.  Change is difficult, and as I heard someone once say, “The only person who likes change is a baby.”  

We are posed with many opportunities to forget about the changes we resolved to make or solidify these changes a little at a time.  Change is difficult for many reasons and we all have a variety of reasons why it is difficult for us.  What got each of us to this stage of our lives are our habits, habits that are now deeply engrained in who we are.  Let’s take a look at some common obstacles to our success and ways to overcome them.

Our engrained daily routines.   As we go to bed December 31st or early January 1st, we have our resolutions and the best intentions.  We wake up to the kids crying and needing to make breakfast.  The Franklin-Covey Institute recommends spending at least 15 minutes in “planning and solitude” the day before.  Why?   By the time tomorrow comes, it is too late.  The day’s events have taken over us and we react to them.  You may have to get up earlier, go to bed later.  Prepare the day before to make the next day easier.  Invest those recommended 15 minutes to plan what lies ahead when you are the most hopeful.

It’s not all or nothing.  Ate a “no-no” piece of cake or missed a workout?  Learn or figure out why you did it, and move on.  Our goals may be set in stone, but our plans should be set in sand because our days ebb and tide and we need to allow ourselves the ability to make adjustments.   Keep your sight on the prize and learn from the obstacles.

No support system.  Our parents told us we would become who we surrounded ourselves with.  These people take the shape of encouragers or nay-sayers.  Those who know the road to change is difficult and root us on, especially when things get tough or temptation is at its highest, are the people we need around us when change is our agenda.  

We let our history control our destiny.  Quite often when charting our course going forward, we inevitably look backward to see how we have done.  Frequently it is our unsuccessful moments that stand out and thus set the stage for our future.  The good news as mentioned earlier is that we can create a new tomorrow when we take time for planning and solitude.

Not keeping goals fresh and in front view.  When we keep our goals in front of us, we are able to chart our course according to them.  I remember, when learning to drive, I was taught to keep my eyes on the horizon, NOT the hood ornament.  Our daily tasks become the hood ornament while our daily goals become our horizon we strive for continually. I also learned what the windshield wipers were for.  Without them, I couldn’t see the horizon, where I am going.   Our daily planning becomes our windshield wipers helping clear our vision for the things we ought to do to get us where we set out to go.

Fear of success.  This sounds a little odd, doesn’t it?  Success is scary because it requires something of us.  With the new success comes change, responsibilities and expectations.  If you have made it far enough to want to change, you are ready for the change.   Embrace it and look forward to it:  You deserve the rewards of your newfound success.

No, change is not easy because it requires something different from us.  If it didn’t, we wouldn't have to change.  Then we’d be where we are right now, only wanting to change.  Set resolutions and change:  for the better, for others and for ourselves.

Vision for the Holidays

By Paul Hunter

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Tis the season for celebration, eating and drinking.  It also seems to be the season for letting loose and forgetting about all the hard work you set out to do for your New Year’s resolutions this year.  How did that go?  If you are like 97% of the population, 1) you’re not alone, and 2) you’re not where you’d like to be.  I have found a large majority of people “just want to get through the holidays” and then they’ll get down to it.  I challenge you to get a head start now.  Sure!  Begin your resolutions/goals now before the obstacles get a hold of you.

A client recently shared with me that on one of the popular weight loss reality shows, each participant was offered to eat six giant cupcakes, which provided that participant the opportunity to choose someone from the other team to leave the show.  The people who chose to eat the cupcakes were also the ones who had to weigh in, thus responsible for losing weight for the team.  These people had to choose between maintaining their vision of their goal or something that would derail them from their goals and vision.

Many of us have found ourselves in this position whether it is with food and weight loss, time on the Internet or watching television and getting things done, working and not going home. Hmm, French fries or the fruit cup?  Whatever it is, life is full of obstacles and objections to what we want out of life.  It is in the quiet moments that the changing decisions are made.

The trick to success, if there is one, is to understand what you want and want it bad enough that you are able to forgo those things that will hinder you from obtaining what you set out to do in the first place.

Goal setting in and of itself can be an art.  We must know what we want and put it on paper, not just in our heads.  Ask most people and they’ll mention they know what they want and it’s right in their heads.  Until we write the goals down, they never seem to materialize.    Ever heard of S.M.A.R.T. Goals?  These are goals that are (S)pecific, (M)easurable, (A)chievable, (R)elevant and (T)ime-Oriented.  When you find something you want, write your goal in such a way that it covers all elements of a S.M.A.R.T. Goal and you’ll be one step closer to success.  

Once you know what you want and have written it in such a way, you must keep it in front of you.  Reading through your list of goals at every meal will help.  Pictures will help, too.  Peruse through magazines and find pictures of things you want, cut them out and make a book to look through.  I recently read about a woman who did this and, when she moved into her new home, had a friend gasp as she looked through this woman’s “goal-book” and saw pictures of rooms set up the same way as the ones in her new home, including paint colors and furniture.  This woman knew what she wanted and kept it in front of her.

Two months from now, people will be asking what your New Year’s resolutions are.  Do you wait until Christmas to think about such things?  “Oh, what will I wish for this next year?”  Mom told me, “If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.”   This next year, you have the opportunity to make it your best year yet.  Think about how many actual years old you are and all the knowledge and wisdom you have collected, and put it to good use this next year.  

I warn you to not look back and think of what might have been.  Rather, look head and work towards what will become and Make it a Phenomenal Year!

The Principled Life

By Paul Hunter

Summer is coming and for many that includes traveling either by car or plane.  However you choose to travel, being away from home initiates a change in daily habits, even for the very disciplined and best-intentioned.  Sleep, activity and food are typically thrown out of rhythm.  Often when we get away, we attempt to either sleep more or fit in more of the activities we yearn for when we are working or that we want to share with our children.  Packing in all of these activities yields less sleep and focus on food time.  For others, getting away means new sights, and new restaurants.  Yes, you guessed it, more food in our bellies.  More activity, more food and altered sleep in strange beds yield our daily rhythms out of whack.

Planning is one way to overcome or at least minimize the damages of traveling.  It may take thinking outside the box or seeking the assistance of people who have been successful travelers to find success, but it is possible.  Demise occurs when we throw all to the wind because we are already outside the normal patterns; however, success does not equate to no fun or spontaneity.  

These challenges can be approached a couple different ways:  detailed planning or principle-based planning.  The first involves accounting for every moment, activity and meal.  If you have traveled this way it can be an exhausting, event-filled time.  Necessary for some trips but not all.  If there is a list of extremely high priority meetings, etc., this type of planning may be necessary.  When applied to your vacation or other fun-intended trip, the fun may go away.  Attempting to eat in a detailed manner when away can be stressful and unintentionally chaotic because our daily conveniences are no longer convenient away from our homes.

This is where principle-based planning comes in.  I have found that principle-based planning allows for the most success with the least amount of intrusion into your trip, whether it be for fun or business.  Food is often the category that is lost in the schedule, even with the best planning.  

Eating by principle involves some discipline but affords a larger chance of success.  Here are some basic eating/“fueling” principles that can be used while on the road or in the air:

Fresh fruits and vegetables:  Nutrient-dense and packed with vitamins and minerals, this group of fuel typically yields minimal calories and maximum nutrients.  Try eating one big salad a day.   Second best?  Go frozen if you have a cooler or fridge/freezer available.  If you’re saying in a condo, a blender may be available and frozen berries are a great sweetener in smoothies.  

Lean meats:  Heart doctors often tell their patients to focus on animal with two legs or less.  Think… think… yes, chicken and fish fit the bill here.  Why?  These sources are typically leaner (read: less fat, especially saturated), thus less calories and yield greater amount of protein per ounce.  

Water:  I recommend 1 oz per kilogram (2.2 lbs = 1 kilogram) of body weight.  If you weigh 130 pounds, that equates to about 60 ounces of water daily or almost 2 liters (67.6 ounces). Why water?  Check out these facts:

  1. Your body is about 60% water and can get depleted quite easily, especially if you are engaging in activities outside your norm.  

  2. You lose about 8 to 10 cups, or just over 2 liters of water per normal day through breathing, urine, perspiration and bowel movements. 

  3. As little as 2% loss in water content begins to cause the brain to lose alertness and the body to feel fatigued.

Why would you NOT drink water is a better question.

Yes, you can have some snacks or even your favorite foods.  However, just remember, the farther you stray from these “principles,” the harder your body has to work for energy, and the farther you may be from your goals you had prior to leaving.  Sticking to these principles will allow you some freedom whilst traveling and still provide a foundation for proper fueling to have more fun on vacation and more success on business.


Play Play Play

By Paul Hunter

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So, what happened?  When did it go away?  You used to play, didn’t you?  Really, when did it stop?  As adults we are quickly led to the world of responsibilities, chores and non-thinking routines.   That sounds like a blast, doesn’t it?  If you were told you could play no longer if you wanted to be an adult, kids, in their right mind, would think that is absolute nonsense.  I have this quote as part of the screen background on my computer:

“The greatest gift you can give your kids is to be fully alive yourself.”  ~Rob Bell

Can you imagine?  Fully alive?  What does it look like for you?  Do you still dream?  When is the last time you did not think about your daily routine or a customer?

Play is essential to so many things in our life, yet it is so easily lost.  The benefits of play are endless and can roll over into areas of our daily routine to take away the mundane and add some zest, make us more attractive.  Play can:

Improve our relationships and connection to others: Sharing laughter and fun can build empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy with others. Play doesn’t have to be a specific activity; it can also be a state of mind. Developing a playful nature can help us loosen up in stressful situations, break the ice with strangers, make new friends, and form new business relationships.

Stimulate the mind and boost creativity: Young children often learn best when they are playing—and that principle applies to adults, as well.  We learn new tasks better when it’s fun and we are in a relaxed and playful mood. Play can also stimulate our imagination, helping us adapt and problem solve.

Improve brain function (who doesn’t need this?):  Playing chess, completing puzzles, or pursuing other fun activities that challenge the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function. The social interaction of playing with family and friends can also help ward off stress and depression.

Relieve stress: Play is fun and can trigger the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Keep you feeling young and energetic:  In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Playing can boost energy and vitality and even improve resistance to disease, helping you feel your best.

Be helpful in healing emotional wounds: As adults, when we play together, we are engaging in exactly the same patterns of behavior that positively shape the brains of children. These same playful behaviors that predict emotional health in children can also lead to positive changes in adults. If an emotionally-insecure individual plays with a secure partner, for example, it can help replace negative beliefs and behaviors with positive assumptions and actions.

Teach cooperation with others: Play is a powerful stimulant for positive socialization. Through play, children learn how to "play nicely" with others—to work together, follow mutually-agreed-upon rules, and socialize in groups. As adults, we can continue to use play to break down barriers and improve our relationships with others.

With all of these benefits, we need to remember to balance our days and lives, recognizing the importance of play and how it can fully integrate with our daily responsibilities, duties and commitments and be the catalyst towards making us more effective adults.

Water for Life

By Paul Hunter

Summer is here, the kids may be heading to camp or they may stay local for a stay-cation as we DO live at one of the “Most Beautiful Beaches in the World.”  Either way, they and you will most likely be outside in the heat and want to be able to enjoy yourselves.  Spending time outside this time of year can be daunting when it comes to being prepared for the sun and the heat, so let’s take a look at how the proper amount of hydration can prepare you for more fun outdoors.  

Water is essential to life. It constitutes the medium in which chemical reactions occur and is crucial to normal function of the cardiovascular system. Water constitutes about 70% of body weight in the normal adult. It decreases from 75% at birth to 50% in old age and is the largest component of the body. Adipose tissue (fat) contains less water than lean tissue (muscle); thus, women have slightly less body water than men. The effects of dehydration occur with as little water loss as 1% of body weight and become life threatening at 10%.

The good, the bad and the ugly and not necessarily in that order:  dehydration is a loss of fluids and electrolytes (important blood salts like potassium and sodium). Vital organs like the kidneys, brain, and heart can’t function without a certain amount of fluids and electrolytes, which can be lost through sweat, urine, vomit and diarrhea.   

The good news is that dehydration is preventable even in the worst climates and weather.  How?  Here are five tips to stay ahead of the curve and set yourself up for fun days outside:

  1. Drink water, lots of water. How much? One way to keep track is the color of your urine. It is not necessary for it to be clear, but a lighter color is preferred. The darker your urine color, the more likely you are headed towards dehydration and, as stated above, it only takes as little as a 1% body weight loss.

  2. Eat foods with high water content. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with hydrating goodness in addition to vitamins and minerals to replace electrolytes lost through sweating. In addition, they will fuel you while not making you feel sluggish.

  3. Stay away from alcohol. Yes, it’s a liquid but it will increase your urination, thus increasing the likelihood of dehydration.

  4. When possible, cool yourself off in the water or stay in the shade. Keeping your core body temperature down will assist in making your outside-in-the-heat time more enjoyable and for longer.

  5. Have a water buddy. Remember the buddy system? With two or more, you can look out for each other. When someone drinks water, it’s good to remind the others to drink some as well.

Mild signs of dehydration include: 

  • Thirst

  • Dry lips

  • Slightly dry mouth membranes

Moderate signs of dehydration include:

  • Very dry mouth membranes

  • Sunken eyes

  • Skin that doesn’t bounce back quickly when lightly pinched and released

Severe signs of dehydration include:

  • All signs of moderate dehydration

  • Rapid, weak pulse (more than 100 at rest)

  • Cold hands and feet

  • Rapid breathing

  • Blue lips

  • Confusion, lethargy, difficult to arouse

Don’t let these signs of dehydration alarm you; rather, know them and prevent them and have a great time outdoors!  Make it a Great Day!

What is your Why?

By Paul Hunter

I have been working in the fitness industry for 27 years now and a few years ago was interviewed by a person who was instructed to get some questions answered from a “seasoned” trainer.  There were some obvious questions such as, “Why did you get involved in the fitness industry?” and “Do you feel a college degree made a difference?”  One question stuck out, however, and my answer could have gone in a few different directions: “What is your favorite type of client to work with?” Without hesitation, I replied, “The one who is willing.”  I shocked myself with what I thought was such a simple answer. 

Over the years, I have pondered my answer and thought, although the answer is simple, whether the person is or is not willing may not be that simple.  People come to me and other trainers because they want to make a change. One thing I have grown to accept is that whether it be in the fitness realm or looking into other parts of life, change is not easy for everyone.  

Why?  What are great questions to ask of someone requesting change?  A conversation can go like this:

Trainer:  So, what brought you in here today?

Client:  I want to get healthy.

Trainer:  Why do you want to get healthy?

Client:  I have gained some unwanted pounds over the years and I want to feel better.

Trainer:  This may be a silly question, but why do you want to feel better?

Client:  Well, my daughter is coming into town this summer with my grandson and I want to be able to get on the floor and play with him.  

Trainer:   Ah, now we are getting somewhere.  

Getting to the “Why?” as it relates to motivation and change is significant because it can bring along with it the willingness to change.  In the above example, it became not just about being healthy but having a relationship that became important.  The ease of mobility that coincides with getting stronger, becoming more cardiovascularly fit and losing some weight now seems a little more important and creates a willingness to work through things when they become uncomfortable, because they will at times.  

I have seen it written that life begins outside your comfort zone.  If you think about it, your comfort zone got you to where you are now.  You stopped doing certain things because they might have been too difficult to sustain on your own.  That alone can be difficult to think about, but if you’re missing out on goals you had set in the past, think about it.  Was your “Why?” big enough? 

Below are some questions you can ask yourself when you are ready to make some changes in your life.  Remember, you are not a tree, you do not have to stay where you are. 

  1. What is your goal?

  2. Why is that goal important? (You may have to ask yourself this a few times to uncover the real “Why?”)

  3. What will getting out of your comfort zone look like?

  4. Are you willing to listen and gain wisdom to grow?

  5. What habits will you need to change?

  6. Are you willing to be consistent?

  7. Are you willing to be consistent long enough to allow your work to have the effect that you choose?

This becomes a good exercise to do with an accountability partner, whether it be your spouse, a friend or even your family.  There is nothing like going through something challenging when you have a strong support system behind you and encouraging you.  

Make it a Great Day!

 

6 Biggest Mistakes When Starting an Exercise Program

By Paul Hunter

The 6 Biggest Mistakes when Starting an Exercise Program

It is warming up, people are shedding their thicker clothes and you have decided now is the time to make a change in yourself and your body.  You may have heard, “If you always do what you have always done, then you will always get what you have always gotten.”  True, however, I’d like to add a little caveat:  “If you always do what you always done, you will get less results than if you had begun to do more sooner.”  Why?  Because as time passes, we get further from our goals both physically and mentally.  We add an extra pound here, pick up an unhealthy habit there - all things that can take us away from our intended goals.

When we venture to make a change in our lives, we need to make a change in our lives and quite often there is more than one.  Activity, nutrition, rest, thoughts - they all play a key role in our success, whatever we do.  Quite often we find ourselves way out of balance and thus not looking, performing or feeling the way we’d like.  Let’s take a look at 6 things that can keep us from achieving all that we hope we can be.

  1. Not setting attainable goals: Here people set out to accomplish the impossible. I hear, “I need to lose 30 lbs this week because my sister is getting married.” Or, “My 20-year high school reunion is in two weeks and I want sculpted arms.” Even the American College of Sports Medicine has a standard set that our bodies can healthily lose 1-2 lbs per week. More than that and research has shown it’s mostly water if not muscle mass. Frequently I’ll measure someone’s body composition and explain the difference between lean mass and fat weight. Simply, lean mass is you, bones, muscle and organs. Now why would you want to lose any of THAT?! Take it easy and keep reading.

  2. Starting too fast, going too hard: It’s “An apple a day that keeps the doctor away,” not “Seven apples on Saturday.” You’ve now set your realistic goals, right? You plan to continue this “healthy new you” program for a long time, right? If your body has been dormant for some time, you need to remember your brain may be strong but the tissue connecting your muscles, bones and joints together may not be so strong. It takes time for your tendons and ligaments to gain strength, and with a safe and effective program it will happen. Rome was NOT built in a day but it continues to stand.

  3. Not fueling the body while starting a “diet:” “I need to go on a diet” may be one of the most-often uttered phrases in the English language. Something happens when someone begins a diet. They eat nothing but what the book or magazine says, thus cutting out all snacks, extra food, et cetera. All sounds great until the body is not receiving what it needs to function at its optimum and the dieter commonly “snaps” and fills it with very familiar snacks. Remember, we are looking to “be changed” two years from now and not have sprung back to our original shape. Make consistent changes in the right direction, and your chance of success will improve.

  4. Not getting some expert instruction: If you study the people at the top of their game, you’ll find there is a coach or trainer working with them to guide them along the finer points for better results. No time? No money? It’s an investment in yourself and the knowledge goes a long way. A trainer should actually be a time manager for you; the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

  5. Giving up too soon: It may feel like only yesterday that you were in shape or had the shape you wanted, but you didn’t actually get here overnight. If you have set the right goals, not started out too fast and received some expert instruction, your goals will be closer than you think. Do not grow weary in doing the right things.

  6. Not starting at all because you see the hill and not the view from the top: The view from the top is rewarding, and you’ll find that the majority would rather complain or make excuses about the trip “they want to take or could have taken if only...” The daily changes, the effort, the discipline, the view. It’s all worth it and so are you. You’ll be surprised at what you can become if only you stop trying to steer the “parked car” and get moving.

Make it a Great Day!

 

You Should be Dancing!

By Paul Hunter

New year, new goals, right?  How do you choose your goals?  Often in the new year, we focus on the physical aspects of our lives.  Why not enhance your goals with learning a new skill, causing a positive impact on your brain as well?  Having graduated from a college whose main focus is the holistic balance between spirit, mind and body, I rather like this idea.

As we age, our brains trend towards processing more slowly, meaning how rapidly our brains are able to absorb, assess and respond to new information slows down.  If you are over 40 and reading this, it may be taking you longer to process the world around you.  What causes this slowdown has been shown to be a naturally occurring “fraying” of our brain’s wiring or “white matter.”  Is this degeneration avoidable or reversible?  Maybe, with the right stimulus.

There is some good news.  Earlier this year, there was a study performed by a group of researchers from the University of Illinois, et. al. that explored the link between physical activity and neurological benefits.  What they found was we may not be doing enough of the best things.   

Eating well:        check

Drinking water:        check

Walking:         check

Weight Training:    check

Social Dancing:        wait, what?

One hundred seventy-four healthy people in their 60s and 70s with no cognitive impairments were recruited to participate in a study whereby they were brought through a series of initial tests to establish a baseline.  This baseline testing included markers and university lab testing involving a sophisticated brain scan MRI, processing speeds, aerobic capacity and mental capacities.  

They were then randomly divided into three groups:

1.    Supervised brisk walking program involving 1 hour of walking 3 times weekly

2.    Gentle stretching and balancing 3 times weekly

3.    The “Learn to Dance” group.  Progressively more difficult and intricate country-dance choreography for 1 hour 3 times weekly.

After six months, the same brain scans and testing from the beginning were repeated.  So, what did they discover?  Not surprisingly, there was continued thinning of the size and numbers of connections between the neurons in the brain (“white matter degeneration”), subtle, but there, most notably in the oldest volunteers.  

Wait… What is this?  Compared to testing six months prior, in one group there was some actual improvement in areas of the brain containing the white matter.  The DANCING group showed an increased density of their white matter, even showing improvements in cognitive performance. 

What is the takeaway from this?  Get moving and challenge yourself physically AND mentally.  Social dancing places physical demands and encourages social interaction that can improve our daily functioning.  Dr. Burzynska, the study’s lead author and professor of human development and neuroscience from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado states “any activities involving moving and socializing” might spruce up mental abilities in our brains as we age.  She also found that those who came into the study already exercising showed the least decline in their white matter.

Whether this pertains to you or a loved one and you have or have not been “exercising,” it is never too late to start or encourage those around you to do so.  Most people know where the local gym is, but how about dancing opportunities?  A quick internet search for “dancing instruction near me” brings up over 10 locations for fun and learning the art of dance.  

Personally, my wife and I have been attending Fred Astaire in Fort Walton Beach for over a year now and I although we have more than a decade to reach our 60s, I can attest to the benefits of participating in ballroom dancing.  Overall, there has been improvements in the area of reaction times, balance, learning and coordination.  I have noticed it is not just the learning of the dance moves, style or techniques, but the social interaction of dancing with the group that has benefitted not just me but the other participants.  

Get out, get moving and…

Make it a Great Day!

 

Get a Tune Up!

By Paul Hunter

As we head into the remaining two months of 2017, many have long abandoned their New Year's resolution(s) in lieu of comfort, simplicity, and immediate gratification.  We HAD goals and a lot of ambition as we embarked on 2017, then busyness found its way into our lives.  So where are we now?  An age-old adage is, “What we measure improves.”  Have you been measuring?  If so, what?  If not, why not?  A common measurement is weight.  It’s easy, quick and sometimes painful.  Below, I will discuss a few others to measure and some others to consider.

Basic Anthropometric information

Weight

Height

BMI

Circumference Measurements

Body Composition

How about some blood-work?  The details of blood-work beyond the basics are often overlooked.  Find a doctor who is aware of and knows what to order for you beyond the basics; however, be sure to get at least the basics measured.

There are some basics like Total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, Triglycerides, Complete Blood Count (CBC), glucose, TSH (for thyroid) that everyone should be getting and if you’ve never had consistent blood work done, get these.  

On the other extreme, there are additional areas to assist with your “fine-tuning” of your physical self beneath the skin.

Advanced Cholesterol

These advanced cardiovascular and lipid panels go beyond typical blood tests for total cholesterol, HDL, and LDL to uncover early risk factors for heart disease.  Some of the additional tests include:  ApoA1, ApoB, both key binding proteins; Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Free Fatty Acids (FFA), Lipid Particle numbers and sizes.

Liver and Kidney Health

Your kidney and liver detoxify your body of harmful pollutants from your everyday environment. Poor liver and kidney health can lead to chronic disease, unwanted weight gain, loss of energy and more.  Creatnine, Total Bilirubin, Albumin, Total Protein test are used to determine your health in these areas.

Performance Hormones

Testosterone deficiency has numerous effects on muscle growth, fat storage, mood, and libido. We measure the biomarkers that indicate the cause of such hormone dysfunction.

Metabolic Hormones

This panel measures the body's balance of stress and weight gain/loss, both of muscle and fat via Cortisol, Insulin and IGF-1 (Growth hormone surrogate) levels.

Thyroid & Blood Sugar

Diabetes and metabolic syndrome are among the fastest growing chronic diseases, and thyroid disease is the most common hormone imbalance.

Advanced Thyroid

This panel is an advanced assessment of the biomarkers related to your thyroid function. An imbalance can cause excess storage of energy, leading to weight gain and fatigue, or excess use of energy, leading to unhealthy weight loss and restlessness.

Advanced Inflammation

This panel is an advanced assessment of the biomarkers related to systemic inflammation. These tests are useful to detect and monitor infection, injury, and certain inflammatory diseases.

Complete Blood Count & Advanced Nutrients

All cells and tissues in the body are dependent on the delivery of oxygen by your red blood cells. This panel provides a detailed assessment of your blood and essential nutrient levels.

Women's Reproductive Panel

This panel examines the biomarkers related to fertility and the overall function of female hormone and reproductive health.

There is a lot going on underneath the surface.  Our blood hides what we have done to ourselves if we don’t peek under the hood periodically.  Some don’t want to know.  I suggest you get at least the minimal ordered, measured and recorded when you are healthy so you have a baseline prior to something happening that would throw these haywire.  Some people are naturally elevated or suppressed in particular areas.  The more we understand how our bodies function when healthy, the more likely we are to catch something prior to our health getting too out of whack.

Make it a Great Day!