Aging Gracefully Blog

Archive for October, 2012

Another Good Reason to Stay Fit: Being Prepared for the Unexpected

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

Waiting for Hurricane Sandy to make landfall is definitely nerve-wracking!  Not knowing what to expect or how long the after-effects will last makes it difficult to plan.  But one thing is for sure:  If you are fit, you have an advantage.  You can brace yourself against the wind; tote those heavy grocery bags with bottled water; and hike the stairs in case of a power outage.

The definition of physical fitness is:  "The ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor and alertness, without undue fatigue and with ample energy to meet unforeseen emergencies and enjoy leisure time pursuits."

It's times like these that make you realize how important your weekly workouts are to the big picture of your life.  Sometimes you don't see the immediate benefits or get tired of having to exercise.  But in the face of unpredictable emergencies, you surely will feel stronger to meet the demands.



Flatten Your Belly with the “Dead Bug” Exercise!

Friday, October 12th, 2012

This week on the Dr. Radio Show, we were talking about exercises to flatten the belly and one caller asked for more details about how to perform a core exercise called the Dead Bug (anyone who lives in NYC will understand the name once they see the exercise performed!)

The Dead Bug is one of my favorite exercises for targeting the deepest abdominal muscle, the transverse abdominis (TVA), which is a flat, horizontal band of muscle that encircles the midsection from front to back.  When it is toned, the TVA acts as a natural corset to flatten the belly, narrow the waist and support the low back.

The TVA plays a significant role in core strength.  It functions to stabilize the pelvis and maintain the small curve in the lower back, which affects your posture and alignment in all positions against gravity, whether you are stationary or moving.   In this exercise, the obliques work with the TVA to hold the pelvis in neutral position while the moving limbs provide resistance.

 Proper form for "Dead Bug":    Lie on your back with your knees bent over your hips, calves parallel to the floor; both arms extended to the ceiling, palms forward.  Pull your abs in tight, belly button to spine, allowing the small natural curve in the low back.   Lower an opposite arm and leg toward the floor, lengthening through the limbs, and bring the other knee in over your chest.  Switch sides for 10 repetitions (1 rep = both sides).  To make it more difficult, hold the lowered position for a count of 5-10 seconds.  Be careful not to arch your lower back or rock your pelvis from side to side!



Joan Pagano on Dr. Radio: What Can We Do about Belly Fat?

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

What can we do about belly fat and why is it toxic? Can you be fat and fit? What is “skinny fat”?

Tune in to Dr. Radio as Joan Pagano and Host Dr. Marina Kurian explore how body composition
can affect your health. Call in with your questions: 877-NYU-DOCS

LISTEN LIVE: Dr. Radio Show
DATE: Wednesday, October 10
TIME: 9:00-10:00 am ET
LOCATION: Sirius XM Radio Channel.81
Call in with questions/comments: 877-NYU-DOCS

Exercises to Speed Your Recovery after Breast Surgery

Monday, October 1st, 2012

My long term client recently had a bilateral mastectomy.  I have known this woman for 24 years and she has always been physically active, training with me as well as keeping up with the exercises on her own.  She asked to meet with me before her surgery to be reassured that she would be able to maintain a physical lifestyle and do everything she had done before – workout, swim, ski, play tennis.

The goal after breast surgery is to recover your previous level of functioning and reclaim your normal activity level.

Appropriate exercise can definitely be the pathway to recovery.  Doctors advise walking as soon as possible after breast surgery, beginning in the hospital and continuing throughout all phases of treatment.  As soon as the surgeon gives permission, you can begin carefully planned exercise with a nurse, physical therapist or trained volunteer.

Once the drains are removed (7-10 days after surgery) mobility exercises help restore full range of motion in the arm and shoulder area. These are exercises like head, neck and shoulder isolations as well as the classic wall climb and "chickens." To open the chest and improve posture, perform simple stretches while doing deep breathing. For example, lie on your back, place a pillow under the affected arm and shoulder, position your arm to feel the stretch, and let gravity assist in relaxing the muscles.

When pain free range of motion has been restored and the wound is healed, you can begin gentle strengthening exercises to support the muscles around the mastectomy site.  Some of these exercises have the additional advantage of pumping the lymphatic system, like the shoulder blade squeeze ("W's"), shoulder rotation with arms straight out to the sides at shoulder level, and elbow bend ("biceps curl").  Gradually, you can incorporate exercises using light weights or stretch bands.

During the time of cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment, the goal is to maintain all the daily routines that comprise your lifestyle.  Regular physical activity can help discharge tension and put your system back in balance.  As you feel better, you restore your confidence and self-esteem,
reinforcing the mind-body aspect of returning to normal.