Research Round-Up

Just in case you need one more reason to sit less and move more, yet another study has just been published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health which found that:

People who spent more time sitting were more likely to become disabled when compared with people with similar health and exercise habits who sat less. Each daily hour spent sitting increased the odds of problems with activities of daily living by 46 percent.

But here’s the good news – it’s never too late to get moving!  And anybody can do it.  The following comes from an article on the NPR website discussing the study’s findings:

The key to maintaining your muscles’ ability to do basic, low-intensity tasks is keeping them working, says Marc Hamilton, an inactivity physiologist at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La.

If you want to maintain mobility through life, Hamilton says, get your muscles focused on just that.

“Get nonfatiguing activity in as much as possible,” he says.

That can be as simple as walking around the office, or parking your car at the far end of the parking lot or even just standing up while talking on the phone.

Bottom line – just get up and move!  You don’t need to run a marathon, just get moving.  Any movement at all is better than none.  As you’ve all heard me say many times, getting started is the hard part.  Once you get up and go, the rest is easy.

And if that’s still not enough to motivate you – wait!  There’s more .  .  .

These two recent research reports from the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity may give you some incentive to specifically try Pilates. One study was conducted to “evaluate the effect of a program of modified Pilates for active individuals with chronic non-specific low back pain”.  This study found that

Pilates used as a specific core stability exercise incorporating functional movements can improve non-specific chronic low back pain in an active population compared to no intervention. Additionally, Pilates can improve general health, pain level, sports functioning, flexibility, and proprioception [awareness of the position of one’s body – important for maintaining balance while moving] in individuals with chronic low back pain.

Another study “investigated the effect of Pilates exercise on physical fall risk factors 12 months after an initial 5 week Pilates intervention”.  This study got the following results:

Balance improvements after a short Pilates intervention were maintained one year later in all participants, with increased benefits from ongoing participation.

So give it a try!  You might even find out you like it.  Don’t let fear hold you back.  I can promise you this:   no one who comes to my classes will bite you – or judge you.  Remember, the consequences of not moving are pretty scary, too.  Just come and do what you can.  You will be welcomed by all!

Of course there are many other research findings that support continued activity regardless of age or perceived limitations.  So take that first step.  Even if your first effort feels confusing or uncomfortable, you will improve if you stick with it.  Just making the effort will give you a sense of accomplishment.  But you’ll never improve if you don’t try.  So make the commitment and give it a whirl.  You’ll be glad you did!

Never Too Late

As most of you know, I recently decided to train for a new (for me) Pilates certification using the Reformer.  For those of you who don’t know, the Reformer is a piece of equipment originally designed by Joseph Pilates, the founder of the Pilates method, to assist with some exercises.  In recent years the Reformer has also become a tool that Physical Therapists can use as part of the rehabilitation process following surgery and/or injury.  Although I’ve been teaching mat Pilates for years, I became interested in the Reformer as my students (and me!) continue to age and develop special needs.

Deciding to undertake a new certification required some serious thought and preparation on my part.  For one thing, training is expensive – especially when it requires travel.  My resources are limited.  Training also takes time.  There is study time, practice time, travel time and loss of income while engaging in these activities.  These considerations meant weighing all of the possible outcomes.  Would the sacrifices necessary be worth the end result?  Of course, there is no way of being certain.

Those of you who follow my blog know that a recurring theme is daring to take risks even when the outcome is uncertain.  Actually, there isn’t much in life that is certain except for change.  Everything changes all of the time.  We all hate change, but it is constant – no matter what we do to protect ourselves from it.  Probably all of you have heard some version of the quote, “Insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results”.   As much as we dislike change, if we want something to be different we can’t keep repeating the same behavior.

Change is a scary thing.  In my last post, I repeated something that struck me when I first heard it – change means loss.  We have to give up something in order to make something else happen.  To make the decision I was faced with, I knew I would have to give some things up without knowing what would be on the other side.  I would have to step off the precipice of the known and set foot on the uncertain surface of the unknown.  Was I ready to make that leap at this late stage in my life?  Would my feet sink into quicksand?

After much soul-searching and discussion with my husband, I decided to take that chance.  Helping people move has been more than a job for me.  It is a vocation.  Almost a calling.  My mantra for the last 20 years or so has been “move while you can move, because you never know when you won’t be able to move anymore”.  Although there is no way to know how this will all work out, I realized I would just have to make the decision, take the leap, and put one foot in front of the other.  Part of that decision means accepting the outcome whatever it is.  So that’s what I’ve doing.  For me this is an opportunity to fulfill a dream I’ve had for more than 20 years – to be able to work full-time at helping people move.

In November I began the first step toward fulfilling this goal.  Shortly after that I made another leap of faith and quit my part-time job at a local restaurant so I could devote myself to my training and my business.  Now here’s the amazing part – it’s all working out!  I’m taking it day by day.  No expectations.  But so far, it’s all working out.  I am so grateful to everyone who is supporting my efforts.

This week I received a very special form of support which is really why I wanted to write this post.  As an older, “non-traditional” student, I was encouraged to apply for a scholarship offered by the P.E.O. Sisterhood, an organization that supports educational opportunities for women.  A local branch of this organization sponsored my application.  Notification came this week that I was awarded a partial scholarship to obtain my certification.  There are no words to express how honored and moved I am by the support of this group.

What I really want to express in this post is that it is never too late to take that leap into the unknown and try something new.  A whole new world has opened up for me and no matter what happens, I have already learned so much – not just about Pilates, but about myself.  I am truly grateful to have this opportunity.