Spills and Thrills

This past summer, my family and I attended my husband’s family reunion in Ohio.  During the reunion, Rich, Bennett and Alaina and I were playing a frisbee game.  You may have seen this played before.  The goal is to toss a frisbee between two upright stakes that are stuck in the ground just far enough apart to allow a frisbee to fit through.  There are two sets of stakes about 30 ft apart and there are plastic cups hanging upside down from the top of each stake.  Opposing teams stand by their set of stakes and throw the frisbee toward the other set of stakes (bear with me, I do have a point here).  If you get the frisbee through the gap you get two points.  If you hit a stake and knock off a cup, you get one point.   However, if the opposing team happens to catch the cup before it falls to the ground, they get the point.  It is quite fun, and it is cheap and easy to make.  Anyway,  Rich and I were on one team and the kids on the other.  We had the game set up at the edge of a slope of mostly grass with a few imbedded rocks since it is the only shady spot available on a 90 degree, sunny day.  At some point, being a typical teenager, Bennett decided it was more interesting to try to hit me with the frisbee rather than aim for the stakes.  I’m standing near the edge of the aforementioned slope and as I jump back to avoid being nailed by the frisbee, my feet hit the ground on the slope and kept going.  Down I went.  The kids are laughing uproariously; Rich, who had only one eye on the game as he is also conversing with a relative, was expressing concern for my wellbeing (there is a reason I married him), and my annoyance with Bennett was tempered by the fact that I landed down the slope, bridging the potentially knee bruising rocks, in plank position and stuck the landing.   Let me tell you, I was thankful for all the core work I’ve been doing these last several years.

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Within a month of returning, I heard from two of my Forza! clients who also took recent tumbles.  Both of them expressed gratitude for their stronger cores and believed they could have been hurt much worse had they not had the body awareness and core strength that comes from all the work we do in class.

There was another article recently in the New York Times, that caught my attention.  It was entitled “Staying on Balance, With the Help of Exercises” by John Hanc.  As we age, not only do we lose muscle strength, but our balance gets worse as well.  Here is an interesting statistic, “Unintentional falls among those 65 and older are responsible for more than 18,000 deaths and nearly 450,000 hospitalizations annually in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.  Most of these falls are caused by a decline in that complex and multidimensional human skill known as balance.”  The article goes on to quote Dr. David Thurman, a CDCP neurologist.  He states that much of the research “shows fairly convincingly that strength and balance training can reduce the rate of falls by up to about 50 percent.”

Shon and Vicki working on core strength and balance.

I am not aware of any studies done on how core training reduces the severity of falls when they do occur, but I am confident that a combination of strength training of all muscles, including the core, together with balance training decreases the number and severity of falls.  Let’s face it, we all take tumbles once in a while.  It’s great to be able to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and go on with our lives!  See you in class.

My SUPing Adventures

Recently, I’ve taken up a new activity – SUPing or Stand Up Paddling.  My family and I took our new SUP board up to the Gun Flint Trail to try it out on Bow Lake, the lake my parents are on during the summer months.  After getting over the initial feeling of tippyness, the board was surprisingly stable and oh so easy to paddle.  For the first time in my life, I wished I lived on a lake or river.  All four of us were able to use it, my eleven year old daughter getting the hang of it faster than any of us.  Over that weekend, I enjoyed several trips around the lake aboard our SUP, including an early morning glide into the mist hanging over the calm water and an evening paddle into the sunset.  Since then, we’ve tried a few lakes in the area, both north and south.  Last night we tried SUPing on the Cannon River, putting in near Riverside Park.  The Cannon River, at least at this time of year, proved to be another great site for SUPing.  Rich and I plan on doing as much SUPing this fall as we can fit in.  SUPing can be a leisurely, stress reducing paddle or a great core and cardio workout depending on how much effort you put into it.  Either way, SUPing is another way to enjoy being outside and taking advantage of our state of many lakes and rivers.  Give it a try!

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TRX and RKC teaming up!

Check out the new DVD combining TRX and kettlebells.  We’ve been using both since January and I’ve always thought they make a great combination, so I’m happy to see that these two companies, Fitness Anywhere (TRX) and Dragon Door (RKC) agree with me.  For a preview, just click on the picture here and it will take you to the Fitness Anywhere Site.  They are offering 20% off this DVD until July 25th.

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Healthy joints, healthy pocketbooks

A few months ago, I read an article in the New York Times Personal Business section entitled “Caring for Hips and Knees to Avoid Artificial Joints“.  It had some interesting statistics I’d like to share with you.  In 2007, the cost in the US for hip replacements was $19 billion and for knees, $26 billion and the numbers are expected to rise.  A typical joint replacement surgery costs between $30,000 and $40,000.  With insurance you may still have out-of-pocket expenses of $3,000 – $4,000 plus the cost of time off for the surgery and recovery.  This is becoming a big business as people start getting osteoarthritis in their 30s and 40s rather than 50s and 60s and therefore need replacements sooner and possibly multiple times.  I’ve been hearing ads on the radio for joint replacement surgery.  In essence it is telling you not to let joint pain interrupt  your life, get in and get your joints replaced.  If you are at the point were this is your only option, then I say go ahead and get it done.  If you are not there yet, read on.

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My father has had both a hip and a knee replaced, and although he is feeling less pain now, it has not been an easy road and things are not as good as they once were.  After his hip replacement, he ended up with an even shorter leg than he had prior to surgery (a contributing factor to the deteriorating hip joint in the first place) and now has to wear a lift in one shoe or have one heal built up (an added expense) and can’t go barefoot for any length of time.  As for the knee replacement, it was complicated and extremely painful.  Now I’m not saying don’t have joint replacement surgery if you need it, but think how much better it would be not to need it!

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Aching Knees?

The article mentions several ways to avoid the cost and pain of osteoarthritis, one of the main reasons people get a joint replaced.  The first is controlling your weight.  As your weight increases, so does your risk for osteoarthritis, particularly of the knee joint and even more in women than men.  A woman’s risk of osteoarthritis of the knee drops in half if she loses just 10 pounds!  Another suggestion is to get fit with a low impact form of exercise.  The muscle you build up around joints act as shock absorbers and decrease the likely hood of injury.  Finally, they say don’t waste your money on specialized nutrients like shark cartilage and glucosamine and choindroitin as they are expensive and of limited benefit.  I would add to that, though, that high quality Omega 3 supplements are the exception and will give you a good bang for your buck.

The Kettlebell Swing

So here is my plug:  swinging a kettlebell is a great form of low impact exercise that strengthens the muscles across both the knee and hip joints and will burn a lot of calories to help you get excess weight off.  If you don’t have a kettlebell at home, I recommend getting one or get in to Forza! three times a week.  Take your fish oil supplements!  Care for your joints now, avoid expensive and painful surgeries.  Your joints will feel better and you will be doing your part to lower the national health bill!