Neuro-WHAT???

    In my last post I introduced the principle of neuroplasticity as it appeared in an article in the Denver Post. The article reported a relationship between dancing and a decreased risk of dementia based on the principle of neuroplasticity.     So, what is neuroplasticity and what does it mean to us? How can we apply it to our everyday lives? Neuroplasticity can actually help improve our mental capacity and physical ability. Neuroplasticity refers to the flexibility of our nervous system to learn new things and allow for change through out our entire lifetime. Our nervous system (which includes our brain) stays healthiest when it is constantly active. Our brains are continuing to make new connections based on our experiences. The term “use it or lose it” certainly applies!    ...

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Dance into health, for your body and your brain!

I recently read a fascinating article citing the health benefits of dance, which included socialization and improved physical function. As a physical therapist and a classical dancer, that didn’t surprise me. The authors also reported that dance-based therapy can improve balance and gait among older adults. Again, no big surprise. However, the most amazing and fascinating correlation between dance and health was the strong link to a decrease in the development of dementia among people who danced. Wow! According to the article, a study funded by the National Institute of Aging and published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed a significant reduction of dementia in older adults, up to an impressive 76%! Although other physical activities such as golf, tennis, swimming, bicycling,...

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From crunch to dead bug……

    Let’s combine the exercises from my 2 previous posts. Many core exercises (as are done in Pilates) start from a position called the “dead bug”. Although beginners frequently struggle with this position, we already have a strong foundation on how to properly activate your core muscles and to isolate your transverse abdominus. (Please refer to my previous posts if you are new to my site, or you may want to to review them for a a quick refresher if you already have been following along).     Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Breathe in. As you breathe out, pull the lower abs firmly up and into the front of your spine. Breathe in, keeping the deep contraction of the lower abs. The next time you breathe out, slowly lift one leg off of...

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Core strength…..

We have all heard of the term “core strength”. But what exactly does it mean? Basically, having a strong core means developing the abdominal muscles that support our low back. A strong core helps to stabilize our spine and pelvis, decreases low back pain, protects our low back from injury, flattens our stomach and trims our waistline. In Pilates, we often refer to our strong core (or center) as our “girdle of strength”. So, how can we develop this girdle of strength? Let’s begin with a simple (but not necessarily easy) exercise to activate the lower abdominals. Sit on the edge of a firm chair with your feet on the floor. Bring your attention to your lower belly. Notice how the belly pouches out a bit as you inhale, and comes in slightly as you exhale. Breathe...

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Play at work.

Last week I offered some suggestions on how to incorporate more exercise into your daily routine at home. Just a few minutes of exercise each and every day can have a huge positive impact on your overall strength, flexibility, health and well-being. However, incorporating more physical activity at work may be a bit more challenging depending on your work environment and job-related activities. And, unlike your home environment, you may not be the person in charge. So, what can you do? If you have a sedentary job, try doing isometric exercises while sitting at your desk. Abdominal contractions, gluts, quads and hamstring sets as well as ankle pumps can be very effective and easily done in a chair. Speaking of chairs, really slow down when you get up and down from your chair. Feel your weight...

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