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Posts tagged ‘exercise’

Making 60 The New 40!

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As an internist (A.K.A. adult medicine doctor, primary care provider), one of the best things about my job is variety. My youngest patient is 17; my oldest patient recently passed away peacefully at 104 and 4 months!

Two weeks ago I wrote here about helping my younger patients develop great health habits. Today, I want to focus on my patients over 35. (To my 35 and unders who are reading: share this with the ‘rents!)

I believe strongly that it’s never too late to make healthy life changes. NEVER! Using myself as an example, I was starting to get the creaks and groans of arthritis in the morning. Hours on the computer at the office were causing my shoulders to hunch forward, and I was starting to notice that I wasn’t as strong as I used to be, which is a sign of the natural loss of muscle mass that is especially bad for women as they age.

So my husband must have thought he wants me to hang around a while, because for Christmas 2013 he signed me up for some sessions with a personal trainer. THIS HAS BEEN LIFE-TRANSFORMING FOR ME! My trainer is Steve Cioppa*. Today we are going to hear from Steve in an interview with him I conducted earlier this week. But first……

DID YOU KNOW?

While I’m well aware that all of your medical specialist should be board certified, I did not know how important a personal trainer’s certification is! Some trainers have literally only a few hours of training and do not know the physiology of the human body well enough not to seriously hurt you! 

So now that we’ve spilled some knowledge on ya about this topic , let’s spill a little more with an expert in the field!

:::: Check out this interview with CT Personal Trainer Steve Cioppa :::

 

Dr. Nolfo: Thanks for sitting down with me today Steve. Can you tell our readers what it means to be a certified personal trainer and why it’s so important for your clients?

Steve Cioppa: Your trainer should be certified by a nationally recognized organization such as NATIONAL STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING ASSOCIATION (NSCA) , THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF SPORTS MEDICINE (ACSM) , THE AMERICAN COUNCIL ON EXERCISE (ACE) or THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SPORTS MEDICINE (NASM). A certified trainer will have rigorous training and also ongoing requirements for continuing education to maintain certification. There are many additional specialized certifications trainers can get on top of this  for example, I am certified to train with TRX  but they need the solid background.

Dr. Nolfo: Steve, what should the trainer do for you?

Steve Cioppa: As you get older, the focus should be on functional strength and fitness. Not only should your trainer be able to help you make your daily life tasks easier, you should be able to advance far beyond that and increase your ability to garden longer, shovel snow easier or improve in any sport you play. One of my 60+ year old clients was upset with me because he had to change all the clubs he used for golf after he added 20 yards to his golf swing! 

Steve Cioppa: Your trainer should have the skill simply to look at your posture and tell which of your muscles are weak and underused and prescribe corrective exercises to balance your body. This can eliminate a slew of unnecessary pains and limitations. I always recommend stretching the hip flexors and strengthening the posterior muscles.

 Here are examples of anterior pelvic tilt:

Here is an example of “upper cross syndrome”, which can cause shoulder pain and a hunched back:

 

Steve Cioppa: Look at the diagram of Upper Cross Syndrome. In this case, I would work on strengthening the rear shoulder muscles and stretching the chest area.

Dr. Nolfo: What would you say to those of our readers who might ask: “Isn’t it expensive to work with a certified trainer?”

Steve Cioppa: What is it worth to you to be stronger, have better balance, have more energy and have better body composition, which helps your metabolism? And those are only a tiny portion of the benefits. As Dr. Nolfo has written before, exercise, reduces risks of diabetes, cancers and Alzheimers. What is that worth? That’s everyone’s choice.”

Dr. Nolfo: Thank you so much for all the useful information! I will say, working with a personal trainer is without a doubt the best decision I’ve made in this stage of my life. Last night my daughter’s rock band played a gig and afterward we helped her bring her drums to the outside of the club. I snatched up a heavy cymbal bag and two drum stands like it nothing was nothing and I realized I could not have carried them so easily last year! It was a pretty empowering feeling. 

Steve Cioppa is a NSCA Certified personal trainer / TRX certified trainer with over 20 years of experience.  He can be reached at 203-767-5899 or SCperc@hotmail.com.

Work with a trainer? Think about it. As always, the information I have posted for you here is completely unsolicited – I have no financial ties with Steve!

Have a fabulous weekend,

Dr. Nolfo

New Study: Exercise As Effective As Prescription Drugs

                                                           REJOICE! FANTASTIC NEWS IS HERE! 

As a physician who strives to provide the best treatments to all of my patients in my practice, I was incredibly overjoyed to read this week that researchers at Stanford Medical School were able to make an evidence-based conclusion that physical exercise can be as effective as prescription drugs in reducing the number of deaths caused by various common and serious conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

WOW! Now THAT is music to my ears!

*** IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE! Before we begin our discussion, as doctor of medicine, it is important that I emphasize that these findings do not change my belief the use of medications – all of my patients, clients and subscribers reading this should continue to take their medications as directed unless told otherwise by their primary care physician.

BUT!

Imagine a world where the power to improve and maintain our health was inside of our minds and bodies instead of a bottle of pills – what would that look like? For many who are already sick, sometimes a trip to the pharmacy is the only option. But, scientists already know that exercise is an extremely effective method of prevention for various chronic illnesses. So these new findings imply with significant data that with the right approach, engaging our bodies in regular physical activity may not only prevent but also help to cure certain illnesses without the use pharmaceuticals!

For some of you who aren’t very enthusiastic about physical exercise,

Here are a few reasons why the implications of this study are worth getting excited about!

  •  In 2013, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that Americans spend on average $1,000 per year on prescription drugs…..That’s A LOT of cash!  Not only that, each year Americans are spending 40% more on these medications than the rest of the world – and because of the high cost of these treatments, 1 out of every 5 Americans are not filling our prescriptions or are skipping doses to alleviate this financial burden. What would you do with your extra money?

 

  • A study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in 1999 and 2000 found measurable amounts of one or more medications in 80% of the water samples drawn from a network of 139 streams in 30 states – showing that the pharmaceutical industry is a significant contributing factor to water pollution. As it is, the oceans of the world are already in a great amount of duress from millions of tons of plastic deposits and other pollutants – something every human should be extremely concerned about. Ridding ourselves of our dependency on pharmaceuticals will improve water quality and make the earth a greener place. 

 

  • Prevention should ALWAYS be the goal of a healthy lifestyle as well as the focus of any interventions conducted by physicians. NOBODY wants to get sick! Instead of treating our ailments with prescription pills, wouldn’t it be better to not have health problems at all? If you knew that exercising for 30 minutes a day would prevent you from contracting diabetes, heart disease or cancer – would you participate? Hundreds of studies on physical exercise and its use in the prevention of chronic illness have revealed a strong connection between working out and staying healthy throughout a lifespan. Think about it!

 

  • Unlike many prescription drugs which can result in an array of complications, exercising is a treatment method with very few negative side effects. So if exercise can be used as a treatment in the event that we do get sick – we’re not only treating the illness but also preventing stress, strengthening our skeletal system and boosting our metabolism! Do your medications have those positive side effects???

 

There are myriad of additional reasons why every single individual should engage in regular physical activity – the trick is to find those reasons that are most important to you. It is fairly common knowledge that exercise is a very empowering tool for our minds and bodies – these findings by Stanford University only serve to emphasize that evidence.

I hope I have made a convincing argument for putting some spring in your step and getting in some workouts this summer! For those of you who aren’t interested in joining a gym or paying for a workout program, I highly recommend checking out the YouTube Channel “FITNESS BLENDER”! FitnessBlender is a free service created by an adorable young couple from Washington State that has hundreds of FREE exercise videos of all kinds, from yoga to High Intensity Interval Training. My youngest daughter Mariella and I frequent these videos – and they have really inspired us to get fit from the comfort of our own homes! The couple, Dan and Kelli, do a fantastic job of inspiring their viewers and creating realistic fitness goals. All of their videos are quite doable by most able-bodied individuals.

Give it a shot! Here is one of our favorite total body routines for beginners:

 

For this Summer 2014 – I urge all of you to not only get fit with me but GET HEALTHY too in the process!

Dr Emily Nolfo

 

How Music Can Boost Your Workouts!

How Music Can Boost Our Workouts

I found this fantastic article in The NYTimes about a study done recently that shows that humans may be able to exert more muscular force during physical activity when that activity is accompanied by music. Researchers hooked up their test subjects to exercise machines that simulated musical sounds in sync with the movements of the subjects – and their findings were incredibly interesting. Not only were those tested able to perform better on these musical machines, they also found the physical activities to be less strenuous.

This whole concept reminded me of my 24 year old daughter Mariella, who has been a drummer for over 15 years and plays in a heavy rock band called Kings And Liars from Connecticut. Mariella is only 5’1 but hits her drums extremely hard during her live performances.  Because of her tiny frame,  I have always been captivated by her ability to play 30-40 minute sets of grueling, fast paced songs which require a significant amount of stamina. While Mariella has always been somewhat athletic, she generally did not excel in the endurance column of fitness. As a child, she dreaded the  “mile-long run” portion of her public school fitness tests, preferring more strength-oriented exercises that required less physical longevity. But when it comes to her live performances on drums – her endurance is seemingly endless. After showing her this article, Mariella was able to relate to the experiences of the test subjects in this study on music and exercise:

“When I play with my band, the rhythm and intensity of our music literally empowers me to accomplish physical tasks that would otherwise be unbearable to me. Hitting as hard as I do requires a lot of stamina – something I do not have, EXCEPT when I am playing drums. Often times I will finish a tune with my band during a live performance and be in a state of shock about how little breath I have left. The most bizarre part for me is that I am completely unaware of how hard I am pushing myself physically until the music stops – only then do I start huffing and puffing like I just ran a marathon. Playing drums is the ONLY instance for me personally in which I can display this kind of stamina. In any other circumstance, I don’t feel I would be able to physically accomplish a similar task.”

The name of the phenomenon my daughter is describing here is called: “Dissociation”. It is a mental diversion that lowers the perception of one’s physical effort during strenuous tasks. It can promote a positive mood and divert you from fatigue. Researchers believe that music is a strong catalyst for dissociation.

Hints for choosing your music: match the beat to your level of exercise. The fastest beat should match your target heart rate (220-your age x 0.85). Use slower relaxing music for warm up and cool down.

So moral of the story: If you find yourself unable to complete longer workouts or are looking for a way to motivate yourself to get fit, try listening to some of your favorite music!

For more information about our brain on music, I recommend checking out the book “Musicophilia” written by Oliver Sacks, M.D. Among other things, Sacks explains why songs become stuck in our head for days.

Here’s to hoping this gets you guys moving and dancing!

Dr. Nolfo

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