The buzz of energy around New Year’s health resolutions has come and gone. No reason to be discouraged; we still have 11 more months to keep trying.
What I have learned from interviewing people over the years on goal setting is that unrealistic expectations can often deflate the
momentum of initial motivation. Successful goal achievers who do make it to a desired endpoint get there not with magic, but with a formula of the basics—time, patience, repetition, and support. World Fitness Calculator and Superbetter, tech tools based on simple health principles can help boost your body-mind wellness goals for the year.
Few would dispute the countless benefits of exercise, but for
persons with complex medical conditions, standard exercise
programs are often not the right solution. Organizations such as NCPAD offer excellent education on modified exercise programs specific to each health condition. The take-away guideline of this New York Times article is to engage in as much exercise as your body will tolerate. With medical supervision, a variety of ways exist to adapt exercises to provide challenge and accommodate limitations. Keep searching for the right type of exercise for your body. Movement creates momentum and health.
The gentle, meditative, paced movements of Tai Chi hold promise as a path of restorative exercise for those struggling with mobility challenges. A widely practiced Chinese martial art, Tai Chi improves balance, aids in stress relief, and promotes circulation of the "chi" (energy) - a therapeutic effect common in eastern healing modalities yielding balance in the body. The Arthritis Foundation sponsors a unique Tai Chi program, Sun Style, created by Dr. Paul Lam. This program is composed of a series of movements tailored to the needs of persons diagnosed with arthritis.
Falls are a leading cause of injury among older adults. Falls can be traumatic, both practically and emotionally. When such an incident happens, seek medical care, as the fall could be a sign of changes in your mobility or an underlying health issue. Fall prevention training is a holistic model of intervention involving three areas: balance training/adaptive exercise, medical management, and home modifications.
The Fall Prevention Center for Excellence is a health advocacy organization seeking to raise public awareness of the incidence of falls and the importance of Fall Prevention education. If you are concerned about a loved one, StopFalls.org offers several educational resources for support.
Exploring better ways to move, exercise or sustain physical resilience with mobility challenges is a constant source of interest for me. I recently discovered the Feldenkrais Method, with the help of Stacy Barrows, PT, GCFT, CPI, a physical therapist, Pilate’s instructor, and passionate practitioner of the approach. We explored some of the benefits for persons with disabilities. The main distinction of this form of movement therapy is its engineering viewpoint on understanding the body, “How do all the parts of the body work together? It's less of a cause and effect mindset,” Barrow notes.
Janne Kouri, President and Founder of NextStep Fitness, a state-of-the-art specialized gym facility in Lawndale, California, is an advocate with a focused dream: “…to expand NextStep Fitness in communities of
need throughout the U.S., so people living with paralysis or disability would have access to community-based fitness options. This is a nationwide problem, and it needs to be addressed,” he says.
This mission is inspired by Kouri’s own journey. In 2006, while playing beach volleyball with friends, Kouri took a break and dove into the water to cool off; he hit his head on a sandbar and was instantly paralyzed from the neck down. He then began a challenging rehabilitation for his spinal cord injury at Fraizer Rehab Institute in Louisville, Kentucky. His background as an avid exerciser and former college football athlete at Georgetown University equipped him with a unique sensibility for tackling the demands of his recovery.
Yoga has gained significant popularity, with classes held in small towns and big cities throughout the U.S. What may not be as widely known is the practice of adaptive yoga; yoga that is gentler, less rigorous in its poses, and modified by utilizing a chair or assistance from another person. A year ago, I interviewed Matthew Sanford of Mind-Body Solutions Center. Sanford is a pioneer in teaching yoga to persons with disabilities and believes that yoga can be adapted to many levels of limitation. In Matthew's own life, yoga was a means to establishing a mind-body connection.
If you've never tried yoga, find an instructor who has experience with restorative/adaptive yoga methods. Start with one or two restorative poses that you can count on a few times a week for stress relief, and then build on that. Here is one example of a restorative pose, taught by Rodney Yee.
Fitness Resolutions will be on the minds of many Americans as they ring in the New Year. News media venues will be inundated with feature stories on exercise, healthy eating, and the latest tech gadgets to battle the bulge.
The advice is limitless, with tips for the semi-pro athlete to the low budget exerciser. But why is it—with the influx of health education—that some people are able to establish the exercise habit and not others? “It’s not about the number on the scale, it’s about your connection to yourself,” says Robin Ox Goodpasture, a certified personal trainer, and body image consultant.
My interest in Paralympic sports was sparked after viewing Murderball, a gripping documentary on the fierce athleticism of wheelchair rugby competitors. Earlier this summer, I spoke with Charlie Huebner, Chief of Paralympics, U.S. Olympic Center based in Colorado, about the paralympics movement in the U.S. Still in its infancy, the Paralympic movement has grown exponentially both in the diversity of sports
venues and in the broad ranging disabilities of its athletes.
On May 21-23, the Abilities Expo - New York Metro division - will be showcasing an impressive range of options in disability technology, expanding the scope of accessibility for persons with disabilities. Thirty-one years ago, the Abilities Expo began with the humble efforts of Dick and Pat Wooten. Dick, a polio survivor and wheelchair user since his teens, wanted to establish a forum to share the resources that enabled him live a better life. Today, the Abilities Expo has grown exponentially, providing direct learning to attendees on the latest in assistive devices, home furnishings, and daily living aids across disabilities.
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