A strong set of core muscles in your torso helps keep your back happy and allows you to do the movements and chores of daily living. I’ve written before about the importance of the transversus abdominus muscle as a key to your core support.
Many people can benefit from core work – such as office workers, new moms, and athletes. For example, I discovered that I could do certain yoga poses better after I took up Pilates. I thought I wasn’t flexible enough but it turns out I wasn’t strong enough.
This set of exercises recommended by coach Timothy Bell will help build your foundation for balanced core support and strength.
5 Fundamental Core and Abdominal Exercises for Beginners
At my office job, we have an annual chili cook-off. A colleague in my group won this year with Moroccan Chickpea Chili. That sent me off to the web to find a version to try at home. Cooking Light came through. I really like this recipe, plus it is quick and easy! Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients – many are spices. I had cooked black beans in the freezer so I used them instead of canned.
My slightly modified version of Moroccan Chickpea Chili
Yield 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 stalk chopped celery
- 1 chopped carrot
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons no-salt-added tomato paste
- 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
How to Make It – Get the instructions here
Posted in exercise
Tagged food, health
A client asked recently about people unexpectedly experiencing strong emotions while receiving bodywork.
Why would strong emotions occur during a session of bodywork? One explanation is because of how your skin and brain are connected. When an embryo develops, it has three layers. The skin, brain and nerves all develop from the same layer – the ectoderm. These systems remain interconnected throughout life. Manual therapy such as SI affects your neuromuscular system. Nerves in your skin, muscles and connective tissue carry information to your brain. The limbic system in your brain contains the structures that regulate your emotions and form memories. It’s a back-and-forth conversation in the body.
In addition to manual therapy such as SI, exercise like running, yoga or lifting weights can also trigger such emotional releases. Ideas on why emotional releases occur during exercise include how brain chemicals like brain-derived neurotrophic factor are affected by a workout, or how amino acids called peptides flow through your body.
To learn more:
The Endless Web: Fascial Anatomy and Physical Reality by R. Louis Schultz and Rosemary Feitis
Experience Life article: Laugh, Cry Lift
For many people, the fast pace of daily life contributes to stress. In that case, slowing down – such as single tasking – can be beneficial. When it comes to walking, though, most of us probably need to speed up. Recent research from Oregon State University indicates that walking more briskly is better for your health than a leisurely stroll.
The study looked at the number of steps people took as well as how quickly they walked during their fastest 30 minutes of the day. Those 30 minutes did not have to be all at once – they could be broken up into smaller increments.
People who walked at a moderate to vigorous pace in their top 30 minutes had better health data. Their numbers were better for their chances of having common conditions like diabetes, heart disease or stroke.
Ideally, the study suggests walking for a total of 30 minutes per day at a cadence of 100 steps per minute or more. The next time you take a walk, consider checking your pace to see how close you come to this guideline.
Do you consistently practice healthy habits? If so, give yourself a gold star! If not, spring is a great time to make adjustments and engage in more healthful behaviors. Warmer weather and longer days make it easier to exercise outside or do yard work. Farmers markets and stores are already getting local produce to add more veggies to meals.
Unfortunately, it seems that very few people are doing all they can to stay well. Researchers from Oregon State University and the University of Mississippi studied over 4,700 people for 4 lifestyle practices that protect heart health. A study published in March 2016 (news release) revealed that less than 3% of people did all 4 of these healthy actions. While engaging in even one or two of these provides benefits, this is a case where more is better. The 4 benchmarks are:
- Not smoking
- Exercising moderately (150 minutes per week)
- Eating a good diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight / recommended body fat percentage
The Formula for Good Health is a similar set of guidelines for maintaining good health and minimizing the risk of illness. It was published in an editorial in American Family Physician by Dr Colin Kopes-Kerr in 2010.
The formula is 0, 5, 10, 30, 150. It’s essentially the same 4 benchmarks as in the OSU/Mississippi study with the addition of daily quiet time.
- 0: no cigarettes or tobacco products
- 5: servings of fruits and vegetables per day
- 10: minutes of silence, relaxation, or meditation per day
- 30: keep your BMI (body mass index) below 30
- 150: minutes of exercise per week (e.g., brisk walking or equivalent)
I hope you will start today and make a small change for your health.
Are you a runner? As the snow melts and the temperatures warm up, you might be thinking of switching from the treadmill to taking workouts outside. I hope you are also thinking about your running technique. I like the information on Good Form Running. The four main topics are posture, midfoot, cadence and lean. If you are ready to practice some new running habits, this video discusses transitioning from “common running form” to “good form.”
While I know some people who successfully run in minimalist shoes, I prefer a normal, neutral shoe. If you want to go the minimalist route, prepare by strengthening your feet. Assess your physical readiness per Runner’s World. Make the transition gradually (say, over 2-3 months).
Running Form ebook
PDF with photos from Twenty Six Two marathon club on good form
Harvard Running Barefoot FAQ
Competitor.com on transitioning to minimalist shoes
A home practice of yoga can provide many benefits. It can help maintain the effects of structural integration and other bodywork, help reduce and manage stress, and help manage pain. A few minutes of yoga done several days a week is a worthwhile investment in your overall health.
I’ve found, however, that students and clients seem at a loss in deciding what poses to practice on their own. With too many choices, the idea is often put aside. One recommendation I have is to practice the sun salutation sequence. It includes a good assortment of poses and takes about 8 minutes to complete if you use this video by Yoga Vidya.
Another plus is that the sequence can easily be modified to accommodate limitations. A variation done while seated takes only 2 minutes (Tara Blackburn, Wilmington, NC).