Water Aerobics for Osteoarthritis

Dear Gentle Reader,

Around the time when our youngest child was born, my parents put a swimming pool in their back yard.  We used to joke that it was the only way they could get their children to bring their grandchildren to Muskogee, OK in the summer.  Like bees to honey, it certainly attracted us, and our four daughters spent time alone with my parents learning to swim, dive.  My father loved the chance to teach a new batch of children how to race and win.  The design of the pool made it a tax deduction.  He was an orthopedist and many of his patients needed rehabilitation that could best be done with pool walking.  This pool was 25 ft in length and down one side was an elevated floor the ideal depth for an adult to walk, only the upper torso above water.  That was back in 1967, well before water aerobics for rehab and helping arthritis sufferers exercise became an important treatment option.

Water walking is recognized today as easy on the joints and beneficial for those who suffer from osteoarthritis.  “The water’s buoyancy supports the body’s weight, which reduces stress on the joints and minimizes pain,” says Jones [Vennie Jones, aquatic coordinator for the Baylor Tom Landry Fitness Center in Dallas]. “And it’s still a great workout. Water provides 12 times the resistance of air, so as you walk, you’re really strengthening and building muscle.” You do not bear weight while swimming and walking, therefore you need to find some exercise that is weight bearing so you don’t lose bone density.

Our YMCA here in West Seattle has at least 2 levels of water aerobics:  one mid day for the older, arthritic set and several other opportunities for moderate and vigorous exercise in the water.  My husband Chuck found the noon day class gave him a destination for his 1 ½ mile walk three times a week.  He loved being one of the only men in a large class of women.  They flirted with them and he returned the favor.  The pool conversation sometimes rose to such a pitch one could no longer hear the instructor give the calls for the next move.  On a few really bad weather days, I joined him, especially when it was too hard for him to walk.  So congenial and supportive is this group of about 30 and their patient instructor, that when I took this class two years after Chuck died, they recognized me and asked about his well-being.  Now, that is a beneficial reason to join a water aerobics class right there!

Personally, as long as I can get outside to exercise, I will do that over any indoor sport.  However, water aerobics for anyone who has joint pain is one of the best ways to get exercise. Get over the inconvenience of changing clothes, getting wet and chilly.  Think about the whirl pool hot tub you can soak in (or perhaps your facility has a sauna) and go for it.

If you do not have a Y or club with an aerobics class for people with arthritis, here is a link to a web site that gives detailed descriptions of water walking.  Here is an excellent You tube video of other water aerobics moves specifically for arthritics. My personal favorite is playing the piano:  the surface of the water is the key board and you lift and lower your fingers while moving your hands from left to right and back pretending to play.  The door knob twist is another good one for arthritic hands.

Check with your doctor if you are experiencing a lot of pain.  Then take your aching body to the pool.  You’ll be amazed at how much better you will feel after moving in that weightless environment for 45 minutes.  It will lift your spirits.  Our Y has a lift so that even if you are wheel chair bound, you can be helped into the pool.

My readers would enjoy hearing your water aerobics stories.  So please share.

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving.

Betsy Bell

206 933 1889

http://www.tirednomore dot com

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More Travel tips for a healthy back

Gentle Reader,

A month ago, reflecting on managing arthritis when traveling,  https://nowheelchair.wordpress.com/2011/12/19/pain-free-flying/, I promised more hints for healthy travel.  Here they are.

Overnight flights: these are the killers for a bad back, especially when you really do need that sleep to begin your first day functioning.  I can usually sleep with the help of a sleep aid, a neck pillow and a pillow for lumbar support.  You can buy these on line at Amazon I haven’t actually tried the one pictured, but will probably get it for my next big adventure mid February.  My granddaughter and I are off to Nicaragua with a group from Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral.  This is an all day trip and I chose a two stop itinerary.  You probably think I’m crazy.  I have found that shorter hops and getting up to change plans, actually helps maintain back health.  It is long flights that put the lower back at greatest risk.

We will probably be at the airport and through the check in and security screening with plenty of time to spare.  While waiting for my flight, I often lie on the floor in an out-of-the way spot and do some simple Feldenkrais and Pilates moves to line everything up before boarding.  Alicia will probably be totally embarrassed at her grandmother’s bizarre behavior.  It is easy to make a 13 yr. old uncomfortable!

Once we arrive at our hotel, I will do some simple stretches, mostly lying flat on my back before getting into bed.  Take the bed covering and lay it on the floor as a mat to protect yourself from the myriad leavings of many previous shoes and bare fee.  In the morning, find a chair without arms or the corner of the bed to sit on and do a series of sitting stretches.  I use Jennifer Kreis’s Hot Body, Cool Mind sitting series designed to wake up every joint and gently stretch every muscle.  I have been using this DVD and this particular segment for so many years that I have the moves memorized.  I think my immune system is greatly supported by the lymphatic thumping at the head, neck, inner elbow and underarms, chest, stomach and groin, then down the spine.  The same DVD has a standing chi gong segment, plus a Pilates routine (too rigorous for most of us dealing with spinal issues), a simple yoga routine I love following, and several other segments.  You certainly get your money’s worth when you buy this DVD.  My grandchildren think this little routine of mine at the corner of the bed is hilarious and they have teased me about it months after our trips together.  By the way if you are interested in the pictures from these trips, go to www.betsystrips.shutterfly.com.  Enjoy.

For those overnight flights getting to your destination between 6 and 9 in the morning, the best antidote to jet lag is outdoor walking.  Arriving in Ireland with May, and in Scotland with Danny and Carsten, we set out walking the town, the countryside, the castle grounds (save serious tourist investigation for later when you are rested).  Keep moving.  Stop for a snack when needed.  Tea helps.  When you check in to your hotel, maybe 30 minutes flat, but avoid a deep sleep.  Walk to a place for supper and then go to bed.  You will wake up remarkably rested and in tune with the new time zone.  Once traveling to India, I walked my legs off all day long in Bombay, now Mumbai.  There was no where to sit down, the parks occupied by homeless.  I knocked on the door of a church and asked if I could sit for a little while.  A little later I joined at lot of office workers in a cafeteria style restaurant, sitting at a long table and listening to their chatter.  I’ve never felt unsafe.  People are nice the world over.  As someone said, there are only 10 bad people in the world; they just move around a lot.

I carry a back pack instead of a purse.  This was recommended to me by my chiropractor years ago.  I know it’s hard to fashionable, but they make some really cute back packs these days.  When traveling, keep your eyes wide open and aware at all times, and pull that pack around in front to hug next to your chest at the slightest hint of crowded conditions or motor scooters approaching too close.  Never leave it hanging on the back of a chair.

My really important stuff, i.e.  money and passport, plane tickets, URail pass, CC and Drivers License, are always in a money belt.  If you haven’t heard of him,

Rick Steves, Europe Through the Back Door, is a travel guru and his store in Edmonds, WA (and on line) sells the most comfortable money belts ever made.  The material handles sweaty Latin American, Asian and African climates and there is a plastic lining to keep your documents and money from getting wet from your dripping sweat.

I just heard a story yesterday at our Nicaragua orientation about a woman whose back pack with her money in an outside pocket was on top of the bus transporting them to their next home stay.  A sudden down pour soaked her pack and her money was ruined.  USA dollars with a black bleed from a notebook making every bill’s denomination indistinguishable.  Keep your money in your money belt inside the plastic liner.   Put in on with your underpants every morning.  Loose change for the day’s expense can live in your pants pocket in a small purse.

Personally, I think the stress of travel can increase your arthritis twinges.  The money belt wearing practice and the back pack for your sun screen, water bottle, camera, notebook and guide book, can smooth out your day and reduce stress.  Keep your pain-reducing supplements or medicines for the day, plus your supplements for the next meal and a couple meal bars or snack bars in the back pack as well.

One last tip:  when walking, a brisk pace will keep your back healthier.  The museum walk is lethal.  I remind myself to pull up the pelvic floor while staring at a painting or waiting in line, a kegel exercise.  Straighten your shoulders and let your skeleton drop from the base of the skull.  You will fatigue much more slowly.  Take tea breaks to rest.  If it gets too bad, hang upside down.  Here I am doing that in Montreal.  My grandson hid when some other tourist came by.  Ah, youth.  They will have arthritis someday and perhaps he’ll remember his silly grandma.

Be well, Do well and Keep Moving.

Betsy

Betsy Bell’s Healt4u

206 933 1889

www.HiHoHealth dot com

The Fat Trap

Dear Reader,

I have been thinking a lot about weight and arthritis, about weight loss and how challenging it is to begin and maintain a healthier relationship to food.  In my last post, I talked about the study that found our hypothalamus may be running the show.  If this regulating organ has been damaged by a long term diet of too rich food, is it possible to ever heal it and establish a new normal for ourselves?

Perhaps you saw this article in the New York Times on January 1, written by Tana Parker Pope.  I recommend it to you.  She has struggled with extra weight for years and takes heart and hope from the understanding she has about the hypothalamus and the possibility of actually changing its messaging system.

I am going to leave you with this long article from the NYTimes.  I would love to hear your reaction to it.  Please share.

Are you engaging in any winter sport?  I enjoyed my first day on cross country skis this past Wednesday and managed a pain free day with 2 Aleve at breakfast.  Thursday morning wasn’t bad either, maybe because I took a protein sports recovery drink with me and drank it on the bus coming home and again before bed.  The one I use is called Physique and is made by Shaklee.  It repairs torn muscle with the proteins, vitamins and minerals in it.  Thursday night I could feel a stiffening up and did some of my Pilates floor exercises before hottub and bed and this morning did a big routine of Feldenkrais, Pilates, weight lifting and other stretching and then took a long walk including a stair case with 190 treads.  All this helped keep me from arthritis pain.

What is your routine after a work out?  BTW when you climb stairs try walking up sideways, facing the railing, right shoulder toward to top.  Lift the left leg and place it on the step above crossing the right.  Then, weight on the left foot, step up with the right still  facing the railing.  Next step with the left foot, swing it behind and up.  You are going up the stairs with the left foot traveling in front and then in back and then in front.  Then turn to face the left shoulder to the top and do the weave with the right leg. This strengthens the sides of the knees.  We girls hurt our knees by always walking straight up the stairs because we are just slightly (sometimes more than slightly) knock kneed.  This stair climbing (and descending) greatly strengthens the muscles and tendons along the sides.  Do this slowly, planting your foot solidly and lifting with the thigh engaged instead of heaving the body up with the shoulders.  Make the legs and side knees work for you.  I may have described this in an earlier blog when I was talking about my training program for climbing Mt. Shasta.   If you try this, let me know how it goes.

Good luck and keep moving.

Betsy

206 933 1889

www.TiredNoMore. com

 

Speaking of weight

Dear Reader,

Have  you sat with your plans for the New Year and included weight management?  If you are suffering from arthritis pain and stiffness, and you are even 15 pounds over-weight, your plans will turn out better if they include weight management.  The bloggers are full of advice on this topic.  I would like to share some new research with you that may help you realize just how challenging it is to establish a new “normal” weight.  You may forgive yourself for all that struggle without permanent results.  You may decide to figure out what you must do to change your own future, a daunting but not impossible task.

Take heart.  There may be an explanation for why we get stuck at certain weight.

In a recent study, scientists discovered a change in the appetite regulator in the brain that interferes with our internal conversation

about what to eat when.  Apparently the hypothalamus gets inflammed when a person eats a fatty meal (fried clams, fudge, ice cream, cheese cake, sugar cookies, onion rings, you know, fried foods and buttery sweets).  It takes a few days for the repair mechanism of a normal healthy body to quiet down this inflammation and restore the hypothalamus to its regulating job.  Repeatedly eating a high fat diet day after day interferes with the body’s ability to repair the organ that helps us say ‘no’ to weight gaining foods.  If we do manage to stop eating them as we try to lose all the weight we put on while the hypothalamus wasn’t helping, it is extremely difficult.  We just can not hit the re-set button.  The mechanism is broken.The study is reported here.  http://www.gpb.org/news/2011/12/28/could

-obesity-change-the-brain

The actual published abstract is here http://www.jci.org/articles/view/59660?search%5barticle_text%5d=obesity+&search%5bauthors_text%5d=schwartz

You may have seen Carol Ostrom’s report in the Seattle Times on 12/30. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2017122171_brain30m.html

Scientific discoveries like this tend to make the obese shake their heads grimly and say “no wonder it is so hard to loss 10 lbs. and have that be my new ‘high'”.  Their brain is urging them toward the old higher set point.  More research needs to be done.  An MRI scan of the brains of 34 obese individuals tells us there is inflammation there, but leaves a lot of questions.  While they are rare, some people who drop 15 to 100 pounds are able to maintain their weight loss for years.  In my own case, I spent eight years with a psychotherapist dealing with childhood issues, and at the end of that time I was no longer uncontrollably tempted by cookies in the house.  I’ve been at my healthy body weight for a while now after many years of yo-yo diet struggle. There was a time when I couldn’t bring a box of cookies in the house and I certainly never baked them.  I would plan my behavior carefully before attending a stand up party with hors d’oeuvres and deserts. I still eat a healthy protein snack before going to a stand up party.  If I put on 3 to 4 pounds during the vacation, I drop it easily.  Did my hypothalamus recover and establish a new, lower set-point?  Could yours do the same thing?

When I first went into business as a wellness adviser, I held weight management classes in my home.  The attendees came at lunch time for 8 weeks.  I prepared healthy food, taught them about the way our body handles sugars, how the pancreas reacts to coffee/black tea/cola drinks all day long and how to recover from exercise so they could get up and do it again the next day.  I taught them how to prepare and carry healthy snacks, introduced them to thin slices of jicama, Jerusalem artichokes, turnips, and bean sprouts.  They learned about alternatives to wheat flour: rice bread, soba and rice noodles, rye breads, breakfast cereal of cooked rye, barley and oat flakes.  Today the stores are full of gluten free foods.

My students fell into two groups:  people whose metabolism had slowed down as they aged and one day they realized they had gained 15 pounds and needed some help to change their eating and exercise habits; people who had put on a lot of weight over the years and developed a real love/hate relationship with food. Learning these tools helped this second group, but did not guarantee permanent weight loss.  Both groups found the extra weight caused creaky joins and discomfort.  The first group relieved their arthritis pain considerably by following the dietary suggestions and moving more.  The second group were discouraged.  I was discouraged that I couldn’t seem to help them.

If you are in this second group and suffer from a chronic over-weight dieting cycle and you feel this weight is causing or increasing your arthritis pain, take heart from this new study. Inflammation is real.  It is present whenever there is disease.  The immune system can repair inflammation and does so every moment of every day.  Perhaps, with careful healthy eating, even the hypothalamus can be repaired.
I take a lot of food supplements manufactured by the Shaklee Corporation.  They have helped my body repair tissue damaged by inflammation.  Food alone could not do the job for me.  After reading this study, I wonder if 10 years of daily intake of extra nutrients provided by the Shaklee Wellness Program actually repaired the hypothalamus. I don’t think it can be done in 6 months or even 2 years.  A long term approach is necessary.  Perhaps you need the help of a top quality line of food supplements to pour massive amounts of nutrients into your damaged body.  If you would like to learn more about the weight management program Shaklee has to offer, please email or call me.  betsy@HiHoHealth.com or 206 933 1889.  Wordpress doesn’t allow me to put an active link to my shopping website.  I prefer to discuss these nutritional issues with you first anyway. So be in touch.

Be Well, Do Well, and Keep Moving.

Betsy

Watch for a review of an independent study showing how resveratrol and polyphenols can literally stop this inflammation process at the cellular level.  I will present this information in my next blog.

BTW here is an interesting blog on weight management.  I pass it along to you.  http://kirbsfitness.wordpress.com/