The Benefits of Exercise

Everyone should exercise.

But not everyone decides to do it for the same reasons. One critical thing you should ask yourself when starting an exercise program is this: What is your primary motivation?

Did you get some alarming test results from your doctor that you want to change? Are you on a mission to lose 20 pounds? Is your goal to gain muscle and increase your energy levels? Do you just want to look good naked?

“One of the most important things when you kick start your journey is to know your ‘why,’” said Lynne Johnson, a lead health and wellness coach at the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Understanding your motivation — your primary purpose for starting a fitness routine — will help you stay on track when unexpected barriers cause you to think about quitting. Figure out which of the many reasons to exercise is most important to you. Then keep it in the back of your mind as you go through your fitness journey and remind yourself why you started if you ever get the urge to quit.


Need some help choosing your ‘why’? Here are what studies have shown to be just a few of the many important reasons to exercise.

• Exercise Slows the Aging Process: Aging muscles have trouble regenerating and have fewer and less efficient mitochondria, the energy powerhouses of our cells. But exercise, especially when it’s high intensity, increases the number and health of mitochondria — essentially helping to reverse aging at the cellular level.

• People Who Exercise Are Happier: Exercise can alleviate symptoms of depression andhelp you better cope with stress and anxiety. Even just getting up and moving around may make you feel happier, studies show.

• It May Lengthen Your Lifespan: Exercise has been linked time and time again in studies both large and small toreductions in mortality from all causes. But some of the most fascinating research comes from extensive analyses carried out at the Cooper Institute in Dallas, which show that compared with nonrunners, runners tend to live about three years longer. Every hour of running you do adds an estimated seven hours to your life expectancy. In fact studies have found that as little as five minutes of daily running is associated with longer life spans.

• Exercise Improves Your Body Composition: Most people gain fat as they get older. It’s essentially inevitable. But lifting weights and following a good diet have the opposite effect: They help you put on muscle and lose fat,even if you are older than 60.

• It Can Boost Your Brain Health: Studies of aerobic exercise have found that it protects your memory and helps stave off cognitive decline as we age.

• Exercise Improves Your Microbiome: Studies show that exercise can drastically improve the composition of the trillions of microbes that live in the gut, which may be one reason it strengthens the immune system, fights inflammation and helps with weight control.

From New York Times Wellness Guides

Study of Pilates Benefit for Elderly

When it comes to balance, strength and mobility, the aging process, in general, can be a fast track to a huge deficit.

Enter, the practice and exercise of Pilates!

Created by Joseph Pilates in the late 20’s, early 30’s, his idea of “Contrology” was comprised of the fitness principle by which we use our body, mind and spirit to be in the most healthy, fit and balanced place we can be as human beings.

Using his techniques and practices have proven to help in the aging process. Too often, however, growing old becomes an acceptance of “failure” and “decline” … rather than a maintenence and stabilizing of our strength and balance, which is where our body, mind and spirit should be!

Read this enlightened study on the benefits of Pilates for the elderly:


Can beginners do Pilates?


It’s a common misconception that Pilates is only for serious athletes or professional dancers. While these groups first adopted Pilates, they aren’t the only ones who can benefit from this approach to strength training.
Another common misperception is that Pilates requires specialized equipment. Maybe you’ve seen a Pilates apparatus — called a Reformer — that looks like a bed frame with a sliding carriage and adjustable springs, or perhaps you’ve seen a type of trapeze table. But, don’t let those machines intimidate you.

The reality is that many Pilates exercises can be done on the floor with just a mat.

Mayo Clinic’s Pilates For Beginners

Blasé At The Barre? Here Are 4 Ways To Maximize Your Barre Workout For Energy & Strength

Photo: Jessica Diaz

May 12, 2018 — 9:35 AM

Barre can be considered a supercharged workout, either on its own or paired with another form of exercise. However, while the repetition of moves in workouts are great for targeting underworked muscles, after awhile, the sequences can teeter on monotonous, and quickly, motivation and hard work levels off. Even as a barre instructor, I’ve experienced the all too familiar rut—or what I refer to as the “pro-plateau”—a point at which you find yourself in a routine of following a handful of circuits with the same barre moves. Once I began experimenting with different moves and alignment practices, I started to look forward to the excitement of challenging myself more and more in each class. The physical transformation I experienced in barre was as motivating as the energized and accomplished feeling I felt during the final stretch.

If you find that you’re missing the thrill and excitement of your early barre days, try incorporating these four tips to refresh your workout and invigorate yourself.

Avoid treating the stretching portion of class as a break.

The emphasis on stretching is what makes barre unique when compared to other group fitness classes. The traditional barre class structure is designed to strengthen a muscle group and then immediately follow that resistance work with a stretch. When I first started taking barre class over 15 years ago, I made the mistake of rushing through the stretching sections of class or using the time to simply grab water, but now I understand how important stretching is to the barre workout method and results. This result of this blend of strength-stretch work is a body that is balanced, lean, and sculpted. Stretching also builds strength by allowing the muscle to increase its range of motion (tight muscles have less mobility and limited range of motion). Studies have shown that building strength helps with overall mobility, which helps with overall body alignment and function. Plus, contributing more of an effort to my stretching added a new level of challenge to the workout.

Think muscle over momentum.

If you consistently find yourself in the comfort zone during your barre exercises, you may be letting momentum take over. Each barre move typically calls for a precise movement of a particular body part to mindfully engage muscles. This movement then creates a chain reaction of movement resulting in a swing and jerk motion, and thus, momentum kicks into gear. If you rely solely on using momentum to complete an exercise, you’re probably not experiencing the deep muscle contractions that change the shape of that muscle. Focus and control are key for optimizing your barre workout. An easy rule of thumb to keep in mind is to make sure you are initiating the movement from the muscle group that is targeted for that specific exercises. For example, in triceps work, be sure that you are engaging the top of the back of the arm (triceps) to lift the weights as opposed to just swinging from the wrist.

Don’t shy away from the “shake.”

Even the strongest barre student will experience the barre “shake” if following proper barre alignment. Barre exercises are designed to fatigue muscles, quickly, often demonstrated as your body responding with a shake. The shaking indicates a shift in your body’s movement—the isometric movements/holds in barre tap into the body’s lactic acid energy system. The increase in acidity in the muscles is what creates that sensation of “barre burn” in the muscles. Pushing through the burning and the trembling (within reason) is a type of deep muscle work called “muscle overload” and is what muscles need to enact change. Therefore, to improve the progress and results, focus on working muscles to fatigue. It is always important to listen to one’s body and be careful not to push past one’s own limits, especially if working with an injury.

Stay present.

As with any exercise, being mindful in the present moment is key to getting the most out of a workout. Try beginning each class with setting the intention to keep the mind focused solely on what is going on in the studio. In a split second, one’s mind can wander to things like “What should I eat for lunch?” or “What do I need to accomplish today at the office?” In that moment of losing concentration, there is often a shift in focus from our physical alignment in the exercise, which leads to a decrease in the workout’s intensity. Keeping the awareness of thoughts connected to the class will create a richer experience and feeling of a more vigorous workout.

Looking to stretch out at your desk? Try these 3 barre moves to help increase blood flow.

Use These Pilates Moves to Build a Stronger Core

The key to a better run can be found in the deep core muscles you’re not working—yet.

By Lauren Bedosky FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2018, 11:44 AM

Your core is a dynamo. From typing away at your computer to powering through the last mile of a (very) long run, all the muscles in your core are working overtime to stabilize your spine, which in turn keeps you stable and upright.

But if your idea of a core workout is crunches at the end of your run, you’ll wreak havoc on your lower back and, ultimately, your running performance.

That’s why you should consider adding Pilates. Every Pilates move targets not only the “six-pack” ab muscles (namely, the rectus abdominis and obliques), but also the glutes and the deep core muscles that support your spine. As a result, you build greater core strength and control, which leads to improved posture and a more efficient running form. In fact, researchers at The Ohio State University found that when runners had weaknesses in the deeper core muscles that support the spine, it led to increased risk of lower back pain over time.

A weak core will also cause you to hunch over, ultimately leading to inefficient running form. “What [hunching over] does is cut off your breathing, and you’re draining energy reserves trying to fight that bad posture,” says Sean Vigue, a Colorado-based Pilates instructor and author of Pilates for Athletes. But once you strengthen your core, you’ll have a lot of extra energy because you’re not fighting gravity all day.

Showing Up For Your Life

If you show up for yourself in your life, the universe will show up for you.

The way we walk into a room says a lot about the way we live our lives. When we walk into a room curious about what’s happening, willing to engage, and perceiving ourselves as an active participant with something to offer, then we have really shown up to the party. When we walk into a room with our eyes down, or nervously smiling, we are holding ourselves back for one reason or another. We may be hurting inside and in need of healing, or we may lack the confidence required to really be present in the room. Still, just noticing that we’re not really showing up, and having a vision of what it will look and feel like when we do, can give us the inspiration we need to recover ourselves.

Even if we are suffering, we can show up to that experience ready to fully engage in it and learn what it has to offer. When we show up for our life, we are actively participating in being a happy person, achieving our goals, and generally living the life our soul really wants. If we need healing, we begin the process of seeking out those who can help us heal. If we need experience, we find the places and opportunities that can give us the experience we need in order to do the work we want to do in the world. Whatever we need, we look for it, and when we find it, we engage in the process of letting ourselves have it. When we do this kind of work, we become lively, confident, and passionate individuals.

There is almost nothing better in the world than the feeling of showing up for our own lives. When we can do this, we become people that are more alive and who have the ability to make things happen in our lives and the lives of the people around us. We walk through the world with the knowledge that we have a lot to offer and the desire to share it.


L. Q., the Love Quotient for Success

This Is the Secret of Success, According to Self-Made Billionaire Jack Ma (Hint: It Isn’t IQ or EQ)

At a recent event, the Alibaba founder explained the importance of “LQ.”

By Jessica Stillman

Jack Ma.

Jack Ma, the founder and CEO of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba (think of it as his country’s Amazon), knows something about what it takes to succeed despite long odds. He grew up poor, failed his university entrance exams (twice), and was turned away from dozens of jobs. Now he’s worth something like $29 billion.

What does he credit for his success?

In a recent talk at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum, he explained that while IQ is certainly helpful, and EQ is also beneficial for getting ahead, his rags to riches story was possible only because he possessed another extremely valuable quality — LQ. “If you want to be respected, you need LQ,” he told the assembled bigwigs.

Our secret weapon to beat the machines: LQ

What’s LQ? It’s “the quotient of love, which machines never have,” Ma explained. In a world of rising technology, what will allow you to succeed isn’t sheer mental horsepower — computers will always be faster and more accurate, after all — nor is it just basic EQ, like regulating your own emotions and recognizing others’. What sets humans apart is love, i.e. our feeling for justice, our creativity in the face of challenges, our ability to empathize deeply and respond wisely.

“A machine does not have a heart, [a] machine does not have soul, and [a] machine does not have a belief. Human being have the souls, have the belief, have the value; we are creative, we are showing that we can control the machines,” he insisted.

The problem, according to Ma, is that we’re training young people to try to outdo machines in areas where we’ll never beat them. Instead, we should be nurturing children’s LQ. “We have to teach our kids to be very, very innovative, very creative,” Ma said. “In this way, we can create jobs for our own kids.”

Unlike Elon Musk, Ma is optimistic about the future of humanity in an A.I.-filled world as long as we prepare the next generation properly by nurturing their souls as well as their analytic and computational skills. “Human beings should have the self-confidence,” he concluded. “Human being[s] have the wisdom. Machine[s do] not have the wisdom.”

The Radio City Hall Rockettes do Pilates!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! As I watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, the effervescent Rockettes kick and dance and move in a fluid motion! I announced to my hubby, “I bet they do Pilates!” … thanks to Google, of course, I instantly discovered blogs, and websites describing the strict regimen of these leggy ladies… and Pilates is definitely in their maintenance programs!

“… Variety is the key to these dancers’ cross training routines. Pilates, yoga, and different styles of dance classes are at the top of these performers’ lists for maintaining technique throughout the year. Getting active while enjoying nature is also vital to their fitness regimen and allows them to stay in shape without feeling like they’re working out. Water sports and hikes were the most popular outdoor activities among the Rockettes we spoke to.” -Dance Spirit [blog]

Former Rockettes twin sisters opened Pilates on Fifth, a Pilates studio in New York City.

So enjoy your family gatherings, eat, drink and be merry … then get back to Pilates next week! <moan with a grin>

Pilates: Monday Motivation

Pilates can be intimidating, but it is possible! Here are some easy ways to get started from home!

Article and Video: 11-13-2017 From KARE TV Channel 11, Minneapolis, MN

You see other people at the gym doing it. Your friends talk about it all the time. But when it comes to actually trying that new exercise, it can be really intimidating! That’s why for the month of November, we’re using Motivation Monday to show you those bullish fitness beasts aren’t so scary afterall.

Our first victim: Pilates.

Joseph Pilates served as a nurse in World War 1, and developed this regimen to help rehabilitate patients. In the early 1900’s, he then took his techniques to the America and trained dancers. His method eventually caught on worldwide. He once said “In order to achieve happiness, it is imperative to gain mastery of your body.” Thank you for the wise words, ol’ Joe!

Pilates is a low-impact yet effective exercise that focuses on strength, form and stability. Unlike yoga, it is faster paced and more structured. GetHealthyU’s Chris Freytag says pilates are perfect for anyone who is recovering from injury, or who is injury prone. It is also good for those of us who need to work on strengthening our core muscles.

Freytag suggests if you are a pilates beginner, take a class first. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you prepare: