Posts Tagged ‘core strength’

10 Reasons For Women To Kegel

May 28, 2016

 Andrew Siegel, M.D. 5/28/16

The pelvic floor muscles—a.k.a. the Kegel muscles—are internal, hidden and behind-the-scenes muscles, yet they are vital to a healthy existence. There are numerous advantages to keeping them robust and fit with Kegel pelvic floor exercises.  Today’s entry enumerates why this is the case for females and next week’s entry will detail why Kegels are equally beneficial for males.

 

Cover

10 GOOD REASONS FOR WOMEN TO DO KEGEL EXERCISES

  1. To enable you to have a more comfortable pregnancy, a smoother labor and delivery and a faster recovery.
  1. To improve/prevent pelvic relaxation (dropped bladder, uterus, rectum, etc.) and vaginal laxity (looseness).
  1. To improve/prevent sexual and orgasm issues. 
  1. To enhance sexual pleasure for you and your partner.
  1. To improve/prevent stress urinary incontinence (leakage with coughing, sneezing, exercise, etc.).
  1. To improve/prevent urinary and bowel urgency (“gotta go”) and urinary and bowel urgency incontinence (inability to get to the bathroom on time to prevent an accident).
  1. To improve/prevent pelvic pain due to pelvic floor tension myalgia by learning how to relax your pelvic floor muscles.
  1. To help prevent pelvic impairments from high impact sports and saddle sports (e.g., cycling, motorcycling and horseback riding).
  1. To improve core strength, posture, lumbar stability, alignment and balance.
  1. To maintain good health and youthful vitality.

 

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health– and MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health available on Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, B&N Nook and Kobo; paperback edition available at TheKegelFix.com

Author page on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Andrew-Siegel/e/B004W7IM48

Apple iBook: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-kegel-fix/id1105198755?mt=11

Trailer for The Kegel Fix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHZxoiQb1Cc  

Co-creator of Private Gym and PelvicRx: comprehensive, interactive, FDA-registered follow-along male pelvic floor muscle training programs. Built upon the foundational work of Dr. Kegel, these programs empower men to increase pelvic floor muscle strength, tone, power, and endurance: www.PrivateGym.com or Amazon.  In the works is the female PelvicRx pelvic floor muscle training DVD. 

Pelvic Rx can be obtained at http://www.UrologyHealthStore.com, an online store home to quality urology products for men and women. Use promo code “UROLOGY10” at checkout for 10% discount. 

Advertisements

10 Myths About Kegel Exercises: What You Need to Know

November 14, 2014

Andrew Siegel, M.D.

 

shutterstock_orange gu tract closeup

 

shutterstock_femalebluepelvic

 

Myth: Kegels are just for the ladies.

Truth: Au contraire…men have essentially the same pelvic floor muscles as do women and can derive similar benefits to sexual, urinary, and bowel health.

 

Myth: The best way to do Kegels is to stop the flow of urine.

Truth: If you can stop your stream, it is indeed proof that you are contracting the proper set of muscles. However, this is just a means of feedback to reinforce that you are employing the right muscles, but the bathroom should not be your Kegel muscle gymnasium.

 

Myth: You should do Kegel exercises as often as possible.

Truth: Pelvic floor muscle exercises strengthen and tone the pelvic floor muscles and like other muscle-strengthening routines, should not be performed every day. Pelvic exercises should be done in accordance with an intelligently designed plan of progressively more difficult and challenging exercises that require rest periods in order for optimal muscle growth and response.

 

Myth: You can and should do Kegels anywhere (while stopped in your car at a red light, waiting in line at the check out, while watching television, etc.)

Truth: Exercises of the pelvic floor muscles, like any other form of exercise, demand gravitas, focus, and isolation of the muscle group at hand. Until you are able to master the exercise regimen, it is best that the exercises be performed in an appropriate venue, free of distraction, which allows single-minded focus and concentration. This is not to say that once you achieve mastery of the exercises and a fit pelvic floor that you cannot integrate the exercises into the activities of daily living.

 

Myth: Holding the pelvic floor muscles tight all the time is desirable.

Truth: Not a good idea…the pelvic floor muscles have natural tone to them and when you are not actively engaging and exercising them, they should be left to their own natural state. There exists a condition—tension myalgia of the pelvic floor muscles—in which there is spasticity, tightness and pain due to excessive tension of these muscles. Pelvic floor training in this circumstance must be done with caution in order to avoid aggravating the pain, but maximal muscle contraction can induce maximal muscle relaxation, a meditative state between muscle contractions.

 

Myth: Focusing on your core is enough to ensure pelvic floor muscle fitness.

Truth: The pelvic floor muscles do form the floor of the “core” group of muscles and get some workout whenever the core muscles are exercised. However, for maximum benefit, specific focus needs to be made on the pelvic floor muscles. In Pilates and yoga, there is an emphasis on the core group of muscles and a collateral benefit to the pelvic floor muscles, but this is not enough to achieve the full potential fitness of a regimen that focuses exclusively on the pelvic muscles.

 

Myth: Kegel exercises do not help.

Truth: Au contraire…pelvic floor muscles have proven to help a variety of pelvic maladies in each gender. In females, pelvic floor muscle training can help urinary and bowel incontinence, pelvic relaxation, and sexual dysfunction. In males, pelvic floor muscle training can help incontinence (stress incontinence that follows prostate surgery, overactive bladder, and post void dribbling), erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and other forms of ejaculatory dysfunction as well as help bowel incontinence and tension myalgia of the pelvic floor.

 

Myth: Kegels are only helpful after a problem surfaces.

Truth: No, no, no. As in any exercise regimen, the best option is to be proactive and not reactive in order to maintain muscle mass and strength in order to prevent problems from arising before they have an opportunity to do so. Pelvic floor muscle training done during pregnancy can help prevent pelvic issues from arising in females and pelvic muscle training in males can likewise help prevent the onset of a variety of sexual and urinary maladies. There is no better time than the present to start pelvic exercises to delay or prevent symptoms.

 

Myth: You can stop doing Kegels once your muscles strengthen.

Truth: No, “use it or lose it” applies here as it does in any muscle-training regimen. Muscles adapt positively to the stresses and resistances placed upon them and so they adapt negatively to a lack of stresses and resistances. “Disuse atrophy” is a possibility with all muscles, including the pelvic floor muscles.

 

Myth: It is easy to learn how to isolate and exercise the pelvic floor muscles.

Truth: No, not the case at all. Studies have shown that over 70% of women who think they are doing pelvic floor muscle exercises properly are actually contracting other muscles, typically the rectus, the gluteal muscles, and the adductor muscles of the thigh. One of the greatest challenges is that there have been no well-designed, easy-to-follow pelvic muscle training programs…UNTIL NOW! The Private Gym Company was established after recognizing that there was an unmet need for a means by which a pelvic floor muscle-training program could be made accessible and available in the home setting. This comprehensive, interactive, follow-along exercise program is available on DVD…PrivateGym.com.

 

Myth: Kegels can adversely affect your sex life.

Truth: Absolutely not… In both genders, pelvic floor muscle training has been found to improve sexual function. The pelvic floor muscles play a critical role in both female and male sexuality, supporting clitoral and penile erections as well as ejaculation in males and orgasm in both genders.

 

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

6922

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”: www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Author of Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health: http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Private Gym: http://www.PrivateGym.com – now available on Amazon

Pilates and Male Pelvic Fitness: Part 2

April 12, 2014

 

Blog #149

Pilates is a discipline that has a strong foundation in core strength and pelvic floor conditioning. This blog is the second part of an interview of Catherine Byron, Pilates trainer and owner of CB Performance Pilates (www.CBPerformancePilates.com). This material is excerpted from my forthcoming book: Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health. (now available in ebook format on Amazon; soon to be available on iBooks, Nook, and paperback)

Dr. Siegel: Can you elaborate on the mind-body connection?

Catherine Byron: Integrating “awareness” and the “mind-body” connection are key components to reaching your potential. The art of being in the moment, of involving the intellect with movement is the key to reaching one’s goals. Often, we are not living in the moment but are simply going through the motions, a condition known as “mindlessness.” Pilates is rooted in “mindfulness”—staying alert and aware in the present moment. Not only does Pilates educate a person about his anatomy, but also how to use it more efficiently.

Dr. Siegel: But doesn’t too much thinking interfere with our ability to do a physical task in a natural and fluid fashion?

Catherine Byron: During the rehabilitative/reconditioning phase of training, mindfulness is key. Over time, these patterns become natural and intuitive and the need to “think” about it will diminish. Initial “heightened” focus is part of the overall process 

Dr. Siegel: In your opinion, what constitutes fitness in general and pelvic fitness in specific?

Catherine Byron: Being physically fit has its roots in the foundations of stability, flexibility, strength and aerobic conditioning. Pilates adds spinal alignment, muscle balance and core strength. Throughout your book, you have emphasized the importance of blood flow to the pelvis, linking it to cardiovascular and penile health and function. Cardiovascular fitness is a foundational pillar of good health and should be a lifestyle habit that is incorporated into one’s existence. In terms of pelvic fitness, a simple formula is improve blood flow, improve function.

Dr. Siegel: What differences have you observed in working with men vs. women?

Catherine Byron: One of the main differences between men and women is range of motion. Most males do not have the degree of joint flexibility as do females, particularly around the hip region. Movement is directly related to this range of motion or flexibility. The more flexible a person is, the more they can “articulate,” meaning move the body with greater detail. For example, think of a ballerina in terms of how she moves. She has the ability to move her ribs and hips with petite, incremental articulations and singular, ratcheted movements as opposed to the chunky, massive movements of many men. The good news is that through stretching and Pilates, men can greatly improve their range of motion and muscle function and begin to perform pelvic movements with greater articulation. The resulting improved range of motion ultimately translates into awareness and improved control of your core, pelvic floor and all-importantorgan, the penis.

Dr. Siegel: How will your 10-step Pilates program improve male pelvic health?

Catherine Byron: The Pilates exercises will develop the deep stabilizers of the spine and improve pelvic movement. These muscle groups work to “hold” or “stabilize” the hips and spine in place. They greatly contribute to the strength and endurance requirements of pelvic movements. There are two types of muscles—movers and stabilizers. For example, your biceps muscle allows you to move your arm but does not work to stabilize any part of your body. Stabilizer muscles are located throughout the body and, in essence, hold you together so that you don’t collapse. In terms of pelvic fitness, Pilates focuses on the pelvic stabilizers. The pelvic floor muscles lift, support and stabilize our pelvic organs. Without the pelvic stabilizer muscles, we would all be wearing diapers. Unfortunately, over time, these lose elasticity and tend to collapse to some extent, which is why strengthening them is so vital.

Dr. Siegel: How does pelvic stabilization help sexual function?

Catherine Byron: Pelvic stabilization builds endurance of the pelvic floor muscles and surrounding core region. This directly equates to improved function, stamina and the length of time that the pelvic muscles can contract before they fatigue. An improved pelvic floor coupled with active pelvic floor muscle contractions will enhance sexual function by allowing a man greater control over his erections.

Dr. Siegel: What about breathing?

Catherine Byron: Breathing is literally the “lifeline” of the entire body. Inhalation brings a surge of oxygen to every cell of the body, fueling and providing energy. Exhalation is a necessary release not only of waste gases but also of physical tension. Holding one’s breath or a lack of coordinated and full breathing diminishes this fuel connection and can result in tense and rigid movements. Breathing is part of that mind-body connection and can help to maximize the integration of body, mind and spirit.

Dr. Siegel: What is the relationship between stability and flexibility?

Catherine Byron: Stability and flexibility can be likened to a tree’s roots and branches. The roots represent stability and the branches, flexibility. If either function is in greater measure than the other, an imbalance occurs. Pilates creates a body that is stable and flexible in equal measure. Over-development or under-development of one or both of these can lead to injury and dysfunction. Pilates exercises produce both length (flexibility) and strength in the muscles, creating a harmonious balance.

Dr. Siegel: What is a Pilates ring?

Catherine Byron: The Pilates ring, also called a Pilates “circle,” is a device used to activate the inner and outer muscles of the pelvis and pelvic floor. The ring is excellent at directly targeting and allowing one to develop the core muscles addressed in this book. For this reason, the 10-step program will require one. The ring is positioned inside or outside the hips, activating hard-to-reach stabilizers required for spinal, urinary and sexual health. Using this device will ignite the “hidden” muscle groups, rarely targeted in traditional gym style exercises.

In addition to strengthening the pelvic stabilizers, the 10-step program involves movement patterns so that muscle development will occur not only statically, but also dynamically during motion. While using the ring, movement in several planes of motion will function to develop the pelvic region in a balanced fashion. Creating balance in this region results in greater performance. Strengthening the front, back and sides of the hips is of vital importance because all are connected. Mastering movement withstabilization is our primary goal in order to enhance core strength and pelvic floor function to the maximum!

Dr. Siegel: What does Pilates offer men if they already know how to exercise their pelvic floor muscles including the bulbocavernosus, ischiocavernosus, and pubococcygeus muscles?

Catherine Byron: The 10-step Pilates exercises will maximize the strength and endurance of the pelvic floor muscles. This program will target and ignite the pelvic floor and will allow one to work the pelvic floor more deeply, effectively and efficiently.

Dr. Siegel: How is the 10-step exercise program geared towards men?

Catherine Byron: To reiterate, one of the main differences between men and women is the way in which they move. Women move with greater and more focused detail. It is easier for a woman to move her pelvis and tilt it one vertebra at a time as compared to a man whose pelvis is typically “thicker” and moves more in “chunks.” In addition, men tend to choose sports, exercises and hobbies that further exacerbate this bulky, heavy movement style. The result is a serious restriction of motion that can lead to diminished performance and potential injury.  For the 10-step program, along with step-by-step photos of the technique, please refer to Dr. Siegel’s book.

 

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:

www.healthdoc13.wordpress.com

Author of: Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health; in press and now available in e-book on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Male-Pelvic-Fitness-Optimizing-Urinary-ebook/dp/B00JIJDGXC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397295413&sr=8-1&keywords=andrew+siegel+male+pelvic+fitnesswww.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of Promiscuous Eating: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food: www.promiscuouseating.com

Author of Finding Your Own Fountain of Youth: The Essential Guide For Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness & Longevity (free electronic download) www.findyourfountainofyouth.com

Facebook Page: Our Greatest Wealth Is Health

Please visit page and “like”: www.facebook.com/promisceating

Facebook Page: Men’s Pelvic Health

Please visit page and “like”: www.facebook.com/malepelvicfitness

For more info on Dr. Siegel: http://about.me/asiegel913

Pilates and Male Pelvic Fitness

April 5, 2014

 

Blog #148

Pilates is a discipline that has a strong foundation in core strength and pelvic floor conditioning. This blog is an interview of Catherine Byron, Pilates trainer and owner of CB Performance Pilates (www.CBPerformancePilates.com). This material is excerpted from my forthcoming book: Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health.

Dr. Siegel: What is Pilates?

Catherine Byron: Pilates is a system of exercises designed to strengthen the core. Pilates pays particular attention to spinal alignment and muscle balance. There are many ways to strengthen the core, but what makes Pilates exercises unique are the movement patterns through the spine, specifically articulating one vertebra at a time. As a result, the exercises are not only done with fine control and detail but also serve to strengthen the body evenly: they work both the front and back sides of the spine and, most importantly, include the pelvic floor. A regular gym approach to the core often targets the superficial (outer) muscles of the core while Pilates will target the spinal stabilizers (deepest layer), which attach to the vertebrae of the spine. In Pilates, a great deal of emphasis is placed on a person’s alignment, posture, and movement patterns.

Dr. Siegel: In your opinion, what constitutes the core?

Catherine Byron: The core is the trunk of the body—cut off the arms, legs, and head and what you have left is the core. The “foundation” or “primary core” is the area around the hips—the lumbar pelvic region.

Dr. Siegel: What does Pilates have to do with the male pelvic floor?

Catherine Byron: Pilates activates the pelvic floor muscles and the surrounding muscles that provide additional support for male pelvic function. In order to maximally benefit this area, the muscles have to be treated as a “team.” Similar to developing a sports team, you would never concentrate on only one player. Instead, you would focus on building the entire team. In much the same way with the human body, you never isolate and train individual muscles. If you can think of the complexity of the pelvic floor as a hammock that comes together to lift, you are going to engage that hammock and build up the endurance of the pelvic floor muscles. With Pilates, this area of the body is a specific target and, of course, because the nether parts are so intimately connected, this area is improved as well.

Dr. Siegel: Are Pilates exercises meaningful for male pelvic health?

Catherine Byron: As a certified trainer, fitness advocate, and owner of a Pilates studio, I can attest that no other core strengthening system compares with the conditioning program established by Joseph Pilates. For the very specific needs of the musculo-skeletal system of the male pelvis, these exercises are not merely a direct hit or even a home run, but a grand slam!

Dr. Siegel: Is Pilates good for sex?

Catherine Byron: I don’t think there is any other form of exercise that so directly targets the muscles used in sex. Pilates strengthens the exact muscles that are discussed in this book. During sex, there is a lot of pelvic movement. Moving the hips back and forth repeatedly requires more stamina than strength. Pilates-style exercises develop those muscles that function to stabilize and hold, the ones that provide endurance. Sex demands staying power of the backside of the pelvis, that is, the lower back region. In many exercise routines, there is way too much emphasis on the abdominals, developing the front side of the pelvis—the muscles that assist in the “pushing forward” phase. But the truth is, the more vital requirement is for the endurance of the lower back muscles that assist in the “pulling back” phase. It is the pulling back—the winding up so to speak—that is key to enable pushing forward. Also, muscle balance is an important prerequisite to proper movement and function. Balanced training of the entire pelvic region—the front, back, outside and inside—are essential for improved sexual performance. The 10-step program laid out at the end of this chapter will largely target these muscle groups.

Dr. Siegel: What are the key principles of Pilates?

Catherine Byron: Pilates principles are based on spinal alignment, muscle balance and core strength. Pilates emphasizes spinal alignment—properly positioning one’s hips, ribs, shoulders and head in their anatomically neutral positions. Pilates is a mind-body exercise—all movements are executed with control and strongly linked to breath. Pilates will develop a balanced body, meaning all muscle groups, on all sides of the body, are evenly developed. Core strength is stressed and the deep stabilizers of the spine are focused upon. Practicing these exercises will improve balance, stability, strength, and enhance flexibility through detailed articulation of all movements.

Dr. Siegel: As a Pilates instructor, what is your take on the human body?

Catherine Byron: As a fitness professional, I have 25 years of experience in observing the musculo-skeletal system of the human body in both its static (still) and functional (motion) states. I have always marveled at the human body and its well-conceived design. Nothing is happenstance as every bone, muscle, organ and system is perfectly engineered to harmonize with its counterparts. When this harmonious balance is disrupted, the body “speaks” by producing symptoms. It is through the understanding of these “symptoms” that we gain insight into not only our bodies but also ourselves.

Dr. Siegel: What symptoms occur when there is lack of balance or harmony?

Catherine Byron: Usually a stress point occurs, causing inflammatory conditions. Pain is a “shout out” by the body for attention. Many of the disorders described in this book can easily arise when the pelvic floor muscles and surrounding core area are not holding or functioning properly. When there is a lack of balance to the system or any kind of disruption occurs, “dis-ease” occurs.

Dr. Siegel: So how do we strive to achieve this balance?

Catherine Byron: Finding balance in our lives can be just as great a challenge as creating it in our bodies. The art of doing so comes with great discernment and requires the courage to be honest with ourselves as we determine what areas are in our power to change and what areas are not. It’s that age-old adage: we must accept what we cannot change and change what we can. You have clearly delineated the importance of recognizing what it is that we cannot change about our anatomy. Learning to accept what nature has given us is the first step towards the achievement of harmony with respect to our bodies and ourselves. The second step is identifying what changes can be made in order to improve one’s pelvic fitness as well as overall health and lifestyle.

Dr. Siegel: What can we change and what can’t we change?

Catherine Byron: You cannot change genetics. Your size, strength and even your flexibility to some degree are all dictated by hereditary factors. However, the specifics of your anatomy and how to properly use it can be taught and developed. By working with a professional trainer you can learn to retrain movement and function. My goal is to address those areas that can be changed through a 10-step Pilates-based program. The exercises are specially designed to empower you by improving pelvic health, strength and stability

Dr. Siegel: Before getting into the specifics of Pilates exercises, can you say a few words on general health and wellness?

Catherine Byron: Attitude and personal philosophy have a profound influence on our health. Before discussing the Pilates exercise program, there must first be a consideration of two major areas, lifestyle and mind-body connection. As a foundation for improving one’s health, it is imperative to be aware of our lifestyle habits. These include diet, exercise, sleep, stress management, attitude, etc. As you have acknowledged, it is important that diet and lifestyle be recognized as key players. When a physical disorder is traced back to its root cause, much of the time lifestyle and diet are implicated. In the quest towards health and fitness, introspection about one’s diet and lifestyle is a monumental step in the process of change and progress. If you want to improve, you must first be aware. Self-awareness is a fundamental prerequisite to self-improvement. Developing and refining the mind-body connection can be transformational and is capable of boosting an amateur athlete towards far greater levels if he has the right attitude and is willing to put in the time and effort.

To be continued next week.

 

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:

www.healthdoc13.wordpress.com

Author of: Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health; in press and available in e-book and paperback formats in late April 2014.

www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of Promiscuous Eating: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food: www.promiscuouseating.com

Available on Amazon in Kindle edition

Author of Finding Your Own Fountain of Youth: The Essential Guide For Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness & Longevity (free electronic download) www.findyourfountainofyouth.com

For more info on Dr. Siegel: http://about.me/asiegel913

Is There a Best Exercise?

December 3, 2011

Is it running, cycling, swimming, weight training, yoga, Zumba or spin class?  Does it need to be at a fitness center or at a gym?  Are personal trainers a necessity?

The short answer is that although any form of exercise is good, it is great to be able to exercise in a balanced fashion, as is addressed below.  It is desirable to get our hearts pumping, our chests heaving, our cheeks flushed and sweat dripping out of our pores.  It is also important to have fun!  We don’t need to be gym rats to get sufficient exercise, and although personal trainers are great, we can do without.

One of the main goals of exercise is to improve our physical fitness.  Physical fitness has a number of parts: cardiovascular or aerobic fitness in which the heart and lungs have adapted to endurance efforts; musculo-skeletal fitness in which our muscles and underlying bony framework have adapted to bearing loads and working against resistance leaving our muscles sinewy, strong and toned; core strength that implies fitness of our trunk muscles that allows us to have good posture, stability and a good sense of balance and coordination; additionally, our core strength serves as a platform for efficient use of our arms and legs; flexibility fitness in which our muscles are elastic, limber and supple and more resistant to injury. If we can find an exercise regimen that has all of the aforementioned components, we are on the right track.

Exercise is all about adaptation. Our bodies are remarkably adaptable to the stresses that we place upon them.  This is why both endurance and resistance exercises get easier the more effort we put into doing them.  The heart, lungs and muscles adapt and a “new normal” level of fitness is achieved.

Fitness attained through exercise is essential in helping to maintaining good health at any age.  Exercise has physical, psychological, and social benefits for which there is no substitute. Exercise helps control blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels and will lower the risk for angina, heart attacks, claudication (pain in the legs and buttocks associated with insufficient blood flow), strokes, and sexual dysfunction. Exercise will help the cardiovascular system, the lungs, muscle tone and strength, posture, and bone mineralization. Exercise promotes weight loss, makes us feel and look better, improves our well being and outlook on life, and helps us achieve peace of mind. It will help prevent injuries, help us deal with stress, combat depression, keep us alert during the day, and sleep more soundly at night. Exercise will help prolong our lives and maintain the highest quality of existence. Exercise is the miraculous, magical, life-saving tonic that can do all of the above and so much more.

Exercise “Rules”

  • Any activity is better than no activity: For example, tennis is better than table tennis but table tennis trumps sitting in the Lay-Z-Boy recliner.   Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is the term applied to how we reap major benefits through thousands of minor movements each day.  Essentially, it is the body’s means of fighting inertia.  Certain people do not gain weight despite increased caloric intake because of compensation via subconscious movements including taking the stairs; trotting down the hall to the water cooler; bustling about with chores; even fidgeting in one’s seat.
  • Any time spent moving is better than no time moving: Working out for an hour or more is desirable, but even if you have only ten minutes, it is better than no minutes!
  • Shake it up: The concept of balance is a good one, mixing it up for variety, fun and cross-training purposes and to avoid stagnation and routine.  Remember, balanced fitness is aerobic (endurance/cardiovascular), strength, core, flexibility and balance.  It is nice to participate in a variety of different exercises.  For this reason, I think the P90x workout on dvd (www.beachbody.com) really passes muster—it simply covers it all.  If you prefer something outdoors, consider an activity that you initially might not think of as exercise per say.  Take “real labor”—such as cutting firewood—it has all of the aforementioned components.  “Synergistic” exercise, which emphasizes using multiple muscles working together in synchrony, is what we use in real life—it is really beneficial if we can simulate this in the gym versus doing isolated muscle exercises.
  • Carve out the time for it:  It is easy to find reasons for not exercising.  Common excuses are long workdays and time spent commuting that does not allow enough time in the day for exercise.  By making exercise time “sacred” such that it can only be interfered with under emergency circumstances, it will help ensure its happening.  Clearly, some of the time spent in our sedentary leisure activities, such as watching television, could alternatively be devoted to more active and healthy pursuits.  My attitude has always been that if I have the time to eat, shower and use the bathroom, then I have the time to exercise.
  • Persistence: Once we have established a routine and have allotted the time to exercise on a regular basis, the key is to persevere and not to allow complacency to mess with our regimen.  Once we are “cruising” along, it becomes so much easier to maintain our schedule than to stop and then start up again.  It is an astonishing fact to me that the Tour de France cyclists, arguably the most fit aerobic athletes in the world, generally engage in a three hour or so ride on their rest day! Why? Simply because too little activity on rest day would lead to a sluggish performance on the following day, a potential disastrous occurrence in a grueling three-week marathon.
  • Be an active spectator: I am an advocate of exercising while being a fan.  So, when I watch the Jet game, I might do so while on the treadmill walking up an incline for 30-60 minutes at 3.5 mph, instead of sitting on the couch munching on chips and dip.  It is really a painless way of getting in some exercise while enjoying a diversion.
  • Integrational exercise:  This is exercise that is incorporated into our daily activities.  So, park the car as far away from the shops at the mall as possible and walk to the stores.  Self-park instead of valet parking.  Power vacuum your home, mix batter for a cake by hand as opposed to using an electric mixer, open cans with a hand opener as opposed to an electric opener, walk the golf course instead of taking the cart, etc.  You get it—gardening, snow shoveling, mowing the lawn, sawing tree branches, walking the dog, carrying a heavy laundry basket, taking out the recycling, carrying your child on your back, dancing, anything at all that involves movement can actually be good exercise without the need for an expensive gym membership.
  • Tailor your exercise to your needs and desires: What is the right fitness regimen for you? Anything you like, as long as it gets your heart pumping, your lungs expanding, and your sweat glands secreting. Swimming, tennis, racquetball, jumping rope, kayaking, rowing, trekking, cross-country skiing, ice skating, team sports such as soccer, basketball, volleyball or hockey, aerobics class, spin class, kick-boxing or Pilates, martial arts training, salsa or belly dancing, gymnastics, clog dancing or ballet—all qualify. Playing Nintendo’s Wii Fit is another option to get you moving and off your derriere. What does matter is that you find some activities that you like and that you stick with them!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Exercise needs to be customized to our individual personalities. Some people avoid exercise because they are not goal-oriented, they do not enjoy the actual exercise process, or because their self-image is at odds with the image of the models promoted by the fitness industry. “Conventional” exercise is typically goal-oriented and often competitive with an emphasis placed on performance, with the ultimate objective of achieving fitness, wellness, maintaining or losing weight, and a healthy physical appearance. The “holistic” approach is more focused on the inner experience and energy, the self-actualizing process and journey—with more emphasis on engagement, connection, and tuning “in.” It has a meditative and philosophical level to it with a goal of achieving a calm and relaxed state. Yoga, tai chi and qigong are good examples of holistic exercises.

So, whoever you are, what is most important with regard to exercise is that you actually DO some sort of exercise.  Tailor it your specific mindset, but be sure to that it’s not just your mind that is experiencing the workout!

Andrew Siegel, M.D.

http://www.PromiscuousEating.com