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Boost your immune system through exercise

Boost your immune system through exercise

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Boost your immune system through exercise

We are living in a new world where terms such as social distancing, lockdown, shelter in place and flattening the curve are all part of our lexicon. COVID-19 is global, effecting all races, socioeconomic status and mostly all ages. However, the aging population is at higher risk for developing serious complications.

Photo: bigstockphoto.com
Photo: bigstockphoto.com

Your first line of defense

The immune system is an intricate response system that even science is continually studying, as it is not fully understood. Your first line of defense is to follow a healthy lifestyle.

  • Do not smoke
  • Diet high in fruits and vegetables
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Minimize stress

We are living in a stressful time where many of our most common de-stressors have been removed – time with family and community, traditional forms of exercise and spiritual venues. Stay connected through technology or your phone. Schedule regular calls or video chats with loved ones. If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, please go to camh.ca for great advice and resources.

Current challenges at the time of writing are that gyms and some outdoor spaces are closed. Even when they reopen, some of us may be understandably nervous to go back to the social life we lived before.

The benefits of exercise

One of the best ways to combat stress is through exercise, as it:

  • Lowers your body’s stress hormones and blood pressure
  • Improves sleep quality, mood, and feelings of well being
  • Increases strength to perform tasks of daily life, thereby increasing confidence and safety
  • Studies support increasing circulation through exercise the immune system functions more readily

When exercising at home, motivation is a challenge:

  • Set a schedule, same time every day
  • List your goals and follow up
  • Have a workout calendar
  • Play upbeat music, no TV
  • Vary between cardiovascular and resistance training
  • Download an app specifically for a mature population or explore YouTube for follow-along videos such as Pocket Yoga, Pilates-Lumowell, Tai Chi for Seniors or Workout Trainer.

Exercise routine

All exercises should be reviewed online for proper form. Never start a new workout routine against your doctor’s advice.

DAY ONE: Cardiovascular focus (go at a pace that gets the heart rate up but allows for you to speak): 20 repetitions x 4 cycles through:

  • Alternating side reaches with squat between
  • Alternating knee to elbow
  • Squat floor-to-ceiling reach
  • High knee standing march
  • Air boxing

DAY TWO: Resistance training focus: Series of the following, 8 to 12 repetitions x 4 cycles

  • Chair squat
  • Wall pushup or floor knee pushup
  • Crunches (not full sit up)
  • Lying hip bridges
  • Side plank
  • Bird dogs
Agnes Ramsay is a Registered Nurse, Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach who specializes in Electric Muscle Stimulation Training.

agnes.ramsay@xbodyworld.com


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The Big G Program

The Big G Program: Emotional rewards of a multi-generational relationship

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The Big G Program: Emotional rewards of a multi-generational relationship

For those of you who were lucky enough to have known your grandparents, and to have had a relationship with them, you’d most likely describe that relationship as one that was supportive and caring, with a hint of spoiling. Many grandparents would agree with this, and say that it’s their role to love and spoil unconditionally, and then send them home at the end of the day.

Photo, bigstockphoto.com
Photo, bigstockphoto.com

The Big G Program

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto recognizes that the intergenerational relationship is a special one, and provides untold benefits for both young and old. When faced with a lack of positive adult role models for their in-school mentoring program, Leanne Nicolle, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto had an idea to reach out to retired individuals in the community and engage them in the program. The in-school mentoring program matches a young person with a mentor for one hour each week, in a school setting, to help facilitate a meaningful and connected relationship. The program is called Big G (for grandparent).

Time has value

So much about the recruitment strategy made sense. There were individuals who had time available during the day, and they were looking for new ways to become engaged in their community. For many, when you have a career you tend to have a sense of purpose. When you retire, your whole routine changes. You’re no longer getting up every day to go to work, and it often leaves a void in one’s life.

Shared activities

Sheila is a Big G ambassador, and has been matched with her ‘Little’ for close to two years. When she first met Leala*, Sheila remembers the other kids giving her questioning looks about how she looked too old to be a Big Sister. It was a small hurdle, and Sheila continued to come back every week to meet with Leala*. And, with each new encounter, their relationship began to grow.

Leala* loved to try out new looks when using makeup, and each week she would express her creativity and experiment on Sheila. It wasn’t long before Sheila started packing wipes to take with her, to avoid receiving strange looks on her way home. They now have a very solid relationship, and Leala* knows that she can talk openly with Sheila. They also like to work on fashion-related sticker books, play games and do a variety of crafts. Anything unicorn related is a hit with Leala*. Sheila says that she loves the variety of the activities, and that the program keeps her feeling young.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto is currently looking for people to become Big G’s. If you are interested in connecting with a young person in your community, call or visit their website for more information.

416.925.8981 | toronto.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca/volunteer

*For anonymity purposes, Leala’s name has been changed.


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Wellness in the Rockies: Transitional travel experiences on the rise

Wellness in the Rockies: Transitional travel experiences on the rise

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Wellness in the Rockies: Transitional travel experiences on the rise

Kootenay Lake appears to be a glacier-fed river on the map. But, its impressive length (104 kilometres) makes it the fifth largest lake in British Columbia (BC). Protected by the Purcell and Selkirk Mountain ranges, and bordering with Montana, Idaho and Washington states, many communities around Kootenay Lake became respite for American draft dodgers and counter-culture hippies in the 60s and 70s. As a result, a distinctive lifestyle arose – one that focused on personal development, simplicity and wellness.

Temple of Light at Yashodhara Ashram, Kootenay Lake; Photo: Daniel Seguin
Temple of Light at Yashodhara Ashram, Kootenay Lake; Photo: Daniel Seguin

Today, in addition to the recreational opportunities in the area, visitors are drawn to the locally sourced food, art studios and experiential healing options, which include Nelson’s Himalaya Salt Caves and Ainsworth’s natural, mineral-rich hot springs. The Yashodhara Ashram (Ya-show-dara), and its infamous Temple of Light atop a cliff on the east shore of Kootenay Bay, continues to offer respite for anyone who’s looking for it.

Photography, Andrej Galic
Photography, Andrej Galic

What is an Ashram?

By traditional standards, an Ashram is a monastery for East Indian religions. They’re typically secluded, allowing for proper attention to spiritual instruction, yogic activity and meditation. In the book Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author stops off at a more-traditional Ashram in India on her personal pilgrimage.

At Yasodhara Ashram, near Nelson, BC, they work to demystify the experience for westerners through practical, spiritual teachings, and an openness to all who come.

Photography, Joel Pelletier/NKLT
Photography, Joel Pelletier/NKLT

Yasodhara’s early beginnings

Swami Radha (formerly Sylvia Hellman) was a German-Canadian woman who had recently returned from extensive training in India. She had been tasked with bringing Eastern learning to Western ways of thinking. In 1963, Swami Radha stumbled upon the property known as Yasodhara Estates. Despite the original land owner having no clear connection to Eastern tradition, its title (akin to names of notable female characters from both Buddhist and Hindu scripture) was fortuitous – a sign for the Swami (spiritual teacher) to honour the divine feminine.

Himalaya Salt Cave; Photography Laura Benes
Himalaya Salt Cave; Photography Laura Benes

Since the beginning, the centre has been entirely lead by women. There was something special about this land – which inspired a very different type of Ashram.

Ainsworth Hot Springs; Photography, JMatt Brown/NKLT
Ainsworth Hot Springs; Photography, JMatt Brown/NKLT

A nurturing approach

Many residents of the Ashram participate in Karma Yoga (selfless service), by helping in the kitchen, tending to the acres of orchards and gardens, in addition to mending structures and other chores. The Ashram prides itself on its contribution to ecological sustainability. It’s been widely recognized for its efforts in bringing innovative, energy efficient technologies, and solutions, to its operations.

CAPTION: Photo: Daniel Seguin
CAPTION: Photo: Daniel Seguin

A generation of change

The use of the word ‘spirituality’ is intentional. Though many of the practices here have their origins, the Ashram honours all religions and spiritual beliefs throughout the centre. Classes and workshops encourage self-reflection.

Given the progressiveness of their philosophies, and a response to a cultural shift, this Ashram hosts visitors and residents from all walks of life, no matter their sex, faith, culture or orientation. Mature adults, particularly, are drawn to the opportunity to rediscover themselves. Life is defined by transition. You may have experienced the separation from (or the passing of) a spouse or a loved one. Perhaps you’ve recently retired, or you find that your role as a parent or a grandparent has been redefined. Adapting to a new reality that’s not centred around work or family may feel like a leap into the unknown.

Photography, Amy Allcock
Photography, Amy Allcock

What to expect

Yasodhara Ashram offers weekend retreats, as well as ten-day immersion programs – each is focused on a unique aspect of growth and discovery. Workshops and yoga classes are suitable for all levels.

Expect plenty of quiet reflection, and meals are eaten in silence. You’ll gain an understanding of the energetic chakra system, as well as tools to help transform pre-conceived attitudes, and deepen your relationships with yourself, and with others. Optional participation in the nightly satsang, which is an honourable gathering in the Temple of Light, includes songs, mantras and prayer.

Finally, expect to be captivated by the picturesque setting of the Yasodhara Ashram. It will definitely provide you with a renewed appreciation as it relates to your connection with the universe.

yasodhara.org

nelsonkootenaylake.com


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Body & Soul - Side-to-side lateral movements matter

Side-to-side lateral movements matter

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Side-to-side lateral movements matter

Photography, bigstockphoto.com

Most workout moves have us moving forward and backward, and up and down. Rarely do we move from side-to-side, or in a diagonal direction. Abby Johnson-Bertan, from GoodLife Fitness, says that we tend to focus our eyes in front of us when we exercise, especially with running and walking. Lateral moves can help us to adapt to unexpected movements, which could possibly save us from falling when walking the dog or hiking on uneven ground.

By adding lateral movements to your exercise routine, you can correct muscle imbalances, improve stability, strengthen smaller muscle groups, stabilize your pelvis and hips, and reduce injuries. Lateral movements include side lunges, side shuffles, lateral bear crawls and jumping jacks.

Body imbalances

Not only do lateral movements help to reduce injuries, but they also help to improve mobility and even out imbalances as we age. “Forward movements, like running and biking, use the same dominant muscles – stressing your hamstrings, calves and quads,” says Tara Laferrara, founder of the TL Method and co-owner of Compass Fitness. “You stress the dominant muscle groups, causing them to become increasingly stronger as your smaller muscles stay the same. Working the muscles on the inside and outside of your legs, for example, helps to keep you injury-free.”

LATERAL EXERCISES

Include in your regular workout a couple of times per week.

  • SIDE LUNGES 12 repetitions per leg x three sets
  • SIDE SHUFFLES 20 yards per leg x three sets
  • LATERAL BEAR CRAWLS 20 yards in each direction x three sets
  • JUMPING JACKS OR STAR JUMPS 30 seconds x three sets
  • SPEED SKATER 10 repetitions per leg x three sets

Step aside

Laferrara says that she includes lateral exercises in all parts of her workout, including the warm-up, workout, and cool-down, but she finds them especially important when warming up. “You are preparing your body for any movement that will occur in the workout. Even as a trail runner, which is primarily a forward movement, at some point you’ll most likely have to jump to the side to avoid tripping. You have to get your body ready for that.”

There are two ways to perform a lateral movement. When you move a limb away from your body, it’s called abduction. And when you bring it back in, it’s referred to as adduction. “These movements stabilize your joints and your dominant muscles,” says Laferrara.


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Ultramatic

Well adjusted – Sleep the night away in an Ultramatic bed

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Well adjusted – Sleep the night away in an Ultramatic bed

Your overall energy, along with a sense of well-being, is naturally enhanced after a good night’s sleep. For more than 33 years, Canada’s leading company for adjustable beds has made it their mission to help people live better, and longer, lives. This Canadian company recently rebranded, and introduced a lifestyle sleeping concept at their flagship location.

Ultramatic’s lifestyle adjustable bed is a game changer. Your body is always changing, so if you have sore muscles after a round of 18, require extra support for your lumbar, or a soothing massage for your back and shoulders, an Ultramatic bed can provide you the comfort that you need.

Sleeping with your legs and back slightly elevated can provide relief for acid reflux, sciatica, edema, sleep apnea, arthritis, back strain, leg cramps, swelling, pins and needles, and so much more. Adjustable beds may reduce snoring, and for some couples this can make a world of difference. Elevating your neck or back opens up airways and improves breathing.

Sleep recovery

You tend to heal faster when you get a better quality of rest. After surgery, or any kind of trauma, these beds are an oasis of relaxation. By slightly elevating your legs and back, blood flows easier to all parts of your body and puts less strain on your heart. With better circulation, the entire body functions better.

Lack of sleep also affects moods and how you handle day-to-day challenges. If you are tired, you tend to be less patient, which increases your stress level. By being able to adjust your mattress to suit you, you’ll fall asleep faster, and stay sleeping longer for a deeper, rejuvenating sleep.

More than a mattress

Select Ultramatic beds are programmable, and will move (with the push of a button) into your favourite position for reading or bingeing on Netflix. The therapeutic massage feature is wonderful for sore muscles, and with the under-bed light you can step out of bed with confidence in the middle of the night. You can also charge your electronic devices using the USB ports and control the bed using an app on your phone.

Ultramatic has developed a ‘wholistic’ approach in their flagship showroom in Toronto, where they’ve used soothing colours and natural greenery for a zen-like quality. Their sleep solutions ignite all the senses, from the silky touch of natural Tencel bedsheets, to the calming scent of lavender-infused pillows.

The friendly team at Ultramatic are well-trained in the science of sleep. Ask about their hybrid mattresses that combine the latest advancements, including ultra-durable Smart-Foam™, NanoGel™, and CarbonCor™ graphite-infused with time-tested cushioning materials.

508 Lawrence Avenue West

ultramaticsleep.com


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Ayurveda - An ancient wisdom for aging adults

Ayurveda – An ancient wisdom for aging adults

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Ayurveda – An ancient wisdom for aging adults

Ayurveda (pronounced ayeyour-vay-duh) is understood to be one of the world’s oldest health systems, originating in India more than 5,000 years ago. When translated, Ayruveda means ‘knowledge of life’ and is a sister science of the more commonly known practice of Yoga. Ayurveda is now being recognized as a reputable approach to total health, complementing Western medicine with the wisdom of the East. The philosophy is simple – we are meant to live with our body and mind in their natural, balanced state.

Photography, bigstockphoto.com
Photography, bigstockphoto.com

What is balance?

Working symbolically with the elements of nature, including air, ether, water, fire and earth, Ayurvedic tradition understands that these forces manifest in the body as three energy systems (Doshas) – Kapha, Pitta, and Vata. A practitioner may recognize you as a Kapha if you’re naturally calm, patient and caring. As a Pitta, you are direct and like to get things done. As a Vata, you tend to be very energetic and creative.

Preserving your constitution leads to optimal health. Like the changing seasons, our energy systems evolve, and change, with time. When born, we were in need of developmental support, realized in the element of earth and the nurturing qualities of water (Kapha). The surge of growth and learning in adolescence is represented in fire (Pitta). In maturity, at a different pace of life, the air and ether around us challenge our bodies to stay nourished and vital (Vata). Our muscles become thirsty, our joints dry and our minds labour – begging us to take better care.

The vata years

Don’t over exert: Slow down and embrace activities that will encourage restoration, like yoga, swimming and leisurely walks. Balance high impact activities with gentle, intermittent movement.

Increase self-care: Give your body, and mind, some love and attention. Try massage, meditation, soaking and stretching.

Bring back a routine: Assess daily practices that you find enjoyable and work them into your routine. Maybe it’s that first cup of tea, a morning walk with the dog or a brain-teasing word puzzle.

Change your environment: If feasible, seek out warm, moisture-rich climates for revitalization, especially in the cold, dry winter months. Otherwise, get outside.

Eat with the seasons: Consuming fresh food cultivated in-season, aligns your body with the energy of the earth. Root vegetables, including potatoes, carrots and parsnips, ground you throughout the year.

Drink water: Replenish the natural moisture that is lacking as we age. Consume warm, or room-temperature, water throughout the day.

To help counter-balance aging, Ayurveda treats the root cause. You might be experiencing joint pain or inflammation, but treatment may be connected to your digestive system. Working with a practitioner, your daily routine would be reviewed, including the intake of food and drink (and expulsion), ritualistic tendencies, exercise regimes and environment, as well as hair and skin care. A personalized program would be developed as a result of an assessment, along with suggestions for daily self-care routines and lifestyle habits, in addition to a customized nutrition plan – all in an attempt to re-balance your body.

Photography by Kelly Moss
Photography by Kelly Moss

Kaely Bell is an Ayurvedic Counsellor and Yoga instructor.


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Body & Soul: Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a treatable inconvenience

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Urinary incontinence is a treatable inconvenience

by Jayne Hobbs

Photo: bigstockphoto.com

Have you ever sat for four hours in gridlocked traffic during a snow storm with no bathroom in sight? Or maybe you coughed so hard from one of this year’s bronchial viruses, that urine leakage occurred. Most of us have experienced some form of urinary incontinence (loss of bladder control) in our lifetime.

Urinary incontinence effects one-in-five women, as well as many men. It is a common, and often an embarrassing, problem that for too many years was considered a taboo subject – often claiming the very existence of one’s lifestyle.

We no longer need to hide from the condition, or change our daily activities. Simple lifestyle changes or medical treatments can help with discomfort or urinary incontinence.

TYPES OF URINARY INCONTINENCE*

  1. Stress incontinence happens when urine leaks as a result of pressure that is exerted on the bladder by coughing, laughing, exercising, lifting something heavy or having a full bladder.
  2. Urge incontinence is a sudden, intense urge to urinate, followed by involuntary urine leakage. You may need to urinate often and throughout the night, and this may be caused by a minor infection or a more severe illness.
  3. Overflow incontinence is the frequent or constant dribbling of urine. The bladder does not empty completely.
  4. Functional incontinence is due to a physical impairment, such as arthritis, when you cannot make it to the toilet in time.
  5. Mixed incontinence simply means that you experience more than one type of incontinence.

* Visit your doctor if you are experiencing any type of incontinence that is frequent.

Causes

  • Temporary urinary incontinence can be caused by certain foods, drinks and medications that act as diuretics, such as alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, sugar or acidic foods, heart and blood pressure medications, muscle relaxants and sedatives, in addition to treatable urinary tract infections.
  • Persistent urinary incontinence is caused by physical problems, or changes, such as pregnancy, aging and prostate gland issues in men.

Increased Risk Factors

  • Gender: Women are more likely to have urinary incontinence due to pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and normal female anatomy. However, men with prostate problems are at an increased risk.
  • Age: Muscles in the bladder and urethra lose strength as we age, and the bladder cannot hold as much urine.
  • Weight: Increased pressure on the bladder and surrounding muscles are weakened.
  • Diet: Certain foods, drinks and medications can act as diuretics.
  • Disease: Diabetes or neurological conditions.

Treatments

  • Diet management: Maintain a healthy weight and avoid trigger foods.
  • Bladder training: Try to delay urination when you get the urge, or double void to completely empty your bladder.
  • Exercise: Strengthen pelvic muscles by contracting the muscles used to stop urination and hold for two to five seconds, then relax the muscles for three to five seconds. Increase time to 10 seconds and try to repeat 10 times per day.
  • Medications: See your doctor.
  • Absorbent undergarments or pads: Use core products that absorb bladder leaks and odours, which also help to relieve anxiety.
  • Lifestyle changes: For urge incontinence, use a night light, and remove rugs, furniture or anything else that you might trip over when rushing to the bathroom.

For more information visit mayoclinic.org, emedicinehealth.com, healthline.com, webmed.com.


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Body & Soul: House Calls - Aging in Place

Aging in Place

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Aging in Place

Photography: (interior) courtesy of Evergreen Retirement Community; (bottom) bigstockphoto.com

HOUSE CALLS – Where experts answer questions on beauty, health and wellness.

In this issue, Barbara Perinot, RPN and General Manager of Evergreen Retirement Community (verveseniorliving.com), discusses…

Aging in Place

Q – I am an active sixty-eight-year-old woman and my husband, seventy-two, has just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. We have decided to sell our house and move to a retirement residence that will give me the independence that I need, and the assistance that my husband might require in the future. Do you have any suggestions as to what to look for?


A – When searching for your future home in a retirement living community, it’s important that the home tries to incorporate your personal, spiritual, physical, social, intellectual and emotional needs through their daily programming.

A retirement home should allow you to live in a comfortable home environment, while enjoying its various amenities and services. A supportive life enrichment program will keep you as busy as you choose to be, while maintaining your independence.

The key to a healthy lifestyle

Quality food is important to a healthy lifestyle, as good food triggers positive memories that are associated with happiness and social interaction. When choosing a retirement home, it’s important to sample the food from the menu.

Aging in place

Supportive care options are very important, and will allow you the freedom to know that your loved one is cared for within the retirement home while you participate in quality programs inside, and outside, of the community. A retirement home that has the option of an assisted living floor will allow for an easier transition when medical, or cognitive, needs change. Aging in place is what retirement homes should strive for, and it’s imperative that wellness initiatives focus on keeping the mind stimulated and engaged.

Healthy mind and body

Physical programs promote a healthy mind and body. Move long and live strong – there’s much to be said for being as active as possible for as long as possible. Physical programs should be able to accommodate people of all abilities and provide a variety of focused programs.

Email questions or concerns for our beauty, health and wellness specialists to jayne@homesmag.com


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Body & Soul: Nordic Pole Walking

Reduce stress and stay fit by Nordic Pole Walking

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Reduce stress and stay fit by Nordic Pole Walking

by Agnes Ramsay

Walking improves your attention span and your outlook on life. According to researchers, walking outdoors can boost virus and tumour-fighting white blood cells. It’s free, and you can walk almost anywhere. It’s a great activity to do alone or with others. What’s not to love?

My husband teases me for being a tree hugger, but I don’t need any specialist to tell me how great I feel after a brisk walk. However, some of us have limitations due to bad knees, hips or lower back problems.

Nordic Poles to the rescue

A couple of years ago, my husband and I hiked through several State and National parks. Our first hike was six hours on the East Rim Trail in Zion National Park. Although we were fit 53-year-olds, the wear and tear of my husband’s professional hockey playing days had caused knee and hip problems. Hiking upwards wasn’t so bad, but heading back down became difficult. We found a sturdy stick that helped, and then I had a lightbulb moment – Nordic Poles.

After my husband iced his knees, we headed off to an outfitting store and chose a pair of collapsible, lightweight, aluminum, anti-shock poles. That night I researched pole walking techniques and the following day we hit the trails for a four-hour ridge climb. I was nervous, but my husband was determined. He barely struggled getting down the steep pathway, using the poles as though he’d been doing it all of his life.

At one point I borrowed his poles and couldn’t believe the zip it gave to my hiking, as well as the additional workout I felt in my upper body. I have since purchased a set of my own.

Nordic Pole benefits

  • Upper body assistance with overall strength, improving endurance and speed
  • Balance and stability are enhanced on uneven terrain
  • Shock absorption – reduces impact on hips, knees, ankles and feet
  • Helps to establish, and maintain, a consistent pace
  • Burns more calories than walking

Buying Tips

  • When looking for the right size, your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle
  • Ensure that they are collapsible for traveling
  • Check the comfort level of the hand grips and wrist straps
  • Anti-shock poles reduce strain on hands and wrists
  • Lightweight, carbon poles are more expensive, but aluminum poles are more flexible and better for running

USING YOUR POLES

  • Grip poles (firmly), with your elbows at 90 degrees.
  • Let your arms swing naturally – opposite arm to leg
  • Reach slightly forward with the pole, and push down on the ground and back
  • Upright posture when going forward
  • Lean slightly forward when going uphill
  • Don’t overdo it on the first day
  • Establish a rhythm and stretch afterwards
  • Poles assist with stability in the winter, but in icy conditions, wear appropriate footwear (i.e. boot traction slip ons) and use trails that are well-maintained.
Agnes Ramsay specializes in Electric Muscle Stimulation Training.

agnes.ramsay@xbodyworld.com.


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Body & Soul: The Dating Dilemma

The Dating Dilemma – Are you ready to go digital?

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The Dating Dilemma – Are you ready to go digital?

by Risha Gotlieb

Photo: bigstockphoto.com

After being widowed, John, a successful entrepreneur, turned to Internet dating in hopes of meeting someone. The 61-year-old Halifax businessman posted a profile on a popular dating site, but after one year it only led to two coffee dates. Discouraged, he sought out the advice of online dating coach Carmelia Ray.

Ray, who’s the matchmaker on the hit TV series Mom vs Matchmaker, revised John’s profile, and today she reports that he’s enjoying a busy dating schedule. At last count, he has had ten face-to-face coffee dates.

There is no escaping that dating in the 21st century has gone digital. It’s fast and super convenient, with a much more open field to play in – extending the dating options beyond one’s own social network. There are a plethora of dating sites and niche markets that cater to specific needs, interests and philosophies. According to some estimates, the over-fifty crowd are the fastest growing online dating segment, with many sites that now cater specifically to this market.

Expert advice for optimizing your online dating success ratio:

  1. Laura Bilotta, author, TV host, and founder of the website Single in the City, says to research the best sites for people over fifty, and try to stay away from the free subscription sites, as they tend to attract scam artists. “OurTime.com is a good starting point,” says Bilotta. “And keep an open mind. If your list of do’s and dont’s is too long, it limits your possibilities. The biggest mistake online daters make is not giving others a chance.”
  2. Invest the time and effort to write a profile about who you are and what you’re looking for. “The first message you send out about yourself should be positive and uplifting,” says Ray. “It’s a form of self-marketing, so come up with a catchy username that sets you apart from others. Express your relationship goals clearly as a ‘desire’ rather than a ‘need’. And don’t get into too many personal details such, as a divorce, an illness or a personality flaw.”
  3. Karenna Alexander, an international dating coach based in New York City, advises daters to craft really short profiles that are very light and breezy. “Don’t write soap operas and don’t get into details such as how you were hurt before. That stuff is a turn-off.”
  4. Post a current photo (not more than six months old), minus the sunglasses and hat – one that you feel good about. If you’re not comfortable with a head shot, post an action shot doing something that you love. Even better, post one headshot and two body shots. “Online daters are very suspicious if you post only a head shot; they wonder what you’re hiding,” says Alexander. “Be glammed up, but don’t stray completely from reality.”
  5. If you’ve been on a dating site for months (or years) without positive results, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Update your profile and photos, or consult an online dating expert.
  6. There are many romance scams in cyberspace, but they’re easy to dodge by doing a little research. You can investigate your cyber-date by searching his or her name, and related details, online. Read up on tips for spotting the romance scam on sites such as romancescams.org and my article in Reader’s Digest: Protect Yourself From Online Dating Fraud.

Risha Gotlieb is a freelance journalist who has been published in Maclean’s, Reader’s Digest, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star and, now, Active Life. Gotlieb also writes marketing and promotional materials. writerandeditor9@gmail.com


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