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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.



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Body & Soul: Electric Muscle Stimulation

Body & Soul: Electric Muscle Stimulation

Latest News

Body & Soul: Electric Muscle Stimulation

Less stress, more strength

Written & Photography by Agnes Ramsay

Ongoing studies show that building muscle is very important for your overall health and wellness. However, physical limitations, an injury, or the lack of time that it takes to build muscle, may contribute to this practice not being high on your priority list.

When my doctor informed me that I have degeneration in my neck and lower back, she added, “you aren’t getting any younger.” I’ve lifted weights for most of my life, but I was now experiencing pain and numbness in my hands. And, to be honest, I was getting somewhat tired of it. As my doctor so succinctly pointed out to me, my chronological age was increasing, which meant that my body wasn’t responding like it used to.

I was introduced to whole body Electric Muscle Stimulation training (EMS) through a client of mine. I learned that EMS was often used for rehabilitation purposes in physiotherapy in the prevention of disuse muscle atrophy, which can occur after musculo-skeletal injuries, such as damage to bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons.

The technology for EMS has been fine-tuned over the years, and is now safe, comfortable and user-friendly. When you think about it, our own nervous systems run on electrical impulses. EMS is something that most people can utilize, and it doesn’t put any stress on the joints or the spine. The practice has been more widely used in Europe over the past 10 years, and they are reporting wonderful success stories.


EMS, or electromyostimulation, is the elicitation of muscle contraction using electric impulses. In the 70s, the Russians used EMS technology on their athletes to help them to achieve enhanced strength and endurance. Athletes around the world often use EMS for training.

The training that I took involves wearing an ‘esuit’, which looks like something between a swat jacket and a paratrooper outfit. The esuit is then connected to the main ‘brain’, and an experienced trainer titrates all the individual muscle levels. I started with a 20-minute, full body workout once a week. It didn’t take long before I felt, and saw, results. Now more than two years later, the excruciating pain that I used to have in my lower back is a distant memory. I now do it once or twice a week, and at 56 years old, I feel amazing.


  • More muscle is equated with a higher metabolism, which helps to burn more calories, even at rest.
  • Increased muscle, increases bone density.
  • Strong muscles make it easier to perform daily tasks.
  • Overall muscle tone helps to prevent injuries by improving the mechanics of the body.
  • Weight training is a mood elevator.
  • More muscle increases the human growth hormone, which helps to keep you feeling younger.


Agnes Ramsay is a Registered Nurse, Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach specializing in Electric Muscle Stimulation Training.



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