Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi Released

It’s official! The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi:12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart & Sharp Mind is now available in book stores and online book sellers, including and Barnes&

Conventional medical science on the Chinese art of Tai Chi now shows what Tai Chi masters have known for centuries: regular practice leads to more vigor and flexibility, better balance and mobility, and a sense of well-being.

Cutting-edge research from Harvard Medical School also supports the long-standing claims that Tai Chi also has a beneficial impact on the health of the heart, bones, nerves and muscles, immune system, and the mind.

This research provides fascinating insight into the underlying physiological mechanisms that explain how Tai Chi actually works.

Dr. Peter M. Wayne, a longtime Tai Chi teacher and a researcher at Harvard Medical School, developed and tested protocols similar to the simplified program he includes in this book, which is suited to people of all ages, and can be done in just a few minutes a day.

This book includes:

• The basic program, illustrated by more than 50 photographs

• Practical tips for integrating Tai Chi into everyday activities

• An introduction to the traditional principles of Tai Chi

• Up-to-date summaries of the research literature on the health benefits of Tai Chi

• How Tai Chi can enhance work productivity, creativity, and sports performance

Peter M. Wayne, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Director of Research for the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, jointly based at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Prior to this appointment, Dr. Wayne served as the Director of Tai Chi and Mind-Body Research Programs at the Osher Research Center and Founding Research Director at the New England School of Acupuncture.

He has more than thirty-five years of training experience in Tai Chi and Qigong and is an internationally recognized teacher of these practices.

It was an honor to work with such a renowned Tai Chi teacher and researcher to put together this new book.

I can honestly say my life is richer, and my mind and body certainly more relaxed, from having practiced Tai Chi over the past 3 1/2 years as I worked with Dr. Wayne on the book.

Five Tips to Become a Supplement Savvy Athlete

Dietary supplements are often perceived as band aids for poor lifestyle choices, including imbalanced nutrition, lack of exercise, and deficient sleep patterns. However, tales abound of people who took ill or died after using dietary supplements.

A few weeks ago USPlabs, the developer and marketer of Jack3d, a powder containing a stimulant that marketers say increases strength, speed, and endurance, was sued by the family of a soldier who died after taking the product. The suit, which also includes GNC, which sold the product, claims that the companies deceptively marketed Jack3d as safe and effective while not warning consumers about its potential health risks.

Federal regulations for dietary supplements are very different from those for prescription and over-the-counter drugs. A dietary supplement manufacturer does not have to prove a product’s safety and effectiveness before it is marketed.

You will soon be able to find information on safe and legal performance-focused supplements in a book written by Kimberly Mueller, a registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in sport dietetics, and strength and conditioning coach Josh Hingst. Their upcoming book is The Athlete’s Guide to Sports Supplements (Human Kinetics, June 2013).

In the book, Mueller offers 5 tips that all athletes should follow when taking a supplement:

1. Talk with your health-care provider before making a decision. Be selective about where and from whom you gather information. Speak with a health-care provider, such as a doctor or pharmacist, about the potential benefits as well as safety risks of dietary supplements before taking anything.

2. Become familiar with reputable online resources for supplements. An online search of dietary supplements will likely lead to a plethora of often conflicting, usually unqualified information. A good place to start is the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, which includes publications (such as “Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know”) and fact sheets on a variety of specific supplement ingredients and products.

3. Look for clean supplements. Several reviews of supplements available from the Internet and retail stores have confirmed that many supplements are laced with steroids and stimulants, which are prohibited for use in sports. If you are thinking about using a dietary supplement, make sure an independent testing lab has proven that the contents actually match what is printed on the label, there are no ingredients that are not openly disclosed on the label, and there are no unacceptable levels of contaminants present.

4. Learn how to read supplement labels. A dietary supplement label lists essential information about the product. Always read the label and follow directions for use.

5. Know how to report fraudulent supplements or adverse reactions. If you experience an adverse reaction to a dietary supplement, immediately contact your health-care provider and make sure the problem is reported directly to the FDA.

It’s impossible to ignore the prevalence of dietary supplement use in athletics. And there are legitimate reasons for an athlete to use supplements in coordination with a well-balanced diet, says Mueller. It’s up to you to educate yourself about supplements and use them safely and wisely.

5 of the Best Workouts You Can Ever Do

Want to help keep your weight under control, improve your balance and range of motion, strengthen your bones, protect your joints, prevent bladder control problems, and even ward off memory loss?

Who wouldn’t? Then try these 5 workouts recommended by Harvard Medical School:

1. Swimming.

You might call swimming the perfect workout.

The buoyancy of the water supports your body and takes the strain off painful joints so you can move them more fluidly.

“Swimming is good for individuals with arthritis because it’s less weight bearing,” explains Dr. I-Min Lee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Research finds that swimming can improve your mental state and put you in a better mood.

Water aerobics is another option to help you burn calories and tone up.

2. Tai Chi.

Tai chi — a Chinese martial art that incorporates movement and relaxation — is good for both body and mind.

In fact, it’s been called “meditation in motion.”

Tai chi is made up of a series of graceful movements, one transitioning smoothly into the next.

“Tai chi often leads to more vigor and energy, greater flexibility, balance and mobility, and an improved sense of well being,” says Peter Wayne, PhD, Director of Research, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and author of the upcoming book, The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi.

“Cutting-edge research now lends support to long-standing claims that Tai Chi has a favorable impact on the health of the heart, bones, nerves and muscles, immune system, and the mind.”

Tai chi is accessible, and valuable, for people of all ages and fitness levels.

“It’s particularly good for older people because balance is an important component of fitness, and balance is something we lose as we get older,” Dr. Lee says.

3. Strength training.

If you believe that strength training is a macho, brawny activity, think again.

Lifting light weights won’t bulk up your muscles, but it will keep them strong.

“If you don’t use muscles, they will lose their strength over time,” Dr. Lee says.

Muscle also helps burn calories.

“The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, so it’s easier to maintain your weight,” says Dr. Lee.

4. Walking.

Walking is simple yet powerful.

It can help you stay trim, improve cholesterol levels, strengthen bones, keep blood pressure in check, lift your mood and lower your risk for a number of diseases (diabetes and heart disease for example).

A number of studies have shown that walking and other physical activities can improve memory and resist age-related memory loss.

5. Kegel exercises.

These exercises won’t help you look better, but they do something just as important — strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder.

Strong pelvic floor muscles can go a long way toward preventing incontinence.

While many women are familiar with Kegels, these exercises can benefit men too.

To do a Kegel exercise correctly, squeeze and release the muscles you would use to stop urination or keep from passing gas.

Alternate quick squeezes and releases with longer contractions that you hold for 10 seconds, release, and then relax for 10 seconds.

Work up to three 3 sets of 10-15 Kegel exercises each day.

Many of the things we do for fun (and work) count as exercise.

Raking the yard counts as physical activity.

So does ballroom dancing and playing with your kids or grandkids.

As long as you’re doing some form of aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, and you include two days of strength training a week, you can consider yourself an “active” person.

Tai Chi May Delay Onset of Alzheimer’s Disease

As an unprecedented number of Americans approach old age, there is a growing concern about the loss of cognitive function that is often attributed to aging.

By around age 70 1 in 6 people have mild cognitive decline.

Mild cognitive decline is considered an intermediate state between the cognitive changes of aging and the earliest clinical features of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease.

The good news is that due to your brain’s plasticity you may be able to improve your cognitive function and offset age-related decline through exercise, stress reduction, learning new tasks, staying socially active, and learning how to focus better — all integral elements of Tai Chi training.

“A body of studies on Tai Chi and cognitive function lend support to the promise of Tai Chi for your brain and mind’s health,” says Peter Wayne, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School Director of Research, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and author of The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi.

This ancient form of slow, meditative exercise helps to create mental activity, and scientists believe it may be possible to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, and although there is no cure for the disease, a study published in the June issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease revealed that elderly people practicing Tai Chi just three times a week can boost brain volume and improve memory and thinking.

Scientists from the University of South Florida and Fudan University in Shanghai found increases in brain volume and improvements on tests of memory and thinking in Chinese seniors who practiced Tai Chi three times a week.

The 8-month randomized controlled trial compared those who practiced Tai Chi to a group who received no intervention.

The same trial showed increases in brain volume and more limited cognitive improvements in a group that participated in lively discussions three times per week over the same time period.

“The ability to reverse this trend with physical exercise and increased mental activity implies that it may be possible to delay the onset of dementia in older persons through interventions that have many physical and mental health benefits,” said lead author Dr. James Mortimer, professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida College of Public Health.

Dr. Wayne notes that other randomized trials have evaluated Tai Chi in adults diagnosed with moderate levels of dementia.

In one large Chinese trial, a group assigned to Tai Chi showed greater improvements in cognitive performance after five months than a group assigned to a stretching and toning program, and fewer of those in the Tai Chi group progressed to dementia.

In a smaller study at the University of Illinois, a group of adults with dementia showed small increases in mental ability and self-esteem after 20 weeks of a combination of Tai Chi, cognitive behavioral therapies, and a support group as compared to an education group, who had slight losses of mental function.

“Interestingly, a follow-up companion study reported benefits of Tai Chi training to the caregivers of people with dementia,” says Dr. Wayne.

“Tai Chi may offer specific benefits to cognition, but more larger-scale trials that also include longer follow-up periods are needed to make stronger conclusions.”

Tai Chi Improves Breathing in COPD Patients

There is a growing body of research that suggests that the slow, rhythmic breathing during Tai Chi enhances the health of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Conventional pulmonary rehabilitation programs that focus on aerobic exercise and strength training can improve exercise capacity, quality of life, and symptoms in patients with COPD.

In addition to extending the breathing techniques taught in pulmonary rehabilitation, mind-body interventions such as Tai Chi integrate novel elements, such as progressive relaxation, imagery/visualization, mindfulness of breathing and overall body sensations, postural training, and coordinated patterns of breathing and movement.

“These therapeutic elements may allow Tai Chi to impact COPD symptoms and pathology via complex mechanisms not specifically targeted in conventional rehabilitation and therefore may be an effective adjunct to therapy,” says Peter Wayne, PhD, Director of Research, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Wayne is the author of the upcoming book The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi.

“Mind-body exercises may also allow patients with COPD to feel more confident about their ability to exercise and entice them to continue to exercise, which, of course, has the potential for lasting benefits.”

A new study published online today shows that Tai Chi can be used as an effective form of exercise therapy for people with COPD.

The Australian researchers found that short-form Sun-style Tai Chi done twice a week for 12 weeks could improve the exercise capacity and quality of life in people with COPD. The research published ahead of print in the European Respiratory Journal suggests that Tai Chi may be as beneficial as pulmonary rehabilitation.

“With increasing numbers of people being diagnosed with COPD, it is important to provide different options for exercise that can be tailored to suit each individual,” said lead author Regina Wai Man Leung from the Concord Repatriation General Hospital.

“The results from this small sample provide compelling evidence that Tai Chi is an effective training program for patients with COPD, and could be considered as an alternative to the usual exercise training program that are available in pulmonary rehabilitation.”

At Harvard Medical School, Wayne’s group has completed a small, pilot randomized controlled trial designed to determine the feasibility of administering a Tai Chi program to improve the quality of life and exercise capacity in COPD patients.

The Harvard Medical School researchers randomized 10 patients, average age 66, with moderate to severe COPD to 12 weeks of Tai Chi plus usual care or usual care alone.

The Tai Chi training consisted of a one-hour class, twice weekly, that emphasized gentle movement, relaxation, meditation, and breathing techniques.

“We looked at disease-specific symptoms and quality-of-life, exercise capacity, pulmonary function tests, mood, and self-efficacy,” says Wayne.

“Participants reported enjoying the Tai Chi program, and were able to participate without experience and adverse reactions to exercising.”

After 12 weeks, the Tai Chi participants said they felt significant improvement in chronic respiratory symptoms compared to the usual-care group.

The Tai Chi group also had slight improvements in their 6-minute walking distance, depression, and shortness of breath.

“Our conclusion: Tai Chi as an exercise appears to be a safe, positive adjunct to standard care and warrants further investigation,” says Wayne.

Led by Dr. Gloria Yeh, the Harvard Medical School group is now conducting a 10-fold larger trial sponsored by the National Institutes of Health comparing Tai Chi to both meditative breathing exercises (isolated out of the Tai Chi program) as well as to a non-exercise education program.

The Elbow — A Common Source of Misery for Golfers

The foot-high fescue (benignly called “native grass”) has grown in particularly thick on East Coast golf courses with all the recent rain.

I found out just how thick yesterday when I hit a drive into the tall grass on the second hole of South Fork Country Club in Amagansett, NY. I followed the sage advice of a Jamaican caddy from the Atlantic Golf Club who once told me how to get the ball out of this gnarly lie — “Take your wedge and hit it as hard as you can, mon.” I took my punishment and used the wedge to advance the ball about 50 yards, remembering the caddy’s cheers when I had done the same — “good shot, good shot!”

But I didn’t get out of the rough unscathed. My left elbow took a blow as I pounded down on the ball. It took a hole or two for the sting to go away, and after the round it still hurt some so I took some ibuprofen (which also helped relieve the pain in my surgically repaired right knee, which I had tweaked a few weeks ago) and iced it when I got home.

The elbow is a common source of misery for golfers. The most common type of elbow pain among golfers is called golfer’s elbow. Traditionally, doctors believed that golfers only had pain on the outside of the left (non-dominant) elbow, and dubbed this golfer’s elbow to differentiate it from pain on the inside of the right (dominant) elbow, called tennis elbow. But there seems to be an equal number of problems on both sides of the elbows of golfers.

A right-handed golfer normal feels pain in the left elbow. Pulling the club through the swing with the left wrist causes irritation in the left elbow. So a right-handed golfer who feels pain in the right arm or wrist is doing something terribly wrong during the swing.

As explained in the Golf Injury Handbook, golfer’s elbow is an inflammation of the muscles of the forearm and the tendon that connects the muscles to the bones in the elbow. These muscles are used to bend the wrist backward and to turn the palm face up. When the muscles and tendon become inflamed from overuse, you feel pain on the outside of the elbow. The pain is worse when you try to lift things with your palm facing down, so you may have trouble picking up a coffee cup or taking a quart of milk out of the refrigerator.

This injury also causes pain when you rotate your hand in a counterclockwise direction. You also will feel pain when you clench or squeeze something, such as when you hold a golf club.

Treatment for golfer’s elbow is the same as for tennis elbow — rest and anti-inflammatory agents, followed by physical therapy and a wrist strengthening program. Cortisone injections are only used when this fails. On rare occasions, surgery is necessary to reattach tendons to bone. If elbow pain is very severe, or if it persists for more than a few weeks and prevents playing, you should see a doctor.

Here are a few other tips from the Mount Sinai Department of Orthopaedics on how to avoid Golfer’s Elbow:

1. Select the Right Golf Clubs. It’s crucial to make sure that you are using golf clubs that are sized properly, including grip size.

2. Stretching Exercises. Simple stretches of the muscles and tendons around the elbow may help reduce the symptoms of golfer’s elbow.

3. Anti-Inflammatory Medication. Persistent pain in the elbow area can be relieved by taking an anti-inflammatory medication. Speak to your doctor about a prescription for one of these medications if your pain is severe.

Avoiding Back Pain in Your Own Backyard

Now that Spring has sprung, you may get the urge to prepare your garden beds, clean up your yard, and maybe plant a new tree or shrub.

Just don’t try to do it all in one weekend, or you may wake up Monday morning bent over with back pain and a stiff neck.

But it doesn’t have to be that way if you’re smart, says Dr. Jay M. Lipoff, a chiropractor, certified fitness trainer, and nationally recognized expert in spinal injury prevention.

Dr. Lipoff is also the author of Back at Your Best: Balancing the Demands of Life With the Needs of Your Body, and an executive board member of the ICA Council of Fitness and Health Sports Science.

Here are some techniques from Dr. Lipoff that can save your spine while performing these four common backyard chores:

Raking and Hoeing

Raking is a one-sided chore because you tend to turn to one side and predominantly use one arm.

Try to engage both sides of your body when performing the motion.

Hoeing also puts more strain on one arm and hand.

With both raking and hoeing, switch sides every few minutes, even though it will feel awkward.

If you’re working a large area, give yourself a break every 20 minutes with a rest, a glass of lemonade, or switch to a different type of activity.

Always walk to where you need to be–don’t reach with the hoe or rake, which will cause more stress to the muscles of your lower back.

Digging and Shoveling

Whether you’re digging a hole or shoveling compost into your wheelbarrow, the key to avoiding back injury is to take it slowly and don’t overload the shovel.

Wear heavy-duty boots so you can step down hard onto the shovel, letting your body weight do much of the work.

Bend your knees when lifting the shovel so those big muscles in your legs and buttocks are doing the heavy lifting, and you’re not bent over, straining your back.

If you have to shovel something heavy, such as gravel, use your thigh as a fulcrum (think of the shovel as a seesaw) by placing the handle of the shovel onto it about three quarters of the way down.

Now all you have to do is push down on the handle to lift up that heavy gravel.


If you can’t afford a lawn service and don’t have kids who can do this chore for you, the next best thing is a riding mower.

Make sure it has a comfortable seat, because all that bouncing on a bad seat wrecks your back.

If you can’t get your seat replaced, try sitting on a boat cushion.

If you mow slowly, it will diminish any unevenness in the terrain.

If you prefer a push mower, try to get one that is self-propelled, which reduces strain going up hills and around curves.

With any push mower, self-propelled or not, pushing is better for your back than pulling; try to limit back-and-forth yanking.

Stay close to the mower to avoid overreaching.

Trimming and Weed Whacking

A trimmer and a weed whacker are terribly designed machines.

(A quick aside: whenever I see or hear the words “weed whacker” I think of Carl Hiaasen’s wacky character Chemo, the hit man with the weed whacker attached to the stump of his arm. Puts a smile on my face!)

Both machines require you to hold them in front of your body while leaning forward.

The weight in front of you is multiplied by 10-15 times the actual weight of the trimmer or weed whacker.

In addition, just leaning forward creates 200 pounds of additional pressure per square inch on the discs of your spine.

If your trimmer comes with a shoulder strap to minimize back strain, use it.

Otherwise, Dr. Lipoff recommends strategic stonewalls, flower gardens, a neighborhood kid, and mulching to reduce the need for trimmers at all.

If you use one, be careful so you’re not sore the next day.

One final piece of advice from Dr. Lipoff: “Before launching into any big outdoor project, whether it’s stacking firewood or moving patio furniture out of the garage, take a few minutes to loosen up.

Do some stretches to warm up your muscles.

If you take care of your back when doing outdoor chores, your back will take care of you.”

9 Questions Every Athlete Should Ask Before Taking a Supplement

Nutritional supplements claim to improve athletic performance, but not all supplements are created equal.

According to sports dietitian Glenn Cardwell, athletes vary greatly in their response to training, environmental conditions, psychological barriers, and nutritional supplements, which makes it difficult to assess the value of proposed ergogenic aids.

“Improvement is not proof that a supplement works.

It may be just a convenient coincidence,” says Cardwell, author of the forthcoming new edition of Gold Medal Nutrition (Human Kinetics, May 2012).

“Proof only comes when the same result can be repeated time and time again.”

Before taking a nutritional supplement, Cardwell advises that you assess its potential value and ask these 9 vital questions:

1. Has there been any independent research on the supplement?

Many supplements have not been researched in healthy athletes, or the research has been done only in-house and not independently assessed.

2. If research has been conducted, has it been published in an independent, peer-reviewed scientific journal?

The marketing of some supplements relies on articles written about the product.

“An article is not the same as research,” Cardwell says.

“Before an article is published in scientific journals, experts in the field review it to make sure it is up to a high standard and conclusions are valid.”

3. Is the research relevant to athletes?

Many supplement manufacturers cite research articles that are unrelated to the claims for the product.

“One food bar claimed to assist body fat loss, yet none of the references cited to support its claim were about weight loss,” Cardwell explains.

“If you can’t assess the research yourself, ask a sports dietitian or go to a reputable website for their opinion on the research.”

4. Is the supplement patented?

If a product has been patented, then the patent holders usually do most of the research because they will directly benefit from future sales.

“Truly independent research is rarely published in such circumstances,” Cardwell says.

5. Is the majority of research from one researcher or laboratory?

The value of a supplement can be determined only if many researchers from different laboratories work independently to assess it under varying conditions.

“This has been done, for example, in the case of creatine and sports drinks,” Cardwell notes.

6. Has the research been performed on athletes under normal training or competition condition?

Just because a product has benefits for people with certain conditions such as heart disease or nutrition deficiency, it doesn’t follow that the same benefits hold for fit and healthy athletes.

7. Although there may be research suggesting a benefit of a supplement, is there any research showing no effect or possible dangerous side effects of using the supplement?

“If one research paper shows a positive effect, but 10 others show no effect, then it is disingenuous to mention the positive result and not to say that the balance of evidence is for no effect,” Cardwell says.

8. Is the product suited to your sport and your level of training?

“Taking supplemental creatine can benefit sprint and power athletes, but it is unlikely to benefit marathon runners,” Cardwell explains.

“If research shows a positive effect for athletes, will you get the same benefit when training purely for health and fitness?”

9. Have other independent scientists, sports dietitians, sports institutes or sports medicine groups offered supporting comments about the supplement?

Examine what organizations such as the International Society of Sports Nutrition, the National Sports Medicine Institute of the UK, the Australian Institute of Sport or Sports Dietitians Australia have to say about a supplement.

“Based on current knowledge, the best regimen for achieving optimal performance is to avoid excess body fat, drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, eat enough carbohydrate to fuel your training program, eat adequate protein for muscle growth and repair, and eat for good health,” Cardwell says.

“Most nutritional supplements do not enhance sports performance in well-nourished athletes.”

Reduce Stress and Win Your Life Back

Whether you are an overworked executive, a fast-moving soccer mom, or an athlete with limited time for cross training, you need to find a way to reduce your stress.

For me, I practice the moving meditation of Tai Chi most every day.

Others successfully use sitting or standing meditations.

Even sitting still for as little as 10 minutes watching your breath may be enough to get the effects of meditation.

Meditation experts Ed and Deb Shapiro, authors of Be the Change: How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, recently debunked the 6 reasons why meditation appears to be difficult in a Huffington Post blog.

Below Jeff Cannon, a certified meditation instructor and the author of the fine book The Simple Truth: Meditation for the Modern World, gives his take on stress and provides you with some exercises on how to reduce it:


Stress is part of life.

But it does not have to ruin your life.

Let it out.

Release it.

Fill the empty space it leaves with the kind of positive energy that will help you live the life you love living.

The next time you feel your blood pressure jump or your brain starts to spin out of control, hit the pause button, slow the world down, and have it start spinning at your pace.

Here are some easy exercises that can be done anywhere to help you do just that.

Breathe 8-2-8.

I cannot stress enough how beneficial proper breathing is.

If you feel your heart start to race, take three deep breaths into your stomach as you focus you attention on your belly expanding and contracting.

Feel it move against your clothing as you slowly count to eight on each inhale, let your breath settle for a count of two, and then exhale for a count of eight, again letting your breath settle for two before inhaling again.

It will center you and help you regain your mental footing.

Ground yourself in your setting.

Rather than trying to escape, close your eyes and listen to the world around you.

Listen to the hum of the lights, hear the sounds of the people and equipment wherever you are.

Embrace your environment as a reality, but not your reality.

Know that you are separate from it, that the fear and angst it breeds is not something that you need to be a part of.

Relax in the knowledge that when you open your eyes it will all be there, but that it will only touch you if you let it.

You, and only you, have control over how you respond to the world around you.

Learn Your Triggers.

Identify and monitor the triggers that cause you stress.

The next time you feel your stress growing, think about what happened to cause it.

Turn your mind inward and review the emotions that were set off when that trigger was activated.

Try to remember another time in your life when you had the same emotional response.

Remember, the way an event affected you is as much a part of your past as it is your present.

Use that insight to help you separate the present event from past associations to reduce the way you escalate a small event into greater stress.

Own your stress.

Don’t try to pretend it doesn’t exist.

Admit to it and embrace it.

Then let it go with a great big inhale.

Running from a problem only makes it worse, and only prolongs the stress it brings.

Interval training advice from A Woman’s Guide to Muscle and Strength

Some years ago before a meniscus tear curtailed my jogging, my friend Jack and I set out for a run in East Hampton.

Jack, a well-trained triathlete, quickly got ahead of me, so he easily adapted his run into a fartlek, the Swedish term for Speed Play.

He ran hard for a few hundred yards, then jogged the next few hundred as he waited for me to plod along and catch up.

A fartlek is a less structured way of doing interval training.

Interval training involves higher-intensity exercise followed by recovery periods in a very specific time frame.

“The purpose of performing short bouts of high-intensity exercise is to reach overload, or uncomfortable intensity levels, throughout your training routines,” writes personal trainer Irene Lewis-McCormick in her new book A Woman’s Guide to Muscle and Strength.

“Obviously, it would be impossible to exercise at such high intensity levels for an entire 30-minute workout.

This is why there are built-in rest periods – not enough to allow you to fully recover, but enough to challenge you appropriately during these quick-paced, time-efficient workouts.”

In the book, Lewis-McCormick provides examples of work-to-rest ratios, that is, how long you exercise compared to how long you recover.

For example, she provides a sample for a 1:1 work-to-rest ratio:

Treadmill: Alternate 5 minutes of running (at 5 mph, or 8 km/h, or faster) with 5 minutes of walking (at 3.5 to 4 mph, or 5.6 to 6.4 km/h) for a total of 30 to 45 minutes.

Elliptical trainer: Alternate 2 minutes at a high intensity (as hard as you can work while still maintaining good form, posture, and control) with 2 minutes at a moderate intensity for a total of 30 to 45 minutes.

You can change the intervals to suit your needs or how you feel on a particular day.

Perhaps you exercise twice or three times as long as you rest.

Or if you’re not feeling in top shape, switch to twice as much rest as exercise.

“Most important with interval training is to remain consistent,” she writes.

“If you decide to run on the treadmill at a 2:1 work-to-rest ratio, you need to stay true to the intervals and not decide halfway through that you need more time to rest or can wait another minute.

The training benefit comes from the overload that results from the consistency of the ratios.

For example, if you decide that the hard part will take two minutes and your recovery will take one minute, stick with that routine during the entire workout to the best of your ability.”

If you’re more into fartlek sessions, which are designed to break up the monotony of interval training on a track, try these The Top 6 Favourite Fartlek Sessions.

As I recall, Jack and I finished our run, both satisfied with our workouts.

With less cartilage and more arthritis in my right knee, my aerobic training is now limited to the exercycle, where I do 30 minutes of interval training, usually at a 1:1 ratio: after 5 minutes of warm-up at a slow pace, I go hard for 5 minutes, then easy for the next 5, hard for 5, easy for 5, ending with another 5 minutes of cool-down.