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Shirley Archer

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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Article Archive

Pilates Effective for Low-Back Pain

October 31, 2006

Low-back pain is the most common cause of job-related disability in the United States, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Among neurological ailments, only headache is more prevalent. As a mind-body exercise professional, you no doubt encounter numerous clients with varying degrees of low-back discomfort.
Recent research support…

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Stress in the Workplace

October 31, 2006

In the United States during the 5-year period from 1998 to 2003, more workplace disability benefits were paid for mental health disorders than for any other complaints besides musculoskeletal disorders, according to a report released in June 2005 by the Social Security Administration (SSA Pub. No. 11–11543). More and more workers are claiming that depression and anxiety compromise thei…

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Tai Chi vs. Brisk Walking for Older Adults

October 31, 2006

When older adults lose muscle tone and their balance starts to deteriorate, a simple mishap like tripping over a rug or losing their footing as they go to the bathroom during the night can turn into a tragedy. Among Americans who break a hip when they are 50 or older—about 300,000 people per year—24% die within 12 months, according to the National Osteoporosis Founda…

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Business World Warms to Yoga

September 30, 2006

It’s early days yet, but more corporations are adopting yoga programs to help employees cope with stress and be more active in the workplace. Large organizations such as IBM, Nike and Apple now offer yoga training.
One New York City entrepreneur, Bruce
Van Horn, has developed business-friendly classes with creatively described postures such as “opening bell” and &ldq…

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Pilates Improves Youth Fitness

September 30, 2006

Kids need fun, effective and economical forms of physical activity that not only deliver results but
also stimulate continued participation. Researchers searching for appropriate youth activities found that 11-year-old girls who regularly took Pilates mat classes reduced body weight and considered it an enjoyable form of exercise. According to a pilot study published in Preventive Me…

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How Does Practicing Tai Chi Improve Balance?

September 30, 2006

The mind-body benefits that result from consistent practice of tai chi continue to impress researchers. Older adults who did tai chi only three times a week experienced significant improvement in balance, lower-body strength and stance stability. In addition, subjects reported better quality of sleep, concentration, memory and self-esteem, as well as higher overall energy levels, accordin…

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Yoga Provides Mind-Body Benefits to Breast Cancer Survivors

September 30, 2006

Practicing yoga postures, meditation and breathing exercises can help women with breast cancer to enjoy greater functional fitness and to feel better about their health, according to findings from a small study presented at the 2006 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. “The women who practiced yoga reported better physical functioning, such as the ability to …

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Motor Imagery: Using the Mind to Heal the Body

September 30, 2006

Athletes have long known the benefits of visualizing specific physical actions to improve sports performance. Now, scientists have been asking whether motor imagery training can be used to improve movement abilities and to stimulate brain development when active movement training is not an option—as is often the case after a stroke.
According to the authors of a research re…

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Music and the Mind-Body Connection

August 31, 2006

Fitness professionals have long known that the right music can either rev up or relax their participants, but new research has revealed the depth of music’s power. As a result, healthcare professionals now use music to stimulate motor function in patients whose nerves have been impaired by stroke or Parkinson’s disease. Some farmers even play music to increase milk production …

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Brain Fitness for Total Well-Being

August 31, 2006

“Basically, whatever’s good for your heart is good for your head,” Lawrence Whalley, MD, told HealthDay News (2006; April 30). Whalley, author of The Aging Brain (Columbia University Press 2003), is a psychiatrist and professor of mental health with the School of Medicine at Scotland’s University of Aberdeen. “[The] factors that everyone know…

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The Franklin Method

August 31, 2006

The Franklin Method®, a form of mind-body movement that relies heavily on the use of imagery, is growing in popularity among a wide variety of health, fitness and bodywork professionals. The method focuses on using imagery to increase mental engagement and ease of movement, on experiential anatomy (based on how bones actually move during physical activity) and on the use of touch to inc…

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Mind-Body Therapies and Gastrointestinal Disorders

August 31, 2006

Studies suggest that a variety of mind-body therapies are helpful in reducing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and chronic pancreatitis. The therapies include cognitive therapy, hypnotherapy, and a sequence of Iyengar yoga poses to manage pain and anxiety. Mechanisms for why these therapies are successful are unclear. Until more studies determine the causal factors, however, suf…

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Pilates Improves Fitness and Trains Core Muscles

August 31, 2006

Regular Pilates mat classes can significantly improve body composition, flexibility and core musculature endurance, according to results from two small Pilates studies presented at the 2006 annual meeting
of the American College of Sports Medicine, held in Denver, Colorado.
In one study, from Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida, researchers followed 22 participants with n…

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Not About Self Improvement

June 30, 2006

“Meditation is not a matter of trying to achieve ecstasy, spiritual bliss or tranquillity; nor is it attempting to become a better person. It is simply the creation of a space in which we are able to expose and undo our neurotic games, our self-deceptions, our hidden fears and hopes.”
—Chogyam Trungpa (1939–1987) was a Tibetan Buddhist monk, a master…

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Tai Chi or Jogging for Lower-Body Conditioning

June 30, 2006

Long-term practice of tai chi can improve muscular strength in the lower body, particularly around the knees and ankles, as much as long-term jogging, according to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (2006; [40], 50–54). This is good news for older adults looking for gentle movement alternatives that provide powerful conditioning benefits.
Researc…

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Barefoot Cobblestone Walking Lowers Blood Pressure

June 30, 2006

The ancient Chinese practice of walking barefoot on paths made of river stones is good for health in more ways than one. Researchers from Oregon Research Institute, motivated to identify low-cost forms of exercise to improve functioning in older adults, found that cobblestone mat walking not only improved balance and mobility but also reduced blood pressure more than regular walking,
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