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Weaving Mindfulness Into Movement

The October issue asked readers for examples of how they are integrating mindfulness practices into classes [Mind-Body-Spirit News]. I work at a university and run a variety of programs in fitness and wellness. One series we are doing this semester is a “Reflective Hike to Yoga” series.

We meet at a state park across the street for a guided reflection to set the tone for the hike. Each hike is led by a different professional on campus to make it an interdisciplinary program. We find a space along the hike for our yoga practice and, after savasana, we make journal entries, which typically relate back to our reflections from the beginning [of the hike]. It is open to all students, faculty and staff. Recently, one of the hikes was led by a biology professor, who talked about the plant and animal species found along the hiking trail.

I am also teaching a course for a seminar series that all students have to take. Each course is three credits and is about the student and the global community. My course is “Can Yoga Change the World?” We will be traveling to Bali in May for a week at a retreat center where we’ll do yoga, meditation, self-care and community service. It will provide tools for students to use to combat issues such as anxiety, stress and depression.

Tami Reilly

Associate AD for Fitness & Wellness

Quinnipiac University

Hamden, Connecticut

What a coincidence that the October “Question of the Month” [Mind-Body-Spirit News] on integrating meditation and mindfulness practices into programming was one that was asked of me just earlier this week!

An elderly gentleman observed my chair Pilates class that I conduct weekly at the Dublin Senior Center. After class he asked me if the beginning of class was meditation. I answered that it was a “connection” to me and [the participants’] minds, and from their minds to their bodies.

I directly face my clients so I can make eye contact. We then go through very simple visual/auditory exercises. For example, “Cross your wrists low, open your arms high” or “Lift you arms in a ‘V’; lower your arms.” I cue in a rhythmic, slow, calming voice. I ask them next to close their eyes. I pair other cues, such as “Bow your head; lift your heart” or “Open your chest; grow taller as you lower your arms,” in a rhythmic fashion to maintain the flow of movement. Then I pair the cue with breath (with their eyes closed) and simply say, “Inhale. Exhale.” They have made that connection by then.

We move on with body landmarks (shoulder, head, chin, eyes, etc.) and movement planes (flexion, side bend, etc.). I also pair activities of daily living with movement. For example, when we do deep hip flexion I say, “Gently lower yourself as if you were sitting on the toilet,” or, for hip extension, “Stretch the front of the hip, for walking.”

They are thinking all the time!


Owner, Pilates Body by Valentin

Dublin, California

Clarifying Diabetes Information

IDEA Fitness Journal [Making News, September 2012] had a brief item about the expected increase in “diabetes” cases over the next 13 years. Nowhere in this article did it mention type 1 or type 2 diabetes; they are two different pathologies and are treated differently. The general public is swamped with misinformation such as this, which leads to so much confusion. Plus, the photo for the article is of a woman injecting herself with insulin; a treatment primarily (but not exclusively) given to type 1 diabetics. In future articles, please specify [type 1 or type 2 diabetes].

Lisa Ritchie

Ambassador, Juvenile Diabetes

Research Foundation

Editor’s note: Thank you for the suggestion, Lisa. We will do that.

A Lasting Legacy

Congratulations on your 30th anniversary! I enjoyed the July–August 2012 IDEA Fitness Journal’s walk down memory lane, and I would not have been surprised to see my mother’s picture in your photo review! Gail Sears entered the fitness industry in the mid-1970s and joined IDEA in the early 1980s. IDEA was a treasured resource to her, not only for continuing education, research and inspiration but, more important, for the lasting relationships she built along the way.

A special friendship, in particular, was with Len Kravitz, PhD. I want to take this opportunity to thank him for dedicating his article “Qualities of Top Teachers” [Research, September 2012] to Gail. She passed away in 2010 after a 4-year battle with brain cancer, and it was her own fitness level that gave her a longer, higher-quality twilight time compared with doctors’ expectations.

My father, my husband and I have embraced fitness ourselves and are continuing Gail’s dream with the help of the loyal members and staff at The Center for Fitness in Kerrville, Texas. We just celebrated our 38th anniversary and look forward to many more!

On a personal note, I became a personal trainer with The Cooper Institute in 2007 (Dr. Kenneth Cooper is another of Gail’s special relationships) and have been impressed with IDEA and, specifically, with IDEA Fitness Journal. Each issue is jam-packed with timely information and innovative ideas that I can use in group exercise classes and with clients, as well as share with my peers.

Kathy Sears Hall

Kerrville, Texas

Decreased Stress = Increased Energy

I have a couple of thoughts regarding “Energy Expenditure Levels: Hunter-Gatherers vs. Westerners” [Making News, October].

I believe the energy expenditures have more to do with the decrease of stress levels in the Hazda population and the efficiency at which their bodies maintain their basal metabolism rate. The North American diet consists of processed foods and factory-farmed protein that raises the stress levels in digesting, along with increased stress on the adrenal glands from an overconsumption of caffeine. The Hazda population eats a plant-based diet with little stress on the digestive system; therefore, providing more energy to hunting and gathering (i.e., exercise). I also think that since Americans are not getting a nutritious diet they are always hungry, thus a cycle of overeating and a less efficient basal metabolism.

Thank you for the article. I always like to be informed on the latest in research.

Dorothy Disrud

Delavan, Wisconsin

Nanny State or Not?

I read “Health Groups, Scientists Call on Surgeon General to Issue Report on Sugary Drinks” [Food for Thought, October]. At the end, you asked for reader feedback on whether this action reflected a “nanny state.” I do not think it’s being a nanny state to somehow regulate the sale of sugary drinks or have some call to action. It is totally necessary that something be done to reduce the healthcare costs of people who drink themselves unhealthy. I don’t think those on public assistance should be allowed to buy junk food, such as soda or cookies, with government funds. I like New York State’s regulations for soda sizes. It is clear that we aren’t going to make ourselves healthier without some intervention. At the very least, we need attention to be brought to the benefits of a sugary drink–less life.

Angela Hubbs

New York City

Zumba® Study Confusion

I am writing about the “Energy Expenditure and Zumba” item [Making News, October]. The stats quoted are so off-base that I am wondering if there was a typo, [or were you] just giving extremely wrong data to the readers? The average VO2 was stated at 66. A peak VO2 of 60 by definition is an “athlete” eligible for national teams/competition. A person with VO2 of 66 is not common and, again, we are talking about national-material, highly paid athletes. So with the average VO2 being 35, where did your number 66 come from?

Also, your heart rate data is wrong. It is well-documented that no age-predicted heart rate is accurate, and certainly the average heart rate of everyone in the room would not be 154, nor does that have any relevance to energy expenditure.

Johanna Casler

Metabolic Specialist, MD Revolution

San Diego

Clarification: The sentence at the end of the second paragraph [of the Making News item] does not state that the average VO2 was 66. It states that the average VO2 was 66% of the subjects’ VO2max. The actual VO2 was only 31 ml/kg/min, which is very average.

Cedric Bryant, PhD, FACSM

Chief Science Officer

American Council on Exercise

Function Essential for All Ages

Thank you for “Focus on Function” (Client Success Story, October]. This is an important topic, but not only for older adults. Just because our clients walk into the gym does not mean they are functional. They may not even know they’re not functional because they often sit at machines to lift weights. Often, clients just think they are naturally clumsy. In fact, our sedentary culture has all but eliminated good weight shift, level change, mobility of center of gravity, grounding, balance, essential movement patterns and coordination of limbs and torso for any activity or sport.

Trainers need more education and ways of training these essential aspects of upright stance and locomotion. Yoga and Pilates do not fill this need as far as I can tell, largely because they are performed lying or sitting. [Valentin, the trainer in the article] has intelligently modified the client’s program to get him onto his feet and moving. Thanks again. I hope other trainers will take Valentin’s lead.

Dianne Woodruff, CMA, PhD

Oakville, Ontario

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