4 Tips to Enhance a Staycation Yoga Practice

By Charlotte Bell.

For many of us, summertime spells vacation time. Vacations are an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and experience something new. But vacations do take lots of preparation. And when we return, the catchup time can be anything but relaxing.

This is why many people choose to vacation at home, at least some of the time. “Staycations” give us the opportunity to spend quality time in our homes. Sometimes that means tackling long-neglected projects. At other times it means rekindling friendships with lunch dates that are so hard to fit into our work schedules. It could mean taking advantage of our communities’ unique gifts—museums, concerts and here in Salt Lake City, hiking. We can also simply enjoy the homes we’ve worked so hard to create and nurture.

But sometimes it’s a challenge to decide how to dedicate this newfound time. We can easily get lost in simply wanting to do nothing—which can be just what we need as well. I’d like to suggest using at least a portion of your staycation to regenerate your energies. Staycation yoga can be a part of this process.

Staycation Yoga Practice

Many of us are able to maintain a regular yoga practice even as we work full time. But for some, practice is spotty at best. There are several ways to approach a staycation yoga practice. One is to attend some extra classes during the week. Another is to recommit to your home practice. It’s the latter that I’ll focus on in this post.

Here are some suggestions for enjoying a fulfilling staycation yoga practice:

  1. Pick a time and stick to it. Practicing yoga first thing in the morning sets a calming and energizing tone for the rest of your day. You don’t have to get up extra early—it’s your vacation after all. But do commit to practicing before you start in on the rest of your day. It’s all too easy for a yoga practice to be crowded out of the schedule once you start doing other things.
  2. If you don’t have a dedicated yoga space in your house, just for the duration of your staycation, leave your yoga mat and other props out so that there’s no setup involved. This can help make your practice an integral part of your staycation.
  3. You’re already stepping out of your daily routine, so why not play a bit with your practice? It’s easy to get stuck in a practice that features only our favorite poses. Play with changing your practice. Try different poses in a different sequence and be mindful of the aftereffects. This is a great opportunity to learn about your practice and yourself.
  4. Take a nice, long Savasana. When we’re in the midst of our busy lives, we often don’t recognize just how tired we really are. We simply power through our days because we have no other choice. When we slow down, we often discover how depleted we’ve become. Take the opportunity of having a bit more time than usual to lie in Savasana for 15-20 minutes. A longer Savasana allows the benefits of the pose to integrate more deeply and comprehensively—in body, mind and spirit.

A staycation is a great opportunity to reflect on your daily life and make tweaks that can help you live more gracefully when you go back to work. A daily yoga practice can help give you the clarity to decide what works and what doesn’t.

The Best Way To Build Strength For Your Rock-Climbing Workout.

Hang on to this one.

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Rock climbing basically screams mental and physical challenges. Not only do you need strong muscles from head to toe (your upper body gets a workout, as well as your core and legs), but it also requires a confidence and fearlessness to make it to the top.

Of course, you don’t have to pull an Alex Honnold and ascend sans ropes to gain the mind and body benefits of reaching a peak. Simply scrambling up an indoor rock wall will give you a massive sense of accomplishment.

“I always describe rock climbing as an ‘exercise in disguise,’” says Emily Varisco, ACE-certified personal trainer, head coach at The Cliffs Climbing and Fitness in New York City. “It truly is a full-body workout, but it’s also a lot of fun.”

And when she says full body workout, she means it—rock climbing works your forearms, biceps, triceps, deltoids, lats, traps, legs, and even your fingers. (Dang.) “Rock climbing is an especially great way to quickly build upper-body and core strength,” Varisco says. “And women tend to pick up the technical skills a bit more quickly because their center of gravity is lower and that can make for a pretty decent advantage in the sport.”

Whether you’re new to climbing, or want to up your game, Varisco curated a list of the best exercises to strengthen your arms, legs, back, and abs. Try ‘em out as a complement to climbing, and see how quickly you can scale that next obstacle that gets in your way to the top.

Do each of the moves below either after climbing or on off-the-rock days. “We do a lot of pulling in rock climbing, so when we cross-train, it’s important to work the opposite motions and antagonist muscles,” says Varisco. These moves will work the areas you need to climb higher, plus the opposing ones to keep you balanced as you go—all of which will help you reach peak performance.

1. Military Press

Important for… balancing out the pulls of climbing with presses overhead.

How to: Start standing, feet hip-width apart and knees not locked out. Bend your elbows 90 degrees, palms facing forward. Extend arms, pushing straight overhead until biceps are by ears. Slowly lower back down and repeat. Make sure your core is engaged and spine neutral. That’s one rep. Complete 8 to 12 reps.


2. Negative Pullup

Important for… strengthening the back of your upper body, which you need to lift yourself up.

How to: Set a bench or step under a pullup bar so you can reach it while standing. Grab the bar with both hands so that your chin is above it and elbows are out to your sides, pointed down toward the ground. Bend your knees slightly to hang, while keeping your pelvis tucked and core braced. Then, slowly lower down until your arms are straight. Keep your shoulders, lats, and abs engaged. Extend your legs to stand back on the bench or step and repeat. That’s one rep. Complete eight.

3. Dumbbell Chest Press

Important for… working the pecs—AKA the antagonist muscles of the upper body used for climbing.

How to: Lie down on your back with a 5 to 10-pound dumbbell in each hand. Straighten your arms and hold them over your chest. Make sure your wrists are in line with shoulders and palms face away from you. Bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle, resting your triceps on the floor. That’s your starting position. Press up to extend both arms straight over your chest. Then, slowly lower the weights back down to start. That’s one rep. Complete 10 to 12. 


4. Dumbbell Front Raise To Lateral Raise

Important for… building shoulder strength.

How to: Start standing with feet hip-width apart and arms resting on your quads with a 5 to 10-pound dumbbell in each hand. Lift the weights up in front of you to shoulder height, palms facing down and elbows straight (but not locked out). Slowly lower back down resisting the urge to drop your arms. Next, lift the dumbbells out to your sides until your arms are parallel to the floor, palms facing down and elbows straight. Lower them back down to your sides. That’s one rep. Continue alternating slowing between both exercises without letting your shoulders creep up by your ears as you move. Keep your core tight and back straight, too. Complete 12 to 15.

5. Goblet Squat

Important for… glute and core strength.

How to: Start standing with feet hip-width apart, holding one kettlebell or dumbbell with both hands at your chest. Lower in to a squat by sending your hips down and back while keeping your chest up. Press through the heels and squeeze the glutes to stand back up. That’s one rep. Complete 12 to 15.

Want another full-body workout? Try this quick routine: 


6. Wide Grip Lateral Pull-Down

Important for… strengthening the lats, a main muscle used in climbing.

How to: Use a cable machine with a long bar attachment for this exercise. Sit down at the machine and grip the bar overhead with your hands wider than shoulder-width apart, palms facing away from you. Lean back about 30 degrees and maintain a tall posture. Draw the shoulders and upper arms down and back to pull the bar to your chest. Straighten the arms back out. That’s one rep. Complete 12 to 15.

7. Leg lower

Important for… learning to use your core to drive your legs up.

How to: Lie on your back with your hands by your side and feet extended straight up in the air at hip height. Slowly lower your legs as far down as you can without your lower back lifting off the ground. Return to start. That’s one rep. Complete as many reps as possible in 50 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds.


8. Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extension

Important for… strength in the back of the arms.

How to: Lie down on a flat bench on your back, with a dumbbell in each hand, held over your chest, arms extended but not locked out. Make sure wrists are in line with shoulders and palms face each other. Keep your shoulders stationary as you bend the elbows to 90 degrees and bring the weights toward your face, in line with your ears. Your elbows should stay in line with your shoulders the entire time. Reverse the movement by straightening your arms back out. That’s one rep. Complete 15.

9. Kettlebell Swing

Important for… explosive power, plus strength in the quads, glutes, and core.

How to: Start standing with feet a little more than hip-width apart and a kettlebell in front of you on the ground. Bend over and grab the weight with both hands while engaging your lats and keeping your back flat. Lift the kettlebell and swing it between your legs, maintaining a neutral spine and just a slight bend in the knees. Then, drive your hips forward and press through your feet as you raise the kettlebell to chest height with straight arms. Use your hips and glutes to drive the movement, squeezing your butt and tucking your pelvis at the top. Let the kettlebell guide you back down in to a deadlift-like position (flat back, hinged hips) until it’s between your legs again. That’s one rep. Complete 12 to 15. 


10. Plank Pulls

Important for… core stabilization.

How to: Attach a resistance band to a stationary object like a pole or heavy weight and hold the other end with your right hand or place it around your wrist. Then, get in to a high-plank position, shoulders right over the wrists and forming a straight line from shoulders to heels. Lift your right arm, palm facing down. This is your starting position. Pull the band with your right arm, aiming to bring your elbow in line with your waist. Keep your spine straight and hips square to the ground. Straighten your arm back out. That’s one rep. Complete 10 to 12 on each side. 

11. Superman

Important for… strengthening your low back and posterior chain—a muscle group crucial to climbing, especially at steeper angles.

How to: Lie on your stomach, and extend your arms in front of you and legs behind you. Keep your palms facing down. Lift your legs and arms at the same time, hold, and release. Complete for 50 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds.

OUR LONGING FOR EMBODIMENT

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We inherited a view of the body as something without intelligence: as something ‘beneath us’; as a tool for getting things done; as machinery operated by the brain; as a piece of equipment that needs proper maintenance if it’s not to break down. That view still predominates, to be sure, but it’s no longer the unchallenged orthodoxy. Since my first book, New Self, New World, appeared in 2010, I’ve noticed a growing appreciation for the body’s intelligence. Science, for instance, has brought us such relatively recent fields of inquiry as embodied cognition, the gut biome and neurogastroenterology, with findings that poke holes in the cherished idea that the brain in the head is the solitary intelligence in charge of who we are, what we experience and how we perceive.

I’ve also seen a growing awareness in people that they are living in their heads – and stirring within that awareness, a deep yearning for a more embodied way of being. We have been estranged from the body for so long, though, that we tend to imagine that embodiment is merely about sitting in the head and noticing the body, or ‘listening to it’ – as though being stuck in the head were some sort of anatomical given. We struggle to imagine that true embodiment seamlessly merges our abstract thinking with that of the body; that we can think with the whole of our being. We are even vague about what the body’s intelligence is. And when we are unclear about the nature of the body’s intelligence, the journey to reunite with it can be frustrating.

So first, let’s consider the nature of the secluded portion of our intelligence we’ve been taught to give our allegiance to: it is head-centric, analytical, abstracting, systematizing and adept at achieving perspectives and building structures of knowledge; but we should also recognize that it is fundamentally exclusive. It categorizes by excluding – excluding apples, for example, from the category of vegetables. It analyzes by breaking things into pieces and assigning each its exclusive function. It abstracts by isolating aspects of reality and considering them exclusive of their borderless context.

Any form of exclusion, though, involves a neglect of wholeness. Wholeness is all-inclusive: everything in our reality affects everything. Wholeness is all that is, and nothing exists outside of it. To imagine otherwise is to mistake reality.

To appreciate the nature of the body’s intelligence is to see it as the necessary complement to the excluding intelligence of the head. Where the head’s intelligence is exclusive, the body’s is inclusive. It feels wholeness, and its capacity for feeling the whole is its means of knowing the whole. The foundation of the body’s intelligence is its perfect understanding that it belongs to the world of the present. It recognizes kinship in the ocean’s waves exhaling along the shore, in the shifting sky, in the slender blade of grass, the scurrying ant, and in the tall tree so deeply rooted in the darkness of the earth. To reunite with the body’s intelligence is to find your being illuminated and clarified by all the particulars of the world around you; you feel how they belong to you and vice versa.

The body’s intelligence understands life; the intelligence that sequesters itself in the head understands everything but life. Its attempts to grasp life merely result in descriptions of its mechanics – never of life itself. Life is an emergent property of wholeness, and you cannot understand wholeness with an intelligence that depends on exclusion.

By extension, neither can you understand your self with that intelligence – for the self abides in wholeness and is inseparable from it. To seek to understand the self with only that intelligence is to consign yourself to categorical living – in which aspects of your life, your intelligence, your behaviour and your perceptions are compartmentalized and partitioned. In that divided state your being inevitably lacks coherence. To live in a categorical world is to live in a model or duplicate of life – one that has everything judged and labeled, but which fails to feel the wholeness that is found in each particular, and which ultimately makes each particular what it is. Feeling that wholeness, and the wholeness of the self it holds in its embrace, is the specialty of the body’s intelligence.

So the intelligence of the body attunes to wholeness. It resonates to the world around it. That is its true nature. Just as it is our true nature. Our longing for embodiment, then, is a longing to grow into our fullest reality: to put to rest our divisions and liberate our stifled energies and to finally feel the self and the world in the wholeness of the moment. What we long for is a homecoming – coming home to the self, coming home to the present. And it’s crucial in our head-centric culture to understand that you can’t achieve that homecoming by grasping any idea; it is a tangible, physical journey that drops your thinking out of the head and lets it come to rest deep in your body. When that happens, the energy of your being achieves coherence and attunes to the life of the present. You feel yourself embedded in an intelligence that guides and informs and clarifies – an intelligence that sings through your body not in a language of words, but in a language of sensational, borderless awareness. This is what an athlete ‘in the zone’ experiences, or an artist in the wakefulness of creativity. To join the body’s intelligence is to experience the world’s harmony singing through you.

June YogAlign Classes On and Off Island

By Renee’ Fulkerson

Dance with the waves, move with the sea. Let the rhythm of the water set your soul free
-Christy Ann Martine

Aloha, gentle reminder Inner Breath Yoga – YogAlign will not be hosting any YogAlign classes in the month of June at either  location Anaina Hou Community Park in Kilauea or Hot Yoga Princeville. Inner Breath Yoga – YogAlign classes will resume as regularly scheduled time and location in the month of July. However, I will be teaching a few YogAlign classes on the mainland in my home town of Big Bear Lake while on Vacation – please feel free to pass on information if you know someone who would be interested. Be sure to follow Inner Breath Yoga on Social Media to follow all our Mainland Adventures. Aloha

Mainland Inner Breath Yoga- June Drop-in YogAlign Classes

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Big Bear Yoga

Friday June 14th, 6:00 to 8:00 PM

Saturday June 15th, 11:00 Am to 1:00 PM
Investment – $25 in advance/ $30 day of

Mats and blocks provided

Please bring a towel and water

421 W. Big Bear Blvd #663
Big Bear City, Calif. 92314
www.bigbearyoga.com 

www.innerbreathyoga.com

Private classes also available for more information please contact: renee@innerbreathyoga.com  / 909-747-4186

On Island June – Kauai Drop-in YogAlign Class

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Manayoga Studio

Wednesdays 8:30 to 10:30 AM

Investment $20 for locals

Mats and blocks provided

Please bring a towel and water

3812 Ahonui Place

Princeville, HI 96722
Manayoga Studio – YogAlign

Our Journey So Far…

By Renee’ Fulkerson

I ask that you please consider the vulnerability that goes along with sharing a personal story like this and why I believe in The YogAlign Method.  Thank you

Joaquin Fulkerson our miracle was born in December of 2003 a healthy happy baby boy.  Peter (my husband) and myself were over the moon happy as all new parents are. We did notice at birth Joaquin had a tiny curve in his sacrum area between his gluteal muscles but did not think much of it. The years past by in our then mountain home of Big Bear Lake California where we lead a very family active lifestyle. Peter and myself owned and operated a backpacking outfitting store and next door a yoga studio. Joaquin spent his first seven years of life hiking, skateboarding, rock climbing, skiing, downhill mountain biking, snowshoeing, BMX racing,snowboarding, zip lining, slack lining  and of course guiding groups with dad in the great outdoors or practicing in one of mom’s yoga classes. Joaquin born and raised vegetarian, with perfect annual health exams was again the picture of health (not even a cavity to this day)

Fast forward to the end of 2011 when the Fulkerson tribe arrived on the island of Kauai. Where as a family we continued to remain very physically active biking, hiking, swimming, golfing,boogie boarding, outrigger canoeing ,snorkeling, surfing and Joaquin continued his BMX racing on Oahu on the weekends. In 2017 Peter Joaquin’s dad started to notice Joaquin’s posture changing and not in a positive way. We both noticed a curve in his spine and a very forward head carriage. Joaquin is of the generation of Screenagers meaning his generation is spending a great deal of time in front of a computer screen. With my anatomy knowledge, YogAlign training and common sense I assumed the postural issues where coming from the amount of time Joaquin was spending sitting in a chair in front of his computer. Peter and myself became the posture police and tried reminding him to change his bad posture habits and to shift his body when we saw him out of alignment. In 2018 Joaquin was scheduled to get his annual physical exam before starting school and I had alerted his primary care physician about our concerns with Joaquin’s posture, curve in his spine and now what looked like a collapse in the left side of his chest.

This was the beginning of many Dr. visits on and off island between Kauai and Oahu. On that day at Joaquin’s routine exam he was diagnosed with Pectus Excavatum and sent for a spine x ray for Scoliosis. Then seen by both a pediatric surgeon and spine surgeon on Oahu where we was then diagnosed with Scheuermann’s Disease of the Thoracic and Lumbar Spine.
Joaquin had many forms of x rays on his chest and spine and the results being his spine is healthy in regard to no cysts, tumors or abnormalities for concern however he will continue to struggle with the above mentioned Scheuermann’s Disease of the Thoracic and Lumbar Spine. The Scoliosis is still within mild concern and the Pectus Excavatum is a surgical procedure fix which we would like to avoid however, this does not seem possible and surgery is on the horizon.

Meanwhile during this roller coaster ride I consulted with my teacher and creator of YogAlign Michaelle Edwards here on Kauai and we together came up with a course of action plan for Joaquin. Joaquin’s first YogAlign session with Michaelle took place at her home studio on January 14, 2019. The session was two hours long, began with pictures of his posture, a breathing tool to help him get the fullness in his diaphragm and a few specific YogAlign postures. Our goal was and is to continue to shift his current posture as he is fifteen and his body is pliable, wake up the left side of his pectus muscles, re wire his brain with new positive posture habits and create space in his short and tight front line. Joaquin has had three more YogAlign sessions with Michaelle once a month up until now including before and after pictures. In between those YogAlign sessions with Michaelle Joaquin and myself practiced YogAlign for one to two hours 4 times weekly with great enthusiasm (well most of the time).

Fast forward to today May 30 Th Joaquin and myself continue to practice YogAlign four times a week (mostly). He is even willing to now participate in one of my public YogAlign classes. He has practiced the YogAlign method once on his own with the support of his dad – proud mama moment. Joaquin has become very in tune with his anatomy, posture good and bad and how his body feels when in it is in good or bad alignment not to mention the self confidence it has given him. He will always need to be very physically active and practice YogAlign in order to maintain a happy healthy body able to do all of the things he enjoys in life well into his senior years. I am proud of his commitment and grateful for the YogAlign Method as well as Peter and myself for being proactive in a challenging situation.
Joaquin will need in the near future to have the Nuss procedure to fix his Pectus Excavatum but until then anything is possible – the proof is in the pictures (4 months of YogAlign practice).
Much love, respect and gratitude for all the love and support now and as the journey continues.

What Kind of Exercise is Healthiest?

By Todd Hargrove

Physical activity is now considered one of the “big four” lifestyle factors (along with smoking, nutrition and drug abuse) that have major effects on health. In 2015, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges put out a report summarizing the benefits of exercise, calling it both a “miracle cure” and a “wonder drug.” [1] The report observes that regular exercise can prevent dementia, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, depression, heart disease and other common serious conditions — reducing the risk of each by at least 30%. This is better than many drugs.

A recent analysis of data from more than 60,000 respondents found that people exercising 1-2 times per week had a 30% reduction in all-cause mortality compared to those who got no exercise. There was a 35% reduction for people who exercised 3-5 times. [2] Similar studies have concluded that a sedentary lifestyle is a primary cause of 36 diseases, and that exercise is an effective treatment to prevent them. [3, 4] Numerous experts have observed that if exercise came in a pill, it would be the most effective and widely prescribed medicine ever developed.

While the evidence supporting the health benefits of exercise is undeniable, I don’t find the metaphor of it being “medicine” totally appealing. First, medicine is something most people would rather not take, so the marketing is not very good. Second, the term medicine suggests cure of a particular disease, which is misleading. Physical activity can improve your health in many different ways, just as light, water and soil will nurture a plant. But it’s not a targeted intervention that “fixes” a specific problem.

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I think a better metaphor for the benefits of physical activity is one recommended by Katy Bowman and Nick Tuminello: movement is like food. This analogy works on many different levels. First, nutrients in food are beneficial when consumed in some goldilocks amount — not too much and not too little. For example, you need a minimum dose of iron to avoid anemia, but too much is toxic. Many kinds of inputs to the body follow this pattern, even water. With physical activity, some minimum amount is essential, too much is toxic, and there is a broad range of happy mediums.

Another analogy between food and movement is that you need a well-balanced diet of many different nutrients, all of which have a different optimum dose. If you have a deficiency in Vitamin A, it won’t help to double up on the Vitamin B. The same is true of physical activity. The bench press is a fine exercise, but if that’s all you ever did, you would become deficient in other areas of physical function.

If movement is like food, how do you eat a balanced diet? Part of the answer is that … it depends. A twenty-year-old athlete will need a different diet of movement than a 65-year-old with knee pain. In fact, two 65-year-olds with knee pain might benefit from completely different programs. To find what works best for an individual, you will need to explore a wide landscape of different options. The good news is that some parts of the landscape are more worth exploring than others. To get a rough idea where they are, we can look to two sources of data: (1) formal recommendations from government health groups; and (2) research analyzing the physical activity of hunter-gatherers living in natural environments. I think of these guidelines as major landmarks for orientation on the movement landscape. Fortunately, they both point in the same basic direction.

Recommendations from Health Groups

Numerous governmental agencies, including the World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of Health Services, and the National Health Service in the U.K., have published physical activity guidelines. [5, 6] They are based on expert analysis of the voluminous research looking at physical activity, fitness and health. Here is a brief summary of their advice, which is almost the same for each source.

The amount

The guidelines suggest at least 150 minutes per week of “moderate” physical activity, or half as much “vigorous” activity. (See below for definitions.) But this is just the minimum, and a better goal would be 300 minutes of moderate activity per week. Adding more exercise may continue to reduce mortality until as much as 750 minutes per week, after which point the health benefits of physical activity seem to flatline. [7]

“Moderate” activity defined

Moderate activities are usually light aerobic exercise — continuous cyclic movements done at an easy pace. Examples include:

  • brisk walking

  • hiking

  • gardening or yard work

  • jogging, cycling or swimming at an easy pace

Moderate exertion feels like you are working, but not in a way that is unpleasant or difficult to continue. Heart rate is about 60-80% of maximum, and breathing rate is elevated to a point where it would be difficult to sing, but easy to talk. You may break a light sweat but will not become significantly overheated. After finishing a session of moderate physical activity, you could probably complete another one if necessary.

“Vigorous” activity defined

Vigorous activity is higher intensity work that can be either continuous or intermittent. Examples include:

  • resistance training with weights, machines, bands, or bodyweight

  • sprinting or high intensity interval training on a cycle or rowing machine

  • continuous running, cycling, swimming, or rowing at a challenging pace

  • heavy manual labor

During continuous vigorous activity such as running or cycling, you are approaching the fastest pace you can sustain for twenty or more minutes. Your breathing rate is high enough that you cannot have a conversation. Intermittent activities like weight lifting, sports or sprint- ing cannot be performed continuously, but only in intervals. Vigorous physical activity feels hard and requires willpower to continue. When you are finished, you will probably want to rest at least a day before completing a similarly tough workout.

Movements that challenge strength

Most guidelines recommend that the above weekly totals should include at least two sessions that maintain or build strength in all major muscle groups. Although the majority of research on physical activity relates to aerobic exercise, there is a large and growing number of studies showing equally impressive health gains from strength training. Some of these benefits are not available with aerobic exercise, especially preservation of muscle mass, which declines with age, often to a point where function is significantly compromised. [8]

Movements that challenge mobility and basic coordination

Some popular guidelines, but not all, recommend inclusion of movements that maintain functional ranges of motion, and basic movement skills like squatting or single leg balance. This doesn’t mean you need exercises specifically devoted to this purpose, such as stretching or corrective exercise. Many common activities challenge mobility and functional movement skills, including dancing, swimming, martial arts, gymnastics, climbing, calisthenics, or classic compound strength exercises like pushups, pull-ups, rows, presses, squats and lunges. On the other hand, if all you do is bike or run, you will not be challenging your mobility or coordination very much.

Physical Activity Levels of Hunter-Gatherers

Another way to approach the question of how to move is to consider the physical activity levels of humans living in more natural environments. This is the same logic you would apply to analyzing the health needs of any other animal. If you had a pet cheetah and wanted to know how much running she should do to maintain good health, you would try to learn something about how much cheetahs run in the wild. If you had a pet chimp, you would take him to the climbing gym, not the swimming pool.

Anthropologists who study hunter-gatherer cultures observe that they generally enjoy excellent health and fitness, and have low to non-existent rates of chronic diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle. [9] They engage in high levels of physical activity, but certainly do not consider it to be exercise or medicine. [10] Movement is simply inseparable from almost every meaningful event in their lives. Although each hunter-gatherer culture has a different lifestyle, there are some general patterns and averages that are informative.

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Men usually spend the day hunting, which requires lots of walking, occasional jogging, and the odd sprint. They sometimes climb trees, dig to find tubers, and carry food back to camp, which must be butchered. Women generally spend their days gathering plants, and also caring for young children, who often must be carried. Back at camp, men and women engage in toolmaking, and food preparation. Down time is spent sitting on the ground in positions like squats that challenge lower body mobility. [9]

Although they are moving all day, the pace is not grueling. Recent studies on the Hadza tribe in Tanzania show that they do about 135 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity. [11] That’s about 900 minutes of activity a week, just a bit past the point at which recent studies have found that adding more exercise stops providing any significant additional health benefits in terms of reduced mortality.

Some days involve hard work, but they are usually followed by easy days. Presumably some days will involve maximum intensity effort, such as sprinting or carrying a heavy load. Interestingly, activity levels do not decline much with age. The 65-year-old elders keep up just fine with the young adults. A good percentage of the total workload is walking 5-10 miles per day. If you think in terms of steps, this is about 10 to 20,000.

How does this organic, all-natural program for fitness compare to the standard issue government cheese? There are some obvious similarities. The majority of the work is moderate continuous movement like brisk walking. Vigorous activity is a smaller percentage of the whole, and includes work that challenges strength (climbing, digging, carrying, butchering) or power (sprinting). Many of the activities require mobility, coordination, and balance, such as walking over uneven terrain, climbing and scrambling, digging, lifting and carrying odd-shaped items, throwing, and sitting on the ground. One major difference is that hunter-gatherers do a higher volume of low intensity work, even compared to highly active modern humans. They are not doing more bench presses, but they are getting in more steps.

Interestingly, walking is exactly the type of physical activity that modern humans would probably like to do quite a bit more, if only they had the time. Paddy Ekkekakis studies motivation to exercise, and observes that although high intensity exercise is quite effective at delivering health benefits quickly, most people don’t do it because … (prepare to be shocked) … they don’t like it. But people tend to enjoy walking. Under the right circumstances, say being with a friend in a nice environment, they do not consider it to be exercise at all, but an enjoyable and invigorating experience that delivers immediate rewards.

Another notable feature of walking is that it provides health benefits with only a minimal risk of injury. More intense exercise (e.g., a set of barbell squats) offers a relatively narrow window between too much and not enough. The difference between a good workout and an injury might be just a few extra reps or plates on the bar. But the margin of error with walking is huge. After a healthy dose of walking, most people could double it and recover easily.

It makes sense that walking delivers the highest bang for your buck, because this is the movement we are best adapted to perform. Like any other animal, our primary physical function is locomotion, and walking is the most energetically efficient way to get the job done. If you did nothing else but walk a lot, you’d be in better shape than most Americans.

A Quick Summary

If you want to “play” with fitness as a way to improve general health, here are some “rules of the game” to keep in mind. Have as much fun as possible within these basic constraints:

  • Aim for at least half an hour and up to two hours of physical activity almost every day.

  • Movement should be varied in terms of volume, intensity and type. Most activity can be fairly light. Walking is the most natural and beneficial movement for human beings.

  • Every few days, include some high intensity work that significantly challenges your strength, power, and/or capacity to sustain high energy output for a short period of time. Climbing, running and resistance training are logical choices.

  • Include movements that challenge coordination, balance, and range of motion.

Or to put this in even simpler terms:

  • Move around a lot at a slow easy pace.

  • Frequently move with some urgency or pick up something heavy.

  • Every once in a while, move like your life depends on it.

And have fun!

Physical activity activity isn’t like taking medicine, you know.

GOODBYE NURSING HOMES! THE NEW TREND IS COHOUSING WITH FRIENDS

Karen Salmansohn, 58 years young

Senior cohousing is now trending – and for good reason. Below I share 5 reasons you might prefer senior cohousing with friends to nursing homes and assisted living.

Last week I got punched by the guy who came to fix my internet connection. And I was happy about it.

You see I was blaming my age for NOT being confident in technology – like the “younger generation.”

The technician told me I looked young – and asked me my age.  When I told him I was 58, he punched me in the arm – Elaine-from-Seinfeld style. He claimed he didn’t believe me.

Note: If you don’t know who Elaine is from Seinfeld – then I am old enough to be your mother – or even grandmother.

It’s not by accident that I’m (perhaps) a younger-looking and (definitely) younger-feeling almost 60 year old. 

I’m proactively taking care of my health and longevity.

My father passed away about ten years ago – in a challenging way– so I’m highly aware of my mortality.

For many reasons, I’ve been researching longevity – for a while now.

In my research I discovered that “Senior Cohousing” is trending right now – which I’m very excited about – for later on in my life, when I am older.

“Senior Cohousing” is when you live in an “intentional neighborhood” – surrounded by your friends – and you share in things like the same dining area, library, fitness center, garden, TV room etc.

Longevity research states that staying social with friends and family helps to keep you living longer.

It’s thereby no surprise to read that seniors who cohouse live at least ten years longer than they might otherwise live in traditional senior housing (Note: According to the Canadian Cohousing Network).

“Senior Cohousing” is a great concept for older people like myself, who are part of what I call the “Wellderly.”

“Wellderly” means that we’re older, but don’t feel old or act our age! 

With the help of the longevity tools tools I’m using I plan to remain “wellderly” for a long time to come.  And so I’m very interested in exploring this cohousing concept.

Cohousing sounds like a blast. Plus cohousing with fellow Wellderly friends is more affordable than nursing homes and/or living alone. After all, sharing resources saves money. When you’re a group paying for community meals it costs less than paying for groceries for one.

Plus it’s cheaper to maintain a yard, garden,  library, fitness center when you’re sharing in the costs with your friends.

It is estimated that by 2050, the number of people over 60 years old will triple from what it is now. 

I will soon be one of those people in that huge group – who’s looking for the most comfortable and enjoyable way to spend their senior years!

I love the idea of living in cohousing surrounded by friends – where I only need to walk a few feet to meet up with a someone for coffee or enjoy a walk in a shared garden.

If you’re seeking a more fun and rewarding way to spend your senior years,  here are…

5 reasons you might prefer senior cohousing:

1. A True Community

You get to enjoy having your friends close by so you can share time and activities. In contrast, seniors who live alone often feel loneliness.

2. Lots Of Privacy

In assisted living seniors live in very close quarters with one another. But with senior cohousing you get your own private apartment or house!

3. Less Money

Living in a nursing home or assisted living usually costs a lot more. But with senior cohousing, you’re sharing resources with friends, so you save money.

4. Lots of Mental & Emotional Wellbeing Perks

Let’s be real. Living in a Nursing home or in Assisted Living can feel a lot more depressing than living in a shared senior cohousing community.

5. Safety

In a cohousing neighborhood, you have neighbors around who expect to see you daily. They will notice if you’re not around. Hence if you fall,  then don’t show up for a meet up, your neighbors will check in on you.