Thursday, December 27, 2012


    A 20% reduction in oxygen blood levels may be caused by the aging process and normal breathing habits. Poor breathing robs energy and negatively affects mental alertness. Unless breathing is exercised, aging affects the respiratory system as follows:  Stiffness: The rib cage and surrounding muscles get stiff causing inhalation to become more difficult. Less elasticity and weak muscles leave stale air in the tissues of the lungs and prevents fresh oxygen from reaching the blood stream.

    Rapid, Shallow Breathing: This type of breathing, often caused by poor posture and weak or stiff muscles, leads to poor oxygen supply, respiratory disease, sluggishness, or heart disease.

    The following exercises are simple ways to deepen breathing and to cleanse the lungs. These exercises will also increase energy and decrease tension.
      Lie flat on your back to get a proper sense of deep breathing. (Have some small pillows available to reduce strain by tucking them under the neck and knees. The natural course of breathing in that position will create a slight rise in the stomach upon inhaling and a slight fall upon exhaling.)  Place your hands palm down on your stomach at the base of the rib cage. (The lungs go that far down. What fills them deeper is the pushing down of the diaphragm. The diaphragm creates a suction which draws air into the lungs. the air is then expelled when the diaphragm pushes up. In this process, the life-giving oxygen fills the lungs and gets into the blood stream for distribution to the cells. Carbon dioxide is expelled from the blood into the about-to-be exhaled breath, thus cleansing the body and blood of waste products.)   Lay the palms of your hands on your stomach just below the rib cage, middle fingers barely touching each other, and take a slow deep breath.  (As the diaphragm pushes down, the stomach will slightly expand causing the fingertips to separate somewhat.

      This movement indicates full use of the lungs, resulting in a truly deep breath rather than the "puffed chest" breath experienced by many as the greatest lung capacity. Chest breathing fills the middle and upper parts of the lungs. Belly breathing is the most efficient method. Infants and small children use only this method until the chest matures. The yoga breath or roll breathing combines belly and chest breathing.


      1. Sit up straight. Exhale.2. Inhale and, at the same time, relax the belly muscles. Feel as though the belly is filling with air.
      3. After filling the belly, keep inhaling. Fill up the middle of your chest. Feel your chest and rib cage expand.
      4. Hold the breath in for a moment, then begin to exhale as slowly as possible.
      5.  As the air is slowly let out, relax your chest and rib cage. Begin to pull your belly in to force out the remaining breath.
      6. Close your eyes, and concentrate on your breathing.
      7.  Relax your face and mind.
      8.  Let everything go.
      9.  Practice about 5 minutes.

    Follow the instructions for inhaling the COMPLETE BREATH (Steps 1-3 above). Now, as you begin to slowly exhale, make a HUM sound. Keep making that humming sound as long as possible. Pull your stomach muscles in, squeezing out a few more seconds of humming. Then relax. Practice for 2 to 3 minutes.

    A very fine, short (though not shallow) breath exercise comes from the Chinese Tai Chi ChuanThree short inhales are done through the nose without exhaling. On the first inhale, the arms are lifted from the sides straight out in front at shoulder height. On the second, the arms are opened out straight to the sides while still at shoulder height. And on the third, the arms are lifted straight over the head. Then, on the exhale through the mouth, the arms are moved in an arc back down to the sides. Usually, ten or twelve breaths are sufficient and will not cause light headedness. If light headedness should occur, simply stop the exercise. This exercise also has the effect of really opening up people physically.  In subtle ways, this exercise uses the body in leading the mind and spirit to greater openness with each other and the environment.
    CAUTION !!  Especially for older people:  Never do panting or shallow breathing except while seated. Hyperventilation may occur. As long as one is seated, hyperventilation will not be a problem because, even if a brief blackout should occur, the body's automatic breathing apparatus will immediately take over.

The influences of exercise fulfillment on mental and physical functions of targeted older adults and the effect of a physical exercise intervention.

The influences of exercise fulfillment on mental and physical functions of targeted older adults and the effect of a physical exercise intervention.

Oct 2012 

[Article in Japanese]


Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology.



To investigate the influence of the differences in exercise fulfillment on mental and physical functions and the effects of exercise intervention on community-dwelling older adults.


Participants in this study included 260 community-dwelling older adults (mean age +/- SD, 70.4 +/- 6.0 years) who participated in the exercise intervention study (intervention and control groups). Exercise fulfillment levels (low or high), physical activity levels (low or high), mental health (WHO-5 scores), health-related QOL (SF-8 score), and physical abilities of these adults were measured during a baseline health checkup. Based on the status of the 3 exercise fulfillment groups, multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA), which was adjusted for age, sex, and physical activity levels, was performed to compare the results of the outcome measures among the 3 groups. The intervention group (n = 88, aged 70.3 +/- 6.2 years) was divided into 2 subgroups: the deterioration subgroup (participants with low-exercise fulfillment after the intervention) and the improvement subgroup (participants with high-exercise fulfillment after the intervention). Subsequently, the intervention effects were assessed by repeated measurements of the analysis of variance (ANOVA) between the 2 subgroups.


MANOVA analysis revealed that body mass index, grip strength, maximum walking speed, the WHO-5 score, and the SF-8 subscale (8 items) score differed significantly amongst the groups. The high-exercise fulfillment group demonstrated better results for these variables than the low-exercise fulfillment group. Similar results were obtained for each group with respect to the physical activity levels. The repeated-measures ANOVA revealed that time had an important effect on lower physical functions and the SF-8 subscale (1 item) score; it also revealed the important effects of body mass index, the WHO-5 score, the SF-8 subscale (6 items) score, and psychological independence on the group.


Older adults with higher exercise fulfillment demonstrated better mental and psychological health, regardless of their physical activity levels. Older adults with low-exercise fulfillment could potentially improve their physical abilities; however, their mental and psychological health significantly differed from that of older adults with medium- or high-exercisefulfillment after exercise intervention. These findings provide preliminary evidence, which indicates that exercise can provide sufficient fulfillment and contribute to the promotion and improvement of health in older adults. Moreover, performing adequate tests on exercise fulfillment may aid in assessing the effects of intervention programs in regional healthcare systems.

Leisure activities alleviate depressive symptoms in nursing home residents with very mild or mild dementia.

Leisure activities alleviate depressive symptoms in nursing home residents with very mild or mild dementia.

Oct 2012

**Editor's note: Exercise/leisure activities can help us with depression too, even depression associated with lymphedema.  It is nto only a vital part of our physical well being, but mental/emotional as well.The point being whatever your interest might be, take part in it as often as you can**


Department of Psychological Studies, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Kwai Chung Hospital, Hong Kong.



 To examine whether leisure activities can alleviate depressive symptoms among nursing home residents with very mild to mild dementia.


 A cluster-randomized open-label controlled design. Thirty-six residents with at least moderate depressive symptoms were randomized by home into three conditions-mahjong (a.k.a. mah-jongg), tai chi, and handicrafts (placebo). Activities were conducted three times weekly for 12 weeks. Outcome measure was Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) administered at baseline, posttreatment, and at 6 months.


 Repeated-measures analysis of variance showed a group by time interaction on the GDS. Unlike control and tai chi participants whose scores remained relatively unchanged, the mahjong group reported a drop of 3.25 points (95% confidence interval: 1.00-5.50) on the GDS at posttreatment but gained back 2.83 points (95% confidence interval: 1.95-5.47) at 6 months. Activity discontinuation might be the reason for depression to return to baseline.


 Mahjong can lower depressive symptoms in those with mild dementia, but activity maintenance may be essential for long-term effects.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Warm Water Pool-Based Exercise Program Decreases Immediate Pain in Female Fibromyalgia Patients: Uncontrolled Clinical Trial.

A Warm Water Pool-Based Exercise Program Decreases Immediate Pain in Female Fibromyalgia Patients: Uncontrolled Clinical Trial.

**Editor's note: I am including this as a number of lymphedema patients also report having fibro myalgia - Pat**

Dec 2012


Department of Physical Education and Sports, School of Sport Sciences, University of Granada, Granada, Spain.


Fibromyalgia is characterized by chronic and extended musculoskeletal pain. The combination of exercise therapy with the warm water may be an appropriate treatment. However, studies focusing on the analysis of immediate pain during and after an exercise session are rare. This study aimed to determine the immediate changes of a warm water pool-basedexercise program (12 weeks) on pain (before vs. after session) in female fibromyalgia patients. 33 Spanish women with fibromyalgia were selected to participate in a 12 weeks (2 sessions/week) low-moderate intensity warm water pool-based program. We assessed pain by means of a Visual Analogue Scale before and after each single session (i. e., 24 sessions). We observed immediate benefits on pain with a mean decrease ~15% in all sessions, except in the fourth one. There was an association of pain difference (pre-post) session with pain pre session (p=0.005; β=0.097±0.034) and with age (p<0.001; β=0.032±0.008). There were no significant accumulative differences on pain, pre session, post session, and pre-post changes (all p>0.05). Therefore this study showed that a warm water pool-based exercise program for 12 weeks (2 times/week) led to a positive immediate decrease in level of pain in female patients with fibromyalgia. Improvements were higher in older women and in those with more intense pain.

Interrogating the Age-Old Wisdom of Exercise.

Interrogating the Age-Old Wisdom of Exercise.

Dec 2012


Framingham Heart Study, Framingham, MA; Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA.


We have long known that exercise is good for us. Hippocrates declared over 25 centuries ago that "if we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health." There is now a wealth of evidence indicating that the benefits of physical activity extend across multiple organ systems and span the age spectrum.(1,2) Perhaps most compelling are data highlighting the potential of exerciseto prevent and attenuate chronic conditions related to insulin resistance and atherosclerosis.(3,4) Despite nationwide recommendations encouraging regular exercise for all adults, fewer than 1 in 3 Americans engage in routine physical activity.(5) Low adherence rates could relate in part to the fact that we still do not really understand how exercise works. For this reason, recommendations remain non-specific with respect to how frequent, how intense, how long, what type, and for whom exercise should be prescribed.(4).

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Benefit of Aquatic Exercise for Lymphedema

The Benefit of Aquatic Exercise for Lymphedema


Today I would like to share with you an article on aquatic exercises written by Mary Essert, B.A., ATRIC for this blog.

Mary specializes in creation and delivery of water fitness and post rehab aquatic programs for individuals with disabilities and conditions such as Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Breast Cancer, Lymphedema, post Polio Syndrome and chronic pain issues. More information on Mary Essert is available at the bottom of the article.
I would also like to inform you that all the exercises for the upper and lower extremities I covered in the last blog entry (Decongestive and Breathing Exercises for Lymphedema) may be performed in the water as well.
Here is Mary’s article:
Following Joe Zuther’s recent article on Resistive Exercises, this article would be a natural sequence and serve as an introduction to another non-invasive tool to use in management of Lymphedema symptoms.
In addition to a number of other benefits, aquatic exercises have a strengthening effect on the musculature.
Remainder of article:
**This is an excellent source of solid lymphedema information and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in this condition. Pat O'Connor**

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Evidence based exercise - Clinical benefits of high intensity interval training.

Evidence based exercise - Clinical benefits of high intensity interval training.

Dec 2012


Obesity rates in Australia are among the highest in the world, with one in 4 adults being obese. Obesity increases the risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and stroke, three of the top five causes of burden of disease and injury in Australia.2 Dietary modification is the mainstay of any weight loss program and has been shown to improve cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors including blood pressure, lipids, serum glucose, glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) and insulin levels as well as reducing risk of acute coronary syndromes, stroke and all cause mortality. Exercise has been shown to be an important additional strategy to a weight loss program. However, in Australia, nearly 40% of males and 60% of females carry out insufficient daily physical activity.


Aerobic exercise has a marked impact on cardiovascular disease risk. Benefits include improved serum lipid profiles, blood pressure and inflammatory markers as well as reduced risk of stroke, acute coronary syndrome and overall cardiovascular mortality. Most exercise programs prescribed for fat reduction involve continuous, moderate aerobicexercise, as per Australian Heart Foundation clinical guidelines.


This article describes the benefits of exercise for patients with cardiovascular and metabolic disease and details the numerous benefits of high intensity interval training (HIIT) in particular.


Aerobic exercise has numerous benefits for high-risk populations and such benefits, especially weight loss, are amplified with HIIT. High intensity interval training involves repeatedly exercising at a high intensity for 30 seconds to several minutes, separated by 1-5 minutes of recovery (either no or low intensity exercise). HIT is associated with increased patient compliance and improved cardiovascular and metabolic outcomes and is suitable for implementation in both healthy and 'at risk' populations. Importantly, as some types of exercise are contraindicated in certain patient populations and HIIT is a complex concept for those unfamiliar to exercise, some patients may require specific assessment or instruction before commencing a HIIT program.