Harvard researchers have discovered what they call “the relaxation effect.”
What they’ve learned is that daily relaxation causes bodily changes all the way down to our genetic level.
For those people who practiced daily relaxation long term, their disease-fighting genes were active, as opposed to people who did not make relaxation a part of their lives.
The relaxation practicing participants seemed to have ‘switched on’ genes that protect them from high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, pain, and even infertility.
But wait! There’s more…
When the researchers in the study asked the non-relaxation practicing participants to start using relaxation methods, it only took two months for their bodies to begin changing. Genes that fight inflammation and help prevent
cancer began turning on! And the more they practiced relaxation, the more improved were the benefits.
The takeaway message? You can’t afford not to relax. Too much is riding on this.
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by Susan Ohlsen
Effects of Good Posture versus Bad
Over time, your body tends to bend forward, moving your center of balance in the same direction, making your body unstable as you walk, and increasing your chances of falling down. Similarly, adaptive patterns of movement can increase the stress on your joints. For instance, frequently slouching puts pressure on your vertebrae, ultimately causing discs to become compressed and resulting in neck and back pain. Conversely, good posture makes you feel better. Your muscles are more limber, and you have better mobility and less tension in your neck and shoulders, back, legs, and spine. Thus, having a good posture is very important for preventing pain and maintaining better balance.
For better posture, a single exercise done properly is best. We suggest that you stand with your back to the wall with your heels two inches from it. Hold your chin down onto your chest, and then with your chin tucked in, attempt to touch the wall with the back of your head. Most people over 50 years old don’t succeed in doing so, but it is a good exercise to practice anyway.
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Husna Lapidus, who has been a member of Elevate Fitness for over a year now, is the owner of The Kumon Math and Reading Center in Dewitt.
We asked Husna to tell us about the center:
“60 years ago, the Kumon Method was created by a dad who wanted to help his son develop a love of learning and do better in school. Today, Kumon is the world’s largest after-school math and reading program, helping millions of children reach their full academic potential. My center, Kumon of DeWitt, serves the CNY area.
“Kumon’s mission is to unlock the potential of children, from preschool through high school, so they can achieve more on their own. The learning method uses an individualized approach that helps children develop a solid command of math and reading skills. Kumon assignments build solid study habits and help students progress their academic skills through daily practice.”
Q: What led you to this career?
A: I am fascinated by human motivation and brain plasticity, and I’m constantly faced with opportunities to motivate young people and to elevate their skills. What I do truly develops a child’s confidence, character, and attitude toward learning. There’s nothing more satisfying than that.
Q: Your business has a lot in common with Elevate, you promote intellectual fitness. Tell us about that.
A: That’s true – at Kumon we even use the word “elevate” a lot when referring to training the minds and attitudes of our students. Just like at the gym, my students come “as they are,” seeking to become better versions of themselves. My job and my passion is to provide students and their families an avenue for elevating their skills and abilities, to feel better about themselves and gain confidence. What you’d notice about Kumon students is that these young people have incredibly strong character in addition to a solid academic prowess.
Q: The Kumon Center isn’t a tutoring center, in fact, what you do has a further reaching benefit than tutoring. Can you tell us why?
A: Tutoring certainly has its place, but what sets Kumon apart is our time-tested methodology for developing self-learners. We don’t teach or tutor in the traditional sense; rather we focus on the development of habits and skills for life-long learning. Our math and reading curriculums are the catalysts for achieving that. We want our students to leave the center feeling accomplished and successful every time. It takes patience and humility to put aside my own ego and abilities to allow the students to realize their own potential and feel they are responsible for and capable of their own learning. When a child has a question or they feel stuck, we absolutely do help them, but instead of teaching them step-by-step how to solve the problem, we tap into the skills s/he has already mastered to draw out the correct answer. This way, the child – not anyone else – is the one who deserves the credit for his or her own learning. That feeling of pride in one’s self is what drives these kids to want to keep achieving more and more.
Q: Who are your services intended for?
A: Our students range from age 3 through high school. Some families seek our service because they have children who are struggling in school, some start early so their child never experiences struggle in school, and others want to provide an additional challenge for their child who is already advanced. We don’t limit our students to their age or grade level; in fact, most of our students begin working one-grade level ahead within 6-12 months, and many reach 3 or more grade levels ahead of their school grade.
Q: How can families benefit from Kumon?
A: Families benefit from having confident kids. Confidence does so much for a child. We all know that kids who are bullies lack confidence in themselves. With self-confidence kids become kinder and more compassionate toward others. They become leaders in their classrooms, and they tend to not need tutors down the line. They start being able to finish homework super-fast, which frees them up to do other activities like tennis or swimming lessons. My kids and so many of my Kumon students participate in these services at Elevate Fitness. It’s so important. These days the top colleges and universities look for more than just good grades – they want a well-rounded student. If you’re struggling academically, or if you lack confidence, you’re less able to pursue extracurricular activities that give you that competitive edge.
Q: You’re also a parent, tell us how you’re able to balance everything without sacrificing taking care of yourself.
A: In my first year of business ownership, I unexpectedly got pregnant with my third child. I was so busy, overworked and exhausted that my health really suffered. I gained too much weight in my pregnancy, and although I was working harder than ever before, I beat myself up for “letting myself go.” I knew I needed to do something to get back on track but managed to find every excuse to delay or avoid the work necessary to find health and fitness again. Finally, I decided that I deserved better than how I was treating myself and my body. My husband and kids deserve healthy wife and mom, my students deserve an energetic instructor, and my community needs strong leaders. When I got my priorities and goals aligned, I could start manifesting those rewards. I can’t say my balance is perfect, but it is something I feel good about. Now I’d recommend to anyone struggling with work-life-balance — lay out your priorities and goals on paper. Come back to those daily, weekly, monthly, and you’ll soon find it effortless to act in pursuit of your goals wholeheartedly.
Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s considering entrepreneurship in Syracuse?
A: Do what you are passionate about. If you truly are passionate about your field, the copious amounts of work will fill you up rather than drain you. If you can finish your day’s work and be simultaneously exhausted and blissful, you’ll know you’re doing it right.
Q: What’s one thing you wish you knew before you opened your own business?
A: I was happy to open a business where I didn’t have to report to anyone other than myself. I wish I had known how tough a boss I would be. I expect a lot of myself, I always seek ways to improve, and that means I work very hard. Knowing that before I opened the business, I wouldn’t have chosen not to do it, but it would have been nice to be prepared.
Q: You work with a personal trainer, Jeff, how has that helped you get more out of your Elevate membership.
A: Jeff keeps me accountable. When I have “training with Jeff” on my calendar, I always show up. The best part is that he takes the thinking out of my training. Knowing he has the perfect workout planned just for me, to help me reach my goals – that’s one less thing I have to plan out for myself. I always feel great after my training sessions with him because I know I made the best use out of that hour that I possibly could. For someone as busy as I am, efficiency is absolutely key.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share with Elevate Fitness members?
A: I love seeing so many of my students and their parents at Elevate. When I’m training, I really do keep them in mind. It feels great knowing that I follow the very same advice I give them by trying to better myself, and to work hard to achieve my goals. I think when my students see me there, all sweaty and breathless, they realize I’m a regular person just like everyone else out there struggling to improve, and that’s just one more thing I can connect with them about.
Q: Final question: what are your favorite and least favorite exercises?
A: I’ve learned that my least-favorite exercises were the ones I felt least confident doing. Now I’ve adopted the attitude I expect of my own students – we have to work to get good at things, and when we get good at them, we start to love them. For that reason, I don’t have a least-favorite, but my absolute most favorite is unequivocally the Turkish Get Up.
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by Michael Meola, Elevate Fitness Personal Trainer
With so many ways to exercise and workout, it seems as though muscle building, or rather strength training exercises have really taken a back seat in people’s minds, either being some people feel it isn’t needed or it belongs to a certain group of gym goers- the meatheads in the weight rooms of gyms.
Before your next gym session considering some of these benefits to strength training.
Better Cardiovascular Health: 2013 research study in the Journal of Applied Physiology demonstrates that applied strength training to young men showed improved numbers in HDL, or good cholesterol compared to those who have never touched a barbell. The study explains that proper strength training improved blood pressure and triglyceride levels similar to those who cardio train, BUT even better impact of HDL.
Controls Blood Sugar Levels: Resistance training is something that should be incorporated for anyone with Type 2 diabetes. In a 2013 review published in the Journal BioMed research it showed that in addition to building muscle, strength training also helps the body use glucose, or blood sugar, getting it out of the blood and into the muscle, thus decreasing blood sugar levels.
Lowered Risk of Injury: Strength training also helps with bone density, which can help counteract forms of arthritis and fibromyalgia (which is more of a musculoskeletal disorder) as well as increasing muscle mass which can help protect ligaments and soft tissue. If a muscle is too weak, it places added stress on connective tissue.
Helping with Flexibility and Mobility: Results from a 2017 study in the Journal of IsoKinetics and Exercise Science shows that strength training improves flexibility in both men and women. Eccentric focused strength training showed twice as much hamstring flexibility than normal static stretching. If you take the muscles and joints through their full range of motion through strength training, you will increase that range over time.
Outside of these reasons, I want to dive into a more anecdotal reason I want to change people’s lives through strength training. 10 years ago I busted up my back pretty bad. L4 L5 herniated. I can still remember the pain to this day. The sharp bolts down my leg, not being able to move right or ever stand up straight. I remember randomly falling because my body would give out, my mom having to carry me, tears rolling down my face. I remember bouncing from Physical Therapists to Chiropractors for almost 5 years; I remember doctors telling me I’d need shots every 6 months and that surgery was the only way to fix me up. I remember being told I’d never be able to exercise the same or do much of anything regarding my back and exercise. Cut to today 5 years into dedicated strength training with squats, deadlifts, hinges, pushing and pulling with a barbell I can say I never went through surgery, never once had any injections in my back, and I have been pain free lifting more than I ever thought possible with a 545 lb Squat and a 505 lb deadlift.
Now, this may not be everyone’s comeback story. I’m not saying everyone should try and squat crazy weight. I’m not saying this is the only way to workout, or that it is superior to other forms of exercise. What I am saying is more people should give strength training and barbell training a real chance.
My mission statement in life is to empower my clients and people through strength. Strength is never a weakness.
Michael Meola is a certified personal trainer at Elevate Fitness in Liverpool, NY. To book a complimentary* consultation session with him, fill out the form at the bottom of this page and request Michael when booking your session.
*First time clients, local residents aged 18 and over, other restrictions may apply