According to the American College of Sports Medicine, Seattle is the 8th healthiest city in the Nation. Our neighbors to the south, Portland rank just above as the 7th healthiest city and Washington D.C. ranks as the top healthy city in the nation.
According to the index Seattle can improve in the following areas:
Exercising can be really intimidating, especially for populations that have poor health habits, lack of exercise aside. However more research is showing that even a little exercise can improve health outcomes for these populations. One such population are smokers. A study that followed nearly half a million Taiwainese smokers over 12 years found that smokers who exercised for just 15 minutes per day were 55% more successful at quitting smoking and 44% less likely to relapse. Just 15 minutes!!
Other similar studies have found:
Smokers who are exercises 30-minutes per day increased their life expectancy by 3.7 years
Ex-smokers who exercised 30-minutes per day increased their life expectancy by 5.6 years and reduced their risk of death by 43%
Bridging has come a long way from it’s hip thrusting roots of the 1980s. Check out this intermediate bridging variation practiced by Bodytonic clients. Note the precise form and slow burn with which they perform this variation – perfection!
Here is a look at an original Pilates Mat Class taught by the one and only Joseph Pilates. This video and is both interesting and funn(y) to watch. Both beginning and advanced Pilates students will recognize some of the exercises taught in this video. The well seasoned Pilates practitioner will notice some modern kinesiology and biomechanics inspired adaptions absent from this video. For example, JP provides a cardio warm up in which he bounces on the balls of his feet while in plantar flexion. Nope. Don’t do it. 🙂
Shave the Head, Forward Reach, and Boxing with Rotation are 3 of my favorite arm exercises. They are nothing new or terribly innovative, but they are dynamic and they feel great. Shave and Forward reach are especially great because they really challenge your back extensors and Boxing will provided a surprisingly good workout for your quadriceps and gluteals. The finger flip I incorporate during Forward Reach is not a component of the classical choreography, but rather hints at my early gymnastics background, muscle memory ya’ know.
Check out this really cool vintage Pilates video featuring JP himself! Clients at Bodytonic will recognize some variation of most of these exercise with exceptions at 4:18, 5:43, and 14:30. However I am strongly consider adding 5:43 too the mix. 🙂
This video is of an advanced variation of a crowd favorite Pilates exercise, Short Spine. I think Pilates practitioners love this exercise because it allows for a deep stretch and elongation of the back muscles. Like many classic Pilates exercises, the movement in this exercise involves vertebral column loading while in flexion. It should be noted that loading in flexion IS NOT the safest position for your spine. Therefore, exercises that involve loading in flexion should not be performed by everyone, and when performed they should be practiced sparingly, cautiously, and with focus. Furthermore, exercises in vertebral column flexion should be balanced with those performed in extension. During your next workout, note how many exercises involve vertebral column loading.
P.S – Please forgive my fly-aways and early 2000s workout attire. This video was made in 2014 and was originally produced for my eyes only so that I could check out my own form from various angles.
Just breathe! But, how, what does this look like, and why should I do it?
We will go over the how and what in a bit, but let’s start with the why.
Why Breathe? (Aside from the obvious)
Focused, deep breathing has been associated with a multitude of health benefits:
enhanced immune system
Here is a NYT article that briefly reviews some of the benefits of breathing. My favorite part of this article is at the end where it explains 5 deep breathing techniques that you can easily practice. Also, here is another article from Harvard Health Publications that again briefly reviews the benefits of breathing and provides some tips to incorporate a breathing practice into your daily life.
What does proper breathing look like.
In general, when you inhale (inspiration) your rib cage draws upward and expands three dimensionally. When you exhale (expiration) your ribcage drops and deflates 3 dimensionally. When I say 3 dimensionally, I am referring to the anterior, posterior, and lateral surfaces of your ribcage.
How do I breathe? What muscles are involved?
Did you know that there two different levels of inhaling and exhaling. These levels of breathing are known regular or passive inhaling/exhaling and forced or active inhaling/exhaling. Inhaling and exhaling, both in regular and forced forms require different structural movements and therefore different muscular actions. The following video summarizes these concepts nicely. Note how transversus abdominis facilitates forced expiration and how the neck muscles, sternocleidodmastoid and the scalenes facilitate forced inspiration.
And here is another video the reviews the mechanics of breathing in a more detailed fashion.