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Exercise or Die, the Choice is Yours!

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Ann Jillian with husband Andy Murcia
Los Angeles, CA–I have a new best friend!  This new friend should be a very pretty, young lady that knows how to have fun! Unfortunately, my closest friend has become my refrigerator since the KungFlu-Covid-19 came by.

With the closure of malls, parks and beaches we’ve been incarcerated like criminals in our homes.  We sit or lay around watching Scare TV and obsess on our food and of course treats. 


If you’re like me, you found your clothes are shrinking right in our closets.  Of course, none of this is good. 


The lockdown for many of us is just as deadly as the Plague we are hiding from.  Many of us aside from being seniors have underlying issues such as diabetes, heart conditions or previous or current cancers to deal with.


What can we do to avoid laying in bed all day?  


My very dear friends, actress, singer and dancer, Ann Jillian and her husband, retired Chicago Police Sergeant Andy Murcia have the answer!  They swear by the fun they are having and the marvelous results!


Ann Jillian was hit with breast cancer more than three decades ago. Ann’s cancer battle became very public national news. She was so popular at the time a film, The Ann Jillian Story was pushed into production.  Ann wound up playing herself and French Connection actor, Tony LoBianco played Andy.  Ann won a Golden Globe award for her acting in this 1988 film. 


The screenwriter was Audrey Davis Levin.  The screenwriter’s daughter is, Kristina S. Davis MSW, LCSW 


Kristina happens to be an American Council on Exercise certified Group Fitness Instructor.  She developed the program.  She described it well in her own articles that I have attached below.




Kristina s. Davus
The Benefits of Walking

“Walking is the closest thing we have to a wonder drug.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention former director, Dr. Tom Frieden 

Did you know that just by walking you can become stronger and have more energy? Walking can help your brain think better, make you feel calmer, strengthen your immune system, improve your weight and appearance, as well as help prevent and manage chronic health conditions.

OUR DAILY FUNCTIONING

After age 30, we can lose up to 5% of our body’s muscle for every decade we’re inactive. After age 70, we can lose 3% of our muscle per year (Dr. Donn Fuhrmann). Less muscle means we’re weaker so we have to use more energy to move through our day.

Walking strengthens and increases our muscles, especially the stomach, legs and buttocks. Because we have more muscle, our daily tasks are easier to do.

Think MUSCLE = ENERGY.

Walking improves our circulation and helps us sleep better.

Walking improves our breathing. Our digestion and elimination systems function better as well. 

Our balance and coordination improve so we have less chance of falling.

Walkers’ immune systems perform better. A study of 1,000 people found those who walked 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days from colds and flu than those who exercised once a week. And if they got sick, their symptoms were milder and they got better faster.

OUR BRAIN FUNCTIONING

The areas of the brain that control memory and thinking are larger in people who exercise than in people who don’t.“Regular Exercise Changes the Brain” reports that memory and the ability to think improve with walking.

OUR EMOTIONS

Feel on edge sometimes? Those feelings that rob us of our enjoyment of life like depressionanxiety and anger can be lessened by walking. Walking releases chemicals in the brain called endorphins that cause us to feel a sense of wellbeing.

Walking can also decrease PMS symptoms and balance hormonal levels of menopause.

WEIGHT LOSSMAINTENANCE  and APPEARANCE

Walking burns calories. But the scale is only half the story. Because walking increases our ratio of muscle to fat, we get leaner, lose inches and fit into smaller clothing sizes.

We burn more calories even when we aren’t exercising because maintaining muscle requires more calories than maintaining fat.  

The Benefits of Walking

- Page 2 -

The effects of workouts done by 50,000 adults over 13 years, found walkers tend to be thinner than those who go to the gym or only practice high-intensity workouts (London School of Economics and Political Science study).

Walking also tightens our skin, reduces leg flab and belly fat.

CHRONIC HEALTH CONDITIONS - Prevention and Management

Walking can help prevent and manage many chronic health conditions like heart diseasehigh blood pressure and coronary artery disease.

Walking can lower high cholesterol.

Because walking improves the body’s response to insulin and balances blood sugar levels it can reduce the chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes and help those who have it manage it better.

Walking can improve respiratory conditions like asthma because it opens our airways and lungs.

Walking can reduce inflammation and chronic pain from arthritis.

It protects the joints - especially knees and hips, which are most at risk for osteoarthritis.  Walking strengthens our bones to help prevent osteoporosis.

Research shows walking can actually lower the risk for some cancers; colon, breast (American Cancer Society), esophageal, liver, and GI tract and stomach cancer.

Walking can even help our eye health – “Walk for Better Eyesight” – Discover Walking.com.

IN SUMMARY

Genetics and other factors, such as diet, life style and environment play a role in our overall health. Walking a minimum of 150 minutes a week or 30 minutes 5 days a week is one positive lifestyle choice we can make to enhance our wellbeing. So, put on your favorite music and take a walk; outside or just walk in place to your music at home. Happy walking!

Always consult your primary health care provider before starting an exercise program, buy a good pair of walking shoes, drink water and stop exercising if you feel any discomfort.

Sources: Quotation from article, Harvard Health Publishing of the Harvard Medical School,  American Heart Association,Mayo Clinic,  Sleep Health Journal, Arthritis Foundation “12 Benefits of Walking” HealthPrepMSN Health & Fitness “50 Amazing Benefits of Walking Daily”, University of Pittsburgh Study on Walking, WebMD, Health.com

Compiled by Kristina S. Davis, MSW, LCSW, American Council on Exercise certified Group Fitness Instructor 2020

Walking is the closest thing we have to a wonder drug.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention former director Dr. Tom Frieden

After 30, we can lose up to 5% of our body’s muscle for every decade we’re inactive (Harvard Health Publishing).  After 70, it’s 3% loss a year.  Having less muscle means we’re weaker so we need more energy to move through our day. ThinkMUSCLE = ENERGY.  

Experts recommend two strength training workouts and 150 minutes of aerobic activity (30 minutes 5 days a week).

Walking is both aerobic and muscle strengthening. If you add arm and leg movements, you get a strength workout as well as an aerobic workout.

Walking outdoors is very beneficial. So is mall walking. However, when weather or time constraints are involved, or you’re just beginning an exercise program or you want to strengthen your whole body, in-home walking is recommended.  

In-Home Walking is: 

1. Walking done in place to music  

2. Varying the pace of the music so you walk at a pace that: 

 - Warms up your body                                                                                                                        

 - Conditions your body – aerobic level                                                           

 - Cools down your body

3. Uses arm and leg movements and directional changes  

4. Ends with stretching

Movements : raising your arms (raise them at an angle not straight up), pushing them forward, pulling them back, side raises, bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, knee raises, kicking your leg forward tapping to the side, waist rotations. 

Directional changes:  stepping side to side and forward and back.

If you don’t have good balance just walk until your legs get stronger. Then, carefully add the movements and directional changes. You can hold on to a chair or “walk” while sitting.

Set a VERY EASY goal you know you can achieve, “I’ll walk 5 minutes 3 times a week”. Make it really easy. You can always do more if you feel like it.

Check with your primary health care provider and get their ok before starting an exercise program.

Purchase a good pair of walking shoes at a store that knows about exercise. Get fitted later in the day because our feet swell during the day. Rotate your ankles to make sure your have full range of motion.

Walk on a surface with a wood foundation not concrete, preferably not carpeted or if carpeted, with a low pileDrink water before and after you walk and have water available as you walk. 

People with physical limitationschronic health conditions or special medical needs may have other issues they need to address when exercising. Again, check with your primary health care provider. 

Recovery: drink water, eat healthy, rest and get extra sleep after increased activity.

Starting Your Own In-Home Walking Plan

- Page 2 -

1. Create your own plan with your own music ¯

Music is the key to success. It motivates us to keep moving and makes walking fun. Research shows listening to music has many health benefits for the mind, body and emotions.

Choose music from your CDs, cassettes, Cable Music channels, Roku streaming APPs (Pandora), Alexa, cell phone APPs like Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music ($) or buy songs from ITunes or Clickmix.com.

Choosing Music

The beat of the music determines how fast you walk. For some people who are older, have chronic pain, or are overweight or beginners, walking at a regular pace will be a moderate aerobic workout. For others, walking at a faster pace will meet the moderate aerobic criteria. Use the Talk Test described below to determine if you are walking aerobically.

Warm-up music:  about 5 minutes long (6 to 8 minutes if you are older or just beginning) to gently increase your circulation and warm up your muscles.  This may be all you do at first which is fine. Enjoy the music and movement.

Conditioning music: The next few songs should be a bit faster than your Warm Up song(s). Use the Talk Test by talking out loud. You should be able to talk, while feeling your breathing and heart rate increase a bit. You may begin to perspire a bit as well. But if at any time you feel uncomfortable, nauseas, or dizzy, stop, rest, and drink some water if needed.                                                                                                          

Cool-down music:  about 5 minutes long, should be a slower pace so your heart rate and breathing return to normal. 

End with some relaxing music and do some stretches for your legs, back, neck, shoulders and arms. Find ideas for stretching at the library or on the Internet. Never over-stretch your muscles. Breathe deeply as you stretch and do what feels good.

2.  Walk along with a pre-packaged program or instructor - on YouTube, DVD, or APP

Leslie Sansone started the walk at home movement 25 years ago. Watch her on YouTube to see if you like her. Watch a class she leads, not her instructors.

She does arm and leg movements and directional changes which give you examples of movements to do even if you don’t walk with her. Always listen to your bodyModify any exercise routine so it fits you.

If you like working out with her but her pace is too fast to do the movements, just walk to her pace. You can purchase her products at walkathome.com> or Amazon. There are other instructors on YouTube but they use a fast pace as well. Verv has an APP called “Walking” with beginner, intermediate and advanced walking programs, music mixes included. 

If you want a slower pace, choose your own music. 

Walking is an easy fun way to improve your health so put on the music and happy walking. 

Copyright Kristina S. Davis MSW, LCSW 2020

American Council on Exercise certified Group Fitness Instructor 

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