Did you know we are only as strong as our core? Our core is muscles deep within the body that surround our organs. Without them, we couldn’t even stand up! You can build up tons of arm and leg muscles, but without a strong core base, you will be wobbling and off balance. As we age, we can have ear issues like Tinnitus, medicines or health conditions that affect our stability. A high percentage of falls could be prevented with better balance, and everyday life requires us to be stable as we walk on and around obstacles and uneven surfaces. All of this makes it critical for all of us to work on our core strength.
Yoga is an excellent way to gain not only stability and balance but strength. Each Asana or pose utilizes deep muscle within to hold the position. One of my favorites is the pointing dog. On the floor, get on all fours (hands and knees) and extend your right arm out in front of you. At the same time, extend your left leg behind you. Hold and breathe. After about 20 to 30 seconds, switch it up with your left arm out and right leg extended. This is something you can do in your living room, and you can do it every day.
High intensity, interval training or HIIT classes are on the rise, and they also challenge us with balance. It weaves in high intensity moves with slow, controlled poses. This is the basis of my Interval Class I am teaching outside. You can view a sample of it on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZitaXnnflhM
Circuit classes when conducted properly can also be a good alternative. The key is to do something every day that requires us to stabilize. Balance is good for our brains, too! Do a quad stretch where you bring your heel to your glut and raise the opposite arm up to the sky. Hold and breath. Want to make it more challenging? Grab that foot with the opposite arm and extend the other up. This gives you a great stretch while working your core balance.
Like anything, we will lose it if we don’t use it. Don’t forget your core!
This year has brought to the surface a serious problem we have in the United States called Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (PTSD), a mental disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, serious accident, combat/war or violent assault (APA 2020). I would now add COVID-19 to the list for some as countless people have lost their jobs and homes as a result of the shutdown. When we see the suicides rise, it is too late. We need to watch for these signs:
- Chronic anxiety
- Difficulty sleeping
- Extreme irritability
- Angry outburst
- Panic attacks
- Easily startled
- On-going depression
Besides seeking professional help, exercise can be a great help to overcoming PTSD. Unfortunately, the weight of mental depression can prevent people from moving, resulting in other health issues as a result. This is where a personal trainer or fitness coach can help! Working with someone who can design a customized workout for you can ensure you don’t overdo it. Moderation is the key when transitioning through the physical affects of PTSD. Yoga, Tai chi, Pilates and other meditative programs are excellent sources of decompressing and getting centered.
If you or a loved one suffers from PTSD, seek help and get physical before it is too late. Don’t try to push through on your own.
Drs. Edward A. Charlesworth and Ronald G. Nathan, authors of Stress Management: A Comprehensive Guide to Wellness, report that 90 percent of visits to healthcare providers is stress related. Illness and disease disrupt work flow, threaten delivery dates, and decrease productivity throughout the organization, all of which have a negative impact on the bottom line.
I encourage companies to start with education and training in relation to physical health. With that, we must help employees understand their personal cost to an unhealthy, stressful lifestyle:
- Low energy;
- Restless nights/lack of sleep;
- Decreased productivity;
- Unhappiness/mood swings;
- Frequent sickness/illness:
- Excessive hair loss;
- Weight gain;
- Diseases such as coronary heart disease, cancer, diabetes, emphysema, etc.
- Sexual dysfunction;
- Premature death;
- And yes, job loss.
Stress is known to increase our body’s Cortisol, which can lead to weight gain due to its effect on appetite and cravings for high-calorie foods. As Today’s Dietician states, “Cortisol can mobilize triglycerides from storage and relocate them to visceral fat cells (those under the muscle, deep in the abdomen).” Stress is more than an unrealistic deadline or screaming boss; individuals have personal stressors affecting their quality of health and life such as a troubled marriage or difficult children. The result of excessive stress can be alcohol abuse, overeating, misuse of drugs, insomnia, chronic pain, depression, and obsessive-compulsive behavior.
The decision to make healthy choices and cope with stress in productive ways is still the individual’s, but with knowledge comes power. If companies combine physical health programs with stress management workshops and offer professional support, they will have a winning combination. I suggest the enlistment of fitness professionals like myself who can integrate and optimize a comprehensive wellness program: educate, train, motivate, encourage, support, and teach healthy lifestyle habits to employees.
The more creative your wellness programs, the more they will reach the masses. Remember, a variety of personality styles fashion your team and will need to accommodate all styles. If you haven’t run assessments in a while, people like me can help! Our reports can give insights into what specific factors negatively influence people and offer suggestions on how to handle and recover from stress.
Don’t forget to enlist your associate’s suggestions and feedback. When wellness programs are designed in a vacuum, they tend to fall flat. One company I know recently relocated to a new building. This gave HR the opportunity to design the break room based upon employee needs. Traditional snack vending machines were replaced with those that dished out salads and healthy sandwiches. Employee cards are used to track points for healthy eating and exercise and then are used for rewards and recognition.
If you are looking for a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to offer some immediate stress relief, yoga is an exceptional for not only stress management but also for pain relief. A good yoga class stretches and strengthens muscles, providing a balanced workout for the body and mind. Simple breathing techniques can be used at a person’s desk, on a plane traveling for business, or during a lunch break that immediately reduce blood pressure, tension, and stress.
Whether you start big or small, the money spent on employee wellness will pay huge dividends! Need help developing or optimizing your wellness program? I’d be happy to help.
Now is the time to get a handle on the holidays before they consume you and create chaos! My booklet, Holiday Survival Guide, gives you practical, down-to-earth suggestions on how to take back holidays so you can enjoy them once again.