Category - Exercise

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Movement for Mental Health
2
Stretch It Out!
3
Exercising During the Workday is a Win-Win
4
Prepping for the Dark Season
5
The Power of Habit
6
How to Get Started Mountain Biking
7
Electric Bikes- The Wave of the Future
8
Get Outside and Get Moving!
9
How 336 Dimples Helped Me Lose 20 Pounds

Movement for Mental Health

By: Julie Bomengen

“Get some exercise!” — I know you hear it all the time, but bear with me because while most people understand that exercise is good for the body, fewer of us think about the connections between movement and mental health. We are going to dive into why movement is a pillar for mental health and how being active on a daily basis supports optimal brain health, as well as emotional and mental well-being.

As hunters and gatherers, our ancestors moved to survive. Every day for the majority of each day, they sprinted, jogged, climbed, carried, and jumped intermittently, walking an average of 6 miles and running ½ to 1 mile each day. Needless to say, our human bodies were designed to move! Fast forward to today and research reveals that the typical U.S. adult is sedentary for 60% of their life and sits for six to seven hours per day.  Clearly, there is a mismatch between what we are designed to do and what we are doing, and this disconnect is having major implications for our physical health as well as our emotional and mental wellbeing.

So why does movement help mental health?

  • Moving our bodies is the simplest way to improve mood due to the endorphins and mood-boosting chemicals, serotonin and dopamine, that are released when we are active and engaged in something that is pleasurable. When we engage in regular, consistent activity, our brain’s dopamine receptors are sensitized which enhances the reward and pleasure experience. Movement becomes more and more rewarding and beneficial over time. Keep at it!
  • Symptoms of anxiety and depression have been found to decline when these same mood-boosting chemicals are released.
  • Stress can be reduced when we are active due to the increase in concentration of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that can modulate the brain’s response to stress.
  • Improved brainpower and memory enhancement results when we move our bodies because new brain cells are created through a process called neurogenesis. Workouts increase a brain protein called Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) which promotes the survival of neurons, thereby facilitating such things as decision-making, higher levels of thinking. and learning processes.
  • There’s something to be said for the feeling of confidence that comes with and after participating in something physical that challenges us.  Even when it’s hard or doesn’t yield the desired effect right off, there is the opportunity to feel strong, capable, motivated, and proud of what you did or what you are in the process of doing. By moving your body in any way, you are saying that you matter and have value — that is something that translates into self-love and confidence. Keep at it!! Today, tomorrow, and the day after that — just keep moving.
  • While you’re moving, move on out to the great outdoors! Research tells us that the extra Vitamin D that comes from the sunshine (even when it’s cloudy, we are getting some degree of Vitamin D), fresh air, and being among the healing elements of nature add to the overall mental health benefits of moving our bodies outside. Pick one outside activity to try out this week. How about a walk on the Rail-Trail?  Also, much has been written about the idea of “nature deficit disorder” in our population, particularly among children. Get your kids outside moving with you – you’ll be shaping lifelong behaviors that will serve you in profound and deeply meaningful ways.
  • Moving our bodies helps us relax more which, in turn, can support a healthy circadian rhythm which improves sleep, which in turn, makes us feel better, mentally and emotionally. See how all of this is inter-connected?! Check out my earlier post if you need a reminder of why sleep is also a pillar of mental health.
  • Engaging in some form of physical movement on a regular basis helps improve productivity and creativity.  Research is revealing that working for 45 minutes and then taking a 15 minute break and getting up and moving our bodies provides us with a burst of energy that improves productivity and brain functioning while also improving mood.
  • Moving our bodies can be even more beneficial when we move with others as we often feel more inspired and supported, and less alone when we are engaging in an activity with a friend or joining a group of people who are working towards a common goal. As one idea, how about contacting the Green Mountain Club and joining in one of their scheduled walks/hikes? Bring a friend along or make a new friend in the process.
  • People who are struggling with addictions of any kind benefit from having positive, healthy substitute behaviors to engage in. Our brains release dopamine – the reward chemical – when we are engaging in things that are pleasurable. Exercise can produce this pleasurable state, thereby offering the potential of being that substitute behavior for people who struggle with addiction. Also, movement reduces depressive symptoms and stress, which improves mood and has been shown to help diminish cravings for drugs and alcohol.

As you can see, physical movement is essential for positive mental health outcomes. Think about the activities you enjoyed as a kid – roller skating, swimming, dancing, hula hooping, playing basketball, rowing a boat, jumping rope, hiking through the woods, or walking along a stream. Find something you love and do it. Do it slowly at first, with a friend at times, alone with your thoughts at other times. Pick up the pace next time and feel your breath move through your body. Look around while you’re moving outside and find gratitude for the beauty of this community we live in. Breathe fully and deeply and find love and compassion for yourself, knowing that any movement or activity you engage in supports your body, your mind, and your emotional well-being. 

Resources to Further your Education and Information:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-simply-moving-benefits-your-mental-health-201603289350

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/the-mental-health-benefits-of-exercise.htm

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-works-and-why/201803/how-your-mental-health-reaps-the-benefits-exercise

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/people-in-nature/200901/no-more-nature-deficit-disorder


Julie Bomengen is a Vermont Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC) with 22 years of experience in the field of mental health. Julie is also a Nutritional Therapy Consultant (NTC), a certification of the Nutritional Therapy Association. She lives, works and plays in Lamoille County.

Stretch It Out!

By: Emily Neilsen

For as long as I’ve exercised, I’ve had some inkling that stretching played a role in physical fitness. Flexibility was measured in the Presidential Fitness Tests administered every year in elementary school and gym teachers and coaches diligently included a few stretches during warm-ups. But the message I always took away was that stretching was an afterthought – good to do, but much less important (and more boring!) then cardiovascular and strength-building exercise.

Photo of the author practicing yoga in her third trimester.

I took this perspective with me into the yoga studio when I first began attending classes. I loved the challenging flows and strengthening poses instructors guided us through. But as things wound down toward the end of class and slower stretches were introduced, I returned to my old thinking. “This is boring and not all that important.” It’s a bit surprising, I suppose, that I would later become a yoga instructor with a deep appreciation for the benefits of stretching. In fact, I now truly enjoy doing them.

Why the change? Adopting a regular yoga practice provided me an experiential understanding of the benefits. Quite simply, I felt markedly better in my body whether I was in motion or at rest. I came to appreciate the feeling of slowing down, focusing on my breath, and noticing my body becoming more flexible. Beyond these positive feelings, the benefits of stretching are wide-ranging. Stretching improves range of motion, enables muscles to work more effectively, decreases the risk of injury, and can greatly improve athletic performance. And, as we age, flexibility becomes essential as it improves mobility and independence. In fact, stretching is now considered as important as cardiovascular and strength-building exercise.

The good news is, you don’t have to devote your life to becoming a yoga instructor to enjoy the benefits of stretching. If time is a concern, try 10-15 minutes of stretching a few times a week or pick a couple of days a week to practice a form of exercise, such as yoga or pilates, that incorporates stretching.

If you’re stretching on your own, there are a few things to remember:

  1. Stretching is not a warm-up: Stretching cold muscles can cause injury.  Stretch after at least 10 minutes of light to moderate exercise.
  2. Be aware of pain: stretching can be uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t be painful. Stop stretching or take a less intense stretch if you notice pain, especially in your joints.
  3. Get some guidance: It’s worth knowing which muscles to stretch and how. Take a class, borrow a book, or do some research online.
  4. Be patient: The benefits of stretching are cumulative and you may not notice a huge shift right away. Over time though, your muscles will become more flexible, efficient and healthy, and you will likely notice an improvement in your joints.

For more information, visit https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/stretching/art-20047931.


Emily Neilsen is a mother and educator, who loves asking big questions, digging in the soil, swimming in natural bodies of water, and playing outdoors. She is a 500-hour and Prenatal certified yoga instructor. Emily currently plans arts & cultural events and reading initiatives, and works with first-year students at Northern Vermont University-Johnson. She cares deeply about health and believes mental health, movement, and diet play essential roles in wellness. Emily lives with her husband and 2-year-old, as well as a husky and a calico cat in Hyde Park, VT.

Exercising During the Workday is a Win-Win

By: Michele Whitmore

exercising during the workday

A couple of weeks ago, I read a great article on LinkedIn about the importance of taking time to exercise during the workday. The article affirmed my own personal feelings and beliefs about taking time out your workday for “me time”—and not feeling guilty about it. The guilt piece, I put on myself; we are all likely a little guilty of this too.

However, what I keep reminding myself is:

  • Regular exercise releases brain chemicals key for memory, concentration, and mental sharpness.
  • Regular exercise has been shown to increase efficiency.
  • Regular exercise helps maintain healthy blood pressure and weight.
  • Regular exercise improves one’s energy.
  • Regular exercise can improve one’s mood while also lowering stress and anxiety.

Life is busy. If you are a parent with active children, finding time to exercise after work or on weekends can be challenging. Been there, done that—not so well.

What I have learned is that scheduling in a “me” appointment either in the morning before the workday begins or taking a “runch” during the workday has made all the difference in my focus, productivity, and energy at work. I notice the difference when I do not make the time, and so does my supervisor, coworkers, and family. Now, they encourage me and remind me of the importance of that appointment which helps lessen my guilt and stick to my exercise plan.

Check with your supervisor first and let them know your “me time” plan and how it might slightly impact your work schedule, just in case you need a little flexibility getting into the office in the morning or taking a little extra time during lunch. That time will be made up because you will be more efficient, productive, focused, energized, happy, and healthy—all important attributes that a supervisor looks for.

Here are a few additional resources:

“How Exercise Can Improve Your Productivity and Efficiency.” Balance  – http://www.asteronlife.com.au/balance/fitness/exerciseproductivity#sthash.OTVVRaxR.dpbs

“How to Exercise During the Workday (And Why it’s Important).” BBC – http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20190116-why-you-should-exercise-during-the-workday—and-how?ocid=ww.social.link.linkedin

 


Michele Whitmore is the Associate Dean of Students at Johnson State College. She works closely with Student Service Departments within the College to provide purposeful events to students that will strengthen their professional leadership, personal growth, life skills development and social engagement. Thus far, the College has provided educational programs that cover LGBTQ issues, alcohol and drug use, sexual assault prevention, socio-economic struggles, and healthy choices related to eating well and being fit, to name a few. Michele writes about the outreach and program opportunities that enhance the wellness of a campus community.

Prepping for the Dark Season

By: Caleb Magoon

It’s getting dark and it’s a tough time of year to stay fit and healthy. “Stick season” (as it’s known here in Vermont), brings tough weather and limited daylight, making it harder to compel ourselves to get out and stay active.

That said, this is the perfect time to make a plan to stay active during the dark season, now through the winter. Here are a few thoughts on planning for the winter and staying safe in the dark.

Don’t let the dark get you down! Some of us will be driven inside, but others will continue activities outside and simply change how we do them. If your goal is to stay outdoors, safety and visibility need to be your number one priority. Safety vests and reflective material have gotten way better in recent years, and you need to own some. LED headlamps and lights have become more efficient, and red light and strobe options help make you super visible. The same is true for bike lights, which have gotten much nicer in recent years. Many options are rechargeable now so you don’t have to keep inserting new batteries. Reflective material and lights are worthy investments so you can walk, run, or bike safely during this time of year.

Stick season is a good time of year to see if working out at a gym is “for you.” Many gyms offer free trial periods, making it affordable to try out a new space. Try a few gyms and find one that fits you! Make sure it’s a place that fits your attitude towards staying fit (very serious vs. casual) and offers the equipment you need.

It is also worth considering the many alternative indoor fitness options that our area has to offer. Indoor pools are available at Johnson State College and The Swimming Hole in Stowe. Some resorts like the Golden Eagle in Stowe or Smugglers Notch offer open swim times. Other indoor activities include pickup games of soccer, volleyball, and racketball at places like Johnson State College, the Cambridge Community Center, Smugglers Notch, and more. There is also a local men’s basketball league, pickup soccer in the People’s Academy Gym, and our local pickleball club is seeking out an indoor play space. There are always games being played, just ask around!

Perhaps you don’t enjoy team sports? Well, it’s a great time to outfit your spare room, basement, or garage with some free weights, a bike trainer, or maybe an elliptical. Prepare now before you really need it.

In a month or so we will hopefully have enough snow and cold to enjoy some skating and snow activities, but a diverse fitness routine is always ideal. Be prepared with at least one indoor activity that isn’t dependent on the weather.

Now is the time to line up your plans for staying active this winter – there’s no need to wait for the really cold temperatures. Start looking for local groups you can plan with and locations where you can work out or stay fit; or come up with your winter outdoor safety plan including lights, warm clothes, and routes you can safely run or bike. Beware of hunting season which is now on.

The more prepared we are and the better the plan, the more likely you are to stick to it. So use stick season as your excuse to prepare. After all, winter is coming!


Caleb Magoon is a Hyde Park native who grew up hiking, hunting, biking and exploring Vermont’s Green Mountains. His passions for sports and recreation have fueled his career as the owner of Power Play Sports and Waterbury Sports. Caleb encourages outdoor activity and believes it is an essential element to a healthy lifestyle and the Vermont way of life. Caleb serves the Lamoille Valley by volunteering on numerous community boards such as the Lamoille County Planning Commission, The Morrisville Alliance for Commerce and Culture, Mellow Velo, and the state chapter of The Main Street Alliance. He lives, plays and works in Hyde Park with his wife Kerrie.

The Power of Habit

By: Rorie Dunphey

Have you ever ‘decided’ to make changes to your health (lose weight, quit smoking, start exercising…), only to be disappointed in yourself days or weeks later having ‘failed’? You may feel disappointed in yourself due to a ‘lack of willpower’ or simply feel overwhelmed by how hard it is to change. In fact, change is not a ‘decision’, but rather it is a process that takes time and patience.

Don’t underestimate the power of habit! Habit formation (whether starting or stopping a behavior) is both physical and psychological. Our brain actually creates neural pathways for new behaviors. Our body and mind are in the habit of behaving in a certain way, and it can take time for a new habit to form or an old habit to diminish.

Change is a process, not an event. Here are some tips to help create healthy habits:

  • Practice patience. Research tells us that it takes as much as 180 days to truly let go of an old habit and adopt a new one. So hang in there!
  • Stop beating yourself up! Putting yourself down if you find yourself engaged in the old habit can damage our confidence. Instead, practice positive thinking and be compassionate with yourself.
  • Celebrate catching yourself. Instead of putting yourself down for ‘being weak’, congratulate yourself for being aware. Each time you catch yourself and become aware, you will build confidence and motivation.
  • Use structures to help remind yourself about the new behavior or goal. For example, put sticky notes on the bathroom mirror, set an alarm on your phone, or link the new behavior to something you already do (like walking right after breakfast).
  • Involve others in your goal. Let family, friends or co-workers know you are working to change. Enlist support and feedback to help. Find a partner with a similar goal to help motivate each other!
  • Work with a health coach or healthcare provider. They can provide support and accountability during the process of habit formation.

Don’t wait until New Years to make healthy changes in your life. Habits can be changed or created any time of year!


Rorie Dunphey works under Vermont’s Blueprint for Health as the RN Chronic Care Coordinator at Family Practice Associates in Cambridge. She works one-on-one with people and also leads classes to promote health and help people better manage their chronic diseases. She also assists patients in accessing community and state resources to better coordinate their health and wellness needs. Rorie has a particular passion for promoting a healthy diet and exercise routine to inspire people to live their best life.

 

How to Get Started Mountain Biking

By: Bonnie Strong, Copley Hospital Authorization Coordinator

Mountain bikes are a great way to exercise and get out into the woods. Compared to road bikes, they have bigger tires with rugged tread and suspension to absorb shock. Trails vary from smooth and flowy to technical single track.

After you figure out what kind of riding you want to do (trail, x-country, enduro, downhill) head to your local bike shop and they will fit you to the appropriate type of bike. There are different types of riding and bikes to match. Trail bikes are good for all purposes and most riders around here have these. Cross-country bikes are lightweight and good for smoother trails (they have no rear suspension); enduro bikes are ok for uphill and good for downhill, while downhill bikes are specific for lift assisted mountains and bike parks.

Ride some demo bikes or rent them and check out some bike swaps. Ask your bike friends what they’re into; it’s a great way to socialize. Grab some biking shorts, gloves, and a helmet. There are plenty of clinics at mountain bike centers (often free!) that will get you started and they’ll rent you a bike. Learn the basics and you’ll be on your way.

Most towns with mountain biking trails have a club that does a weekly group ride. If you’re not riding with others yet, it’s a great way to learn where the trails are, improve your riding and meet other riders. The rides are divided into different levels and you won’t be left behind. Meet up with the riders at your level on other days or head out on your own and keep learning and improving. Go to other bike shops in other towns for maps and ideas, and ride everywhere. Soon, you’ll be hooked!


Bonnie Strong is Authorization Coordinator at Copley Hospital and volunteers with Stowe Trails Partnership. When not biking, you can find her doing trail work and leading group rides.

Electric Bikes- The Wave of the Future

By: Caleb Magoon 

It seems like electric bikes have been coming for a loooong time. Although I can’t say for certain that they have arrived, they are as close as they’ve ever been. I won’t claim that they are the perfect fitness and transportation product for everyone, but the cost continues to come down and they are an excellent option for folks looking to get a good, safe workout. Yes, you heard me correctly. While you might think that an electric motor on a bike makes it just an electric vehicle, they remain excellent for fitness as well. Yet this fitness vehicle is much safer for many folks who can’t take some of the risks associated with traditional biking.

Many older people and those recovering from injury fear getting far away from help on a bike. Fear of an accident, injury or other issue limiting the rider’s abilities is legitimate. It’s true, compared to being at a gym or other controlled environment, a bike offers a hair more danger. That said, bikes are also transportation, freedom, fun, and fitness.

E-bikes level the playing field for those who fear the dangers of cycling. Most E-bikes offer both pedal assist and throttle-only options. Pedal assist is simply riding the bike with the motor giving you a little boost, making hills much easier and flats a little faster. But should the worst happen, the rider has the ability to use the throttle (not pedaling at all if necessary) to get back to home, help, or safety depending on the urgency of the issue. Thus, they offer a safe option for many riders who have concerns about their physical ability to ride.

That said, these bikes are just as good for an enthusiast, too. Many think that they don’t need an electric motor and that may indeed be the case. I can ride many miles comfortably in a day. Yet all that a motor does is expand your potential mileage. Most motor systems allow you to input how much help you want from the motor. You can add a little help or a lot. Most experienced riders add a small amount of help and ride faster than their average and for many more miles. Plus, if you ever get tired, there is always more help at the push of a button.

One important thing to note here is that you are still getting a workout. At a low level of help, you’re still pedaling hard (if that is what you want). Biking has always been a great workout because of the low impact and great variability in doing “what you can handle”. E-bikes simply expand the possibilities.

As I said, price remains a challenge and obstacle for some. E-bike setups do start over $1,000 and many still remain over $2,000. That said, they all started above $2,000 not that long ago and most have come down. Used E-bikes are also becoming available. My suspicion is that the price will continue to come down and financial assistance will become available for those who can most benefit from an E-bike. Vermont State Employees Credit Union does offer loans for bikes at this time.

One note of caution- buyers should beware of the many options available on the market. Because these bikes are a burgeoning market there are many companies now jumping in; some are making quality products and some are not. There are big differences between the brand-name bike shop versions, the conversion kits, and off-brand electric bikes. Talk with your local bike shop or someone whom you know is riding an E-Bike (many people are already enthusiasts).

The benefit of a crowded market is that there is an option for everyone. Between conversion kits for most bikes to purpose build E-bikes, with the right advice, you can get on the road or trails you want. Plus, these bikes make much better commuters and long ride bikes. So look into an E-bike today! They are the wave of the…present!


Caleb Magoon is a Hyde Park native who grew up hiking, hunting, biking and exploring Vermont’s Green Mountains. His passions for sports and recreation have fueled his career as the owner of Power Play Sports and Waterbury Sports. Caleb encourages outdoor activity and believes it is an essential element to a healthy lifestyle and the Vermont way of life. Caleb serves the Lamoille Valley by volunteering on numerous community boards such as the Lamoille County Planning Commission, The Morrisville Alliance for Commerce and Culture, Mellow Velo, and the state chapter of The Main Street Alliance. He lives, plays and works in Hyde Park with his wife Kerrie.

Get Outside and Get Moving!

By: Tricia Follert

Outdoor recreational activities are the talk of our town. Did you know there was a fabulous MoVolley Ball Tournament at Oxbow Park last Sunday?  It was a gorgeous sunny day and about 25 people came out to play instead of sitting around their woodstove.  The competition was fierce, fun was had by all and the A team won gift certificates to 10 Railroad Street.

Speaking of recreational activities, there are 2 sets of horseshoe pits, a volleyball net and a tetherball pole at Oxbow Park, all free for the community to use. Now that spring is just around the corner, the bike share bikes will soon be available.  Gather your friends and family and get out and enjoy the many outdoor activities this community has to offer.

Did you know there are soccer, basketball, baseball and a summer recreation program for the kids here in town?  We want to get the word out about all the great outdoor opportunities available.

Do you want more recreation in the community or just want to know what is available?  An ad hoc group of Morristown community members are interested in re-establishing a year-round recreation committee.

If you are interested in joining us, have a topic you want us to discuss, or are interested in attending future meetings, let me know.

Tricia Follert, Community Development Coordinator, Town of Morristown

tfollert@morristownvt.org

802.888.6669  x231

In the comments section below, please share 3 ideas you would like to see a recreation committee work on for our community!

 


Tricia Follert is the Community Development Coordinator for the Town of Morristown, where she coordinates and implements activities for the town. She currently sits on three local boards, River Arts, Morristown Alliance for Culture & Commerce, and the Morrisville Co-Op,  and works closely with many local nonprofits on community projects. She is also actively involved in the community gardens, the rail trail and the arts.

How 336 Dimples Helped Me Lose 20 Pounds

By: Todd Thomas 

I don’t get to sleep-in much anymore. Believe it or not, I am thrilled with this change.

Most mornings, I now jump out of bed, grab a granola bar, and walk up the hill to Copley Golf Club. As I arrive on the first tee of the golf course, I am alone. Save for the glance and scurry of the occasional mama fox and her kits, there is not a sound to be heard. My (usually wayward) first tee shot is often the first human sound heard each morning in the heart of the village. Then I am off, pounding the fairways, chasing the 336 dimples of my golf ball around the 66 acre golf course.

By the time I complete my morning 9 holes of golf, I have already taken about 10,000 steps, all before 8 AM. As I walk to work with my golf round (and dreams of joining the Senior Golf Tour) firmly behind me, I feel energized and refreshed. Getting more exercise in is so much easier now because I enjoy it. Chasing that little white golf ball around Copley Golf Club has helped me lose more than 20 pounds during the last two years. That weight loss is a pretty cool accomplishment. It is not as cool as playing golf for a living on the Senior Tour, but being healthier, skinnier, and feeling better about myself is still pretty fantastic.

So please feel free to join me for some sunrise golf at Copley (membership is a bargain there at only about $600 a year). You may not improve your golf game, but walking those 9 holes before work a few times a week will definitely make you healthier.

What’s your favorite way to get moving? Let us know in the comment section below.


Todd Thomas has a Master’s Degree in City Planning from Boston University and has worked both in Massachusetts and Vermont as a consultant and as a land use planner for town government. Todd is currently the Planning Director for Morristown, Vermont.

Todd’s recent work includes helping to revitalize downtown Morrisville, making it the fastest growing city and/or historic downtown in the State since the 2010 Census. Todd attributes much of the downtown’s housing and population growth to zoning reform as it relates to minimum parking requirements.