sit less and move your as… ana

Sedentary lifestyles are killing us.
Sedentary‘ is defined as the act of sitting… sitting on the couch, sitting in the car, sitting at your desk, sitting to eat. ‘Sedentary’ does not mean ‘inactive’. ‘Inactive‘ is defined by an individual not meeting current recommendations for physical activity
Ayurveda, the sister-science to yoga, focuses on balanced, stable and nourishing routines. Ayurveda considers ‘sendentary time’ as “styana” (inefficiency, idleness, procrastination, dullness) and “alasya” (laziness, sloth). These contribute to distractions and obstacles on the path to connecting to one’s true nature and the ability to live a meaningful and purposeful life.
my snuggly couch potato... and, yes, he made himself THIS comfortable!

my snuggly couch potato getting his dose of sedentary time … and, yes, he made himself THIS comfortable!

The average Canadian adult spends 50 to 70 per cent of their daily lives sitting, and roughly another 30 per cent sleeping. Research published last fall by Dr. Wilmot (2012) makes it clear that sedentary behaviour is killing us by:

147% increased risk of heart attack or stroke; 112% increase in the risk of developing diabetes; 90% greater risk of dying from a cardiac event; and 49% greater risk of premature mortality.

Activity matters. It’s about moving during your day (“physical activity“) and planned bouts of effortful activity (“exercise“). CSEP recommends (ages 18-64) at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. It is also beneficial to add muscle and bone strengthening activities using major muscle groups, at least 2 days per week … however, according to Statistics Canada, only 15% adults meet these minimum requirements.

Sedentary lifestyle in older age is especially risky. However, there is GOOD news. Changes to glucose and insulin cause by sitting can be offset by standing up and walking two minutes for every 20 minutes of sitting. Research has also demonstrated that brief behavioural intervention for older adults 65 years and older resulted in a three percent reduction in sitting time over a two-week period (Gardiner, J Am Prev Med, 2011).
… so what are you waiting for? get your as…ana off that chair and on your mat! much love.

Other resources:

3 things to know about frailty and Parkinson’s: II. Physical activity

Following up my previous post on quality of life and mobility related to frailty and Parkinson’s disease, I want to talk about physical activity. This article tells us that females with Parkinson’s are 10x more likely to be frail than males, so it’s important to focus (for a moment!) on females.

And since we know physical activity declines with Parkinson’s, so it could be assumed that physical activity levels would also indicate frailty… but you know what happens when you assume…

instead, what I found is that females with Parkinson’s are active! They are listening to exercise recommendations and are moving! YAY!


So it’s not a lack of activity that is making females with Parkinson’s frail…

managing the other disease symptoms is what contributes to frailty (i.e. how fatigued someone is after the day, how difficult it is to stay on task, how mobile someone is during chores), not the ability to complete exercise and be active!


Find article here: Roland, Cornett, Theou, Jakobi & Jones (2012). J Aging Res. 2012; 2012: 468156.

So, the moral of the story? first of all, don’t underestimate people with Parkinson’s… they are moving! And secondly, pay attention to the other symptoms, like how exhausted someone is at the end of the day as an indication of frailty. much love.

Parkinson Wellness Recovery – Exercise 4 Brain Change!

Last week, I went to a talk by Becky Farley, PhD, MS, PT, sponsored by Parkinson Society BC. The topic was “EXERCISE AS MEDICINE” and she discussed some of the work she does at her Parkinson Wellness Recovery gym in Tuscon, Arizona.

About Dr. Becky Farley

Becky became involved in Parkinson’s disease during her post-doctoral work when she investigated the muscle activation deficits underlying bradykinesia in people with PD. She developed the LSVT® BIG exercise approach and standardized training to targets the PD symptoms of slow/small movements bradykinesia/hypokinesia.

About PWR!

The aim of Becky’s program is to use exercise as a physiological tool to optimize brain function (i.e. neuroplasticity) and health. Her program is based on: early intervention, continuous access and research-based exercise programs. PWR! also trains clinicians and fitness professional with techniques to focus on PD-specific exercise.

Her exercise tips:

  1. “start from a position of power!”. Your body needs to be ready, your brain needs to be focused and the task needs to feel important (or fun!) for change to occur. Make your exercise engaging!
  2. Use equipment (i.e. bungees, ropes, balance boards, harnesses) to get the experience of the full movement safely (especially in people with PD who have difficulty balancing etc.), then start to take some of those supports away as you progress and apply that experience to everyday movements!
  3. For people with PD, especially those with dyskinesias – seek exercises that gain core stability
  4. Sensory feedback – i.e. pacing, metronome, music – can help push you to exercise faster, harder and with more smooth movements
  5. Prime” your body by starting your exercise program with progressive aerobic training, then follow up with skill acquisition-type exercises.
  6. Focus not only on increasing muscle mass, but want to increase useable muscle and focus on functional movements in your exercises… not just “curls for the girls” but include things like:
  • lateral rotations, cross-body, sequential movements, extensions, quick position changes, side-to-side weight shifting)

How does exercise help brain function in Parkinson’s?

Becky also presented some of the latest research on the benefits of exercise on brain function.

Exercise can help increase brain volume, improving working memory and attention. Also, it increases blood vessels and leads to more neurotrophic (growth) factors (like “gatorade” for the brain!) and a more supportive environment for neurons. Exercise also increases the redundancy in brain synapses. Redundancy is good! If you have some synapses that aren’t working, you will have back ups to replace them!

Specifically in PD, research tells us that exercise increases survival rate, increases physical functional ability, and improves cognition! It can help “repair” the dopamine system in early/moderate stages of PD by increasing dopamine D2 receptors and helping your brain make better use of remaining dopamine.

some references of interest:

“How might physical activity benefit patients with Parkinson disease?” Speelman, Nature Reviews, 2011

“Effectiveness of intensive inpatient rehabilitation treatment on disease progression in parkinsonian patients” Giuseppe et al., Neurorehabil Neural Repair, 2012

“Does vigorous exercise have a neuroprotective effect in Parkinson disease?” Ahlskog Je, Neurology, 2011

It was a great talk, and I feel lucky to have been there and met with her. I’m also excited to hear her thoughts on how yoga can fit within this model…

Please check out her PWR website and see if there are any trained-clinician in your area! much love.

occupational hazard

Could Parkinson’s disease be considered an occupational hazard?

Some research indicates that farmers, ranchers & fishermen (link here to the research article),


Grampy Roland unloading lobster traps (1997)

and people with more education (link to research article),

especially health care workers

Nurse Alice

and teachers

Professor Smith

are more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease later in life.

Conversely, engineers, construction and production workers are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.

Wayne Campbell

The increased risk has been attributed to increased psychosocial stress, pesticides and infectious agents (especially respiratory). People in the health care field may also have a more attentive eye, and access to better specialists and quicker diagnoses – which can all play a role.

Most hypotheses come back to physical activity (link to research article), and its contribution to decreasing risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (even though farmers and fisherman are one of the most active professions, exposure to toxins may outweigh its benefits!).

interesting stuff, huh?

… so maybe we just need to get out there and get movin! much love.