The Best Sport for a Longer Life? Try Tennis – Gretchen Reynolds

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Playing tennis and other sports that are social might add years to your life, according to a new epidemiological study of Danish men and women. The study found that adults who reported frequently participating in tennis or other racket and team sports lived longer than people who were sedentary. But they also lived longer than people who took part in reliably healthy but often solitary activities such as jogging, swimming and cycling……

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/05/well/move/the-best-sport-for-a-longer-life-try-tennis.html

 

 

 

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There’s Something About Mary & Power of Positive Ageing – Warren Gamble

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In the middle of the cafe, Mary Jaksch drops to the floor and starts doing press ups.

Two middle-aged men look a bit startled over their flat whites. They would be more surprised if they knew her age or her exercise regime; they would be less surprised if they knew Mary.

She was demonstrating the military style push-ups she did when she turned 70 last November. It’s a tradition at her Nelson Seido Karate dojo to complete your age in push-ups on your birthday.

Mary, a fifth dan blackbelt, dismissed a colleague’s suggestion to take the easy way out by doing the push-ups from her knees. “I wouldn’t be seen dead doing that,” she told him.

Instead, after a two-hour black belt class she polished off the 70 with straight legs, to the cheers of her colleagues.

Pushing herself physically is practising what she preaches – youthful or positive ageing. The main idea is that you should relish getting older, that with the right attitude and effort you can have the time of your life.

After her press ups she said karate students in their 20s told her they could not have done the challenge now, let alone at 70.

“My answer to them was why not? All you have to do is keep going and rev up.

“That’s when I realised that so many people, no matter what age, have this idea of this terrible downward slope as they age. They can’t do things, their body sags, they get weaker and so on.”

In typical fashion, Mary decided to do something about spreading the message that retirement doesn’t mean a weary resignation.

A whole lot, in Mary’s case.

She came to New Zealand from Germany as a classical flautist, in the 1980s became the first female director of the Nelson School of Music, changed careers to become a counsellor and psychotherapist, and then in her 60s took up blogging about the practice of Zen meditation (she is a Zen master) and, later, launched another blog on writing.

There were triggers for those diverging paths, but they also highlight her willingness to experiment, “my question is always what if…?”.

The first switch came when she was still a classical musician and got involved as a volunteer in a halfway house for young people with drug problems.

“I thought, when I’m standing on the stage playing, whose life am I changing? Since then that question has been a guiding light for me.”

So she studied to become a counsellor and psychotherapist. She was making more of a difference, but says eventually the effort of being in a “flattened state” to receive her clients’ stories took a toll. She worried she might not be able to bounce back.

Her move to blogging came after a builder left her high and dry with an unfinished house that not only swallowed a nest egg but left her with a big debt.

“That was a low point. At the time I was 60 years old, what next?”

Her son Sebastian Grodd suggested writing a blog. “What’s a blog?” she asked him. Her first Goodlife Zen blog post had three subscribers, her son, her best friend and her cat Sweetie.

It has grown exponentially and internationally since then. Together with her other site, Write to Done, which has writing tips and blogging advice, she says her audience now numbers about three million.

It’s unsurprising that she has opened up another chapter with her books, and another physical challenge.

She wanted to see how a 70-year-old body would respond to four months of a sustained, intense workouts. To control her experiment she enlisted the help of Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology sport, recreation and  and exercise diploma students, subjecting herself to the indignities of the caliper body fat test, exercises to measure her baseline fitness, balance and co-ordination.

She also did a specialised test for telomeres, the protective casings on the end of chromosomes which fray as we age. The results showed hers corresponded to that of a 45-year-old.

But at her first hour-long class at the Whakatu HQ “box” or gym when she was introduced to the mix of aerobic exercise, Olympic weightlifting and calisthenics she admits to a “kind of wide-eyed with shock” .

Those are the moments to embrace what’s been described as the “ouch factor,” Mary says, the mental and physical effort that signals rejuvenation.

She stuck at it and four months on she says her strength  and mobility have markedly increased. Along the way she “accidentally” signed up to a transTasman crossfit competition, finishing fifth in New Zealand in the 60-plus category.

NMIT exercise students Ricky 
Silva and Isaiah Stevenson put Mary through her paces to gauge her baseline fitness.

Mary Jaksch

NMIT exercise students Ricky Silva and Isaiah Stevenson put Mary through her paces to gauge her baseline fitness.

Whakatu HQ owner Lucas Bennett says Mary has been “incredible”.

“Everyone that you tell she’s 70, they say ‘nah’; fifties or 60 at a push. She is very mobile and has picked up on the weights very well.”

Lifting physical and mental weights has become a passion, for herself and to show the way to others.

At her Madhatters Toastmasters club, she recently did a speech exhorting the audience to “bust through your personal glass ceiling”. During it, she flung off her dress and an outer top to reveal her sports wear, with muscled shoulders and arms someone much younger would be proud of.

She hopes to set an example, much as her father had done, and to answer her own question about changing people’s lives for the positive.

“Once you see how somebody could be at my age, your whole world view changes,” she says. “You have to keep going. I see no reason why I shouldn’t be able to do 75 press ups at 75.  In fact I should be able to do more because I’m now much stronger than I was then.”

Mary’s positive ageing tips

* Change your mindset about retirement, from a time to do nothing, to a chance to do everything.

* Start slow, make small changes to exercise and diet.

* It’s the upward trajectory that counts, no matter how slowly you get there.

* Exercise with friends, you get more motivation and support.

* On those days when you can’t be bothered, focus on one thing, like putting your exercise gear on.

* Focus on one exercise at a time; don’t look too far ahead.

* Be mindful, get in touch with how your body is feeling; don’t block it out with music.

She says the research for her first book showed people in their 80s and 90s doing extraordinary things. “Compared to some of them, I’m just a young chick, I’ve got my whole life in front of me.”

So she signed up for “the hardest thing I could think of” – the punishing strength and conditioning programme of CrossFit-style exercise.

 

 

 

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Storytelling: Stop Trying to Be “Vulnerable” & Do This Instead  | Just Story It

We usually have a good internal compass about when and where our vulnerability should appear — we just have to be disciplined about following that compass.

Source: Storytelling: Stop Trying to Be “Vulnerable” & Do This Instead  | Just Story It

 

 

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Minimalist Fitness: Building The Ultimate Physique While Enjoying Life

 

Source: Click this if you’re not happy with the results you’re getting in the gym.

Why You Should Try Meditating While Running (and How to Do It) – Gina Tomaine

I’m running down Kelly Drive in Philadelphia on an unseasonably warm fall day, my purple sneakers softly thudding against the ground. As I run, I notice a young boy skateboarding on the street, and the way his red hat flops to the side. I pass dry-looking trees and plump geese gathered in the grass next to the trail, and a couple kissing on a rock overlook. I notice the way the water ripples as a racing shell cuts cleanly through the center of the Schuylkill River and glides away from me.

Would you guess that I’ve been meditating this whole time?

Meditation is a practice of focusing attention in order to clear the mind and reduce anxiety (see: that constant to-do list running through your head). Learning to focus can help you tune out distractions.

Meditation is not only calming—it also has some seriously positive health results. It’s been shown in certain cases to reduce stress, ease depression and anxiety, to help people cope with pain (something distance runners deal with constantly), and even to strengthen parts of the brain. There are many ways to develop a meditation and mindfulness practice—as little as five minutes a day can still have noticeable effects.

 “It’s a myth that meditation happens only when you light candles or incense and sit cross- legged,” says Chandresh Bhardwaj, founder of the Break The Norms meditation program Instead, he explains, “When you are deeply involved in any activity, you become meditative.”

“A lot of easy running days turn into meditations on rhythm and nature for me,” says Sarah Attar, one of the first women to compete as a runner in the Olympics for Saudi Arabia. “I allow my run to become a space for reflection, exploration, and mindfulness, to connect with the world around me.”

Runners often talk about running as a salve—a way to work through problems, escape negative thinking, or overcome personal demons. The thing is, it’s backed by science: a study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise indicated that even 30 minutes of time on a treadmill could instantly lift someone’s mood. And in literature, memoirs of using running as a barometer for self-growth abound, from Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running to Jen A. Miller’s Running: A Love Story to Caleb Daniloff’s Running Ransom Road.

Running, in all of these cases, is rarely ever just running. Or perhaps conversely it is just running, and that simplicity is why it helps diffuse all of those stressors. That is what links running to meditation, especially in terms of mental benefits.

It turns out that running combined with meditation can potentially make both your running, and your mind, stronger. A 2016 study published in Translational Psychiatry found that combining directed meditation with running or walking reduced symptoms of depression by 40 percent for depressed participants, and more research is ongoing.

The key to all of this is that a meditation and mindfulness practice helps build your ability to focus, and running inherently narrows that focus: to the path ahead, to how many miles are left, to whether you need water, to the chill of the wind over a river.

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But there really is no right or wrong way to practice running meditation, says yoga teacher and Ayurvedic practitioner Sarajean Rudman. Instead, as Rudman says, “several different paths lead to the same outcome: be here now.”

As any endurance runner will tell you, whether you can keep going in a marathon has as much to do with mental toughness as physical training. Often it’s the mind that gives up or crashes first—not the body. “When we can create a sense of calm in the mind,” says Rudman, “the body can go further. We get to see what we really can accomplish.”

If you’re ready to ditch the headphones, and try focus over distraction, here are nine tips on getting started:

Before Running, Sit Still for Three to Five Minutes

Gina sitting still

“Before you start running, inhale deeply. Hold your breath for a few moments, and exhale. Do this for five minutes or so, and you will experience a deep relaxation before your run,” says Bhardwaj. If you find the waiting too difficult, try to start with one minute of stillness—or as much as you can stand—and work up.

Set an Intention
“It could be a question that has been haunting you for days, or a stressful thought or challenge that has been on your mind,” explains Bhardwaj. “Whatever it is, set an intention that this running will resolve your question.” You don’t have to know what the resolution might be—just put faith out there that this run will help it.

Choose a Mantra
When you are just starting out, “mantra meditation can be very easy to acclimate to,” says Rudman, “and a very powerful tool to use, especially when racing. Choose some words that mean something to you, whether they are in Sanskrit like the classic ‘Sa Ta Na Ma’ (loosely translated to ‘I am truth’), or something simple in English, like ‘I am strong.’ They serve the same purpose: to anchor your attention to and keep you in the present moment. Tether the mantra to your footfalls, so you are using one word per footfall.”

Count Your Footfalls

Gina running

“A great place to begin is simply by counting footfalls. Head out with a number in mind,” advises Rudman. “For example, count every step up to eight, then count back down. As thoughts start to creep in, notice them and return to your counting. Use the numbers as a way to anchor your attention so it doesn’t wander off into what you’re going to eat when you return home, or what you said to your spouse or children before you left, or the things you need to do for work or school. Keep coming back to right now.”

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Make a List of Everything You See (Yes, Everything)
“Become acutely aware of your surroundings,” says Rudman. “You can choose to use sight or sound for this exercise, or take turns with each sense. As you run, begin listing either everything you see or everything you hear as a way to calm what yogis call your ‘monkey mind’ and enter into the moment you are actually experiencing. For example: tree, stop sign, leaf, sidewalk, gum wrapper—or car noise, the wind, a baby yelling, a horn, my footfalls, my breath. You can even combine the two senses along with the other three, taste, touch, and smell. This would look like: “I am aware of a dog barking, I am aware that my skin is cold, I am aware of the smell of the bakery, I am aware of music far away, I am aware of my heart rate speeding up…”

Focus on Your Breath and Posture

Gina Focusing on posture

“Bring more awareness to your breath, as well as your posture while you run,” advises Chesapeake Yoga teacher Julie Phillips-Turner. “Start running at a comfortable pace, then start to ‘shape’ the breath to count inhales and exhales, such as ‘inhale one, two, three; exhale one, two, three…’  If [your] mind gets distracted from counting, notice that and bring [your] awareness back to the breath count. Be aware of slumping shoulders. Try to keep the shoulders back and the chest lifted to allow maximum oxygen to enter the body.”

Ban the Thought “I’m Doing This Wrong”
“The number one mistake people make when trying to meditate while running, or in general, is to get upset because they aren’t able to clear their minds,” says Rudman. “The goal is not to clear the mind, but instead to recognize the mind by being present with it and observing it. Notice your thoughts as they pop up, remember them, and dog-ear them for another time. When we choose to not follow our thoughts down whatever rabbit hole they are leading us, and let them keep on their merry way without us, we are meditating.”

Think About Your Other Body Parts—Not Just Your Legs
Think about your arms, your forehead, your eyeballs—and forget about your legs. “When you are running, feel the breeze embracing your every body part. Don’t just focus on legs. Use your every sense and every muscle to interact with Mother Nature. Such consistent interaction will develop a stronger connection with nature and thus adds onto your healing, and running, ability,” says Bhardwaj.

Celebrate and Express Gratitude for Your Run
Think about how lucky you are to be physically able to be running, and how many people cannot. Think about how you would feel if you couldn’t run. “Meditation means you should be immersed in the process and the feelings and sensations of running,” says Rudman. “You should cultivate a sense of ‘I get to run!’ instead of distracting yourself with an ‘I have to run’ state of mind.”

To further cultivate gratitude, Attar recommends focusing on the beauty your surroundings. “Once a routine of gratitude becomes part of your natural inclination,” Attar says, “you can find a calm and positive spirit in how you go about everything, especially running. When you are grateful for even just the opportunity and ability to be running, it opens up the space within you to become more connected to everything.”

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