Thursday, May 21, 2015

Keep Moving ALS Chair/Seated Exercise

“Keep Moving!”

It’s what I tell myself every day - - and, it’s something I encourage others do as well. In fact, I’ve been motivating others to bend, stretch, reach, and huff & puff along with me for the past thirty years!

But suddenly now, MOVING has become more important than ever - - both for me, and for anyone else like me who is living with ALS. We PALS (persons with ALS) want to keep moving for as long as possible; something that I believe is possible - - by practicing regular therapeutic movement.

Notice I didn’t say, exercise; I said, therapeutic movement. Which is a key concept that my thirty-some years in the wellness and fitness profession have taught me: almost everyone dislikes having to exercise, but if we think of it as therapeutic, at least we’ll give it a try! I know, I know, it’s all semantics. But, as I’ve covered in previous blogs (“Adversity, Beliefs & Consequences” ) even something as simple as a change in perspective can go a long way towards achieving success.

Thankfully, we’ve reached the stage where medical experts agree that exercise (ahem, therapeutic movement!) is beneficial and recommended for PALS. This includes the basic three categories of: cardio, muscle strengthening and (my favorite) range-of-motion exercises.

Doing a simple arm circle is one example of a range-of-motion or, ROM exercise because we’re moving through the full range of our shoulder joint. ROM movements help prevent a muscle condition called, disuse atrophy; which is a fancy way of saying, “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” Sedentary lifestyles and lack of exercise contribute to disuse atrophy and it’s a condition of paramount concern for us PALS.

In addition to disuse atrophy, we also experience muscle weakness and loss due to neurological atrophy; when our motor neurons no longer send signals to our muscles. It’s a double-whammy, for sure. But, we PALS need to remember that our unaffected muscles still need MOVEMENT; every day - - several times a day - - especially taking our muscles and joints through their full range-of-motion - - for us, it really becomes therapeutic movement!

Range-of-Motion (ROM) Exercise:
-          Prevents stiffness in the joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons.
-          Improves posture and trunk stability.
-          Improves smooth coordinated movement of the muscles around each joint.
-          Relieves muscle tension due to mood or mental stress.
-          Helps combat muscle atrophy due to aging and/or sedentary lifestyle.
-          It feels good to do it!

Welcome to my collection of ‘therapeutic movement!’

In a previous post ("MoveAlong"), I shared my frustration at not finding any fitness videos that met my current ALS movement needs. I always felt a little like an ‘ALS Goldilocks,’ searching and testing but never satisfied: the videos were too fast, too slow, too long, too boring, and on and on. The result was: I created my first ALS exercise video and posted it on my YouTube channel.

Now, thanks to the positive response from you, my blog readers - - I’ve added a few more short videos to my collection of therapeutic movement for ALS!

These three videos fall into the category of ROM. They are easy to follow, gentle movements that you can modify according to what your body or energy levels need. The routines are performed seated in a chair and range from five to eight minutes in length. All in all, the ‘ALS Goldilocks’ in me would agree that these are, “Just right!”

Yes, the videos ARE vintage - - that’s me, back in 1996 and 2002, (check the bottom of this post for the back story). And yes, these certainly prove that I have been encouraging people to move for a long, long time! Give each one a try and let me know what you think of them.

Come on, let’s KEEP MOVING together!

Gentle, dance-inspired movements: 
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Gentle, tai-chi inspired movements:
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Moderate intensity movements:
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Be sure to add the video links to your “favorites” on your computer so you can return and follow along every day. I also encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you’ll be notified whenever I add new videos.

Dagmar Munn
ALS and Wellness Blogger
Back Story:
In 1996, I was part of a team that created the St. Luke’s Center for Health & Well-Being. A department of St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, we were the first hospital-based complementary and alternative therapy center in the state of Iowa. It was considered pretty radical at the time, as we offered classes in yoga, tai chi, Pilates and meditation in addition to massage therapy. Over time, we grew to add Holistic Nursing, acupuncture, Reiki and even Holistic Physician services. As the center's Director, my time was spent teaching classes and educating patients, hospital staff and the community on the topic of wellness and our unique services.

In 2002, the Heritage Agency on Aging invited me to be one of their fitness leaders for, “Food, Fun & Fitness,” a television program aimed at home-bound seniors. This very successful half-hour program aired on the local Kirkwood Channel, and featured interviews and advice on nutrition, a fitness segment and a fun bingo game. Segments replayed for several years before funding discontinued.

I hope you enjoy these fitness excerpts from my past. I appreciated the opportunity to have these experiences and appreciate the opportunity to share them with you now!

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