Recently, my partner and I embarked on one of life’s biggest events (well in my eyes anyway). We took the leap and became the proud parents to a bouncing baby Border Collie, Lulu. Every time I tell some this (as I shove a million photos of her in front of their face) they give me the same look and say “wow… they have a lot of energy. Good luck!”. They are right on that one. Border Collies (like many dogs) usually need at least 15-20 mins of running or brisk walking or they become restless, bored and generally destructive. So why did we get this breed?
Apart from the gorgeous eyes, happy personality, we wanted something to motivate us to exercise. Motivation is a very interesting internal process, as everyone has different ideals/goals that drive us to achieve our current desires. These motivations ebb and flow as we move through life. They are never set in stone.
When discussing the drive to exercise with clients, they often are told by a health professional, family member or even the TV that they should move or lose weight. This is called “extrinsic motivation”. It comes from outside. On the flip side, intrinsic motivation is the drive within you to accomplish a goal or task. You choose to complete a task because it has personal meaning for you and gives you pleasure or satisfaction. In simple terms, “you want to” rather than “you feel like you have to.” Intrinsic motivation has been shown to have a greater long term effect on exercise retention. We need to find our real “why!”
I have never been a runner or walker for no reason. I don’t have that deep love of it; I would rather play team sports. I have that “have to” approach to running and long work days tend to result in an exercise-less day and I feel dreadful (and generally not as happy).
This is where Lulu, the border collie, comes in! Buying a dog means that if we want to have a happy “fur-baby” and keep our garden in one piece, exercise is the way to go! She will be our little personal trainer. Motivating us by the wag of the tail, the joy she gets from running and the possible holes we want to avoid in the backyard. How can you say no to this face!
Now I’m not saying go out and buy the most active dog you can find, but having a dog can really be a win-win situation.
One is in awe of all the Facebook love; to promote the awareness of mental health. With all the ‘likes’, sharing and so forth (bless our nucleus accumbens!). The second Thursday of September 2016 marks “Are you OK day?”. One doesn’t need to explain the definition.
But; Perhaps flip the coin, directing attention on the self. Why the self?. When was the last time you got in touch with your inner meta-cognitive dialogue? I will touch on reaching out at the end….However, placing emphasis on the self first, can then enable the opportunity to reach out to others.
To be vulnerable, one must surrender shame. When shame is surrendered, one can be ready to show compassion. When feeling numb, self cannot connect, because self is dis..connected. The same can be said with mental health. Mental health is much more than depletion of neurotransmitters & a lottery of SSRIs & MAOIs!
To further delve, please do follow the links above to find out more…
Let’s say that self is ready to reach out to others in need. Trying to say/think of the right words can be incredibly difficult, especially if the topic is sensitive. However; listening, reading facial expressions, feeling ones pain (without taking on the burden) and touch (within respect), are all powerful non-verbal tools, which can assist the compassionate empath…YOU!
My dream for the future, is that humanity won’t need a day of recognition to remind us all to be self compassionate, emotionally intelligent, empathetic… Friend, husband, wife, brother, sister, colleague and neutral.
As Donald Hebb once postulated…
“neurons that fire together, wire together”
Repetition, repetition, repetition!
However; it is wonderful to see so many organisations getting behind mental health & starting the conversation.
Be well, be kind & BE compassionate🙂
Mastering Gravity: How do you improve your balance?
In a previous blog, we discussed how our lack of play and challenge has slowly led to decrements in our balance. Research in the Age and Ageing Journal (2013) has proven that less active lifestyles appear to accelerate loss of proprioceptive acuity and thus would contribute to loss of functional independence and increased falls.
So the question we are to ponder is…. Can we improve our balance after years of not using it?
The easy answer is yes! So how does it work? The best way of understanding how we can approach this issue is looking at the science behind it. To improve overall balance we need to ensure our body is skilled at interpreting what is happening to our body (through taking in sensory input) and then how we can try maintain a position of safety (motor output). For example, as we walk down the street and we trip on a paver. We first need to recognise that we are falling. Physiologically this sensory input is acquired a few ways:
- Vestibular system within the inner ear (the sensations of body rotation, gravitation and movement)
- Somatosensory systems (conscious perception of touch, pressure, pain, temperature, position, movement, and vibration, which arise from the muscles, joints, skin, and fascia)
- Visual system (seeing where our body position is in space)
These signals then travel through nervous system and the brain or spinal chord either create conscious or unconscious motor output which generates a movement. In our example, this would result in a very large sidestep to prevent us from falling. To perform the request we need muscular strength, power and co-ordination.
Training the sensory input and motor output:
- Proprioception exercises: This allows us to train us to recognise where our body is in space
- Co-ordination exercises: This allows us to create the desired movement with the appropriate muscles (to save the day)
- Strength exercises: This allows us the necessary strength to produce the actions
If you would like more information regarding your ability to master your own gravity, I am more than happy to have a chat.
I don’t think I have enough fingers and toes to count the times I have heard clients utter the phrases, “now I am getting older, my balance is getting worse” and “I am scared of falling so I can’t do the things I used to”
It is true, there are age related changes to our balance (reaction time, equilibrium and proprioception). But these physiological changes are compounded by the fact that we stop challenging facets of our balance as we mature. When we are young, we play on all sorts of objects. We climb trees, jump over puddles, dodge our friends and even hang upside down on the playgrounds. Children are unknowingly challenging their limitations every time they play. This brings about improvements in important aspects of balance.
Maintaining our body’s centre of gravity (balance) depends on co-ordination of several sensory systems within each of our bodies:
- The vestibular system (regulates equilibrium/head position)
- The visual system (spatial location relative to objects through vision)
- The somatosensory system (information from skin and joints to sense position and movement relative to surfaces and different body parts relative to each other)
As we leave our childhood into the monotony of adulthood – cooking, cleaning, working, we typically stop playing. Once we hit our 40’s, unless we specifically engage in different types of sports/activities, we tend to avoid or completely ignore actions such as jumping, hopping, balancing on a single leg. We stop practicing this co-ordination of systems….
The age-old saying is true… Use it or lose it!
Want the good news! Yes, we can improve these systems, much like we can with strength or aerobic fitness. We just need to challenge ourselves!
Tune in for part 2 on Mastering your Gravity if you are interested on HOW you can improve your balance.