Tag Archives: fitness ideas

Put on your running glasses!

The 2009 Boston Marathon

Monday was Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts and the annual running of the Boston Marathon. The above photo, from 2009, was my first time watching in person and was amazing and thrilling. Having cheered on the runners again in 2010 and 2011, I can say it is no less inspiring and something I will think about as I struggle through my “couch to 5K” running plan. Next year I think I’ll hold up a sign that says “Watching you is making me really tired!”

As I watched the race, one thing I wanted to pay attention to was whether any marathoners were wearing glasses. Not special funky reflective, speed-demon exercise sunglasses, but “I need these or I’ll run into the Bay” spectacles. Like mine. Because I HATE exercising in my glasses, but I also hate to waste a pair of disposable contacts on an hour of exercise when I’m wearing my glasses the rest of the day. I went out on a 5K training run the other day in my glasses. It wasn’t so bad. And while watching the marathon I did see more than a handful of runners cruising by in good old regular glasses. I also saw a guy dressed as a gorilla, several Easter bunnies and a guy playing a guitar while running.

Maybe one of my blog friends, like Roni, who have a much bigger readership with lots of runners will see this and pose the question for me: Do you run in glasses? Anyway, just something I’ve been thinking about as I try not to give myself an excuse to avoid a run. I’ll also think about all the amazing wheelchair athletes and runners with other challenges participating with guides, running on artificial limbs, etc. If they can do it, I really can’t complain about my glasses bouncing and slipping around on my face.

2009 Boston Marathon

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The Lazy Blogger Award

Is there a Lazy Blogger Award? Well, if not, I am officially giving it to myself. Congratulations, Doctors’ Rheum, you’ve been a really lazy blogger!!

However, I have been reading blogs and trying to comment here and there and really appreciating some new commenters on my older blog entries. Let’s just say we in New England aren’t used to long stretches of hot, humid air and I think my brain is melting like the dark chocolate in my cabinet. However, I can’t put my brain in the fridge to firm it up, so let’s hope the neurons fire better after this cold front, or with the approach of fall.

Anyway, did you see these articles? If not, these are some points of interest I’ve been collecting to share:

The New York Times’ Well blog featured Voices of Scleroderma. Most people I’ve diagnosed with this condition have never heard of it. Fortunately it is rare, but unfortunately the treatment options are limited. I did my fellowship at The University of Pittsburgh, with several outstanding faculty members doing both clinical and basic science research on scleroderma.

Cheers! Could you actually help prevent Rheumatoid Arthritis by drinking alcohol? The very day I saw this article come across my daily email briefing, a patient brought it in and said, “Hey, does this mean I can drink?” Well, if you’re on Methotrexate that answer is still going to be no, no and are you crazy? The article was an observational study that found arthritis was less severe in drinkers compared with nondrinkers. However, the article also notes,

“We would wish to point out that, at the moment, that our findings are preliminary, and would not recommend that patients drink alcohol with the specific purpose of treating their arthritis,” said Dr. James Maxwell, lead author of the study and a consultant rheumatologist at The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust in England.

Finally, did you see that all those “toning shoes” may not be all that great for you after all? One of my co-workers, a DIE-HARD fan of the shoes, was very disappointed when I mentioned this article to her. If you’re out of shape, strapping on a new pair of shoes won’t magically get you in shape, just as a treadmill that serves mainly as a clothes rack isn’t doing much for your fitness. However, if the promise of extra toning inspires you to walk more, be my guest. I just think they look a little funny, but, then again, I’m not winning any fashion awards.

Exercise Resolution?

Although I said in my last post that I do not tend to make New Year’s resolutions, I know almost everyone else does. One of the most frequent is to lose weight, which often involves exercising more. As a doctor and specifically a musculoskeletal specialist, I ask all my patients about exercise. Not just “Do you exercise?” I try to ask everyone “What do you do for exercise?” The most frequent answers are “Nothing” or “I try to walk.” Here in New England during the winter, I know that “I try to walk” really means “I’ll exercise when the snow melts.”  However, the American Heart Association recommends that all healthy adults aged 18-65 need moderate intensity aerobic activity at least 30 minutes 5 days a week or vigorous activity at least 20 minutes 3 days a week. These guidelines, plus those for older adults, are found here. Yes, I know this says healthy adults, and I often hear “I can’t exercise, I have arthritis!” The Arthritis Foundation would disagree with you. The Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program was formerly known as PACE, or People with Arthritis Can Exercise. I liked that name, because it speaks the truth. People with arthritis CAN and SHOULD exercise. “Use it or lose it,” we sometimes say. More information about exercise for folks with arthritis are found under the fitness tab on the Arthritis Foundation website. I’ve written before about what it’s like to learn new athletic skills as an adult.

Here are some other ideas:

  • Check out this article in The New York Times about cost savings on gym memberships.
  • Water exercise is one of the best forms of physical activity for people with arthritis or other musculoskeletal conditions. If you don’t have access to a gym with a pool, check out local community colleges and high schools which may have hours for public use.
  • Colleges and high schools may also allow the public to use their workout rooms. I know of one local high school that opens its gym to the public on evenings and weekends. If your town does not do this, why not ask?
  • Community colleges and city departments of parks and recreation often have classes. I have taken a yoga class and a pilates class and while both were not fancy (held in a school gym) they were cheaper than at a yoga studio!
  • Schedule walks outside or at a mall with a friend. If your neighborhood doesn’t have safe sidewalks or streets, drive to a different area or to a park. Many malls open early for walkers. I didn’t know this, not being a frequent 8am mall visitor. One Sunday morning we had a special work event at one of the mall stores and I was amazed that the place was full of people exercising! Ask the customer service desk what time they open for walkers.
  • Some gyms, especially independent gyms or yoga studios, will give free or discounted classes if you volunteer to clean or work the check-in desk.
  • I was introduced to the Leslie Sansone videos through Weight Watchers. A lot of people just getting started on their exercise journey seem to like these videos, which involve walking in place and doing some upper body movements.
  • While on the subject of exercise videos, most libraries will have these you can check out, Netflix has a whole category of workout DVDs if you belong to that service. Both of these will allow you to try something before purchasing it. In addition, many cable TV services with “on demand” have fitness channels with different workouts.
  • A site like www.yogadownload.com has free 20 minute yoga sessions, and longer ones are quite affordable. I recommend that if you are new to yoga, you take some classes first if possible. Even though there are PDFs of the poses, nothing beats an instructor making sure that your positioning is correct.
  • Do you have a friend or family member with home gym equipment? Will they let you come over and use it?
  • I’m afraid I can’t comment on the whole Wii fit phenomenon as I’ve never used it, but so many of my patients are now saying that is how they are exercising. Do you have one? Does a friend who will let you try it out?

Good luck with your exercise resolutions!