LiveWell®

Wellness and prevention information from the experts at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing


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Carpe diem! Seize your health.

What does it mean to live life to the fullest in a way that promotes your best health – mind, body and spirit? Join friends for a cocktail reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m., Aug. 15, at CRAVE in the Galleria in Edina, Minn. to hear and talk about this topic with experts from the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing.

Courtney Jordan Baechler, MD, MS, vice president of the Penny George Institute, will speak. Following her presentation, she will be joined for a Q&A by  Jeannie Paris, registered dietician, and Molly Ellefson, MS, NCC, integrative health and wellness coach, both from the Penny George Institute’s LiveWell Fitness Center.

The event includes hors d’oeuvres, an informal fashion show and giveaways. It is part of “Be Healthy! A Smart Series for Women” hosted by Galleria and Allina Health.


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Exercise tips for aging well

By Gail Ericson, MS, PT 

Gail Ericson working with a client at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing's LiveWell Fitness Center

Gail Ericson working with a client at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing’s LiveWell Fitness Center

It’s never too late to start exercising, and doing so is key to being healthy.

With inactivity, the human body may lose up to 10 pounds of muscle each decade. At the same time, cardiovascular fitness may also decline and metabolism will slow, causing weight gain.

The good news is: Most of this is reversible with an exercise program and routine. Basic strength training offers benefits for adults of all ages, even someone in their 70s and beyond.

The results of exercise may not be immediately visible on the outside, but they are significant. Benefits may include lowered cholesterol, reduced blood pressure and enhanced insulin sesitivity. And, it is not only good for you physically, but research also supports mental health and cognitive benefits. It’s one of the best investments you can make in your overall health.

Here are six tips on exercising at all ages
1. Think in small increments. Some exercise is better than none, and any amount will offer health benefits. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends cardiovascular exercise, like walking or biking, at least five days a week for 30 minutes most days. Adding two to three days of strength or resistance training per week will help guard against muscle loss.

2. Focus on four basic categories of exercise. These include endurance, strength training, balance and flexibility. As we age, balance and flexibility become more important. Try to find activities that incorporate all of these areas each week. Yoga or pilates enhance balance and flexibility. Cardiovascular activities like biking, running and walking are good for endurance. Inexpensive weights or resistance bands are an easy and affordable way to add strength training.

3. Your exercise routine may change and that’s okay. Exercise routines will change throughout one’s life. For example, during the 20s, there is a greater focus on group-related and organized sports, boot-camp activities and group classes. In their 30s, people may be stretched with careers and children, so less formal activities may work best. In their 40s and 50s, many people find a home routine or may explore yoga or pilates classes or videos at home. For people in their 60s, 70s and older, gentle movement classes such as tai chi, gentle yoga and others may be a favorite option.

4. Stand on one foot. It sounds so simple, but is so helpful for maintaining or improving balance. Stand on one foot while you brush your teeth or do other routine tasks. If you are concerned about balance, be sure to practice this in a protected area.

5. Avoid sitting for long periods of time. Sitting for extended periods of time is hard on your body and may lead to health issues. Even a little bit of activity will help. Get up, do some squats, take a short walk or climb stairs.

6. Find something you enjoy. If you find an activity you like, you’re more likely to do it.

Gail Ericson is a physical therapist with the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing‘s LiveWell Fitness Center. She has 25 years of experience in exercise therapy and medical fitness. To make an appointment with her, call 612-863-5178.


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Responding to health headlines on weight loss and Type II diabetes

Courtney Jordan Baechler, MD, vice president of the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, was featured in the news last week for her response to recent research showing that weight loss from diet and exercise don’t appear to lower the risk of heart problems for people with Type II diabetes.

Watch KARE 11 News and KSTP News to hear her explain why eating well and exercising remain important for those with diabetes.


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Exercise – getting started and sticking with it

by Gail Ericson, MS, PT, Physical Therapist

LiveWellPhoto BlogWe all know the benefits of exercise, like feeling good, and warding off disease and weight gain. So why is it so hard to do it? It’s not about information – there are thousands of publications, online resources and professionals to turn to for exercise recommendations. Even a health scare or a warning by a doctor doesn’t always do the trick.

So, where does one go for motivation? You have to look within yourself. You need to find an exercise program that resonates with, motivates, and has long-term meaning for you. How do you do that? It’s not a cookie-cutter approach, but there is a process to go through to develop an exercise program customized to motivate you.

You can follow these steps:

  1. Evaluate your readiness for exercise. Do you ever say, “I won’t exercise” or “I can’t exercise?” Do you constantly make excuses for not exercising? Then it’s time for some thinking-and-feeling prep work.
  2. Consider your “barriers to exercise” and evaluate what is real and what is an excuse. Brainstorm with friends or family on ways to get around the real barriers. Research movement activities available in your area. Once you start making plans about when, where or with whom you will exercise, you are ready for real change.
  3. Create a personal wellness vision statement by answering in writing the questions below.

    If I had optimal health and wellness:
    – What would that look like? Talk about why these things are of value to you.
    – How would you feel?
    – What would you look like and sound like?
    – What would you be doing for fun, work, with family, and for exercise.

    Write your statement as though it is already happening, such as, “I am energetic and focused. I am less stressed, and I exercise most days of the week because I love it …”
  4. Set long-term goals you’d like to achieve in three to six months or more. Be specific, time sensitive and measurable. Instead of simply having a goal of “I want to be stronger,” consider how you would measure stronger. Try: “I want to do 15 push-ups on my knees without stopping.”
  5. Set short-term goals, such as “I will do five push-ups three times per week.”
  6. Rate your confidence level in meeting your goals on a scale of 0-10. If your answer is seven or below, you might want to rework your goal to something you rate as an eight or higher.
  7. Execute your plan. Reward yourself for meeting your short-term goals with incentives, like a special coffee or new music. Remember, any movement is better than none!
  8. Revisit these goals weekly and adjust them as necessary. Ask yourself: What worked? How can you change a goal so you can achieve it? If you don’t meet some goals, don’t consider it a failure. Learn from it. Remember, change is a process, not an event.
  9. Read your vision statement often to remind yourself of why you are exercising.

If you feel you need more support to get motivated or make a health change, consider integrative health and wellness coaching at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing’s LiveWell Fitness Center.

Gail Ericson, PT
Physical Therapist
LiveWell Fitness Center