September 2, 2008
Table of Contents
- Doga (Yoga for dogs and their people)
- Exercise to Overcome Depression (Healthy aging)
- What's New? (Senior exercise DVDs)
- Couch Potato Workout (Humor)
It rhymes with yoga. It's an enjoyable way for people and pets to
relax together. And it's being practiced in places ranging from New York
City to Washington DC to London, England. In doga, people perform their
yoga routines while also helping their dogs assume comfortable stretched
positions. It comes with plenty of nuzzling, rubbing, petting, and
A charming article by Katherine Shaver of the Washington Post
documented just how doga works. It's not at all a matter of
compelling dogs into pretzel-like poses. Instead, the pets provide and
enjoy companionship during their special person's yoga session -- and
are themselves helped into natural stretches that encourage them to feel
relaxed and content. For example, in the chaturanga pose, they lie on
their abdomens while having their backs stroked. In the savasana
relaxation pose, they lie on their backs while having their bellies
rubbed. (Dog participants agree: It doesn't get much better than this --
life is good!)
The Post article offered a number of helpful tips for achieving a
successful doga experience, as follow:
If your dog doesn't want to perform doga, don't insist on it.
Instead, simply welcome him or her to hang out with you on the mat
as you move through your yoga routine.
Before doga, take a walk with your dog, which will serve to burn
off restless energy.
Never force your dog into any position. Instead, help your pet
to stretch in ways that he or she already does.
Avoid touching regions which may be tender, for example, the
ears and the paws.
Honor your dog's unique individual preferences. For example,
some dogs do not like to be picked up and others don't like being
rubbed in certain places.
With older dogs, be especially gentle, as they may have
Take special care when doing doga with a large dog, so as not to
over-strain yourself while trying to hold him or her in
Being careful not to pinch, rub or massage your dog by using
smooth, deep strokes.
Never attempt doga with an aggressive dog.
Seek to make yourself calm and relaxed. Your own pleasant
feelings of tranquility will tend to transfer to your dog.
Exercise to Overcome Depression
SFA author Jim Evans is a 40-year veteran of the health and
fitness industry and an internationally recognized senior fitness
consultant. Today, Jim offers advice and hope to a widower battling
DEAR JIM: At 72, I find myself feeling blue most of the time. My wife
died last year, and many of my friends have passed away too. I have some
minor health issues, but sometimes I just feel like I haven't got the
energy to keep going any longer. Someone told me that you had
recommended exercise as a way to overcome depression, but surely it
can't be that simple. DOWN IN THE DUMPS IN DETROIT
DEAR DOWN IN THE DUMPS: No, it's not always that simple, but exercise
can be an effective tool in treating depression. It is important to
recognize that what you are experiencing is not unusual. According to
the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), emotional experiences of
sadness, grief, response to grief, and temporary blue moods are normal
-- but persistent depression that interferes with one's ability to
function is not. If you feel that you are depressed most of the time,
make an appointment with your doctor right away, and you will probably
find that he or she will prescribe a regular dose of exercise along with
medication and psychotherapy.
"Exercise is not a magic bullet, but increasing physical activity is
a positive and active strategy to help manage depression and anxiety,"
says Kristin Vickers-Douglas, PhD, a psychologist at the Mayo Clinic in
Rochester, Minnesota. I couldn't have said it better myself. Research
has shown that exercise in almost any form -- even small amounts of 10
to 15 minutes at a time -- can be an effective component in the
treatment of mild to moderate depression. You see, physical activity
produces a temporary endorphin surge or "feel good" mood almost
immediately afterwards, but it also creates a constant feeling of
physical and mental well-being when it becomes a regular habit.
According to the Mayo Clinic, it can also help you to sleep better and
can reduce the levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Where to start? Keep it simple. Just take a walk around the block,
around the lake, or around the shopping mall. Make a conscious effort to
say "hello" to people as you pass them along the way and SMILE even if
you don't feel like it. Even a "forced" smile soon becomes the real
thing when you see the positive effect it has on others. And, as fitness
legend Jack LaLanne says, "Just keep moving."
I'm not talking about a structured workout here. Just step out the
front door and put one foot in front of the other. As you start feeling
better -- and you will -- you can progress to other forms of
exercise such as dancing, gardening, yoga, tai chi, bowling, or some
other type of physical activity that you enjoy to improve your fitness
and quality of life. Getting started on an exercise program can be
difficult, but scheduling an appointment with your physician is the
first step, and that's not so hard, is it? Please do so at once. It will
change your life and restore a feeling of hope for the future.
The American Senior Fitness Association (SFA) has recently
received review copies of senior exercise DVDs from three separate
producers, each of which is discussed below.
Take 5 To Exercise is a five-part DVD set of chair
exercises developed and hosted by trainer Kelly Ward. This series is
not intended to address cardiovascular fitness but, rather, to
provide a fall prevention regimen for elders who need gentle
exercise. Day One focuses on flexibility, Day Two on strength, Day
Three on posture, Day Four on strength again, and Day Five on
maintenance. Certain featured exercises are revisited from day to
day. The workouts are characterized by sound training technique that
complies with SFA guidelines. Ward and her senior exercise
participants perform their seated routines in appealing outdoor
settings. She provides viewers with well-informed explanations of
her training procedures. Additionally, Kelly Ward comes through as a
genuine and very caring person and trainer. For details, visit
The AGE RIGHT TRAINING SERIES includes three
"Comfort Zone, Feeling Younger Workout" DVDs led by Feldenkrais
practitioners Seth Paris and Laura Paris. Suitable for complementing
a balanced exercise program, most of the movements and positions are
performed while lying on the floor. By design, these routines are
extremely slow-paced and are not accompanied by music. The DVDs are
titled: (1) Relieving Tension in the Neck and Spine, (2) Improving
Posture and Relaxing the Shoulders, and (3) Releasing the Lower
Back. The slow, easy, calm approach is aimed in part at easing pain,
improving balance, and enhancing participants' awareness of how the
body moves. For details, visit
Grandfun with Grandkids is an upbeat
intergenerational exercise DVD starring 65-year-old dance and
fitness teacher Benna Miller and three of her grandchildren. This is
a colorful, energizing production filled with ideas for promoting
family fun through shared movement activities. It includes aerobic
exercises, muscle conditioning, balance work, and some very
innovative use of balls and other fitness accessories. SFA-trained
professionals will want to make adjustments in some of the technical
training specifics. That said, this DVD is really about inspiration,
creativity, staying active, and sharing laughter, joy and love with
younger family members -- and it delivers on all counts. Miller is a
vibrant, beautiful lady and her grandsons are delightful, terrific
boys. The four of them show viewers that smiles and good times occur
when grandparents and grandkids take part in physical activity
together. For details, visit www.bodiesbybenna.com.
Couch Potato Workout
We're certain this wry observation doesn't apply to any Experience! readers!
"If it weren't for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are
so far apart, some of us wouldn't get any exercise at all."
-- Joey Adams
Experience! readers: Thank
you for your interest and questions. Due to the high volume of contacts SFA
receives, we cannot respond to individual queries or comments. However, the
newsletter does address frequently asked questions and topics of vital interest
to our members.
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