>mind-body connection

Exercise Increases A Variety Of Substances That Play An Important Role In Brain Function

Adapted from Mental Health America…

BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) is a protein that creates and protects neurons (nerve cells) in the brain helps these cells to transmit messages more efficiently, and regulates depression-like behaviors.

Endorphins are a type of chemical messenger (neurotransmitter) that is released when we experience stress or pain to reduce their negative effects and increase pleasure throughout the body. Endorphins are also responsible for the euphoric feeling known as a “runner’s high” that happens after long periods of intense exercise.

Serotonin is another neurotransmitter that increases during exercise. It plays a role in sending messages about appetite, sleep, and mood. It is the target of medications known as SSRIs or SNRIs, which are used to treat anxiety and depression.

Dopamine is involved in controlling movement and the body’s reward response system. Due to its role in how the body perceives rewards, it is heavily involved with addictions. When amounts of this chemical messenger are low, it is linked to mental health conditions including depression, schizophrenia, and psychosis.

Glutamate and GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid) both act to regulate the activity of nerve cells in the parts of the brain that process visual information, determine heart rate, and affect emotions and the ability to think clearly. Low levels of GABA have been linked to depression, anxiety, PTSD, and mood disorders.

By | 2019-10-12T23:04:26-04:00 October 12th, 2019|0 Comments

You need to attend this workshop!

Tim attended the same workshop last month and it was magnifico!

Sat, June 15 • 10am-2:30pm
Optimizing Exercise Through Postural Alignment
Hosted by Punk Rope
Regularly $200; save $75 with code FRIENDOFCLAUDIA
330 1st Ave at 19th St (Manhattan)
Claudia Godi, the creator of the Godi Method, will teach you how to move more efficiently and with less pain by combining proper breathing with correct postural alignment. You’ll learn a series of highly effective exercises and an entirely new fitness paradigm. Includes 2 small posture balls. Register here.

By | 2019-05-11T11:15:30-04:00 May 11th, 2019|0 Comments

What I Learned When My Students Began Jumping Rope

By Janet Beihoffer (04/11/2019)

By now the outcry has been heard and confirmed: Children need recess or other forms of physical activity to thrive in school.

But I could have told you that. As a veteran teacher, I stumbled on this fact in my own classroom quite by accident.

Years ago my students took the required, but now defunct, President’s Challenge physical fitness test. Most teachers left the requirement to the P.E. staff. One year, however, I was informed that most of my fifth grade students had failed the test.

I took that personally. I was an athlete at age 10. MY students would not flunk the physical education test. But what could I do?

Eventually I found an article about a school system which had its students jumping rope every day. “Why not try this?” I asked myself. So off to the hardware store I went to purchase about 120 feet of clothesline. Returning home, I cut 25 “jumping ropes,” one for each of my students.

From that point on, my students and I jumped rope one minute each day before returning to the classroom after the noon recess. We added another minute every week following until we reached five minutes.

Did it work?

The answer was a resounding yes when it came to the President’s Challenge. Every student passed it the following spring.

But something else happened that was even more impressive.

Through the jump roping regimen, one boy had an incredibly difficult time getting the rope over his head and jumping over it. His eyes were misaligned and I’m sure that influenced his lack of coordination. Nevertheless, he tried every day with the others.

This same boy was very bright, but had horrible penmanship. However, this began to improve over time.

One afternoon I called him to my desk to congratulate him on his handwriting. He responded by saying, “Well, the only reason I think this happened is because of jumping rope. I believe my brain has re-patterned itself.”

Could this kind of program be done today? Even though recess is rising in popularity, we have eliminated many other avenues for fitness, including less outside time, no Red Rover, and no Dodge Ball. Have we gone so far in protecting kids that we are cheating them of self-confidence, physical improvement, better motor skills, and maybe even better academic results?

Perhaps it’s time to get out the jump ropes.

By | 2019-04-18T13:29:08-04:00 April 18th, 2019|0 Comments

Leaping over diabetes to inspire others

Laura Brashear is our newest Punk Rope instructor. She’s teaching multiple Punk Rope classes in the Harrisburg, PA area. She also teaches boot camp and youth fitness classes and provides a number of other health and wellness services including small group and personal training. I haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting Laura in person, but I hope that day will come soon. Laura is one of approximately 1.25 million people who have Type 1 diabetes (about 29 million people have Type 2 diabetes). Laura was kind enough to answer my questions. See below for our conversation.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Please consider contributing to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, an orgranization that means a lot to Laura. Here’s a link to Laura’s fundraising page.

You’re currently leading more Punk Rope classes each week (4) than any other Punk Rope instructor in the world. How did you become interested in rope jumping in general and in Punk Rope specifically?

When I became a personal trainer I knew I wanted to work with children. I always try to make their classes fun and use less traditional exercise equipment especially in larger group settings. We used jump ropes one day and I wanted to expand on the fun the kids were having because I know how much jumping rope benefits a person overall. When researching jump rope programs, the name Punk Rope drew me in big time as I’ve always loved punk and ska music. I knew it would be a great fit to incorporate the awesome music and games with the jump rope intervals. It makes everyone smile plus they get a killer workout.

You and I agree that it can be limiting to define oneself by a condition, illness, or disease. On the other hand, you yourself have not let Type 1 diabetes stand in your way. I find that very inspiring. How have you personally battled Type 1 diabetes and what would you say to others who are coping with it to help motivate them to be more physically active?

Processing the diagnosis at age 22 was very difficult and it definitely impacted my life hard and fast. Depression and fear ruled my world for years. But I knew that if I didn’t take action nothing would get better. There are so many studies that show how beneficial exercise can be for Type 1s, most importantly increasing insulin sensitivity. With prices of insulin being so high it seems so necessary to find a way to be able to inject less on a daily basis. Exercising releases endorphins which also help lower stress levels, which benefits my glucose levels and my mood.

What are some of your favorite songs to jump rope or work out to?

I don’t know if I can even choose! Anything upbeat keeps me wanting to move and sing along. 1970s punk bands like The Ramones, Dead Kennedys, and Operation Ivy are always great. But my two all-time favorite bands are Bloodhound Gang and Lynryd Skynyrd.

What’s your favorite jump rope move and why?

I really like experimenting with different moves. Right now I’m working on perfecting solo jumping with the rope sideways. I don’t know if there’s a name for the jump, but it’s pretty much a basic bounce with arms in front and behind so I jump with the rope on one side of my body.

Are there any other pearls of wisdom you’d like to share with our readers to inspire them to get or stay active?

Find something you love to and do it. There are so many ways to start becoming more active, from a walk around your neighborhood to hula-hooping in your living room. And find a friend or loved one who will do it with you. That support system is imperative in maintaining your accountability. Having my husband to push me is the main reason I succeed in obstacle course races like The Spartan Race.

By | 2018-11-11T18:54:18-05:00 November 11th, 2018|0 Comments

This man chose life and lost 130 pounds

I’ve been friends with Scott Cancel (above) for nearly a decade. He’s one of the warmest, funniest, most talented humans you’re ever going to meet. But, like many of us, it wasn’t always easy for Scott to make healthy choices and consequently he gained weight and became ill. I was very worried about him so it brings me such joy to see Scott on a healthier and happier path. Below is just a small part of the story of how Scott turned things around. Sure, losing 130 pounds is awesome. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Scott has his life and his health back and he’s looking pretty unstoppable. Roll tide.

You’ve lost more than 100 pounds in the past 2 years and made a number of significant lifestyle changes. What inspired you to make so many changes and what keeps you motivated?

At the beginning of 2017 I had been laid off from a job I had sunk 6 years of my life into and my girlfriend of two years had just broken up with me. I was depressed and had truly given up on life. In this time I ballooned to 430 pounds and health problems began to mount. In the summer of 2017 I went home to attend my brother’s college graduation. Three nights after his graduation he was leaving a party and fell asleep at the wheel. His car was totaled but thank God we was still alive. When he regained consciousness he called the first number in his phone for help and thankfully it was mine. My father and I rushed to him, but I was just a burden. I was so big I couldn’t even help my father get my brother out of the vehicle. I couldn’t do anything.

It was in that moment that everything became clear. If I can’t help myself how will I ever be able to help other people. I was disgusted with myself and my inability to help my own brother. After that I started seeing doctors to figure out how to fix what I had broken. First I had to fix my mind before I could fix my body. After that, everything else has been easy in comparison.

Long story short, what keeps me motivated is the memory of how bad I was and how much better I strive to become. I will never allow weakness to control me again.

These days you hear so much conflicting information about nutrition, weight loss, and exercise. Can you share a bit about your own approach and why it’s worked for you?

First and foremost you must clear your mind of all the ways you viewed health and fitness in the past. The way you did things before has led you down this path you are dissatisfied with. Let go and be open to trying new approaches.

Learn to count calories. When I first started seriously dieting I kept a journal for two weeks of everything I was eating and the calories that were in each item. I was astounded by how many calories I was taking in and not even realizing it.

Find exercises that you feel comfortable with and will actually do. At my size. cardio was a big struggle so I focused on the recumbent bike and strength training. Slowly but surely, the weight started to come off and I began to get stronger. Every month I challenge myself to incorporate an exercise I couldn’t do the month prior.

Your diet and exercise routine has no end date! I have battled with my weight my whole life and constantly yo-yoed from one weight to another. The reason for this is because I’d be heavily devoted to a diet and exercise routine and once I got the results I wanted I’d stop and inevitably the weight would come back plus some. Now I understand that I must make a lifelong commitment to my body. Mouth pleasure is not worth sacrificing my health and happiness.

I am a true believer in intermittent fasting. This has helped me maintain my weight-loss goals for 8-10 pounds a month and allowed me to avoid the plateau that most people say is inevitable. Start with fasting for 12 hours then slowly work your way up to 16 hours by adding one hour every 3 days. It takes a little while for your body to adjust, but once it does you’ll never want to go back to your old ways of eating.

You made your Punk Rope Games debut this year and your team, Flavor
Town, had a strong showing. How did it feel to compete in the Games?
Do you have your eye on other fitness events? Do you think you’ll keep
jumping rope?

I’ve wanted to compete in the Games for a while, but this was the first year I’ve ever felt even close to in-shape enough to not look completely awful. I was strongly encouraged by Mary Paliouras and Kevin Sullivan and with the rumor that these might be the last Games I knew I had to join up.

My team and I did not get to practice nearly as much as I would have liked but I was proud of our participation if nothing else. The fact that I did not come in dead last for my singles event was a complete surprise! It was a real self-affirming moment for me to feel like I could actually be competitive in something physical for the first time in 10+ years.

I still want to get my weight down another 30 or so pounds before I’d consider doing any of the “Spartan Race” type fitness events. Though I’ve lost a lot of weight I’m still rather heavy and I feel like the risk of injury at this time is just too high.

As my weight comes further down I do want to incorporate more rope jumping into my overall fitness routine. The cardio you get from it is amazing and it can be done without having to get to the gym for 45 minutes to an hour. Plus, when you get good at it, it looks really cool!

When you’re working out which 3 or 4 songs really get you moving?

Airbourne • Back In The Game
Disturbed • The Curse
Alter Bridge • Ties That Bind
Metallica • The End of The Line
(Literally the first 4 songs on my workout mix)

In terms of health and fitness where would you like to be a year from now?

I’d like to be 220 pounds or lower and I’d like to be completely off the few remaining medications I take. I’d also love to buy a pair of pant that are below a 40.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

I just want anyone who is feeling uneasy about where they are health and fitnesswise to know that no matter how bad off you think you are you can get better. If you work hard enough and want it bad enough it can and will happen!

By | 2018-10-05T10:07:59-04:00 October 5th, 2018|0 Comments

Overcoming adversity to jump rope a 5K

Almost exactly one year ago I had to withdraw from the 2017 Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K in Philadelphia because of a torn calf muscle. I was extremely disappointed because I had trained hard for the race, was looking forward to it, and the injury seemed to come out of nowhere. I immediately registered for the 2018 race hoping I’d be able to redeem myself. But then the wheels came off the wagon. On November 1, about six weeks after I withdrew from the race, my dad passed away unexpectedly on the heels of my mom passing away unexpectedly. Then a few months after that I started experiencing more lower back pain than usual. An MRI revealed four herniated discs in my lumbar spine. That happy news was followed by an injury to my right knee.

To say I was at a low point would be an understatement of biblical proportions, but I didn’t quit. Through physical therapy, the love and support of my sister and my friends, the powerful effects of Aynsley Kirshenbaum’s #sugarpurge, and the sheer force of will, I was able to jump rope the entire Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K this Saturday with my girlfriend, Heather, and my dear friend and Punk Rope co-conspirator, Shana. The runners and spectators were so gracious and encouraging. We’ve never been cheered on like that before even though we’ve been jumping 5Ks since 2009. I wanted to share this story because I believe we all have the ability to be resilient and bounce back from any misfortune. In the words of the late, great Jim Valvano, “Never ever give up!”

By | 2018-09-17T07:29:51-04:00 September 17th, 2018|0 Comments

Strong Body, Strong Brain

When most of us think of exercise we tend to focus on its physical benefits and especially how exercise improves our appearance. But there’s a solid body of research emerging about how strengthening your body can also strengthen your brain and improve memory, concentration, mental health, creativity, and even offer some protection against dementia. In fact, cognitive control is considerably improved after just a single session of exercise.

From The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World:

“Boosts in cognitive control abilities occur even after engagement in a single bout of physical exertion, as assessed in healthy children and those diagnosed with ADHD, with benefits extending to academic achievement. Interestingly, it seems that the impact on the brain is greater if an exercise program is also cognitively engaging. Similar training benefits of acute and chronic exercise on cognitive control have been shown in both young adults and middle-age adults. There is also a very large body of research on the cognitive benefits of physical exercise in older adults.”

And what, dear reader, is a cognitively engaging form of exercise? Jumping rope, of course. Your mind can’t go to sleep while jumping rope or you’ll trip. So the next time you pick up that jump rope you can feel good that you’re not only doing something positive for your physical health, but you’re boosting your mental health as well. So how much exercise do you need for optimal brain health. Research shows that some form of aerobic activity six days a week, for forty-five minutes to an hour would be ideal.

By | 2018-04-03T14:35:53-04:00 April 3rd, 2018|0 Comments

Jump for Life

You might recall from a recent post that I was beyond psyched about my beloved Virginia Cavaliers who had just been granted the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Men’s D1 basketball tournament. And as you may know by now, Virginia became the first #1 seed in the history of the men’s tournament to lose to a #16 seed (UMBC) in the first round. Some sportswriters are calling it the greatest sports upset of all time. Even so, it was just a game without life or death consequences.

Since then, we bore witness to what I believe is one of the largest and most inspiring marches on our nation’s capital in history, along with hundreds of other impressive marches around the globe. The Washington DC march was organized largely by teenagers who survived the recent mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. And arguably the most powerful speech in DC was delivered by Emma Gonzalez, an 18-year-old senior at Stoneman Douglas. Her speech—much of it without words—lasted 6 minutes and 20 seconds, exactly the amount of time it took Nikolas Cruz to massacre 14 of her classmates as well as 3 teachers and coaches.

In honor of those who lost their lives at Stoneman Douglas, as well as the countless victims of school shootings everywhere; in honor of Emma Gonzalez and the brave survivors who have risen above the cacophony of adult voices trying to silence them; and as a nod to choosing life over death, peace over violence, and love over hate this week’s Punk Rope Challenge is:

Jump for 6 minutes and 20 seconds non-stop.
Choose whichever step you like.
Choose multiple steps if you prefer.
Whatever you do, CHOOSE LIFE.

By | 2018-03-25T21:55:30-04:00 March 25th, 2018|0 Comments

Jump rope philosophy

The word “spring” makes me think about jumping rope and as the weather warms up here in the Northeast I have certainly been jumping more with the hope of jump roping another 5K in the next several months, but more importantly with the hope of getting back into decent physical condition.

But lately I’ve also been thinking about bigger and deeper questions pertaining to rope jumping. For example, what’s more important: jumping quality or jumping quantity? Should we focus more on the internal (e.g., sheer joy) or external rewards (e.g., weight loss) of jumping rope? Is it preferable to jump solo or in a communal setting? And if you have a great jumping session in the forest, but didn’t post a video or photo of it on Facebook or Instagram did it really ever happen? I’d love to hear your thoughts about these types of questions. I think what really perplexes me is this seemingly global trend to film oneself doing virtually everything and then post it for the world to see.

I certainly enjoy creating instructional videos so I can help others get the most out of jumping rope, but the idea of posting selfie videos and pics of me competing in a jump rope challenge doesn’t sit right with me. My initial thought is “who cares?” And my second thought is why are we so focused on competition and comparing ourselves with others? But obviously for many this is a fun pastime so I’d love to learn what they enjoy about it.

By | 2018-02-28T13:20:40-05:00 February 28th, 2018|0 Comments
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