Heart & Sole - The Blog

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Walking Speed a Predictor of Health Issues

posted Jul 12, 2018, 8:52 AM by Walk Strong Calgary   [ updated Jul 12, 2018, 9:22 AM ]

One of the unique features of our Walk 15® program is our "Steps to Miles" system, which uses the pace of the music to measure mileage. Even though each person in class remains within about a 30-40 ft2 area, by keeping on the beat, we can approximate the distance we've gone over time. On average, we engineer the music in a class for a 15-minute mile (hence the '15' in the 'Walk 15®' brand), which equates to a 4 mph pace. I often take my music outdoors onto the walking paths, and depending on stride length, 30 minutes of walking to the beat will put me around 2 miles from my doorstep. Walk 15® is a great way to measure walking speed; however, in our activities of daily living (ADL), we seldom walk to music. So how can we measure our walking speed as we go about our day... and does it matter?

According to a growing trend in research, gait speed may actually be a better predictor of certain health issues than traditional measures such as pulse, breathing, and blood pressure. According to Professor Dina Katabi of MIT, "Many avoidable hospitalizations are related to issues like falls, congestive heart disease, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which have all been shown to be correlated to gait speed." Measuring changes in a person's walking speed could potentially result in early detection and prevention, especially in the elderly. 

The research is based, however, not on the speed one would walk during fitness activities; rather, the key element is how our gait (or walking) speed changes over time in day-to-day life - walking across the room to grab a snack; walking to answer the doorbell, etc. According to researchers, changes in stride length may also help experts understand conditions such as Parkinson's Disease, one of the characteristics of which is taking smaller steps. Such changes could also be an indicator of an injury (and subsequent increased risk of a fall) and perhaps even serve as an indicator over time that an individual may be ready for assisted living. 

Going Wireless
A recent paper written by scientists at MIT proposes using a wireless device called "WiGait" to measure walking speed in the home. The system analyzes wireless signals that bounce off a person's body and apparently is 95-99% accurate in measuring gait speed, 85-99% accurate in measuring stride length. The device hangs on the wall (approx. size of a small painting) and there are no belt-packs, wrist devices, or other sensory devices to carry on the body, and it can even 'see' through walls.   It also emits 100 times less radiation than a cell phone. If privacy is a concern, rest assured, there are no cameras involved - merely moving dots on a screen. Researchers hope to eventually use the system to monitor people with MS, Parkinson's and even Alzheimer's to assist physicians in tracking the progression of their conditions and adjusting medications as needed. 

Nancy Ehle is Founder & CEO of Witness 4 Fitness in Calgary, Alberta. Nancy is certified as a Walk 15® Instructor, Master Level as well as a Group Fitness Instructor (American Council on Exercise) and has studied many specialties such as Exercise and Menopause, Conducting Postural Assessments, Chronic Musculoskeletal Challenges & Exercise, and more. She is also a Health Coach, artist, author, and amateur photographer. Follow Nancy on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/walkstrongcalgary 


"Heart & Sole" - the Magazine - Now Available!

posted Jun 24, 2018, 5:24 PM by Walk Strong Calgary

These past few months have been a blur of activity as I've been working hard in the background on a new wellness magazine published through a division of my company - Grace Productions. "Heart & Sole - Staying Fit & Fabulous at 50+" is now available! 

What began as a 16-page handout for the Calgary Woman's Show in April quickly ballooned into 36 pages as both personal and professional contacts stepped forward to contribute some great articles! There are a variety of topics to suit any age, from dealing with stress and mental burnout to the 'Entrepreneur's Corner,' and a great submission from a shy housewife who tells how she became an on-air host on a community radio station. There are several fitness-related pieces, of course, and a special series called "Tales from the Bright Side," wherein two Mom's of children with special needs share candidly about their respective journeys - one has a son with Autism, the other a daughter with Angelman Syndrome. Real people. Real life. 

Order a hard copy or ebook version here: Order Heart & Sole

The POWer of H20 - Cold-Water Immersion

posted Jun 5, 2018, 7:24 PM by Walk Strong Calgary

Have you ever splashed really cold water on your face first thing in the morning? It's something I've been doing for years and while it may seem a shocking way to wake up, it feels fabulous! International speaker and best-selling author Tony Robbins takes it a giant step further... his morning routine includes submerging his entire body in a pool of water that's at a temperature of just under 14°C (about 57°F). The average temperature of a swimming pool is 25-28°C (77-82°F). While it may seem a bizarre way to wake up, there are some surprising benefits to cold-water immersion, particularly when it comes to recovery after exercise. 

According to Tony's website(1), cold water immersion improves lymphatic circulation, boosts the body's natural healing powers (relieving symptoms of many medical conditions), can help treat depression, kicks up the metabolism (which means increased weight loss), and more. Australian Sports Conditioning examined the potential benefits of cold-water immersion as a recovery regime after exercise(2). Recovery is when our body repairs tissue and replenishes muscle glycogen. While the research indicated that immersion did not decrease the inflammatory response of muscle tissue to exercise, subjects did report a decreased perception of muscle soreness. In another study, subjects recovered force and power production more quickly than those who did not use the therapy. Other research showed improved lactic acid recovery when cold-water immersion was used following participation in an intense anaerobic exercise session. Researchers recommend 1-2 minutes of submersion repeated 3-4 times with 30-second breaks at a water temperature of 10-12°C (50-53.7°F). 

As you can imagine, it can be a challenge to condition your body to handle cold-water immersion. It makes me think of swimming in the lake up north when I was a kid. That initial plunge was the hardest... but once you got up the nerve and just went for it, it was invigorating! Before you fill up your bathtub with cold water after your next workout, however, check with your doctor to see if cold-water immersion is for you. 

Nancy Ehle is Founder & CEO of Witness 4 Fitness in Calgary, Alberta Canada. She holds several certifications in the fitness industry, including Group Fitness Instructor, Health Coach and Master Walk 15® Instructor through organizations such as the American Council on Exercise and Walk at Home®.  Walk Strong Calgary is a division of Witness 4 Fitness, focusing on low-impact group exercise programs suitable for all ages and fitness levels. 
Follow Nancy on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/WalkStrongCalgary/

(1) https://www.tonyrobbins.com/health-vitality/the-power-of-cold-water/
(2) http://www.australiansportsconditioning.com/articles/?article5/cold-water-immersion

H20 - Cold vs. Room Temp - Which is Better?

posted Jun 5, 2018, 6:02 AM by Walk Strong Calgary   [ updated Jun 6, 2018, 5:09 AM ]

There's nothing like a nice tall glass of cold water on a hot day. It refreshes, energizes and cools. But is cold water better than warm for the body (or vice versa)? As with many fitness & health-related topics, experts are divided on the topic. According to Columbia University's 'Go Ask Alice'(1) column, cold water is absorbed more quickly from within the stomach than warm water. In researching this, it seems many other experts agree, though some argue that the reverse is true. Either way, whether you should opt for warm or cold may in part come down to timing and/or the purpose of your water consumption.

When exercising, for example, although research is limited, according to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition(2), participants who consumed cold water during their exercise sessions "were able to delay their increase in core body temperature for at least 30 minutes." This same study showed an increase in performance in participants who drank cold water compared to those who drank it warm, but it depended on the mode of exercise (bench press results indicated a slight decrease in performance). Overall, the study would seem to support the hypothesis that drinking cold water while exercising provides some benefits. Bear in mind, however, that environment can be a factor - other researchers have found little benefit to drinking cold water while exercising in a cold environment, as stated in this same study.

Drinking to hydrate - As stated above, many experts agree that cold water is absorbed more quickly than warm water. It may well come down to preference, though. Some people prefer one over the other, and if you have sensitive teeth, for example, you might naturally go for warm over cold. Either way, drink up because it's all good for hydrating the body!

Weight Loss - Is cold water better if you're trying to lose weight? There's an excellent article(3) on Jillian Michaels' website that addresses this topic. Drinking cold water does result in your body burning extra calories; however, it may not make a significant difference, especially if you're not addressing bad food habits. Check out the article on the link below. It's a great read!

Overall, it's really up to you which you choose, and both are the RIGHT choice. We need the water either way. Chug-a-lug! 

Nancy Ehle is Founder & CEO of Witness 4 Fitness in Calgary, Alberta Canada. She holds several certifications in the fitness industry, including Group Fitness Instructor, Health Coach and Master Walk 15® Instructor through organizations such as the American Council on Exercise and Walk at Home®.  Walk Strong Calgary is a division of Witness 4 Fitness, focusing on low-impact group exercise programs suitable for all ages and fitness levels. 
Follow Nancy on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/WalkStrongCalgary/

H20 - Remembering to Drink!

posted Jun 4, 2018, 6:05 AM by Walk Strong Calgary

Do you have a hard time remembering to drink water? I certainly do. My days can be hectic and when I'm focused on a project, whether at home or in the office (I work part-time at a print shop). It's amazing how quickly time can seem to fly by when you're concentrating on the task at hand - the next thing you know, 2 hours have gone by and I haven't moved from my desk. Or maybe it's a matter of distractions throughout the day... Children requiring your attention off and on, or multiple errands throughout the day. Let's face it, we've all got very busy lives these days!

Here's a simple trick that may help you remember to drink more. One of the things that I personally find very effective is to have a glass or water bottle next to my computer. I find that if there's something there, my hand automatically reaches for it, especially if I've added flavour to the water, which can trigger a 'pleasure response' in the brain. When it tastes good... my body seems to crave more. Here's a good example... I finished my first cup of coffee about 30 minutes ago... and suddenly I am craving another cup... It tasted soooo good! Lol! I have a dual-walled, stainless steel thermos at the office that holds about 16 oz and keeps my water nice and cool for several hours (I'll address water temperature in a future post) and I love it! I add a drop or two of lemon or lime (sometimes both) essential oil to my H20 for a little kick... and when that thermos is empty, I am more likely to get up and refill it because of the 'treat factor!' At home, if I place a glass in a prominent position, such as in the middle of the kitchen counter, it serves as a reminder - and it has been very effective these past few days as you've seen if you've been following along on Facebook! Find a trick that works for you - sticky notes around the house? A calendar reminder on your cell phone or on your computer at the office? Carrying a water bottle with you when you're out and about (you'll get into the habit of making note of where the public washrooms are when shopping... lol)? Anything goes! Chug-a-lug, Chug-a-lug!

Nancy Ehle is Founder & CEO of Witness 4 Fitness in Calgary, Alberta Canada. She holds several certifications in the fitness industry, including Group Fitness Instructor, Health Coach and Master Walk 15® Instructor through organizations such as the American Council on Exercise and Walk at Home®.  Walk Strong Calgary is a division of Witness 4 Fitness, focusing on low-impact group exercise programs suitable for all ages and fitness levels. 
Follow Nancy on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/WalkStrongCalgary/

How Much Water is Too Much?

posted Jun 2, 2018, 4:00 PM by Walk Strong Calgary   [ updated Jun 4, 2018, 5:35 AM ]

Water... One of the most basic elements necessary for our very survival. Every cell in your body requires water in order to function properly and it can be found both within the cells themselves, and surrounding them. Water acts as our body's cooling system, just one of the many important functions of this luscious liquid. 

According to the Mayo Clinic(1), our body weight is composed of approximately 60% water, and as you know, we are continually losing water throughout the day through our normal bodily functions such as sweating, waste removal, vomiting, and even breathing. There is no hard and fast rule about how much water you actually need to ingest daily - it will actually vary by individual.  Factors such as body size, diet, activity level, health status and even climate can all play a role in your individual hydration requirements. While you can certainly look to alternative sources for water (fruits and veggies, teas & other beverages), if you are specifically drinking to hydrate the body, your best bet is good ol' H20 straight up. It's the original zero-calorie drink and the perfect choice if you're trying to lose weight and/or keep it off. 

Is it possible to drink too much water? That's a great question, and the answer is yes! Overhydrating is a condition called hyponatremia, but not to worry, you're only likely to be in danger of this if you are drinking extreme amounts in a short period of time. In fact, there have been deaths attributed to 'water intoxication,' such as a 28-year old mother of three who participated in a water-drinking contest in 2007(2). In such an extreme case, inundating your body with an unusually high volume of H20 in a short window of time can cause your blood sodium concentration to drop below 135 millimoles per litre (normal levels range from 135 - 145). Imagine stirring half a tsp of salt into a tall glass of water and tasting it. You'd no doubt taste the salt. Now take a 10-gallon pail of water and add half a tsp of salt. You'll likely not notice a difference at all in the taste. Trouble is, your body needs that sodium, and diluting it in such an extreme way can certainly be very dangerous, taxing the kidneys - if the kidneys aren't given enough time to flush the additional water out, it's got to go somewhere... first to the blood, which becomes waterlogged, and then to the cells, causing them to expand and swell like tiny little balloons. While most cells in the body do have some room to enlarge, when it comes to the brain cells, there is precious little room (if any) for expansion(3).
Generally speaking, unless you are an elite athlete participating in arduous workouts or endurance events (wherein the athlete may consume copious amounts of water in a short time in an attempt to stay hydrated), you are in very little danger of experiencing hyponatremia. The Mayo Clinic's recommendation to ensure you are safely hydrated is to drink a glass of water with each meal, one between each meal, drink water before, during and after exercise, and when you experience hunger (which can often be confused with thirst)(1)

Nancy Ehle is Founder & CEO of Witness 4 Fitness in Calgary, Alberta Canada. She holds several certifications in the fitness industry, including Group Fitness Instructor, Health Coach and Master Walk 15® Instructor through organizations such as the American Council on Exercise and Walk at Home®.  Walk Strong Calgary is a division of Witness 4 Fitness, focusing on low-impact group exercise programs suitable for all ages and fitness levels. 
Follow Nancy on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/WalkStrongCalgary/


Rock Your New Year!

posted Jan 21, 2018, 2:39 PM by Walk Strong Calgary   [ updated Jan 21, 2018, 2:39 PM ]

We are officially 3 weeks into 2018, and it's a great time to check in and see how you're making out with your health and wellness goals. One of the best ways to ensure success is to make a plan ... but you must follow through with it. Many of us have the best of intentions at the beginning of the year, and maybe even sat down and wrote out some goals. Today, right now, stop and take account - what steps have you taken to date toward one or more of those goals for 2018? Make note of these on your goal list and say, "Well done!"

I freely admit - I'm not one to make New Year's Resolutions. Never have been. I don't particularly like setting personal goals, mostly because it's too much like work. Creating a performance plan on the job was always one of the tasks I dreaded, and doing it at home, too? I'd rather not. Just NOT. But I've learned over the years just how beneficial goal-setting can be. If kept simple, realistic, and measurable, one can glean great satisfaction in the feeling of success in accomplishing those goals.

It's not too late to set goals for the year or even to tweak them. Life events can mean a slight change in direction, even this early in the year. This is not failure; quite the contrary - it means you're just altering things to ensure long-term success, and this demonstrates wisdom. Give yourself permission to change things up as needed throughout the year. Sometimes it's okay to go with the flow!

Rock Your New Year - Where to Start
If you've never set personal goals or have had trouble accomplishing them in the past, there are some great tools out there that can help. One of them is called 'S.M.A.R.T.' goal setting, wherein each letter of the word stands for something in the goal-setting process: S = Specific; M = Measurable; A = Attainable; R = Relevant; T = Time Bound. If you can set goals around these parameters, you'll be much more likely to accomplish them. 

Just recently, thanks to the Leadership Team of Walk 15®, I learned of two more letters to add - E and R... making them 'SMARTER' goals. I love it! E = Evaluate, which is what I've asked you to do today, even though we've really just got the year going. R... is my new favorite... REWARD! Yes, you can plan to REWARD yourself when you've achieved a goal! Now don't go overboard and consider a binge on ice cream Sundays as a reward... keep the rewards healthy. Maybe one ice cream Sunday... or gelato... for me, gelato would be a lovely reward! LOL! How about a new pair of fitness shoes or a step counter? How about a date night with your spouse? Or that new outfit you've been eyeing up? A massage... a manicure... a new hairdo... a day at the spa with a girlfriend... there are any number of ways to reward yourself - and you're WORTH it!

Additional Resources
If you'd like some additional guidance, whether in setting your goals or with following through, I have a FREE worksheet that you may find very helpful! Send an e-mail to walkstrongcalgary@gmail.com and I will send you the PDF. Walk STRONG out there!

Coming Fall 2017 - We're Taking Walk 15® to a Higher Level!

posted Sep 17, 2017, 5:44 PM by Walk Strong Calgary   [ updated Sep 17, 2017, 5:44 PM ]

I'm very excited to announce that I have recently partnered with Higher Level Sports Academy in NE Calgary, where we will be offering Walk 15® Classes starting mid-October 2017!

This is a very fitting program for HLSA, whose owner, Eddie Escobar, has an overall goal to help people of all ages build confidence through athletics. With Walk 15®, we take the simplest form of exercise and truly take it to a higher level. The moves are easy to follow and the low-impact nature of the program allows virtually anyone to participate. We move the body through all planes of motion in an overall body-toning, calorie torching workout that gets lasting results. If you're new to exercise, you will definitely build confidence in this class, along with endurance and improved overall health... your JOY levels will rise as well!

Q: "Can I try it out first?"   
A:  "Yes, you can!"
Join me for a FREE demo class on Wednesday, September 20 from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. at Higher Level Sports Academy's facility located at Bay #8, 1411 - 33 Street NE. We'll be giving away some great door prizes! 

Register by e-mail: office@higherlevelsportsacademy.com 
Phone:  403-836-7416

 "Let's WALK Together... because Together, we are STRONGER." 

Walk 15® Master Instructors "Crush It!" at IDEA World in Las Vegas

posted Jul 29, 2017, 3:33 PM by Walk Strong Calgary   [ updated Jul 29, 2017, 3:41 PM ]

Peace. Love. WALK.
Hot and sweaty took on a whole new meaning on July 22 as we walked a 'Marathon of Miles' at the IDEA World Convention in Las Vegas! 109°F outdoors ... thank the Lord for air conditioning! Walk at Home made their presence known in the Expo throughout the weekend with live demos featuring Master Walk 15® Instructors from across the continent... New York, Ohio, Minnesota, Alaska, California, Canada... to name a few regions represented. 
What an honor to be a part of such a prestigious event! We were joined on Saturday by program creator Leslie Sansone, who brought along several of her cast members from recent DVDs, including Nick, Kamilah, and Nicole, as well as Brittany, whom many may remember from some of the earlier videos back in the 80's-90's. These folks brought their energy and delivered all day long - even 'Elvis' made an appearance, along with 'Cher!' Attendees were given a variety of free merchandise, including Walk at Home DVDs and "Walk On!" Tees, as well as an opportunity to register for certification at a discounted rate. 

Our overall goal was to showcase our Walk 15® program using our on-site team of Instructors, who brought their best all weekend long! With high-energy demos of other class formats on either side of our booth, our WALK 15® brand was up to the challenge, often drawing people in to join us. Congratulations to everyone involved - we 'crushed it!'

One of the highlights for me was a conversation I had with Kamilah Forster, creator of  Heel Hop, the first low-impact, sexy, high-energy 
workout in heels. Kamilah gave me some incredible feedback that actually took my breath away. I simply wasn't expecting it.

"There's a brightness in you that comes right out when you're on stage," she said. "I didn't want you to stop.  If you had done a marathon, I would have walked every mile with you."  - Kamilah Forster

Kamilah is a professional dancer and has worked with Prince... in fact, he discovered her. She's a wonderful person, and I very much appreciated her candid comments, and she wasn't being flippant or superficial - she was serious, looking me straight in the eye and speaking with authority... and there was more. I feel very honored that she took the time to speak with me. Thanks, Kamilah - I appreciate everything you shared more than you know!

In all, it was a fantastic experience. The Walk at Home team never disappoints. My heartfelt thanks to Leslie, Marie, Andy and all of the others who stepped in to make the weekend such a great success!

Nancy Ehle is a Certified Walk 15® Instructor, Master Level, as well as a Group Fitness Instructor via the American Council On Exercise. She's also a Health Coach and has several other specialties. As Founder & CEO of Witness 4 Fitness in Calgary, Alberta Canada, Nancy believes that exercise is for everyone. Her specialty is the Walk 15® group fitness classes, where her passion shines through, motivating and inspiring participants to go the extra mile... literally. Follow Nancy on Facebook: facebook.com/WalkStrongCalgary. 

Walking - Exercise for Your Eyes

posted Jan 24, 2017, 7:50 PM by Walk Strong Calgary   [ updated Jan 24, 2017, 7:50 PM ]

Walking is a great way to give your eyes a break from technology. Many of us spend a LOT of time daily in front of screens - computer, IPad, IPhone... pick a device. On the bus today, there were 10 people sitting ahead of me... half of them were staring down at their phones... and they ranged in age from teens to older adult - this isn't age-specific. As a society, we stare at screens - it's just the reality in which we live. It's not necessarily a bad thing - the technology itself is great!

It's important, however, to allow your eyes the opportunity to focus at a variety of distances. Like any muscle, your eyes will adapt over time depending on how you're using them. I speak from experience. My optometrist told me years ago that I do too much close-up work - as an artist who loves doing fine details, I was often painting with my eyes only about a foot or so away from the canvas. I've been in front of computer screens as my day job for around 30 years. I write... a LOT... either in journals or on my laptop. I do graphic & web design and video editing... once again putting me in front of a computer screen for extended periods. At one point, my prescription for vision was changing twice a year... for the worse.

Four years ago, I had a dramatic change for the better - a change that surprised my optometrist just as much as it did me. There was a three-point improvement in my vision over a period of about a year, something we had never seen (no pun intended) in the 20 years I've been going to her. We had seen marginal improvements on recent exams, but this took us both by surprise. When I told her that I had been certified as a fitness instructor and had started taking a whole food supplement, she speculated that the combination of good nutrition and spending more time focusing across a room (i.e., at my class participants) were the catalysts. It made sense.

Whether you walk indoors or out, fitness walking forces your eyes to focus beyond the distance of your computer screen. Even if you walk with the Walk at Home DVDs, you're still giving your peepers a break by being farther away from the screen. You can purposely focus in the distance by looking out the window or across the room and you can stare at the horizon often when walking outdoors (hint: keep IPhone in pocket...).

Go ahead... exercise your eyes while you walk!

Nancy Ehle is a Certified Master Walk 15® Instructor, Health Coach, and Group Fitness Instructor. As Founder & CEO of Witness 4 Fitness in Calgary, her mission is to encourage people of all ages and sizes to get and stay active for their good health. Nancy believes that fitness should be fun - if you can find an activity you enjoy, you're much more likely to stick with it. Her enthusiasm is infectious! Follow her on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/WalkStrongCalgary

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