EX-BALLERINA PUTS NEW SPIN ON EXERCISE
Former ballet dancer promotes exercise regime to reverse the effects of aging
Aging Backwards is a guide to understanding how aging happens in our cells and how to maintain and repair those cells — and roll back joint pain and muscle loss at any age — through gentle, scientifically designed workouts all developed by Miranda Esmonde-White. Esmonde-White began her career as a ballet dancer with the National Ballet of Canada. Since then, she developed a workout and became a stretch and bio-mechanic trainer. She also is the host of a daily exercise show on PBS and lives in Montreal.
Q Tell us about your book.
A I wrote Aging Backwards to make people feel optimistic and excited about aging. I turn the long accepted view that aging badly is inevitable, proving that we can stay feeling energetic, youthful and pain free no matter what our chronological years. In Aging Backwards I use science to refute many of the accepted myths about aging, showing that we actually have a choice as to how we age.
Mankind has always believed that it is the progression of our chronological years that make us lose muscle mass, feel stiff, lose our energy and suffer from chronic pain. The University of Pittsburg did a study in 2011 proving that if we don’t use muscles we will lose them, but if we use our muscles on a regular basis we will not lose muscle mass as we age. We have been told that suffering from chronic pain is part of aging and that we have to get used to it. We’ve been told that a shift in our body shape and trouble controlling our weight are all normal signs of aging as our metabolism slows down!
In Aging Backwards I explain that the muscular system is the guardian of all the other systems of our body. Aging is a slow process that is imperceptible as it is happening. However inside our bodies our cells are in a constant state of regeneration or death, only by maintaining healthy muscles are we able to control our aging. As long as we keep our muscles strong and flexible the other systems of our body, like our skeletal, immune, digestive and cardiovascular systems, will stay young.
Q You write that most of us, whether in top shape or living a sedentary lifestyle, suffer from ankle immobility. Can you explain why this is and what can be done to correct this?
A Modern man, as opposed to our recent forefathers, walks on flat surfaces like sidewalks as opposed to unpaved roads as in the past centuries. We have simultaneously become obsessed about protecting our feet with stateof-the-art shoes designed to give maximum support while preventing injuries. The irony is that all this protection is causing our feet muscles to weaken as they become dependent on the shoes.
The foundation of the entire human body begins with our feet. We need strong, flexible feet and arches to support and propel our bodies throughout or day. When the feet weaken a chain reaction of imbalance is set in motion, spiralling upwards causing knee, hip and back pain.
In order for feet to remain strong they must be constantly stimulated by stretching and strengthening them, not restricted from movement. This is an area that I find the weakest in Olympic and high performance athletes. When we strengthen their feet their full body energy increases and pain disappears.
The trouble is that even in fitness programs we are encouraged to wear shoes with the intention of supporting and protecting our feet, which inadvertently weakens them.
Q The conventional wisdom states that we need to incorporate weight training into our fitness regime in order to prevent osteoporosis. How does your model of toning and strengthening achieve this?
A When we are diagnosed with osteoporosis the doctors advise weight-bearing exercises. In order to rebuild the crumbling matrix that lines the bones we need to stimulate our bones by stressing. The question is “How much weight do we need to lift to stress our bones?”
The human body is a weight! The average weight in North America is around 150 pounds for women and 190 pounds for men. In my exercise model we use our own body weight to strengthen the bones and reverse osteoporosis.
One exercise we do is lifting our arms shoulder height and holding them there for three minutes while doing slow gentle circles that would put plenty of stress on your spine and shoulder bones. This simple exercise puts more than enough stress on our spine, arm and shoulder bones to reverse osteoporosis.
Q Why is it important to maintain a good sense of balance as we age and what is the best way to accomplish that?
A Losing their balance, falling and breaking a
As long as we keep our muscles strong and flexible the other systems of our body ...will stay young.
AUTHOR AND STRETCH TRAINER
hip for the elderly are usually a precursor for death. However losing our sense of balance doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a slow imperceptible process of atrophy and cell loss that takes place over decades before we become aware of it. Losing our balance is the combination of many factors; weak muscles, atrophy, immobility and lack of stimulating the balance reflexes. We can slow down and even prevent losing our balance as we age simply by doing the correct exercises.
Maintaining good balance should be part of our lifelong health regime. Balance needs vibrant well-stimulated reflexes that can react instantly to catch us as we go off balance.
To have good balance throughout your life you need to do full body stretching, strengthening and rebalancing exercises. Good balance also requires correct skeletal alignment, which requires having healthy mobility in all our joints. I designed Essentrics to accomplish the objective of stretching and strengthening all 620 muscles in our body while rebalancing the entire skeleton. The result is to keep all the components required for good balance always alive and vibrant.
Essentrics is designed for all ages and levels of fitness from movie stars to seniors. Movie stars need exactly the same mobility and strength as seniors; they need to be pain free, fit and vibrant. They just look younger but, trust me, young people are in pain as much as old people.
The beautiful thing is that human body is a self-healing machine, meant to remain pain free and vibrant no matter what our age. We just have to treat it correctly and it will serve us brilliantly.