Jenn Hicks

Archive for the ‘Nia’ Category

On mitochondria and thoughts on aging

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

What are your thoughts on aging?

When you think about aging, what comes to mind?

Do you think of wisdom? Or maybe creaky knees or downsizing? Or maybe you see aging as full of opportunity?mitochondria and aging and interval trainingLately, when I think about aging, mitochondria pops up for me. Mitochondria? Yes. That’s right.

And it all has to do with why I’m teaching MoveIT (interval training).

 

Mitochondria and a Theory of Aging

Mitochondria are considered to be the “powerhouses” or energy generators of the cell.  Without well-functioning mitochondria, we are without energy.

Mitochondria extract energy from the nutrients in our food and transform it into a chemical called ATP (adenosine triphosphate for you acronym meaning-seekers!).

ATP is the energy “currency” of the cell which is responsible for powering all of the cells’ metabolic activity. You might think of food-derived nutrients as “crude fuel” and ATP as the “refined fuel” that helps the cells do things like break down nutrients to be absorbed.

For a variety of (extremely complex) reasons, as we age, the energy-generating capacity of our cells’ mitochondria slowly decreases. This means that our cells become less and less effective at converting and using energy.

And so aging occurs.

 

Can we boost our mitochondria as we age?

As I’ve been learning more about why MoveIT is such an effective fitness practice, I’ve read over and over that the cellular benefit of exercise has only recently been discovered.

While we know that exercise is good for our heart and lungs and other organs, understanding how the building blocks of those organs (i.e., the cells) benefit from exercise is only now being discovered.

A study, recently published in Cell Metabolism found that interval training affected not only the participant’s cells, but also their genes.

Not only that, but the genes that were working differently after interval training are believed to influence the ability of mitochondria to produce energy for muscle cells.

In fact, the subjects who did the interval workouts showed increases in both the number and health of their mitochondria — this finding was particularly pronounced in older subjects.

 

How does interval training work?

In every MoveIT class, we challenge ourselves to get into a period of “enough” between 3-6 times during the class. “Enough” is defined as a period of short duration, high intensity movement lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

The period of “enough” is when we use movement to get to our maximum aerobic capacity –  the point where we literally run out of oxygen supply for the muscles. When we get to this place of “enough”, our bodies then rely on other energy systems – anaerobic metabolism – which ultimately increases the efficiency of the cell.

Because of the potential to build up lactic acid during strenuous activity, active rest intervals are interspersed into periods of “enough” so that we can again return to maximum effort/”enough”.

Active rest periods also allow the muscles and the central nervous system to recover and come back with a punch during the next period of “enough”.

 

Curious and want to read more?

Look here and here  and here and here!

Get your hands on these moves!

Friday, July 14th, 2017

The ENTIRE body moves in Nia and MoveIT classes

When people talk about fitness, they usually discuss things like cardiovascular conditioning, strength training and stretching. Not hands and fingers.

In Nia and MoveIT, we talk about all those things and more as being important to one’s overall fitness. One of the many things that distinguishes Nia and MoveIT from other fitness practices is our focus on the ENTIRE body (as well as the mind, emotions and spirit). No muscle or joint is left out of our Nia/MoveIT practice!

Unlike many other practices, we condition not just arms and legs, but also the head, the hands, the fingers and the feet.

Nia moves include hands and fingers

Nia Technique Hand and Finger Movements (Hands)Condition the hands and fingers? Yes!

Why wouldn’t we move the hands and fingers? They are vital to our everyday activity and are the most active part of our upper bodies! Our hands and fingers perform an extraordinary number of fine-motor movements every day so we need to take care of them. We need to move all the complex and intricate parts of the hands and fingers so that our tendons, bones, tissues and nerves remain healthy and allow us to pick up our cup of coffee, wash dishes, write, type and so much more.

Benefits of hand and finger moves

In fact, the flexibility, agility, mobility, strength and stability of the hands and fingers are so important that we have 7 different hand moves and 8 different finger moves in Nia/MoveIT! By using these moves we not only keep the hands and fingers healthy, but we also get these benefits:

  • increases brain activity
  • challenges the vestibular system
  • keeps the wrist joint mobileNia Technique Hand and Finger Movements (Hands)
  • builds strength in the arms and shoulders
  • integrates upper and lower body
  • helps develop greater body awareness
  • allows us to creatively express ourselves
  • moves tension away from the neck and shoulders and away from the hands
  • releases stress
  • helps develop quick reactions

Here are some “handy” videos of the moves

Keep on moving your whole body and practice the Nia/MoveIT hand and finger techniques with Laurie Bass, Nia Technique Trainer!