All posts in Conscious Living Resources

The “other” fitness pole

Pole fit­ness classes have made their mark on fit­ness sched­ules across the coun­try. This post, how­ever, is ded­i­cated to the “other” type of pole–the trekking pole–their ben­e­fits and train­ing advan­tages.  Although, I have com­pleted Nordic Walk­ing Instruc­tor Train­ing (along with Zumba, Grav­ity, Power Plate, and a tool­box full of other pop-up fit­ness trends, bands, disks, balls, bells and whis­tles),  this method (as the oth­ers) is in many ways just a cre­ative brand­ing of a time-tested prac­tice.  This post is meant to edu­cate the reader on the ben­e­fit of poles (fit­ness, trekking, etc.) when prepar­ing for long-distance hikes or when going out for a power walk.  I will use the term Pole walk­ing, Nordic walk­ing, and Ski walk­ing syn­ony­mously through­out this post.  Tips for choos­ing the right poles to come!

Ben­e­fits of Pole Walking

(Stud­ies in Europe and the United States have proved the fol­low­ing health ben­e­fits.  More studies/research avail­able at


  • Nordic Walk­ing burns up to 40% more calo­ries than walk­ing with­out poles. Nordic Walk­ing also reduces knee and joint strain. It nat­u­rally loosens and strength­ens the neck, back and shoulders.
  • Unlike walk­ing, run­ning and bik­ing, Pole Walk­ing works the arms, shoul­der and abs.
  • A study con­ducted at the Uni­ver­sity of Mass­a­chu­setts at Amherst showed that using poles lets hik­ers lengthen their strides, put less strain on their knees, and gen­er­ally feel more com­fort­able. The hik­ers stud­ied did not expend less energy, but the increase in sta­bil­ity made long treks easier.
  • Pole walk­ing pro­vides ALL the low impact ben­e­fits of walk­ing, while reduc­ing knee and joint strain, burn­ing more calo­ries, work­ing the upper body, increas­ing oxy­gen con­sump­tion and pro­vid­ing a more effec­tive aer­o­bic workout.
  • Pole walk­ing improves lymph sys­tem func­tion and boosts the immune system.
  • It helps main­tain joint health and range of motion.
  • 90% of the body’s mus­cles are acti­vated in this form of exercise.
  • Using poles gives an aver­age of 20–25% greater car­dio fit­ness effect than reg­u­lar walk­ing and induces a lower per­ceived feel­ing of exer­tion than like aer­o­bic activities.
  • Using poles pro­motes an upright and bal­anced walk­ing posture.

Staying Hydrated

Though we have not yet sur­passed the DFW record for con­sec­u­tive num­ber of 100 degree days set in 1980, we came pretty close.  On August 11, 2011, our triple digit weather took a small dip only to rise up again.  The heat is still with us and we may yet set some new records.  All this to say, stay­ing cool and hydrated is a major con­cern for us and all fit­ness enthu­si­asts try­ing to con­tinue their out­door train­ing pro­grams.  And unless you plan to take a trip to the Rock­ies in the near future, we must rec­on­cile our train­ing pro­gram with our cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in a peace­ful, healthy way.  Below are the fluid rec­om­men­da­tions set by the Inter­na­tional Marathon Med­ical Director’s Asso­ci­a­tion for stay­ing hydrated on our group hikes and in your per­sonal train­ing time.

Writ­ing com­mit­tee: Lewis G. Maharam, MD.FACSM (chair),Tamara Hew DPM, Arthur Siegel MD, Marv Adner, MD, Bruce Adams, MD and Pedro Pujol, MD, FACSM
Approved by IMMDA: 6 May 2006. Barcelona, Spain

As Med­ical Direc­tors (IMMDA: Inter­na­tional Marathon Med­ical Director’s Asso­ci­a­tion) of the world’s largest marathons and endurance events, it is our desire to edu­cate and ensure that our par­tic­i­pants con­sume proper flu­ids and amounts of flu­ids dur­ing endurance events to remain healthy and per­form well. Too much or too lit­tle may bring about health con­cerns and/or poor per­for­mance. We there­fore offer the fol­low­ing guid­ance for run­ners and walk­ers at all lev­els to fol­low in their train­ing and com­pet­i­tive events.

What should you drink? The evi­dence on this is clear. If your event or work­out is longer than 30 min­utes you should be drink­ing a sports drink. The added car­bo­hy­drate and elec­trolytes speed absorp­tion of flu­ids and have the added ben­e­fit of energy fuel and elec­trolytes. There is actu­ally decreased ben­e­fit to water­ing down or dilut­ing sports drinks or alter­nat­ing sports drinks with water.

How much should you drink? Drink­ing too much or too lit­tle can be of risk to health and per­for­mance. Hypona­tremia ( low blood salt level due to abnor­mal fluid reten­tion from over-drinking) and dehy­dra­tion (due to net fluid losses from under drink­ing) are con­di­tions eas­ily adverted by under­stand­ing your indi­vid­ual body needs. Just as you have a unique face and fin­ger­print, your body’s need for fluid is indi­vid­ual as well. Body weight, gen­der, cli­mate, sweat rate are just a few vari­ables that indi­vid­u­al­ize your needs. Under­stand­ing that it is nor­mal to lose a small amount of body-weight dur­ing a marathon race: body-weight will re-equilibrate over the next 24 hours through the con­sump­tion of sodium and flu­ids with meals. A weight loss of more than 2% or any weight gain are warn­ing signs that jus­tify imme­di­ate med­ical con­sul­ta­tion and indi­cate that you are drink­ing improp­erly.
We offer the fol­low­ing ideas and guide­lines for you to con­sider as you assess your indi­vid­ual flu­ids:
Try to drink to thirst. This advice seems way too sim­ple to be true; how­ever, phys­i­o­log­i­cally the new sci­en­tific evi­dence says that thirst will actu­ally pro­tect ath­letes from the haz­ards of both over and under-drinking by pro­vid­ing real time feed­back on inter­nal fluid bal­ance. If you are not thirsty, try to refrain from drink­ing. Do not feel com­pelled to drink at every fluid sta­tion nor fol­low the cues of other run­ners: their fluid needs are prob­a­bly very dif­fer­ent from your own. If you are “over-thinking” and feel you can­not rely on this new way of think­ing, exper­i­ment in your train­ing with one of these other ways real­iz­ing each has it’s own cau­tions as well.

*The reader should under­stand that there are indi­vid­ual vari­a­tions: “one size does not fit all”. We endorse thirst as the best sci­en­tif­i­cally sup­ported method for you to use. These alter­nate meth­ods may not take into account changes in ambi­ent con­di­tions, run­ning speed and ter­rain which can all change dynam­i­cally which thirst as a method to use does.
Run­ners and walk­ers who are inter­ested in the endurance “expe­ri­ence” rather than pur­su­ing a ‘per­sonal best’ per­for­mance, must resist the ten­dency to over drink. Runners/walkers plan­ning to spend between 4–6 hours or longer on the course are at risk for devel­op­ing fluid-overload hypona­tremia and usu­ally do not need to ingest more than one cup (3–6 oz: 3 oz if you weigh approx­i­mately 100 lbs and 6 oz if you weigh approx­i­mately 200 lbs) of fluid per mile. Ath­letes should avoid weight gain dur­ing an event.
Some par­tic­i­pants may find that adjust­ing their intake to pace or time is eas­ier for them as shown below but remem­ber­ing thirst is the best method:

Adjust the rate of fluid intake to race pace: slower race pace = slower drink­ing rate; max­i­mum intake of 500 ml/hr (4–6 oz every 20 min) for run­ners with greater than 5 hour fin­ish­ing times (10–11 min/mile pace). Weight mon­i­tor­ing is also impor­tant: if you gain weight dur­ing your work­out or event, you are drink­ing too much!
For a more highly moti­vated runner/walker who desires a numeric “range”, a fluid cal­cu­la­tor can pro­vide an esti­mate of body fluid losses as a gen­er­al­ized strat­egy for fluid replace­ment. Par­tic­i­pants con­cerned about peak per­for­mance are advised to under­stand their indi­vid­u­al­ized fluid needs through use of this fluid cal­cu­la­tor but ALWAYS defer to phys­i­o­logic cues to increase fluid intake (thirst, con­cen­trated dark urine, weight loss) or decrease fluid con­sump­tion (dilute or clear uri­na­tion, bloat­ing, weight gain) while par­tic­i­pat­ing. It is also impor­tant to rec­og­nize that if you use this method in one cli­mate and then travel to a dif­fer­ent cli­mate for your event, the humid­ity will change your sweat rate and there­fore your fluid needs.

Fluid cal­cu­la­tor: to cal­cu­late sweat rate, runners/ walk­ers should fol­low these steps:
1.    Weigh nude before the run.
2.    Run/walk at race pace for one hour.  (One hour is rec­om­mended to get a reli­able rep­re­sen­ta­tion of sweat rate expected in an endurance event.)
3.    Track fluid intake dur­ing the run or walk; mea­sure in ounces.
4.    Record nude weight after the run/walk. Sub­tract from start­ing weight. Con­vert the dif­fer­ence in body weight to ounces.
5.    To deter­mine hourly sweat rate, add to this value the vol­ume of fluid con­sumed (in Step 3).
6.    To deter­mine how much to drink every 15 min­utes, divide the hourly sweat rate by 4.  This becomes the guide­line for fluid intake every 15 min of a run.
7.    Note the envi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions on this day and repeat the mea­sure­ments on another day when the envi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions are dif­fer­ent.  This will give you an idea of how dif­fer­ent con­di­tions affect your sweat rate.

Good luck in your train­ing. Exper­i­ment­ing with your flu­ids can be a fun exer­cise. Remem­ber to keep in mind that the con­sump­tion of bev­er­ages and foods con­tain­ing sodium or car­bo­hy­drate should be guided by the goal to min­i­mize loss of body weight and pre­vent weight gain.

The Inter­na­tional Marathon Med­ical Direc­tors Asso­ci­a­tion (IMMDA) was formed as the Con­sult­ing Med­ical Com­mit­tee of the Asso­ci­a­tion of Inter­na­tional Marathons (AIMS). The pur­pose of IMMDA is to i) pro­mote and study the health of long dis­tance run­ners, ii) pro­mote research into the cause and treat­ment of run­ning injuries, iii) pre­vent the occur­rence of injuries dur­ing mass par­tic­i­pa­tion runs, iv) offer guide­lines for the pro­vi­sion of uni­form marathon med­ical ser­vices through­out the world, and v) pro­mote a close work­ing rela­tion­ship between race and med­ical direc­tors in achiev­ing the above four goals.

New Service!!!

I am now offer­ing a One Day Detox with Ayurvedic Yoga Con­sul­ta­tion in part­ner­ship with Praana Ayurveda Spa.  Con­tact me for a spe­cial price and more details on this highly indi­vid­u­al­ized heal­ing modal­ity directed towards opti­mal health and balance. 
This 5-hour pro­gram con­sists of the fol­low­ing reju­ve­na­tion therapies:


  • Ayurvedic Lifestyle and Nutri­tion Consultation
Ayurveda pro­motes a lifestyle that is in har­mony with nature. Rather than treat­ing the ill­ness, Ayurveda strives to restore the bal­ance in your daily life which in effect trig­gers the body’s nat­ural heal­ing process and metab­o­lism and helps you bounce back to a state of vibrant health and radi­ance. An Ayurvedic Con­sul­ta­tion will help you to under­stand your­self and your body from the per­spec­tive of Ayurveda giv­ing you greater insight into holis­tic liv­ing and opti­mal health.


  • Ayurvedic Yoga Con­sul­ta­tion with Lyn­d­say Murray-Kashoid
Ther­a­peu­tic Asana (pos­tures), Pranayam (breath­ing exer­cises), and med­i­ta­tion instruc­tion based on your Ayurvedic Con­sul­ta­tion.  This pro­gram is opti­mized to unveil your fullest poten­tial of strength, health, vital­ity, inner calm and joy.


  • Abhyanga Warm Oil Massage
A one hour jour­ney into com­plete relax­ation and reju­ve­na­tion — in this tra­di­tional, rhyth­mi­cal mas­sage from ancient India, warm herbal oils are poured onto and mas­saged into the body. It is extremely nour­ish­ing, nur­tur­ing and one of the most com­plete mas­sages you will ever expe­ri­ence. The aroma of the oils cou­pled with the effec­tive mas­sage tech­nique will indulge and grat­ify all your senses.     Reg­u­lar Abhyanga pro­motes youth­ful­ness, longevity, resis­tance to stress, enhanc­ing deep sleep, energy, good health, joint and mus­cle flex­i­bil­ity, remov­ing fatigue and reveal­ing a softer, younger look­ing skin.


  • Swedana Steam Ther­apy
A hot, herbal­ized steam bath that dilates the chan­nels of cir­cu­la­tion in the body, allow­ing the amas (impu­ri­ties) to move out. Swedana (steam bath) is usu­ally given at the end of a mas­sage. You are left to rest for at least 15 min­utes after the mas­sage. The tent is filled with a con­tin­u­ous flow of hot, herbal­ized steam, which sur­rounds your body. The use of heat and steam to induce sweat­ing has long been rec­og­nized as a nat­ural and effec­tive way of detox­i­fi­ca­tion.  The spe­cial herbs help to stim­u­late oxy­gen flow through­out the body, while the steam acti­vates the nat­ural sweat­ing process, which is essen­tial for releas­ing accu­mu­lated tox­ins. Your skin will carry the gen­tle sweet aroma of the herbs through­out the fol­low­ing 24 hours or so.


  • Shi­rod­hara 

The San­skrit word Shi­rod­hara blends the words shiro and dhara. Shiro means head and Dhara, the flow of warm oil; Shi­rod­hara is one of the most divine and relax­ing ther­a­pies that Ayurveda has to offer.     Lying on your back, a sooth­ing stream of warm, aro­matic oil is gen­tly poured back and forth across your fore­head, cre­at­ing a sen­sa­tion of such pro­found, enjoy­able and deep relax­ation that you’ll lose all track of time. Many com­pare the effects of Shi­rod­hara to tran­scen­dence; the meditator’s state of sheer bliss. This treat­ment is tra­di­tion­ally used to calm and restore the nerves, har­mo­nize vata con­sti­tu­tions  unbri­dle pent up emo­tions, and purify the mind. Shi­rod­hara is pro­foundly relax­ing and is known to have a calm­ing effect on peo­ple suf­fer­ing from insom­nia, mem­ory loss, hor­monal imbal­ance, headaches, men­tal ten­sion and cer­tain skin dis­eases. Best expe­ri­enced after a mas­sage, Shi­rod­hara is one of our most pop­u­lar Ayurveda treat­ments. In addi­tion to its health ben­e­fits, this great reju­ve­nat­ing ther­apy gives a healthy glow to your face and body.


  • Udvar­tan
Finely ground Ayurvedic herbs and exotic san­dal­wood pow­der are mixed with pre­cious Ayurvedic oils and gen­tly mas­saged into the skin. This results in the stim­u­la­tion of the energy flow in the body, the detox­i­fi­ca­tion and nour­ish­ment of body tis­sues, the acti­va­tion of the skin’s nat­ural metab­o­lism and also the improve­ment of lymph flow. The Udvar­tana mas­sage cleanses and refines the skin struc­ture and gives the skin a soft, silky tex­ture and a lus­trous glow.


  • Nasyam
Uncover a highly effec­tive ther­apy in reliev­ing con­ges­tion, aller­gies, sinusi­tis, headaches, migraine, rhini­tis and nasal infec­tions. Heal­ing herbal oil is del­i­cately dropped in each nos­tril, fol­lowed by a relax­ing mas­sage of the nose, chest, palms and feet.