Tag: physical

Managing Stress with Air Travel

We all have stress in our lives, and those who travel with work – especially those on airplanes – can deal with it even more.  Planes, airports, and unfamiliar hotel beds can get the body out of balance, and upset our sleeping rhythms. And there is nothing natural or healthy about changing time zones, or trying to nap on planes or in airports.  What are ways to manage stress when out of town, or just returning home?

Just thirty minutes of exercise can do wonders for our physical and mental health, especially when we are out of our regular routine. A run, walk, swim, yoga class, or any type of workout can help keep us relaxed and balanced. With our lives turned upside down, these activities can keep us grounded and keep the body in something of a routine. Just that half hour of activity can help manage anxiety and stress.
Another way to get ourselves back in balance is to get a massage. Having a session after returning home can calm the body down and make it easier to sleep. The neck, shoulders, and back in particular can hold tension from travel, and having a professional massage can be exactly what’s needed to get back into the routine. An hour on the massage table can help relieve muscle imbalances and tightness in those problem areas, and leave you feeling both relaxed and rejuvenated. Book an appointment after traveling-it may be exactly what you need. There are licensed therapists at the club every day of the week. They are all skilled and have a ton of experience. Try a massage after traveling and you will be happy that you did.

The Naturopathic Walk of Life

By Personal Fitness Trainer Amber Walz, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

Many questions arise around naturopathic medicine. The creed, “do no harm,” is first and foremost. A licensed ND goes through a 4-year medical doctorate program at an accredited university and must pass national boards called NPLEX exams. Naturopaths operate on the holistic standard of treating the cause, not the symptom. Most of the time treatment of symptoms will not address the underlying issue. This is most obvious in cases of chronic illness; for example, if you have a client with diabetes who is treated with insulin, but not treated with nutritional guidelines and exercise, the symptoms are being treated yet not the cause. Naturopaths seek to restore and maintain optimum health in their patients by emphasizing nature’s self-healing process, the vis medicatrix naturae.


Food as medicine– Nutrition can be complex yet an amazing way to treat many conditions, correct deficiencies, discover intolerances, and balance energy. A naturopath will give nutritional guidance within their scope both as a medicine, as well as, diet.

Physical medicine- Physical medicine will increase longevity, and is used in treatment and upkeep of the physical body. Naturopathic medicine can encompass many forms of treatment depending on specialization of the practitioner.

Herbal medicine- Herbs and homeopathy are used in treatment to supplement or as an alternative to prescription medication. Most often the herbs will mimic the same biochemical pathway as the prescription option. Homeopathy is a method of treating like with like. Highly diluted substances are used to trigger the same symptoms and the body’s natural healing system as a response.

Counseling- The mind is as the body does. Naturopaths are trained to take into account quality of life, stress, and overall emotional health upon treatment. The counseling is limited to the practitioner’s specializations, yet it is always an element of treatment.


If you are curious about what a naturopath can offer, well, you are in the right place. Washington is one of the most progressive states related to naturopathic scope of practice. There is growing demand for integrative practices, which will lead to greater opportunity for research and development of this holistic field of medicine.



Wielding Optimism

Optimism can shape our reality. Our ability to look at a situation and discern whether the outcome will be good or bad is skewed by experience. If we experience a negative outcome and approach every situation that follows with skepticism, our beliefs of a negative outcome become re-affirmed. It is then easy to start to look for that negative in everything. The reality is in the eye of the beholder.

Training the brain to be positive is like training the muscular system. Recent research on neuroplasticity shows that as you develop new habits, you can rewire the brain. So, what does this mental workout entail?

Find your personal strength- Recent research has shown having an “Oprah moment” of psychological growth in response to a traumatic event in your life is possible if coupled with specific action. In other words, the belief “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” can only be accurate if a personal betterment of self is associated with it. According to, “Post-Traumatic Stress’s Surprisingly Positive Flip Side,” by The New York Times, recent studies done on trauma survivors show positive change in relation to renewed appreciation, better relationships, and more spiritual satisfaction.

Meditation – This concept has been brought up in past blogs, but transitioning from internal dialog to awareness can bring deeper clarification of our perceived reality. Learning to be present and experience with our senses while observing our reaction to it is crucial to breaking the cycle.

Controlling memory – You can cultivate positive energy by changing the stories you tell about the events in your life. This goes back to being the observer and noticing how you process your experiences.

BREATHE – Controlling your breath will reduce anxiety by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. A lot of our physical habits/ reactions can negatively impact our mental state and visa versa.

Control the external environment – It seems like common sense, but find the things you enjoy participating in and make it more of a routine. Research suggests people are attuned to context when they are experiencing positive emotions. When you spend more time allowing yourself to see the good that surrounds you in even the smallest of details, you can train your brain to recognize the positive, or evoke positive emotions in response.

Visualization/ modifying the senses – Using a visual to imagine every time you notice your thoughts going in a negative direction can divert your thought pattern. Try envisioning a stop sign, which can give even more motivation to control that negative thought path, or visualizing something funny (i.e. a purple elephant in a tutu). This is like self-induced semantic priming, where you are evoking a reaction to a situation when it occurs later in your life.

You can also get a theme song. I’ll never forget one summer I took an accelerated summer course in organic chemistry that was so grueling. And, I remember one kid would sing to himself, “You’re the Best,” by Joe Esposito as his theme song. Let your song be a reminder you can choose to redefine what is possible.

Write a gratitude journal – Reflecting on all you have to be grateful for leaves you with true appreciation. This as a regular practice should keep everyone thankful & optimistic. More importantly, it keeps you realistic. Life is hard and every human being has a collective of both positive and negative experiences that help shape your personality. Recent research suggests an optimal ratio of positive to negative being 3 to 1. This to me seems an arbitrary demonstration of our need to have balance in every aspect.

Psychologist Martin Seligman proposes in his book, “Flourish,” a new well-being theory. He believes there are four pillars of well-being, including: positive emotion induced by happiness, satisfaction, and engagement; meaning, positive relationships, and accomplishment. We can all flourish by reminding ourselves to view optimism as training our brains.

If you have questions about this posting, or would like ideas on beginning a new workout regime, please feel free to contact Personal Fitness Trainer Amber Walz.

Exercise and Your Brain

Muscles? Check! Heart? Check! Weight loss? Check! Brain? The shaking in our muscles, pounding in our heart and sweat on our towels make it clear that our strength, cardiovascular health and body composition are positively influenced by exercise. But what does brain health have to do with it? Although it may seem counter intuitive, exercise is a tremendous contributor to cognitive health. In a study by Wueve and others (2004) spanning from 1986 to 2003, 18,766 women reported leisure-time activity and took a baseline cognitive assessment in middle age and a final assessment at ages 70-81. Women who reported more physical activity throughout the years of observation scored significantly better on tests indicating cognitive health and the degree of cognitive decline. Women walking at an easy pace for just 15 minutes per day showed significantly better performance. Think about this! Just walking the equivalent of about half a mile in 15 minutes a day seems to be enough to change cognitive health over a lifetime! In fact, women who walked for 1.5 hours per week versus 38 minutes per week exhibited cognitive performance similar to women one and a half years younger. It is as if exercise can turn back the clock on cognitive aging!

A randomized controlled study by Colcombe and others (2006) sheds some light on to why this effect could be occurring. Older individuals who participated in three one hour sessions of moderate aerobic exercise per week for three months showed a significant increase in the size of their brain compared to older adults who only did stretching and toning exercise in that time. The study also found a significant decrease in brain volume as a function of aging and decreases in brain size are often found in conjunction with age-related cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. This finding suggests that exercises’ influence on cognitive performance is based on being able to trigger brain growth. There are several ways that exercise can directly affect brain health, especially by increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain during and as a long term result of exercise. Whatever the physiological basis for the effect of exercise on cognitive health, there is plenty of convincing evidence to suggest that exercise plays a pivotal role.

What is most amazing about the finding that 15 minutes of easy pace walking can increase cognitive health in older age is the incredibly short duration and low intensity of the exercise. Obviously, this does not provide an excuse to replace all your training with a slow walk at lunch time! Instead, it speaks to the incredible power of exercise to unlock great potential in every body. It is also a sobering reminder of the danger of giving in to a sedentary lifestyle. For many in our society, a whole day can go by with little more than walking from the car to a chair and before we know it we have missed our opportunity to bolster our cognitive health in such a simple way. Next time you consider skipping a workout or just sitting around, consider what your cognitive health means to you. Working, communicating with loved ones and enjoying a great book all hinge on cognitive performance; certainly a bit of activity is a small price. Try to build activity into your lifestyle; take the stairs instead of the elevator, park on the far end of the lot or take transit instead of driving. Also remember that all the Fitness staff members are here to help if you have any questions or are looking for a creative alternative to walking outside on a rainy day. Whatever you do to stay active, just make sure you can put a “Check!” next to preserving your brain health.

For information on how to balance physical training with mental training, please contact Personal Fitness Trainer, Hunter Spencer.