Health, sports & fitness 2018 composite

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Health, Sports & Fitness

Let’s all get into fighting shape


22, 2018 2 | February Health, Sports & Fitness

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February 22, 2018 Health, Sports & Fitness

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Do anything Getting up out of that chair is always a good start By Paul Smart


y family moved just before Thanksgiving, right in the midst of the recent “sugar season,” as we call it in our household. The moving process involved a lot of exercise, which I count as an adult form of sport. There were boxes to carry, hours of cleaning and painting, countless trips up and down stairs. Backs went out periodically, knees ached. There was also a disruption in our usual eating habits. Fast foods and take-out became the norm. Everything was catch-as-catch-can, including sleep and walks with the dog. Possibly because of all the hectic nature of the time, we all felt fit. Miraculously, we all lost weight. Then we were tired. The holidays hit their full stride. Blasts of sub-zero temperatures and piles of snow followed. We stopped walking. We started cooking in our new kitchen, but we also picked up take-out while traveling to various family events, including birthdays. We gained back all the weight we’d lost. We started talking about resolutions to get everyone back in shape, including the dog and our twelveyear-old, who from the comfort of his bedroom of hanging out all hours playing against his friends in various online games had developed a new bad habit. We decided to put an exercise room downstairs. I bought an old exercise bicycle with manual gears. The contraption appeared to be about 40 years old (I’m thinking of adding a horn). We’re eyeing an infrared sauna, and some form of wall handles that would allow us to use our under-desk ellipticals in such a fashion that doesn’t send us flying across the room. My YMCA membership, good for father and son, will start later this week. So will my effort to get the kid and his father off the couch on weekends. The plan involves some of his friends. I’ll get up earlier several days each week to take Milo and his buddies Felix and Albizu to early-morning basketball practice several days each week. As for me, I plan to swim laps. I’ve never been an athlete. I played neighborhood games of baseball and touch football, and soccer when possible. At school, they made me toss the discus and the shot put when no one else came forward. They took even this honor away when my tosses proved more frightening than competitive.


am being mindful of the popular recommendation for 10,000 steps each day. Why 10,000? The number stems from a Japanese pedometer from a half-century ago known as the “manpo-kei,” or 10,000-step meter. They realized that recommended exercise regimens of a half-hour each day already involve 7500 steps, so why not bump up the goal a bit? It’s about battling heart disease, diabetes, and other problems waiting around the corner to jump even the most health-conscious of us as we age. My wife and I have worked long evening and weekend dog walks into the daily schedule. Some routes involve exploring our new city neighborhood. Others are designed to get us in touch with other places, including some trails where we can sometimes let the pooch run free. At this time of year, our choices are made as much to avoid ice hazards as provide health benefits. After all, what good is exercise that puts you in traction? I’ve taken to making extra trips up and down our tall set of stairs each day. I’ve been parking farther away from wherever I’m going. I wish I was into yoga, but I’m not. For now I am trying to do some old-style calisthenics on a regular basis, maybe even daily. My wife and I are scheduling


There’s always a new place to start walking in the Hudson Valley. weekly dance lessons, which we remember as both an hour-long workout and a form of relationship therapy. And of course it’s all set to music. Does this make me an exercise king? Ha! At this point in my life I’m looking for any activity that pulls me away from my computer and phone, out of the nice chairs that populate our home, and away from the car. My fellow writers in this publication have better suggestions for better health and fitness, and even sports. So do our many advertisers. All I can do is to share what I am trying to do for myself: to be more aware of my body’s needs during these days of constant distraction, and to help rekindle my kid’s natural penchant for movement, even athleticism. I want him to grow roots

deep enough to encourage that lifelong love for exercise I myself have eschewed for far too long.

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Think your u season’s bad? Consider the situation on campus By Melanie Zerah


hen the weather outside is frightful, college dorms are less than delightful. Cold air means closed windows. Closed windows mean perfect conditions for germs and bacteria to get to know each other. Trying to avoid flu season while living in the close quarters of a dorm is like trying to cram for a test the night before. Success can be elusive. Students living on campus must always expect flu season to be more intense than elsewhere. This flu season has been hospitalizing more Americans than any in nearly a decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Recorded during what is considered the eighth week of flu season, ending February 3, the CDC reported that the percentage of Americans WIKICOMMONS who were experiencing flu-like symptoms (ILI) Put a pile of students together in a dorm, send them to meals together, and have them share as much was 7.7 percent, well above the national multi-year private time as possible. It’s no wonder some see colleges as incubators for the u. baseline of 2.2 percent and is the highest recorded phone and spilled all of my emotional trauma over while contagious can lead to since the 2009 pandemic. being incapacitated from everyday life. infecting other students as Although it feels as though He listened and reassured me that it was okay to well as making the condition nothing can top the mumps ask for help and take a rest when I needed it. That of the sick student worse. Foepidemic SUNY New Paltz is what happens in life. I expressed my guilt over cusing on is how to make a last year, with over 70 cases asking friends to drive me places and help with trip to that eighth tissue box reported, the college has this work I missed. in the front of the room seem year experienced a near-pan“Well, wouldn’t you do the same for them?â€? he casual will not enrich anydemic of the flu. According replied. And yes, yes I would. one’s life. to director of student health Through this catharsis with my dad, I realized On January 27 last year, services Dr. Richard J. OrdI was being a bit overdramatic. He helped me rethe state DOH reported way, Jr., the college’s health member that there are reasons why we have friends 5235 laboratory-confirmed center had already diagin life, and it’s not only for laughs and good compainfluenza reports, a 20 pernosed 63 cases of the flu on ny. It is reassuring to be able to ask for help and recent increase from the precampus, about three or four WIKICOMMONS ceive the answer, “Yeah, sure, I can do that for you!â€? vious week. On January 27 times as many as during last At the molecular level, inuenza viruses If we are to learn something from this horribly this year, there were 11,683 year’s flu season. intense flu season, it is that taking the time to take laboratory-confirmed inDorm halls have imple- have a certain innate beauty. care of ourselves and to ask for the help of our fluenza reports, a 50 percent mented different programs friends is always important to a good cure. increase over the previous week. and events to educate students on how to avoid the flu. Hand sanitizers have been given out. FlySUNY New Paltz Health Services have been offerers on how to get flu shots have been distributed. ing free flu shots since October, and, due to the seEducationsl efforts have been made to inform resverity of this season, is still offering shots this month. idents about the flu. February 2018 s a sophomore, I lived in Dubois Hall, The college encourages infected students to An Ulster Publishing publication a dorm building that had asbestos warnstay in their rooms or if contagious to go home for ings in every room. Having moved off camthe first five days of the illness. The college offers Editorial pus this academic year, I can definitely see the difdownloadable forms through which sick students WRITERS: Jennifer Brizzi, Lynne Crockett, ference in how the college flu season has affected can have a friend obtain food from the dining hall Elisabeth Henry, Giada Labate, Paul Smart, me. with sick trays. Dining-hall coughing and sneezViolet Snow, Melanie Zerah I resented my lack of independence. Having ing creates an uncomfortable germy environment EDITOR: Paul Smart to ask friends to drive me to Rite Aid for various for other diners. items and asking class-project team members to For many freshman just starting to take care LAYOUT & GRAPHIC BRILLIANCE: Joe Morgan pick up my slack for my missing class really killed of themselves, a roommate might have to imperTHIS ISSUE’S COVER of young author Giada Labate me. I got really hard on myself and felt guilty for sonate the sick student’s mother walking into the doing her karate moves is by Ulster Publishing being unable to maintain my autonomy. room with a cup of chicken noodle soup or a semiphotographer Dion Ogust. Because of my own pride and desire for indecrappy Hasbrouck omelet. pendence, I rarely reach out to my parents for Notifying teachers of a flu case is an important Ulster Publishing guidance. But when I called my dad for questions step for students. Some overachievers feel they PUBLISHER: Geddy Sveikauskas about my health insurance, I broke down over the cannot afford to miss class. But attending class

Health, Sports & Fitness




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Pamela Geskie, Elizabeth Jackson, Ralph Longendyke, Sue Rogers, Linda Saccoman PRODUCTION MANAGER: Joe Morgan PRODUCTION: Diane Congello-Brandes, Josh Gilligan, Rick Holland CLASSIFIED ADS: Amy Murphy, Tobi Watson CIRCULATION: Dominic Labate Health, Sports & Fitness is one of four Healthy Hudson Valley supplements Ulster Publishing puts out each year. It is distributed in the company’s four weekly newspapers and separately at select locations, reaching an estimated readership of over 50,000. Its website is For more info on upcoming special sections, including how to place an ad, call 845-334-8200, fax 845-334-8202 or email:

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February 22, 2018 Health, Sports & Fitness

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22, 2018 6 | February Health, Sports & Fitness

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What are special needs? Parenting one’s child to adult life By Elisabeth Henry


or many parents, news that their child has “special needs” is delivered at the public school parent teacher conference, a place where the atmosphere is a lot like that of Rick’s Cafe in the movie Casablanca. Crowded. Noisy. Anxious. That’s where it happened to me. And I was gobsmacked. I went there hoping to come home with an age-appropriate reading list and came home disoriented as ever I had been stumbling out of after-hours bars in my salad days in Manhattan. So let’s glance at the term. Webster describes it thus: “The educational requirements of pupils or students suffering from any of a wide range of physical disabilities, medical conditions, intellectual difficulties, or emotional problems, including deafness, blindness, dyslexia, learning difficulties, and behavioral problems.” Notice the prominent position of the phrase ‘wide range’ within the definition. Notice how the definition does go on and on. Wow. Wiped out by this tsunami of bad news, the stunned parent has nothing but questions fueled by fear. Who has the answers? Some needs are recognized, understood and supported. The zeitgeist confers methods to help the blind and the deaf. Those methods should and usually are offered very early in the child’s life. Non-English-speaking children also have access to teachers of English as a Second Language. Children in wheelchairs are guaranteed access into and within public buildings. But not all needs have been normalized. Lucky the family in a school district with an informed and intelligent director of special education. That person will be a comfort and a resource. I’m not sure how many of those are out there working. If one does not have access to such a person, those first days are a confusing time, coupled with the complication that time is of the essence.

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There are schools where kids are simply allowed to be kids, no matter what their needs. Left to their own devices, they find their own paths eventually. The child has needs. That fact is stated right in the “label.” Unmet, those needs become more and more of a concern, and spawn more and more problems. And so far, all one has is a label. A clear diagnosis may be down the road quite a bit, and you are in the middle of the hurly-burly of raising a family. In the best of all possible worlds, the child in question may not be able to read, or sit still, but among his peers is recognized for a skill more important in that milieu. Like throwing a ball in a hoop, or drawing cats. That happens in the world called childhood, and protecting its importance preempts all other scores on all other spread sheets.


e should have seen this coming. The baby begins life with an Apgar score. What is a valuable tool for assessing

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health quickly becomes the subject of one more loaded question from the other new mom/dads one meets in the pediatrician’s waiting room. It’s easy to dismiss that as folly. It’s quite another to shake off the adjudications of higher powers. Parents of children with complex disabilities must cope with matters best described as monumental. There is a very high rate of divorce. How do you find a babysitter for date night when your child has a seizure disorder? There are complications around sibling dynamics. The parent must facilitate all social interactions, which is exhausting and physically demanding. And then there are the physical demands of dealing with a child, now 19, who cannot toilet himself, or bathe or shower. The house must be renovated to provide all facilities for that child on the first floor. Of course, we have compassion for that child, but what about those hero parents?

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Ulster Publishing Co. Can their efforts and sacrifices every be honored enough? That’s the rub. The child matters most, but parents matter also. What if you have children like mine? Mine were curious, active, happy. But the oldest was in third grade, and could not read. (That skill was not mastered until seventh grade.) But I was given platitudes, hollow reassurance, and vaguely worded documents chiding me to sign off on testing them. If your child has been identified and the information you have been provided does nothing but prompt more questions, take heart. In New York State, accommodations for our children are spelled out clearly in “Special Education in New York State for Children Ages 3-21 - A Parent’s Guide”: “Parents of preschool children will be asked to select an approved evaluator from a list of evaluation sites. If you have concerns about providing consent, you can talk to the Committee chairperson. If you do not provide consent for your preschool child (ages 3-5) to be evaluated, the Committee on Preschool Special Education will take steps to make sure that you have received and understand the request for consent for evaluation of your child but the district may not go forward without your consent. If you have a school-age child, the school district is responsible for providing the evaluation. “As a parent, you have input as to the tests and assessments to be conducted on your child. Before an evaluation is conducted, you will be asked for your suggestions about evaluating your child and be given information about the kinds of tests that will be used. If you have questions about the purpose or type of evaluation proposed, you should discuss them with the chairperson of the Committee. “If you feel that an evaluation conducted by the Committee is not appropriate or if you disagree with the results, you can obtain, and request that the school district pay for, an independent educational evaluation (IEE).”

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special lines. I was at dinner one night with a large group of women, artists all, in various mediums. One woman made remarks that seemed to her innocent, but which were cruel. I saw the expression change on the face of another woman across the table. I calmly opened up the conversation to an aspect of my children’s lives. This provided good cover. The stricken woman relaxed, and told this story about her son. He has definite cognitive challenges. He is well behaved, but mildly rowdy (my kind of kid). On line in the cafeteria, he heard one of the lunchroom ladies call out for “Mr. Howell?! Mr. Howell?” So that woman’s son did just that. He howled uproariously. And even though he was

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hat’s the very first step I took, but I was still confused, and sadly, my children were not getting the help they needed. Stress all around. I was fortunate to have the counsel of Dr. Frank Doberman at Karner Psychological Associates in Guilderland, New York (now there are two more facilities, one in Clifton Park and another in Castleton-On-Hudson.) My children are grown now, but I spoke with him for this article. His advice is simple. Persevere until you find out exactly what your child needs. This area of knowledge is very new. Well-meaning but unskilled people can make for mistaken diagnoses. Happily, assessment is now aided by actual hard science. We understand that dyslexics, children like mine, have an actual neurological difference that can be determined by an MRI on the brain. Don’t worry. You don’t have to go to that length. A good evaluator like Dr. Doberman can see who your child is based on tests the child takes himself. Even when you find out exactly what you are dealing with, the experience can be very distancing. Most kids are “typical” and so, therefore, are their parents. You are not. You are special now, too. But take heart. This distancing cuts across all

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soundly disciplined, which his mother superficially and dutifully supported at the subsequent parent-principal meeting, she was thrilled at that associative leap her son had made. She and I became fast friends. Balance is key. We do not want to make all of life





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about the difference, nor do we want to ignore the difference. Some children will go on, in adolescence, to find an identity within the culture of their difference. This is true for the deaf and blind and gay and transgender children, we hope. Once again, the parent will have new lessons to learn. These are the lessons from that culture. Children who do not have that advantage, like those with ADHD, or dyslexia, must learn to maintain their self-acceptance within the mainstream which does not always accept differences. Nonetheless, one hopes that they become very comfortable. My son went to a Catholic school

for part of his middle-school education. Mass was held every Friday morning. We are not Roman Catholic, so during the celebration of the Eucharist he remained in the pew. An elderly curmudgeon scampered over to him that first Friday and hissed in his ear, “What’s the matter? Aren’t you a good Catholic?” “No,” he whispered back, “I’m dyslexic. And a hostage.” You understand my pride. A lovely woman I know recommended the book Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon. It is beautifully written, and seamlessly compelling. If you are a “special parent,” or simICON BY THEOTAKIS OF VLADIMIR, COURTESY WIKICOMMONS. ply want to unThe idea of bettering our children’s potential lots in life is as old derstand what it as humanity. takes to be special, reading this book is a good place to start. You may find yourself becoming pretty special, too.

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For the author, thoughts of Wonder Woman keep her active. Many hold sports heroes, yogis and even politicians in mind as they exercise.

Exercise queen Potato chips, chocolate and wine? By Lynne Crockett


love exercising when I am doing it. But there are days, like today, when I am sitting on the couch looking out at the gray landscape (and, I confess, eating potato chips), trying to muster the energy to go out for my walk. The stress of falling behind on work is often stronger than the realization that a long walk will clear my mind and relax my body. So for those of you who dislike exercise, right about now I am in your camp. At least temporarily. Exercising regularly is a habit. So even on days


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For the author, thoughts of Wonder Woman keep her active. Many hold sports heroes and ven yogis in in mind as they exercise.

February 22, 2018 Health, Sports & Fitness

Ulster Publishing Co. like today, I know that this afternoon or tomorrow I will be outside walking, or on the elliptical, or lifting weights. It is like brushing my teeth. I may put it off for an hour or two on the weekends, but I know I will get to it. My habit of exercise was formed a long time ago. When I was a child, my parents’ idea of a family outing involved hiking, skiing, canoeing or camping. As a baby in New Mexico, I ascended mountains stuffed into my dad’s World War II canvas backpack. Later, when my family moved to New York State, we hiked and camped in the Catskills and the Adirondacks. My father, who was from New England and had skied as a child, took my brother and me to the slopes when we were young, nine and six years old. Exercise was part of my childhood routine. It was normal. Of course, in the 1960s and 70s, we didn’t think of physical activity as “exercise.� I played outside with my friends, running everywhere, exploring in the woods, and riding bikes. In junior high I rode my bike to my best friend’s house each week, a one-way trip of approximately seven miles. And once there, for fun, we rode bikes. I am not sure what has changed in our culture, but I know that most young people are nowhere near as active as we were. I have a naturally competitive nature, which has led me to push myself beyond what might be healthy. In the 1980s, when exercise became a fad, I was lifting weights and running. At work I would carry cases of paper up three flights of stairs to our print shop. I enjoyed the physical activity — and in my Wonder Woman phase I also enjoyed people telling me that I was “too small� to be doing such heavy lifting. But I was invincible. This invincibility shattered when I carried a large TV to my car and leaned over to put it in the trunk. I could have asked my husband for help. As I leaned over the trunk, I felt something tear in my back. Nonetheless, I worked all day and went for a run that afternoon. The next day I ended up on the couch. Thus began my ongoing struggle with a bad back, exacerbated by a car accident in 2002. So yes, age and time and the lack of common sense can negatively affect one’s exercise habit. I am now 61. When I was in my late 50s, after babying my bad back for years, I joined a gym, working with a trainer to avoid further injuring my back. I quit after two years because each day I hobbled out of the gym dragging my numb right leg like a block of wood. Now I have my own, less strenuous routine at home. It doesn’t increase my strength. But my Wonder Woman years are over. My goal now is to maintain strength and flexibility. Any movement is better than none.

Fighting Spirit

When I am stiff and my back is twinging or spasming, easy walking is the best way to eliminate (or minimize) the pain. When I suffer from migraines, the only remedy I have found is exercise. There are days when I start walking and never want to stop. I am not sure whether the momentum springs from the joy of motion, the endorphins, or a desire to temporarily escape my work routine — but it is a wonderful feeling.


hat I have learned about exercise is no different from what you might read anywhere. First of all, to establish a habit, it is helpful find something that you enjoy doing — or that you can learn to enjoy. Exercising for health or weight loss alone will not keep you going. Back in the 1980s I was a runner. I loved running. I still dream of running. When my hips started hurting, I consulted with a doctor. “Stop running,� he advised. I have since learned to enjoy walking. It isn’t as exhilarating, but my hips are pain-free. If exercise is something you can easily procrastinate doing, as I am today, create a social compact. Join a team, a gym, or the local Y. Make a date to

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meet up with someone. I started running with my dad. We would meet when he was done with work and run for an hour. As I said before, I have a competitive spirit, and I was not going to wimp out, especially on my dad. The beginning of an exercise routine is the toughest. I know people who firmly believe that diet can change lives. I am not in that camp. I do not overeat and generally avoid junk food (today’s potato chips are the first since Labor Day). My faith lies in exercise. When my muscles ache, when I feel that I am overwhelmed and can’t focus, when I am anxious or irritable — I take a long walk. By the time I finish, I am relaxed, my perspective restored. One does not need to be Wonder Woman to benefit from exercise. “No pain, no gain� is nonsense. Just a little bit every day adds up. My doctor is pleased to note that my weight, blood pressure and blood oxygen levels are excellent. I attribute my good health to genetics — and exercise.

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22, 2018 12 | February Health, Sports & Fitness

Ulster Publishing Co.

Pretty cool exercise Self-defense plus commitment By Giada Labate


arate is an Asian system of unarmed combat used for self-defense. It can be good for other things as well. You can learn how to bring your opponent down to the floor, even if that opponent is bigger than you. That’s a pretty cool capability. You can also use karate as a way to reach out of your shell. It is a way to empower yourself. It can help a person stay in shape while building selfconfidence. Karate is also a good form of exercise and a great way to have fun. I’m a white belt senior at New Paltz Karate Academy, which teaches Isshin Ryu karate. Isshin Ryu means ‘whole heart style’ (that does sound to me like a name for a boy band). For me, karate is a really good way to reach out and do something different. I am a self-certified geek, and I know a lot of stereotypical geeks who live within the realm of their comforts: comic books, superhero movies, books, books and more books. Geeks aren’t known for doing many physical activities. I didn’t want to live solely within the realm of my stereotype. I know that a lot of my favorite television actors had to train really hard to appear in superhero movies. I feel I was able to connect my geek self by taking karate. I’ll admit it took me outside my comfort zone. Though I was so nervous when I first started, I felt motivated to go out and try it. When you sign up for karate you commit to going at least twice a week. It can be very tiring. But I intend to stay with my commitment. I find karate fun. Class starts with practicing whatever kata (combination of moves) that you’re on. Some days, the instructors give you a new move. Then we line up and do some exercises. Basic moves, stretches and — cue the exhausted groan — push-ups. Sometimes, we do mini-tournaments. In a tournament you perform your last completed kata and get a judge’s score. We also usually do kamete, which is where we put on soft, red hand pads and spar. We finish up with various games and quizzes. Sometimes, at the end of class, we play the ball game, my personal favorite. The instructors throw a rainbow ball at us and we run away. (It builds awareness. I’m pretty sure I’m faster now.) Karate involves a lot of different ways to improve speed, reaction, strength, awareness of others, etc.

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The author has found that martial arts are a great confidence builder as well as good exercise. And a lot of fun, too. I feel like karate can be really empowering and helpful for women. It gives you the self confidence to help yourself in bad situations instead of depending on being rescued. (For example, ladies, if someone is harassing you, you can learn how to make them back off. There are as many female as male students and teachers at the dojo. One of my favorite classes, on Wednesday nights, is usually all, or mostly, young women around my age, eleven. I asked some of the other women and girls at the dojo why they do karate and why it is important for women. Gabriella Hart, age nine, said, “I do karate because I needed to learn defense skills and it was fun.” Hart, a yellow belt, has been doing karate for about a year. Why does she think it’s important for women to do karate? “There are no sports that should be only men,” she replied. These were inspiring words for me. Why was karate important for her future? “I will be able to defend myself in case anyone bothers me.” I asked Krystal Hard, an assistant who has been doing karate for more than eight years, why she does karate. “I love martial arts,” Hard said. “I love the confidence it instills.”

Eight-year-old Devon has been doing karate for a year and a half. Her ten-year-old sister Ryan has been doing karate for two years. Why is karate is important to them? “It helps self-defense and makes you feel confident,” said Devon. Ryan said she did it “because I like to learn new things and it’s good exercise.” Why was it important for women? Devon says “Anyone can be confident,” Devon answered. Added Ryan, “It shows anyone can do karate.” Mrs. Deena Levitz, co-owner of the dojo, senior instructor and fifth-degree black belt, has been doing karate for 26 years. She was the first student. She said he does karate “’cause it’s fun. Keeps my mind busy, keeps my body busy. I’m always learning something new.” She enjoys teaching all ages: “You see different things from every age group.” Karate make women feel more confident, she explained. “Helps you push yourself, helps you feel good about yourself, helps you feel strong physically and mentally. Women get a good sense of community. They realize they have a good community that supports them.” Karate is good for people for many different reasons. I think it’s a good thing for anyone to get out and do.

February 22, 2018 Health, Sports & Fitness

Ulster Publishing Co.

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The Smartbells choice A new form of exercise developed locally By Violet Snow


ore versatile than dumbbells, Smartbells are not metal shapes that ring but modern exercise tools. They can be used solo, in pairs, or in groups for a form of movement that engages the whole body, especially muscles in the shoulders that rarely get a workout. Invented by Paul Widerman of Accord, the devices are used in an exercise class led by Woodstocker Angel Ortloff for the oncology support group at the HealthAlliance Hospital (formerly Benedictine Hospital) in Kingston. “It’s not about weight training. It’s about flow and movement,� said Widerman, a fitness expert and former Olympic wrestler who attended a recent Thursday-morning class at the hospital’s Mary’s Avenue campus. An early version of Smartbells has been used by the Yankees, the Mets, and the Navy Seals. Pilates and tai chi teachers have also embraced it as a training tool. But Widerman is most excited about bringing more recent, lighter versions to elders, who gain flexibility and strength in hips, shoulders and other joints through the pleasurable movements facilitated by Smartbells. Years after inventing the saddle-shaped, twohandled design, Widerman was inspired by a Valentine’s Day window display to tweak the shape by making it resemble a heart. To the “Heart� variant he has added aerodynamic properties that help the user glide it through space. The shape also has a metaphorical resonance that adds energy: a sense of opening the heart. The design was further developed by staff at the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center at SUNY New Paltz, where prototypes were made on the center’s 3D printer. Major contributions were made by jeweler and designer Cat Wilson, who had studied with a high-ranking martial artist and had a good feel for the use of the device. She and Widerman created a couple of dozen different variants before settling on the current design. “There’s a vortex of creative people here in Ulster County,� Widerman remarked. “I feel pride as an inventor to be here with the support of the artistic and design community.�


he exercise session started with seven class members — plus Ortloff, Widerman, dancer Eli McNamara, and myself — linked in a circle. We were each holding the handles of two Smartbells. The opposite handles were held by our immediate neighbors. The group swayed together, our tendons receiving a gentle stretch from the interconnecting Smartbells. We pulled gently to one side, then the other, as we stretched our necks in the opposite direction. We lifted the devices overhead, working our shoulders. Then each person stepped back with a single Smartbell to begin the core routine of solo exercises. Grasping the device by its center post, Widerman demonstrated how to swing it up and around to orbit the head, articulating the wrist and creating a satisfying circular flow. He led the way through a series of movements, all easily followed by the group members, half of whom are former cancer patients. Ortloff used to be a potter, and the repetitive work on the throwing wheel was stressful for her shoulders. After her surgery for breast cancer, exercise with Smartbells helped her regain her shoulder action. Now as a massage therapist, formerly at RiverRock Health Spa in Woodstock, she depends on her shoulders for her work. She appreciates the flexibility and strength Smartbells have brought to her upper body. In addition to leading the exercises for the oncology support class, Ortloff does a daily half-hour


Smart Bells are becoming popular as an energetic, safe, and strength-building alternative to dumbbells and old-style weight machines. Smartbells session at home with her husband. “It took years to convince him,� she said, “but he started to feel the difference, too. His shoulders and hips have improved — it really helps the joints. We do a core routine, and then we do floor work as a pair.� McNamara, a Rosendale resident who recently completed yoga teacher training in Thailand, said, “It activates muscle groups I never use, even in yoga. As soon as I started moving with it, my body said, ‘Yes!’� Widerman is still discovering new ways to work with Smartbells and Hearts. Experimenting with holding Hearts in his hands while swimming, he found the weight gave added resistance for training, while the holes allow water to flow through, with the shape gliding easily through the water. The contours allow the Smartbell to sit comfortably on the back and other parts of the body, offering massage applications. Research has not yet been done to explain why Smartbells are so effective. “We’re ahead of the curve,� Widerman remarked. Studies showing that movement crossing the midline of the body,

as Smartbells are designed to do, connects the right and left sides of the brain, enhancing motor coordination and learning. Movement that crosses the midline is prescribed for children who are having trouble with reading and fine motor skills. In fact, Widerman originally created the midsized, 1.5-pound Hearts for kids. But he has found them ideal for elders. He worried participants in the oncology support classes would have trouble working with them for an hour or more, but it turned out, he said, “It was hard to get them to stop.� Mid-sized Smartbells, suitable for all fitness levels, will soon be manufactured in High Falls and will be available online, along with videos demonstrating how to use them. For information on Smartbells and the Heart, visit http://heartmoves. love/. The Thursday morning exercise class for the oncology support group at HealthAlliance Hospital (Mary’s Avenue campus in Kingston) is open to the public at a cost of $8 per class or by donation. To inquire about joining the class, contact Doris Blaha at 339-2071.


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22, 2018 14 | February Health, Sports & Fitness

Ulster Publishing Co.

Probiotics to potions Can health be bettered by digestion? By Jennifer Brizzi


op a pill or do a shot and all of a sudden you’re all healthy? From snake oil — which you can actually buy online — to guarana, throughout history we’ve looked for all kinds of ways to improve our health and extend our life. And the quicker and easier the better. If popping a pill or 30 will do it, or if downing a swig of cider vinegar daily will do it, sign us up. I make my own turmeric tonic to keep in the fridge during cold and flu season, take probiotics and eat probiotic foods to keep the immune system strong, and pop a handful of pills every morning (or in my case as many chewables as possible). Besides a couple of prescription medications, my handful contains vitamins B12, C, D, K, a multivitamin, calcium, magnesium, and most recently ginkgo biloba (I’ll get back to you on how that works…if I can remember). The assortment has changed through the years, but seems to be only growing as I get older. I have a part-time gig in a natural food store, and customers tell me what they take every day to stave off illness. Some do that shot of cider vinegar every day without fail; it’s said to have dozens of health benefits. Some eat a spoonful of coconut oil, which for many years had a bad rap, became everyone’s favorite ubersuperfood, and is now starting to fall out of favor a bit again. Solutions tend to wax and wane in popularity. Some people are hooked on the yummy local ginger and lemon elixir ImmuneSchein, much more palatable, in my opinion, than that plain cider vinegar. Juices and smoothies, with or without a shot of wheatgrass, remain very popular. I like them but I’d rather have something I can chew! And a smoothie with all that protein and fiber included makes more sense to me than a sugary juice with all the fiber removed. But that’s just me. Bone broth isn’t new, Grannie used to make it all the time, but its health benefits, like youth-giving collagen for the skin, are making it very trendy currently. You can even get it in powder form to add to your smoothies. Many people swear by raw milk, which has been around a while but is not legal everywhere. Twenty states forbid the sale of it at all, and in some — like New York — it can only be sold from the farm. When I was a kid in Vermont we used to get it from a local farm. Connoisseurs rave about its creamy, “alive” flavor and texture. It’s touted to be tolerated by the lactose intolerant or those who just can’t stomach commercial milk. The health claims of raw milk include that it

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Some say that probiotics are the health fad of the day. Others find the growing number of products in the field of great value to good health. Okay, I’ll get down off my soapbox for that one!



has more vitamins B6 and C, essential fatty acids, manganese, copper and iron than pasteurized milk. Another claimed benefit is that it protects kids from asthma and allergies, although some say it’s too dangerous to mess with, especially for the very young and very old. Vegan diets are getting more and more popular and trendy, and not always for humane reasons but for optimum health. Animal proteins have gotten a lot of bad press lately. Of course, of all the things we can “pop” or swig to improve our health, a varied diet based on natural whole foods is best, especially if they don’t travel far to get to the table, and are sustainably raised, without antibiotics, hormones or pesticides. And I don’t think preservatives and the stabilizers and the cheap fillers that raise the sugar, salt and fat content of processed foods to make them more addictive, do our food or our health any favors, either.

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ecause it’s hard, in our busy lives, to get 21 perfectly healthy, natural, homecooked meals a week, I think popping multivitamins to take up the slack is not a bad idea. A report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture report stated that 93 percent of us have an inadequate intake of vitamin E, 56 percent of magnesium, 44 percent of vitamin A and 31 percent of vitamin C. However, in a 2014 article purports that most vitamins are completely unnecessary, with only the following worth taking: niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin D, zinc — more useful than vitamin C to treat colds, they say, along with garlic and probiotics (and the latter only temporarily when taking antibiotics, with yogurt working just as well). Probiotics have become mainstream, available on the shelves of any well-stocked supermarket. Many physicians even recommend them now to their patients when they prescribe antibiotics. Antibiotics will clear out the 100 trillion bacteria in our systems, good and bad, the good being a crucial important part of our immune system that needs replenishment. Probiotics also assist us to absorb nutrients, help us digest our food and sometimes help ease diseases of the gastrointestinal system. Another way (besides that yogurt) of getting probiotics in food form is to eat fermented foods like, kimchi, sauerkraut and other lacto-fermented vegetables or the fizzy drink kombucha, all more pleasing ways to get your probiotics than popping a pill. I can’t always afford to buy probiotics, but I can afford to buy or make fermented foods. So whether you get your health helpers in pill or food form, whether you go with the classics or try the newest trends, there are myriad ways to ingest healthy substances. Jennifer’s Turmeric Tonic Ingredients: 1 quart/4 cups filtered water or spring water 3 tablespoons organic lemon juice 2 tablespoons raw honey 1 tablespoon grated fresh organic turmeric 1 teaspoon grated fresh organic ginger 1 teaspoon organic extra virgin olive oil 1/8 teaspoon organic cayenne pepper powder Pinch of Himalayan pink salt Pinch freshly ground black pepper, organic if available Preparation: Bring water to a boil and then let cool ten minutes. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Transfer to blender and process until smooth. Put in a glass jar and shake before serving. Drink one or two ounces a day.

February 22, 2018 Health, Sports & Fitness

Ulster Publishing Co.

| 15

Health notes Dark comedy about opioids The war on our nation’s opioid use has several levels. There’s the macro world of policies and funding, the personal arena where families and communities wrestle with addiction, and the hyper-personal battlefront where attitudes get changed. A new podcast and website emanating anonymously from the Hudson Valley seeks to address the harsh reality of addiction with dark humor, relaying stories of drug addiction, recovery and loss in ways that speak to those struggling with addiction and the many who surround them. The simple takeaway for the podcasts’s audience, who have started calling themselves the “Dopey Nation? Is that the opioid epidemic should not be treated as a national crime wave but as a health crisis. Who’s behind it all? Dave and Chris started their efforts two years ago after meeting in rehab. Visit You can easily find listener reviews on platforms such as PodBean, iTunes and the Dopey website. One more thing about Dopey. Although they cover prevalent issues about drugs and addiction, they manage to keep it light.

Hospital profits are shrinking Columbia Memorial Hospital in Hudson, which just held its major fundraising gala earlier this month, saw an operating loss for 2016 of $3.6 million on revenues of $153 million, following an up year in 2015 and two previous years of losses in 2013 and 2014. That followed a small gain in 2015, after two earlier years of losses. The latest downturn was simultaneous with the hospital’s new affiliation with Albany Med and expansion through the purchase of local doctors’ practices in Columbia and Greene counties. But expectations are that things will again be looking up, or at least profitable, as more CMH patients go to Albany for advanced-care needs. Recent reports are indicating that Washington attacks on the past decade’s health financing advances are having an effect on our region’s hospitals. Of the dozen within the Capital District, half have shown tightening margins, or income as a percentage of revenues.

Sleep versus exercise Is it better to get eight hours of sleep per night or fit in a morning workout? Doctors say both elements are needed. But sleep seems to get the upper hand because of the sorts of injuries one can give oneself exercising while tired, the ways in which lack of sleep weakens the immune system, or has been tied to weight gain, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other health problems. Equally important are some of the traits of modern bedtime, including use of electronic devices that shift the body’s circadian rhythms later. New research from Northwestern University suggests that muscle cells also have circadian rhythms, and that they perform and recover much better during the biological daytime than the biological night. The end result? Getting up in the dark to exercise is counterproductive.

Cell phones and rats Two recent reports from the US Department of Health and Human Services’ toxicology program detail findings from two animal studies — one in rats and the other in mice — that link high levels of cell-phone radiation to some evidence of carcinogenic activity in male rats, including a rare type of tumor called a schwannoma in their hearts. There were no such significant findings in the female rats. No significant findings emerged from the mouse study, according to the reports and it remains unclear whether findings in male rats would similarly emerge in humans. The stud-


The New York City MTA police train their elite anti-terrorism canine unit at a new campus near the Dutchess County community of Stormville.

Bomb-sniffing dogs trained locally The New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority police recently sent out notification of 13 new canine and police officer teams graduating from their explosives detection and anti-terrorism training in a Grand Central Terminal ceremony. The dogs will be given small police shields that will be affixed to their collars. The teams completed their twelve-week explosive detection training course at a 72-acre MTA Police training center in Dutchess County, the only state-of-the-art mass-transit-specific training center in the nation. According to the MTA, only about one in 30 canines tested are deemed skilled enough to the join the MTA explosives unit. All such canines, typically German Shepherds or German Shepherd/Belgian Shepherd mixes, are named in honor of fallen police officers, firefighters and members of the armed services. The training center in Stormville was opened in summer 2016. ies involved about 3000 rodents in all. The animals were exposed to radio-frequency radiation levels equal to and higher than the highest level currently allowed for mobile phone emissions. Male rats in the high-exposure group appeared to live longer than other rats. More research is needed to determine why and how that may be relevant to the study results.

Tax credits for farmer donations The state’s farmers are now eligible to receive a tax credit for qualifying food donations made to food banks and other emergency programs. The idea is that increased donations will help meet the growing demand for fresh, healthful foods in underserved communities. The tax credit, which is supported by the New York State Council on Hunger and Food Policy, is a refundable credit equal to a quarter of the fair market value of qualified donations up to $5000. Eligible donations include fresh fruits and vegetables grown or produced in New York State and provided to emergency food programs that qualify for tax-exempt status. To claim the credit, the taxpayer must receive proof of the donation in the form of a receipt or written acknowledgment from the eligible food program. The state is also looking at a proposed 300 percent increase in school lunch reimbursements for schools that purchase at least 30 percent ingredients from New York farms. All SUNY and CUNY schools must either provide physical food pantries on campus or enable students to receive food through a separate arrangement that is stigmafree. Finally, the state has expanded the eligibility

requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). According to the New York Farm Bureau, farmers across the state donated more than nine million pounds of food in 2017, which helped provide more than seven million meals.

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22, 2018 16 | February Health, Sports & Fitness

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