Wellness Wednesdays – 5/17/17

Wellness Wednesdays is a MVMag.net-exclusive feature that curates the best health & wellness content from around the Valley and the Web.

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Keep Your Immune System Strong

by Gail Lachs

A healthy immune system is an important tool in preventing illness.  We are each born with different levels of immunity protecting us against a variety of infections. Our DNA can play a big role in the strength of our immune system, but there are many factors in our day-to-day life that can improve our ability to prevent sickness.

Keeping a healthy diet, reducing stress, sleeping seven to nine hours each day and engaging in a regular exercise practice can all contribute to keeping our immune system strong. Movement and exercise can give a great boost to our blood flow, promoting the circulation of disease-fighting antibodies and blood cells within the body. As little as 20 minutes of walking, golfing (using a cart between tees) or a gentle yoga practice five days a week can help your immune system perform at its best.

Gail Lachs is the owner and director of Windsoul Studio, a yoga and healing arts center in Tyngsborough, Mass.


The Ball Is In Your Court – Tennis

by Jennifer Wolcott (originally appeared in the March/April 2017 print issue)

Forget the treadmill. Sure, it’s a new year, and you may want to shed a few extra pounds and get into the best shape of your life. But the route to fitness and to fulfilling those resolutions could be a lot less dull.

At least that’s according to enthusiasts of the game of tennis, who insist that the benefits of their sport far exceed its cardiovascular workout.

Tennis does get the heart pumping, but beyond that, the sport can also hone a participant’s intellect, mental toughness and interpersonal skills, and it can even expand your social circle.

Dini Coffin first stepped onto a tennis court more than 40 years ago. “I have made so many lifelong friends whom I met through tennis,” she said. “We have shared lots of laughs, as the well as ups and downs of raising our kids and now grandkids.”

She offered this advice to individuals who are contemplating taking up the sport: “Just pick up the racket and join the fun!”

Is it really that easy? From Coffin’s hometown of Westford, where she plays at the WestFit Club, all the way north to Nashua, N.H., there are numerous tennis clubs in the Merrimack Valley.

Josephine McKone practices at Cedardale Health & Finess in Haverhill. Photo by Kevin Harkins.

You’ll want to do your homework and consider what’s most important to you. Is it cost? Location? Condition of the facility? Quality of the teaching pros? Playing with your pals? Family friendliness?

Once you’ve sorted out your priorities, whittle down your list by checking out clubs online and also visiting in person, so you can talk to the players and pros.

Then, be patient. If you expect to master a topspin forehand or a kick serve after just a few classes, the game will be more frustrating than fun.

“It’s a long-term project,” said Lorraine Salter, who has been playing tennis all her life and makes time for it despite her busy work schedule. “But it’s so worth it.”

Salter laughed when explaining that her husband — not a player at the time — knew he had no choice but to join her when they got married.

Salter lives in Reading and plays in the North Shore Tennis League for a team hosted by the Boston Sports Club in Lexington. Like many advanced players, she doesn’t call only one club home. She also plays at the Bass River Tennis Club in Beverly, and her weekly matches require travel to clubs all the way up to Newburyport.

Left: Adam Molda, his wife Jessica, sons Alex and Aaron. Right: Althea Bradley. Photos by Kevin Harkins.

At the Nashua Swim & Tennis Club, tennis director Robb Schachter relishes the opportunity to see his young students develop as both players and people. “While competing against their peers,” he said, “these kids need to figure out a complicated set of strategies, and for this, they tend to also do well in school, be fairly independent, and go on to lead successful lives.”

Adam Molda, director of tennis at Cedardale Health & Fitness in Haverhill, agreed that the benefits of the sport spill over into day-to-day life.

“Tennis teaches so many life lessons,” he said, including problem solving, conflict resolution and dealing with adversity.

Age is hardly a factor when it comes to tennis, Schachter said. At Cedardale, he explains, an observer can see players in their 80s slamming an overhead in a doubles match or perhaps gently tapping an angled “touch volley” over the net. As players grow older, finesse and craftiness take over where power once was all-important.

It may be a cliché to say that tennis is the “sport of a lifetime,” but those who play insist it’s true.

Take Coffin, who has no plans to retire her tennis sneakers. “I will be 64 next month,” she said, “and I still go after those drop shots!”

( Editor’s Note: shortly after this story went to press, Cedardale had a massive fire. Cedardale has opened an alternative location featuring Group Ex, Tennis and Fitness in Andover at 307 Lowell Road, formerly the Boston Sports Club ).

Cedardale Health & Fitness
Andover, Mass.
(978) 373-1596

Nashua Swim & Tennis Club
Nashua, N.H.
(603) 883-0153

WestFit Club
Westford, Mass.
(978) 692-7597


Everything We Know About Salt May Be Wrong

What happens when we eat a lot of salt? Well, as conventional wisdom would tell us, consumption of salt causes us to become thirsty, diluting blood levels until the proper balance of sodium can be reached, and ultimately leads to the excretion of the excess salt and water through urine. It looks like conventional wisdom might not be so wise, however, according to a new study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation. The study, which held Russian cosmonauts in isolation as part of simulated space travel, found that the participants’ consumption of salt actually reduced their thirst and increased their hunger. Additional experiments, which aimed to duplicate the results using mice, found that the increased calorie burn by salt-munching mice led them to eat 25 percent more. (via The New York Times)

Are Statin Side Effects ‘All In Our Heads’?

Statins are seemingly just as well-known for their side effects as they are for their main purpose: lowering one’s cholesterol. And yet, according to new research published in The Lancet, it appears many of those side effects may be psychological rather than … well … actual side effects. The reason, somewhat ironically, is the notoriety of the side effects themselves. “It’s a real phenomenon that if you’re aware of a problem with a drug, you’re more likely to complain about it,” said Dr. Peter Sever, the author of the study. (Do keep in mind, however, that this study was funded by drug companies — enough reason to be slightly wary of the results.) (via The New York Times)

Ex-Google Ethicist Explains How Technology Hijacks The Mind

Summarizing just won’t do it justice: this is one article you really need to check out in its entirety. Thrive Global guest writer Tristan Harris, an ex-Google design ethicist and self-described philosopher, explains how technology can be used to exploit our minds’ weaknesses rather easily — in much the same way a magician uses sleight of hand and vulnerability of perception to trick audiences. (via Thrive Global)


TODAY, May 17

Dermatologists David Gruber and Christine Kannler will hold free skin cancer screenings at Holy Family Hospital in Methuen from 3 to 5 p.m. Appointments are required, so call (978) 687-0156 ext. 2101 or email jill.thresher@steward.org to schedule yours today. Methuen, Mass. | HolyFamily-Hospital.org

May 20

Lawrence General Hospital will host a free child safety car seat inspection event at Commonwealth Chevrolet in Lawrence from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nationally certified child passenger safety technicians will inspect your child’s safety seat to ensure it is installed correctly. The event is free and open to the public. Lawrence, Mass. | Facebook.com

May 22

Circle Home, a nonprofit home care and hospice agency, will present a “Service of Remembrance” at 7 p.m. in the Clark Auditorium at Lowell General Hospital. This free community memorial service is open to the public and designed for those who are grieving the death of a loved one, with music, readings, and quiet time for reflection. Lowell, Mass. | (978) 459-9343


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