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What motivates people to participate?

Bob Gurney – PhD, C. Mgr.

What motivates people to participate in exercise/physical activity and what are the barriers to participation in exercise/physical activity?

What motivates people to participate in exercise/physical activity and what are the barriers to participation in exercise/physical activity? The current literature appears to be extensive in addressing these questions however, previous research in this area lacked an understanding of motivation in the context of exercise behavior (McEwen, 1993; Haq and Griffin, 1996). Plonczynski (2000) reviewed 22 studies (mid to late 1990s) that measured motivation for exercise engagement. The studies were evaluated through criteria of types of instruments, reliability and validity. Plonczynski (2000) concluded that the studies reviewed were lacking in research design, administration and interpretation, and recommends a need to improve the theoretical applications of studies for both prediction and explanation of physical activity behaviors.

In a study of motivators and barriers to exercise and participation in sport, in metropolitan Madrid Spain, Rodriguez-Romo, Boned-Pascual, and Garrido-Munoz (2009) found that the most frequently cited motivators were fun, stay in shape and health, while barriers cited were demands of work and family, and lack of time. Motivators and barriers to participation in physical activity (Bragg, Tucker, Kaye and Desmond, 2009) were investigated through focus group sessions of participants in two groups (Group 1 = mean age of 14; Group 2 = mean age of 34). The motivators and barriers of this study were identified by focus group participants as: social influence (motivators); time and priorities (barriers); physical environment (both motivators and barriers); fun and enjoyment (motivators); inherently physical activities (motivators); weight concerns (motivators); fatigue (barriers), physical discomfort and current fitness level (barriers); and immediate positive feelings (motivators).

Adults between 74 and 85 years of age reported that motivators and barriers to participating in exercise/physical activity were associated with internal factors, such as pain and depression (Cohen-Mansfield, Marx and Guralnik, 2003). A more recent study (Buman, Yasova and Giacobbi, 2010) of older aged participants, indicate reporting of unpleasant experiences, weight gain, and fear of injury as barriers to participating in physical activity. In this same study, motivators to participate in physical activity were linked to positive experiences in life activities from a young age. A more current study of exercise motivation and relationships with exercise frequency, intensity and duration (Duncan, Hall, Wilson and Jenny, 2010) of approximately 1100 students (mean age = 24) found that there was a positive relationship between the construction of values and goals with exercise behaviors of frequency, intensity and duration. These researchers concluded that practitioners need to develop exercise programs to facilitate the exercise motives identities of participants to support their exercise engagements.

To help us understand motivators and barriers to physical activity, we request your participation in completing our survey questionnaire (should take less than 10 minutes) 

Click here for survey. >>


– Buman, M. P., Yasova, L. D., and Giacobbie, P. R. (2010) Descriptive and narrative reports of barriers and motivators to physical activity in sedentary older adults. Psychology of Sport and Exercise. 11 (3) 223 – 230.

– Cohen-Mansfield, J., Marx, M. S., and Guralnik, J. M. (2003). Motivators and barriers to exercise in an older community-dwelling population. Journal of Aging & Physical Activity. 11 (2) 242 -253.

– Duncan, L. R., Hall, C. R., Wilson, P. M. and Jenny, O. (2010) Exercise motivation: a cross-sectional analysis examining it relationships with frequency, intensity, and duration of exercise. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 7, 7-15.

– Gabriel, R-R; Boned-Pascual, C., and Garrido-Muñoz, M. (2009) Reasons for and barriers to exercising and sports participation in Madrid. (English).Pan American Journal of Public Health. 26 (3) 244 – 254.

– Haq, M. B. and Griffin, M. (1996) Health motivation: key to health promoting behavior? The Nurse Practitioner. 21, 155-156.

Author: Bob Gurney


Exercise and Mental Health

Robert (Bob) Gurney, PhD

Mental health issues in Canada have recently generated a great amount of interest from researchers, medical professions and the media. I have taken a different approach for the readers of the50zone/health, in terms of moving from an article presentation to identifying accredited resources that address mental health and exercise.

First, the URL below is a video of a by: Roger Walsh, M.D., Ph.D. DHL.- Is a graduate from Australia’s Queensland University with degrees in psychology, physiology, neuroscience, and medicine, and then came to the United States as a Fulbright Scholar.  He is now at the University of California at Irvine where he is professor of psychiatry, philosophy, and anthropology, as well as a professor in the religious studies program. His research has included work in the nature of psychological health and wellbeing. The video presentation – Exercise Benefits Body, Brain, and Mind. Exercise Can Prevent and Heal Disorders Such as Anxiety, Depression & Age-Related Memory Loss – Part 2 of 10 part series on Lifestyle and Mental Health.

Two more videos of interest, provide discussions on exercise and mental health, as follows:

The Exercise and Sports Sciences Australia (ESSA) have recently released a position paper on mental health and exercise: Exercise and Mental Health: An Exercise and Sports Science Australia Commissioned Review

In conclusion, we would very much enjoy hearing from you, the readers, as a means to stimulate discussions on this topic.

Endocrine Changes and Aging

Endocrine Changes and Aging – Part II; Bob Gurney, PhD

To follow-up on the article last month, select endocrine changes in the aging process will be provided in this brief. If you were waiting to read any significant research connecting hormone changes linked to aging and exercise, then you will be disappointed. In healthy adults, hormone changes are a fact of life and any notion that exercise can significantly change the release of hormones and endocrine related actions tends to be limited in conclusive evidence. The following table illustrates a summary of the literature addressing select hormone changes in older adults.

Hormone                        Changes with Aging  Potential Clinical Signs                    Comments

Luteinizing Hormone (LH); Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) Decreasing levels of testosterone – after age 30
  • Pain in bones
  • Muscular weakness
  • Increase in body fat (especially abdominal area)
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Decrease in sexual activity
  • Impaired potency
  • Men’s testosterone levels fall gradually and over a long period of time.
  • Not all men are affected by a drop in testosterone levels.
  • Changes in testosterone levels resulting from regular physical activity in older adults are not conclusive.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) TSH increase arises from age-related alteration in the TSH set point or reduced TSH bioactivity rather than a lack of understanding thyroid disease. Symptoms of aging can easily be confused with hypothyroidism, and in the past decreased thyroid function was believed to be one of the primary factors of the aging process. The literature is non-conclusive to changes in TSH during light to moderate physical activity. However, the evidence appears to be strong in terms of increased TSH blood levels with heavy exercise. The increases in TSH levels were not linked to clinical signs of hyperthyroidism.
Growth hormone (GH) Secretion of GH tends to decrease in older adults.
  • Lack of energy or fatigue
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain (body fat)


The actions of GH in response to exercise have been linked to the fitness level of individuals. The literature suggests that GH activity is lesser in trained versus untrained individuals in similar intensities of exercise. These differences are not clearly understood, yet the conclusions point to suggesting that regular physical activity affects the control processes of GH.


Endocrine changes in the functions of glands such as the pituitary, pancreas, adrenal and thyroid have been linked to type 2 – diabetes, as a result of impaired glucose tolerance. Diseases of this kind have been associated with elderly and tend to be related to factors of poor diet, inadequate physical activity and increases in body fat – especially in the organ areas of the abdomen.

Author: Bob Gurney


You can connect with me on Linkedin – Robert (Bob) Gurney

Respiratory Health and Aging

by Bob Gurney

Changes associated with aging include both structural and functional aspects of the respiratory-pulmonary systems. Such changes can limit participation of older adults in both moderate and strenuous physical activity.


What are some respiratory structural changes as we move past 50 years of age?


  • Reduced alveolar elastic recoil
  • Changes in chest wall structures (bones and muscles)
  • Decreases in respiratory muscle strength
  • Reduced alveolar surface area
  • Reduced structural integrity of respiratory passages (trachea, bronchi, bronchioles)


Note: reduced or loss of alveolar elastic recoil is the most dramatic structural change, and can lead to a progressive increase in residual lung volume (RLV). RLV, also referred to as residual volume (RV) is the volume of air remaining in the lungs after a maximal expiration. RV increases in individuals with chronic obstructive lung disease and also as the anatomical structures weaken with aging.


During the normal aging process, changes are evident in maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max). What are the changes? What is the evidence of regular exercise on the aging changes of VO2 max?


VO2 max tends to decline 8% to 10% (approximately) per decade after age 30. Research studies have illustrated that these values may be as great as a 24% decline per decade after age 30. Studies have informed us that regular exercise (aerobic) training regimes demonstrate a reduction in the age-associated decline in VO2 max, and this has partially been attributed to decreases in maximal heart rate and stroke volume, thus a decrease in cardiac output.


What are the functional changes in respiratory measures with aging?


Maximal ventilation (VE max) declines with age.  However, there is a higher submaximal VO2 and VE, therefore the ventilator equivalent (VE/VO2) is higher in older adults. Changes in lung functions with older adults, make it more difficult to move air in and out of the lungs, but do not demonstrate limitations in pulmonary gas exchange. During low-moderate exercise older adults tend to increase ventilation by increasing tidal volume versus breathing frequency (more common in younger people). This increase in tidal volume may act as a compensatory mechanism to the structural-functional changes with aging.

Age related structural and functional changes are summarized as follows:

  • Increased stiffness of costo-vertebral joints (structural) may lead to increase kyphosis (functional)
  • Decrease in compliance of chest wall (structural) may lead to increased work efforts of breathing (functional)
  • Decreased size of alveoli and alveolar ducts (structural) may lead to reduced efficiencies of mixing alveolar and inspired air and decreased surface area for diffusion (functional)
  • Decreased number and thickness of elastic fibers (structural) may increase the air flow resistance in small airways, decrease in elastic recoil of lungs, decrease in vital capacity and increased residual volume (functional)


Although these structural and functional changes are inevitable with aging, healthy older individuals who engage in regular exercise have demonstrated better adaptations to the changes, versus the more sedentary older individuals.

Author: Bob Gurney


You can connect with me on Linkedin – Robert (Bob) Gurney

The “Pebble” Series

Part 1: What pebbles are in your bucket?

By: Lars Gustafsson

“Discovering and taking out the stresses of your body and mind is like taking pebbles out of a bucket to allow it to carry more water…  water being the metaphor for optimal health, vitality, joy, abundance and freedom.”

As Jeff Sutton – my close friend and health mentor – said these words in our last bio-feedback consulting session yesterday, I was instantly struck with the profound nature of this comment.

In this analogy water represents health, abundance and a life filled with joy and vitality… while the pebbles represent all the layers and levels of stresses in the many forms they take in our bodies, minds, consciousness and hearts… consciously or unconsciously.  The inner emotional aspects to pebbles in the bucket are the most profound limitations in our lives… keeping us from expressing our highest and greatest natures.

In the course of our lives there are many, many things that stress us that we take for granted, many brought about by the influence of a paranoid society, TV, ridiculous inundation of negative news, loving and often well meaning adults, parents and leaders … and many, many other subtle forms of habits, environmental, work and life dynamics, and beliefs we absorb and make our own.

As children we are inundated with a plethora of fears to ‘hold’ us within a pattern of living that supposedly keeps us ‘safe’.  I recalled in my discussion with Jeff how as a child growing up in the village in India, I was constantly allowed the freedom to ‘disappear’ for the day with my tribal friends.  We explored areas of jungle, rivers, streams, fields, roads, and paths laden with dangers the average Canadian parent would “freak out” at!  Everything from extremely venomous snakes to dangerous bugs and spiders were lurking under every rock and bush that we came across.  I am certain that in our modern times the leash we have on our children would make my childhood seem like a very, very ‘wild’ time.

Jeff was reminiscing about his childhood, and how the leash his parents had on him was virtually non existent.  He was commenting how the society we live in imposes a reality that forces him to keep a fairly tight leash on his children, simply by virtue of all the ‘dangers’ imposed on us by our ‘modern’ times.  He talked about how, as a child, he would walk a mile to and from school four times every day, roaming through bushes and forest, and spending the entire day outdoors… far from the ‘safety’ of adult or parental supervision.  He said that he has met many people who have known and unknown phobias from all their restrictions and constrictions that literally confine their life experience into a very, very tiny existence!   He and I both recognized that our jobs as health guides are occupied mostly with helping people find and remove these pebbles from their lives … so that for once they can “see” beyond their own limitations and allow more health, abundance and joy into their lives.

We both came to the agreement that because of our ‘free’ childhood our ability to identify and honestly look at all the ‘pebbles’ in our bucket is much, much easier than many who grow up with a tighter leash imposed on them.   We also recognized that what you may be doing in one area to experience freedom may be adding more pebbles to your bucket.  This is especially true in the area of health and nutrition.   May people we have met, over exercise, take way too many supplements, and lead lives of incredible restriction in the futile effort to be as healthy as possible … when in fact all of these things and the beliefs around them may in fact be the very stressors that will eventually catch up with them.  Perhaps you’ve heard or read of people who literally ‘drop dead’ from a heart attack in the midst of the plethora of ‘healthy’ things they are doing?  We have!

Instead of dropping all of these healthy things there are many other layers to this that you may not be aware of.   Many other pebbles in your bucket may be ‘edging out’ the ‘good’ you are trying to do … and some of these ‘good’ things may be part of the adding of the pebbles!

So how honest are you willing to be right now with yourself? 

How important are your goals of living in an expanded reality?  

How many pebbles are in your bucket?

Give yourself a moment to take out a pen and paper and jot down as many ‘rules’, nutritional and life habits, beliefs, situations, relationships, financial, self imposed expectations, expectations from others, work and life dynamics, environmental and spiritual beliefs that cause you to feel any sensation of discomfort, dis-ease, pain, fear, guilt, anger, resentment and ANY sensation that you are being ‘boxed or fenced’ in.

Here’s a short list to get you started…

“I find myself feeling guilty about eating or drinking _____________.”

“I can’t stand ‘so and so’ at work, home or the gym.”

“I wish my boss would recognize what I do and my value.”

“I worry for my kids and the things they are doing, thinking, etc.”

“I worry about the economy, political situations in the world, and uncertainty.”

…. Ok, you get the idea … now it’s up to you to write as many things down as you can think of … and keep this list going … it’s your key to freedom.   You may instantly recognize that you can ‘toss’ some or all of these away … and as you do you will literally FEEL the relief and “openness” wash through you.  This sensation is literally opening up your genetic potential, allowing your body to absorb more nutrition, and enabling it to heal, repair and Detox.

When we knowingly or unknowingly ‘agree’ to hold on to too many habits and beliefs we begin to add way too many pebbles to our buckets.   Every one of these things you have listed is keeping your bucket filled up, and no matter how much you exercise, how perfectly you eat, or how immaculate your life may look and feel on the surface … your bucket may be full!

No matter how hard you try, strain, or how much pain you attempt to endure … you really are not emptying out the fundamental stressors that are always keeping you from truly experiencing the full expression of your genetic, emotional and human potential.  You MAY be loading in more!

In the next parts of this series I will begin to provide the specific processes and steps to identify and remove these pebbles in your life.   Some are bigger than others, in fact they may seem at this moment to feel like huge rocks, but you will find that we can get them taken out and solved with new nutritional, mental, physical and spiritual habits.

You will learn how to use just a few very simple habits to not only find and remove ALL the pebbles in your life, but prevent them from ever being put back.

For now — contemplate the list you have made.   Take time to look at each item and ask yourself how you can switch that situation, habit, belief or dynamic around and release it… or the limiting emotion around it.  Often it’s simply a perception shift, a new way of looking at things from a broader perspective that will help you easily and effortlessly take out each pebble one by one and toss it.

I’ll close for now, wishing you the ultimate life, free of all the pebbles in your bucket!

In health and inspiration

Lars Gustafsson

Founder: BodyMind Institute

Nervous System Health

Nervous System Health and Physical Activity

by Bob Gurney

During the months of November and December 2011, Kinesiology/Physical Education students – University of Alberta – PEDS 409 – Research Methodology, provided a presentation, as part of the course assignment requirements. The students are as follows: Lauren Glenister, Amy Heidebrecht, Claire Altares, Jaclyn Ellis, and Christopher Hills. This paper has been edited by Robert Gurney.

Diabetic neuropathy (DN) is the most common form of neuropathy in the western world and is the most prevalent complication currently affecting nearly 50 per cent of patients with diabetes mellitus (Dejgaard, 1997; Aring, Jones & Falko, 2005). Diabetic Neuropathy can develop in patients with type 1 or 2 diabetes and can occur at any stage, however, is more common in patients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and, chronic poor glycemic control (Aring, et al., 2005). Type 2 diabetes mellitus has achieved proportions of a real epidemic and, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) the disease now affects over 240 million people (Teixeira-Lemos, Nunes, Teixeira, & Reis, 2011). Studies have shown that the longer duration a person has T2DM the higher risk they are for DN (Edwards, Vincent, Cheng, & Feldman, 2008). Early detection and control of diabetes and co-existing risk factors for neuropathy can prevent or delay the progression of DN (Aring, et al., 2005). Symptoms depend on the part of the nervous system that is affected but are commonly associated with muscle weakness, pain, decreased motility, amputation and other co-morbid complications that has a detrimental effect on the quality of life, and has greatly increased the risk of mortality (Edwards, et al., 2008). Classifications of DN can be found in the research of Aring, et al., (2005). Insulin deficiency and hyperglycemia have been found to initiate progression of all types of DN (Tesfaye, Harris, Wilson, Ward, 1992). Therefore, glycemic control has been correlated to reduce both incidence and progression of DN (Edwards, et al. 2008).

Current information included in the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse provides basic how-to- management information for individuals with Diabetes (National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, 2009). The problem with the information provided is that the individual is required to seek out many additional sources of information on how they can improve their neural health and eliminate root causes. The goal for our how-to guide is to express specific measures through multiple disciplines. Compiling the information into one how-to guide, will create material that can be referenced to improve neural health and help in the prevention of neural damage.

This guide will be looking at the causes of DN and how it can be self-managed through changes in lifestyle, including physical activity and nutrition. Looking through the research there are no how-to guides, based on scientific evidence, to advise the diabetic population on how to effectively management the progression of their disease through an interdisciplinary approach.


Chronic hyperglycemia leads to an inability to transmit signals through nerves, slowing nerve conduction velocity (NCV) and increasing vasoconstriction (Tesfaye, et al., 1992). Nerve conduction velocity is a non-invasive measure of nerve function (Said, 2007). In tissues where glucose is transported independently (nerve, eye and kidney), hyperglycemia causes higher concentrations of intracellular glucose, leading to functional impairment of nerves (Dejgaard, 1997). When high concentrations of glucose are converted to sorbitol within the cell, there is a reduction in myo-inositol, inhibiting ionic activity within the cell. Tesfaye et al. (1992) found that after direct warming of the limb, in subjects with DN and subjects without, NCV increased. This implies that warmer temperature, initiated by a warming modality or exercise can be a potential treatment for DN symptoms.

Balducci, et al. (2006) illustrated that long term aerobic exercise training can prevent the onset or progression of DN. Aerobic and resistive exercise improves sodium, potassium and ATPase concentrations; which are beneficial to NCV, nerve function, vasodilatation, blood flow, and improving oxygen utilization (Balducci, et al. 2006). Improving glucose metabolism through exercise training occurs primarily through 3 distinct mechanisms: 1) stimulation of glucose transport to muscle, 2) increased insulin action on cells of organs involved in exercise, 3) positive regulation of the signalling pathway stimulated by insulin as a result of regular exercise (Teixeira-lemos et. al, 2011). Resistance and aerobic exercise can improve insulin sensitivity to approximately the same extent, and therefore, should be implemented to manage the progression of DN (Signal, Kenny, Wassermam, Castaneda-Sceppa, White, 2006). Continue reading

Can You Be “Addicted” to Stress?

— Part 3 of the Stress Series —

By Lars Gustafsson

Ten years ago I found myself sitting in “Millionaire Mind” – a seminar weekend presented by T. Harve Ecker. Sitting there, I found myself thinking,

“I came here to learn how to become a millionaire (funny right?!) and all I keep hearing is how my blueprint is holding me back… that my THOUGHTS influence my FEELINGS, that my FEELINGS instigate the power of my ACTIONS…ACTIONS that create my RESULTS… I thought wasn’t this supposed to be about making money?!”

Each time I look back on this epic moment in my life, I have to laugh – in that statement, I was spelling out for myself, the secret to success that is discussed in every major personal growth book ever written. As the weekend progressed, it dawned on me that my blueprint was most likely what was holding me back in various areas of my life. I was also stunned into the life-changing realization that the state of my body influenced the state of my mind… and visa versa!

I began to see that I had been pre-programmed to behave in a certain way — my relationships, spending and saving habits, business practices and attitudes, and spiritual conditioning. ALL of this was guiding my life along a deep-set track that was dooming me to repeat past results! To top it off, my nutrition, exercise, sleep and lifestyle habits, along with my environment and friendships were also influencing and strengthening my blueprint. My whole life was bubbling out of a habitual way of being, and my body and results were reaping the outcome!

If one defines addiction as the repeated thought or action out of a bio-chemical or subconscious habit, then, I was deeply addicted to stress and repeated failure!

It’s hard to imagine how someone could be addicted to either of these – especially failure. And yet, I discovered that the repeated failures in my life had given me purpose to succeed and work even harder the next time. How warped was that?!

I KNEW that weekend that I needed a solution to my stress addiction. I KNEW that I had to change at a fundamental level; by taking control of what I thought and felt, I could guide my life in whatever direction I wanted. If I could figure out a few simple things that would influence a positive-feeling state in my body, this would have far reaching consequences in supporting a full and happy life.

Something else remarkable happened that weekend. I had a seed thought of what was at the CORE of all the health, fitness, weight loss and social issues in our society…

“Stress perpetuates stress.” Or in other words, “you become what you think — and act on.”

You literally have to divert your attention AWAY from the things or actions that are causing you stress. This is inordinately difficult in the beginning. It’s tough to look away from the dragon breathing fire in your face… and attempt to focus on something else! But I soon discovered it’s a LOT easier when you have your body on your side.

When I plunged into the research on stress and its many side effects, I was overwhelmed by the number of actions you would have to take in order to completely eliminate stress from your life. I came to a dramatic conclusion about how I was going to approach this personally and in my profession as a coach. It wasn’t about how many things you did to reduce stress but rather about becoming the master of a couple simple thoughts and actions, each of which would have a cumulative effect that would in turn perpetuate more of these conditions, thoughts, emotions and actions. So in other words, it became about … “simple shifts that would last a lifetime.”

I decided to approach my own life in a new way. I focused on the simplest of things that I could do every day. I found that there were a number of habits that were causing me stress, and found it was my thought patterns that were creating the most stress.

I began recording my most predominant thoughts. I noted limiting thoughts in a notebook and made a small line whenever that thought reoccurred.

“I don’t have enough time.” 100’s of times a day

“I’m stressed.” 100’s and 100’s of times a day

“I’m worried about…” Dozens and dozens of times a day

“I can’t …” 100’s of times a day

This was only the beginning! I found this revelation remarkable since everyone, including myself, had thought I was a positive guy! Who knew!? I quickly shifted these limiting thoughts into…

“I always find time to do everything I need to … I have an abundance of time.”

“I feel peaceful, and I think and act in peaceful ways.”

“I am grateful for…” and listed all the things that occurred to me in that moment.

“I know that all things are working out perfectly for every person in my life.”

Just by reading these words I’m sure you notice the difference in how they make you feel. You can imagine how I felt by focusing all my efforts on shifting these and other thoughts for a few weeks — I began to see an incredible change happening in my life. I became more efficient in my habits, work efforts, and daily living. I found amazing spaces in which I could read, take a walk, and have more time for balance and myself. When others asked me how I was doing, I quickly found myself responding with the attitude of gratitude. I noticed that my worry habit was gone and replaced by a deep sense of knowing that everything occurs in the flow of life; that the stresses or ‘negatives’ being experienced by people around me were all part of their transformative gift.

Even more dramatically, I noticed a shift in my body. Remember that your subconscious calculates everything in your 73 trillion cells – from your 100,000 reactions in each cell per second to the subtle (and not so subtle) hormones that are the result of your 60,000 (or so) thoughts you have per day. My shift in awareness was having a profound effect on my cells!

And so — like me, if you practice this one simple shift, you will notice that:

• You will fall asleep faster, and sleep deeper and longer. Your body will recuperate faster from exercise, be less achy and sore, and feel stronger.

• Exercise will improve at all levels – endurance, stamina, strength and power.

• Your relationships will shift – from initially seeing how everyone around you may have the same habits you had, to something more subtle, almost unspoken. People will feel better around you, want to talk to you. They will feel as though they have changed but really, they haven’t – it’s just the new ‘vibe’ you’re giving off.

• Your body composition will shift — water retention will decrease, fat will drop away, and your lean muscle will return.

“Come on Lars, really? All of this from shifting my thoughts?” you ask.

Well, perhaps not all of these things. It is likely that you will see some type of a shift, and if anything you will notice that you look at things differently. You will realize that you take a few more positive actions for yourself each day – which may only be drinking more water and taking a few more deep breaths… but these small actions will add up.

And here’s the curious aspect to a shift in awareness- as your actions change, what you think about and seek out will change as well. You’ll notice that you are making more frequent trips to the supplement or health store, seeking out healthier nutrition options, and overall shifting every other area of life.

Again…“Gratitude perpetuates gratitude and goodness in your life.” Or in other words “You become what you think about.”

THE HUGE KEY that must be thought about and action taken on is in supporting your gut, organs, cells, immune system and mind throughout this transition. From my own experience in my life I cannot relay this to you strongly enough! If you try to go out there and simply ‘think positively’ or ‘change your focus’ — which I will admire and support tremendously — it may not be enough. Taking care of your body is equally important to support this change for a permanent shift in your life.

These EIGHT simple shifts for physical support will elevate your FEELINGS of positivity EFFORTLESSLY:

1. Your gut-brain connection. Take two Probiotic capsules first thing in the morning with a glass of water, pinch of sea salt and tiny bit of juice (1/3 cup). You will immediately begin to see an improvement in your emotions, energy and vitality. Over 90% of your ‘feel good’ hormone Serotonin is made in your gut… “healthy gut – happy mind”. This shift may also increase your bowel movements (BM’s) to a healthy 2-3 times per day. If your BM’s do not reach this level, add 200mg of Magnesium Bisglycinate/Citrate or Malate in the morning. You can add this amount again at lunch and dinner if the first dose doesn’t achieve this goal. BM’s (Bowel Movements) are your gauge into how healthy or stressed you are; when you are at one or less per day, you’re becoming loaded with toxins and physical stress which will only exacerbate any type of mental or emotional stress you are in.

2. Blood sugar levels: Small snacks like dried berries and nuts (1/8 cup of each) or a piece of fruit (apple, orange, berries) between your meals will sustain your blood sugar levels and help drive your Serotonin production. Adding these snacks during the morning and afternoon can dramatically shift your ability to digest and utilize your meals, keep your mind awake and alert, calm your central nervous system, and elevate your moods effortlessly.

3. Hydration: Drinking purified water or spring water with a pinch of sea salt in every liter between meals will instantly turn on a plethora of metabolic function and enzyme systems, all while balancing hormones and elevating your whole sense of well-being. For women, attempt to drink two litres of water (herbal tea definitely counts) and men, up to three litres throughout the day. Begin drinking fluids 60-90 minutes after a meal (30 minutes after fruit) and up to five minutes prior to a meal. If you drink fluids with food, it will prevent the food from digesting properly, leading to fermentation, rotting, putrefaction and a rise in toxicity throughout your body and mind in the following hours and days. Often this simple shift alone can dramatically reduce stress, simply by preventing pounds of toxic matter from entering the body, blood, organs and mind.

4. Deep Breathing – the simplest of all habits. Science has shown us that by simply taking five deep breaths during times of stress, you can dramatically reduce your stress hormones and their damage to your body and mind. Try taking five deep breaths before you begin every meal of the day. Eventually, being more focused on your breath throughout the day will become a subconscious habit.

5. Supplement support: a high quality B-Complex, anti-oxidant, multivitamin and essential fat (1tsp of Krill oil) taken at breakfast can supply all the key elements for enzyme, hormone and metabolic function. Further guidance and customization with a health professional can create a profile that will provide for every layer of your renewal at this time.

6. Natural botanical Support: 1 capsule of Rhodiola with breakfast and lunch can support the anti-stress or peaceful conditions of your mind and body.

“Rhodiola rosea and its positive adaptogenic effects are well documented as being an effective way to assist in dealing with life’s stressful situations. An adaptogen is a botanical that exerts a normalizing effect upon bodily processes, creating an ideal biological environment for the reduction of stress. Everybody deals with the stressors in their life in their own way, but many people in today’s high-pressure, fast-paced workplaces have been looking for simple answers and helpful solutions to this dilemma. Rhodiola rosea has been found to stimulate the neurotransmitters responsible for creating feelings of well-being as well as offering significant relief for low energy conditions like asthenia. The reason that Rhodiola is effective at combating moodiness is due to the fact that it increases levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, all of which create “good feelings” in the brain.” (direct quote taken from

7. Exercise support: a healthy combination of juice (1/2 cup for women and ¾-1 cup for men) mixed with a pinch of sea salt and 2-3 cups of filtered water will amply support your hydration, electrolyte and energy needs during exercise. Immediately following exercise (within five minutes) have a recovery shake with sprouted organic brown rice protein (20g for women and 30g for men) mixed with orange juice (1 cup for women and 1.5 cups for men), a pinch of sea salt and 2-3 cups of filtered water. This will instantly improve your recovery speed.

8. Brain support: the most incredible system for resetting your brain patterns to that of balance and inner peace is Brain Wave Training. My personal experience from this has been nothing short of stunning. It has helped me to achieve a constant state of mental peace and as a result of this, physical peace. To look up a Brain Wave professional in your area or to discover more about this process, check out – and my interview with the founder, Lee Gerdes at –

Each of these steps is as significant as the next – any that you begin with will become your “simple shift that will last a lifetime.”

Over these last ten years I have used the first seven shifts mentioned above as the baseline for helping clients with every type of goal- from weight loss to improved physical and mental performance. It is remarkable to me that I haven’t found a single scientific study, for supplements or otherwise, that first implements these core elements BEFORE testing the efficacy of any other layer of change. For instance – before testing an anti-oxidant – why not first ensure the person being studied has a healthy gut, is not suffering from intoxication as a result of too few bowel movements, and that they are hydrated and being properly supported with a full nutritional profile? The conclusion I have come to is that scientific studies that show a positive change in the absence of these elements MUST provide a much greater result with them in place. Or perhaps, that supplement or element would not be needed because most of the issues would already be solved.

This is for all of us to discover for ourselves, while scientific studies can be used to provide valuable insights into helping us live healthier and more abundant lives. I hope that in sharing this insight with you, that you will turn to some simple shifts before jumping on a band wagon of expensive supplements and be able to make an informed decision from a healthier place about whether or not you need them.

I will close this article by encouraging you to continue being the observer of your life while incorporating one or more of the simple shifts mentioned above. These tools can only produce lasting results for you, as you choose to take action. And remember – it’s all about simple shifts.

I look forward to bringing you the next keys to living a life filled with fun, power and joy in my next article.


In health and inspiration,

Lars Gustafsson

Founder: BodyMind Institute

Yoga For Men

oga: Eastern Practice in Western Sports

by C.J. Ong, Jr.

Over the past few years the practice of Yoga in many variations has come to the west. Often considered by the uninformed to be a religious practice, Yoga is recognized as one of the six philosophical systems to arise out of India, founded by the Indian sage Patanjali in approximately 300 B.C. Yoga yields the greatest benefits when approached as a way of life, offering one a chance to experience an integrated system of education for the body, mind and inner spirit. For the athlete Yoga can provide a way to synthesize the processes of a well-rounded fitness program in several ways. They can include:

  • Improved use of Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence
    The neurological location for the skills needed to execute movement in any or all of the three planes of movement lies within the motor cortex of the brain, with each hemisphere dominant or controlling bodily movements on the contra-lateral side. An asana in Yoga recruiting Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence would be Ardha Matsyendrasana (the spinal twist), an asana requiring movement in all three planes of movement. Developing the skills to execute an asana correctly can transfer to improved sports performance. When mastered the 12 positions contained within Surya Namaskar (the sun salutations) integrate each hemisphere of the brain and provide one with a total stretching routine.
  • Calming of the Sympathetic Nervous System
    Many athletes allow their workouts to become back to back races and challenges, either with themselves or others. These “workouts” create constant state of stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system with a negative effect on the body. In an effort to protect itself the body releases cortisol, a catabolic hormone consuming lean tissue. Engaging in regular Yoga practice will allow the body to recover faster, improve sleep (quality sleep is when the production of the body’s natural growth hormones is at its’ highest levels) and lead to lower body fat levels when incorporated into a sound training schedule.
  • Optimal Performance Through Improved Posture
    For the body’s ten levels of cellular organization to work together in an optimal manner the correct alignment of the body segments is crucial. Postural faults often lead to compensation injuries and the resulting sub-par athletic performances. Learning the asana Tadasana (mountain) can bring one to an awareness of correct posture. Improved posture allows the nerve plexuses/chakras to enter into correct alignment with each other, in turn allowing the river of energy contained within the body to flow easily.

In the beginning the practice of Yoga may seem confusing, even perhaps daunting and improvement may seem miniscule. Attending a class with those who have attained a certain level of mastery might make one feel out of place at first. It is at these times one should keep in mind the words of Bruce Lee, one of the first athletes to integrate Eastern and Western practices into athletics: “Success lies in the process rather than the completion”.

© C.J. Ong, Jr. / 2011

Stress as a Transformative Gift

Stress as a Transformative Gift

By Lars Gustafsson

Nineteen years ago I was sitting in a motivational seminar, listening to a fabulous speaker talking about the trials of life being the greatest gifts of our lives. I heard a lot that day, and although I even forgot the name of the speaker, these were the words burned in my memory…

“The pressure in life creates diamonds in the rough — without pressure over millions of years coal would stay black and soft. Instead, that immense pressure turns that coal into one of the toughest and most beautiful substances on our planet.”

This metaphor is applicable on so many levels … life, relationships, business and sports, and brilliantly illustrates how stress can be a transformative tool.

Although no one, including myself, enjoys the pressures of negative stress, its outcome is often positive in the big picture. We may only be able to see this many years later after time has healed all that we were experiencing in that moment.

Just as our bodies change from the rigors of exercise, we will change under pressure. To recuperate from exercise, we use the best possible supplements and nutrition. To recover and strengthen from stress, it’s equally important to have the right tools at our disposal.

Much like the vicious acids and oxidation that results from exercise when we don’t utilize the proper recovery nutrients and rest, there are numerous things we can do that will continue to tear us down during or after a stressful period.

We can lay blame, feel guilty, argue, rant, rave, stew and ruminate … lose sleep … and so much more. Are we actually learning from the stress and becoming stronger through these thoughts and actions? Most likely not … unless at some point, hopefully sooner than later, we flip the switch and look at what we are learning, what we are grateful for in life, and see these conditions as a way to evolve and become stronger.

I have had coaches in every aspect of life — from personal trainers to life coaches — tell me that the way to propel oneself to the next level of life … physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually … is to have an innate plan of action to apply stress in an intelligent way, and a recovery plan to make large gains from the stress.

This is where any stress becomes transformative.

We definitely understand the physically transformative nature of stress, both when it comes from physical exercise and emotional pressures.

When you exercise, you create a condition of improvement that propels you through the first layers of limitations that you had when you began… with or without good nutrition. I have personally coached world-class athletes that had deplorable nutrition routines when they first came to see me — yet somehow their bodies recovered to propel them to the highest ranks in the world. Through this I came to see that mind over matter goes deeper than any of us can imagine or understand.

What if you have been on a treadmill of life for decades … not realizing that even the smallest levels of stress have been eating away at your body? What has slowly broken down over these years can be equated to the breakdown that can happen in a single triathlon season without the right recovery nutrients. Tendons, organs, cellular cleansing systems, the central nervous system, immune and rebuilding systems all suffer.

Emotional stress has the same nature – it eats away at all the normal operative systems of your body. It lays open your body to disease and dysfunctions that are often blamed on genetics or age. Sure these play a part but only because all the supportive and contributive aspects have not really been considered and applied.

So how can you flip the switch and turn any stressful situation into a beneficial and transformative experience?

Below are the top five keys that include physical, mental, emotional and spiritual support. The physical aspects will be the bed underneath all of it. You will obviously feel stronger, have positive hormones surging through your mind and body, and have a bolstered immune system that will help to see that big picture view of the situation you are in. It’s extremely challenging to feel positive if your body is acidic, bloated, worn down and weakened.

1. Eat lighter meals and replace one or more of them with liquid nutrition — a robust, nutrient dense shake will bypass your worn down digestive system and provide the much needed nutrition to your cells. A single shake under these conditions can be worth more in nutritional support than many days’ worth of food. Become familiar with super foods and other supportive nutrition that bolsters your digestive system, organs, cells, central nervous system, mind and body.

2. Become an expert at supporting your immune system: some key supplements are Vitamin D (one of Dr. Mercola’s favorites), C, E, CoQ10, Greens, Chaga Mushroom (a David Wolfe favorite), Probiotics and more.

Once the stress has subsided, look into how you can gently begin cleansing your organs, cells, digestive tract and lymph system. Care needs to be taken with this crucial subject, and I recommend guidance with a professional, as cleansing too deeply when your body is weakened by stress can be more of a detriment than a benefit. It’s somewhat like going into an extensive physical exercise program without proper build up or strengthening of all your systems.

3. Exercise to release stress. Just as in your meal plan and supplementation, this is as unique to you as your life. Take care to not overdo exercise during stress — which would show up in slow recovery times, poor sleep, and overall increased tension in your mind and body. Exercise is critical during stress — but too much or too intense exercise without the proper nutrition can wear down all of your systems. I have seen triathlon and iron man athletes age years from a single season of malnutrition.

4. Seek out every avenue to promote a healthy mind, here are a few that I recommend right from the start: brain training, bio-feedback, meditation, yoga, NLP training, life coaching … and healthy attitudes such as the gratitude, having fun with friends & family, ample sleep and rest.

Over the years, I have seen extremely stressed clients quickly come out of their stress when they started on even the simplest nutrition programs.

If you are reading this and feeling overwhelmed at the things you would have to add on to your already packed lifestyle, realize that the simplest of shifts is all you will need to get started. Pick one thing that you know you could fit in every day — even an extra glass of water with a pinch of Himalayan sea salt between meals, or an extra piece of fruit in the morning and afternoon instead of a cup of coffee, or getting to bed an hour early every night.

The “simple of shifts that will last a lifetime” are those that will quickly make you feel better about bringing something positive into the stressful mix.

5. Next … pick up on the idea of gratitude and look at all the many positive things that you have around you and in your life. Moving your emotions from those in observation of stress to those of gratitude can literally change your biology instantly. It pays to be grateful.

I’m going to close this article by helping you set the intention that you will begin a new journey of mastering stress by becoming an expert at taking care of your body, mind and emotions.

And remember … it’s all about simple shifts.

I look forward to bringing you the next keys to living a life filled with fun, power and joy in my next article.

In health and inspiration,

Lars Gustafsson

Founder: BodyMind Institute

Physical Activity and Health – Part II

by Bob Gurney

The previous article informs the reader to exercise/physical counselling in the medical profession. Although Physicians are very positive in their attitudes towards the importance of exercise/physical activity, some Physicians may be limited in their knowledge of the current literature and practices, and/or lack of time to discuss exercise/physical activity with patients.

To explore the role of the Physician in discussing exercise/physical activity with patients, we invite the readers to engage with the contributors of The 50 Zone in terms of providing feedback for discussion to the following questions:

1. Have you ever discussed exercise/physical activity with your Physician? If no, why? If yes, please describe your level of satisfaction?

2. Do you manage your own personal exercise/physical activity practices? If no, why? If yes, please provide a brief description of your management?

3. Do you consult with and/or receive advice from exercise/physical activity experts? If no, why?
If yes, what qualifications do the experts hold? Please describe your level of satisfaction gained from the experts.

Please submit the questions above and your answers to:

Thank-you for your participation. We will promptly respond to your answers and summarize information in the next addition of The 50 Zone. Confidentiality of respondents identity will be maintained.

Author: Bob Gurney



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