Category Archives: Bodies In Motion

Bodies in Motion: Getting Social and Fit Andrew Rickauer

U.P. holistic wellness publication, Marquette County trail running, fun fitness, social running group

Who says getting or staying fit can’t be fun?! Marquette Trail Running, a casual group of trail runners open to anyone from a first time runner to ultra-marathon racer, is focused on this philosophy. It’s a social group to share trail tips, introduce others to the sport of trail running, promote group runs, and provide a summer trail series.


The summer trail series is an eight-race trail running points series held throughout the summer on alternate Thursday evenings at 6 pm. Locations rotate around the area to showcase the different trails Marquette County has to offer.  The event is affordable and family friendly. The idea behind it is to bring like-minded people together for an evening of fun. The racing is low-key, untimed, and really all about having a great time. After the race, participants fire up a grill for burgers, brats, or whatever else is handy, and sometimes bring a dish to share while chatting about trails and running.


Aside from the race series, group runs and clinics occur at random, based on when members remember to post that they’re happening. As the director of Marquette Trail Running, I wanted to make the group more inclusive of all fitness levels, so four years ago, I added the virtual race series. A course is set and open for a few weeks. Participants can run it as many times as they want and when it is convenient for them. This series is timed, and participants have to provide documentation that they completed the course and the time they did it in (typically Strava tracked). 


The group started in 2007 with a few casual group runs. Because trail running can be such a solo and independent sport, we started the summer trail series the following year. Someone can run trails every day, and only come across a few people. This is fine, but sometimes it’s nice to see others, share stories, and learn from the more experienced. Also, racing can get very expensive, causing runners to limit themselves to just a few events for the year. This also builds up the pressure to train and perform for these few events. The summer trail series is designed to eliminate these problems. It’s affordable at $30/ season (eight races, and post-race food plus awards and giveaways at each event!). Events are held on weekday evening so they don’t take away from weekend fun with your family, and the races are casual enough so there is no pressure to train or set a course record.  The start line is simply scratched in the dirt, and results are self-reported by placing your name on a board when you finish. 

It really provides all the benefits of racing without the pitfalls, and the group has grown into a great community!


All events are outside, with social distancing and masks recommended.  Many of our group runs are broken into smaller groups, making it easy to stay spread out on the trails.  We also have masks and hand sanitizer available for everyone. 


Marquette Trail Running offers a wonderful way to learn a new sport, learn some trails better and explore new ones, socialize with and learn from some great, like-minded people, keep updated on what is happening with running and trails in our area, and yes, it’s also fun to join in on the race series!


The group is also planning to partner with the Keweenaw Running Group in Houghton and may do some collaborative group events or a U.P.-wide points series.


You can find Marquette Trail Running on Facebook, and it’s open to anyone. All events are free/ by donation for club members, and the recommended fee of $30 to join includes everything.  We will never exclude anyone from anything. This group is open, including, and welcoming to all! Most just show up to the first series race to join.  Others contact me and send me the money, but there is no official form for the group—it’s too much paperwork, and we are all there to have fun!


Andrew Rickauer grew up in Colorado and has been a trail runner since the early ‘80s. He came to Marquette to attend NMU where he met his amazing wife. They live in Marquette with their three girls who all love to enjoy the U.P. woods.

Excerpted with permission from the Summer 2021 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2021, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Bodies in Motion: Spring into Your Boogie Shoes! Roslyn McGrath

physical fitness, U.P. holistic business, U.P. wellness publication

Feeling a drag in your step? A wish for a happier time, or place, or way of doing things? Or simply tired of the same old routine, the decreased options of a typical pandemic day?

Or perhaps you’re a skiing fan without enough snow, a hiker log-jammed by too much spring slush or mud, an active (or sedentary) person sidelined by an injury or long-term physical restriction?

There’s a form of exercise that can brighten your day, customize to your needs, be done inside or out (depending on your daring), express your preferences, and support your health and wellness.

I call it…. “Dance Party”!

Pretty much any tune you want to wiggle, jiggle, or sizzle to can be heard online nowadays. If you’re computer-challenged, get a little help from someone with a tad more tech savvy if needed, or simply pull out some CDs or cassette tapes. Bu not radio please, unless it’s ad and interruption-free, as you don’t want to break that flow. So queue up what you’re in the mood to move to, using multiple browser windows if necessary. If you’re not sure what you want, Google up your preferred genre for the day– danceable rock, show tunes, funk, bluegrass, disco, big band, etc., and have at it!

Dilemmas have you down and you need to vent your feelings? Go for those bluesy or dramatic tunes. Extra points for belting your heart out! Letting off some steam can go a long way in helping you cope. Just don’t make playing down-in-the-dumps music habitual, as it may then have the opposite effect.

Maybe you can’t move to the music the way you’d like to right now, or like you used to, but chances are you can move something. (And if you choose music from a time when you moved with ease, that may help some.) Start with whatever’s working best for you or feels fun—a foot, a finger, a hand, a head. Dancing from a seated position can be full of variety, and even freeing if you go into it with an open mind. You can tap, clap, and wiggle along, and move slower or faster to any tune. Explore what you can do without pushing the river. Notice as much as you can about how moving one part of your body affects another. The more you get your brain in this game, observing what’s happening, the better off you’ll be. Plus, this can keep your mind too busy to get “judge-y” on you. “Dance Party” is meant to be fun, not win prizes! You can do it in a safe way, and with as much privacy as you like, or get social by Zooming with friends, taking turns choosing music.

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If your mobility is not restricted or medically ill-advised, give yourself some freedom and move through as much open space as is reasonably available. Pay attention to what your body wants and needs as you go. If this is your first time dancing in a while, start with a shorter duration than you might expect, and build this up gradually. You can be an excellent biker, skier, or hiker without using your muscles, joints, and tendons in the ways you may when dancing.

Do your best to get your blood flowing, your parts moving, and that smile back on your face as you create your own Boogie Wonderland. Happy Spring!

Roslyn McGrath helps you live your true spirit to uplift your world through Empowering Lightworks & Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Visit EmpoweringLightworks.com for more info. on upcoming webinars, appointment scheduling and related products.

Excerpted with permission from the Spring 2021 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2021, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Senior Viewpoint: Insurmountable Evidence for Exercise Benefits, Dr. Conway McLean, DABFAS, FAPWHc, FAMIFAS

exercise benefits, holistic wellness, U.P. holistic business

The benefits of exercise are now the stuff of tabloids and daytime TV shows. We are inundated with information about health and fitness, some of it fact, some half-truth, and much of it outright lies. Few do the research to learn the true extent of the positives to health, although most know the basics. It’s good for your heart and blood flow. And, indeed, any form of exercise will have some of those benefits.

How many Americans exercise? How many are able to make these changes in their lives and do so for the “long haul”? This is a complex and nuanced question, but an easy answer is not enough. More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. Studies agree that only about 23% of Americans exercise in some form with any regularity. Only one in three children are physically active every day. Human muscle tissue needs activity and exercise to be healthy. This is in contrast to the great apes, who are able to maintain fitness without regular activity/exercise. (They’ve done studies; this is not fictional!)

Muscle disuse results in muscle tissue atrophy, which is basically muscle thinning. Muscle atrophy means inevitably, predictably, weakening. Muscle activity comes in many forms but is required for muscle health, with the heart probably being the most important muscle. Aging obviously has a hand in this weakening process, but less than you might think. If you doubt this statement, learn about the famed fitness guru, Jack LaLanne.

One of the most popular and successful methods of exercise is walking. The ability to walk safely depends on a host of factors, some obvious, others not so. The coordinated efforts of many body systems are required, such as the sensory and nervous systems, and cognitive skills. The obvious ones include cardiopulmonary and musculoskeletal. Others are classified as “contextual effects’”and include such things as the environment, the lighting, and the support surface upon which the individual treads.

How greatly life changes when we are no longer able to ambulate, to walk, to go for a stroll!

This is a fundamental quality of life issue, and should be valued as such. The aforementioned weakness, the result of disuse, is generally a gradual process, and easy to miss. Unfortunately, infirmity develops progressively. This often results in a reduction of core strength, an essential component of balance and reduced fall risk.

Balance is also known as postural stability, the act of keeping the body upright and vertical. A critical component of this process is core strength, and there is a multitude of ways to improve that. This is an all-around good thing since working your core muscles is beneficial to your overall physical well-being.

A combination of time and disuse can lead to many orthopedic problems. Most older adults suffer from postural changes, such as a forward-leaning posture. This is clearly associated with balance problems, and thus increased fall risk. Several studies have shown good core stability programs can help improve balance and confidence, consequently also reducing the risk of falls. Particularly helpful to fall prevention programs are “posture-challenging exercises,” something to consider when you’re looking to reduce the risk of falls.

There are many things to consider in regards to these efforts, which should be a common concern as we age. Some are easy to alter, such as clearing your hallways of clutter and furniture. Others not so, such as reversing the nerve damage of neuropathy. From joint pain that limits activity to the weakness of malnutrition (a shockingly common problem in the elderly), there is abundant evidence that exercise interventions have the potential to significantly reduce the fall rate, improve cardio-vascular health, and notably enhance quality of life, especially in older adults.

What does the research show about the true benefits of exercise in all its varied forms?

Improvements to health and well-being can occur in surprising ways, some physical and others psychological. The heart is an obvious beneficiary of regular exercise. Exercise helps the heart do a better job of pumping blood throughout the body. Our blood vessels are healthier and better able to respond to an increased demand for oxygen, such as when walking a longer distance.

People who exercise regularly seem to make better nutrition choices. Exercise also helps us maintain a healthy body weight, as well as reduce belly fat. Both appear to lend themselves to a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Exercise lowers blood pressure, since the heart will pump better and more efficiently, decreasing stress on the heart and surrounding arteries. If you have high blood pressure, cardiovascular exercise may help lower it. If you don’t, fitness activities will help you keep it in a healthy range.

Bone strength, critically important in reducing infirmity, requires physical stress, a clear benefit of resistance training. When you exercise regularly, your bone adapts by building more bone and becoming denser. It should go without saying that these benefits to bone require good nutrition, especially calcium and Vitamin D. The two types of exercise that are most effective for building strong bones are weight-bearing exercise and strength-training exercise. But these aids to bone health are site-specific. Put another way, walking improves bone strength in the legs, but has no effect on the bones in the wrist.

Adding a variety of exercises, such as running, jogging, gym work, even some recreational activities, can lead to improved brain function and faster mental task performance. Studies have shown better learning abilities, and decreased anxiety and depression, achieved with improved fitness. Certain benefits make sense, but aren’t necessarily obvious, such as an increased feeling of energy. Some of the documented psychological benefits of an exercise program include such possibilities as improved mood, reduced stress, and improved ability to cope with stress. If a person is successful with their regimen, increased self-esteem can be expected also.

The consequences of being sedentary, of sitting too much, are substantial.

Even a short walk, performed regularly at mild-to-moderate intensity, can improve your mood and energy, as well as your heart health. For longer-term benefits, you should exercise at least three times a week for 30 minutes per session at moderate intensity. A critical component of physical well-being is core strength, so be certain to include abdominal and back work.

Surprisingly, Medicare now covers the prescribing of an exercise program, typically instituted by a physical or exercise therapist. This tells us the benefits have been proven beyond any doubt. If our government takes it so seriously that they will pay for it, why doesn’t the American public? Why do so many of us eat poorly and get so little activity? As is often the case, there are a plethora of factors at play. But ignorance is no longer an excuse. The truth is out there: get moving and get some exercise. You’ll be getting healthier and smarter.

Dr. Conway McLean is a physician practicing foot and ankle medicine and surgery in the Upper Peninsula (Marquette and Escanaba). McLean is triple board certified in surgery, wound care, and orthotic therapy. He has lectured internationally on many topics. Dr. McLean welcomes questions at drcmclean@outlook.com.

Excerpted with permission from the Winter 2020-2021 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Senior Viewpoint: Bone Health & You, Dr. Conway McLean, DABFAS, FAPWHc, FAMIFAS

bone health, U.P. holistic business, U.P. wellness publication, senior wellness, senior health,

Ask anyone, especially a senior, What is a sign of wellness? What tissue epitomizes strength? The answer is your bones and skeletal health. Never have we known so much about bone health, and never has it received so much attention. Our understanding of bone as an organ and a tissue has deepened, especially in the last few years. The public’s level of awareness has been raised as well, and people want to know what they can do to improve their bone health. They know about the problems that result from osteoporosis, especially the potential for fractures and bone injury.

Bone is truly a remarkable tissue, with amazing abilities and wonderful reparative properties. Bone has the principal responsibility of supporting the load imposed upon itclinical herbalism, the human body. The demands placed upon our bones require enormous strength and resilience, while still being relatively lightweight. Bone is a very responsive tissue, altering its shape and configuration depending on the forces it endures, responding to physical stress by becoming stronger.

Bone requires physical forces be placed upon it, at least partially in the form of resisting gravity, to survive and thrive.

We know more about this process than ever before. At last, we begin to grasp how bone responds to physical activity. Advances in technology have allowed us a better, more thorough understanding of the biology and physics of bone. We know its healing abilities are excellent, at least partially because of its well-endowed blood supply.

As we are all aware, aging affects bones, as it does every part of the human body (and everything else). But certain eras are associated with more significant bone changes. Bone loss begins or accelerates at midlife for both men and women. The goal during this time of life is to keep bone loss to a minimum. For example, between the ages of forty and fifty, bone loss may progress more slowly in both sexes with effective interventions. Unfortunately, during menopause, there is a period of more rapid loss in women. Both sexes may lose a total of 25 percent of bone during this period. This phase can occur anytime between the ages of fifty and seventy.

The frailty phase typically occurs in adults over age seventy. One common occurrence in this phase: bowing of the spine, called kyphosis, due to spinal fractures secondary to osteoporosis. But, be aware these phases are generalized. It is important to know fractures are not a natural consequence of aging. They can be avoided, to some extent. Your chronological age, as an individual, is a given, so we must focus on those factors over which we have some control—our diet and physical activity.

Osteoporosis is the excessive, or “pathologic,” thinning or loss of bone density.

With this common disease, bone substance is lost, making the bone lighter, thinner, and, of course, weaker. When progressive, it can lead to loss of height, stooped posture, humpback, and severe pain. Osteoporosis is characterized by the systemic impairment of bone mass, and strength, resulting in increased risk for fragility fractures, disability, and loss of independence.

Falls frequently result in fractures when thinning of bone has occurred. In seniors, or anyone with certain risk factors, falls are a real and ever-present threat. One approach to the problem is participating in a fall prevention program, helping us to protect our bones by reducing the risk of injury. Programs such as these, addressing muscle strengthening, balance, and gait training, and home hazards evaluations, all help to reduce the number of fractures that occur.

Gait-assistive devices are important, although patient acceptance can be a real issue. Bracing and supports can be beneficial, but are utilized far too rarely. Re-evaluation of prescribed and over-the-counter medications being taken for possible unexpected consequences is also recommended. Oftentimes, one person may receive prescriptions for multiple medications from multiple providers. Many pharmaceuticals have the potential to have psychotropic qualities, meaning they alter perception or mental acuity in some way, and should be reduced or replaced.

Osteoporosis is the most common and most well-known of the bone diseases.

Sometimes referred to as the “fragile bone disease,” this loss of bone mass is often caused by a vitamin deficiency, particularly calcium, vitamin D, or magnesium. Its development usually starts with osteopenia, the precursor to osteoporosis, in which there is early bone thinning.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis affects 54 million Americans, mostly women. Millions more Americans are estimated to have the low bone mass of osteopenia, putting them at risk for osteoporosis. The morbidity and resulting expense is incalculable. For starters, we know that almost two million Americans a year suffer a fracture attributable to osteoporosis.

It’s well-recognized and proven that physical activity is important for bone health.

Exercise, in all of its varied forms, helps to reduce the risk of falling in later years. This is common mantra holds true throughout the many phases of life. Exercise helps to increase or preserve bone mass. Resistance training, whether with machines or weights, is especially helpful.

We can improve our own bone stock. Still, we have no control over some of the most important factors in developing healthy bone. Studies indicate that genetic factors are responsible for determining fifty to ninety percent of our body’s bone mass. Heredity issues not only limit how much bone a person may acquire, but also affect bone structure, the rate of bone loss, and the skeleton’s response to environmental stimuli, such as certain nutrients and physical activity.

Healthy, sufficient nutrition is important in maintaining optimal bone mass.

We also know the optimal type of nutrition and activity will vary across our life spans. A person’s nutrition over the years is clearly essential to preventing this debilitating disease. It is widely accepted that adequate calcium and vitamin D intake are necessary for good bone health, and the nutritional benefits of these two nutrients go far beyond their boon to bone health.

Because the average American consumes levels of calcium far below the amount recommended for optimal bone health, it has been singled out as a major public health concern today. Vitamin D aids in the absorption and utilization of calcium. There is a high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in nursing home residents, hospitalized patients, and adults with hip fractures.

Some estimates claim that over 40% of Americans have a vitamin D deficiency.

Although sunshine is the best method of increasing your levels, supplementation is recommended for most of us. Current guidelines suggest 400–800 IU per day is adequate, although many scientists say this is not nearly enough. Another controversy surrounds which type of vitamin D is best, D2 or D3. The former is from plant sources and the latter from animals. Most experts believe D3 is better at raising tissue levels. 

It is essential we value the impact we can have on our own bone health. While genetic factors are important in determining bone mass, we each need to understand we have a critical part to play. In fact, controllable lifestyle factors, generally referring to diet and physical activity, are responsible for ten to fifty percent of our bone mass and structure.

But too many of us are too sedentary. Many of us know, in a general sense, that exercise is important. Yet how many of us are able to incorporate it into our average day and make it a regular practice? A little self-knowledge has not achieved great gains in levels of personal fitness. It may be time for a different approach. When exercise is prescribed like a drug by one’s family doc, it acts as a prescription medicine. And it is the healthiest kind.

Dr. Conway McLean is a physician practicing foot and ankle medicine and surgery in the Upper Peninsula (Marquette and Escanaba). McLean is triple board certified in surgery, wound care, and orthotic therapy. He has lectured internationally on many topics. Dr. McLean welcomes questions at drcmclean@outlook.com.

Excerpted with permission from the Fall 2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

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“Finding Your Path to Fitness,” Dr. Conway McLean, DABFAS, FAPWHc, FAMIFAS

physical fitness, U.P. wellness publication, U.P. holistic business

Everyone knows of the many benefits of exercise. The news is all around us, from health segments on your evening news to the covers of glamour magazines. Exercise is health, and great expense is directed toward achieving it. From the latest elliptical machine to some ab-crunching gadget, diet books to weight-watching meal delivery service, fitness sells.

Anyone living in the modern world has heard of the benefits of exercise, from improved heart function to more stamina on the square dance, from clearer cognition to better weight maintenance. Then why don’t more people exercise? Many believe they are unable to exercise because they cannot jog or lift weights. Some common conditions that make it challenging to pursue physical fitness can include arthritic or damaged joints, neuro-degenerative disorders (such as Muscular Dystrophy), even limb loss.

What is exercise? If you truly study the concept, it means to physically exert oneself, the contracture of various muscle groups. But the muscles crossing any joint don’t actually have to move the joint. An exercise that involves no motion is termed an isometric one, in which you are tensing a muscle group, without any motion. As you can tighten your stomach muscles, you can also tense your biceps without bending your elbow.

Many alternative forms of exercise are available.

For example, tai chi is practiced by millions across the globe. Studies to date demonstrate its health benefits in both physical and spiritual directions. Originally a form of martial arts, it is now practiced also for its meditative aspect, as well as for promoting improved heart health. Gardening and walking are simple activities that many enjoy. They are also good alternatives to traditional exercise. Do not overlook them just because they are easy, or because you enjoy them. If you do any of these gentle exercises regularly, you will improve your overall health.

You can find yoga in most every Y and community center in the U.S. Yoga practice may build strength, fitness, flexibility, and even enhance self-awareness and your mind-body connection. Hundreds of different “schools” of yoga exist, with most typically including some breathing exercises, meditation, and assuming certain postures, also known as asanas, or poses. These are intended to stretch and flex various muscle groups. Many appreciate yoga’s benefits in disease prevention, i.e. health maintenance. Yoga is a great tool for staying healthy.

When it comes to being physically active, sometimes you need to think outside the box. Seek out activities requiring movement in some form, even if it might not typically be considered exercise. The activity must simply raise one’s heart rate or require physical exertion. For healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week. If someone is participating in more vigorous activity, DHHS recommends 75 minutes a week. A combination is best.

Being physically inactive is not only abnormal, it is also pathological because the old adage “use it or lose it” is really true.

Our bodies evolved to require the stresses inherent in physical activity to grow and function properly. Our bodies never evolved to cope with persistent inactivity. In prehistoric times, it was essential for survival to be physically active. It would be fair to say it is part of our evolutionary tree, our deepest roots. Our ancestors were hunter-gatherer types who walked miles every day, along with all the climbing and digging. Even farmers had to toil long and hard, although agriculture certainly transformed our diets.

Exercise, in some way, shape, or form, is vital for developing a strong and healthy circulatory system, durable bones safe from osteoporosis, a vigorous immune system, and a properly functioning brain. Almost every organ and body system benefits from regular exercise and is compromised by its absence. Physical inactivity is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes. It is now obvious our lack of motion, in a very real sense, has contributed to the increasing prevalence of high blood sugar levels and pre-diabetes.
Modern times have transformed our activities tremendously. Few residents of modern society perform physical activity, and more rare is the job requiring physical labor. Many have little interest in exercising in their off hours. Yet the benefits are real. Men who are unfit but then improve their fitness lower their risk of a heart attack by about 50%.

Obviously, I feel required to issue a warning. If you have any severe health problems, you would do well to consult with your doctor. Describe your plans. Unless you have an extremely serious medical condition, your health care provider should laud your efforts. Exercise is good medicine, and for just about everything. A pertinent question, of course, is how much? And what kind? There is some form of exercise for everyone; it’s just a matter of finding out what works for you.

What really determines which of us attains fitness as an adult?

Or becomes obese, and develops diabetes? How much control over your fitness do you have? With such immutable ingredients as one’s own genetic constitution, over which we clearly have no control, we all have inherited strengths and limitations. But, for the time being, you have whatever genes were passed on to you. Make the best of them and make the best you possible.

We know fixing our health care system will be difficult. Yet, there is an inexpensive, readily available answer, and one highly effective in prevention. Utilizing this method will even help rein in our skyrocketing health care costs. Start exercising. As a culture, we need to, certainly more than at current levels. It is what we have evolved to do. So get fit by getting active!

Dr. Conway McLean is a physician practicing foot and ankle medicine and surgery in the Upper Peninsula (Marquette and Escanaba). McLean is triple board certified in surgery, wound care, and orthotic therapy. He has lectured internationally on many topics. Dr. McLean welcomes questions at drcmclean@outlook.com.

Excerpted with permission from the Spring 2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC.

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Bodies in Motion: Snowshoeing Satisfaction, by Jesse Wiederhold

snowshoeing advice, winter sports in MI's Upper Peninsula, holistic wellness, holistic practices, holistic businesses physical fitness

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula holds a treasure trove of scenery. There are many unique mountain ranges, roaring rivers, and cascading waterfalls that exist only in the wilderness of Northern Michigan. Summers in the U.P. are beautiful, to say the least. Warm sunshine allows for excellent beach days, while the cooler nights allow for perfect campfire conditions. As summer fades and snow covers the ground, new roads open. No, you cannot drive your car down these roads, but you can definitely snowshoe on them.

Snowshoeing is an active hobby in which nearly anyone can participate. All it requires is for you to walk.

Snowshoeing is an underrated activity—it takes you places inaccessible by regular foot, has low impact on the environment, and is good cardio as well. Since snowshoeing is so easy on the body, you will burn a lot of calories without even knowing it. If you use poles, you’ll burn even more calories. According to Yukon Charlie’s, a snowshoe manufacturing company, someone who is 180 pounds can burn up to 1,000 calories an hour from vigorous snowshoeing.

“Poles are a helpful accessory for snowshoeing,” says Jackson DeAugustine of Down Wind Sports. Down Wind Sports is a U.P. sports retail store specializing in snowshoeing, snowboarding and other “Yooper” sports. The store has locations in Marquette, Houghton, and Munising. DeAugustine grew up in Newberry, but now lives in Marquette. He explains that poles help you snowshoe uphill and across uneven territory with ease.

DeAugustine notes one of his favorite places to snowshoe is Munising’s iconic Pictured Rocks. The view along the coast is his favorite part, and being so close to the water. Pictured Rocks is an excellent location to snowshoe because there are so many interesting things to see. There are waterfalls, forests, and a long shore complementing the deepest Great Lake. He adds that snowshoes are nice to transport you to climbing spots, or whatever other winter activities you enjoy that require getting somewhere in the woods that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Not only is snowshoeing good for your physical health, but it can be beneficial mentally as well.

Sight-seeing is a favorite U.P. attraction, even for residents. It feels good to get outside and breathe in crisp, fresh air. Snowshoeing can be a fun social outing, or a time to just get out in nature and reflect. It is in these picture-perfect sceneries that we can sometimes process our busy, problematic lives. The solace nature provides is unobtainable anywhere else.

Northwoods Adventures, a U.P. outfitter/guide service, offers a helpful reference to other places to snowshoe. In the Marquette area, they recommend the Eben Ice Caves in the Rock River Canyon Wilderness Area. I have been there myself, and truly feel this one is a must-see. It is located by Eben Junction, and if you go during the winter, you will likely find a trail of parked cars leading in.

When you arrive, there are lots of porta-potties marking an open field entrance to the caves. You trek your way across, and are met with Pure Michigan all around you—the birds singing, and the sun sneaking its way to you through the bare branches of tall trees. Snowshoes are great here because they will bite down and give you the traction you need to climb up slippery, winter slopes. When you reach the temporary caves, you will thank your snowshoes and yourself for making the journey in!

Other recommended places for snowshoeing include Yellow Dog Falls off County Road 510, and Hogback Mountain and Sugarloaf Mountain off County Road 550.

If you’re closer to Houghton, Northwoods Adventures suggests you check out Hungarian Falls around Tamarack City. You can get there using a seasonal road off Sixth Street, and then go down a snowmobile trail until you reach a foot trail near a bridge. Mt. Lookout and Breakers are two other good spots for snowshoeing in the Houghton area.

Now you know where and what, but perhaps still aren’t sure when or how to get started.

The best conditions for snowshoeing are when there is freshly fallen. light, fluffy snow. This is so the snowshoes can do their job keeping you afloat. Temperatures between 32 and 40 degrees are best, so the snow is able to stick, but not be so freezing that it’s uncomfortable to be outside. Remember to always dress in layers, so you can add or remove them, keeping a pleasant body temperature during your outdoor activities.

You can start by going to your local sporting goods store to get yourself a nice pair of snowshoes. You will want a larger shoe if you are going to be covering longer, more consistent surfaces. If you are going to be hiking mountains, or through uneven terrain, you may be better off with a smaller shoe. Poles are not required but can help reduce fatigue, especially on longer journeys. Ask questions, and staff members at outfitters will be more than happy to get you the right gear for your needs.

As with any journey off of familiar roads, you should always consider your safety. Avoid going alone. Bring a compass, tell someone where you are going, and tell them when you should be back. Bring a lighter, a multi-tool to hnadle unexpected equi9pment malfunctions, a water bottle, a whistle, maybe some snacks. The last thing you want to be in the wilderness is unprepared.

My final word of advice to you? Get outside, and try snowshoeing this winter sports season. You won’t regret it!

Jesse Wiederhold, twenty-one, is a senior English writing major attending Northern Michigan University. He is a pet dad to three cats, and loves to write. He spends time with friends, goes on hikes, enjoys snowshoeing in the winter, and is an avid aquarium enthusiast.

Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2019-2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. All rights reserved.

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Bodies in Motion: Sweet Wisdom in Fawn Pose by Crystal Cooper

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The shifting of the seasons whispers the secret of change. However alchemizing these times may be, empowering tools abound. Despite tumultuous feelings that may be prompted by external entities within, our own force for change exists. Slowing down, creating space, and prioritizing energy for self-care are sustaining ways to positively take control. Seeking alternatives to stressful reaction in these times of flux, we can shift our focus to being kind, gentle, and sweet with ourselves and others. We can seek further alternative solutions by looking to nature and healing traditions for guidance and wisdom. One who manifests the medicine of gentle kindness is the fawn. To embody these virtues, we can look to yoga.

Fawn pose is an informal derivative of deer pose. Intuitively seeming more inward and sweetly nurturing in nature, fawn pose involves a gentle forward fold over bent legs. It welcomes a stretch of the hips, and a moment of supported rest.

Imagined as a spring creature, the symbolism of fawn speaks to the promise of new beginnings. With their delicate, growing legs, the essence of patience and tender determination can be gleaned. Looking at the world with big, innocent eyes, the fawn instills peace through its perspective. We can take these lessons into our yoga practice to find even more inspiration.

Fawn pose is a seated, grounding position that provides a supported and connected feeling to earth. It is said that our life of emotions is stored in the hips, and being at the center of our body, it is easy to feel the many tensions we may hold there. Hip opening poses offer the opportunity to breathe fresh air and circulation into the deep parts of us. Physically, the stretching can feel intense, and past emotional pains can rise to the surface.  Included in the pose is a twist, known for increasing circulation, gently cleansing organs, and aligning the spine. Moving into autumn, when energy flow can become stagnant in the body, twists are ideal for stimulating the kidneys to keep systems vital. A relaxing and comforting forward fold is the final placement in fawn pose, allowing a moment of calm and stillness.

An initial step in beginning a yoga practice is to connect breath and body while allowing silence. It is wise to begin with a moving, energizing sequence such as sun salutations for strengthening and to prepare the body for flexibility. Moving into a cooler season, it is even more important to warm up before getting into stretching poses. However, because it is such a gentle pose, it would not be harmful to begin with fawn. To allow more ease for stiff or inflexible areas, sitting on a pillow or folded towel can make seated positions more accessible.

By sitting on the ground, the connection between the earth and the sitz bones of the buttocks is realized. One can almost press against the ground, allowing the spine to be tall, and with a big inhale, lift through the crown of the head.

Letting the knees fall out to the sides, the bottoms of the feet are brought together. With the left leg remaining in this position, the right is rotated, still bent, in the opposite direction so that the right foot is outward. The left foot rests on the top of the right leg. The right hand is placed on the right foot and the left is placed on the left knee.

Using the hands to press, the torso of the body is gently twisted to face straight over the right leg. A deep inhale and exhale here opens and relaxes the shoulders while the top of the head remains tall.  Remaining here, the spectrum of ease or difficulty present in the stretch may be observed. With another big inhale, growing even taller through the spine, and bending at the hips to protect the low back, one comes into a forward fold toward the right leg. The true limits of flexibility must be respected here, but also met to encourage growth.

While in the pose, breath and positive change is invited into those deep, dark emotions that may have been held in place here. Lightness is invoked. It is time to be easier on ourselves.  Breathing into the places being stretched, from the legs, hips, kidneys, up the spine, and into the chest through the shoulders, rejuvenation is allowed. Playing with the lightness to be found in this pose, and with the face perhaps leaning close to the foot—kiss (or blow one to) your toes!  Bless your path: how far you’ve come, all the places you’ll go. The forehead may be rested upon the groin, or each cheek feeling a kiss from the earth. Once the pose has been fully enjoyed on this side, the legs are switched to the other side, mirroring the placements.

In connecting with fawn pose, one may instill grace in the approaching autumnal period of preparation and rest. By including it in your yoga practice, the peace and lessons gleaned may synergize throughout life. With new or unknown endeavors, it is all right to be cautious and go slow.  But as the fawn would also teach, it is important to be curious and playful! Experiment within the pose to find new opening: while still sitting straight, you can bend side-to-side, lift the arms and bend, let the head lean to each side for opening through the neck, lift the pelvis up to stretch the front thighs, or go into a related pose, such as fire log or pigeon. Lighten up, be gentle, and harbor a delicate communion with the surrounding beauty that is.

Crystal Cooper has called Marquette, MI home for a decade. Her communion with the northwoods deepened upon beginning yoga in 2013. Passionate about natural healing modalities as well as personal and global sustainability, Crystal advocates yoga and other resiliency-promoting actions within the community.

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. All rights reserved.

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Bodies in Motion: Direct Connection—Yoga in Nature, Crystal Cooper

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Breathe in. You are here, in this body, at this time. You are aware of and immersed in your surroundings. Perhaps you’ve arrived stressed, scared, weak, or in need. A peaceful simplicity welcomes you. Breathe out. Why not unplug, unwind, reset, recharge? Where? The porch, the beach, the woods, the mountains. All viable options are yours for the indulging.

This time you choose to flee to the wilds, submerging yourself into the elements. It feels sneaky, thrilling, fearless, or empowering. The mind is silent and the senses vital here. Now you can feel with the subtle, deeper parts of yourself. It is quiet in a different way. The present sounds are more alive. The surrounding scents invite you to remember to smell them. You realize you are holding the tensions of the day in your body, and that you can release them. Observing other living beings, you realize the grass and bird hold nothing but what is essential.

You move into downward-facing dog pose, pressing your hands and feet into the wood, grass, soil, or rock. Breathing in, you fill to your capacity, then exhale. The earth is pressing back, supporting you. Your body is being rejuvenated—the stresses and pressures of the day and your life being gently released or powerfully pushed out. Fully released and truly connected to this space, you receive a glimpse of understanding that you are indeed one with all.

. . .

We make choices every day, every moment. Time and energy are utilized for all that life requires and offers. How mindfully and intentionally are these resources prioritized? Consider the idea of taking back our time and energy from those entities that abduct it, deviation for the greatest good. What a wily, wholesome way to protest the perpetual adversity faced, rallying for our inherent life force.

Cleansing and growing the connection to our vitality, we can practice yoga outside, additionally healing the human connection to earth. This is good work. This is an individual grassroots movement to be built upon in times to come. This foundation gratifies immediately and long-term, fortifying personal resilience. Immersed in a natural yogic practice, one does not require proof or over-thinking—the facts of goodness and righteousness are felt, known.

Yoga means union, the harmony of awareness and intention, body and mind, soul and earth.

Physically, yoga can allow vast synergistic opportunities—oxygenating tissues, lubricating joints, and restoring and strengthening subtle, vital connections throughout the body. A yoga practice begins with the breath and mental presence. No matter the origin of one’s practice, the purpose is an honest, focused communion. This can begin in the living room with a book or Youtube video, in a studio on the mat, or simply with gravity, the earth, and your body.

Once an understanding of the poses exists, like words, they are sequentially placed to make an intentional sentence. Each sentence, or stream of poses, is mindfully carried out to compose a paragraph, eventually telling the story of your yoga practice. Within this story line exist possibilities to get curious, experimental, creative, and playful!

Life offers us the occasion to be in our bodies and to go be out in the world.

We can reproduce our own energy, free of charge. No flexibility, strength, or shape is required. These qualities are inherently cultivated through each small, practical step of the practice. Sustainability on a large scale begins with reviving our sovereignty on an individual level. Allowing our leadership to shine through in our personal choices, yoga can act as a brilliant mirror throughout life.

Crystal Cooper has called Marquette, MI home for a decade. Her communion with the northwoods deepened upon beginning yoga in 2013. Passionate about natural healing modalities as well as personal and global sustainability, Crystal advocates yoga and other resiliency-promoting actions within the community.

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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What’s HIIT All About?

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Want to reverse the impact of aging? Improve your glucose metabolism? Increase your heart health and aerobic capacity? Would you like to burn more calories in less time, and enjoy yourself in the process? Then HIIT may be for you!

HIIT (high intensity interval training) simply requires alternating short bouts of intensive activity (such as thirty seconds or so) with longer intervals (three or four minutes) of less intensive activity. This can be any activity you choose, so no special training or equipment is required.

For example, if you’re fit enough to jog, you could intersperse short jogs within a longer brisk walk. If you’re more sedentary, you might take a leisurely stroll and briefly walk faster from time to time during it.

HIIT dates back to Olympic athletes at least as early as 1912; however, it has only become popular for the average exerciser more recently. And scientific studies have followed, providing evidence of HIIT’s many benefits. For instance, Mayo Clinic researchers found HIIT appears to alter cellular DNA in such a way that one’s muscles become able to produce more energy. It prompts new muscle growth too.

Mayo Clinic researchers have also compared HIIIT, resistance training and combined training in a twelve-week study. All three improved cardio respiratory health, lean body mass and insulin sensitivity, however “only high-intensity and combined training improved aerobic capacity and mitochondrial function for skeletal muscle. Decline in mitochondrial content and function are common in older adults…Exercise training significantly enhanced the cellular machinery responsible for making new proteins. That contributes to protein synthesis, thus reversing a major adverse effect of aging.”(1)

In fact, the improvement in mitochondrial functioning, which usually decreases with age, was even more marked in the over-65 participant group–69 percent improvement, as compared to 49 percent in the 18-to-30-year-old group.

It’s important to check in with your doctor before starting a new workout routine, especially if you have a chronic health condition or haven’t been exercising regularly. To help prevent injury, start slowly rather than rush into a workout that might be too strenuous. Mayo Clinic specialists suggest starting with just one to two higher intensity intervals during each workout. Slow it down if you feel you’re overdoing it; then challenge yourself to vary the pace as your stamina increases.

Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center Co-Director Dr. Edward Laskowski cautions HIIT programs need to be carefully designed as higher impact activities aren’t a good fit for everyone, “Especially those with a musculoskeletal injury, a poor musculoskeletal foundation or improper movement patterns. But low-impact HIIT options include bicycling, elliptical trainer or water running activities to provide an aerobic exercise challenge without significant joint or impact load. And the intensity, frequency and progression of each program can be tailored to a patient’s diagnosis and abilities.”(2)

Also, Dr. Laskowski explains, “There’s solid evidence that older, less active, overweight, and obese individuals can benefit from HIIT training. HIIT has also been shown to be very safe and effective in patients with heart disease and type 2 diabetes.”(3)

This doesn’t mean you should do HIIT daily though. Many experts recommend keeping it to once or twice a week, alternating light to moderate exercise on other days so your bones and muscles get the time they need to rebuild. But keep in mind that to noticeably improve your muscle strength, you’ll need to include resistance training in your routine twice per week.

But perhaps best of all, HIIT seems to help many people exercise regularly on an ongoing basis. Why? Many find it makes their exercise more fun! Researchers have noted study participants’ preference for HIIT and their self-reporting that they’re more likely to stick with routines that include it. So if you’re not doing HIIT, consider choosing a favorite type of exercise and adapting it to your HIIT needs!

(1)https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-discovers-high-intensity-aerobic-training-can-reverse-aging-processes-in-adults/
(2)https://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-professionals/physical-medicine-rehabilitation/news/sprint-rest-repeat-exploring-the-benefits-of-high-intensity-interval-training/mac-20431116
(3) Ibid.

Sources:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/why-interval-training-may-be-the-best-workout-at-any-age/art-20342125
https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-discovers-high-intensity-aerobic-training-can-reverse-aging-processes-in-adults/
https://www.womenshealth.com.au/hiit-training-anti-aging-benefits Aug. 1 2018 https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/interval-training/art-20044588
https://www.mayoclinic.org/why-interval-training-may-be-the-best-workout-at-any-age/art-20342125
https://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-professionals/physical-medicine-rehabilitation/news/sprint-rest-repeat-exploring-the-benefits-of-high-intensity-interval-training/mac-20431116
https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-discovers-high-intensity-aerobic-training-can-reverse-aging-processes-in-adults/

Reprinted with permission from the Spring 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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Bodies in Motion: Snow Biking My Way, Michelle Gill

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When I think about what inspires me the most to mountain bike, road bike, or snow bike, it’s just being outdoors. I love the fresh air on my face and body, the smell of the leaves, fresh earth, or fresh cut grass in the air, the beautiful shades of greens and blues seen in the trees and lakes, the sound of laughter among friends—I love being outdoors in almost all weather conditions. Therefore, winter opens up a fabulous new opportunity for biking called snow biking or fat biking.

My husband and I own twenty acres just outside of Marquette where we snow bike as much as possible all winter. Since we don’t own a snowmobile or groomer, we manually groom the trails ourselves by snowshoeing them. This can be a lot of work on our eleven different loops, but it is also great exercise! It’s not as simple as just going for a casual snowshoe. When grooming, you have to go over sections multiple times, and bank corners where needed. This doesn’t produce the same quality of bike trail as professionally groomed trails. In fact, it’s harder to snow bike on trails that are manually groomed, and every time it snows significantly you have to re-groom. However, it’s worth it to be able to step outside your home and ride.

Between snowshoeing to groom trails and the actual riding, winter snow biking on our trails is a major workout. Our trails are on a gradual hill so no matter which way you go, you will be climbing at some point. We usually start at a half-hour ride and work our way up to an hour. At times, snow biking can be fast in the straighter sections, but rides on most of them are slower and more challenging, with trails curving all through our glorious woods. During the work week, going for a ride right after getting home works best for us. This usually requires the use of headlamps or flash lights mounted to the bikes. Night riding is a little more challenging, but so enjoyable under the clear, star-filled sky! Winter snow biking on our trails also helps us master riding at slow speeds, cornering, and balancing. It’s made me a better biker for summer trail riding.

To prepare for winter snow biking, you should have bar mitts if your hands normally get cold in the winter. With bar mitts on your bike, you only need to wear a light pair of gloves. On our trails, I don’t recommend clipping into your bike pedals. We wear boots to keep our feet warm and dry. As far as clothing, we wear the same garments we would wear for cross country skiing or running in cold temperatures-layers, breathable garments, wind protection, helmet, goggles if it’s really cold… the usual winter gear required for snow biking.

If you want to try snow biking, area bike shops offer rentals. I recommend you try renting first if you’re not sure about it. The many trails in and around the city of Marquette are beautifully scenic and perfectly groomed. In addition to riding recreationally, snow bike races exist throughout winter and across the Upper Peninsula. Check online or at any bike shop for more information about snow biking or racing. Snow biking is just another wonderful sport to enjoy in our beautiful north woods. Have fun!

ice biking, Gills

Financial adviser and former human resources director at Marquette Area Public Schools Michelle Gill grew up in the western U.P. and has called Marquette home since 1994. She and her husband David enjoy living an active lifestyle, playing outdoors as much as possible.

Excerpted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Winter 2018-19 Issue, copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

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