Power 5 conferences approve new measure to help bolster athletes’ mental health

A discussion with Natalie Graves, AM, LCSW about the Power 5 conferences to approve a new measure to help bolster athletes’ mental health. The legislation was one of several proposals voted on and approved by members of the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12 during the NCAA convention in Orlando.

The conferences can approve benefits for athletes that other Division I schools don’t have to implement due to the costs, but their changes often end up getting adopted by other leagues. The new legislation was spurred by a growing concern among schools about providing access to mental health resources, including counseling for athletes, coaches and athletics personnel.

Natalie also talks about the hurdles mental health professional face when attempting toHome connect with athletes to offer these supportive services and what this decision means for the athletes as well as mental health professionals. Natalie Graves is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in mental health and wellness for athletes.

Graves earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Chicago State University and a Master’s Degree from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.  Visit NatalieGraves.com.

Natalie Graves, AM, LCSW

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Strategies to Naturally Detox your Body

In this segment Steve Kashul & Karen Malkin discuss her best tips to naturally detox your body with real food and lifestyle strategies.

Your Path to Wellness: Whether you’re looking to lose those last 10-15 lbs., lower cholesterol, kick sugar, balance hormones, or double your energy, what you eat can make a huge difference! The evidence-based programs below have changed my life as well as hundreds of my clients around the world. In all of my programs, each session builds on the last. By the end of our work together, you will look—and feel—completely different than you do right now.

14 Day Transformations: We offer three 2-week cleanses to meet you wherever you’re at in your wellness journey: Foundations, Master Your Metabolism, and Toxin Takedown. LEARN MORE

Private Coaching: For those who seek extra support, we offer the deep-dive experience of private, 1:1 coaching with Karen either conducted in her office or virtually. LEARN MORE

Corporate Initiatives: Whether you’re in need of a simple Lunch & Learn or a 6- to 12-month-long integrative wellness program for your employees, we’ve got you covered.
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Five Lesser-Known Mental Health Values of Exercise

By Briana Jamshidi, Rehab Technician for ATI Physical Therapy

It has become common knowledge that exercise is good for the body. Regular exercise can aid in weight loss and help strengthen our muscles and bones, but sometimes that isn’t enough to get you exercising on a daily basis. There are numerous mental health benefits that come as a result of working out. These reasons may be the motivating factors you need.

Exercise and Positive Mood

There is a strong link between exercise and the treatment of mild to moderate anxiety and depression. Exercise encourages all kinds of positive changes in your body by releasing endorphins in your brain such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. They are known as the “feel good” chemicals because of their strong influence on your mood.

Exercise and Self-Esteem

When you aren’t happy with the way your body looks, it takes a toll on your confidence. Exercise helps to build your self-esteem by improving how your body moves, feels and looks. Even if you don’t lose weight from exercising, you are likely still strengthening your muscles and creating a firmer appearance of your skin. It can be empowering to run longer, lift heavier weights and stretch farther. These physical results will make you feel better about how you look and improve your confidence and self-esteem.

Exercise and Brain Power

Exercise enhances blood flow throughout your body, as well as in your brain. This increased blood flow supports the survival of new neurons and helps other neurons fire up faster. Exercise has been shown to promote neurogenesis, which allows for the creation and survival of new brain cells in the brain. All of this allows for better cognitive function, memory recall and more creativity.

Exercise and Pain

Studies show that people who exercise and stay flexible are able to better manage their pain than those who don’t. Typically, chronic pain can lower your pain threshold, meaning it takes less pain to cause you discomfort. Exercise, fortunately, helps to increase your pain threshold. The increased blood flow throughout your body allows your joints and muscles to move more freely, which further helps to decrease pain.

Exercise and Stress

When you engage in exercise, no matter what kind, it is wise to practice mind-to-muscle connection. This means focusing on the muscles you are using and intentionally squeezing them. During this time, you actually give your mind a chance to slow down and stop thinking about your stressors. Pair this with the better sleep you will experience from exercising and you will feel a significant reduction in your stress levels.

There are so many different types of exercise, ranging from weight lifting to yoga. No matter the kind, doing some is better than none. Do what you can and not only will you reap the benefits physically, but mentally as well.

Are aches and pains getting in the way of your daily activities?

If simple home interventions are not helping to lessen aches, pains and discomfort, it’s time to see a physical therapist. Stop by your nearest ATI Physical Therapy clinic for a complimentary screening and get back to doing you.

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Unconventional Meditation | A Mindful Experience

I am an avid hiker. I don’t travel long distances to hike, the Sandia Mountains are located on the east side of Albuquerque and I can enjoy myriad trails year round.  I know, many places don’t have mountains to hike it, but this isn’t about hiking per se, more about noticing your surroundings while getting a great all over workout.  It’s about learning to focus on your surroundings, breathe deeply and learning to live in the moment, meditating without sitting.

It’s about learning to focus on your surroundings, breathe deeply and learning to live in the moment, meditating without sitting.

Walking out the front door is easy.  Put on a pair of shoes and go!  I will attempt to talk about how to meditate while working out.  As you start to walk notice your surroundings, each yard is different, people are walking their dogs, different cars go by, the ever changing cloud patterns…  Walk at different speeds, find hills, include a jog once in awhile.  Take time to think about what your body is doing.  Focus on your breath.  Try slow deep breaths through the nose, try faster deeper breaths, not too fast, through your mouth.  As you settle into a pattern and focus on your breath your walk becomes meditative.  Breathe in, breathe out…  In time you become aware of every step, every breath, every blade of grass, every tree, every cloud.

Even a cardio workout at the gym can be meditative.  You step onto the elliptical trainer, set your time, resistance and incline, and you start to move.  Right, left, right, left, breathe deep, find a cadence.  If you listen to music you can keep time with the beat.  Try breathing in time with your feet, every right and left is one breath, or slow it down to every two or three revolutions.  Follow the cadence of someone next to you while you look out the window and admire the clouds.  The focus is on the breath.

As I hike I try to stay in the moment.  I listen to each breath, hear each footstep as it lands on the ground and notice each twig I break as I look at the vegetation that has changed from green and lush to sparse and dry in the winter months, and back to green in the spring and summer  I can hike the same trail ten times in three months and see something different each time.  The world is amazing – pay attention to everything!

I teach my students and clients to be mindful and present.  We work on breath, focus and mindfulness.  Of course we work on strength, cardio, nutrition and general fitness too but our lifeline is our breath, we need to focus to be present and enjoy our life, and mindfulness is just plain good karma.  It can take a lifetime to learn to master, but with daily practice we can achieve the things we want and enjoy every moment.  Learning to meditate teaches us patience and calmness.  This patience and calmness can help us in many aspects of our life.

You don’t need mountains to walk.  Head out the front door and breathe in the day.

Author: Mindy Caplan ACSM-EP is a New Mexico-based Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer, Wellness/Lifestyle Coach, and Yoga Instructor.

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