Daily Archives: March 8, 2009

You need a baton

Being a cold creature I never had an interest in outdoor sport, either as a participant or spectator.  If I ever saw a ball come in my direction I ducked or ran in the opposite direction.

I did try indoor bowling at one stage, alas my bowls were drawn to the stick with a great magnetic force.  This action provided great laughter and fun for the other players in the first few weeks, but once the novelty wore off I felt duty bound to retire as I was rather a drag for any team.

At another stage I joined a local group for Aerobics, that too went by the wayside because I always ended up feeling out of breath, unwell and raw down through the inner tubes.  My most energetic exercise was while taking a very young Elly to primary school – We jogged, skipped or hopped the whole way (almost 2 miles) every morning.

While rebuilding a life on my own I joined a rambling club and it was ideal; exercise, fresh air and fellowship.  We had a planned programme produced twice a year and members were encouraged to plan and lead a walk.  The summer programme took us further afield and I enjoyed the opportunity of visiting places not generally open to the public.

I did lead a few winter walks in my general locality, and we finished with the whole group coming home with me for afternoon tea.  I did try going back to the group, but alas I found my heart or legs objected and I would have to return to the car early.  Someone always insisted on returning with me and I felt guilty because they were out there for the walk and not to play nursemaid to me.  So I gave the rambling a miss.

In the past couple of years I have devised my own way to exercise… and NO, it does not involve Toyboys!  I play my music, which varies to the time of day and my mood.  While happily listening I give a very good impression of Daniel Barenboim.  It always seemed to improve my mood and bring a smile to my face.  It was only the other day that I discovered why.

I was taking part in a sport without realising it.  I was actually doing what my Granny taught us to do many a long year ago.  We would follow her in single file around the garden singing at the top of our voices and waving our arms.

I was actually J’ARMing.

So what exactly is J’ARMing, you may ask. In a nutshell, J’ARMing is short for (j)ogging with the (arm)s—the sweeping motion orchestra conductors make with their arms as they lead the musicians. Conductors have known about the benefits of their baton-waving arm movements for years, and they live…and live…and live to prove it. In fact, great symphony orchestra conductors live, on average, five years longer than the general population. They are healthier in both mind and body than others their age.

Several years ago, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company published its findings of a longevity study of conductors. In examining 437 active and former conductors, researchers reported that mortality among conductors was 38 percent below their contemporaries in the general population. How’s that for some incentive to J’ARM?

Fortunately, there is a bit of a conductor inside each of us; we just need to re-tap our childhood memories and actions. Think back to your childhood for a moment. Many of us marched around our parents’ living room pretending to lead a marching band or a large orchestra. We would hoist our arms high in the air and march around to the music, or dance with all limbs—arms and legs.

So go on give it a try it will:

Improved posture
Muscle strength and flexibility
Improved blood circulation
Better balance Weight loss
A gentle shoulder and back massage
Reduction of your physiological and mental ages
A positive attitude and readiness for laughter
A “wash” for your brain that removes annoying distractions and makes you smarter
Higher self-esteem
Elevation of endorphins and other feel-good brain chemicals
For stroke patients, it may help re-connect some of the injured neural pathways