Tag Archives: fitness

Strengthening your core

Susan Locke says building your core strength can benefit overall health and wellness . . .

Dr. Susan Locke

Susan Locke

Building “core strength” has been an essential component of most fitness programs. Core strength refers to the muscles of your abdomen and back. They are essential for supporting your spine and keeping your body stable and balanced.

The major muscles of the “core” are:

Transverse abdominis: This is the deepest of the abdominal muscles that lie under the obliques. It wraps around your spine for stability and protection.
External obliques: These are the muscles on the side and front of the abdomen around the waist.
Internal obliques: These muscles lie under the external obliques and run in the opposite direction.
Rectus abdominis: This is a long muscle that extends along the front of the abdomen. It is the muscle that gives the appearance of “six-pack abs” when it is well toned and there is reduced body fat.
Erector spinae: This is a collection of three muscles along your neck extending to your lower spine.

There are many benefits of improving core strength. A strong core improves balance and stability which can reduce falls and prevent injuries during sports and other activities. A strong and flexible core can help in almost everything you do.

Activities of daily living require the use of core muscles. The simple acts of putting on your shoes, looking behind you, sitting in a chair, standing upright are just a few of the many movements that engage your core. Jobs that involve twisting, lifting and standing all depend on core muscles. But sedentary jobs tax your back muscles also.

healthnetMost sports activities are powered by a strong core and require flexibility. Housework, home repair and gardening requires twisting, bending, lifting, carrying, reaching — these are all core activities. Strengthening core muscles not only improves your appearance, but also decreases the wear and tear on your spine.

Back pain can be caused by a number of different conditions, but a weak or imbalanced core contributes to the pain. Nonsurgical treatment of back pain includes physical therapy and core strengthening exercises.

For more information on back pain, we went to a world-renowned back surgeon and Healthnetwork Service Excellence Award recipient Ali Bydon, MD, from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md.

What types of back issues are most responsive to nonsurgical treatment?

Back pain is divided into acute vs. chronic. Acute back pain, the most common type, is a severe acute onset back pain that lasts up to six weeks. It typically resolves on its own and is amenable to physical therapy and possibly injections. Chronic low back pain is any back pain that lingers beyond three months.

The back issues that are most responsive to nonsurgical treatment are the acute low back pain. When buttock and leg pain are involved as well, the likely etiology is nerve root compression. This is amenable to selective nerve root injections or surgery as a last resort.

If my doctor sees “structural issues” (herniated discs, etc.) on my MRI, is surgery in my future?

Structural issues on MRI are quite common and may be mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic. If symptomatic, then surgery may be an option. You should discuss all treatment options with your physician.

How do you differentiate muscle pain from spinal nerve pain?

Muscle pain is distinguished from spinal nerve pain by the location of the pain: buttock and leg denotes nerve compression vs. back pain, which denotes muscular pain.

SUSAN LOCKE, MD, is the Healthnetwork Foundation’s medical director.

HEALTHNETWORK is a Legatus membership benefit, a healthcare “concierge service” that provides members and their families access to some of the most respected hospitals in the world. One Call Starts It All: (866) 968-2467 or (440) 893-0830. Email: help@healthnetworkfoundation.org

Healing waters

Indianapolis Legate Dianne Bayley emphasizes fitness of mind, spirit and body . . . 


Stricken with polio at the age of 13 and told she might never walk again, Legate Dianne Bayley got her first exposure to intense physical exercise under the tutelage of a hospital therapist.

“Boy, was she ever rigid,” Bayley recalled of the woman who supervised her physical therapy. “It set the ground for me that if I work hard, I am going to get results.”

After months of therapy, Bayley did walk again and, although she couldn’t spring high enough to make the high school cheerleading squad, she later  took the experience of her recovery and shaped it into a healthy lifestyle that has inspired others and earned her accolades.

A former competitive swimmer who has a trophy case full of medals to her credit, Bayley received the Woman of Wellness Award from the Cancer Support Community of Central Indiana on March 16.

“Knowing her has caused me to realize that exercise must be a part of every day’s routine,” said Sue Anne Gilroy, vice president of development at St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital and executive director of the St. Vincent Foundation.

Gilroy, who nominated Bayley for the Woman of Wellness Award, has known Dianne and her husband, L.H., for more than a decade through their volunteer work on behalf of the foundation and the hospital’s cancer-care program. The Bayleys are longtime members of Legatus’ Indianapolis Chapter.

At 75, Dianne Bayley still maintains a disciplined fitness routine consisting of a water-exercise class three times weekly — four during the winter — and, on the two alternating days, a Pilates class for building strength and flexibility. After her water class, she typically stays in the pool to swim laps.

“Swimming and the feel of the water is healing therapy for me,” she said. “I know it’s good for my body, it calms my mind and it helps me feed my spirit.” She often prays as she swims.

When she was 68, Bayley joined the U.S. Masters Swim Association and a local co-ed swim team, later going on to compete in state and national events — including the National Senior Olympic Games. Two total knee replacements — the last of which was done 14 months ago — have taken her out of competitive swimming for now, but she is gradually getting into a routine.

“Dianne, not just physically, but mentally and in every other way, is a great woman of determination,” said Monsignor Joseph Schaedel, pastor of St. Luke Parish in Indianapolis and chaplain of Legatus’ Indianapolis Chapter. “When she determines that she wants to do something, she puts 100% into it.”

Because swimming had been an activity she once enjoyed with her late daughter, Chris Bennett, Bayley also took a break from the sport following Chris’ death in 2009 from a rare form of cancer.

“After Chris died, I waited about nine months and thought, ‘I’m going to try this,’” Bayley said. When she arrived at the pool, she told the members of her swim club that she was not there to practice, but just to see how it felt to be in the water again.

Although she continued to return to the pool over the next few weeks, one day she knew it was too much for her. She walked to her car and called her husband. “I can’t do it without Chris,” she told him. “I keep looking for her in the lane next to me.”

Staying fit

Dianne Bayley and her daughter, Chris Bennett, in 2007

Dianne Bayley and her daughter, Chris Bennett, in 2006

It was as a young mother in her late 20s that Bayley decided to incorporate regular workouts into her life. She joined a Jazzercise class taught by her daughters’ ballet instructor and later enrolled in a health club, where she took aerobics classes. When she and L.H. moved, she set out to find a new health club and, this time, invited L.H. to join her for the 6:15 a.m. aerobics class. Today, they maintain separate fitness routines.

L.H., 77, works out with a personal trainer four times a week before going to work at David A. Noyes & Co. He credits service in the U.S. Army’s missile corps with instilling in him a commitment to physical discipline but, he added, “Seeing your wife in this type of lifestyle is very motivating, too. I like to think I motivate her and I know she motivates me.”

L.H. said he is also pleased that the couple’s son, daughter, sons-in-law and grandchildren are fitness-minded. Their son Mike attributes his own interest in staying in shape to his parents, who encouraged participation in sports, especially swimming.

“I always recall my parents being very conscious of their fitness level, and leading by example more than pushing my sisters and myself,” he said. “They showed us that eating right, living right and staying active leads to a healthier, happier life.”

Mike said that he began working out with weights and machines as a college student. He now has his own home gym, where he exercises three to five times a week. Seeing how active his parents are, he said, “I have no excuse not to be exercising well.”

Dianne Bayley said exercise has helped keep her life in balance and it has made her mindful of everything else she does. “You’re more aware of what you eat, what you drink and the importance of hydrating all the time. It just keeps everything else in balance. I’ve always felt the need to feed the mind, body and spirit. They’re all linked together.”

Exercise has helped her deal with the aches and pains that come with age, including arthritis. With both knees replaced, she only has some arthritis pain in her neck, but she said she has addressed that by changing the way she sleeps. And, she added, “All this exercise keeps everything loosened up!”

JUDY ROBERTS is Legatus magazine’s staff writer.