Month: September 2021

How to exercise with mitochondrial disease

How to exercise with mitochondrial disease

People living with mitochondrial disease often suffer from a wide range of symptoms that can drastically affect quality of life. So, is it safe to exercise with mitochondrial disease?

What is Mitochondrial Disease?

Mitochondrial Disease, or Mito as it is commonly referred to, is a rare genetic condition affecting the Mitochondria of 1 in 5000 Australians. Mitochondria are found in every cell in the body (with the exception of red blood cells) and produce greater than 90% of the energy needed for our bodies to survive. For this reason, mitochondria are often referred to as the powerhouse of the body. Mitochondrial Disease occurs when the bodies mitochondria become unable to produce energy properly, leading to cell death and organ system malfunction and/or failure (Mito Foundation).

What are the symptoms?

Because mitochondria are found in every cell, mitochondrial disease can essentially present with any symptoms, in any organ of the body. For this reason, it is notoriously difficult to diagnose. Many thousands of patients are misdiagnosed or remain undiagnosed for an extended period of time. Some of the most common presentations of Mitochondrial Disease include:

  • Eyes: drooping eyelids or difficulty moving one’s eyes
  • Brain: seizures, movement disorders, cognitive impairment, stroke, reduced balance, migraines
  • Ears: hearing loss
  • Heart: cardiomyopathy (an enlarged, but weak heart)
  • Body: weakness, fatigue, pain
  • Kidney: kidney failure
  • Liver: liver failure
  • Stomach/Bowel: reflux, vomiting, constipation, diarrhoea
  • Pancreas: diabetes

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for Mitochondrial Disease. Treatment and management plans are often varied dependent on the organs and body system impacted.  Mounting evidence is also showing that physical activity can play a key role in managing Mitochondrial Disease when used appropriately.

Exercise and mitochondrial disease

Mitochondrial disease can cause many symptoms the most common being muscle weakness and fatigue.  For that reason, improving fatigue levels is often a key goal for people starting an exercise program. Other benefits of exercise include increased engagement and positive association with movement, improved physical function, more independence and a reduced risk of comorbidities. If you’re living with Mito, exercise is less about achieving “norm” parameters and more about improving areas of life where function is impacted or limited. The overall goal is often about achieving the best possible quality of life.

exercise rehabilitation

What type of exercise is best?

The right exercise prescription can literally be like medicine for patients with Mitochondrial Disease. Under the guidance of an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP), you will be provided with an individualised exercise program and learn more about energy management and pacing strategies. Research indicates there are lots of benefits of performing regular aerobic exercise for Mito patients, particularly with reduced functional capacity and deconditioning. It has shown to improve oxidative capacity (oxygen uptake rates) and energy levels by increasing the number of healthy mitochondria in your cells and keeping them functioning at their best.

Resistance based training has shown to decrease proportion of mutated mtDNA in addition to improve muscle strength and function with no adverse effects or damage to muscle properties.

Tips for staying on track

When you feel the fatigue associated with Mitochondrial Disease, it can be difficult to imagine participating in exercise. That is why it is so important to work with an exercise professional that can assist you. An exercise program should consider:

  • Your likes and dislikes
  • The importance of starting ‘low and slow’ – it is better to be the tortoise than the hare!
  • Set small, realistic goals
  • Listen to your body and monitor your fatigue levels
  • Stay hydrated
  • Ensuring you don’t overdo it when you feel well
  • Take breaks and stop if you feel excessive fatigue or illness

Guidance from an Accredited Exercise Physiologist

Physical activity for people living with Mitochondrial Disease is a complex balance that usually takes some time to get right. For this reason, it’s wise to get some guidance from an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) before starting an exercise program.

An AEP will work with you to tailor a program that considers the presentation of your Mitochondrial Disease, as well as factors such as your health status, living and working situation, medications, and exercise preferences. As your fitness and symptoms change, they will be able to assist you to modify your program accordingly.

Click here to find an exercise physiologist near you.

Written by the following members of the Australian Mitochondrial Disease Exercise Physiology Network:

Amanda Semaan: Amanda is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Co-Director of Active Ability.

Ashley Boniface: Ashley is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at Bodytrack Exercise Physiology

Synchronicity: Finding and Embracing the Little Meanings in Life

synchronicity


Synchronicity is when two events occur in life that seem special and meaningful, even when there is no apparent causal connection between them. Have you ever experienced it?


Synchronicity is when two events occur in life that seem special and meaningful, even when there is no apparent causal connection between them.

One common example of synchronicity is when you are thinking about a specific person, then they happen to call you or message you at the exact same time.

While many only see this event as pure coincidence, others may find meaning in this occurrence. Perhaps it is a sign from the universe that it’s time to connect or catchup with that person?

“Synchronicity” is a concept popularized by psychologist Carl Jung. He believed that one function of a healthy mind was being able to appreciate these illogical connections in daily life to find extra meaning and purpose.

Jung identified 3 main components behind synchronicity:

  • Meaningful coincidence – The two events have to be interpreted by the observer as some type of meaningful connection.
  • Acausal connection – The two events can’t be explained in a logical or causal way.
  • Numinosity – The two events must spur some feeling of spirituality, mystery, or awe.

While synchronicity is often associated with being a religious or spiritual experience, it can also be appreciated on a secular level.

Perhaps synchronicity is the universe or God conspiring to work for you (which is a beautiful thought), or perhaps it is a connection that only exists in your mind. Regardless of the interpretation, it can be motivating and inspiring to experience.

The ability to find odd or bizarre connections in our daily life can be an exciting and uplifting experience that immediately jolts our consciousness.

For example, last week it was my birthday. I’ve been reflecting a lot about all the time that has passed by and if I’m taking advantage of life in the best way possible. I had Chinese food for dinner and opened up a fortune cookie (always a fun experience even if I don’t take them too seriously).

The fortune cookie read, “The good thing about growing old is that it takes a long time.” It resonated with me because 1) It was a funny tautology, and 2) It felt especially meaningful that I received a fortune about age on the exact day of my birthday. Thus, I hung it up on my fridge as a reminder to take my time, be patient, and enjoy life as it unfolds.

Pure coincidence? Maybe, but my mind chose to interpret it as something bigger and I rolled with it.

If I was a very cynical or pessimistic person, I could’ve just as easily thrown out the fortune and brushed it off as random happenstance – but then I would’ve robbed myself of a little extra meaning and happiness.

I often interpret dreams in a similar way. If I wake up and a dream feels meaningful to me, then it’s meaningful to me. I don’t need to question it or rationalize it, I take the meaning at face value (even if it’s a pure act of mind).

Discovering synchronicities in life is all about having the right mindset and being more aware of the many potential connections that exist in our daily lives.

It requires an openness to psychomagic or the “hyper-subjective.” It’s not about trying to confirm something through science or logic (that’s missing the point), but being aware of your unique way of experiencing the world and how your mind interprets it.

I always have the underlying feeling that my life is a complex web of interconnectedness. Synchronicities are always present, the key is just identifying them when they happen.

At least once per week, I experience some type of small synchronicity and I embrace it. Ultimately, it adds another layer to my reality and gives me a richer and more rewarding experience of life.

Earlier this year I was reading more fiction, including the sci-fi book The Foundation by Isaac Asimov. I had just finished it and I was chatting with an old best friend who I only speak to a couple times per year. I asked him what he was currently reading…and he had just started The Foundation.

What are the chances we both happened to be reading the same exact book that was published in 1950, over 70 years ago? Not impossible, but slim. I found the coincidence to be oddly meaningful.

Statistically, rare things happen all the time. The world is such a complex web of factors that something strange or bizarre is bound to happen, even if we can’t predict exactly what it will be.

Again, the key is being open to finding these connections and embracing these little meanings in life.

Synchronicity can take many forms. Common examples include:

  • Connecting with the right person at the right time.
  • Hearing advice or wisdom exactly when you need it most.
  • Reoccurring symbols, words, numbers, or images that resonate with you.
  • Dreams that provide clarity or perspective on something currently going on in your life.
  • Identifying common themes in books, movies, or TV shows you recently watched.
  • Finding someone who went through a similar experience as you did recently.
  • Getting a sign that points you in the right direction when trying to make a difficult decision in life.

These events aren’t by themselves an example of synchronicity – the main factor is whether you find the events meaningful to you in a bizarre or strange way.

Of course, our brains are pattern-finding machines. It’s common to find connections and patterns in things even when they don’t necessarily reflect anything in objective reality – like looking up at the clouds and finding shapes or seeing faces on inanimate objects.

While one could chalk up synchronicity as random pattern-finding, we can’t forget that how an experience makes us feel matters too.

Perhaps looking up at the sky and seeing a cloud shaped like a lion isn’t a supernatural experience, but it can still be a rewarding one that we can step back and appreciate. I view synchronicity in a similar way – it doesn’t need to be magic, it’s just an experience we can learn to accept and embrace.

One fun thing to do is create a list of your “synchronicity” experiences and collect them. As your list builds, you may even find synchronicities among the synchronicities.

Again, this isn’t about trying to crack the code of the universe or anything – it’s just about experiencing life in a deeper and richer way – one which will ultimately make you happier and provide a greater feeling of oneness.

Overall, if you observe the universe more closely, you’ll find synchronicities everywhere. When’s the last time you experienced one?


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7 Types of Meditation: Which One Is Right for You?

Types of Meditation

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Have you ever wondered about the different types of meditation? There are multiple different meditation options that you could consider, and fortunately, we’re on hand to give you some new ideas and advice about how to get started.

After all, when it comes to your mindfulness and self-happiness, then there are numerous ways you could go about improving your well-being.

Fortunately, our team of professionals are on hand to help you learn more about the seven types of meditation so you can decide which one is the most ideal for your needs – and we’ve listed these as follows below.

But remember! There’s no right or wrong answer here, and each of the different types of meditation come with pros and cons. So, always make the right choice for your meditation needs, and if you need any additional help, feel free to ask!

The 7 Types of Meditation

1. Transcendental Meditation

Transcendental Meditation is a great choice for a shorter duration. This form of meditation typically lasts 20 minutes.

During transcendental meditation, you simply need to choose a sound, word, or even a whole short phrase, and focus on it. You’ll want to then repeat this for the whole twenty minute session, which should help settle the thought in your subconscious mind.

Of course, you should always choose a method that’s comfortable for you. There are different ways to focus and repeat and you can experiment to find which specific ways work for you with this meditation technique.

2. Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation is among the most commonly practiced forms of meditation, and is based on the theory of being in the moment and knowing where you are. Indeed, while mindfulness meditation can be carried out anywhere, it’s pretty common for people to carry out mindfulness in the privacy of their own home where they have time to reflect on thoughts without passing judgement at that time.

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3. Vipassana meditation

When it comes to meditation, Vipassana can be an excellent option to consider. Indeed, a growing number of people are trying this type of meditation these days – even though vipassana meditation actually originated over 2,500 years ago! This movement has been especially prominent in the United States.

Vipassana meditation is primarily focused on self-reflection, self-observation, and self-transformation.

It helps strengthen the connection between mind and body, often leading to a superior sense of calm and relaxation overall. Plus, it’s often used as part of a healthy lifestyle plan, supporting ethical healing efforts and allowing people to work toward relief from addictions.

4. Guided Meditation

Commonly, guided meditation sessions are carried out with support from a professional meditation guide – however, this isn’t always the case, and there are actually many types of guided meditation classes you can pursue. This is particularly true after lockdowns, with many of us turning to virtual solutions for our normal choices!

During guided meditation sessions, you’ll usually use your senses to guide your body through the meditation process.

Indeed, many sessions will use a unique combination of scents, sounds, and textures to begin creating a sense of calm in the meditator. All the while, these simple items can also help connect you with happier times as a child.

5. Yoga Meditation

While yoga comes in many forms and styles, there are many that can be helpful for the purposes of meditation. In fact, you can use yoga for meditation easily by concentrating and having a good sense of balance.

Of course, yoga meditation is at its most effective when you are able to tune out from nearby distractions. Better yet, if you can remove them entirely. This can be a great way to improve your learning.
A great idea is to also see what yoga styles and poses are most comfortable and accessible for you before attempting to use them for meditation. After all, getting stuck in an awkward position isn’t exactly ideal, so preparing in advance is crucial to avoid frustration or setbacks in your meditation journey.

6. Metta meditation

A further form of mindfulness meditation that many people struggle with is Metta meditation – a form of meditation that’s actually less focused on your own personal growth and instead prioritizes supporting other people.

Usually, a Metta meditation session will begin by sitting comfortably on the floor, and the meditator will begin by chanting positive affirmation phrases.

Again, there’s no right or wrong answer here – so just take some time to consider which options might work for you. Common chants include, “May I be healthy, may I be happy, may I be relaxed.”

Still, anything that works for you would be great! Then, simply turn these phrases to the other people in your life, too, to begin spreading the positive affirmations and emotions.

This can be as simple as repeating what you said, but replacing “I” with “you”. That’s all there is to get started! Plus, Metta meditation often ties in with the Angel number 1222, making it even more influential potentially.

7. Chakra meditation

Not everyone believes in chakras, but that’s okay – even if you don’t, chakra meditation principles and practices can be highly effective! Indeed, during chakra meditation, you work to bring your chakras into balance and harmony.

By doing so, you will usually experience a sense of inner peace and relaxation during chakra meditation sessions too. If you are especially passionate about this form of meditation, you could also consider using incense or color coded crystals to enhance the experience in its entirety.

Final Thoughts
If you have wanted to try meditation, then it’s always worth considering one of these top seven types above.

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