Can We "Prancercise" Our Way to Good Health?
If you've been on social media lately, you probably caught wind of a viral video featuring Joanna Rohrback and her "Prancercise" aerobics routine. Created in the 1980s and just recorded in December, Rohrback defines the exercise as a "springy, rhythmic way of moving forward, similar to a horse's gait and ideally induced by elation" on the official "Prancercise" website. With more than two million views, the "Prancercise" YouTube video instructs viewers to imagine themselves as a horse while moving through the "Prancercise Trot," "Prancercise Gallop," and the "Prancercise Box, or shadow-box prance."
All nonsensical words aside: Is it really time to get up and prance? And if so, does are there health benefits?
Charles Platkin, a distinguished lecturer at CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College in New York City who specializes in exercise and calorie-expenditure research, reviewed the YouTube "Prancercise" video, and using metabolic energy tables calculations, concluded that "Prancercise" is like the low-impact aerobics that were popularized by 1980s workout videos, which he watched side-by-side for his analysis, according to CBS News.
Platkin determined that "Prancercise" burns about 4.2 calories per minute, which is comparable to walking slowly while carrying something. About one more calorie per minute can be burned by the "Prancercise Trot," Platkin told CBS News, noting that the activity is comparable to walking briskly with weights. The "Prancercise Gallop" burns the most calories at 5.86 per minute.
Marketed as a gym alternative, Rohrback says she wants to get people back into nature with free-spirited exercising while listening to their favorite music. Diet is also noted as a crucial component of "Prancercise," with website instructions to eliminate craving-inducing foods from your everyday diet. Platkin told CBS News that compared to other exercises, "Prancercise" burns more calories than yoga (2.92 calories per minute), and is comparable to horseback riding (which burns 4.687 calories per minute). Brisk walking still burns more calories than "Prancercise" at about 7.6 calories per minute. Platkin did caution the use of ankle weights during "Prancercise" activities, as they could cause joint issues for those in poor health.
Platkin also told CBS News that combining spirituality with a low-impact aerobic activity could make people more likely to stick to an exercise plan, which is often half the battle when it comes to staying healthy. Considering that approximately 80 percent of American adults aren't getting the government recommended 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 1.5 hours of vigorous-intensity each day, according to a recent CDC study, anything that gets you moving more than usual is a good form of exercise, according to Platkin.
Confession: I Pull Out My Hair
Sandy Rosenblatt stood in front of the mirror in her playroom. Her parents were getting a divorce, and she felt all the tension closing in. Staring at that mirror, the 7-year-old started plucking out her eyelashes one by one. She often watched her mother groom her eyebrows with tweezers, and she swelled with pride at the thought of emulating her.
Satisfied, she ran upstairs and burst into her mother's bedroom, shouting, "Mom! Look what I did!"
Turning to see what surprise her daughter had in store, her eyes fell on Sandy's eyelash-less face. Horrified, she cried out, "Don't ever do that again!"
But it was too late.
Rosenblatt, now 39, is one of millions of people suffering from Trichotillomania (pronounced trick-o-til-o-MAY-nee-ah), a disorder in which people have an irresistible desire to pull out their hair from the scalp, eyebrows, legs, pubic area or any place where hair grows on the body. Experts say about 1 in 50 people – or 2 to 4 percent of the population – have the disorder, though numbers may be larger due to the fact people are too embarrassed to admit to medical professionals they pull their hair and go to great lengths to hide their behavior from family and friends. [Read more: Confession: I Pull Out My Hair.]
Which Comes First: Depression or Weight Gain?
For many people, weight is depressing. Whether consequent to society's hateful weight biases, which expose individuals with obesity to mood-killing bullying, scorn and discrimination, or to personally held beliefs and attitudes, there's little doubt that weight is often a huge psychological burden, writes U.S. News blogger Yoni Freedhoff.
There's little doubt, too, that those who struggle with both weight and depression often feel a tight relationship between them, that their depression would lift were they to lose weight. And for some it does.
A recent meta-analysis of the impact of intentional non-pharmacologic weight-loss programs on depression revealed that indeed weight loss is associated with an improvement in mood. But that's not the whole story. And so, before you rush out and join a weight-loss program, you need to know that the mood benefits shown occurred in folks enrolled in behavioral weight-loss programs, regardless of whether or not they lost weight. In other words, it wasn't the losing that was helping mood, it was something else. [Read more: Which Comes First: Depression or Weight Gain?]