The Health of Hooping

Dr. Barker enjoying hooping.

On Memorial Day, this year I received my first custom made hula hoop and I fell instantly in love with hooping. Let me explain what hooping is. It is not just standing in place and rotating a hula hoop around your waist, it is a series of tricks where the hula hoop is on and off of your body. You eventually try to perfect these tricks and put them together in a dance or a flow to music. I learn my hoop tricks from friends, hooping DVDs, and hoop dance tutorials on Youtube. I keep a journal of the tricks I know and the tricks I would like to learn on a weekly basis and then I keep incorporating them into my flow routine. As a chiropractor and health educator, I am so pleased to share with you some of the major benefits of hooping.

1) Cardiovascular Workout
When you dance in a continuous routine and even just learning some of the tricks over and over again, you sweat. I have read that you can burn as much as 250 calories in 25 minutes of hooping. On facebook I have seen the amazing transformation of hoopers loosing a lot of weight enjoying hooping. Hooping also improves blood flow thus improving heart health.

2) You Move Your Whole Body
One of the tag lines I share with my patients is to move your body everyday and in every way to keep your joints lubricated and your muscles pliable. Hooping involves your whole body and achieves just that. It also increases the flexibility of the spine. The spine houses our central nervous system which controls all of our organs, cells and tissues.

3) Improves Posture
As we age or if we adopt a poor posture, it usually looks like our shoulders are rolled forward and our mid-backs start to curve forward. With this posture, the anterior muscles, like the pectoral major and minor, become tight and the posterior muscles of the thoracic spine or mid-back, such as the traps and rhomboids, become weak. I teach my patients to stretch their chest muscles with a corner stretch and I have them strengthen their back muscles with rows and other exercises. I have noticed that many of the hoop tricks encourage both of these movements, thus allowing the chest to open up adopting a much better posture. We also use the muscles in our upper back to push (thus strengthening) when we do chest and shoulder hooping. I believe that when the chest is more open also, a persons attitude becomes more positive and confident. It also allows the heart chakra to open and makes the person more loving.

4) Core Strength
In hooping you can’t escape from strengthening your core. It is virtually a part of every hoop trick on and off your body. These moves strengthen and lengthen the abdominals, obliques and erectors. Strengthening your core improves your posture and prevents back pain.

5) Smooth Moves
Hooping is an art form like any other type of dance and everyone has a slightly different style. Some people hoop fast and some slow, but the common denominator I see in most flows are a continuous and smooth style of dance. I believe this is a great way to exercise because it is not jarring to the joints. I personally love hip hop dance for this reason as well.

6) Improves Your Mood
Just like any other form of exercise and dance, you are improving your emotional health as well by releasing endorphins, which are feel good hormones. Because I love hooping, I really feel happy while hooping and afterward as well. Hooping relieves stress and is also quite meditative.

7) It Helps With Brain Balancing
Any movement that you do that crosses the midline of your body improves the communication of the left and right hemispheres of your brain. We have a left and right side to our brain with a bridge in between called the corpus collosum. Many of us, use one side of our brain more often then the other. But by certain movements, we can improve the communication between the the two hemispheres via the bridge so that we can use both sides of our brain. Just by spinning in a circle in both directions achieves just that. Many hooping moves go across the midline, like weaving. Also, we use both of our hands and this improves coordination and of course brain balancing.

” The hoop is a round circle that is infinite and perfect just like we are.”

My Purple Paradise


Every few years I get inspired by a certain color. Lately it has been purple and even more specifically, lavender. This color was inspired by my new purple hula hoop that my friend Chelsea made for me a few weeks ago. The color of my new hoop is so mesmerizing and uplifting. Then it came to me, I simply must paint my adjustment room lavender. My adjustment room is very special to me. It is a place of healing and of contentment and joy for me and so I had to adorn it in my new favorite color. I searched the internet for the meaning behind the color purple. It signifies royalty, luxury, and ambition. It is the color associated with the crown chakra and therefore it is healing, spiritual, and mystical. I also read, that if you are attracted to purple it means that you are compassionate and supportive of others and that you are a free spirit. I felt the connotation of the color was perfect for me and there you have it – my new purple paradise.

What is the Difference Between COQ10 and Ubiquinol?

First to ward off confusion, COQ10 is also known as ubiquinone. Ubiquinol and COQ10 are derivatives of one another, making them almost identical with very slight differences. The difference between the two, chemically speaking, is ubiquinol holds two extra electrons which are able to be distributed freely in the body. This difference makes ubiquinol the better choice because it is more bioavailable (more absorbable by the body). Both forms are found in green leafy vegetables and organ meats, help to boost energy levels and are anti-aging. This is an imperative supplement for people taking statin drugs, who are fatigued or for general health and wellness over the age of 25 years old. They are fat soluble antioxidants which means they need to be taken with food in order to make them more absorbable. Interestingly enough, the absorption of either form is dependent upon your health demands. The dosage absorbed is actually self regulating. When you are unhealthy your body will take in more than when you are sick. 100 mg per day is the maintenance dose for either derivative. I recommend that my patients buy ubiquinol because it is more cost effective and more absorbable. You need to take 1/3 less the amount as compared to ubiquinone. This supplement called CoQnol (by Designs for Health) can be purchased right here on my website by entering the online store.

Information for this blog article was adapted from Dr. Mercola’s article entitled: Always Tired? Take Ubiquinol Daily to help Drench your Body with Energy. Dr. Mercola article


Non-Drowsy, Natural Remedies for Seasonal Allergies

The pollen is terrible this year and they predict that the allergy season will be severe but short. I wanted to share some natural remedies that I learned throughout the years.

-Use a netti pot. Using a netti pot with kosher or sea salt helps to flush out environmental pollutants including pollen from your sinuses. It also helps to thin the mucous so it does not thicken and stay stagnant and create sinus infections.

-Get adjusted. Getting adjusted is not a cure or treatment for allergies, however, getting adjusted enhances the functioning of your immune system.

-Take Histaeze from Designs For Health, which is an all natural supplement used to replace your traditional antihistamines. It is a non-drowsy formula that contains nettles, quercitin and vitamin C known in clinical trials to greatly help allergy sufferers. It also contains Tinospora cordifolia, used in Ayurvedic medicine, which helps to reduce sneezing and rhinitis. Tinospora cordifolia is contraindicated if pregnant, breast feeding, diabetic or for anyone with an autoimmune disease and must be discontinued 2 weeks prior to surgery. Only use when needed during the allergy season and not to be used long term. Histaeze can be purchased on the online store on my website.

-Several studies have shown a decrease in allergies in people who took vitamin D, probiotics and omega-3 fatty acids. These are three supplements that I take personally on a daily basis and recommend to my patients as the top three most important supplements to take daily for optimal health.

-Local Honey. There is anecdotal evidence that honey alleviates allergies. Some of my friends and patients have reported that they have had relief from having a spoonful of local honey daily during the allergy season. Try it and it may just work for you. If you live near our office in Danbury, CT, there are two places to purchase local honey: The Primitive Home in New Milford and a local honey cart in Brewster at the junction of Exit 19 and Route 84.

Filed Under: Health and Wellness

Just Some of my Healthy Tips

Don’t wear antiperspirant, instead use deodorant only.
Don’t store food in plastic containers, instead buy glassware and never microwave in plastic.
Try to buy natural fiber clothing: cotton, wool, suede and leather.
Too much corn and wheat will make you gain weight.
Buy only organic corn and corn products. Organic corn is usually non GMO, but if it says 100% organic it is completely GMO-free.
Drink enough water throughout the day so that your urine is always straw colored.
Don’t buy bacon or hotdogs with nitrites or nitrates.
Buy a sunrise alarm clock.
Shop the periphery of a supermarket. These foods are produce, meat and dairy. The middle of the store is packaged and canned products.
When you or a family member is sick, do things to enhance their immune system: chiropractic, rest, natural supplements and love.
Get plenty of fiber daily. You should have a bowel movement that is banana shaped daily.
Try to fall asleep within the same hour each night. A restful sleep is healthy and also promotes weight loss.
If you can’t pronounce an ingredient it is probably not from nature.
Use olive oil or coconut oil instead of butter whenever possible.
Use Himalayan sea salt rather than regular salt.
Don’t cook with Teflon pans.
Buy organic when possible.
Do not consume any artificial sweeteners. They are neurotoxins.
Avoid condiments and sauces that contain high fructose corn syrup.
Avoid sugar whenever possible. Sugar and simple carbohydrates are linked to cardiovascular disease. If you totally avoid sugar, you will get used to not having it and you will not crave it.
Make sure your home is humidified 40%-50% and not less than 30%.
Make sure your home does not contain mold or mildew.
Avoid soft drinks and sports drinks.
Commune with nature daily.
Find time to be peaceful, grateful or meditative.
Smile and laugh as much as possible and always surround yourself with positive people.
Cardiovascular exercise for a minimum of 3 days per week. Strength train in between.
Find a hobby or two that you enjoy.
Tell your friends and family you love them.

DOT Physicals, NRCME Medical Exams Now Performed at Hartsburg Chiropractic Health Center

I recently received my NRCME (National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners) certificate and am very proud to offer the service of performing DOT (Department of Transportation) physicals. The medical examiners responsibility is to ensure that the driver is medically fit for duty. We essentially want to make sure that the driver is healthy and not at risk of incapacitation or sudden death while driving. This helps to keep our roadways safe so that the public is not endangered. This test is required of any driver who has a combined gross vehicle weight or weight rating of 10,000 lbs or more, transports 9-15 passengers for compensation, transports 16 or more passengers for compensation or not, or transports hazardous materials. The examination is extremely comprehensive and helps to detect the presence of physical, mental, or organic conditions that can affect the driver to operate their vehicle safely.
On May 21, 2014, all drivers who need a DOT physical will be required to have the exam performed by a CME that is listed on the national registry. I am available 7 days per week for DOT physicals and can see a number of people on short notice. Please call 203-790-4600 or 860-671-1380 for available appointments.


Sitting Could be Detrimental to Your Health

About 10 years ago in a seminar, I learned that our human frame was not meant to sit but to only lie down, squat and walk or run. Sitting is the most weight bearing and gravity bearing position for our spine and puts maximal pressure on the lowest vertebra, discs and nerves which can create disc herniations and degeneration. I am very concerned for people who sit at a desk most of the day. This population of people are the ones who complain about chronic low back pain, repetitive stress injuries and fatigue. They also have difficulty losing weight. What makes it worse is that many people on top of the long hours spent sitting in front of the computer have long commutes. I am so fortunate to be in a profession where I am continuously changing position, walking and even squatting. We have a standing workstation at the office for when we do our office notes and reports as well.
The recommendation I have been giving my patients for years has been to try to get up at least every 1/2 hour from sitting. After reading an article written by Dr. Mercola, NASA Discover; Make This Mistake and Not Even Exercise Can Save You on the aging effects of prolonged sitting, I am fine tuning this recommendation. In the article, Dr. Mercola interviews Dr. Joan Vernikos, who is the author of, Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, and former director of the Life Science Division of NASA. He explains how “sitting in and of itself is an independent risk factor for poor health and premature death- even if you exercise regularly.” In her book Dr. Vernikos recommends standing up from a seated position every 20 minutes and making this a habit at least 35 times per day. This is based on double blinded research studies performed on astronauts at NASA. Dr. Mercola took this a step further and recommends going from a squat to a stand or even adding in a jump to maximally challenge gravity. It is the change in posture and a persons interaction with gravity that can counteract the detrimental effects of sitting for prolonged periods. Also, by going from sitting to a standing position you help to burn fat by stimulating the production of lipoprotein lipase. In summary, it is the continual gravity on a seated body that promotes weight gain, detrimental skeletal changes, and biological aging. As Dr. Vernikos simply says, “the key point is to move and shift positions often, when you are sitting down. Meaning, you want to interrupt sitting as much as possible”. Our lifestyle dictates our vitality and longevity. We need to have regular aerobic activity, strength training (yoga, Pilates, or weights), eat healthy, get our spines checked regularly for subluxations and defy gravity.

Dr. Mercola MD
Dr. Joan Vernikos: Sitting Kills, Moving Heals

Safe Protection from the Sun

It is so important to take preventative measures for protecting your skin and eyes from the harmful rays of the sun. Sun is very important because the beneficial UVB rays increase our vitamin D levels which help prevent skin, colon, lung, breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer, to name a few. It is the UVA rays of the sun that are harmful and can give us skin cancer. Most sunscreens, protective clothing and sunglasses block out both UVA and UVB rays. Therefore, we need to find a perfect balance of getting a healthy tan while avoiding sunburn. So it is very important to get some sun, but not too much or for too long. The sun can also cause premature aging of the skin. Remember two factors that cause the skin to wrinkle are too much sun exposure and smoking.
The sun can cause damage to the eyes. Too much sun can cause cataracts, pinguecula, and crows feet. Cataracts are when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy and can affect your vision. A pinguecula is a yellowish waxy looking growth of the conjunctiva of the eye which is usually on the nasal side. It is non cancerous and the cause is from long term sun exposure. It is not attractive looking and usually no treatment is needed, but it can lead to vision impair. Crows feet are wrinkles around the corners of your eyes that can make someone look very aged.

Here are some of my recommendations for protecting you and your family against the damaging effects of the sun.

1) I recommend an organic non chemical sunscreen that uses zinc oxide or titanium dioxide rather than chemicals like octyl methoxycinnamate or oxybenzone as a main ingredient. Rub the sunscreen in well because it will have a white film. Apply the sunscreen prior to going in the sun.

2) Wear a hat and protective clothing while in direct contact with the sun. For men it is especially important to protect the ears and nape of the neck.

3) Wear high quality sunglasses while outdoors and even in the car. The sun’s glare off of water, sand or snow can also be harmful. Even on a cloudy day UV damage to the eyes can occur.

Magic Sock Treatment for Congestion

My friend Dr. Joshua Berry introduced magic socks to our family when our kids were very little and I want to share this treatment with you too. It is great for colds, congestion, coughs, sinus infections, ear infections, sore throats, headaches, bronchitis, teething and fevers. It truly helps people to sleep more comfortably through the night. Magic socks are worn at night or at nap time and are useful for adults as well as children. They are contraindicated for babies under 4 months of age and people with circulatory issues. They are best used for 3 nights in a row. One important rule of thumb is to make sure the environment (the bedroom) is warm so that no chill is caught. Sometimes if the bedroom is not warmed up yet I will lightly warm up a heating pack and put it on the feet while I am preparing the magic socks or you could take a warm foot bath, bath or shower first. Dry the feet after the bath or shower and then proceed with the magic socks.

1 pair of cotton socks (100% cotton)
1 pair of wool socks (100% wool)
A warm environment.

Wool socks are difficult to find for kids. My favorite brand of wool socks is smartwool. They can be found at outdoor stores like REI but usually they do not have baby or children’s sizes. Any size of smartwool socks can be ordered on Amazon.
Ok, this is how you do it. Wet the cotton socks with cold water, ring them and place them on the feet. You want the socks damp but not dripping wet. Put the dry wool socks over the wet cotton socks and put the feet under the blankets immediately. Get a good night sleep and wake up with bone dry cotton socks in the morning- magic! This works energetically to bring the bloodflow down to the feet and takes the congestion away from the upper part of the body. It also has a slight sedative effect to allow for a restful sleep.

Weight Loss for a Healthier You

This year I lost 15 lbs and I feel really great. I wanted to share some of my tips with you.

1) Exercise- Exercise is underrated! Exercise makes you look good and feel good both physically and emotionally and also boosts your immunity. I exercise 4-6 days a week for about 20-30 minutes only. I have great exercise videos at home and have even pulled up some great programs off of YouTube. I like to mix it up with aerobic ( I love dance videos and Zumba) and strengthening exercises ( I love Pilates). The latest in exercise research is to mix up your exercises. Also, interval training is highly effective and takes only 20 minutes to do. You can interval train by biking, running, swimming or walking. Interval training is alternating periods of moderate and intense work.

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