Add Some Muscle To Your Mind: An Interview With An Occupational Therapist

by Katie Gangloff

Occupational Therapist

This week we learned how exercise increases brain activity. Everyone always makes a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, which most of the time falls out shortly after Valentine’s Day. Some people even start to exercise right before beach body season. Now, you have a good excuse to exercise, come on, who doesn’t want to have beauty and brains?

This week we interviewed Amanda Rosenthal, an occupational therapist who specializes in pediatrics. She’s a certified Peak Pilates instructor and a work-out fanatic. She finds the time to workout because it makes her feel good and gives her energy to go about her day. She certainly needs the energy because she recently had her first baby girl, Annabelle. As we talked we discovered some of the benefits of working out, and found out Amanda’s favorite ways to get fit.

Occam’s Taser: Tell me about your work-out regiment.
Amanda Rosenthal: I have been working out all my life.  My mom is a fitness instructor and personal trainer so she kept us all active while we were growing up and I was in sports in high school. I really got more into working out when I was in college. I was inspired to be in better shape just to look good in a bathing suit. So that is when I started making it a daily habit and now I am addicted. Working out gives me energy for the busy days and makes me feel good. I feel more positive when I work out which is actually the endorphins kicking in but the positive attitude lasts all day!

OT: What types of working out benefit you the most personally? Cardio, Pilates, Yoga, etc…
AR: All together! I need the Pilates for strengthening and lengthening, yoga for strength and detoxing, cardio for endurance and detoxing. You cannot just do one type of work out and expect to be in good shape.

OT: Do you do anything out of the ordinary or have strange workout habits or strange exercise tips?
AR: Not really strange just mixing it up. There all sorts of fun workouts from dancing like Zumba, Pilates with the reformer, Birkram Yoga (Hot Yoga), spin classes to burlesque workouts! So I think it is a great idea to have fun working out!

OT: Are there any exercise tips you tell your kids to do that might benefit the older generation?
AR: Exercise is so important for kids. Mostly I talk with parents about giving their kids more opportunities to be active.  Don’t carry them, let them walk! Go to the park, take walks, ride bikes and so on. Don’t let your children sit on the couch for most of the day. Their bodies and brains grow and learn while they are moving. I also highly recommend a version of the sun salutation for those children, and adults, with a lot of energy. They do this routine a few times before they have to sit for a long period of time to increase focus.

OT: What is a good workout regimen for people of all shapes and sizes?
AR: Doing strength exercises 3 times a week and cardio 2 to 3 times a week for a half an hour each. New research is showing that you don’t have to work out long to get in shape. The optimal way to do cardio is to do 30 seconds of high intensity aerobics with 90 seconds of recovery for 7 cycles. That adds up to even less than a half hour! Don’t forget to do strength, when you have more muscle you burn more calories.

OT: This week we found out that cardio improves brain function. Have you heard that before? If not, why do you think it is true?
AR: Yes. Of course you are improving blood flow to every area of the body when you exercise, including the brain.

OT: What are some benefits of a treadmill versus an elliptical. We’ve all seen those elliptical commercials about walking on sand!
AR: Both can be a great way of working out. Treadmills provide impact which can assist with building stronger bones but could also cause joint injury. The best way to work out on a treadmill is to do a brisk walking on an increasing incline. So go from and incline of 2 to 4 to 6 to 8 to 10 and so on and back down. This gives you great cardio and is less harsh on your joints than running, just don’t cheat by holing on while you are walking! The elliptical takes out the impact and adds in the arms.  You have to move at a good pace on it though in order to get a good workout. Going slowly while watching TV is not going to do much.

OT: For someone with a busy schedule, how do you suggest they fit an effective workout into their day?
AR: It’s easy to slip it in throughout the day. Park at the back of the parking lot, go up the stairs instead of taking the elevator, sit on a ball instead of a chair when you are working or on the computer. I like to slip in some push-ups, squats and leg lifts while I am waiting for the washing machine to fill. Then when you have a half an hour do a quick video, or do the cardio cycle I suggested earlier.

Work Out

OT: Could you elaborate on the pros or cons of working out with a buddy versus working out alone?
AR: Buddies are great! If you have a hard time getting motivated, pair up with someone who likes to work out.  People who have a work out buddy may find they are more willing to work out more often. However, your buddy has to be there to work out not to chat. If you are too busy talking, you are not working hard enough! Some people may find that they can work out harder and faster without someone else slowing them down.  So it is definitely a personal preference whether your workout buddy is another person or your i-pod! Another good option is to join in a group fitness class like spin, Zumba or Pilates. They are motivating and make the work out go by faster.

Workout Friend

OT: Did you ever enter the aerobic craze of the early 90s?!
AR: I was pretty young at the time but my mom was all about it! She actually did teach a children’s fitness class which I was a part of. We worked out to “Vogue” by Madonna! Good times.


OT: What are some benefits of cardio that people may not know about?
AR: Cardio has been found to be very effective in helping with depression and anxiety. So if you feel down or stressed, instead of grabbing a movie and some ice cream, go for a walk or turn up the music and dance. You will feel better for it. Even though working out can use a lot of energy, you will actually have more energy throughout the day and then sleep better at night if you make exercise a habit.

There you have it; cardio gives you energy, makes you happy, can be done with a buddy, or your iPod, and increases brain function. If you’re looking for an awesome song to workout to and are looking for a throwback, check out “Lets Get Physical” by Olivia Newton John. And don’t forget, squats, push-ups,  and leg lifts are awesome exercises to do while waiting for the laundry or even while your watching your favorite T.V. shows. Zap!


One response to “Add Some Muscle To Your Mind: An Interview With An Occupational Therapist

  1. Exceptional read, I just passed this onto a associate who was doing a modest research on that. And he actually got me lunch because I discovered it for him .So let me rephrase that: Appreciate it for lunch! Best wishes, Lavern.

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