get upThat the average adult spends 50 to 70 percent of their day sitting is no surprise to anyone who works in an office environment. But few realize the health consequences they are suffering as a result of modernity’s increasingly sedentary lifestyle, or the effects it has had on society at large.

In Get Up! , health expert James A. Levine’s original scientific research shows that today’s chair-based world, where we no longer use our bodies as they evolved to be used, is having negative consequences on our health, and is a leading cause of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Over the decades, humans have moved from a primarily active lifestyle to one that is largely sedentary, and this change has reshaped every facet of our lives–from social interaction to classroom design.

Levine shows how to throw off the shackles of inertia and reverse these negative trends through simple changes in our daily lives. (description from publisher)

I don’t know about you, but the warmer weather we’ve been having has made me realize that “swimsuit season” will soon be upon us!  If you’re also looking for some help or motivation in getting a little toned up before it gets really hot out there, check out these titles on our “New Materials” shelves. 

Pilates Practice Companion is a beautiful book with tons of color photograhps.  The book has several different sections featuring exercises at different levels: beginning, intermediate and advanced, as well as other chapters, such as “Maturing with Pilates.”  It also has two-page spreads with 15, 30 or 45-minute routines which would certainly simplify any home workout.  Another advantage is that it also shows photographs of “common faults.”  When I first starting taking Pilates classes, the instructor would come around and correct our form.  Often I thought I was doing a move correctly, only to have her alter my position by what seemed like an inch or less, taking me from “oh, this is okay” to “ohmygosh this is hard!”  A final plus is that the author, Alycea Ungaro, is well-known in her field, having written several books on the subject as well as having trained many celebrity clients, such as Madonna.

Full Body Flexibilty by Jay Blahnick is another great book whose message is enhanced with wonderful photos.   Our staff is now doing stretching exercises at work each day (just for a few minutes) but those interested in taking it to the next level would be well-served by this resource.  One feature that’s particularly useful is that the stretches are divided by different sections of the body.  So, for example, if you had back or hip problems, you could concentrate on those stretches.  I think this book will prove popular:  I had it out at a public desk while working on this blog and a patron asked if she could check it out.  Absolutely.  That’s what we’re all about!

Looking for a uniquely Iowa activity this summer? The 2010 Hooverball National Championships will be Saturday, August 7th.

For the uninitiated, Hooverball is similar to volleyball and played with a four or six pound medicine ball (women’s and men’s versions respectively).

“Catching one of these balls is like catching a bag of concrete mix dropped off a freeway overpass,” according to CBS Sunday Morning.  The speed and grueling nature of the game made it a fast and efficient way to exercise all one’s muscles, which was the appeal for President Hoover and his doctor. During his presidency, Hoover lost 25 pounds which they attributed to his regular morning Hooverball games.

Teams were made up of Cabinet members and Supreme Court justices. Every day but Sunday, they played on the front lawn unless the weather drove them down to the White House basement.

West Branch may be the only town in the world with it’s own Hoover-Ball courts on  Main Street. Other Hooverfest activities are fireworks at dusk, a band, food tents and a beer tent.

Read more about Hoover in the recent biography, Herbert Hoover by William Leuchtenburg.

There was a lot to be impressed by when watching the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics last week, not the least of which was the sight of 2008 tai chi masters performing in perfect unison.

Practiced by millions of people around the world, tai chi, a traditional Chinese martial art, is reported to have many health benefits including stress management, improving balance, coordination and flexibility, and strengthening the connection between the body’s muscular system, circulation and breath. Classified as a “soft” martial art, its sequence of slow, relaxed movements can be performed by people of all ages on a daily basis.

For an introduction to tai chi, or to improve your practice, check out the following books and DVDs from the Davenport library.

Tai Chi for Every Body: Easy, Low-impact Exercises for Every Age by Eva Koskuba

Tai Chi: a Practical Introduction by Paul Crompton

Tai Chi Walking: a Low-impact Path to Better Health by Robert Chuckrow

Tai Chi for Busy People (videorecording)

Tai Chi Fundamentals (videorecording)

Feeling inspired by some of those amazing performances turned in by Olympic athletes? Think it might be time to dust off those running shoes, or learn a new sport (they make it look so easy!) Make sure your first stop (after checking with your doctor of course!) is the library, where we have lots of helpful books on how to get in shape.

Faster, Better, Stronger: 10 Scientific Secrets to a Healthier Body in 12 Weeks by Eric Heiden.

Strength for Life: the Fitness Plan for the Best of Your Life by Shawn Phillips

Start Strong, Finish Strong: Prescriptions for a Lifetime of Great Health by Kenneth Cooper

Walking for Fitness by Marnie Caron

Mayo Clinic Fitness for Everybody by Diane Dahm

Small Changes, Big Results: a 12 Week Action Plan for Eating Well, Staying Fit and Feeling Good by Ellie Krieger

The library also has a large collection of fitness videos including yoga, pilates, dance and cardio workouts to help inspire you. And they’re all free to check-out!