Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on June 17, 2003 · Page 44
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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Page 44

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Tuesday, June 17, 2003
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: ftwimmpr Vine tiriQ QUOTABLE "Remember, slow and steady : comes in 29,000th." : David Letterman, from the "Top 10 Thoughts of New York Marathonors" i 1 j far your water workout FITNESS ROUNDUP Send fitness events to Your Health, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA. 15222. Or fax to 412-263-1706. : Water exercises are lauded because they're highly effective and '.don't pound the body. And they've .gone far beyond aqua jogging. "Aqua Fit: Water Workouts for Total Fitness" (Broadway Books, 412.95, shown at right) arrives just "in time for summer pool season, but can be used year-round. : Author Jane Katz of New York City learned about the benefits of -water exercise for strengthening the body when she was recovering from a car accident in 1979 that left her with fractures of the ribs, head land left arm. A lifelong swimmer 'and a member of the U.S. Synchro-njze,d Swimming Performance Team at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Merrie's way Emergency worker loves clowning around for a good cause: getting kids in shape ; r t & 1 .OA f j puiffi rn r- IliiiUiiiii u r Katz was told she d never swim 'again competitively. Instead, she got back in the pool, :doing walks around the walls. "That's what started me teaching aquatics and writing about it," A ii.. nu, mru, . 1 r : If J 1 s ft. S-4 . . ill tH .!. " 1 I V " 'l if x' she said. J IBS the next year, she was com-I jpeting'in Masters events and has I ;won AU-American and World Mas- iters championships, among other Wnors. ; The book's water aerobic and strength-training workouts take : ; people through yoga, Pilates and tai ' chi movements, as well as breath-; ing and deep-water exercises. ; Katz, who was born in Sharon, ; Pa., in 1943, also outlines family programs and children's aqua ' games. ! That follows with her view of the . pool aS being a great equalizer for exercisers. "It's friendly every-j where." Events ; ; 0 Lparn to Row Day, spon-;;spfQdby Three Rivers Rowing As-; spciation, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. June ;-21", Riverfront Park, Millvale. Free. ; Call 412-231 -8772. j Rock climbing. The Western Pennsylvania Field Institute 4 launches summer program at sites in West Virginia, led by the American Youth Hostel climbing team. Begins June 21 -22 at Cooper's Rock State Forest near Mor-gantown. For beginners and expe-' rienced climbers. For details: 412- '.III 255-0564 or www.wpfi.org H Pittsburgh Power Walk for women by Wright Fit. Eliza Furnace Trail to Downtown, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 22. Cost: $45, includes brunch. Call 412-681-8008. ClassesClinics Free exercise stretch class to eliminate and reduce pain and weakness, 5:30 p.m. June 17 at the Downtown YMCA, 330 Blvd. of the Allies. Offered by Center for Pain Treatment. For details, call 412-431-9180. B "Osteoporosis: The Benefits of Exercise" lecture, 7 p.m. June 25. Center for Wellness at McMurray, 155 Waterdam Road, Peters. To register: 724-942-5040. People with Arthritis Can Exercise, 12 to 12:45 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, June 24 to July 24. JCC, 345 Kane Blvd., Scott. To register: 412-278-1975, Ext. 203. .v.v.-.f.i.. Steve MellonPost-Gazette Mary Popovich, as Merrie the Clown, leads a routine at the Basic Carbide company picnic in Industry earlier this month. Following along is Jonathan Mains, 6, of Munhall. By Deborah Weisberg Mary Popovich once was on her way to a party when she came upon a car that had flipped over on Interstate 70. "I ran to the car, tearing off my wig my makeup's melting and yelled to the guy, 'I know I look like a clown, but I'm really a paramedic. Don't move!' " she recalled. And she followed him to the hospital in baggy pants and floppy shoes. She has found herself performing CPR on people in her hometown of West Newton who didn't recognize her under her greasepaint and once was pressed into service when she had just gotten off stilts at a fairgrounds. "I was changing clothes in the back of the ambulance on the way to the call, when I realized I was missing my EMS pants," she says with a laugh. At 49, she manages to juggle her day job saving lives with her off-hours shtick as Merrie the Magical Clown. "She's one of a kind," says Karen DeAngelis of the Perryopo-lis Ambulance Service, one of several EMS companies for which Popovich works. "She gives 110 percent in everything she does. But I don't know how she does it." Popovich does it so well she has received several awards, the most recent being the 2003 EMS Practitioner of the Year by the Emergency Medical Service Institute. The institute is a nonprofit corporation that assists EMS workers with financial and technical support in 10 counties in southwestern Pennsylvania, including Allegheny. This followed her award as 2002 Pennsylvania Instructor of the Year from the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Service Council and other commendations. Popovich also gets kudos from youngsters who have learned about the value of keeping fit when she directs them through fun exercise routines as Merrie the Clown. She got involved in rescue work after her family was touched by medical tragedies. She was 12 when her father was killed in a motorcycle crash. Later, her sister was in a serious automobile accident that eventually cost her the vision in one eye. "I got the call in the middle of the night that she'd been hurt. ... I didn't know what was going on. I thought, 'Better to know what to do in an emergency, and I decided to go for training.' " She began emergency medical training at age 20 at the East Huntingdon Fire Department and then earned her paramedic certi- "She gives 110 percent in everything she does. But I don't know how she does it." Karen DeAngelis, Perryopolis Ambulance Service ror walkers L . f r-t ? J - R mothers did aerobics. She found she liked working with youngsters. When the studio closed, she turned to something lighter, delivering balloons, with one string attached: kids need to get more exercise. "I was amazed how many overweight kids there are," she says. As Merrie the Clown, she involves young revelers in fitness routines. "I start with warm-ups to get them in a natural state.. .to become comfortable in their space, then move to the hokey pokey, birdy dance, limbo stick..." A friend sewed her first costume, which has become her trademark red jumpsuit. She wears a long blond wig, white face paint and a beauty mark as a tribute to her idol Marilyn Monroe. She performs at nursing homes, schools, churches and company picnics. Being Merrie is good stress relief from the tragedies she encounters as a medic, she says. It also brings her out of her shell. "I used to be painfully shy," she says. "As Merrie, I'm a different person." training. She graduated five years ago from California University of Pennsylvania, where she went on to earn a master's degree in athletic training. She volunteered as a medic until two years ago, when she took a paid position directing the Perryopolis Ambulance Service. Recently she also became an educator for Mutual Aid Ambulance Service in Greensburg and still volunteers with Rostraver-West Newton EMS. "She's a terrific medic," says co-worker Jerry DeAngelis of Perryopolis, Karen's husband. "She knows how to calm a person down. ... Even training other employees, she stresses patient care. She doesn't just throw people into the ambulance. She cares about them." Popovich may have saved his life, too. A few months ago when she walked into work, she sensed something wasn't right with DeAngelis. She urged him to go to the hospital, where doctors found he was on the verge of a heart attack. But how did she become a clown? That avocation emerged from an exercls" studio she once ran in West Newton. She offered children's classes on Saturdays while todudingWslkiln: fication from Frick Hospital. That training served her well wne'n she took a job as a general laborer in a coal mine when she was 22, newly divorced and needing to support a baby son. "It was considered bad luck for women to even be in the mines back then, before women's lib," says Popovich. "But I was willing to learn. It took me two years, but I got my miner's papers." She won the respect of other workers when she helped rescue a miner caught in a roof fall. "After that, boy oh boy! Did it change. The guys became like a bunch of brothers." College came in midlife. A good friend whom she helped care for through a terminal illness, urged her to pursue a degree in athletic Deborah Weisberg is a free-' lance writer. GUIDE FROM PAGE D-1 up with the concept and format, and Anne E. Richardson, an alliance staff member. Some routes are well known, like the Eliza Furnace, known colloquially as the "jail trail" that runs between the eastbound and westbound lanes of the busy Parkway East ("The buzz of the city gives : way to the open feel of modern industry and great views of the Monongahela River"). Others are underused, such as the more peaceful trail across the river on . the South Side. Eight are accessible by public transportation, five are within the 'city of Pittsburgh, four include stretches of the Montour Trail ' west of the city and three are east of the city. Lengths range from a 1.5-mile ' loop around Washington's Landing to a round-trip, 9.2-mile option on the Youghiogheny River Trail from Sutersville to Dravo Cemetery in Elizabeth Township. Most are 1.5 to 4 miles. The guide was developed because alliance members got so many requests for information . when they spoke to groups about "trail opportunities. Of course, the bottom line is building awareness about these trails to encourage people to get fit. "We're trying to promote the health benefits of walking," Merrill said. Her favorite trail in the city is the South Side walk. (Two options: 1.5 miles or 3.8 miles) Although it's in the city, there are stretches that have a country feel. It also includes Riverview Park with the boat launch area, historical monuments and attractive landscaping "Great Little Walks in the Pittsburgh Area,'-' in a handy ring binder, costs $7.95. They are available from the Allegheny Trail Alliance, 1-888-ATABIKE or on the Web, www.atatrail.org. They also are expected to be offered at local book outlets. The Allegheny Trail Alliance is a coalition of seven trail organizations in southwestern Pennsylvania and western Maryland. Major study on moderate exercise is questioned h 1 1 I prove health, but that vigorous exercise is needed to change life expectancy. "If you are unfit and you become substantially fit, I believe that will change your life expectancy." Williams' challenge is itself challenged by Steven N. Blair, president and CEO of the Cooper Institute, who led in front of the UPMC Sports Performance complex. "I don't think a lot of people realize it's there. It's also accessible by public transportation and is easy for a lot of people to get to. It's got restaurants close by and shopping if you want to combine your walk with other activities." Virginia Linn can be reached at vlinMipost-gazette.com or 412-263-1662. Steven N.Blair of the Cooper Institute led the original study. ; "If you are unfit and you become substantially fit, I believe that will change your life expectancy." Paul T. Williams, biostatistician By Ira Dreyfuss The Associated Press New research labels as an "illusion" a major study's conclusion that couch potatoes who take up at least moderate regular exercise can reduce their risk of dying early. The apparent benefit "can be entirely attributed to measurement error," said researcher Paul T. Williams, a biostatistician in the Life Sciences Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif. However, the lead scientist in the original study says additional data from the research project can prove him right. And other experts say that even if Williams' analysis is correct, other studies have shown so many health benefits from exercise that it must extend lifespan. Williams examined a landmark study published in 1995 in the Journal of the American Medical Association by scientists at the Cooper Institute, a Dallas organization that studies exercise and lifestyle. The Cooper Institute team looked at data on 9,777 men who had taken two treadmill exercise tests almost five years apart. The scientists then followed the men for more than five years. The researchers adjusted statistically for age and other risk factors, so they could focus on seeing if exercise affected the risk of death. Men in the least fit 20 percent on both treadmill tests were most likely to die, the study found. However, men whose times had improved enough on the second test to pull themselves out of the least fit group had a lower risk of death. Men who were unfit on the first test and fit on the second hud a 41 percent reduction in !ju.'ir risk of death, compared with men who the JAMA article study team as a scientist, before his promotion. Men whose fitness improved on the treadmill tests also reported a corresponding change in their physical activity, he said. Those self-reports are a sign that the improved lifespans were the result of improved living, not a glitch in the methodology, he said. A colleague of Blair, digging deeper into the Cooper Institute data, said ne was seeing physical changes which also argue that the lifespan improvements are real. "The idea that people don't change on repeated measures is absolute nonsense. They do, and we've got the data to prove it," said Tony Jackson, a professor of health and human performance at the University of Houston. At Stanford University, medical professor and physical activity researcher William Haskell felt Williams made a point in criticizing the design of the Cooper study. "It does raise an issue about how much weight we should be putting on those studies," he said. Another institute board member, I-Min Lee of the Harvard School of Public Health, noted that some measurement error is a normal part pf cpumofi put cHfi c??jfjs oer lots of reasons to think that moderate exercise should improve health enough to reduce the risk of an early death. "If Blair's study were the only one, 1 probably wouldn't put as much weight on it, but it is a piece of the puzzle that fits into the larger picture,"! ee sail ' ' ' YOUR HEALTH CONNECTIONS YOUR HEALTH is published every Tuesday to give you a comprehensive look at how medical, fitness and nutritional issues affect your life. Here's how to reach us: Virginia Linn, health section editor 412-263-1662 Byron Spice, science editor 412-263-1578 Anita Srikameswaran, medical reporter 412-263-3858 Don Hopey, environment reporter 412-263-1983 Christopher Snowbeck, medical reporter 412-263-2625 Pohla Smith, fitness reporter 412-263-1228 Katy Buchanan, designer To advertise in this section, call Lorraine Cardinale at 412-263-1351 YOUR HEALTH welcomes your letters and also commentaries Please include your address and daytime phone number. FAX: 412-263-1706 E-mail: Healthpost-gazette.com YOUR HEALTH, PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE 34 BLVD. OF THE ALLIES, PITTSBURGH. PA 15222 were unfit on both tests. The researchers concluded that getting out of the least fit group could pull people out of the group at highest risk of early death. The finding is commonly cited to support current federal guidelines on physical activity, which call for doing at least 30 minutes of moderate activity on most, if not all, days of the week. But Williams contends the researchers did not account sufficiently for the fact that the treadmill test is not a perfect measurement of physical ability. The test has a good day-bad day problem: A person might go longer in one test and shorter in another while having the same underlying fitness. In his experiment, Williams ran numbers on a computer model. He created two hypothetical treadmill tests, and varied the scores according to his assumptions of measurement error. His results were the same as the Cooper scientists described in the JAMA article, Williams said. And if the article's results can be explained by measurement error, scientists must reject the conclusion that there were improvements due to physical activity, Williams said. "It hasn't been proved that changing to moderate exercise would affect your life exwclaticv." he said. t ii i t . - vi ui Willi, can

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