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Page 20 Ottawa Jewish Bulletin September 24, 2012

Exercise is key to living a healthy life


This summer, I took advantage of downtime to catch up on reading. Fifty Shades of Grey was not on my reading list. In Healing through Exercise, author Jorg Blech reinforces the notion our bodies were designed for movement and our genetic makeup hasnt caught up with our modern, sedentary lifestyle. He reminds us the hundreds of muscles and bones in our bodies werent meant for sitting all day. Theyre stimulated to grow and strengthen by motion and strain. He asserts that exercise is much more than just a way to improve our health, it is necessary for the human body to work normally. Traditionally, doctors recommended physical activity as a preventative measure for healthy patients. Exercise was typically contraindicated for people with health issues. In recent years, though, the medical paradigm has shifted away from rest and in favour of movement. Prolonged bed rest creates complications such as muscular atrophy, poor circulation and a depressed mood. Exercise is good for a variety of ailments. It can strengthen the heart and improve cardiovascular efficiency of people with heart disease. It can strengthen the immune system of cancer patients. It can strengthen the muscles, ligaments and tendons surrounding osteoarthritic joints, thereby reducing pain and increasing range of motion. The author criticizes doctors for still being quick to pull out their prescription pads and slow to help patients become more active. We can improve our bodies at any age, according to Blech, even if weve neglected them for most of our lives. We can delay or undo some of the deterioration we associate with old age. He cites a study of people in their 80s and 90s who were instructed to exercise at 80 per cent of their maximum capac-

Focus on Fitness
Gloria Schwartz
ity. They increased their muscular strength by 10 per cent and improved their walking abilities. Even old and habitually sedentary people still can reap the benefits of exercise if they simply put themselves in motion, he concludes. In The Great American Heart Hoax: Lifesaving Advice Your Doctor Should Tell You About Heart Disease Prevention (But Probably Never Will), Dr. Michael Ozner takes a strong position against the American medical industrys practice of relying on expensive, invasive and often potentially risky procedures such as angioplasties and bypass operations. He reviews a number of studies that suggest patients with stable coronary artery disease have better outcomes with lifestyle changes coupled with medical therapy. He concludes that 30 minutes of daily cardio exercise and healthy eating can prevent heart disease in healthy people and even reverse heart disease in those already afflicted. These books got me thinking about the kinds of information our physicians communicate, or fail to communicate, to us. Does your doctor discuss lifestyle changes you can make as part of a comprehensive preventative maintenance or health improvement strategy? A prescription for exercise as a way to prevent, delay, re-

duce the symptoms of, or even cure, some diseases, is not as recent a concept as some would have us believe. Physical fitness for health purposes has been encouraged in many cultures throughout history. One example is the 5,000-year-old practice of yoga. While travelling in Spain in August, I stopped in Cordoba, birthplace of 12th century Torah scholar, rabbi and physician Moses Maimonides. I visited Casa de Sefard, the Jewish museum that showcases his life and work. Best known for his Judaic scholarly writings, he also wrote medical works. I was fascinated to learn that Maimonides was an advocate of exercise, nutrition and personal hygiene. Among the museums displays is a list of specific foods Maimonides recommended eating or avoiding. Many of his ideas still make sense today. Skip ahead 800 years. Remember Susan Powter, the charismatic queen of the early-1990s Stop the Insanity infomercials? Her book of the same name and era seems a bit dated, especially the photos of her working out in bra tops and leotards. Nonetheless, her personal success story about overhauling her body and mind is packed with bittersweet and laugh-out-loud moments. In recalling her weight-loss goals, Powter admits health was not initially at the top of her list: As I was changing my body, I thought about what I wanted Heres what I visualized Looking better than my ex-husbands girlfriend. Of course, along the way, she was rewarded with many health benefits and a hot body! If I had to choose one message to share with you from my summer reading, it would be a profound statement made by Martha Gulati and Sherry Torkos in their book, Saving Womens Hearts. Physical inactivity is second only to cigarette smoking as the leading cause of preventable deaths We just need to move!

Gay students alienated from Jewish campus life must be welcomed


Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are times for self-reflection and, consequently, times to create goals for self-improvement. Perhaps it was the spirit of the New Year that got me thinking about our accomplishments, and even more so our shortcomings as a Jewish community on campus. Or, perhaps it was the presence of Israel Advocacy Co-ordinator Emile Scheffel at Capital Pride, Ottawas gay pride celebration, at the end of August. Hundreds of people were thrilled to learn about GLBTQ rights and culture in #Israel, Scheffel tweeted, posting pictures of sunglasses and shot glasses branded by the pro-Israel Size Doesnt Matter campaign. This excited me a great deal, particularly because of some Facebook statuses Id recently seen posted by fellow students. One advocated bringing Queers Against Israeli Apartheid to Ottawa and another asked everyone to stop pinkwashing Israel. Pinkwashing is a term that means to say Israel is promoting gay rights as a marketing strategy designed to portray itself as a progressive state while deflecting from human rights abuses and occupation of Palestinian territories. See, I can understand opposing Israels politics, but Ive never been able to grasp why, for some people, acknowledging Israels failures requires neglecting its achievements. Gay rights and Palestinian rights are two separate issues, and they should be treated as such. But what about being gay and Jewish? Are they mutually exclusive attributes or can they be reconciled? While Id seen Israels support for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer (GLBTQ) community recognized in the Size Doesnt Matter campaign, Ive not yet witnessed very much support for gay Jews on campus. I texted a friend who frequents Carleton Universitys GLBTQ Centre, Do you know of any gay Jews at Carleton? I asked. No, I dont, she replied. Most people at the centre arent religious. Heres the thing, though. From my elementary school days at Hillel Academy to my recent Jerusalem Fellowships trip, Ive grown up with the idea that Judaism is not only a religion, but also a culture, and a nationality and I believe it. So, when I realized that I, too, couldnt think of anyone I knew in Ottawa who was both openly gay and openly Jewish, I was floored. A chat with Remy Attig confirmed my suspicions. Attig is a graduate student at the University of Ottawa, a Pink Triangle Services volunteer, a drag queen, a Jew, and he was the 2009-2010 Israel Advocacy Co-ordinator for Hillel Ottawa. He said he knows a lot of young, gay, Jewish people in Ottawa who are out on campus, but not at Hillel. He attributes this to a lack of activities targeted toward queer students and to Hillels neutrality toward GLBTQ issues. In their minds, there werent very many people affected by this. On other hand, if youre not trying to engage a group, you dont know how many there are, he said. He also brought up the consensus that Jews should marry Jews and procreate. Even if he wanted to attend an event like a jnet gala, Attig said he worries people might stare due to the sex of his date, making them both feel uncomfortable. Even if Attig is mistaken, that fear exists because he and other young, Jewish gays perceive there are no signs of support, acceptance and welcome coming from the young, Jewish scene. In larger, more diverse communities, there are Jewish groups specifically for gay students. In January, Hillel of Greater Toronto launched LGBTQ Jews. While we do have Keshet Ottawa, described on its website as a Jewish non-profit social group for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer (or Questioning) individuals and their allies, most of Keshet Ottawas membership seems to be age 40-plus.

Campus Life
Ilana Belfer
So, where are gay, Jewish youth to turn in Ottawa? In my experience they just end up not doing Jewish stuff [and] eventually disconnect from the community, Attig said. However, this doesnt have to be the case. Last year, Hillel Ottawa brought gay, Orthodox Rabbi Steven Greenberg to Carleton to speak. Granted, he was already in town visiting Congregation Agudath Israel, but its a start. Scott Goldstein, Hillel Ottawas new executive director, told me he has a lot of experience working with the GLBTQ community on campuses and is looking for ways to continue doing so in Ottawa. Citywide Hillel Ottawa President Cheryl Sweigman told me shed love to have more events relating to GLBTQ students and asked for suggestions. Heres one maybe this year would be the time to have a Purim drag show, an idea Attig once proposed, but which Hillel Ottawa rejected at the time. He feels it wouldnt alienate religious people because Jewish law permits cross-dressing on Purim. While things are looking up for the New Year, we must remember to follow through on this goal of improving JewishGLBTQ relations on campus. Its fine to support gay rights in Israel, but it would be akin to pinkwashing, if were not, first and foremost, opening our arms to members of the tribe here at home.