Conduct Yourself Well
By Dale Anderson, M.D.
J’ARMed today? If not, you’re missing out on some serious health
exactly is J’ARMing, you may ask. In a nutshell, J’ARMing is short
for (j)ogging with the (arm)s—the sweeping motion orchestra
conductors make with their arms as they lead the musicians.
Conductors have known about the benefits of their baton-waving arm
movements for years, and they live…and live…and live to prove it. In
fact, great symphony orchestra conductors live, on average, five
years longer than the general population. They are healthier in both
mind and body than others their age.
years ago, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company published its
findings of a longevity study of conductors. In examining 437 active
and former conductors, researchers reported that mortality among
conductors was 38 percent below their contemporaries in the general
population. How’s that for some incentive to J’ARM?
Fortunately, there is a bit of a conductor inside each of us; we
just need to re-tap our childhood memories and actions. Think back
to your childhood for a moment. Many of us marched around our
parents’ living room pretending to lead a marching band or a large
orchestra. We would hoist our arms high in the air and march around
to the music, or dance with all limbs—arms and legs.
moving your arms like an orchestra conductor can offer 12 positive
1. Improved posture
2. Muscle strength and flexibility
3. Improved blood circulation
4. Better balance
5. Weight loss
6. A gentle shoulder and back massage
7. Reduction of your physiological and mental ages
8. A positive attitude and readiness for laughter
9. A “wash” for your brain that removes annoying distractions and
makes you smarter
10. Higher self-esteem
11. Elevation of endorphins and other feel-good brain chemicals
12. For stroke patients, it may help re-connect some of the injured
J’ARMing 101: With all the benefits J’ARMing offers, you’re
likely eager to start. Here are some guidelines to get you going.
Choose your J’ARMing instrument: To become the great conductor
of your “body orchestra” you need a baton. This can be imaginary,
but it is preferable to be a bit more conventional and find a
reasonable facsimile as you begin to J’ARM. You can use pens,
pencils, knives, forks, spoons, brushes, and other implements. Many
people prefer chopsticks, because they lend a special aura of talent
and symbolize the good health principles of healthy Asian
cooking—high fiber and low fat.
Select the right music: If you’re going to conduct, you need
some music. Music is standard fare in most aerobics classes, as
instructors know that music lifts the moods and helps regulate
breathing. So as you begin to J’ARM, choose music that is upbeat,
complete with positive lyrics. If you prefer music without lyrics,
then Baroque era music is a good choice. Baroque composers chose the
beat, tempo, and harmony for their music precisely. According to
some reports, musicians in this period believed that particular
sounds and rhythms could literally put human minds and bodies “in
tune,” producing healing and calming effects. Whatever you decide,
just be sure you choose music that strikes a personal chord and
lifts your spirits. If you’re stumped, here are a few upbeat popular
songs to consider: Put on a Happy Face; Hail, Hail, the
Gang’s All Here; Oh When the Saints Go Marching In; This Land Is
Your Land; Oh, What a Beautiful Morning; Happy Days Are Here Again.
a location: Be creative when looking for times and places you
can J’ARM. You can J’ARM whether standing or sitting, and virtually
any time of day. Some popular places to J’ARM include:
In the shower
While cooking (Note:
this is fun but it can get messy)
While getting dressed
First thing in the
Just before lunch or
While in your car,
sitting at a stoplight and listening to the radio (Give the
driver in the next car something to talk about)
In a private place at
work for a few “feel good” moments of J’ARMing
short, you can J’ARM just about any place at about any time. Even
while lying down you can visualize yourself J’ARMing and enjoy some
of the same benefits.
go a little: Unleash your childlike qualities and approach this
more as play than exercise. Sometimes beginning J’ARMers feel they
look silly. That’s okay. Look silly! After all, what form of
exercise doesn’t look a little silly? Actually, it’s the people who
refuse to exercise who are truly being silly.
Ready, Set, J’ARM! Grab your baton, turn on the tunes, and stand
in front of a full-length mirror to see your entire “performance.”
If you’re worried that your neighbors may think you’re a little
nuts, draw the blinds. Even better, invite them to join you!
J’ARMing is a great way to “stick” together.
you’re ready to conduct yourself well. Raise your arms up high. Move
your arms comfortably in all directions as a conductor does to the
music’s beat. Have some fun and do so with exaggeration and with
enthusiasm. There’s no right or wrong way to J’ARM. Sing along with
the music if you like. Who cares if you’re a little off-key! Remind
yourself that you are the conductor. Allow yourself to feel the
music. Increase your aerobic benefits by standing, dancing, or
marching around. And sneak peeks at yourself in the mirror. Take a
mental “snapshot” of your grinning self and conjure up that happy
image throughout your day.
gives you the excuse to be childlike again, to let yourself go with
the musical flow and reinvigorate both your mind and body. Recapture
that excitement from your childhood—the feeling of being in control,
of moving out of yourself, leaving stress and pain in their tracks.
Once you start J’ARMing on a regular basis, you’ll agree that this
is one exercise that provides more fun than you can “shake a stick
that life is not a dress rehearsal. It’s the real thing—the only
show in town. Therefore, make sure you begin and end each day on a
high note. The more you J’ARM, the more you can say that you are
conducting yourself well.
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