Category Archives: Exercise

Strength in Numbers: A resolution for those of us over 55

By Neil Short, certified strength and conditioning specialist and and creator of ‘Be Strong Be Free’

Neil short photo
Neil Short, a Casper attorney and strength-training proponent, will write about positive aging in his weekly column, “Strength in Numbers.” (Photo courtesy of Neil Short)

Here is a resolution for all of us over 55:  Commit to a life of Positive Aging.  This is our life-long resolution, not merely a New Year’s Resolution.

New Year’s Resolutions tend to focus on subjects like weight loss and learning a new language.  New Year’s Resolutions are all too often made only to be broken, and quit quickly at that.  When a resolution (weight loss) is broken, the negative activity (eating poorly) becomes much worse.  Everyone knows that New Year’s Resolutions usually fail.

Rather than making a doomed – to – fail resolution for the New Year, those of us 55 and older need to make a life plan to take responsibility for our lives and make the next years the best they can possibly be.

Does that sound just too grand and broad to be real and effective?  It is not.  A positive life plan starts with an attitude that puts you in charge of how you will age and flourish versus allowing yourself to wither.  Choose active aging rather than allow aging to be a form of disability.  Decide that you want to remain active to the fullest degree possible and then do what needs to be done.

In this column, which will appear monthly on The Pulse, I will explore topics that contribute to a healthy, happy and productive life at any age. The basic tenents are the same, no matter if you are 20 or 70. But I will devote this space to those of us who, in the words of Dylan Thomas, will “not go gentle into that good night.”

Certainly you must eat well to have any hope of being the best you can be.  Of course you must engage in exercise centered on strength training to give you the boost and ability to live a full life.  But there is one more dynamic of positive aging that you must buy into to make your senior years full and rewarding.

A key ingredient is committing to a purpose or a cause that forces you outside of your personal universe.  Find meaning in your life beyond your family and your home projects.  To be the best possible version of you, step out of your comfort zone and contribute to the broader community.  Opportunities abound. Work with a church group; volunteer in a meaningful way with one of the many fine non-profit organizations in our community.  Expend yourself and expand yourself.  The community will benefit, but even more important, you will be the better for it.

Here is your resolution then: commit to a life of positive aging that includes contributing your time, energy, and talents to a worthy cause.

Expand your personal universe by making aging a positive process.  Eat well, exercise enthusiastically, and become engaged in the community.  Everything else will fall into place.

Bicep Curls

Neil Short demonstrates this good starter exercise which can be done with weighted objects found around your house – like two filled water bottles. Find more exercises and strength-training tips at Never start any exercise program without first consulting your healthcare provider.


neil short mugNeil Short, 66, of Casper, is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and a USA Weightlifting Level 1 certified coach. As he approached age 60, he sought to discover why some seniors recover from health problems, but others do not, and  why some people power into their senior years while others allow aging to become a form of disability.  The answer became very clear: strength training.

He is the creator of “Be Strong Be Free,” a home-based strength-training program to help you stay active into your 80s and 90s. Learn more at His “Strength in Numbers” column appears monthly on The Pulse.



Decoding Diabetes: 7 steps to prevention


As many as 79 million people in the United States have prediabetes, yet more than 90 percent of them don’t know it. People with pre-diabetes usually have no symptoms, and many who learn about their pre-diabetes think it’s no big deal.

The best way to get your blood sugar into the normal range is with a coordinated plan of healthy nutrition, increased physical activity and lifestyle strategies that support modest weight loss if you are overweight – 5 to 10 percent of your body weight.  Research shows that such a plan reduces diabetes risk even better than using medication.

You may see improvements in glucose levels in as little as three months. If you have pre-diabetes, don’t wait to make lifestyle changes. The window to turn around elevated glucose levels is only three to six years.

You have the power to prevent diabetes. Here are seven ways to get started:


1. Move more. Get up, get out, and get moving. Try walking, dancing, bike riding, swimming or playing ball with your friends or family. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you enjoy it. Try different activities so you don’t get bored.

2. Eat the healthy plate way. Focus on eating less and making healthy food choices including dried beans, whole grains,  three to five servings of vegetables and one to two servings of fruit per day. Cut down on fatty and fried foods. Eat the foods you enjoy, just eat less of them.

 3. Lose some weight. Once you start eating less and moving more, you will lose weight. By losing even 10 pounds, you can cut your chances of developing diabetes.

4. Set goals you can meet. Start by making small changes. Try for 15 minutes of activity a day this week.  Add 5 more minutes each week after until you are active 30 minutes a day, 5 days per week. Try to cut 100 calories (or one can of soda) out of your diet each day. Slowly reduce your calories over time and talk to your health care team about your goals.

5. Record your progress. Keep a food and exercise diary. Write down all the calories you eat and drink and the number of minutes you are active. This is one of the best ways to lose weight and keep it off.

6. Get help. You don’t have to prevent diabetes alone. Involve family and friends in your plans and activities. You can help each other move more, eat less and live a healthier life. Active groups in your area can also help, as can your healthcare team.

7. Keep at it. Making even small changes is hard in the beginning. Try adding one new change a week. If you get off track, start again and keep at it.

Know your risk

The American Diabetes Association recommends you be tested for pre-diabetes if:

* You are overweight and 45 years or older
* You are 45 or older and your doctor recommends testing
* You are overweight with a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides
* You are a woman who had gestational diabetes and/or gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds.
* You are of an ethnic group with a high risk of developing diabetes and have discussed the risks with your doctor. Ethnic groups with a higher risk include African American, Native American, Hispanic and Asian.

WMC Diabetes Care Center

If you have diabetes or are at risk of developing it, our nationally recognized Diabetes Care Center can guide you through all types of the disease – type 1, type 2 or gestational. We offer individual sessions or a series of diabetes education classes to help people live with the disease, help with meal planning, glucose monitoring instruction, foot screening and much more striving to reduce the risk of complications from type 2 diabetes.

Wyoming Medical Center’s Diabetes Prevention Program has shown that simple lifestyle changes can decrease the chance of developing diabetes by 58 percent. Our 12-week program can improve blood sugars, reduce weight and decrease or delay the development of type 2 diabetes among those with pre-diabetes.

For more information, call 577-2592 or visit the center’s webpage.

Anyone with pre-diabetes, diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance is welcome. Please contact your physician to coordinate services.

If you feel you are at risk for developing diabetes, we have screening options available. Call our laboratory at 577-2354 or visit our laboratory page to see the health fair and wellness screenings we offer.


Mary TvedtMary Tvedt is a certified diabetes educator and has managed the Diabetes Care Center at Wyoming Medical Center for the past seven years. She has a bachelor’s degree in foods and human nutrition with a minor in child development and family science from North Dakota State University. If you have concerns about diabetes talk to your doctor. To learn more about services at the Diabetes Care Center, call (307) 577-2592. 

Decoding Diabetes is a weekly series focusing on education, prevention and tips for living with the disease. Find it on The Pulse each Thursday. Past stories include:

Nov. 22: A case for regular screenings

Nov. 14: What you should know for World Diabetes Day 

The McGinley Method: Casper doctor revolutionizes treatment for chronic exertional compartment syndrome

mcginley-3 (1)
Dr. Joe McGinley demonstrates how he uses three-dimensional images of a patient’s legs to diagnose chronic exertional compartment syndrome. McGinley developed a non-invasive treatment for the syndrome as an alternative to surgery. Now patients fly to Casper from around the country to get the treatment. (Photo by Dan Cepeda Photography)

Five years ago, Lauren was a college athlete, sprinting up and down the soccer field. She gradually noticed pain in her calves when she ran. It seemed to be getting worse. The deep burning pain eventually appeared every time she exerted any force on her legs — flexing her feet, walking up stairs, running or squatting.

Doctors diagnosed her with chronic exertional compartment syndrome, an exercise-induced pain and swelling in leg muscles that will often sideline athletes from favored sports. Lauren underwent three surgeries on each leg. None worked.

“After each one, I never had any relief. Doctors kept convincing me to have another one. This is not my style. I used to be a high-level athlete who never had injuries,” said Lauren, a patient of Dr. Joe McGinley who recently flew to Casper from her home in New Jersey to undergo a new non-surgical treatment for the syndrome. McGinley, who specializes in musculoskeletal radiology and sports medicine, is the only doctor in the country to offer this therapy, but is traveling the country training other doctors to do it safely.

A new procedure

Until very recently, athletes with exertional compartment syndrome had two options: conservatively treat symptoms with rest and pain killers, but these are only successful if they give up the activities they love. The other option was surgery.

McGinley 006
Dr. Joe McGinley, at left, uses a portable ultrasound machine to see inside the legs of Lauren, a college-level soccer player from New Jersey until chronic lower leg pain stopped almost all physical activity.

Lauren didn’t want to give up soccer and she’d found no relief through surgery. During one of her many late night Google searches, she found Dr. McGinley, a Casper doctor who claimed to have a new procedure that used Botox injections to relieve exertional compartment syndrome symptoms.

Dr. McGinley understands athletes. He’s one himself. In July, he ran the Cowboy Tough, a 300-mile adventure race from Cheyenne to Casper. He puts a special emphasis on treating sports injuries without surgery.

He is also a mechanical engineer, with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in the field. He often applies engineering principals to treating patients. It’s how he developed his new therapy for exertional compartment syndrome.

In 2011, Laura Stamp was a venerable high school athlete for Natrona County High School, competing in cross country, soccer and Nordic skiing. Her calf pain had started in 2008 at the end of her freshman year and gradually worsened. She was diagnosed with exertional compartment syndrome.

About a month before Stamp was to undergo surgery, a friend heard a talk on the syndrome by Dr. McGinley and arranged for the two to meet.

Dr. Joe McGinley inserts guide needles into Lauren's legs at a recent treatment in Casper. The needles mark the pressure points where McGinley will inject Botox into the legs.
Dr. Joe McGinley inserts guide needles into Lauren’s legs at a recent treatment in Casper. The needles mark the pressure points where McGinley will inject Botox into the legs.

On a CT scan, McGinley noticed that Stamp’s thigh muscles were compressing her veins during exercise. Her arteries were carrying blood down to her calves, but her veins weren’t carrying it out at the same rate. It caused swelling, pressure and pain in her calves.

“From there, I just put the engineering mechanics together: If she is exercising, she is exerting force and the artery is open, but the vein is now compressed. It’s a pressure mismatch. It’s a flow mismatch, and from an engineering standpoint, there has to be a consequence to that,” McGinley said.

The mechanics of exertion compartment syndrome had never been considered in this way. But, McGinley had to prove his theory. He temporarily blocked the muscle compressing Stamp’s vein and rescanned her legs. Not only had the pain disappeared, the compression had too. All McGinley had to do was figure out how to keep the muscle off the vein long term.

He doesn’t often work with Botox, but knew that it would temporarily block muscle function, perhaps preventing the muscle from compressing the vein. “So I called (Stamp’s) parents, and said don’t hang up on me, but I have a great idea.”

Stamp was McGinley’s first patient in the experimental treatment. She canceled her scheduled surgery and was back to playing soccer within a month. Two months later, she ran a half marathon. She’s now on the Nordic ski team at Williams College in Massachusetts.

“I’ve always been very active and competitive, so when compartment syndrome started to take that away, it was beyond frustrating. To have it fixed and be able to compete at my best has allowed me to live the lifestyle I crave. I fully attribute this to Dr. McGinley’s therapy,” Stamp said.

Promising outcomes

Dr. Joe McGinley poses in front of the CT scanner at Casper Medical Imaging. McGinley scans the legs of his chronic exertional compartment syndrome patients to determine where muscles are constricting blood flow through veins, creating painful swelling during exercise. He then injects botox into the pressure areas to allow blood to flow freely. He is the only doctor in the country to use this non-evasive treatment, but is training doctors from top hospitals so they may treat patients closer to home (Photo by Dan Cepeda Photography)

McGinley has since treated about 50 patients with this Botox therapy. They have flown to Casper from all over the country, often finding the procedure from the Internet or word of mouth. The first injections relieve symptoms an average of about three months. The second round of injections last about six months, and after three injections, many patients don’t need any more. About 75 percent of McGinley’s patients report positive outcomes.

“It makes a huge difference in their lives. Sports they could no longer do, they can now do on a competitive basis. Some thought their sporting careers were over and we were able to get them back out on the field or the court,” McGinley said.

McGinley has a patent pending on the procedure to protect patient safety. It’s highly technical and can pose serious risks if physicians aren’t properly trained. He is working with doctors at New York University, the Cleveland Clinic and a clinic in Colorado who want to start offering the treatment closer to patients who need it – patients like Tyler McIntosh, 19, of Jackson.

McIntosh, a sophomore at Stanford University, quit the triathlon club team and walked slowly across campus because of the pain in his lower legs. Like Stamp, he was scheduled for surgery before finding Dr. McGinley on the internet. He received his first injections in July and returned in August for a touch-up, required in about half of patients. But before coming back to Casper, he hiked 30 miles on a backpacking trip – something he wouldn’t have been able to do before McGinley’s treatment.

Dr. McGinley specializes in musculoskeletal radiology and sports medicine with an emphasis in non-surgical treatments at Wyoming Medical Center and Casper Medical Imaging. He is an adjunct faculty member at Stanford University in the Department of Radiology. Click here to learn more at about McGinley’s new therapy or  watch this report from CBS New York which traveled to Casper this spring to report on McGinley’s treatment. 

Hooping for Health: “Can fat girls hula-hoop?”

My shadow hooping, my first day home with my new hoop.
My shadow hooping, my first day home with my new hoop.

I got the inspiration to begin hula-hooping in April, from pictures and videos of one of my friends having a great time hooping. It looked like something fun and I wanted to learn. From the kids section at Target, I bought two hula-hoops, one for me and one for my 2-year-old daughter (she’ll grow into it, right?). I tried it when I got home and failed miserably to keep the hoop around my waist. The hoops now sit outside unless my daughter plays with them.

Cut to July.

I needed something healthy to start blogging about to contribute to our new hospital blog. Healthy has not been a lifestyle my family and I have dedicated ourselves to living. Don’t get me wrong. We have tried multiple times to change our lifestyle — from trying to cut out soda, buying an elliptical (which now is collecting dust), and growing a garden to have healthy fruits and vegetables. We have good intentions, just horrible follow-through.

This is what prompted my “Can fat girls hula-hoop” Google search. I needed healthy inspiration and maybe fat girls just couldn’t physically hula-hoop. But I wasn’t going to give up just yet.

The results of my Google search were surprising. Not only could fat girls hula-hoop, it is actually an amazing weight-loss program that is growing in popularity. Even a few celebrities have joined the craze.  Hooping for 10 minutes can burn about 100 calories, and you are using your core muscles to keep the hoop up. You do, however, have to use an adult hoop, not one from the kids aisle at Target.  Adult, weighted hoops tend to work better for weight loss, and for beginners.

This was it. I was going to hula hoop!

I contacted a well-known Casper hooper, Natallie*. I had been told she could make the weighted hoops I needed. I told her I wanted to learn to hula-hoop and wanted mine to be pink and snazzy. Before making my custom hoop, she wanted me to try out different sizes and weights. She wanted to meet at a park here in town — during a music festival, a public place, with people – watching me learn!

The 2 hula hoops I purchased at Target inside of my pink snazzy new hoop!  You can see the extreme difference in size - but the larger the hoop the easier it is to learn.
The 2 hula hoops I purchased at Target inside of my pink snazzy new hoop! You can see the extreme difference in size – but the larger the hoop the easier it is to learn.

Deep breaths. I was so not ready for that, my intention was to purchase the hoop and fail miserably in my backyard 100 times until I finally got it, but I went to meet with her anyway. Another first-time hooper was there too, which made me feel a little better. I stood with the hoop around my back as she explained the different weights of hoops, where you can hoop on your body (arms, legs, neck, etc.) and that bruising is normal!

Then she said, “Go ahead and spin it.”

I laughed out loud, but Natallie reassured me that it would be ok. “Here goes nothing.” I thought. I spun the hoop and down it went, sigh. She reminded me that posture is very important, and keeping my shoulders back and looking forward and up would help.

The more I tried, the better I got. I am by no means an expert, but I can at least keep the hoop up for a couple minutes. I ordered my hoop, which I should get within the next week or so.

I know that hooping isn’t going to be the only thing I need to do to shed pounds, but it may be the motivation I need to change other habits to help lose weight and become healthier.

Health Benefits of Hula Hooping

  • Ten minutes of hooping burns 100 calories.
  • Muscles used include abs, obliques, glutes and others when hooping on other parts of the body.
  • Use a weighted hula-hoop for added resistance for shaping and sculpting muscles.
  • Hula-hooping is less of a chore and more fun, so it can improve your mood.
  • Increases flexibility of the spine to help prevent back injuries.

*Natalie is a well-known Casper hooper who not only loves hula-hooping, she also makes each hoop especially for you! Proceeds from her hoop sales go to charities. If you are interested in purchasing a hula hoop find her on Facebook by joining the Casper Hoopers group page. 

Valerie HessValerie Hess is project coordinator for the Community Development Office. In her six-year career at Wyoming Medical Center, she has worked in quality and regulatory, nursing administration and administration. She found her passion in the Community Development Office and now leads the hospital’s social media platforms. She is pursuing her degree in business administration. She is the mother of a spunky 2-year-old daughter and considers herself a closet video-gamer.

Glow Sticks & Zombies – Oh my! Get out and move at some of the last runs of the summer

Looking for an excuse to get out and enjoy the last days of summer? Here are a couple of runs/walks that are fun and family friendly. Plus proceeds benefit a good cause.

Defying Limits Walk/Run

All proceeds will go to the Barr Foundation Amputee Assistant Fund, which provides financial assistance to amputees for their medical and limb loss costs. It includes a half-kilometer walk and 5 and 10K walk/runs.

When: 8 a.m. Aug. 10

Where: Stratton Real Estate/Blue Cross Blue Shield parking lot, 231 E. Midwest St.

Cost: $20 for the half-kilometer walk, $30 for the 5 and 10K run/walks.

Click here to register.

Hear on the Range 5K

Children wearing lights and glow sticks sprint the final section of WMC’s 5k Glow Run/Walk last month. There is still time to get out and get moving at one of the several community runs/walks this summer – including another glow run. (Photo by Dan Cepeda Photography)
Children wearing lights and glow sticks sprint the final section of WMC’s 5k Glow Run/Walk last month. There is still time to get out and get moving at one of the several community runs/walks this summer – including another glow run. (Photo by Dan Cepeda Photography)

If you enjoyed the Rev3 Glow Run – or if you missed it – here is another chance at a bright evening run. ​Gather your brightest outfit, glow sticks or other flashing items for the Hear on the Range 5K. Proceeds benefit the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund which provides support for children with a hearing loss.

When: Registration at 6:30 p.m., race begins at 8:30 Aug. 16

Where: Crossroads Park, 1101 N. Poplar St.

Cost: $25 before Aug. 15, $30 for on-site registrations, $200 for teams of 10

​Click here to register.

Casper Zombie 5K

This isn’t your standard cross-the-finish-line-first type of race. To get out of this one alive, you’ll have to outrun a hoard of moaning zombies.

Each 5K runner receives a flag belt with two flags. Zombies will try to gather as many flags as they can, meaning they “zombified” you! Prizes will be awarded for the fastest runner that ends with both of his or her flags, best-dressed runners and zombies, and zombies who collect the most flags. There is also a 1K Run for kids under 12 after the last wave of the 5K race.

All proceeds will benefit Joshua’s Storehouse and its Milk for Minors program.

When: Waves begin at 10 a.m. Sept. 7; children’s 1k will follow the last wave of 5k runners.

Where: Casper Mountain Trail Center, 9301 S. Circle Drive

Cost: $25; free for the children’s 1K run

Click here to register, but there is no need to register for the children’s 1K race

Exercise: It’s never too late

It’s never too late to change your lifestyle to have better health, says Dr. Oleg Ivanov, a cardiologist with the Wyoming Medical Center.

Speakers Bureau

Are you looking for an expert to speak on a health topic? You’ve come to the right place. Wyoming Medical Center offers a variety of presentations, for free, to various clubs and community organizations. Physicians and various other clinicians and healthcare professionals offer customized presentations for groups of all sizes.

For more information about topics offered through our Speakers Bureau, or to schedule a talk, contact our Community Development Office at (307) 577-2388.