Friday, November 30, 2007

hoops of hope

Anorexics and others struggling with eating disorders are getting relief from clowning around, literally.

An unusual course in circus skills is helping people with disordered eating overcome their compulsive tendencies by juggling, tightrope walking and aerial swinging.

The world-first program aims to build trust and encourage patients, particularly those with anorexia and bulimia, reconnect with their bodies in a unique environment, says group co-ordinator Jani White, from Melbourne's NorthWestern Mental Health.

It also helps patients develop a healthier attitude to exercising, Ms White said.

"In recent years there has been an increase in the number of eating disorder patients for whom exercising excessively to achieve or maintain low weights has been a major problem," she said.

"Interventions to interrupt this compulsive cycle are recommended, but it presents a dilemma because moderate levels of exercise can be effective in promoting a sense of wellbeing and can be a great way to build social and recreational interests."

The pilot program uses performance circus skills - acrobalance, aerials, juggling and hula hoops - to help people build trust and learn positive risk-taking while also developing strength and flexibility.

"Learning and executing circus skills requires a lot of concentration," Ms White said.

"Unlike running on a treadmill, swinging from a trapeze or climbing a rope has an edge to it that demands attention."

She said three of the six patients enrolled in the pilot program have gone on to join mainstream exercise classes "with a new and clear understanding about the role of exercise, in both sustaining their illness and in treating it".

It is expected the program will be rolled out in Melbourne next year once ongoing funding is secured
Edinburgh, Scotland (Sports Network) - Hearts has endured a very inconsistent start to current season and is stuck in the middle of the league table in sixth place heading into Saturday's clash with league-leaders Celtic at Tynecastle Stadium.

Hearts has taken five points from its last three league contests, but that stretch includes an impressive 4-1 win against Aberdeen followed by a disappointing 1-1 draw with last-place Gretna.

The Edinburgh club had better be in top form on Saturday if they want to slow down a Celtic side that has won its last four games in all competitions. However, Hearts does not have to look too far back to find hope, as they were the last side to defeat the Glasgow club, taking a 2-0 win away from Celtic Park in the Scottish CIS Insurance Cup.

That game was a small measure of revenge from the first meeting in league play between the two teams, a 5-0 thrashing by the Hoops back in August.

While Hearts seem to still be searching for some consistency, Celtic has had no such difficulties in recent weeks. Manager Gordon Strachan's men have won two SPL contests since the loss to Hearts to move to the top of the table, but the team has also revived its hopes of advancing in the Champions League with two consecutive wins, including a last-gasp 2-1 win against Shakhtar Donetsk on Massimo Donati's stoppage-time goal.

"How did we win the game? The simple answer is with a huge heart," Strachan told the club's website. "It reinforced that technically one or two teams are better than us, but, in terms of spirit, we are as good as anyone."

That fighting spirit has taken Celtic to second place in Group D, just one point behind AC Milan. The Hoops now need just a draw at the San Siro next Tuesday to ensure a spot in the knockout round.

Celtic is playing with confidence at the moment, so the only hope that Hearts might have on Saturday is that Celtic might be looking past them and to their clash with Milan on Tuesday.

In other SPL play on Saturday, second-place Rangers host Kilmarnock with hopes of keeping up with the league-leaders, Inverness travel to Tannadice Park to face a Dundee United side that has won four of its last six games, while last- place Gretna visits Motherwell and St Mirren entertains Falkirk.

Sunday's lone contest features Hibernian, currently in third place and five points behind Celtic, visiting Aberdeen, who is coming off of a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Atletico Madrid in UEFA Cup play on Thursday.


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