Picks and Pans Main: Video

updated 07/10/1989 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/10/1989 01:00AM

GET UP AND GO AFTER BREAST SURGERY

GET UP AND GO WITH PARKINSON'S

FITNESS OVER 50

Each of these well-produced tapes is tailored to the needs of a special group of people who may have excluded exercise from their lives.

Get Up and Go After Breast Surgery ($39.95) was developed by the Breast Care Center at the University of Michigan Medical Center for women who are on the mend following a mastectomy, lumpectomy or reconstructive surgery. It is also useful for women undergoing radiation and chemotherapy. The five breast cancer patients who demonstrate these gentle exercises (to increase strength and motion in the chest, arms and neck) range in age from 39 to 74. Two women have had both breasts removed; one of these has implants, the other is undergoing chemotherapy; another woman is recovering from a lumpectomy. They do not linger on their conditions but on their commitment to exercise as part of their therapy.

Patients are urged not to embark on this routine without a physician's approval. Surgeon Jay Harness, director of the Breast Care Center, tells how soon after surgery women should exercise and what side effects to be wary of. He also cautions viewers to set reasonable goals and move at a comfortable pace.

Following a 10-minute warm-up, instructor Joan Wenson leads her troop through five sequences. The first includes movements developed by the American Cancer Society, such as squeezing a rubber ball in each palm or facing a wall and letting your fingers crawl up it like spiders. There are also innovative upper torso exercises, a stretch-and-tone series and a relaxation-meditation finale.

Like its counterpart on breast surgery, the Get Up and Go ($42.95) home workout designed for people with Parkinson's disease or similar mobility disorders is encouraging but never pushy. There is no ditzy chatter or clangy music. Instructor Eileen Jones is so refreshing that anyone should be able to tolerate frequent exposure, and the I musical routine was composed so that exercisers would not be bound to a beat.

The three "Parkinsonians" who follow Jones on the tape work their way through a routine of fluid motions developed by specialists (from the University of Michigan and New York's Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center) in neurology, rehabilitative medicine and physical therapy.

There is no joint-jarring jumping or jogging—and no nonsense either—on Fitness over 50 ($39.95), developed and led by over-50 phys-ed professor Phyllis Weikart. This nonglitzy video offers an easy (partially sit-down) beginner series of exercises followed by a more vigorous advanced routine (50 minutes each). The only aerobic element is brisk walking. Unlike other workouts for seniors, this tape, thanks to Weikart's manner, does not treat the 50-plus set as if they were 5-minus. (Health Tapes; 313-548-3222)

FEELING GOOD WITH ARTHRITIS

Here is a primer on how to cope with the nation's No. 1 crippler—an estimated 37 million Americans suffer from arthritis—that is positive without being saccharine.

The 60-minute production makes no false promises. There is no cure for the painful joint inflammation that can bloat knees and twist fingers. But there is hope, and attitude is one of the weapons. Viewers will hear from Mickey Mantle, former New England Patriot guard Sam Adams and others with arthritis about how they manage their pain, what steps they take to fend off disability and how they live productive lives in spite of the nagging disease. One woman combats morning stiffness by stretching like a cat, then shaking herself like a wet dog. A young mother with rheumatoid arthritis, an especially debilitating form of the disorder, likens it to adapting to life with an annoying roommate.

Exercise is crucial. "If you don't use your joints, they will lose their strength and their mobility," says Dr. Alan Xenakis, who urges swimming and using an exercise bike for those afflicted by osteoarthritis. "Stiff or painful joints need to be moved through a complete range of motion each day."

The program includes segments on nutrition (there is no miracle diet, though losing weight with vegetable-fruit-whole-grain starch medleys reduces pressure on joints) and a critique of available over-the-counter and prescription drugs (including aspirin, gold salts and Cytoxan). (Xene-jenex, $24.95; 800-228-2495)

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