Surviving a 10-Hour Car Trip

We’re enjoying a vacation with family up at Lake Tahoe. The drive north (with a weekend stop-over in Auburn) was a 10-hour trip–too much time stuck on my bottom in our Expedition. I dread these adventures because of the large amount of sitting time. For Baby Boomers and seniors, long trips can be a real challenge for fitness.

My "torture chamber" for 10 hours!

My “torture chamber” for 10 hours!

Move Your Large Muscles
But there are ways to move your muscles while sitting in a car (similar to chair exercises)–as long as you’re not the driver! While you’re not lifting body weight, you can push and pull and stretch muscles, and help break up sedentary time.

Here are a few “exercises” you can do as a passenger in a vehicle to break up the monotony of a long drive (repeat each exercise/stretch 10 times, once every hour or two):

Legs/lower body–Note–all exercises done in this position: Sit near the edge of your chair (however far you can safely move while keeping the seatbelt in place), back straight, shoulders pulled back.

1) Leg lift: Lift your right leg at the hip; up and down (your leg will be bent at a right angle). Then do the same movement with your left leg. To increase the resistance, balance a purse or other object near your knee; lift 10 times, then hold leg in the lifted position for 10 seconds, then do 10 small pulse lifts in the raised position.
2) Glute squeeze: Place your feet parallel to each other, pointing forward, about shoulder width apart. Squeeze both buns and hold for 3 seconds.
3) Hamstring squeeze: With your feet flat on the ground, press into the floor with both feet, place your hands under your legs. Pull your feet back without actually moving them. You should feel your hamstring tighten up under the leg.
4) Toe tap: Lift your toes, and bring them down to a count of 3. Repeat 10 times, or until you begin to feel a “burn” in the muscles in the front/outside edge of your lower legs.
5) Heel tap: Lift your heels, and bring them down. Repeat 10 times, or until you begin to feel a “burn” in your calves.

Arms/lower body:
1) Raise up with both hands and push into the ceiling of the car. Hold for 3 seconds.
2) Place your hands on the outside of your thighs and push down while lifting your body off the seat. Hold for 3 seconds.
3) If you have a handle bar that you would grab to lift yourself into the car (and it is in front of you, not on the ceiling), hold with both hands and pull yourself. Repeat 10 times. (Or you can do this with one hand at a time).
4) Place your arms at your sides, elbows bent and hands forward making a right angle. Bring your elbows back and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
5) Place your arms at your sides and bring your shoulders up in a shrug. Then roll your shoulders forward, then backwards.
6) Interlace your fingers in front of your body, then turn your hands “inside out” so your palms are facing out. Bring your shoulders forward, hold for 15 – 30 seconds and feel a stretch in your upper back.

Looking for other ways to get more movement in your life?  Give me a call!

We can discuss some practical tips and discover if any of my programs or classes are a good fit for you.
If you’d like to schedule that call with me, just CLICK THIS LINK, and let me know in the message that you would like a 1-on-1 call with me right away and I will be in touch to schedule that – oh, and leave me your phone number in there too since email is not as reliable as it used to be! Thanks.

Get Your Body to Work Overtime, Even When You Don’t!

OK Baby Boomers and seniors, how excited would you be to discover you could up your fitness by burning additional calories with no additional effort? Welcome to the world of EPOC!

You can continue burning calories long after you take off those shoes!

You can continue burning calories long after you take off those shoes!

What is EPOC?
One of the by-products of physical activity is a phenomenon called EPOC—excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Very simply put, when we exercise, we consume more oxygen and produce energy and chemical by-products. At the same time, we increase breathing, blood circulation, and body temperature above pre-activity levels.

As a result, our metabolism remains high for several minutes to several hours after the exercise bout, resulting in EPOC–the added calories that accompany this post-exercise increase in metabolism.

How long will the EPOC effect last?
Depending on the exercise, it can take from 15 minutes to 48 hours for the body to fully recover to a resting state.

What affects the amount of EPOC?
Exercise intensity is probably the greatest determinant of EPOC. The harder you work, the more calories you’ll burn for a greater post-exercise period.

What type of exercise causes EPOC?
For several years, experts have recognized that aerobic exercise, or cardio, leads to EPOC. Recently, researchers are showing that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and heavy resistance training with short periods of rest lead to a higher EPOC effect. And don’t forget, resistance training also promotes lean muscle mass (important to keep us strong and self-sufficient as we age).

Can I use EPOC to lose weight?
No. The numbers just don’t pan out. Remember, exercise accounts for only 20 – 30% of weight loss for most individuals, and EPOC for only 6 – 15% of that energy cost. So if your brisk walk burns 150 calories in 30 minutes, your EPOC might account for only 9 – 22 additional calories. Researchers agree that the amount of energy used during the exercise bout itself, not the aftermath, is overwhelmingly responsible the for weight maintenance benefit of physical activity.

Bottom line:
I don’t know about you, but if I can burn a few extra calories after exercise, with no additional effort, I’ll take it! I don’t care if it’s 10 calories or 100. And because I exercise consistently, over time these numbers could accumulate to keep me in the same (sized) wardrobe for years to come.

Just one more reason to engage in physical activity—most likely the best medicine you’ll ever enjoy!

Looking for ways to improve your wellness? Give me a call!

We can discuss some practical tips and discover if any of my programs or classes are a good fit for you.
If you’d like to schedule that call with me, just CLICK THIS LINK, and let me know in the message that you would like a 1-on-1 call with me right away and I will be in touch to schedule that – oh, and leave me your phone number in there too since email is not as reliable as it used to be! Thanks.

7 Tips to Power Up in 2017!

Baby boomers and older adults–looking for easy ways to up your fitness game this year? Ideas that don’t take hours of commitment or weeks of behavior change? Ones that help you forget you just got a year older (like me, this week!)?

lisa harris fitness trainer baby boomers

Fitness tips–don’t feel a day older this year!

Here are 7 tips to help jumpstart your wellness in 2017:

1) Include protein in your morning meal–eggs, Greek yogurt, cheese or even beans can help control after-dinner cravings!
Studies show that eating protein for breakfast can help control snacking at night, especially grabbing for high-sugar/high-fat foods.

2) Add spices to your meal. They’ll wake up your food and support your immune system!
Turmeric is especially helpful in controlling inflammation, which is connected to chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Turmeric is often used in Asian dishes, is the main spice in curry and adds a yellowish color to food.

3) Make your 100 trillion gut bacteria happy with yogurt, sauerkraut or kimchi. They’ll return the favor by controlling against obesity and diabetes!
Your gut “bugs” outnumber all the cells in your body by a factor of 10! Scientists are realizing how important they are in everything from controlling appetite and diabetes to minimizing depression.

4) Eat a vitamin C source with your protein food–like tomatoes with pinto beans–to enhance iron absorption (good-bye anemia)!
While there are many vegetable sources of iron, they are not as well absorbed as those from animal products. To increase utilization, include a vitamin C food or cook in an iron skillet.

5) Lift heavy weights at least twice weekly to maintain your independence as you get older and improve your body composition–less fat, more muscle!
Strength training is vital for independent living as we age. We lose 3 – 5% of muscle mass per decade after age 30 if we don’t make a point to lift or push weights, be they dumbbells, machines or body weight.

6) Stand up and walk once every hour. Within 90 seconds, you’ll start to push blood sugar into working muscles!
Our bodies are built to move, but we have gotten so lazy.  As a result, we’re drowning in chronic diseases! So do yourself a favor: set an alarm on your phone or computer to get up every 30 – 60 minutes; walk to another room during commercials; stroll while talking on the phone. Blood levels of circulating fats and glucose (blood sugar) start decreasing within a couple minutes.

7) Re-wire and grow your brain with daily exercise!
Exercise brings more blood, oxygen and fuel to your brain. It causes new brain cells (neurons) to spring up, more connections between existing neurons and more volume in areas of the brain involved with memory and critical thinking. Both cardio and strength training are vital to support an aging brain.

To discover other ways to power up this year, give me a call!
We can discuss some practical tips and discover if any of my programs or classes are a good fit for you.
If you’d like to schedule that call with me, just CLICK THIS LINK, and let me know in the message that you would like a 1-on-1 call with me right away and I will be in touch to schedule that – oh, and leave me your phone number in there too since email is not as reliable as it used to be! Thanks.

Have a Healthful Holiday Season!

The holidays can be tricky to navigate if you’re concerned about your wellness. But sticking to a healthy routine during this time can keep both your energy and “jolly” spirit up. Here are some tips and tricks to help keep you stay fit with smart holiday eating and activity:

Enjoy the holidays, but choose wisely!

Enjoy the holidays, but choose wisely!

• Be conscientious about your eating habits the days leading to a big celebration. Downsize your serving plates, make sure you don’t skip meals and save the alcohol and desserts for the big feasting day.

• Avoid going to parties hungry to prevent overindulging. Fill up before you go by eating a small snack with protein and fiber (try celery with peanut butter or a fruit and yogurt parfait topped with walnuts) and lots of water.

• When dishing up food at the buffet table, remember these guidelines: half of your plate should be filled with vegetables and fruit, one-quarter with whole-grains and one-quarter with lean protein. Pick up small portions and eat slowly. You can always go back for more later!

• Be creative with healthful substitutions:
o In baking, use unsweetened applesauce in place of butter, decrease sugar and chocolate chips or candies by up to 50% and replace cream or whole milk with 1% or skim milk.
o In cooking, replace butter with vegetable oil (e.g., olive oil), use herbs and spices like rosemary and cloves instead of salt, substitute whole-grain breads and pastas for the white versions, replace cream or whole milk dairy products with 1% or nonfat and bake or grill instead of frying.

• Liquid calories add up quickly! Drink with care, as eggnog, punch, and sugar-based alcohol mixers are high in calories, sugar and sometimes fat.

• Watch out for rich cakes and cookies that are high in fat and sugar. Instead opt for seasonal fruits like pomegranates and clementines, crustless pumpkin pie or choose a small serving of your favorite dessert.

• Be careful with appetizers as they are often deep-fried and sodium-filled. Choose a piece of cheese with a whole-grain cracker or fresh fruit to stave off the pre-dinner munchies.

• Get out of the kitchen as much as possible! Enlist the help of a trusted guest, then go out to mingle or walk around outside for a few minutes!

• Plan in some physical activity. Find downtime during meal prep and clean-up to re-connect with friends and family while: walking the neighborhood to enjoy holiday decorations, strolling through the local parks, window shopping your favorite malls or chatting during the halftime show.

• Get back to your regular eating and exercise routine as soon as possible. You may miss some sleep and gain a few pounds, but take back control of your life by starting up your wellness habits as soon as the holiday dust has settled.

For more ideas to stay healthy this holiday season, contact me for a free call.

We can discuss some practical tips and discover if any of my programs or classes are a good fit for you.
If you’d like to schedule that call with me, just CLICK THIS LINK, and let me know in the message that you would like a 1-on-1 call with me right away and I will be in touch to schedule that – oh, and leave me your phone number in there too since email is not as reliable as it used to be! Thanks.

Are You Forgetting This?

You’re working on your fitness program–walking more often, sitting less and picking up your weights. Congratulations! But don’t leave out this critical component–stretching!

Stretching is an important component of your exercise program.

Stretching is an important component of your exercise program.

Stretching is crucial to Baby Boomers and seniors for maintaining joint movement, posture and flexibility. It’s so important that it’s now included in the official exercise recommendations from the American College of Sports Medicine, which urges Americans to complete a series of flexibility exercises for each major muscle-tendon group at least twice a week.

Better Before or After Exercise?
Traditionally, most people stretch before they exercise. While “warming up” is critical before physical activity, especially for folks over age 50, the type of stretching most people know (holding a “static” stretch in one position without movement) is best performed at the conclusion of a workout, when the muscles are properly warmed, and therefore more pliable.

Prior to exercising, walk for 5 – 10 minutes, then use dynamic stretches. These are stretches that mimic real-life movements and involve multiple muscles.

Information You Can Use
Here are some guidelines for proper stretching, along with a few sample stretches.
• Move slowly until feeling gentle tension, not pain.
• Avoid jerking and bouncing.
• Joints should be slightly bent while stretching, not locked.
• Exhale going into stretch, then breathe normally; hold all stretches 30 – 60 seconds.

Upper body stretches
1. Chest stretch
Clasp fingers behind back, squeeze shoulder blades together while lifting arms.

2. Shoulder and Upper-Arm Stretch with small towel
Hold one end of towel in right hand. Raise hand over head with towel behind back. Grab towel with left hand and pull down.

3. Upper back stretch
Interlace fingers in front of body. Turn hands so that palms are facing outward. With a slight bend in elbows, bring shoulders forward. Hold stretch in between shoulders.

Lower body
1. Standing calf stretch
Stand with a rolled towel under foot next to wall. Place foot at angle with heel on ground and toes on wall. With front leg straight and hands on wall, gradually lean into wall until feeling stretch.

2. Seated lower back stretch
Seated in chair, cross right leg over leg. Place left hand on outside of right knee, right hand holding chair. Turn to the right and look behind.

3. Hamstring stretch with band
In a chair, place band under middle of foot. Extend leg out and slowly raise.

4. Seated thigh stretch
Facing forward, slip to the right side of the chair with the right buttocks off the seat. Hold other side of chair with left hand. Grab right ankle, back of shoe, socks or pants and drop foot, pull heel towards buttocks until leg is perpendicular with floor.

Want to learn more about stretching, flexibility and balance?

Reach out to me with my FREE CALL. I promise to give you a few tips and things to look at immediately, plus we can discuss if any of my programs or classes are a good fit.
If you’d like to schedule that call with me, just CLICK THIS LINK, and let me know in the message that you would like a 1-on-1 call with me right away and I will be in touch to schedule that – oh, and leave me your phone number in there too since email is not as reliable as it used to be! Thanks.