That Darn “Box”!

It’s a challenge many Baby Boomers and seniors face all the time.  When exercise causes pain, you just don’t want to do it!  This is the dilemma I’ve lived with increasingly for the past few weeks.  With bone-on-bone arthritis in my left hip, I’d just about given up on activity.  Walking (my go-to cardio) was just too painful and uncomfortable, and I was afraid to further aggravate my hip at the gym.

This bike will soon be my own personalized stationary bike!

Giving In To The Pain

So I sat, felt miserable and starting watching my fitness level go down.  I knew better, obviously!  But even if I pushed past the pain during exercise, related aches in my leg kept me up at night–not acceptable.

Realizing I was heading towards a bigger-sized pair of pants soon, and that I would be heading into hip replacement surgery in less than stellar physical condition, I finally realized I needed to do something.  What would I tell my clients?  Look for an exercise that doesn’t hurt your hip!  Of course.

Looking For Acceptable Movement

So I started swimming.  This is excellent non-weight-bearing exercise that gets my heart pumping.  But the community pool is five minutes away and it’s starting to cool off a bit.  And it’s definitely more difficult to “suit up,” drive to the pool, swim laps, come home and shower than it is to lace up my shoes, step out the door and go for a walk.

So I can’t depend on the pool to keep my fitness level up–I just don’t get there enough.  That left the gym.  After an absence too long for me to confess, I stepped back in and started going on a regular basis last month.  My legs definitely have lost strength, and I probably won’t be able to gain all of it back until after the hip replacement.

But the biggest surprise was the stationary bike.  I could jump on, gradually up the resistance and get in a fabulous 30-minute workout.  Encouraging, but still not as convenient as walking (the gym is a full 15-minute drive from home).

So I thought about buying a stationary bike.  But I won’t need it in a few months if all goes according to plan.  My next idea: see if I could rent one.  Unfortunately, a quick internet search came up with nothing close by.

The Light Bulb Goes Off!

And then the proverbial “box” that was constraining my brain exploded:  I have an expensive bike gathering dust in my garage.  I can turn that into my very own special stationary bike!

This past weekend, my husband and I cleaned that bicycle.  Then I went to research stands (they call them “trainers” in the biz) at the local bike shop.  Voila, for a reasonable price, I could order a device that converts my snazzy road bike into my convenient, step-out-my-back-door-to-the patio cardio machine!  Now I can pedal after breakfast, during writing breaks or after dinner while watching the sun set.

No More Excuses!

What’s causing you to cut back on your exercising?  I challenge you to think outside the box and find something that works to keep you healthy!

For more ideas to help you exercise through your wellness challenge, 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.

October = Pink Ribbons!

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women (skin cancer is #1). According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), it strikes one in eight U.S. women. And it’s a huge concern for Baby Boomers and seniors, with the majority of cases occurring after menopause.

The American Cancer Society estimates more than 310,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2017, and more than 41,000 will die from the disease (the rate has been dropping since the late 1990s). Fortunately, recent research is unraveling a few of the questions related to this disease, and paving the way for you to control some of its risks.

Beyond Your Control…Or Not
You simply cannot change certain risk factors. For example, your sex (being a woman), age (over 55) and genetics (certain genes, your race and a family history of breast cancer) can all increase your chances of developing breast cancer.

You can, however, control lifestyle choices. And this is critical, since only 5% – 10% of breast cancer cases are hereditary, according to ACS. Alcohol consumption, your body weight and activity levels all affect your breast cancer risk.

Extra Weight + Baby Boomers or Seniors = Big Risk
Two of the most significant, especially after middle age, are exercise and weight control. These appear most powerful when they occur together.

Being overweight after menopause increases the risk of breast cancer for a couple of reasons.
• First, fat tissue increases the amount of estrogen we produce, and high levels of this female hormone are a known risk factor for breast cancer. A recent study of 93,000 women over age 50 found that increasing skirt size over the years was a strong predictor of breast cancer. Researchers theorize this is related to the additional estrogen that often occurs when midriff girth increases.
• In addition, insulin levels increase with obesity. Although insulin is required to produce energy from the foods we eat, heavy people can become “insulin resistant.” In this condition, the body’s cells can’t properly use insulin, and increased amounts of this hormone are needed. Higher levels of insulin have been linked with breast cancer.

Exercise helps in both of those areas, reducing estrogen and insulin levels; it also promotes weight loss and weight maintenance. Recent data suggests that as little as 1-1/4 to 2-1/2 hours of brisk walking weekly reduces breast cancer risk by 18%.

What You Can Do Now!
ACS recommends the following lifestyle changes to limit your breast cancer risk:
• Get moving! Find a physical activity you enjoy, and aim for 150 minutes of activity weekly.
• Limit sedentary behavior (sitting, lying down, watching television or other forms of screen-based entertainment). Break up this sitting once every hour.
• Be as lean as possible throughout life without being underweight. If overweight, drop a few pounds–even a 5% – 10% reduction in weight makes a difference in breast cancer risk.
• Eat healthy! Although there’s no conclusive evidence about specific foods and breast cancer prevention, ACS recommends a diet rich in vegetables and fruit (2-1/2 cups per day) and whole grains (for dietary fiber), while limiting fat intake.
• Imbibe with care–Limit alcohol to no more than two drinks per day for men and one for women.

For more ideas about breast cancer prevention and overall 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.

Can You Get Stronger?

I’ve written a lot in the past about sarcopenia, the loss of muscle that starts after age 30 and results in a 3% – 5% decrease in muscle mass per decade. This is a serious problem for Baby Boomers and seniors, leading to falls and a loss of mobility, functional abilities and independence.

The best way to fight sarcopenia is with strength training, supported by a proper diet. In particular, protein intake is key for maintaining and building muscle.

Protein at breakfast and lunch is just as important as it is at dinner.

A new study looked at how protein is divided throughout the day to discover if eating protein at all three meals would be beneficial. Most Americans eat about half of their daily protein at dinner, with very little at breakfast and a moderate amount for lunch. The problem with such a protein consumption pattern is that we don’t store protein well; muscle is constantly being broken down and protein needs to be replenished.

Researchers in Canada studied 1,7000 healthy men and women, aged 67 – 84, for three years. The results: those who consumed protein evenly at all three meals retained greater strength than those who ate most of their protein at dinner.

While this result is an observation of an association only, not a direct cause and effect, it does support other investigators who recommend an equal distribution of protein intake for older adults.

The key seems to be eating about 20 – 30 grams of protein per meal.

Here’s a sample menu to show how this could be fulfilled:

Breakfast:
2 eggs scrambled with cheese (1/4 cup)
1 slice whole wheat toast
1 cup lowfat milk

Lunch:
tuna salad (2 oz. tuna) on a bed of greens
1 serving whole-grain crackers
Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup
1 apple

Dinner:
homemade burrito with 2/3 cup pinto beans and chicken, 1 oz., on whole-wheat tortilla
brown rice, 1/2 cup
green salad

For more ideas to stay strong as you age, 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.

I’ve Become My Own Client

As many of you know, I’ve been “dealing” recently with a progressively painful case of osteoarthritis in my left hip. I understand now why Baby Boomers and seniors with this disease don’t want to exercise much–it hurts! But as a fitness professional, I also know the critical role exercise plays in continuing to strengthen joints and keep other chronic diseases at bay.

Don’t let arthritis pain keep you down.

So I’ve had to get creative with myself to find acceptable physical activity I can put back into my day (my go-to exercise fix for many years has been walking; but now, unfortunately, more than 5 minutes at a time is out for me).

So I get 20 – 30 minutes of bicycling twice a week at my gym, attend a yoga class weekly, and stand and walk around the house as much as I can. And starting this week, I’ll visit our community pool before dinner at least twice a week to get in some needed laps.

A CRIPPLING DISEASE

Here’s some information about arthritis, and recommendations for self-care.

• According to the Arthritis Foundation, one in four adults, or nearly 54 million people, have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
• Arthritis includes more than 100 diseases and conditions that affect joints, the tissues that surround the joint and other connective tissue.
• The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Its main symptoms are joint pain, swelling and stiffness; these usually grow worse with age.
• The second most common type of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. It’s an autoimmune disease with painful inflammation at various joints.
• Scientists don’t know exactly what causes or how to prevent arthritis, and it’s generally considered incurable.
• Being female and having a family history of the disorder increase your risk of developing arthritis.

FOOD
For arthritis, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight. Extra pounds put additional loads on joints, and limit mobility.

Much has been written about foods to eat or avoid for arthritis care, but the consensus seems to be a Mediterranean-type diet: fish, 3 – 4 oz twice a week, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables (berries, cherries, spinach, kale and broccoli), olive oil and whole grains. These foods are filling, full of beneficial phytochemicals, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.

Some people with arthritis avoid nightshades vegetables (eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes and red bell peppers). Although there’s no scientific evidence this practice helps relieve arthritis pain, if you believe they’re affecting your condition, try eliminating all nightshade veggies for a few weeks.

Others find glucosamine helpful, but according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, studies have produced conflicting evidence as to whether the supplement reduces joint pain. Check with your doctor before trying glucosamine, as it can interfere with the blood thinner Coumadin and may affect your body’s ability to handle blood sugar.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
As I said earlier, movement is imperative; my physical therapist likes to say “motion is the lotion!” Exercise encourages the circulation of synovial fluid that lubricates joints; it increases blood flow to pump oxygen and nutrients to affected areas and helps remove wastes.

Work with your healthcare providers to design an individualized program for your specific arthritis needs.

Engage in strength training twice a week to improve muscle strength around the affected area, resulting in less stress on the joint, reduced pain and joint stiffness and improved maintenance of functional abilities.

Strive for 150 minutes of cardio per week. Start slowly, noting which activities your body tolerates. Be sure to include plenty of time to warm up (heat relaxes muscles and increases circulation), then find aerobic exercises you enjoy that do not twist or pound your joints.

Excellent examples include walking, swimming and water-based exercises, stationery biking and yoga.

Applying ice after exercise can help decrease pain and inflammation.

Check with the Arthritis Foundation or your local YMCA for programs in your area.

And don’t forget flexibility and balance exercises.

For help with your arthritis, 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.

So You Want to Live Longer?

Honestly, who doesn’t? I’d guess most Baby Boomers and seniors would love to boost their longevity. Of course, those extra years need to come with quality and independence–that’s why we eat well, strengthen our muscles and bones, and engage in cardio.

Exercise for more years of healthy life!

The Elixir for a Longer Life
We’ve known for awhile that folks who exercise regularly enjoy a few extra years of life. For example, in the Blue Zones, regions of the world with the greatest concentrations of centenarians, these older folks engage daily in gardening, walking, hiking and chores. And a 2012 study showed that leisure-time physical activity gave adults life expectancy gains of as much as 4.5 years.

And now studies are beginning to show scientists HOW exercise increases our life spans. One study, published in 2017, took a look at 5,823 adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The result was that for people who engaged in high physical activity (150 minutes per week), exercise protected the chromosomes (DNA threads that carry genetic information), which shorten and deteriorate with increasing years. In fact, this protection accounted for nine years of reduced cellular aging compared to folks with lower levels of activity.

Another study, also published in 2017, showed that exercise, especially high-intensity internal training (HIIT), caused cells to better support the mitochondria, powerhouses where energy is created, stopping aging at the cellular level.

What You Can Do
Take advantage of these benefits by engaging in physical activity on most days of the week. In addition to brisk walking, “cardio” includes:

• dancing
• swimming/water aerobics
• hiking
• bicycling
• gardening
• playing with your kids/grandchildren
• tennis
• carrying/moving moderate loads (think: groceries)
• housework
• walking your dog

Do these activities in “chunks” of at least 10 minutes, gradually increasing until you can do them three times per day, five days per week. Then increase the amount of time at each session, working up to 150 minutes/week.

HIIT THE ROAD
And finally, if your physical condition improves and you have a doctor’s OK, experiment with HIIT (high-intensity interval training). HIIT can take care of one of the most common reasons people have for not exercising–a lack of time. It’s a super-efficient way to get in shape–a physical activity technique that combines short bouts of nearly all-out effort with periods of recovery. A complete HIIT session takes only 15 – 20 minutes, and produces as much (or more) benefit as a 60-minute moderate-intensity walk.

In addition to the benefit listed above, health benefits of HIIT include:
• improved aerobic and anaerobic fitness
• better blood pressure control
• improved cardiovascular health
• improved insulin sensitivity (muscles more readily use glucose for energy)
• better cholesterol profiles
• less abdominal fat and fat just under the skin
• more muscle mass

Before starting a HIIT program, be sure to be medically cleared. Then try this beginning version:

• Warm up with 3 – 5 minutes of comfortable walking.
• Begin your interval: walk as quickly as possible for 15 seconds; then slow way down for a minute. (If you think of exercise intensity on a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being the most effort you could possibly exert, the “quick” session here should be at least an 8.)
• Repeat five times.
• Cool down with 3 – 5 minutes of slow walking.

Because of the vigorous effect of HIIT, it’s important to limit these sessions to twice a week and allow at least 48 hours in between.

To discover other ways to improve your physical fitness, 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.