Tag Archives: Cardio fitness

Out of shape at 61, Fit at 90!

90 years old. His workout? 100 pushups, 100 sit-ups and 2919 steps! Cardio and strength training combined! After retirement at age 61, over the years he took up jogging, calisthenics, and hitting the local Larkspur stairs.  Not only has he become a fit senior, he’s become somewhat of a folk hero in his community along the way. It’s never too late to get in shape!

 

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Link to the Marin Independent Journal article.

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Eat Healthy and Exercise – Corporate America (in this case Embassy Suites) Makes It Hard

During my recent stay at Embassy Suites in Chicago I witnessed hundreds of people, mainly families, piling on “free” breakfasts. In my visits to the tiny gym I saw 0 to 4 other people.  I wish for a cultural shift where the family attraction doesn’t have to be unhealthy food, where fitness could even be an attraction.

Breakfasts consumed were huge and not nutritious. I don’t remember seeing a vegetable. True, some healthy choices were offered which the platters of food didn’t reflect. Clearly a culture of get-and-eat-as-much-as-you-can prevailed. It wouldn’t have been so disturbing if most of the adults and children hadn’t been overweight, a sign that it’s not just at Embassy Suites where poor food choices are made.

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Don’t we all know how to eat? The message is everywhere, it seems to me. Michelle Obama sure has tried.

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We can’t blame Embassy Suites, can we? Don’t we all know the price we pay from poor diets and excess weight (heart attacks, diabetes, joint pain and injury, high blood pressure, etc.)? But where do we start to change the culture in America? Corporations can take the lead. Can you imagine less food, paired down to the healthiest options, with a bigger, more visible gym, maybe even with a section for kids?

Take a look below at CEO of the Worldwide Hilton chain (owners of Embassy Suites), Christopher Nassetta .

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Here’s the CEO of Embassy Suites, John Rogers with celebrity Brooke Burke- Charvet at an event held at Dylan’s Candy Bar promoting family travel at Embassy Suites.

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Whatya bet you wouldn’t catch them eating platters full at breakfast, and I’m guessing you’d meet them in the gym. CEO Christopher Nassetta loves to cook and is known for visiting kitchens in Hilton hotels. I urge him to infiltrate the dining area of the Embassy Suites on N. State Street in Chicago and see what people are putting on their plates.

I don’t know the answer to changing our breakfast culture. Why do I care? I guess it’s wanting to have pride in being an American. I want  an America on the cutting edge of health, a country of people taking the lead in eating less, wasting less, and exercising more.

 

More from Michael Pollan:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/magazine/28nutritionism.t.html?pagewanted=all

More about CEO, Hilton Worldwide, Christopher Nassetta

http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/turnaround-ceo

Get the Most Out of Your Walking

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Here’s a link to an EXCELLENT article on walking! It details how you can change variables (speed, hills climbing, arm pumping, and more) to get the most out of your walking minutes. The tips on posture and stride  are excellent, as well.

http://www.superskinnyme.com/how-to-lose-weight-walking.html

 

You’re Going to Age (hopefully): Why Not Prepare for It?

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Take your fingers out of your ears and listen to me! You. Are. Going. To. Get. Old. Unless you don’t. Get strong now and make it easier on yourself. “Nobody wants to think about fixing the roof while the sun is shining,” says actor Rob Lowe, in a recent SF Chronicle article, as keynote speaker for an event on aging, where he talked about donning a “suit” that stimulates being in an older body. The suit includes a helmet that stifles hearing and vision; heavy, imbalanced boots; restrictive fabric that gives the effect of arthritis in the knees, hands, spine and elbows; and sleeves weighed down to imitate muscle loss. The truth is that moving around, getting out of chairs or up off the floor is harder as you get older and more so if you are carrying extra weight. On top of that, as explained in a WebMD article, beginning“…in your 30s, you begin to lose muscle mass and function, a condition known as age-related sarcopenia.”. Being active helps counteract this ongoing muscle loss.

Rob Lowe credits his youthful looks to surfing, skiing, CrossFit, running, and swimming. He, along with many of us, hope to live our golden years with gusto. Many individuals in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s are living full lives, while others are walker-users who can barely get out of a chair and ambulate. Some are active but have begun falling and, in some cases, have difficulty getting up. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in people over 65 according to the New York Times, Bracing for the Falls of an Aging Nation. To get up off the floor uses nearly every muscle in your body plus a fair amount of flexibility, not to mention putting a tremendous amount of weight on your wrists, and knees. To get up from a chair and stand takes strength in your chest, arms, gluteals, shoulders, legs, core, and ankles. The stronger you are, the less chance of these basic movements being a problem. Don’t wait until you have a crisis to start getting stronger.

How are you preparing for physically aging? I know, you’re not old yet and you’re in decent shape, lots of energy, walk on the treadmill, do Zumba, and garden. When was the last time you had a physical assessment to determine your strengths, weaknesses, and flexibility? Does your current exercise program strengthen ALL the muscles shown in this picture and include balance and flexibility exercises?

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Why not prepare to excel in aging, just as you have for other events in your life…running a marathon, getting a good grade in a class, planning a big work project, assuring your kids turn out okay. You plan ahead. You prepare. You put your heart into it. You practice. You get competitive. You envision the outcome you want. Do that now with your fitness. Make a Plan.

A personal trainer can help you. First, we will conduct a fitness assessment to find imbalances or weaknesses and then help you develop a program to address them. You can quickly begin to make changes in your strength and flexibility. Participants in my Gymformee-Introduction to the Gym class, an ongoing offering at Body Kinetics, where I work, demonstrated better balance and strength gains after just eight classes.

A testimony to the power of daily effort, this man improved his flexibility and was able to touch his toes after just 41 days of practice.Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 10.06.22 PM

 

 

TWO SIMPLE TESTS YOU CAN TRY AT HOME

 Get Up Off the Floor Test

Simply lower down to the floor, sit, and stand back up. If you are able to do so without assistance from any limbs, you score 10 points, 5 for getting up and 5 for getting down.

10 Points Possible as pictured here

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 Subtract 1 point each, both for standing up and sitting down, using assistance from a hand, knee, forearm, hand on knee, or side of leg.

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 This test not only assesses flexibility, balance, strength, and mobility, but may also be a measure of your mortality according to a study conducted by Brazilian physician Claudio Gil Araujo. These two links (Simple Sitting Test Predicts How Long You’ll Live) and (RQOW: Getting Up From the Floor) further describe the study, the test, and provide a link to a YouTube video of the original test.

Stand up, Sit Down Test

Arms crossed, touching chest, rise to full stand, return to fully seated, as many times as possible in 30 seconds. Below is an excerpt from the Senior Fitness Test Manual table ranking you with individuals your age at 95 percentile ranking. If you’re younger than 60 you can still see how you compare.

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PRACTICE TO DO AT HOME

Practice getting off the floor daily.

Sit on the floor to do something (put on your socks, eat off the coffee table, etc.) so you have to get up. Or just practice – check out this link for a “how to” .

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Using a chair or other assistance can lessen pressure on joints. If you have back, hip, wrist, or knee issues, check with your doctor first for the safest way to get up off the floor.

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Make a Habit of Getting Out of Your Chair Unassisted

Notice how you get out of your chairs during your day. Do you have the habit of using the arm rests? If so, change to standing up unassisted. Even better, do chair squats or regular squats everyday. (For knee safety, as you squat back it’s hips, not knees, first, then weight back on heels as you slowly lower; knees stay behind toes.)

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Studies show any amount of regular exercise will benefit you! If you want to get amazing results and become functionally younger than you are today, take this advice from the authors of Younger Next Year, on the secret to great health, “You should exercise hard almost every day of your life – say six days a week. And do strength training…two of those six days. Exercise is the great key to aging.”

 Take Action Now! Make a plan yourself or enlist the help of a personal trainer, but get going. Plan for six days of exercise to include:

 Components of an Overall Fitness Program

  • Strength training: two times per week
  • Aerobic/“Cardio” activities: 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity (less minutes with high intensity workouts)
  • Flexibility (Yoga, Pilates) two times per week
  • Balance: daily

 The good news is that by working hard and getting strong, you can feel better immediately and benefit for the rest of your life.

 References

Stephanie M. Lee,” Does this outfit make me feel old? It’s suppose to”, San Francisco Chronicle, Business Report, page 1, November 21, 2004  http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Ageless-Rob-Lowe-promotes-suit-that-simulates-5907449.php
Reviewed by William Blahd, MD, “Sarcopenia with Aging”, WebMD, 50+: Live Better, Longer, August 3, 201  http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/sarcopenia-with-aging?page=2
Katie Hafner, “Bracing for the Falls of an Aging Nation”, New York Times, Health Section, Page 1, November 2, 2014  http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/11/03/health/bracing-for-the-falls-of-an-aging-nation.html?_r=0
Paige Waehner, “How to Safely Get Up and Down From the Floor”, About Health, May 1, 2004 http://exercise.about.com/od/exerciseforseniors/ss/Get-Up-And-Down-From-Floor.htm?utm_source=pinterest&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=shareurlbuttons_nip
Chair squat image: Arun Shanbhag, “Knee Exercises: Chair Squats”, Aches & Joints, April 27, 2008. http://achesandjoints.org/2008/04/27/chair-squats/
Getting off floor with chair image: Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging, Health and Aging, September 2, 2014   http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/exercise-physical-activity/sample-exercises-flexibility
Body image from:   http://www.builtlean.com/2011/09/15/full-body-workout-vs-split-routine-which-is-better/
Chris Crowley & Henry S. Lodge, M.D., Younger Next Year, Workman Publishing Company, Inc., 2007, p. 14

Staying Fit…with style

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Running After 20 Years Off (How Strength Training Helped)

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When a group from work, Body Kinetics Health Club in Marin County, CA, suggested running in the Marin County Half Marathon (or 10k or 5k), together as a team, I realized I hadn’t run in 20 years, since I was in my 40’s. I thought, “Well, I can certainly walk a 5k (3.1 miles) so I signed up. Before that, the only cardio I’d been doing was spin once a week, and a workout class once a week that included a cardio component. Otherwise, I was mainly strength training 2 to 3 times per week. Whenever I was required to do a jog in a class setting, like around the room a few times, I’d be dying, out of breath. My husband, Jeff, signed up with me and a couple months before the race we began slogging (a very slow jog) 5 minutes and walking 5 minutes. We had a 1.8 mile flat loop. We did this twice a week and graduated to 5 minute slog, 1 minute walk. Eventually we were slogging the whole way. Then we changed our route to a 1.6 mile loop with a long, steep hill built in. I had to do a heart rate check at the top each time because I was worried about overexerting myself, I was gasping that hard, but I never reached my max heart rate, I just reached my max pain threshhold! Initially, I had to walk on the downhill because it hurt my knees, but I worked on form, sitting back more in my stride going downhill. We got stronger. After about 6 weeks of this, I did a trial 3 mile run on the track and was pleasantly surprised that my time wasn’t too bad (12 minute pace) and I actually jogged the whole time.

On race day I was so excited. Right out of the shoot, I was panting. I couldn’t figure out why it was so much harder than the day at the track. I figured it out afterwards when I realized I finished the race with a pace of 10:09, so much faster than my practice run. Turns out I was second in the ages 60-69 women category, fifth in 60-69 men/women. I finished 99th overall out of 371 runners. Ok, it wasn’t a race with a bunch of elite runners, but I was so blown away and proud of my performance. Most of all, being able to run so well is a testimony of the benefits of strength training.  What I didn’t have in cardio conditioning, I made up for with leg power. My husband and I are continuing to run once per week. Who knows, maybe I’ll be like Harriette Thompson who ran her first marathon at age 76 (see post below)!

 

Spinning, cycling is great for the knees! How’s your pedal technique?

 

 

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As we age, spinning/cycling at the gym or outside is a great way to get that aerobic high we used to get from running when we no longer want to pound those joints. Another good reason to get on the bike is to help alleviate knee pain. Bad knees need strong glutes, quads, hamstrings,  and calves to minimize strain on them. Seeing the extent of arthritis in my knee during arthroscopic surgery, the doctor suggested that, as I go forward (into old age), I just limit activities. At the advice of another doctor, I lost weight and started cycling. I attended spin classes in the gym and bought a bike. I added lots of squats, lunges, and other leg work. Now, ten years later my knee pain is not only gone, I’m jump roping and doing all sorts of crazy things.

If you’re spinning in a class or riding on your own, good form is not only important for efficiency but for getting the strength you want in your legs. In the video link below, Dave Scott, Ironman World Champ, describes  how proper pedal technique makes all the difference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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