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Monthly Archives: February 2016
2

Omron Healthcare Project Zero Blood Pressure Monitors

We recently got an email touting the upcoming arrival of the Omron Healthcare Project Zero wrist blood pressure monitor, and upper arm blood pressure monitor. Perfect timing, since February is National Heart Month.

Omron wristBefore deciding whether or not to partner with Omron Healthcare, I hopped on a phone call with Jeff Ray, their executive director of business and technology. Both Kymberly and I wear fitness trackers, plus we like to know our BP readings, so the monitors looked to be interesting for you and us.

Let me describe the two monitors, then share the answers Jeff gave to a few questions I asked.

Wrist – Somewhat bigger than a fitness tracker, it looks like a giant watch. You can wear it all day or just for taking your BP reading; whichever you prefer. Me, I’d probably wear it all day in order to take advantage of the fitness tracking aspects. You set it, wait for it to inflate, then Boom, you have the info right at your fingertips (or wrist, as the case may be). No wires, no cuff. You can even send the info to your physician via the OMRON Connect App. It can also remind you to take any necessary medications, and track your compliance.

Upper Arm – Free of tubes and wires, this monitor can track hypertension levels and and detect irregular heartbeats. It also syncs to your smartphone or tablet with the OMRON Connect App. Instead of having the fitness tracker add-ons, the upper arm monitor can precisely measure more data points.

Omron upper arm monitorEspecially as we age, Kymberly and I like knowing our stats. Since we’re healthy and fit, we don’t go to the doctor’s very often, so having an easy-to-use monitor at home would be a good way to get information more than once or twice a year.

On your behalf, I asked questions that I thought you would have. Let us know in the comments what other questions you’d ask.

Where and when can I get one? – Most drugstores nationwide.
What will it cost? – Under $200
How accurate is the wrist monitor, compared to the standard medical upper arm one at the doctor’s office? – There is no difference in accuracy. As a matter of fact, the designers at Omron tried to make the wrist monitor smaller so that it would be closer in size to a standard fitness tracker, but the accuracy was compromised, so they have kept it slightly bigger to retain its accuracy. The one caveat – you must hold your wrist up near your heart.
How often do you have to recharge the battery? – Every two weeks, give or take, depending on the number of hours you wear it, and how often you download the stats. The two week estimate is based on a 2-per-day BP reading.
Are these monitors only for people who are required to check their BP? – Anyone can buy one. (I was curious, because I’d love to have the wrist monitor, but I have no medical issues. My purpose would be to track my stats as part of my plan to PREVENT medical issues)
I was pretty excited, as the wrist monitor in particular seems to be at the crossroads between medicine (both monitors ARE medical devices) and fitness trackers; tertiary care meets preventive care.

This video that Verge did gives even more information.

Bet you didn’t know that one-third of (U.S.) Americans have high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for stroke and heart disease. As someone who has gone through the trauma of a loved one having two strokes and two TIAs, I can say with 100% conviction that these portable, super cool, app-connected, easy-to-use monitors can help prevent that from happening to you. And if you want to know how to improve your heart’s health, read our recent post, “Healthy Heart: Improve Your Circulation and Flexibility.”

Now that the monitors are out, I’ll be one of the first people in line to try out the wrist monitor. Physical activity, sleep data and accurate BP readings – I’m into knowing those.

If you you suffer from aches and pains, check out our comments on Omron’s new TENS/ Heat Pain Pro device and how it can help you. Of course, you’ll still have to get a mnemonic device to help you remember the difference between systolic and diastolic. Or is that just me?

Alexandra Williams, MA

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This post is sponsored by Omron Healthcare, as part of their #HeartHealthMonth outreach. All thoughts and opinions are our own. Wish we could say the same about the monitors 🙂

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16

Healthy Heart: Improve Your Circulation and Flexibility

Have a HeartYou probably have a heart, but is it a strong one? Do you also have great circulation and flexible arteries? Bonnie Raitt was right when she sang Have a Heart.

Hard to make that sound sexy and exciting. However, having a strong circulatory system and being flexible should be on the top of your “gotta have” list if you want to live a full, healthy life. If you are a woman over 45 (keep those genetic predispositions in mind too) you will especially need to focus on circulating better than a politician at a fundraiser!

Sure, you have a heart. But is it strong, flexible, and a good circulator? Click To Tweet

Circulation is the movement of fluid through the vessels of the body in a regular or circuitous course induced by the pumping action of the heart. Say what? When you have good circulation, blood can move to every cell in your body in less than 60 seconds. (And you can learn foods to eat to help your heart in fewer than 60 more seconds by checking out our post, “5 Age Defying Tips to ‘Youthen’ Your Heart and Improve Circulation.”)

How can you improve your circulation? Click To Tweet

What’s Killing Women?

Thinking of which, did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of women in the US? Or that the symptoms of a woman’s heart attack can differ drastically from men’s, so those signs often go unrecognized? We need to do better at spotting heart attacks in women AND take action to minimize heart disease in the first place. In other words, having good circulation not only can improve your life, but possibly also save it!Circulataory system

Notice how Bob Hoskins ends up at the ER in the Bonnie Raitt video clip? Did you notice what he was eating? Exactly!

How Can You Improve Your Circulation?

The three main ways you can help your circulatory system are to:

1) Exercise

    While many types of exercise help your overall awesomesauceness, walking is the single most effective form of exercise to achieve heart health, according to the American Heart Association. For every hour of walking, life expectancy may increase by two hours.

Let's get Flexible, Flexible2) Achieve good flexibility
Researchers have established a correlation between flexible bodies and flexible arteries in people older than 40. Can you touch your toes? If so, you probably have flexible arteries. Arterial stiffness indicates an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Being fit seems to delay the development of age-associated artery stiffening.

3) Intake healthy food and drink 
One of our favorite ways people can support their circulation is via cocoa flavanols. What can be better than finding out that a regular, small dose of dark chocolate helps your health. We’re all over that good news!

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In other, more expected news, you probably guessed that a diet rich in plant-based foods is also heart healthy.  This infographic has some specific foods to choose if you want a stronger heart and better circulation. (We differ on just two small points: 1) tomato has no “e” at the end and 2) egg yolks are no longer considered problematic.)

Infographic on foods to help hearts

Infographic provided courtesy of Veestro

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Photo credits: Heart collage:  qthomasbower; Circulatory system: Vivienne Balonwu

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

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13

Get Ultimate Abs (Better Yet, a Strong Core)

K hanging from Ranch archGet Stronger, Sexier, Sleeker Abs at Any Age

If all goes well, you will age. HOW you grow older is largely under your control and a result of choices you make. Don’t watch your waist expand and your world shrink with each passing year.

Like you, Alexandra and I are baby boomers who know that added years often means added weight, more aches and pains, and reduced strength. But this decline is not inevitable and can be reversed —- if you take certain, critical actions. Some of those actions involve cutting out crunches and adding tailored core exercises that minimize flexing the spine at the neck. You are also well served to perform abdominal moves that require no head lifting.

HOW you grow old is largely under your control and a result of choices you make Click To Tweet

Take advantage of Alexandra’s and my combined 70 years’ experience as certified fitness professionals to transform your core and more. You can move from weak and (dare we say, perhaps “flabby”) to strong and Fab-Abby! How? By taking a look at our our newly created “Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50” program.

Bust the myth that a 6-pack indicates a strong, age-defying core. A 6-pack certainly looks good. Yeah, we gotta admit that! And it does indicate low body fat. But it says nothing about the ability to function well in daily life, do fun physical activities, or maintain amazing posture.

Don’t watch your waist expand & your world shrink with each passing year Click To Tweet

Tap into the ABCs: Abs, Balance, CoreK doing splits at ranch in tree

Enjoy some of these photos of me (Kymberly) reaping the benefits of having a strong core even if I don’t sport a 6-pack.  Not only do I get to guest teach classes such as “Abs, Balance, and Core” at Rancho la Puerta fitness resort, but also I get to goof off in the oak grove.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to work as hard as it takes to get back the 6-pack of my youth (that I may or may not ever have had in the first place). More to the point, it’s totally possible to have a youthful, functional set of abs even if your 6-pack could be described as a 10-pack.

But you do need core strength to beat the aging odds.

You need core strength to beat the aging odds. Click To Tweet

What is the Cost of Not Getting Active?

For one,  your body grows old faster than your mind. For another, your risk of injury and falling increases. Then there’s that fashion seduction of elastic waistband pants.

K piking while seated at RanchForget that! Gain core power galore! Take a look at our program to see whether it might be right for you.

ACTION: Click this link to learn more about the Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50.Ultimate Abs binder image

 

 

 

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

 

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7

California’s Central Coast (with Elephant Seal Pups)

I was THIS close to seeing an elephant seal get born.

Elephant Seals CambriaDuring our recent trip to the Highway 1 Discovery Route along the Central California Coast, we stopped at the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery that’s about 6 miles up the coast from Hearst Castle. As it turns out, January is peak birthing season, so we saw lots of pups. The docent (the volunteers are there every day) pointed out one female who was acting as if she were ready to give birth. How exciting.Pregnant elephant seal

I was so determined to get a photo that would make National Geographic beg for my private number, that I stood in the rain for about an hour, squinting through my lens at the seal as she flopped about trying to get comfortable. Watching her trying to find a comfy pose gave me flashbacks to my own birthing experiences, and I sadly saw the resemblance between me and a large “come on already, let’s get this over with” elephant seal.

Eventually she fell asleep. I checked back in with the docent, who said it could take anywhere from an hour to 24 for her to give birth. I guess she wasn’t imminent enough to comply with my schedule. Dang it anyway.Cambria-Rocks-1

I didn’t have any childhood memories of seeing the elephant seals during family travels, but I discovered that the seals didn’t start coming to the rookery until 1990, which explains why (I was a full-grown A-Dult by the 90s). Now you can see them year-round.

Hearst Castle

patio at Hearst Castle

Hearst indoor pool

pool detail from Hearst CastleAnd this was my first trip to Hearst too, odd as that seems for someone who’s lived most of her life in California. Coming in January was perfect, as there were no lines at all. I especially liked the exhibit at the visitor’s center. Lots of pictures and history. I love history, and actually have my BA in Medieval European History. My dad said it qualified me for government work (that was the early 80s).

We were THIS close to seeing an elephant seal pup being born. Click To Tweet


Sunset near Cayucos

duck at Moonstone Beach

Besides our visit to Covell’s Clydesdales (click to read about it and see the pictures), we also went on quite a few walks – Moonstone Beach and Boardwalk, Fiscalini Preserve, downtown Cambria, and Harmony Headlands. Our hotel was El Colibri, which sits in a quiet spot right at the start of Moonstone Beach. For pics of my sister planking on a Fiscalini bench in the pouring rain, read her post about our multi-generational travel experience.Moonstone Beach rocks

Beach near CambriaWhen you go to Cambria, try any of the restaurants we ate at – Linn’s, Indigo Moon, Robin’s, Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill, and Black Cat Bistro. All of them were fantastic, and had lots of choices for vegetarians. Really, really friendly staff too. Really. I also suspect that sweet potato fries are the official food of the Central Coast. This is a good thing.Evening sky in Cambria

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Alexandra Williams, MA

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21

3 Biggest Treadmill and Stairclimber Mistakes [video]

Alexandra on treadmill wrong

Alexandra gets Lost in Translation

Do you hop on the stairclimber or treadmill to get a good workout for your wrist, neck, or spine? Do you have a goal to put all the load into your joints as you lean either too far forward or too far back? Didn’t think so!

Yet that is what we see from treadmillers and stairsteppers of all ages – not just baby boomers. Ouch and WTH?! (“What the Heck” – we don’t cuss ‘round these parts much).

At any given moment we can go into the cardio equipment area of a gym and see people working super hard. Yet their form denies them cardio benefits while stressing joints. Don’t let this be you! (If you do want a good workout on a treadmill, read our post “Treadmill Walking Workout.”)

What are the 3 biggest mistakes exercisers make on the treadmill & stairclimber? Don't let… Click To Tweet

Three major treadmill and stairclimber no-nos we see involve:

  1. heavy wrist bend
  2. elbow lock that leads to neck tension
  3. posture that is either hunched forward or inclined back.

Take a look at our priceless video demo.

Then check your form next time you hit the climber, treadmill, and even the elliptical machine. Go for natural arm swing, not death grip on the machine. If you can let go of the side or front bars and stay vertical you are probably doing it right! If your hair looks good when you are done, you are probably doing it light! Ahh ahha.

Dear Climber-Stepper buddies: Are you a wrist leaner? Horse reins grabber? What’s your best piece of advice for cardio exercisers? Besides reading our posts, of course. 

ACTION: Want a stronger core and better abs? Check out our newly released program: “Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50” (23 videos, 10 modules, popular abs questions addressed).

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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

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Wrong and Right Way to Do An Oblique Crunch [Video]

A week ago we posted a video showing 4 exercises that aren’t worth your time, which had a few readers asking us to please show safe exercises for the obliques (instead of a bicycle crunch crash).

Your wishes are granted, as we pulled this video from our YouTube channel that shows the wrong and right way to do an oblique crunch.

Do you perform oblique crunches the wrong or right way? Are you sure? Click To Tweet

We also include two bada-boom-bullets that explain things awfully well, along with a not-too-graphic graphic:
Internal & External Obliques

  • Your external obliques run diagonally, forming a V in front. Imagine you’re putting your hands into a vest or front coat pocket.
  • Your internal obliques run at right angles to your external obliques and form an inverted V. Put your hands on your hips with your thumbs in front and fingers behind, pointing down as if putting your hands into back pockets.

Now you know the official terms for “I want my waist to be fit and trim, but don’t want to copy any of those lame exercises I see people do in the gym that are destined to hurt their back or neck.”

picture of Alexandra Williams at Bacara Resort

When the paparazzi try to photograph your obliques

Did you do the oblique crunch along with us? Feel free to comment below between reps. 412, 413, 414, 415 ….

Want more abdominal exercises tailored and curated to YOU? Then check out our “Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50” (over 23 videos, 10 modules, popular abs questions addressed).

ACTION: Say, have you subscribed to our posts yet? Just put your email address in and Voila!!! Not only do we come to you twice a week with fitness solutions, but also you get our bonus booklet: “5 Fitness Myths that Weaken Your Abs.”

by Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

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1

No Yoga Pants Were Harmed in the Making of this Post: #YogaPantChallenge with Depend® Active Fit

Walking w/ Depend and Liberty in grove, Kymbelry

Check out our hineys. Only one of us is wearing Depend Active Fit.

Look at Her Butt!

Who likes having people stare at your bottom? After years of teaching fitness on stage, under lights, with mirrors surrounding me, I am used to it. Stare away people. Not bad for a baby boomer butt, eh? Just agree please. It’s been an intense week.

What I am not used to is having people stare at me when in my exercise gear if it’s not my hiney that’s looking wet and shiny! Nothing like peeing my workout capris when hopping, skipping, or jumping. Well, actually I am more at risk when I laugh hard at my own jokes, especially since I have the mic!  (For my sister’s funny take on all this, read either of her two related posts: Cross Your Legs, but Don’t Sneeze and Group Exercise and Big Headed Babies.)

Challenge On, but Pants Off?

Anyway, when I was asked to be part of the yoga pant challenge with Depend Active Fit, I agreed. I figured the biggest dilemma would be finding yoga pants, since I have a closet full of fitness tights, capris, pants, shorts, leggings, but yoga? Don’t teach that. Voila! Found my one, official pair. Challenge on!

Enter the #yogapantchallenge with Depend Active Fit Here. Now @Walmart Click To Tweet

Then I came to the REAL challenge of this assignment. I’ll get to that in a minute. But first, let’s get through the nitty gritty benefits of the new incontinence undies designed specifically NOT to show or look like sumpin’ your granny had frumpin’ in her drawer — or drawers. (I did mention laughing at my own jokes, and this includes word plays). Gotta tell you people that the Active Fit briefs actually are smooth under clothes and comfortably thin. Just like we’re going to be after working out, right? I chose the beige product, but you can dress up and under in black.

[Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Acorn, an influence company, though the opinions are all mine. So are the yoga pants. I sponsor the dogs in these photos. They sponsor the dog walks.]

WIth and Without Depend, Kymberly

One with; one without. Butt but can you tell? Dogs not included in product or challenge just in fun walks.

So there I am wanting to take part in the challenge (which you can too, by the way. Get free product, win a prize, stay dry). This means I need to get photos of my backside in workout gear where I am wearing the product in one shot and regular undies in another, similar shot. Then you are to guess which is with and which without. Of course I like to add a Boom Chicka Baby Boomer, woman-over-50 twist or what’s the fun?

I know. I’ll get photos outside. As in “public places where people might walk by. It’ll be fun, creative, unique.” “What’s the challenge” you wonder? It’s logistical. How do I go back and forth putting Depend underwear on, then off, then on, then off for each with/without pose? I am not exactly shy, but dropping my yoga drawers outdoors on the meadows and cliffs of Santa Barbara is actually beyond my comfort zone.

Allow me to share one more, little known secret about this product.  When you want to remove the active fit briefs, you don’t have to strip down or do the Zoolander vs Hansel walk off (who knows what I’m referring to here?).  Turns out the cotton-like material is so soft, you can tear the briefs along the seam and slide them out. Problem solved — sort of.

No Yoga Pants Were Harmed in the Making of this Post Click To Tweet

Sure, I can simply reach in and discreetly tear them, pull them off with my pants intact, and have just regular undies for the next photo. Uh, and the last, as that still leaves the question of getting another pair of Depend back on. Or not….

Solution to this Ultra Challenge? I wore the briefs in all the poses except one – the last picture taken. And which one was that? Not obvious is it? And that’s the point.

Readers: What’s your guess? In which one am I sans Depend active fit briefs?

ACTION: Enter the giveaway. Subscribe to our site. Easy Peeeee-sy. Kymberly Williams-Evans

Walmart Activewear Gift Sets

34

4 Exercises That Waste Time [Video]

At Tenaya with mask in soap class

Let’s face it: some exercises plain ole stink!

Have you ever suspected that exercises “your friends” were doing were ineffective? Possibly time wasting and not producing desired results? Or worse, injurious? In our years of teaching, we have definitely seen some wacky exercise choices. We could do a list of 35 (one for each year we’ve been group fitness instructors), but decided to pick 4 that we either once taught — oops! — or have seen colleagues teach. (Throwback to the 1980s).

Are you doing any of these 4 exercises? If so, STOP IT! You're wasting time & possibly… Click To Tweet

We’re sure these all made sense at the time, you know, before anatomy & physiology were invented. Possibly a few laws of physics too. Definitely before we baby boomers became the over 50 midlife crowd who needed to make the best workout choices possible.

Now for the 4 Exercises You Never Need to Do Again

Cardio Arm Circles

Cardio Arm Circles are Serious Business

1. Arm circles – jog in place and circle your arms around until your shoulders fall off. You’ll still need shoulder pads from the 80s if your goal is to develop your deltoids, and not just fatigue the shoulder joint.

side-lying leg raise

Jane, that doesn’t even look comfortable!

2. Side-lying leg lifts – Think “feel the burn.” Why would you want to feel burned? Not even calories feel that way in this useless exercise.

Cardio Windmills

Come on, Twist that Spine w/ Windmills

Ever suspect that exercises *your friends* were doing were ineffective? What about these 4 moves? Click To Tweet

3. Windmill toe-touches – Way to go with the unsupported forward flexion and repeated, quick spinal rotation. This move can actually hurt your spine.

4. Frantic “bicycle” crunches – elbows forward and to knees, with wild spinal twists. By the way, if you slow down and do this one with good form, it goes from the “lame” to  “great exercise” category. In the spirit of sharing, here is the correct way to do this one (note armpits, not elbows, to knees slowly).

Only do bicycle crunches at a slow and controlled pace for them to be effective. Click To Tweet

PS Yes, we did survive all of the above. Somehow…..

Exercisers: What are some of the most useless moves or exercises you have done?

Photo credits: Creative Commons – loufi,  Alexandra Williams and Kymberly Williams-Evans

ACTION: If you want to access abs moves that are effective AND targeted to women over 50, enter your name and email below. No obligation. No time wasting. Maybe some waist whittling though.

Graphic for Ultimate Abs

Yes, I'm curious about the "Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50." I understand there's no commitment now; that I'm simply expressing interest to be invited into the test group that gets the whole program for $19 once it's released.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA